He said, She said – Drop the Dialogue Tag

he-said-she-said-2

 

Having a conversation with someone, is a great way to get information isn’t it? You can learn a lot by what the person says to you and by how they say it. It’s really quite fascinating and powerful when you stop to think about it.

When you’re writing, conversations are just as important and revealing. Within your story, a chat between your characters can be informative and powerful for the reader. In fact, it is a great way to share a lot of information about the people in the story, where the story is going, what has brought about the current situation, relationships, the back story, and so much more.

When writing dialogue, one thing that used to be taught, and was really popular, was to ensure to put dialogue tags – said, whispered, yelled, asked… etc. – so that the reader would know who was talking. This is often what it looked like.

He said, “let’s go to the store.”

“I’d rather not,” she replied.

“Why do we always have to do things your way?” he yelled.

“Because I don’t like doing what you do,” she said snarkily, while flipping her hair over her shoulder.

The dialogue tags get old pretty fast, don’t they? This is how stories used to be written but thankfully, there has been a big change. I know that in my writing I rarely use a dialogue tag. anymore – said, whispered, yelled, etc. I like the challenge of not using them and with finding something that will add to the story without being too much or take away from the story.

A much more powerful way to add to a conversation and to the story is to use action and/or character quirks or you could even use a type of speech, to indicate who is speaking. And sometimes not to put anything at all.

He waved his arm at her in a come-on fashion. “Let’s go to the store.”

“I’d rather not.”

He shoved his face within an inch of hers. “Why do we always have to do things your way?”

She flipped her hair back over her shoulder as she turned away. “Because I don’t like doing what you want to.”

In this second example, you get to learn so much more about each character and don’t get lost with the he said, she said. Also you learn a lot about their relationship. He’s comfortable with getting into her personal space and she’s comfortable with walking away from him. It not only gives us more about each of the characters, it’s a whole lot more interesting to read isn’t it? And you’re still clear on who said what, without having those tags included. Try it, I’d love to hear what you discover.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with using dialogue tags but use them sparingly.

In fact, find a page of dialogue that you have written and see what you could put instead of she whispered, he snapped, she pleaded, etc. If removing them improves the flow of the story and doesn’t take away from it, then you’re probably okay with getting rid of them. When writing dialogue, make sure it’s clear, for the reader, as to who is speaking. Using things like – action, character quirks, the use of certain words, how they speak, the use of slang, etc. – can easily identify which person is talking. It’s also a great way to keep the reader’s interest.

How do you use dialogue tags in your writing?

He Said, She Said, Drop the Tag

Finding Confidence and Voice as a Writer

Finding Confidence and Voice as a Writer

Finding your confidence as a writer, I think is one of the biggest struggles there is. For a long time, I know I had a hard time believing that my writing was any good. In truth, it probably wasn’t all that great in the beginning. But I was determined to learn how to write and to write well. So after taking courses, joining a writing group and then a critique group and just continually learning from others, my writing is now good. And I really like the complex, twist and turn, suspense/thrillers I now write. I am thankful that I put in the time to focus on my writing and to get better.

It really is like anything that you’d really like to get good at, as long as you keep it beyond your fingertips and feel like you can’t be any good at it, you probably won’t be. But if you are willing to take the time to step back and learn, you can be very good at it. There is no such thing as perfection so don’t waste your time on that. There are things you will do really well. There will be things you don’t do so well. And there will be things you normally do really well that sometimes you just don’t. It is a bit of a roller coaster, trying to get it right. But that’s okay. Allow yourself to experiment, to have fun with writing.

So now that you know going in that you will make mistakes, take the leap… go after your passion.

There is nothing worse than wanting something but feeling like it is out of your grasp… when in truth it isn’t.

beyond-your-reach

Donna Barker, an author and founder of Write Woman Write (an online membership group for women) asked to do an interview with me on

Finding Confidence and Voice as a Writer.

I share my journey with writing, the struggles I had, the obstacles I had to overcome… I also share some tips that will help you to overcome the desire to write but feeling stuck and how to overcome the fear of being judged. You are not alone on your writing journey.

Where do you find yourself stuck with writing?

The Excuses are Easy but the Writing?

the excuses are easy, but the writing? Not so much

The Excuses are easy but the writing?

Not so much…

 

Writing is something that many people want to do but they don’t or they say they’ll do it some day. And maybe they will but I know for me I do not want to leave this world with regrets. I’ve seen that for too many people and I don’t want it to be me… or you.

Writing is like anything, it takes time and it takes practice. But the biggest thing it takes is having the guts to jump through your fear and get started doing it. I know all of the excuses, I’m quite sure I’ve used them all and maybe invented a few of my own.

  • I don’t have the time
  • I don’t know what I’d write
  • who’d read it
  • what if it sucks
  • what if others don’t like it
  • what if the cat turns green
  • what if I start and realize I’m no good or don’t know where to go with it
  • there are already so many writers it won’t matter if I write
  • I was always told I couldn’t write
  • I’m no good at grammar or spelling or sentence structure
  • I sucked in English class
  • no one supports me
  • no one in my family reads or writes
  • my family is all readers they’d be horrified
  • I want to write like Stephen King and since I can’t, why start
  • my hands hurt
  • I can’t sing either
  • I’m not talented
  • I’m no good at schedules

There are probably a 1000 and 1 excuses for why you haven’t started writing or won’t write and really there is only one reason why you should,

because you want to.

I think when writing is that thing that plays in your mind, urging you to write, begging you to write, wanting you to tell stories… I don’t know that you really get to choose whether you want to write or not,

it has chosen you.

I guarantee, you can ignore it for a while but there comes a time when it will just be there bugging you, telling you to do something.

And that is why writing is so hard. We get tangled up in the excuses and let our fear which is really the culprit, put a huge barrier between where we are and where we want to be. The longer you wait the bigger that barrier can get and can often feel insurmountable. But I promise you, you can get over it, through it, around it.

To get started:

  1. Know that it’s right for you
  2. find someone to mentor you – take a course, join a writing group, find another writer
  3. and write – you don’t have to share it at first but work at getting there
  4. your first draft will suck, accept that and move on to the second, third and fourth draft
  5. you won’t start out like Stephen King but with putting in some time, you could get there if you choose
  6. you don’t have to have a destination in mind when you start, just write
  7. grammar, punctuation, sentence structure can be added in later
  8. its something you can take with you, you can do at any time
  9. write what interests you
  10. write because you know it’s the best gift you can give yourself

 

If writing is something that is urging you, tapping on your shoulder, listen to it… Write.

The excuses are easy but the writing… is possible.

What excuses do you tell yourself, why you don’t write?

Writing is Like Making a Wedding Cake

Writing is Like Making a Cake

You just take a lot of ingredients, throw them together, mix them up, leave them ‘cook’ for a while and voila – you have a masterpiece!

Right? That’s all there is to making a cake? to writing, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, not. You can throw ingredients together/words together and it might turn out okay or it might turn out a bit of a disaster. The truth is that you are probably struggling with writing because you are scared of how it will turn out. Well, let me tell you, I can pretty much guarantee that your first few versions are more likely to look like this:

cake flop

than they are like this:

Wedding Cake by NikkiSo what’s the deal?

When making a beautiful cake, you have to make it a few times to get the ingredients right, the mixing of it just right, the baking of it just right. And then you have to spend a lot of time practicing the art of making it look amazing. It’s not a simple feat.

Writing is the same thing. First, you need to get the words down on paper. It doesn’t matter what it looks like because the final touches, the beautifying of it, comes later. You need to write and try different things to figure out what you want to do with your writing. But to get there you have to be willing to just write, whatever comes to mind. And know that in the beginning, many things you write are just not going to feel right or sound right.

But that’s okay.

I’m sure that those who make and decorate wedding cakes, started with making simple cakes or even cupcakes. They have mixed a lot of ingredients, they have baked a lot of cakes and they have decorated a lot of cakes, to get to the point of being able to create this:

wedding cake by nikki - with name2

The same goes for writing

if you want to write you just need to start somewhere. Choose something and write. It doesn’t matter what and it doesn’t really matter if you have an end goal in mind or any clear direction. All that will come with time. For now, just write. When you have an idea, write. Don’t worry about what it looks like or even where it’s going, in the beginning.

The truth is that just like making a masterpiece wedding cake, masterpiece writing takes practice.

The more you write, the easier it comes and the easier it comes, the clearer you will become on what you want to write and the more willing you are to take risks with it. And yes just like baking any cake, you will still have flops every now and then. Sometimes your writing just won’t go where you want it to or look like you want it to. But that’s okay. There will be times you will produce something that will shock you, impress you, surprise you and excite you. You will know that what you have written is good and worth working on.

So throw together whatever words you have right now and see what comes out. Love those flops for they can teach you a lot and help you with creating future stories. Every piece is precious for what it teaches you. Sometimes you just have to write because the words are there begging to get out. They don’t really have any direction or rhyme or reason, they just need to be released. So release them. The best way to get ideas flowing, to allow your creativity to bloom, is just to write. This is where I equate writing with eating a cake – sometimes it is just begging to be eaten… for no rhyme or reason. 🙂

So just do it.

So just write and maybe it will lead to a book… and maybe another one… and another one…

For now… just write.

Writing, It Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Writing… It Doesn’t Happen Overnight

The Olympics is inspiring isn’t it? There is so much to admire. The competition levels keep going up and up. Then there are the incredible feats that seem to be unbelievable… but are true. I look at these athletes and think, ‘Wow, have you got talent’. But then I stop and look at the journey they’ve been on to get there:

It didn’t happen overnight.

It didn’t happen without first stepping up and trying.

It didn’t happen without a lot of trial… and error…

It didn’t happen without a lot of setbacks.

It didn’t happen without determination.

It didn’t happen without focus.

It didn’t happen without putting in the time.

It didn’t happen without help/support/guidance.

It didn’t happen without the athletes being willing to take the steps to get there.

writing doesn't happen overnight

I am not in any way comparing writing to the Olympians,

who have gone through so much (worst I’ve got is a paper cut and a lost manuscript due to computer crash – cry worthy but really not all that painful). But I am saying that to write, it is about taking the time and it is about your focus. It’s about taking steps. Writing is a process that takes time and work.

The first thing you have to do, is give yourself permission to start writing. It sounds simple but really is a road block for many people There is this belief that they need to start out writing like the pros but first you have to start writing to be able to get there.

When you do start writing, it will be one less thing that you have playing on your mind, one less thing you feel you should do.

Here’s what I can guarantee you:

1. you will have great days of writing

2. you will have crappy days of writing

3. you will have days, weeks, months where you write a lot

4. you will have days, weeks, months where you don’t write much

5. you will love the ideas that you come up with

6. you will surprise yourself

7. you won’t always like what you write

8. you will fall in love with writing and what you can do with it.

9. writing doesn’t happen overnight.

But… none of that will happen… if you don’t start.

I’m going to be honest, I’ve never struggled with getting myself to write. It has always been my go to. Even though I wrote a lot though, it still wasn’t all that great. I’d get feedback, saying this part was good or that was good but overall it was missing… something. And it was what was missing that stopped me. That’s when I realized that if I really wanted to do something with my writing, I needed to get some help. I started taking courses and connecting with other writers. It was the best decision I made. It not only gave me confidence in my writing but it helped take my writing to a whole new level.

Are you ready to write?

Want to Write a Book – Get In the Write Habit

Want to Write a Book – Get In the Write Habit

 

if you want to get a book written - get in the write habit

 

No matter what anyone says, writing is hard work. But when we’re talking hard work I’d choose writing over working in a corporate office (left that life on purpose) or being a farmer (did that too) or any other type of job except maybe teaching/coaching/speaking.

A lot of people say they’ll write a book one day… but it never happens. Some people really want to write but can’t get started or keep going. And for each person the reasons it isn’t happening, can be very different.

To get in the write habit, there are some simple steps that you can follow that will make writing a part of your day. And if you really want to get a book written, you have to make writing a part of your life. And you need to be doing it regularly. So if you want to write a book, get in the write habit. Here are some tips to help you do that.

1. When ever the muse hits you, stop and play with the idea. Take time to think about it, see where it can go.

Play ‘what if’ with it.

2. Keep paper with you at all times (or have notes or recording on your phone) so that you can write down or record your ideas as they come to you. Do not rely on memory to keep those ideas safe as they will vanish. Believe me.

3. Schedule writing time at least three times per week (five times a week is better but start with 2 or 3 3 days per week). Get up an hour earlier if that is the only quiet time.

Skip watching a TV show, to write.

4. Schedule an amount of time that you are going to write. When you first start, book at least 20 minutes. You may find you can write for longer than this but all you are initially committing to is 20 minutes.

5. Writing is about Focus. If you focus on all that you think you don’t know, then writing will be hard. If you focus on just writing, it will be way easier.

Know that writing is a process. You don’t write something once and then think its done. It’s not. It’s just the beginning. All that you are doing is to get the information down as it comes to you. Worry about how it all looks and shapes up later. Once you are done your first draft that’s when you go back through and see what works and doesn’t work. Have fun with your writing, remember this is your story being told your way. No one else is going to tell it quite like you will. Have fun with the words, the layout. Let it free your imagination and when needed to be that cathartic release you need.

If you aren’t having fun with writing, you aren’t doing it write!

 

if you aren't having fun with writing you aren't doing it write

Struggling with getting started writing? or can’t seem to keep going?

Check out my 30 minute free consult.

Pin It on Pinterest

10 Question Cheat Sheet

Simplify the process

for Writing a Compelling

Fiction Book Blurb

Check your emails for a confirmation email.