WD Publishing

Passive Words to Avoid Using While Writing Your Novel

“Read. Don’t chase trends. Read. Set a daily word count goal. Read. Anything “writerly” counts as working. Critique partners help IF they’re good.”

—Terry Odell, Award-winning author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series

 

Passive Words to Avoid

Adverbs: All words ending in “ly” —quietly, softly, energetically, etc.

Always: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something always happens.

Like: Any phrase beginning with like is most times telling the reader instead of showing them.

Just: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something just happens on occasion. Be careful, though, that a lot of things just don’t happen.

Only: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something only happens on occasion.

Pretty: Unless using it correctly in reference to something being beautiful.

Seem: Every form of it—seemingly, seemed, seems.

 

Passive Words to Use on Occasion

Even: There are times this word is necessary, however, reread the sentence to see if you can rephrase it.

Saidisms: Stated, commented, argued, etc. Use said and ask for transparent dialogue tags.

That: There are times that can be deleted out of the sentence and times it’s needed for the sentence to work. Read the sentence out loud if you’re unsure if it’s needed. 80% of the word that can be deleted in a manuscript.

Which: Be sure you know when to use that and when to use which. These are words misused on a frequent basis.

 

Crutch Words

Every writer has a few words (adverbs/verbs/adjectives/phrases) they use A LOT. Search your manuscript for words that appear frequently in it, and see if you can 1) replace it with a synonym, or 2) delete it altogether in every sentence. You may have several crutch words. If you have more than 20 uses in your manuscript, it could be 18 uses too many.

Challenge: See if you can delete all of these words from your writing vocabulary.

 

 

Copyright (C) 2016 by Written Dreams, LLC.

 

Reviewing Your First Draft: WD’s Manuscript Separation Process

It’s easy to get excited after you’ve written your first draft. We know you want to show it to the world. But don’t! Please don’t. Here’s an easy process to remember to make your manuscript the best it can be—before showing even one word to your closest friend, or gasp,  to an editor. We believe this process is time well spent. Read on to learn more about our Manuscript Separation process.
1) If you haven’t started writing your first book and your reading this blog, that’s okay. a) Do as much research as you need to start writing Manuscript 1. b) Begin writing 200-1000 words a day, 6 days a week until you reach the desired story length. (90,000 words is the length of a typical fiction book.)
2) Writing the first draft can be frustrating. Enjoy the process. No matter if it takes you 30 days or 30 months, this is the first draft of Manuscript 1. Ever. Make it whatever you want it to be. Take your time and add as much of the story as you can during this process.
Note: If you get stuck or have writer’s block, no worries.  Relax and unwind. Do some more research on your topic, or get inspired by attending a local writer’s group meeting. Writers are helpful, unselfish people and most want to see their peers succeed.
2) You’ve finished writing your first draft. Congratulations! Now, here’s the most important step in your manuscript process. Put it aside and don’t touch it for 3 months—that’s 90 days of not looking at one word, not even the title. I know, I know. It’s finished, and you want to tweak every last word. Why? Because you can. Revising it now at this stage of the process would be a crucial mistake and could be hazardous to the manuscript. Wait 3 months before reviewing this first draft. Waiting can be tough, but this is very important. Plan a vacation, start a new hobby, outline a new story. Do anything but read Manuscript 1.
Note: If you do think of an idea to add to the manuscript during your time away, write it down in a journal with the date on it (or the day in the process, like Day 25 of 90) so you don’t forget the inspirational idea that could fix that plot hole or character flaw.
3) Day 91: You’re ready to review your manuscript. You’ve been a good writer and haven’t peeked. That’s wonderful! Now, check that journal for any notes to refresh your memory and start reading.
Note: More revisions are typically made on Chapter One than any other chapter. Don’t have a favorite. Spend equal amounts of time on every chapter. I know some are more needy than others and require more attention. Just be aware that you’re not spending all of your time with just one chapter. Remember to add details for characters, like oh I don’t know, them wearing clothing and having skin color, eye color, hair color, etc., so your characters are not running around invisible and naked. LOL! 🙂
4) You’ve finished the second draft. Writer, what are you going to do next? No, (shaking head) not send it to an editor. Wrong answer. Go to Disney World? Maybe. The one thing you need to do: put Draft 2 aside for 2 short months. 60 days, that’s all. You can do it!
Note: During your off time of Manuscript 1, you could begin research on Manuscript 2.
5) Day 61: Review draft day. As you go through the manuscript this time, you’ll see plot holes or character flaws more easily. During this review, you’ll probably spend more time on specific scenes in the story, making sure the story arc is what it needs to be and making the characters live and breathe. When you’ve fixed those plot holes, you’re ready for the next step.
Note: Getting distance away from Manuscript 1 is very important and allows for you to have “Fresh Eyes” on your manuscript. Some writers say they don’t even remember writing some of the things in their manuscript while reviewing.
6) Next step. Put Draft 3 away for 1 month before reviewing it. Easy peasy. The time will go quickly.
Note: During this month off from Manuscript 1, write 5 diary entries your main character would write. If, after you write these entries you discover more about your character’s flaws and characteristics, be sure to write them down in your journal and include them when you begin your next review.
7) Day 31: Review Day of Draft 4.  Take your time with this review, be critical and watch for minor typos and grammatical errors that may have popped up during the revision process. Add any details about your character that you may have missed before, but don’t spend a lot of time on changing scenes/character revisions. This review is meant to be more of a proof, than a rewrite. A rewrite at this point shouldn’t be needed. After this review you should have a clean manuscript.
Note: If you’re fully satisfied with your manuscript at this point, that’s great! If not, take another month away from it and do more revisions. If you’re really stuck, do one of two things: a) join a writer’s critique group and ask for suggestions, or b) set up a time to talk with one of us at Written Dreams and we can put you in contact with a professional to help you.
8) Submission time? Your manuscript has been fully revised, it’s typo free and full of fun details about your characters and the adventure they embark upon. You’re excited and ready to submit to an editor, but first, should you have someone else read it? That depends. If this is truly your first manuscript and you know other writers, you could ask a few willing beta readers. Many pros do this, and it’s not a bad idea at all.
Note: If you do send your manuscript to beta readers keep in mind that you may end up doing more revisions. Remember to take time away from Manuscript 1 after any revision process, a minimum of 30 days after revising any scenes.
8) Submission time: sending Manuscript 1 to an editor. Request their submission guidelines and format your manuscript in their suggested format. Then, off it goes!
Note: You will worry. We know. Remember that editors read manuscripts for a living and that Manuscript 1 isn’t the only one they have on their schedule. After you send your manuscript out, write down the date sent, and then start a new project. Check in with the editor after 6-9 weeks have passed to check on the status of your manuscript.
Good luck! We hope this article helped you. This a suggestion for a process that we’ve seen work for many authors. Ultimately, you need to decide what process works best for you. If you have any questions, you may contact us through our contact page on our website. Check out our store at writtendreams.com/store for some great reads by other authors!

Death by G-String:  A Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club Mystery by C.C. Harrison

 A Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club Mystery

 

Can Viva Winter find the truth before it’s too late?

The Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club is gearing up for a ukulele competition when their flamboyant star player, Kiki Jacquenette, is found strangled to death with a G-string. Not only is a first place win in jeopardy, the entire folk music festival is put on the verge of collapse. A murderer on the loose is sure to keep tourists away.

Chronicle editor Viva Winter had hoped to make Coyote Canyon the folk music capitol of the Colorado mountains, and was also trying to raise money to help repay the townspeople bilked by her father’s phony investment scheme. With much to gain by Kiki’s death, Viva soon comes under suspicion, so she must uncover the truth before her whole life turns into one sour note, and a tourist trade boom falls flat.

 

Thanks to Heidi Swedberg for the mention of this book on her blog! https://sukeyjumpmusic.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/ukulele-holiday-2017/

 

 

About the Author:

C.C. Harrison lives in Anthem, Arizona. She is the author of hundreds of articles and short stories. When she’s not writing, reading, or working out at the gym, she can be found in the mountains of Colorado or in some far-flung corner of the Southwest. She has won national recognition with her suspense novels.

Interview with Charles DuPuy, author of Say The Word

This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Charles DuPuy about his new release, Say the Word. The novel is currently available to purchase here on the Written Dreams website. Come learn a little more about his heart-pounding, tear-jerking mystery as Charles shares his process with us!

About Say The Word

When physician assistant Jim Booker “saves” the life of a Mafia don’s son, the young man’s father makes him a solemn promise. Jim remembers it when he runs into an intolerable situation at Serenity, a substance abuse treatment facility in Maine.

The resulting consequences of the don’s actions threaten to land Jim in prison for the rest of his life. He struggles to come up with something, anything that will clear his name. He is helped along the way by Brianna, a counselor who works with Jim at Serenity. They join forces to try and get the tenacious state police detective off their backs, but they’ll face numerous obstacles along the way as Jim tries to prove his innocence.

The Interview

Q: What made you want to write a physician’s assistant type character for Say the Word?
A: I was a physician assistant in Maine for many years. I drew on my experience at a substance abuse treatment program for the background to Say the Word.

Q: What is your connection to Maine?
A: I moved to Maine after becoming a physician assistant in 1983. My first exposure to Maine was as a camp counselor while in college. I have hunted, fished, camped and hiked throughout the state, and enjoyed fishing for lobsters and digging clams. Maine is larger than all the other New England states put together, and it’s chock full of things to do and places to go.

Q: Any words of advice on how to cope for people who have dark demons like abuse or addiction in their lives?
It’s a waste of time and money to offer advice to people who are addicted to one or more substances. They need to reach the point in their lives where the only direction to go is up, and they’re willing to go in that direction. Without their willingness to change, any effort to help them is a waste of time, sad to say.

As for people who have suffered abuse, be it physical, sexual or psychological, a willingness to get past it is key. The most important thing they need to understand is that the abuse was not their fault. Many abused people blame themselves for what happened. That is what keeps them suffering.

Q: Why mystery? Did you find it, or did it find you?
I’ve always loved a good mystery, so writing them came naturally to me. Keeping my readers wondering what’s going to happen next is very satisfying to me. It’s the spark that keeps me writing.

Q: Words of advice to an aspiring young author?
Read everything that interests you, write daily in a diary or a journal, and explore everything in your world. Keep doing it until you know who you are and what you want to say. Then write, write, write until most of what you write satisfies you. Don’t expect everything you write to satisfy you. That’s why good writers edit and rewrite.

Q: Who do you enjoy reading?
I read to learn and to be entertained, so I read a wide range of stuff. Naturally, mysteries grab me the most. It’s likely that Edgar Allan Poe got me started, and Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and William Golding caught my eye. Contemporary writers include Lee Child, Dan Brown, Stuart Woods, James W. Hall, Dean Koontz, and yes, Stephen King, a fellow-Mainer. I’m constantly on the lookout for new blood, pun intended!

Interview with Seth Vorhees, author of Immune: Rise of the Inflicted

Written Dreams’ book of the week is currently Immune by Seth Vorhees, since it is a fantastic read that will be available soon. You can pre-order Immune here, and we expect to release the novel within the next few weeks. Seth answered a few questions about his novel for us below, so if you’re looking for your next sci-fi fix, check it out!

About Immune

After a deadly virus infects the global population, it throws all of the world’s inhabitants into two classes: the inflicted and the immune. Wyatt Tuck, a member of the immune, finds himself inside a nightmarish onslaught of deadly feuds and riots. Losing his home and family brings him into the paths of other immune—his niece Layla, Easton, and coworker Mitch Burkly—and the opposing inflicted, such as Helen Olsen.
At Camp Belt, an internment camp for the immune, Helen is promoted to Commander. She makes a shocking discovery about the two warring classes and must rise to action. Will she choose to battle the rising forces created from the charred ash of the world’s dead society? Or does she dare hope to unite a darkened world so it can rise again into the light?

About Seth Voorhees

Seth Voorhees lives in the majestic Black Hills of South Dakota. He studied at Black Hills State University, with an emphasis in sociology and physiology. He’s worked in the mental health field for ten years, specializing in adolescents with co-occurring disorders. Besides writing, he enjoys fishing, reading, and studying history.

The Interview

Q: What inspired you to write Immune?
A: The inspiration is actually a complicated answer, since I have never been an author that gets one idea and goes off of it. My stories are typically always a combination of several smaller ideas. In the story, those who are blood type A+ are immune from the virus (A+ is mine, by the way). Years ago, during the rise of the swine flu, fear gripped the country. I went for a walk, and during the walk, I had a thought: What if everyone in town perished from the swine flu but me, and the reason was my blood type? This thought spurred into other ideas and plots, all of which fell to the wayside and did not make it into the book.

Years later, I wanted to write a zombie novel. However, I wanted it to be different than the rest (there are already a hundred different zombie stories, so I wanted it to be original). This was when The Walking Dead was at its hype, and thus it became an inspiration. During the process of writing Immune, I remembered that thought all those years ago about immunity being based on blood type. It’s a combination of these two ideas that created Immune. The majority of my stories follow this process.

Q: Writers use a lot of different types of major events in post-apocalyptic fiction. Why did you choose a virus to destroy the world?
A: Immune started based on the premise of the two groups: those affected and those not. I focused more on segregation and discrimination, and so the destroying the world factor came later as I continued to write the story. I have never been an “outline” person. It’s never clear what’s going to happen next, because I just write and let the story create itself. I find it more enjoyable for me that way, and I don’t believe I’d enjoy writing if I looked at it as a science experiment.

Q: Which character do you relate to the most in Immune?
A: The character I most relate to is Wyatt, since Wyatt is loosely based on me. This is evident by his career in the mental health field, since I have done the same for years. The other similarities are being a recovering alcoholic and living a life on a spiritual plane—this conflict of attempting to live on a spiritual path while immersed in chaos is a common element.

Q: Which authors do you read in your free time?
A: I read every day, and I have dozens. However, there are only a few authors that I have read multiple stories from them because of their writing style. Those are Stephen King, Dan Simmons, Paul Tremblay, Dean Koontz, and Jennifer Mcmahon.

The Truth About Writing Your First Novel

Writing takes a lot of determination, patience, and hard work. A lot of people who aren’t in the publishing industry don’t realize this, so if you want to be a professional writer, realize it’s going to take a lot of time. To begin with, you need to spend a lot of time reading. Reading about the craft, reading novels in the genre you want to write in, reading books that are outside of your target genre. Read everything!

Next, you’ll want to write a short outline to give you a map of the beginning, middle, and end of your story. For some people, it’s difficult to write a 20 page outline. The type of outline I suggest for new writers are much simpler for writing a novel. Here’s an example:

Chapter 1: write 2 sentences about the main action to take place in Chapter 1 and 1 sentence about which character will be introduced.

Chapter 2: write 2 sentences about the main action to take place in Chapter 2 and 1 sentence about which character will be introduced.

And so on until you get to Chapter 20, or the end. Some simple outlines might have up to 60 chapters. Ultimately, that’s up to you and your editor.

Next, after you’ve written this very brief outline–your novel path, if you will–write one of the scenes. It doesn’t have to be the scene from chapter 1. Write whatever comes to mind. Figuring out where the scenes go can come later, if need be. The point is to write. Write when you’re in different moods–happy, sad, angry, overwhelmed. All of these emotions need to get out and onto the page. Don’t be afraid.

You’ll want to decide which point of view you feel most comfortable writing in–1st person, 3rd person, or another viewpoint. If you don’t understand viewpoints, read what other successful writers say about writing in the viewpoints of their choosing. Then, make a decision.

Write every day for at least 1 hour, if you can. Write 100 words, 1000 words, or 10, 000 words–whatever your schedule allows for. Be consistent–writing at the same time every day, six days a week. Take 1 day off to rest and brainstorm.

If you’re writing a fiction novel, you’ll need to write between 60,000 -90,000 words. Don’t get discouraged if it takes 1 year or more to write your first novel. Writing takes time to do.

And the most important thing to remember, don’t revise now. Just write your first draft until you get it done. You’ll have lots of time to review and revise, add new chapters, new characters, and different plot twists later.

Good luck and happy writing!

Interview with The Adventures of Peter Gray author, Nathan Hopp

This week’s featured Written Dreams’ novel is The Adventures of Peter Gray by Nathan Hopp, which we published last year. You can purchase it here in our store or here in our e-store.

About The Adventures of Peter Gray

The cover of The Adventures of Peter Gray by Nathan Hopp.

The Adventures of Peter Gray follows a young orphaned wolf coming of age in the alleys of New York City. Peter’s mischievous, happy-go-lucky attitude gets him in trouble as he divides his time between running from bullies and annoying the local baker. When he meets James Lawton, a human boy, Peter discovers what true friendship can be. Together, Peter, James, and other Newsie friends venture on the city’s cobblestones. Soon Peter learns his Newsie friends are in a tough situation. As he watches how it unfolds for the Newsies, Peter realizes that something is missing in his life. He questions the happiness an adoptive family can bring him. Will he accept the circumstances placed in front of him, or will he keep running from the truth?

About Nathan

A Green Bay native, Nathan Hopp inherited his love for literature from his mother and for sci-fi/fantasy from his father. A graduate of Preble High School’s 2015 class, Nathan’s interest in books as a child grew into writing, eventually leading him to try his hand at short stories, vignettes, and longer pieces. Hopp is an English major at UW-Eau Claire and spends his free time running a book review blog, Reader’s Boulevard.

We had a chance to ask Nathan about his recent release. Enjoy!

The Interview

Q: The Adventures of Peter Gray’s protagonist, Peter, is an anthropomorphic wolf rather than just an ordinary human. What inspired this choice, or how did you get interested in creating characters like that?

A: Peter Gray did indeed start off as a regular human character at first, but I felt I wanted to give him more of a memorable appearance, and circumstances that made his story unique. I’d always been a fan of anthropomorphism in fiction due to the endless thematic possibilities, and when I pictured him as a wolf interacting with a human boy, I thought it sounded interesting to write out.

Q: Why is the theme of friendship so important to both you and the novel?

A: Growing up introverted, I often felt alone like Peter did during my school years, and took pride in the friendships I did manage to form. To me, you cannot function in this world without someone to talk to or speak to face-to-face, and in this divided, almost hostile world, I felt it was important to highlight that friendships can be so powerful, that they can transcend through prejudice.

Q: Why did you choose New York in the late 1800s as your setting? Were there any other settings you considered?

A: At first, I didn’t know what time period worked best to put Peter’s story in. I was tied between the 1880s and early 1900s, until I remembered the Disney movie “Newsies.” As I researched the event and the year it took place in, I couldn’t stop myself from seeing Peter Gray and Kid Blink working together during such a historic event.

Q: What has been your experience as a new young writer? What challenges have come your way?

A: As a young writer, there’s been amazement, but also quite a few trials, most of which involve marketing. I’ve learned that in order to become a successful writer, you have to push your work out and get readers engaged with what you’re writing. They won’t just magically find your books, so you need to get the word out!

Q: You’ve spoken before about your pride in being an author with autism. How has living with autism changed your experience as an author?

A: I’ve written a blog post about it, but the best way I can summarize it is that writing has helped me become a better conversationalist, and vice-versa. If I wanted to improve dialogue, storytelling and character, I needed to interact with people. And having autism has helped me acknowledge that entertainment is fluid, and everyone has different ways to express themselves.

Q: Do you like to write in a similar setting to this novel? Or else, what is your favorite setting to write in?

A: I have so many settings I’ve written in, some of which are Peter Gray’s fantasy settings, and other times they’re dystopian or futuristic space, but I can’t think of one specific setting that is my favorite. However, I can say that whenever I write a story set in the same universe of one of my works, it feels like returning to a familiar place and meeting old friends you haven’t talked to in a while. 

Q: What does your writing routine look like? Do classes impact this routine?

A: Due to my job and classes, I try to focus every chance I have on writing. Sometimes I cram it during breaks or between classes, but having a tight schedule can give me motivation to write. After all, I can edit it later. 

Q: Who are your favorite fictional characters?

A: That is a difficult choice. If I had to nitpick, I would have to choose Jay Gatsby from “The Great Gatsby”, Vito Corleone from “The Godfather”, and two comic book favorites: Batman and Deadpool. Explaining why would require paragraphs for each of them, so I won’t go into it now.

Interview with D.M. Herrmann, author of INNISFREE

The author of this week’s featured book, INNISFREE, is D.M. Herrmann. D.M. Herrmann is a retired soldier, having spent twenty years in the US Army. He has authored three fiction novels under the pseudonym Evan Michael Martin. He lives in Wisconsin.

We had a chance to ask him a few questions about INNISFREE this week–check it out, and remember that INNISFREE is now available for purchase at writtendreams.com! 🙂

Q: What motivated you to write INNISFREE?
A: I’ve always enjoyed post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories, and so I thought it would be fun to write one.

Q: Did you base John Henry off of anyone particular that you know?
A: No one in particular. Like many of my characters, he is a composite.

Q: How similar are John Henry’s military experiences to your own life experiences?
A: Pretty close. We both retired from the Army and moved back to WI. The location is near where I served as an Army recruiter, so the area and culture were a reflection of that.

Q: Have you ever visited a cabin in the woods, and if so, where did you go and what did you do?
A: My uncle owned one for many years in Northern Wisconsin, not far from where this story takes place. We went fishing and just enjoyed the fresh air. It was a rustic cabin in that it had no plumbing, and the cookstove was an old fashioned wood cook stove.

Thanks for sharing! We hope you enjoyed this mini-interview, and that you will also enjoy INNISFREE as well!

Learning your craft

Every author wants to improve their craft. Here’s a few tips on what to do.

Write a lot. Write on a schedule. Write different things, different forms, different stories. One editor used to say to set a goal of writing one short story a week. If you do that, at the end of the year you’ll have 52 short stories you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

If it’s early in your arc as a writer, by the end of the first year, none of those 52 stories are likely to sell, but during that year you will have learned a lot about the art and craft of writing. And probably learned a lot about yourself as a writer.

Keep with that schedule, and at the end of the second year, you’ll have written over one hundred stories. By this point, you may have produced a few stories that have a good chance of selling and learned more about writing than you’ll ever learn in any sort of writing program.

Read a lot. Read different genres, different formats, by different authors. If you write mystery, read romance. If you write humorous, read serious stories. Pick apart the story, analyze the characters, their actions, their emotions. Are they realistic?

And most of all, don’t stress the small stuff. Writing should be fun, fulfilling, and something you enjoy doing. If you’re struggling with a story, set it aside and start something new.

Creating Characters that Live and Breathe on the Page

Why do we need to describe our characters? Because we do not want them running around invisible and naked within the pages of our story. We need strong multi-dimensional characters that readers can empathize with. As humans, we are not one-sided stick people. It is our desire to create characters in our own image, so why not make them all diverse individuals.

 

Ways to create and build your characters:

  • Personality: Review their personality traits: what has influenced their personality? Cultural factors, psychological factors, biological or genetic factors, or environmental factors? How did they grow up? Giving characters specific personality traits will help build their backstory.

 

  • Appearance: Describe what they look like and the clothes they wear: what is a unique piece of clothing that is specific to them, but not to the to other characters? Do they wear a hat, specific jewelry, different shoes? This will make them look unique on the page.

 

  • Dialogue: Some dialogue phrases can be specific to only one character. Of course, you’ll have dialogue to move the plot forward, but certain phrases can be used to express character’s opinions and show how they respond to stress.

 

  • Dialogue Tags: A dialogue tag is a physical response used before or after dialogue. It helps show body language. This is very important in creating characters. It helps add emotion to the pages. A dialogue tag does not need to be used on every line of dialogue but layered in gently with body descriptions readers can see.

 

  • Thoughts: If sharing thoughts with readers, this is a way to show their innermost feelings without the characters sharing their true thoughts with the rest of the world. Are they scared? Lonely? Do they have to put on a mask every time they are with other characters. If so, why?

 

  • Flaws: No one is perfect, and characters aren’t either. What are some of their flaws? Physical, emotional, psychological. This is another way to help build backstory.

 

  • Motivation: What makes them tick? What is their passion?

 

Exercise: Think about someone you love. Now, think about their strengths and weaknesses, phrases they always say, ways they can make you laugh or cry. Now, write down 4 unique things about that person and be sure to include one of each of the following—personality trait, physical trait, dialogue phrase, and a dialogue tag.

 

Remember, strong characters can carry a strong plot. Strong characters can carry a weak plot, but weak characters cannot carry any plot.

 

Copyright (C) 2018 by Written Dreams, LLC.

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Dialogue

 

If dialogue is written well, it can move the story forward while fleshing out your characters. It is meant to be used as a break for readers from reading long passages of narrative and add description to the scenes in a different way than narrative prose.

 

Do:

  • Do use the words: says, said, ask, asks, asked, asking

These words are transparent to the reader, meaning the reader can move along in the story without seeing these words. Said and asked, especially, don’t stop a reader.

  • Do use physical tags to show what the character is doing during dialogue. It will add emotion to the story.
  • Do use a saidism tag every 2-3 lines of dialogue between 2 people. If more than 2 people are speaking, be clear who is speaking on every line to avoid reader confusion.
  • Do use the five senses in dialogue/dialogue tags.
  • Do use he/she in place of the character’s names.
  • Do put each character’s line of dialogue on a separate new line.
  • If starting a new scene/chapter with a new character in dialogue, use their first and last name in that first line of dialogue so the reader knows who is speaking.
  • Do use punctuation in dialogue.
  • Do look at/read/review another author’s dialogue.
  • Do your research on the character’s backstory/history if you want them to speak with an accent or in a dialect you don’t use yourself. Use words like Scottish brogue to describe their conversations.
  • Do use contractions in dialogue. Write dialogue the way your characters would speak.
  • Use a combination of dialogue, thoughts, physical actions, and the five senses for well-balanced dialogue.

 

Don’t:

  • Don’t overuse saidisms that aren’t said/ask. Why? Because the reader will think the conversation is important and keep it in their head. If you’re constantly using these types of words in dialogue, it’ll be difficult for the reader to keep track of all of those important conversations. Instead, use these words sparingly and for emphasis. Example: stated, commented, agreed, inferred, whispered, yelled, argued, answered, replied, etc.
  • Don’t overuse profanity. Only have a character curse for emphasis on a rare occasion. If overused, it loses its importance.
  • Don’t have more than 4-6 lines of dialogue without any saidism tags. It will be confusing for readers to follow along, making them frustrated and want to put the story down.
  • Don’t run dialogue from multiple characters in the same paragraph. Each line of dialogue by a new speaker should be on a new line.
  • Don’t use the word speak/spoke for every line of dialogue. (See #1.)
  • Don’t try to write a character speaking in an accent or different dialect—unless you have studied it for a very long time. Accents/dialects/slang are very hard for readers to follow. Use sparingly.
  • Don’t forget the punctuation.

 

Copyright (C) 2018 by Written Dreams, LLC.