3 Common Dialog Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Crafting great dialog takes work. And today I’d like to discuss 3 mistakes I see more often than any other.

Let’s look at definitions first.

A dialog tag (also known as attribution) tells the reader who is speaking, but also [Read more…]

3 Common but Easily Avoided Mistakes in Fiction

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid in FictionLately, I’ve noticed several of the same kinds of mistakes occurring in the manuscripts I’m reviewing, so I thought I’d address them here today. Let’s start with the easiest one to fix.

Dialog tags before the dialog

You can find this mistake with ease, and fix it just as quickly. It happens most often when writers give their characters an action prior to the dialog.

Gary turned to me and said, “I don’t make that mistake.”

Readers know quotation marks indicate speech. The words and said are superfluous.

Laughing, Gary said, “I don’t make that mistake.”

In the example above, [Read more…]

Those Pesky Dialogue Tags

dialog 2Oh those pesky dialogue tags.





There’s a lot of conflicting information out there on what to use.

What’s a writer to do?

In the multitude of manuscripts I read, I see writers employ such things as “Sally smiled” or “Gerald laughed.” In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when the writer uses it as a substitute for “she said” and suddenly the character is constantly smiling or laughing.

Generally, a reader needs to have an identifier every 4-5 lines of dialogue in order to stay on track with who is speaking. So a tag isn’t required every time someone speaks (but I’ve seen writers do just that).

Let’s look at an alternative to the dialogue tag. [Read more…]

6 Steps to Story Development

spinning platesWhen you get right down to it the major goal of the fiction writer is to keep the reader reading.

And like the performer who spins plates at the top of a stick, writers must spin several plates too—characters and character arc, plot and plot development, conflict, dialog, show vs. tell, and pacing. If we focus on only one aspect of story development and neglect the others, the story falls flat.

But that’s a lot to deal with. I certainly can’t get my brain wrapped around all those things at the same time as I write.

So what’s the answer?

Focus on one at a time, using these 6 steps. [Read more…]

Dialog: 5 Tips to Give Your Characters a Distinctive Voice

smiley balloon thm

Our voices are as unique as our physical appearance.
Photo by GregRon Photography

In real life we learn to recognize the voices of our friends and family.

But when you read the dialogue of your main characters, do you recognize their voices?

Too often our characters sound the same when they “speak.” So it’s important to give each a distinctive voice.

Consider these qualities about each character as you write dialog: [Read more…]

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