Do’s And Don’ts of Dialogue

images-2People Do:

  • People interrupt each other a lot.
  • People Rarely complete a sentence at all.
  • People exaggerate, prevaricate, and lie.
  • People pause. Conversations aren’t continuous, silence is important.
  • People use slang words. They also say uh, um, and yeah a lot.
  • People use profanity.
  • People pair verbal communication with body language.

In real conversations, people also chatter endlessly about nothing, but that’s not something you want to include in your novel. Remember dialogue has to move the story forward.

People Don’t:

  • People don’t make long speeches unless of course, they are making a speech. Conversation involves a lot of back and forth, in very short phrases.
  • People don’t talk in long complex sentences.
  • People rarely talk about things they already know unless a question is asked.
  • People rarely say the name of the person they are conversing with and almost never more than once.
  • People don’t use proper grammar during day to day conversations.

Eavesdrop on conversations at the mall, restaurant, church social, coffee house… I think you’re getting the picture. You can pick up some great examples of dialogue for that next best selling novel you are about to write.

Reminder:  Dialogue and conversation are not always the same. It’s important that you know the differences. I would recommend that you visit my blog: Dialogue Vs. Conversation: They’re Not The Same!.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Do’s And Don’ts of Dialogue

Add Authenticity By Exploiting Experience

untitled.pngAdd authenticity to your writing by exploiting your experiences. Use what you know and what you’ve gone through as a person.

Nicolas Spark’s books are set in North Carolina. Why? He lives in North Carolina. He’s familiar with the towns and the customs of the south.

Beyond settings, think of embarrassing moments in your life where you simply wanted to disappear or have a do-over. Is there something there that could be used with your main character. You should have no problem defining the moment. You went through it and have all the raw emotions tucked away in your brain somewhere.

We all go through cycles in our life. I’m in the midlife cycle and often wonder if I’ll ever be successful or do anything meaningful in life. What is my purpose? Think about putting your characters in similar situations to your own. It will help you to connect with them and understand their thought process.

What are your weaknesses? How might you plunder them for story fodder? I have to admit, I’m a little OCD. One of the characters in my current novel is a little OCD. I almost feel as if I’m cheating while writing her story line, because I know her so well she’s a breeze to write.

Who do you know? What your family and friends do for work may be a useful benefit as well. My novel is set, at least for a short period, in Afghanistan. I’ve never been and never will go, but my stepson is in the marines and spent six months there. He provided a wealth of information to get me through the one chapter devoted to the area.

Think of sensations. I love the smell of lavender, the feel of silk against my skin, the beauty of a newly fallen snow. I love calming instrumentals and the taste of chocolate lava cake. I hate the smell of rotten eggs, the feel of burlap against my skin, the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard and the taste of raisins (Yes I hate raisins, unless theyre smothered in chocolate, then I like them 🙂 ). Use your own experiences to make your character’s reactions believable.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Add Authenticity By Exploiting Experience

Facebook-It’s A Gold Mine Of Information

untitled.pngAccording to Orly Konig, if you use it wisely, social media isn’t a time suck – it’s a gold mine, and I agree.

Why connect on Facebook when you have a local clan or critique partners? It’s called connections, networking, and support. There’s something for everyone.

  • Critique Groups
  • Genre – Specific Groups
  • Association Groups (Women’s Fiction Writers Association, for example)
  • Marketing/Prom Support Groups
  • Agent/Publisher Groups
  • Event – Specific Groups (Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)
  • Reader-Oriented Groups

Facebook groups are a great place to ask questions and get honest answers. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting out or multi-published, there’s always something to learn.

Keep in mind, as with most things, you get what you put in. If you’re joining a critique group, jump in and critique for others. Answer questions and offer advice if it’s a subject you are comfortable with. Share experiences and encouragement with others as appropriate.

Don’t wait until you’re up against the wall and need help to join a Facebook group. If you only come out of the woodwork when you need something and don’t reciprocate, people will notice. Group members are much more likely to go out of their way to help you if they know and respect you.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

 

 

Facebook-It’s A Gold Mine Of Information

Infusing Scenes With Tension

images9B8IY8URI love Writer’s Digest. If you’re a serious writer, you should consider subscribing to the magazine. They have great articles from published authors that cover a multitude of subjects-related to writing of course 🙂

I recently picked up a copy of one of my older publications and reread an article by Jordan Rosenfield on building tension, or I guess I should say, quick tips for infusing scenes with tension.

Dramatic tension relies on the reader’s knowledge that something is about to go down – but the details for how or when have yet to be revealed. To create it, you must:

  • Thwart your protagonist’s goals and delay satisfaction.
  • Include unexpected changes without immediate explanation.
  • Shift power back and forth.
  • Throw in a piece of plot information that changes or alters your protagonist.
  • Create a tense atmoshpere through setting and senses.

Tension keeps the reader waiting with baited breath, wondering if the protagonist is going to survive, find love, or achieve his/her goal.

Remember tension keeps your reader turning the page.

Something to think about.

– Jan R

 

 

Infusing Scenes With Tension

Narrative Versus Exposition-They’re Not The Same

NARRATIVE4I remember when I first started taking my writing seriously. I did a lot of research and read a lot of information on how to write a publishable novel. Somewhere along the way, I missed the part were narrative and exposition were not the same. As a matter of fact, I used the two interchangeably.

In response to one of my earlier blogs, a fellow blogger commented that she thought I was wrong in reference to a statement I had made concerning exposition and narrative. She, of course, was right, and as a result, I took a closer look at these two concepts.

Narrative

  • Narrative is your voice as the writer sharing information with your readers.
  • It tells the writer instead of shows.
  • Narrative lets you set the scene and give background information.
  • Used for transitions, it moves the reader from one scene to another.
  • It slows the pace.

Exposition

  • Exposition provides the detached, third-party perspective on a story.
  • Shows the reader what is happening, doesn’t tell them.
  • Uses description to inform and move the story forward.
  • Exposition gives the reader more information, more emotion, and helps with active scenes by quickening the pace.
  • Allows us to hear character thoughts.

In a nutshell, narrative is telling, exposition is showing. I found the following example during my research and thought it did a good job of showing what I am trying to explain.

Exposition: Brian stopped and reached into his pants pocket. He pulled out a lighter. Then, he reached into his lapel pocket for his pack of cigarettes and took one out. He placed the cigarette between his lips, cupped his hands, and lit it. After putting his lighter back in his pants pocket, he resumed walking.

Narration: Brian stopped to light a cigarette and resumed walking.

So much info on this subject. It still can be confusing, and it seems everyone has a different opinion. I would encourage you to do your own homework and think twice about using the two concepts interchangeably. They are not the same.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Narrative Versus Exposition-They’re Not The Same

Balancing Dialogue and Narrative

dialogue-bullesYou have to find the right balance between dialogue and narrative, especially in the first chapter of your novel. While slow to start openings with a lot of narrative were popular at one time, these days, readers prefer a faster-paced opening.

One way to pick up the pace is to add dialogue. If dialogue just doesn’t work for a particular scene, consider throwing in a line or two of internal thought.

I’m not trying to minimize the importance of narrative. It is very important and necessary for the success of your story. Narrative is used to establish background details, setting, tone, and to set up scenes. However, narrative, by its very nature,  will slow the pace of the story and halt the active momentum.  Too many long sections of narrative will eventually bore the reader.

A quick tip for judging if your novel needs more dialogue is to print out the first chapter. If you see long paragraphs with little white space. You need to add dialogue.

If an agent or publisher sees long paragraphs and no white space, odds are, they are going to toss your work to the side. If a potential customer sees long paragraphs and little to no white space while they skim the pages, odds are, that book is going back on the shelf.  Give your reader some action, get the story moving.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Balancing Dialogue and Narrative

Create Suspense!!!

suspense-headerI’m trying a little experiment this morning. I wrote what I thought was a really good blog on suspense, and I got very few hits. I decided the issue was the title. So for those who read this blog under the ineffective title, I apologize. For those who are reading this blog for the first time, I hope it helps. The title does matter, but that discussion is for another day.

If you want your reader to continue reading, you have to give them a reason why. Draw them in and keep them guessing. The number one weapon in your arsenal to accomplish this feat is the use of suspense.

If you’ve done a good job of developing a character your reader cares about, they are going to hang on to make sure things work out in the end.

There are four main ways to create suspense.

  1. Put the outcome in doubt. Keep your reader guessing. It could end one way, but it could end another. This works best if your reader has a strong connection with the main character.
  2. Make them wait. Don’t show your hand up front. Don’t resolve issues right away. Present the conflict and then take your time presenting a resolution.
  3. Foreshadowing. Hint at what’s to come without sharing the details. Twilight used this technique by opening with the end minus all the details of how and why.
  4. Use a clock. The main character has a limited amount of time to accomplish a task. Will he/she find succeed or fail.

You can mix and match these techniques. You are not limited in your choice. An example would be opening with foreshadowing in the first paragraph and then adding the use of a clock at the end.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Create Suspense!!!