Last week, I shared my notes and ideas from a panel I sat through at ConDor Con in San Diego, CA. The panel was titled Using Mythology as a Basis for Fiction and was given by Stephen Provost. This week, I will wrap up my observations and notes. For the first part, click here. Continue reading
The honour of bringing the first blog post of 2017 to the Happy Authors’ Guild falls to me, and you know what? I’ve blown it.
I haven’t just forgotten to give HAG a timely hug, or omitted to whisper sweet nothings in HAG’s shell-like ear, or nipped when I should have licked between HAG’s plump and luscious thighs. No, I’ve blown it like a turkey-induced New Year’s fart that’s gonna reverberate from now until June. Continue reading
One good thing about being a writer of romance is that it helps with most other genres, which are usually enhanced by a romantic subplot, no matter what the genre.
Of course in a hard-boiled noir thriller the love interest may be killed off (a big no-no in actual romance) or turn out to be a bad guy or both; in science fiction or mysteries the romance, if it is there at all, may be very subtle and drawn out over several volumes. But no matter how much or little romance you add to the mix, how explicit or low-key the love or sex scenes, the experience of having written romance stories or novels can only help. Continue reading
The old saying, Write what you know, has thankfully been put to rest and can now be ignored. Seriously, if we only wrote what we knew, no one would have written about dragons or sand worms or vampires or werewolves. That would be a serious failing in our literary worlds. Continue reading
This is not a ‘how to’ post, but more the sharing of experiences. AKA: Twitter for the Terrified.
I am not of the social media generation and, in common with many writers, a confirmed introvert. But these days aspiring writers are advised to develop a social media platform before they are even published. The idea of putting myself out there on Twitter or Facebook terrified me.
Let’s talk about inspiration.
Where does it come from? Is it stored inside of us and stirred awake when we encounter something in our everyday life that brings out this hidden treasure we never knew we carried?
Or, is it handed to us, as a gift, by someone or something that has you or me are the perfect person to see its true potential?
Elizabeth Gilbert says:
The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.
Have you found any yet? Please…share them with us in the comments field. As writers I think we all know how to appreciate them. We know how precious these discoveries are. Continue reading
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
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….
The summer I was ten, my mom handed me a towering stack of young adult books she bought at a yard sale. Judy Blume anyone? That summer I read so many books, by the end of the stack, my parents were begging me to go outside and close the page. This started a long battle of people telling me that I was spending too much time on things that made my heart soar.
“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.
“I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least – at least I mean what I say – that’s the same thing, you know.”
“Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “Why, you might just as well say that ‘I see what I eat’ is the same thing as ‘I eat what I see’!” Continue reading