Posted in Dialogue

Dialogue Tags

I had a conversation with a first time story writer yesterday. She told me she has a problem with stopping shortly after she starts a story, then she never goes back to it. I asked her what was stopping her. She told me it was the dialogue. When I asked her what specifically about dialogue she was having issues with, she said it was difficult starting it and how to use it.

To be honest dialogue can be confusing to someone who has never written it. There are rules that apply. I’m only going to hit on one here. I went over this with her yesterday, and it cleared up so much for her.

Dialogue Tags—A phrase that precedes, breaks up, or follows dialogue and indicates who is speaking, how it is being delivered, and whether or not a new speaker is talking.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to use dialogue tags in each piece of dialogue. When there are two speakers, use a dialogue tag in the first two to four pieces of dialogue, then stop for the rest of the characters’ conversation. Trust me, the reader will be able to follow who is talking. But, to remind the reader of the order of who is speaking, add a dialogue tag or two somewhere in the middle of the conversation. Normally, two people in a dialogue speak every other piece of dialogue unless otherwise indicated. See example below:

“Let’s get cracking,” said Jack. “These leaves aren’t going to rake themselves.”

“Really? Do you have to be so bossy? I mean, there isn’t a whole lot to do here. Besides, mom said it was optional, and I choose to meet Kayla at the lake,” said Jim.

“Mom will appreciate it so get busy.”

“No.”

Jack thrust his rake to the ground and stalked after his brother. Upon reaching him he grabbed for his shirt. (Indicator that disrupts the dialogue order of who is to speak next).

Jim spun to the right and watched his brother tumble to the ground. “That’ll teach you.” (We know it is Jim speaking here because this sentence is in his point of view at the moment. Therefore, no dialogue tag is needed).

Jack stood and glared at Jim. “You’re an idiot.”

“Maybe so. But at least I know how to have fun.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Jack wiping sweat off his brow. (Reminder of who is speaking next).

“Ever since dad died, all you do is work. You used to have fun. We used to hang out together.”

“Yeah, well things have to get done around here. Someone has to do it.”

As you can see in the example above, other indicators, other than dialogue tags, can indicate when someone is talking (But that’s for another blog post; you got a taste of it here). The idea is to make the dialogue between characters flow. You don’t want it to be choppy. So use the dialogue tags wisely. It takes practice. Also, next time you’re reading a work of fiction, pay attention to the dialogue tags and how the author uses them.

Posted in Writing

The Chapter of Sludge

Ya know, there always seems to be that one chapter or scene that seems forced. Now, we all know creativity can’t be forced. But, sometimes it just is. So how do you get past that? Sometimes you just can’t. You have to wait. That was my day yesterday. I sat down to continue working on chapter 37. At first I couldn’t think of anything. My characters were standing around getting ready to do a fight scene, but they wouldn’t do anything. This writer’s mind was stumped. To rectify this problem I put on some fantasy music hoping this would stir the creative juice pot. It did to some extent, and I completed 600 words. Am I happy with it? Eh. Maybe. Maybe not.

One has to consider what is going on around them that might be a cause for the creativity rut. Part of our house is being renovated, so there are workers here during the week. I am taking care of the business end of this renovation. You know, phone calls, questions, updates, paperwork, etc… I think this has much to do with throwing monkey wrenches into any creative situation.

The show must go on. Keep writing even if it’s a slow and/or disruptive day. The story must get written.

Posted in plot/story

Continuity

Let’s say you are writing a novel or something shorter such as a novella. As you’re writing chapter 20, you forget about some details you wrote in chapter 3 or maybe 4. Because you forgot what was in chapters 3 or 4, the information you write in chapter 20 about the same details may be contradictive. Maybe this is happening in different places throughout your book (these are called plot holes or inconsistencies). There are three ways you can fix this.

  1. Keep track of the information in each chapter on note cards and keep them handy as you write.
  2. Don’t worry about fixing them until you finish your first draft, then go back to the beginning and read each chapter, keeping track of the details as you go by writing little notes in the side margins on what information needs to be fixed. Then fix them.
  3. Have another person in addition to yourself read your first draft to look for these issues.

If you don’t fix plot holes, your readers will end up not being very happy with you. You want to make sure the read for them smooth. You don’t want them to have to stop and wonder.

Posted in Writing

Feedback

How we/you write is how you write. Not everyone is going to like your style, because, as you know, everyone is different. That’s ok. Write in your style anyway. Someone might even give you a low scoring review because of it. That’s ok, because it invokes curiosity and will entice readers to buy/read your book. That’swhat you want. So, embrace the negative. From it can come the positive.

Posted in Writing

Your Fans

What keeps you motivated to continue writing? There are many motivators, but what I am focusing on at the moment are your fans. I don’t merely mean readers. I mean true blue, unadulterated fans. Those individuals who love your work. They love it so much they will come back for more. They throw complements at you telling you they LOVE your stories and to PLEASE write more. They chomp at the bit waiting.

What this does is feed your mind and continues to sprinkle a positive light on it. We all love complements, don’t we? So use this to make your writing better. And as you’re writing, you’ll be focused on how can I make this even better?

In a nutshell, your fans keep you on your toes, and they make you a better writer.

Posted in Writing

The Hook

How often do we try to again the attention of others? Quite often I presume, and we gain their attention in various ways. If you are writing something, whether it be a short story, poem, or a novel, you must gain the attention of your audience early in the story. By early, I mean first page or two. It doesn’t have to be main premise of your whole story yet, but it does have to grab.

One way to do this is to create a question in the reader’s mind.

Example: A light glowed as Jack approached the hallway to the left. He stopped and poked his head around the corner. There a small box glowed in the middle of a chalk drawn circle.

This example creates various questions, such as:

  • Why is the box glowing?
  • What’s in the box?
  • How did it get there?
  • What does the circle mean?
  • Why is it the middle of a circle? What does that represent?

So, all kinds of questions come from this one small sentence. That’s what you want. This would certainly keep me reading/turning the page.

Posted in Writing

The Career of Writing

If you want a career in writing, you have to write everyday. But, as a writer and author myself, do I write everyday? Well, yes and no. When I am not writing, I am working on my story. Some of that non-writing time is spent thinking about my story, such as:

  • The plot– Where do I want the current scene to go? What complications can I throw into the mix to create a hardship for my characters?
  • Characters– How can I make them stand out better? What emotions should they be feeling in the current scene? Are there any other physical characteristics they need to be given?
  • How can I fix a plot hole I inadvertently created?
  • Setting– Maybe there is another setting I need to create, or maybe I need to work on a current one and make it stand out more.
  • Maybe I hit a brick wall, and I am having difficulties moving forward with the story. At this point I would need to examine my story structure. I say this because usually when this happens its because the right scene is in the wrong place in the story. Example: a scene I wrote in Act II should be in Act I. (Seriously, it happens).

While I am thinking of any of the above items, I am doing something else that helps to clear my head of irrelevant stuff and focus more on the story. For an article about clearing your head activities, see Never at a Loss for Words published June 10, 2022.

You don’t want writing to become boring, though. Keep it interesting. Take yourself on a field trip somewhere that can add flavor to your setting. Are you writing a murder mystery that takes place in a small coastal town not far from where you live? Go there, take notes. You know stuff like that.

If you love to write, keep doing it.

Posted in Writing

Never at a Loss for Words

I’ve written about writer’s block in previous posts, but I’m going to address it again in this one. I don’t really believe in writer’s block. There have been times when I didn’t know what to write about, but that just meant I needed to reach inside my “box” of creative tools and “pound out” something I’ve never touched on before. Seriously, do we ever get to a point where we’ve tried to write about everything to a point where there is nothing else to say/write about? No. There’s always something to write about. We just need to find it.

If your mind needs some time to regroup, do that. Let it take the time to relax. Do something else nonwriterly. Put a jigsaw puzzle together, go to the beach, go hiking, or anything else that will clear your mind. Who knows, during that time away from your writing, something will pop into your head and you’ll be off and writing.

Posted in Writing

In the Mood

So, you sit down to your computer to do some writing and find you lost focus. Maybe you didn’t have it when you sat down but thought you did. AHHHH. What can you do to regain it? Spoiler alert, that happened to me just now when I sat down to write. Hence the topic for this post (Laughing at myself). Alas, I regained my focus. After all, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be typing his article. What did I do to rectify the situation and get ‘in the mood’, so to speak? There was a piece of information I needed to obtain from my previous novel, so I could use it for my current novel I’m writing. So, I opened my previous novel, The Triunix of Time, and found what I was looking for. I read the few pages needed. Yes, doing this settled my mind down, and I was off and typing. There are some other things one can do to focus and settle your brain down other than what I did. A list is given below.

  • Meditation— Close your eyes, breath deep, and clear your mind. Then allow your writing to enter your brain and take up residence.
  • Soft Music— Put on some soft music. It can be instrumental, or maybe your prefer love songs. Choose what you like best. Then zero your mind in on your writing.
  • Sounds of Nature— I absolutely LOVE the sound of the ocean. I don’t live on the coast, but I can bring it close by going to YouTube and playing sounds of the ocean. Talk about relaxing.
  • Go for a Walk— I usually do this when I am having trouble dreaming up what’s to come next in the book I’m currently writing. The fresh air helps. That, and most importantly, I use that time to talk to Jesus and tell him what’s on my mind. I bounce ideas for my story off Him. It gives me peace.

Maybe there are other things you do or others do that aren’t listed here. It’s up to you to use whatever method works best for you.

Posted in Writing

Software for Novel Writing

Here is a list of the top software of 2022 for writing a novel:

The one I use is Scrivener, but any of these are good. The following link talks about each of the above four all in one place. That way, if you need one of them, you can better make that decision about which to use.

https://ameredian.com/best-writing-apps-book-writing-software/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw1tGUBhDXARIsAIJx01lUnqHVS5SmyR-Uxvrz83HLWdQtz-npSWaWYXjVDnEzds8SetdBqZYaAnEsEALw_wcB