Tag Archives: communication

Rules for Writing Dialogue

  1. Dialogue should stay on topic,
  2. Use dialogue as you would regular speech,
  3. Opt for the speaker said over all others,
  4. Avoid long speeches,
  5. Sound like the character, right down to accent and incorrect grammar
  6. Show what the characters are doing while they’re talking,
  7. Keep characters’ speech consistent.

When breaking the rules makes sense…

How many rules have you broken and why? Breaking these rules can be helpful and useful or it can be a sign of poor writing. Writer’s Digest magazine warns, however, “Words can be barbs. They can be sabers. They can be jewels. Don’t let them be marshmallows that are passed back and forth.” Dialog is the most useful technique writers have to define and develop characters, move the story, and provide background. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. Knowing when to use them and when to break them is the difference between ‘writing’ and ‘good writing’.

An editor comes to the rescue…

You think it sounds just about perfect, your spouse and a few lodge friends love it. But is it ready for submission. An editor could be just what you need to put your manuscript over the top. By editor, I’m talking about a professional editor, not a friend or relative—an unbiased individual who will give you a professional evaluation of your manuscript.

 

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Book Talk vs. Book Review

A book talk in the broadest terms is what is spoken with the intent to convince someone to read a book. Book talks are traditionally conducted in a classroom setting for students; however, book talks can be performed outside a school setting and with a variety of age groups as well. It is not a book review, a book report, or a book analysis.

The book talker gives the audience a glimpse of the setting, the characters, and/or the major conflict without providing the resolution or denouement. Book talks make listeners care enough about the content of the book to want to read it. A long book talk is usually about five to seven minutes long and a short book talk is generally less than a minute long.

On the other hand, a book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review. Books can be reviewed for printed periodicals, magazines and newspapers, as schoolwork, or for book web sites on the Internet. A book review’s length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essays. Such a review may evaluate the book on the basis of personal taste. Reviewers may use the occasion of a book review for a display of learning or to promulgate their own ideas on the topic of a fiction or non-fiction work.

There are two approaches to book reviewing:
• Descriptive reviews give the essential information about a book. This is done with description and exposition, by stating the perceived aims and purposes of the author, and by quoting striking passages from the text.
• Critical reviews describe and evaluate the book, in terms of accepted literary and historical standards, and supports this evaluation with evidence from the text. The following pointers are meant to be suggestions for writing a critical review.

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Writing an Article

Have you thought about writing an article? Here is some interesting advice I found recently.

A good article makes the reader think. A great one forces him to react.

In the world of writing, which is all about communication, the mark of an expert is how much buzz or discussion his article generates, how many people weigh in with their opinions, what feedback is given and taken, where else the work is being bandied about. Complex subjects can easily become dry and dull if not handled carefully.
Unlike fiction, nonfiction on layered topics has no characters to make the reader care about them, no twists in the plot to keep up audience interest, and no emotionally charged
dramatic scenes to vary the pace of the narrative. So, you need to make sure that either the topic you are writing about is sufficiently interesting to make your audience feel strongly about it or the way you present it is unique enough to urge readers into some sort of action, whether it is vociferous agreement or vehement disagreement—anything but mild apathy.
From: Writer’s Guide to 2014.

Twitter has brought about the degradation of the English language. Charm ‘em, don’t cheat ‘em.

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Nine Must-Follow Manuscript Rules

by Anica Mrose Rissi
1. Revise, revise, revise! I don’t want to read your first draft, ever. (Tip: Your novel isn’t ready to send to me until you can describe it in one sentence.)

2. Start with conflict and tension to raise questions, arouse curiosity and (like musical dissonance) create the need for resolution.

3. Start with the story you’re telling, not with the backstory. Throw the reader directly into a conflict and let her get to know your characters through their actions. (Yes, this is another way of saying, “Show, don’t tell.”)

4. Give the reader something to wonder about and a sense of where the story is going—of what’s at stake.

5. Avoid explaining too much too soon. And, don’t be obvious. Trust your readers. Trust your characters. Trust your writing. If you find that chunks of your story need to include long explanations, go back in and write those chunks better, until the story explains itself.

6. Make sure your story has both a plot arc and an emotional arc. Cross internal conflict with external conflict. Give your characters moral dilemmas, and force them to deal with the consequences of their choices.

7. Read your dialogue out loud. When revising, ask yourself, “What is the point of this dialogue?” (Just as you should be asking, “What is the point of this sentence? What is the point of this scene?”)

8. Use adjectives, adverbs and dialogue tags only sparingly. (See “trust your readers,” above.)

9. Make sure your details matter.

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The Delayed Subject with There

by Maeve Maddox
From Daily Writing Tips

In conversation we’d probably find ourselves tongue-tied if we couldn’t begin sentences with the grammatical subject there:
There are only three eggs left in the refrigerator.
There’s a lot of traffic on the freeway this morning.
In each example there begins the sentence, but the true subjects– eggs and a lot of traffic –are delayed until after the verb.

There is nothing grammatically wrong with this construction. Did you notice that I just wrote a sentence beginning with “There is”? Simply placing the true subject first would create Yoda-speak:
Nothing grammatically wrong with this construction is.
Rewriting an expletive sentence (the kind that begins with a subject place-holder like “There”) requires a little more effort than simple reversal. That’s probably why we let so many of them creep into our first drafts.

Compare the following:
There is research that shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Research shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Not only is the delayed subject pattern wordy, but it can also lead to a lack of subject-verb agreement. Here are some examples from websites offering professional services:
There’s good reasons EmCare is the industry leader
There’s areas of freezing drizzle/mist out there this afternoon.
There’s schooling costs, there’s health costs and they’ll continue to be provided out of the centres for those who are being temporarily resettled…(This was a government minister.)
Informal conversation is one thing, but writing for a professional purpose is something else again. If the “There is” opener is the preferred stylistic choice, then the delayed subject should agree with the verb that precedes it:

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The Copyrights of Co-authors

From an attorney
If two authors work together to write a book, they become joint owners in the copyright to the book. Unless the writing was separated in some easily discernable way, both authors own 50% of the work and each have all of the rights that a single author would have. If both authors contributed to every chapter and worked together to decide on wording, there is no way to differentiate between their work and therefore no method to divide the copyright.
On the other hand, if each author wrote certain chapters of the book and those chapters could be separated without destroying the work, then there might be a way to divide the copyright. Typically, that is not the case. The applicable federal law states that “a ‘joint work’ is a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.”
Co-authorship can be problematic because both creators have the right to commercialize and monetize the product and can easily (and frequently do) interfere with each other’s efforts if there is a lack of cooperation.
When co-authorship is contemplated, it is recommended that they enter into a written assignment of the copyright to avoid joint ownership of the copyright. One of the authors can assign his rights to the other author in exchange for compensation, recognition, and other negotiated terms.
If the co-authors cannot agree on one owner, they can both assign the copyright to a company in which they both have an ownership interest. The company, such as a limited liability company, should be governed by a written agreement between the owners. That agreement should include the rights and obligations of the respective members, how to deal with contingencies such as the death of one of the owners, buyout provisions by one owner of the other’s interest, as well as other operational matters.
When a creative work is owned by only one person or one entity, there is a clearer direction for commercialization of the work and there are far fewer disputes over the respective rights and obligations of the parties.

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Beyond Grammar & Punctuation: Why You Need a Copyeditor

Beyond Grammar & Punctuation: Why You Need a Copyeditor
by Erin Doherty

I recently edited a novel. The author was clearly educated and had a good grasp of standard English grammar. She wrote in complete sentences, didn’t seem to have many misspellings, and generally used punctuation correctly. At first glance, it may have seemed like a copyeditor wouldn’t have much work to do.
But grammar and punctuation are not all that copyeditors pay attention to: we also look for consistency, awkward or convoluted phrasing, redundancies and repetition, factual errors, legal issues, and formatting.
Consistency:
Consistency is a big part of whether people perceive your writing as professional or high-quality; they may not realize that it impacts their perception, but it does.
• Does the author favor toward or towards? Both are correct, but you should pick one and stick to it.
• Serial comma or no?
• High-tech is always hyphenated
• Journal entries are always block-quoted and italicized.
Awkward or convoluted phrasing:
You want your readers to pause to savor your eloquent turns of phrase or to chew on your thought-provoking idea. You don’t want them to pause because they’re confused about what the heck you’re trying to say. When this happens, I’ll read it out loud to myself, try to figure out what the author is actually trying to say, and offer a possible revision. If I’m really lost, I may even call up the author and talk it out.
Redundancies and repetition:
• Thesauruses are your friend. If you only ever use tapping to describe someone’s typing, you will probably want to mix it up a little with typing or clicking throughout the book.
• Five sentences on a single page started with “According to.” Let’s revise a little to avoid that.
• Seven a.m. in the morning—no. Choose one or the other (seven a.m. or seven in the morning).
• Completely destroyed or end result. Destroy already means “to cause something to no longer exist,” so you can just say destroy—the completeness is part of the definition. Result already means “to proceed or arise as a consequence, effect, or conclusion,” so adding on end is redundant. Sometimes an author may feel that the adjective adds emphasis, but generally cutting such adjectives will result in clearer, stronger writing.
Factual errors:
• Oops, you misspelled the name of that Spanish architect.
• Actually, you can’t see that park from that café because it’s two miles away (for a work set in a present-day, real city).
• This character is dead, so you should use a past-tense verb to describe his actions (unless we’re talking ghosts: ghosts scoff at verb tenses).
Legal issues:
Dumpster, Realtor, Teflon, Kleenex, Walkman, Google: while these words have come to define the type of object they are (trash receptacle, real estate agent, non-stick material, facial tissue, portable cassette player, search engine), they’re still registered trademarks and as such, need to be capitalized.
And that lovely quote you used from The God of Small Things? Yeah, that’s copyrighted material, and you may need permission to use it. A copyeditor will alert you to this, and if they’re knowledgeable in this area, they may also help you figure out if you need permission and help you get it.
Formatting:
This is probably the least glamorous part of copyediting, but it’s necessary. Are there two or sometimes even three spaces between sentences? Buh-bye, spaces, we only need one of you. Did you use tabs (or, heaven forfend, the space bar) to indent paragraphs? I need to eliminate those and use the margins instead. Are all your chapter headings the same size and font? What about your section breaks? Did you accidentally change font type or size in the middle of a paragraph? Are all your quotation marks curly or straight?
TL;DR
As venerable editor and writer Arthur Plotnick said, “You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” Confusion, inconsistencies, and errors distract readers and can make them think less of you.
Copyediting lets the reader focus on what you’re saying.

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