“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

He Said - She Said

So I'm on a roll, as you've read before, but I have a bad habit. Would you like to know what that is? Well, it's editing as I'm writing. I don't want to do it! It interferes with my flow; slows me down completely. But it's like a little pest that won't go away (nagging in my mind).

I would like to think that I'm a pretty good writer. I've been writing since the age of five years old. However, sometimes I know it can be so much more. It seems like it's just...thrown together, messy like. I want to use bigger words, and add more creativity when I'm describing things. But I'm working so hard at getting the story across clearly, that I mess up those other things. And I notice that, the PEST, of editing, throughout it.

Lately what has been bugging me the most though, is dialogue. I feel like it's the central point of a story, if you use it correctly that is. But you have to be careful not to give too much away, and not to just blab endlessly with no real meaning. I'm pretty good at getting the point across when my characters speak, but thinking of how not to always say, he said, or she said, is hard for me. I try to use words like: exclaimed, stated, asked, replied, answered, yelled, groaned, mumbled, etc. I know I could do better though. I always have to think about it, and that's what bothers me. I read other books by different authors, and I feel like they are so good at it (very talented), and I hope to get better at that too. I guess keep on reading, and keep on writing.

What are some of the techniques you all use when writing? And especially when writing dialogue? I would really appreciate some tips and to read what you have to say...so please do share my friends!


14 comments:

  1. Oh, I always edit while I write. That works best for me.
    And as for dialogue tags, if you're always using synonyms for "said," then the writing starts to sound like a Tom Swift novel.
    Read lots of good authors and write a lot. Then have other writers go over your writing to find the quirks. (I tend to get stuck on certain words and then over-use them. Just last week I found I'd used the word "suddenly" 3 times on a single page. oops.) After a while, you'll get so you know what your bad habits are, and then you can improve.

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    1. Thank you Lisa! I really appreciate this. I re-use words a lot as well...that's why I need my trusty Thesaurus!!

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  2. If you don't know about Tom Swift, you can check this link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Swifty

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  3. The most common advice on dialogue tags I have heard is to almost always stick with "said." You can change it up by adding participial phrases or the occasional (gasp!) adverb, but using words like "exclaimed, etc..." can be distracting.

    Probably the best way to handle the monotony is to write your dialogue in a way that allows you to cut most of the dialogue tags. By giving characters distinct speech patterns and making their comments clearly connected to them, I can usually cut down on the amount of dialogue tags I need.

    Another technique I'm just remembering--one I use a lot--is to replace dialogue tags with action beats, or thoughts if it's your POV character. Example:

    "That's a nice blog," said John.

    becomes...

    John leaned over the computer. "That's a nice blog."

    or...

    "That's a nice blog." He approved of the artsy bulletin board look.

    Sorry this was a bit of a rambling response. ;)

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    1. No, I loved the rambling! Thank you so much; that will definitely help. Great advice! I really appreciate it.

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  4. Often I use action tags. So instead of saying he said, I would use something like he ran his hand through his hair.

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  5. Sometimes I edit while I write, sometimes I don't, but for the most part I just try to get the story down while drafting and worry about making it pretty later. Just depends on personal preference. I know some people who REALLY edit as they go--making sure everything is perfect from previous days before continuing, and then they have less to edit after the draft is complete (though I'm sure that takes much longer), or there's the people who just get the story down, mess and all, and edit completely afterward. Whatever you find works best for you is totally fine!

    I agree with previous comments about the "said" dialogue tag in that I've always heard to stick with that. But action tags are great! I use them a lot to demonstrate who's talking without having to say it. :)

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    1. I really like what you said about editing. Sometimes it just depends what I do. But I do somewhat like to edit as I write; I can still write freely, but I'm more "aware." But part of this wonderful flow I'm in, helps me just keep going!

      Thanks for the input :)

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  6. I know exactly what you mean! But there is some great advice here. Thanks for stopping by my blog whilst I was away it's good to meet you.

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    1. I know! Definitely fantastic advice :)

      Great to meet you!

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  7. I can't say it better than Susan Francino. Her advice is excellent! I would always prefer an action-tag, or "said", over the likes of "exclaimed". As far as dialogue is concerned, I would just write it from the heart, then go back to edit it later (resist the urge to do it as you go). Good luck :)

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    1. I love how you say, "write it from the heart." That's why I love my Project CM the most. It is from my heart. I felt as though other projects were just...well, blabbing. It didn't mean much, but this one does. That's why it's taken me so long.

      Thanks!

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