Sunday, 14 June 2009

Stuart Neville, The Twelve

Tell Me a Story - technology.

I’ve always advised new writers to keep a notebook handy – ideas are ephemeral; they develop a nasty habit of slipping from us if we don’t jot them down immediately.

However, technology changes things. As much as I dislike change for the sake of change, I admit to tentatively embracing it. I don’t want to get left behind. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with an Olympus digital voice recorder to record those little ideas that seem to jump into my head at inconvenient moments.

It seems I’m not the only one to embrace technology. Author, Stuart Neville, has discovered his own way of taking notes.

The Twelve, by Armagh writer, Stuart Neville, first saw light of day life on the screen of his mobile phone, before ending up with approval from none other than novelist James Ellroy.

Ellroy, author of LA Confidential and American Tabloid, said that Stuart Neville's thriller was, "The best first novel I have read in years".

"The book started life on my mobile phone," Stuart Neville explained. "I literally got up out of bed with this idea in my head for a novel and the first thing I put my hand on was my PDA phone. I started writing it digitally there and then on the mobile screen because it was handy, and then later copied it onto my computer."

So there you are. I always knew mobile phones were useful for something…. most people are welded to them for no good reason…. but as a notebook…. great!

*** Stuart Neville, Stuart Neville, Stuart Neville ***

Writing tips – manuscript submissions guidelines 15 vital checks
Overcoming writer’s block
Ideas for saving money
How to deal with anxiety

End of post - Stuart Neville, The Twelve

Creative writing - dialogue

Tell Me a Story - Dialogue.

AJ, can you help me? My dialogue never seems ‘real’. Have you any tips you can share?
Hi, Pauline. You're right to pay attention to it because dialogue is VERY important. Your novel needs to contain around 50% - 60% dialogue to keep it moving along.

I know it sounds trite, but try listening to the way people talk. Study the selection of words, and the tempo used. People don’t speak in long sentences, so make sure you write your dialogue in short, sharp sentences.

As you listen, decide which of those spoken words are actually suitable for your writing. In real life, when we meet someone, we greet each other with worn-out phrases, asking how they are, etc. This is monotonous stuff.
Readers are intelligent and understand that small talk occurs – they simply aren’t interested. They want to get to the substance of the conversation without everyday fluff. Remove the minutiae; give the readers what they want.

You also need to append dialogue with body language. Without body language, readers can’t always appreciate the value of words. Readers need to see the protagonists in their mind's eye as they talk - do they grimace, smile, frown? Body language can completely alter the meaning of words.

Adding body language can also alter the pacing of the work. There are times when brisk dialogue is necessary, and times when we want to slow it down. Describing body language can slow it quite subtly without altering the substance.

One thing I must point out. Be VERY careful if your character has a dialect. Writing in heavy dialect can become distracting and time-consuming, and most readers tire of it quickly - one of the rare times when you should TELL, not SHOW.

Hope this helps a little, Pauline – and good luck.