Crafting a Snappy Synopsis

Hello fellow creatives,

I don’t know about you, but the thought of writing a synopsis is daunting. After months of plotting, writing and revising our novel, we’re finally faced with crafting the Perfect Pitch and whittling the bare-bones of our story down to a one page overview – the synopsis!

But fear not, I have the experience of no less than three synopsis under my belt and I shall share my tips and tricks with you. I’ll be breaking down the elements needed for synopsis writing. Hopefully, I’ll arm you enough knowledge to craft your own. It’s not hard… honest. It’s simply a different process.

Tip one: literary agents and publishers want the complete story. The synopsis isn’t focused solely on conflict and stakes, it must set out the plot, the character’s journey arc, and most importantly… reveal the climax and ending. Yes, they want to know the ending, they need to know that the story is complete and that its structure works.

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Tip two: Tell the story, but keep it simple. I like to skim through my novel jotting down notes of plot points: Action & Emotion. If you’ve done a Reverse Outline during your edits, then use them. From the notes, I begin to shape my synopsis. The notes highlight the important story elements. Always write your synopsis in 3rd person, even if the novel is 1st person and write in present tense.

Tip three: Think of this as more of a technical paper, it’s a factual explanation of the events that drive your story. Don’t evoke your writing style and voice.

Tip 4: Set the stage by providing the setting and introduce your main characters (Protagonist and antagonist). Always introduce each characters NAME in full capitals, the first time they’re mentioned. Then include where the story starts and identify the inciting moment. But keep it simple. Use a few well-chosen words to evoke meaning.

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From there we begin to flesh out the details by revealing what the protagonist and antagonist are planning to do. Showing the plot points through how, why and what the characters are doing – their goals! Don’t include side quests, additional characters or plot twists – unless they’re vital in explaining the story arc. There should be practically no backstory or description, it will clutter the synopsis.

Tip five: Finally, it’s time to reveal how the story ends and how it was achieved and remember to link it back to the inciting moment.

So there you have it, a guide to writing your own synopsis. And remember the hardest part is conquering your doubt and beginning anyway. After all, you can and probably will edit your synopsis many times.

Good luck and happy writing!

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Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your thoughts. 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, 2021.

Why Writers Procrastinate

Hello, fellow creatives!

Ah, procrastination! Ever find yourself filing a tax return when you’re supposed to be fleshing out a character? Or maybe, clearing out the airing cupboard instead of starting the first round of edits? Yes, we’ve all been there. Suddenly, gardening is far more appealing than plodding along with a draft once you hit the middle of a project. Procrastination can be a slipper slope to us mere creatives.

Unfortunately, there is only one universal truth to writing and that is to sit down and get it done. And that’s all right in principle, but let’s slow things down, and take a look at why we procrastinate in the first place.

Ever wondered if there are certain individuals who are so driven and so focused, that they never let such forces come into play. Well, I’ve yet to find one person, let alone an artist, who hasn’t avoided something by doing something else. They procrastinate!

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You see, the act of procrastination is often masking something. Whether it be doubt, anxiety or boredom – it’s valuable to listen to what’s going on internally and to make necessary adjustments. Recently, I had the overwhelming sense of being lost, that my path had become unclear, and it was all down to a lack of self-care. Nothing a good holiday wouldn’t fix! But thanks to the pandemic, no one has been able to relax like we once did.

However, instead of berating myself about my under-performance, I accepted it with grace. We are all dealing with extraordinary times. We all occasionally become ill, have stress bubble up, and overwork ourselves. Procrastination is a sign that we may need a little maintenance. A bit of TLC. Recuperation is in order, not a verbal bashing from our inner dialogue.

Taking time away from a project is never a bad thing. Fill up on books, take walks on the beach, practice a little yoga, or bake. Soon enough, your creativity will be restored, and trust me, your story will thank you for it. When we enjoy a great book, we don’t stress over how long it took the artist to create it, we simply escape into the world they created. The same will be applied to your Stories, by your readers.

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Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your thoughts. 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, 2021.
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How to Easily Edit your First Draft

Congratulations, you’ve written your first draft!! There’s no doubt about it, writing a complete manuscript is hard. So I’m here to celebrate with you… woo whoo!

If you’ve stumbled upon this post, you’re probably wondering what’s next? Let’s face it… editing a novel is a daunting task. You’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed and baffled by this next stage. As I embark on editing my fourth novel, I’m feeling the stirrings of dread. But fear not, I’m going to break things down into bite size tips to get you started.

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After completing your novel, set it aside. Yes, you heard me. Don’t immediately start editing. You’ll be too close to the story and characters to objectively see plot holes, weak characters or blundering scenes. So save your work and close down the files. I suggest a minimum of a month break, but longer is fine too. In the meantime start a new project, read books and maybe (just maybe) catch up on some housework… nah, I didn’t like the last idea either.

Grab your notebook and some fancy pens. Its time to take stock of your story. Read through the whole manuscript, let the story settle in your mind along with your ideas for change. Then repeat the process, but this time a little slower. Recount each chapter with a brief sentence or two.

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On a separate page, take stock of any red flags, structural changes, things that need cutting or rewriting. I personally also like a printed copy for this stage. I underline sentences that don’t flow, or sound repetitive and jot things in the margin. In the past I’ve made the mistake of only doing this. But when it came time to make changes, an arrow pointing to a section with ‘WHAT?’ or ‘add more’ did nothing to help me. Yet armed with my trust note book, I could look back and find the appropriate reference.

Now that you’ve made a chapter by chapter recount of your story it will be easy to reverse outline your story. Only think of the structural elements of the story and begin to deconstruct and then reconstruct. Don’t waste your time on surface editing. You need to focus on the fundamental changes first. Besides, there’s no point polishing your voice and cleaning up the grammar if your only going to cut the scene.

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Once you’ve tackled the big stuff like structural changes and plot holes, its time to work on through the remained of your notes. Focus on the surface editing, such as; sentences that didn’t make sense, the flow of your story and of course polish your Voice. Work in stages; a chapter at a time. This keeps you accountable for the work you’re doing, without overburdening yourself. Remember, edits take as long as they take. That’s why small goals help us to stay motivated throughout the process.

Yay! Pat yourself on the back, the hard graft is done. But before sending your work out to beta readers, check formatting, grammar, spelling and punctuation. This stage is also a great time to check for crutch words and anything repetitive, including repetitive body gestures that your characters use. In my first drafts, I tend add a lot of shoulder shrugging, and body parts. Cut it back or alter the overused words to make your writing flow.

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Now it’s time to send your work to a couple of trusted beta readers, or if your lucky like me, a critique partner. Use their feedback to edit your manuscript again. You can work in stages, one beta at a time, or with a small group. Remember, choose what feedback you use to alter your story, not all of it will apply. You’re the architect of your story, so you get to decide what advice to follow.

And there we have it, you’ve edited your novel! Tell me fellow creatives, what writing stage are you at? And are you a lover or hater of editing? Personally, I’ve grown to love this stage. I learn so much from working with others.

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Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your thoughts. 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, 2021.

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Surviving Writer’s Guilt

Writers love to write, daydream, read and plot. But what they don’t like is having their time interrupted, stolen or even ruined by writer’s block. And unfortunate this pandemic is causing all kinds of issues for us creative folk.

Here in Wales we’re heading into a second Lockdown, particularly around the capital in the south. I live in the west, but I’m anticipating it rolling out across the whole country in the coming weeks. These challenging times have presented a variety of problems. While, like many of you, I’ve had stints of wild enthusiasm and high productivity. I’ve also had the down side of procrastination and burnout. So if you’re currently on the flip-side with me, suffering writer’s guilt — welcome, let’s relax and settle in for the ride.

First of all, lets acknowledge how difficult it is trying to work from home, home school, or go into work during this bonkers time. We have to navigate Zoom meetings, wear face masks in public and sanitize, wash, sanitize our hands consistently, tirelessly, endlessly. Tensions are high (with my teenagers in particular), loneliness is rife, and the underlining pandemic is constantly bubbling under the surface of our awareness. 

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It’s no wonder our creativity suffers. It’s no wonder we have no time or energy to write. It’s no wonder we’re choosing to put other peoples needs in front of our own. 

I’ve spent the last few months of summer fulfilling zero writing goals. My creativity has crumbled under the change in pace. I suffered a total melt down, and my writer’s guilt has shot through the roof. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve longed to write, I’ve longed for the mental peace and quiet so I could focus. Instead, I have nagging guilt over being a terrible parent, and a terrible business partner. Trust me, I seriously let the ball drop.

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So what can we do to ease some of the burden? 

  • Remember you’re only human and that you’re doing the best you can.
  • Understand that your writing is a part of you: an extension of your soul. You’re story is not going anywhere, it will still get written, just not today. And that’s okay!
  • Self-care, and self-acceptance is important. I’m not talking about a bubble bath or pampering yourself (although that’s always an option). I’m saying listen to your inner-self and do what you need to do. A walk. A day on the couch. A good cry. Don’t deny whatever is going on for you, it will only persists.
  • Ask for help. We all have days, weeks, months when life is just too much. Don’t be afraid to message or call a friend. Or to tell your boss that you’re struggling. It doesn’t make you weak, it means you have courage to ask for what you need. 
  • Refill your creative cup.
  • Read. Read. Read. This is a guilt-free pleasure because it helps develop your craft.
  • Watch movies (just pretend your studying the plot and complex characters).

Tell me fellow creatives, how do you ease the burden of writer’s guilt?

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Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your thoughts. 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, 2021.
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Writing the Perfect Pitch

I’ve been practicing my pitches for years in a variety of ways. From the twitter contests where pitches need to be condensed into 280 characters. To crafting elevator pitches or Loglines (the one line introduction that sums up the whole story). And of course the dazzling pitch that introduces the main character, conflict and stakes. All in a bid to hook that illusive agent or publisher’s attention, making them want to read more of your novel.

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I can tell you, it doesn’t get any easier. I still dread the question ‘what’s your book about?’ As writers we flounder and babble. We practice loglines in the mirror, and recite them while driving the car or doing laundry. Yet we always forget when the time comes to explain our work. Thankfully, written pitches can be drafted, edited and polished until they shine.

I think in times of crisis it’s the artists responsibility to dig a little deeper.

~ Bruce Pavitt.

One of the blessings that come from years of experience, is that I’m always learning new tips and tricks. And the latest come from working with the talented, enthusiastic and genuinely lovely editor Jeni Chappelle. I’d reached the point in my writing where I needed professional feedback to help me grow. And I can honestly say, Jeni has helped raise my game.

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And because I love my fellow creatives, I’m more than happy to share all I’ve gleaned with you. So, here is the format for creating the perfect pitch.

Paragraph 1: Introduce your Main Character. Set the story by revealing what they want (goal) before they embark on their journey, connecting to their deepest emotional wound. Remember to show what is standing in their way, both internally and externally?

Paragraph 2: Introduce the main conflict. Reveal how it affects them, and what drives them to get involved.

Paragraph 3: Show how the stakes are raised as the story progresses. Reveal 2-3 specific obstacles they will have to overcome to resolve the main conflict. End with an impossible dilemma, often phrased something like… They must choose to: (internal or external conflict) before: (raise the stakes and/or show consequences).

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Each paragraphs should be 100ish words each. If you’re showing both POVs in a query, (for example, in romance genre) then usually a dual POV query would include a full paragraph about each character (about 100 words each, give or take) and then a third paragraph showing how their individual stories tie together. Note: writing the pitch from the POV of the character first introduced in your MS, otherwise agents and editors will be confused and put off.

And there you have it, the perfect combination of character, conflict and stakes. Easy… right? Don’t worry if your struggling to perfect your pitch, you’re not alone. Besides, practice makes perfect. Do you have any tips to share? Or are you currently struggling with your pitch?

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Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your thoughts. 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, 2021.


Social media tips for writers

8 Twitter Tips for Writers

Building a platform and navigating the many different social medias can be a daunting task. It can seem a step too far, especially when we’re still struggling to write our novel. But fear not, for I’m here to share my top eight tips for using twitter.

It’s important to remember you’re presenting yourself as a brand. Every interaction on the internet should be tailored towards catching your target audience and strengthening your business – you… as an author.

  1. Load a profile and background image, then add a few sentences to describe yourself. Remember to utilize your Bio by including key words relevant to you. I’ve used #writer #fantasywriter and #amquerying. It helps likeminded individuals find you. Want inspiration? Check out your fellow writers and see what catches your eye.
  2. Every social media has a different way of conversing. Twitter does this by short, punchy statements. Using just 280 characters to convey your meaning. Twitter is fast moving so mistakes can be made. But that’s ok, your creative friends will forgive and forget. So dive in and have fun.
  3. Picture’s and Gif’s are a great way to draw attention, so get creative. Warning about copyright, please make sure you have the right to use the images.
  4. Use hashtags as a way to connect with likeminded individual. Some of my favorites are #amwriting #writing and #writingcommunity. Play around with them and pay attention to what other writers use.
  5. Remember your manners and don’t spam. The fastest way to be unfollowed is by only plugging your own, or others, work. I tend to unfollow writers that have feeds full of promotional content – the hard sell doesn’t work! Instead, I like to mix it up by asking questions, interacting and little updates about my writing journey. Take a look at my profile: https://twitter.com/lorraineambers
  6. People tend to converse through the newsfeed and ignore DM’s (Direct Messages) because the majority of messages are spam. If you want to chat, be brave and tweet them directly by adding there @name. Try me, I’ll be happy to reply. @LorraineAmbers
  7. Twitter is a great place for getting involved in competitions like #PitRev and #PitMad. During them writers accept the challenge of pitching their novel in one Tweet. It’s great practice and an easy way of making connections with your fellow writers.
  8. If you have a great Tweet, maybe a pitch or a link to your website or blog, Pin It to the top of your newsfeed. That way, whenever someone new visits your page they can instantly see that post. They might just interact with it by Liking your Tweet or even visiting your blog. After all, isn’t that the whole point of being on social media.

There we have it, my top 8 tips for twitter. Do you have any tips to share?

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Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your thoughts. 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, 2021.
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How to Write in ‘Deep’ Third-Person Point Of View

There are subtle differences between Omniscient Narrator, third-person and Deep third-person point of view (POV). But if they’re so subtle how can we know which one our writing falls into? It will affect word choice, and influence the readers’ perception of your characters. Well, read on to find some tips on how to polish your manuscript and make sure you’re using the preferred style for your work.

Not familiar with the different terms. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, I’ll run you through them.

Omniscient Narrator

The writer’s style and voice is reflected throughout the story, telling the story from a narrators perspective by identifying the characters by name. The characters, and their world is shown from a stepped-back perspective. Unfortunately, it can prevent readers from gaining intimacy with your characters, which is something we strive to gain, especially in Young Adult novels. The omniscient narrator doesn’t tell the story from an particular character, but reveals the story from an unbiased perspective and shows it to the reader.

Third-person POV

Writing in third-person is intended to make the story personal, dragging the reader into the story. Thus allowing them to view the world through the characters eyes. The story is shown from either one character’s POV or multiple POV’s and will be shown by using the characters name, and him/ he or she/her.

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A few months ago I had editorial feedback on my second novel Mischief and Mayhem, and one of the criticisms was that my writing bordered on Omniscient Narrator. Why? Because the third-person POV wasn’t deep enough. What? Impossible! I’d done my homework and developed my writing with the one goal of achieving a deeper perspective. I wanted my readers to intimately feel everything my characters experienced.

So what was I doing wrong? Well, I discovered a few simple revisions that can strengthen your work to gain a deeper perspective. And I’m super proud to say I’ve achieved it! The second critique I received was a glowing review of my submission package, with only ONE critique. (Too much exposition in the first chapter. – It’s a fine line line, my creative friends, as the first time there wasn’t enough.)

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How to gain a deeper perspective using third-person POV?

Don’t overuse the character’s name. It prevents the reader from getting inside the characters perspective, giving the illusion of watching the characters actions. Instead, use the pronouns him/he or she/her.

Remove filler words, such as; seemed, knew, wondered, sensed and felt. Again they prevent the reader from becoming immersed in the characters world. They hold the reader back, giving an Omniscient Narrator style of writing. By removing them you will not only strengthen the show don’t tell, but you’ll allow the reader to drop into the characters perspective.

Most importantly develop the character’s Voice, making sure each character has their own unique and identifiable voice which is different from yours as the writer. For a more in depth look and further tips I strongly recommend reading – Voice. The secret power of writing by James Scott Bell.

Best of luck with your revisions. And as always Happy Writing my creative friends.

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Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your thoughts. You know I love hearing from you.

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

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Writing tip – How to Foreshadow

The art of foreshadowing is subtle, and yet it’s also a craft that will add depth to your story. Foreshadowing can create atmosphere and cohesion between different parts of your story, by setting up the oncoming events to build expectation and keep your readers invested in the story. Though it is a vital aspect of story crafting, writers may struggle with using it to its full advantage.

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What is foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing prepares the reader, if only subconsciously, for what is to unravel in the story later. It is not out-rightly revealing. The difference is subtlety. Its about hinting, laying bread-crumbs to guide the reader towards the outcome. That way, your readers still gains the element of surprise, but they don’t feel cheated.

One of the most important places to add foreshadowing is undoubtedly the first chapter. Here you should use foreshadowing to ease the transition between the setup and big plot points. It sets the tone for the rest of the novel, and adds clues as to what’s about to transpire. Whether your world has magic, death, or romance. A single sentence, the setting or perhaps even a symbol, will deliberately create dimension within the story.

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This is important for two reasons: Firstly, to satisfy the reader with the payoff by delivering on earlier promises. Meaning, anything set up in Act One, should come about in the Final Act. And secondly, to lead the reader to conclusions about the rest of the story. Meaning, if you introduce two main characters for romance, make sure you deliver on their Happy Ever After or Happy For Now sending.

Remember: its a subtle hint, not an outright telling. You can hint at the theme, reveal the tone of the story through setting, or even have it mentioned through dialogue. For example: If your heroine is about to set off an an epic adventure, having a side character hint at their Character arc, is a clever way of feeding the reader information, without being too overt.

All foreshadowing needs the payoff or promise delivery. So only include pieces that are relevant, and significant to prevent the reader from feeling confused or cheated out of a story line. Foreshadowing prevents coincidental reveals, a sudden or unexpected shift in tone, and outlandish plot twists.

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Any subplots can be delicately foreshadowed in later chapters. These can be hidden in the story (slightly invisible and almost forgettable), so that the reader won’t even pick up on them. These are indirect foreshadowing, such as symbols, or a banal statement, and are usually only realized once the promise has been fulfilled.

Foreshadowing is a skill and usually takes time to understand, and or develop in your writing. Often foreshadowing is added into the story at the revision stage. Once you’ve written the whole story, you can better understand what influences the direction of your story and where to place the hints, and promises, to prevent coincidences. Carefully, precisely and artfully, layering the foreshadowing to give the reader cohesion and satisfaction.

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Do you have any tips on foreshadowing? Perhaps you are still developing the skill in your writing and would like to understand the topic more. Please share your thoughts, you know I love hearing from you.

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

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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.