Warmest welcome to all of my visitors. Feel free to comment on anything that piques your interest. As well as to browse through the archives and of course to visit the links to other great blogs for writers.

Friday, January 27, 2012


For those interested, you can also follow me on twitter now.

Have you ever wondered what they keys to writing good dialogue are? Here are some things I have learned about it during my years of writing and am still learning to perfect.

It's not what is said that counts. It's the meaning behind it.

Take a minute and let that sink in. The meaning behind it. I know, some of you are probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about, right? Let me break it down for you.

When you're talking to your friends, you talk right? But what do you feel? Therein lies the first secret to good dialogue - emotion.

For example:

"Hey Eva, how are you?"

"Oh, I'm fine."

What does Eva's reply tell us? Anybody?

"Oh," usually means someone is distracted. But, why is she distracted? What is bothering her? Is someone ill? Is she upset?

It can also mean she is ignoring the person. But why? Is she angry with them? Does she not like them?

"Oh" can also denote sarcasm. "Oh, it's you again." That doesn't sound very friendly now does is?

One simple word can have a variety of meanings, and bring to mind a dozen different questions and possibilities. The context in how it used, will show us the emotion behind it.

The emotions behind what is said, can tell a reader everything they need to know. Pretty awesome huh?

Now for my second tip. Speech markers. I've discovered that this is an all important key to giving each character a unique voice. So what are speech markers? Things like:

Vocabulary- which can be polysyllabic words {such as intricate, oxymoron, ect.} or professional jargon. {such as interpersonal relationships, instead of relationships, ect.}

Throwaway words and phrases- things like actually, basically, perhaps, you see, I dare say, I don't think you see, it occurs to me, ect. Thing like this usually are only used in dialogue to show a character's specific speech markers. Otherwise they are just wordage and of no real value.

Tight wording- such as beat it, scram, ect.

Loose wording- such as I wish you would go away and leave me alone, ect.

Sarcasm can be a speech marker as well. So can poor grammar and even omitted words. Believe it or not, run-on sentences can also be a speech marker. But only for one character. Too many characters with run-ons can get confusing, fast. So try to limit that to say the chatty character.

Such simple things can drastically improve the dialogue of any story, and will help to give each character a unique voice, without even having to resort to giving them accents. Amazing isn't it? Now to continue practicing it myself. I'm not an expert. I never claimed to be one. Like all of you, I'm still learning as I go, through trial and error mostly.

Another secret to good dialogue is to cut out the echoes of the question. What do I mean by that? Look at the example below and I will bold the echoes found in regular speech.

Example one:

"Hot out today, isn't it?"

"Yeah, it's very hot out today."

"Want to grab a bite to eat?"

"Sure, I'd love to grab a bite to eat."

See how the second person repeats what was asked each time?" Now let's see that written as dialogue, shall we?

Example Two:

"Hot out today, isn't it?"

"Yeah, very."

"Want to grab a bite to eat?"

"I'd love to."

Talking is full of echos. Dialogue shouldn't have any echos. It allows for tighter writing and sounds better to me. What about you?

What are some of the neat things you have learned about writing dialogue? Feel free to share them in comments below. Come on now, don't be shy. You know you want to.

Reference material is Stein On Writing by Sol Stein. A great book for any writer who longs to hone or improve their craft. It was recommended to me by one of the people from my crit groups and I highly recommend it to all of my fellow writers. There is a variable treasure trove of information out there, if you're willing to look hard enough.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Other blogs I highly reccommend checking out.

The Bookshelf Muse

Have Confidence.

If you don't show confidence in your own work, then chances are no matter how good the writing, or plot is, no one else will think it's worth the spit you polish your boots with.

Last night I received two compliments on the first page of my Double Trouble manuscript.

"Your writing is clean and crisp. {thank you!}"

That made me smile. I've worked hard to make my writing look professional and it's nice to see that hard work is paying off.

"Great job setting up such high stakes and grabbing reader interest from the get-go."

Hearing this let me know that my opening hook does indeed do it's job. Which is something else I've worked hard to achieve.

I was also given several tips on how to tighten the prose as a whole, and how to better draw the readers into the story and keep them immersed, rather than unintentionally pulling them out of it. Which is not an easy task to accomplish, especially in the beginning. Yet is vital in order to write a compelling story.

My point is that D.T. is finally shaping up into an exciting read and is starting to "feel" like a real book.

In my opinion, that is the best compliment any writer, striving to get a manuscript turned into a published novel can ever receive.

However, none of this would have been possible if I hadn't been confident enough to keep at it, or if I hadn't been confident enough to let a professional read it.

Over the past couple years I've learned to trust in my writing voice and in my writing in general. To trust in the story I need to tell. Throughout the countless revisions {and trust me there have been at least five on the opening scene alone} I've striven to stay positive about the story I'm writing and the way I'm writing it.

Now I'm not saying it's been easy. In fact, many times I've been tempted to pitch it in the trash-bin and start a fresh one. But, I'm too stubborn to just give up after putting so much blood, sweat, and tears into it over the past few years.

Ask anyone who actually knows me and they will tell you: "She's nothing if not stubborn." My husband is sitting beside me shaking his head yes. *grin* It's the truth and I'm not ashamed of it either. Being stubborn has seen me through some harsh times, in and out of writing.

Bottom line? Simple If you don't believe in what you're writing, why should anyone else? Patience and confidence are two key components that all the great writers have in common.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Silver Linings

Have you ever felt like the whole world is crashing in around you all at once? That's what this week has been like for me. One thing after another has gone wrong. The weather was wretched, the animals were loud, even in the dead of the night, things kept breaking, ect.

Remember that no matter how bad things get, there is always a silver lining.

Mine for the past week is that I reached my goal of completing the first three chapters of the newest story treatment for my Double Trouble MS. I worked each scene one at a time, until they were smooth and then went to the next one. The over all result is an easy to read and follow along set of chapters. Everything makes sense, readers can picture everything in their heads and "feel" as if they are in the MC's shoes.

It may be a small achievement, but to me it's my silver lining in an otherwise rough week.

If we, as writers, and people in general, look for only the bad things happening, that is all we will ever find.

Instead, try looking for just one good thing that happened, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to you at the time. Chances are you will be a much happier person if you remember to look for your silver linings. I know I am.

For next week I intend to get to know my MC's and villain much better, so I don't have to write a scene and say: "I didn't know that..." It gets so annoying, and to me at least, is very distracting, because it pulls me out of the story and I loose my muse more often than not.

For insistence, until two nights ago, I didn't know that my MC has an ex-boyfriend. It came up during one of her thoughts about the current situation. I've recently discovered that my villain also has an ex-wife, who the MC kind of reminds him about, and they went through a nasty divorce.

I don't like learning basic life things about my characters mid writing. They're my characters, from my imagination. I should know everything about them and for some reason, I don't. Not yet, which means I cannot properly represent them or do them justice in the story. I don't like that at all. So they and I are going to sit down and have a long heart-to-heart this week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow, chills, and wrting.

Have you ever had a night that was so bitter cold that heating with wood, and burning two or three pieces at a time, every two hours, barely managed to keep the chill out of the air? That's what I went through last night. Why on earth it was that cold, I have yet to figure out. It's not like I live in Alaska or anything.

As for my writing progress, I have ironed out most of the villain's back-story and even started fleshing out the first few scenes in my Double Trouble MS. However, I find myself growing attached to the characters and even the currently written scenes. The attachment is necessary for writing, but for editing it's a big red flag.

So before I do anymore editing on it, I think it's time to focus purely on writing it out. I plan to write out the first few chapters and from scratch by next Friday evening.

You have to be emotionally attached to the characters in order to put yourself in their shoes while writing the story. If you're not emotionally attached, it will show in the quality of each scene.

However, having a clear perspective is vital when editing your MS.

Which is why writers and editors alike will stress that you must place the MS aside until you are no longer emotionally attached to the characters or writing, in order to properly edit any MS.

Otherwise, you can't give your MS the TLC it desperately needs, from a clear perspective.

Being too emotionally attached makes a writer unwillingly to part with pieces, or scenes that took days, weeks, months, or even a year to get right. Even when you find it really adds nothing to the plot. You have to be able to suck up your courage and cut the dead weight. Otherwise the MS won't shine like the true gem that it should be.

Wish me luck.

Friday, January 6, 2012

One hurdle crossed. Many more to go.

I'm taking baby steps with my MS. I have to finish ironing out the villain's back story. By Sunday evening I should have it finished. That wasn't my targeted finish time, but at least I am getting somewhere with it.

Small bits of progress are still progress. No matter how insignificant they may seem at the time. No matter how frustrating it gets when you don't reach your intended goal. Every step leads to an overall stronger and richer MS.

Think of each step of progress as a single brick. You have to layer the bricks in order to build a sturdy foundation, and then you can build the house.

If you don't reach your intended goal each week, then chances are you're setting your goals too high. Take it one step at a time, just like when you were learning how to walk. Remember that you have to crawl before you can learn how to walk. After you learn how to walk, you can learn how to run.

I didn't reach my intended goal this week, but I still made progress.

I ironed out the character's profiles and personalities. While doing that I came up with some interesting new twists for the plot to take, added a few sub plots and a major change to the ending.

I ironed out most of the character's back stories. I even started revising the first couple of chapters from the original idea {where the protagonist is actually a teen.}

So, all in all I consider this a productive week.

My goal for next week is to completely map out the character arcs. I'm also working on improving my writing technique by fiddling with one of my deleted scenes. It should be fun. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Talk about an eye opener!

I've recently combed through my files for the Double Trouble characters

"What was I thinking?"

I spent over three years writing it half way out, and then set it aside for over six months, because I made the colossal mistake of starting to edit it before I finished writing it out.

Big mistake!

I ended up getting myself into a huge writer's block because of that. Take my advice and finish writing your MS out, then worry about the editing process.

After setting it aside for so long I've definitely grown detached from the MS and characters. I can see everything crystal clear now. People aren't kidding when they say 'Set it aside until you have a clear perspective.' That absolutely is vital in order to properly revise it.

Today I spent two hours comparing the character sketches for all of my male characters and I realized there are too many similarities in them. They're not completely alike, but not near as diverse as they should be.

Has this ever happened to any of you before? How did you feel about it? I feel like a total amateur for making such a mistake.

I spent the rest of my writing time today going through each of the characters profiles and giving them completely different descriptions. Too many had long hair, and most were the same archetype. Talk about boring. I've decided what each character's dominant strength and corresponding flaw will be. Those vary depending on their personalities.

As for my female MC, I've completely redone her character sketch from scratch. I've vetoed the conflicting character traits, decided what her goals and driving factors are, and have cut back on her strong suits. I've defined the conflicts she will have to face. I still have to iron out a few kinks for her character arch, like fleshing out parts about what her mother was like, but otherwise she's good to go.

I've decided that every character, no matter how small a part they play in the story, will be a different archetype. I've finally figured out which archetype suits each character best, even the minor characters, and have tweaked the details to iron them out.

I can't believe how little has actually been accomplished in the four years I've worked on this MS. I've put just under three years of actual writing into this MS, but I started planning it and drawing up the outline a year before that. Today I realized that I still have a long way to go before it'll be publishable. Talk about depressing.

I just have to remind myself that I am making progress on it. Not as much as I'd hoped for by this point, but progress none the less.

Today I made a major improvement in the characterizations, but I still need to fine tune each character's back story. Having the character-arcs ironed out will allow me to finish writing out the story and fine tune what's already written out.

I hope to have to have all their back stories completely charted out and start on ironing out the kinks in my plot line by the end of the week. I'm slowly learning how to self-edit my MS. I still intend to have a professional editor look it over before it is queried or published, but I like the idea of being able to catch what they look for myself. We will see how it goes.

I pretty much live like the pioneers did, minus the hunting, and with the added technology of electricity. We heat with wood, we lug water, tend animals, burn our trash. It's a bit rustic and sometimes harsh, but so invigorating and rewarding too. I love it and so do my husband and kids. It keeps us active and in shape. It allows us to bond as a family, gives us strong values, which we live by and permits us to be surrounded by nature's beauty.

With winter here my day starts with lugging in wood and tending the fire, then my children, then house cleaning, laundry, ect. So my writing time is limited. I'm not able to write as often as I'd like to anymore, but I wouldn't change my life for anything in the world.

I'm hoping to update this blog once a week, preferably on Friday evenings. So keep an eye out.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Have you ever

Had a headache so bad that just getting up to go to the restroom nearly sent you into a nauseous fit, with your head spinning so bad you could barely take a step?

Talk about a memorable way to begin the new year.

That's how 2012 began for me. I had to stop and let the dizziness pass after ever single step, and I don't drink. My fever jumped up and down all day and most of the night. Needless to say I wasn't on the pc for the day, or night yesterday. I haven't had a headache that debilitating since around the year 2000.

I'm well rested and ready to continue revising my Double Trouble novel.

My New Year Resolutions

1: Exercise more with my family

2: Return all of the crits I still owe at my crit groups.

3: Finish writing out the MS for Double Trouble

4: Finish planning out my handful of unfinished fanfics

5: Get my first book published

Happy New Year fellow bloggers. Here is to hoping this year is a progressive one, for all of my fellow writers.