Showing posts from April, 2016

Reality vs Fiction: Writing To Genre

Courtesy of “Hi,” Jane said. “Hi. How are you?” John said. “I’m fine.   How are you?” “Not bad.   What’s new?” Bleah! Not very interesting is it? Writing fiction presents a confusing challenge to writers:   what’s the line between realistic narrative and fiction? The answer depends on the genre of your story, but the general rule is if it doesn’t move the plot along, scratch it.  Do we have conversations like the one above?   Yes.   Several times a day.   But it’s boring to read.   We don’t care about this.   Readers want to read something that grabs them and puts them in the story.   Rather than take the time to include these introductory phrases, use the time to set the scene.   With a good setting, readers will feel present and assume the typical banal greetings have already occurred. The same goes for this interchange: “Is this the one you need, Mrs. Smith?” “Oh please, call me Jane.” BORING! Granted you might find

Dialect In Dialogue: When To Use It

We can't talk about dialogue in writing without a post on dialect.  The use of dialect can, when used well, make a character blossom off of the page.  When poorly used, it can distract the reader. I remember reading a book with my local book club many years ago.  I don't recall the book's title or author because I donated it soon after the book discussion.  Why?  The use of dialect overwhelmed me. The main character was a widower whose wife had made meticulous preparations for him before she died of cancer.  The story was told in first person, and he had a very unusual, back-country way of speaking. Unfortunately, the author chose to write the entire book using this odd dialect.  It drove me crazy!  I wanted it to end. I disliked the book because of it.  And this was the first topic of our discussion when the book group gathered to discuss this book. It was that controversial. So, how does one use dialect well? I've heard several agents and editors speak on

4 Guidelines for Writing Realistic Dialogue

Courtesy of When you write dialogue does it sound natural?  Look at this short exchange: "Oh yes, please help me with this, George." "Why of course, Anita.  I'll be more than happy to help you with any little thing you wish." At first glance, you might think these statements look fine, but I want you to think about them while we explore how to create believable dialogue. 1.  People don't use names when they talk to each other. Some of you hate me, now, but this is true.  Putting a character's name in dialogue may help the reader know who is or isn't talking, but it's not how people speak. It's ok to occasionally have someone use the name of the person they're speaking to, but keep it to a minimum.  If you don't believe me, listen in on a few conversations the next time you're out in public.  Can you learn the names of the people they're talking to?  Probably not. 2. Words like "oh" are r

3 Fundamental Rules For Writing Correct Dialogue

Courtesy of In my previous post , I explained how to create conflict through dialogue.  As an editor, I see a lot of easy-to-fix issues with dialogue, especially from new writers. Today let's look at 3 guidelines to help you improve your dialogue. Use the word "said" instead of synonyms for "said" such as hinted, grunted, exclaimed, etc. This rule caught me by surprise when I started participating in writing workshops several years ago.  In high school (eons ago), we learned how to come up with different ways to say said.  I loved this exercise because I was good at it. The problem?  Today, we don't do that.  We use the word "said."  It's an empty word like "a" or "the," so the reader reads it without much thought.  The dialogue or scene context should show the reader how the character spoke. Use dialogue beats instead of "said." Although "said" works in dialogue, you don'