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 Story of the Month

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The featured story for November is Heartbreaker by Hollie!

It's an awesome read so far and I can tell she's been putting her heart and soul into it! Check it out! http://nsync-fiction.com/archive/viewstory.php?sid=1597

 

 

Site News
Banners   

Hey Authors!

I have another member who would also like to create banners for anyone who is interested. You can tweet her @RubySohoFic if you are interested.  Here are some examples of her work:

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--Courtney on Nov 24, 2014 06:23 pm (0 Comments)
Writing 101   

Sorry for the delay everyone! Here is Week 4!

 

Here are a few ideas on what makes good dialogue work:

1. Good dialogue is not weighed down by exposition

When the dialogue is carrying exposition and trying to tell the reader too much, characters end up saying a lot of very unnatural and unwieldy things. You'll see things like:

"Remember that time we stole the frog from Miss Jenkins and she ended up giving us two hours of detention and that's how we met?"
"Yeah, totally! And now we're in 6th Grade and have to dissect frogs for our science project, which is due tomorrow. I don't know how we're going to get it finished in time."

So much of this dialogue would already be already apparent to the characters. They'd know how they met without having to talk about it, they'd know they're in 6th grade without having to talk about it, they'd know the science project is due without talking about it. So it's very clear to the reader that they're not talking to each other: they're really talking to the reader.

Exposition and dialogue only really mesh when one character genuinely doesn't know what the other character is telling them and it's natural for them to explain at the moment they're explaining it. Otherwise, if you're just trying to smush in info, your reader is going to spot it a mile away.

2. Good dialogue has a purpose and builds toward something.

Sometimes you'll see characters in novels bantering back and forth in a way that is meant to reveal character or fill space. Unless it's just so insanely unbelievably clever that the writer makes it work, usually this feels hollow and, well, boring.

A good conversation is an escalation. The dialogue is about something and builds toward something. If things stay even and neutral, the dialogue just feels empty.

Characters in a novel never just talk. There's always more to it.

3. Good dialogue evokes the way people actually talk in real life without actually sounding precisely like the way people talk in real life.

Paraphrasing Elmore Leonard, good writers leave out the boring parts. This goes doubly for dialogue: it's usually best to cut to the chase rather than spending time on the pleasantries that normal people use in everyday conversation.

In real life our conversations wander around all over the place, and a transcribed real life conversation is a meandering mess of free association and stutters. In a novel, a good conversation is focused and has a point.

And in a novel, dialect, slang, and voice is used sparingly. Just a hint of flavor is enough. As my client Jennifer Hubbard wrote, "good dialogue sounds like conversation, but is not an exact reproduction of conversation."

4. Good dialogue reveals personality, and characters only very rarely say precisely what they are thinking.

Human beings are not very articulate creatures. Despite all the words at our disposal, words tend to fail us at key moments, and even when we know what we want to say we spend a whole lot of time trying to describe and articulate what we feel without being quite able to do it properly. We misunderstand, overemphasize, underemphasize, grasp at what we mean, and conversations go astray. So when two characters go back and forth explaining precisely what they are feeling or thinking to each other, it doesn't seem remotely real.

Good dialogue is instead comprised of attempts at articulation. There's a whole lot that is kept back, because we humans only rarely really truly put our true feelings out there.

Now, this shouldn't be taken too far and a conversation shouldn't be an endless string of misunderstandings (unless you're Samuel Beckett), but the way in which characters express their feelings and how they articulate what they're feeling is one of the most important ways of revealing character. Are they reserved? Boisterous? Do they bluster? Hold back?

Characters who say exactly what they mean are generic. Characters who talk around their emotions and objectives are much more interesting.

5. Good dialogue goes easy on the exclamations and exhortations.

When a character overuses "Ughs" and "Blechs" they can easily sound petulant. When they overuse exclamations, they can exhaust the reader with their excitability. When they overuse verbal tics and crutches, they can drive the reader crazy.

Interjections and grunts are kind of like carpet cleaning concentrate. They must be diluted or you'll burn a hole in the floor.

6. Good dialogue is boosted by dialogue tags, gestures, and action, so the reader can easily follow who is saying what.

Poor maligned dialogue tags!!! Out there on the Internet it has lately become trendy for people to advocate stripping books of dialogue tags so that the person who is speaking is solely apparent through gestures and context.

This is overkill. Get behind me, dialogue tags, I will defend you until the end!

As long as you mainly stick to said and asked, your reader won't notice they're there, and they'll be way better able to track who is saying what. Yes, don't overdo dialogue tags and look for ways to add meaningful gesture and action to back and forths, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The key on the gesture and action is not to simply use it to break up the dialogue for pacing purposes, but to actually make it meaningful, which is hard to do.

7. Good dialogue is unexpected.

There's nothing worse than reading a stretch of dialogue where the characters are saying precisely what we think they're going to say.

The best dialogue counters our expectations and surprises us.

"Vladimir Putin!"
 


--Courtney on Nov 24, 2014 06:17 pm (0 Comments)
Have you always wanted a story banner?   

Hello Authors!

Recently I have gotten a program for my computer that enables me to make blends and story banners. I have found I can do them rather quickly and so, I would like to extend this service to all of you. If you would like me to make a banner for your story, please send the pictures of your characters and your story title to nsyncfictionarchive@gmail.com . I wil make a banner for you and email it back to you! Here is an example below:

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Thanks!


--Courtney on Nov 18, 2014 10:43 pm (1 Comments)
Writer's Chat   
Hey everyone! Just popping in really quickly to remind you to join us this Tuesday night (and every Tuesday night) for our writer's chat. Whether you need help with your Secret Santa stories or you're just curious and want to pop in to chat with some fellow authors, we would love to have you!
--creativechaos on Nov 18, 2014 07:34 pm (3 Comments)
Writing 101 Week 3   

How to Structure A Story: The Eight-Point Arc

By Ali Hale

One of my favourite “how to write” books is Nigel Watts’ Writing A Novel and Getting Published.

My battered, torn and heavily-pencil-marked copy is a testament to how useful I’ve found it over the years. Although the cover appears to be on the verge of falling off altogether, I’ve risked opening the book once more to bring you Watts’ very useful “Eight-Point Story Arc” – a fool-proof, fail-safe and time-honoured way to structure a story.

(Even if you’re a short story writer or flash fiction writer rather than a novelist, this structure still applies, so don’t be put off by the title of Watts’ book.)

The eight points which Watts lists are, in order:

    Stasis
    Trigger
    The quest
    Surprise
    Critical choice
    Climax
    Reversal
    Resolution

He explains that every classic plot passes through these stages and that he doesn’t tend to use them to plan a story, but instead uses the points during the writing process:

    I find [the eight-point arc] most useful as a checklist against which to measure a work in progress. If I sense a story is going wrong, I see if I’ve unwittingly missed out a stage of the eight-point arc. It may not guarantee you write a brilliant story, but it will help you avoid some of the pitfalls of a brilliant idea gone wrong.

So, what do the eight points mean?

Stasis

This is the “every day life” in which the story is set. Think of Cinderella sweeping the ashes, Jack (of Beanstalk fame) living in poverty with his mum and a cow, or Harry Potter living with the Dursley’s.

Trigger

Something beyond the control of the protagonist (hero/heroine) is the trigger which sparks off the story. A fairy godmother appears, someone pays in magic beans not gold, a mysterious letter arrives … you get the picture.

The quest

The trigger results in a quest – an unpleasant trigger (e.g. a protagonist losing his job) might involve a quest to return to the status quo; a pleasant trigger (e.g. finding a treasure map) means a quest to maintain or increase the new pleasant state.

Surprise

This stage involves not one but several elements, and takes up most of the middle part of the story. “Surprise” includes pleasant events, but more often means obstacles, complications, conflict and trouble for the protagonist.

Watts emphasises that surprises shouldn’t be too random or too predictable – they need to be unexpected, but plausible. The reader has to think “I should have seen that coming!”

Critical choice

At some stage, your protagonist needs to make a crucial decision; a critical choice. This is often when we find out exactly who a character is, as real personalities are revealed at moments of high stress. Watts stresses that this has to be a decision by the character to take a particular path – not just something that happens by chance.

In many classic stories, the “critical choice” involves choosing between a good, but hard, path and a bad, but easy, one.

In tragedies, the unhappy ending often stems from a character making the wrong choice at this point – Romeo poisoning himself on seeing Juliet supposedly dead, for example.

Climax

The critical choice(s) made by your protagonist need to result in the climax, the highest peak of tension, in your story.

For some stories, this could be the firing squad levelling their guns to shoot, a battle commencing, a high-speed chase or something equally dramatic. In other stories, the climax could be a huge argument between a husband and wife, or a playground fight between children, or Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters trying on the glass slipper.

Reversal

The reversal should be the consequence of the critical choice and the climax, and it should change the status of the characters – especially your protagonist. For example, a downtrodden wife might leave her husband after a row; a bullied child might stand up for a fellow victim and realise that the bully no longer has any power over him; Cinderella might be recognised by the prince.

    Your story reversals should be inevitable and probable. Nothing should happen for no reason, changes in status should not fall out of the sky. The story should unfold as life unfolds: relentlessly, implacably, and plausibly.

Resolution

The resolution is a return to a fresh stasis – one where the characters should be changed, wiser and enlightened, but where the story being told is complete.

(You can always start off a new story, a sequel, with another trigger…)


--creativechaos on Nov 17, 2014 02:49 pm (0 Comments)
New Mod Intro   
Hi, everyone! 

Courtney has been busy behind the scenes doing such great work on the archive, and one of those things is adding new moderators to help keep everything flowing smoothly. 

As one of the newest mods, Courtney thought I should introduce myself...so here I am!

My nom de plume is elle-miranda, and while it's not at all my real name, you can call me El/Elle for short. ;-) I've been reading and writing fanfic for years, but only recently came out of lurker status here. In addition to helping Courtney out wherever needed, I'm also running the Archive's official tumblr page and helping out on twitter. (If you're on tumblr, join us! http://nsyncfiction.tumblr.com/)

I try to pop in to the author chat for at least a little while around 10CST each night, and I'm also easy to find and get in touch with on Twitter  as @elle_writing. 

I'm so excited to be part of the archive, and I hope to connect with you soon! 

xoxo,

elle-miranda 

 


--elle-miranda on Nov 10, 2014 06:56 pm (0 Comments)
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Featured Review

theusagirl said:

Haha! This line made me laugh "Then why are you looking at me like my dog just peed on your furniture?" LMAO! Yay! Melissa is in the studio recording her 1st song, this is so nice, Im liking this.. :)...

 


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