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Work Room - Week 7

The Topic post is now up: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/974915.html

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.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 28th, 2017 05:32 am (UTC)
Oooo! Educational videos!
Jan. 28th, 2017 08:22 am (UTC)
I am not really good with dialogues and most of my work is descriptive. Though I feel dialogues add life to the narration. Thanks for these great tips :) I would really try this out soon. The video is helpful too.

Edited at 2017-01-28 08:23 am (UTC)
Jan. 28th, 2017 01:41 pm (UTC)
This is some great advice. Thank you, amenquohi. <3

On another note, does anyone want to talk about ideas for this topic? All I can think of is stuff like "family of origin" or "city/country/geographic locale of origin" and I feel like it's going to be super boring if everyone writes about those two things.
Jan. 28th, 2017 02:22 pm (UTC)
This is what the all knowing Google gave me
link . The excerpts I found interesting were :

-a place could open into a piece of descriptive writing or a scene from memory.

-your parents' work could open into a memory of going with them, helping, being in the way. Could be a remembered dialogue between your parents about work. Could be a poem made from a litany of tools they used.

-an important event could open into free writing all the memories of that experience, then writing it as a scene, with description and dialogue. It's also possible to let the description become setting and directions and let the dialogue turn into a play.

-food could open into a scene at the table, a character sketch of the person who prepared the food, a litany of different experiences with it, a process essay of how to make it.

-music could take you to a scene where the music is playing; could provide you the chance to interleave the words of the song and words you might have said (or a narrative of what you were thinking and feeling at the time the song was first important to you (“Where I'm Singing From”).

-something someone said to you could open into a scene or a poem which captures that moment; could be what you wanted to say back but never did.
a significant object could open into a sensory exploration of the object-what it felt, sounded, smelled, looked, and tasted like; then where it came from, what happened to it, a memory of your connection with it. Is there a secret or a longing connected with this object? A message? If you could go back to yourself when this object was important to you, what would you ask, tell, or give yourself?
Jan. 28th, 2017 05:43 pm (UTC)
It's funny you posted that. it's the first place my mind went when I saw the topic.

Somewhere out there on the internet there is actually a formula for writing one of those poems, where it literally says (insert pet name here).

(Not recommending that to anyone do that for an entry).

I think it could be ancestry stuff.
Also visiting alien stuff.
Also immigrant stuff

But I also feel sometimes like I don't fit in this world, so it could be "the world I would live in if it felt right."

It could also be a "lost in the wrong dimension" prompt. Alice in Wonderland.
Jan. 28th, 2017 02:24 pm (UTC)
There's also the "do you get where I'm coming from" interpretation. Are you picking up what I'm putting down? Are we on the same page? Get what I'm sayin'?
Jan. 28th, 2017 04:57 pm (UTC)

The first post up is an entertaining snippet from an event in the writer's childhood (sorry, I can't remember who posted... tamarand?something). I honestly am just looking at the topic now and my first thots were a history of where I physically come from. After reading the 1st entry, now I'm thinking of a snippet like that or maybe an event that happened as a child that affected me or still effects me as an adult. Or write about the influences of my childhood ... or even my bff of childhood... there are a lot of different takes on "where I'm from" :). Hope this gives you some ideas too....

Jan. 28th, 2017 03:29 pm (UTC)
oh awesome amenquohi! I was a big fan when you were competing. How are the kids doing?
Feb. 3rd, 2017 06:38 am (UTC)
They're great! My daughter is almost 16 now and applying for a NASA internship for the summer (she's into astrophysics) and my son auditioned for select chorus and made it this year. They're the sauce from which awesome is made.
Jan. 28th, 2017 03:32 pm (UTC)
Oh and I have to say about the topic, I'm happy that this is the most easiest topic for me this season. I don't have to think ANYTHING about it for once. I have a multi-cultural identity so I'll just take the literal approach. The topics so far have had me put a lot of thought about how I want to take the prompt, but this one speaks for itself and I think a lot of people will write about their ancestry.
Jan. 28th, 2017 05:48 pm (UTC)
Yay amenquohi!

I miss your stories. I'm glad to know you have a memoir. I don't think I knew that. I will put it on my list. :)

On the infrequent occasions I write fiction, dialogue always comes to me first. I have to force myself to write the action. :/ I'm always doing things backward.
Jan. 28th, 2017 06:03 pm (UTC)
Nice to meet you Seven of Nine! Thank you for the advice! :)

Hoo boy- my head's wheel is whirling with ideas and it hasn't stopped with a direction. Ack! Hugs, everyone!

Edited at 2017-01-28 06:11 pm (UTC)
Jan. 28th, 2017 07:04 pm (UTC)
aboarNice to meet you Seven of Nine! Thank you for the advice! :)
Jan. 29th, 2017 04:00 am (UTC)
Very cool advice and insightful. While I traditionally do journalistic work or poetry, this definitely could help down the line.

I did start a short story with lots of dialogue involved last time I did LJIdol but it got a bit too big for me with where I took it. This probably would've helped then, I hope it helps in the future and definitely with others here.
Jan. 29th, 2017 10:28 am (UTC)
Thanks this is fantastic advice.

Dialogue is a real weakness and I struggle with it a lot and tend to brush over it but would like to put some of this into practise

As to the topic I was either going to write about where I'm from literally (Glasgow) or a peace from four peoples point of view (mother, father, paternal grandfather, maternal grandmother) as they literally make up the pieces of me
Jan. 29th, 2017 05:57 pm (UTC)
Love the idea of looking at where you are from as it relates to your parents and grandparents!
Jan. 30th, 2017 02:04 am (UTC)
One option is to be more forward-looking -- "this is how where I've been is leading me to where I'm going"
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