Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Dialogue - Pandora's Box

Conversations and Body language

I’ve just completed the self-paced online course ‘Fiction Essentials: Dialogue’ developed by the Australian Writers’ Centre. I’ve found it really helpful.

I was worried about my characters being a bit flat and I think that I’ve now gained a better and more explicit understanding of how characters come to life through dialogue. The course provides a good checklist to review what I’ve written in the rough draft of my third children’s book.

Because it’s the third book of the trilogy about the magic game ‘The Tenth Gateway’ I want to ensure that the characters continue to be of interest and that the main ones have developed over the course of the story. In particular I want to check my use of ‘paralanguage’; for example, facial expressions and body language. Reviewing my use of speech tags in this context will also be important.

Slang and Idioms

I try not to use too much slang in the dialogue but I include a bit here and there because it’s how we speak. I looked up some common contemporary English slang and a lot of the words are already out of date.

“Cool’ still seems to be in fashion, ‘yucky’ still describes something unpleasant – not ‘sick’ which now means really nice, terrific, great!. And ‘wicked’ now means something really good (rather than bad). Of course I’m also trying to keep up with words for technology.



This led me to think about idioms. They’re lots of fun as well although I’m not sure if I can use them in my book Some of the ones I like include:
·      A bigwig
·      Cheek by jowl
·      To get cold feet
·      A load of old codswallop
·      To get someone’s goat
·      To over egg the pudding
Etc

My book ‘the dictionary of idioms and their origins’ includes hundreds of sayings.

The English Language – a mystery

One of my characters – Edward –is a child from the nineteenth century. Do I have him talking 21st century style or do I try to make him sound a bit old fashioned. In Melvyn Bragg’s book ‘The Adventure of English’ he writes: “In the nineteenth century at least eight hundred and fifty six different grammars of English marched into print.”

I think I’ll just use a few words here and there.

So the issue of dialogue opens up ‘a can of worms' !!! What do you think?

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Starting the Edit


Taking my time with Book Three

I can't believe that it is now 18 months since I started writing the third book of my trilogy about 'The Tenth Gateway'. There are so many distractions added to a lot of procrastination.

I’ve now finished the first very rough draft. There are 11 chapters but I'm not sure if that's what I'll end up with. The last chapter is really only notes.

The Edit Begins

Instead of being bogged down on the ending I decided to go back to the first chapter and begin the first edit. After all this time I’ve forgotten much of what I’ve written.

So far I have reviewed chapters 1-4. I’ve stopped at this point today because I’ve had to write this blog. I’ll finish the other draft chapters over the next 2 weeks. That’s the plan anyway.

I think some of the draft reads very well but in some areas there’s still too much narrative and not enough dialogue (the ‘show don’t tell’ that I’ve learnt about in my creative writing short courses), and some of it is still has blanks in the story line.

What I am Looking For

In this first edit I wanted to check that the story flowed, that my main characters are behaving consistently and that the imaginary enchanted world has continuity with the first two books. I also want to check that I’ve used appropriate names for any new characters and creatures. As I’ve mentioned before I find selecting or making up names very difficult.

In the second book, ‘The Spy’s Door’, I created the character of Perscrutor, the evil magician’s master spy. I wanted the children playing the magic game to have  new challenges but I also wanted to add more danger and mystery to the story.

Creating More Mystery

Perscrutor’s network of spies is still in place in the third book. It's difficult to know who they are (recollecting Agatha Christie, but of course no where near as clever). So I now want to check that this theme in the story creates enough mystery as the children play the magic game.

I still think my main characters are a bit flat, so I’m grappling with how to make them more interesting. I’ll let you know how I’m getting on with this challenge in my next blog.



Is this something you also find difficult or do you have other stumbling blocks?




A Positive Distraction

 Short Stories A favourite story is 'The Drover's Wife' I have interrupted my next go at editing my third book...