"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings but a cat does not." -Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, November 13, 2011

May I Have The Envelope Please?

When I started writing The Unknown Author blog on September 27, 2010, I had one main goal in mind; share with other aspiring writers the techniques I had learned and the resources I had discovered when starting out.

Never did I imagine that little over a year later I would have befriended some of the best rising talent in the business, become published or be recognized with a blogger award!


The Versatile Blogger award was given to me by Cindy Keen Reynders, author of The Saucy Lucy Murders and Paws-itively Guilty and the soon to be published, The Seven-Year Witch and A Killer Slice; the newest in her Saucy Lucy series.   

Saucy Lucy Wisdom, is Cindy’s new blog where she and her character, Aunt Gladys, talk about the writing world and other humorous topics life can throw at you. Cindy provides sound advice ranging from overcoming rejection to her seven ingredient recipe for writing story.  You can discover Cindy (here).  Cindy can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.  Thank you Cindy for the award!

Having been bestowed this honor, it is now my turn to engage the rules for receiving this award.  They are, thank and recognize the presenter of the award, reveal seven facts about yourself and, then, pass the award on up to fifteen other bloggers whom you would like to recognize.

And now for seven things you’ve always wanted to know about T.K. Millin and her feline ghostwriter, Efi Loo.

  • Efi Loo’s nickname is Loo Loo and she even has her very own theme song.  It goes:  “Loo Loo, so black she’s blue, is she black or blue?  She’s blue Loo Loo!”  (Except in October, she’s black!)
  • When growing up I used to tell people I was a cherry-blonde instead of a strawberry-blonde. 
  • Efi Loo’s favorite thing to do is drink from the bathroom faucet.  Not wanting to destroy her ego, I continue to let her think that is my only purpose for entering the room.
  • Prior to being a writer I enjoyed many other professions.  They included being a tap dancer and instructor, a claims manager and owning my own interior decorating business.  My favorite over all is being a writer!
  • Things I found scary as a child, and some still to this day, that you will often find in my stories:  Clowns, dolls, ice cream trucks, carnivals, jack in the boxes, ventriloquist, mimes and cemeteries.  
  •  The things I’m most passionate about are my husband, my pets, my family and friends and living in a country in which you have the freedom to pursue your dreams, thanks to individuals who voluntarily sacrifice theirs.

May I have the envelope please?

Before I present the awards I would like to point out two people whom Cindy recognized that I would have and they are Blaze McRob and Stacey Turner.  
Having said that, I would like to present The Versatile Blogger award to:   
Carole Gill - Author of gothic romance such as The House on Blackstone Moor an its upcoming sequel, Unholy Testament.  Carole highlights her stories along with other authors who write scary good books.     
Bessie Mac - Author of Holly’s Story and The Chronicles of Little Bear, Bessie shares heart warming stories about the world of fostering animals and events you can become active in to help our furry friends.
  
Bobbie Pyron - Author of A Dog’s Way Home (click here for Efi Loo's exclusive interview with Bobbie!) and The Ring. Bobbie highlights other authors and their furry muses through her post, Fido and Friends.   

Joseph Pinto - Author of Flowers For Evelene and Dusk and Summer, Joe shares heartwarming and sometimes an occasional scary good read on his blog.  This month, for National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, he has a touching series about his father’s battle with cancer.  

In closing, I personally would like to thank each of the authors highlighted here for their connections and I wish each and every one of you a future filled with fulfilled dreams.  

Until next time,


Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!
T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Dreams to Reality: Why The Foundation of Your Platform Matters

If you Google the word “collaboration” you’ll find several different sources defining “working together” in different ways.  What you won’t find is this image . . . 

Image courtesy of Angelic Knight Press


Back in July of this year when the newly formed publisher, Angelic Knight Press, announced they were accepting submissions for their first anthology many writers whom had met by way of Facebook, Twitter, Blog connections and other social media outlets were enthusiastic at collaborating together to work with the brand new publisher.   Why?

If you Google the word “integrity” you’ll again find several different sources defining “adherence to moral and ethical principles” in different ways, but the one common ground they all have in their definition is, honesty.

Let’s explore:

Several years ago I had the unique opportunity to collaborate with two very special people who lived and breathed the word integrity.  One was a decorated General who had not only served in Vietnam, but had led a very successful operation during Desert Storm and the other was a Colonel who had turned several military bases into highly productive operations; thus, keeping them from being shut down.

What does this have to do with the foundation of your platform?  One word; integrity, and the foundation it is built on, honesty.  

I first met author, Blaze McRob, through my connection with author, Carole Gill.  It started out in the usual social media connection way; “Hi, I’m so and so and I write so and so, what do you write?”  Then they respond with links to check out and you respond accordingly.  

Now, back to my collaborating with the General and the Colonel. They taught me to recognize integrity through their every day actions.  Blaze McRob proved his integrity to me through his everyday actions of his words.  

How did I know to trust his words?  Because he always followed through on what he said he was going to do and everything he said he would do he did with conviction.  In other words, he proved he was honest.


As the world becomes smaller, it brings opportunities that never existed before in publishing; both good and bad. That is why the foundation of your platform matters.


If you’re out to make a quick buck and deceive authors out of their hard earned creative work it will not take long for you to be discovered as a fraud and a fake.  But if your foundation is built upon your integrity and willingness to help others succeed so that you may also, then the future in limitless.  How exciting is that!

As the publishing world ventures into new and exciting territories yet to be discovered, it will be publisher’s like Angelic Knight Press who will lead the way in opening up new and exciting opportunities for authors.  Keep your sunglasses handy everyone, the future looks very bright!

In closing, is it any surprise that Blaze McRob is also a veteran who served our great country?  As Veteran’s day fast approaches, don’t forget to thank a Veteran.  

Thank you Blaze McRob, and, thank you General Draude and Colonel Maciewicz.


Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving  and keep on writing!


T.K. Millin

The Unknown Author


Monday, October 31, 2011

Countdown to NaNoWrimo: Helpful Do’s and Don'ts For Your Success


It’s finally here, tomorrow is the start of NaNoWrimo!
Most writers by now are familiar with this month long challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.  But, if perhaps you are new to hearing about this strange acronym, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, click here to discover a whole new level of writing.
Last year was my first year as a Wrimo (that’s what the writer’s who participate in the challenge are nicknamed. I did not misspell Wino!) and I wanted to share with those of you who may be returning to the challenge or attempting it for the first time, things I learned from my experience.  
I’ve put together a list of my top do and don’t tips that helped me push through the challenge, and when November 30, 2010 arrived, I had completed the first rough draft of the second novel in my middle-grade series, The Clara Jeane Mysteries.  
Let’s explore:

The Unknown Author’s Top Four Do’s
Do set a writing goal each and every day: 
There are thirty days in November and when equally divided they equate to approximately 1,666.7 words a day.  Does that mean you have to write that many words a day?  

Absolutely not.  

In fact, in my first day, I wrote over 5,000 words.  But by setting a numerical goal you commit yourself to at least achieving, and in some cases, exceeding your daily goal.  I found there were some days I far exceeded my goal, which helped me on days when perhaps something arose or I just couldn’t muster the motivation (yes, unfortunately, you will have days like that).  
Go for it, you just may surprise yourself!      
Do allow yourself to freewrite:  
Recently, I wrote an article about the art of freewriting click here.  Basically, freewriting is a skill writers use to let their creative side have full reign when it comes to putting words to paper/screen; without allowing their critical side to interrupt and point out errors.   
So go ahead, ignore those misspelled words, incorrect commas and awkward sentences!  Remember the end goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.  
Time for a did you know moment!  When Stephen King writes a new story he does so at full speed ahead, puts it away for six weeks, and then begins the rewriting process.   
Do take a break:
It’s vitally important for your mental health, and your physical health, to take a break.  Take a walk around the block, spend an hour a day at the gym or take time to find out how your loved one’s day went.  Whatever works for you to relieve stress or recharge your creative juices, do it! The writer’s life can tend to be a secluded one, but only if you allow it to!  
Do allow yourself to extend your word count by spelling out contractions!:
This tip is a fun one.  In fact, I discovered it through connecting with other Wrimo’s last year.  It was an eye opening experience for me to write out contractions.  I never realized how often they are used.  

Go ahead try it, it’s fun!

The Unknown Author’s Top Four Don’ts 


Don’t stop to edit along the way:
This tip goes hand in hand with allowing yourself to freewrite.  Don’t allow your self-editor to join in the NaNoWrimo fun.  They have plenty of work to do when it’s finished.  In fact, many months worth!  So let them go on vacation, they’ll need it! 
Don’t be afraid to write the end first or the beginning last:
Many writers, I for one, sometimes have the ending in mind before they even start to write a story.  If this happens to you, create a file folder with the title of your novel and within that folder have individual files of scenes that come to you as you write.  Then when it’s time to put it all together, it’s simply a matter of cutting and pasting.  I have written several novels this way and it is a time saving skill.  
Don’t get distracted by Twitter, Facebook or surfing the Net:
Actually, this tip works with or without NaNoWrimo.  Social networking has become a very important tool for writers to gain recognition, but at the same time, it has become a deterrence and often times an excuse not to write. 
Making the decision to write a novel in a month is a big decision for any writer, and even though there are no repercussions other than you fail the challenge if you don’t succeed, a lot can be said for self pride.
My mother was right when she used to say, “‘spend your time wisely.’” 
Don’t forget to thank family and friends for their support and understanding and most importantly don’t forget to eat turkey come the 24th! 
Unless you live in a household of writers, chances are the one’s closest to you, although they support your efforts, may not completely understand your deep seeded desire to write a novel in thirty days or what it takes to make your desire a reality.  

It does mean missing a dinner once in a while and many days turned to night and nights turned to day; holed up in a room creating a new world and bringing people to life through the strike of a keyboard or the stroke of a pen.  

But when all is said and done, no matter what, when November 24th arrives, sit down to a table surrounded by your family and friends and give thanks to them and their support.  And if you’re like me, you’ll give an extra thanks for the opportunity to live in a country where you have the freedom to seek your dreams and make them a reality.
Good luck fellow Wrimos, and if this year is not the year for you, hopefully, some of these tips will help you in your everyday writing.
Until next time,
Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!
T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ramblings of a Writer: The Art of Freewriting


Freewriting is a technique used to allow a writer to literally, get something down on paper. The technique is often times used to help overcome writer’s block or to see what ideas come to mind when one allows themselves to turn off their natural critic side of the brain and give full reign to their creative side.

Let’s explore:

Lately I haven’t been publishing as many blog articls as I would like to but I’ve been so busy lately with wriint and editing and Friday flash fiction which I reallt enjoy doing because it has helped me to learn to write faster and it also helps me to stay in a constant frame of creaitivy which I think is important to any writer. I hope to get back to a regulear schedule because I miss my blogging companions but it is also important to keep on writing and writing and writnng. I really don’t like seeing all the red underlines but I also like turning of muhy internal cridict and not worrying about changing every little word as I write-

That is freewriting in a nutshell. No need to worry about sentence structure, grammar, spelling or if it makes any sense. I let my mind type what I was thinking and the words just flowed out. Now it’s your turn, go ahead and try it! What did you discover?

The first couple of times I attempted freewriting, it was very difficult to turn off my critic. I constantly wanted to hit the backspace button and fix the word or add a comma or edit its meaning. One day, I got an idea to make a deal with Mr. Critic. I agreed if he allowed me the opportunity to just let my creative side run with their ideas, I would come back later and let him do his job, and it worked!

When I find times where I feel my writing is stalling or the story needs to find its way, I go into freewriting mode and let my creative side do their job. Not only has freewriting been an amazing experience for me, it has also helped me to improve the speed at which I write.

Lesson learned? As with any story, there are two sides to writing. The fun side and the working side. By allowing your critic side to take a vacation while your creative side works is the fun side of writing; the artistic side if you will. Then once you have something down on paper, whether it’s a story or a blog article, it’s time for your critic to go to work. That is, the working side of writing. 

Unfortunately for the creative side, it never really gets to take a full vacation like Mr. Critic, it gets more of a restful nap. After all, Mr. Critic may be good at polishing, but he’s not so good at plotting, creating characters or twisting!

Although freewriting is a technique, it can have a profound effect on the content of your writing. In other words, you may surprise yourself by what is hiding deep down inside of you when you’re not constantly monitoring your every word. Some writers consider themselves to be a vessel for which the words can flow from, rather than the creator of the words. No matter which side of the fence you are sitting, it is worth finding out what you say when your critic is on vacation!

If you’ve never tried freewriting, or if you have but it’s been a long time, take a little time during the week to set aside twenty or thirty minutes to just sit down and write whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about what you say, how you say it or whether your “T’s” are crossed or your “I’s” are dotted. Then set it aside for a day or two before revisiting it. You just may be surprised what was hiding inside wanting to come out!

Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author

Monday, September 26, 2011

Are Human's Natural Born Writers?


As a writer, I love meeting new people and discovering what they do for a living, and over the years, I have met people from all walks of life.

In addition to meeting teachers, doctors, dentist, veterinarians, mail deliverers, (you know most professions we deal with in everyday life), I’ve had the fun of meeting, and in some cases working with, famous Hollywood actors, (I once had a chance of Hollywood stardom as a movie extra!); an NFL Superstar; a Vietnam Cobra Pilot and even a NASA Test Pilot.

As varied as my encounters have been there has always been one thing that has intrigued me. Whenever I would talk about one day pursuing my dream of being a writer or, as in more recent times, when I told the person I was a writer, the general response has always been, “'Oh, I too want to write a book one day.'” How about you, do you generally get the same response?

Recently, this has led me to wonder if human beings are natural born writers or if it’s something else.

Let’s explore:
  
Whether it is to tell a story or record history, it seems ever since the dawn of man, humans have had the desire to write. One can only imagine how the first storyteller felt when he had his clan fans huddled together around the stone walls of the cave as he depicted his version of his first encounter with a bear. Regardless if it were fact or fiction, their drive to tell the story was probably the same as it is for you and me today!

Often times when people ask me why I wanted to be a writer, my answer is pretty much the same, “'I don’t know I just know I’ve always wanted to write.'” I believe this to be true for most writers, established or aspiring. But as with anything, there probably is an exception of a few writers who write simply because they see it as a way to make a living at something they’re good at.

Having said that, for the most part I believe mankind has an inherent desire to write. For most, it’s probably to one day just write a story, journal, keep a diary or tell stories to the next generation. And for others, it’s to become a published author or make a living at something they’re really good at.

No matter the motive, perhaps the need to want to write comes from our human instinct to want to leave a legacy behind. After all, every life has a story to tell. What’s yours?

Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How My Sabbatical Paid Off

There comes a time in every one’s life where they must make the difficult decision between staying safe inside their comfort zone or stepping outside its boundaries and crossing into unfamiliar territory. As a writer, these decisions should inspire you to rise to the challenge and push yourself to the limit. Otherwise, you may never know what you are capable of.

Recently, I was faced with making this same choice. In fact, the timing was perfect. I had just written my post, Break Free from Archaic Fear, when one such challenge approached me, forcing me to put my words into action.

Let’s explore:

After the inception of this blog a year ago September 27th, I became comfortable in my writing life of balancing between two middle-grade novels, an adult mystery, maintaining a weekly blog and keeping pace with my household duties. Not to mention the occasional story of the century idea that sits neatly tucked away inside my computer . . . never getting past the premise stage.

Since then, I’ve added social networking to my writer’s schedule with Twitter, Facebook, Book Blogs, She Writes, LinkedIn and a second blog,The Cat Vamp Diaries: All Things Scary, where I contribute a flash fiction short to Vamplit Publishing's Friday Flash Fiction. So every day when I sat down to work, I delighted in my ability to work on my novels, which I knew one of them would be my first published story, and communicate with fellow authors. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Then it happened. A trigger was written into my life and I found myself having to decide between staying comfortable or creating what I thought at the time, chaos. 

What was the trigger? An announcement in July from Angelic Knight Press for submissions for their first Halloween Anthology, Satan's Toybox: Demonic Dolls. The deadline for submissions was August 31, 2011 and I hummed and hawed before making my decision to go for it on August fifth.

Once I made my decision, I knew I had choices to make. Some things were going to have to be my sacrificial lamb. So I finished my Break Free From Archaic Fear post and took inventory of my writing projects. 

At first, everything seemed important, but once I analyzed each one I was able to determine where my energy and concentration would best be utilized and that meant I would have to take a sabbatical. So I put blogging, writing flash fiction, my WIP’s and social networking on hold; with the exception of an occasional tweet or shout out on Facebook. After all, I didn’t want to disappear completely.

What did I learn from my sabbatical? Firstly, that the writer’s world is filled with encouraging and supportive authors who know and understand, because they too walk in your shoes. Secondly, epiphanies do happen outside of fiction. I took a step outside my comfort zone and pushed myself to the limit and discovered what I was capable of.  How about you, have you ever discovered something about yourself by taking a sabbatical?

And how did my sabbatical pay off? I’m honored to announce that my short story, Mr. Jingle, will be published in the upcoming anthology, Satan’s Toybox: Demonic Dolls in October 2011. Stay tuned for more information on its release, and I can’t wait to add another fish to my publication tank!

Next time, we'll be exploring what it took to develop, write, edit and submit a short story, approximately 6,500 words, in less than 17 days!

Until then,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author    

Monday, August 8, 2011

Break Free From Archaic Fear and Persevere


The definition of archaic fear, according to Merriam-Webster, is to feel fear in oneself. This type of fear can be a writer’s worst enemy. I should know I persevere from it all the time. How about you?

It’s not easy for writers to admit from time to time they suffer from the fear of failure, fear of not being good enough or the worst form of archaic fear; fear of success. These three types of fear are what many times cause the clich├ęd term, “writer’s block, and if allowed free to grow and fester in a writer’s mind can lead to the difference between them becoming a writer and only dreaming of being a writer. 
Let’s explore: 

FEAR FROM FAILURE

Often times, the fear of failure and perfectionism go hand in hand. It’s not to say perfectionism is a bad thing. For some it is the drive behind the pride in their work or the reason they never give up until the end. But it does become a bad thing for us writers when we allow it to hinder us from moving forward by stopping at every ;, ., :, “ “, !, ?. I bet that slowed you down in your tracks and made you say, “Huh?” 

That is what happens when we let perfectionism take over and stop us from allowing the story driving us crazy inside our head to come alive. By stopping at every sentence, paragraph or corner to self-edit before the work is even completed we stop the creative process dead in its tracks and suddenly we’re blaming, “writer’s block.”  Allow yourself to fail. There is plenty of time for perfectionism in the rewrite.

FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH

Ah, self-doubt, those mixed perceptions one has which only to the person having them are reality. Many writers can relate to being given the advice, “If you ever want to be a good writer, read, read and read great literature so you know what good writing is.” Not bad advice if you are a student in the history of literature, not so good if you have any desire to one day make your dream of being a writer come true. 

I’m by no means saying do not read great literature or the work of authors who are best-sellers. Like anything in learning doing so helps you set a compass to challenge yourself to become the best writer YOU can be. Think about a literary world in which everyone wrote the same way or produced the same stories. What a boring unimaginative world it would be. 

Read books that inspire you, books that get your creative juices flowing and books that educate you. Then, smash the images inside your head telling you you’re not good enough and write, write, write what you know, write what you like and write what you have to say!

FEAR OF SUCCESS

To some, fear of success is an oxymoron. But for others, it can be likened to fiction and as any writer knows, a well written antagonist is a mirrored image of the protagonist. In other words, on one hand you have the possibility of success, perhaps a six figure deal, and on the other hand, you have the possibility of it changing you from an aspiring writer into a writer terrified of keeping the momentum.

I believe it important for a person to have a definition of what success looks and feels like before they can judge whether they have succeeded or not. Success comes in many different sized packages, and before that package can be opened I believe the single most important thing any writer can do is to define what their success is going to look like. 

For some, it may be to have a short story published; their novel turned into a blockbuster or to simply have a certain number of members join their blog. Therefore, in order to overcome fearing success, you must first know what your success looks like. Define it, strive for it and if at first you don’t succeed, redefine it and fine tune it until you do. Success is what you make it, not what it makes of you.

Knowing what you fear can help you overcome it and break free from its stronghold and persevere in whatever endeavor you undertake. The next time you fear putting words to page, step back, take a deep breath and confront what’s stopping you and write, write, write.

Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author    

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sharpening Your Imagery with Visual Aids

Most writers are able to conjure up images from the depths of their imagination or memories when describing a scene or a particular character. Then there are those who actually use photos or drawings in order to push their creativity to the limit. How about you, do you use visual aids when writing?
  
When I wrote the first book of my middle-grade series, The Clara Jeane Mysteries, I used actual photos from my childhood because the main character is loosely based on myself, and some of the events that take place in the story are from actual events in my childhood. Even though most of the memories I had were enough, using photos allowed me to sharpen my description of landscapes, weather and even smells for the visual images staring back at me allowed my memories to come alive!

In writing school one of the exercises in a creative writing course I took was to write a story based on a photo of our own or an image from a magazine. That is when I discovered using visual aids can be a very effective tool used to help push the limit of your creativity. If you’ve never tried it I recommend taking an old photo from a time in your life and discover how alive your memories can become!

It’s not to say our imagination is not an effective tool for imagery for sometimes we conjure up places and people that never existed before. Not until we write them that is! However, I am saying there are times in which visual aids can add a spark to our visual senses and help to sharpen our written imagery. So go ahead, push the limit and try adding visual aids to your writer’s toolbox!

In closing, I wanted to share a link to my new blog, The Cat Vamp Diaries: All Things Scary, where I am honored to join some very talented writers in the horror genre for Flash Fiction Friday’s through Vamplit Publishing. If you like to read all things scary or even want to try your hand at flash fiction stop by and explore. You just may find a new favorite author or two!

Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Keeping the Beat With or Without Attributions


Last week we explored attributions and the different ways in which to use them (click here if you missed). This week we’ll explore beats and how they can help reduce the amount of attributions or even eliminate them altogether.

A beat is a small piece of stage action which transfers the focus from one character to another. For example: Coughing, puffing on a pipe, plopping down on a sofa or shifting one’s gaze. In other words, the diversion from one person to another can be accomplished through action instead of having to use attributions. Let’s explore:

SCENE WITHOUT BEATS

Mrs. Taylor shoved her tiny frame through the crowd trying to join her husband who stood at the start of the line. Trying not to stir up any heated emotions she kept her eyes glued to the ground as she squeezed her way past the man who was as wide as he was tall.

“Hey lady, wait your turn.” He shouted.

“I’m sorry, but my husband is already in line.” She said, turning around.

“I don’t care where he is. Get in the back of the line.” He ordered.

“Look mister, I don’t want any trouble.” She said, adding her best smile.

He reached out and touched her right shoulder and before he knew it he was staring up at the scorching sun listening to the roaring crowd.

              ^^^^^^^

Not bad, we knew who was talking, but let’s see what adding beats can do to the scene.

SCENE WITH BEATS

Mrs. Taylor shoved her tiny frame through the crowd trying to join her husband who stood at the start of the line. Trying not to stir up any heated emotions she kept her eyes glued to the ground as she squeezed her way past the man who was as wide as he was tall.

He clears his throat with the arrogance of a fighting bull dog and stomps his boot to the pavement, “Hey lady, wait your turn.”

Mrs. Taylor turned to him and then looked toward the front of the line, “I’m sorry, but my husband is already in line.” 

He looked at the crowded line behind him and then swiped his arm across his brow. “I don’t care where he is. Get in the back of the line.” 

She pretended to lift lint from the cuff of her half sleeved shirt and gave him her best smile. “Look mister, I don’t want any trouble.” 

He reached out and touched her right shoulder and before he knew it he was staring up at the scorching sun listening to the roaring crowd.

             ^^^^^^^^

Beats are an effective tool in transferring focus from one character to another, but more importantly they help to bring characters to life through action! Keep in mind when using beats to place them before the character’s dialogue and have the dialogue in the same paragraph as the beat.
  
So the next time you’re in a quandary over attributions consider adding a beat or two to spice things up. It's okay, just beat it!

Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author







Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Should It Be, He Said or He Sighed: The Basics of Attributions

Attributions are the words used to define who is speaking, for many beginner writers it is difficult to decide where to place them or even which ones to use. Even experienced writers can struggle with them from time to time. How about you, do you ever struggle with attributions?
 
Usually, the straightforward way of using attributions follows one certain standard: Dialogue–Character–Action, as in, “Good afternoon.” Mary said. However, it’s also possible to reverse the order. Let’s explore:

“Good afternoon.” said Mary. (Dialogue – Action – Character)

Mary said, “Good afternoon.” (Character – Action – Dialogue)
  
In my opinion, the second example is the better option. For two reasons: One, it reads smoother, and two, it works particularly well in long passages because it gives the reader a clue as to whom is speaking.

Another technique used to help promote smooth reading is to place the attribution after the first phrase in the dialogue. For example: “I’ve been all over the world.” Mary said, “but I have never seen anything like what you’re wearing.”

When it comes to deciding which attributions to use I have found through experience, the simpler the better. Often times, it’s best just to leave it at “Said.” or "Says." However, there are many writers who feel using these attributions to be bland and they worry that repeating them over and over would annoy many readers. But did you know a majority of readers find them to be invisible? It’s the use of synonyms which can make a reader become annoyed, simply because most times they are physically impossible! Let’s explore:

“Good afternoon.” Mary sniffled.
“Good afternoon.” Mary grunted.
“Good afternoon.” Mary sighed, slowly sipping a cup of tea.

I truly would like to see someone sniffle or grunt a word. The last one is a good example of being physically impossible, and it contains an adverb!

Often times, scenes with dialogue will have four or more characters and it can become extremely confusing as to whom is speaking and it can become distracting if you are using “Said.” or "Says." each and every time. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind when writing dialogue to keep the amount of characters limited, preferably to two or three at the most, that way you can use less attributions.

Next week, we’ll explore a technique used which will allow you to eliminate some of the attributions all together and sharpen your dialogue.

Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author