Writing Dialogue with The Woman At the Well

by | Mar 15, 2011 | God's grace | 4 comments

Ever just been WOWED by a scene in a book? Maybe the descriptions bloomed with detail, the characters flickered to life, or the plot gripped at your heartstrings like candy in the hands of a 3 year old.

Or maybe…

Something in the dialogue captured you and deepened ALL of the above.

Ever read a scene like that? Where dialogue opened the door to deeper characters and plot?

Well, it happens right here in the story of The Samaritan Woman.

A few important things to note:

  1. This is one of the longest scenes in the book of John
  2. The pace slows considerably (to draw attention to it)
  3. Jesus talks to a WOMAN
  4. Not only THAT, he talks to a SAMARITAN WOMAN
  5. AND…. A woman with HER kind of background (VERY taboo for a single, Jewish, righteous sort-of-guy)


Do you think John is trying to get our attention here?

Jesus defies convention to get to the heart of the matter. He’s more concerned about PEOPLE than popularity.

Because, God is in the business of rescuing his kids – especially the ones who know they are broken. Outcasts…searching.

This woman had been searching for love for years. Five husbands later, she still hasn’t found it. She’s parched. Dry. Thirsting to death for a love that will never satisfy.

Ever been there?

Then Jesus comes and offers her the one thing her heart truly needs. Real love. Living water. The heart’s only thirst-quencher.

It changes her life.

What about the writing tip?

The dialogue for this story teaches us some important techniques to use in our own writing.

Make each phrase count.

Don’t spend your time placing a conversation into a place where you don’t need one.

Move the story forward with dialogue

Similar to the first one, dialogue should move the story forward. Create more depth. Gives us more understanding about the characters and plot. We learn more about Jesus through this conversation. He doesn’t mind defying conventions to heal a wounded heart. He seeks out the destitute and broken instead of waiting for them to come to him. He is not afraid of the hard questions. He is confident of who He is and His purpose.

And it transforms the woman’s life. As it changes ours.

 Make it realistic

The conversation isn’t ask a question – answer a question.

It’s more realistic, with questions going unanswered, redirections, changing the subject….

All the things that happen in natural conversations are the things that help make our dialogues more realistic.

 Pick up a Bible and read John 4 from a new perspective – as both an author and a seeker of Living Water.

Your thirst for answers, refreshment, and satisfaction is sure to be quenched.

What are some tips you use to keep your dialogue realistic and with forward momentum?


Pictures courtesy of:




  1. Casey

    Very well said, this story has always been so moving. Didn’t you send me a song about her? Or did we just talk about that?

  2. Pepper

    thanks, Case.
    And yes…I didn’t just send that one. I sang it to you on the phone, I think 🙂

  3. Julia

    I think this is a great idea for a series, Pepper. I look forward to hearing more about writing from God’s word.

  4. Pepper

    Thanks, Julia.
    I’ve written three so far – two last week and then one on Monday, starting with the first ‘encounter’ Jesus really has with other people (the disciples)
    It’s been a devotional for me, but also interesting to look at the Master Author


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