Monday, 23 April 2012

The Further Thoughts of Dialogue...

So, do you make dialogue interesting, flowery, or productive? Well, the answer is obvious. Yes.

Dialogue should be readable, it should engage the reader and make them care enough to read more. This is interesting. Dialogue should be different. It should be more than just a conversation that you would have in the street, you know, with a mate. Dialogue should serve to move the story forward. In some circumstances, it is the story.

Do you want to hear the words like you're standing at a bus stop? (See the last dialogue post)


Do you want to hear the words like you're standing at a bus stop next to Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, or maybe Liam Neeson.

Dialogue Makers: Don't you wish you were sitting at that table?
I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

This is good dialogue.

So anyway. See inane rant.
And I'll leave you will this:

Friday, 13 April 2012

Being an Author: Dialogue

So at the moment I've got three projects on the go. Ignoring one, that leaves the novel and a short. Just recently (the last chapter or so) I've found that my novel characters are becoming a bit... well, bland. I was confused at first - my characters are normally okay.

So, Blandy McBland, Third Heir in the line to Blandom (or, the hero of said novel (and no, I don't like the word hero)) is bland. Interesting McCool is swathy. Cool. Interesting. I like him (No. Not like that!).


So I looked, studied, and devoured my word. Why was Interesting McCool better than Blandy. Looking at actions, motive and delivery, they were all fine. It was the dialogue.

But why?

Blandy is real. Too real. Anyone will tell you that your characters should have a grounding, a personality, something to make you believe in them, and ultimately, care. But you can go too far. This is almost a Writing Your First Novel piece.

I've gotten used to him, and now he has become an extension of a real person, saying things that real people say. In other words, the last chapter I wrote (of my horror novel) is a soap opera.

So, do you think I need to have my nails done? Did you see the Lakers game? I just don't know what I fancy for dinner tonight... How did you sleep? See Dallas last night?
You see? It doesn't work, does it?

Dialogue needs to feel real. It doesn't just have to be real. Make it familiar, snappy, fun, and most of all, interesting.

Remember. You might care what the person you're talking to had for dinner last night... but does your reader?

Just sayin'

'Til next time...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Being An Author: Writing Your First Novel Part II

The Deamons Of Doubt: They call...

So you get half way through the first draft, say, 30K ish. You've planned nothing. Yeah, nothing. To date you've winged the whole thing. Then you sit down, sweating, tired, drained, and say to yourself, 'What the hell was I thinking?'

You don't know where to go...
The ending is in sight, but no, it's too close...

Simple I say - When Tolken wrote the Hobbit, he planned nothing* so I shall do the same. This is when you realise that all asunder is going wrong. The words dry up... the plot thins... the characters suddenly seem uninteresting. It's. All. Going. Wrong.

So we put down a plan. 

The Plan Will, No Must, Come Together

A man with a plan, you know,
that comes together

So what does a plan look like? It doesn't matter. I've got two. The first, and most practical is an excel spreadsheet, broken down into chapters, characters and actions. It keeps me organised and clean, and can be updated when I feel that I've missed something out. The second is a single peice of A4 on my desk with scribble on it. Most of it is practical scribble, maybe things I'll need to remember at the drop of a hat like what road a club is on, where the cemetary is, what my own name is (pro-tip for the drinker). Of course there is weird doodles as well, such as a tooled up hamster riding a giant spider (No. Not like that!). But it's all good... it all helps.

Now go! Go and make a plan!

There. You have the plan. I know that it took a couple of hours, but trust me, it's worth it.

Stick to the plan.
Unless you can't, or don't want to.

The doubts and confusion will now start to lift. Trust me. The plan is like a candle, flickering in the darkness, guiding you, making the monsters in the dark disappear... like bedsheets at night, impervious to the boogeyman.

'Til next time


*This is probably not true - I call it artistic lisense. (Or shut up! It's MY blog!)