Dialogue Tags


Dialogue Tags

Natalie Bright

Dialogue is spoken communication between characters. The purpose of a tag line is to let your reader know which character is speaking.

Most commonly used dialogue tags:

Said

Asked

Yelled

Hollered

Whispered

As a reader, we hardly notice the tag lines. “He/she said” is boring, and our eyes are used to reading said. We want to know what’s between the quotation marks.

Seriously, can a person “screech” or “Sigh” or “acknowledge” words? Can you “laugh” a sentence? Instead use descriptive words to create motion or response in your characters. Over use of anything besides “said” can be annoying. Think of how you can use narrative in place of tag lines.

One of the best resources for an explanation of dialogue is the book WRITING REALISTIC DIALOGUE AND FLASH FICTION by Harvey Stanbrough. I highly recommend this book as an addition to your writing reference library.

Here’s an example from Mr. Stanbrough’s book:

She approached him cautiously. “Come on now, Baby,” she cooed. “You don’t want that knife. What are you going to do with that?”

He swung the knife in a wild arc. “I just can’t stand it anymore!” he exclaimed. “I’ve had it?”

If you read the same passage above out loud omitting the tag lines, it reads the same. In fact, we might even say that the tag lines of cooed and exclaimed are somewhat annoying. You could add a he said or she said if you want, but the action and narrative helps us know who is talking. The imagery is still the same no matter what tag lines you use.

Happy writing and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

natalie

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Cardboard Characters


 

Cardboard Characters

Natalie Bright

One of the most difficult tasks for a writer is to create fictional characters that seem real and believable to the reader. I love books in which characters seem to jump off the page and ones that remain in my head long after the book is closed.

Much Like Cardboard

Are your characters more like cardboard; stiff, emotionless, without personality? They have names and faces, but they are just on the surface of your story and nothing more. The solution: dig deeper into your character’s motivation.

As an author, you must torture your characters. It is impossible to reveal deep character feelings and personalities without applying deep, intense pressure. The ways in which they react to that pressure reveals their temperament and psyche.

Using Character Profiles

Complete character profiles on both your protagonist and your antagonist. There are many great example forms available online.

Don’t stop at the name. Create a birthdate, a history of where they were born, family description, dominant characteristics, weaknesses, and physical limitations. Create historical events for your character that might have happened in their life such as school’s name, college, children’s names, etc.

Write A Letter

Many of my author friends write a letter in first person POV from their character. Don’t think; just free write. Let them reveal their secrets, desires, fears, self-image.

This trick worked great for me on the story I am working on now. My main characters are a young mule-skinner and a Comanche brave. I am alternating chapters between their points of view. I want to show the contrast between how very different their worlds are, yet they are both sixteen-year-old boys. They each wrote me a letter about their different worlds. One holds a great hatred for his father, and the other resents the physical limitations he has to live with. Now I have something to build upon and add the conflict. At this point, writing is more fun than work.

Keep moving forward and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

THESAURUS


THESAURUS

Natalie Bright

One well-known author is quoted saying that if you have to look up words in a thesaurus, then it’s the wrong word. As a writer juggling a day-job and family, as many of you are, I think having word lists handy are a life-saver. Sometimes I know the word, but it’s late at night and the right word just doesn’t come. The only option is to reach for help.

Here are two of my favorite that I’ve found extremely helpful.

THE EMOTION THESAURUS by Angela Ackerman & Becca Pugllisi.

“A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression” is an alphabetical list by emotion. The term is defined by physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, and signs of acute cases. I kept writing that my character feels nervous, but I wanted to show her nervousness. The list of physical signals is lengthy and can be used throughout the scene. This is a comprehensive tool that writers of every genre would find useful.

CHILDREN’S WRITER’S WORD BOOK by Alijandra Magilner & Tayopa Mogilner

If you write for children, a grade-leveled word thesaurus is particularly handy. This one has word list groups by grade and reading levels for synonyms.

Happy writing!

Book Review


Book Review

Natalie Bright
HOW TO MARKET A BOOK, Third Edition by Joanna Penn, is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to launching your book.
Every author has to devote some effort into marketing. We have to tell people about our book and hopefully make it appealing enough that they will want to read it. Finding people to read your book sounds simple enough, but as we all know this is a marathon and can take as much time as our writing.
As Ms. Penn suggests in her book, “If you re-frame marketing as creative and fun, you will find yourself enjoying it more.” Her book definitely provides you with a place to start as she covers many options.

Traditional vs. Indie: What Should You Do?


Traditional vs. Indie: What Should You Do?

Natalie Bright

The topic always comes up at our meetings. Reach for the stars and snag a literary agent who will negotiate a deal with a Big House publishing company? Or go it alone and join the throng of independent authors who self-publish? What should you do? I know, it’s a lot of information to absorb. Here are a few main points to consider as you move closer to publication in 2018.

Option 1:

If you have a high concept book theme or genre, the urgency of publication is not an issue, and you are willing to relinquish the rights to said work, then Traditional Publishing is your best option. This will require you to sign with a literary agent who will “shop” your manuscript to the five publishing houses which are closed to un-agented submissions. This process takes years. Dollars are well spent in attending conferences to network with agents and editors. Practice your pitch.

Option 2:

If you have a polished manuscript ready to go, a clear idea of your genre and target market, and a Type A personality that likes the control, then becoming an Indie Author and self-publishing your work is the perfect fit. In this option, you can do as much or as little of the process that you want. Dollars are well spent in hiring the professionals to do the work that you don’t want to learn. Become proficient on social media.

Choices

The point is, don’t get discouraged and don’t stress. Take one step at a time. Honestly, both options will sometimes move at a snail’s pace.

My body of work languished with a NYC literary agent who I met at a conference in Oklahoma City. The hardest part was not knowing the status. I got a report as to which houses had my book, but had any editor like it? How could I make it better? Maybe I should revamp my website? I should send an email to my agent, or maybe just call him? My husband finally told me, “Leave the man alone and let him do his job.”

The entire process stretched over six years and then I decided to make a change and become an Indie Author. I like knowing the exact status of my manuscripts. Although it is hard work and long hours, I am able to juggle writing and marketing around the day job. Prioritizing is key. Formatting for wide distribution in Mobi, ePub and PDF blows my mind, so a reasonably priced professional does that job. I also pay for a professional editor who checks grammar, but not plot or structure which costs more.

The point is that writers have so many choices and options for running their business these days. Either option requires a lot of patience and perseverance. It is a great time to be a creator of new and original content.

Below are links to two podcasts that have provided a wealth of information for me in my understanding of the publishing environment of today. There are several years of back logs covering a variety of topics.

The Creative Penn https://www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/ with Joanna Penn

Self-Publishing Formula https://selfpublishingformula.com/category/podcast/

Mark Dawson has done it all himself and is now negotiating a movie deal.

Save the Date: July 21 in Amarillo

Wordsmith Six blogger Rory C. Keel and I will be on a panel with other Indies in July to talk about Indie Authors, small presses, and self-publishing. Hosted by the Texas High Plains Writers group, we’ll be meeting in downtown Amarillo at the Amarillo Tower on the 9th Floor.

I’ll be asking the panel questions which will cover the entire process from spark to book-in-hand. We’ll find out why they went Indie, what’s so great about having control, and what they hate about their decision.

No RSVP required, nonmembers are welcome. Our meetings are open to the public and guests may attend for a small $10 fee. It all starts at 10:00 AM and you’re invited! Hope to see you in July in Amarillo.  www.texashighplainswriters.com

Writing Life Struggles Part 2


Writing Life Struggles Part 2

Natalie Bright

 

I adjusted my flight schedules.

In a previous blog, link below, I talked about me needing to be at one place, but I’d decided to choose my writing instead. I mentioned that the whole universe seemingly joins forces to prevent writers from writing. This only happens once you’ve acknowledged the stories in your head and more than once, told someone “I am a writer”. The cosmos goes nuts at this point and so does your family.

This time I took a stand. I chose a writer’s conference over needing to be somewhere else, but then I gave in  and compromised. I changed my flight schedules and will only be missing one day of meetings. If the weather holds and the good Lord willing, I will make the other event too. Unfortunately, three different airlines are needed to get me where I need to be, but I’m giving it my best shot during that week.

Everybody’s happy, right?

I’ve been busy writing blogs, but have done nothing on the work in progress.  Actually, more than one project has been put on hold and it’s waking me up nights. So why don’t I just get up and work?

What do you do when life gets in the way and you are itching to get back to your fictional world.

Do you get up an hour early?

Should I stay up past midnight to get those words in and drag through the day job?

Let us know how you push back at life and make time for your writing.  Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

https://wordsmithsix.com/2018/05/28/writing-life-struggles/

 

Opportunities to Promote Your eBook


Opportunities to Promote Your eBook

Natalie Bright

There are a variety of opportunities to advertise and promote your eBooks for minimal amount of money. Here a few links to several great articles about promotion sites for your eBook.

Best Promotion Sites for 2018

https://www.lincolncole.net/tools/best-paid-book-promotion-sites-for-indie-authors

https://blog.reedsy.com/book-promotion-services/

https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/01/21/nates-big-list-free-paid-book-promotion-websites/

There might be one slight road block you have to overcome though; many of the promo deals require a minimum number of reviews.  Sometimes it’s not necessary that you have all 5 Stars, because it’s the numbers of reviews that can boost you in the algorithms, not the star ratings.

Here’s my problem:  I get the nicest comments on Facebook or through emails from people who enjoy reading my books, but they don’t leave a review online. Some people are just not comfortable with the process, I think.

We’re all writers here, so let’s spread the love. Leave a review for your favorite author. Share a new release by someone in your writing community and remind your friends to leave a online reviews for their favorite authors.

 

River Valley Writer’s Workshop, Canadian, Texas


River Valley Writer’s Workshop, Canadian, Texas

Natalie Bright

Sponsored by the Canadian Arts Alliance and Texas High Plains Writers, we had a good mix of brand-new newbie writers to multi-published hybrid authors in April. In addition to local writers, I met people from Lubbock, Shamrock, Abilene, and San Antonio. This was the first ever workshop sponsored by the Canadian Arts Alliance.

One of the most interesting talks that really made an impression on me, was by young adult fantasy author, Kathleen Baldwin. She talked about the differences between two writing methods: pantsers vs. plotters.

Pantsers vs. Plotters

If you’ve been writing for a while, these terms are probably familiar to you. In case these terms are new to you, I will clarify the difference.

Plotters plot.Plotters work in a more controlled creative process than pantsers. Some begin with an outline, scene diagram, timeline, or even a lengthy book bible with character profiles and meticulous setting details. Some have visual storyboards with a guideline for which chapters they will work on that day, or a chapter-by-chapter or scene-by-scene outline posted on a wall. They usually know the ending and take their characters on a journey to that point.

Pantsers Wing It.They are in the zone, writing and creating and following their characters where ever they go.  They might begin with a great character or no more than a seed of an idea for a first sentence, or descriptive imagery for a unique setting, and then they’re off. The story takes over and they don’t stop to research or question why, they just keep going to the end with a complete book.

The Secret Life of Pantsers

The session in Canadian was nothing like I had ever heard before regarding the pantser vs. plotter method. Kathleen introduced us to our creative brain. We took an interesting quiz to determine if we lean more towards being a pantser or a plotter. Our personalities have a lot to do with influencing our creative process.

Pantserslove adventure and not knowing where their characters will take them. If they know the ending, they are bored. A pantser plots on the fly, relies on their subconscious creative mind or even on their dreams.

Plotters are brilliant planners who like working from outlines. They rely on the power of conscious creation, and usually like structure and order in their lives.

Studies have shown that there are just as many bestselling authors who are pantsers as plotters.

The main point of her talk is to know your brain. How can you maintain balance in your life? How do you minimize stress? One way is to write at the same time every day because we are wired to respond to habit/repetitive behaviors. When are you the most creative? Your creative mind blossoms when you reward it for brilliance. Give yourself emotional strokes for your creative accomplishments.

Try these Magic tricks for your brain: aim for ten ideas, state the most obvious and then state the opposite of that. For example, If Buffy the Vampire Slayer is walking through a graveyard at midnight she might see: a vampire jumping out and attacking her. The opposite of that might be; a happy clown pops out of the headstone. The second idea is very different, but too weird and doesn’t work for the story. List five or more opposite ideas, but less obvious. What works best? 1) An old lady sits in a rocker, knitting. 2) Buffy’s dead mother floats up singing a ghostly warning. 3)Buffy finds a baby sleeping. 4) Maybe the baby is a toddler, and it looks like Spike. 5) Little vampire Spike is trapped in a time warp, and is crying, lost, alone, hungry. Does this idea make sense for your story, characters and theme?

I have several friends who are pantsers and their stories are amazing. I felt very frustrated when trying to understand their writing method and put it to practice. My day job involves numbers and deadlines, and now I understand that my brain likes that sort of structure. I like having an outline for my story and realized that I don’t feel ready to write until the story has come together in my brain. I usually know the ending. It’s at that point that inspiration strikes and I am able to put words on a page, which is the exact opposite from the pantser method. After taking Kathleen’s quiz I discovered that I exhibit qualities of both processes, which might explain my hyper, squirrel-chasing work habits. I can never settle on one project. There are too many things going on in my head at once.

What about you? What process makes you feel the most creative?

It was a great weekend of inspiration to learn story craft, eat some great food, and meet some awesome creatives. If you ever have the chance to visit the beautiful town of Canadian in the Texas Panhandle, stop in at the Stumbling Goat Saloon for a burger and a beer, or The Cattle Exchange for a steak. So many other great places to dine along with unique boutiques for shopping. A must is The Citadelle Foundation which houses an amazing art collection.

 

2018 Just Might be YOUR Year to Shine!


 

2018 Just Might be YOUR Year to Shine!

Natalie Bright

Goal setting for writers allows you to experience something positive and measurable. I understand how the weeks and months can be unbearable and discouraging. You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve over a year’s time.  Even if the only time you can manage is thirty minutes a day three days a week, by the end of 2018 you’ll have a completed novel! That’s exciting. Be flexible in managing your time, and have goals in mind that are achievable and realistic. Make this process easy on yourself. 2018 is YOUR year! With a little budgeting and planning, the next step is publication, but you can’t publish if you don’t have a finished manuscript.

Write. Then Publish.

It is true that putting your book on Amazon involves minimal expense, however you need to decide how to allocate those funds. Do you want to go the traditional route or Indie?

Do you want a literary agent and a traditional publishing deal?

o       Know your genre. Research editors and agents who might be interested in what you write. Do not send your serial killer horror to an agent who represents romance writers.

o       Plan a trip to a conference. You must go where the agents and editors are. That means you need to attend writer’s conferences. Pay extra for break-out editor workshops where you can meet industry professionals, enter contests with editors and agents as judges, and make certain you have a polished manuscript that can rise above the slush pile.

o       What is the unique hook for your book? What will make your work rise above hundreds of others to become a viable product in today’s market?

o       Do you have an online presence?

Indie Author.

o     Identify your target market.

o     Hire a professional editor, take a class on formatting or hire a service. The book must meet spec requirements so that it can be downloaded successfully.

o     Invest in a graphic designer who can create an original book cover, and make certain you have a polished manuscript that is ready for readers.

o     Do you have an online presence?

o     Enter your book into several contests to boost visibility.

o     Research and determine the best advertising options for your book and your target market.

Crazy Business, Crazy Life

In my own mind, I have everything under control and organized. I did take an online class about formatting only to realize that I will never be proficient at the task. I hate it and I’d rather be writing. The time and efforts of a professional is worth the money to me.

This past month, I laid out guidelines and entry forms for three contests along with my book copies and envelopes neatly addressed. All was in order, and then (thank goodness), I got an email from a reader who found a typo in the first chapter. A character’s name was wrong! What are the odds that a contest judge will find the error? Will it hurt my chances? Most likely. That little snafu, and the time it took to contact the formatter, upload the new version, and reorder corrected hard copies, wasn’t part of my plan. I just barely made the contest deadlines.

I don’t write fantasy, but sometimes I feel like I live in a fantasy world. This writing gig rarely works out according to my timetable. A demanding day job and family keeps me crazy busy, and yet I will keep moving forward because these stories are important to me. I really want to be a successful, published Author.

You’ll be thrown a lot of curve balls and obstacles whether you go traditional or Indie, but all your efforts are worth it when you host your first autographing event. Seeing your book cover on Amazon is exciting. Getting a pay summary and cash in your account is achievable. The ups and downs are normal with every business, because selling books is most definitely a business. Decide now. Is it going to be YOUR business in 2018?

MY 2018 GOALS

  1. Write 52 Monday blog posts for WordsmithSix (a blog for writers)
  2. Write 26 Friday blog posts for Prairie Purview (a Texas blog)
  3. Promote and market every day.
  4. Six books in the pipeline scheduled to be published in 2018.
  5. Write more, remain focused, and press onward.

Let us know what’s on your goals list for 2018.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous and productive 2018, and may you find an overabundance of readers in the New Year!

Historical Fiction


Historical Fiction
Natalie Bright
 
Historical details haunt me. Am I getting this right? Accuracy in the stories I’m writing cause me much concern and angst; I never feel I’ve done enough homework or that I have a full grasp of the time period. Take for example a letter to the editor of the Western Writers of America’s magazine. He wrote to complain about the use of the word “sheriff” in western novels. City councils hired a “marshall”, not a sheriff. For my middle-grade series set in the Wild West, I did research Marshall, who was appointed by the U.S. President at the time. I got that right. The thought to question and research the term ‘Sheriff’ never once crossed my mind. Will the incorrect information aggravate some readers, and since it’s a children’s book, should writers have an even bigger obligation to make certain the historical information is accurate?
 
I’m experiencing the same doubts when working on the WordsmithSix’s Route 66 anthology. The history is fascinating, and it’s difficult to stop the research and just write. My story is set in the 1930s, and when I read first-hand accounts of the time period, I want to include all of the details that I find enthralling, but the readers may find cumbersome. I guess the best thing to do, is just let the characters decide.
 

Here’s the blurb for our upcoming anthology, which will be a collection of stories from different time periods but with one common Route 66 location. I think readers will love this collection of stories, and the research has been fun. My story is actually based on the true circumstances of my husband’s great-grandmother and is set in 1930’s Texas.

It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and finally a nation. Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers, and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt highway, it has connected generations of people.

Join us as we travel through time from the early days and well into the future on the Mother Road.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 is a collection of stories that tell of good times and bad, love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them are connected by one stop, the Tower Station, and U-Drop Inn.