A Writer's Journey

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

Victor Hugo

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Dialogue

One of my favorite things to write is dialogue. This is where I get to show how the characters interact, it's how I develop the characters' individual voices, and frankly, I'm a big fan of snark and anywhere I'm given a free pass to let it out, I take it with eager fingers. LOL Also, sometimes the characters steal that free pass from me and run with it. I'd be a fool not to jot that down.

Certainly, there are other ways to show character interaction besides dialogue and other ways to show a character's personality, but there's just something about the way dialogue is phrased that can completely change the tension in the story, or add certain emotional reactions that you can't get with just action and character tendencies.

Don't get me wrong - not all dialogue is good. There are some that are just laugh out loud ridiculous. Serious moment ruined by a cheesy line, anyone? I'm not going to give any examples of those because frankly, it's not nice. LOL I mean, I've written some pretty shotty dialogue myself and I would be mortified if I found it as an example on some random person's blog somewhere in interwebville.

But I digress.

Dialogue, if written with the right touch, can turn even the cheesiest of lines into gold. Here are a few examples:

Scarlett: Cathleen, who's that?
Cathleen Calvert: Who?
Scarlett: That man looking at us and smiling. The nasty, dark one.
Cathleen Calvert: My dear, don't you know? That's Rhett Butler. He's from Charleston. He has the most terrible reputation.
Scarlett: He looks as if... as if he knows what I look like without my shimmy.

I loved this exchange between these two characters because even though Rhett isn't in this conversation, the insinuation that is built in and the references that are shown in these six lines gave a great set up to what you would expect from our dear Captain Butler.

Anne: She is out foolin' around with that boy until two o'clock in the morning and it has got to stop! I didn't spend seventeen years of my life raising a daughter and giving her EVERYTHING so she could throw it away on a summer romance!
Young Allie: DADDY!
Anne: She will wind up with her heart broken or pregnant! Now he's a nice boy, but he's...
Young Allie: He's WHAT? He is what? Tell me!
Anne: He is trash! Trash! Trash! Not for you!

This dialogue is great because I could absolutely feel the tension between these characters. The repetition of some of the phrases amplified their meaning, as though the characters were trying to ingrain what they were saying into the other person.

How do you guys feel about dialogue? How important do you think the right phrasing is to the flow of dialogue in a story?

SIDE NOTE: I might be holding my very first contest soon. The prize is yet to be determined, but it's just something fun I wanted to do that relates to dialogue. Possibly for next week's Writing Wednesday post. :D STAY TUNED!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Music Monday: Train - Marry Me (Rachel's Birthday Video)

Today's Music Monday might bring tears to your eyes. It sure did for me. A few months ago, I came across this video that renewed the belief I've always had that love can help us through the hardest of times.

There was some controversy surrounding this video because some people felt that while it was great that Kris made this heartfelt video for his wife, that it should have been something that was kept a private thing.

I disagree.

I think that there are so many things in the world that show violence, hatred, and pain, that making something to show someone they are loved and appreciated is something we all need to see every once in a while.

I don't see a man who was out to cash in on his circumstances, or someone who wanted to exploit anything. I see someone who is grateful to have someone by his side and isn't afraid to show that he feels that way.

The video is set to Train's Marry Me. I hope it touches your life the way it has touched mine. :D
Train - Marry Me

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Outlining

I've never been one to outline projects before starting them. Until recently, I've relied solely on my ability to be a full fledged pantser and write on the fly. This worked to some extent because I could just let the characters navigate themselves to where they needed to go.

My writer friends are a mix of both pantsers and plotters, some enjoying a little bit of both - or planters, as my friend Corinne O'Flynn might say.

I suppose I fall into that latter category. I'm still getting used to the idea of plotting out my ideas and getting the gist of the story on paper in the form of an outline before I actually start writing the story itself. The first half of my WIP was written almost entirely on a pantser's whim, but on the suggestion of one of my CPs, I decided to see if I can get more clarity by outlining the rest of the story.

Reason for this is my vortex of suckery. If you've read my previous blog post on the vortex, you know that it's not a pretty place. The second half of the WIP is where a considerable amount of the action is and therefore, the pacing of the story gets upped a noticeable difference.

I was stuck.

I didn't have the slightest idea where I wanted to take things. I had mapped out the ending and now I just needed to find a way to get there. That's where the plotting comes in handy. I had to sit down and really think about what I needed to happen in order for the events to chronologically be accurate as far as where the story was going. I had to take back some of the control from my characters so that I can guide them to the eventual end of the story.

I have to be honest, I kind of freaked out a little only because I didn't even know where to start with STARTING an outline. So I did the only thing I can think of: I started with a sheet of paper and a pen. Normally, I would pull up a word doc, but something about being able to cross things out and insert little notes wherever you feel like it on that sheet of paper does something to get the creative juices flowing.

So I kept at it and by the time I was done, I had gotten down the major points for the remaining chapters of my WIP. Another thing that my outlining attempt did was help me to keep the pace of the story. I wasn't just flailing blindly into an unknown area, I actually knew what needed to be there in order to move the story along.

Check out some of the great outlining excerpts below from some noteworthy authors:

J.K. Rowling

Jacqueline Woodson

Jenny Davidson

How do you guys feel about outlines and do you use them at all?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music Monday: Jason Chen and Joseph Vincent - Hold My Hand Cover

Every once in a while I come across that one song that makes me all swoony with the lyrics and the melody. This song has that, but a little more. It was originally a song by the late and great Michael Jackson featuring Akon, but I have to say this cover takes the cake. Also, there is some nommy eye candy with smooth, squee-worthy voices that help too.

Jason Chen and Joseph Vincent - Hold My Hand (Michael Jackson and Akon Cover)

Do you YouTube and what are some of your favorite videos so far?

And now for our daily eye candy:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Dialogue Tags - Another He Said/She Said Post!

When I started writing, like really writing, a few years ago, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I'm sure most of you can relate. All I had was a story that I wanted to get out using the limited knowledge I had at the time. Since deciding to pool the unlimited internet resources available to me, I've realized how very unprepared I was and how the smallest of things can really make a difference in someone's writing.

Someone once told me after reading my first chapter that one of the tells of a new writer was the overuse of varying dialogue tags. So what did I do? Of course I listened right away, right? Um. Nope. I, again, pored through all of my favorite books to validate what this very knowledgeable person had told me from page one. Suffice to say, she was right. *already kind of knew it, but felt the need to read through my favorite books anyway...innocent whistle*

Not only did she point out the overuse of dialogue tags, but gave me reasons why they distracted from the story and why they should be used sparingly. It's sort of like when you have a perfectly good recipe for soup or *insert food item here* and oversalt or over*insert condiment here* it. The story is the soup. The unnecessary loadage of crap is the salt. Savvy? (That just made me think of Jack Sparrow...tee hee)

Let me give you an example:

"Lyra!" I exclaimed in surprise and grabbed my sister by the arm. "You're so going to get in trouble with Dad!"

"Not if you don't tell him!" Lyra hissed back.

"What did you do anyway?" I inquired, trying to keep myself contained.

"It was nothing. Just some stupid prank that got out of hand," Lyra replied, looking away with that guilty look in her eyes.

Now, without the unnecessary baggage:

"Lyra!" I grabbed my sister by the arm. "You're so going to get in trouble with Dad!"

"Not if you don't tell him!" Lyra hissed.

"What did you do anyway?"

"It was nothing. Just some stupid prank that got out of hand." She looked away, her expression guilt-ridden.

Okay, you have to forgive the examples. Coming up with them on the fly is harder than it seems. LOL But do you see what I mean? I know that looking through my first chapter again after I changed something as small as the characters' dialogue tags helped with story flow. I didn't realize just how much of a distraction they were. I'm not saying not to use a variety. But like so many before me have said, use those variations sparingly.

Here are some great links to more on dialogue tags:

Susan Dennard's Blog
Kiersten White's Blog
And a personal favorite of mine - My ever so frawesomesaucefull CP Lori Lee's Blog

How do you guys feel about dialogue tags?

And now for our daily eye candy *le swoon*:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fun Friday: Harry Potter

For all of you who talk to me or follow me on Twitter, it's no surprise that I'm a complete and utter pile of fangirl mush when it comes to Harry Potter. The kick-off of the 8th and final installment of the movie franchise yesterday sent me into a complete frenzy and in turn, prompted me to not only peruse through the books for the umpteenth time, but to also re-watch part one of the Deathly Hallows (which I have on DVD and BluRay *SCORE*).

You'll probably even see a few Writing Wednesday posts in the future that touch on or are influenced by the frawesomesauceness that is J.K. Rowling and the unforgettable world that she's built.

I was literally in tears yesterday as I watched the cast make their rounds and talk to the press during the live premiere in London yesterday afternoon during #harrypotterlive. For a recap of the events, you can view the videos here.

I've never encountered a series that has brought so much to the lives of so many around the world. The fight between good and evil, as well as the strength of friendship, loyalty, and love, have never been tested in such a way that has reached out to fans of all ages. I've grown up to Harry Potter (okay, it really took up most of my 20's, but seriously...isn't that usually when we all grow up anyway? LOL) and now that the series has come to its official end with the final film, it does kind of tug at the ol' heartstrings a bit. I could probably go on and on with this post because there's just so much more I'd like to say, but if you've been following the books and the movies and everything in between, I'll bet that you already know how I feel without my having to say it. So I leave you with the trailer for the 8th and final film...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two

Are you a fan of the series? What were some of your favorite moments in the books/movies?

And today's JGL moment... *dies*

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Character Description

I don't know about you, but one of the things that I must have when I begin writing a character is a clear picture in my head of what the character looks like. I know that some would say it's a beginner's tell that all the characters must be thoroughly described, but back up a minute here. It doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to clearly picture everything from the slightly longer index finger of his right hand to the cluster of beauty marks on the nape of her neck. I just meant that I needed to get enough of a physical description in my head that would allow me to visualize what the character looks like so that I can get a feel for how they would look when they react to certain things or say certain phrases. Does that make sense?

Okay, let me give an example.

Example One

Even at first glance, his face was something that called attention. His hair, black as night, was untidy enough that it clashed somewhat with the groomed appearance of his clothing. The contours of his face were angular, though not severe, framing the thin mouth and warm brown eyes that slightly contrasted against the alabaster skin. His lean build, obvious under the long-sleeved shirt he wore, reminded me of a statue I had once seen in the gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti.

What are you picturing? Does it make it easier to picture mystery boy in this situation than if I just said "He had dark hair and dark eyes."? This, by the way, is an excerpt from my current WIP. *toots my own horn* LOL Does the description to you, as the reader, help or hinder your ability to picture this character?

Another thing that helps me to visualize the characters even more is to make myself a fantasy cast list. *dreamy-eyed stare* This helps to cement the character's physical characteristics to certain actions or mannerisms I've seen in the actor's previous work. It helps ME, as the writer, to see the picture more clearly in my head.

And just in case any of you were wondering WHO I was picturing when I wrote the description above, here you go. *gives out sham-wows because I sure needed it*

*clears my throat and wipes the drool* Sorry, where were we? Oh yeah, character description. *coughs and blinks* What are your thoughts on character description and do you prefer more or less when you're in reader mode?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tunes Tuesday: The Fray - Look After You

In lieu of Music Monday, which so happened to fall on July 4th, I bring you Tunes Tuesday. Just as musical, but one day late. *grins* Today's song of the day is Look After You by The Fray just because it's one of my favorite songs as of late.

The song is a bit melancholy, but the lyrics are amazing. See for yourself...

The Fray - Look After You


If I don't say this now I will surely break
As I'm leaving the one I want to take
Forgive the urgency but hurry up and wait
My heart has started to separate

Oh, oh, oh
Be my baby
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
I'll look after you

There now, steady love, so few come and don't go
Will you, won't you be the one I always know?
When I'm losing my control, the city spins around
You're the only one who knows, you slow it down

Oh, oh, oh
Be my baby
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
I'll look after you

If ever there was a doubt
My love she leans into me
This most assuredly counts
She says most assuredly

Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Be my baby
I'll look after you

It's always have and never hold
You've begun to feel like home
What's mine is yours to leave or take
What's mine is yours to make your own

Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Be my baby
Oh, oh, oh

What's got your music groove on today? ;)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fun Friday: One Man Disney Show

So I was perusing YouTube and found this awesomesauceness of a video that made me literally go O_O... I am an absolute fan of everything DISNEY and this guy just made me squee multiple times while watching this. He does all the singing voices and I actually found him on Twitter here and realized that he works at Pixar (ironically)! LOL

So without further ado, Nick Pitera...