Thoughts From The Bold Strokes Books Festival June 2017

Talk To Me - Writing Good Dialogue
Writing Good Dialogue Panel

 

“Writing good dialogue”

Here are some of the ways I think good dialogue contributes to a story:-

 

 

  • It can entertain – enlivening the prose and engaging the reader.
  • It can move an aspect of the plot or narrative forward in a way which, because it is absorbed within the ‘chat’, feels light and digestible – meeting the wise adage of show not tell.
  • It can impart information about a character, allowing the reader to: ‘hear’ the character’s unique voice; ‘see’ their mannerisms; and ‘understand’ their emotions/reactions.
  • It can reveal how a character can change depending on who they’re talking to, illuminating the distinct relationship between characters. For example, a character chatting with their best mate might have ‘banter’, but the same character with their lover may have much more intense dialogue.
  • It can heighten the potency and the impact of a character’s internal thoughts, at times playing with the unspoken monologues. For example, when a character thinks one thing but says the opposite.
  • Particularly if the piece is written in third person, where you have a silent narrator if you like, it can cleverly allow the writer to say things the narrator can’t. Dialogue lends a character a dangerous independence.

So here’s a checklist of some of the things I think about when I’m writing dialogue:-

  1. Does the style of the dialogue I’m writing match the personality of my character? Is the ‘voice’ authentic to them?
  2. Does the tone and content of the dialogue fit the moment in the narrative? Are the characters saying the right thing, in the right manner, at the right time?
  3. Is the content of the dialogue engaging and informative, and will it help my reader better understand either the character and/or the plot?
  4. Is the dialogue easy to read – does it flow?
  5. Will the reader know at all times who is speaking and what is going on?
  6. Have I been careful not to overuse dialogue tags – those speech tags attributing dialogue, actions, and emotions to a particular character?
  7. Have I remembered that the pauses or pregnant silences can be as important as what is actually being said – the natural rhythm of speech if you like.

Top tip:-

Try sitting in public spaces and listen to people chatting. Hear how they interrupt each other, how they might begin on one subject and end on another, how passionate or flat their tone is.

Can you (without looking of course) imagine what they look like, what their life might be like?  What is distinctive about them – is it their accent, the pace of their speech, is their language – informal or formal?

And finally – listen to your characters chatting in your head (and they do!), let your writing be their voice.

 


 

“Thoughts about ‘Conflict’ in fiction writing”

 

Moderating the Conflict Panel
Danger, Conflict, Uh-Oh Panel

In works of narrative, ‘Conflict’ is the opposition main characters must face to achieve their goals.1

A writer might employ two forms of conflict to create the tension which drives the narrative. Conflict may be ‘internal’ or ‘external’ – it may occur within a character’s mind, most commonly revealed in their internal debates or monologues or between a character and exterior forces, for example in conflict with another person or the world around them.

Writers will often employ both forms at once, as a combined tool, for the development of plot and character.

To avoid the conflict feeling forced or unbelievable a writer will embed the conflict at the heart of the novel, so that it is an integral element and arises organically and effortlessly.

Conflict creates drama and interest in a novel by setting seeds of doubt, it keeps the reader guessing, it invests the reader in the outcome, and keeps them turning the pages again and again…

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_(narrative)

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

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States of Independence – 11th March 2017 at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester.

states-of-independence

Come say hello and maybe buy a book. Hot off the press copies of Highland Fling will be available (£10) before general release!

Bold Strokes Books authors Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows will also be attending with their books too!

The eighth States of Independence will take place on Saturday 11 March 2017 at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester. 10.30am – 4.30pm.

If you can’t make it but would like to purchase a copy of Highland Fling let me know (postage and packing will apply).


Workshops | Readings | Panels | Seminars | Book launches

Bookstalls | Independent presses | Regional writers

Fiction | Non-fiction | Poetry | Plays | Artist books | Magazines | Journals


Lesbian Lives Conference 2017

lesbian-lives-conferenceI’m excited to be presenting a paper at the Lesbian Lives Conference. (Brighton, Friday 24th February 2017).

Session Title: Permutations of Lesbian Love in Popular Fiction.

The title of my paper is Compelled to write – A writer’s perspective on the question ‘why do we write stories of lesbian love?’

Invitation to have your say!

It would be great to hear from other published authors as to ‘what compels you to write stories of lesbian love?’

I have created a short poll for you to complete. You can select one or as many of the reasons that are applicable to you. You can also add your own reason in ‘other’. All votes are anonymous. My paper will be published on my site after the conference.

It is important that you confirm in the poll below that you are a published author (this includes self-published authors) who writes stories about lesbian love.

Not restricted to lesbian romance genre.

Thank you for taking the time to participate!

Closing date: 11th February 2017

Poetry – On Reflection

anna-larner-poetry-reading-polari-shout-festival-birmingham-mac-19-11-2016
Poetry Reading at Polari, Shout Festival, mac Birmingham 2016

On Reflection

If we were to meet again, I would say

sorry today, for then, when mad with love,

deranged with passion, all reason astray,

I cried ‘I love you!’ Three words – not enough.

 

So I left flowers to wilt at your door,

composed mixed tapes, wrote odes, baked cakes, your name

on my lips, in my brain. ‘Be mine’ I implored,

as I failed exams, missed deadlines, endured pain.

 

I lost sleep, got sick, felt weak, refused to

see sense – still convinced that you could be mine.

And through it all, silent, wise and kind, you

knew the one answer for me would be time.

 

You were so gentle with your rejection.

Yes, I can see that now, on reflection.


We Want cover front

‘On Reflection’ has been published by Paradise Press as part of We want to tell you how… a wonderful anthology of poetry and prose celebrating women’s loves, lives and landmarks.

‘We want to tell you how … contains deeply heartfelt, pain-fully honest, and beautifully written pieces of writing. For those who have ever lived with hope or regret, you will find your own story amongst these pages.’ —Clare Summerskill

 

ISBN 978-1-904585-89-3

 

AB8B0E10-A38E-4B5F-9D90-5FCF6A04D4DF

 

‘On Reflection’ has also been published by Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing in a pamphlet and online.

ISBN 978-1-9997526-2-0

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Thoughts From the Bold Strokes Books Festival June 2016

Book Festival Reading
Sweet Romance Panel

“So what makes a good romance?”

Writing Highland Fling has been a fantastic learning process for me. When I think of lesbian romance, I now have the following quick check list in my mind:-

A clear focus on the two characters falling in love. It’s all about them. With their story fully resolved.

“You want to fall in love with them” characters you can admire or can be attracted to. Characters you can invest emotionally in. Basically if they’re not fanciable in some way readers are not likely to care.

Conflict, both internal (what they’re thinking), and external (what they do) – the energy that drives the story.

A happy ending. Readers expect that despite all of the agonies or uncertainties on the characters’ road to love, there will be a happy ending, that their feelings are safe in the writer’s hands.

Sexual tension – the will they won’t they element, enticing, engaging cues to sexual attraction and longing.

And, as I have been asked to select my golden rule for a successful romance, it would be this – Writing from the heart, putting into the story what it feels like to long for someone, to fall for someone, the uncertainty, the self-doubt, the tortured agony of it all…

 

“What’s the difference when it comes to writing short stories versus novels?”

ShortStoryVSNovel
Moderating The Sprint Vs The Marathon Panel

Let’s have a think for a moment about what we mean by a short story, and what we mean by a novel – the clue to everything is word limit.

If we use Bold Strokes Books guidelines – a recent call for submissions for a short story collection asked for stories between 2,000 – 5,000 words; and novels, well they start from 45,000 words upwards, depending on the genre.

So with a novel, averaging say 85,000 words, how do you keep your reader gripped for so long? How do you build in the depth that’s needed? How do you write a story that will stay with the reader forever from just the seed of an idea? And if you’ve only got 5,000 words, how do you tell your story fully? You’re going to need to grab the reader quickly –how do you do that? Does it mean you can only focus on one or two characters? And how do you manage without the space for a back story? How do you get depth without depth?

But is the joy of a short story, that it’s not a novel? You can experiment perhaps, try out a new genre, a different voice, explore a new character, work on impregnating a story with meaning in every word. Do the restrictions actually make you free?

And the novel, do you get to live another life through the expansive canvas offered to your characters? Do you have the room to say just what you want to say, no restrictions, another kind of freedom? As a novelist are you thrilled that you’ll keep your reader reading far too late, night after night, after night, after night..?

Bols Strokes Books Festival 2016 Attending Authors
Authors At The 2016 Bold Strokes Books UK Festival

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.