Writing Dialogue by Janice Seagraves

Writing Dialogue

by Janice Seagraves

 

Hi, I’m Janice Seagraves. Today, we’re talking about writing dialogue.

I understand how frustrating it can be to revise one’s own work. I’ve been there myself and I’m doing it now.

For dialogue tags, I turn to Shrunk and White. Place he/she or name first:  it’s he said or Mike said.

If you’re writing a question the same rule applies: he asked, Mike asked.

Never substitute said for asked.

If you have a question mark and it’s clear who doing the asking, then you don’t really need the ‘asked.’ In fact, if it’s clear who is speaking, then you don’t need a dialogue tag at all.

Example: Lynda turned on the light and looked at Mike. “What’s this about?”

And be careful that you don’t over edit your manuscript, which can lead to dropped words.

You’ll find “Editor do not use word lists” However, if you’re overzealous with deleting these words you can also have an issue with dropped words. I’m not saying to ignore these lists, but maybe take them with a grain of salt. Editors only have issues with these words if you overuse them.

Its clarity—that’s key to a good strong manuscript and a lot of this has to do with how it sounds.

Our ears catch a lot more than our eyes do.

Here’s a helpful hint: Read your manuscript out loud or better yet have someone read your manuscript to you.

Something else to try is one of those text to speak programs. A friend suggested one and I found it useful.

Where can you find inspiration for realistic dialogue?

Nearly anywhere.

Here’s examples I wrote myself by keeping my eyes and ears open. Mostly I observed mothers and their children just a few days before the holidays and the mothers seemed tired and the children antsy.

  1. At a store in town, a little girl about seven, stood in the front window display with her back to the glass. The front door was opened by a little boy no older than five. “Cindy, Cindy?” He looked around and went back inside.

When I entered the store, the little girl peeked at me from between the manikins with an impish grin.

“There you are,” said the little boy. The two children giggled and chase each other around the clothing racks.

“Ma’am,” called out the eighteen-year-old clerk. “Can you please tell your children that this isn’t a playground?” She sighed and shook her head, as if she’d been saying this all day.

A dark headed woman looked up long enough to say something in a sharp tone in Spanish to the two children, before returning to the clothes she was looking through. The kids skidded to a stop, their shoes squeaking, and ducked their heads.

  1. At Wal-Mart, a woman reached for her baby that her older child held. “Here, give him to me. There’s people trying to walk here.” The woman frowned, and her voiced had a hard edge.
  2. At Panda Express, a tired woman leaned toward the clerk over the glass display. “I want the chow mien with honey walnut shrimp, and for my son I want…”

Her son, who looked eight, stood behind her. He poked her in the butt with his spider man doll and laughed.

As her face turned red, the woman turned and swatted at him. “Stop that. We’re in public.”

Now, if you prefer dialogue that pops, I suggest doing some research. Watch those old 1930 and 40’s films that had snappy dialogue. I suggest anything with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, and William Powell.

  1. Ball of Fire (1941)
  2. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
  3. Libeled Lady (1936)
  4. Holiday (1938)
  5. Twentieth Century (1934)
  6. The Thin Man (1934)
  7. To Be or Not to Be (1942)
  8. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1943)
  9. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  10. Topper (1937)

 

Thank you for dropping by. Please like and subscribe and I’ll do another vlog next week. 🙂

 

Daydreamer a Vlog by Janice Seagraves

 

Daydreamer

By Janice Seagraves

 

Hi, I’m Janice Seagraves a writer and a proud Daydreamer.

I wrote this a while back. After I was triggered by a memory about one of my grade school teachers. She caught me daydreaming while I sat gazing out the window. She got in my face and shouted, “No daydreamer has ever gotten anywhere!”

Now that I am older, I beg to differ. If this woman was still alive today, I would like to ask her why? Why did she feel it necessary to crush a young girl’s spirit?

Why?

Crush and embarrassed—I was, but it didn’t stop me. I am to this day a daydreamer.

If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be an artist or a writer. I proudly proclaim myself to be a stubborn daydreamer.

As a child, I watched too much TV.  I can only blame Gilligan’s Island reruns and as a grown up becoming addicted to the Survivors show which led me into the what if’s that inspired my writing.

What if a person could survive alone on a deserted island, and found another person washed up on shore? What if they fell in love?

My what if’s turned into daydreams then led me to write a manuscript called Windswept Shores, which became my first published book.

My Daydreams helped create it, the rest was hard work. I kept my butt firmly planted in my chair keep my fingers moving.

Here are 8 more daydreamers:

  1. A daydreamer went on vacation in Spain and dreamed about the speed of light, his name was Albert Einstein.
  2. A daydreamer dreamed about perfecting the bulb, his name was Thomas Edison.

 

  1. A daydreamer dreamed the last movements of The Messiah oratorio, his name was Frederic Handel.
  2. A daydreamer dreamed about a mocking crow and wrote a poem. His name was Edger Allen Poe.
  3. Two brothers dreamed about flying, their names were Orville and Wilbur Wright.
  4. A daydreamer dreamed of being a kid again and floating down the mighty Mississippi on a raft. His name was Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain.
  5. A bored socialite daydreamed of being in the South before and during the civil war, her name was Margaret Mitchell. And you may remember her big hit, Gone with the Wind.

 

  1. A Baptist minister went to Washington and gave a speech called “I have a Dream,” which prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. His name was Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Where would we be without our daydreamers?

 

Are you a daydreamer? Leave a comment and let me know if you are.

 

 

 

Hot Time In The Summer Time collection

I’m in this collection with my short story Cowgirls Don’t Cry which follows Cowgirl Up in an early anthology with Romance Books ‘4’ Us collection.

Cowgirls Don't Cry-1

As Gwen and Arthur’s big day approaches, will his father succeed in stopping the
wedding from happening, or will Gwen’s empathic gift soften his heart?

COWGIRLS DON’T CRY

(FOLLOWS COWGIRL UP)

Janice Seagraves

CHAPTER ONE

 

While interviewing his client, Arthur Castel felt an urge to wrap things up. A shiver of awareness went through him, and his heart beat a little bit faster. Gwen is in the waiting room. He didn’t need to look to see if she was there, he knew it. The bond that had linked them the first night they slept together told him so.

As the client, Mr. Ortega, told him about the case, Arthur nodded, but his gaze kept darting toward the door. He jotted down some notes, even though his heart wasn’t in it. Anything to keep his mind off Gwen. This was his first case as a trial lawyer and he should have been excited. He studied the file and asked a couple more questions. “Okay. That seems to be all I need from you. If I have any more questions, I can call you at this number, right?”

“Yes, or my office number.” Mr. Ortega, a well-dressed middle-aged man with silver in his dark hair, slid a card across the desk.

Picking up the card, Arthur clipped it to the file. He stood and held out his hand. “Thank you for coming in.”

Mr. Ortega stood and clasped his palm. “Think you can get me off?”

“I’ll do my best. Sexual harassment lawsuits can be a little dicey, but this one seems to be more of a he said/she said situation.” Probably why he, the newbie, was saddled with this case. “I’ll do the best I can.”

“That’s all I can ask for.” Mr. Ortega went out the door.

Arthur placed a few folders he needed to go over into a briefcase and hurried out. His entire body pulsed at the sight of his fiancée.

Gwen sat in one of the comfortable chairs in the waiting room. She wore one of the dresses he had bought for her—low-cut, and dark. The dress was made for her. He caught a tantalizing glimpse of her creamy white breasts. All he wanted was to take her right there on the floor.

Gwen’s green eyed gaze went to Mr. Ortega. Her expression seemed troubled.

“Did milady miss me?” Arthur offered a hand.

“Always, darling.” Gwen took his palm and rose.

The shock of skin to skin contact ran through his body.

She picked up her old leather-fringed jacket.

Arthur helped her into it and sniffed her hair, getting a lungful of cherry blossom from her shampoo. “Your jacket does nothing for that sexy dress.”

She slipped her arms into the sleeves. “Sorry, but it’s all I have.”

He settled the coat on her shoulders. “I’ll have to buy you another one.”

“It never ends, does it?” Mr. Ortega shook his head before stepping through the doorway.

Gwen flipped her dark hair out of the coat and glowered after him. “Client of yours?”

“Yes. What are you feeling?”

“His disdain for women is like a throb in a bad tooth.”

A chill flowed up his spine. “What else?”

Gwen met his gaze. “Whatever he’s done, he’s guilty as hell.”


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Hot Fun in the Summer Time, our summer antho, releases 25 June.

Amazon preorder link:
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The weather is heating up, but it’s not just the sun and the sand which will keep you hot.

This summer anthology brought to you by the authors of Romance Books 4 Us will bring temperatures to your eReader that will set unheard of heat records, scorching the tips of
your fingers as you turn the pages.

Sultry temperatures.
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This is your ticket to… Hot Fun in the Summer Time.

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Revising An Old Manuscript

 

Revisiting an Old Manuscript

By Janice Seagraves

Hi, this is Janice Seagraves. I’ve the author of nine books and six short stories.

I wrote lots of stories before I was ever published. A lot of those book-length manuscripts were what I learned on. When you first start out you have to write and write and write so you can learn. And I was no different.

Twin Heart is an early book-length manuscript that I had learned on but had never forgotten. The characters in it feel like old dear friends.

Feeling nostalgic one day, I pulled Twin Heart’s file out and started revising it. I’ve learned a lot over the ten years since I wrote the manuscript and though I should be able to fix it, no problem.

It was a mess!

Missing punctuations, run-on sentences, and drifting POVs. Just to name a few.

I have a lot of work to do if I’m ever going to get my dear old friend up to snuff.

The first two chapters weren’t so bad, but the further along I dug the worse it got. Some chapters read like filler and didn’t further the plot or add anything to the storyline. And there are thirty-two chapters in my manuscript.

Thirty-two.

And over 115,000 words. My manuscript can certainly use some trimming.

Things I’m looking out for as I revise my manuscript:

  • Fix common mistakes: errors in punctuation, repeated words, drifting POVs.
  • Do the sentences make sense?
  • Are too many sentences started with a -ing word?
  • Do the sentences use it as a subject of the sentence instead of a noun?
  • Are words spelled right or an I using a wrong word choice?
  • Break down run-on sentences into smaller sentences.
  • Delete unnecessary words.
  • Kill my darlings.
  • Read the manuscript out loud.

Once I get the problems taken care of, I’ll have to write out the manuscript chapter by chapter as if I was writing a synopsis so I can figure out what can stay and what can go.

The delete button has already become my friend.

Now, why did I start this project again?

Oh, yeah, dear old friends that are the characters in the manuscript.

*sigh*

At least the bones of the story are good. I just have to delete, rewrite, and make stronger a bunch of the bad sentences to make the good shine through.

Have you ever dragged out an old manuscript with designs on fixing it?

What happened?