November 8, 2005

Wrong Turn Ate My Wordcount

Day 8: Not a very good night. I actually wrote close to my target number of words, but I realized after 1,200 words that I'd taken a wrong turn. Wrote myself into a corner, as they say. I tried valiantly to retool my plot to accommodate the veer, but in the end I was trapped. So, reluctantly I archived Chapter 8 and started over. No doubts about it, that sucked. It also gave my confidence a pretty good whack, but I think I'm still okay. We'll have to see how tonight goes.

Someone on one of the writing boards was asking about dialog tags last night. They were worried about using "said" too much.

Said is one of those invisible words. You can use it for almost every dialog attribution and your reader won't notice it at all. (You will, of course, since you'll be looking for it.) If your conversation makes it obvious who is speaking, then by all means only use tags intermittently. Just be sure it's obvious. Nothing is more infuriating in a novel than to have to reread a section to see who was talking or what was meant. And NEVER write phonetic dialog. It's fine to use regional affectations (y'all, youse, I reckon, etc.), but if you write a bunch of dialog filled with apostrophes and colloquialisms which makes your reader, again, have to go over the line several times, your book is going to be airborne fast. Read some John D. MacDonald or Donald Westlake. These guys were/are geniuses with dialog.


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