I did it! by Cayenne Michaels

I actually did it!

And I think it’s taken me almost up to now to realize it.

A couple of weeks ago I packed up my whole house. Well, technically the brick building is still standing, but I stashed all our belongings into the spare guest room and basement. Then I jumped on a plane to move halfway across the world. To study literature. Continue reading

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Scenes: Mini Stories? by Emma Marie Leigh

I wanted to pick up with my thoughts from my last post. Basically it revolved around how I’m really good at beginnings and how I should make that work for me in a way that leads to finally typing the words THE END on a novel.

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Writing a Book is Easy.

Or at least it seems easy in comparison to the tasks we’re faced the-endwith once we type ‘The End’.

 

If you’re an author or have friends who are authors, you know exactly what I mean.

thOnce the story is written, everything else you need to get that baby out into the world makes the time spent on your laptop, legal pad or typewriter (remember those?) look like a cakewalk.

If you decide to publish traditionally, you’ll have to make sure your manuscript it correctly formatted down to the exact font, spacing, margins, etc. There are strict guidelines that you’ll need to adhere to. Not to mention querying publishers, waiting for replies and dealing with rejections. Continue reading

Before It’s Too Late by Sha Renee

Recently when I accompanied a loved one to the hospital I noticed a man sleeping in a chair in one of the waiting areas. He appeared to be in a fairly deep sleep – arms crossed over his chest, head tilted to the side. I studied his sleeping visage for a moment. Surely he was the spouse of a dear friend I met long ago when our kids were in first grade together. But I hadn’t seen him in so long… was that actually him? If so, I should wake him up and say hello. Continue reading

The Joys of Editing by May Burnett

Lately , I find myself editing more frequently than writing new words.
To get a book ready for publication, both stages are of roughly equal importance. Some writers produce first drafts very fast and spend years on re-writes and editing, others write slowly and edit as they go. Prolific writers sometimes outsource the editing almost completely. Whatever the process, the author is ultimately responsible for putting a clean and easy read in front of the public, so outsourcing only goes so far: you still have to double-check everything yourself. Continue reading

The Dos and Don’ts of Opening Lines and Paragraphs by Lizzie Hermanson

This week I began re-write #476 of my opening scene – at least that’s how it feels and we’ve all been there! So I began researching what makes a good first line. How do we grab the reader so that they want to read the next page and the one after that? Continue reading

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Tips on creating characters with emotional relevance

by E. M. Youman

Sniff, sniff. Why am I dabbing my eyes, you ask? I just finished watching season three of Once Upon a Time. I think it’s rife with great storytelling tips for beginning writers. Spoiler alert: If you haven’t been watching this awesome show, stop reading. Go fire up Netflix and then come back and read this article. I’ll be talking about some pivotal scenes from the show. Continue reading

Subtext Versus On The Nose Dialogue

I recently received some feedback on my story pointing out I have too much on the nose dialogue. It’s a problem I’m aware of, but struggle to put right, so decided on a little more research.

What is on-the-nose dialogue? It’s when a character says exactly what they mean and reveal his/her exact emotions. The result can be flat and lacking in depth. The reader is deprived of opportunity to interpret the underlying meaning and to be more actively engaged in the story.

As an example. My main character, Leo, finds a stray dog outside his office and his personal assistant says:

‘I bet you keep that dog.’

‘Definitely. She’s a great dog,’ Leo replies.

Here, both characters are laying their cards on the table and the dialogue feels stilted and boring, without emotion. The solution is to use subtext; the unspoken meaning beneath the words. In life people rarely say what they mean for many reasons. Maybe we don’t know how we feel, or believe it to be true at the time. Perhaps, admitting how we really feel will leave us open and vulnerable in some way.

Back to Leo and his dog, here’s take two. I have him asking the PA to try and find the dog a good home with a large garden.

‘Like yours,’ the PA asks, one eyebrow raised.

‘I’m not keeping her,’ Leo responds immediately.

At no point in the story does anyone tell Leo he’s going to keep the dog, and he continues to deny he wants to. But hopefully it’s clear that everyone, including the reader, know where the dog will end up.

In her book, Subtext: What Lies Beneath, Linda Sager likens on the nose dialogue to “the tip of the ice berg, but the subtext is everything underneath.”

Leo’s continual refusal to admit he wants to keep the dog, hints at other issues simmering beneath the surface. He lost his parents and sister in a car accident aged 16. He doesn’t want any more attachments in his life because he’s worried about losing them too.

So this was my attempt at using subtext, and I didn’t make a conscious effort, it just happened. In writing, some things seem to happen instinctively. The problem comes when it isn’t instinctive. Further on in the story, nearly all my emotional moments feature on the nose dialogue which I don’t seem able to put right. I kept hoping there might be a place for it at the end of a romance story, as surely to be together, the hero and heroine must both express how they really feel.

But then I remember the movie Jerry Maguire. When Tom Cruise returns to get the girl, instead of ‘I love you, I’ll take you back,’ Renee Zellwegger responds with ‘You had me at hello,’ now one of the top 100 movie quotes.

In his blog post,  9 Steps To Writing Dialogue With Rich Subtext, writer/director, Charles Harris, suggests creating two random characters “and give them something they mustn’t mention. Say, two prisoners are waiting to be hanged. They talk of anything but that – the weather, their last meal, a mouse in the cell. See how every word, every pause, can be filled with unspoken meaning.”

He also says to practise.”Subtext is a muscle, like any other writing skill. You develop it by working it.”

So, for me, it’s back to the drawing board….

 

 

Writing is Like Folding Laundry

On Scribophile’s Writers Who Love Romance group, we have developed a habit of including our daily chores along with our daily writing goals. Because Life can get in the way of writing, so it’s good to keep them under surveillance. And every day is laundry day, somewhere. Continue reading