Now with time running very short indeed and the countdown to the final deadline for entries into dates rather than weeks/months you are probably wondering where all that time went and how you’ve managed to leave things so late. Well, some of you are while those organised souls sit back and relax, entry submitted and nothing but the nerver-jangling wait for judgement to be upon them.
But don’t despair. There is still time to polish your pieces and get them into the comp. To help you with this here are some tips on two aspects of story writing that people often find a challenge – dialogue and descriptions:
Dialogue dos and don’ts
- Try to find distinctive speech patterns for your characters.
- Use non-standard spellings to demonstrate accents/pronunciations.
- Keep speech tags simple (he said) and don’t overuse alternatives (yelled, whispered, cried, exclaimed etc.). Save these for when you really need them.
- Don’t use too many adverbs with your speech tags (quietly, loudly, angrily etc.).
- Think about what real people say to each other e.g. they don’t tell each other things that both parties will already know.
- Keep passages of dialogue fairly short and intersperse with action/description to maintain reader interest.
- Don’t let one character speak for too long uninterrupted. Real conversations don’t work like this.
Doing Descriptions – what to describe
- Characters – both their physical appearance and personality
- Places/settings – could include things like furniture/décor, weather, light/darkness etc.
- Action – what is happening, what characters are doing etc.
- Speech – how things are said, through speech tags
- Time – both when your narrative is set and how time passes in the narrative
And how to describe it
- Imbed description in action
- Don’t rely too heavily on sight, use all the senses
- Do use specific details e.g. colour, pattern, size, flavour etc.
- Don’t overuse similes or adverbs/adjectives especially if they are not needed e.g. he yelled loudly
- Make sure metaphors are original and avoid clichés like the plague!
- Avoid lengthy passages of dry description
- Use occasion brief ‘telling’ for dramatic affect e.g. he was dead
So look back over your stories and see if there are any areas that would benefit from a little reworking.
For those organised souls I mentioned earlier who might, entries sorted, be turning their thoughts to pursuing new writing goals (and for the rest of you once you’ve made those last minute tweaks to your stories) I do offer a mentoring and appraisal service. So if you would like some input on your writing, feedback on work in progress, help with getting something to a publishable standard or just some personal guidance tailored to whatever stage you are at with your writing just contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk over ways forward.
Now back to the keyboard and get those stories finished!