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601 BYOD: Writing Scenarios: Compelling Characters and Distinctive Dialogue

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Thursday, April 13

Tracks: Instructional Design

Series: Instructional Design Summit

Effective scenarios for learning are engaging and compelling. They grab the learners’ attention, help the audience focus on what’s important, and enhance the participants’ skills. However, writing good scenarios is hard. Many instructional designers struggle to craft realistic characters and write dialog that sounds conversational. The characters may be either too vague to be interesting or have so much back story that they distract from the learning. Some characters appear to be unbelievably omniscient, while others are so clueless that it’s hard to imagine they’d ever have been hired in a workplace. Even if the characters are acceptable, writing dialogue poses its own challenges. It’s difficult to get the tone right; it needs to sound like people speak, but slightly better.

In this hands-on session, you’ll learn how to create compelling characters and distinctive dialogue for scenarios for learning. First, you’ll practice creating relatable characters that share job roles and other qualities with your learners. You’ll explore resources for creating characters that reflect a diverse workforce. Next, you’ll examine samples to learn what makes writing sound “conversational” rather than stiff. Together, we’ll review several poorly written scenario examples, and then you’ll practice revising them to create more engaging scenarios. You’ll practice drafting conversational dialogue between two characters. Finally, you’ll use the principle of “show, don’t tell” to improve your scenarios and provide the right level of detail. You’ll leave this session with a list of concrete steps you can take to craft better scenario-based learning and drafts of your own characters and dialogue.

In this session you will learn:

  • How to align your characters’ job role and other characteristics to your audience
  • Which name generators and image websites are useful resources for creating diverse characters
  • How to make dialogue sound more conversational
  • How to “show, don’t tell” to keep learners engaged in a scenario
  • How to revise your writing to create more effective scenario-based learning

Participant technology required:

Internet accessible laptop with a word processing program (Google Docs, Microsoft Word, LibreOffice)

Christy Tucker

Learning Experience Design Consultant

Syniad Learning

Christy Tucker is a learning experience design consultant with over 20 years of experience helping people learn. She specializes in using scenario-based learning to engage audiences and promote skill transfer to real-world environments. She has created training for a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit associations, state and local government agencies, universities, and more. Christy has been blogging about instructional design and eLearning for over 15 years and is a regular speaker at industry conferences and events.