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Jan's Writing Basics #5b--Dialog

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.

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OldManRivers
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Postby OldManRivers » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:47 pm

Jan,

You are truly a master teacher!

I am learning so much through your skillful editing done with such a gentle touch. Thank you.

jim
May God's gentle grace be with you.

Jim McWhinnie

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Postby Cajunluvie » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:31 pm

OldManRivers wrote:Jan,

You are truly a master teacher!

I am learning so much through your skillful editing done with such a gentle touch. Thank you.

jim


Agreed.

I learned so much more here than I think I did with CWG!

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Postby PamDavis » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:40 pm

Thanks, Jan, apple for the teacher....not sure how to do the italics, when I cut and paste I lose them. I can't figure out how it works on this post a reply. My computer skills leave a lot to be desired.

Pam
With God All things are Possible!

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Postby A Nonny Mouse » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:17 am

OldManRivers wrote:Jan,

You are truly a master teacher!

I am learning so much through your skillful editing done with such a gentle touch. Thank you.

jim


I agree as well. Your teaching and assignments have done more for my writing than anything else I've used up to this point.

Haven't had time to trim that story down, but I plan on doing it soon.

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Postby philippa » Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:53 am

What a great lesson! I made the mistake of reading the homework and by the time I'd read three or four I was spooked. Next time I'll jump in and have a go before reading back over others' works. Excellent learning opportunity. Thank you Jan.

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Postby glorybee » Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:58 am

PamDavis wrote:Thanks, Jan, apple for the teacher....not sure how to do the italics, when I cut and paste I lose them. I can't figure out how it works on this post a reply. My computer skills leave a lot to be desired.

Pam


There are two ways to do italics--one for these boards, and one for the Writing Challenge. Both are pretty easy, and use HTML.

On the boards, before you hit submit (you have to still be in the text box), highlight (with your mouse) the word or phrase you want in italics. Then just click on the little box near the top left of your blue reply area--it's got a little 'i' on it. You'll see some unusual symbols appear near your highlighted text--and when you hit 'submit', it'll be highlighted.

It's not quite so simple for challenge entries, but still only takes a few steps.

1. Copy and paste your entry into the Challenge Submission box.
2. Locate the word or phrase that you want in italics
3. Type these symbols before and after the word, so that it looks like this: (I'm going to italicize 'best' in the sentence below)

Piper is the <i>best</i> granddaughter ever.

4. Hit the 'preview' button. Your sentence should appear in your entry like this:

Piper is the best granddaughter ever.

5. If you've mistyped even one symbol of the HTML code, it won't show up right, but you can go back and fix it. Hit 'Preview' and check again until you get it right. Once you've done it once or twice, it'll become second nature.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:59 am

Thank you for the kind words, everyone.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby stepping_Heavenward » Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:48 am

Here's my version of your "hot mess", Jan.

I don't want to convey a picture of Tina as a wimpy young mom, and let an immature teen get away with her whining and whims. If I were to write a Christian story, this is how I'd write it and make a difference.


“Yeah, I heard about it, Jos. Ashley’s Mom called and asked me if I’d let you.”

“So?” Will you let me, Mom?”

“Ah-ah, nope,” I braved an answer. I knew she would growl at me.

Jocelyn pouted. Sulked. Glared at me. “Why, what’s wrong with Spring Break Axe Mur...” she didn’t continue.

“You tell me, Jos.” My thirty- year-old wisdom in mothering Jocelyn hadn’t gone a long way since I was seventeen when I had her. But it was worth the try.

“Oh, Mom!” Jocelyn let out her usual tantrum. “I’m fourteen; I know what’s good and bad for me.”

“I suppose Tiffani, Ashley and all at the youth group who’ll be watching it believe the same thing?”

“ Idon’t care what they believe.”

“I care, Jos.” I let out a sigh, hoping she’d understand. “I do care whom you associate with.”

“It’s only a movie, Mom”. Jocelyn slouched on the couch beside me.

“They say, it’s kinda’ cool if I’d go and see it.”

“Wait here.” I tapped on her knee and prepared to dart into the kitchen.

“Mom, I gotta’ go! They’re waiting for me at Ash’s.” She whined. And shuffled her feet under the coffee table.

“I’ll be there in a minute! I’ll just bring this choc mud cake I baked a while ago. Thought you might like to eat it with me.”

Jocelyn cupped her chin. She imagined an imprisonment in her own house. She eyed the wall clock, which ticked away a chance at breaking loose from her mother’s clutches, if she dared.

“Here, your favourite,” I sliced a fourth piece. “Watch that special ingredient I put there.”

Her doomed pretty face changed. An I- wonder- what- Mom’s- up- to face lightened her up a bit.

“Isn’t this your usual mud cake, Mom?”

“I put in some potting mix, and Collie’s poo to add darker shade. I ran out of choc’lit”

“Oh, Mom, d’yo expect me to eat this?”

“It’s only potting mix, and poo added to the nice cake. What’s wrong with it?”

“Yuck!”

“Spring Break Axe ... Murderer,” I braced myself for the real thing to say . Even though she’d be upset with me, I cringed my face and went on, “tell me what’s it like to sit there in the movies and taste and see all that rubbish?

Silence. And then a sigh.

“I’m sorry, Jos. I’m not sold to this kind’o’ thing- Friday nights at the movies with your friends at youth group.”

“I’ll call Ash, and tell her I’m not coming.”

“Thanks, Jos.”

“Oh, thanks, Mom.”

---
I hope it's okay to have written it this way.
SteppingHeavenward

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Postby Deconut » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:11 am

Homework:

“It’s not fair!” Jocelyn stormed into her bedroom and slammed the door.

“I don’t deserve this.” Tina muttered, her eyes rolling heavenward.

The bedroom door flew open, and Jocelyn dramatically flopped into the chair in the kitchen. “Ashley and Tiffani are going, why can’t I? I know, you don’t trust me. You think I’ll end up kidnapped by a gang of loonies.”

“Jocelyn, you know that’s not what I think. I’m not happy with your choice of movies. Isn’t there a comedy playing? How about that movie about the young woman writer on her first job?” Tina could always hope.

“Boring! No one wants to see a dumb movie about a writer.” Jocelyn was determined to have her way.

“I guess you can go, as long as you’re home by 10.” Tina fleetingly thought of all the trouble she used to get into between 7 and 10 when she was Jocelyn’s age. It took some willpower to suppress that thought long enough to give her daughter a hug and a weak smile. “Have fun” she called just as the front door slammed close behind Jocelyn.

***********************************

This was fun. I am pretty new to fiction writing, and need lots of practice with dialog.

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Postby glorybee » Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:18 am

Hey, Steppingheavenward--

Superb job on the dialog--you made both characters sound realistic and natural, and you included an excellent object lesson for us, too!

One teeny thing--and it's not the focus of this lesson, but something you might find useful. In the entire story, your POV character is Tina, the mother. It's Tina's thoughts and feelings your reader experiences. But in the middle--can you find it?--for one paragraph, you abruptly switch to Jocelyn's POV. In such a short story, that's usually a no-no.

Thanks so much for this excellent "homework" assignment!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:22 am

Deconut, well done! I can't really find anything to fix--if you wanted to revisit it, the only thing I'd suggest would be to give the character of the mother a bit more personality. She's admittedly the hard one to write--it's easy to write spunky teens, but moms all tend to sound the same, unless we give them some kind of distinctive personalily quirk.

But really, this is quite fine! You're doing very well!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Soren2007 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:40 am

Jocelyn stood and crossed her arms to make her next point.

“Everyone’s gonna be there, mom. You don’t even need to take me. Ashley’s boyfriend can take us.”

“You have to be 18 to drive other kids around, Jocelyn. It’s the law.”

Jocelyn’s eyes dropped and rolled, looking for an answer.

“He’s 18?”

“Mom, don’t. Dad was four years older than you when you started dating.”

“And where is your dad now?”

Tina cringed at hearing her own words. Her tongue was too loose with her daughter.

Jocelyn turned and the silence became palpable. Her shoulders curled inwards and her body began to bob in rhythm with her sniffles. Tina crossed the egg shells between them and embraced her daughter from behind as if her warmth would melt the icy silence.

“You can go see Spring Break Axe Murderer with your friends,” she apologized.

Jocelyn carefully twisted, so as to not break her mother’s embrace.

“Will you take me?” she asked through tears.

“And pick you up,” her mother replied, gently raising her daughter’s chin to find the windows of her daughter’s soul had been replaced by mirrors.
“Get to work. Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.” ~Dillard.

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Postby Green Leaves » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:14 am

I'm playing catch up here. I made a slight detour. I've been in the hospital because of kidney stones.

I'm jumping up and down because I got a gold star from Jan, even though I also got a slap on the wrist for changing tenses. (Can't believe I didn't notice that...right after we had that lesson, too!)

Thanks, Jan. Loving your class and learning so much.

Carol
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"God has not called me to be successful, God has called me to be faithful." Mother Teresa

"...not to advance in the spiritual life is to go back. But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.". Brother Lawrence

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Postby glorybee » Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:07 pm

Soren, I'm fresh out of gold stars--so you get a platinum one, for beautiful dialog and some gorgeous imagery, including that last one that speaks volumes.

Thanks for stopping in!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:08 pm

Carol, ouch! Kidney stones! Been there, done that--and galls stones and (believe it or not) liver stones, too. Not fun. I hope you're doing better now...
Jan Ackerson

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