As I have been pecking away at the keys working on my new projects, I’ve been compiling a little list for myself. I thought I would make it pretty and share it with all of you. I do like to share. Is that weird? Well, not everything—my toothbrush is off limits.
Now that I have made that clear, here is my latest list. Voice Descriptor Infographic . . .
Dialogue is an integral part of any novel. Here are eight ways to upgrade your dialogue and avoid some newbie pitfalls.
Every conversation should move the plot forward. No empty fillers, please.
Pick a punctuation style and stick to it. If you are going to query a major publisher, you may want to use Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Regardless of what you choose to use, consistency is key. For example: if you use an en-dash when a character is cut off in a conversation, do it every time.
People rarely use each others’ names in conversation after an initial greeting.
Here is an example of overuse: “Heya, Eric.” “Hello, Nora.” “Eric, how has your summer been so far?” “Well, Nora, it has been rather busy. I’m ready to slow down for a bit.” “I totally understand, Eric. I have been busy too.”
Besides the fact that the dialogue is a yawn fest, people don’t naturally use one another’s names that much when talking. I makes your characters sound like game show hosts. “Yes, Vanna.” (more…)
Varying your vocabulary is as important as varying your sentence length. It keeps readers interested and staves away boredom. Now, do you need to use a synonym every time? No, but it is beneficial to avoid using the same words in the same paragraphs. Why not find the perfect word? Isn’t that the beauty of writing? Finding the precise word to express your idea is part of the process.
I realize that different genres call for different treatment of words such as “said.” My point is to know your genre. If you are writing for younger readers they may need more context clues. Sometimes it is helpful to know if a character is simply asking or if they are interrogating. It completely changes the tone of the scene.
I’m in the process of rereading the first twenty-three chapters of The Fallen: Part Two. As I have been perusing the pages of my first draft, I’ve been finding some word repetition. The problem with overusing a word, is that it becomes distracting to the reader.
I remember reading a book recently where the author used the word swung for everything. I swung into the car. I swung my legs out of bed. I swung around the corner. I swung my arms… well, you get the point. I got so irritated every time I saw the word swung, that it distracted me from the story itself, and this was a NY Times bestseller! I am not saying that I am perfect, but I do work really hard to avoid repetition (having a lot of beta readers helps).
During this go through, I found that I was overusing the word whisper, so I created a word list for myself. I decided to go ahead and share it. Enjoy! And go forth and use synonyms!