Monday, July 28, 2014

One Sheet Ready?


Whether you're planning a wedding, a kid's birthday party, or a lunch with friends, the special event always requires thought to setting the mood. Do you want a shabby chic wedding at a country chapel? Or a Super Hero bash for your four year old? How about a garden tea for a few of your closest girlfriends? All these events bring about a vision in our heads, a trigger for our senses.

Your fifteen minute agent/editor appointment at a writer's conference does not fall short as a "special event" for your writing career. The spotlight shines bright and brief in those few moments, so why not be sure you are prepared to not only sell your novel with a bang, but set the mood of your writing, and leave the professional with an experience they can't forget?

Besides stellar writing and a snazzy premise, it's best to tap into more than the agent/editor's sense of hearing as you speak, and impress an image that will stir the appropriate emotions for your particular book. The one sheet is the most effective way to tap into the professional's senses during your “special event”. It is your décor and mood lighting all in one. It can also be another hook to grab their interest and dig deeper with conversation. And it is my ABSOLUTE favorite thing to create besides the actual story.

Here are some examples of establishing the tone of the book through graphics and layout using my own designs (I tend to write more character-driven books so I include a profile or face in my own one-sheets):

A historical set deep in the Amazon jungle (Winner of the Mile High Scribes 2011 One Sheet Contest):

A coming of age story set post-Dust Bowl in cotton country of Texas (Finalist of the Mile High Scribes 2013 One Sheet Contest):

A historical romance set in a coal town in the Utah mountains (prejudice is a theme, so I went with the starkness of black and white):

For more info on creating these yourself, click here.

This conference season, I am excited to, once again, offer one sheet designs to any CBA writer. Go to my blog click on my CBA One Sheet Design page for more details! 

Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous, mothering days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Alley Weekly Round Up

Photo by photostock
It's been a quiet week. One of those weeks where you go through the day like a robot, doing the same thing that you do every day without really thinking about it. Nothing exciting. Nothing troubling. Just the same old stuff. I rather like those weeks. They are rare, you see. In today's busy world, the quiet normalcy of days are few and far between. So you gotta love them. Cherish them. Relish them for all they are worth. Now to make your ordinary days extraordinary, I suggest you stop by the Alley this week and see what our lovely Alley Cats are writing about. 

The Alley Weekly Lineup

Monday - Angie is your host today with another fabulous post.
Tuesday - Julia's been cooking up a brilliant article for your writing pleasure! Come taste and see.
Wednesday - Karen's got a great post for you: Six Vital Questions to Ask Your First Readers
Thursday -  Ashley has been gallivanting about and seeing some historical sights, but she will stop by and share something wonderful to jump start your writing.
Friday - Amy will have some brilliant words for you to soak in and learn from.

Alley Cat Spotlight!

This week the spotlight is on Karen Schravemade. Karen calls Australia her home and has been remodeling/decorating her home and documenting it as she goes. She has started up a fabulous DIY blog that is growing leaps and bounds. It's called A House Full Of Sunshine and is a beautiful place. She has made beautiful cakesparty favors, and wall art. She even has an "Inspire" tab on her blog! You definitely want to check that out.

Karen is brilliant at stringing words together and we are definitely lucky to have her at The Alley.  Be looking out for a few changes in the landscape here at The Alley. With Karen's artistic, decorative gifts, she is going to spruce us up and make us look fabulous. We can't wait!

We Have Winners!

The winner of the giveaway from Amy's FREEBIES post is.....Sally Bradley! You get to pick 2 of Amy's books for your very own. Lucky girl!

The winner of the giveaway for GRAND CENTRAL anthology is....Michelle Lim!!!

The Awesome Link Roundup!

Writing: How to Boost Your Productivity (Alli)

Why Failure IS An Option For Writers (Positive Writer)

Create Your Own eBook Using Google Drive (Galleycat)

The Writing Tools of 20 Famous Authors (Flavorwire)

How to Write a Book or Blog (The 6 Danger Stages You Need to Overcome) (Write To Done)

How Not To Start A Novel (Anne Allen's Blog)

Have an superb weekend and a fantastic week!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The How-To's of Writing a Strong Romance

Photo Credit
What does every romance need? A guy and a girl of course! The hope for a silver band by the end of the book and a hunky hero never hurts…no, I would say instead it helps a great deal. ;-)

But what are some great qualities of a good romance?

Sass and spark: let’s just admit that the demure and naïve heroine has gone out with the historical romance novels of yesteryear. Even your typical household, HR books today have a go-getter heroine. Someone who knows what she wants and is going after it. How you go about her “going after it” depends greatly on her circumstances and the era she is living in.

Sass adds for great spice in dialogue. And every character needs that spark on the page. The spark that makes them attractive to not only the hero, but also to the reader so they want to keep reading, because the last thing we want to do is have the reader put the book down.  

Protective and daring: Beth Vogt’s hero Stephen in Somebody Like You plays this part superbly. A 
strong, commanding hero, he is also incredibly gentle and knows how to step into the Haley’s life without making her feel as though he is taking over. Think about yourself as a woman: you want to feel protected and provided for by your man right? How would you want your man to go about doing that for you? Think about those things for your heroine as you are writing the scenes and creating the characters.

Assertive: Your heroine needs to fulfill a need in your hero and your hero needs to fulfill a need in your heroine, otherwise, why should they get together? It needs to be both a physical need—her house needs repairs before it falls around her ears—and a spiritual need—he has never felt truly valued by those he has loved before.

Communication, or lack thereof, does not make for conflict! If the conflict between your hero and heroine can be resolved by them simply talking to each other, you are in need for a few rewrites. The tension has to be stronger than what can be solved by them sitting down in a coffee shop and chatting.
Photo Credit

Put your hero and heroine in comprising situations. Drag your mind out of the gutter, I’m not talking about those kind of comprises. Back your characters into a corner. Send them out hiking and a thunderstorm rolls in: what is their first reaction? Either to the situation or each other? Don’t think along the lines of the perfect response they would make to impress the other, but the gut level I-am-not-thinking-about-what-I’m-saying-or-doing kind of response.

Explore these kind of situations and you’ll learn more about your characters. Are they right for each other? because maybe you’ve created two characters that should never be together.

Have fun with the dialogue—fill it with quips and jabs, fun and humor—it makes the characters come ALIVE on the page and the romance all the more saucy and quick paced.

Indulge in the tender moments and don’t forget to give your hopeless romantic readers a kiss or two to sigh over. ;-)

What is the latest and greatest romance you just finished? We learn from the best!

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a country girl now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Side of Faith - SNEAK PEAK!

I'm writing while in the emergency room with my 4 year old.

She's going to be fine, but it's been a cruddy day, let's just leave it that.

My post was going to be about "covers" since I did my cover reveal last week. I'm going to save that post for next time, because I just don't have the time/energy/mental capacity to do it justice at the moment.

I was going to do a "repeat" post, but eh, I'm waiting for doctors to come and figured I'd write a quick post to fill the time.

Oh what the heck. I'm gonna go a bit different today.

My novella, A Side of Faith, is releasing on August 18th.

So... what say you that I post a little sneak peak... say the first scene.... below?

Would that be okay?

If you said no, then stop reading now.

Otherwise, here ya go. A sneak peak, and note: I'm still finishing up editing, so this is NOT final and is subject to have a few mistakes still in it, so please forgive me and don't judge the final copy by that!


achel Carter stood with her hands on her hips, confronting the blank wall. Its stark white canvas screamed, “Paint me, paint me!”
She’d spent the last two days covering it with goo and scraping away at heinous “welcome to the 80’s” floral wallpaper. Now her living room walls were primed and ready to attack with color.
She grabbed the scrunchie from her wrist and pulled back her mass of dark brown curls and twirled it into a messy bun to get it out of the way. Stooping down, Rachel picked up the large three-inch brush and dipped it in plum-colored paint, allowing the liquid to soak into the fibers.
Maddie and Allie would be shaking their heads right about now. Well, maybe just Maddie. Allie was a little more intrigued with the idea.
It didn’t matter though. This wall was hers. No one was looking over her shoulder, telling her what to do with it. She’d gleefully ignored all the decorating ideas they had thrown at her. Boring and predictable, every single one of them.
Rachel’s wall was going to be brilliant. A representation of her art as well as her new lease on life these past seven years. She wanted to walk into her new little hand-me-down house at the end of each day and be reminded of how blessed she was.
Since closing on the house and starting to remodel, she hadn’t even needed her Doublemint gum. She’d given up her on-again-off-again relationship with cigarettes last year and traded it for a love affair with gum.
She’d probably spent more money on gum in the past year than she used to on cigarettes.
But since moving the short hour south to Sandwich, IL, so many other things occupied her time and her mind she didn’t even think about it. Didn’t crave it.
Instead, she craved life, and wow. It felt fabulous.
Brushing off the excess paint, she turned and admired the blank wall one last time. Sunlight filtered through the blinds and bounced off the white drywall canvas.
When finished, it would be a striped yellow, red, purple, and turquoise—each wave thick and horizontal across the wall. No perfectly taped and measured stripes for her. A symbol of her crazy life. The ups and downs. The effects of the different choices she’d made. But how—put together—God had made her beautiful. He’d used the good and the bad to shape her into something breathtaking in His eyes.
She started in the corner and began the first wave.
Just as she dipped her brush with fresh paint and held it up to restart the stripe, the doorbell chimed.
Her hand jerked, and paint droplets pinged across the wall and plastic-covered floor.
Lovely. Purple speckles were now everywhere.
Brush in her left hand and clenched fist with her right, she controlled the urge to stomp as she went to answer the door.
Hand on the knob, she took a deep breath. It wasn’t their fault they’d interrupted her. Her wall wasn’t so important she couldn’t be kind to visitors, even though with her paint-splattered clothes and hair, she was in no way fit to socialize.
Maybe it was a salesman or something.
She lifted her chin, curled her lips into a smile, and opened the door.
A tall man with redish hair stood on her doorstep, a cocky smile gracing his mouth.
Her heart slammed into her chest and the world spun as memories came hurling back at her, of another man—different but too similar for comfort.
Shaking her head as if she could scatter the pictures in her mind, she tried not to react. Her body wanted nothing more than to slam the door, run to her car in the garage, and take off for the nearest convenience store to buy the largest pack of Camels they had.
Her hand shook on the doorknob as she willed herself under control.
This stranger had done nothing wrong, other than ring the doorbell of a crazy woman, evidently. It wasn’t his fault that at first glance, he looked similar to Jared, the man she worked very hard at not hating. They were both impossibly tall and had that trademark red hair, albeit different shades.
Two attributes she’d come to despise in men.
Fair? No, but neither was what she’d gone through with Jared.
Squinting her eyes against the sun’s glare, she looked up and focused on his face.
The similarities stopped there.
His cheeks sported a light beard, looking more like he’d forgotten to shave for a few days than actually grown one on purpose. Jared had always had an oversized mustache, but that was it.
He was also younger. Probably mid-thirties compared to Jared’s mid-forties.
And tall. This man had even her ex beat on height. The stranger’s Goliath frame towered over her 5’5” self.
Auburn red hair splayed in all directions. Goodness, if she didn’t know better, she’d swear Prince Harry himself had arrived from Wales to her doorstep.
Even she had to admit, this man was downright handsome.
Not that it mattered. She wasn’t on the market right now, and especially wasn’t interested in one who not only made her mess up her wall, but also brought out the urge to spit in his face just at the sight of him.
Which wasn’t his fault.
As a precaution, she swallowed the saliva that pooled in her mouth, then propped her fist on her hip and narrowed her eyes up at him. He needed to get off her porch, stat. For his own sake as well as hers. “Can I help you?”
The guy hooked his thumbs through his belt loops. “I live a few houses down. Bob asked me to check in on you to make sure you didn’t need anything. He’s not fond of the idea of women living by themselves.”
Red flags soared. First, Bob was the older gentleman from whom she’d purchased her house. It was the same one Maddie had rented three years ago when she first moved to Sandwich, before marrying Reuben. Why would the man ask a neighbor to come check on her? He knew Reuben and Maddie had helped her move.
Second, not fond of women living by themselves? Was the man fishing for information to see if she lived alone?
Well, she wasn’t biting. “Listen. I have no clue who you are, but I know your type. I’ll have you know I hold a very handy carry permit and am versed in all things pepper spray, so I suggest”—she used her paint-brush-filled hand to point— “you just run along.”
The flick of her wrist surprised them both, as the plum-colored paint splattered over the stranger’s face.
Rachel tried not to smirk but didn’t succeed.
The man closed his eyes and took in a long breath, as if practicing yoga or something. A moment later, he opened them and nodded, his voice low and surprisingly calm. “Well then. I guess since you have things covered, I’ll be seeing you around.”
He vacated her porch faster than a deer dodging a skunk.
Slamming the door behind her, Rachel turned to survey her project and groaned. She might need to give in and have a piece of the gum she stashed in the kitchen after all.
But no way was she going to let some man ruin her project. She’d just prime over the spots, keep her chin up.
Her gaze shifted to the top of the bookshelf.
And keep her gun handy.
She picked up a new paintbrush filled with white primer only to be interrupted when her cell phone rang.
Her wall might get done sometime this century, maybe.
Digging into her cutoff jeans pocket, she slid her only non-paint stained finger over the screen. “Hello?”
“Hey, it’s Maddie. Did Cam come by?”
Rachel switched the phone to her left hand and started to cover purple dots with the paintbrush in her right. “I have no clue who Cam is.”
“Your neighbor. He mentioned to Reuben he might stop by to introduce himself.”
Rachel’s hand stilled. The man hadn’t given her his name, but she had a sneaky suspicion her instincts had made an epic fail. “Oh, uh, yeah. He did for a second.”
“Good. Because you know how I told you there was a guy I wanted you to meet?”
A sinking rock of dread settled in the pit of her stomach. “Yes, and remember how I told you I wasn’t interested?”
Maddie laughed. “Oh, girl. You know I listen to nothing you say and will get my way. Anyway, it’s Cam! And I invited him to dinner tonight. You’re still coming, right? What am I saying, of course you’re coming. Anyway, gotta go. Remember. Tonight. Five o’clock. Kyle’s at a friend’s, so it’ll just be us adults. Don’t be late.”
And with a click, the phone filled with dead air.
What in the world had she gotten herself into? Rachel leaned her head against the wall.
She jerked back when wetness tickled her forehead.
Swirling around, she marched to the kitchen to end her gumless streak.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

She Wanted to Be a Writer-- at 100 Years Old!

Photo Courtesy
A car accident took her husband. She'd barely turned fifty and no longer saw a purpose in life.

She didn't feel like eating and hid away from everyone -- until a friend visited her. "Ella, you can't die!" Her friend asked what career had she always wanted to do. "Work with children" was Ella's answer. 

Ella went to college (remember she is fifty), earned her certification and applied for jobs at age fifty-five. She taught for about ten years, saw the needs of many children, went back to school, and became a social worker.

While helping the needy children, she saw how drugs hurt their lives. She built up a camp, that provided a place for the children to clean out their bodies and find a new purpose in life. 

By age one hundred, Ella had many experiences. She felt as spry as her grandchildren and decided she wanted to learn to play the violin or maybe become a writer. A coin toss chose her next career. Ella became a writer.

She studied the craft while writing articles, a history of her county, and a novel, and probably more!

Dennis Hensley, professor at Taylor University, presented his interview with Ella and wrote several articles about her writing career that lasted until she was 106 years old. He told his class at the Write to Publish conference about this amazing lady.

There are times when life can rip us apart. Thankfully, God gives us friends and family to encourage us. Like Ella, what we choose to do with each day could impact more people than we realize.

Time is a gift given brand new, with no mistakes, every day. 

Twenty-four hours. Sometimes events, commitments, and pressures make the day feel like five hours, and that is okay. God will give us a new set the next morning. 

Dennis Hensley talked about two basic kinds of writers and how they used their time: the write players and the write producers.

A write player is one who shows the world her intentions to compose the next great novel. She attends writers' conferences, wears clothes that makes her feel like a writer, talks about her idea, tells all their friends even the hotel maid walking down the hall about the novel she is working on. In one year's time she's managed to have an outline, maybe. None of us want to be this kind of writer.

The write producer has her seat in the chair everyday. Sometimes for five minutes, hopefully for two hours. The plot of her book takes on twists and turns breathing excitement. Words are edited and fresh words keyed on the screen. The write producer knows when to walk away from the words to think and work through the next scene and when to rush back to the chair, ready to type.

Time Management is crucial to a write producer

Many things can suck the life out of our writing time without our noticing. Take this quiz to determine your need, or confirm you are already spot on as a writer producer. 

1. What is the greatest distractor of your writing time?
    A. Social Media
    B. Television
    C. Emails-Internet
    D. Other (not essentials like caring for family, etc.)

2. How much time do you spend with this distractor each day? (For now make a guess. Tomorrow, for just the one day, jot down the time you spend doing this activity. You may be spending more time than you thought.)
    A.  Thirty minutes
    B.  One hour
    C.  Two hours
    D.  More than two hours

3. What is the excuse that draws you to the distractor?
    A.  I will only take a minute.
    B.  I need a break.
    C.  Someone else calls my attention to the distractor.
    D.  I don't feel like writing at that second.

4.  What is the best way to draw you back to writing?
    A.  A reminder of my commitment to God to do this writing project.
    B.  Seeing my work space.
    C.  My main character pops in my mind.
    D.  Available time.

5. If your confidence has been lowered for any reason, what works best to restore your drive?
     A.  Time with God.
     B.  Sitting down/going for a walk and enveloping myself with the story.
     C. Talking about my story with a writer friend.
     D.  Writing the next scene

Answering questions like these helps me see where my focus is. I probably would answer the questions different from one week to the next--and that is okay. By confronting myself with these questions, I become aware of what I need to do to honor the time God has given me to be the best writer I can be.

Here is one last question for you.

What would like to be doing if you reach one hundred years old?


If you found any typos in today's post...Mary Vee, (that's me sheepishly grinning), is waving her hand as the guilty party. 

If you have questions or would like this topic discussed in greater detail, let me know in the comment section. I'll gladly do the research and write a post...just for you :)

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Introducing our newest Alley Cat.........

Well, today is the DAY! We have a new arrival that we can't WAIT to introduce to you. She's sweet, cute, an adorable mom, a creative writer, and a complete dahling!
Are you ready to meet her?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /
We are pleased to welcome, Laurie Tomlinson, to The Alley.

If you know her, then you probably won't be surprised by her answers to our Alley questions. If you don't know her, you'll probably enjoy getting to know her. She's fun...funny with a beautiful heart for God. But first, here's a little personal snippet about her:

Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom who writes stories of grace in the beautiful mess. When she's not writing, she enjoys car singing, baking, and going on adventures with her husband and little girl. 
(For the record, I also happen to know she's hopelessly addicted to emoticons and has an obssessive love for all things Potter)

Her first book won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award (Contemporary), and her second is a current finalist in the 2014 Genesis Contest (Romance). She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary.
Let's put her through The Writer's Alley Interrogation for you :-)

Sherrinda: Where do you like to write and what is your writing ritual? 
My favorite place to write is at a little coffee shop in Tulsa called Nordaggio's on the squashy leather couch in front of the fire. Preferably when it's raining and with the door open. But usually, I like waiting until everyone in the house is in bed then stretching out on the couch with a big yellow puppy at my feet :)
Mary Vee: Do you play special music or a movie for each book? 
Great question! Music is very much linked to my writing. I have playlists for each book that go with what the characters are going through. When I'm writing, I also like to find songs that draw out certain moods/emotions that correspond with a scene.

Karen: What is it that draws you to writing?
This might sound weird, but I can't not write. When I go long periods without writing, I am a much grumpier person because the words won't leave me alone. 

Krista: If someone stuck a gun to your head and made you do the same activity for 24 hours straight without stopping... which of the following would you choose and why? Playing with Barbies... or watching Barney (complete with singing along to EVERY song…)?
I would definitely play with Barbies. I never played with them growing up, but I'd rather be able to use my imagination than listen to Barney. Now, if you replaced Barney with Bubble Guppies or Sofia the First, then this might be a different answer.

Julia: Besides writing, what else do you like to do in your few free moments?  Favorite Starbucks drink?
I love to cook and bake. It's kind of my love language! And in the same way I couldn't live without writing, I also couldn't live without singing. I am caught car singing at the top of my lungs way more than is socially acceptable.
My favorite Starbucks drink is a mocha chip frappuchino. But to maintain some semblance of self-control, I typically order a nonfat chai latte :) Not a big coffee drinker, I'll admit! *ducks*

Pepper: Name 3 of your fictional crushes and why? Do you have an overarching spiritual theme in your books?
Just three? :) Nathan from One Tree Hill, Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, and Hook from Once Upon a Time. They are brave, handsome, experience a lot of growth, and would do anything for their heroine. I'm going to cheat and add Tim Riggins to this list -- just because I can.
My writing tagline of sorts is "stories of grace in the beautiful mess". I want my writing to communicate above all that, no matter how messy life gets, there's no match for God's love and redemption and power to work good in the most unlikely situations. 

Ashley: Favorite boy band? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
While most girls my age were swooning over NSync and Backstreet Boys, my all-time favorite was 98 Degrees! I know. Loved their lyrics. I may or may not have bought Nick Lachey's lullaby album "for my daughter" the second I discovered its existence.
I've known I wanted to be a writer probably since I was in the fourth grade. Creative writing was always my favorite exercise in school! I thought my novel writing would be my own secret hobby until I gathered the courage to join ACFW in 2013!

Amy: Best writer moment? Favorite food splurge? 

Wow! These are tough questions because I can't pick! There's a montage playing through my mind: getting good comments from my very first beta reader (my hubs), the first Genesis semifinal phone call in 2013, *the* long-awaited email from my soon-to-be agent during my weekly Hart of Dixie date with my sister-in-law, the camaraderie at conference of my critique partners and the writing sisters like you that I met there.

Favorite food splurges include: a good pasta meal (I'm Italian), chocolate mousse, white cheddar popcorn, Diet Dr. Pepper, and toffee chocolate chip cookies :)

Casey: Best book recommendation? Best all-time television series?

My favorite book ever is The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Life-changing. And we are big TV watchers in the Tomlinson household. My all-time favorite varies on my mood, but if I had to pick one, it would be The Cosby Show. No, Boy Meets World or Growing Pains. Okay, maybe Parenthood

Did I mention Tim Riggins?

And there you have it! Please stop by and give Laurie a welcome.

 You can connect with Laurie at or

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dialogue That Speaks to Me

Being a purebred Southern girl, talking has never been a difficulty– however writing about ‘talking’ can be tricky. Writer’s Digest has some great books on dialogue, namely Dialogue by Lewis Turco and Dialogue – Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue by Gloria Kempton. The latter book is helpful in giving various exercises at the end of each chapter to support the info one just finished reading.

Dialogue serves several different purposes:
1. Characterization
2. Moves the story along
3. Creates Tension
4. Sets a mood

As far as Characterization is concerned, Jane Austen was genius.

If you’ve ever read any of her writing, you’ll discover that dialogue was as much a part of the character as his/her thoughts. Jane wasn’t prone to describing physical features of her characters, except maybe some ‘fine eyes’ here and ‘handsome features’ there, but she took the meat of the character and allowed the reader to figure him/her out.

For example, in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins is known for rattling on about various things, basically just to hear himself talk. The reader quickly realizes Mr. Collins is a pompous, self-important man…just from his letter. Wow!

On the other hand, Darcy and Elizabeth give short, witty replies – and we end of liking them. It reveals characteristics of the one speaking and the ones responding to it. Within the first few pages of Pride and Prejudice, readers have a ‘handle’ on about six different characters mainly through…dialogue. Dialogue moves the story along, especially if you feel your getting ‘saggy’ in the middle. It should ALWAYS add to the story, never ending up as a bunch of empty words, and it also can cover lots of information in a short amount of time.

Obviously, dialogue can create tension.

Here’s a scene from Julie Lessman’s novel A Passion Denied.

“How dare you, John Brady? I have no choice! My heart is breaking because of you, and if it takes Tom Weston to get over you, then so be it.”
He jumped up. “Beth, forgive me, please, and don’t cry. We can pray about this-“

Disbelief paralyzed her for a painful second.
“No! You leave me be. I don’t want any more of your prayers-“
His hand gripped her. “Beth, please, sit with me? Can’t we just talk and work this out?”

Whew…and I didn’t even add any of Julie Lessman’s ‘oh-so-famous’ lip action

This is only a short example, but poignant – it shows the speed dialogue adds to a manuscript. Here’s Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade:
another example from
"I know its a shock to hear from me. I'm sorry about that. I could call back later."
"No." Goodness, she didn't want that.
"All right, he answered. "So. Lunch?"
"No. I have nothing to say to you."
"Maybe not, but I have several things I'd like to say to you."
"Look..." She pressed her teeth into her bottom lip. "If you've come because you want a divorce, you should have saved yourself the trip."

Whoa MAMA! Makes you want to read more, right? We don't even need to characters names in that scene to know there's some trouble brewing :-)

 Dialogue can be set up to create fear in thrillers, sizzle in romances, and build subtle (or overt) comedy! It also tells you so much about the characters without info dumping.

Below is an example of how dialogue can set a mood.
Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo (Although Mr. Darcy Ruined My Life is my favorite in this series)
(Emma is the POV character and her former best friend in the scene is Adam)

I thought I'd cried all my tears there were to cry in the months since I'd moved out of the home I'd shared with Edward. Clearly, I was wrong.
"I'm sorry," I said, my words muffled by the pillow.
"It's okay. It'll be okay." Adam rubbed his hand between by shoulder blades. I turned my head so that I could see him.
"I'm lying on a borrowed sofa, with no money to speak of, in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and I've just seen my former best friend in a towel. How in the world is that going to turn out okay?"
He really did have the nicest smile. His eyes lit with laughter.
"Well, number one, at least you have a sofa to collapse on, like a heroine out of some romance novel."
"True." I sniffed.
"Two, I'm something of an expert at living in London on the cheap. I'll show you the ropes. How does that sound?"
"Okay, I guess." I waited for him to address my third complaint. Now, though, he was the one suddenly looking uncomfortable.
"Maybe we could forget about the third thing."

If a few sentences can set moods, just imagine what an entire scene of dialogue can do.

Talk isn’t cheap, btw. It takes time to craft good dialogue, but it’s worth it. Just remember to ask these questions.
1. What does this say about my characters without ‘saying’ it outloud?
2. Does this dialogue move my story along or is it just a filler phrase?
3. Is there some sort of energy in the dialogue, whether good or bad, to keep me interested in what the characters are saying?
4. Does this dialogue set the sort of mood I want to present?

There are many more tips to writing dialogue, but these are a few to help build a memorable scene.

What do you enjoy about good dialogue? What does it communicate to you?