Can We Talk? It’s Time for Dialogue

Dialogue is the fabric of our stories. . .

I recently began a collaboration with a wonderful pro editor to look over my manuscript in hopes of improving it for submissions.  Her feedback was incredibly helpful and, if you are in querying hell right now and not seeing results, I definitely encourage you to seek out the insight of a pro editor.  There are so many talented editors who freelance through their own blogs or websites.  If you are looking for a big pool of editors to pick from (who are all talented and already vetted), check out the list of editors who participated in PitchtoPub.  So . . . much . . . talent!

So, what did my editor have to say about my manuscript?  Lots of tweaks and fresh ideas for making it even better, but one that really hit me once I started editing was the dialogue.  Oh my gosh, the dialogue.  I’d written most of the conversation scenes like my characters were competing for some High School Speech & Debate trophy–nothing about them was natural.  And then I hit my head to my desk wondering how I couldn’t have seen something so obvious, despite all of my wave of edits on my own?  That’s why you need an editor.

There I was, totally recognizing that my dialogue needed work.  Next step was figuring out how to fix it and, boy, that was an entirely different journey.  I like to think I am a fairly competent conversationalist–at least my friends and family seem to enjoy talking with me and once or twice I’ve even been called witty (not Jane Austen-level wit–think more garden variety pun-making).  But trying to translate that into my characters’ dialogue was evading me.  How do you take something most of us do so naturally and write it out such that it advances the story, evolves and fleshes out our characters, and is also just entertaining on its own?

Luckily, there is a treasure trove of help in our boundless online writing community.  A few suggestions to get started include:

1) Nanowrimo’s helpful worksheet

2) Have you seen this?!?  Writing tips from the masters in easy-to-digest lists (many of them mentioning dialogue tips).  I read P.D. James’ list and it made me love her even more.

3) Two books proved their weight in gold for me:  Your First Novel and Fiction Writer’s Workshop.

“Now get to it,” she said.


Pitch to Publication: June 29th is almost here. . .

Don't miss out on this awesome opportunity. . . running to your computer is totally acceptable!
Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity. . . running to your computer is totally acceptable!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  The writing/editing/publishing community offers some many incredible opportunities for aspiring writers.  Coming up on June 29 is Pitch to Publication, where you have the potential to win 1 month of editing from a professional editor, partner with them to then market your manuscript to interested agents, and then move forward potentially to the publication round.  You can find all of the submission information at Samantha Fountain’s blog and opportunities to submit begin June 29 at 8am CST (9am EST for all of my East-Coasters and 6am PST for all of my West-Coasters).

Make sure to review the editors’ bios at Samantha’s blog and be able to commit the time to editing in the time-frames allotted if you are selected (failure to comply with the specified deadlines leads to disqualification).  More info can also be found at WriterPitch.

So, what are you waiting for?