I read this post by Ruth Harris today about writing dialogue and wanted to pass it along. Ruth has a way of injecting humor into her education. Enjoy!
I learned about the web-based editing application AutoCrit through writers’ circles last year. It looked interesting, and I signed up for the free program thinking I would get to it when I had time. Well, you know how that goes….
So when AutoCrit announced the AutoCrit Line Editing Lab in February, the lab became the catalyst I needed to focus on editing my work in progress (WIP), Believing In Horses Out West. The course description read, “10 days of group activity, live workshops with the AutoCrit team, and of course, edting!” It was that, and more. The AutoCrit team made it easy to attend sessions by hosting two live sessions daily at 11:00 am and 8:00 pm EST; attendees could attend either or both. The team also supplied a video recording and a copy of the day’s slides delivered to your inbox.
The lab kickstarted my lackluster editing effort and introduced me to the tremendous features of the program. The effervescent Beth hosted the courses and did a phenomenal job of teaching, answering chat questions, and keeping the course interactive. She engaged attendees in ways that made the lab more fun than a one-way conversation.
I discovered the power of AutoCrit and its wealth of editing features broken down by categories including Summary, Pacing & Momentum, Dialogue, Strong Writing, Word Choice, Repetition, Combination, Readability, and Grammar. For an example of the subcategories, see Strong Writing shown below.
I learned invaluable lessons about strengths and weaknesses in my writing through the specific categories and subcategories. As a result, I purchased a Professional AutoCrit membership. I saw how using the program improved my WIP, and I plan to apply the lessons learned to future work. I’ve appreciated being a member of the AutoCrit Member Community with features such as:
- An actual community where authors interact without selling to each other
- Instantaneous tech support
- Live webinars, for instance, “How To Work With Your Cover Artist To Get The Cover You Deserve” featuring artist Lynne Hansen of Lynne Hansen Art. Lynne’s discussion was enlightening, informative, and free to members.
I highly recommend AutoCrit if you would like to gain new perspectives on your writing and connect with a friendly and helpful writing community.
Thank you, Connie, for another clear explanation of tools in the writing craft.
In a short story, our words are limited, so we must craft our prose to convey a sense of naturalness. Scenes have an arc of rising and ebbing action, so let’s consider how conversation fits into the arc of the scene.
J.R.R. Tolkien said that dialogue must have a premise or premises and move toward a conclusion of some sort. If nothing comes of it, the conversation is a waste of the reader’s time.
What do we want to accomplish in this scene? Ask yourself three questions.
- Who needs to know what?
- Why must they know it?
- How many words do you intend to devote to it?
My rule of thumb is, keep the conversations short and intersperse them with scenes of actions that advance the plot.
AuthorJames Scott Bellsays dialogue has five functions:
- To reveal story information
- To reveal character
- To set the tone
- To set…
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