It’s day 2 and I’m over at Lisa Hazelton‘s talking about…what else?,,,writing and my new release!! Stop by and take a chance on an Amazon gift card!
Category Archives: Dialogue
and Elaine, George, and even krazy Kramer.
The Seinfeld show went off the air in 1998, but there are still so many ways the show impacts our society to this day. Let me explain the history behind this blog piece.
Yesterday morning at the Gym I got into a discussion with the lovely Planet Fitness worker I see every morning when I check in, about watching television. We both stated how much we like Seinfeld. Now, this young lady is a good 25 -30 years younger than I am. She watches reruns of Seinfeld. I watched it when it actually ran, from 1989-1998. Yeah…I know. I feel a little old too.
But I digress…
We talked about how that show had so many relevant and timely sayings and situations that still hold up today and are even used in today’s vernacular. For example, Seinfeld introduced us to the annoying and embarrassing fact of “shrinkage.”
Remember that one?
How often do you use the phrase “yada yada yada?” Well, it came from a Seinfeld episode.
And speaking of holidays, have you ever Re-gifted? Or ever been accused of being a re-gifter? Thank Elaine for that one.
Have you ever double dipped?
God, there were so many words, phrases, holidays, expressions that show made popular, it’s a wonder Jerry Seinfeld and the writers didn’t get royalties from Webster’s dictionary for all the new words they made trendy.
In addition to Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer, the other wacky neighbor – Jerry’s archenemy Neumann
The true test of classic work of art- be it music, a television show, a powerful book – is how it plays to future generations and how they can see its relevance in their lives. I can watch an old episode of I Love Lucy and quote the entire thing from beginning to end. Lucy still makes me laugh out loud almost 70 years after her show went on the air! Seinfeld in almost 20 years out of the box but an entirely new generation is enjoying it and understands the lexicon the show invented.
And you know what? THAT’S what I want to do with my writing. I want to be relevant in the future. Being relevant right now would be nice, too, I have to say! But I want to – in some small way- have an impact on the people who discover my books in years to come. A positive impact, for sure, but an impact all the same. I want them, when they read the words I’ve written, to get it. Just like we still get Jerry…and Lucy…and Abbot and Costello, and all the greats that came before.
Yesterday, I shared a sister scene from book 1 of the WILL COOK FOR LOVE series, Cooking with Kandy between, oldest sister Kandy Laine and her younger -by three years -sister, Gemma. In book 2, A SHOT AT LOVE, Gemma is now the heroine of the story. Kandy’s influence is never far from her mind and actions, though. This scene takes place in a cabin. Even though she is hundreds of miles away from her sister, Kandy is still taking care of her younger sister…and everyone else it seems.
From A SHOT AT LOVE
“Kandy sent some of the soup she’s featuring in the new restaurant, along with stuff to make her grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it,” Rick told her when she opened the refrigerator. “There’s a container of it on the second shelf.”
Gemma opened the tub and took a whiff. “Hmmm. Grandma’s tomato cream. Yummy.”
“Your sister is opening a restaurant?” Ky asked. He moved to the kitchen behind her, helping to take down dishes and utensils from the cabinets. Just being physically close to her again brightened the foul mood darkening his soul from everything he and Bannerman had discovered so far.
“Several, actually,” Gemma said. She filled a pot with the zesty smelling soup and placed it on the stove. “The first one opens in a month in Tribeca. Another in Orlando in the fall and then L.A. in January.”
“No. Kandy.” Gemma lifted her shoulders. “This has been her dream since she was a kid, although she never told it to anyone until recently. A restaurant featuring only comfort foods, the kind we all had and loved as kids.”
“An interesting premise.”
She nodded and began slathering bread slices with butter. “No lie. This soup,” she pointed to the pot, “is without a doubt the best tomato soup you will ever have. Hands down.”
“Truth,” Bannerman said.
“What makes it so special?”
Gemma’s quick grin had him hard as stone and wanting in a heartbeat. “The showman in Kandy will tell you it’s made with love added into every cup, but it’s really the mix grandma perfected of spices and herbs, plus the fact she uses almond milk as the cream, and not cow’s milk. Grandma was a pioneer when it came to using plant products for baking sauces instead of dairy ones.”
The soup started to warm, it’s enticing aroma filling the kitchen.
“I wasn’t hungry until just this moment,” Ky said, sniffing the air.
Gemma laughed and said, “Wait until you taste the grilled cheese.” She laid two sandwiches onto the griddle. “You’ll think you’ve died and gone to comfort food heaven.”
A few minutes later the three of them sat at the table.
The only sounds for a while were them sipping the soup and chewing.
“You didn’t exaggerate,” Ky said, wiping his lips with a napkin. “This truly is the best soup I’ve ever had. Think your sister will give me the recipe for my mother?”
“Not a chance in a gazillion, but she can come into the restaurant anytime and have some.” Her lips lifted at the corners.
Who couldn’t love a sister who sends food to wherever you are???
Recently, I was interviewed on the national radio program, THE AUTHORS SHOW. The interviewer, Linda Thompson, has a voice made for radio. It’s rich, engaging, accent-less, and just sounds warm and welcoming. My voice? Yeah, not so much. But I’m always up for book promotion, so I did the interview and I hope the crackle and rasp emanating from my voice box doesn’t put too many people off!
The interview is 10 minutes long – not too long, but long enough that I got to answer some really terrific questions. If you have a few minutes to spare, give it a listen and let me know what you think ( about the book, NOT my voice! I already know what people think about that!!!! LOLOLOLOLOLOL)
Recently on Facebook, I saw a post that was shared hundreds of times called THE DECLUTTER CHALLENGE, a 30-day challenge to get rid of clutter and stuff in your life. A random sampling of the days’ tasks includes: purging 2 kitchen cabinets (day 7); cleaning out your wallet (day 9) and your purse ( day 10); cleaning out the freezer ( day 18); donating unused toys ( day 25). The challenge ends on day thirty with the simple task of CLEAN. I guess what you clean is up to you, but I took it to mean, clean your house.
This challenge, naturally, got me to thinking about how I could declutter my writing. All writers have catch words or phrases they like to use, especially when writing dialogue. If we actually wrote how we spoke, the readers would be bored out of their gourds. For instance, would you seriously want to spend money on a book where every dialogue started like this:
#1. Hey, Bill. How are you?
#2. Fine, Jim. How are you?
#3. Can’t complain. How’s the family?
#4. Doing well. Yours?
#5. Same, same. So how, about those Red Sox?…
you get the idea. This is drivel. We may speak like this in real life, but in fiction, it’s a death knoll.
So that’s one way to declutter your work: check the dialogue. Can you get the idea across without all the folderol of “hi, how you doing’s?”
Another way I know I personally clutter up my writing is by using too many extraneous words to convey my thoughts. A quick search of my current work in progress yielded this:
the use of THAT – 89 times
the use of To her/to him/ for her/for him -56 times
the use of adverbs ( the bane of my writing existence) 91 times. EEK!
I really need to work on decluttering these words, don’t I! Hee hee
Other things that writers should declutter are phrases like “seemed to,” “tried to,” “began to.” Writing is much stronger and moves quicker when sentences are declarations and use an active tense.
For example: Her natural, spicy scent seemed to surround her body.
Better example: Her natural, spicy scent of ginger and peach, surrounded her.
Other words that can probably be eliminated a fair amount of time and still allow the sentence to convey what it needs to are:
move, push, reach, bring, pull, went, brought, press and came( to denote going or coming from somewhere)
It’s a good practice to utilize the SEARCH for options in your word processing program to nit pick and eliminate words you use excessively after your first draft is written. This will make the editing process more about the story line and capturing what you intended to say instead of needing to remove excess words.
Oh, about that 30-day Declutter challenge. yeah, I survived for three days. Then I was exhausted. Maybe I should develop a 12 month declutter challenge. You know…do one thing a month instead of 30 in 30 days? Thoughts? LOL
When I’m not decluttering my life and my writing, you can find me here:
Yesterday I worked on a few lines of dialogue for over two hours.
Did you think all this witty repartee just jumps into my head at will?
No. It doesn’t. Not even close.
Everyone knows writing is a solitary, ofttimes monotonous life and this is why. Creativity, while at times coming in bursts and flames of speed, usually…doesn’t. It’s hours, days, months, sitting at a laptop, playing with phrases, rearranging words, charging emotions with verbs and descriptors, bleeding, spewing, dying and then being reborn until finally FINALLY the perfect sentence or snippet of dialogue that reveals sososososo much more than is said, is created.
Yeah…it’s just like that.
Every. Friggin’. Day.
Can I get an “AMEN” from all my writer friends out in the blogosphere because you know this is true?!
I live a solitary existence during the day. I write from home. It’s quiet, I can hear myself think, I don’t have to get dressed if I don’t want to, and I can talk out loud in my character’s voices when I’m creating dialogue without the fear someone will call the crazy police and have me carted off.
I know writers, though, who actually write out in the…wilds. Or in this case, civilization. In coffee bars, sandwich shops, at the local library. Places that have, you know, people, milling around. I’ve never written anywhere that wasn’t isolated and private. Even the library with its noise restrictions is too loud for me because…you know…whispering!
I’ve got a scientific background, so one day I thought I’d put it to rusty use and do an experiment as see how this other creative faction, well, creates.
I actually got dressed – makeup too! – packed up my laptop and ventured north to a popular gathering place in my neck of the northland: Panera.
I’ve been in Panera any time of the day and I know it’s always crowded, so the time I began my experiment didn’t factor in. Just for transparency sake, though, I got there a little before 10:30 am. After the morning coffe/bagel rush and before the lunch crowd pressed in.
The place was – as usual – packed, but I found a single booth off in one corner under a window overlooking the busy parking lot. Because I couldn’t just sit there and observe without eating something, I ordered a bagel and a soda and when it was ready, settled down to try and do some work. I was at a critical point in a WIP plot line and needed to get through some emotional dialogue.
Laptop on and file opened, I took a sip of soda, a bite of bagel, and then put my fingers over the keyboard, ready to see what magic I could make. Ready to see if I could make some magic without getting distracted, in actuality.
Yeah, you’ve probably already figured it out. No magic.
Just when I thought I had an idea, I got distracted by the loudly whispered argument ( well, fight really) going on in the booth behind me between two college-somethings. It was a little difficult to navigate through all the college slang speak of you’s knows, and multiple likes every other word. Plus. neither of them knew how to complete a phrase without adding f**king to the word descriptors. I was able to get the gist of their heated dissertation, though, after a few minutes. Apparently, Freshman A hooked up with Freshman B’s main squeeze at a drunken frat party and now both these young women had a date at the school health center for “tests.”
Just when I thought punches would be thrown, one of them got a text and then they both zipped out of there right after.
Back to writing, Or trying to.
I got an entire paragraph down before I heard the squealing, high-pitched scream of someone being vivisected. Or at least I assumed that’s what was happening to the toddler I spied out of the corner of my eye. He’d thrown himself down on all fours, writhing and pounding his puny fists into the faux marble decorated flooring, his lungs proving he’d have a busy career as an opera singer one day. His gaunt, anorectic looking mother, red-cheeked and mortified, stood over him coaxing and cooing him to stop. The more she tried to comfort him the louder his wailing pitched. All patron eyes were zeroed in on these two, rubbernecking the tantrum, myself included. I wondered why no one came to the poor woman’s help and dragged the little brat up by his Baby Gap jeans, giving him a good tongue lashing at the same time, but then I realized that most well-intentioned people didn’t get involved these days because of frivolous lawsuits and backlash.
Eventually, the little bugger got tired and momma was able to pull him up ( I would have yanked!) and led him out of the eatery.
Back to writing – or trying to.
Ten minutes later a very loquacious and vivacious group of three women around my age and garbed in what looked like workout wear ( spandex leggings that barely came to ankles; multicolored track sneaks over tiny socks, and skin tight racer back tops) sat down in the booth in front of mine and proceeded to talk.
A lot. Like, non-stop. They spoke over one another, trampled on each other’s sentences, guffawed at what they were saying-loudly!- and generally seemed to be enjoying one another’s company. They stayed for over an hour, much longer than the time it took them to eat their salads, just…talking. About anything and everything.
I’d now been in Panera’s for over two and a half hours and had written exactly 76 words. My usual rate for that amount of time is at least 1000-1500, easy. At this point, I felt it was safe to conclude I wasn’t one of those lucky writers who could block all extraneous noise and commotion from my creative subconscious. I wrote better-certainly MORE- when I was alone, it was quiet, and I had no distractions, so I went back home and proceeded to write 10 pages by dinner time.
And even though I proved my hypothesis ( I can’t write with distractions!) I will admit this: being out in the wilds, er, civilization, even for an abbreviated time, helped me hone in on varying speech patterns for age-appropriate dialogue, gave me a new appreciation for how well behaved my daughter had been as a child ( I need to call her to tell her how much I love her!) and made me thankful I have girlfriends like those 3 women I listened to who- just when I need it the most- kidnap me from my self-imposed isolation and hermit-dom, and bring me back into the living fold.
Now, back to writing. Alone.
and by friends, I mean books!
Every year I like to share the list of reference tools and books that keep me sane as a writer. Since I spend sosososososososos much time alone, writing and thinking about writing, I sometimes need tools to help me figure out plots, people, motivations, and dialogue subtexts. Here’s a list of my absolute favorites and the books that keep me sane when I’m trying to swim through the quagmire that is my imagination. Maybe if you haven’t finished making your Christmas and Holiday wish list yet, you’ll consider asking for one of these valuable tools. Believe me, it is money well spent and worth the cost.
5.Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. This is like a bible to most writers!
6.The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book. Little snippets, words, and descriptions to tweak your dialogue and writing
7. Master Lists. Every conceivable list you need for character, description, setting. Also fabulous as a reference when you play Trivial pursuit!
8. The title says it all. Rated Triple H for hothothot!
9.Nothing better for getting into the mind of your character and their inner conflicts and struggles
And if you’re looking for a great little romantic fiction read for yourself or as a Holiday gift, well, here’s my newest ( shameful plug) A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
When I’m not doing research I can usually be found in one ( or more!) of these places:
Today I’m channeling Jan Brady!
The reason? Because I need to whine a little and Jan’s iconic “Marcia, Marcia, Marica!” just resonates so well for that.
The other evening, as I was plugging in my iPod, cell Phone, laptop and Kindle to charge, my husband was brushing his teeth with his electric toothbrush. When he was finished, he looked at me–struggling to get everything plugged in for the night in one little over loaded outlet– and then down at his brush and said, “How many extraneous electrical devices do you think we own?”
“Define extraneous?” I said.
“Something we use that we could use something non-electric for. Like our toothbrushes.”
I thought about it for a moment, counting everything I used on a daily basis that needed to be charged or plugged in to work, and then said, “None. Everything we use we need.”
“Really? Do you actually need all that”–he pointed to the overloaded outlet–“all day, every day?”
“Yes.” No hesitation on my part at all.
And I’m being truthful.
“What about all the other things, like the microwave, your hair stuff, your lighted makeup mirror, the fans you keep blowing all day and night? Those aren’t superfluous?”
“No.” I should have known he wouldn’t leave it at that. Dog, meet bone. The definition of my husband.
“Why not?” he asked.
Ticking all the items off on my fingers, I gave my best argument ( debate club alum, remember?).
“When you work late and come home hungry but don’t want a full dinner, the microwave is the perfect thing for either reheating something, or making something small and quick for you. You’re hungry and you want to eat NOW not in 30 minutes after the oven has preheated. I need my blowdryer and all my straightening hair devices and tools because you know I look like I have a bird’s nest on my head if I don’t straighten my hair. There’s no other safe way to do it if I want to avoid the myriad of chemicals needed to attain non-pubic hair-looking status. Since I am in the throes of menopause and we don’t have robots or droids to fan me all day long to keep the heat at bay, I need those fans on or else I am in a perpetual state of sweat. Not attractive. And as for the lighted makeup mirror, I have two words to say on that subject: cataract surgery.”
A little disclaimer here so you get where I’m coming from: When I had cataract surgery it killed my near vision – I have perfect distance, but can’t see anything 5 feet or closer to me. I need, absolutely NEED that lighted, magnified makeup mirror or else I’d never feel confident in what I looked like to go out of the house and not scare children, the elderly, or small pets.
“And your computer, phone, kindle, iPod and Ipad? Those are necessary to your health and well being every single day?”
“Yes on all counts. I need the Ipod when I go to the gym ( 5-6 days a week) or else I’d be bored out of my gourd, and if I’m bored and not distracted enough, I won’t finish my workout, so that would be a waste of time. I need the iPad to watch my tv shows when we travel. I need the Kindle to, you know, save trees. I read so many books every week. Just think of all those poor trees I’d be killing. It’s actually an act of Christian Kindness and Mercy to use the Kindle. Do I really have to explain the necessity of the phone? And as for my computer, well, my editor is not going to accept a handwritten manuscript.”
I took a breath. “And as for the toothbrushes, the dentist said our teeth are healthier since we started using them. Do you want gum disease? Excess plaque? Halitosis?”
He stood there, staring at me, while I prepared some other reasons why I needed every electrical device known to man to survive on a daily basis. I truly hoped he wouldn’t get me started on the necessity of dishwashers and vacuums. There’s a reason we life in modern times. If I’d been born in the dark ages ( aka the time before electricity when it was, truly, dark!) I wouldn’t have survived. In even older times? I would have been one of the ones eaten for the others to stay alive. And I would have been happy to make the ultimate sacrifice just to get away from the dark and cold and tedious.
There’s a reason I don’t camp, peeps ( aside from the going to the bathroom in the woods – never gonna happen!) All that wilderness living? Yeah, not for me. I’m like the character in Private Benjamin who said she joined the army for the condos and travel vouchers, not the marching and tents.
After a few seconds of staring, my husband shook his head and got into bed without another word on the subject.
So this is a totally ridiculous, narcissistic blog post today. I’m going full honesty here and tell you how I stay motivated to write so much during the NANOWRIMO challenge. Be prepared…you may learn something that clouds your opinion of me forever.
Okay…Taking a huge, cleansing breath…Here goes.
I bribe myself to keep writing.
I know! How awful is that?? I should be writing because I want to, not because I’ll get a reward if I do. The 50,000+ word book SHOULD be the reward. The ONLY reward.
But no, it’s not.
I start off with a mountain of motivation each morning as I sit at my laptop, fingers flying across the keyboard, giving full vent to all the thoughts and scenes and dialogue that have been running through my brain for the previous 8 hours – the time I should be sleeping but, well, you know. Chronic Insomnia. The brain that never shuts down. That’s me.
I start off like a speeding train and about hour 2-3 I start to get a little fatigued, a little distracted, a little, well, bored. I know I have many more words to write – can feel them jumping out of my fingertips in their efforts to break free from my mind – but I start to wane. To keep myself glued to my chair ( figuratively, folks) I’ve developed little bribery rewards for my diligence. Here are just a few of the things I pamper myself with for my perseverance at the laptop:
- If I get another 1000 words down, I’ll have a cup of tea and a Peppermint Patty
- If I finish this chapter I’ll troll thru Amazon and look for new books to read
- If I hit my 2500 minimum daily word count, I’ll schedule a facial this afternoon
- If I can get this dialogue perfect in the next 20 minutes, I’ll go get lunch at Panera.
- If I exceed my daily goal I’ll go shopping for makeup/skin care products/perfume, in other words, I’ll go to Sephora.
See how this works???
And isn’t it ridiculous? I didn’t raise my child to do what’s right in life by bribing her. I would have never even thought of that. Her father and I taught her to do what is correct simply for the reward of getting it right. We didn’t say, “do you your homework and you’ll get a cookie. Get an A on a report and I’ll take you shopping.” We never even gave cash for good report cards. The end result – the good grades – was its own reward. None other was needed.
Why can’t I, then, as a fully formed and functioning adult, heed that wisdom?
See? I told you your opinion of me would get clouded.
When I’m not ruminating on my hapless state or bribing myself to go on, you can find me here: