Slang in Dialogue: Use It Sparingly

Note: I’m giving myself a quick autumn break this week, so am posting this shortie instead of the usual post and podcast. Enjoy! It’s important for authors to get the nuances of slang in dialogue right. All our research into dialectal idiosyncrasies is time well spent if it means nailing the way a particular character […]

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Critique: 10 Ways to Write Excellent Dialogue

For many people, dialogue is the heartbeat of fiction. As arguably the only true form of “showing” in written fiction, it offers an inexhaustible source of energy for dramatizing characters, catalyzing conflict, and enhancing every available opportunity for entertainment. That’s why it’s so important to take full of advantage of dialogue, and that’s why we’re […]

writing large casts of characters

The 10 Rules of Writing Large Casts of Characters

Large casts of characters are the thing these days. Rowling, Martin, and Marvel—just to name a few newsworthy examples—victoriously (and sometimes not-so-victoriously) throw casts of hundreds at screen and paper. Understandably, writers rush to emulate—both because, on a head level, this seems like the obvious path to success, and because, on a heart level, we […]

when writing how do you know when enough is enough

When Writing, How Do You Know When Enough Is Enough?

Last month, I invited you to tell me what topics you’d like me to write about. You flooded my inbox and comments section with suggestions. (I scheduled this as an “easy” post that wouldn’t require much maintenance while I was in the midst of the a big move. When I logged on that first day to […]

What Should Your Characters Talk About?

Dialogue is the best part of stories. (Yes, even better than Dickensian narratorial diatribes about crooked politics.) But it’s tough to write scintillating dialogue when you find yourself asking that fundamental question: “What should your characters talk about?” As writers, we’re familiar with the rant about “show, don’t tell.” We’re supposed to bring our stories […]

5 (Not-So-Little) Additions to the Great Novel-Writing Checklist

5 (Not-So-Little) Additions to the Great Novel-Writing Checklist

Learning how to write a successful novel is largely a matter of memorizing and mentally tracking the vast number of “parts” that make a story run. Honestly, this alone is sometimes the hardest part of the entire job. There’s a lot to remember—which is why, today, we’re going to look at the second part of our […]

5 Tips for Creating Believable Fictional Languages

Gone are the days when you could speak gibberish in a movie or a novel—think Princess Leia’s scene negotiating with Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi—and pass it off as obscure, exotic fictional languages. Today, when your characters speak fictional languages, your audience expects these languages to sound real, with natural-sounding vocabulary and […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes (Flat Plots)

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 61: 5 Types of Clunky Dialogue

When you write excellent dialogue, you will simultaneously sharpen the rest of your narrative tools. When you write clunky dialogue, however, it’s unlikely readers will be able to engage with the story on any level. Happily, dialogue is usually one of the most enjoyable and intuitive parts of writing narrative fiction. We all do dialogue […]

How To Write In An Authentic Historical Voice

How to Write in an Authentic Historical Voice

Let’s say you’re writing a book set in the 14th Century. Naturally, as a diligent and conscientious writer, you want to do your research and write with an authentic historical voice. In fact, you’re so good and so authentic that what you end up with is something like this: Whilom, as olde stories tellen us, ther […]

How to Write (and Not Write) Expository Dialogue

Dialogue is one of the most versatile of all narrative fiction techniques. It allows us to characterize, to create both context and subtext, to entertain via humor, and to share some of the best and punchiest prose rhythms in the entire book. Because it is the only narrative technique that is a “true” form of showing, […]