Monthly Archives: October 2015

We Need to Talk

We Need to Talk- Writing Dialogue

Let’s talk dialogue!

It’s Not You, It’s Me

When it comes time for two characters to have an important conversation, writers be warned — you have entered a minefield. There are so many places to trip, from clichés to character distinction to info dumps. In my own work, I often find myself plowing ahead without thinking through the purpose of the dialogue and it ends by blowing up in my face. Not pretty, and it’s a headache to fix. Problems in dialogue could be an indicator of underdeveloped characters, but more often than not, it’s not them, it’s me.

Thou Art Distracting

Using realistic dialogue is another area where I struggle, especially when I’m working in fantasy or another genre in which the diction and syntax are different from today’s jargon. I used to go too formal with lots of “thees” and “thous”. However, as a reader, I often find formal dialogue distracting unless it’s historically accurate. Since shaking that habit, I now catch myself throwing something like “dude” into the middle of a swashbucklers’ sword fight (I exaggerate, but you get the idea). Research for period pieces is essential. Dialogue should balance and reflect the characters and time period accurately, or there is a risk of loosing the reader’s attention.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

We all have certain words and phrases we use, like a verbal finger print. Our vocabulary is a large part of our personality, whether it’s influenced by our word choice or takes part in shaping it. The same goes for characters. Expressing characterization through dialogue is huge. The words they use says a lot about them, and so it’s important to keep their word choice consistent. In my initial writing, I often don’t keep track of this concept and, upon revision, find that defining each character’s vocabulary can really polish the piece.

Happy Writing!

Leave a comment

Filed under Girl Meets Fiction

What to Read

zodiac

Zodiac Station by Tom Harper


Summary

In the cold and lonely grip of the Arctic, US Coast Guard icebreaker Terra Nova has gained a suspicious new passenger. Upon being rescued from the ice, the man says his name is Tom Anderson, sole survivor of the research outpost Zodiac Station, which has been left in ruins. He recounts his story of sabotage, paranoia, and murder to the captain of the Terra Nova, but when others survivors are found Anderson’s tale is brought into question. What exactly did happen at Zodiac Station? What is the truth? And most importantly, can anyone be trusted?

Overall Impressions

A great choice for lovers of suspense, mystery, and adventure. Harper’s cast of characters keeps the reader guessing from beginning to end as suspicions rise and secrets are revealed. His use of the Arctic landscape was perfect for the tone of the novel and sucked me into the cold, paranoid world of Zodiac Station. Just reading about it made me want to burry myself in a warm parka.

Science is not my area of expertise. Because of this I sometimes found myself a little lost trying to understand the more scientific portions of the story, which slowed down the action. Still, even with some slow spots, I did enjoy reading the story from multiple points of view. It made me question every character and their motives just as I was beginning to think I found a narrator I could trust. Harper’s use of unreliable narrators is marvelous, overlapping each story almost seamlessly.

Happy Reading!

Leave a comment

Filed under What to Read

Sidekicks: The Center of Their Universe

Untitled design (1)

Sidekicks. They’re the lovable other halves to our favorite protagonists, but they are also so much more. Side characters have their own lives, their own philosophies, and their own individual purpose to the story being told. I sometimes find myself more drawn to the characters surrounding the protagonist than the protagonist himself. The characters surrounding the protagonist are more than props for the hero to lean on. They are complex and unique, and without them storytelling just wouldn’t be the same.

The Center of the Universe

In most stories, readers perceive events through the eyes of the protagonist, but what’s going on around them may be more important than the character himself. Readers experience this greater meaning through interactions with supporting characters. A sidekick does not merely exist to serve the needs of the protagonist. He existed and had a life before whatever fates steered him into the hero’s path. When you think about it, the sidekick isn’t really a sidekick at all. He’s the center of his own universe.

Lessons

There are many times when side characters are used to teach lessons, usually indirectly, by helping the hero make some sort of personal or philosophical discovery. It’s a very important and time honored role to play. However, I find more complex supporting characters go beyond this general arch type and, at least for me, are far more enjoyable to read about. In addition to helping the hero develop throughout the work, a sidekick should be developing and making his own discoveries. No matter the closeness of their relationship, the protagonist and sidekick are individuals. Individuals do not always agree and even those with similar experiences and viewpoints often have their own personal value and insights to offer.

Romanic Counterparts 

Alright, I admit it. I love a story with a good bit of romance. A lot of times romance develops as a part of the protagonist-sidekick relationship. For example, Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games, or Percy and Annabeth from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (both of which are wonderful and should be read immediately by everyone). Yet, there can be a fine line between a developed side character and one who is inserted to merely serve as a love interest. It’s a grey area to be wary of, and something I have struggled with in my own writing. As I mentioned in earlier posts, romance is not a requirement, and sometimes removing characters who don’t serve a major theme or plot purpose can improve the quality of the work.

For more ideas, check out:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/309622543104546114/

http://www.shesnovel.com/does-your-storys-sidekick-serve-a-purpose/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/19844054585017305/

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/minor-characters-help-discover-theme/

Happy Writing!

P.S. — Who are some of your favorite sidekicks/supporting characters?

1 Comment

Filed under Girl Meets Fiction

Brief Announcement: Changes

Hey all!

I hope you are having a splendid week. Just wanted to give all of my awesome followers a heads up on a small change coming to Girl Meets Fiction. Due to the temperamental tornado of due dates that is college, I will be moving from triweekly posts to biweekly. Posts will include Must Read Mondays and Fiction Fridays. Stay beautifully you!

Yours,

The Girl

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What to Read

  1. Slaughterhouse-Fiveby Kurt Vonnegut – The novel explores the life and mind of Billy Pilgrim, who was a chaplain’s assistant during World War II and, years later, finds himself “unstuck in time”. Readers experience important moments of Billy’s life in a chaotic sequence. This intriguing satire is a literary classic.
  2. Where Things Come Backby John Corey Whaley – Readers experience the struggles of growing up in a small town through the eyes of Cullen Witter, a budding young adult trying to discover what growing up really means. Life for Cullen is dull and the future seemingly dreary until the sudden disappearance of his younger brother. Meanwhile, a missionary questioning his faith also struggles to find who he is in the world. Ultimately it’s a story of two young men’s journey of self-discovery.

Happy Reading!

Leave a comment

Filed under What to Read

Motivation: Quote

1058adf2da662e715731201cd0d03031

Happy Monday!

Leave a comment

Filed under Motivation, Quotes

Meet the Sister Witches

12

Every hero needs a villain, but sometimes one villain just isn’t enough. Meet Snow-White and Rose-Red, the sister witches of the woods, who were inspired by a combination of the Grimm’s fairytales Snow-White and Rose-Red and Snow-White and the Seven Dwarves. The sisters serve as two minor antagonists in my novel-in-progress. Most of you are familiar with the name Snow-White from the Disney movie adaptation, where she is portrayed as the kind-hearted beauty. But kids, these ain’t your grandmother’s fairytale damsels.

Aggressive, rash, and deadly with just about anything, Snow is without a doubt the dominant sister. Despite her love of pointy objects and a physical challenge, Snow’s priority is always Rose, who takes a lot of looking after. Prone to whimsy and daydreams of the prince she’s sure will one day come, Rose is irrational, child-like, and extraneously optimistic. Don’t let her carefree nature fool you, or you may end up like the others who’ve happened across her path and turned out NOT to be a prince. Let’s just say, there’s a lot of skeletons in Rose-Red’s closet.

As the fraternal twin daughters of a witch, Rose and Snow had what one might consider an unconventional childhood. They grew up in the forrest isolated and envied by their mother, tasked with protecting a silver tree bearing cursed fruit. “Protect the tree from who,” you ask? Why from seven nefarious dwarfs of course. Eventually their mother died, leaving the sisters alone to protect the tree. Completely void of contact with the outside world, the sisters became wild huntresses that will kill anything or anyone they believe could threaten the tree. Enter stage left, Marley and Holden.

Happy Friday!

1 Comment

Filed under Girl Meets Fiction

What to Read

Allow me the pleasure of introducing you to:

  1. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden – Intriguing, romantic, and lyrical, this novel was eye-opening. Readers enter a world where women are trained to charm and the illusion of love is an art form. Consider adding this gorgeously written book to your reading list.
  2. Once Upon a Marigold, by Jean Ferris – Fun and whimsical, this book is an easy and enchanting read. It’s an odd mix of traditional fairytale and contemporary lit, the kind of guilty pleasure you can read over the weekend or save for the summer reading list. Either way, totally enjoyable!

Happy Reading!

1 Comment

Filed under What to Read

Motivation: Writing Prompt

No Matter what, she would not open her eyes. Her life depended on it.

Happy Writing!

Leave a comment

Filed under Motivation, Writing Prompts

Backstory Basics

Backstory.jpgA backstory is a beautiful thing. It can open our eyes to a character’s motives, leave clues to what’s coming next, and much more. I LOVE backstories. Who doesn’t? Writing backstories can be a tricky beast, though, which brings us to today’s topic!

Backstory Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Jumping the gun – Revealing backstory or inserting flashbacks too soon can take the reader out of the main plot. It can be confusing, awkward, and, worst of all, boring. As a writer, you know your characters and plot like no one else. There’s a lot of excitement in that, so the temptation to get it all out there is natural. However, if the information isn’t immediately necessary to the story, it’s usually best to hold off until the reader has a solid grasp on where the story might be heading and what type of characters are taking them there.
  2.  Information dumps – An overload of information can do much of the same damage as jumping the gun can. If not carefully integrated into the main plot, backstory can distance the reader from the world the writer has created. Long excerpts of backstory are not always a bad thing, but are definitely something to be wary of and need to be well thought out before being implemented.
  3. Overuse of Dialogue – A very simple and somewhat natural way to integrate backstory into the main plot is through dialogue. If two characters are strangers then it makes sense for them to ask each other questions that might lead into flashbacks or a bit of an explanation. The danger is in creating a giant chunk of dialogue that makes the reader feel like they’re being talked at. We don’t want to make the reader feel like they’re listening to a history lecture. So if you do decide to use this technique, consider breaking up the larger pieces and spreading them out in a way that makes the conversation flow naturally and quickly.

In my novel, I like to use meaningful objects and/or dialogue to create flashbacks and reveal characters’ backstories. For example, Holden carries a black journal with him wherever he goes, which is actually a diary containing the history of a different character. The protagonist, Marley, is then able to learn what’s inside by questioning Holden about its content. This is just one easy way to incorporate backstory. Luckily, one of the great things about writing is getting to play around with what style and techniques suit you best.

For more a more in-depth look at backstory, check out The Beauty of Backstory.

Happy Writing!

Leave a comment

Filed under Girl Meets Fiction