Radio Hed: Making Dialogue Believable

by Jeffrey Hedquist

Here’s the exercise: Record a conversation among a few of your friends, without their knowing it.

Transcribe the recording exactly as it happened. Don’t clean it up, or correct it.

You’ll find it’s not a linear event. One person talks, is interrupted by another, everyone talks simultaneously. A door opens and it answers a question, someone coughs, and it’s the punch line to a joke.

There are few completed sentences. Everyone talks at once. There’s no punctuation...and yet you can understand what’s being said. It’s a matrix of audible events, not a linear sequence.

When you sit to write your spot, listen to the tape, and read your transcription. It will inspire you, remind you of how the fabric of conversation evolves, and your spot will be more believable, interesting, and compelling.

Make your characters react with, respond to, disagree with, interrupt each other. Dialogue is more than two people sharing a mic.

Jeffrey Hedquist has been secretly recording his friends for years. To buy back the tapes, contact Jeffrey at Hedquist Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1475, Fairfield, IA 52556. Phone (515) 472-6708, fax (515) 472-7400, email

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