Monday, October 31, 2016

Writing Memes for Halloween

"I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat."
- Edgar Allen Poe

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
- Anton Chekhov

Feel free to share! :) Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The More You Know, The More You'll Save: Part X ~ Dialogue Do's and Don'ts

by Alycia W. Morales

As authors, we're always looking for ways to save money and time. This is the eighth post in a series that is meant to help you save both. On the front end, putting forth the effort to learn these points will cost you some time, but in the long run, it will save you money on professional edits.

Last week, we went over showing vs. telling and active vs. passive writing. This week, we'll take a look at dialogue.

Speaker Tags: said, asked, yelled. These are speaker tags. They designate who is speaking, especially when there are more than two characters in a conversation.

When using speaker tags, don't use words like "laughed," "cried," or "growled." Keep it simple. Said is the best. "Asked" goes well with question marks, but you could also use "said" with question marks. Use "yelled" before you use an exclamation point (use a period instead). But people can't cry words. Nor can they laugh words. If your character needs to laugh or cry, use a speaker beat.

Speaker Beats: When our characters do something between dialogue sentences, we use speaker beats. It's better for the reader, especially if you have a bunch of back-and-forth dialogue, if we use speaker beats to designate who's speaking because it gives the reader an idea of what is happening in the story.

For example:
Mariah laughed. "You've got to be kidding me." She tossed the book onto the table and shook her head. "There's no way I can finish that in one night. What was she thinking assigning us Great Expectations on such short notice?"
Elizabeth picked up the book and flipped through it with a frown. "Yeah. There's no way I can read that overnight, and I'm a speed reader."

What you don't want to do is use a dialogue tag with a beat. There's no point in using the tag.
For example:
James stood and said, "I don't think we need to read the whole thing. Let's go to Barnes and Noble and get the Cliffnotes."
We know he said the sentence if he stood just before he said it.
James stood. "I don't think we need to read the whole thing. Let's go to Barnes and Noble and get the Cliffnotes."

Talking Heads: Using speaker tags and speaker beats helps us avoid having talking heads in our novels. Talking heads are characters that go back and forth with dialogue, leaving the reader wondering who is saying what. If you have more than a few lines of dialogue between two characters without a tag or beat, you have talking heads. If you have multiple lines of dialogue between more than two people, and your readers have no idea who's saying what, you have talking heads.

Dialect: When using dialect to notify your reader of a particular way of speaking, use it just enough in the first chapter that the reader catches on. Then revert to using normal dialogue for the rest of the novel. Otherwise, the dialect will slow down the reader.

Casualties: Don't use the casualties. When your character answers the phone, we don't have to hear them say hello. They don't need to ask how the other person is doing. They don't need to say goodbye. Get right into the conversation. In other words, get to the point.

Dialogue Do's and Don'ts {Click to Tweet}

What's the difference between a speaker beat and a tag? Dialogue tips via @AlyciaMorales {Click to Tweet}

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Day I Wanted To Quit

Today's special guest is author and speaker, Lori Hatcher. She will talk to us about tackling the mind games that discourage and defeat us.

By Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Your proposal is rejected—again, and your head swirls with doubt, disappointment, and confusion. You pour your heart out in a blog post, take hours to format it just right, click post, and wait. The only buzz you hear is from the ceiling fan above your head, and the only comments you receive are from your mother and Aunt Fran.
 Every writing conference you attend seems populated by successful, profound writers and brings new battles with jealousy and insecurity. You compare your blog, book, or platform to your superstar colleague and wonder if you’re deluded in thinking that God could ever use you or your story to impact someone else.

It’s been my experience that struggling writers (and we’re all struggling writers) deal with three main areas that make us want to quit: comparison, insecurity, and competitiveness. In each area, we find lies that can defeat us and truth that can deliver us. If you’ve attended one of my writing workshops, you know there’s more to winning this battle than I can share in a brief blog post, but here are a few thoughts to aid you in the fight.

Lies: She’s a better writer than you are. She’s got thousands of blog subscribers and you have fifty. She writes like a New York Times bestseller and you write like a kindergartener. Your personal life is a wreck, and she’s got it all together. Who’s going to take you seriously?
Truth: God has given each of us a unique set of life experiences, communication styles, and spheres of influence. He’s allowed our circumstances to prepare us for the specific audience he wants to impact through us.

If God has called you to write, then he has called you to write, not despite where you are, who you are, or what you’ve been through, but because of where you are, who you are, or what you’ve been through.

Lies: I’m not articulate enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not witty enough. I’m not well connected enough.
Truth: “He who called you is faithful” (1 Cor. 1:9).

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

“I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand” (Isa. 51:16).

Whenever we struggle with insecurity, we need to have our I’s checked. Instead of focusing on ourselves and the real or imagined inadequacies we have, we need to exchange our “I’s” for “He’s.” We must examine the valid and unwavering sources for our confidence—God’s calling, God’s empowering, and God’s Truth.

Lies: If I help her, she’ll get ahead, and I’ll be left behind. She received a book contract, and I received a rejection letter. I could help her promote her book, but why should I? I’m always the book bridesmaid and never the bride.
Truth: Fellow author Cindy Sproles once said, “The world is big enough and broken enough and lost enough to need every one of us sounding the message of Christ. We’re all on the same team. We’re working toward the same goal. Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish my own, because we’re comrades in arms.”

I hope you’ve figured out by now that the secret of tackling the mind games that foul our minds and distort our perspectives is to exchange lies for the truth. To do this, we must have a firm grasp on Scripture and bathe everything we do in prayer. As Bible teacher Beth Moore says, “We're going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.”

My prayer for you is that you fight the battle, win the war, and write on for the glory of God.

This post is an excerpt from Lori’s writing workshop by the same name. If you’d like information on the full presentation, please contact Lori at

Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and  Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

(Photos courtesy of datta/Digitalart.)