Sunday, June 23, 2013

Writing Dialogue, Narrative, And Action

“He said”, or “she asked”, indicates who’s speaking.  Don’t force your reader to re-read and figure out who's saying what, especially when several characters are conversing.

When using direct dialogue; it sets the scene, advances plot, reminds the reader, shows who the characters are and reflects the theme. Dialogue does many things at once.
     “You’re right,” Jay said, as he switched off his speaker phone.
     Anna drove into Jay’s circular drive.  She saw him inside leave the front windows and step outside to greet her.
     “It’s great to see you again Anna,” Jay said.  “I’m happy you came down.”
     “It’s wonderful to see you Jay,” Anna said.  “It hasn’t been that long since I was here.”
     Anna stepped out of her car and faced Jay.

Dialogue changes with challenge between characters, gives each word purpose and sets the tone.  When opening a scene, dialogue challenges can effectively increase the reader’s interest.  Plot rather than character driven stories; generally use dialogue with action, showing and moving the story quickly with less narrative.
     “You’ll be leaving right away?” Leo asked.
     “Yes my cousin Anna is on her way down; so I will shop for a few groceries,” the Commander said.  “After we have lunch we can come to the Post.  You can show her our new additions Leo, she will like that."

Narrative can tell character emotion, feelings and describe when needed.  Narrative summery tells and without a lot of detail transitions to the next scene. 

Decide when to show or tell; characters emotions and feelings, to engage readers in the experience. 
     Slow diving through the strange thick fog for over an hour, brought her out into a thin mist that sparkled with gold sun streaks.  Anna felt a sweep of relief; finally she had navigated out of the strange fog.    

Time Balance For Writing.

A balance between your web sites/blogs, to research realistic fiction, and novel writing is important.  Realistic writing should be believable to engage your reader.  Research your writing for details that your reader will find more interesting.

Using reliable internet sites can be a fast way to research.
Visit your library, and if your library is online with your library card you can research.
Photographs travel, and interviews can provide information and inspiration.
Read books in your genre and what is best selling can help to make decisions.
Television may have presentations dated or not.
Newspapers may have online options.
Sources should give accurate up to date information.
Some of the best fiction comes from real life.
Some details help craft your story to include your readers.
What is really thought of or voiced in conversation.
The scent of fir trees or other short descriptions give a real visual depth.
Show readers through character action and interaction.
Always take notes to streamline your process.
A rested clear mind is important.

**Research for the elements of your novel**
Conflict – weaving the drama elements of the novel together.  Use action with some stirring dialogue.
Character – learning to do something beyond their flaws through the course of the novel.  Each character prompts the other to action or a situation can prompt to action.
Structure & Plot – the basic three act structure.
Act 1 – introduction to setting and character; with some dialogue that drives the main character into the conflicting story situation.
Act 2 – the story develops through obstacles temporarily resolved, each through a rise then falling of tension.  These lead to tension and the ultimate crisis confrontation.
Act 3 – The crisis, tension and loose end story threads are rapidly resolved.  A readers interest is not held long, complete the novel.
Read your novel again.  It should sound right with researched information.
Think of high end reviews in advance, they are an important quality indicator and show people your novel is available.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


With sufficient motivation the character wants something with relationship interaction.  How the protagonist perceives and reacts in scene situations overall, is the theme relating to the plot.  Include a leading protagonist near the first paragraph of each scene.  In most fiction, point of view is kept to one POV per scene, each scene has tension.  The POV is who the action is viewed through, and not knowing other characters thoughts will not express them accidentally.  Keep the few points of view consistent as the story progresses, to engage the reader.

Relevant dialogue shows the character and uncovers information.  Show what your characters experience in setting, action and dialogue rather than telling in narrative.  Narrative can be effective showing the character with description before a confrontation.  Dialogue moves the story faster, if important description of focus is added it slows the momentum.  Read your story out loud to hear what is natural.  Know your characters back story weaving a small amount with action.  If back story is used the reader should care about the characters current situation.  Decide the essential past before the novel began, leading up to why the character is sufficiently motivated.   

Introduce the character with a few descriptive lines; then following less detail in dialogue, action or inner thoughts.  Action and reaction moves the plot or characters in the most interesting way.  Action and inner conflict can show character emotions, some back story may be used.  From action to dialogue add enough plot related setting.  With descriptive emotional thoughts of a scene about to take place, the scene is set for action.  Reveal specific information to keep up the pace into confrontations and how they are resolved.

Conflict is added that is relevant to the plot and between characters, to increase the stakes.  Emotion and suspense reveals characters moving their stories forward in the plot.  Characters have differences one from another.  Use voice dialogue and behavior rather than narrative summary to reveal character.  Inner thoughts can give the reader views into desire, fear, motivation and challenges.  Characters are developed with their personal perspective and why they do things.

Involve your protagonist in the plot undergoing tension, energy and momentum.  Your protagonist is the one who engages through the emotional arc in the plot.  Compel your protagonist to reconsider or change through story events.  A protagonist may remain essentially the same, but grows or learns from actions or events in the story.  Readers should always know what the character wants.  A story ending expresses how the protagonist has changed or overcome.

Scene Development

You want your reader’s attention in the very first sentence.  Characters are vivid with reality writing in the present time.  Characters grow through change in your narrative.  Scenes are illuminated through the point of view they are seen in.  Reality action is memorable bringing the story forward.  Dialogue reveals new plot information with actions of the characters in described motion.  Individual characters though conflict and trials with action come alive.  Readers enter and live in the scene with all of their senses that the characters and physical setting create.

Dramatic tension can be linked to conflict and involve the reader with interest.  Scene subtext builds layers of emotion through images.  Character actions have purpose and profound ways to change characters through drama.  With pacing and length, you control the kind of emotion your scenes have.  Telling is the narrative summary of explanation, a participation that is kept to a minimum.  If it can’t be used in present dialogue it is summary.  Showing is where the character enhances reading through involvement in action, thought and dialogue with specific details.

Scene sections and chapter breaks offer the reader a chance to pause.  A long scene after intense dialogue or action can slow the pace.   This allows the protagonist or reader to reflect on what has happened building toward the next scene.  Action and reactions in scenes can be extended with dialogue. If what you are writing can be used in dialogue you are writing a scene.  Long scenes should be interspaced with short scenes.

Short scenes provide new information picking up pace and advancing the plot.  With less time than a longer scene they can clarify one characters action’s from another.  Main characters with more involvement get longer scenes.   Shorter scenes can give pieces of information, create suspense, or be a cliff hanger.  They can be used for multiple scenes within a chapter.  Spaced throughout long scenes they can influence but not interrupt the plot.

Scenes have a beginning, middle and end.  Beginning the scene draws your reader’s interest into whose scene it is and what they want, close to the middle or central action.  Middle of the scene raises the steaks higher with suspense, tension levels, conflict with reaction and some resolution.  Scene endings weave interesting story lines to prompt reading the next scene.

The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall has the number of scenes in a book based on the books length.  A 100,000 word novel has 80 scenes in it.  Twenty scenes in act one, 40 scenes in act two, and 20 scenes in act three.  The Marshall formula scenes are around 1250 words long.