Monday, February 25, 2013

He Says, She Says

I had a great time at The Buzz Book Fair in Cincinnati over the weekend, and presented a workshop on writing dialogue to a group of enthusiastic beginning writers.

I provided time for an exercise at the end, and three attendees were willing to read their fictional conversations. I was really impressed with the pieces read--all were very well written and quite entertaining!

Speaking of dialogue (cheesy pun intended), something I touched on in the workshop was the difference in communication styles between men and women.

Men are more direct and brusque in tone. They use simpler vocabulary with fewer modifiers, and are likely to use one word responses and shorter sentences.  Instead of talking about people and feelings, they’d rather talk about things.  

Women, however, love talking about people and relationships.  Their language is softer, and they’re more likely to talk around a subject.  “I’m not too happy about this,” she might say, while he says, “I’m mad as hell!”  Women express themselves in complete sentences, and want to share their feelings.

Today, I thought I'd pass this article along from the website Your Tango, written by Richard Drobnick of The Mars and Venus Counseling Center. It provides some information to keep in mind when writing dialogue from the perspective of the opposite sex.

He believes communication should have a clear purpose. Behind every conversation is a problem that needs solving or a point that needs to be made.

She uses communication to discover how she is feeling and what it is she wants to say. She sees conversation as an act of sharing and an opportunity to increase intimacy with her partner.

He prioritizes productivity and efficiency in his daily life, and conversation is no exception. When he tells a story he has already sorted through the muck in his own head, and shares only those details that he deems essential to the point of the story. He might wonder, "Why do women need to talk as much as they do?" Often he will interrupt a woman once he has heard enough to offer a solution.

She uses communication to explore and organize her thoughts — to discover the point of the story. She may not know what information is necessary or excessive until the words come spilling out. But a woman isn't necessarily searching for a solution when she initiates a conversation. She's looking for someone to listen and understand what she's feeling.

Do you have any tips to make dialogue sound more feminine or masculine?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!   

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Most Important Tips for Independently Publishing Your Novel

I must apologize for not replying to last week's comments, and further apologize for not doing my usual blog visits.  I'm preparing for a workshop and have been a little stretched for time. 

I may not be able to reply to comments or visit blogs again this week, but I should be back into my normal routine next week!

Because of time constraints, I'm recycling a post today.  Below is an article I wrote for Romantic Friday Writers during a blog tour in the fall. If you missed it then, hope you'll find it useful now!

Now is the best possible time to be a writer!  With the advent of online publishing and e-books, authors can publish their own work.  However, if you’re considering going independent, keep these tips in mind so you can create the most professional product possible:

Write a Great Story – Although your mother and your friends will love your book, make sure other writers have read it and given you an honest opinion.  Join a local or online writers group or find a critique partner if you don’t have one already.  If you need to, Google Online Writing Groups or Critique Groups.  To hone your skills, don’t only read books on craft, read books similar to what you love to write—that’s a great teaching tool in itself.  Some of my favorite craft books include Strunk and White’s The Element’s of Style, Stephen King’s On Writing, Leigh Michaels’s On Writing Romance, Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict and Robert Masello’s Robert’s Rule’s of Writing.

Edit - Once you’ve completed your novel, have it professionally edited.  You cannot edit your own work! Once you’ve worked on a piece for months or years, it’s very easy to overlook left out words, typos and misspellings (been there, done that). An editor will not only catch these mistakes, but he/she can also help fine tune your finished product by re-crafting sentences or cutting unnecessary words to improve the flow of your story. If you don’t know of an editor, Google eBook Editing Services. 

Format - Format your book correctly! Formatting an e-book isn’t difficult, but it is tedious, not to mention a little overwhelming for the non-technical among us—of which I am one! I did my own formatting for the Kindle and Nook versions of my books, so if I can do it anyone can. The Smashwords Style Guide (free) walks you through the formatting process step by step to prepare your manuscript for upload to their site.  The same formatting can be used for Barnes and Noble Pubit.  Amazon guidelines are different, but very easy to follow.  However, if you don’t have time for the task, or you’re more comfortable letting a pro do it, there are many out there who’ll do it for a reasonable price. Just Google eBook Formatting Services.

 Design an Eye-catching Cover – Your cover is the first impression your book makes on the outside world, so it needs to grab your readers’ attention. Even if your story is great, an ugly cover will discourage readers from clicking on it. Hire a professional artist to create an awesome cover for you! Google eBook Cover Design if you need help finding one.

These are just a few tips, but some of the most important.  However, if you’re seriously thinking about going indie, I highly recommend reading some sources that will give you a thorough overview of what to expect before taking the plunge! Jeff Bennington’s The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is great.  I finished it recently, and wish I could have read it before I dove in blindfolded!

Just a few last words.  You might have writer friends who are experts in all of the above, but not the money to pay them. Indies are usually on a shoestring budget, so don’t hesitate to barter services.  Can you edit, proofread or be a beta reader? Exchange that service with a writer friend who’s a graphic designer. 

Have you independently published your book? If so, what are some important tips you’d like to share?

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Offensiveness of Historical Accuracy

I haven't seen Quentin Tarantino's latest film, Django Unchained, but it's high on my list! I can't take Tarantino's  trademarks of blood, violence and cursing, but I do enjoy his brand of dark humor and his sociological and psychological take on the human condition.

Kill Bill was the last Tarantino film I saw.  The reviews said the violence was akin to that found in Anime cartoons. Okay, I thought, is that like what you might see in Speed Racer or Pokemon?  As I watched limbs being severed and blood spewing forth, I soon discovered that I didn't really know what Anime was.

I will put aside my aversion to killing and bad language to see Tarantino's latest.  Django Unchained takes place during a horrific era in American history.  Slavery days are a painful scab in our nation's past, but from what I've read, Tarantino has used historical accuracy to show the nasty underside of a time too many of us would rather keep swept under the rug.

I read an article yesterday that outlined  the "Ten Most Offensive Moments in Django Unchained." Well, those moments might offend today, but unfortunately, events like those characterized really did happen.  As mentioned earlier, I haven't seen the film, but I am very interested in the time period. During research on my novel, Escape: Book One of the Unchained Trilogy, I read many heart-wrenching and appalling slave narratives.  So I applaud Mr. Tarantino for not holding back, and telling it like it was.

Have you seen Django Unchained?

Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

O.J. Brigance: The Juice of Inspiration

I hope everyone enjoyed last night's Super Bowl! I admit, I'm not a sports fan, and mainly watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. However, yesterday, before the official start of the game, I caught the tail end of a story about a former football player for the Ravens named. O.J. Brigance.

I'd never heard of him, but I thought I'd share his story today since he is such an inspiration!

According to Wikipedia, Brigance played college football at Rice University, and after graduating, began his pro career as a linebacker in the CFL with the B.C. Lions in 1991.  In 1996, Brigance was signed by the Miami Dolphins as a free agent. He was twice voted a team captain during his 4 seasons there and his teammates named him Ed Block Courage Award recipient in 1999. In addition, he was honored with the NFL Player Association's "Unsung Hero Award" that same season.
The next year, he was signed by the Baltimore Ravens. 

Brigance was a key contributor to the Ravens' championship-winning team as he finished second on the team with 25 special teams tackles and led the team with 10 special teams tackles in the post-season.  

Brigance was an exceptional football player, and remains an exceptional human being. In May 2007, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig's disease), an eventually fatal  motor neuron disease.  The life expectancy is three to five years.

A Newsday article reports that Brigance continues to work full-time for the Ravens (as the Senior Advisor of Player Development) and regularly interacts with players, coaches and team officials. According to the article, not a single member of the organization hasn't been touched in some way by this former linebacker and special-teams ace.

ALS has robbed Brigance of the ability to speak, he can no longer move his extremities, and he requires the use of a ventilator to breathe.  However, his mental and intellectual capacities have not diminished. All he can do physically is blink his eyes and move his lips. And those who know Brigance say his smile can light up a room.

Brigance communicates through a computer programmed to type in letters and words by receiving cues from his eyes.  Last Sunday, more than five years after being diagnosed, Brigance sat in his wheelchair inside the Ravens' locker room after they defeated the Patriots, 28-13, in the AFC Championship Game. Then he presented the team the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

Through his computerized voice device, Brigance said,  "Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens. Your resiliency has outlasted your adversity. You are AFC champions. You are my mighty men. With God, all things are possible."

"O.J.'s been our strength," said Ravens safety Ed Reed. "O.J. took me under his wing when I first got here and everything he's been through and is going through, to still be the same O.J. and being a light to you and being a light for our team. He's been like an uncle to me and like a brother..."

As an inspiration to others, Brigance says, "I realize that what I am enduring now is not only for my development but to also be able to help those dealing with the same issues," he said. "I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve God in this current state."  Among other inspirational endeavors, he has created a foundation to assist ALS research called the "Brigance Brigade".

Brigance is persevering against the odds, as well as helping others! Who has inspired you lately?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!