Sometimes, writing the words your characters are actually speaking in your story can be tougher than writing out all the other plot details! The hardest part about writing dialogue is making it sound natural and real to your readers so we’ve got some pointers that will help you write the most realistic sounding dialogue!
Read it aloud. The only way to really tell if what you’re writing has a natural sounding flow to it is to read what you’ve written out loud! Even grab some friends and have them help you read the other character’s words so you can really get a sense of how the conversation sounds. This will allow you to hear any inconsistencies or static sounding dialogue.
Think of your typical reactions. When you’re writing out the words your characters are saying, another great thing to do is just to think of how you would react and respond in a conversation. Think about how you and your BFF sound when you’re discussing the day’s latest gossip or how you interact with your parents. Translate that into the manner in which you write the dialogue in your story.
Add some description. In some books, there are no pictures so as the author, it’s up to you to paint a vivid images for your readers so they get a sense of what exactly is going on and what it all looks like in their minds. The best way to do this when your characters are speaking is to add details! Go ahead and describe the tone of your character’s voices, their facial expressions, hand gestures etc.
Don’t get too fancy. Sometimes, writers might think they have to use an extensive vocabulary or say things in a way they typically wouldn’t. If you don’t use super complicated words in real life, then don’t have your characters say them! Keep the dialogue easy to follow because readers don’t want to be scratching their heads after reading something a character says!
Remember to use quotation marks! Dialogue has a specific format that needs to be followed when written out. This mainly consists of breaking for a new paragraph when a character is speaking and using quotation marks! It should be crystal clear to your readers when a character is speaking!
The five senses can create vivid imagery and improve writing overall. Powerful sensory images will capture the reader’s imagination and create more descriptive realism.
This is the one sense that provides most of the detail for our stories. Our words become our readers’ eyes, giving us a blank canvas upon which to paint a picture to tell our story. From the sight of a common fear, such as a spider creeping silently along the floor to the glimpse of a shadow on the stairway… sight is our greatest source of horror inspiration and description. When describing the sight of something terrifying there’s a huge resource at the writer’s disposal, because we can use our other senses to add glorious, gory detail to our descriptions. Here’s an example of how all five of our senses can be used to describe a simple scene:
The apple was bright green, its skin polished and shining as it nestled in the fruit bowl (sight). The scent was fresh, as though the fruit had just been plucked from the tree (smell). She took it from the bowl, her fingers closing around the firm smooth skin (touch) as she lifted it to her lips. The apple crunched loudly (sound) as her teeth cut through the skin into the tart, juicy flesh (taste). As the fresh juice ran down her throat she noticed a small black speck moving slowly in the creamy flesh. Closer inspection revealed that she hadn’t just taken a bite from the apple - she’d bitten through a fat, juicy worm.
Remember when you were a small child, and your parents put you to bed? Perhaps there was no nightlight, and the TV room was at the other end of the house…
You’re lying in your bed. All alone. Desperately waiting for your eyes to accustom to the dark you hear it - a soft, scratching noise - and it seems to be coming from under the bed. It lasts only a moment before it stops. You wonder if you were hearing things, and you’re so desperate for the darkness to lighten you forget to blink. The blackness seems to swirl around you, cloaking you in a thick, black fog through which no light can penetrate. Suddenly it’s there again, only this time the scratching seems closer. And louder. It seems to last a bit longer this time. So you hold your breath, because that darkness doesn’t seem to be lifting. You’ve lost the sense of sight, so by not breathing you hope to hear the sound more clearly, and identify its location…
The description above relies on the complete absence of the sense of sight. This is where fear comes in and can play a major descriptive role - in this case blind fear. To compensate for loss of sight the sense of hearing becomes more acute, so the writer can introduce other horror-inducing thoughts and impressions. Where is the sound coming from? How close is it? Will I be able to feel it if it decides to climb on the bed? When will my eyes get used to the darkness? Should I start panicking now? If I get out of bed will it jump on top of me?
This sense conjures up description of things most us will probably try to never touch, like slime, frogs and warty skin. All these items are perfect for the horror/scary genre, but writers can also take the more ordinary touch phobias and use those items to horrific effect. Some people cannot bear to touch velvet, while others are terrified of touching paper. Still others find their skin crawls when they encounter cotton wool…
Opening the wooden box in the hotel bathroom, she recoiled in horror. Nestling quietly in the bottom of the box, white and shining, was a cluster of cotton wall balls. She stepped back, collapsing on the side of the bath. The mere thought of feeling those soft fibres squeaking as the ball pressed against her skin was enough to induce goosebumps. She wrapped her arms around herself in a subconscious effort to protect her body from the fear she’d had her entire life. Just thinking about cotton balls made her skin crawl. She moaned quietly, remembering the silent noise they emitted when squeezed; a noise that seemed to pass right through her skin. Through her panic she wondered if she’d remember to pack her facial sponges…
Descriptions of this particular sense can been embellished with the use of physical reactions to feeling certain items; goosebumps, stepping away from the source of horror, collapsing with fear, subconscious act of defence (hugging the body) and a noise of fear (moaning). All these reactions add to the reader’s imagination, while adding to the picture your words are “painting”.
Bad smells in the horror/scary genre usually mean something bad is about to happen or has already happened. The smell of rotting or burning flesh is probably the most common description applicable to this genre, and the description of the smell can also be used to indicate how the death occurred. Bad household smells range from two week old pizza languishing in the refrigerator to potatoes burning in a pot on the stove. Adjectives include: smelly, reeking, fetid, malodorous, rank, putrid and noxious.
As she applied the finishing touches to the client’s hair, a sharp smell suddenly assaulted her nostrils. It was a smell she hated and dreaded, because it was an odour so terrible the memory remained burned into the subconscious forever. She froze as the acrid stench filled the air, assaulting her nostrils and her throat with its foul flavour. An instant later her salon filled with gasps and shrieks of horror. She turned towards the three ladies seated underneath the dryers. Mrs Hamilton and Mrs Edgar had managed to wriggle out from underneath their dryers, but poor Mrs Smith was unable to move. One of the pins from her rollers had obviously caught in the dryer, and ignited her hair. Smoke was seeping out of the top of the machine, which had started to spark. Placing her hand over her mouth and nose in a attempt to banish the malodorous scent she started to move towards Mrs Smith, who screamed as flames began flickering out of the dryer…”
Most, if not all of us, have an aversion to a certain food. We don’t like to eat it and the taste of it makes us feel sick. Perhaps the mere thought of tasting it is enough to induce some horrible thoughts and feelings.
The candlelight caught the designs on the wineglass, casting a dark crimson glow on the table. He lifted the glass to his lips, the rich musky flavour of the cabernet sauvignon still drifting over his taste buds. At the first sip of the wine he almost choked. There was obviously something wrong with this new bottle of wine, for the liquid in his mouth had a bitter, sour taste. Although the consistency was the same as the previous glass, there was an acidic flavour he could not identify… although it seemed vaguely familiar. He swirled the liquid around in his mouth before swallowing it. It seemed to sting his tongue and burn the roof of his mouth, and when he swallowed the acrid liquid his throat tingled. Suppressing the urge to cough he reached for the glass of water next to his plate and took a sip. As the cool water cleansed the tart taste from his palate his hostess lifted the bottle he’d used to fill his wineglass… and poured balsamic vinegar over her plate of salad.
Writers have a magnitude of adjectives at their disposal when describing the horror of tasting unappetising food. These include: pungent, sour, acrid, bitter, fetid, stinking, putrid, decaying, rancid, reek, stale and bad.
Real life can be far more fascinating than fiction, and using our senses in our writing proves this truth. So the next time you sit down in front of your keyboard tap in to those five senses, and see just how they can colour your words!
The editing process can be frustrating, especially when you don’t know where to begin. There are a few simple steps you can take to get yourself in the editing mindset and I think they should help you refocus your novel and understand where you want to go with your novel. If you’ve been putting off the whole process, these quick tips should help you out.
- Get rid of any extraneous information. If something has already been explained through action, you don’t need to explain it further. Cut sentences that don’t get straight to the point. This might skim down your world count, but you’ll be able to build upon everything good you’ve left behind. Don’t write just to fill space.
- Cut out unnecessary adjectives. For example, don’t say “Amy shouted loudly. “ If she’s shouting, you don’t need to say that she did it loudly. Shouting explains that already.
- Go through spell checker a few times. I know that your spell checker won’t catch everything, but it’s a quick way to find simple mistakes you might have missed. You’ll also notice a pattern with your mistakes and actively change the way you write in the future.
- Avoid the passive voice. Writing in the active voice will help amp up your writing and make it more exciting. There are many references on this available and it will help improve your writing dramatically.
- Switch up your dialogue tags. Don’t always use “Charlie said” over and over again. You can say Charlie replied, Charlie continued, Charlie shouted, Charlie called, Charlie prompted, etc, etc, etc. There are endless dialogue tags at your disposal, so change it up!
- Edit for one problem at a time. Don’t try to edit every issue at once because you’ll lose track of what you’re doing. If you’re editing for plot problems, don’t focus on grammar too. Tackle each problem separately.
- Check for consistency. This not only refers to style, but for plot. Checking for continuity will help you avoid plot holes or anything else that might damage the impact of your story. If you feel like your style and/or voice changes during the course of your novel, edit accordingly. It’s possible your style will change while you’re writing a novel, especially if it takes months, but you don’t want it to feel like two people wrote your book. Make sure everything flows.
Four Pronoun Mistakes Poster (edited).
I need to rant about this:
Also known as the best writing program ever! It’s a full-screen writing program!
So you open it up, and it looks like this:
You’re thinking, “Ok, so what? It’s a screen with a picture. Whoopdie do.” But it get’s better! It’s customizable!
See that “appearance”? Click it.
You can also use custom fonts that you have installed!
See that “music”? Click it.
If you drag your own music into the folder, like so:
You get this!:
But wait! It gets better!
See “typing sounds”? You can change those too!
Perhaps the best is - YOU CAN USE ANY PICTURE FOR THE BACKGROUND. It will automatically fade it for you!
Seriously, guys, this tool is wonderful. You can use it for:
- Research papers
- Novel writing
- Play writing
- Short stories
- Homework assignments
- Ranting about your friends when they piss you off
- Writing your shopping list
It auto-saves. It exports to .rtf. Hotkeys from Word for italicize, underlining, and bold work. You can print RIGHT FROM THERE.
And the seriously best thing ever?
It fits on a flash drive. The entire thing with added music is maybe 131MBs.
The bestest thing ever.
Saved for later reference, I must try this *_*
Anonymous asked: How would you describe a kiss when writing it? Not a first kiss, but a slow, loving and passionate kiss. PLEASE help!
We’re going to direct you to some great resources for how-tos on writing kisses. They’ll teach you the mechanics of a kiss and how to write a successful, meaningful kissing scene.
But first, we get to have our say, and we have three nuggets of advice to give on this subject:
- Don’t write kiss, write everything else. A “slow, loving and passionate kiss” does not include the actual word kiss if at all possible. Write what the character(s) is feeling. Write using the senses (cross off smell, touch, sight, taste, and sound from your list as you write). The word kiss is for pecks in the cheek and quick goodbyes. A passionate kiss is everything but kiss, if you catch our meaning.
- Less is more. You don’t need three paragraphs of exposition to describe a kiss. Write as much as you can and weed out the stuff that doesn’t make you sigh. Focus your writing to be as intimate as you can. A kiss involves two people. A real kiss makes the reader forget everything but those two people.
- Keep your characters in character. Think very hard about what a passionate kiss between two characters means for them individually. For a villain, it could mean salvation, redemption, self-loathing. For a young woman in love, it could be trust, happiness, a future. You get the idea. Your characters will all approach a kiss with something different, and they will likely focus on different things, so keep that in mind when you describe the physical aspects of a kiss as well as their feelings.
Ok, now for the articles we promised:
- How to Write a Kissing Scene in a Romance Novel
- How to Write a Kissing Scene… Valentine Edition
- How to write a kiss (1)
- NaNoWriMo Expert: How To Write a Kiss? and Should You Write Sex?
- How to Write a Kissing Scene in 5 Simple Steps
- How to write a kiss (2)
- Kiss and Tell – How to Write a Kissing Scene.
Thank you for your question!
Human Feelings as Drugs
It would be really cool to have a movie about this in a world where the government distributes these to people, and at first glance everything is fine, people with depression and antisocial disorder are being instantly treated and that’s great. But then you realize that there are groups of people abusing these drugs underground, like there will be people on happy all the time, people that use hope to delude themselves, or people that drug other people with love, and that true human emotions have been nearly wiped out. Then at the end it’s discovered that the government is using these drugs to control society and manipulate people into becoming soldiers by taking away their empathy and filling them up with trust for the government. So it ends in an uprising led by a resistance group who lead the people to realize that their humanity has been stripped and doesn’t come in a bottle.
Why aren’t you making movies omg
Just don’t try Bliss.
Describing characters can be a little bit of a ‘telling’ minefield. While you are almost certainly going to end up with some ‘told’ description of a character, try to keep it to a minimum, ‘showing’ things about their appearance through action and dialogue instead.
Instead of ‘She was short’, use ‘She clambered onto the chair, her legs dangling several inches above the floor’
Instead of ‘He was tall’, use ‘He ducked under the doorway’
Instead of ‘He was a smoker’, use ‘He shook my hand, his yellowed fingers leaving the scent of cigarettes on mine’
Instead of ‘She had bad teeth’, use ‘She laughed, instinctively covering her open mouth with her hand’
So you see how a lot of information can be shown to your readers rather than simply told to them.
And remember that your readers have imaginations, imaginations that they enjoy using. Let them fill in the gaps - don’t give them a detailed head to toe description laying out mole and strand of hair.
Disclaimer: This is grammar from my resources and based on my preferences. If you don’t like it, feel free to accessorize your narrative with whatever punctuation you may so desire.
1a. When writing a stutter at the beginning of a sentence, one can either capitalize the first letter of the word twice or capitalize only the first letter. Either works, just be consistent.
- "T-Talk about what, baby?"
- "T-talk about what, baby?"
1b. If the word with the stutter on it is a proper noun and therefore capitalized, the first letter gets capitalized twice every time.
- "M-Max, what are you doing here?"
2. If one wants an expression to say something, it needs to actually say that something. The normal rules of dialogue apply.
- He regarded her with an expression that clearly said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
3. When interrupting dialogue to express an action, there are a few ways to set up the punctuation. Here’s my favorite (em dash, double quote, comma, double quote, em dash):
- "Don’t you dare—” Danny pushed Han backwards, “—touch her! Don’t you dare!”
4. When capitalizing a title, one may capitalize the word after a hyphen as long as one does it (or doesn’t do it) consistently.
- "The Weird-looking Salamander: A Sonnet"
- "The Weird-Looking Salamander: A Sonnet"
So those were my little nuggets of grammar knowledge. I hope they help you like they’re helping me.
Do you have a grammar tidbit worth sharing?
Getting a reaction from your readers is something you most likely want to accomplish with your writing. There will be moments in your story where you have to bring out some sort of heavy emotion and you want it to be good. An emotional scene comes from a variety of different factors, so hopefully these tips will help you.
- Put yourself in the place of your character. It’s really hard to write an emotional scene if you don’t understand the emotions your characters are experiencing. Try to relate what your character is going through to a specific experience in your life. When have you felt extreme sadness? When have you felt overwhelming happiness? Your situation doesn’t have to be exactly the same as your character’s, but you can most likely relate emotionally in some way. Harness those feelings and use them in your writing. I’m not saying you should dig up things that have cause some sort of issues in your life or stuff that can trigger you, but do you best to put yourself in your character’s shoes.
- Show what your character is feeling through action. Writing an emotional scene doesn’t mean that you write a long chapter on what’s going through you character’s head and spell out exactly how they’re feeling. Make your character throw things if they’re mad. Make them rage or shout at someone else. Make them cry. Expressing anger, happiness, sadness, etc., can all be done through actions. How many times have you screamed, “I’M ANGRY”, for example? You’ve probably showed anger in some way through your actions. Although it’s healthy to talk things out with other people, that’s not necessarily how things work all the time.
- Make sure you share these emotional moments with your readers. Don’t skip moments that will help your readers understand where your characters are coming from. These emotional moments help explain why your character is the way they are and how they have developed over the course of your novel. If your character is dealing with a death, for example, don’t just mention it briefly and move on. You need moments that will humanize your characters and make them relatable on an emotional level. Skipping over them will prevent us from caring about your characters.
All of these things will create a connection between your story and your readers, as long as you do your best not to force it. Your readers don’t want to be told how to feel, they want to experience it themselves. Make sure your readers are on board and they’re experiencing the same things your characters are.
by Mark Nichol
They often seem disreputable, like sullen idlers loitering in a public thoroughfare, but they actually do a lot of hard work and are usually persnickety about the tasks to which they are put. They are interjections — one class of them, anyway: those lacking etymological origins but packed with meaning.
But how do you know how to distinguish similar ones — or spell them, for that matter? Here’s an incomplete inventory of interjections (not including variations of actual words such as yeah for yes or onomatopoeic echoes of externally produced sounds like boom):
- Ack communicates disgust or dismissal.
- Ah can denote positive emotions like relief or delight (generally, pronounced with a long a).
- Aha signals triumph or surprise, or perhaps derision.
- Ahem is employed to gain attention.
- Argh, often drawn out with additional h’s, is all about frustration.
- Aw can be dismissive or indicative of disappointment, or, when drawn out, expressive of sympathy or adoration.
- Aye denotes agreement.
- Bah is dismissive.
- Blah communicates boredom or disappointment.
- Blech (or bleah or bleh) implies nausea.
- Boo is an exclamation to provoke fright.
- Boo-hoo is imitative of crying and is derisive.
- Boo-ya (with several spelling variants) is a cry of triumph.
- Bwah-hah-hah (variously spelled, including mwah-hah-hah) facetiously mimics the stereotypical archvillain’s triumphant laugh.
- D’oh is the spelling for the muttering accompanying Homer Simpson’s trademark head-slapping self-abuse.
- Duh derides someone who seems dense.
- Eek indicates an unpleasant surprise.
- Eh, with a question mark, is a request for repetition or confirmation of what was just said; without, it is dismissive.
- Er (sometimes erm) plays for time.
- Ew denotes disgust, intensified by the addition of one or more e’s and/or w’s.
- Feh (and its cousin meh) is an indication of feeling underwhelmed or disappointed.
- Gak is an expression of disgust or distaste.
- Ha expresses joy or surprise, or perhaps triumph.
- Ha-ha (with possible redoubling) communicates laughter or derision.
- Hamana-hamana, variously spelled, and duplicated as needed, implies speechless embarrassment.
- Hardy-har-har, or har-har repeated as needed, communicates mock amusement.
- Hee-hee is a mischievous laugh, while its variants heh and heh-heh (and so on) can have a more derisive connotation.
- Hey can express surprise or exultation, or can be used to request repetition or call for attention.
- Hist signals the desire for silence.
- Hm, extended as needed, suggests curiosity, confusion, consternation, or skepticism.
- Hmph (also hrmph or humph) indicates displeasure or indignation.
- Ho-ho is expressive of mirth, or (along with its variant oh-ho) can indicate triumph of discovery.
- Ho-hum signals indifference or boredom.
- Hubba-hubba is the vocal equivalent of a leer.
- Huh (or hunh) is a sign of disbelief, confusion, or surprise, or, with a question mark, is a request for repetition.
- Hup, from the sound-off a military cadence chant, signals beginning an exerting task.
- Hurrah (also hoorah, hooray, and hurray, and even huzzah) is an exclamation of triumph or happiness.
- Ick signals disgust.
- Lah-de-dah denotes nonchalance or dismissal, or derision about pretension.
- Mm-hmm, variously spelled, is an affirmative or corroborating response.
- Mmm, extended as needed, conveys palatable or palpable pleasure.
- Mwah is suggestive of a kiss, often implying unctuous or exaggerated affection.
- Neener-neener, often uttered in a series of three repetitions, is a taunt.
- Now (often repeated “Now, now”) is uttered as an admonition.
- Oh is among the most versatile of interjections. Use it to indicate comprehension or acknowledgment (or, with a question mark, a request for verification), to preface direct address (“Oh, sir!”), as a sign of approximation or example (“Oh, about three days”), or to express emotion or serves as a response to a pain or pleasure. (Ooh is a variant useful for the last two purposes.)
- Oh-oh (or alternatives in which oh is followed by various words) is a warning response to something that will have negative repercussions.
- Olé, with an accent mark over the e, is borrowed from Spanish and is a vocal flourish to celebrate a deft or adroit maneuver.
- Ooh, with o’s repeated as needed, conveys interest or admiration, or, alternatively, disdain.
- Ooh-la-la is a response to an attempt to impress or gently mocks pretension or finery.
- Oops (and the jocular diminutive variation oopsie or oopsy and the variant whoops) calls attention to an error or fault.
- Ouch (or ow, extended as needed) signals pain or is a response to a harsh word or action.
- Oy, part of Yiddish expressions such as oy gevalt (equivalent to “Uh-oh”), is a lament of frustration, concern, or self-pity.
- Pff, extended as needed, expresses disappointment, disdain, or annoyance.
- Pfft, or phfft, communicates abrupt ending or departure or is a sardonic dismissal akin to pff.
- Phew, or pew, communicates disgust, fatigue, or relief. (Phooey, also spelled pfui, is a signal for disgust, too, and can denote dismissal as well. PU and P.U. are also variants.)
- Poof is imitative of a sudden disappearance, as if by magic.
- Pooh is a contemptuous exclamation.
- Pshaw denotes disbelief, disapproval, or irritation or, alternatively, communicates facetious self-consciousness.
- Psst calls for quiet.
- Rah, perhaps repeated, signals triumph.
- Shh (extended as necessary) is an imperative for silence.
- Sis boom bah is an outdated encouraging cry, most likely to be used mockingly now.
- Tchah communicates annoyance.
- Tsk-tsk and its even snootier variant tut-tut are condemnations or scoldings; the related sound tch is the teeth-and-tongue click of disapproval.
- Ugh is an exclamation of disgust.
- Uh is an expression of skepticism or a delaying tactic.
- Uh-huh indicates affirmation or agreement.
- Uh-oh signals concern or dismay.
- Uh-uh is the sound of negation or refusal.
- Um is a placeholder for a pause but also denotes skepticism.
- Va-va-voom is an old-fashioned exclamation denoting admiration of physical attractiveness.
- Whee is an exclamation of excitement or delight.
- Whew is a variant of phew but can also express amazement.
- Whoa is a call to halt or an exclamation of surprise or relief.
- Whoop-de-doo and its many variants convey mocking reaction to something meant to impress.
- Woo and woo-hoo (and variations like yahoo, yee-haw, and yippee) indicate excitement. (Woot, also spelled w00t among an online in-crowd, is a probably ephemeral variant.)
- Wow expresses surprise.
- Yay is a congratulatory exclamation. (Not to be confused with yeah, a variant of yes.)
- Yikes is an expression of fear or concern, often used facetiously.
- Yo-ho-ho is the traditional pirates’ refrain.
- Yoo-hoo attracts attention.
- Yow, or yowza, is an exclamation of surprise or conveys being impressed.
- Yuck (also spelled yech or yecch) signals disgust. (Not to be confused with yuk, a laugh.)
- Yum, or yummy, is a response to the taste of something delicious and, by extension, the sight of an attractive person.
- Zoinks is an expression of surprise or amazement popularized by the cartoon character Shaggy, of Scooby Doo fame.
- Zowie, often in combination following wowie, a variant of wow, expresses admiration or astonishment.
Dear God, this world that you’ve made is not perfect at all
Down here, love shatters into pieces from day by day