Friday, June 25, 2021

What I've Learned about Great Dialogue from Thrillers

I love literary fiction, rich nonfiction, travel memoir, all kinds of books, actually, that take me places. Every now and then, I also love a good thriller. I learn from those authors, mostly about tension, pace, and dialogue. It's high-wire stuff, and the dialogue is honed to a sharpness i don't find in a lot of other genres. Sometimes I skim over the visceral parts, but I always study the dialogue.

Dialogue isn't usually the vehicle for momentum in story. Its purpose is to deliver undercurrent, reveal what's not being said. Often, dialogue will let us into the underworld of a character, showing whatever is hidden and secret. Not because this is stated in the dialogue itself, but because it's communicated by the tags (he said, she said) or lack thereof, by the pauses and beats, by the dialect or tone.

In thrillers, the dialogue contributes to pace. The dialogue kicks things into gear.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Honing Your Process of Receiving Feedback and the Revision It May Require

I've only slowly gotten used to my own stages of writerly reaction when I receive feedback. Positive feedback generates a warm satisfaction, almost glee, inside. A victorious feeling. Something worked, especially satisfying if I put in a huge amount of effort. Sometimes, I'm amazed--I don't quite believe it--but I'm basically over the moon.

Harder, though, is feedback that suggests the need for revision. What I do with that kind of feedback often determines whether the piece progresses or not.

I think of all the years I flailed over feedback. I didn't yet trust my own sense of what was correct and useful to my writing and what was just the reader's opinion and had nothing to do with the story I wanted to tell. It was all murky. Either I accepted everything, because who was I to know better. Or I got mad and hurt and stomped away, vowing never to share again.

Both responses were pretty useless.

Friday, June 11, 2021

How to Find, Develop, and Let Your Writing Voice Shine--Three Tips

One of my long-time students asked a great question: how does a writer develop voice?

I wanted to make sure she was talking about the writer's voice. Because there are two kinds of voice in books: the voice of the narrative, the writer's unique authenticity, and the voice of the characters. They are very different in how they are found, developed, and realized on the page.

Writer's voice comes as a natural process of maturing in your writing--as you begin to recognize what makes your writing unique and different in style and texture, as you begin to let go the fear of needing to fit in or sound like another writer you've long admired. It takes time, for most of us.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Special notice to my feedburner subscribers


Thanks for following my blog posts each week!  I've just learned that Feedburner will be discontinuing the automatic send to each of you as of July 2021.

If you'd like to continue receiving my weekly blog posts, please email me at mary[at]marycarrollmoore[dot]com and I can subscribe you.  The blog posts will arrive in your email inbox each Friday morning if you do.

Keep writing!


Friday, June 4, 2021

Theme: The Undercurrent of Meaning in Your Book and Why It's Vital to Publishing Today

When we finish a good book, something lingers with us. We have coffee with a friend and she notices we're distracted. It's not life--for once. Only the story we just read.

"I can't stop thinking about this book," we might say. "I almost miss it."

She asks, "What was it about?" and we try to answer. "It's about a woman who travels to India," we say, "but it's much more than that. You have to read to understand."

That's theme.