Writing a Dialogue-Heavy Scene

magicallynormal asked: “Hi Lizard, I was wondering, what do you do when everything you write feels disjointed? I have trouble working in dialogue and description and emotions and when I try, it feels like I’m just trying to connect things with with a few extra words in between.”

Oh, I’ve been there I practically live there. But really, that is a very familiar feeling for me. I start with dialogue and can just get carried away in the conversation and lose track of the rest of the scene. It’s a natural thing I think actually. 

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Hey , I have a trouble with this show not tell thing , do you have any tips ? Also , can you give me few posts about it ? Thanks !

One way I like to enforce “show, don’t tell” is to imagine yourself in the character’s shoes. Sure, you might think or say ‘”it’s cold” but look at the effects of what the cold has on the characters and on the movement/scene. Integrate it into the scene and the actions.  You want to provide concrete images for the reader, not summarize.

Tell: It was a cold day.

Show: The chilly wind sent goosebumps running across Annette’s arms and she huddled closer to her sister, wishing she had worn longer sleeves or at least brought a light jacket.

Tell: My dog was excited to see my friend.

Show: When Eric walked through the door, Pickles jumped up and ran over, his fluffy tail wagging so hard I thought it might fall off.

Tell: I was sad that my grandpa died.

Show: I picked up the old photo, cleaning the glass with my fingers. My grandpa’s smiling face peeked through the dust but I fought the tears that pricked my eyes and swallowed the emptiness in my throat.

This also applies to showing things like character relationships! You don’t need to write “they were friends” when you can show that connection (and so much more!) through how the characters treat each other. 

“Hey, Ahlia,” he said as he walked toward her, eyeing the comfortable outdoor couches but opting to stand with his classmate. Even though he’d known her since entering the university, it still felt wrong to sit when the princess of his nation stood before him.

“You know I was half-joking about meeting me up here, right?” she said. “I know you have actual work to do.”

He shrugged and looked over the railing to the city streets far below, bustling with people on their way home for the evening. “It was time for a break anyway.”

That tiny moment shows a decent amount about their relationship:

1. They must be pretty close because “hey” is a casual conversation starter and he calls the princess by her first name. There isn’t even any small talk.

2. There’s a mention about the time frame of their established relationship and how they know each other.

3. Ahlia is happy to see him, but in a chill kind of way that means it’s either her personality or they’ve known each other for long enough that she doesn’t have to really react to his presence.

4. Despite his casual greeting, he still recognizes her influential position with his thought about not sitting down unless she did.

5. Ahlia respects him back, shown by her concern over his amount of work.

Not everything needs to be directly stated in exposition for your reader to get the idea, but a bit of exposition is required. Imagine if I’d written out an entire conversation just to convey that they’re students in a university, that she’s a princess, that they’re in a city setting, etc. That’s caused “expository dialogue”, is an easy track to cheesy-town, and is a case when “show don’t tell” can go too far for certain details. You really do need some “telling” in your exposition, but you can be creative about it and use context to keep it interesting. 

I also have this Three Signs That Mean You’re Telling, Not Showing post.

Good luck with your work!

Ambient sounds for writers

Find the right place to write your novel… 

Nature

Arctic ocean

Blizzard in village

Blizzard in pine forest

Blizzard from cave

Blizzard in road

Beach

Cave

Ocean storm

Ocean rocks with rain

River campfire

Forest in the morning

Forest at night

Forest creek

Rainforest creek

Rain on roof window

Rain on tarp tent

Rain on metal roof

Rain on window

Rain on pool

Rain on car at night

Seaside storm

Swamp at night

Sandstorm

Thunderstorm

Underwater

Wasteland

Winter creek

Winter wind

Winter wind in forest

Howling wind

Places

Barn with rain

Coffee shop

Restaurant with customers

Restaurant with few customers

Factory

Highway

Garden

Garden with pond and waterfall

Fireplace in log living room

Office 

Call center

Street market

Study room from victorian house with rain

Trailer with rain

Tent with rain

Jacuzzi with rain

Temple

Temple in afternoon

Server room

Fishing dock

Windmill

War

Fictional places

Chloe’s room (Life is Strange)

Blackwell dorm (Life is Strange)

Two Whales Diner (Life is Strange)

Star Wars apartment (Star Wars)

Star Wars penthouse (Star Wars)

Tatooine (Star Wars)

Coruscant with rain (Star Wars)

Yoda’s hut with rain ( Star Wars)

Luke’s home (Star Wars)

Death Star hangar (Star wars)

Blade Runner city (Blade Runner)

Azkaban prison (Harry Potter)

Hogwarts library with rain (Harry Potter)

Ravenclaw common room (Harry Potter)

Hufflepuff common room (Harry Potter)

Slytherin common room (Harry Potter)

Gryffindor common room (Harry Potter)

Hagrid’s hut (Harry Potter)

Hobbit-hole house (The Hobbit)

Diamond City (Fallout 4)

Cloud City beach (Bioshock)

Founding Fathers Garden (Bioshock)

Things

Dishwasher

Washing machine

Fireplace

Transportation

Boat engine room

Cruising boat

Train ride

Train ride in the rain

Train station

Plane trip

Private jet cabin

Airplane cabin

Airport lobby

First class jet

Sailboat

Submarine

Historical

Fireplace in medieval tavern

Medieval town

Medieval docks

Medieval city

Pirate ship in tropical port

Ship on rough sea

Ship cabin

Ship sleeping quarter

Titanic first class dining room

Old west saloon

Sci-fi

Spaceship bedroom

Space station

Cyberpunk tearoom

Cyberpunk street with rain

Futuristic server room

Futuristic apartment with typing

Futuristic rooftop garden 

Steampunk balcony rain

Post-apocalyptic

Harbor with rain

City with rain

City ruins turned swamp

Rusty sewers

Train station

Lighthouse

Horror

Haunted mansion

Haunted road to tavern

Halloween

Stormy night

Asylum

Creepy forest

Cornfield

World

New York

Paris

Paris bistro

Tokyo street

Chinese hotel lobby

Asian street at nightfall

Asian night market

Cantonese restaurant

Coffee shop in Japan

Coffee shop in Paris

Coffee shop in Korea

British library

Trips, rides and walkings

Trondheim - Bodø

Amsterdam - Brussels

Glasgow - Edinburgh

Oxford - Marylebone

Seoul - Busan

Gangneung - Yeongju

Hiroshima

Tokyo metro

Osaka - Kyoto

Osaka - Kobe

London

São Paulo

Seoul

Tokyo

Bangkok

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

Alps

New York

Hong Kong

Taipei

pick-me-ups for writers

for the self-conscious beginner: No one makes great things until the world intimately knows their mediocrity. Don’t think of your writing as terrible; think of it as preparing to contribute something great.

for the self-conscious late bloomer: Look at old writing as how far you’ve come. You can’t get to where you are today without covering all that past ground. For that, be proud.

for the perfectionist: Think about how much you complain about things you love—the mistakes and retcons in all your favorite series—and how you still love them anyway. Give yourself that same space.

for the realist: There will be people who hate your story even if it’s considered a classic. But there will be people who love your story, even if it is strange and unpopular.

for the fanfic writer: Your work isn’t lesser for not following canon. When you write, you’ve created a new work on its own. It can be, but does not have to be, limited by the source material. Canon is not the end-all, be-all. 

for the writer’s blocked: It doesn’t need to be perfect. Sometimes you have to move on and commit a few writing sins if it means you can create better things out of it.

for the lost: You started writing for a reason; remember that reason. It’s ok to move on. You are more than your writing. It will be here if you want to come back.

Beyond this, consider how these professions might vary depending on who the customers are - nobles, or lower class. Are they good at their job or just scraping by? Do they work with lots of other people or on their own? City or village?

For younger characters:

  • Apprentice to any of the above
  • Messenger/runner
  • Page/squire
  • Pickpocket
  • Shop assistant
  • Student
  • Looks after younger siblings

(Images all from Wikimedia Commons)

5

I made these as a way to compile all the geographical vocabulary that I thought was useful and interesting for writers. Some descriptors share categories, and some are simplified, but for the most part everything is in its proper place. Not all the words are as useable as others, and some might take tricky wording to pull off, but I hope these prove useful to all you writers out there!

(save the images to zoom in on the pics)

Writing a Relationship Your Readers Will Ship

Relationships, especially in beginner writer’s works, have a tendency to feel forced. Even in some popular and famous works of fiction, the relationship doesn’t feel natural. It seems like a boring afterthought which the writer added in at the last minute. Far too often, I find myself completely indifferent to a character’s romantic life. A good romance in a story will give the reader a bit of second-hand infatuation. They’ll root for the relationship, beg for it. If the romance is well written, you can make a reader smile and blush just by reading a few sentences. When done properly, it can even compensate for a weak and cliché plot.

But first, decide whether the romance is needed. If you’re adding a character to the plot simply for the sake of being a love interest, it’s probably not a needed romance. You can still add it, of course, but it will be much harder to keep your story focused on the central plot.


Step One
Make sure the characters have chemistry.

The characters should compliment each other’s personalities. If he’s loud, stubborn, and aggressively opinionated, a more tranquil and soft-spoken love interest would suit him well. Two headstrong people wouldn’t be likely to have a lasting relationship in real life, unless they (impossibly) agreed upon every subject. But, there should be some similarities. While opposites do attract, polar opposites will not and the whole relationship will feel forced. The characters should have something in common. It could be morals, a parallel backstory, the same motivations, whatever. As long as there’s a reason for them to be drawn to each other, there’s potential.

Step Two
Slow burn ships are fantastic.

Don’t make your characters fall in love right off the bat. There can be attraction, of course, but genuine feelings of true love don’t happen instantly. Your characters should become closer as people, feel at ease around each other, and truly know the other before they fall head-over-heels. The readers will crave the relationship far more, like dangling a treat right in front of a dog’s nose, but keep pulling it away. Teasing is a beautiful thing.

Find ways of showing (NOT TELLING) the characters are falling for each other. Have them stand up for one another, be protective. Have them break their own normal routine for the other. For example, a callous, guarded character could lower their walls for a moment if their love interest needs emotional support. These scenes can be awkward for the character changing their typical behavior and that discomfort can demonstrate how much they care for the other, altering their own selves for the other’s benefit.

Howeve, make sure that you combine these cute emotional moments with distance. Make the characters deny their true feelings or even distance themselves from their love interest upon discovering their feelings. The more the characters long for each other, the more the reader will long for them to be together. Build barriers between them for your characters to have to work to knock down. Keep them close, but maintain that distance until the moment is right.

Step Three
“_____” translates to “I love you”

The first example of I think of when I think of this is The Princess Bride, where the male protagonist tells his soulmate “as you wish” when he really means “I love you.”

This falls under the category of show, don’t tell. Hearing a character say “I love you” has become so boring. Unless it’s done in a surprising confession or unique way, it’s boring and stale.

Come up with a phrase that you can repeat in moments throughout the story until it has a meaning of love for the characters and both know exactly what the other means when it’s spoken.

Step Four
Taking a break can help create tension.

You know you loved someone if you leave them and feel awful. Apply this into the writing. Your characters can break up, then get back together in a joyous reunion.


Step Five
Not every couple has a happy ending.

Sometimes, things don’t always work out for different reasons. An ending that leaves readers craving more can be a good move.

I made this today as I find it’s a helpful tool when I make characters. I call it the 1-2-3 method.

1 value: Their core belief.

2 flaws: The limitations of the character. Things that can affect their actions and abilities.

3 traits: What makes them, them. the aspects of their behaviour and attitude.

It’s important that you justify their personality through their backstory and home life, however, and it’s good to have conflicting flaws/traits within a group which will help create tension and drama.

I’m using this today to create characters for my campnanowrimo WIP and thought I’d share.

3

From the makers of the no-effort character checklist, I bring to you… The no-effort complete character sheet for lazy writers like you and me™! 

Because the extra effort I put in staying up until 3 am to do put this together can save us all a lot of effort filling out longer character sheets ^^

You’re supposed to print it out and fold it in half to make a little booklet but you can save ink and do it on your computer :P

Link to PDF on google drive (fixed typo)

Things to Keep Out of Your Healthy Relationships!

(Alternately: how to identify problematic YA romances.)

Written by yours truly, contributions from @jltillary, @theinkrepository, @time-to-write-and-suffer, and @sakrebleu.

Non-consensual physical intimacy, especially in situations where it’s portrayed as being done for the benefit of the victim or situations where the victim forgives the forced intimacy because they decide they like it after it’s already been forced on them. Examples:

  • Forcing a partner to accept physical comfort when they don’t want it.
  • Kissing a partner in the middle of an argument.
  • Framing consent as unnecessary simply because one person is attracted to the other.
  • Stalking the other person, even for their own safety.
  • Forcing the other person into some form of physical intimacy because they “liked it last time.”
  • Implying that it’s normal for a certain physically intimate act to hurt and/or their partner should grin and bear it.
  • Skipping over their partner’s preferred forms of intimacy in favor of what they want to do with/to their partner.

When in doubt: Consent should be explicitly given!!

Non-consensual communication. Examples:

  • Physically stopping a partner from leaving in order to continue talking with them.
  • Bringing up a topic the other person has made clear they don’t wish to discuss yet.
  • Forcing the other person into conversations with people they previously showed they did not wish to talk with.
  • Manipulating the conversation so that the other person shares a secret, especially one that doesn’t affect their partner.

Emotional manipulation. Examples:

  • Telling the other person to do something (i.e. ‘go away’) as a test, where the person is at fault if they follow through and do as their partner asked.
  • Blaming the other person for things beyond their control, especially “I wouldn’t be like this if not for you/your interests/your goals.”
  • Claiming they’ll die (or kill themselves) if the other person leaves.
  • Not wanting the other person to have friends of the same gender as their partner (i.e. a man not wanting his girlfriend to have any male friends).
  • “If you really loved me you would do x, y, and z.”
  • Demanding to be the most important part of their partner’s life, above and beyond their partner’s other responsibilities.
  • Cheating on their partner as a form of punishment.
  • Acting as though physical intimacy (or any other sort of intimacy) isn’t important, but then blaming the other person for not supplying it.
  • Acting distant or cruel until the other person does what they want, or because the other person didn’t do what they wanted.

Demeaning actions and words, especially in instances where they blame the actions and words on internalized sexism, racism, etc as a shield, in instances outside of high-stress arguments, and whenever the character isn’t sincerely sorry for what they did or makes no point to change. Examples:

  • Stating the other person’s interests or hobbies are inferior or a waste of time.
  • Telling them they were look better if they did x, y and z.
  • Demanding they stop doing something or start doing something else based on their gender, race, etc.
  • Placing the other person in a subordinate role without their partner’s explicit consent.
  • Not sharing certain pieces of information because they believe they know what’s best for their partner and don’t need the other person’s consent to act upon it.
  • Bonus: Glorification of a partner simply for not demeaning the other person, (i.e. for acting like  an average, decent human being,) especially when the partner in question boasts how amazing they are for loving their “curvy”/non-white/bisexual/not-like-other-girls/etc partner.

Please add more, if you feel so inclined! 

Physical features to add to any character

  • Dirty/chewed finger nails
  • Blemished skin
  • Chipped nail polish on fingers/toes
  • Chipped tooth/teeth
  • Errant curls/hairs that won’t stay down no matter what you do to them.
  • Unruly eyebrows
  • Sweats easily
  • Fidgets constantly/can never sit still
  • Blinks often
  • Grinds teeth
  • Gap in their teeth/Crooked teeth
  • Chapped lips
  • Dry skin
  • Skin is red/irritated
  • Acne on cheeks, forehead, chin
  • Dark under eye circles
  • Eyebrow scar
  • Uneven dimples
  • Hair birthmark
  • Long toes and/or short fingers
  • Patchy skin
  • Veiny hands/arms
  • Chin hairs
  • Large teeth/small teeth
  • Broken/crooked nose
  • Yellow teeth
All About Writing Fight Scenes

@galaxies-are-my-ink asked,

“Do you have any advice on writing fight scenes? The type of scene I’m writing is mostly hand to hand combat between two experts. I’m definitely not an expert so when I try to write it, the scene ends up sounding repetitive and dull.”

Fore note: This post is coauthored by myself and one of my amazing critique partners, Barik S. Smith, who both writes fantastic fight scenes and teaches mixed martial arts, various artistic martial arts, and weapons classes.

I (Bryn) will tell you a secret: I trained MMA for seven years, and when I write authentic hand to hand fight scenes, they sound dull too. 

The problem with fight scenes in books is that trying to describe each punch and kick and movement (especially if it’s the only thing you’re describing) creates a fight that feels like it’s in slow motion. 

I write…

Lowering her center of gravity, she held her right hand tight to her face and threw a jab towards his chin. He shifted his weight, ducking under her punch. His hair brushed against her fist, and he stepped forward, launching a shovel hook into her exposed side.

But your brain can only read so fast. In real life that series of events would take an instant, but I needed a full eight seconds to read and comprehend it, which gave it an inherent lethargic feel. 

So, we have two primary problems:

  1. How do we describe this fight in a way the reader can understand and keep track of? 
  2. How do we maintain a fast paced, interesting fight once we’ve broken down the fight far enough for readers to understand it? 

(We will get back to these, I promise.) But for now, let’s look at…

Different types of “fight scenes:”

Keep reading

Little details to give your characters
  • Picks M&Ms out of trail mix
  • Bites fingernails/toenails
  • Has a small collection of water bottles by their bed
  • Cracks knuckles
  • Loves the smell of nail polish remover
  • Is a pollotarian 
  • Only listens to music from one decade
  • Never wears matching socks
  • Wears college sweaters (bonus if they don’t go to that school or know anyone who does)
  • Always chews gum/has gum
  • Constantly gives everyone nicknames based on a pun of their name
  • Laughs a little after they speak even if they didn’t say something funny
  • Always wears solid color hoodies
  • Constantly quotes/references movies
  • Only calls people by their full first name or full first and last name
  • Has a unibrow
  • Afraid of the dark
  • Impeccable manners
  • Smells like Vicks Vaporub
  • Steps over the cracks in the sidewalk or steps on the cracks in the sidewalk (if they hate their mother)
  • Smooths their eyebrow hairs down
  • Plays with their eyebrows/hair when sleepy
  • Picks at their skin (mostly their face)
  • Hugs people when they first meet them
  • Doesn’t shave their armpit/pubic/leg hair
  • Takes off their bra/gets naked as soon as they get home
  • Always has a snack with them
  • Plays with their body jewelry whenever they’re nervous/mad/sad
  • Likes bouncing their legs
  • Draws/writes on skin
writing resources masterpost

i am just CRANKING out the masterposts. linked to original posts whenever possible. enjoy!! 

How To Perfect The Tone In A Piece Of Writing

The tone in writing is one of the most important characteristics of a piece of writing. Books, poetry, songs, articles, any writing whatsoever; the tone is everything. That being said, there are a lot of ways in which writers can either mess it up or completely forget to set the tone. Below is a guide to setting the tone to come across exactly how you want it to.

Some Things To Note

  • Tone is the character or attitude of a text that invokes emotion in the reader
  • There are two things you want to ask yourself when reading a text and studying the tone:

How does the text make you feel?

and

How is the text designed to make you feel?

Things That Create Tone

There are several different elements in writing that create the tone. Here are a few:

Body Language

How your characters act, interact, and speak all play a large role in how your readers perceive your story. If your characters are speaking cryptically, fidgeting, and the tensions are high, your readers will feel the suspense.

Volume (Dialogue Tags)

How loud people say things is a big indicator of how they mean for it to come across to whomever they’re talking to. It’s the same this with dialogue. While it’s important not to overdo it with the dialogue tags, you must also use them to your advantage. It’s kind of when you’re writing a script and you sometimes feel the need to add a note for the actor to say something a certain way in order for them to portray what you envision. Use specific dialogue tags sparingly, but use them well.

Context

The context of the situation is everything. If your reader doesn’t know what’s going on and your main character is super relaxed all of a sudden when they thought they were in the middle of a very stressful situation, it’s going to give them very weird vibes. Knowing where the character is, how they feel, and having some idea of what’s about to go down is imperative to creating the right tone.

WORD CHOICE

Word choice is the main way you can set the tone in your story. You must be clear, intentional, natural, and consistent with the way you choose how you phrase things in your story. We all have certain associations with specific words and using those associations will bode well for you.

Clear Word Choice…

Be clear before anything else when setting the tone. Portray what you need to in order to create the scene itself and put the reader in the story. Then change what words you’re using in order to make the reader feel a certain way. However, never sacrifice clarity in exchange for the use of a fancy word. If your read doesn’t know what you’re saying, what good does it do anyway?

Intentional Word Choice…

Be intentional when you’re deciding where to switch out words and where you decide to really hit the reader with a huge wave of tone. Don’t just fling words anywhere there’s a gap in the hopes that it will accomplish the same thing as intentionally injecting words where it will pierce the reader’s soul. See what I mean?

Natural Word Choice

While it’s important to choose words that fit the tone, they must flow naturally with the dialogue and descriptions. Don’t just slap your reader in the face with “OMG Becky did you hear what that brat Jessica said about you and your bae? She’s such a vacuous shrew!” because that’s not exactly natural is it? 

I have a whole post called Improving Flow In Writing that expands on this quite a bit.

Consistent Word Choice…

Be consistent in your word choice. Don’t use the same words over and over again, but don’t go from calling dogs to “canis lupus familiaris”. Well.. unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Examples Of Tones

Some of you might be a little fuzzy on what I mean by tone in the first place, so here are a few examples of tone:

  • Comedic
  • Suspenseful
  • Enticing
  • Desperate
  • Terrifying
  • Happy
  • Dramatic
  • Romantic

Etc.. You get the picture.


Request a prompt list/writing advice/playlist/study help post here

Creating plots with the zigzag method

I’ve learned this method years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. The zigzag plot creator starts like this: 

A crescent zigzag. 

You can have as many up and downs as you want. I’ve drawn six to keep it simple. Alright, this zigzag is your storyline and every corner is an important event that will change everything:

Every down represents a bad thing happening to your main characters, taking them further away from their goal. Every up is a good event, taking them closer to their goal:

So, when the zigzag goes down, something bad must happen. When the zigzag goes up, something good must happen. The reason why we drew a crescent zigzag is because every down must be worse than the previous, and every up must be better than the previous. As the zigzag advances, events become more serious and relevant. 

Let’s apply the zigzag method. My storyline is a detective trying to catch a serial killer in a futuristic city. Minutes later, this is what I’ve got:

Start: Detective, our protagonist, is just promoted

Down #1: Mass suicide happens in town, detective gets the case, the whole town thinks it might have been a religious suicide act, but detective suspects that someone single-handed killed all those people

Up #1: Detective finds clue about a possible killer

Down #2: A bigger mass murder happens, a true massacre, it’s a definitely a murder

Up #2: Detective finds the killer’s trail

Down #3: Thinking he is ahead of time, close to catching the killer, detective ends up dead in another mass murder

Up #3: Because of his notes and discoveries, the police is able to find the killer before they leave town

From this point on you can play with zigzag as much as you want. For example, changing the orientation of the zigzag for a bad ending:

Lots of ups and downs:

Or just a few:

It’s up to you (see what I did there?).

You can plot any type of story with the zigzag method. It’s a visual and easy process for a very complex task.

Morally Grey But Still Likable?

Writing morally grey characters readers will love.

@coinsanddeadlypoisons asked:

Do you have any tips about writing from the point of view of a manipulative character? I don’t want him to be an asshole but i am afraid the readers would see him as such. 

The large majority of the characters in The Warlord’s Contract are morally grey in one way or another, with one in particular being rather manipulative, and I’ve found that the same basic principles and tricks apply to them all, no matter which negative “asshole” attributes they exhibit.  

1. Why do they do what they do?

Readers will forgive most morally gray actions if they feel the character has a good reason for it. This reason can be anything number of things, often compounded. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The character’s goal is worth the sins they commit in the process.
  • Their past has conditioned them to do what they do.
  • They believe that they (or someone else) will suffer if they don’t.
  • They believe everyone else is already doing the same and they’re evening the playing field.
  • They believe their actions will benefit others in the long run.
  • They’re convinced they’ll be hurt if they don’t do it.

The reason(s) you character has do doing what they do should also make sense within the context of the story itself. Thematically, it should match or mirror other cause and effect situations you’re presenting, and it should fit (and often intertwine) with the character’s backstory and personality.

Keep reading