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Sunday, January 25, 2015

He Said, She Said; The Road to Boredom

Dialogue is so important in a novel. Dialogue can create emotion. In writing, anger can be easily expressed with an exclamation point. Excitement can be expressed the same way. “Eureka! I’ve found it!” and “So help me, if you come near her again I’ll kill you!” are two examples.

In my novel Borough Hall, the setting started out in 14th century Bucharest, Romania. The dialogue had to be old world, with little to no abbreviations, such as using the phrase ‘we can’t’ instead of ‘we cannot.’ It was also important to keep that same dialogue going throughout the story even though it covered several centuries. It was important to me that the characters maintained their ‘old world’ personas.

When you’re in a room with any number of people, it’s easy to keep track of who’s saying what to whom. When you’re reading a story, it’s more difficult. If the story has three characters talking to each other, they have to be identified with names and you have to let the reader know who is talking. Let’s say you have a woman talking to two gentlemen. “Where are you from?” John asked Sarah. “I’m originally from Salem, but I recently moved here.” Alan asked her “What brought you to this sleepy town?” You know that John and Alan each asked Sarah a question. You also know that she answered merely by the response. I didn’t have to say ‘Sarah replied, or said.’

The use of ‘he said, she said’ can be abused. Repetitive use of such verbiage can quickly lead to boredom for the reader.  Obviously if you only have two characters talking with each other, it isn’t necessary for you to tell the reader who is talking all of the time. It should flow just as in real life. However, sometimes you want to add emotion to the statements. Example: Michelle hung her head. “I don’t know what I’m going to do about him” she said with a sigh. You can tell that Michelle is in a situation that she is having a hard time dealing with, and it’s weighing heavily on her.

Dialogue can also help build a certain type of character. If you’ve ever read any Elmore Leonard you know what I mean. Most of his characters are gruff and their language reflects that through their dialogue. His books are most often crime novels and the characters are on the tough, sometimes seedy side. ‘Street language’ has a large role in his books. I love reading him.

That’s my post for the week. Take some time to check out Borough Hall: Conversion.

Also take a look at my featured author of the week:

Carrie Aulenbacher, author of The Early Bird Café (on SALE starting Feb. 1st)

Ms. Aulenbacher also contributes to iUrban an online freelance magazine that helps authors become more known.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Set the Scene

What makes a movie good? Is it the plot, the action, the drama, the comedy, or the music? It’s all of those things of course. Have you ever watched a movie and after some time you decided that it’s a really bad movie and left? I think everyone has seen at least one bad movie in their lifetime. Chances are that the movie was based on a good book. I’m also willing to bet that the movie had a bad screenplay. It simply wasn’t written well.

So much goes into making a movie. The actors have to play their roles well. They don’t even have to be well known actors, as long as they play the characters well. The music has to fit the story or scene. The sets have to be right. In case of a western, you have to have vintage sets, such as a ranch or old west town and vintage costumes. This may be a stretch but can you imagine the local sheriff walking around in a tuxedo with a six shooter hanging from his waist?

As movie goers we can watch the action being played out in front of us. We can SEE the setting. You can see the beautiful mountains in “The Sound of Music” or Tara burning down in “Gone with the Wind.” Reading a novel, we don’t have that advantage. The author has to describe the scene so we can visualize it as the author sees it in his or her mind while creating it.

Let’s say a lone medieval female character is walking through the woods at night. What is she wearing? What’s the weather like? What’s the mood? Obviously there’s a big difference between a clear star filled night and a “dark and stormy” night as Snoopy might write. So our heroine may be scared of something other than the thunder claps roaring above. The wind might be making strange sounds in the trees. Adding to the scene, maybe the wind is making her dress billow and the white top of the dress flare about, and disheveling her hair. As an author you have to describe that scene.

In the next scene the character arrives at her destination, a large room inside of a castle. There is a long heavy table in the center surrounded by padded wooden chairs. She’s having an argument with her lover. The mood is dark and charged. Do you have lots of sconces burning to give lots of light? No. But you might have a fire burning in the chimney, thus creating moving shadows on the cold stone walls of the room. Maybe a chair or two have been knocked over. What is her lover wearing? Do you want him sexy and partially dressed?

I’ve already said that they’re having an argument. Describe the action. They’re being physical with each other and shouting. Communicate that to the reader. Describe how he’s grabbing her and how she’s trying to fend him off. What are they saying (or shouting) to each other? The setting, action and dialogue all create the scene for that reader. Don’t be afraid of detail. Help the reader move from one scene to another.

Happy Writing!

Borough Hall

I have a new feature:

Author of the week!

Aria Michaels