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Talking Heads Avoidance Device

Back in August, we spent a month going over one of the fatal flaws in fiction writing: Flawed Dialogue Construction. We touched on the subject of “talking heads,” which is a problem in a lot of manuscripts. What this means is scenes with dialogue are not well grounded in setting and do not show clearly the actions the characters are engaged in while talking.

But even if writers drop in some lines here and there to show where their characters are when engaged in conversation and some body language or background activity, often these characters are still basically “talking heads.”

A lot of writers fail to take the time to bring a richer environment to the scene because they are so focused on writing the dialogue and making sure the information being revealed is done well. But so much more is needed to make a heavy-dialogue scene effective.

 Writers might get their dialogue mechanics down pat, appropriately using speech and narrative tags effectively, and avoiding that “on the nose” dialogue that just doesn’t come across as believable. But all the great dialogue in the world will still be problematic if it’s floating in space, coming out of talking heads that don’t seem to have bodies attached to them. Continue Reading…

10 Steps to Nail Your Story

Today’s guest post is by best-selling author DiAnn Mills:

I’m all about ways to ensure stories delight our readers. That’s why we writers write. The process of shuffling through blogs, how-to books, and conference workshops for the most effective way to create reader appeal is an ongoing process.

Someone is always trying to hammer a new method into our brains.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen writers get so caught up with all the dos and don’ts that their creativity becomes paralyzed. They become stuck and spend their time constantly revising their stories without making them better. Some writers spend years perfecting a manuscript and never submitting. Instead of overthinking story, the writer could have written more books to improve her craft while entertaining readers. Continue Reading…

A 12-Month Strategic Plan for Marketing Your Book before Release

Today’s guest post is by James Rose:

Marketing does not come naturally to me. It has been a struggle to get my mind wrapped around the many facets of marketing a self-published book. I made many mistakes and wasted a fair amount of money.

But I learned the actual marketing process is not too complicated. The difficult part has been the scope of tasks and the organizational requirements.

I did a lot of research and found the information to be spread out in bite-sized chunks as is often the case on the Internet. I have always learned more efficiently from a complete guide all in one place. Just give me the knowledge I need, and let me break it down in a way that makes sense to me.

My other educational hindrance has been my tendency to add fluff. Fluff is great for literature but not for learning, in my opinion. In fact it is not unusual for me to condense a three-hundred-page book to thirty pages of notes. After all that work I’d find myself asking why that book wasn’t thirty pages to begin with. Continue Reading…