Category Archives: Fiction

Dialogue in fiction: Part III – The nuts and bolts

This is the third article in my series on how to write effective dialogue in fiction. In the first article, I covered foreign accents and dialects. The second covered the essentials: realism through artifice, the four purposes of dialogue, and creating distinction between characters. Today, I’ll focus on the mechanics of dialogue—dialogue tags—but first I'll explain how to balance dialogue and narrative. Continue reading ➝

Dialogue in fiction: Part II – The essentials

In this article, Part II of a five-part series on writing effective fiction dialogue, I'll look at creating realism through artifice, dialogue’s four primary purposes (creating emotional tension and conflict, advancing the plot, providing information and backstory, and conveying character), and how to create distinction between characters. Writing effective dialogue for your fictional characters is just one of many important skills to master if you want to be a successful fiction writer, and often it's not one that comes naturally or instinctively. It takes study and practice. Continue reading ➝

Dialogue in fiction: Part I – How to write authentic dialects and foreign accents

Of the many things to master when writing dialogue in fiction, creating authentic dialects and natural-sounding foreign accents for your characters is possibly the most challenging. If you don’t get the accent just right, you risk having your characters come off looking like caricatures. Worse, you alienate readers, who don’t like being slowed and confused by a lot of nonstandard spellings. And worst of all, you may appear to be discriminatory or even ignorant if you stereotype your characters through their accent alone. In this post, I’ll take a look at ways to make your characters’ English dialects and foreign accents as realistic as possible without reducing them to goofy stereotypes. Continue reading ➝

The advantages of traditional publishing over self-publishing

Last month, I posted a lengthy article on the advantages of self-publishing (also called indie publishing). It was easy to write; the ideas came almost faster than I could get them down. That post garnered some controversy—not surprising—and a request for a follow-up article. So, in the interest of fairness and objectivity, I promised to provide some balance with a look at the advantages of publishing through the traditional route—that of finding a publishing house to publish your book. But as I suspected, that task hasn’t been nearly as easy as the post on self-publishing advantages. Continue reading ➝

Transitions: quiet links that help your writing’s logic, flow, and clarity

When I talk about writing a blog post, I often liken it to writing a term paper. For me, the length, process, and deadlines are all similar. After deciding on a topic, Step 1 is jotting down all my own original ideas about it (in a very stream-of-consciousness way), then doing a bunch of research and making notes on what I’ve learned. I then let it all simmer in my mind for a day or two. At this stage, it’s all very messy, scarily messy. Step 2 consists of examining my jumbled messes of ideas and trying to organize them into a coherent, logical whole—a piece that flows and makes sense, one idea leading organically into the next. And that’s where good transitions come in. Continue reading ➝

Why “show, don’t tell” is the big myth of fiction writing

“Show, don’t tell.” If you’re a fiction writer, you’ve probably been hearing that phrase since your first creative writing class. In a Google search, “show don’t tell” gets more results—billions—than any other aspect of writing I’ve searched for. And in many of these search results, telling gets a bad rap. But why is this? And what does “show, don’t tell” really mean anyway? As an author, aren’t you always telling a story? And, most importantly, how can both showing and telling be applied to improve your fiction writing? Continue reading ➝
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