Archive - The Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing RSS Feed

The Art of Masterful Fiction Dialogue

Writing great dialogue is probably the hardest skill fiction writers need to acquire.

If you’ve tried your hand at it, you know it’s tricky because dialogue in fiction is not at all like real-life dialogue. Which seems counterintuitive because fiction often is meant to present “real life” in a realistic fashion.

However, ordinary dialogue is usually boring and wordy. Or vague. Or all over the place.

Fiction writers need to write strategically and purposefully, every line, whether it be narrative, action, or dialogue.

So what are some tips to writing masterful dialogue?

I’ve compiled what I feel are the most important and succinct aspects of masterful dialogue in fiction, and if you struggle with writing snappy, engaging, believable, and fresh dialogue, these tips are for you. Continue Reading…

Description Errors That Result from POV Limitations

It’s important for writers to convey the description of setting and characters through the POV character’s eyes and emotions. But just as we don’t take notice of every single detail in a room or about a person we encounter (I think our brains would explode!), our characters are going to notice particular things, and that’s determined by their personality and mood at the moment.

For example, if a beautiful woman wearing provocative clothing walks into a diner, a young man is going to notice different things about her than, say, a five-year-old child would. He’s going to think different things as well, and it’s likely that, if you put ten men in that diner, you could have each think very different thoughts about that woman because of who he is. An old priest will think different thoughts than a twenty-something bad boy. The priest might notice how tarnished and unhappy the woman seems. The young man may only be checking out her curves and the hemline of her dress.

Scenes are going to feel deficient if description is dumped outside of POV.

But there are also other problems that can occur because of POV, and they stem from what happens when a writer forgets where his character is placed in his scene. Continue Reading…

4 Key Ways to Improve Tension and Pacing in Your Novel

Pacing and tension aren’t always easy for writers to assess in their scenes. How can you tell if your scene is dragging and there is little tension? How do you know when to speed up or slow down pacing for best effect?

Let’s bring it all together in four key points, from a previous post and excerpt from The Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing.

 Don’t Forget the Conflict . . .

 Inner and outer conflict. First, overall, you want your pages full to the brim with conflict. Meaningful conflict. Showing a character fussing for a full page about her lousy manicure isn’t all that meaningful.

Now, that situation could be the center of a really hilarious comedic moment, and if so, terrific. Humor—great humor—is so often overlooked, and it ramps up pacing and engages readers. But not all novels are full of funny moments.

Conflict is tension. Meaningful conflict creates strong tension. Hemingway said, “Don’t mistake movement for action.” Just because you have a lot of things happening, plot-wise, doesn’t mean anything is really happening. You could have tons of exciting car chases and plane crashes and shoot-outs and the reader could be dozing off, nose planting into your book. Continue Reading…

Page 1 of 2012345»1020...Last »