Thursday, April 8, 2010


Well, that weird analogy from the other day about bad dialogue got me thinking.

I'd say I'm at least semi-decent at dialogue. At the very least, I can recognize the really, really bad stuff (I think) and I know that mine isn't quite that bad. But I could be wrong, which would frankly suck.

Anyway. I thought I'd share a few thoughts on what, to me, can drag dialogue down.

1. The classic "As You Know, Bob" line. Most of the time, these lines seem to really jump out, but sometimes they're very subtle. (I totally had an example of a subtle line until just now... I hate when that happens!)

Non-subtle: "Hello, Bob. It is I, your brother, who has been missing for over five thousand years."

Subtle...ish: ... ... I still got nothing. Maybe these lines aren't subtle. But I swear I had an example for this one...

2. Lack of contractions. Of course, this mostly applies to native speakers of a language, as you wouldn't expect a language student to necessarily contract things. But someone who grew up in, say, the US (because that's the only sort of English I know, heh) probably wouldn't say:

"I will go there now. Do not follow me. I cannot protect you."

(Okay, to be fair, I doubt anyone would say the above like that, but... ahem. Moving on.)

3. Talking like a textbook.

I'm on the staff of my school's literary magazine, and we've got this twenty-page story in there (these are regular sized pages, twelve-point font--it's a freaking novella). Overall, it's a great story, with a pretty unique take on the whole "zombie pandemic" theme. But... the dialogue is not that great.

Why? Because the people talk like they're narrating.

It's hard to describe. I think the biggest thing that struck me was that a lot of the characters use parallelism. Not that I'm dissing parallelism. Actually, I think it really bolsters writing. But I, for one, don't hear people on the street using it. (Maybe that's because I'm in high school, where the average IQ is roughly that of swamp gas, but... we'll look over that for now.)

Of course, if it weren't dialogue, it would be amazing writing. Try this: think of your favorite passage of narration. Or just any passage of narration you think is well-written. Can you imagine a person saying that passage in a casual conversation? (Ignoring, of course, the topic of said passage.) It would probably sound off. (Well, maybe not if it's in first person, but even so...)

4. ... ... ...nah, that's it.

Soo.... yeah. Dialogue. It's really hard. (Actually, writing this, I'm starting to worry maybe all my dialogue *does* sound awful...) But I don't think a bad dialogue writer can't improve. There's always room for improvement.

At the least, I hope I've given you something to think about. If not, I obviously haven't done my job. ('Cause I ALWAYS do *that*...)

Emphasizing words is fun...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Viruses, How I Loathe Thee...


It seems that Vista Smart Security 2010 is a virus of some sort. Malware. Is there a difference? Anyway, I kind of guessed, because I'd had a virus once before that was all like "ZOMG!!! U gotz spywarez!!! Buy this nao n killz it!!!" Also, I couldn't find the so-called program anywhere, and I figured if it was legit, I could remove it. Also, the "scan" it runs claims there's a virus in an excellent program I bought new and installed ages ago, which I've never had problems with.


Ah, well. Viruses stink, what can I say? Like dialogue.

Bad dialogue is like a virus. It can look as legit as it wants, but all it does is weigh down the story.

I take pride in finding odd analogies for things.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Oh, the Menagerie...


Can't live with 'em. Can't live without 'em. Can't write anything with 'em, either. I've got one cat wailing in the background while simultaneously knocking over anything that makes an audible crash. The other cat thinks I'm some sort of chair and tries to sit on my arms every five minutes, which impedes my typing progress. The dog whines every two-point-eight-six-five nanoseconds because she thinks there's room on the computer chair for her. Finally, the four rats make this horrendous racket as they grapple for possession of a single lab block (food).

Because it's not like there's, I dunno, seven other pieces of food in the dish.

Although, what with being sick and having no way to write on my personal computer, thus being forced to work on the Internet computer with all its distractions, the pets are hardly the worst.

My computer is officially out of commission until I can get that bleeping Vista Smart Security 2010 crap off. I'm not even connected to the Internet and it pops up every minute or so, warning me about supposed spyware infections. Maybe my computer IS infected, but, hey! No Internet connection. According to the VSS2010 program, practically the whole world is monitoring my computer usage.

So, what with all that, I've been forced to do most of my writing longhand, which really sucks, because my hands cramp really bad after the first few minutes and then it's a pain to keep going. At least I have this computer for the moment, since my mom's off at work. I *should* be at school, not missing important notes, but I'm sick. Ugh.

Oh, well. At least I've got a good project going. It's urban fantasy. Unfortunately, I'm worried that my protagonist is getting too cliche. She's kind of... well, a smart mouth. But she's so fun to write. I'm the type of person who wishes she could be witty all the time--or at least some of the time--so I get vicarious thrills from writing all of this character's awesome retorts.

She nicknames an antagonist "Muffin." If only for that reason, she is currently my favorite character.