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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…

The Essential 3 M’s of Character Setup

This post originally ran on Jane Friedman’s blog. Understanding these “3 M’s” is crucial if you want to craft believable characters!

Fiction writers are told to get their readers to bond quickly with their characters—in particular the protagonist. In few pages, they must make the hero of their story empathetic, relatable, and understandable.

Wow, that’s a herculean task. How long does it take us to truly “get” a person we meet? Five minutes? An hour?

While some of us are intuitive and savvy and feel we can “size up” a stranger in record time, truth is people are complex, they show a persona that may mask who they are underneath, and they may not reveal all that much at first (or ever).

Yet … I recall a restauranteur friend of mine who declared confidently that, after serving dinners to thousands of patrons over the years, she could tell everything about a couple in the first five minutes of their ordering a meal. What kind of tension was simmering between them, how they felt about each other, status dynamics—those kinds of things.

After running a bed and breakfast for thirteen years and hosting more than twenty thousand guests (essentially living with us in our home), I can attest that my husband and I are pretty good at figuring people out within minutes. Continue Reading…

Emotional Mastery – A Must for Fiction Writers

If you don’t master showing and evoking emotion in your fiction, you fail as a writer. It’s as simple as that.

Emotional mastery is essential for fiction writers. Yet, there is hardly any instruction on the topic. A book or two. A blog post here and there. But nothing extensively dealing with two critical skills fiction writers MUST master: how to effectively show emotion in characters and how to powerfully evoke emotion in readers.

This is not easy to learn. Few writers excel in these skills. But those who do—who show and evoke emotion masterfully—write moving stories that are timeless and long remembered.

Think about some of the books you read years ago that have lingered long in your soul. Stories like To Kill a Mockingbird or Gone with the Wind. You know the stories you love and why you love them. They moved you. They changed you. They may have even rocked your world. Continue Reading…

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