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Showing posts from November, 2008

Utilizing Subtexting in Dialogue

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One of my favorite writing books is Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actorsby Brandilyn Collins. The chapter on subtexting is one of the best I've ever read.

Subtexting is a powerful writing tool that isn't used enough by beginning writers. Think about all the times you've said one thing but meant another--that kind of dialogue in your novel can convey layers upon layers of powerful emotional meaning.

This article I wrote originally appeared on Suite101.

How to Utilize Subtexting in Dialogue

Take Dialogue to a Deeper Level

Add subtlety and richness in meaning by incorporating the tricks of cross-talk in dialogue.

Subtexting, or cross-talk, is when characters say one thing but mean another.

Dialogue doesn’t always need subtexting, but it adds weighty significance to certain dialogues within the story that you might want to emphasize. It can bring emotions to light with even more power than if they were stated.

Here is a passage from Jane Auste…

Interview on Missy Frye's blog

Missy Frye asked me about writing and the writing life on her blog:

What is your writing routine?

I start off doing emails and marketing in the morning, and move to writing in the later part of the day, with a few email breaks in between. I try to be disciplined but that doesn't always happen. :)

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

Building a blog, part 3

Read part 2 here

Blogging Logistics, continued:

Give your blog a unique design.

Make your blog design uniquely “you.” It will serve as a visual cue to readers to know they are entering your happy place and can expect a fun read.

A cheap way to alter your blog template is to ask a computer savvy teen or twentysomething to help you “pimp” your blog. Many teens know html b/c of their experience personalizing their myspace pages.

An expensive way is to hire a blog designer. Check out several of your favorite blog designs and figure out who the designer was. Then email them to ask for prices.

Keep the visual distractions to a minimum.

A blog with too many little ads or too many widgets on both sidebars can be distracting to a reader.

Aim for clean lines and good visual cohesiveness. Incorporate lots of white space.

Overall, make sure your nice unique blog design isn’t overshadowed by ads or widgets or flashing bling.

Turn off the music.

Blogs with music playing tend to be distracting. Turn the music…

Building a blog, part 2

Read part 1 here

Blogging Logistics, continued:

Keep your blog posts short.

Blog readers tend to skim when the blog posts are very long.

The ideal length for a blog post is 250-400 words.

Yes, you read that right.

The longest a blog post should be is 750 words, although if a blog post is a short fiction story, they can be as long as 1000 words.

Short blog posts also enable you to blog more—a long blog post can instead be broken up into several parts, making two or three days’ posts out of one long post.

Utilize boldface to draw the readers’ eyes down the page.

This is a technique from business writers who want to make sure the reader hits the pertinent points. Boldface also helps the reader keep track of the main points as they read the blog post.

However, italics are harder to read than boldface or regular font, so use italics lightly.

Choose eye-friendly colors.

In general, white typeface on a black background is hard for a person to read on a computer screen. It messes with the eye and blog r…

Bumping your dialogue up to the next level

This article I wrote originally appeared on Suite101.

Writing Riveting Dialogue

Tips For Taking Dialogue to the Next Level

Here are a few key elements needed to make dialogue sparkle.

Before, I wrote about how to make dialogue sound more natural, but what if you want to bump your dialogue up to the next level? What if you want to make your dialogue really pop?

Dialogue Is War

In the words of Randy Ingermanson, “Dialogue is war.”

Dialogue should have some form of conflict or tension. The characters don’t have to be shouting at each other, but there should be some sort of tension that keeps the dialogue from being a nice, easy conversation between two nice, easy-going people.

Nice, easy-going dialogue is boring.

In good dialogue, a character should be fighting for something: fighting to retain information, or fighting to extract information, or fighting to convey information.

Don’t make it easy on your characters—make the conversation a battle for at least one of them.

Read Award-Winning …

Building a blog, part 1

These days, blogging is a great way to express yourself and/or to market a product you might have. Blogging is cheap, easy, and can be a lot of fun.

But while anyone can blog, how do you create an effective blog? Here are a few tips, broken down into Blogging Logistics and Blog Content.

(Before I begin, I also want to mention that blogging isn’t for everyone. Not everyone likes to blog, and that’s perfectly fine. I think that no one should feel forced to blog—if you don’t like blogging, then don’t blog. But if you do enjoy blogging, this is a series of articles to help you make a better blog.)

Blogging Logistics:

Blog consistently.

Good blogs have bloggers who post consistently and often. Most of these bloggers post five days a week, taking Saturday and Sunday off since blogs usually have lower traffic on weekends.

Ideally, a blogger who wants to improve their blog traffic and effectiveness should post five days a week.

If that gives you a heart attack, try to commit to posting three days a …

Writing more natural-sounding dialogue

This article I wrote originally appeared on Suite101.

Writing Natural Dialogue

Tips For Making Dialogue Smoother and More Realistic

Here are tips for making dialogue flow and sound more natural when a writer has been told the dialogue is stilted.

Sometimes a writer will get feedback that sounds something like: “Your dialogue is stilted” or “Your dialogue doesn’t sound natural” or “Your dialogue doesn’t sound realistic.”

How to make dialogue sound more natural?

Beware the Info Dump

“Info dumps” are lines of dialogue that are there solely to inform the reader.

For example:

“As you know, Jane, our sister Lydia ran off with your ex-lover George and robbed a bank with him last month.”

Jane already knows this, and her sister wouldn’t repeat the information to her—instead, she’d speak knowing what Jane already knows.

“Doesn’t it pain you?”
“Lydia and George? No, don’t worry about me. My relationship with him was over long ago. But the public shame of Lydia’s behavior hurts more than I expecte…

Interview with Steeple Hill editor Melissa Endlich

There will be a great interview with Melissa Endlich (Senior Editor for Steeple Hill) on Seekerville tomorrow.

PLUS, Melissa will be popping in to answer any questions people post in the comments, so make sure you head to Seekerville to participate in the conversation!

Interview with Cathy Bryant

I'm on Cathy Bryant's blog, talking about my own writing life, some tips and book recommendations:

WordVessel

Interview on blog tours

I'm being interviewed on the He Said She Said blog about blog tours. This will be informative for any of you who are wondering about blog marketing, especially for fiction.

Some of you may not even want to think about marketing right now in your writing journey, but for those of you who are published or agented, this will help you formulate your marketing plan.
1. How did you first learn about blog tours?
I don’t quite remember. At the time, they were still very new, so I know that when I started planning my first blog tour for Sushi for One, it made a hit because a lot of people hadn’t heard of a blog tour before, or they’d only seen small ones, or ones with just book blurbs—not original content.
2. Which of your books have you taken on a blog tour?

Click here for the rest of the interview.

A Writer’s Genre

One thing I never got a chance to talk about in my article on finding your brand is when you want to nail down the basic genre you should write in.

I know lots of writers (myself included) who would love to write in several different genres. Before I was published, I had to decide which genre to focus on, which genre I would want to break into publishing in.

It's not an easy decision, but I wrote this article, which originally appeared on Suite101, that gives tips on how to pick your genre, as well as the reasoning behind why you need to pick one.

Tips for Novelists Trying to Determine a Genre

For novelists who write a variety of genres, here are a few tips for how they can nail down which one(s) to focus on.

While there are many published authors who write in several genres, for an unpublished author trying to break into the publishing industry, it’s good to find one genre to commit to for at least a few books.

Why Commit to a Genre?

This helps out the editor, who can slot the aut…

A Writer's Brand

Under the post on Writing in different genres, we had a lively discussion on brand. I had more to say that would have made too long a comment, so instead I wrote an article on tips for discovering your writer's brand, which originally appeared on Suite101.

Tips for Discovering a Writer’s Unique Niche in the Market

A writer’s own particular brand can be hard to discover, but here are a few tips for helping to brainstorm your own unique writing brand.

These days, publishing houses often want to see how a writer’s “brand” sets them apart from the thousands of other manuscripts they receive.

It’s become more difficult to become published by traditional publishers, and a writer’s unique brand is often what raises them to the top of the slush pile.

But it’s equally difficult for a writer to determine what their brand is. Here are a few tips.

Read Extensively, Not Just in Your Own Genre.

With the lines between genres becoming blurred, it’s important to be well-versed in what’s already be…

Episodic writing

I recently got a few questions on what episodic writing is. Earlier, I posted the link to an article on episodic writing, but I also wanted to address it myself. In this article, which originally appeared on Suite101, I talk about how to recognize it, and some things to get rid of it.

Make the Character Proactive Rather Than Reactive

Eliminate episodic scenes by giving the character an External Goal, Obstacles against that goal, and Forward Movement in the story.

A story is more than just good writing. A story plot must have forward motion and a sense of movement that pulls the reader along.

Sometimes writers will get feedback that their story “lacks purpose” or is “episodic.” What exactly does that mean?

Episodic Writing is Reactive Writing in Vignettes.

A character needs more than just to fall into an alternate world and face Scary Monsters. He needs to have a purpose and doggedly pursue that purpose. If he simply goes from one Bad Thing to another, the story lacks direction.

When a…

Writing in different genres

Many of you already know that I've sold a romantic suspense story to Steeple Hill's Love Inspired Suspense line when I'm already published in romantic chick lit.

Genre-hopping for writers is a hotly debated topic. And actually, before selling my romantic suspense, I would have advised writers to stick to one genre until they're better established.

What I didn't take into account was the publishing market's tightening of their belts in the past year.

Things to consider:

Some genres don't sell as well after a while.

For example, chick lit is no longer a "hot" seller because the market was glutted with it. There are still lots of readers who enjoy romantic, funny women's fiction (which is what chick lit is), but they've read too many single-girl-wants-a-man-and-can't-have-him-for-some-reason stories, and they want variety.

If your genre is on the downturn, it might be time to jump to another genre.

However, my suggestion is not to stray too far…