Dialogue

Dialogue is probably the best way to make readers really get to know your characters. It also gives your writing variety and speeds up the pace (because, as with metaphors, a few words reveal so much) which keeps it more interesting.

Here are a few tips to help you make your dialogue effective:

1. Use realistic words. One reason why dialogue is so interesting and characterizing is because readers get to “hear” characters speak and instantly get an impression of what they’re like. If you don’t quote them the way they really talk, this won’t work.

If a teenager is speaking, don’t be afraid to spell words like “gonna” and “wanna.” If a drill sergeant is speaking, you may need to sw#@r.

2. Only say important things. If you can explain something faster without dialogue, then just explain it. Save the dialogue for interesting ideas and to show attitudes that characterize.

3. Describe the characters. If readers can picture them, it makes their words much easier to hear in their minds. Age is one of the most important things to reveal if it’s not already obvious. Continue reading “Dialogue”

Sensory Details

Think about it. That beautiful, tall, leafy tree in the park, with its shapes and colors, is completely disconnected from you. When you stare up through its branches, you’re not experiencing the tree itself. You would know nothing about the tree if not for the light rays bouncing off the trunk and leaves and reflecting into your eyes.

You’re not even experiencing the light that revealed the tree to you. Instead, the light that splashes through your pupils and focuses against the back of your eye causes the eye’s rods and cones to emit chemicals which translate into nerve impulses which travel to the visual cortex in the back of the brain where the image is then constructed and THEN, at last, you experience something, but it’s not the tree, it’s you.

Even if you touch the tree, even if you rub your fingers and palm against the rough bark or pluck a wide, green leaf from a tiny branch, you still only experience yourself, or, more precisely, the nerve impulses that travel up your arm create a sensory experience inside your brain.

“A mere technicality,” you say? Hardly! This is important to understand. Because if sensation occurs internally and beauty is no more than a judgment you make inside your head or heart (which is true), then you suddenly realize that beauty comes from YOURSELF. You suddenly realize that YOU and your consciousness are the source of beauty, not the outside world.

What this means for writers is that you can generate a VERY REAL experience for your readers by using vivid, effective descriptions. The only difference is that you skip the actual sensory input and jump straight to the experience formed by the imagination within the brain. Continue reading “Sensory Details”

Short, Short Stories

A quick way to practice writing skills is to use a short, short story. This brief passage (maybe 250-500 words) needs no introduction nor conclusion, just a few objects, people, places and events to describe. You may use the EXAMPLES BELOW, some inspired by photos we viewed in class Wednesday. Please email whatever you’re willing to share with others, or enter them as comments to this post. Thanks!

You may use the following images to whip up some quick short shorts to work with. Just imagine the story going on here and write it down, then add whatever writing skill you want. Click any image to see a bigger version if you like. You can also use your own photos or visit AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com for some unique inspiration!
Continue reading “Short, Short Stories”