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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to Type Emotional Dialogue

In a therapy session, I never talk in just one way to clients. Think of how monotonous that would be. And people never respond in just one way.

Why should writing be any different?

I'm not talking about your "voice"--the part of your personality that seeps onto the page. I'm talking about the actual way you type your words, especially your dialogue.

I've been collecting various writing techniques that can convey certain emotions by showing with the actual words. Description is unnecessary for how the character feels, because the words are displayed on the page so creatively that it's a no-brainer for the reader.

Here's two types of examples, using sentence structure change, to convey an (emotion):

1a. "Pleasedontbedeadpleasedontbedeadpleasedontbedead." (dread, fear)

1b.  Hesgoingtoaskmeouthesgoingtoaskmeouthesgoingtoaskmeout! (anticipation, joy)

2a. "Stop. Following. Me." (frustration, exasperation)

2b. "Read. My. Lips." (impatience)

2c. "Get. (separated paragraphs implies more intense frustration/anger)

Here's three examples of altering word spacing/adding a word:

3a. "I feel like I'm f l o a t i n g..." (detachment, confusion)

3b. Crrrraaaaaaaap. (anxiety, disappointment)

3c. "Febru-frickin'-ary can't be over soon enough." (bitterness, bored, irritation)

And finally, a few examples of changing accepted punctuation/grammar rules:

4. "Who cares." (resignation)

5. "You're pretty arrogant, aren't you." (amusement, condescension)

6. "Where you at?" (exasperation/curiosity, via a subculture colloquialism)

Emotion can pour through the structuring of your words on the page. You just have to give it a little thought.

Let's Analyze

What other examples can you think of? Leave them in the comments section!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Does Your Fiction Influence You?

It's futile to argue that we don't write what we know. Characters pop up in fiction based on real people. Settings are used because we ourselves were there and thought, "Hey! This would be awesome in a novel!" Fictional events happen to our characters that are inspired by real life events that happened to us or someone we know. (Especially for first novels!)

I dare you to refute this.

However, I'm interested in the flip side of this phenomenon.

I believe that when we write, we usually write better versions of ourselves or others. We write how we wish we had handled something, what we wish we had said to a romantic interest, etc.

Have you ever been influenced by your fiction? Have you ever found yourself responding to an event and thinking, "My main character would have said/done that." Were you able to pat yourself on the back because the fictional version of you rocked a situation for the better?

Or did researching a certain job or hobby for one of your characters end up convincing you to take up that hobby? What about a charity your character championed? Did you start supporting the same charity as a result?

I'm debating on formulating a new writer's quiz, and based on the comments I receive, I'll know better how to word the questions, so don't be shy!

Let's Analyze

How has your fiction writing influenced your real life?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Weekend Funnies: Anxiety Girl to the Rescue!

For all you superhero fans out's one you've never seen:

Thanks to Heather Sunseri for this one. If you haven't checked out Heather's debut novel, Mindspeak, you need to do so now! You can read my review here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is....


RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.


Psst! Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win one of my character assessments!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Almost Kiss: Tips to Give it the Punch It Deserves

I've been catching up on some of my shows now that my parents are gone and my daughter has turned five. (Note to self: birthday parties at home are WAY too much work. Stick with venues where there is a built-in activity.)

This past week, two of my favorite shows had the near-kiss episode. Beauty & the Beast and New Girl. You don't have to be familiar with these shows to enjoy the concept of the almost-kiss. But there's something to be learned about the psychological effect the missed kiss serves for the reader.

If the almost-kiss is done right, the reader will feel cheated, and maybe even mad at you as the author.

So how do you do it in such a way that you make readers pant for the real deal? Here's this therapist's tips on how to do it "right."

1) Do not write the scene too soon in the novel. 

Probably the worse thing you can do is have the characters in the almost-kiss predicament before the reader is emotionally invested in them. They need to know each other, have been through a difficult situation or had some laughs or history together. Virtual strangers about to kiss each other is as exciting as two people you don't know needing to get a room in a restaurant.

Why the near-kiss between Jess and Nick on New Girl worked so well is that the audience was fully, 100% invested in the two of them eventually ending up together. We have been rooting for it since the pilot episode last year. Having this felt tension between the two characters guarantees a tension in the reader.

2) Make the stakes incredibly high for each of them.

If the stakes aren't high for both, then it won't be as powerful a near-kiss. Jess is dating another guy. Nick is trying to get with another girl, which was the sole reason why they were playing the drinking game in the first place which landed them in their predicament. Finally Jess, who is tired of being cooped up in the closet, tells Nick to just kiss her and get it over with. They comically begin the dance to do just that, when Nick blurts, "Not like this!" to Jess, meaning he didn't want their first kiss to be the result of a drinking game.

Folks, that amped the tension up by ramping the stakes. Now Jess knows that this kiss would mean something to Nick...which means something to her. I was practically hyperventilating in my seat, wondering if they would or not!

3) Be creative about the interruption.

We've all seen shows and read books where someone walks in the room suddenly, or the phone rings, or there's a knock at the door, causing the couple to jump apart. In most cases, this lessens the impact of the near-kiss, because the reader is rolling their eyes. How convenient, they murmur under their breaths. Beauty & the Beast featured Catherine's sister walking in on them at the most inopportune time, which still ticked me off, but I was thinking that was the biggest cliche.

This is your chance to really shock them good with something out of the ordinary. Give it some thought. What would make the reader gasp even louder than they were planning to gasp had the characters melded their lips together after all?

4) Do not have too many almost-kiss scenes before the real deal.

Less is more. Once is enough. You don't want to be seen as teasing your readers along. I really appreciated an interview I read where Liz Meriweather, the director of New Girl, explained why she had Jess and Nick do more than just near-kiss in season 2. (They kiss at the very end of the same episode.) "Keeping them apart, at this point, felt more fake then bringing them together for me."

Since film is different from books, she went on to say that just because they kissed doesn't mean they will have a relationship. In a book, however, a reader will roll their eyes just as much if you dangle the carrot in front of them too many times. They will eventually throw the book down and say, "Enough already!"

Let's Analyze

Did any of you see Beauty & the Beast or New Girl when the near-kiss scenes happened? What did you think? Any other suggestions you'd like to see me add to my list?

And don't can still answer my How Does That Make You Feel question from last week and be entered to win a free mini-assessment of your character!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How Does That Make You Feel? and Mini-Assessment Giveaway!

My first How Does That Make You Feel was a terrific success...with lots of you writer folk commenting to get your name in the hat for a free mini-assessment! My friend Jennifer K Hale was the winner, so I'll be getting the intake form to her via email ASAP.

But don't despair! This will be a regular feature on my everyone else will have multiple opportunities to get a free mini-assessment.

Here's the scenario:

You just closed on a new home in a beautiful new neighborhood this past week, which is why you've been MIA on the blogosphere for a while. You've finally settled in, and invite your parents to come and stay to celebrate your child's birthday this weekend (also, why you've been absent on the blogosphere). On the morning after their arrival, at around 8:40 a.m., the local police arrive in body armor with guns drawn two houses down to shut down a commercial marijuana grow and hash lab. 

And how in the heck to you make your parents see that this could be any street in America, not just ones in California where their only granddaughter lives?  Yes, yes...this is definitely an autobiographical scenario. If you want further details, email me and I'll send you the link from our local paper. Couldn't they have waited just one more week to make the raid?

For the mini-assessment, PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL! I don't want anyone to miss out because I have no way to get in touch with you. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weekend Funnies: Therapists Vs. Bartenders

 'I've got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there's somebody under it. I'm scared. I think I'm going crazy.'
 'Just put yourself in my hands for one year,' said the shrink. 'Come talk to me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears.'
 'How much do you charge?'
 'One hundred dollars per visit,' replied the doctor.
 'I'll sleep on it,' I said.
 Six months later the doctor met me on the street. 'Why didn't you come to see me about those fears you were having?' he asked.
 'Well, One hundred bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money! A bartender cured me for $10. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup!'
 'Is that so!' With a bit of an attitude he said, 'and how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?'
 'He told me to cut the legs off the bed! Ain't nobody under there now!'

Monday, February 4, 2013

Review and Giveaway of Heather Sunseri's Mindspeak!

Heather Sunseri is a fresh voice in the Young Adult genre that you aren't going to want to miss. I'm happy to call her a friend, and honored to be able to read her debut novel and review it for my readership.

If you like romance, mystery, fantasy, and plot twists, then you've got to pick this book up.

Here's a blurb from Heather's website:

She was created for a purpose so revolutionary, someone was willing to kill for it.

Seventeen-year-old Lexi Matthews keeps two secrets from her elite boarding school classmates—she’s the daughter of a famous and controversial geneticist, and she can influence people’s thoughts.

But after new student Jack DeWeese heals her broken arm with an anything-but-simple touch, he forces Lexi to face a new reality—her abilities reach much further than speaking to the minds of others.

After Lexi’s father goes missing and she receives threatening emails, she can’t decide whether to fall into Jack’s arms or run and hide.

As Lexi seeks answers to what she and Jack are, she discovers a truth more unsettling than anything her science books can teach. And letting Jack into her life of secrets is not only a threat to her very existence, but it just might break her heart wide open.

Heather's story is so unique...I've never read anything about genetic alterations and cloning, and how that fits within a spiritual, ethical, and moral discussion about purpose. I love a book that sparks debate within not only myself, but between me and other folk. I found myself discussing the premise of this book over breakfast with my husband. (Of course, he mainly just rolls his eyes at any and all talk of books that don't involve fishing, hunting, or rock climbing.)

The book isn't as far out there fantasy-wise as you might think, given the strides in science that the world has already taken. I mean, just the other day I found out one of my clients was actually born 8 years before she was inseminated into her mother. Turns out her oldest sister was conceived at the same time and their parents decided to wait to implant my client's embryo until later. Whoa! Cutting edge science stuff is happening all around us and I think most of us go about in our bubble, completely unaware.  

The romance between Lexi and Jack unfolds sweetly, and I wasn't disappointed with their chemistry! Heather's voice captures Lexi perfectly in first person point of view, and the reader is taken along a merry mysterious journey with her. I bought this book the very first day I could when it went up on Amazon, and had finished it by the next day (yes, I snuck in some reading time at work...thanks a lot, Heather...).

I think above all, Mindspeak will reach out to teens who are trying to find their place in the world. Teens regularly struggle with purpose, as they try to differentiate from their parents. Parents the world over set about having children and sidling them with expectations, while many teens ride the precipice of trying to please them versus striking out on their own. It's got a universal appeal to it that I think will make people stand up and take notice of a new author on the e-book scene!

I, for one, will be lining up to read Book Two, as this is the first in a series, and the stories of Lexi and Jack are nowhere near complete.

To pick up Mindspeak, visit these retailer's links:  

But one lucky commenter who follows my blog will get an e-book copy for free! Just answer the question below and leave your email. Giveaway open world-wide!

Let's Analyze

Have you ever gotten into a debate about cloning, stem cell research or any other genetics-type topic? Did things get heated?