Monday, January 31, 2011

Dialogue Tools

I came across an article recently about dialogue in writing. The 7 Tools of Dialogue by James Scott Bell was interesting, so I thought I would use his seven tools in a particular spot in my WIP#1.

Then I realized that what I really ought to do is post my first chapter on it's own page on my blog, then start tearing it apart piece by piece using every tool I could find until I finally have it ready. I'm still not sure about doing this, but the more I think about it the more I seem to talk myself into doing so. I'm still chewing this idea over, for now.

In the meantime here are Bell's seven tools along with seven of my own tools for dialogue.

1. Let It Flow - Mainly all this step means is -> Get It Written Already! You can't do anything with dialogue until you have it written. I mean how on Earth can you complete any other step if you don't have it on paper, or on the computer as my case is.

2. Act It Out - Literally act out what you have just written. See if it sounds and feels plausible. If it doesn't fix it.

3. Sidestep The Obvious - I took this step to mean -> Don't be boring! Make the reader want to read the rest of the conversation. If you lose the reader, you don't have any guarantee they'll be back for more and that's what we want them to do - come back for more.

4. Cultivate Silence - Use silence as a way to create tension or other moods. Silence speaks volumes! I can think of one place in my book that could greatly benefit from this step. Now I just need to find it and fix it.

5. Polish A Gem - Or as I like to say, Make It Sparkle. Throw some glitter on that conversation and make the conversation and important sparkling gem the reader will remember.

6. Employ Confrontation - As writers we generally know what has happened in the past to our characters. Rather than insert a boring paragraph explaining that a character has a shady past have that character get into an argument with another character. Place the necessary information in that argument to pain a bigger, better picture of the character and situation.

7. Drop Words - De-Clutter the thing! I think this step is similar to sidestep the obvious in a way, but still different. In school we are taught to restate questions in our answers, but we don't really need to in real life conversations. Think about it a minute. If I asked, "How's your day?" you are not going to reply, "My day has been going okay." Instead you might just simply say, "Okay." You get the picture. Drop the unnecessary words.

I also thought of a few other dialogue tools that could be used as well.

8. Facial Expressions - I have read this in many a book. Where the character looks at another character in some way or another. This little tidbit also helps the reader to get a better idea of what is going on in the characters mind. Especially if the story is told from Character A's perspective only and character B makes a face while having a discussion with Character A. It gives the reader a quick glimpse into the other characters world.

9. Tension - I've noticed that a particularly tense conversation between characters tends to propel the plot along and usually gets characters into a frenzy where more information gets into the readers hands. I love this tactic for propelling a plot. I also enjoy writing them.

10. Foreshadowing - This is one that I think I need help in. I have noticed it being used in books all the time. I'm convinced that I need to add it into the story during the editing process simply because of my writing process. I sometimes don't know exactly where I am going, so adding it too soon in the writing process is problematic for me. I still notice it in other writers works and would love to get a better handle on this aspect.

11. Personalization - In my story the protagonist is named Tess. But her friends don't all call her Tess. One particular character always calls her T. Each individual in my story has their own way of talking, their own choice words they use a lot. If every character in the book talked the exact same way and used the exact same speech, then all of the characters would be flat. Who would want to read that? Not I.

12. Tone - This one is simple - or is it? The choice of words or setting helps to set the tone of the book. I'm still working on this one. It depends on what book I'm writing to how I want the tone set, but I use a lot more than just dialogue for this one. I think everything plays into creating a tone. Having a character clip their words can set the tone. Adding a period after each word a character utters in a sentence can set the tone that they are fuming mad.

13. Genre Dialogue - I ran across this in a book and had no idea genre dialogue even existed. But, alas it does. I mostly write and read young adult novels. Teens speak differently than adults do. Even adults speak differently based on what they do. The adult books that I do read are mostly paranormal and I've noticed that the characters are usual strong, so they use strong speech when talking to others. I never really gave much thought to this, but I realize that I do use it in my own writing. I love learning new things and then realizing that I already knew this I just hadn't realized that I knew it.

14. In Media Res - My favorite dialogue tool by far. I need to cut back on the use of this one though. This is basically where you start a scene in the middle of a conversation. I really think it makes a better opening. Just don't over use it!

Are there any other tools for dialogue that you can come up with or have run across? I know there are more out there.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm back!

It feels so good to be back to writing. If you follow me on twitter then you may know I fell a couple weeks ago and hurt my thumb / wrist area on my right hand. The lovely doctor put me in a half cast and told me to see an orthopedic, which I did. I hoped he would take the thing off, but he didn't. So I was stuck with that thing on my hand and only one hand to type with. Talk about errors and I typed so slow it drove me nuts.

So, I decided to read instead of write. I've read 7 books already this month. Wow!

At first I thought what a waste of time this is going to be. I can't write anything and I had hoped to write a whole other book this month. Here we are in the last week of the month and I have nothing new written. Well, except for a short story that I plan on submitting for a contest, but that's a whole different topic.

As it turns out having this extra time only has helped me. As I said I've been a reading fool. I love reading and reading reminds me of why I started writing in the first place. I love the stories, the characters, the new worlds, I love to get lost in them.

I also use reading as a research. How did this author tackle this? Ooh, I like what this author did here. And, this is a great way to twist the story. It's good to read other authors work and see what they've done. How they've created their worlds. I can't help but think sometimes to myself. I wonder if this was in the first draft or if this is a new addition or has been through the editing ringer.

Not to mention the actual research I did for my books. That was good and helped me grasp my stories better as well.

So, now that I'm facing February I think I'm better prepared to begin writing. I'm going to finish out this month tying up the little loose ends on my editing and research. Then I will focus on the writing.

Let the writing begin on February 1st.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

What Goodreads says:

As the spaceship Godspeed travels toward a new earth, the lives of 100 cryogenically frozen settlers hang in the balance after someone endeavors to quietly murder them. The other passengers aboard the ship have never known life outside its walls and are enslaved by the machinations of Eldest, their tyrannical leader, who divides them into three distinct classes. When Amy, a frozen settler from earth, survives being thawed in a murder attempt, she immediately bonds with Elder, Godspeed's lone teen and future leader. Amy’s individuality, her rebellion, and her fierce desire for freedom, inspire Elder to act on his own doubts and defy Eldest--his mentor and keeper--with shocking results. Eldest’s methods of twisting history and altering the lives of this captive community are a frightening echo of tyrants in our own history, and Across the Universe challenges readers to consider the impact of unchecked power, blind trust, and the ability of one dissenting voice to make a difference.

What I say:

I had heard so much about this book being so great and I was really hoping it was as good as I was hearing it was. IT WAS!

I loved the first chapter - absolutely hooked right off the bat. The descriptions in that chapter were so intense and the idea of what was happening to Amy that I just couldn't tear myself away. That said, I wasn't impressed by the next few chapters. I was a little disappointed in them. BUT, that disappointment went away fast and I finished this book in a little over 24 hours. I even stayed up until 2am to finish it knowing I had to be up at 6:30am. It was that good.

I love the writing; Beth Revis did an excellent job writing from the point of view of two very different teenagers, Amy and Elder, from two very different worlds. I enjoyed being able to see both sides of their story and their individual viewpoints. Revis really did think about all of the different aspects of living on an enclosed metal ship for centuries.

The plot was very well paced - keeping me interested and curious about what was going on aboard the Godspeed and just how it had gotten to be so strange. I also wanted to know more about why Amy was targeted. Let's just say, I didn't see that coming! Wow!

As for the characters, I really think Revis spent a lot of time perfecting her characters and thinking about what it was like for each individual character she used. They all had their own individual reasons for why they acted as they did. They were very real and I enjoyed finding out what made them work the way they did.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. It was a great read that I truly enjoyed. I can't wait to see what Revis has planned next.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Warped by Maurisaa Guibord

Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

I sat down to read this Friday night thinking I wouldn't finish it until Monday only to find myself completely absorbed and unable to put it down. I finished it Saturday night at midnight. I loved this story and how it spanned the time of five-hundred years. It's a fascinating tale of two people who find their fates completely entwined although they are from two totally different time periods and places. The plot flowed well for me. I like how Maurissa Guibord not only gave the story from Tessa's perspective, but also other key players giving me a fuller understanding of the story. I really enjoyed it.

The characters were fun to follow. I was a little confused by William de Chaucy's reaction to Tessa though. I guess I understood that he would want to blame someone for his predicament, but I never fully understood why he chose Tessa. She hadn't really been the one to do the capturing. He should have been mad at the witch the whole time. That was really the only thing that bothered me. I liked that Guibord threw a little humor into her characters. They weren't completely intense characters racing here and there. They had there own little breaks and that was nice to see them laugh at themselves and their behavior.

Guibord gave enough closure that I was satisfied, yet I was still left wondering about a few loose ends. The pacing was well done, not too fast and not too slow. I enjoyed the intense, life or death, nail biter moments. It's always good to read a story that keeps you reeled in non-stop. Overall, I really enjoyed the story and would recommend it to others.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I wasn't sure what to think when I started reading Matched. I had noticed that people either didn't care too much for it or they didn't get into it until the last half. I was worried that the book I had waited for so long for wasn't really as good as promised.

I was not disappointed, though. Having just finished reading a fast paced novel Matched really was much slower paced. But, put into perspective of the world in which the novel takes place there really wasn't much of a chance it was going to be very face paced.

I really enjoyed the writing. I feel that Ally Condie really spent a lot of time creating this futuristic world. Her descriptions really made me feel as though I could see everything through the eyes of her protagonist, Cassia.

The characters were very well created as well. I think Condie did an excellent job of creating deep, three dimensional characters who survive by appearing to be nothing different, but they really are.

The plot was slow, but again for this futuristic world there really wasn't any way to make the plot move any faster. I really look forward to reading more work by Ally Condie. I'm also hoping there will be more to come in Cassia's story.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

From the author of the New York Times bestseller P.S. I Love You comes an "engrossing new novel . . . filled with family secrets, intrigue, and magic aplenty" (Booklist).

Born into the lap of luxury and comfortable in the here and now, spoiled, tempestuous Tamara Goodwin has never had to look to the future—until the abrupt death of her father leaves her and her mother a mountain of debt and forces them to move in with Tamara's peculiar aunt and uncle in a tiny countryside village.

Tamara is lonely and bored, with a traveling library as her only diversion. There she finds a large leather-bound book with a gold clasp and padlock, but no author name or title. Intrigued, she pries open the lock, and what she finds inside takes her breath away.

Tamara sees entries written in her own handwriting, and dated for the following day. When the next day unfolds exactly as recorded, Tamara realizes she may have found a solution to her problems. But in her quest to find answers, Tamara soon learns that some pages are better left unturned and that, try as she may, she mustn't interfere with fate

I really enjoyed this book. I wasn't quite sure that I would like it as much as I did, but I really liked it. I did get a little caught up in the language. There were a few words or phrases that I'm not familiar with, that would be the difference within the English language. Overall, it didn't trip me up too much that I couldn't figure it out.

I have to say that I always try to figure out what the end will be like after reading the first few chapters. This time I had no clue where that would be. I would have been wrong had I tried to guess. I never expected the ending Ahern wrote. There were so many twists within the plot I was constantly wondering where the story was going. I had a hard time tearing myself away from the story of Tamara Goodwin.

The characters were very vivid and I found myself liking Tamara, even though she was a spoiled rotten brat. I really felt bad for every thing she was dealt. In the end, though, it was all for the best. In the end the actions of all of the other characters made sense and I felt for them all. They all, almost all, had the best of intentions. I can't say that for every single character, though.

I definitely recommend this book, even if it isn't the normal type of book you read. I usually read YA Paranormal. The diary gives this book an undertone of paranormalcy. I really did enjoy it, I look forward to reading other books by Cecelia Ahern. She's a great story teller.

Monday, January 10, 2011


It's Monday and I'm feeling totally scatterbrained. I have too many ideas fluttering through my mind like a dozen butterflies in the garden, and I have absolutely no direction at all.

Where to even begin? I guess at the beginning.

WIP #1: Stone Magic
I've written the first draft and edited that draft giving me the second draft.
Scatterbrained: I shelved it to get some distance before another round of revisions, but I can't stop thinking about it.

WIP #2: Barely There
I've written the first seven chapters in October. I'm currently researching San Angelo, where I used to live, to continue writing.
Scatterbrained: I have the plot spinning in my head, but I'm just not sure I'm feeling the characters right at this moment.

WIP #3: Outcast of Maine
I hardly have the characters, plot, or research finished on this one.
Scatterbrained: It's taking over my brain. I can't get it out of my mind. It's screaming that I need to hurry up and get done with the research and development stage done to begin writing it.

WIP #?: Where did this project come from?
I had a sudden light bulb, aha, moment of clarity over Christmas. This adult book popped itself into my brain out of the blue.
Scatterbrained: Like Outcast of Maine, it won't be quiet. I woke up this morning fleshing out the first chapter in my mind. I don't even have the characters fleshed out, the plot is still flat, and I have no idea what is up with this project. But, I feel a strong urge to get moving on it.

Where does that leave me? Scatterbrained
I have butterflies fluttering aimlessly through my head.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Blog Name

Well, for a while now I have been chewing on the idea to change the name of my blog. I've gone and done it!

It came to me suddenly out of the blue - cliche, I know, but that's how it happened. I now will be "Adventures in Writer Land." Riters Blok just wasn't doing it for me. Sorry for the inconvenience, if any caused.

What do you think about the change?

Setting - Real or fictitious?

A books setting is just as important as it's characters and plot. Your characters have to have places to go, places that either make things happen, or trigger other emotions in your characters. An author needs to know as much about the setting of their book as they can possibly know.

So, it's no wonder some authors decide to create their own world, their own town, for their characters to exist in. By doing so the author has more control over the surroundings. To the reader it's still a tangible place they can imagine in their minds. Charlaine Harris has succesfully created a town for Sookie Stackhouse; Bon Temps, Louisiana. It's her a town of her own creation, but it's a place where her characters interact and it shapes who her characters are.

In my first novel I just finished this past year I did the same thing. I created my own town to be located on the Jersey Shore. Yes, that's where I live, but I felt that I could create the place in my head better and then I didn't have to worry about working with a real town. I could decide where the school was, where my character worked, her place of work was a complete fabrication as well. I had complete control over everything involved with her little town.

So it was bound to happen that I would decide to use a real location at some point. Over the Christmas holidays I was playing around with a location to base my next characters in. I kept flip flopping on whether to use a real location or a made up location. I finally settled on using a real location: San Angelo, Texas.

Yes, I used to live in San Angelo, so it will be a little easier for me to wrap my mind around the town. However, that was fourteen years ago, and I'm sure it has changed a lot since then.

In rolls the research. I had planned on writing this novel during the month of January. It now appears that I may not even begin writing it until the end of January. I have to do major research on certain locations within San Angelo. That said I love the internet. It is the perfect place to research the heck out of subjects. Google Earth will definitely be a tool I plan on using. I need to see how much the town has grown since I was there. Since I'm using a real location I need to know as much as I can possibly know about the town.

Yes, using a real location limits my creativity on the setting, but it also gives me something tangible to go off of. I have a real location that I don't have to make facts up about. Those facts already exist.

As for the writing plan, it's on hold. Research it is!!!!!

What are your thoughts on setting? Real or fictitious?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

What Goodreads says:

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Wow! I absolutely loved this book. Cynthia Hand did an excellent job with this novel about a young girl who is part angel. I wasn't sure where she was going at first, but I loved the way in which Hand really built up the setting, the characters, and the plot. I had a really hard time setting this book down when I had to take care of other things in life.

The characters were well written. Clara was great, she's part angel, making her unearthly beautiful and good at everything she does, but Hand did an excellent job at making her also the black sheep. Even for all that Clara had going for her she still had her faults. I really enjoyed the supporting cast as well. I fell for Tucker and just loved both, Wendy and Angela. And in the end Christian really surprised me.

Speaking of the ending, most books you have a good idea what will happen in the end and you are fully expecting that to take place. This time, however, I was stunned by the ending. It never even crossed my mind that that could have happened. I loved the ending.

I will be absolutely heart broken if there is not a sequel to this book. I want to read more to Clara's story. Or even that of the others in this book.

This is a must read!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Recently I was back at my parents house visiting. On one particular day I found myself sitting on the couch in the family room looking out the back window. I watched as someone passed behind the house, walking the sidewalk on the other side of the fence. I watched as cars whizzed past, surely they were tying up all the loose ends they had before Christmas, which was the following day.

I couldn't help but remember what it was like there when I was a teenager. My parents bought the house, right after it was built, the year I turned twelve. I spent my entire teenage years in that house and that neighborhood. The neighborhood was brand new at the time and continued to grow. To this day there is still building going on in various areas of the neighborhood. We were outside of town and had to drive to get to anything. Now, we can drive about a mile to get to the nearest group of stores, right at the entrance of the neighborhood.

What I remember the most was how small the neighborhood was, how my friends and I would ride our bikes around the entire neighborhood in one lazy afternoon stroll. Now we couldn't complete that task if we rode all day. The neighborhood has just grown too much to do so. I also remember how that road behind my parents house was non-existent just 10 short years ago. There was a forest of trees behind the house, a ranch nearby, and often we could hear the cattle mooing on nice days. Now, it's the hustle and bustle of a busy road taking new residents to their new houses.

The thought hit me like lightning. Somewhere in the newer part of the neighborhood there is a preteen who lives in a brand new house, with woods behind her house, and is living some of the same memories I did when I first moved here. I won't say how long it's been since my parents moved into the house, but it's been a good while. Another generation of teens are enjoying some of the tings that are only now memories for me.

Maybe these memories are part of the reason I enjoy writing in the young adult genre. Maybe deep down I want to remember some of the more enjoyable memories of being innocent.