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Revisions: Writing Dialogue

dialogue

Hi writers, I know it’s been a while since my last editing/revision lesson but family matters have kept me busy as well as clients so let’s get things rolling again. One of the things that I notice quite often in editing is incorrect punctuation when it comes to dialogue. I understand it can be confusing at times but with practice, anyone can become so comfortable with the rules that it will come without thinking. Trust me.

Dialogue has its own set of rules for punctuation.

Commas always go in particular places, as do terminal marks such as periods, question marks, and exclamation points.

A simple rule to remember is that only what is said aloud is put within the quotation marks, and always within quotation marks—those are the double marks by the way. (“…”)

Any other parts of the same sentence such as dialogue tags (said, remarked, commanded, etc.) and any action or thought go outside the quotation marks.

Dialogue always begins with a capitalized word, no matter where in the sentence it begins. Only if the dialogue is interrupted and a tag continues it followed by a comma and not a period is not capped.

Example: “If I could have a moment of your time,” he said, grabbing her hand, “it’s important.”

Only direct dialogue, words spoken to someone or aloud requires quotation marks. Indirect dialogue is a report that someone spoke and what they said. The word that is implied in indirect dialogue.

Direct: “She was spoiled rotten,” he said.

Indirect: He said [that] she was spoiled rotten.

Now…as for punctuation in regards to dialogue, there are a few rules but the most basic ones are:

When using a single line of dialogue with no dialogue tag, the entire sentence, including the period or question mark or exclamation point is placed within the quotation marks.

Example: “I love you.”

“Will you marry me?”

“I’m so excited!”

When using a single line with dialogue tag (attribution) following the dialogue, the dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks with a comma following the dialogue and the comma is always placed before the closing quotation mark. A period ends the sentence after the dialogue tag. Punctuation in the form of the comma serves to separate the spoken words from other parts of the sentence. Since the sentence is not finished after the dialogue, the dialogue tag—he said, she demanded—is still part of the same sentence, and so it is not capitalized unless a proper name or title is being used.

Example:  “I love you,” she said.

“I love you,” Annabelle said.

The same construction occurs with a question mark even though there is no comma but instead a question mark, the dialogue tag continues the sentence and so there is no capitalization of the first word following the quotation marks unless it is a proper name.

Example:  “Will you marry me?” he asked.

“Will you marry me?” Damien asked.

When it comes to the use of exclamation points…if at all possible use a dialogue tag that expresses the raised voice or excitement in the voice of the speaker rather than an exclamation point or do not add a dialogue tag and use the exclamation point as too many exclamation points can slow the flow and distract the reader.

Example:  “I’m so excited,” she exclaimed throwing her arms around his neck.

“I’m so excited!” She threw her arms around his neck.

Sometimes, the dialogue needs more definition and so you might wish to put the tag first before the line of dialogue. When using this method, the comma still separates the dialogue tag from the spoken words but now it is outside the quotation marks and the dialogue-ending period is inside the quotation marks.

Example:  She said, “I love you.”

Annabelle said, “I love you.”

When using a single line of dialogue with dialogue tag as well as action, the dialogue is always enclosed in quotation marks no matter how much action is added to the sentence. A comma still follows the dialogue and is enclosed within the quotation marks. The dialogue tag follows immediately with no capitalization unless using a proper name then the action follows and a period ends the sentence.

Example:  “I love you,” she said, hoping he loved her too.

“I love you,” Annabelle said, hoping he loved her too.

Just as with a single line of dialogue with a simple tag, the action and dialogue tag can also introduce the dialogue, only now you’ll follow the action with the tag but the same rules apply as before.

Example:  Tipping her head to look at him, she said, “I love you.”

The most important thing to remember is make sure the reader knows who is speaking so as to avoid confusion. The dialogue is always key to fiction…let’s get it right. Next time, we’ll explore more complicated dialogue construction.

If you have any questions in particular that you’d like to see addressed, feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to include them in the next sessions of Revisions: Writing Dialogue. It’s all about helping you find the success you deserve.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Revisions: Flow Killers – Filler Words and Repetition

Thesaurus cartoon

Are you struggling with revisions, not understanding what needs expanding, and what needs cutting?

Let’s start with filler and repetitive words.

Some say you need to cut out filler words, adverbs, all passive voice, and cut down on descriptions…well…yes and no. It all depends on your voice, what your story line might dictate and frankly, it depends on what your characters have to say.

Yes, your characters. Don’t kid yourself that your characters don’t have complete control over everything you do when writing their story.

Filler words such as that, just, very, much, really, completely, totally, somehow, somewhat, basically, literally, absolutely, rather, up/down (as in stood up or sat down),  so (as in so fast), both (as in we both stood), and own (as in she gazed at her own reflection) can be used but it all depends on your voice. As with any word, phrase or descriptive adjective, too much of anything can become less than a good thing. I don’t advise cutting all filler words but instead read the line through and think of a tighter, more exact way of saying it. Yes—exact! Only you know what you want to say so push the limit until you are saying exactly what you wish to say.

For example, in the lines I used to explore expansion and layering: (see Part One post)

Angry and feeling as though if he didn’t leave immediately, he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open, and despite the pouring rain, marched into the street.

Rather than using the filler word though, I tightened the line down by removing the word and using a comma after Angry:

Angry, and feeling as if he didn’t leave right away he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open so wide driving rain sprayed him and the foyer floor. He marched into street without looking back. He knew he’d never return.

Tighter, and more expressive, it shows the event more than tells it—our main goal as writers of fiction.

If you find yourself using one particular filler word a lot, or any word/phrase for that matter, it might be time to rethink the use of the word. Whereas the use of a word such as that or like is common in everyday language and so is fine for your characters to use, they can begin to act like roadblocks to a reader’s attention. I’m not saying these words can’t be used…on the contrary, sometimes it just can’t be said another way without changing your voice but when certain words occur in every sentence, it’s time to rethink your vocabulary. The use of a good thesaurus or online thesaurus can be invaluable.

Repetition can be a flow killer. It can be anything from using the same word to describe a movement, a body part, or even an emotion…remember to shake things up…keep it fresh.

Remember, it’s all about flow. Keeping the action moving is important, but if the flow is awkward and the reader’s eye has to stumble over rocks in the form of repetitive words then eventually the reader is going to quit. Good writing makes reading effortless, and you a success.

When you’re ready for editing, talk to me about how I can assist you in finding that success.

Come back next time to continue learning how to turn your manuscript into something worth reading.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Revisions: Turning Your Manuscript Draft Into Something Worth Reading

I am a writer

If writing was easy, everyone would do it and do it well.

As I’ve mentioned, a draft is NOT, and NEVER will be ready for anyone other than the author to see…I wouldn’t even venture a friend…but certainly not an editor, and not a reader. So how do you take that draft and get it to a level where an editor at a publishing company might accept it for publication or a hired editor might assist you in turning it into something a reader will just eat up?

Revisions. Revisions. And more revisions.

When you start revising your manuscript, you’ll begin fleshing out characters – making them three-dimensional, and more alive – developing action as well as setting, and emotion. It’s about stepping into your characters’ shoes and living the story with them. It’s about building the life and depth of the story line through layers of words like a bricklayer builds a wall.

  • An example, let’s say your draft gives you:
  • John strode to the door, opened it, and walked out on the street.

That sentence is fine. It’s grammatically correct…it shows the action, but what does it really present to the reader? It says he opened the door and went out to the street. Simple and to the point, but that’s a draft.

Revision one:

  • Angry, John stalked to the door, opened it, and walked out onto the street.

Now we know he was angry, by both stating it and making it evident in the way he walked to the door.

Revision two:

  • Angry and feeling as though if he didn’t leave immediately, he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open, and despite the pouring rain, marched into the street.

Now we know just how angry he was as well as creating atmosphere because now we know it was raining outside but it’s not very smooth so let’s take a step further.

Revision three:

  • Angry, and feeling as if he didn’t leave right away he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open so wide driving rain sprayed him and the foyer floor. He marched into street without looking back. He knew he’d never return.

By layering emotion, setting, action, and expanding that simple line, you can create a scene and that’s what we, as editors and readers, want to see in a story. Through revisions, you can layer into it so much more without writing eons of words.

If you’re struggling with revisions, not understanding what needs expanding or what needs cutting, come back next time and I’ll start breaking things down with you. Remember…when you think you’re really ready to show it to the world, having a professional editor like me look at it can only make it shine brighter.

Let’s find success for you – together.

Happy Writing Everyone!

No First Drafts Need Apply…

First Draft

SO…you’ve written a book, and are now thinking…this being a writer thing is easier than I thought. I’ve written this great first draft and it’s ready for publishing…who needs revisions or editing, right? If I get a publisher, they’ll do that, right? And if I decide to self-publish, I don’t need to do anything more…because…I’m a writer! Right?

No. No. And no!

As a well-known writer once said…The first draft of anything is shit. And he’s right because it’s the second, third, or even fourth or fifth draft that will finally tell the reader the story.

If you’re a writer planning to self-publish or you keep getting rejected after submitting to publishing houses because your manuscript is ‘not what they’re looking for’, it’s because your manuscript is far from being ready. A first draft is exactly that—a FIRST DRAFT.

Those two words speak volumes. It’s rough…it’s a first draft, which means it is the first thoughts of your story. A first draft is more like an outline. You’re telling your initial story but now it needs fleshing out…meaning the characters are still in need of development, both internally and externally. Its missing words, filled with spelling errors, and the punctuation may or may not be correct. And maybe, you don’t have a good handle on point of view changes or if writing in first-person, understanding how to stay there. If it was perfect, polished, and ready for publishing, it would a FINAL manuscript not a FIRST draft, or even a second.

I recommend all writers, even the best, even best-sellers revise their first draft at least twice before even having an editor look at it. When we are writing, we are completely submerged into the work and because of that, we don’t see all the errors, missed words, poor sentence structure, head hopping and sometimes, we are even missing points of conflict and emotion that our characters and story line need. When we write a first draft, we don’t always get everything on the page we want there. It takes starting from the beginning, and going through it word for word, and experiencing it to begin to achieve the level of completeness to make it ready for an editor to see. And then the editor takes it apart again.

Editors are a fresh eye on your work, and once you reach the point where you don’t think you can revise one more word, an editor might see other problems or places that can be expanded or deleted that will enhance the story, and the characters even more…and can also suggest how to fix it. Without an editor and a fresh eye, you may be hindering your work and keeping it from being published or if you’re self-publishing, keep you from getting top rated reviews and in turn, selling books.

Do you really want to put your hard work out there in a first draft or even unpolished manuscript? I have to tell you that is a surefire way to make sure you don’t succeed.

Yes, editors are costly. There are some that cost thousands, some come a little cheaper but honestly, where as some say they are cost efficient, and might be able to do a 65,000 word manuscript for a squeak under a thousand dollars, I can do it for less than $600. In addition, for new clients, I always offer a FREE 2000 word sample to show them what I do for them…and to see if we’re a match.

Who knows, you might be a fast study and be able to take what I show you in that free sample and edit your work yourself…but would you be sure that you did your hard work a good service?

No.

But if you want publishers, readers, and reviewers to take notice…you want your manuscript thoroughly and completely, word for word, edited. No First Drafts Need Apply—ANYWHERE! :-)

Let’s find you success. Happy Writing Everyone!

Book Trailer for the ALL ACCESS Trilogy by Tina Mrazik

ALL ACCESS Trilogy

Fabulous New Trailer for the ALL ACCESS Trilogy by Tina Mrazik

Best ALL ACCESS The Search for Paradise by Tina Mrazik

Available now where all books are sold!

If you’re like most fans of rock and roll, then you imagine the life of a rock star is all about easy fame and fortune, big money, all-night partying, and doing what you love most. The same goes for writers and film stars, right?

Well, the money is good, the parties are happening, and we are doing what we love more than anything in the world, but getting there isn’t as easy as you think. My name is Tina Marz, and while I’m searching for my paradise, life throws me a lot of curves and hard lessons in my search for my success. It is all about hard work, long hours, and just when I think paradise is within reach…maybe it’s not. Come join me on my journey to the top, and I’ll give you an all access look at the truth about life in the spotlight…my life.

Best ALL ACCESS Paradise Found

Available now where all books are sold!

Fame and fortune are the name of the game, and I seem to have a handle on it now. But now I wonder if it’s what I’ve always wanted or just a fantasy world built on desire, and the need to be loved. Don’t get me wrong…paradise is wonderful. It’s grander and far sweeter than anything I imagined for me, Tina Marz. The money is good, the parties are happening, and I am doing what I love more than anything in the world but it isn’t all easy work hours, freewheeling lifestyle, and glamour.

It is a hard road to travel and now staying on top is possibly more work than getting here. Is this finally my paradise? A seemingly perfect world filled with fame, fortune, and true love. Finally, I’ve found my life as a famous songwriter-novelist-screenwriter rock star. But is paradise forever?

Best ALL ACCESS Finding My Way Back Home by Tina Mrazik

Releasing soon from eXstasybooks…

Sometimes paradise isn’t everything after all, and it can slip away in a moment…

I found my paradise. I created it from a lot of hard work, a desire to succeed, sometimes by neglecting those who love me most, and losing others who left me heartbroken. With success comes power, fame, but many times it brings paranoia and despair too. Now, when things can’t possibly be better for me, when things couldn’t be sweeter, and love more wonderful, things begin to start falling apart…and it’s all my own doing.

The life of a superstar isn’t all glamour and happy good times. In fact, it can be downright dangerous at times, scary as hell, and can leave you feeling like you’re spinning out of control. You don’t always know whom best to trust, even when you love them with all of your heart. In the end, it’s up to me, Tina Marz, to find my way back home.

***This is a fabulous trilogy about a rock star and her journey to the top. It will grip you mind and heart.

I highly recommend reading the ALL ACCESS Trilogy by Tina Mrazik and make sure you have tissues nearby for the end of the third book. I cried my eyes out all three times I read it.❤

Happy Writing Everyone!

The Singular ‘Their’ corrected by the Comma Queen

To watch the lesson on THE SINGULAR “Their” either choose it from the playlist, upper left corner of video or click link below. Although, the first lesson is good too.

The Singular “Their” | Comma Queen The New Yorker

When writing my own work, and far too often, when editing your work, I see this more than I should. When used in dialogue, I tend to ignore it because that’s how people speak. When our characters are talking to each other, it’s rather common for them to say such things as:

“Well, everyone wants to go to the game, but they haven’t got tickets.”

However, in your text, you don’t want to use this kind of vernacular:

Everyone wanted to go to the game, but they hadn’t any tickets.

Everyone is singular…they is plural. Pay attention to what the Comma Queen says here. I always trust her to put it to you straight, and probably better than I can.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Feel free to check out more writing lessons from the Comma Queen on YouTube. I do.🙂

Client Pride! A 3rd Place Win for Ella J. Phoenix!

VAMPIRE LEGACY by Ella J Phoenix 3rd place win

I am so proud of my client, Ella J. Phoenix for her 3rd Place WIN in the Paranormal Romance Guild 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Awards for VAMPIRE LEGACY, book four in the Dragon Heat series.

This is such a great series and I was so proud to be able to assist her on this installment after loving all of the previous ones so much. This series is fabulous and award winning already so to have helped her maintain her standard and achieve higher makes my work worthwhile.

So just imagine how well it might have done had she taken all of my suggestions regarding passive voice. *wink* Congratulations Ella…keep writing and keep striving for the best you can create. XOX

Remember, helping you succeed is what I do, and I want to help you find your success too.

Happy Writing Everyone!

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