Are you a good reader? Excited when a new novel from a favorite writer is released? Or do
you rarely pick up a book?
I cannot believe good writers do not love to read, it’s just not possible. For a start you can
pick up tips from your favorite authors and get some idea of the structure for genre writing,
like adventure or crime. I know I have picked up on different styles writers have and know
which I like and wish to emulate and those I don’t enjoy. You’ll hear from a lot of people that
you need a VOICE so your readers identify this with your novels and your fans will know
what to expect from the book. When I started out I used to worry that I didn’t have a voice
but I didn’t realize that I do, everyone does. The more you write the more this voice develops
so don’t panic just write as you feel comfortable writing. It is not a good idea to copy
someone else style but you can take notes on a style you like and then make it your own.
For example I love Robert B. Parker novels as they are fast, exciting and have the bare
minimum of description which for an action adventure is essential. Nothing is worse than
pages of description that hold up the action and slow the story down. He never had this
problem as his books are full of dialogue but they work wonderfully. Like most new writers I
had problems with dialogue at the beginning. It was stiff and un-natural so I decided to read
one of his novels to see how he did it. When I did I really concentrated on dialogue it
hit me how little unnecessary description or comment there is between the speakers. They
just talked face to face and line after line, with not even a he said she said in sight. It was a
revelation as too much in-between speakers really slows the narrative down. This is OK for
some genres but not for crime, thrillers or SF books.
Good readers Part 2
The more you write for your characters the more they become real and the more familiar you
are with your characters the easier to know what and how they would speak at any given time
and the easier it will be to write their conversations.
The interaction between them once you get to know them is so much easier. If they can talk
to each other like normal people their interactions will not grate or jar for your readers.. You
have to know their relationships to one another you realize that enemies talk in a completely
different way than friends or lovers.
Families often have their own shorthand which when added to their conversations makes
them more rounded and real. So knowing all your characters sides and back stories helps you
allow them to speak through you, their creator.
If you are successful very soon they will be doing the hard work for you and talking inside
your head. When this happens it produces the best and most convincing dialogue of all.
That’s when your characters begin to leap off the page and take on a life of their own. They
have been known to boss me around and tell me I’m not portraying them correctly.
Weird but true. It is so much easier when this happens as half the work is done for you.