Vote for Frankenstein A Life Beyond by June 1st, check out some other independent authors, and maybe score a free summer read. What could be easier?
Writers don’t set out to create bad dialogue for their characters; in fact, most of us try to edit our way out of potential dialogue disasters but let’s face it, we’ve all read or heard some pretty cringe worthy examples. Bad dialogue can undermine your story, make your characters look boring or stupid, and even alienate your audience. So the question is how do you create effective, engrossing dialogue?
Consider the following about the dialogue in your story either as you’re writing your draft or editing it:
- What is the purpose?
If your dialogue is not advancing the plot, adding depth to characters, helping to develop theme(s), or relevant it’s time to put on the brakes and reconsider what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Is this how human beings really interact?
Overly harsh? Maybe but easy trap that a lot of writers fall into is an over reliance of characters constantly saying each others names. Titanic anyone?
Have you ever quickly written an email or text that in your head sounded one way but its tone was interpreted another way by the person who received it? This can turn awkward in a hurry. The same applies when you’re crafting dialogue for your characters. Much like a bad line reading in a film, if the tone your dialogue conveys doesn’t match a character’s actions or motivations you’re likely to leave your audience wondering.
- Is this clunky sounding or is it just me?
Is your dialogue concise and to the point or overly wordy and repetitious? It doesn’t always sound that way on the page but try to speak it or record you reading the lines.
As human beings we expect a certain order and flow to our conversations. We don’t tend to go back and summarize what two people are already mutually aware of, so why do we make our characters do so? Organically reminding the audience about important information is one thing but interrupting the flow of a conversation between characters to do so is lazy and will make them sound as if they’ve suffered sudden memory loss.
- Do you know how to K.I.S.S. ?
Keep it simple, seriously. Throwing in a bunch of unnecessary jargon or showing that you know how to use the Thesaurus to find big words might sound impressive to you but it can often lead to poor dialogue and characterization.
Aside from asking these questions here are a few more tips to help you become more confident about writing dialogue:
1. Write a play or screenplay – What? I’m a novelist. Yes, but both play and screenplay writers specialize (or should) in creating concise, purpose driven dialogue. They must advance the story and characters through the dialogue on the page and they can’t take two hundred pages to do it. Even if you’re not an aspiring playwright it is worth your time as a creative exercise.
2. Find examples – Seek out the good, the bad, and the ugly (written or spoken) when it comes to scenes of dialogue. Writers have their own styles. The more examples you investigate the larger knowledge base you have to work off of when you’re creating your own.
3. Is there a class for that? - There are numerous writing programs, workshops, and classes both online, at colleges, or hosted local organizations that focus specifically on helping authors create solid dialogue. Many also give you the opportunity to share material you’ve already created so you can receive feedback. Be proactive and see what is available either in your area or online.
I recently watched (thanks to Netflix streaming- but this is also available in local libraries, can be ordered from various online sources, and is posted on Youtube) a documentary film called Mythic Journeys.
In a time when media and sometimes society as a whole seems to be awash in “much ado about nothing” it offered a refreshing take on the basic concepts of literature and the role it could/should play in our lives. This 2009 award winning documentary got me thinking not only about the power of storytelling as a unifying cultural force but also about how often that we as adults deny that power.
Many of us tend to leave mythological tales to the dim recesses of childhood or leave untouched volumes in the far corner of the bookcase but how often do we revisit them when we are seeking wisdom, solace, or guidance in are own lives? How often do we as a society actively work not just to consider the stories that exist but work (in some small way) to craft our own; pause to consider how fundamental and necessary sharing stories is to the health and well-being of humanity?
The creativity of myths have given us so much; sparked the human imagination to help us craft new futures and yet, as the film points out, seems oddly muted today. Stories help us to ask questions and explore possibilities; they help give the experiences in our lives substance; create a basis for a common dialogue; enrich our communities; can make us laugh or feel a sense of wonder or marvel at others cleverness .
Maybe we should all reacquaint ourselves with myth. Perhaps as Joseph Campbell once said we should all, “Sit in a room and read–and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.”
Read up on me and other great folks in the latest issue of the Columbus Foundation’s Nexus publication.
I recently completed a new interview which has been posted at The Official Page of Justin Bienvenue- Interviews: http://jbienvenue.webs.com/interviews.htm
Justin had some fun questions and is actively seeking authors who are interested in being interviewed or have news to share. He did a great job of tailoring his questions and has a host of other author’s interviews on this page.
News on the Enceladus Literary site:
After a recent trip to the Columbus Short North Gallery Hop I decided that it would be great to start a page that featured links to local artists, art venues, and organizations. This is very much a work on progress and I’m looking forward to adding new links as I continue to meet new artists and art lovers. The page address is:http://www.enceladusliterary.com/?page_id=391 and the direct link can be found on the Ebooks and Authors page.
I’m still working out some of the tech issues with recording an audio book version of Frankenstein A Life Beyond but definitely making progress. Will have a more in-depth update soon.
My best wishes to all as we enter a new year together. A sincere and heartfelt thank you for everyone who has contributed to or taken an interest in my work and in Enceladus Literary and the Hindsight is 20-20 podcast this year. Looking forward to meeting new authors, readers, and continuing my writing and podcasting efforts in 2013!
Thank you Anita of the Kindle Book Review for posting this review. It is greatly appreciated As a debut author this is very exciting because it is my first official book review. The text of the review is posted below.
“Frankenstein-A Life Beyond” by Pete Planisek’s is a follow-up to the memorable classic “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly. If you are a lover of this enduring classic then you will absolutely enjoy Mr. Planisek’s novel. He uses many characters from this classic, adds a few new characters to create one great, interesting continuing story.
This is Ernest Frankenstein’s story and it picks up not far from where “Frankenstein” left off. Ernest is a young man devastated by everything that has happened to him and his family and ends up in Ireland where he meets his wife Ailis. One stormy night they receive a knock on their door. Captain Robert Walton has sought him out to relate a story about his brother. While he was in the Arctic he met Victor who pursued some creature of his own making. Victor died but this `creature’ bordered his ship and took his body. Even though his story is unbelievable, he hopes Ernest will believe him.
After Walton leaves it is decided that he needs to find out one way or another about Victor so he sets off to Geneva to see his friend and solicitor Christiansen as years before they had worked out a secret code that would verify each other for future use. Ernest is hoping that if anyone would know if Victor was alive it would be him. Unfortunately all he has is a supposed note saying to meet him in Geneva signed “by” Victor. Ernest decides that he’ll go back home to the family estate, check the place out and possible pick up a few things he may want to take home to Ireland with him. One night, while sleeping in his old room, he awoke to mysterious eyes looking at him through the window. After checking the estate out he decides to leave the following morning while he still could.
On his way home he is kidnapped by a band of gypsies. They too are after Victor and his `creation’. It has been prophesized that the fate of man depends of the capture and destruction of this `creature’. Unbeknownst to this group they have Ernest not Victor. Nasi, the group’s fading seer and Baseria, the group’s true seer, has seen Mr. Frankenstein and have foreseen along with what the ancient prophecy stated, what needs to be done yet they mistakenly took the wrong Frankenstein. While this is going on the group of gypsies are warring with a splinter group and during the melee the `creature’ who calls Ernest `uncle’ makes his presence known to him trying to make a deal to obtain Victor’s journals. And if all this isn’t enough happening in poor Ernest’s life, his wife Ailis, who is pregnant with their first child, is sick and home alone, in need of help. She has a half-sister that Ernest has made contact with asking that she travel to Ireland, meet Ailis and help while he is on his mission…this is where I will stop as I do not want to give anything away, but know that this is a fascinating follow-up and I was disappointed when I turned the final page because I wasn’t ready for this story to end although it does have a sequel, “Frankenstein Book II”, that I am positive you will want to pick-up after reading this one.
Mr. Planisek has done an excellent job writing a follow-up to this classic. I am not sure how many other people could have done this and done such a good job of it. My hats off to him and I for one will look forward to picking up my own copy of book 2. So if you love the book or various movies about Frankenstein then you will enjoy “Frankenstein-A Life Beyond”. I recommend this story to those that love the classic tale and to those who have never read Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” but enjoy a well written, entertaining, interesting story.
Anita (The Kindle Book Review)
For new interview and excerpt from Frankenstein A Life Beyond that has never been posted previously, please visit http://bloghopforbooks.blogspot.com/
Thanks to Jodie Cooper for the opportunity to share with all of you!
Our newest guest blogger is hard at work on several writing projects and has some insights to share on how children’s authors can create comedic characters who connect to young readers. Enjoy!
H.C. Ablewick is an aspiring Middle Grade Fiction author who loves large paper clips and anything made from glass.
5 Ways to Study Comedic Timing
Authors of Children’s Literature
By H.C. Ablewick
Some of the most successful children’s authors have won audiences with humor, J.K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Kate DiCamillo, and Jeff Kinney, to name a few. How’d they do it? Comedic timing. It can be subtle or outrageous. It can be heart-felt or mean-spirited, depending on the characters. If you’re looking for ways to study comedic timing and what makes children laugh, here are a few suggestions.
1. Movies with Adults Acting Crazy with Animals
Think monkey scene in A Night at the Museum. “Good Lord, Lawrence, why are you slapping a monkey?” Robin Williams (as Teddy Roosevelt) says when he sees Ben Stiller (Larry Daley) slapping a monkey. It’s the kind of scene that makes kids laugh out loud, shout even. Why? It’s so unrealistic. The secret: children love fictional realism. They know it would be mean for a man to slap an animal but they know this scene wouldn’t happen in real life. It’s just funny to see a grown man provoked by a monkey.
In the movie Enchanted, Timothy Spall (Nathaniel ) chases a chipmunk around a diner while James Marsden (Prince Edward), dressed in full-blown, Prince Charming attire tries to decipher the chipmunk’s squeaks. Children love this scene. It’s about a grown man dressed up like a medieval prince in a modern diner and he’s acting like he understands a chipmunk. What isn’t funny about that?
Other notable movies with adults acting crazy with animals are Alvin and the Chipmunks (any time Dave yells at Alvin) and Mr. Hopper’s Penguins.
2. Animated Movies with Animals Falling in Love
I don’t know why children become hysterical over these scenes, but they do. I’ve witnessed it numerous times in the movie theaters. Most recently, I saw Ice Age 3. Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel, became love-struck with a female saber-toothed squirrel. His eyes popped. She batted her heavily made-up eyes in slow motion. They played the easy-listening hit, “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” by the 70’s R&B singer Lou Rawls and the children in the audience roared.
The Scrat scene isn’t new. When I was young, we watched PePe Le Pew, the French skunk of the Looney Tunes cartoons. He strutted through the streets of Paris in the spring looking for love. Like Scrat though, PePe didn’t end up with the girl. Wild chase scenes and misunderstandings followed his love scenes and added to their humor.
3. Children playing with Toys
If you watch children with their toys, you’ll pick up quite a few tricks. Anything bizarre seems to make them laugh. For example, a young relative of mine once stuck ten Lego mini-figure heads together. She and her brother laughed hysterically then took turns creating weird combinations of mini-figures, like a surfer dude’s head on a chef’s coat with policeman’s pants all topped with a witch’s hat. It became a competition between them to see who could come up with the most outrageous mini-figure.
4. Funniest Video Shows and Wipe-Out Shows
Physical comedy is always a hit. The Funniest Video shows always have people doing stupid things and getting hurt and kids laugh. They also love dogs chasing chickens and cats hanging from ceiling fans.
In the Wipe Out shows, people bounce off giant balls, they’re knocked into pools trying to dart through moving poles, and they’re catapulted across fire and water into pools of foam. These shows have created adult playgrounds. The participants act crazy and children love to watch them throw themselves into the obstacles.
5. Long, very Long, Names
My young relatives used a DSi to record the Minister of Magic reading Dumbledore’s will in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. I couldn’t figure out why they were recording it until they played it back. The Minister, with a very serious tone, announces, “Herein is set forth the last will and testament of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.” The children played it back and almost fell off the couch laughing then tried to repeat the name until they got it right.
I hope this article triggered some ideas. Good luck to you.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following post was kindly contributed by special guest blogger and sci-fi/fantasy author Douglas R. Brown. His works include: The Light of Epertase; Legends Reborn, and a werewolf tale with a twist, called Tamed. Doug has recently released the second book in The Light of Epertase series called A Kingdom’s Fall.
Do You See Dragons in the Clouds?
“It’s a dragon. See the tail and the puff of smoke from its mouth?”
“All I see is a bunch of clouds.”
Being a fantasy writer isn’t much different than seeing magical creatures in the clouds. Yes, I’m saying we are crazy. OK, not really. It is just that a writer needs to rediscover a way to see dragons in the clouds instead of losing that ability somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood. Sure, there are rules to writing, time restraints, and other obstacles to becoming a writer, but at the heart of it all is finding one’s imagination again.
Let me give you an example. My full-time job is as a firefighter/paramedic on a large urban fire department. In the district where I work, there is a street named Bluefield. I’ve driven that street hundreds of times with my firefighting coworkers without a second thought. But while I was neck deep in writing my third installment in my Epertase trilogy, one day it became clear I hadn’t shut off my creative juices before going to work. We took a call to Bluefield, as we often did, and when I saw the sign, I thought “Hm. The blue fields.” As I thought about actual blue fields, I came up with blue fields of sorrow. It just kind of flowed. I was inspired, not because of some major incident in my life but because of a simple name on a street sign. If I hadn’t relearned how to see dragons in the clouds a few years ago, I’d have never given the street named Bluefield a second thought. But I did. And you know what? It gave me a super cool section to my final Epertase installment.
That’s how a lot of ideas have come to me. It’s not as much because I’m some special creative person as it is that I’ve opened that creative door in my mind that often gets closed by other people with the stresses of growing up. If you want to write, especially fantasy or fiction in general, my best advice is to open that creative door again.
There is a lot to being an author, including hard work, a grasp of the language in which you are writing, and a measure of talent for telling stories. But the most important element, I believe, is that of imagination.
Ok, so it wasn’t a dragon I saw in the clouds . . .
It was a gigantic turtle with a long tail blowing a bubble. Hey, that gives me an idea for a children’s book.
Learn more about Doug and his works by visiting: www.epertase.com or www.rhemalda.com