Today I came across some great tips concerning dialogue from a regular contributor to CreateSpace.com, Maria Murnane. (www.mariamurnane.com) She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. So I thought I’d share what I thought were some helpful pointers.
- Look who’s talking.
A common problem is that the characters all sound the same, so the readers have a hard time telling them apart. As a result, the readers get confused, annoyed, distracted, or all of the above – none of which you want to happen. If you want your readers to become invested in your characters, you need to bring those characters to life – and dialogue presents a wonderful opportunity to do just that! So when your characters speak, have them make an impression. Are they sarcastic? Jaded? Bitter? Happy? Sad? Pessimistic? Optimistic? Loyal? Funny? Do they use their hands a lot when they speak? Do they lower their voice when they gossip? Do they chew gum? Do they have a particular gesture or body tic that gives away what they’re feeling? You may have heard the expression “show, don’t tell,” and this is a great example of that. Don’t tell us what the characters are like, let them show us.
- Does your dialogue sound realistic?
When I read a book with dialogue that doesn’t ring true, instead of getting sucked into the story I find myself thinking, “Who talks like that? No one would say that.” You want your readers focused on the story, not on the problems with your writing. A good way to avoid having unrealistic dialogue in your own writing is to read it out loud. This may sound a little crazy, but it works! After awhile you will be writing the way people actually talk and your dialogue will be realistic. You want to create strong, believable characters that your readers will care about, so take the time to give them lines that will allow that to happen. With every conversation you write, ask yourself “Does this sound believable?” That might seem daunting at first, but over time it will get easier. It will be well worth the effort. Your readers – and your characters – will be grateful.
- Turn the beat around.
A “beat” is a description of the physical action a character makes while speaking, and good beats can bring your characters to life and make your dialogue pop right off the page. Beats can also help you show your readers instead of telling them. (Misuse of show, not tell is a common mistake many first-time authors make. Remember that readers don’t like to be told what to think
A) “I told you, I’m not going!” John shouted, furious.
B) John slammed his fist on the table, his nostrils flaring. “I told you, I’m not going!”
John is clearly angry. But in example A, we know this because we are told so.
In example B, we know this because we are shown it.
A) “You’re really not going?” Karen said, incredulous.
B) Karen’s jaw dropped. “You’re really not going?”
We know Karen is incredulous, but why do we know this?
In A, we’re told what to think, and in B, we’re left to decide on our own what to think.
Well-placed beats make your writing richer, fuller, and better. And good writing, like good teaching, engages your readers and lets them draw their own conclusions.
- Use contractions in dialogue.
Well written dialogue draws you into the story and makes you feel like the people speaking are real. So to write good dialogue, use language that sounds the way people actually talk. And in English, that includes contractions. A lot of them. Without contractions, people sound more like robots than real people. (Did not becomes didn’t; Is not becomes isn’t; Do not becomes don’t; I am becomes I’m; He is becomes he’s, etc.) Contractions aren’t often used in formal writing, but they are for informal conversation, especially in the United States. So perhaps you should review your own dialogue to see if it passes the robot test.
- Dialogue doesn’t necessarily impact the plot, but it impacts character development, which is just as important.
Once you have completed your novel, read it over again. You may need to tweak the dialogue a bit, especially in the early chapters. Your characters have probably evolved, and some of the early lines may no longer fit their personalities. Good stories do a wonderful job of creating characters who are like real people to the audience, and that’s what you want to do with your manuscript. So when you’re finished, go back and read that dialogue with fresh eyes. Do you think it rings true throughout for each of your characters? If it doesn’t, change it! That’s the fun thing about being the author – it’s all up to you.
Have any tips that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.
This time on Creature Features let’s take a closer look at the species known as The Sabers. These creatures can be found in Book Two of the Dragomeir Series, “Flight of the Aguiva.” They are one of the older races of non-human, quadrupeds and considerably larger than most. Their leader is an enormous Alpha male named Suyet Suun. Try to imagine a nine foot long, eight hundred pound Bengal Tiger in a yellowish gold color, with tusks coming off the side of his face – ten inch long, large tusks. He was at the very least half again the size of a Bengal. Huge feet below a shear muscled body, and topped off with the most regal of heads. That was Suyet Suun. The females of The Sabers are smaller versions but just as beautiful. The Sabers are mammals and give birth in the same way as the feline species we have on Earth.
These creatures are fully sentient, and thanks to the demons on the Provinces, have been placed on the endangered species list. The demons hunt them for sport, or did until they moved to Mt. Drago. They are peaceful, but become warlike when their young are threatened. Fierce fighters, they unfortunately do not have the numbers to fend off the superior volume of the Hordes of Hell.
I am in the final stretch of Book Two in the Dragomeir Series, “Flight of the Aguiva.” It will be coming out in the spring of 2015, so get ready for more adventure and excitement with the people and creatures of Mt. Drago. Here are some of my favorite quotes from “Flight of the Aguiva.” Have a wonderful Holiday Season Everyone!
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In The Dragomeir Series, Book One – “The Emerald Dragon,” most of the dwellers of Mt. Drago are technically not from around Arizona or even from earth for that matter. The ones that are from here celebrate holidays in the same way as those who live in the smaller world. Good examples of that would be people like Bob Harris, and Ivory McNeil, both of whom came to the mountain from known places like Chicago and New York. During holidays like the one coming up, Thanksgiving, they celebrate in the same traditional ways that other people have for decades. Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and all of the trimmings served by the resident Stewards will be held this year at Mt. Drago on November, 27th 2014 at around noon. Hope to see you there! Turkey roasted over an open fire . . . nothing better!
Pieces of Eight – Technically, they are genetically altered, Class Eight Demons. They appear in “The Emerald Dragon,” and were responsible for bringing the first of the Aguiva dragons. What the Dark Lord was looking for was a demon with the strength of a Class Eight, but with a much smaller overall size. These demons stand about six feet tall, weigh in at about two hundred pounds, and on the Provinces are considered tiny. The size factor was adhered to because of the Aguiva dragons. It takes a human sized person to fly one of the War Birds. Anything larger and the Aguiva wouldn’t be able to lift the weight.
The look and feel of the Pieces of Eight is very similar to their counterparts, the standard Class Eight Demon, just smaller with less pronounced facial features. They generally have dark brown hair and eyes. They are strong, fast, and fiercely protective of their War Birds. The demon pictured below is an artist’s rendition of Caleb, complete with his flight suit. Caleb flies the Aguiva dragon named Seven. There are one hundred and seventy- five demons within the ranks of the Pieces of Eight. Other intriguing creatures to come! If you have any thoughts or comments, please let me know and I will be happy to get back to you. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads; or for more information, check out my Books, The Omnicon store, and More on the website –
Tired of hunting for information?
If you want to find out how to do just about anything pertaining to writing, publishing and marketing books, this is one of the most comprehensive websites I have found yet. It is run by Joel Friedlander, and there are links to information you may not even have thought you would need. I have found it to be incredibly helpful in so many areas and thought I would pass it along. Definitely check it out. You’ll be glad you did!
Here is the link –
I have been asked by several people if I could give some insight into the creatures living in Mt. Drago. So I thought we’d start with the Hellhounds. Now for those who have not yet read “The Emerald Dragon,” the Hellhounds were helped by Queen Mother to make a mass exodus from the Provinces of Hell to Mt. Drago.
There, they took up shop in an area of the mountain called Tarin’s Gallery. The Hellhounds are a genetically altered species that started off with a considerable amount of Pit Bull in the heritage. No one is really sure what else besides wolf went into the mixture, but what we do know is that they went after size and stamina. The full grown males of this species top over three hundred pounds, stand about five feet tall and can run for days. They are predominately brown in color with brown eyes. They sport an opposing thumb and forefinger and have sparse uneven hair over their bodies, which are brown in color.
What the Dark Lords didn’t expect was in part the unknown factor mentioned previously, and what they got was a species on the fast track to sentience. Ten generations later they were no longer the trusted pet dog. Through sheer will and a lot of death and destruction they managed to escape to another of the Provinces, where they would be almost impossible to defeat.
By the eleventh generation they were not only intelligent, but self aware and very unhappy with the Dark Lords. That’s where Queen Mother entered the picture and gave them an opportunity they couldn’t ignore.
The Hellhounds of today are drastically different than the ones written about in history. The ones in Mt. Drago would rather not fight; they are vegetarians and prefer to stay in one place to rear their children. They are deeply spiritual and have a great sense of humor. To find out more about these creatures you can read the first book of the Dragomeir Series, “The Emerald Dragon,” or leave me a comment and I will be happy to answer any questions!
Saturday was the BIG day! I just came away from the Science-Fiction/Fantasy Book signing event at Barnes & Noble (Phoenix, Arizona) and man oh man, was that an experience or what?
Eleven authors, myself included, participated with our books being featured during the Marvel and Science Fiction/Fantasy day. Hundreds of people in costume, some of which looked like they just walked off a movie set. They were actually that good! My sales went well and I got to meet a lot of interesting, and sometimes very odd people. It was noisy, boisterous and amazingly fun! I’ve got to give the staff at Barnes & Noble credit because the entire event was coordinated and extremely well managed from start to finish. They made us all feel welcome and treated us like super stars. I personally can’t wait to go back. It was suggested for me to wear a costume so I chose to go as Van Helsing and I’ve got to admit that I had a great time! Be sure to visit my Website and Facebook page for more photos of the day’s event!
The Next Big Thing – Authors Tagging Authors!
I am thrilled to take part in The Next Big Thing: Authors Tagging Authors! I was tagged by the fantastic Caron Rider and I’m excited to keep this going! So now I have to answer the questions below, tag a new set of 5 authors, then they answer, tag authors, etc. I’m answering questions about my Urban Fantasy novel, The Emerald Dragon, coming soon!
What is the working title of your book?
The Emerald Dragon, Book One of the Dragomeir Series
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It came from an incredibly vivid dream that I had. I thought that it was time for not only books about dragons, but to explain that dragons are actually smarter than we are and interact at the human level.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Main character – Tanis: Viggo Mortenson
Queen Mother : Morena Baccarin
Demi – human form: Dakota Fanning
Basiliskos – human form: Ving Rhames
Invectum – human form: Chris Hemsworth
Dragons – in dragon form: Themselves
And for the authors I have tagged:
Eden Baylee, Author of Spring Into Summer
Kay Glass, Author of Just One Bite
Michelle Muto, Author of Don’t Fear the Reaper
Alex Laybourne, Author of Highway To Hell
J.A. Schneider, Author of Embryo
Many thanks to my friend and fellow Indie Author Caron Rider for tagging me! I hope you’ll keep it going…there are so many talented authors out there!
Tanis and Demi contacted me with what I thought was a joke. Okay, so I’m not laughing now, but anyway…several people at Mt. Drago have recently gotten sick, and I mean really sick. Turns out it’s the peanut butter. Not every brand, and there are some that don’t have Salmonella. Yeah, you heard me. Nearly all of the food that gets eaten by the people at the mountain comes from the outside world. From the same manufacturers as the ones you buy for your family. This is a wake-up call to all of our friends and their friends. Contact your local food stores and inquire. Get on-line and do some research. I’m going to give as much information as I’ve found, but I need you guys to spread the word. Little kids aren’t supposed to die from peanut butter.
The manufacturer that seems to have the highest number of recalls is Sunland, but it doesn’t stop there, oh no not by a long shot. Okay, let’s take this one step at a time. The first thing you need is a web address to prove to yourself the severity of which I speak.
The above address will show you the number of products that have been recalled and a lot of other pertinent information. This is not restricted to just Sunland, it has become more widespread with multiple companies such as: Justin’s and General Mills among others. Please check your recently purchased food to make sure you don’t have one of the recalled items. Thank you for listening to Tanis, Demi, and of course…me.