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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thoughts on writing skills

I've taken some of our reviews to heart and I'm making an effort to make our second book even better than our first. I've been doing some research.  I'll freely admit that I'm confused about lots of different aspects of writing. I think part of it is the conflicting information out there on the Internet and in books. 

Below are our main challenges. I've provide some of the research I've done. I hope you'll take a moment to peruse the links provided so we can be on the same page.:

Speech tags:

Complaints have been that we use them too frequently and/or use 'said' too often. 

A friend gave me this link:

The question I have is this: when authors have several characters in a given area, how do you differentiate them? Especially if they are all military types who talk about the same. 

Expressing thoughts of a character:

Apparently you aren't supposed to use quotation marks, attribution tags, or even italicize them. 

Places I've visited for help: 

Fiction writing: How to write your character's thoughts

How to write Thoughts of a Character

My quandary is how do you deal with thoughts alongside of dialogue? In particular, if you want to show what the character is thinking versus what they are actually saying or doing. 

Writing a book series:

I'm also trying to figure out the best way to handle writing a Series to allow for mini references to previous books in the series. Here are a couple of places I've visited:

How to Write a Book Series

Why Authors Should Write a Series of Books: Lessons Learned From Patricia Cornwell

I think I have a clue as to how best to handle this. I guess time will tell.  

Today, I'm turning the tables and asking you, the reader of this blog, to share what you know on these subjects. In particular, how you came by this knowledge and can you provide a reference link. 

I'm hoping this will be a win-win situation. Those that are looking for help will hopefully get some. Those that have knowledge and experience will get to help others.

Thanks and have a great one!

Lynn Hallbrooks


  1. You are correct, everyone has an opinion when it come to what and what not to do. Instead of researching the topics, I fell back on books I've read or guidance. When it comes to dialog, I'm using Bram Stoker's Dracula. Why? Because there is a lot of action and many characters speaking at once. Most impressesed.

    I guess you could plan out a series. I would look at Tolkein, Rowlings and Meyer. Were they planned or did the evolve? I know when I wrote Occupation, I didn't plan on a second until I re-read the first and noticed the open ends still dangling. I believe your characters will let you know how much longer they wish to fight.

    I would suggest Jim Burkette's Nick West series. Declaration of Surrender and American Sanction. His third, Reprisal is do out this month. Good dialog and well crafted cliff hangers. If interested, I think I go to the Kindle lending option.

    Let me know and good luck.

    1. Thank you very much for your input Jeff. I'll take it under advisement.

  2. Hi, Lynn... It's always the best authors who listen to their audience and incorporate into their writings what they hear. One thing though, when you become rich and famous from your books, you will have others following your way of writing -- for example, Elmore Leonard almost always uses 'said' -- and he's got a few dozen hits to his name.

    1. As always, thanks for your words of wisdom and encouragement Glenn.

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  4. Lynn - overall I would say just stick with what you like when you read. I don't think there is a "right" answer here. It's a big world out there and if you like something, most likely other people do to. The #1 thing is to just keep at it.

    I prefer to read dialogue heavy books. And what works best is to just end it with "said". The reader mind learns to skip it once you get sucked into the dialogue. You can even yourself drop it after you have established 2 characters talking - it helps speed up the pace.

    Though remember to break it up once in a while to let the reader know who is saying what :).

    And in terms of demonstrating internal monologue -just pick a way.

    While I love Elmore Leonard - I'd recommend Lee Child for you instead. I've read everything Child has written and most of Leonard's. I pick Child because he's closer to genre - a military guy (Jack Reacher) with lots of action.

    On the other hand - if you want to sell to the "fans of Tom Clancy left out in the cold by the end of the USSR" - I would say you're on the right track and just get busy publishing new stuff :).

    And ignore those who don't like what you have - they probably aren't your market anyway.

    1. What you are saying makes a lot of sense, Mark.

      I thought I did a fairly good job with the dialogue and not making everything with speech tags. I'm sure that I could do an even better job with the speech tags in book 2...which is coming along a lot better.

      Personally, I like when the internal monologue is italicized. I'm considering going with that without the quote marks and the attribution tags from now on.

      I have Lee Child on my list of want to read authors. Maybe I should pick one up and get a feel for his work. Thanks for the recommendation.

      I have read a couple of Tom Clancy books. I think that he has a lot more narrative than I personally prefer.

      It is true you can not please everyone. Thank you for your input, Mark.