Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dialogue Tags, for better or worse

Agra pondered aloud what exactly had made Milicent so effective as she tried again, in vain, to frighten Lilith into making a kill. Was it her commanding presence? Did she use physical threats?

“Maybe it was her eyes…” Lilith’s voice broke into Agra’s reverie.

‘What did you say?’ Agra checked herself, surprised.

‘I didn’t…’ Lilith ducked her head to avoid being cuffed. ‘Nothing…’

‘What about her eyes?’ Agra demanded. ‘Describe these eyes to me.’

‘Deep, fearsome, savagely wild…’ Lilith whispered. ‘So black that they suck you down into their depths and you think you’ll never escape.’ She trembled at the memory.

‘Where did you see these eyes?’ Agra demanded again.

‘Drowning…’ Lilith choked. ‘Can’t breathe! It was her! Her eyes…’ She collapsed into a heap of bitter tears on the sandy ocean floor.

Agra stared at her in stunned silence. Only one mermaid in these waters could produce that effect on others. ‘You’re lying!’ She spouted. ‘But how could you be?’ She picked up Lilith by the hair at the nape of her neck. ‘Where is she, this mermaid who turned you? Where did she go?’

‘I… I don’t know,’ Lilith stammered. ‘We… we traded places and… I don’t know where she went.’

‘You… WHAT?’ Agra shrieked.

‘We traded places,’ Lilith said, squeaking in pain as Agra’s grip tightened on her hair and neck.

‘That’s impossible!’ Agra roared. She let go of Lilith’s hair suddenly and Lilith tumbled to the ocean floor again.

‘I’m…. I’m sorry… I’m sorry…’ Lilith said as she scrambled back out of reach.

‘Don’t you dare… don’t you presume, you little worm,’ Agra snarled. ‘That you could trade places with the ancient one. Ha! Impossible!’

The passage above is from the first draft of my WIP... and is a prime example of trying to "tell" too much through dialogue tagging. My characters roar, squeak, demand, snarl, and oh so much more in an attempt to accurately describe the excitement of the scene. (Aside: I hate the name Agra... but somehow it was what came to me, and it is what I'm stuck with for now... sigh...)

I have been reading recently a book about self-editing for fiction writers. One of the main problems the authors point out with beginning novelists is the temptation to use dialogue tags to explain character emotion. I definitely have this problem. The idea is to convey enough through the actual dialogue that you don't have to explain the emotions or where the emphasis in the sentence belongs. It should come across naturally... the tension should just ... magically be there.

I can count at least 9 instances in this one little scene where I didn't have enough faith in my dialogue (or in my readers ability to infer meaning/emotion in my characters) to leave well enough alone.

I find that a lot of writers are prone to this habit, though. The more I think about it, the more I am interested to delve into some of those award winners that Margo Berendsen was talking about the other day, to see if they are able to dodge the pitfall of tagging dialogue (or explaining through adverbs... the -ly syndrome).

Does anyone else have this problem with their writing? What do you do to combat it?

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm back!

Wow... somebody took a blogging break! It was really an unscheduled break from the blogging world brought on by a trip to Hawaii with the hardworking hubby. He needed (and well deserved) a vacation!

But now we're back and I've spent the past few days dragging my brain back into EST and life as usual. Why? Because tomorrow I'm starting a brand spanking NEW internship! That's right folks! For the summer, I'll be interning with an actual publishing house (in the romance division). It's a definite break from my usual reading habits, but any way you slice it, I'm looking forward to learning so much and more about this new side of the industry!

So look for posts from me this summer with juicy little insights that I hope we will all be able to benefit from, as writers/creatives/etc.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Riding in Waipio Valley

This post is for Leslie <3

Two years and I finally get back in the saddle somewhere. Had a nice 2 and a half hour ride through Waipio Valley on this very pleasant little bay mare named Jessie. I could move here. But I'd get lonely after a while I think.

Please ignore the fact that I'm tilting to the left.
Who doesn't put enough weight in their right foot?

Isn't the Percheron Noah is riding so cute, too?
It was very nice to be back on the back of a horse... still, I could feel shadows of my old anxiety and neurosis fluttering about in my chest. I'm glad to have this happy, relaxed experience under my belt at least... and while the other noobs couldn't keep their horses from eating any and every plant they passed, Noah and I were able to manage very well (they asked us NOT to let the horses graze/eat mangoes, avocados, etc. while we were on the trail). Ha!

Waipio Valley is absolutely gorgeous, as well. And what better way to see it?

Sea Turtles!

Hawaii is amazing... especially because you can be walking down the beach and see these guys just grazing along... we even swam with a few at a different beach! Incredible.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Island dreaming

I've been a bit busy recently... hence no posting. Don't believe me? See below.

Oh, and I'll be back to posting about life, writing, and internships starting May 22nd(ish)...

Tidepools by the place we're staying. Incredible snorkeling

Lava Tree... created when lava engulfed wet, cool trees
in this forest.

Ube ice cream! Made from purple sweet potato. The color is
all natural!

Rainbow Falls in Hilo, HI

The Red Road. It really IS that color!

Black sand and a re-seeding project in an area that was destroyed
by volcanic activity.

Kilauea Iki Crater

Petroglyph in Hawaii Volcanoes NP

Baby wild boars... rescued by a permaculture farm after
a neighbor killed their mother.

Hilo has a zoo, too!

Two toed Sloth!!!

Namaste the white Bengal tiger.