Blog Tour – AMBER WAKE: Featured Post – How to Create a Man for Romance

Here’s a guest post I did on a blog that leans toward enjoying the romantical. Make sure you check it out. Vanessa asked me to provide a post and I read her blog to see what might be of interest, just as I mentioned you should do in another guest post on my blog tour. I thought how I went about, and the thought process behind, the creation of Captain Gabriel Wallace would make a good guest post.

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Dialogue Tags, Action Beats, and The Dialogue Comma.

As some of you know, I host a Fiction writing challenge on Fridays here on Ronovan Writes. It’s funny how I use Ronovan Writes as if it’s not me. Sometimes I shorten it to RW. That has nothing to do with this article, merely an aside.

Dialogue Tags and More by Ronovan Hester



One of the goals of the Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes is to improve the writing of those who participate. At the moment my goal with the challenge is to encourage the improvement of the basics of writing Fiction. Some problems I see, not just in a few challenge entries, but in books I review, are the use of Dialogue Tags, Action Beats, and Dialogue Punctuation. Also today I’ll introduce some of you to Grammarly.

This piece today is not just for those doing the challenge. This is for anyone who:

  • Writes.
  • Writes short stories
  • Writes novellas, or novels.

What I have here will help you. For some of you it will be a reminder.


 

Let’s begin with Dialogue Tags. A Dialogue Tag is when you have a speaker identified along with the dialogue and a word such as ‘said’.

Example: “The dog jumped the fence,” Bob said. OR Bob said, “The dog jumped the fence.”

Example: “Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally asked.

Notice there are words used to show what kind of speaking Bob and Sally are doing. Let’s change one to see what happens.

“The dog jumped the fence.” Bob pointed to Fido racing across the field after the sheep.

We know who is speaking here, Bob because he is the only one mentioned and he is doing an action associated with the act of seeing the dog jump the fence. Now let’s see what happens with Sally.

“Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally pointed to Fido racing across the field after the sheep.

You’ll run into some people who despise Dialogue Tags, regardless of the situation. They would like you to use something like an Action Beat instead. What are Action Beats? An Action Beat is the actions taking place between the dialogues. The two examples above with Bob and Sally pointing are Action Beats. Notice there was no mention of the people speaking. You assumed who was speaking.

My personal opinion is you need a combination of Beats and Tags and nothing at all. Sticking to one and one tool only, in my opinion, would be boring.

Let’s take a look at passage using all three tools.

Example with Dialogue Tags and Action Beats.

“This class is crazy.” Billy ducked the dark rectangular object on its way toward his head.
Larry picked up the weapon, marker dust covered his hand. He threw the eraser back at the offender. “We’re not playing! Find someone else!”
“Thanks, Larry.” Billy’s muffled voice came from the floor.
“You can get up now, Billy.”
“Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?”
“If I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act as innocence as possible.”
“Will that work?”
“Did last year. This is my second year in the class. I failed by a point last time. She’s tough. They don’t call her hard butt because she works out so much.”
Billy laughed, and said, “Either way she’s my favorite teacher.”

The above is not the best example, but it gives you an idea of what I’m talking about. I used one dialogue tag, and then only to keep the reader on track. I didn’t want to throw in lots of Action Beats. Action Beats work great, but can be overdone.
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Then you might have a passage with only Dialogue Tags.

All Dialogue Tags:

“This class is crazy,” Billy said and ducked the dark rectangular object on its way toward his head.
“We’re not playing! Find someone else!” Larry said.
“Thanks, Larry,” Billy said.
“You can get up now, Billy,” Larry said.
“Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?” Billy asked.
“If I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act as innocence as possible,” Larry said.
“Will that work?” Billy asked.
“Did last year. This is my second year in the class. I failed by a point last time. She’s tough. They don’t call her hard butt because she works out so much,” Larry said.
“Either way she’s my favorite teacher,” Billy said.
How boring is that? Annoying? Except for the exclamation marks for Larry there is no personality or life to the scene. Now you see why you use dialogue tags as little as possible. You also use Action Beats only when you need to. Of course you can pep up the dialogue itself and accomplish a lot.
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One thing you need to do when writing is, give each character a distinctive voice. I always try to do that in every story I write. One character might speak in short sentences, another in long. This guy doesn’t use contractions, this guy uses them even when they don’t exist.

By giving distinctive voices, you can have a conversation without a lot of tags or beats. Beats are good. You do need them. However, if you can get as much as possible across in your dialogue you are a long way to being a success.

No Dialogue Tags and No Action Beats.

“Billy, duck!”
“These people are insane. That could’ve hit me in the eye. Thanks Larry.”
“We’re not playing! Find someone else!”
“Ooo, you nailed him with that eraser.”
“He shouldn’t’ve thrown it in the first place. Uh, Billy?”
“Yeah?”
“Stop hiding.”
“Oh, yeah. Thanks. Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?”
“Put it this way, if I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act like an angel.”
“Will that work? This place is a disaster area. There is no way she will think we didn’t do some of this.”
“Worked last year.”
“Last year?”
“Uh, Billy, I’m a year older than you, remember? I failed by one point last time. But as bad as my grades were, I never got in trouble with Ms. Willett.”
“Larry, you’re always getting into trouble.”
“I know, but every time something happened, I stuck my nose in a book. She’s tough but fair. They don’t call her hard—”
“Larry!”
“Okay, they don’t call her hard ‘butt’ because of how much she works out.”
“I don’t care why they call her that, she’s my favorite teacher.”
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Along with dialogue, one thing I notice in books I read and blogs I read is Dialogue Punctuation. I’ll only mention one form of punctuation at this time.

I’ll also make this as simple as I can. Where does the comma go?

Example: “The dog jumped the fence,” Bob said. OR Bob said, “The dog jumped the fence.”

In dialogue, we all know to use the quotation marks around the speech, the dialogue. Where does the comma go? Yes, there is a comma in most dialogue IF there is a normal expression of speech. Look at the example above. There is no exclamation nor a question mark, therefore you put a comma inside the quotation mark.

If you have an exclamation or question mark, then put the mark and close with the quotation, no comma is required.

Example: “The dog jumped the fence!” Bob said.

Example: “Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally asked.

No comma was required in the examples above.

You can do away with commas by not using Dialogue Tags and sticking with Action Beats. Yawn. Okay, not really yawn, if done correctly. When you have a scene with two people conversing, you can easily do away with Dialogue Tags and stick with Action Beats and no manner of denoting who is speaking at all based on the rhythm of the exchange.
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Grammar and Spelling

For those without Word to help catch spelling and grammar errors, I have a suggestion for you. However, first if you do have Word, I’m going to refer you to Using Proofing To Help Your Fiction Diction & More!, for how you can make the most of Word

Another TOOL to use, if you don’t have Word is Grammarly.com. It can be used inside of WordPress or any place you type, even comments on blogs. Also, they have a FREE version, which I use.
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Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in February 14, 2016. He shares his life through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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© Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2016

Stripping for Fiction.

If you’ve never written Flash Fiction you’re missing out on one of the best tools to achieve what Literary Agents, Editors, and Publishers are looking for, the art of Show Don’t Tell.

How to Write Flash Fiction

A major mistake when writing is to look at word count. We want to write a novel, or at least a novella, but that is where we fall prey to bad writing. I advise you to either turn off the word count on your writing program, or put something over it so you can’t see it. I have mine turned off.

Let the story tell the story until it’s finished. That’s your first draft.

After the first draft is when you begin to cut the fat out and get to the healthy parts of your story. For Flash Fiction, this means your story becomes shorter, tighter. That could mean the same thing for novel length writing as well. There is nothing wrong with writing every single thought you have, every scene you have in your mind during your first draft. You don’t know what might be the best for your final draft.

To write Flash Fiction:

  • Write a scene as you normally would
  • Then strip it down to under 600 words or 300 words, whatever the prompt or your goal is.
  • If you can do this and still convey everything the reader needs to know and feel you have accomplished your mission and saved your Agent/Editor and yourself a lot of work later on.

How do you strip a scene down?

  • Get rid of unneeded adverbs.
    • Adverbs are okay sometimes. However, most of the time they can be done away with.  “The boy casually strolled along the path.” Casually could be okay to use, or you might look at the word strolled and realize it implies a slow pace, a casual pace of walking. Another example might be “The girl abruptly stopped in the street.” The idea is the girl stopped in the street.
    • Very and really are two overused adverbs.
  • Write in an active voice, not passive.
    • An example of an active sentence-The boy shot the ball.
    • The same sentence in passive is-The ball was shot by the boy.
    • Notice you have the noun directing the action instead of the result directing. With the active voice, there are two less words than the passive voice.
    • You can set up your Word program in Microsoft to check for passive voice. To see how, click HERE for
  • Remove unnecessary dialogue tags.
    • If you have a conversation between two people and you have established early on who the people are, you don’t need he said or she said constantly. Keep in mind not to insert the name of the people in conversation early on to establish genders and the like. If you have a long dialogue exchange, I would insert a name in the dialogue or an action including the person’s name to reinforce the order of speakers.
  • Write language not English.
    • When you write conversations, write how people talk. You don’t need to have every person speak properly and according to your spellcheck and grammar check. We don’t all speak that way every moment of our lives, especially with friends.

We think more is better but in reality, it’s what you say and how you say it rather than how much you say that matters. Choose your words wisely. Close your eyes and just begin to type what you see of the scene and then come back and work it.



Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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© Copyright-All rights reserved by Ronovan Hester 2015

The Haiku Challenge Explained 2: Types of Haiku and How.

Today I continue to my series on explaining the weekly Haiku challenge that’s been here on Ronovan Writes for just over a year now. The challenge is more than just poetry, it’s community as well. Friends have been made, very good friends.

To make it easy for people to join in and make these great friends I wanted to make writing Haiku easy. I’ve written “How To” articles before but let’s see if it can be even simpler.

There are three styles of Haiku I have mentioned here on Ronovan Writes, all three include the Haiku in English form of three lines. The first line is 5 syllables long, the second is 7, and the third is again 5.

Traditionally one would have the second line of 7 syllables be such as to complete a sentence with the first line, and begin a sentence with the second.

Waves lap at my feet

As my thoughts drift towards you,

Peace comes with your love.

The first sentence formed with the second line of 7 syllables as the end would be, “Waves lat at my feet as my thoughts drift towards you.”

The second line of 7 syllables then continues on to begin the second completed sentence, “As my thoughts drift towards you, peace come with your love.”

Now you know how to write a Haiku. Often times, and in traditional ways the Haiku is about nature and the two sentences would contrast each other or oppose each other. For poetic sake this these rules are often broken. The purpose of the Haiku is to relay a thought, a feeling, an emotion that one might otherwise write in a full letter perhaps.

The Haibun is an a relatively newer form of, or use of, Haiku that many of our members of the Haiku Challenge like to use. And no, you don’t even have to change how you write the Haiku. All you do is write a story of perhaps a memory and then at the end you reduce that down to the very bare, basic emotions, and meaning in the form of a Haiku. These are often my favorites.

The Tanka is an old Haiku form consisting of 5 lines of poetry. The syllable structure is 5 syllables, then 7, 5, and then 7, and 7. The Tanka is something I think I want to participate in more. The subject and manner of a Tanka involves first an object in the first three lines. Think of it as if you are describing the object. Then by using the third line as the link you create the emotional response the object gives you.

Waves lap at my feet

Driving forever onward

With intensity

I long for them to carry me

Finally into your arms.

By doing the basic Haiku, which is what most of our poets do, and by reading the previous article, The Haiku Challenge Explained: Ping Backs, Sharing, Comments. you are now ready to participate. There are more articles to come, but these two are the only ones you really need to get started. Don’t let the title of the previous article concern anyone. There is a link to an article that explains what a ping back is in detail, and they are not even necessary to participate.

Links you may need in writing a Haiku:

Thesaurus.com for synonyms of my challenge prompt words. I enjoy seeing how people use the words for their own purposes.

HowManySyllables.com for making certain you have the right number of syllables for a word. I’ve been wrong a few times, thus whenever I am not 100% positive, I check and if the word I have is too many or too few syllables, I then go to Thesaurus.com to find an alternative.

Much Love, Success, and Respect

Ronovan

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How to write a Haiku Poem in English Form

There are various forms of Haiku poetry. I am only going to discuss the style I use, which is How to write a Haiku Poem in English Form.

Four things to remember:

  • You have three lines of poetry.
  • 17 total syllables, some say sounds, in the 5/7/5 pattern.
  • You normally tell two opposite images in the poem.
  • Lines one and two should read as a complete sentence and lines two and three should read as a complete sentence.

Notice the word normally. You can have the poem be about aspects of the same thing, but normally you look at it from to different ways.

This is a very quick and not great example, but it shows you what I mean.

The tree is falling, (5 syllables)

Down among the river rocks, (7 syllables)

Fish bring forth new life. (5 syllables)

Lines one and two read as: The tree is falling down among the river rocks.

Lines two and three read as: Down among the river rocks, fish bring forth new life.

  1. The tree is falling and dying among the rocks of the river
  2. And fish are living and bring life among the rocks of the river
  3. Two opposite things happening.

Opposites are not a MUST, but are the true way of Haiku and add to the challenge. Do not let that prevent you from writing. 

Matsuo Bashō Statue Haiku

As Matsuo Bashō put it,

“The haiku that reveals seventy to

eighty percent of its subject is good.

Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent,

we never tire of.”

 

My Haiku reveals 100%.

 The tree is falling,

Down among the river rocks,

Fish bring forth new life.

 

Can we take my first Haiku and make it fifty to sixty percent?

 

Life splinters apart,

Down among slippery mounds,

Life brings forth new life.

 

In this new version the same thing is said, but also leaves some interpretation to the reader, which in a way I like to do for the reader. Give the reader something they can connect with in their own way.

That is the basic way of doing the Haiku that I do. It is fun, challenging, and an art. I am not saying I am an artist, but I do believe those who can do it well are. I am still a finger painter in this world, but I enjoy staining my fingers in the ink.

For other types of Haiku click and read-Haiku, Tanka, and Haibun. It’s all poetry to me. Learn the difference.

To learn Freku, which I came up with, click and read-NEW FORM of Haiku & Poetry.

For examples of my own Haiku offerings click here and you will leave this page.

For a weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge I host which includes a Weekly Review of all Participants click here and you will leave this page. Once on the next page you will need to select the current week’s challenge.

Much Respect

Ronovan

 

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