Tag Archives: James Scott Bell

What I meant to say…..

In my never-ending desire to improve the way I write, I’m reading a fabulous  little gem titled How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell.

Now, I’m known for good dialogue. I make it a daily habit to listen to the conversations going on around me, and yes, that means I’m nosey! But it’s not just for nosiness’ sake.


Every conversation I eavesdrop on teaches me something new about syntax, style, word choice, personality, and character. I use all of that info into creating the best character dialogue I can.

Recently, I spent over two hours on three lines of dialogue between two characters. I wrote it every which way I could think of, making it more complex with each word I eliminated, and finally deciding it was perfect as stood.

The next day I changed it all around and you know what – it was even better!


Scott Bell’s book is filled with motes of dialogue genius like this: “Every word, every phrase that comes out of a character’s mouth is uttered because the character hopes it will further a purpose. The character has, in short,  an agenda.”


I truly have never looked at it that way. I mean, I knew it was true, and hoped I could pull it off on the page, but seeing it so succinctly and eloquently put has turned this little gem into literary gold for me!

Knowing what dialogue is supposed to convey in the scene you are writing is another important facet to think about. None of us wants to be accused of writing tired coffee-talk dialogue. You know: the kind where you write,” Hey, what’s new?”  “Nothing. You?” “Same old same old.” “Yeah.”

Can you spell BORING??!! Dialogue should amp up the scene, convey what you want the characters to convey, and make the reader want to read further.

So to my writing friends out there – and you know who you are – how are you at dialogue? Good? Lousy? Always looking to improve? What are the ways you can guarantee your dialogue does what it’s supposed to? let’s discuss…..

And since we’re talking… here’s my newest:



The last thing Carly Lennox is looking for as she sets out on her new book tour is love. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine show based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is an ambitious man-and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else, and as he tells her, he’s a patient guy. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. No. Carly is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him- may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Family Saga, Life challenges, love, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Voices of Angels, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Summer reading list

Remember when we were all in school and at the end of every year we were given a summer reading list by next year’s English teacher? I was the dorky kid who actually liked getting that list because reading was, and still is, my favorite thing to do – during any season.

For the past two summers I’ve started up that summer reading list again for myself, but it’s not filled with literary classics, or modern contemporary fiction.  My reading lists now are filled with “how to” books or what I like to call the refresher  series. Those books that I read, every now and again, to remind me of the craft I love. The books that remind me how to “show,not tell,” the power of strong words not adverbs, the structure in plotting books, the dialogue helping books, and the general this is how you do it for “dummies” books.

Writing is a craft, an art, a talent, and a career. Like any career, you must learn the basics, the tools, and the procedures to be an effective worker. Sometimes, when I am lost in the throws of writing ecstasy,  I tend to forget the rules and just write what is in my head. When I edit, I remember the reason I should get rid of that “ly” word and replace it with a stronger one, the reason why saying “he thought” is probably redundant, and the reason saying “she turned her gaze..” instead of ” she turned her eyes..” is a better descriptor.

My crafting books are helpful in allowing me to remember the power of plotting, and how to do it so to reach a maximum of writing force. Plot structure, scene structure, and point of view refreshers are all helpful when I edit, and re-reading the basics of how to do each has benefited my writing enormously.

I love dialogue, probably because I love talking so much in real life. My dialogue refresher books are always helpful, especially when they help me find two words that will take the place of twenty.

Summer reading lists. Not just for kids, anymore.

Some of my favorite re-reads:

Plot and Structure,  James Scott Bell

Showing and Telling, Laurie Alberts

Writing for Emotional Impact, Karl Iglesias

The Emotional Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

G.M.C., Debra Dixon

Character Traits, Linda N. Edlestein, Ph.D


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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Editors, research