Topic: Lesson Six

The purpose of the lesson this week isn't to teach you anything new, but rather recap the work we've already done. What I would like for each of you to do is to post an informal summary regarding how the class, and/or any of the specific lessons, have impacted your approach to dialogue. Be specific. Explain why something is or isn’t clear to you, and how it effects your understanding or approach.

This is also the time to ask questions, bring up areas of confusion, or discuss ways you can take your own education further.

I will be writing an evaluation summary for each of you and posting them on or before Thursday.

Until then!

Re: Lesson Six

Thanks LA!

Re: Lesson Six

Can we post here on the forum, that way we can comment/learn from each other's questions and postings without having to review several separate postings. Might result in a great discussion.

Re: Lesson Six

Yes, please! Post away.

5 (edited by Wyatt Goodwin 2015-10-29 09:07:27)

Re: Lesson Six

Dialogue Lesson Six, My Summary:
My initial intention for becoming an author was to write a memoir, not to write a novel or fiction. However, what I soon discovered, I needed dialogue to bring life to an otherwise list of things and facts.
In my sixty-seven years, I have never written or had to write ANY dialogue. This may explain why I have had such trouble with dialogue punctuation. Inner and outer dialogue, action tags, speech tags, what the hell are those? I thought I already had vaccinations for those!
Thanks to this class, I now know. I once used many 'caps' to emphasize words… wrong! Punctuation is my biggest bug-a-boo, of which I am still working. This class has helped tremendously.
My formal education ended at high school in 1965. I am sure LA can concur but I have attempted to educate myself in the years since. While I am far from being illiterate, some things in punctuation I was just ignorant. This class has brought me out of that fog. While I am not 100% yet, I think I am at 80% based on the in-line corrections I have received since I started this class. The most important thing, I now have basis for understanding which I did not have before.
LA, you have the patience of 'Job,' literally. I got a chuckle by your comments on my punctuation corrections. You would end your comment by saying, 'AGAIN!' Hey, you are dealing with an old dog! Thus, my comment about my thinking I was wearing a bit thin on you. If I were you having to deal with me, I probably would have snatched myself bald by now. Of course, I use that as a figure of speech but you know what I mean. This also explains my regard for your poise!
You read my before and after of lesson five. I wrote them one day apart, over that weekend. The first I wrote honestly, as I approached writing before this class. I gave no thought as to what I had learned. Then the next day, I applied the lessons we had been taught. The result was not perfect but you know I got the concept of what you were teaching. My teachers in school never got that point across to me after having me in their classes for years. The difference is, you made the subject interesting and relevant. Having us, review the work of our peers helped us understand how others were applying the instruction. It certainly opened my eyes.
As I have told you before, you formed this six-week class to be informative and thought provoking. You made it understandable and presented it in such a way, we could apply what we learned immediately. You gave us the simple basics as the foundation and gave us structure for major applications. I don't feel I am speaking out of line by saying, "This has been the best investment of time, in which I have ever participated."
My only regret is, being on-line; I would like to have met and shook the hand of LAMackey, for a job well done! Maybe someday… when I am a published author!!! (I know, I am old school)
Best regards,
Wyatt Goodwin

6 (edited by Randall Krzak 2015-10-29 12:38:47)

Re: Lesson Six

LA, CJ, & Wyatt,

During the last two years of my working life, I wrote at least 1,500 pages (U.S. letter size, not novel).  All of this was expository writing. Several colleagues suggested I try writing a novel.  In 2011, I began writing The Kurdish Connection.

Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t know about this website or any similar one. I relied on friends and family to critique my work—big mistake.  Sure, they caught a few typos, and made an occasional suggestion, but it wasn’t enough.  After completing over 200 novel-size pages, I put it aside and forgot about it. When I stumbled across TNBW this summer looking for something for my wife, I decided to resurrect The Kurdish Connection.

Sure, I had written plenty of words, but what did I know about creating conflict, scenes, characters, and dialogue? Nothing. I had lots of reviews and about 99.9% were very useful.  What common thread did they have? Among other things, there clearly was a need for me to create dialogue, not write it.  At least I had an excellent outline for where I wanted the story to go—outlines were something I could manage.

Since joining TNBW, Dynamic Writing was the first course offered, and it was just what I needed.  From the first lesson, I’ve added to my writing toolbox.  Am I an expert now?  If only—but I now know far more than I did six weeks ago. 

The course was well defined, systematic, and designed so that even the newest “recruit” to writing dialogues could learn.  I know I have.

CJ, Wyatt, and I have already met before the class through the review system. It was great to have them in the class—I knew I’d learn from our instructor, LA, but would also benefit from working with them.  The class has been a great learning experience, but like any course, completion is just the first step.  Now it’s time to take what I’ve learned (or yet to learn—I’ve downloaded the lessons into a file for regular referral) and start applying.  Any regrets about the course—just that the six weeks went by far too fast! I’d recommend the course to anyone wanting to improve their dialogue.

This isn’t the end of the road, but just the beginning.  I’ve already added several books covering dialogue, conflict & suspense, character emotion, and verbs to my collection:
‘Dialogue: More Than Just Talk’ by Lori Devoti
‘Dialogue Tips & Traps: A Guide for Fiction Writers’ by Brent Spencer
‘How to Write Dazzling Dialogue’ by James Scott Bell
‘Strong Verbs Strong Voice’ by Ann Everett (a TNBW Founding Member)
‘My Writing Life – 10 Tales of Writing Passion’ by Ann Elle Altman
‘Writer’s Guide to Character Emotion: Best Method to Craft ‘ by Sherry Soule
‘Elements of Fiction Writing – Conflict and Suspense’ by James Scott Bell

Many thanks, LA, for an excellent course, one that has given me the necessary building blocks to continue.  I know I’ll complete The Kurdish Connection and Adventures of Postal Man (a children’s story).  Will either be published? Who knows—but at least I now have a good grounding in a vital area. Many thanks and best regards, Randy

Re: Lesson Six

looks like I'm last to post sad

I have given this lesson a lot of thought.

One of my key flaws as a writer has been punctuation (and spelling but thanks to spell-check its not as big an issue as it could be), but the rules applying to dialogue make far more sense than punctuating prose. Commas are my downfall, ask anyone who reviews my work. So punctuation was easier than I thought. It’s hard and fast rules- whereas the rest of my wish list is more subjective.

One of the many key things I need to work on would be: when to use on-the-nose and when not to. I think there is a need for it (on the nose that is)- my current novel is already  205,000 so beating around the bush in every scene can get tedious, esp. when dialogue is a natural fit for backstory. I also have characters that just speak their mind- so on the nose would be good fit in some instances. What I need to do is finesse it. Look for those moments when subtext fits better and use it when applicable. I've also noticed that subtext could be used to misdirect the reader- and that sounds like fun to me! Another point for improvement is to avoid editorializing by my characters.

For me the most eye-opening moment was when you took the dialogue from the last lesson and broke it down - (esp. when you used neener-neener!) No reviewer has ever done that for me and it instantly demonstrated the point. Going forward I’m going to do that to my own dialogue and see if distilled, it goes where I want it to go and packs the same punch. I may also employ that method when reviewing others work on this site (get ready Wyatt and Randy), it was  that enlightening. Also going to read it out loud- I hear that helps.

The class was very useful and I’ve printed out the toolbox from both Lesson 4 and Lesson 5 and they’re pinned to my builtin board. I normally write “stream of conscious” style (sometimes 1-2 glasses of wine are involved) but now  I’m going to be more critical during the editing phase and keep these lessons in mind. Also going to cut many tags- that should help get that word count down!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the class and thank you for providing it.  I’m in the middle of my third re-write of my first novel, and applying these tools will fix those problems I’ve noticed but wasn’t sure what to do about. That "there's something wrong with that, but I can't put my finger on it" moments. Now I know what to do thanks to this course.

I’ll invest in some more books (I see Randy has a  nice list going, as well as your suggestion) and I’m a current member of the Atlanta Writer’s Club, but have been lax in going to the meetings. They have really great workshops as well, perhaps I'll sign up for one or two.

Thank you again for the course and your guidance,


Re: Lesson Six

I’m intentionally late to this party…

First, thank you all for such thorough and thoughtful evaluations. I am as pleased as I am humbled. 

When I first discussed hosting a dialogue course with Sol, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make the shift from a face-to-face class, to an online one. Since most of my lessons contained exercises and worksheets that required physical presence, I wasn’t sure how well they’d translate. I think most of them worked out pretty well. The only one I found difficult to impart without the face-to-face interaction was the last one. But then again, you are all so studious, I have no doubt that you will all find a way to make that Sense Memory lesson your own.

Now, because I am as much a student as I am a teacher, I’d like to know what areas of the course you think I could improve upon. Or, if there are ways in which you think the course could be tweaked, detailed, or made more interactive, please let me know. 

Also, if you wouldn’t mind taking a moment to let Sol know you’ve completed the course, and what you thought of it, I would appreciate it. You can send him an email, or drop a quickie—whatever works best for you. Since he’s keenly interested in bringing quality educational offerings to the table, your honest comments about this one will be of great value to him.

Thank you for your time, patience, and dedication. I look forward to witnessing your progress and continuing to interact with all of you as a fellow writer.

All the best,