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.
I just sigh when I read these other entries. What a creative bunch! You all are fantastic. Love reading your homework! When I grow up I want to be just like all of you.
"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
To continue the plug, I think this short story's three characters are really one character, a young man with strong ideals that were torn apart by going home too early one day, that pacified his anger drinking alone at home and found new ideals, then disciplined himself to no longer drink alone. So, tags become less relevant and their ommission becomes intentional and significant. I've seen reviews that suggest the three people are one, but am on my own limb that the events are connected in quite that way. Given biographical information about the author tho, I think it's a pretty compelling case.
“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.
I've been away (visiting my son, his wife, and my grandson) for a week.
Jan, earlier you asked me why I didn't like dialogue tags. Well, I had grown up fascinated by words, especially adjectives and adverbs, but in the last few years, I've learned that they bog down my writing. I've learned that "said" is an invisible tag - meaning it doesn't distract the reader from the dialogue but adding more (and sometimes confusing) detail. I saw a short story written with only dialogue once and decided to try my hand at it.
This was my first ever Challenge entry and I got an EC...SHOCK!!
(excuse the lack of space between lines... I didn't know)
Billy the Kid
I find the trick to doing this is to include direct address occasionally, so we know who is speaking to whom. Also, the style of speech and what they are saying also gives clues. This is a rather long piece, but I often include shorter sections of un-tagged dialogue in my writing.
Look at this. Wow! Well done and well deserved second place EC.
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien
PART 1 - STORY
“Hi there Josie,” Nana says, “thanks for calling us.”
Looking at the iPad, “Nahnaa,” she giggles. “Pawpaw,” she coos.
“Melissa, her hypnotic blue eyes, and long eyelashes are mesmerizing.”
“I know. Not real sure where she got them, but they sure are gorgeous.”
“Pawpaw,” Josie whispers.
“Blow us a kiss Josie.”
With open hand to mouth, she draws out “Muuuaaahhh.”
“Hard to believe she’s twenty months already. Do you need any clothes for her? I can check the resale shops.”
“That would be great mom. She could really use two Ts. Eighteen months fit her just fine but she doesn’t have much, if any, two Ts. Oh, and she needs size six cowgirl boots, if you can find them.
“Babe nana,” as Josie pulls her doll close.
“Yes. That's baby Banana but she calls her babe nana, and she fits Josie’s newborn clothes.
“Bye Josie. Papa needs to pay bills.”
“Bye bye,” she hesitates, “ Pawpaw.”
“Can you blow Papa a kiss goodbye?” prompts Melissa.
“Bye bye. Bye bye. Muuuaaahhh.”
“Jason just got home, so we have to go. Tell Nana bye and blow her kisses.”
“Bye,” and she runs to the door.
PART TWO - QUESTION
I had four characters in this story. With so many moving parts, is it better to use tags or not? There's one sentence of dialog that was Nana's line but I didn't note it as such. It could have been taken as Papa's line.
BONUS - NOVELIST'S STYLE
My eyes don't last long enough to read books, so I glanced through one of my husband's novels. It's a Jack Reacher book. He uses more than one type of dialog in his writing. What I saw looked effective for the section he had written.
Judy, you've done a very good job here. The dialog is natural and well-paced. I just have a few things to note, and a question for you.
1. In a few places, you left out the end quote.
2. I have a problem with this one:
"Baba nana," as Josie pulls her doll close.
That sentence is missing a verb. You could fix it in a couple of ways:
"Babe nana," Josie says as she pulls her doll close. OR
"Babe nana." Josie pulls her doll close.
3. You have another sentence with nearly the same issue. Can you find it?
I notice that you quite frequently choose to write in present tense. That's not related to this lesson, but I'm curious about it. Is there something about present tense that particularly appeals to you? If that's the only tense you're used to writing in, I'd encourage you to try something in past tense.
To answer your question--when there are more than two characters, you need to let you reader know every once in a while who's speaking. Especially if the reader might be confused, you should include a tag or a bit of action to be sure that each speech is attributed to the right character.
Apologies for any typos--still using my phone to do this--it's tricky!
Did I find it?
she fits Josie’s newborn clothes
I forgot "into"
Present tense is how I write even though this story was something that happened two days ago.
So I need to basically stretch my 4'10" body and mind to past tense. Is there a lesson on doing this effectively? This would use had, not have, correct? I'll work on this challenge.
Thanks for pointing this out.
I found this lesson on tenses. Haven't gotten into it, but I bet it will open my eyes to a whole new world of information.
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