Writing from the Trenches
Writers are always leaning on each other to learn the craft. Sometimes finding a mentor is hard to do because writers are busy people. When we’re not dealing with every day life, we’re working on the next release. Today, I’m excited to share with you the new book by TEN award-winning authors who have been where you are. They’ve been through the rejections, revisions, edits, critques, marketing and everything else that deals with writing. These ten authors have come together to share their advice and expertise in a new book, Writing from the Trenches. Here’s a sample of the great advice you’ll find:
Maximizing Use of Beats in Dialogue
guest post by Julie Lessman
Action speaks louder than words. Do you believe it? Well, if you’re an author, you better, because we must use words to convey “action” in a reader’s mind.
Maximizing use of “beats” (action) in dialogue ramps up tension, so instead of overuse of speaker attributions (i.e., he said, she said), try a healthy dose of action beats with minimal speaker attributions.
1.) ACTION BEATS ALONE ENHANCE DRAMA, especially with only two speakers, allowing less chance for confusion. This excerpt from A Hope Undaunted shows it both ways.
“Is that all this was between us then?” he said, locking her wrist midair when she tried to slap him. “A little fun while your rich boyfriend was off limits?”
“I never started any of this,” she said, jerking her hand free, “and you know it. It was you.”
“No,” he said, fingers digging in as he pressed her to the counter. “But you sure finished it, didn’t you?”
She tried to slap him, but he locked her wrist midair with a painful grip. “Is that all this was between us then? A little fun while your rich boyfriend was off limits?”
She jerked her hand free. “I never started any of this, and you know it. It was you.”
His fingers dug in as he pressed her to the counter. “No, but you sure finished it, didn’t you?”
2.)ACTION BEATS W/MINIMAL SPEAKER ATTRIBUTIONS CAN ENHANCE EMOTION. In this angry love scene from A Passion Most Pure, I relied heavily on beats (underlined) because speaker attributions can slow the flow of a tense scene. Only two speaker attributions are included (bolded)to drive emotion home with a strong response.
She jerked her hand from his and stood, quivering as she caved against the chair.“I can’t marry you, Collin.”
He leaned in.“I know you love me. Can you deny it?”
She didn’t speak and he jumped up, gripping her arms to lift her to her feet.When she wouldn’t look at him, he grabbed her chin.“Look at me! Can you deny you love me?”
She stared through a mist of tears.“Let me go.”
“Tell me you don’t love me.”
“I don’t love you.”
“You’re lying, Faith. I would have thought better of you than that.”
“Well don’t!” she screamed. “I’m not better than that. You’ve said your apologies, Collin, now let me go.”
She tried to turn away. He jerked her back.“I know you love me. Don’t you think I can feel it every time I touch you?” He silenced her with a savage kiss. She struggled to pull free, but he only held her tighter, the blood pounding in his brain. His mouth was everywhere—her throat, her earlobes, her lips—and he could feel the heat coming in waves as she melted against him. She was quivering when he finally let her go.
“You love me, Faith,” he said quietly. “You know it, and I know it. Your heart belongs to me, and nothing can ever change that fact—not Charity, not you, and not your god.”
These examples shed light on just how important “beats” are, not only to good dialogue, but in escalating the romantic tension in a novel as well. And if you’re looking for more ideas to hone your craft, check out Writing From the Trenches: Tips & Techniques From Ten Award-Winning Authors. Here’s a blurb:
TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle tough subjects such as the following:
Villains We Love to Hate
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing