10 books like Dialogue

By Robert McKee,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Dialogue. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott,

Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Lamott recalls when her ten-year-old brother put off a three-month project on birds until the night before it was due. She describes him as immobilized. Their father sagely advised, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Although these soothing words were indisputably not directed towards me, I cannot overstate how regularly they calm me in moments of thinly disguised hysteria. The metaphor is brilliant, plus I adore birds. Lamott frequently reminds the reader how quality writing requires—demands—full attention. So does deep reading. So does deep living. While this book is primarily about writing, it is equally about life—nestled atop a solid foundation of singletasking.

Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…


Dialogue

By Gloria Kempton,

Book cover of Dialogue: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Effective Dialogue (Write Great Fiction Series)

I find her goal of showing dialogue as a natural extension of breathing and talking both provocative and crucial. Writers need to become the characters they are writing about and Kempton shows how dialogue can set a mood, intensify story conflict, reveal character motives, and develop setting and background. She provides challenging dialogue-writing exercises at the end of each chapter.

Dialogue

By Gloria Kempton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dialogue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Craft Compelling Dialogue

When should your character talk, what should (or shouldn't) he say, and when should he say it? How do you know when dialogue--or the lack thereof--is dragging down your scene? How do you fix a character who speaks without the laconic wit of the Terminator?

Write Great Fiction: Dialogue by successful author and instructor Gloria Kempton has the answers to all of these questions and more! It's packed with innovative exercises and instruction designed to teach you how to:

   • Create dialogue that drives the story
   • Weave dialogue with narrative and action
   • Write dialogue that…


Writing Dialogue

By Tom Chiarella,

Book cover of Writing Dialogue

Savvy writers don't limit themselves to writing dialogue in a single media market; they welcome opportunities and challenges in print and broadcast, whether it's writing fiction or doing film or television scripts. This book spells out how to approach dialogue writing with specific media and how to achieve realistic and dramatic effects. The author urges writers to listen... listen... listen...and “hear the people around you!” Be an eavesdropper, he suggests, and remember what you hear!

Writing Dialogue

By Tom Chiarella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writing Dialogue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whether you're writing an argument, a love scene, a powwow among sixth graders or scientists in a lab, this book demonstrates how to write dialogue that sounds authentic and original. You'll learn ways to find ideas for literary discussions by tuning in to what you hear every day. You'll learn to use gestures instead of speech, to insert silences that are as effective as outbursts, to add shifts in tone, and other strategies for making conversations more compelling. Nuts and bolts are covered, too - formatting, punctuation, dialogue tags - everything you need to get your characters talking.


The Fiction Writer's Guide to Dialogue

By John Hough Jr.,

Book cover of The Fiction Writer's Guide to Dialogue: A Fresh Look at an Essential Ingredient of the Craft

Here is a “look-see” at writing fiction dialogue while mindful of and applying some of Elmore Leonard's classic Ten Rules of Writing: when to use dialogue tags... why using “said” is best... why not to use adverbs to modify “said”...? There's history here, too, as Hough traces the refining of fiction dialogue as an art form from the nineteenth and early twentieth century to the present while providing stunning examples along the way.

The Fiction Writer's Guide to Dialogue

By John Hough Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fiction Writer's Guide to Dialogue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dialogue is often overlooked as a necessary and potent instrument in the novelist's repertoire. A novel can rise or fall on the strength of its dialogue. Superb dialogue can make a superb novel. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "Action is character." George V. Higgins said, "Dialogue is character." They were both right, because dialogue is action. It comprises much, if not all, of the clarifying drama of any novel. How much physical action can there be in 300 pages, even in a crime novel or a thriller? And all conflict, even physical, begins as dialogue.

Hough explains how dialogue can reveal…


On Dialogue

By David Bohm,

Book cover of On Dialogue

I often think that so many problems in the world could be solved with better communication. More and more we stick with people who think like us, because the challenge of bridging ideological gaps seems too great.

So, how to talk to people who have values that are in opposition to yours? How can you connect with people whose experiences have given them a life that you can’t relate to? In On Dialogue, David Bohm gives us a way to tear apart the fear and hesitation of the no-man’s land between ourselves and people we don’t understand.

There are always people with whom we don’t know how to communicate. We can’t let that stop us from trying. Bohm’s book will give you the tools to do just that.

On Dialogue

By David Bohm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Dialogue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

David Bohm has a very high profile and is a major author

Dialogue is one of Bohm's well-known areas of study

With a new preface by prominent US management guru, Peter Senge

This book can also be sold into the management and business markets as a guide to effective communication in the workplace


Dialogue

By William Isaacs,

Book cover of Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together

Bill Isaacs offers a pioneering approach to communicating in business and in life. His book starts with the assumption that people don’t know how to talk in a way that will make it easier for them to work together with others to solve shared problems. His company, DIAlogos, has organized dialogues in a wide variety of public and private settings. In the book, his discussion of “the architecture of the invisible” makes clear why better communication begins with listening, respect, suspending our own opinions, and finding our voice. I’m particularly taken with his discussion of how we can “cultivate organizational and system dialogue.” He also has some important ideas about how we can return to civility in our public discourse in the current time when “Red” and “Blue” have forgotten how to communicate at all. 

Dialogue

By William Isaacs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dialogue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dialogue provides practical guidelines for one of the essential elements of true partnership--learning how to talk together in honest and effective ways. Reveals how problems between managers and employees, and between companies or divisions within a larger corporation, stem from an inability to conduct a successful dialogue.


Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons

By Becky Aud-Jennison, Felicia Olin (illustrator),

Book cover of Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: Field Notes from The Death Dialogues Project

I first learned of the Death Dialogue Projects through Instagram. The author has a standing open call for Tiny Death Stories of 100 words or less, and a few of mine were showcased along with many lovely true tales of personal loss and grief. What a welcome resource as well as her emotionally raw nature of her podcast translates well into her pages. The book is an obvious project of passion embracing death literacy. I love how healing and understanding are weaved through the shared stories.

Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons

By Becky Aud-Jennison, Felicia Olin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's Time to Invite Death Out of the Closet!

The impending or actual death of someone close to you can be devastating. It doesn't matter if you knew it was coming, or if it was a total shock-you'll never be the same. There is no right way to grieve, and no appropriate time frame. It's different for everyone.

Author and therapist gone rogue, Becky Aud-Jennison, the creator of The Death Dialogues Project and podcast, has sewn together threads from people's shared personal stories and her own experiences, using them to offer insight and comfort to those who are experiencing the…


You Don't Have to Die in the End

By Anita Daher,

Book cover of You Don't Have to Die in the End

You Don’t Have to Die in the End is just the sort of book I’d hand to a student who struggled with finding anything relatable. Eugenia Grimm could be down to her last chance when she is sent to Reason’s Wait, a facility for troubled teens. Because of her troubled past, she has programmed herself to lock horns with any adult who tries to cross—or help—her. I cringed during her tempestuous exchanges with social workers, staff, and fellow “inmates”—hoping one of them would find a way to save this bitter, angry girl from herself. Spoiler alert: As Daher’s title suggests, Eugenia’s train wreck of a life is salvaged in the end.

You Don't Have to Die in the End

By Anita Daher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Don't Have to Die in the End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eugenia Grimm is a tough girl living in a tough town at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She drinks and fights and pushes against expectations. She is also hurting. After her father died by suicide on her eighth birthday, her older brothers drifted away and her mother up and left when she turned 14, Eugenia has not made the best choices. After a last-straw violent incident and faced with the possibility of incarceration, she is sentenced to time at an Intensive Support and Supervision Program located at a remote mountain ranch. There, she begins to makeconnections, explore difficult truths,…


Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

By Elmore Leonard,

Book cover of Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

While this is a short story, not a novel, it is, in my opinion, the quintessential psychological Western. Depicting the struggle of an ordinary man saddled with extraordinary tasks, to maintain his honor and his values in the face of temptation, it delves into the minds of the two participants, and takes the reader on a wild ride as they wait for the train. Tension you could cut with a knife replaces action, keeping the reader on the edge of his/her seat until the end.

Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

By Elmore Leonard,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times-bestselling Grand Master of suspense deftly displays the other side of his genius, with seven classic western tales of destiny and fatal decision . . . and trust as essential to survival as it is hard-earned.

Trust was rare and precious in the wide-open towns that sprung up like weeds on America's frontier—with hustlers and hucksters arriving in droves by horse, coach, wagon, and rail, and gunmen working both sides of the law, all too eager to end a man's life with a well-placed bullet. In these classic tales that span more than five decades—including the first…


Screenwriting 101

By Film Crit Hulk,

Book cover of Screenwriting 101

Most of the books on this list aren’t strictly about story structure but instead combine unique storytelling insights with innovative structural concepts. Topping the list in that regard is Film Crit Hulk’s Screenwriting 101. Equal parts writing guide and manifesto against overused storytelling techniques like 3-Act Structure and the Hero's Journey, his emotional approach to structuring stories is perhaps the most thought-provoking I’ve encountered. Unfortunately, the book is currently out-of-print, though I have heard that Hulk (a pseudonym, obviously) intends to release a second edition in the future. Fingers crossed.

This is currently out of print, but a new edition is expected soon.

Screenwriting 101

By Film Crit Hulk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Screenwriting 101 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dialogue in, screenwriting, and Pixar?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dialogue in, screenwriting, and Pixar.

Dialogue In Explore 9 books about dialogue in
Screenwriting Explore 20 books about screenwriting
Pixar Explore 11 books about Pixar