Editing, Self-editing Tips, Writing tips

How to Write Good Dialogue (Part Two)

My ancient (by Internet standards) post on “How to Write Good Dialogue” is inarguably the most popular of my bloggish renderings, based on search data anyway. (You probably preferred this one because you don’t like to follow the crowd. You’re the anti-hipster of hipsters.) It seemed prudent, then, to follow that up with another post on dialogue. [Checks date on previous post.] Yeah, I’m a little slow when it comes to prudence. Anyway, here you go. Wait…you read the other post, right? Well click here (or above where it’s also linked because I’m a linking fool) first. Then come back to this page for more…

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Self-editing Tips, Top Posts, Writing tips

How to Write Good Dialogue

Well-written dialogue doesn’t draw attention to itself. Instead, it quietly goes about its business, revealing truth and ferrying the plot toward its conclusion. Bad dialogue, on the other hand, stands out like a man wearing a clown costume to a funeral. (Unless it’s a clown funeral. Then it’s like a man not wearing a clown costume to a funeral.) But for all its invisibility, good dialogue does a lot of heavy lifting. Besides giving voice to your characters, dialogue frequently puts legs on that “show, don’t tell” axiom. For a rare few writers, writing dialogue is as natural as breathing. It’s…

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Self-editing Tips, Writing tips

The Beauty of Things Unsaid (Advice for the 2nd Draft)

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov Words are a writer’s currency. But too many words – or the wrong ones – will devalue a written work faster than an oil spill devalues an oil company’s stock. This isn’t news to you. You know all too well the struggle to find the right words to tell your story. (Put down the thesaurus. That’s not what I mean. Have you even been reading this blog?) And so you write. And write. And write some more. And you finally finish your…

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Self-editing Tips, Writing tips

Talking About Talking [Updated]

I promised a post about writing good dialogue. So here it is. (Because you don’t want yours to end up looking like this.) Before I share a few book excerpts, consider these general tips. Keep in mind, these are principles, not hard-and-fast rules. Avoid repetition of attributions. While you need the occasional “he said” and “she said,” you don’t need one for every line of dialogue. If it’s a conversation between two people, establish the characters at the beginning, then allow for the natural ebb and flow to reveal who’s saying what. Now, if you’ve got a long stretch of…

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Contests, General

Put Down Your Red Stapler and Go Home. It’s Friday.

Three things. Uno – The “First and Last” contest is coming to a close tonight at midnight… but if you ask really nicely, I might let you finish your story over the weekend. Here’s a link to the contest info. And thanks to all who have already entered. So far, nearly 20 of you have taken on the challenge. I suspect a few more are waiting until the last minute to submit your brilliant work. Looking forward to reading each entry. Two – I invited you to send suggestions for first and last lines that I might choose from to…

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Beyond Categorization, Contests, Self-editing Tips, Snark Alert

Stuff I Made Up Last Minute

One: In Which I Make a Single Point About Dialogue But Don’t Actually Tell You What the Point Is Because It’s So Obvious Even a Non-Writer Could Figure It Out “So it’s Friday and that means I can talk about whatever I want,” said Stephen. “You can talk about whatever you want any day,” interrupted Stephen’s alter-ego, Pedro. “I know that,” interjected Stephen, “but Friday is my day to be especially random.” “Pedro?” queried Pedro. “You named me Pedro? What’s wrong with you?” “Nothing’s wrong with me,” countered Stephen. “Pedro is a fine name. What concerns me is this horribly…

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