Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Writing Down the Bones: Dashes vs Ellipsis

You know...

I love to show the topics of these blogs as I write...

So you can see what I'm talking about...

As I explain them...

ellipsis, the...that people love to use.  This is to show where the conversation just drops off. When the character is trying to gather their thoughts, or are hesitant to say what needs to be said.

Not to be confused with the dash which is used when the character is interrupted. You know, when you're talking -

and something cuts you off.

These two get mixed up a lot. Here's what I mean:

"I wish...I wish to ask a question." This shows hesitancy. Like a child wanting to know something but she is afraid she'd be told it is none of her business.

"Listen - Hey, I need to ask a question." This shows the speaker was interrupted but continued anyway.

Ellipsis should be used sparingly, same thing with the dash. People don't trail off that often and the only time they get interrupted is when they are arguing or maybe in a large crowd where everyone is talking at once. If you're going to use them it should come across as realistic. With ellipsis it is when your character is trying to gather their thoughts, or are afraid, hesitant, or sleepy. With dashes it's when they're in an argument, someplace where they don't want to be overheard by the wrong people, or a large crowd where everyone is talking. I'm sure there are other ways to use these but my brain only came up with these reasons.

If you want to emphasis part of a sentence sometimes, a comma will do the trick. So will a period. See what I'm saying? I know the comma is out of place but you paused after the word sometimes. The same thing happened at the end of the sentence then you saw the word trick. You can work your sentences so the part you want emphasized happens naturally.

Another thing about ellipsis and dashes are they stop in the middle of a thought. If the whole thought is there then you should use a period. When you do use them, at least for the electronic world, don't put an spaces between the word and the ... Because if you do...the editor or publisher has to fix that. Dashes are a bit trickier because it depends on which word program you're using.

Just remember if your hero or heroine...

Is constantly trailing off...

or-

Interrupted it can make your reader stop reading long enough to question how strong a character they are. If the character can't finish a sentence is he or she worthy of your reader's time? Our job as writers is to suspend the readers disbelief and it's hard when we do things that keep pulling them out of a story.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Random Thoughts: The Mayan Calendar

So the Mayan calendar ends today. It's the winter solstice and the galactic alignment. Big day for our planet and the galaxy.

I've been watching this stuff with a childlike wonder. What if? You know that is one of my favorite questions. It's what drives me to write the SF/Futuristic stories I do. I love it when science and old world beliefs merge. Too cool for words.

My mind is wondering what will happen. Will it be what the doomsday sayers are predicting? If so will the human race survive? My personal question is will I have power to use my laptop so I can continue to write? Or will I have to go to pen and paper. I'm ready either way.

Or will it be a shift in the way the planet sees things. The law of attraction and a world of enlightenment? I'm a bit of an optimist so I lean this way. My son has a wonderful imagination. He's hoping for superpowers where he can control fire. Personally, I want teleportation and an infinite life if I get a choice. Wonder if there will there be a line?

The great part is that the waiting is almost over. Oh, by the way Dec 21st is on the calender so we might have to wait until Dec 22nd for anything to happen.

Barb:)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Writing down the bones: LY words

LY - you know, those lovely little helping words that can really help enhance your story? But really, over using them can basically clog your story. Can you see what I mean by this paragraph? No? Let me try again.

Here's an example. This is from book 7 of my The Vespian Way series:

Heather really wanted to scream. She also really wanted to punch something. Trapped in a room with her Storm clone had her going slightly crazy. She really needed a break. “Can we go somewhere?”
“Not until you are intimate with me.”
“I’m not going to listen to you anymore.” She sat on the couch, cross legged and put her lovely hands over her ears. Time to act like she was really losing it. Anything to get her way. She had been grudgingly trapped there for three days and really needed a break.
“Heather.” Exasperation laced his voice.
She hummed softly to herself, keeping her gaze to the floor.
He grabbed her by the arms and physically dragged her to her feet. “You will do as you’re told.”
“You’re hurting me.”
He let go instantly. “I have been told to not be so lenient with you.”
“So what are you going to do? Force me?”
“Reasta has threatened something far worse. She wants to drug you. Make you forget.” He looked at her softly with sadness. “I have asked for a little more time to convince you this is the only way.”
“Not here. Not where she can watch.”
“You will be intimate with me if we go to the hydroponic’s lab?”
She really wanted to back up time and basically keep her mate alive. “Yes.”
“I will speak to Reasta.”

Now here's the same scene without all the ly words - which one seems stronger to you?

Heather wanted to scream. She also wanted to punch something. Trapped in a room with her Storm clone had her going crazy. She needed a break. “Can we go somewhere?”
“Not until you are intimate with me.”
“I’m not going to listen to you anymore.” She sat on the couch, cross legged and put her hands over her ears. Time to act like she was losing it. Anything to get her way. She had been trapped there for three days and needed a break.
“Heather.” Exasperation laced his voice.
She hummed to herself, keeping her gaze to the floor.
He grabbed her by the arms and dragged her to her feet. “You will do as you’re told.”
“You’re hurting me.”
He let go instantly. “I have been told to not be so lenient with you.”
“So what are you going to do? Force me?”
“Reasta has threatened something far worse. She wants to drug you. Make you forget.” He looked at her with sadness. “I have asked for a little more time to convince you this is the only way.”
“Not here. Not where she can watch.”
“You will be intimate with me if we go to the hydroponic’s lab?”
She wanted to back up time and keep her mate alive. “Yes.”
“I will speak to Reasta.”

Now to be honest I have learned to leave the ly words out so adding them is hard for me - that is why you see really a lot. I just couldn't think of any other word. But like any new author I probably liberally salted my manuscripts with them in the beginning, but good critique partners and great editors helped me learn to not use them.

There are times when you can use the ly word, but it should be done in moderation. You'll find a lot of writing is done that way. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shameless Promoting - But Not for me!

I think I'm a little bit crazy but I am helping promote several of the authors for the house I edit for - Melange Books. It's been fun trying to work this into my busy schedule, but I think I did it. We'll see how well tomorrow.

We will be at the Latte Lounge with Coffee Time Romance's and more! We have authors from several  genre's showing up. So come one by and check out what they have to say. I gave them homework to do - heehee.

It's an all day affair were you can post questions and leave comments plus several of our authors are doing giveaways.

I'll be supervising and maybe posting about my book filled with my funny lighthearted short story romances and well as the anthology I am in. Okay so maybe a little shameless promotion for me too but mostly for the publisher - I swear!

The address is: http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/forumdisplay.php?f=435

We're going to have a good time! Please stop by and say Hi!!!

The date: Dec 15th, Saturday

Time all day

Attending Authors:
Jody Vitek
Barbara Donlon Bradley
Sultry Summers
Nancy Prinni/Nancy Schumaker
John Steiner
Joanne Myers
Joanne Tucker
Shannon Kennedy
Stan Hampton Sr.

Barb:)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Random Thoughts

There are days when everything goes right. The birds are chirping the sun is shining and all is right with the world. Then there are days when you wake up late. Leave something important behind and things just go bad to worse.

This is one of those days. Week even. I'm hoping it's not the whole month.

I'm an optimist.  Yet I let things get to me. Not quiet sure why, but my mom is a worry wart so I could have inherited it. And it's crazy things. Like this blog. I've been trying to log in all day but couldn't. When I tried a different browser it said the blog didn't exist.

What?

Needless to say I have been successful logging in, but not knowing what was going wrong made me question my sanity a little. I still have no answer to what happened, but once again the birds are chirping and all is right with the world.



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Writing Down the Bones: More about tags

So back to the he said she said. These tags help your reader know who's talking.

There are several places you can place your tags - before, in the middle or after dialog.

If you put the tag first:
I see a lot of new writers do this. They start with description, then do dialog, then put a he said or she said at the end as well. You don't need all that. If you have something in the beginning, and it identifies the character speaking, that is all you need.

Here's an example:

Mary sat at the bar, nursing her soda. "I wondered when you'd get here," said Mary.
Her friend sat next to her.

With the part about Mary nursing her drink we already know where she is and what she is doing. If the dialogue is in the same paragraph as the description then as a reader you're going to assume that Mary is the one talking. That extra tag isn't needed.

So lets look at it again:
Mary sat at the bar, nursing her soda. "I wondered when you'd get here."
Her friend sat next to her.

Having the description, or tag, before the dialog will also slow down your action. If you have too many it will make the scene drag. so you need to make sure you have your tags at the right places.

"I wondered when you'd get here." Mary sat at the bar, nursing her drink.
Her friend sat next to her.

Having the dialog first picks up the pace a little more.

Now let's see how this changes again when the dialogue is last.

Mary sat at the bar, nursing her drink.
Her friend sat next to her.
"I wondered when you'd get here," said Mary.

The pace of the scene changes with each of these examples.

Tags are sneaky little devils. They seem to be something simple, but as you can see they are an important part of your story. They give information to your reader, help set the pace, and let us know who's talking.