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How to Craft Catchy Dialogue

Writing dialogue is an effective way to show the reader what’s happening in your story. But get it wrong and you risk loosing the readers interest. In a previous post I showed the Do’s and Don’t of writing dialogue – check it out if you haven’t already. Today I thought it would be helpful to go over some fundamental pointers in how to get your characters to show the world you’ve created through dialogue.

Tip 1 – Write as often as you can, read vicariously and listen intently. People listening is the best way to grasp dialogue. Take note when watching you favorite TV show, and see how each character is portrayed through the words they speak. People/ characters talk differently, so listen in and take pointers. Some are blunt and stoic, some blunder and waffle, while others wend beautiful, lyrical tales. Remember: be aware of whats being said, and equally what’s not being said.

Tip 2 – Don’t forget to add body language. Not only will this bring your character and the scene to life, but subtle body movements add depth to what’s being said. An easy smile changes a casual, ‘hello and welcome’ into a warm and generous greeting. Whereas, a pinched brow and clipped tone add a different meaning. Perhaps this character feels obligated to welcome someone, or maybe they’re in a bad mood.

Tip 3 – People often don’t say what they’re thinking or feeling, so layer up the context with internal dialogue. It’s a great way to show conflict and build tension. Mary pasted on a fake smile, and opened the door. “Hello and welcome.” God, she despised this woman. And yet her role as manager forced her to be polite, when what she really wanted was to slam the door in her face.

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Tip 4 – Use contractions. Don’t be afraid to shorten or combine words, to help the character sound as natural as possible. While a professor may use precise wording, a student will often use contractions. For example: Let’s, I’m, who’s and they’re.

Tip 5 – Cut unnecessary words. In real life we tend to stutter, flounder, and add filler noises like umm, well, basically, so, hey, hi, good day and how are you? Such words when used in dialogue slow the pace and become boring. Readers don’t need constant polite introductions or goodbyes, they want dialogue that keeps the momentum of the story going. Remember – that’s not to say never use such words, just be conscious not to fill your dialogue with them.

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Tip 6 – Dialogue must serve a purpose to advance the story. The whole point of writing dialogue is to show the reader things that progress the plot, build characters, show backstory and/ or entertain. It doesn’t drone on just for the sake of having characters converse. Keep everything succinct to the story and integral to the characters.

Tip 7 – Read your dialogue out loud. Make sure it sounds realistic, and then make sure it sounds like your character. Each character will have their own distinct voice. Your character may have an individual turn of phrase, or often call people buddy. These things can really help to differentiate them within your story.

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Do you have any tips on how to write great dialogue? Or perhaps you have a great line that you’d like to share from your current WIP. If so, please share it, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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7 Writing tips by Lorraine Ambers

Hello, and welcome. In this post I’m sharing some of my writing tips with you, giving you a sneak peek into my writing habits. From creating realistic goals, to defining your writing zone. A helpful and fun little post. Enjoy!

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Tip number 1: Read you work aloud. This helpful tip comes from the wonderful author Judith Barrow, She instilled the advice in me. It helps to identify poor flowing work, straightens out kinks and generally is a great tool for your sharpening your revision.

Tip number 2: Use your own writing voice. Don’t try to imitate someone another writers style. Publishers, editors and readers want your unique style, your unique voice, so don’t be afraid to let yourself onto the page. Remember– don’t confuse your voice with the voice of your main character, check out my post on Defining your writing voice for a better understanding of the differences.

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Tip number 3: Always carry a notebook and pen. Pencils, or a felt pen will suffice. When an idea strikes write it down. You’ll lie to yourself, saying you’ll remember this gem of a plot twist, a development of a scene, or some clever prose – but you won’t. I can’t tell you how many times I should have been prepared. In your handbag/ backpack, in the glove box, by your bed or even record your words of epiphany onto your mobile phone.

Tip number 4: Writing and kids don’t mix. For all my writing mums and dads, the struggle is real. I know parents that get up before the children to write at 6am, and others that wait until late at night. My tip is; don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Have small writing goals, that are achievable to you and your family. I couldn’t even think about writing when my young kids were awake; or when they were preteens are home. It always resulted in tears and tantrums; mostly mine, because my kids would not let me write.

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Tip number 5: Set a writing goal. I don’t know about you, but I’m the queen of daydreams and procrastination. So I need some limits and boundaries. Even if its just writing for 20 minutes a day. Get your laptop, or pen and paper, and put your butt in a seat… and begin. Once I get started, I can write for a few hours, whereas, other days  I’ll struggle to get two words out. We all have those days, you are not alone! Still the routine and an achievable goal  really spur me on.

Tip number 6: Bring a fresh mug of tea. Hot beverages and snacks don’t help me write, but it does lift my spirits. And a happy writer is a productive writer… another white lie I tell myself. Still, why not enjoy the perks of being a writer. I fully take advantage of working from home by staying in my pyjamas, continuously drinking tea and having my cat and dog as work colleges.

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Tip number 7: Back up your work. I unfortunately learnt this the hard way – not once but twice. Thankfully, I managed to decrypt both USBs, but it was painstakingly difficult (I’m not tech savvy) and utterly stressful. Don’t repeat my mistakes! Now I save my MS’s on the cloud, a memory stick, and my computer – and just to be extra sure, I keep a printed copy in a vault that can only be accessed if you have magical powers. Of course I’m joking, I don’t have magic. Hopefully you understand my point though, when the works gone, its gone, so take care of it people.

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Tell me about some of your writing tips, quirks or habits. Have you learnt the hard way to back up your work? Or perhpas your struggling to write with young kids at home. Whatever your journey is, please share it with me, you knw I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Are you Blocking your Writing Success?

As writers, we know our characters need to be pushed to the limits to reveal their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. Have you ever realized that the same applies to you? You’re also on a journey of self discovery… and with perseverance you can accomplish anything.

Fear is a powerful emotion that shapes our whole lives. We can become slaves to our patterns and behaviours.  And without even realizing it, we can self sabotage, and block our own success. Perhaps we hide behind perfectionism, waiting for the right moment to query or publish. Perhaps we’re stuck in a loop, writing and improving but never letting anyone critique our work. Or maybe, we’ve done those things, but can’t see why were not making headway with submissions, but were to afraid to seek a professional opinion.

Instead, find strength and support for your journey to greatness. Maybe you could try adopting the Abundance theory. With the correct attitude or spiritual alignment, we can acquire personal abundance.

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Another powerful tool is to use the Power of Intention. Wayne Dyer says, ‘Our intentions create our reality.’ Start each day fresh and focus on the purpose of today. Use your time wisely and plan what goals you want to achieve by writing them down. We cannot change the past, so don’t dwell on it but think ahead instead.

Visualize your success and develop your vision by writing out your future goals or create a vision board. It’s not complicated: I’ve set one up on Pinterest using images that promote a positive response. To reinforce the future you want to ascertain. Or glue magazine cut outs onto a board and stash it away. You don’t need to look at it again, the works been done. The seed has been planted in your subconscious, trust me, changes will follow. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

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Silence your inner critique. She’s holding you back. Would you tolerate a stranger calling you fat, useless or a failure? No, of course not. Practise love and acceptance. You’re a valued member of your family and circle of friends. Treat yourself as you would others.

Practice positive thinking with the Laws of Attraction. The energy you emit to the universe will be returned to you. Remember you have the power to change what is in your control. Show gratitude for what you have today and let the rest fall to the fates. Breathe, because you’ve got this.

– Benedict Cumberbatch

Have you identified an area that you’d like to improve? Maybe it’s your writing. Perhaps you want to push yourself to become more socially engaging on social media. Or are you planning on attending a writers conference. Or taking the plunge and self-publishing.

Look back upon the defining moments in your life, and as a writer? What lessons have you learned along the way? By evaluating our lives with curiosity and intrigue we can see the paths taken and how we arrived here. Now tune into your blockages: What’s stopping you from progressing?

If you have doubt and fear in your heart, but you still preserver, then you my friend are brave and striving for greatness. What goals are you currently working on? Please share them with me, you know I love hearing from.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Exploring Story Structures

I had a great question from a fellow blogger, asking for clarity on the different types of story structures. So I did a little research, and guess what… while there are slight differences, ultimately the three, four, and yes I found a five act story structure are all similar.

They all follow the same patterns, and they all fall into three sections: Protasis, Epitasis and Catastrophe. Don’t let those the phases intimidate you.

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Here’s the basics, I’ll let you decide for yourself:

Three Act Story Structure:

  • Opportunity – Start in the ordinary world, reveal Hero’s goals, until they’re called to action which introduces the stakes.
  • Point of no return – The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance; failure, plans, running, hiding, learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces. The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • Climax – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force. We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

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Four Act Story Structure:

  • The set up – Start in the ordinary world, reveal Hero’s goals, until they’re called to action which introduces the stakes.
  • The response – The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance, failure, plans, running, hiding and/ or learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces.
  • The attack – The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • The resolution – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force. We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

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Five Act Story Structure:

  • Exposition – Start in the ordinary world, reveal hero’s goals.
  • Rising Action – Hero is called to action which introduces the stakes. The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance; failure, plans, running, hiding and/ or learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces.
  • Climax – The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • Falling Action – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force.
  • Denouement – We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

Of course there are different ways to structure a novel that don’t follow the Protasis Epitasis, Catastrophe arc. Check out Four Way to Structure Your Novel where I explore other ways to structure your novel. 

A great resource for structuring your novel is: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing That You’ll Ever Need I highly recommend this book.

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What’s your favourite story structure? And do you agree, or disagree with my analysis of the three, four and five acts. Share your opinions with me, we can learn new things by sharing information. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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Novel Writing – The Three Act Story Structure

A quick reference Infographic for all writers, whether you’re a plotter or planster, to help guide you through your hero’s journey. Take a look at the Three Act Structure and see if it suits your story.

There are other methods, which I’ve covered them in another post: Four Ways To Structure A Novel. If you want to know more, check it out.


I hope you enjoyed this fun glance at structuring novels. The options are endless, let your imagination run free and don’t give your hero an easy time. 😉

If you’re interested in further ideas, check out: Six Ways To End Your Story. 

Happy Writing.
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Do you use the Three Act Structure? Or do you have prefer another method? Please share your writing style, know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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How to Overcome self-doubt as a Writer

A lack of faith or confidence in our ability as an artist is something all writers struggle with. Sometimes it’s fleeting like a summer breeze, other times, it lingers like a winter  frost. So how do we navigate the storm and overcome self-doubt?

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We’ve all heard the little gremlins, but what makes us carry on despite the crippling fear. One of my favourite quotes is by Suzy Kassem. She hits the proverbial nail on the head with her wise words. 

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem.

Sometimes it’s the shove I need to keep going, to keep trying. I cling to the hope that tomorrow I’ll believe in myself once again.

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For me, perseverance is the only option. In the past, I’ve buried myself in a double quilt, hidden in Netflix series whilst gorging on chocolate: The ultimate self-pity, self-sabotage, procrastination. If you catch yourself in this place, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What do you fear the most? Failure? Ridicule? Or is it success and living in your own power?
  • What’s Holding you back? Is it a lack of knowledge, practice, or feedback? And how can you change that?
  • What would you do differently if you believed in myself? 

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“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent Van Gogh

And so we should continue to paint with our words, dream up characters, learn our trade, and most importantly, let your joy and passion lead you. Forget the outside world, the setbacks, the criticism and write

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Remember we have the right to nurture ourselves, to take a step back, regroup and reconnect to those we care about. As a suffer of Complex PTSD, I understand that sometimes the inner voice is the cruelest one of all. I now know, self-care and self-love are important for me to be able to create. Occasionally, I need to step back from a project and recharge my creativity. I no longer allow guilt to weigh me down, it’s all part of the process. Me time, strengthens my writing. 

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare.

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What helps you navigate the choppy waters of self-doubt? Please share your experiences to help other writers, and to help me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Surviving Writer Purgatory

Sometimes life outside of being a writer becomes hectic, and juggling the many demands of life takes its toll. In times like these something has to give, and I’ve already cooked too many oven chips for dinner and stopped walking my dog every day.

While no writer wants to sacrifice their writing time, that precious outlet for their sanity, there comes a time (usually around doing our annual taxes or Christmas) when they simply must take a short break.

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Here’s my four top tips to help you survive writing purgatory.

Stop berating yourself, this is only temporary: By removing the addition stress of unrealistic goals, you’ll actually increase productivity, be better at problem solving and be back on track before you know it. 

Prioritize your responsibilities: Make a list of all that needs to be done and cut out the unessential. Oh how I wish the world were fair, and that my children would understand that writing was my lifeline, unfortunately they insist being fed and having clean clothes.

Don’t stop planning and plotting: Just because you can’t physically find time to write doesn’t mean you won’t get the opportunity to daydream. Driving somewhere? Use that time to develop a secondary character. Painting a room. Figure out you climactic scene. Stuck waiting in the doctor surgery. Gather inspiration by watching how the receptionist deals with patients, or how the toddle runs his mother ragged, and use those details in your manuscript.

Repeat this mantra: I’m only human. No one’s perfect. I’m a writer, even if I don’t write every day. It’s going to okay.

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What do you do when life gets in the way of your writing? I’d love to hear your coping techniques, so please share them with me. 

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.

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Writers, Don’t Let Doubt Stop You!

There comes a time in every artist’s journey when crippling self-doubt sets in. It’s an agonising period where all your hopes and dreams become overshadowed with fear. But before you scoop out the ice-cream and take cover in your bed, vowing to never write again, try a few of these techniques.

Keep track of your success.

When we’re gazing over the yawning expanse of our final destination, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with everything set before us. After all, there is no guarantee of our success. However, taking a look over your accomplishments will offer a glimmer of hope, proving that you can excel at what you set your mind too. Did you ever imagine that you’d write a novel?

Turn to your community.

Sharing your problems can help to alleviate them. Maybe you choose to turn to a blog post like this one, or to connect with like-minded individuals at a writing group, or through your social media. Just knowing there are other people who battle with the same demons may be enough to take the edge off. Remember this is a normal issue, it’s a universal fear, and it’s going to get easier.

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Don’t let fear be the driver

Acceptance in any situation allows us to relax into the moment and let go of our expectations. Easier said than done, however, if you can learn to live with the uncertainty, the doubts and fears, you gain back control to steer your life in the direction of your choice. Whenever I’m crippled by doubt, I work on releasing it by moving forward, redefining my goals, making small steps. Before you know it, the resistance will disappear and you’ll be gliding side-by-side with your creativity.

Take care of yourself

Sometimes, doubt comes at a time in our lives when we have internal and/ or external stress. Learning to listen to yourself, asking for help, or simply knowing when to slow down can be the greatest act of self-love. During those hard times, I choose to read, not only to escape the world but to have it redefined in words that often mirror my trials and tribulations. Reading is wonderfully cathartic and equally as important as writing, so I don’t have to feel guilty about taking time out.

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How do you combat self-doubt? By sharing your tips, you’re helping the writing community, so don’t be shy, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.

 

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Six Superb Ways To End A Novel

The ending of a novel needs to leave the reader satisfied and should reflect the pace and tone of the rest of the story. The truth is, endings are hard. The writer must conclude all subplots and bring clarity and resolution to the conflicts the characters face.

I’m going to share six of the most effective methods for concluding your novel.

 

To be continued…

This method is often used to entice the reader into continuing on with a series. So that the ending creates anticipation instead of resolution. I think this works best when the overarching plot remains and the characters continue onwards with their journey, for example, a looming war.

Warning: Conclude the subplots and character journeys set out for this particular story or the reader will feel cheated.

The full circle ending.

This happens when the story ends where it started and is hinted at in the first chapter.
Either with a retrospective narrator telling/ remembering the tale. For example, in The Hobbit Bilbo Baggins starts the story by reflecting back on his journey and ends the story in the same place after reminiscing about his time with the ring.

Or the last scene can simply take place in the same setting, thus mirroring the first scene.

Warning: Maintain suspense – don’t over hint at the stories outcome.

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Satisfied Ending.

This is my favourite, where all plots are concluded, all answers are answered and the characters have grown, conquered gained a  moral perspective. Typical genres are romance, mysteries and children’s lit.

Remember: Happily-ever-after isn’t the only way to create a satisfactory ending for the reader.

The Twist Ending.

Where the conclusion is a complete surprise catching the reader off guard. The dramatic twist is revealed in the last few pages. It can offer anew insight, shifting the perception of the whole novel by getting the reader to replay the events and come to a different conclusion that was previously implied. Maybe the hero is still alive? Or perhaps something a character believed in, is revealed to be a lie; or visa versa. Maybe the villain is the hero’s father… Luke!

Warning: The ending must be realistic. It must work in tandem with your characters journey, their personality and the elements of the story. It must make sense and steer clear of clichés.

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The Implied Ending?

Life can be messy, and our novel can reflect this. Perhaps you want to leave the reader pondering about the outcome of a plot and the characters. If done well, the story arc should hint at a few possible conclusions and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination.

Warning: This requires balance so as not to leave the reader feeling cheated or confused.

The Crystal Ball Ending.

Here we allow the readers to glimpse into the future of the characters, maybe months or years ahead. The epilogue allows us to see how everything turned out. However, it must maintain the tone and pace of the story and continue to build an emotional connection with the reader.

Warning: This should not resolve the story arc.

Consider some of your favourite endings and what made them memorable for you. This can be done through films, tv series or even a treasured book. So if you’re watching Netflix, take mental notes of what works for you.

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Tell me, what’s your favourite type of ending? You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.