We are fortunate enough to not only have a Mentor, but the winner of Season 7!
Her Idol story itself is pretty amazing - being the first returning player to win the game, after needing to drop a couple seasons in a row. She just kept coming back, and kept getting better, until that time it "clicked". After that? Well, she talks about that below... but let's just say she's been pretty unstoppable.
Definitely take advantage of having her at your disposal this week!
Hello, you crazy people! Long time, no read!
It's me, amenquohi, formerly known as "Seven of Nine." (But Gary wrecked that by having more than nine seasons but I'm not bitter. Much.)
I haven't hung on Idol much since winning Season 7, but that's because I've been busy. Winning the season gave me the guts to try for a blogging job with a major women's magazine, I did that for a few years, started blogging for another magazine, started my own blog, then self-pubbed a half-dozen books before finally landing a bonafide 2 book deal with a big 5 publisher. Yeah, baby.
So here's the shameless plug for my YA fantasy, TRAVELER (http://amzn.to/2k2tQDB), out on February 7th. Check it out!
And now here's the part where I impart all my writerly wisdom, right? Right.
I'm going to concentrate on something specific, because the world is full of generic writer advice and because I happen to think it's something I'm reasonably decent at: dialogue.
When I've got a scene in mind, I have a couple of techniques to work the dialogue.
First, act it out. Get up, walk around. Or sit in the car. Play all the roles. Shout, argue, snark a lot. Try out various lines and retorts and make notes while you do it. Or set your phone to voice record.
Second, remember that written dialogue should not sound like speaking in real life. Seriously. Trim out extraneous crap. Don't be redundant, unless the character does it on purpose to be annoying or to make a point. Trim the word "that' everywhere you can. Monologue when you have to, and sometimes, you have to
Third, watch your dialogue tags. Go light on the adverbs. If your characters are answering or speaking with a modifier ("he said, grimly" or "she answered cheerfully") more than 1/4 of their lines, you're doing it wrong. Don't be afraid to keep it to "he said" and "she answered" because those are transparent to the reader and don't interrupt the flow. Save those modifiers for when they can really deliver a punch.
Above all, don't have people talking just to talk. You may have a great, snarky conversation running through your head, but if it doesn't further the plot along or add to a character's development, it's useless. If you're like me and write very dialogue-heavy stories, it feels like cutting off an arm to cut your carefully crafted lines, but if it's not moving anything or anyone forward, you gotta do it. You just do.
And now I'll leave you with a great little video ( http://youtu.be/zJGX2raiafU ) imparting more advice on the subject. I hope you find it entertaining and instructive.
I'll be hanging out in the workroom this week and happy to offer any advice with the caveat that I am absolutely not an expert in this field, just some schmuck who writes stories and worked her ass off to get where she is (and still has her day job). I've written memoirs, self-help books, fantasy, romance and now YA. And blogs and fanfic. And of course, a whole bushel full of delusional LiveJournal Idol entries.
Seven of Nine, signing out.