As writers, we’re all aware of the importance of conflict, plot, character and voice, but I want to talk about another element that can ratchet up the intensity of a story: contrast.
In painting, contrast is an essential tool for adding punch and drama. Painters use dark and dull complementary colors to make the bright touches sing, and light to give the darkness depth. The same principle applies to stories. Continue reading
For our May “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had great dialogue. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.
Pick a scene from your story with a lot of dialogue. Copy and paste it into a new document and remove all the dialogue tags. Can you distinguish one character from the next? Does each character have a unique voice, or do they all sound like the same person?
If your characters sound too similar, stop and consider how each character’s story–where they’re from, how old they are, what their level of education is–might influence their speech. Then go back to the book you read for this month’s challenge and see how the author gave those characters their distinctive voices. Can you use similar techniques in your story?
People who know me would describe me as a talker. I can log two minutes on my husband’s voice mail just to ask him to pick up milk. What can I say? I like back stories and context. I’m wordy. Yet, my writer friends would hesitate to describe my writing as “wordy.” I’m known as the one who uses sparse description and concise transitions. After years of crafting newspaper and magazine articles that needed to fit a set word count, the to-the-point journalist in me is hard to shake. Until recently, I didn’t realize other writers admire the ability to write lean. So I thought I would share how I’ve fine-tuned that skill over my career. Continue reading
Shakily may not be a four letter word, but in my opinion it’s much worse. It’s clunky and irritating, and has been in every book I’ve listened to over the last six months. At least a dozen times, each.
Say the word out loud.
Doesn’t it sound awkward?
I believe, though most adverbs are just redundant, they can add to the meaning of a sentence when used in a Continue reading
Research has shown that families who eat meals together benefit in physical, emotional and countless other ways. One of the main reasons? Families talk to one another at the supper table. They share the events of their day, both the good and the bad. They debate. They laugh. They argue. They bond. So what better place for writers to improve their dialogue writing skills than a family meal? Continue reading