Okay, let’s just dive in. I’m assuming you’re here because you are (a) a parent and (b) trying hard to carve out space for writing in your life. Maybe you have other caring commitments too. You may very well have a job that eats up more than its fair share of your week, and you might have a spouse who expects to at least see your face from time to time. Plus, you need to eat and sleep (although that last one, if your kids are like mine… maybe not so much).
It can feel overwhelming. It is overwhelming. I know it is: I’m living it with you. But if you’re here, I’m guessing it’s because without having space to write, even just a little, your life feels… flat. Not empty — of course — but missing something. Like there’s a spark that you just can’t seem to light. And yet, with eight million conflicting demands and only twenty-four hours in each day, how do you justify prioritising something as de-prioritisable as making fiction?
Dialogue. It’s an amazing tool for a writer, and often underappreciated. It’s also one of the most pressing concerns that students raise in my writing classes: how to use it, how to get it right, how to make it sound “natural.”
And it’s probably the most frequent formatting error I see as an editor.
For something that most of us do every day without thinking about it, we sure do seem to panic about the spoken word when it comes time to put it on a page. But, honestly, writing dialogue doesn’t need to be scary. Read on for five tips and tricks that will help you get it working for you and not against you, and then go ahead and make dialogue your best writing friend, as it rightfully ought to be.
An occasional series looking at the genesis of a story, from the initial spark of inspiration, through conceptual development, the writing process, and what happens next. You'll find related writing tips at the end. In this blog, I’ll be looking at Blumelena, my Bridport Prize-shortlisted short story.
One of the questions you never quite manage to answer to anyone’s satisfaction, in my experience, is the question of where the ideas come from. Generally speaking, mine just turn up when they turn up, generally prompted by nothing at all, and the onus is on me to find something to scribble on before they disappear . Blumelena was no different.
In my free ebook short story collection, To The End of the World and Back, I talk about how the concept announced itself, more or less fully-formed, as I was walking to work one morning. It was a decent stretch - around half an hour from home - and there’s definitely something about walking, for me, that connects with the creative part of my brain. If I’m stuck with a piece of writing, I will tend to go for a walk and let the rhythm of my feet work out the narrative knots as I go. In this case, though, I wasn’t looking for inspiration, but inspiration found me just the same.
Blog updates on the first of every month.