Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: Marcy Kennedy

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 7.26.00 AMToday, I’m busy finishing up work before I have to travel and speak in Utah, so since we’d been discussing Deep POV, I figured I’d get a Deep POV expert to come and weigh in on the subject. Marcy Kennedy is an excellent teacher and has actually written a whole book on the subject, and she’s taken time out of her busy schedule to help us out.

Take it away, Marcy!

***

In her post Introducing Deep POV—WHAT IS It? Can We Buy Some on Amazon? Kristen explained why deep POV is more popular than the old trends that defined the classics. Those old ways of writing? Probably not coming back unless an EMP pulse permanently fries all our technology.

I think it’s actually a great thing we’ve moved on to deep POV. Deep POV is the magic sauce that can make our books so all-consuming that readers miss their subway stops, consider calling in sick for work, and burn the casserole.

Why? Well, in deep POV, there’s no distance between the reader and the character. The reader experiences the world through the character’s mind, body, and senses. They hear the character’s voice. It’s personal and intimate. This means readers form a stronger connection to the characters and they have to know what happens to them.

It also means that everything is filtered through the character before readers receive it. Nothing is objective. The character is interpreting the story for us in the same way that we interpret what happens in our lives. That means that in deep POV even the “less exciting” parts like description become exciting because they show emotion and personality.

So let’s look at two ways we can develop deep POV in our writing…

Show the Emotion, Don’t Tell It

This works to suck the reader in because we’re feeling an emotion rather than being told about an emotion. If I tell you that I’m sad, or feeling guilty, or scared, you’re not going to feel much. There’s too much distance. It’s too cold and flat.

If you’re brought in so close that my sadness or guilt or fear becomes real to you, maybe even reminds you of when you felt those emotions, now you’re feeling it too.

Let’s take an example.

Telling: Jennifer was sad because of the death of her daughter. She went into the little girl’s room and threw one of her favorite toys against the wall, shattering it.

Even an empath wouldn’t feel anything from the shallow Telling version.

Deep POV (Showing): Jennifer stood face to face with the delicate porcelain doll Ellie idolized too much to even play with. The doll stared back, her face held in an immortal smile, mocking. No doll deserved to live longer than the little girl who owned her. Jennifer snatched the doll from the shelf and heaved her toward the far wall. The doll’s head exploded like a car bomb, fragments flying everywhere.

In the Deep POV version, this is now a specific, nuanced sadness. It’s how Jennifer experiences her sadness. Jennifer isn’t just sad. She’s also angry, maybe even a little bitter. That’s very different from a character who is sad and guilty, or a character who is sad…but also a little bit relieved.

Use Description as a Way to Increase Tension, Heighten Emotion, and Reveal Personality

How many times have you skimmed over a description that read something like this?

Jennifer ducked into the only other room in the apartment—a bedroom. It had a Captain’s bed, an end table butted up to the bedside, and big windows along one wall. Ugly orange and green curtains covered the windows from the top to three inches off the floor. To one side was a tiny, doorless bathroom. She had nowhere to hide, and if he found her here, he’d kill her.

Yawn. I almost fell asleep writing it. I’ve described the room, but it’s a boring description because these are the objective facts. There aren’t any opinions to go along with it. There’s no personality.

Let’s try this again in deep POV. This time I’m going to weave the description in among the action (when Jennifer would naturally pay attention to each item) and let Jennifer tell it in her voice.

Jennifer careened into the only other room in the apartment—a bedroom. The unmade bed was one of those Captain styles with drawers underneath that she’d always associated with kids, not adults. No place to hide there.

Out in the main room, the rattle of a chain marked him locking the door behind him.

She spun in a circle. The only door other than the one she came in led to a tiny bathroom. Without a door. What kind of a person didn’t at least hang up a curtain? She glanced inside. Or a shower curtain for crying out loud.

A clatter on the kitchen countertop. Probably keys and a cell phone being emptied from a pocket. If he was like most people, his next stop would be the bathroom. And he’d catch her. And she’d be dead.

She skittered back to the orange-and-green pinstriped curtains that looked like rejects from the second-hand store her Aunt Bertie owned in the 80s. She ducked behind. Her feet stuck out the bottom. If he didn’t look down…please God let him not look down.

We now have a description of the bedroom that not only shows us the facts but also adds to the tension and hints at the personalities of both Jennifer and the man who owns this bedroom.

That’s the way deep POV makes description—and everything else—interesting.

***Thank you, Marcy. And, as a correction…

I was wrong, you CAN buy Deep POV on Amazon…well at least a good book about it.

Please check out Marcy’s book Deep Point of View on Amazon (and on Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, and Kobo too). It’s available in print and ebook, and it’ll help you learn how to rock deep POV!

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea

Kristen has foolishly graciously handed her blog over to me today while she is recovering from the flu and is locked up in her NaNoWriMo cave.

But Marcy! I don’t want to go on the cart! 

*swats Kristen*

If she hits her word count, we can slide a gluten-free brownie to her through the bars later to get rid of the taste of that horrible Mucinex.

But I feel HAPPY! I think I can go for a walk!

Um, one minute. *hushed voice* Fine, you don’t have to go on the cart but get off Facebook and back to writing and let me do the blog for you so you can rest and write. Okay?

But I just—

Cart? *stern face*

Yes ma’am. But could you please get Jami Gold to stop tweeting BRING OUT YOUR DEAD! It’s freaking me out. I think she has it automated with my name in it.

If you would get off Twitter and write, Jami wouldn’t be bothering you, would she?

*sticks out tongue and slinks off with blankie* I WANT BROWNIES! *slams door*

Oh, sorry about that. She’ll be fine. Where were we?

Since Kristen is in captivity, that means no one is around to stop us, so I think it’s time to pull back the wizard’s curtain and reveal a secret to POV. For those who may not know, POV stands for point of view and almost always should be limited to one character at a time or things get very confusing.

Why POV is vital for your story is this is how you are going to slip your reader ever so subtly into the skin of your characters. Get your readers so comfortable they never want to leave. When we make POV errors? It shatters the fictive dream. That is why getting really good at POV is vital. We must maintain the magic.

Here’s the secret that a lot of writers don’t realize about POV.

Many point-of-view errors are simply the flip side of telling rather than showing.

What is telling when we’re writing about our viewpoint character becomes a POV error when we’re writing about a non-viewpoint character. So if we understand the difference between telling and showing, we’ll be better prepared to also spot point-of-view errors.

It’s almost as cool as being able to juggle plates while circling a hula hoop. (Actually, I’d settle for being able to do either of those alone. Tips anyone?)

Let me give you a little refresher on showing and telling first before I explain how telling and POV errors are dopplegangers.

Showing vs. Telling

Showing happens when we let the reader experience things for themselves, through the perspective of the characters. It presents evidence to the reader and allows them to draw their own conclusions, while telling dictates a conclusion to the reader, telling them what to believe. Telling states a fact.

Bob was angry dictates a conclusion. It’s telling.

But what was the evidence?

Bob punched his fist into the wall. (This is showing.)

The Black Plague ravaged the country dictates a conclusion. It’s telling.

But what was the evidence?

We could describe men loading dead bodies covered in oozing sores onto a wagon. Our protagonist could press a handkerchief filled with posies to her nose and mouth as she passes someone who’s drawing in ragged, labored breaths. Either of those details, or many others, would show the Black Death ravaging the country.

(If you want to learn more about showing and telling, you might want to take a look at another post I wrote for Kristen about How Star Trek Helps Us with Showing Rather than Telling.)

So How Does This Help Us Catch POV Errors Again?

POV errors happen any time we’re in a limited point of view where we’re supposed to stay inside one viewpoint character at a time and we write something that our viewpoint character couldn’t know, wouldn’t have experienced, or wouldn’t be thinking about.

At first this doesn’t sound like it has much of anything to do with showing vs. telling. Which means it’s time for some examples so we can see it in action. I’ll put the POV error/telling parts of our examples in bold.

Eric was too angry to listen to any more.

When Eric is our viewpoint character, this is telling. We’ve told the reader that he’s angry. We haven’t shown his anger.

When Eric isn’t our viewpoint character, this is a point-of-view error. Our viewpoint character can’t know that Eric is too angry to continue to listen.

Let’s look at another one.

Kate realized she’d locked her keys in the car.

When Kate is our viewpoint character, this is telling. We’re dictating a conclusion to the reader. What do you experience? We can’t see “realized.” We don’t know how she knows her keys are locked in the car. There’s no picture here.

If Kate isn’t our viewpoint character, this is a point-of-view error. How does our viewpoint character know what Kate is realizing?

A version of this that I see all the time in my editing work is something like:

He thought about that for a minute.

If he’s our viewpoint character, we’ve told the reader he’s thinking, but we’re not showing them the content of his thoughts.

If he’s not our viewpoint character, there’s no way the viewpoint character can know what he’s thinking about or even that he’s thinking at all.

Final one.

Elizabeth went to the woodshed to get the axe.

When Elizabeth is our viewpoint character, this is telling. We’re told why she planned to go to the woodshed, but we don’t see her actually get the axe.

When Elizabeth isn’t our viewpoint character, this is a point-of-view error. Our viewpoint character can’t know for sure why Elizabeth went to the woodshed. Maybe she was going in there to cry. Or maybe she planned to crawl out the back window and run away.

One of the things I love most about writing is how everything we learn works together. When we get better at one part of writing, other parts start to slide into place as well.

*COUGH COUGH COUGH*

Yes, it’s Kristen. Just give me a sec before Marcy boots me out. As an editor POV is a HUGE deal. So many new writers screw this up and if you mess up POV your reader will be left feeling like she’s been strapped to Hell’s Tilt-A-Whirl. What is REALLY insidious about POV is, unless you get some training? You won’t see it because you are the creator.

So what often happens is we end up with a bunch of bored or ticked off readers who couldn’t keep in the story but even they can’t articulate WHY. Guarantee you very often the problem was POV. It one of THE most COMMON blunders even I see when I edit.

So please check out Marcy’s book and class because she is a ROCKSTAR at teaching this stuff. And now I am going back in my hole.

I WANT BROWNIES! *slams door*

Need More Help With Point of View?

Check out my book Point of View in Fiction. Point of view isn’t merely another writing craft technique. Point of view is the foundation upon which all other elements of the writing craft stand or fall.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 7.26.00 AM

In Point of View in Fiction, you’ll learn how to choose the right POV for your story, how to avoid POV errors, how to choose the right viewpoint character for each scene, how to know how many viewpoint characters to use, and much more.

Itís available in print and ebook format and most places (so you can grab it from Amazon, Kobo, Apple iBooks, or Barnes & Noble).

Add some LIVE teaching to go WITH that book. I’m running a W.A.N.A. International Webinar How to Master Point of View on Friday, November 20 so sign up and learn how to make story MAGIC!

The webinar will be recorded and made available to registrants, so even if you can’t make it at the scheduled time, you can sign up and listen later at your convenience.

Click here to sign up for How to Master Point of View.

Thank you Marcy!

I LOVE hearing from you, especially when I have guests which is why all comments on guest posts get double-suck-up points. Hey, Marcy is doing me a solid because yes, I am on the mend from the flu, but I still had/have the flu and Hubby is lucky he is cute for getting me sick.

To prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 10.37.10 AM

Today, I have a special treat for you guys. Author, speaker, editor and long-time W.A.N.A. International Instructor Marcy Kennedy is here to talk about internal dialogue—when to use it, why we use it and how not to get all cray-cray with it.

Trust us. As editors, Marcy and I see it all. Often newer writers swing to one extreme or another. Either they stay SO much in a character’s head that we (the reader) are trapped in The Land of Nothing Happening or we’re never given any insight into the character’s inner thought life, leaving said character as interesting as a rice cake.

Like all things in fiction, balance is key. Marcy is here to work her magic and teach y’all how to use internal dialogue for max effect.

Take it away, Marcy!

11865334_10153533349081197_624386888_o

Understanding why something is important to our writing lays the foundation for bettering our writing because it acts as a measuring post. When we know why we should do something and what benefit we’re supposed to gain by doing it, it helps us recognize when we’re not receiving that benefit.

Since I’m here to talk to you about internal dialogue, let’s look at what that means specifically for internal dialogue. If our internal dialogue isn’t providing one of these benefits, then we’re either doing it wrong or we’ve tried to include it in a spot where it doesn’t belong.

With that in mind, let’s look at the main reasons why internal dialogue is important to include in our fiction.

Reason #1 – Internal dialogue replicates real life.

When we write, we want our work to feel realistic and authentic (even if it’s set on a strange planet, includes magic, or has dragons living next door to our banker). We want it to feel like these people could have lived and would have done the things we describe them doing.

In our lives, we’re always thinking—noticing things happening around us, trying to solve problems, giving ourselves a pep talk or a dressing down. If we want our characters to feel real, we need to have them do the same thing.

How to Apply This to Our Fiction:

Make sure our point-of-view character reacts to important events through internal dialogue. For example, if we reveal a shocking piece of information—like an affair—our POV character better try to come to grips with it and think it through. You would, wouldn’t you? If they don’t have an appropriate reaction, the reader will feel like the story isn’t believable.

(And just as a word of caution – remember that fiction is supposed to be “better” than real life in some ways. This means we shouldn’t share absolutely every thought that goes through our character’s head. We only share the ones that matter to the story, including to the character’s emotional growth.)

Reason #2 – Internal dialogue creates a deeper connection between the reader and the characters.

For a reader to invest their time in our story, they need to care what happens. Internal dialogue is one of the tools at our disposal to make them care because it creates an intimate connection between the reader and the point-of-view character. We hear their thoughts in the same way we hear our own, and that allows us, as readers, to share their feelings and concerns, experiencing them as our own. We also get to know them better, and they become more real to us because of it.

How to Apply This to Our Fiction:

A large part of internal dialogue is our POV character forming opinions on what’s happening around them. Make sure to let them pass judgment and interpret the events around them and the people they meet. This shows their personality in a deep and personal way because they’re not trying to put on a mask for the outside world. Their private thoughts are meant only for themselves. They’re honest and raw. (If this leads them to form false impressions and later find out they’re wrong, that’s even better.)

Reason #3 – Internal dialogue helps control the pacing in our fiction.

I once heard the analogy that pacing in fiction is like creating the perfect rollercoaster ride. If you had a rollercoaster that only went up, only went down in one continuous drop for three minutes, or stayed completely level the whole time, no one would ride it. A good rollercoaster needs the anticipation of the rise, the heart-in-the-throat drops, and the shocking loops and twists. Good fiction needs the same.

How to Apply This to Our Fiction:

If our entire book is composed of high-speed action scenes, our readers are going to grow as bored as if our whole book is a character sitting in their room and thinking. We need the internal dialogue to create the anticipation for the action, allow the reader to breathe, and build them up for the next drop. To do this, we should have “sequels” following our “scenes” where our main character slows down for a minute to react to the setback and consider their options.

Reason #4 – Internal dialogue minimizes confusion by revealing motivations.

The heart of fiction is the why. Why is our main character acting the way she is? Why does he want to reach his goal so badly that he’s willing to suffer the possible consequences?

When those motivations aren’t clear to the reader, the reader ends up either feeling confused or feeling less engaged with the story. When the reader doesn’t know or understand our POV character’s motivations, their actions seem random and, at times, can even make our character come across as stupid.

How to Apply This to Our Fiction:

Before our POV character acts, it needs to be clear what their plan is and why they’re pursuing that course of action. So, for example, don’t have them shoot their best friend in the leg unless the reader knows why they did it. (You might think that’s a ridiculous example, but in my work as an editor, I’ve seen even worse unexplained events perpetrated by a POV character.)

Reason #5 – Internal dialogue conveys information that can’t be given any other way.

If, for example, you have a character who needs to deceive everyone around them, you’ll have them acting one way and thinking another. Another example of this is backstory that influences who our characters are and why (there’s that word again) they act the way they do.

They might not think that events in their past are influencing them, so they’d have no reason to talk about it with anyone else, but we can make the reader aware of it through their thoughts.

How to Apply This to Our Fiction:

Inserting backstory can be tricky. The key is to share only backstory that’s essential to the front story, to drip feed it, and to use a present event to trigger our character’s thoughts about the past events.

Need More Help with Internal Dialogue?

11853007_10153533351191197_560760048_o

Check out my book Internal Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide. In it you’ll learn the difference between internal dialogue and narration, best practices for formatting internal dialogue, ways to use internal dialogue to advance your story, how to balance internal dialogue with external action, clues to help you decide whether you’re overusing or underusing internal dialogue, tips for dealing with questions in your internal dialogue, and much more!

It’s available in print and ebook format and most places (so you can grab it from Amazon, Kobo, Apple iBooks, or Barnes & Noble).

If you prefer live teaching, I’m running a webinar called Internal Dialogue: The Voice Inside Our Characters’ Heads on Saturday, August 15.

The webinar will be recorded and made available to registrants, so even if you can’t make it at the scheduled time, you can sign up and listen later at your convenience.

Click here to sign up for Internal Dialogue: The Voice Inside Our Characters’ Heads.

P.S. I’m also running a webinar on techniques to make our dialogue shone on Wednesday, August 12. Find out more here!

***

THANK YOU, Marcy! Alrighty, then. For being the AWESOME guests you guys are, all comments today count double in my contest.

WE love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of AUGUST, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

I hope y’all sign up for Marcy’s class and, heck, why not make a DAY of it?

Remember! Due to popular demand I am running my Your Story in a Sentence class this Saturday (after Marcy) and participants have their log lines shredded and rebuilt and made agent-ready. Log-lines are crucial because if we don’t know what our book is about? How are we going to finish it? Revise it? Pitch it? Sell it?

Hmmm, looks like a ticket to TWITTER JAIL
Hmmm, looks like a ticket to TWITTER JAIL

I’m still delusional that I might finish NaNoWriMo. I can write 16,000 more words in five days, right? Sigh. I’ve been away from the blog because I’m in the trenches with the fellow Nanos. Also I really needed to take a bit of a break. To help me with my pseudo-sabbatical? The AMAZING Social Media Maven Marcy Kennedy is here to help you learn how to use Twitter effectively. 

Using Twitter effectively is important. Twitter is a tool, but we can look like a tool or act like a tool if we rush in not knowing what we are DOING.

Great news is I have done all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to. Marcy might have, but I can’t speak for her (and she is kind of a Hermione) so she probably was smart enough to learn from MY dumb stuff…..

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 12.03.38 PM
“Marcy”

Take it away, Marcy!

***

Twitter often gets a bad reputation from people who don’t understand it or don’t know how to use it to its full potential to build an author platform. If we’re misusing it or not using it to its full potential, not only will it not help us, but we also won’t be having any fun. And social media should be fun!

So today I want to walk through the seven essentials every author needs to know about Twitter. When used correctly, Twitter can be one of the best tools for increasing traffic to our blogs and gaining new readers for our books.

Essential #1 – Which Tools Work the Best for You

Social media can feel a little like THIS...
Social media can feel a little like THIS…

When we are new to Twitter, we might not realize we have options for tweeting other than using the twitter.com website. Hint: You don’t want to actually use Twitter.com to tweet. It only gives you one column and very few options. We need something more effective to manage our tweeting.

There are two basic choices—TweetDeck and Hootsuite. (There are others, but these two are the best.) You’ll hear from people who love one or the other, so the important thing is to choose the one you like the most.

Essential #2 – How to Use Hashtags

Using hashtags allows people we’re not already connected with to see our tweets (and vice versa). Effectively using hashtags is one of the quickest ways to build relationships with new people on Twitter…if we use them well.

Since I don’t want this post to be as long as a novel, I’ll direct you to a post I did for Kristen earlier called “Twitter Basics–The Proper Care and Feeding of Hashtags.”

Essential #3 – How to Use Lists

SO ME!
Organize ALL THE TWEETS!

One of the most common complaints I hear about Twitter is that the amount of tweets is overwhelming. There’s a simple solution—Twitter lists. A Twitter list can be added to a column in TweetDeck or a stream in Hootsuite so that we’re able to watch only the tweets made by the people on that list.

Once you know how to use them, they become a powerful tool not only for making Twitter more enjoyable, but also for building a viable author platform. Twitter lists can help:

  • Make connections with agents, editors, or book reviewers
  • Build relationships with other writers in your genre
  • Keep track of subject matter experts; connect with writers who live in your area
  • Reciprocate for people who regularly retweet your tweets
  • Stay in touch with fans who contact you about your book or say something good about your writing.

Essential #4 – What to Tweet 

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.46.28 AM

We’re writers, so the temptation is to be the “all writing, all the time” channel. Tweeting about writing some of the time is fine because it helps us connect with other writers, but it won’t help us connect with readers.

Connecting with readers is about joining in conversations and tweeting links to material that your potential future readers might be interested in. If you’re writing science fiction, tweet about new scientific inventions, for example.

If you’re writing romance, your audience might be interested in posts about love and relationships, about the latest fashions, or about exotic locations. If you’re writing thrillers, you could find true crime posts and interesting tidbits from the news to share.

Essential #5 – Avoid Connecting Facebook and Twitter

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.41.31 AM

We won’t have success on any social media site unless we’re there, actively participating and building relationships. That means that connecting any two sites so that what we post on one automatically shows up on the other is a bad idea.

But connecting Facebook and Twitter so that your tweets carry over is also a terrible idea because what people look for from the two sites is different. You might think you’re saving yourself time, but you’re risking coming across as a spam bot instead.

Essential #6 – What Can Get Us Sent to Twitter Jail?

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.42.36 AM

When it comes to Twitter, there are three big no-nos that can land us in Twitter Jail. Consider these the equivalent of speeding, driving down the wrong side of the road, and driving under the influence.

  • Follower to Following Ratios

People hit the magic number of 2,000 people they’re following and suddenly Twitter won’t allow them to follow anyone new. This happens when we don’t have enough people following you compared to the number of people we’re following.

If this happens, you’re going to have to go and clear out some of the people who aren’t following you back using a tool like justunfollow.com. If your ratio is so far off that you’ve been thrown in Twitter jail, you’re not going to get out just by begging a few more people to follow you.

  • Tweeting Too Often

I’m still shocked that people have this happen given that the technical limit is 1,000 tweets per day. However, this is also broken down into hourly limits. So if you think of it that way, you’re limited to approximately 83 tweets per hour. That might sound like a ridiculously high number you’d never hit, but if you’re taking part in some kind of Twitter party (e.g., a launch party for a book), you may actually find you hit this limit.

With the growing popularity of those types of events, as well as themed chats, you need to be especially careful about this limit if you’re the administrator of the event.

  • Spammy Behavior

Most of you are probably already aware of the major spam behaviors to avoid. Kristen has done an amazing job of educating writers about what counts as spam, but in case any of you are new to Twitter or don’t read Kristen’s blog quite as dedicatedly as I do, I really think these are essential to know.

Spam = If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account.

So let’s say you created an account both for yourself and for your book and you post the same updates to both. That technically violates Twitter’s spam policy. If you post the same updates over and over again on a single account, it’s also spam and Twitter will suspend your account for this kind of behavior.

Spam = If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates.

This is another reason why the conversation aspect of Twitter is so important. This is a social media site founded with the intent of both sharing information and providing people will a quick, easy way to voice their opinions and chat with others. Be aware that if you’re only posting links, you’re technically in violation of Twitter’s user policies.

Essential #10 – How to Connect Your Website to Twitter

Original image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of FEMA
Original image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of FEMA

Our home base on the Internet should never be a social media network. We should have a website (and ideally blog on our website as well) because that is a solid foundation to build upon.

Part of what we want to do is create a circle between our blog and our social media networks. We share material on social media, which draws people back to our blog, and they enjoy the content, so they return to social media and share it with the people they’re connected with. And the cycle continues and grows.

You’d be surprised how many people chop a hole in this cycle because they don’t enable sharing buttons on their blog or website. Make sure you have a button that people can click to tweet your blog post right from your website.

Want More Help with Twitter for Authors?

Please check out my book Twitter for Authors: A Busy Writer’s Guide (available in ebook and print forms). Building a thriving social media platform doesn’t have to steal all your precious writing time or cut into your time with your family. Twitter for Authors is about building a successful Twitter platform that’s sustainable for busy people.

In Twitter for Authors, you’ll learn…
• essential Twitter terminology,
• how to set up your account,
• the differences between TweetDeck and Hootsuite,
• techniques for staying safe on Twitter,
• how to build columns and lists and use them to find readers,
• the value of link shorteners and hashtags,
• what to tweet about,
• the most common mistakes writers make on Twitter,
• how to run a successful Twitter event,
• how to manage your social media time,
• and much more!

Twitter for Authors contains helpful advice for both Twitter newbies and long-time Twitter users who want to take their platform to the next level.

 

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Peter Dutton
Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Peter Dutton

Kristen here, and we’ll continue our acrostic for VICTORY next post. I’m interrupting for a Writer Public Service Announcement. Great dialogue is paramount. Readers can overlook a lot of things if we have fabulous dialogue.

Dialogue can make or break a book. We can have the most brilliant story ever imagined in human history, but if the dialogue is weird, stilted, or redundant, that’s a good place for a bookmark.

As an editor, I can attest that this is one of the BIGGEST problem areas for the new writer. Dialogue can often sound stiff, like two kids playing with Barbies or fighting with action figures. Or, characters can become “talking heads” who all sound the same.

Great dialogue should give us a peek into the psyche of the character. We know we’ve done it properly when readers really don’t need tags (though use them where appropriate anyway for safe measure). When we nail dialogue, our characters can become so rich and vibrant the reader knows who’s speaking simply by the way they speak, what they say or even don’t say.

A fantastic example of this is J.E. Fishman’s latest book, “A Danger to Himself and Others.” Fishman did an astonishing job of characterization through superb dialogue. When I read this book, I always knew who was talking. This helped create characters so real and a world so rich, it drew me in and didn’t let go.

***I believe the Kindle version is free right now, so I recommend this book for a study in this area.

So, today to give you guys some quick tips on FAB dialogue, I have our WANA International instructor, Marcy Kennedy to guide you.

Take it away, Marcy!

****

In my years as a freelance editor, I’ve worked with clients all the way along the writing path—from newbies who are just starting their first book to seasoned veterans with multiple books on the market. I can now guess with a high level of accuracy where a writer is along the path based on the types of dialogue mistakes they’re making.

Newer writers tend to use creative dialogue tags or allow their characters to speak for paragraphs (or pages!) at a time without interruption. I once edited a novel where a character spoke for 63 pages solid. No joke.

But new level, new writing devil.

As writers gain experience in the craft and stop making the newbie mistakes, they run into a new dilemma. They’re told their writing still isn’t ready.

And one of these dialogue death sentences is probably playing a role in killing their chances at publication success.

Image vis Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi.
Image vis Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi.

 

Death Sentence #1 – Redundant Dialogue

Redundancy happens when we repeat something in our dialogue that we’ve already written in either narrative or action.

He shook his head. “No.”

Unless our character needs to add extra emphasis to their denial, the action or the dialogue alone is usually enough.

Let’s look at a sneakier example of redundancy.

Rob glanced at the clock on the wall. Three at last. Time for him to go. He popped his head into Joan’s office. “It’s three. I’m heading out. Want me to lock up?”

The redundancy here isn’t as exact as in the previous example, but it still makes for boring, flabby writing. We could tighten it to read…

Rob glanced at the clock on the wall. Three at last. He popped his head into Joan’s office. “I’m heading out. Want me to lock up?”

Redundancy can also happen big-picture. If, for example, we’re going to have a character cracking a safe, we don’t need to have them explain the whole process to another character before it happens. That makes it boring for the reader to then have to sit through the description of our character actually cracking the safe (even if something goes wrong).

We shouldn’t bore our readers to death by redundant dialogue.

 

Death Sentence #2 – Orphaned Dialogue

Any time we confuse the reader, it’s a bad thing because we destroy their immersion in the story. If we confuse them enough times, our book goes in the donate pile or gets deleted from their e-reader and they move on to someone else.

When it comes to writing dialogue, one of the most common crimes is to leave our dialogue orphaned, with no one to claim it.

This abandonment comes in two types.

(A)  Dialogue where we’re not sure who’s speaking.

I suspect this usually happens because, as writers, we know exactly who’s speaking. We forget the reader can read only our words, not our minds.

If we have more than three lines of unattributed dialogue in a row (dialogue without a tag like said or an action beat), we can risk the reader losing track of who’s speaking.

If we have a scene with multiple speakers, we need to be certain it’s clear who each line of dialogue belongs to. An unattributed line of dialogue could belong to anyone present.

But the sneakiest of all is when we write about two characters in the same paragraph and then tack on a line of dialogue at the end.

Ellen waved her arm above her head, and Frank sprinted towards her. “I’ve missed you.”

Who said “I’ve missed you”? It could be Frank or it could be Ellen, and the reader has no way to tell which one it really is.

(B)  Dialogue where we don’t find out until then end who’s speaking…and we probably guessed wrong about the speaker’s identity.

AVOID dialogue like this…

“We have come to witness our finest warriors compete. Scythia offers their best to us, so we offer them no less,” the queen said.

By the time the reader reaches the tag at the end, they’ll have consciously or subconsciously made an assumption about who’s speaking. If they guessed wrong, it throws them off balance.

When we have long passages of dialogue, it’s usually best to either begin with a beat, so readers know who’s talking before they start, or to place a beat or tag at the first natural pause.

“We have come to witness our finest warriors compete,” the queen said. “Scythia offers their best to us, so we offer them no less.”

Don’t leave dialogue abandoned on the side of the road. It’s just cruel.

 

Need More Help With Dialogue?

Check out my book How to Write Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide. In it you’ll learn how to format your dialogue, how to add variety to your dialogue so it’s not always “on the nose,” when you should use dialogue and when you shouldn’t, how to convey information through dialogue without falling prey to As-You-Know-Bob Syndrome, how to write dialogue unique to each of your characters, how to add tension to your dialogue, whether it’s ever okay to start a chapter with dialogue, ways to handle contractions (or the lack thereof) in science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction, and much more!

If you prefer live teaching, I’m running a webinar called Say What? Techniques for Making Your Dialogue Shine this Saturday, May 17th.

This 1.5 hour live webinar will…

* cover the seven most common mistakes when it comes to dialogue and how to fix them,
* explain how to ensure your dialogue makes your story stronger,
* show you how to create dialogue unique to your characters, and
* answer some of the most frustrating questions about dialogue such as how to handle dialect, should we use contractions in historical novels, science fiction, and fantasy, and is it okay to begin a book with dialogue.

As a bonus, all registrants receive an ebook copy of my book How to Write Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide.

The webinar will be recorded and made available to registrants, so even if you can’t make it at the scheduled time, you can sign up and listen later at your convenience.

Click here to sign up for Say What? Techniques for Making Your Dialogue Shine.