Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How can you write dialog where someone is groveling?

I'm thinking of something like this:

"Why were you late for work? Explain yourself."


The response would be the person groveling.

But this task makes no sense to me. Can anyone give a better example of groveling in dialog?

share|improve this question
I've tried to edit your question to be more clear, but I'm not sure I understand what you're looking for. Simply apologizing instead of offering an explanation would not be "groveling." Are you looking for an example to explain what groveling means, or a line of dialog to express that the person is groveling ? If you want to see an example of what the word "groveling" means, English.SE would be more appropriate. – Travis Christian Oct 13 '11 at 22:34
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Don't just say, go for action. Grovelling is better expressed through actions and attitudes rather than straight dialogue. Of course, you can also add speech such as rambling or begging for forgiveness and kissing up, but actions make more of an impact.

For example:

"Sorry!" The word came out as no more than a squeak through a throat tightened in terror. He fell to his knees not daring to meet the mafia boss' eyes and kissed the shiny leather shoes repeatedly.

share|improve this answer
This is great advice. Some dialogue can be useful and memorable, but simply going through the motions of dialogue that is 'groveling' is not enough. My family has always loved this piece of dialogue that sums up groveling from the live action 101 Dalmations: Frederick: "I thought we liked stripes this year." Cruella De Vil: "What kind of sycophant are you?" Frederick: "Uh... what kind of sycophant would you like me to be?" – Chris Kinniburgh Oct 14 '11 at 0:39

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.