Wednesday, May 17, 2017

3 Reasons Why Real Speech Makes For Poor Dialog

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On Select Wednesdays, I post tips and strategies for writers. 

3 REASONS WHY REAL SPEECH MAKES FOR POOR DIALOG
by J. Rose Allister
How to pen good dialog is an element of fiction that gets talked about a good deal among writers. No book on writing is complete without a section about dialog, and many entire books have been dedicated to the subject. I hear many writers advise others to write "realistic" dialog by listening to the way people talk and emulating it. Unfortunately, this is advice that cannot be left on its own, or the results are lackluster. I recently did a beta read for someone who used that approach, and it reminded me that realistic fiction dialog is clever deception, not emulation. So here are my three reasons why real speech makes for poor dialog:

1. Real Greetings are Dull and Expected

When two acquaintances meet up in real life, their initial exchange involves a volley of social niceties that are routine, required...and boring. If you're sitting nearby, you'll hear something like this:

"Hey!"
"Hey!"
"How are you?"
"Fine. You?"
"Fine. The kids?"
"Good. How's work?"
"Same old same old."
"Yeah."

This might go on for another couple of minutes, depending. The exchange happens automatically, with little thought on the answers. Ever greet someone and responded with, "Fine, you?" only to realize they hadn't actually asked how you were first? You're on autopilot. A great place to be if you're flying a plane, but fiction should never put a reader on automatic. "Routine, required, boring," are three words we don't want to see pop up in reviews.

2. Hemming and Hawing Spoils Pacing

I did a brief training stint doing transcribing. Listen to a recording of someone's speech or conversation and you'll hear a whole lot of hemming and hawing. "Uh," "huh," "and then," "so anyways," etc. are peppered through human speech on an epic scale. Some people insert these into almost every sentence. Check out this baby:

"Uh, yeah, what? So, anyways, like I was saying, he told me to go."

This is actual conversation. Put a ton of this into your "real" dialog and you'll slow pacing to a crawl. Readers will be snoring in no time. On the other hand, getting to the point packs a fictional punch:

"He told me to go."

3. Lack of All-Important Conflict

You probably have a friend, family member, or co-worker with a colorful, conflict-riddled personality. Every story includes dread dire circumstances and over the top drama. However, the majority of people aren't like this. Their "real" conversations avoid conflict like the plague. They tap dance over social niceties, deal in small talk, and hem and haw...anything to skid around emotional hot topics. In fiction, skirting an issue *can* be written masterfully to increase suspense.  For the most part, however, small talk and chit-chat lack vital conflict that makes for good fiction.

Which is more intriguing to read:

SMALL TALK

"Hey! How are things?"
"Fine. You?"
"Okay. Pretty wet out there. Crazy weather."
"Yeah. But we needed the rain."
"Yeah."

....or:

CONFLICT

"You stole him from me."
"How? You two never even dated."
"But you knew how I felt and asked him out anyway."
"We both know you never would have. And just because it's raining outside doesn't mean you have to throw your wet blanket on me."

So remember, when writing dialog based on "realistic" conversation, keep these three reasons in mind. Using them on occasion to boost suspense and cutting the rest will make your "real" dialog more fun.
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For more gab, please join me on Twitter or Facebook. I love talking to people!

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than thirty books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Superfood Salad

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It's Too Yummy Tuesday!

On select Tuesdays I share delicious recipes either inspired by my books or that are just plain delicious!


My daughter wanted to hit up the local burger joint recently, but I wanted something a bit lighter. On their menu, they offered a salad that was loaded with superfoods. I loved it and wanted to try it at home. Thought I'd share my version with you after last month's fry-heavy tempura recipe!

Superfood Salad

 Ingredients

1 cup of baby spinach
1 cup of chopped kale
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup baby carrots, chopped
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 Tbsp Chia or flax seeds
1/2 cup cooked quinoa


Your choice of salad dressing (I like raspberry vinaigrette, a spoonful of plain yogurt, or lemon juice tossed with olive oil.)


Directions

Combine greens in a bowl, toss in remaining ingredients except quinoa if you prefer to serve it in a scoop on the side. Drizzle with dressing. Serves 2.


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J. Rose Allister is the author of more than thirty books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Goodreads. She loves talking to people!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Movie Binges, Sticky Plots, and Puppy Power

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On (usually) the first Monday of the month I gab about what's going on with me, my writing, and life in general.

Happy May! The past month has been about overhauling my schedule and feeling exhausted. Luckily, I did make some progress on projects I have in the works, plus I took some time off to have a bit of downtime R and R.


Movie Binges


Speaking of R and R, I caught up with some movies I'd been wanting to see. Partly this is because two of my prime April TV shows are starting late this year (Game of Thrones and Fear the Walking Dead). Harumph. So  Logan, Kong: Skull Island, Beauty & the Beast (2017), and the film version of The Girl on the Train were some of my recent binges. All of these were entertaining and worth a view. I did have a few mixed feelings about Beauty and the Beast. It was one of those things where I didn't want them to deviate too far from the animated version, but it was so close to it that I felt it was "copying" the original almost to extreme. It's a tough thing to pull off. That said, I greatly enjoyed the musical numbers, most of the performances, and the interpretations of characters like Lumiere and songs like Be Our Guest.


Sticky Plots

The good news is, I made some serious progress on the (sooper sekrit) exclusive bonus novella to my Sons of Herne series. Not so much on Almost the Bride, my Janell Michaels contemporary romance. I came screeching to a halt when I realized I was missing a key bit of motivation to advance the romance storyline. Sometimes, writing gets "stuck" like this, and I can't seem to get around it. I've tried scowling at the manuscript, sitting deep in thought, walking away for a while (hence the movie marathons), and even-gasp-bringing it up. I don't usually talk much about my works in progress, but I'm so puzzled over why the heroine is going to do The Thing she's about to do that I very nearly surveyed a group of coworkers the other day. I do believe the answer is...she's not actually going to do The Thing, at least not at first. Hm. Still plugging along at this.

Puppy Power


Saying hello to her new toy
News of our latest addition to the family, Tina the wonder dog, was met with an outpouring of email from readers offering well wishes and much-needed puppy care tips. I was put under strict orders to offer up more photos and updates about her, so here's a cute one we snapped of her. She is just so CUTE! ...and I'm still wiped out from all that energy. If only I could harness it! She is still in the process of being housebroken, leash trained, and all that jazz, but I'm pleased to report we're making progress. She also eats better than I do. Heh.

Until next time...


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On select Mondays, I like to gab about whatever's going on with me. For more gab, please join me on Twitter or Facebook. I love talking to people!

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

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