So, here's the thing! Its been ages since my last blog, so I thought I'd cobble something together today. What's been happening? I'm glad you asked my that, Toady. Not a lot really. I suppose everybody goes on holiday round about now before the school summer break begins, and all the holiday resorts are overrun with unmanageable screaming kids and parents get drunk in the bar! Well, enough about my family!
I did do something though! Well, apart from publishing The Breath of Life (which is currently No.1 in Police Procedurals and No.55 in the Top 100 BTW, Toady!) and getting a 20,000-word foothold in Parish & Richards 7 The Dead Know Not (which is due out in mid-August), I wrote a Foreword - say what? Well look, some people write non-fiction books, you know. This one is called How To Write Dialogue and its being thrown together by Matt Posner - Of course you know him, Toady. He's that American fella who sings, dances, and plays some percussion instruments with The Exploration Project. A teacher of some renown. Well, a crazy teacher I suppose, if he teaches in America! Anyway, he's also written some books - magic books to be precise. No, not about how to do magic, Toady. Well, maybe there's some hints in the books, but... All right, maybe I wasn't being that precise. Look, do you want to hear this, or not? Sometimes you can be a real pain in the... I wasn't going to say any naughty words.
I did something else as well! Yes, I'm going to tell you what. I tried to join one of the top writer's associations. I say, "tried" because they wouldn't let me in. Don't smile like that, Toady. It wasn't because I come from the wrong side of the tracks - does that actually mean anything anymore? It wasn't because I'm a bit overweight and fart at the drop of a hat - all right, a lot overweight - you drive a hard bargain, Toady - seriously obsese then! It wasn't because I didn't know the secret handshake... Yes, all right, I'll tell you. Readers like a bit of suspense, mystery, and... It was because I was self-published!!
I know, that's as bad as someone using two exclamation marks!! So, I wrote to them, said I'd written a lot of novels, sold a quarter of a million books (well nearly), and my latest attempt at writing was in the Top 100, but they said, "Rules is rules"!! You have to have been published through a publishing company, have a contract, be paying most of your earnings to publishing people - that's just the way it is!! I said, you're rules are bit outdated. There are self-published people out there who have sold a million books!! I could hear them shrugging their shoulders and the key turning in the lock. Some doors are still closed to self-published authors!!
So, here's the thing! And before I start rambling on about the thing and other stuff, let me tell you about my new book - The Breath of Life (Parish & Richards 6) - hot off the 'puter and published today for your pleasure! Hey, no thanks necessary, that's what I'm here for after all init!
"Dialogue, that's what I wanted to talk to you muffins about..."
"Muffins? Is that an English expression for intelligent people?"
"Yes, Toady. So, what do I know about dialogue? Well, not a lot really, so this will be a very short blog. I know the usual rubbish the people who do know about dialogue tell you, like: (1) Make it sound like the music of everyday speech; (2) Cut out the boring parts - nobody wants to read ums, ers, arhs, and other grunts and snorts you make when you're talking, Toady."
"Is your name Toady?"
"It might be."
"Might be, my arse. Should we continue?"
"(3) Don't use dialogue for info dumps - long speeches are boring, and believe me Toady, I - like most of your readers - have a miniscule boredom threshold; (4) Break up dialogue with action and vicky-verky - and I should tell you here that long paragraphs of description are boring; (5) Try not to use a multitude of synonyms for "said" as dialogue tags - interweave, or should that be intertwine, or maybe entwine, interlace...!!! - Anyway, jumble up your action and your dialogue. It doesn't go dialogue, action, dialogue, more dialogue, some action, etc., ad infinitum... Refer back to (1) - the music of everyday speech, which includes action - people aren't statues with moving mouths - they scratch their arses, pick their noses, and generally annoy other people; (6) Avoid stereotypes like the plague, use slang and profanity sparingly - it ain't necessary."
"I think I got everything, boss."
"So, that's it really, Toady! Well, I did say it would be short. I could mention punctuation... Yeah, you gotta punctuate dialogue correctly, or it looks like a bag of worms on a night out. Also, somebody once said, "Make sure there's lots of white space!" I live by that. Readers like white space, it's easy to read! Do I need to explain that?"
"No, I don't think so, boss." Toady shuffles from one foot to the other, and won't look me in the eyes.
"You don't think so?" My lip curls up. "That fills me with a whole bucketful of confidence."
"What about reading your dialogue aloud?"
"Some do, but I can hear it in my head." I shake my head and my eyes roll from side to side like the reels in a slot machine.
"Some people say, "Put your book away for a year, and then look at it again." What do you think about that?"
I get ready to make a strange noise with my mouth. "Do you really want to know what I think about that, Toady?"
"A wise decision."
"Do you want to say anything about adverbs?"
I laugh heartily, then say crisply and with gusto, "It's best to use body language to convey meaning. Look, you're not writing dialogue to fill up the page. If it's not developing character, or dealing with a plot point, or relating to something important to the story - what's it there for?"
"Is that it?"
"My final point, and then I'm done. Vary the speech styles of your characters - we live in a multicultural world and we ain't be all talking da same is we?"
"You're a genius, boss."
"Coming from you, Toady, that means nothing."
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.