A Little Conversation Please

A Little Conversation Please

Dialogue and conversation in a book can be tricky. I happen to love dialogue and can appreciate good conversation. I talk about talking a lot. It’s important for a story to have good, believable dialogue.

There is a balance, however. Too much talk sounds unreal it can make a reader think too much or too little.  To little can leave readers bored. Dialogue is also not stationary. People don’t sit perfectly still while talking. They are always doing something. I know when I read if there is too much poof in a sentence and nothing happening I get uncomfortable and close the book. The idea of turning off a reader churns my stomach and makes me want to try harder.

Here is what too much talk in dialogue looks like.

“This looks great Tony, you did a marvellous job barbequing. You put so much effort into getting the steaks just perfect and the way I like them the best. I find that charming and sweet.”

“Anything for you Anne. You work so hard, and I know you don’t have time to do this yourself. So when I can cook for you, I do enjoy doing so.”

“Mmm, it really is perfect. I’m glad you told me what wine to pick up. I don’t know a rose from a white from a sparkling.. whatever.”

“The right wine does complement the food for certain. I know how much you love wine even if you rarely partake.”

“You do know me well.”

Soooooo…. yeah. Nothing happened, but a lot should have or did? I cant tell really because all I did was have some superfluous static conversation.

Let’s add some action tags and maybe a dialogue tag.

Tony sat across from Anne as she shuffled her chair closer to the table. “This looks great Tony, you did a marvellous job barbecuing. You put so much effort into getting the steaks just perfect and the way I like them the best. I find that charming and sweet.” She said and cut a morsel free with a sharp steak knife. 

“Anything for you Anne. You work so hard, and I know you don’t have time to do this yourself. So when I can cook for you, I do enjoy doing so.” Tony smiled and ate a mouthful. 

Anne set her fork down, swallowed and picked up her wineglass. “Mmm, it really is perfect. I’m glad you told me what wine to pick up. I don’t know a rose from a white from a sparkling.. whatever.” She said and clinked her glass with Tony’s as he held it out. 

“The right wine does complement the food for certain. I know how much you love wine even if you rarely partake.” Tony sipped and set his glass down. 
“You do know me well.” 

A bit better. Now they’re not statues. But the dialogue is so… poofy and weird for a couple. Most of that could go into a meaningful narrative or better word choices.

The narrative should be kept in the same tense from start to finish. That is if you start in the first person, keep it that way. No shifting perspectives. Now I’ll take that and add some narrative to set the scene and add some introspective to lighten the conversation load.

Tony sat across from Anne as she shuffled her chair closer to the table. When he had time, Tony preferred to barbeque a good steak and knows how Anne likes hers done. Any little thing he could do to ease her stress from work and put a smile on her face was worth it.

“This looks great,”  She said with a grin and cut a morsel free with a sharp steak knife. 

“You deserve a break.” Tony smiled and ate a mouthful.

Anne set her fork down, swallowed and picked up her wineglass. “Mmm, it’s perfect as usual Thank you. Speaking of perfect, the clerk at the store thought it was hilarious that you sent me a picture of what wine to get. We had a good chuckle that I’m wine-dumb.”

Tony held out his glass, they clinked, smiled, and both sipped generously. 

“I just didn’t want a sparkling pear concoction like you got last time.” He said and stifled a chuckle. “For someone that loves wine as much as you do it’s funny that you select purely on how cute the label is.” He blew her a kiss over the table. “While adorable it’s not a good pare with steak.” Tony sipped and set his glass down. 

“You do know me well.” Anne giggled behind her hand before cutting another bite of steak. 

So by taking out the unnecessary and unnatural dialogue, I put it into more condensed words and eased it into narrative outside the conversation. I also put some story into the dialogue to make it sound like they are talking about their day and not just each other. A couple isn’t likely to sit and complement the other gregariously.

When I write a block of dialogue and someones not giving a speech I cringe. I’ll edit, revise and revisit that chunk until I have what feels like a realistic scene. There are times when I write, and I neglect the setting, interactions in the setting and action tags. It’s important that a cement block of conversation be broken until it flows like a pure spring water creek. I personally wouldn’t be done with that last edit. I would go back and make sure each character’s personality shines and maybe set the scene with some narrative at the beginning outlining how stressed and tired Anne is, perhaps why. For simplicity, I kept the example short.

In Prophecy Ink when I edit and revise, I look for long strings of stale conversation. Sometimes its simple dialogue or complex. Either way, it needs the support of narrative, action and dialogue tags and descriptives. Even if talking on a phone a person can sigh, scratch a neck or pace.

My advice about Conversation.

It’s easy to plunk down the conversation to keep the story going. If it’s distracting to add the tags and narrative or actions do, it afterwards. That’s the magic of revision and rewriting. 


Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved




I love dialogue, good dialogue that is. I try to keep it interesting and realistic. I like to avoid droning, dull, stiff and pointless conversations. But what if a wee bit of pointless is necessary? What if it could be a foreshadow or just fun?

After looking at trivial conversations and removing the repetitiveness of it, I look at the logic and make sure it’s not to dry. So the dialog is okay, but what if it’s still dull or not going anywhere? It’s time to pop a little extra something into the conversation.

I don’t do this often if at all. If I do, it’s for a foreshadow or to highlight the characters personality, history or inclinations. Sometimes to show a characters quirks. What I’m talking about is conversation within a conversation. We’ve all done it and all been witness to it. It happens more often than people realize.

For example:

“The workload seems double lately. Everyone’s on vacation all at once.” Dale wiped mustard from his chin with a paper napkin.
Scott shook his head. “I’m sick of covering for Sasha. Her vacation was over a week ago.”
Dale scowled. “It’s weird, frosty knickers didn’t mention to anyone she was planning a vacation.”
Amber looked up from her lunch. “You mean the impromptu vay-cay that just happened to be right after Clifton gave her the mystical pink-slip file?” She looked at Dales confused face. “Remember Troy?”
Dale nodded. “Yeah.”
“Mmm.” She swallowed the large sip; the straw flicked from her lips. “He got the file and a month later.” She slammed her palms on the diner table. “Gone.”
Scott shoved a french fry in his mouth. “Same happened to Gale and Peter too. Both fired after about a month.” He furrowed his brow while chewing. “Or quit. Not sure which.”
Dale tilted his head. “Huh. So where’s Clifton then? He’s M.I.A. too.”
Amber picked up her half eaten burger. “Ooh maybe they’ve run off together. A tropical tryst getaway.” She took a big bite, chewing while watching Scott think too hard.
“Valery says vacation.” Scott looked at his two friends. “But her behavior and tone say otherwise.”
Amber set her burger down, picked up a couple fries and dipped them in ketchup. “Probably because she know’s the ice princess and creepy Clifton are stooping it on the sly.”
“Frigid remember?” Dale stole a fry from Amber’s tray and she playfully swatted his hand. “She probably took time off for stress. Poor crybaby’s been wigged out and acting crazy lately. Miss glacier could use a good stiff one on hot sunny beach if you ask me.”
Scott thought back over the timeline as Amber and Dale laughed heartily. A vacation made sense. However something was niggling at his mind. Something wasn’t quite right.

Originally it was just a conversation about Sasha being gone too long on vacation and it coinciding with the boss Clifton’s disappearance. I added the side story about the file since at this point it hasn’t come up in a while.

It could be as simple as this:

Valery tapped her toe impatiently as Scott scanned his email. “No, sorry. I have no idea. It wasn’t sent to me. Clifton was the last to have the file.”
She huffed. “Great and he’s not reachable. I need that dammed file.”
Scott shrugged. “I know his passwords. I can unlock his computer for you.”
Valery narrowed her eyes at him.
“It’s no big deal, he asked me to log in about a month ago.” Scott nodded. “This HR guy came in for a meeting. Clifton was running late and wanted me to show him a list or something.” Scott shrugged again. “Guy was super creepy, kept looking at you and Alice and stroking his chin. Anyway he took a printout and left before Clifton showed up.”
Valery scrunched her eyes tight a moment. She was one to cling to rules and regulations as if they were law. “I really do need the file.” She gestured for Scott to go to Clifton office. “What if the password was changed?”
“Clifton is an idiot, ah…” He cleared his throat. “I mean, he never changes them.”

Subtle or not, a side conversation within a conversation can add a hint or foreshadow in a way that isn’t glaringly obvious. The side conversation can be pointless too, if that’s the case I’d make sure it’s humorous or showcases a characters personality.

My advice about conversation within conversation.
If you run into a conversation that needs a little something, like a small dash of salt in chocolate chip cookies. Without it they are too sweet. I forgot once and they weren’t horrible, but the cookies were definitely missing something. Stick a small side story or conversation in the middle of a conversation if it can help.


Other Posts

Drunken secrets

One step forward and two steps back

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved


Talking Trivial

Dialogue is important. Without it the entire novel would be a meaningless narrative. Yawn.  But why is writing dialogue so challenging? There are many reasons and I’ve touched on a few, but this time the reason isn’t trivial.

Trivialities in conversation can draw out a scene necessarily. It’s also mind-numbing boring. There are a few reasons trivialities in dialogue suck. One, nobody, and I mean nobody talks like that. Maybe in old sit-coms from the 50’s. Two, it’s probably filler conversation with no actual impact on the story. Three, if you’re watching that word count (even if you’re not) trivial conversation will kill the numbers.

So what do I mean? Let me demonstrate.

Dale sat at his desk in a slump. “Good morning Amber.” 
“Oh good morning Dale.” Amber replied and smiled.
“Did you have a good night last night?”
“Indeed I did, thank you for asking.”
“Was it better than the night before?”
“Yes, it was much better than Saturday night. And how was your night?”
“It was good.” Dale nodded and turned his computer on.
“Oh? What did you do Dale?”
Dale leaned back in his chair facing Amber. “I watched the game with Scott.”
“That’s good that you watched the game with Scott. Did you have a bit too much to drink?” Amber said while swiveling her chair from side to side
“I definitely had too much to drink for a Sunday night. Did you have time to think over our conversation from Friday?”
“I did think things over quite a bit and I have decided.”
“And what did you decide Amber?”
“I have decided to date you.”
“That’s good to hear, so you will give me a real chance?”
“Yes. I will give you a chance. We do have good chemistry.”
“I agree completely Amber. We do have good chemistry.”
“Dale, would you like to go for lunch today?”
“Yes. I would very much like to for lunch today.” Dale faced his computer as Valery approached.

Did you notice it? Even as I wrote that I was cringing from the repetitiveness. Make that four reasons trivialities are dull to read. Trivial conversation is a complete waste of space and if I come across it in a book my eyes float over the words skipping them or stop reading. It’s hard to focus on a story.  The other annoying aspect is neither have any character, its dry, dull and monotone. Nothing happened other than they chatted about Sunday night and made lunch plans. I think I’ll tidy that up a smidge.

Dale sat at his desk in a slump. “Good morning Amber.” 
Amber smiled. “Oh morning Dale.”
“Were you able to sleep better last night?” Dale turned his computer on.
“Yes thank God.” Amber rolled her eyes. “What’d you get up to? You look like hell warmed over.”
Dale leaned back in his chair facing Amber as she swiveled her chair side to slide. “Yeah, I watched the game with Scott and polished off a six-pack.”
Amber shook her finger at him as if he were naughty. “Tisk, tisk, on a Sunday no less.” 
“I’m paying the price. So did you decide?”
She nodded and glanced around surreptitiously. “You’ve proven we have chemistry so yes,” Her eyes darted about again. “We can be exclusive.”
He grinned.
Amber tilted her head slightly. “Lunch?” She shuffled her chair back into her desk.
“You bet.” He spied Valery approaching and turned to face his computer.

Whew, 66 words removed. Trivialities really do add the extra weight to the word count. Dale and Amber are not stiff nor are they proper. Therefore slang, jargon and comfortable interaction is necessary. There were only a few things I needed the reader to know, It’s Monday, Amber’s not sleeping well, he’s concerned, she decided to date him and he’s happy about it.

My advice about trivial writing.
Warm it up and relax the dialogue by letting the characters have the reins. Just make sure to keep it individual to the character speaking.


Other posts I’ve written

Karma. It really is a B*tch

The secret’s out

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved


Roller-coaster Conversations

There is nothing worse than a drab, monosyllabic conversation. A parley with no point and no book gripping content. It’s like conversation for the sake of conversation. Page filler that is not going to get the pages turned quickly if at all.

I’ve mentioned before that conversations should have meaning to the characters and impact the story in some way to be effective. I’ve mentioned that showing emotion is important and so is including emotion in conversation.

The more personal the conversation the more emotionally charged it should be. I work hard to make that happen. On that note I like to throw the characters and the reader for a little emotional roller-coaster ride. No serious conversation or confrontation is limited to one or two emotions, they are fire, ice, steam and earthquakes from beginning to end. I try to have a point to the conversation, a reason for it’s existence.

This example of a roller-coaster conversation is a rough draft and not fully edited.

Amber crammed her hands into her jacket pockets and scrunched her shoulders against the cold breeze. Normally it wouldn’t affect her, but lately everything seemed to be different and not in a good way.
“That’s a mighty big frown. You didn’t like the show?”
Amber turned her head toward Dale. He was trying too hard. “It was okay. I just don’t think they deserved that huge standing ovation.” 
His brow nit and he sneered. “So why’d you join in then?”
She shrugged her taught shoulders. “Dunno, didn’t want to look like a jerk I guess.”
They walked in silence, each lost in thought and the tension thick between them. By the time they reached her apartment, Amber was shivering.
“You coming up?” She unlocked the door.

Dale nodded and followed. They agreed to talk after the show. It would probably be a waste of time like all their other attempts. They ended up hanging out neither wanting to actually bring it up first. The second Amber had her coat off she went to find a sweater then to the kitchen to make a tea.
“Want one?” She held up a box of herbal mint tea.
“No thanks.” He looked around at the overly clean interior, Amber may be a lot of things, but messy isn’t one of them. “Where’s Bea?”
Amber filled her mug from the hot spout from the water cooler. “At her girlfriends. I think she’s moving out bit by bit. She just hasn’t said it outright yet.”
Tilting her head to the side she dunked the teabag to a steady rhythm. “Why do you think?”
Dale stared at the bobbing teabag. “Right.”  He looked at her face. “So will you get a new roommate?”
“Yes.” She sipped the steaming tea. “In about seven months or so.” She laughed at his frown. “I can afford this place on my own no problem. I’ve been squirreling her rent away. Even on mat leave I can afford it fine.”
He followed her to the living area and sat on the couch bedside her as she pulled a blanket over herself and held the warm mug between two hands. “I’m screwed in the winter if I’m going to be this sensitive to cold.”
“My mom said you’ll be a furnace once you show.” 
She glared at him her cheeks flushing. “You told your mom?”
“I had to talk to someone Amber.” He rubbed his face with his hands. “You’re not the only one freaked out you know.”
Amber looked into her mug, a few flakes of mint leaf escaped the bag and danced at the bottom. “Great. Did  you tell her you knocked up the office slut?”
“I told her I got my girlfriend pregnant.” He held up his hand when her head snapped up and she opened her mouth. “But that we’re not serious and probably wont stay together. I thought it would be better for her to like you.”
“Thanks Dale.” She tried to smile and failed. “I think we can manage as friends.” She looked at him again when he snorted. “What?”
“Friendzoned. I don’t want to be just your friend Amber.”
“I know and I said I’d try Dale what more can I do?” She set her tea down on the coffee table.
“Try? Do? You’re not trying and you’re not doing anything Amber.” Dale shook his head and shifted sideways on the couch to face her. “I hate this, this.” He slammed his fist on the couch and she flinched. “Ugh. Do you think I like being the fool? The idiot that fell in love with a girl who only has eyes for the actual office slut?”
Her mouth fell open. Scott was perfect and she almost said so then closed her mouth. He wasn’t perfect by a long shot. 
“God Amber you said you wanted to see if we can be a couple but you’re not emotionally available. You’re in love with a shithead who doesn’t deserve the time of day from you.”

She replayed his words in her head while picking at a loose string on the blanket. Her infatuation with Scott was superficial. She looked up at Dale, his eyes dancing, his lips pursed and the muscles of his jaw working overtime. 
“Dale. I’m attracted to Scott. Less so lately, but I don’t love him as more than a friend or buddy or guy to have a crush on.” She blinked back unwelcome tears. “I don’t think I even have a crush on him anymore.”
“Then why not give me a real chance?”
Her eyes spilled over and she wiped her face. “I’m afraid of you Dale.” She wiped her face again. “Afraid you’ll make me love you then leave when it gets tough. Dammit I never cry, stupid hormones.”

Dale blinked at her. She did believe it, not because he’s given her any reason to, but because someone else had. Someone important. She had walls, big tall barriers that made her act and pretend to be easy going and happy-go-lucky regarding men and casual-sex relationships. It was all a facade. He shifted closer and pulled her into a hug until she stopped crying. “Want to know a secret Amber?”
She shifted back and nodded as he hooked a finger under her chin to force her to look up at him.
“I did a little happy dance inside when you told me about the baby and that you were keeping it.”
She furrowed her brow. “Why?”
“Because it meant one way or another you’d be in my life forever.” Dale leaned in and gently pressed his lips to hers, moving them lightly waiting for permission to continue. She moved her lips and set her hand on his bicep gently.  Permission given. He pressed harder and she opened her mouth to his. A low noise of approval escaped his throat when her tongue flicked across his bottom lip and met with his. 

In my opinion the better the ride, the better chance I have of keeping the reader at my theme park of a book. I wanted to show Dale’s commitment, Amber’s strife to change and that her transition is underway. I also wanted to give a bit more backstory to Amber and why she is who and how she is.

My advice about roller-coaster conversations.
Roller-coaster conversations are as enjoyable to write as they are to read. Emotional and pretentious characters can have the best unpredictable conversations. Let them be erratic and unstable, it’s really fun.


Some other conversational posts I wrote

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Hold your tongue!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved


Isn’t it romantic?

Similar to tender moments, building chemistry between characters romance can just as easily enter the realm of mushy cornball-skip to the end of the chapter – unreadable crap.

Who doesn’t love a little romance? I know I do. In fact many books and stories I read have a little or a lot. People like romance, the thrill of seeing love and the potential of sex. The genre of the story will often determine how much or how little romance will be in a story. It is however, ultimately up to the writer. I personally enjoy a little lead up, flirting and tender moments that bring two people closer. Romance should be personal. It is in real life.

I thought I’d try something different. For a few different couples I’d turn this simple three-line romantic conversation into something moving and individual for each couple. The rule, I can only use these three lines for dialogue.

“That’s how I know.”
“Know what?”
“That you’re worth the effort.”

Okay I’ll start with Dale and Amber, an atypical relationship, but one with potential.

Amber pursed her lips, lowered her chin and glared at Dale. His chuckle and glittering eyes made hers narrow at him. His apologies and persistence only made her blood boil. He was being an ass and wouldn’t stop asking her to dinner so they could talk.
He gestured at her overly defensive posture and pouty lips. “That’s how I know.”
“Know what?” Amber furrowed her brow at him and crossed her arms.
He chuckled and tapped her protruding bottom lip with his index. “That you’re worth the effort.” He walked away leaving her to stare after him, her lips parted and jaw slacked.

Hmm who’s next?  How about…  Valery and Jackson. Neither are romantic people, but perhaps they could have a moment.

Their schedules rarely coincided. Valery had almost given up seeing Jackson this week it was such an effort just to get time with him. His text earlier said he was swarmed with demanding clients and as in his style, he canceled his plans and showed up anyway. She was worried sick over Sasha being hidden away by some hot detective and her idiot boss was now MIA and she had to fill in. She needed some company badly.
And there he was, tall dark and ever so handsome. He tilted his head and gave her his best apology pout while holding out a bottle of her favorite Tintern Pinot Noir.  
Valery returned his smile with a sly one of her own. “That’s how I know.” She took the bottle and he followed her in. 
He took his coat and shoes off.”Know what?” 
“That you’re worth the effort.” She winked, grabbed his collar and kissed him deeply.

Last but not least, Tony and Anne

Tony’s hand lowered from her cheek to the back of her head and neck. He would not rush this with her. Anne stared into Tony’s steel-blue eyes mere inches from hers as her lips parted, her breath shallow and warm.
“That’s how I know.” He brushed his thumb over her rapid pulse and smiled.

Anne swallowed and whispered. “Know what?”
“That you’re worth the effort.” His eyes closed as hers did and he gently lowered his lips over hers.

Romance is worth the effort, at least it is for me. I plan and plot and scrutinize how to play it out. Subtle and tantalizingly stretched out or quick and passionate. Whatever I decide for those moody moments I know it has to be personal to the couple otherwise it’s like cut and past romance writing that just seems somehow wrong.

My advice about writing romance.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, keep it personal to the couple, watch the POV and show the reader, invite them in don’t just say “that’s romantic”.

Want to play? Give the three lines a try, and post a comment below with what you come up with for: (You can only use this dialogue.)
“That’s how I know.”
“Know what?”
“That you’re worth the effort.”


The Ole Switcheroo

But I hate that

Desperately procrastinating

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

The good…

The good…

Good habits are generally part of a routine or a conscious decision to do something good until it becomes habit. They can be simple like brushing your teeth and flossing daily, or turning lights off as you leave a room to save on hydro. Actions that are done without thought that influence the world around in a positive way.

These actions are important in my opinion as they can round out a character giving them a more human appeal. I’m not talking about blatantly writing in a good habit over and over in an overly obvious way, but a subtle action that fits within the scenario and is maybe repeated with little to no attention. Unless I want the habit to be endearing I might draw attention to it, but not outright.

Good habits can also be seen as kind gestures or acts of kindness because they often are.

Good habit ideas

  • Never talking with mouth full
  • Using please and thank you consistently
  • Sneezing into crook of elbow
  • Wiping crumbs from table(any table) so not to leave a mess
  • Tipping servers
  • Consistently early or on time
  • Double checks locks
  • Lets others go first
  • Holds doors open for others
  • Gets or brings someone coffee or tea when they need it
  • Tidies up after others without being asked
  • Donates to charities
  • Touching someone’s arm or shoulder in affirmation that they are acknowledged or appreciated
  • Puts the seat down. (that’s for the men 😉 )

I can go on but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Sasha finished the last review assuring the presentation was perfect. She glanced at her monitor clock, eleven-eleven. She looked down the hall. Scott approached with his cocky swagger assuring everyone that he was confident and aware they were watching. “Right on time.” Sasha smiled as he knocked on her doorframe and leaned casually against it. “Come in.”
He sauntered into her office, leaned on her desk. “Nobody likes tardy, naughty maybe.” He winked. “But not tardy.” His grin split his handsome face when she blushed and looked down at the file she had ready for him on her desk.
“The presentation is at two. The clients will be arriving, probably by quarter after.” She rolled her eyes. “Will you be ready by quarter to?”
“Absolutely chief.”
“I’m not your boss Scott.”
“No, but you’ve been here longer.”


Sasha double-checked the PowerPoint set up; satisfied it was working perfectly she checked her watch. One forty five. The light rap on the doorframe of the meeting room door made her stand and turn.
“Scott. Come on in.” She smiled as he entered. “Would you do me a favor and set out the pens?”
“Absolutely.” He retrieved the pens with the company logo from the cupboard as she covered the board mock ups. “I was surprised you asked me to do the layout for this one.”
“Honestly I don’t have time to do them all myself. And the Hollander account was more urgent.” She sighed. “Besides you’re the sexy one. I mean you have a knack for sexy.” They both stopped and looked at each other, her face bright red. “I mean sexy layouts.” She put the palm of her hand to her forehead. “What I mean Scott is you made the leather cuffs look sexy.” She stopped as he chuckled deep in his throat.
“I know what you mean Sasha.”
“Those leather cuffs are tacky I don’t know how you managed it.”
“It was a challenge. Thanks. I took a note from your book, they wanted trendy I gave them…” He tilted his head. “Sexy.”
She nodded. “They’ll love it. Sex sells better than cool.”

Always knocks
Waits to be invited in
Always punctual

Makes sure things are perfect so they don’t inconvenience others
Asks instead of demands

 I would carry these traits(good habits) into other aspects as well. Sasha would always ask for help or time from her friends or family. It’s who she is. She would also clean and prepare food for company for casual or formal visits. If she had to do something for someone else, she would take care to make it right the first time and double check her accuracy.  Scott may not be a major player but he influences Sasha’s development and even for a casual character, I would be careful to keep him consistent. Flirty, considerate and polite to a fault. His “good” habits might be self-serving in the long-run. Who knows? Well I do, but that’s another side-story.

My advice about good habits.
Developing good habits as a writer is definitely a benefit. Developing your characters good habits is totally worth it. Even if it’s more subtle than what I wrote, the small details will be what endears a reader to the story whether they notice or not.


Some old posts

Tag! You’re it.

Look at the source

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

It’s really very unnecessary

I’m back to redundant words, they take up a lot of my time when revising. Really and very take the stage. Just like up and down, very and really very often have an entourage of unnecessary words tagging along for the free ride. I know when I’m using these words that I’m getting wordy and to slow down. I go through what I originally wrote and take a good look at what needs to be changed.

Generic spell check programs will catch some of them, but not all.
For example:

The very blue sweater was really loose on Sasha. (9)
Sasha’s blue sweater was loose. (5)

See? Same point, four words less.

Cal was very late. He was really going to get a lecture from the Sargent this time. (17)
Cal was late. A lecture was imminent from the Sargent this time. (12)

The temptation to say it’s ‘very’ anything is really strong. 😉

She held her hand up. It was very dark, too dark to really see her hand in front of her face. (21)
It was too dark to for Sasha to see her hand in front of her face. (16)
It was too dark to for Sasha to see her hand before her face. (14)

When I search for the redundant words or filter words I only search one at a time. That way I can focus on what I need to fix. Usually I find other things to fix and other words to remove along the way.

My advice about the very unnecessary and really redundant words.
It is really very easy to plunk extra words in, it’s really very unnecessary so just don’t do it. Get that search/find feature going and nix the redundant ones.


Related posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

The “word count” down.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved


Shhh… Don’t say a word.

There are times when conversation is too easy and unnecessary. I try to be careful to not to have everyone talking to themselves. That is if they are not prone to it by character flaw. The temptation to have someone muttering or whispering under their breath is hard to ignore. Not everybody does so refraining for some characters is a good idea.

Huddled beneath the desk within the small office, Joe could only listen to the violent chaos beyond the locked door. His laptop open before him the waiting cursor taunted him. Cow-ard, cow-ard it blinked.

He wiped the sweat beading at the back of his neck and scrunched his eyes tight.

BAM! Joe’s legs darted out as his back clenched. A whimper escaped his throat as the walls rattled from someone likely being thrown against it. The muffled sound of fist on flesh turned his stomach to acid. He reached a shaking hand to the keyboard, he had a job to do while everyone else fought for their lives.

As his fingers touched the smooth keys Joe relaxed. All his emotions were eclipsed by his compulsion to do his job. He focused on the screen, this is the only way he was of use, the only way he could be of use. The blinking cursor now urged, help-them, help-them.

Solo interactions are easier to write dialog free, (IMO) than are two people communicating sans dialogue.

Allen grabbed the wrench from the near empty toolbox. “I wish we had better weapons. This is handy though.” He glanced out the doorway then to Sasha.

Sasha finished tying up the man she just knocked out. “At least you have something.” More intruders were on their way approaching cautiously.

Allen waved his hand. “Get back Sash, they can’t see you.” Readjusting his grip, he shifted his feet for a better stance.
Sasha watched wide-eyed, lips pursed and fists clenched. The intruders had guns and they did not. The element of surprise was all they had.
“Three men, one gun on the man on my right.”
“Got it.” Sasha nodded.

I don’t hate that, but if they are under attack and trying to surprise the oncoming men, conversation even whispering can alert them.

Allen grabbed the wrench from the near empty toolbox. A useable weapon or projectile is always handy to have. He glanced out the doorway then to Sasha. She finished tying up the second man she just knocked out. More were on their way approaching cautiously.

Allen caught Sasha’s attention, gesturing for her to get back to the wall. He was the decoy, the obvious target, not her. Readjusting his grip, he shifted his feet for a better stance. Sasha watched wide-eyed, lips pursed and fists clenched. The intruders had guns and they did not. The element of surprise was all they had. He raised three fingers on his right hand and crooked one finger on his left hand toward his right. Sasha nodded; three men, one gun and the gun was on the far right.

There are scenarios when my characters go quiet. Whether its necessity or they don’t have anything to say, depends on what’s going on. For example a wordless conversation between two kids on opposite sides of the classroom. Or, an awkward car ride after a fight.

My advice about going conversation-less.
Take a peek at a long string of conversation, is it all necessary? Are the characters just stating the obvious? Or telling what you, as the writer, can show the reader in a more effective way? I found a long unnecessary conversation leads to a lot of; he said, she said taglines or surplus awkward action tags.

– Sheryl

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