5 Reasons Internal Dialogue is Essential in Fiction (And How to Use It in Your Story)

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Today, I have a special treat for you guys. Author, speaker, editor and long-time W.A.N.A. International Instructor Marcy Kennedy is here to talk about internal dialogue—when to use it, why we use it and how not to get all cray-cray with it.

Trust us. As editors, Marcy and I see it all. Often newer writers swing to one extreme or another. Either they stay SO much in a character’s head that we (the reader) are trapped in The Land of Nothing Happening or we’re never given any insight into the character’s inner thought life, leaving said character as interesting as a rice cake.

Like all things in fiction, balance is key. Marcy is here to work her magic and teach y’all how to use internal dialogue for max effect.

Take it away, Marcy!

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Understanding why something is important to our writing lays the foundation for bettering our writing because it…

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Flawed Characters vs. Too Dumb to Live—What’s the Difference?

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Just a quick reminder that I am running my log-line class again. Often synopses are a nightmare for writers simply because they cannot state simply what their story is about. If we don’t know what our story is about, then revisions are hell because it is virtually impossible to discern what should stay and what should be CUT. Everyone who signs up gets their plot shaved down to ONE sentence, so hope to see you guys there! Sign up HERE.  The recording is included and if you can’t make the day of class, I will still repair your log-line 😉 .

Moving on…

Which is more important? Plot or character? Though an interesting discussion—sort of like, Could Ronda Rousey take a Klingon with only her bare hands?—it isn’t really a useful discussion for anything other than fun. To write great fiction, we need both. Plot and characters work…

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Using The 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy To Build Tension In Your Novel

Jenny Hansen's Blog

Several days back, I did a post on Sexting and questioned whether all this “virtual intimacy” between couples would change the “Levels of Intimacy” chart I use in my writing. I had several writers ask me about it in the comments section so I’m bringing it to you on this fine Techie Tuesday.

I first learned about the 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy from Linda Howard, who used to give a very popular talk on the subject based on the work of Desmond Morris, Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy.

On the downside, Linda gave her last edition of this talk to our RWA chapter in 2010. On the upside, Linda has spoken to enough writers that I was able to Google and find a great post on the topic by one of my online pals, Terry O’Dell.

I’ll give the stages and my thoughts here but…

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Generating Page-Turning Momentum—Characters & The Wound

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 10.17.54 AM Hmmm, what’s the story behind THIS?

Can we answer the question, “What is your book about?” in one sentence. Is our answer clear and concise? Does it paint a vivid picture of something others would want to part with time and money to read? Plot is important, but a major component of a knockout log-line is casting the right characters.

Due to popular demand I am running my Your Story in a Sentenceclass in about two weeks and participants have their log lines shredded and rebuilt and made agent-ready. Log-lines are crucial because if we don’t know what our book is about? How are we going to finish it? Revise it? Pitch it? Sell it?

Once we have an idea of what our story is about and have set the stage for the dramatic events that will unfold, we must remember that fiction is about PROBLEMS. Plain and simple…

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Tolkien’s 5 Tips for Creating Complex Heroes

Writing advice straight from the pen of J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

Writing Is Hard Work

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Tolkien’s letters are rich with information about J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing process.  I wrote a post last week about Aragorn being Tolkien’s example of an epic hero, and someone posted: “But Frodo Baggins is the hero of the LOTR trilogy, right?”  I would argue that he is not, but only one of three or four characters who together make a great hero for the epic story.  Today I will focus on Frodo.

To begin this post, I thought I would pull a quote from a letter Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher on January 30th, 1945.  In it, he discusses something quite interesting: “There are two quite different emotions: one that moves me supremely and I find small difficulty evoking: the heart-racking sense of the vanished past (best expressed by Gandalf’s words about the Palantir); and the other a more ‘ordinary’ emotion, triumph, pathos, tragedy of the characters.  That I am learning to…

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Want to Successfully Publish? First, Are You a “Real” Writer?

Are you a “real” writer? Food for thought…

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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For many writers (me included), we don’t start off with the confidence to yell to the world, “I’m going to be a professional author!” Heck, I wrote a 178,000 word “novel” and still didn’t believe I was a writer. Later, I had over a year and a half of consistent blogging under my belt, multiple short stories, and newbie novels that had been at least good enough to win prestigious contests and yet….

I was not a “real writer.”

Schrödinger Writer? If you put a writer in an office at a keyboard, is the writer alive or dead (real or fake) until the book is published?

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We’ve Come a LONG Way, Baby

The literary landscape has shifted dramatically. More avenues of publishing have opened and become appealing, thus this silly question of, “Are we a real writer?” holds far less power. Believe it or not, when I began blogging, I dedicated…

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10 Ways for ADD Authors to Be OOH! SQUIRREL!!!! …Productive

Any other ADD personalities out there? Here are some tips to help the ADD writers among us focus.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

WANA, Kristen Lamb, We Are Not Alone, WANA International, how to be successful writer Image via Marie Loughin WANA Commons

Right now I’m teaching a new series about going pro (check it out below this post—recordings and notes included with purchase). One key difference between the amateur and the professional is the professional shows up no matter what. Life will not stop because we have a dream of being a NYTBSA.

In August, I managed to nearly break my ankle (needed X-rays & brace) find out I was highly allergic to peanuts (nearly died…met new doctor & she seems nice), then have said evil peanut allergic reaction give me a spiffy case of FREAKING Shingles (two super fun-filled trips to the ER).

***THIS is what I get for bragging that I haven’t had to go to a doctor in YEARS. *lightning crackles*

Through all of this? No, I wasn’t operating optimally (or heavy equipment), but pain meds can give cool dreams so I kept…

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The Single Best Way to Sell Books (Or Lose a Sale)

I took a creative writing course in college that ended up being mostly homework time. But the one thing that professor taught me was that a story must have a strong beginning to hook readers. So it ended up being a worthwhile class after all. Thanks for the reminder, Kristen!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Bansky's "Peaceful hearts Doctor" courtesy of Eva Blue. Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Bansky’s “Peaceful hearts Doctor” courtesy of Eva Blue.

We can blog, tweet, promo, purchase ads and wave pom poms over our book and that is all lovely. Attention is grand. An on-line platform is essential. But, if none of these efforts translate into an actual sale? A lot of time and money wasted. What is the best way to sell books?

We’ll get there in a sec… *suspenseful music queues*

In my latest book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World I actually spend a lot of time explaining why advertising and marketing doesn’t sell books in the new paradigm (or any other, for that matter) and what changes to make for any advertising or marketing to be more effective. Yet, ads, banners, book trailers aside, people want to read a great book.

This means our best way of selling books…

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Five Warning Signs Your Story Needs Revision

Excellent advice. Even for the most experienced writers.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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We can have the best story ideas in the world, but to be blunt? There’s a lot to be said for delivery. While these problems might seem picky, there are some fundamental errors that can weaken the writing. If our writing loses power, this can become distressing or distracting to readers.

Many readers (not being editors or professional writers) might not be able to articulate specifically why they lost interest in a story, but often the answer is simple. It can be an accumulation of the small things. The little foxes spoil the vine.

Most of us make one or more of these errors, especially when we’re new. Hey, that’s called “being NEW.” No one is born with the natural ability to write brilliant, perfect novels coded into their DNA. It takes time and practice, so give yourself permission to make…

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Demystifying Grammar: Which vs. That

I use Grammarly for free proofreading because every time you publish a typo, the errorists win!

This week’s inspirational quote:

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.

– C.J. Cherryh

Demystifying Grammar

This is a weekly installment of a series on commonly confused grammar rules I call Demystifying Grammar. Wouldn’t it be great if we understood those confusing and fickle little rules so we could focus on writing? I think so too. It has been said that the English language is one of the hardest to learn, so don’t worry if you need a little help now and then. Welcome to this week’s Demystifying Grammar. Those of you who slept through English class pay attention.

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Which vs. That

 Here is the basic rule of thumb: If the sentence doesn’t need the clause that the word in question is connecting, use which. If it does, use that.

Our office, which has two lunchrooms, is located in Cincinnati.

  • The which clause in this sentence provides additional information and can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Our office that has two lunchrooms is located in Cincinnati.

  • The that phrase is a restrictive clause because another part of the sentence depends on it. It cannot be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

The bottom line: If the information is essential, use “that.” If it is just additional information that is useful but unnecessary, use “which.”

Test what you learned:

1.) The iPad (which/that) connects to the iCloud was created by Apple.

2.) The cover of People Magazine (which/that) has Johnny Depp’s picture on it is my favorite because he is the sexiest man alive.

Correct answers:

1.) which

  • It is common knowledge that all iPads connect to the iCloud, so this is unnecessary information.

2.) that

  • My favorite cover of People Magazine is not just any old cover. It is the specific cover with Johnny Depp’s picture on it; therefore, the phrase is necessary to understanding which is my favorite cover. Without that phrase, the sentence loses meaning.

Thank for stopping by, Grammarians. See you next time!

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