“Let’s Talk Dialogue.”

Today, at #MotiveMeansOpportunity — The Importance of Dialogue


A Brief Study on Using Dialogue in Fiction, by E. Michael Helms

(Author’s note: I was feeling “preachy” today, so I decided to present a sermon on one of my pet peeves in writing. Please forgive my verbosity.)

What is dialogue?

Dialogue is a new, invented language (not a reproduction of how people actually speak; it’s the writer’s job to create effective, believable dialogue)

Dialogue is action (characters interacting with each other)

Dialogue is drama (the story, or plot, is unfolding or moving forward by what the characters say)

 Dialogue is immediate scene (characters are on-stage, playing out the scene before the reader’s eyes)

Two of the most common faults I find with many fiction manuscripts are:

1) Too much narrative summary (i.e., too much “telling”, not enough “showing”)

2) Stiltedor poor, ineffectivedialogue

Let’s look at Narrative summary (i.e., what’s happening off-stage) versus Immediate Scene (i.e…

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Cyber Monday Here We Come

Today, at #MotiveMeansOpportunity — Shoppers Gone Wild!


If I can’t buy it online, I don’t want it. That’s my motto. I’m sticking to it.  Today is Cyber Monday. What, we needed a special day to surf the web? The reason for that would be…  Does Cyber Monday exist for all those folks who didn’t make it to the store in time to buy the Black Friday specials?welcome-to-cyber-monday

News flash! I was in a store the Monday before Thanksgiving. Boxes containing well-priced computer equipment (yes, it was that kind of store) were stacked in nearly every open space. The stacks were priced, but not displayed. So, me being me; I asked. Here’s the answer, “That’s our Black Friday merchandise, but you can buy it now.” That led to a second question, “Will the prices be the same on Friday?” Response, “Yeah, but we’ll have one on display.”  So, the Monday before Thanksgiving is the training day for the…

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Small Glimpses

Rollin’ along to mystery and adventure, today at #MotiveMeansOpportunity


By Ellen Behrens

A novelist I knew once said, “I can always tell whether I’m talking to a fiction writer or a poet just by the way they act. The poet stares at me intently, focused on my words, ready to challenge or clarify. The novelist, on the other hand, glances all over the room, reading titles of books on the shelves, admiring (or not) pictures on the walls, trying to figure out what’s on my desk….”

curiousWe fiction writers can’t help it. We’re absorbed by the details, the minutiae of someone’s life that reveal those individuals to us in ways their words usually don’t. We’re curious beyond the norm.

Driving a long, gray stretch of interstate highway, my husband and I passed a car with a little girl in the back. From our higher one-ton pickup truck I saw her bouncing around the seat, happy it seemed, singing or…

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The Right Ritual by Joanne Guidoccio

Joanne Guidoccio writes about her writing ritual, today at #MotiveMeansOpportunity


When I decided to pursue my writing dream, I imagined one of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne visiting each morning, taking my hand, and guiding me to the computer. There, she would remain, offering words of encouragement until I produced my daily quota of words.

That was the fantasy.

The reality was very different.

I was unprepared for the tyranny of the blank page. While everything was in place—business cards, new computer, dreams of a runaway best-seller—my writing muscles refused to budge.

Hoping for inspiration, I researched the writing rituals of famous authors:

  • Alexander Dumas color coordinated his paper. He used blue paper for novels, yellow paper for poetry and rose-colored pages for nonfiction.
  • Mark Twain and Truman Capote write lying down.
  • Ernest Hemingway sharpened dozens of pencils before starting to write.
  • Willa Cather read the Bible before writing each day.
  • Before picking up his pen, John Donne…

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I’m Thankful

Mystery/crime writer Kait Carson shares her thankfulness at #MotiveMeansOpportunity


My first thought for a blog today was to post an “I’m On Vacation” picture. You know, the classic chair on the beach, tropical drink on the table. I am on vacation, and it’s Thanksgiving week. Two perfect excuses for taking a day off. That’s when inspiration hit.


This is Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful for a lot of things.

I’m thankful for E. Michael Helms and Max Everhart the founders of this blog who shanghaied me into writing a weekly blog. (“Oh,” wrote Max, “only 250 words on so, or writing.”) FLW (famous last words – I love acronyms. Makes me think I could actually IM someone). We miss you Max, but wish you the best. And really, I can’t say hello in 250 words. But I guess you’ve noticed.

I’m thankful for the blog. It makes me focus at least once a week on the writing life, and expressing…

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Writing What You Know

Greg Herren explains “Writing What You Know” at #MotiveMeansOpportunity


By Greg Herren

My first creative writing class in college was a disaster.

It was also the first time in my life I was given the seminal writing advice “write what you know.” (I got a C in the course, and I often tell this story in interviews; my instructor called me into his office after I turned in my first short story and told me I would never be a writer, but as an English major he would have me a C rather than the F I deserved. Over thirty novels and fifty short stories later, I find that amusing now. Back then, it was horrific.)

This is one of the standard tropes from every single creative writing class, every book on writing, and I seriously wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, seen it, read it, or have actually said it.

It took many…

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Libraries would Love Sisters in Crime, if they only knew…

A librarian speaks her mind today at #MotiveMeansOpportunity


by Lynn Marie Steinmayer

I am a library director in a rural town in northwestern Connecticut and I have been here for nine years.

I first heard about Sisters in Crime in May of 2009.  We had an author come to the library and she shared about writing her book which she wrote as part of a team and said that Sisters in Crime was a great organization and it had helped her immensely in her writing career.   She encouraged anyone remotely interested in writing to join and go to conferences and workshops.

So, I did.

Luckily I am in New England and there is a wonderful conference in November called Crime Bake.  An absolutely amazing small conference experience with great panels, workshops, speakers and fun.  I met authors of all kinds some who were young in their writing careers and bought books for my patrons that hadn’t made it…

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NaNo No No By Kait Carson

Today at #MotiveMeansOpportunity — NaNo No No by mystery/crime writer Kait Carson.


Oops, I confess. I am a NaNo No No.nano

For those who don’t know, NaNo (a/k/a NaNoWriMo), is the National Novel Writing Month. There are numerous stories behind the creation of NaNo. If the narrative provided by Chris Baty in his NaNo handbook No Plot? No Problem! can be believed, NaNo started out as, a type of post college drinking game on July 1, 1999. Yes. July.  And about the drinking thing? I made that up. Almost.

no-plotOn July 1, 1999 twenty-one writer friends decided to write a novel. Nothing surprising there, they were each writing their own novel. It wasn’t a group effort. To sweeten the pot, they added a ticking clock. They would do it in a month. No Plot? No Problem! is essentially the story of that first NaNo, and a handbook of how to avoid their pitfalls. I highly recommend it. Even in non-NaNo months. My…

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