Writing realistic dialogue is tricky. It’s a skill that comes naturally to those lucky people who have an ear for convincing dialogue and can produce it effortlessly, but most of us have to practice, listen, then practice some more. This is a common problem for new writers (and some more experienced ones, too) who want to produce natural and lifelike exchanges between characters without sounding clunky, over-dramatic or plain wooden. I’ve talked about this before but some things bear repetition, so a revisit might be useful. Continue reading
I’ve done a bit of guest blogging over the past few weeks. I’ve been thrilled to appear on the blogs of far more experienced writers than me and I didn’t want to behave badly or hang around too long hogging the limelight, so I heeded Benjamin Franklin’s advice: Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days, and kept my remarks short and sweet. I tried to be honest and I hope they revealed something about the real me, and that my natural reticence didn’t get in the way.
Our conversations have covered everything from what I read as a child to which book I would read if the world was coming to an imminent end. (I couldn’t answer that one). In between we tackled my writing inspiration, how much time I spend on social media (far too much and not nearly enough) and what I’m most proud of. Some of the questions really made me think, like what would I be doing if I wasn’t a writer? I have absolutely no idea.
I’ve been asked if there’s a special place that works best for me, what’s the best time of day and which writing instruments I prefer, but one other necessity didn’t get a mention, so I’ll address that now. The humble cup of tea. This is an absolute must-have. Preferably constantly refilled by an unseen hand that knows better than to interrupt, and accompanied by the occasional biscuit. A bag of liquorice is a nice bonus (well, I do come from Pontefract, its spiritual home).
My sincere thanks to these fellow bloggers who have hosted me over the past few weeks:
The day to day tribulations of a writer often have nothing to do with writing. Take this past weekend….
Picture the scene: my partner is (still) a keen amateur cricketer and it was a big day on Sunday when he fielded a team for a friendly match. For those who don’t know, a cricket team is eleven people. I’d been asked, along with the club chairman’s partner, as is the custom, to provide ‘tea’ for both teams plus a couple of umpires and various wives, girlfriends and children. We divided the task between us, she providing the savoury element, me the sweet part. In real terms that’s cake for about forty people. No problem.
Continuing the theme of writer’s block, here are some prompts to use when faced with that daunting blank page. I’ve used most of them at one time or another; they’re great for getting your imagination going. Sometimes just changing the sex or occupation of a main character can trigger lots of ideas. They work well when you’re free writing – just putting down the first thing that comes into your head frees up your writing muscles. You can arrange them into some sort of cohesion later, or if it’s no good, throw it away and start again. They’re particularly good if you’ve written yourself into a corner and trying to find an ingenious way out.
What’s the difference between dialogue and conversation? In creative writing, dialogue may only be a conversational exchange between two or more people, but it’s got to have purpose, otherwise it’s just chat. Conversation is the way people talk; dialogue contributes to the plot. Dialogue must move the story on, by revealing something about the characters or the plot. Good dialogue is the mark of a fine writer; forced and clunky dialogue betrays the bad.