Writing tips, redux

Hey, peeps–

Thought I’d re-post some of the writing tips I’ve done in the past (since I am, ostensibly, a writer of sorts). And I’ve needed to re-focus on that after the crazy and tragic week. So here you go:

Tips for writing (hopefully good) dialogue.

Tips on point-of-view, and how it can affect your narrative.

Tips on why headhopping might not be a good idea (not to suggest it never is, just why you might want to focus on not doing it, at least at first).

Why you should try to avoid participial phrases.

And here’s a bonus blog from writer Sacchi Green, about some of her writing pet peeves.

There. Have at.

Happy writing!

Helpful writing links plus some other stuff

Hey, kids–

Tomorrow, join me and author Michael Chavez over at Women and Words. We’ll be chatting about his work and he’ll also be giving away a copy of his first novel, Creed. Come on by and hang out with us!

And other stuff I’ve found that I’m going to pass on to you:

Writing sidekicks and henchmen, by author Sophie Masson. I love to write strong secondary characters, so I dug this post. Read the comments, too, because there are other examples and tips in there.

Let’s talk (ha ha) about dialogue! Yet another useful post from author Catherine McKenzie: 10 tips for writing impactful dialogue.

Here’s one of my earlier posts on dialogue, for more tips. I think dialogue is super hard to do well, so any time I see a blog about tips for writing it, I’m all over it.

Are you guys familiar with literary agent Sara Megibow? She’s with Nelson Literary in Denver, and does a greatly informative and fun Twitter feed (@SaraMegibow). Every Thursday ’til the end of the year, she does this thing on Thursdays on Twitter at the hashtag #10queriesin10tweets. Check it out. And follow her on Twitter, because she has great tips for approaching literary agents, writing query letters, and writing. Plus, she and the crew over at Nelson Literary are always doing helpful webinars. I highly recommend you get on their newsletter list.

Oh, and I just finished reading Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr, a collection of his first three Bernie Gunther detective novels. I’ll be doing a write-up on it at Goodreads soon, but in the meantime, check it out. This is hard-boiled noir, and it takes place in Nazi-era Berlin. Go have a looksee. If you’ve read it, I’d be interested to get your thoughts on it.

All rightie! Happy reading, happy writing!

Awesomely cool writing tip

This comes from one of my fave bloggers and writer-guys, Chuck Wendig. He can be a little raunchy with the tips, but he’s always right on.

This week, Chuck enlightens us with 25 tips for writing dialogue, and I gotta tell you. I think dialogue can make or break a character, pacing, and a story. Here are some of MY thoughts on that.

What I really like about Chuck’s tips here is that he nails the importance of good dialogue and its role in plot. Here’s a taste:

3. Sweet Minimalism
Let’s get this out of the way: don’t hang a bunch of gaudy ornaments upon your dialogue. In fiction, use the dialogue tags “said” and “asked” 90% of the time. Edge cases you might use “hissed,” “called,” “stammered,” etc. These are strong spices; use minimally. Also, adverbs nuzzled up against dialogue tags are an affront to all things and make Baby Jesus pee out the side of his diaper, and when he does that, people die. In scripts, you don’t have this problem but you can still clog the pipes with crap if you overuse stage directions. Oh, heavy dialect and sland? Just more ornamentation that’ll break the back of your dialogue.

6. Shape Determines Speed
Short, sharp dialogue is a prison shiv: moves fast ’cause it’s gotta, because T-Bone only has three seconds in the lunch line with Johnny the Fish to stitch a shank all up in Johnny’s kidneys. Longer dialogue moves more slowly. Wanting to create tension? Fast, short dialogue. Want to create mystery? Longer, slightly more ponderous dialogue. Want to bog your audience in word treacle? Let one character take a lecturing info-dump all over their heads.

And there are 23 more, just waiting for you to peruse

Happy writing, happy reading!

Say What? Tips for writing (hopefully) good dialogue

Originally posted March 15, 2009.

All right, friends! So let’s do some more “how to write” kinds of things. Or rather (and hopefully), how to maybe write better. We’ve already discussed POV (point-of-view) and headhopping and why it might be important to stick to one POV at a time (that is, one POV per book/chapter/scene).

The thing about the craft of writing is that different elements tend to intertwine with each other. Today, we’ll be working with dialogue, and as you’ll see, effective dialogue relies, to an extent, on consistent, focused POV. Why? Think about it. If you’re consistent with one POV, then one character per book/chapter/scene is the focal point of a scene and a reader doesn’t have to worry about getting jerked into another character’s head in that same scene. If you’re headhopping (refer to Part 2 of POV above), then you have to keep a reader from getting confused during dialogue, which means you as a writer will probably have to resort to stilted, awkward dialogue constructions like constantly using names in dialogue, even if there are, say, only two people in the room.

Want to know more? Cool. Click on!

Continue reading