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#8--Writing Out of the Box

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

Moderators: mikeedwards, glorybee

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honeyrock
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Postby honeyrock » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:30 pm

I was one of those journalism students taught to not use "said". thanks so much for that info! I've been watching that in all my reading lately and can't believe I never noticed that before - how much it is used, and by the top selling christian fiction authors, too!

To ask a question? I was wondering about something I've noticed alot in reading my favorite Christian fiction top sellers. In the midst of dialogue these will put in a really insignificant sentence, like a "so?" Its not a particular writer's style, I see it alot For example:

"Are you really certain, Miss Pointer, that the lady made a call from this phone?"

Yelda took a sip of tea. "Yes, quite sure."

or

Marvin stared at Muriel and blinked. "Where did you leave the journal?"

Muriel nibbled her celery thoughtfully. "I'm not at all sure."
Be strong and very courageous Joshua 1:7

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glorybee
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Postby glorybee » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:42 pm

Honeyrock, I'll answer your question by referring you to this lesson about writing dialog. Look especially at my point #5 (toward the end of the lesson). I think that's what you're referring to--if not, let me know.

I'll also send you on another wild good chase--to this lesson, to the "Quick Take" in bold.

If I were feeling really spunky, I'd send you on a scavenger hunt through all of the lessons: What's the third word in the fourteenth line of lesson 6? That sort of thing...but I guess I've done enough for now... :mrgreen:
Jan Ackerson

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honeyrock
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Postby honeyrock » Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:05 pm

I'm actually wondering not about the placement of dialogue, but the content of what you place with it when its truly insignificant. I've noticed it alot lately -seemingly insignificant action in - a very short sentence in with the dialogue.

"I thought I answered your question." Adelaide replied, watching Mr. Jones terrer trot by.
Be strong and very courageous Joshua 1:7

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glorybee
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Postby glorybee » Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:35 pm

Ahhh, I see.

I think writers use the little action snippet as a way of avoiding "said" or its alternatives. It lets the reader know who's speaking--the same person who's acting.

As far as the relevance of the action--sometimes those little phrases can be used as an aid to characterization:

"How you doin', ma'am?" Gomer scratched his belly and stared, bug-eyed.

Here, the action tells me that despite his polite words, Gomer is an oaf.

And sometimes they can move the plot along, just a teensy bit:

Patrice fingered a wax-sealed linen envelope. "James, what do you know about your grandfather?"

Or, the action tags might contribute a bit to the atmosphere of the story:

"I'm getting something from the basement." Jennica plodded down the shadowed stairway.

This can be a really effective way of writing dialog, in my opinion. What do you think?
Jan Ackerson

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honeyrock
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Postby honeyrock » Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:30 pm

Okay, now I feel better. I wasn't getting it when they didn't add to characterization, etc. but that makes sense, they move the story along, even a little. I really like that technique used in all the ways you describe.
Thanks!
Be strong and very courageous Joshua 1:7

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