Are You Talkin’ To Me?

Are You Talkin’ To Me? The How and Why, and the Do and Don’ts for Dialogue in Creative Nonfiction Memoir


Online LIVE Webinar / $25
Saturday November 11, 2023
12:00 pm (Pacific Time) / 3:00 pm (Eastern Time)

Does your dialogue suck? So did mine when I first started. It was stiff, lifeless, boring—about as memorable as a bank transaction—and I found myself avoiding it. But without dialogue our creative nonfiction memoirs would just be long blocks of narrative text describing action and implying what was being said. With it our “characters” and “scenes” come alive and when our dialogue flows like a “real conversation” it adds the illusion of reality to our writing. However, if we use too much it becomes too conversational and we might as well be writing a play. Yet there is a happy medium in between, and there is also what works for whatever given piece of writing we are working on. In other words, there are rules, and there are rules to be broken. 

In this seminar we’ll discuss how to write kick ass dialogue through examining what works, what doesn’t, word choices, less is better, cadence, rhythm, and the dreaded punctuational gymnastics when writing dialect. I can even help you recreate that difficult talk with your mom that you’ve repressed for the last ten years.


Patrick O’Neil

Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoirs Anarchy At The Circle K (forthcoming from Punk Hostage Press, 2021), Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books, 2015), and Hold-Up (13e Note Editions, 2013). He is the co-author on two instructional writing manuals, Writing Your Way to Recovery: How Stories Can Save Our Lives, with the author James Brown (2021). And The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison forthcoming from PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program (2022). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including: Juxtapoz, Salon, The Nervous Breakdown, The Fix, and Razorcake. He has been nominated for several pushcart awards, twice for Best of the Net, and is a contributing editor for Sensitive Skin Magazine. O’Neil holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and teaches creative writing at various rehabs, correctional facilities, institutions, colleges, and workshops. He currently lives with his wife Jennifer, a rather large Maine Coon named Jagger, and a squirrel named Mercer, in the mediocrity of Downtown Glendale, California. For more information, please visit:

Learn about Patrick’s Upcoming Courses

Advanced Creative Writing Memoir

Revision, Editing, Workshopping, and Learning How to Give and Accept Critique with Patrick O’Neil

Looking for a course to take your creative nonfiction to the next level? Or maybe your project is stalled and you’d like to give it a jumpstart to get it back up in running order. Or perhaps you’re here to revise and refine your writing to good enough shape to send it out into the world. Or maybe you’ve never worked with an editor and the idea is intimidating as hell. You are in the right place.

4 Week Online Class / $250
Asynchronous/ Work at your pace on your time
January 15 – February 11, 2024

Writing Through Trauma

When we experience a traumatic event, our memories are affected. Our perception of that event, and previous events can be negatively influenced. This negative influence can manifest itself as fear, resentment, and anger. All, or any of these, will affect our behaviors, relationships, abilities, and self-esteem—in short, our entire lives.

By learning to decipher what are actual memories and what are imagined, we can navigate the emotional obstacles of guilt, fear, shame, ego, and resentment; while exposing whatever secrets we are holding onto that are causing us emotional pain. And, as writers, working through our trauma will open up vast areas that we previously feared to explore. This will not be therapy. It is more an honest evaluation of self that will result in writing an in depth personal essay.

4 Week Online Class / $250
Asynchronous/ Work at your pace on your time
April 15 – May 12, 2024

Book Links:

 Anarchy At The Circle K 

 Gun, Needle, Spoon 


 Writing Your Way to Recovery: How Stories Can Save Our Lives       

 The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison

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