Monday, July 24, 2017

5 Tips to Writing Dialogue

Recently I was talking to someone who wanted to try her hand at writing fiction, but she feared having to write dialogue. She said she could write passages of character description and location easily and she could even come up with ideas for scenes. But she feared having to make the characters speak.  As we continued to talk I began to show her how she could approach the problem.

“Think about what we’re doing,” I told her. “We’re sitting here.We’re drinking a glass of wine, and we’re talking.”

“But how would I do dialogue?” she asked. “How can I put words in other character’ mouths?”

I am repeating this conversation because that was my first lesson to her as I began to consider how to show her how to write dialogue.

1     1. Learn the proper punctuation and how dialogue is written in a passage. That is a good part of what was bothering her. She wasn’t certain of the formatting, and as I showed how it was done, that took away some of her misgivings.

2    2. Listen to other people’s conversations and how others speak. The more you do that the more you will notice how unique people are in their speech patterns. I once heard a best selling author say that writers are the world’s best eavesdroppers and I believe it. Listening to different people talk can give the writer ideas for making your characters sound different.
3. Don’t be afraid to experiment. When you are doing that eavesdropping, try writing a scene around it. Sitting in a hospital waiting room once I overheard the woman next to me on the phone complaining about her daughter’s drug problem. I found myself writing the other half of the conversation to go with what the woman was saying. It was simply an exercise, but I saw it as a way to sharpen my writing of dialogue. What would I say to answer the woman? And how was she speaking? Was she shouting at times? Was she pleading?
       4. Write only the dialogue portion and then fill in the descriptive part of your scene and any dialogue tags later. By focusing only on what the characters are saying, often it is easier to write the scene. You can edit later or right after you right the dialogue scene.
      5.   Put the feeling in the dialogue itself  and don’t constantly use dialogue tags. Putting in action can often replace a tag so that you don’t end up with a bunch of “he said,” or trying to put in other tags to let the reader know who is speaking.

I’ve always enjoyed writing dialogue because I like to hear my characters speak and often I write the dialogue first and then come back and fill in the rest of the scene, but that is just my preference. The point is to know that your story will always need dialogue, but don’t let it frighten you. Look around and listen and you will find that writing conversation isn’t such a frightening prospect after all.   

Monday, July 10, 2017

5 Tips for Summer Writing

As we move through July more people are taking vacations or spending time doing fun outdoors things. Who has time to write?  We all do and we should make good use of these warm summer months to get things done with our writing that we might not normally do.

Here are 5 tips for using the summer to get your writing in gear even while you are on vacation.

1. Visit a museum.  If you are visiting relatives out of town why not take a trip down to the local museum and study some history. You might come up with a good story idea or two or four or six. Think about all the real life characters you can learn about in a museum, not to mention coming up with interesting facts about a region that you might be able to use in a time travel or even in a futuristic fantasy.

2. Take a hike and let your mind wander.  Some of my best story ideas have come up while I am on a long walk, enjoying the scenery
. Thinking up a plot while trudging along a trail in the high country can not only make the walk go faster, but if you find yourself surrounded with a beautiful mountain view or looking for shells on a lonely beach you can also soak in the feel of the location and use that for a story in the future. Appreciate the setting and think about how you might write about it. You might even look for a way to put it into a scene in your book when you get back to your hotel room.

3. Read!  What is better to do that sitting on a beach chair soaking up the sun and reading the latest books you have been promising yourself you want to tackle. They can not only rejuvenate your brain but sometimes they can also remind you that YOU can write as well and get you going again. You might also consider reading through your latest work and look for new plot directions or pick up something you haven't work on in a while and read through it as though you were reading someone else's book. That might break a logjam in a story for you.

4. Relax! Not only is sitting by the beach or taking that long walk energizing but just letting your
mind wander with nothing to do can clear out some of the dead brain cells and get new ideas planted in your head. Even if you don't feel like writing you can still plot or come up with new ideas for characters. Sometimes being away from your writing desk can totally free up your brain to go in new directions.

5. Do some fun writing. Put away that fiction and try writing non-fiction for a change. Do an interview with someone at a place you're visiting and write up a non-fiction blog piece on the person. Whether it's a fellow traveler or the guy who's selling ice cream along the beach walkway. Think about how you might write a news feature on the person. What kind of questions would you ask? How would you tell the story?

Summer can be a great time to relax and get our writing thoughts in order. But then, eventually, we do need to get back to the keyboard or notebook and sit down and start tackling those writing subjects again. But why let all that great writing time go to waste? Enjoy the summer, but come back refreshed and ready to write!

Getting off to a Fresh Start

At the beginning of every new year don’t we always look at different ways to start off fresh? We want to make our resolutions or set goals ...