Showing posts from May, 2020

Make It Worse: Driving Your Story Forward

No matter what's happening in your protagonist's story, give them a hard time and make it worse. This keeps readers turning pages. Throw obstacles and huge problems at him. Block her from her goal at every turn. Your story begins with a conflict, but the conflicts (yes, plural) need to increase, not decrease. Dole out the complications; don't make it easy for your protagonist to move forward. These tactics create the necessary tension in your story. How? I read a story several years ago that disappointed me. Why? Every obstacle the protagonist encountered fell away quickly. No waves, just little ripples in the pond of her life. That's boring. Give them waves. Waves that knock them down and drag them into the undertow. When they do make it out of the water, put them somewhere foreign and dangerous or difficult or complicated or... Look at the scene you're writing. What would complicate the situation more? What would make it harder for the protag

When To Use Gaze Instead of Eyes

Image courtesy of The improper usage of "eyes" in a story is one of my pet peeves. It usually shows up when a character looks or turns their attention on a person or object. Luckily the fix is simple. What's the issue with using "eyes?" Check out these examples of how I've seen writers use "eyes" improperly: His eyes fell on her She dropped her eyes to the flower in her hand His eyes followed her across the room The man's eyes rose and met hers Her eyes swung in the other direction Last I checked, your eyes don't typically pop out of your head and: land on someone land in a flower or your hand (or someone else's hands for that matter) trail someone across the room fly into the air swing around in the air If this is what's happening, your story just took an ugly, bloody turn! How do you fix this problem? Use the word "gaze" instead of "eyes." His gaze fell

Writing Dialogue: A Primer

Over the last two weeks, I've posted about writing dialogue and received some appreciative comments on social media. If you missed those two posts, please check them out: The Basics of Dialogue Punctuation A Deep Look at Dialogue Punctuation Out of curiosity I searched my posts and found nine more related to dialogue. Some of these are from several years ago, so I decided to share them here as a writing dialogue primer. They don't cover everything, and some of these posts discuss more than dialogue, but they do offer more than the punctuation tips in my two previous posts. Enjoy! Improving Your Writing: Generic Words Begone! Coming Home: What We Missed Avoiding Cliches: A Day Late and a Dollar Short Reality vs Fiction: Writing to Genre Dialect in Dialogue: When To Use It 4 Guidelines for Writing Realistic Dialogue 3 Fundamental Rules for Writing Correct Dialogue 5 Tips for Creating Conflict in Dialogue 3 Dialogue Lessons From a Hesitant Hug If you

The Basics of Dialogue Punctuation

Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann at m Last week, I took a deep look at a specific issue in dialogue punctuation that many of my readers admitted they didn't know: how to punctuate multiple lines of dialogue correctly . Before I posted that message, I looked back through my dialogue-related posts and discovered I have never written a post about basic dialogue punctuation. So, that's what I'm serving up for your enjoyment today. Over the years, I've been surprised to discover that: A lot of people get this right. A lot of people get this wrong. A Quick Dialogue Punctuation Test Which of the following quotations are correct? 1. “Stop” she said, “and look to your left” 2. “Stop,” she said, “and look to your left.” 3. “Stop and look to your left,” she said. 4. “Stop and look to your left.” She said. 5. She said “Stop and look to your left.” 6. She said, “Stop and look to your left.” 7. She said, “Stop and look to your left”.