Thursday, December 29, 2016

Let the Dialogue Speak by Mary Deal

                                                                                                                        


Let the Dialogue Speak


Proper use of said and the use of beats will keep a story flowing smoothly.

Books and articles turn up touting the value of replacing the use of the word said. She said. He said. Many claim said is overused and tiresome. They supply an endless plethora of verbs, nouns and adjectives to use instead. My opinion is that, in most cases, there are no substitutes, given what said does when used properly.
Said is acceptable enough to hide in the background and not call the reader’s attention to dynamics of speech that is best shown with proper punctuation. Said is simply a speaker attribution and tells us who said what in the course of conversation. Yet, said can become grossly overworked. This is why many people have tired of it. This is an example of overuse:

“Hola, Papi,” Pablo said. “When do we eat?”
“About ten minutes,” his father said.
“I’m going back to the street then,” Pablo said. “I’m winning all the races.”
“Hey-hey,” Rico said. “Be on time for dinner.”
“Si, Papi,” Pablo said.

Taken from Legacy of The Tropics, the conversation flows much better when written this way:

“Hola, Papi,” Pablo said, eyes eager and smiling. “When do we eat?”
“About ten minutes.”
“I’m going back to the street then.” He started to run away. “I’m winning all the races.”
“Hey-hey,” Rico said. “Be on time for dinner.”
“Si, Papi.”

Each sentence, both dialogue and narration, contains slight variations. The descriptions of actions included with dialogue are referred to as beats. The characters are not only talking. They are involved in doing something at the same time they speak.
When the actions of characters are included, the writer must be careful not to overuse beats. They serve the purpose of avoiding dialogue with a running string of saids, known as speaker attributions.
I wholeheartedly agree with Renne Browne and Dave King. In their book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, they say:

“If you substitute the occasional speaker attribution with a beat, you can break the monotony of the saids before it begins to call attention to itself.”

A beat is not necessary in writing, but it makes for smoother reading and understanding of the characters and scene.
For example, say you are speaking in live conversation with someone. You hear their words and watch their body language and facial gestures, or look to where they direct your attention. When described in a written story, their physical gestures are the beats.
In reading, beats allow for a silent pause between dialogues, a moment to digest what is being said and the action emphasizes the dialogue.
On the page, a speaker attribution identifies who is speaking. The word said is accepted because it remains in the background. It does not make us pause to visualize or try to understand the way the character speaks. Here’s an example when said has been erroneously replaced:

“What more?” Ciara questioned. “I know what I have to do. Rico also had a sister he never talked about. Help me find her—”
“Senorita,” Lazaro interrupted. “There’s a reason why he never spoke of her.”
“You know about her?” Ciara quizzed.
“Si, si. She had breast cancer,” Lazaro sympathized.

Now the same conversation from The Tropics, written another way:

“What more?” Ciara asked. “I know what I have to do. Rico had a sister he never talked about. Help me find her—”
“Senorita,” Lazaro said. “There’s a reason why he never spoke of her.”
“You know about her?”
“Si, si. She had breast cancer.”

Another aspect of smooth writing is that when only two characters exchange conversation, you need not identify each by name each time they say something. You also need not include any speaker attribution at all, unless the dialogue string is too long and should be broken up into smaller bites. Simply establish who spoke first, who responded, and the reader will follow along. Also, a good place to insert a few beats is in any string of dialogue where speaker attributions are not used.
This gets more complicated when you have three or more people sharing conversation. A few more speaker attributions are acceptable, and a beat both aids in showing us the character’s actions and prevents a string of attributions each time a new voice is written in dialogue. Here’s another example of over-use:

“I haven’t seen Larry for months,” Ruby said.
“I thought you two were tight as thieves,” Brad said.
“Not that tight,” Ruby said.
“Guess we all had it wrong,” Denny said.
“You guys and your assumptions,” Ruby said.

Here’s a better example:

“I haven’t seen Larry for months,” Ruby said.
“I thought you two were tight as thieves,” Brad said, as he pressed a hand against the gun inside his jacket.
“Not that tight!” Ruby looked around the room, all the while feigning nonchalance and looking like any other customer in the bar.
“Guess we had it all wrong,” Denny said as he took another sip of his drink.
“You guys and your assumptions.”

In the revised example, when a speaker attribution is not included, we still know who is speaking. Using a beat makes it easy to know to whom the dialogue belongs, so leave off the attribution.
Notice, too, that chimed in or quipped or volunteered or whispered and such other attributions did not substitute for the word said.
What really happened among the saids in the second example is that the word said receded into the background and allowed us to fully comprehend the urgency of the conversation. Because of the punctuation, we didn’t have to be told about voice inflection or any other way that the speaker spoke, which would have made us stop and visualize the action or the tenseness of the conversation.
The choice of words and punctuation in the dialogue did that for us, with the help of said, which quietly did its part, as it should. Our eyes read the important words, given due importance with the punctuation, while said registers only subconsciously. All we need to further the action is to read on.

Attributing dialogue to certain characters need not be overdone. Proper punctuation does that for us. For example:

“You klutz!” he exclaimed.

The exclamation point tells us the remark was an exclamation and not a quiet statement or a question.
It is not necessary to repeat to the reader that he exclaimed. Readers do not like redundancy. It’s very off-putting; as if the writer is sure the reader won’t get it. In that incorrect assumption lays the erroneous motivation for writers to use attributions other than said. An experienced reader comprehends the first time through with proper punctuation.
Many writers make the mistake of thinking they can add impetus to dialogue by including many and varied attributions. This is as bad a practice as using your hands and arms in front of your face when you speak. When talking, words and intonation speak for themselves and most hand gestures, at best, are rude. So, like hand gestures, a writer may irritate a reader through redundancy.

Yet another incorrect usage of attributions has become quite common:

“I hope you like it,” she smiled.
“It’s way over there,” he pointed.
“I’d like to take you home with me,” she breathed.

These are unemotional sentences that do not need further modification. Smiled, pointed and breathed did not speak those words, nor do they tell why the words were spoken. Such verbs have no place as speaker attributions. Only in a few instances can said be replaced correctly.
One way those sentences can be written properly, and sparingly, is given below. Notice the punctuation:

“I hope you like it,” she said as she smiled.
“It’s way over there,” he said, pointing.
“I’d like to take you home with me,” she said, breathing heavily.

Here are two last examples of incorrect punctuation and attributes that just don’t convey what is meant:

“Fire…,” she exclaimed.
“Fire,” she screeched.

Correctly written when we already know who is speaking:

“Fire!” he said.

Or simply:

“Fire!”

With many other places writers can get creative, speaker attributes are best left to the time-tested said, accompanied by proper punctuation in the dialogue.


BIOGRAPHY

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers’ references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California’s Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.

            LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

           LINK TO SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE


(NOTE: The above article appears in my 347 page writing reference titled,  Write It Right – Tips for Authors – The Big Book.)


Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*





Wednesday, December 28, 2016

If You Yourself Are At Peace...

If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world.
Thomas Merton. 

Sing Anyway...

Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway. Emory Austin

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

15 Slump Busters - What to Do When the Assignments Stop Coming


Cal Orey, Guest Author

Imagine: The phone doesn't ring, you find yourself amid a pile of rejection letters, and money's tight. It's been more weeks than you care to count since you've gotten an assignment or book contract, you've got serious reservations about your writer's status, and last but not least, the fear of never getting a new gig haunts you like a spooky Stephen King sci-fi tale.
If you're like me and most writers, at some time you'll probably hit a plateau - the point when it seems you just can't pull out of a big, unfortunate S-L-U-M-P. What gives?
Blame it on your fave book publisher downsizing, your pet editor(s) going AWOL, or karma. But the good news is, you can reprise your role as a prolific writer. So if you're down, on the verge of suffering through a sales lull or trying to find a way out, get prepared to write yourself out of a slump. It can be done. I'm living proof.
Whether you need a jump-start or want to make a comeback, the following slump-busters suggest some strategies for boosting your number of assignments, revamping your rebound strategies and coping while trying to end a bad streak.
1. Market, Market, Market - Yeah, it's frustrating to send stuff into what seems like a black hole. But note: The key is to market more, not less. Just ask Patricia Fry of Ojai, Calif., a seasoned journalist and author of 15 books. "When I feel like I'll never get another assignment, I contact all of the editors and publishers I've worked with before and offer my assistance," she says. "I let them know that I'm available and I suggest a couple of new article ideas." Play the number game: The more queries you send out, the better your odds of success.
2. Recycle Reprints - While marketing can give you hope of ending a slump, actually selling your published work is, of course, the faster moneymaker. During one holiday season, I had a pile of relationship quizzes published in Complete Woman magazine. I faxed a bunch of them as potential reprints to a large magazine publisher, Australian Consolidated Press (www.ACP.com.au), and prayed for a Christmas miracle. Two weeks later, both Australian Women's Weekly and Cleo purchased reprint rights to several of my articles, with a payment of nearly $1,000.
3. Spread Your Wings - Now is the time to break out of your comfort zone and go to Plan B. "As I watched several of the mags I was writing for go under, I noticed that the tech mags were growing and even multiplying," Fry says. "I studied technology magazines, came up with some ideas, began sending out query letters and landed quite a few assignments I was comfortable writing about." Translation: Teens, couples and women in tech businesses kept this writer working. P.S. I confess. I also migrated toward this money trail.
4. Get Local Business - In Lake Tahoe, where I live, real estate is hot stuff. I boldly called the owner of a luxury real estate firm and offered my copywriting services. And I was home free. First, I rewrote nine newspaper ads (less than 200 words each for a total of $1,800). And that's not all. I revamped the company Web site's agent bios ($35 to $65 each) and developed articles on 15 Tahoe-area communities ($1,200). Then, I created fun articles on Tahoe's favorite beaches and golf courses ($400 each) and restaurants ($800).
5. Go Global - My writer pal, Larry Tritten of San Francisco, has taken a different path, too. "If the road you're on is muddy, take a detour," says Tritten, a veteran writer who has experienced the ups and downs of the market. His gift for sensory detail has been his ticket to faraway lands like Rio de Janeiro, Malta and the Caribbean. Tritten gives kudos to the Travelwriter Marketletter (at www.TravelWriterML.com) for giving him a ticket to see the world. "For seven days, I recently had designer rooms in two resorts, slept with sliding doors wide open to warm nights, the sight of coconut palms and sound of surf from sea only 50 yards away. Very strange to live like a millionaire for a week, then back to a more conventional lifestyle. I'm living in high style and getting paid to write about it," he says.
6. Promote Yourself - While Tritten is globetrotting, I continue booking out-of-town book signings for my latest book, 202 Pets' Peeves: Cats and Dogs Speak Out on Pesky Human Behavior. These fatten my ego - and pocketbook. Not only do big bookstores make me feel wanted, all of the publicity helps boost my confidence and book sales, pays off my book advance, and can lead to a lot more. . .
7. Consult on a Book Proposal - For example, in Reno, Nev., a woman came up to my book signing table and asked me how she could get her personal health story published. One week later I presented to her a book outline and details of a number of options appropriate to her situation, including having her book ghostwritten or done as an "as told to," as well as the benefits of self-publishing. I charged a flat rate of $400 for three hours.
8. Cook up an Idea - While that first consultation did not lead to a book, it did prepare me for my next book signing - and hitting a jackpot in Las Vegas. A cooking expert, Roe Valenti, approached my table at a bookstore there and told me she had written a cookbook, sort of. I offered to take a look and we connected: I was hired for $4,500 to rewrite and coauthor an innovative, self-published cookbook I titled Just Cook It! How to Get Culinary Fit 1-2-3 (iUniverse).
9. Sell Your Books on the Side - I realized that peddling comp copies of 202 Pets' Peeves to Canada geese on the beach during off-season at the lake wasn't going to pay my bills. I took advantage of the fact that a book contract with a traditional publisher or self-publisher will often allow a writer to buy books in bulk at a discount rate, though they cannot be sold in bulk. In my case, I discovered that it doesn't hurt to sell signed books one-on-one to acquaintances who will spread the word about an animal-lovers' book. That way, you can make extra money selling your stuff and pay off your book advance, too. It's a win-win situation.
10. Hang in There and Live Life - No matter how bleak things look, don't fall victim to the "out-of-work" blues. Keep a move on and embrace what moves you. Before John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, he observed firsthand the real life of migrant workers. Jack London's two classics, The Call of the Wild and White Fang, were drawn from the author's northland adventures. Both authors learned how to adapt and survive in the best and the worst of times. Famous writers like these experienced life and wrote about their experiences. Go ahead - open up your heart, and take a risk, too. (Refer to Slump Buster #5.)
11. Be a Pro - The fact remains, a writer's slump can hit anyone, anytime. But hey, if you practice being a professional during the up times, it might help you sail through the down times. "Meet your deadlines, follow guidelines, be reliable and easy to work with," Fry suggests. And it's these tips and tricks that have paid off for her. She had written for one magazine for years on a regular basis. "One day the editor asked me if I'd like to bid on a major job for their international organization," she says. "I'm happy to say that my good track record paid off and I landed this lucrative job."
12. Network with a Capital N - Ever think you're too busy for the writing world? Think again. Fry is also the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network), which offers links to research sources, publishers, printers and the media. Get up-to-date market information at www.spawn.org. Organizations like this can help you get and stay connected. Another good online networking source is www.MediaBistro.com, where I've landed some nice assignments.
13. Hug Your Agent (or get one!) - Literary agents can help you as well, even on gloomy days. Ah, trust me, it's bliss to have your agent send you an e-mail saying, "Hang in there." And think how good it must feel to know you've got someone in your corner marketing your words of wisdom. To find a perfect fit, check out www.Writers.net.
14. Pamper Yourself - As you go through a dry spell, chill out. It helps me to look at inspirational articles and books I have written or that are due to be published. As a health and fitness writer, I also know too well that pigging out on a carton of ice cream and playing couch potato doesn't make for a comeback. Instead, try nourishing your spirit by walking or reading. Healthy activities like these help me fire up the creative juices, and they can get you through a rough patch.
15. Keep a Can-Do Attitude - You'll recover faster. That means, return messages ASAP when that Type-A editor calls with an assignment due yesterday. Yesterday, I accepted a magazine assignment via e-mail, interviewed two Realtors® for agent bios, quickly dished out a new pet-related idea on command to a book editor, slated another book signingwhen the PR person called me, and did edits for Just Cook It! Whoo! Jump on opportunity when it strikes.
And stay geared up for action. Take care of your computer, supplies and contacts during signs of a rebound. Among the welcome signals that you're back in business, I can attest, are an editor's e-mail requesting fresh ideas, call-waiting beeps, or a satisfied client wanting you to expand a project. (Read: more money.)
As you pick yourself up, and you will, think of Paul Newman in The Color of Money. Just repeat his character Fast Eddie's confident words, "Hey, I'm back!" And take a bow. You survived a writer's slump. Congrats!
        
Copyright © 2016 - Cal Orey. - Reprinted with permission. This article originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of The Writer .






http://www.calorey.com/


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Using Pen Names: 7 Savvy Reasons Why a Pseudonym Can Be an Author’s Best Friend By Cal Orey



AT THE START of a writing career, your name may seem so perfect ... but as time goes by, sometimes a pen name becomes a must-have tool of the trade. And it's not just the famous writers who use one. Here's why playing the name game can be smart.

For privacy and safety. Using a pen name provides protection. If a topic is controversial or crime-related, going "undercover" may be wise. I did just that when I wrote an expose for a popular men's magazine about escort services (which provide customers with a companion for dates). I didn't want the local escorts or managers to harass me if they didn't like what I wrote about their business. So I took a double identity, just as they did, to stay out of harm's way.

To get very personal. If you want to write about something embarrassing to you, switching names is the ticket for sharing your story. Forget blushing. I wrote an intimate, first-person piece called "I fell for the guy next door" for Complete Woman magazine. By altering my name and the subject's, I got to tell my tale of woe and get paid for it.

To explore different genres. I spin many subjects, from nonfiction health to erotic fiction. In the 1980s, adult magazines for men (and women) were hot. Because I wrote from a woman's perspective, I got assignments. But I was also creating a name for myself in mainstream women's magazines. I chose an alias for the risque work, which allowed me to explore two worlds apart without offending more conservative readers or losing my writing position.

For maximum marketability. Using a pen name can make an author more noticeable, too. Jane Doe might be too plain a name to stand out next to J.K. Rowling (another pen name). "The main reason I use Lady J is because it gets more attention," says children's writer Teresa Jose of Ontario.

For pragmatic gender bending. As a rookie, I fell into technical writing. After a swarm of rejections, I sensed that my real name, Denise, was too feminine to be taken seriously. So I made a gender switch to help market articles. I chose Cal for its masculine sound, and because California is my native state. When I received my first acceptance letter addressed to Mr. Cal Orey, I knew I had chosen the right name.

To address a problem of overabundance. Ten years ago, my editor for health-related mini-mags published by Globe Communications Corp., for whom I was turning out a lot of work, warned me I needed a pen name to avoid overexposure and maintain credibility. Since I wanted to write more for more money, I obliged.

To find anonymity. Using a nom de plume gives an author the freedom to keep his identity separate from work. One author who is a gambling expert maintains a low profile. If he uses his real name, he risks being blacklisted from the gaming industry. Putting a pen name to work as he does offers the best of both worlds. It's a win-win situation.

Some famous aliases.

THERE ARE many examples of pen names among famous writers. Here is a brief sampling:

Pearl Gray dropped his first name and wrote his Western novels under his middle name and with a slightly different last name, Zane Grey.

Stephen King has written four novels under the name Richard Bachman. "I did that," he explained, "because back in the early days of my career, there was a feeling in the publishing business that one book a year was all the public would accept."

Samuel Langhorne Clemens used an old riverboat term, Mark Twain, as his pen name. Often called out on deck, the phrase meant that the water was 2 fathoms, or 12 feet, deep--deep enough for safe passage.

Mary Ann Evans wrote under the name George Eliot.

Ellery Queen was actually a single name for the collaborative team of Frederick Dannay and Manfred B. Lee.

--C.O. 

Cal Orey, M.A., is a veteran author-journalist. She specializes in health, relationships, pets, and science. Ms. Orey writes the Healing Powers series, including Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea (January 2018). She resides in Northern California. Her website is www.calorey.com . 
Cal Orey
corey39184@aol.com








Monday, December 5, 2016

CHRISTMASTIME AND SANTA CLAUS


It is joyous
to watch children
reach for Christmas toys,
dolls for little girls
and trucks for small boys.
Beneath a spreading evergreen
are shimmering golden thistles,
miniature toy drums and
slick silver whistles.
Santa Claus
dressed in red
carries a sack
within a sled.
He gives to folks
all-embracing
merry, pleasing,
celebrating!
 
Patricia Crandall
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

4-Haiku by Patricia Crandall



 a beam of first light
through the majestic pine trees
dazzling morning sun

a fiery red moon
in a glacial autumn sky
shines effectual

a mountain silence
blackness shrouds the earth below
stars shimmer afar

across the still lake
view the luminous white moon
enhanced at midnight

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

RABBITS, BUNNIES, WHISKERS AND HOP!

 

           
            Why do I write? The answer lies in the fact I enjoy reading. It all began with Uncle Wiggley Longears, the rabbit gentleman stories by Howard Garis. At bedtime at our house in the nineteen forties, my father would entertain me and my siblings with his own version of an ‘Uncle Wiggley Adventure.’ After an ending, “And if the turnips do not fall into the cabbage patch traps and get eaten by the turtle tribe, tomorrow I will tell you about Uncle Wiggley’s narrow escape from the falling tree near ‘Henry’, the covered bridge.” (In Vermont, covered bridges are named). With an eager readiness at the next bedtime, three children sat in anticipation as my father struggled to fabricate a new Uncle Wiggley adventure.
            I learned early that children’s authors captivate a child’s and an adult’s imagination in a magical, mind-stretching manner that no other writer can do. The children/young adult authors who are repeatedly read in our home and are impressive masters to follow are: Howard Garis, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, Laura
Inglis Wilder, J.K. Rowlings, Carolyn Keene, Franklin Dixon, E.B. White and Lewis Carroll.

 
            Children’s authors often pen a story for a particular child as Clement Moore did when he wrote the renowned poem, ‘The Night Before Christmas,’ to satisfy his children’s need for a Christmas story. A child has an imagination filled with wonder and welcomes all types of zany and horrific tales. Put it all together and zap – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
            I have written a story entitled, ‘The Polka Dot Mystery,’ with my three grandchildren. It began on a rainy day when the children complained there was nothing to do. I pulled out pencils and paper. We sat around the kitchen table and began with the oldest child creating a sentence first. Then the second child added her sentence, followed by a grandson’s wacky sentence. My sentence came next and balanced his morbid one. We continued to do this until we had completed a story, ‘The Polka Dot Mystery.’ To our surprise, it was published in a children’s magazine.
            The next time you browse through a bookstore, check out the children’s section. And watch out for rabbits – they have multiplied in the story market. Hop to it!
 
 Patricia Crandall

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Contest for subscribing

Subscribe to my blog and get into a drawing for a New York best seller. Contest ends September 30. Pass the word.



 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

AND IN THE BEGINNING..(August poem)

 
 AND IN THE BEGINNING...
 
Genesis
stirs within me
a desire to spin
poetry
as a spider
painstakingly
evolves around his web
 

The Letter S by Mary Deal

Drop the letter s . If you believe that one letter couldn’t possibly cause you to receive a rejection, I encourage you to think again, ...