Writing Narrative vs Writing Dialogue

Written by Michael LaRocca

Continued from page 1

People use a lot more contractions in speech than in writing. They’re faster. More sentence fragments, too. People very often userepparttar wrong version of lie/lay or “who” instead of “whom” in speaking. (Personally, I never use “whom” in speaking or writing because I want to see that distinction scrapped, but that’s another story.)

The dialogue portion of Vigilante Justice isn’t difficult to describe. The hero is a self-destructive cop named Gary Drake. He is based on a real-life cop, my little brother. So his dialogue was easy because, in my mind, I always heard Gary speaking in Barry’s voice.

For my other characters, I had to find some other voice. For example,repparttar 129756 voice of Doctor Garrett Allison is, to me, that of Michael Jordan.

That’s right, people. When I write, I literally hear voices in my head.

As a beginning writer, and not a very good one, I read some advice somewhere saying you might want to cut photos out of magazines and use them when writing your physical description, in case you can’t get a mental picture together of your characters. I’ve used this technique, and with some modification I’ve extended it to voices.

As an author, you should always play to your greatest strengths while working to improve your weaknesses. I know many authors who think visually, and I envy them that. I’ve read some stuff that can make you feel you’re skiing down a snow-covered mountain when it’s actually 85 degrees in your flat and you’ve never skied in your life.

One author told me that when he writes, he literally sees movies in his head, then just has to type them really fast because that’s how they’re playing. Lucky him! My novels first come to me in snippets of dialogue. Every character hasrepparttar 129757 same voice at that stage. (My voice, of course.)

Tight dialogue is one thing I enjoy when I read. Here arerepparttar 129758 characters at some sort of verbal showdown. I know them, I know their motives, I can read betweenrepparttar 129759 lines and know what’s being left unsaid. I can just feelrepparttar 129760 tension inrepparttar 129761 air. I’m not so much mentally picturing bulging veins and angry glares as I am just feelingrepparttar 129762 spoken words.

I also have an excellent memory of voices. I always have. Like a dog remembers scents or an artist colors, it seems, I can remember voices. If I hear an unfamiliar song onrepparttar 129763 radio but I’ve ever heard that singer before, I can tell you who it is. I can tell you thatrepparttar 129764 guy doingrepparttar 129765 voice of Gomez Addams inrepparttar 129766 original “Addams Family” cartoon is now doing one ofrepparttar 129767 voices inrepparttar 129768 Tazmanian Devil’s cartoon series. I can spot an actor like Andreas Katsulas no matter what species of rubberized alien he’s playing, because I recognize his voice, although really that’s no great challenge in his case.

(Forrepparttar 129769 record, if you’ve read The Chronicles Of A Madman, Ahriman looks and sounds like Andreas Katsulas. Clyde Windham is Dennis Franz. Wendy Himes is some girl who sold me some horse feed about ten years ago.)

But just “hearing”repparttar 129770 voices (if you’re able) isn’t enough. The words themselves will be different depending on who’s speaking them, even if they’re relayingrepparttar 129771 same information.

To get back to Vigilante Justice, Gary Drake doesn’t use a lot of words. He almost never describes his own feelings, and if he does he always feels guilty about it. He speaks with a Southern drawl. He tends to use a single swear word, and that word is “fuck.”

Marjorie Brooks, onrepparttar 129772 other hand, mentions feelings and uses whichever swear word isrepparttar 129773 most accurate, except that she never says “fuck.” Doctor Allison doesn’t use as many contractions asrepparttar 129774 rest of us do. These are things I kept in mind as I wrote their dialogue.

Who remembers Mr. Spock? His speech sounds like written language, very grammatical and correct, and that’s deliberate. He’s a scientist, he’s logical, and for him language is only one more tool to be used with as much precision as possible. That isn’t just a different style of dialogue; it helps define his character.

In my The Chronicles Of A Madman, Ahriman used fewer contractions thanrepparttar 129775 rest of us and he avoided sentence fragments. He probably even knewrepparttar 129776 difference between who and whom or lie and lay. That’s because he’s intelligent, you see. It kinds of goes withrepparttar 129777 territory when one is evil incarnate.

During an edit I did of a sci-fi book, I saw whererepparttar 129778 author wasn’t using enough contractions. I made many suggestions that he changerepparttar 129779 dialogue ofrepparttar 129780 humans to use those contractions, except when military officers were giving orders, because order-giving officers tend to be more “serious” and “thoughtful” than folks just being regular folks.

I also suggested to this author that he change nothing aboutrepparttar 129781 “stilted” speech patterns of his aliens. English isn’t their native language, you see, and one thing I’ve noticed from living in China is thatrepparttar 129782 locals don’t use nearly as many contractions as I do. So I thought that added realism. Plus,repparttar 129783 contrast should help keeprepparttar 129784 readers keep everybody straight even if they aren’t consciously aware of why.

I remember in one edit where I read some character saying, “I am an historian.” Oh, I hate that phrase. I hate anyone ever putting “an” in front of a word that begins withrepparttar 129785 consonant “h.” Correct or not -- and that’s debatable -- it’s terribly pretentious and I don’t like it. As I kept readingrepparttar 129786 book, I quickly learned thatrepparttar 129787 character in question is terribly pretentious. Nobody else inrepparttar 129788 book was throwing “an” in front of “h” words. It was a deliberate contrast onrepparttar 129789 author’s part, and it worked quite nicely.


I supposerepparttar 129790 point of all this is, rememberrepparttar 129791 difference between narrative and dialogue.

Inrepparttar 129792 case of narrative, you’re simply trying to describe what happens. There is a famous quote of some sort that says, “Great writing is like a window pane.” Stick to that maxim unless you feel you have a good reason not to. If you’ve got what it takes to make your writing style superior torepparttar 129793 conventional, and if your story allows it, let that style be an asset of your writing. Otherwise, just stick torepparttar 129794 rules until you master them.

Inrepparttar 129795 case of dialogue, you’re trying to write something that sounds like whatrepparttar 129796 characters would actually say, but a bit more organized because “real” speech can be boring. Give every character his/her/its own voice.

Am I joking when I say “its?” Not entirely. The Chronicles Of A Madman contains a short story, written in first person from my dog’s viewpoint. But then again, I would never call Daisy an “it.”

There’s a stylistic decision you can make in narrative, byrepparttar 129797 way. I always refer to animals as “he” or “she.” Some authors always use “it.”

In dialogue, you can let some characters always say he or she, and let others always say it, to contrastrepparttar 129798 feeling withrepparttar 129799 unfeeling. (My heroes never call an animal “it.”)

Inrepparttar 129800 end,repparttar 129801 goal is alwaysrepparttar 129802 same. Make your writing as easy to read as you can. Keep that in mind, and always keep learning, and you won’t go wrong.

Michael is an American living in Hong Kong. He has been working as a full-time author for over two years and as an editor for over a year. He has 4 novels scheduled for publication. He’s proud of the fact that he rarely writes in the same genre twice. One of his novels is an EPPIE 2002 in the Thriller category. His website is at http://free_reads.tripod.com.

10 Secrets For Writing Killer Complaint Letters

Written by Shaun Fawcett, M.B.A.

Continued from page 1

7.Send copies if appropriate. There can be cases where it is wise to send a copy ofrepparttar letter to other parties just to make sure that you will get some serious action. For example, in a case where you have been told to write to a Regional Manager of a program, it is often a good idea to make sure that someone in head office also gets a copy. I sometimes send a copy to customer services or customer relations, offices atrepparttar 129754 national level.

8."Shame" them as much as possible. Companies that claim and advertise high levels of customer focus and service do not like to be criticized in those areas. If you have a strong case that makes them vulnerable in one of these areas, use as much ammunition as you can to embarrass them in these sensitive areas. Modern marketing terms such as: customer relationship management (CRM), one-to-one marketing, most valuable customer (MVC), and customer-centric focus, all tend to get their attention. Also, using such terms makes you sound like an authority.

9.Imply you might take your business elsewhere. I always do this nearrepparttar 129755 closing. Companies don't like to lose customers, especially long-time customers. Senior marketing people are well aware that study after study has shown that it costs five to seven times as much to recruit a new customer as it does to hold on to an existing one.

10.Ask for an early reply. Inrepparttar 129756 closing paragraph of your complaint letter, state specifically that you are expecting an early reply. Make sure that you follow-up by phone or e-mail if you have heard nothing in three weeks. Some companies will send you an acknowledgment letter stating that they are working on your case and will get back to you within a week or two.

Userepparttar 129757 above strategies and you are sure to get action from your complaint letters. And, don't forgetrepparttar 129758 old truism "the squeaky wheel getsrepparttar 129759 grease"!

================================================================ By Shaun Fawcett from his new one-stop writing help e-book "Instant Home Writing Kit". Full of tips, tricks, and secrets on how to write personal and business letters, resumes, cvs, papers, e-mails, essays, and business reports. Includes dozens of formatted downloadable real-life templates. Check out this time and money-saver at: http://www.instanthomewritingkit.com/ ================================================================

Shaun Fawcett M.B.A., is a Canadian-born and based writer, consultant, journalist, and publisher who has worked in many professional capacities over the years. He is also the Webmaster of the one-stop writing help Web site: www.writinghelp-central.com. Every week, thousands of people visit that site to obtain tips, advice, and resource information on everyday writing including: personal and business letters, resumes, cvs, reports, essays, and term papers.

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