November 2007


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 I’m lucky in that I have a spare bedroom which I’ve turned into an office.  I try to write every morning for about two hours and as you can see by the picture I love everything costal, in particular, Florida. So I painted the room a light sea blue, and there are flamingos everywhere. I started collecting the flamingos when I was writing a contemporary about a fictional town called Flamingo Heights.  That small brown comforter covers a small chair for my little dog Bentley, who loves to sit with me. Of course wants to sit on my lap but he’s adapted to the alternative, his little spot which is right by me. I also have two bulletin boards plastered with pics as inspiration for my current WIP. One of them (not pictured) is a magnetized surfboard.I’ve found I need background noise to write so I have a radio or iPod going. When I’m editing the iPod is blaring out my playlist of music I made specific for my story. Don’t you just love the iPod? How did we ever live without it? <g> Every once in a while I’ll have a candle burning too but most of the time I write before heading off to work so the candle is reserved for the weekends.Strangely enough I’ve found some of the best place to write in public spaces like Starbucks or doctors offices. Don’t ask me why, maybe it’s because I can’t do anything but write. Go figure.Long gone is my desk top computer. I traded that in for a laptop with a docking station and a back up hard drive. I don’t keep paper around either. Everything regarding my WIP or future works is on spreadsheets. I’ve even scanned some of my favorite reference books into the computer and saved them as PDFs. I learned a while back, when I was forced to clean out my closet in search of an elusive piece of paper that was important then, that stacks of paper and sticky notes were not my friend. I lost precious writing time, and almost scraped a story in the process. That simplification process took about a month but it was worth it.  So where is the best place for you to write? Have you made over a room? Maybe you have a favorite comfy chair instead? Or perhaps you can’t write in your house. Where do you go?

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By Denise Belinda McDonald 

He said

she said he grimaced

she lamented

. . . . laughed, cried, yelled, whispered, questioned, replied, asked, answered, snorted, choked, groaned, moaned, etc, etc, etc . . . .When I started writing, I used all the various tags for said and asked. Now I tend not to use them at all. You hope that each character’s voice is distinct enough so the moment they speak, the reader knows that’s your heroine. Or the crotchety neighbor. Wizened Grandmother. Studly hero. Their voice carries you past the he said, she said.

Body business is great instead of tags when you have an intense scene that moves so quickly as to not have time for the reader to pick up on nuances. Or even put in introspection from the POV character as they say one thing that is not like them at all but think and mean another to lend to their voice.

As writers, I think we tend to be harder on writing works than readers. Readers, in my opinion, can ease into the story, get lost in the words far quicker than a writer. Writers will look for plot holes or purple prose. Not to say that readers can’t detect craft issues, but they will pick up a book for entertainment. Me, I pick it up for contrast and comparison. For the craft of the writing. I do enjoy books still, but not like I did as years before when it was nothing more than a story to me.

Back to tags . . . I have read books where every line of dialogue is followed by a tag. I got to a point where I skimmed over tags and found the writer relied too heavily on them and I had to go back a re-read to see who the hell was talking. The writer (and I am not saying anyone specific as there are many to whom this may apply and many it doesn’t) uses tags as a way not to delve too deep into characterization as they don’t have to make each character stand on their own, they tell you who is talking (which ekes into show, don’t tell – and that is a whole ‘nother gripe of mine).

I will admit though, writers are the harshest critics and we tend to have one or two things that we can pull our self up on the soap box about and inhale deeply before we let it rip, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

 

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