You write. I edit. You shine.

Category: telling vs. showing

Dialogue Tags: Is “said” all you need?

One giveaway that I’m working on a manuscript by a fairly new writer (or with a writer who hasn’t worked with an editor before) is an abundant variety of dialogue tags.

Elmore Leonard advises writers to use only “said.” (Don’t know who Elmore Leonard is? Raylan Givens is shaking a finger at you and insisting you educate yourself. He’ll wait while you do so.)

I try to limit the variety of dialogue tags I use in my own writing and to limit them when I’m editing others’ writing, but I admit Mr. Leonard would argue I stray too often as I will sometimes use “answered,” “added,” and “replied,” among a few others.

With that said, consider this mess:

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Reading Lessons: A Man Called Ove: A Novel

So far, so good. I’m keeping up with my resolution to read more for pleasure. I know, I know. It’s only January 16, but still …

I mentioned at the tail end of my last post that I’d started A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman and that even though I’d just started, I could tell he was a master at developing characters. Boy, was I right. The characters he created for this book—not just Ove, but the supporting cast as well—will live with me for a long time. I finished the book yesterday—amid a cascade of tears—and I just can’t quit thinking about those characters. That, my writer friends, is what you want your readers to feel.

How did he do it? Continue reading

Editing My First Novel: Learn from My Mistakes, Part 2

Last week I invited you to go along with me as I rip apart the first novel I wrote, which I finished way back in 2007. I’ve become a professional editor in the meantime, and I’ve finished three other novels since then too. I’ve learned a lot and have a lot to offer my clients, so I thought it would be interesting to shine the light on my own first effort. If you missed last week’s introduction to this, click here.

In my previous post, I talked about the perils of a backstory dump. On the third page–the THIRD page–of my book, I throw in a big one:

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