Tag Archives: dialogue

Is Three Sentences a Charm for #Dialogue?

Dialogue makes stories come to life. Readers hear the characters say the words in their minds Readers visualize their actions acting out their emotions.

Put a balance of dialogue, action, and narrative in your novel or screenplay.

Does your dialogue do all of the following?

  1. Establish character and reveal aspects of character not otherwise seen 
  2. Provide information like exposition and particulars of past events
  3. Drive action of plot forward
  4. Set the mood and tone
  5. Create subtext (Subtext is content underneath the spoken dialogue. Subtext is the unspoken thoughts and motives of characters—what they really think and believe.)
Go with your gut feeling about your particular work. Check it against these questions:
  1. Is it part of a set up/pay off?
  2. Would it be hazardous if you left out a word or sentence or would deleting a word or sentence make your story stronger? 
  3. Is this the right place in the story for a particular sentence?
  4. Would the information in this sentence be better in the text than the dialogue?
  5. Would it be better if a different character spoke certain words?
  6. Do the sentences have enough meat in them? Are they too short or too long?
  7. If 3 sentences don’t tell enough, add one sentence at a time.
  8. If you’ve got 10 sentences in a piece of dialogue, cut out unnecessary words. Make the speech natural. Cut unnecessary sentences. 

Is there such a thing as too much dialogue in a novel or screenplay?  Or not enough? How do you get the Goldilocks amount of dialogue in your novel or screenplay?

William H. Coles said, “Great dialogue in literary fiction serves multiple functions but never detracts from story progress or purpose.”

I don’t think there’s one answer. I think dialogue is weighed against the personality and needs of a character in his/her particular situation. When a character is frightened, he might talk your ears off or he might be so quiet, you wonder if he’s passed out.

But there are people who tell you that three is the magic number to measure the use of sentences in your dialogue. They say that you need to justify using more than three sentences at one time.  

A film producer told me I had too many sentences in the dialogue of my screenplay. He said that you can justify more dialogue in novels or in stage plays, but not in screenplays. So I did research to find out what was an acceptable amount of dialogue.
Listen to the dialogue of your favorite film. Count the number of sentences whenever the protagonist (main character) speaks for 15 minutes. Then count the number of sentences the antagonist or another character speaks. What did you discover? You may find the results surprising. I did.
I looked at three different screenplays and it seems they stuck to the 3 sentences per time a character speaks. Sometimes a character on the Royal Staff  in Victoria and Abdul screenplay spoke more than 3 sentences, but it didn’t seem like there were more than 5 at one time. Their sentences tended to be longer but usually stayed in the three sentence realm.
Decide for yourself. Don’t take my word for it. Check the dialogue of characters in your manuscripts. See how many sentences your characters utter at a time. 
If your characters have a lot to say, perhaps you can break it down into different speeches. 
I’ll leave you with a few quotes and 33 different resources about dialogue.

Tinzen Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama says, “Dialogue is the most effective way of resolving conflict.”

Stephen King says, “It is dialogue that gives your cast their voices, and is crucial in defining their characters.”

Alfred Hitchcock said: “When we tell a story in cinema, we should resort to dialogue only when it’s impossible to do otherwise.”

Alfred Hitchcock said, “What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out.”


  1. Beth Hill. The Editor’s Blog. “Too Much Dialogue–Characters Talk Too Much:” http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/10/25/dialogue-my-characters-talk-too-much/
  2. Brian A. Klems. “The 7 Tools of Dialogue:” http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-7-tools-of-dialogue
  3. Cris Freese. “Keep it Simple: Keys to Realistic Dialogue (Part I):” http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/keep-it-simple-keys-to-realistic-dialogue-part-i
  4. Cris Freese. “Keep it Simple: Keys to Realistic Dialogue (Part II):” http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/keep-it-simple-keys-to-realistic-dialogue-part-ii
  5. Deb Dorchak. “Getting to Know You: Character Dialogue:” http://behindthewords-bluesun.com/getting-to-know-you-character-dialogue/
  6. Diana Urban. “43 Words You Should Cut From Your Writing Immediately:” https://dianaurban.com/words-you-should-cut-from-your-writing-immediately
  7. Erin. Daily Writing Tips. “Dialogue Dos and Don’ts:” https://www.dailywritingtips.com/dialogue-dos-and-donts/
  8. Gabriela Pereira. “Nine NO’s of Dialogue:” https://diymfa.com/writing/nine-nos-of-dialogue
  9. Ginny Wiehardt. “Tips on Writing Dialogue:” https://www.thebalance.com/tips-on-writing-dialogue-1277057
  10. Ginny Wiehardt. “Top Tips for Writing Dialogue:” https://www.thebalance.com/top-tips-for-writing-dialogue-1277070.
  11. Gloria Kempton. Writer’s Digest. “How to Balance Action, Narrative, and Dialogue in Your Novel:” www.writersdigest.com/…/how-to-balance-action-narrative-and-dialogue-in-your-nov
  12. Gotham Writers. “In Dialogue, What is subtext?” https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/ask-writer/in-dialogue-what-is-subtext
  13. The Guardian.com. “Top 10: The Best Dialogue in Crime Fiction:”
  14. Harvey. Novel Writing Help. “9 Rules For Writing Dialogue:” https://www.novel-writing-help.com/writing-dialogue.html
  15. Irwin H. Blacker. “The Elements of Screenwriting:”
  16. Joan Y. Edwards. “What Is the Purpose of Dialogue in Your Story?” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/what-is-the-purpose-of-dialogue-in-your-story/
  17. Joan Y. Edwards. “Whose Talking? Can You Tell by Your Dialogue?” Who’s Talking? Can You Tell by the Dialogue?
  18. Joanna Guidoccio. “How Much Dialogue Is Too Much?” https://joanneguidoccio.com/2012/06/20/how-much-dialogue-is-too-much/
  19. Joanna Penn. “9 Easily Preventable Mistakes Writers Make with Dialogue:” https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2012/10/04/dialogue-mistakes/
  20. John August. “How to Write Dialogue:” https://johnaugust.com/2007/how-to-write-dialogue
  21. Karen Sullivan, Gary Schumer, and Kate Alexander. Ideas for the Animated Short: Finding and Building Stories. Published by Focal Press, Elsevier Inc, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-240-80860-4, page 166-168.
  22. Karen Sullivan, Gary Schumer, and Kate Alexander. “The Purpose of Dialogue:” http://purposeofdialogue.blogspot.com/
  23. Kira McFadden. “Ask the Editor: Is it okay to use sentence fragments in my writing? How much is too much?” http://www.novelpublicity.com/2012/03/ask-the-editor-is-it-okay-to-use-sentence-fragments-in-my-writing-how-much-is-too-much/
  24. Laurel Dewey, Visual Thesaurus. “Writing Methods: The Power of  Dialogue:” https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wc/writing-method-the-power-of-dialogue/
  25. Maeve Maddox. “How Much Dialogue Is Too Much:” https://www.dailywritingtips.com/how-much-dialog-is-too-much/
  26. Meredith Borders. “Top 10 Authors Who Write Great Dialogue:” https://litreactor.com/columns/top-10-authors-who-write-great-dialogue
  27. Novel Writing Help.com “9 Rules for Writing Dialogue:” https://www.novel-writing-help.com/writing-dialogue.html
  28. Screenwriters University. “20 Common Sense Script Rules in No Particular Order:” http://resources.screenwritersuniversity.com/resources/20-common-sense-script-rules-in-no-particular-order
  29. “Script Format: Dialogue:”  http://www.storysense.com/format/dialogue.htm
  30. “Subtext: The Full Wiki:” http://www.thefullwiki.org/Subtext
  31. What a Script.com. “13 Movie Dialogue Rules to Write Great Dialogues (part 2):” http://www.whatascript.com/movie-dialogue-03.html
  32. Word Counter Blog. “How Many Words in a Paragraph?” https://wordcounter.net/blog/2016/01/07/10986_how-many-words-paragraph.html
  33. William H. Coles. “Dialogue:” https://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/essays-on-writing/dialogue/

Results of Giveaway:

I am grateful for the following people who left a comment before midnight, Friday, January 26, 2018.

1. Melanie Robertson-King
2. Dr. Bob Rich
3. Linda Garfield
4. Gretchen Griffith
5. Sandra Warren
6. Violette Early
7. Lisa Anne Cullen
8. Sheri Levy
9. Cat Michaels

Carol Baldwin left a comment but didn’t want to be included because she won a book last time. Thanks, Carol.

Random.org chose number 4. Therefore, Congratulations, Gretchen Griffith. You won a paperback copy of Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number. I hope you enjoy it. Please send your snail mail address to me at joanyedwards1@gmail.com so I can start this book’s journey to you!

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Never Give Up

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Copyright © 2018 Joan Y. Edwards


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7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards
Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave” by Joan Y. Edwards

Readers crave surprise. That’s the element that helps a reader stick to a story from the beginning to the very end. Therefore, every good story has the element of surprise. The books that incorporate the most surprises are best sellers.

A surprise is when something unexpected happens that is far from what the reader thought would happen. It adds tension and excitement and keeps the reader actively engaged and committed to your manuscript. Any surprise element must present an image in the mind of the reader. If a reader can’t see the image, they won’t see the connection you are counting on to make your story sell.

Many intriguing two-sentence pitches, hooks, loglines, and short summaries or trailers for books and movies, include or allude to one of these seven elements of surprise.

L. K. Hill quotes Marion Jensen’s view on surprise:Surprise in literature is something unexpected that evokes an emotional reaction in a reader.”

Beth Hill suggests that “you, the writer, include a revelation, introduce a new character, or devise an unforeseen event that is so unpredictable that it even surprises you.” So include unexpected consequences that surround your characters and have the element of surprise in them.

Tracy Richardson shows the powerful and surprising beginning of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love:

  • I wish Giovanni would kiss me.

Tracy points out that this first sentence hooks you right away and her next sentence is a perfect contradiction.

  • Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea.

This beginning shows a good use of surprise.


Here are seven ways to add an element of surprise to your story:

  1. Humor is when you exaggerate the unexpected and sometimes using the power of three to create a funny situation. Humor is shown in action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description.
  2. Shock is when you exaggerate the unexpected so much that what happened is the complete opposite of what a reader thought was possible. It can be positive or negative.
  3. Contradiction is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description that shows when opposite emotions are present at the same time in a character or situation.
  4. Irony is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description which is the opposite of what a reader expects under similar circumstances.
  5. Twist is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description which is the opposite of what a reader expects in this genre under similar circumstances. I think of a twist as having to do with the plot.
  6. Revelation is when you reveal secrets or previously unknown information in your story.
  7. Introduce a new character who is unpredictable in a way that adds tension and validity to the theme of your story.

Here are seven three best-selling books that are filled with surprises:

  1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  3. The Witness by Nora Roberts
  4. The Firm by John Grisham
  5. Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket by Barbara Park
  6. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin, and Randy Travis.
  7. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Readers crave surprise. Incorporate the elements of surprise in your stories and you will have a best seller because it has what readers crave!

Here are three mostly true stories from a few encounters in my life. They are first drafts. I hope you enjoy them. Each of them contains at least one element of surprise. Maybe more.

Expected and Unexpected

While I was in college during the summer months, my grandmother in Ohio loved for me to come unannounced. One Friday afternoon I left Western Carolina College in Cullowhee, North Carolina at 2:00 p.m. and arrived in Eaton, Ohio about 2:00 a.m. about five hours longer than I planned.

I knocked on Mother Meyer’s front door. Several minutes went by. I didn’t hear any sounds from inside the house. Then I heard a key turn as someone unlocked the door. As I stood there with my overnight case, a man I had never seen before peeked through the open door.

“Hello. Is Mother Meyer here?” I asked.

“No, she’s not.”

I proudly stated, “I’m her granddaughter, Joan.”

He looked at me like so what.

“My daddy is John Bernard Meyer.”

No signs of recognition on that man’s face. I thought maybe he’d know my Mother. Therefore, I tried again. “My mother is Ethel Meyer.”

The man with slightly balding hairline crossed his arms, “I don’t know them.”

I pointed to the first door on the left. “Mother Meyer usually lets me sleep in that room.”

I wasn’t getting anywhere. Visions of the nearby motel Mother and I stayed in with bugs crawling everywhere loomed in my head. My face grew white as a misty fog.

“I am John Campbell, your Aunt Betty’s husband. We got married last month.”

“Is Aunt Betty here?”

“She’s asleep.”

“Oh,” I said emotionally wilting into a small pile of rocks and sticky briars.

Then a warm smile donned his face. “Mother Meyer went to visit her daughter, Bea for the weekend. She’ll be back on Sunday. I see that you have your suitcase so you must have planned to spend the night. So come on in.”

I said, “Thank you very much.”

I moved quickly in the bedroom and closed the door. I shouted on the inside, “Thank you, Lord. I don’t ever want to do THAT again.”

That was my last surprise visit to my grandmother’s house.

Who was the most surprised person in this story?

Did I learn my lesson about surprise visits? My lesson came in two installments; one for each side of the family: Meyer and Bruffey.

Surprising Aunt Martha

One Friday in October, I decided to visit my Aunt Martha Bruffey in Kinston, North Carolina. She loved for me to surprise her by coming out of the bedroom in the morning.  Aunt Martha and Uncle Vernon always left the doors unlocked so I would come in through the back door and sneak quietly into my cousins’ bedroom. I’d sleep on a cot there and in the morning, I’d come out of the bedroom into the hall. Aunt Martha would give me a great big hug and say, “What a nice surprise! I am so glad to see you.”

I drove nine or ten hours from Cullowhee, North Carolina to get there. I parked my gray 1950 Plymouth in the driveway and carried my overnight case around back to enter through the back door.

When I got around back, there was a new garage attached to the house. The back door I used to sneak through was hidden inside the breezeway structure that joined the house and the garage. The garage had a door so I twisted the doorknob to the right and pushed it, but it was locked and did not budge a millimeter.

Feeling a little frustrated, I walked to the side door, turned the knob, and pushed on it. Much to my dismay, it was locked, too.

But wait, there’s hope for me. There was still the possibility that the front door was not locked. When I turned the knob and pushed on it, it was locked tighter than a fat lady in a thin girdle.

I didn’t savor the idea of sleeping in my car because wire springs had sprung through the cushions and were not very comfortable. Surprising Aunt Martha wouldn’t be as much fun if I banged on the door and woke her up. She might be a bit grumpy. I didn’t want to scare my three girl cousins, so I stood in front of the four boys’ window on the side of the house. All four of them were sound asleep.

I took a deep breath and knocked on the window.

My oldest cousin woke and said, “My gosh, what’s going on out there?”

He shined a flashlight and saw me standing outside the house lonely and sad.

I spoke softly so I wouldn’t wake up Aunt Martha or the girls. “Please unlock the front door so I can come in.”

When the lock on the front door clicked, he opened it and said, “Joan, what a big surprise!”

“Not as big a surprise as I was to find all the doors locked.”

My cousins fixed up a cot for me so I’d have a place to sleep.

The next morning, Aunt Martha was thrilled to see me. She gave me a big hug and said, “What a nice surprise! It’s so good to see you.”

I was the most surprised person during this visit. The locked doors put a brake on future unannounced visits to relatives. But, I went many times after I told them I was coming.

What was the irony in this story?

Who did I surprise?

How do you think my grandmother and my aunt felt when I didn’t surprise them with visits again?

The Most Nervous Person at the Airport

One time, my friend, Henry, flew into Charlotte to help his boss determine the value of his latest acquisitions for a coin show. Larry asked me to meet him at the airport the next day. He told me his American flight to St. Louis took off at 2:10 p.m. and asked me to meet him about 1:00 p.m. so we could visit before his flight.

I left home an hour early to take notes on the body language of the most nervous person at the airport while I waited for Larry to arrive at his gate of departure.

Men, women, and children of varying ages amused me with their talk and their movements, but they was no sign of nervousness. Instead, moods of calm and excitement filled the air.

One o’clock came, but Henry didn’t.

One-fifteen, no Henry. I listened carefully to the messages over the intercom. None of them said, “Would Joan York please come to any agent at American Airlines?”

One-thirty, no Henry. I paced back and forth near the gate. I anxiously checked the long hallway for a man running to catch his flight. Everyone walked leisurely like they had more than enough time to get to their gate for take-off.

One-forty-five, no Henry. My heart beat a little faster.

As each moment passed, my thoughts went haywire. “What if something’s happened to him? What if he’s been in a car wreck?”

Two o’clock, no Henry. I patted my foot.

The gate clerk called passengers to board the airplane, no Larry. My saliva was so thick, it almost choked me.

The plane took off.  It watched it taxi away from the building without Henry.

They changed the flight numbers on the bulletin board. I twisted my pen like it was a baton. I wrote below “Who was the most nervous person I observed at the airport?”

The answer was “Me.”

Larry called me the next day.

I said, “Where are you? Are you okay?”

He said, “Early yesterday morning, my boss asked him to stay an extra day.”

My response was choppy and sharp, “Why didn’t you call me and let me know? Why didn’t you have the airlines page me?”

Larry said, “I called American Airlines and asked them to tell you.

“Humph! I listened with keen ears to all notices from American Airlines pages. None of them had my name in them.” I didn’t believe him.

“I’m going to take the same flight tomorrow. Will you meet me there at one o’clock?”

“No. The only place I’ll meet you is if you come to my house.”

He said, “That’s a fine way to treat a friend,” and hung up.

I never saw him again. He called wondering if he could spend a week with me while he went to a coin show.

I’m sure you guessed my answer. “Indeed not.”

All was not in vain because I learned many signs of nervousness and I had the wisdom to follow my gut feelings to end that relationship and any others in the future that made me nervous.

What emotions do you think usually precede, follow or go side-by side with nervousness?

What body language means nervousness to you?

What solves nervousness or makes it go away?

I hope my three stories helped you see how an element of surprise can hook the reader’s attention in a story. I hope it sparks an idea to use with your own stories. I think writers may crave surprise, as much as the readers. Let your imagination run around the possibilities. Readers crave surprise. Give it to them. Put multiple surprise factors in your manuscript. “If you put surprise in your story, readers will come.”

FREE GIVEAWAY (This offer is over. Please check later blogposts for more giveaways)

I am offering a free critique of the first 1000 words of a manuscript as a gift for responding with a comment about this blog post. Tell me your favorite surprise, shock, contradiction, twist, an unexpected consequence, or irony in my stories and/or your favorite book or movie between now and midnight Thursday, October 2, 2014.  Random.org will choose the winner. I will announce the winner in a new post on Friday, October 3, 2014.

Believe in you and your writing.
Celebrate all that you’ve accomplished: both the big steps and the little ones.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


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12 Affirmations for Writers.



  1. “Add a Twist to a Story,” http://www.wikihow.com/Add-a-Twist-to-a-Story.
  2. Annie Gracie. Writing Romantic Comedy,” 2001, http://www.annegracie.com/writing/comedy.htm.
  3. Beth Hill. “Include Surprises in Your Stories,” April 16, 2012, http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/04/16/include-surprises-in-your-stories/.
  4. Bronwyn Hemus, “Hook Your Readers, Six Tried and Tested Tips,” March 7, 2013, https://www.standoutbooks.com/hook-your-readers-six-tips/.
  5. Cheryl Klein. “Springing Surprises,” http://www.cherylklein.com/surprise.html.
  6. Christie Craig and Faye Hughes. “Add the Element of Surprise,” http://www.netplaces.com/writing-a-romance-novel/the-last-polish/add-the-element-of-surprise.htm.
  7. Elizabeth Spann Craig, “The Element of Surprise,” Mystery Writing Is Murder (blog), August 18, 2011, http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/2011/08/element-of-surprise.html.
  8. K. M. Weiland, “5 Ways to Write Killer Plot Twist,” July 28, 2013, http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/07/5-ways-to-write-killer-plot-twist.html.
  9. L. K. Hill. “How to Use the Element of Surprise to Better Your Writing,” http://lkhill.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-to-use-element-of-surprise-to.html.
  10. “Make a Surprise Ending to Your Story,” http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Surprise-Ending-to-Your-Story.
  11. Susan. “How to Use Humor Effectively,” http://www.write-out-loud.com/how-to-use-humor-effectively.html.
  12. Tracy Richardson. (First Sentences) “Where It All Starts,” Article Archive, Just about Write.com, 2010, http://www.justaboutwrite.com/A_Archive_WhereItAllStarts-Richardson.html.
  13. Victoria Mixon. “5 Ways to Make Your Novel Unforgettable,” http://victoriamixon.com/2010/09/13/5-ways-to-make-your-novel-unforgettable/.
  14. Zara Altair. “Twist the Predictable: Create Plot Twists to Enrich the Story Line,” December 20, 2010, http://storybodyguard.com/2010/12/20/twist-the-predictable-create-plot-twists-to-enrich-the-story-line/.

Who’s Talking? Can You Tell by the Dialogue?

“Who’s Talking? Can You Tell by the Dialogue?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Look at one of your manuscripts. Is each character’s voice different? Can your readers tell who’s talking? Does each character speak with a different voice. A voice that is distinctive.

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Does the dialogue indicate every aspect of his character so that no one would mistake his words as coming from another character? Does a character’s traits show in the dialogue he speaks?

Ali Luke says one good trick is to take just the lines of dialogue in your short story or novel – cut out the action and dialogue tags (he said, she said) – and see whether you can figure out who said what.

You can even hand your BETA READER a copy. According to Wikipedia, a BETA READER is a person who reads a written work before its publication to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Your critique groups are BETA READERS. However, when I’ve heard BETA READER used, it is a special person chosen by the author to give them feedback on a whole book before the author submits it to an editor or agent.

Ask a reader to read the pages of dialogue and write in who was talking for each. Readers should be able to tell that a different person is talking. If they know the characters and their character traits, they’ll have a better chance of figuring out who is talking.

If you don’t have access to a reader, read it yourself. Check it yourself with a chapter from your latest manuscript. Take out the “he said, she said” dialogue tags. You can even go so far as to take out the action, too.

From doing this you’ll realize the importance of giving each character distinct speech patterns and unique character traits. If all of your characters sound like they came out of the same box, creative revision might be a good idea.

Ali Luke gave some ideas for creating distinctive dialogue for characters and I added a few of my own:

  • How Old Is the Character: a teen and grandpa don’t talk the same way
  • Gender: male and female characters won’t use the same vocabulary
  • Socio/economic class: Is your character from the slums or rich with money and worldly goods?
  • Education level: Does the character use a small or big vocabulary? Can you tell he didn’t finish high school?
  • Where Does He Live: Can you tell where they live by their words? Can you tell their native language?
  • Pet Words/Phrases: Does one of your characters have a pet word, phrase, or expression? OMG, You don’t say!
  • Personality Traits: Do his words indicate that the character is stingy? dumb? smarter than a dictionary? Chatty versus man of few words?
  • What does the Character Want? Money, fame, independence, freedom, or something else?
  • What does the Character Need? Confidence, love, power or something else?


  1. Ali Luke. “10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Dialogue:” http://writetodone.com/10-easy-ways-to-improve-your-dialogue/Think about
  2. Beth Kinderman and Nikki Walker. “The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Character (revised):” http://www.miniworld.com/adnd/100ThingsAboutUrPCBackGround.html
  3. Story Jumper.com. “StoryStarter – Telling your story in 7 steps:” http://www.storyjumper.com/main/starter

Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate you very much. Please leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Celebrate you every day.
You are a gift to our world
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


173 Subscribers  – Thank you.

Subscribe to Joan’s Never Give Up blog by email from the left-hand column and receive a free Never Give Up logo image. You’ll receive her new blog posts filled with inspiration and information in your inbox as soon as they are uploaded. 

Catch the Great Dialogue of Amazon Best-Selling Author, Ann Eisenstein

Larger Author Signing at SCBWIC 9.13
Ann Eisenstein Autographing a Copy of Hiding Carly
SCBWI-Carolinas Conference, September 2013

1.      How did you do in English as a kid?

Way back in the days of Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot, reading and English were all grouped together into one subject area. I was pretty good in reading recognition and comprehension. I was a great speller. I was decent in most grammar. But when it came to the mechanics of diagramming sentences, my participles were often dangling! I venture to say that my editor(s) might still be looking for them!

2.      When did you decide to become an author?

I am not sure it was ever a conscious decision to become an author. I think I started writing before I could spell – or read! Writing with pictures in the backs of my father’s books. I have always had a wild imagination – complete with an imaginary friend – and I loved to make up stories, songs, and plays.

3.      What’s your favorite book? Why?

That is a most difficult question. First of all, let me narrow the field to favorite children’s book. Then there are hundreds that I love – and at one time or another probably considered them a “favorite”. But, since I have to choose just one, I would have to say that the book that has influenced me the most is The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Why? The character, Jonas, touched me with with how he dealt with the memories of his past and how he made his future decisions. It’s an intense and gripping story of our connectedness in society. Ultimately, it is a revelation of one’s boy’s destiny and how he must change it – for himself, Gabriel, and the whole community.

4.      Are your characters based on real people?

I think that the safe answer to that question, when one writes fiction, should always be “No.” Yet, my characters – their names, their expressions and their personalities – stem from people who I have known in my life. The good and the bad, the trials and triumphs, all have a basis in my reality.

5.      Did you outline and plan your books before you wrote them or did their stories flow on its own?

I am both plotter and pantser. First, I have an idea fueled by inspiration and imagination. I create/write that basic story in my head. Then I will write down snippets and phrases – on pieces of paper, napkins, my hand, my iPad, and record them on my iPhone. Eventually those find their way to index cards, which I magnetize and place on a large magnetic storyboard in my office. That is the transition from pants to plot. I derive my plot outline from those scene possibilities. The ebb and flow of the story – the hiccups and blocked thought processes – all can be easily rearranged on the big board.

I believe that the character, Sean, truly grabbed the first nugget that I had for Hiding Carly and wrote his own story. He just brought me along for the typing and the research! It was a fun ride!

6.      How much research did you have to do for writing Hiding Carly and Fallen Prey?

I am a consummate researcher! I think I enjoy that phase at least as much as the actual writing. People will ask me, “Are you writing the book yet?”

I tell them that the story is working itself out in my head and that I will finish it when the research is over! I am never really satisfied that I know everything I need to know for accuracy. The Sean Gray Junior Special Agent series is realistic contemporary fiction. So, the research for Hiding Carly was heavily weighted in learning all about the FBI and the Junior Special Agent Program. I was fortunate because I was able to interview an FBI Special Agent for the first book. Also, I learned a lot about kidnapped and missing children. Many aspects of character development and the situations in which Sean and Carly and their families found themselves, required investigation.

For Fallen Prey, I was already an alumna of the FBI Citizens Academy Program and had learned a lot more about the inner workings of the agency. During the final weeks, I became a member of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Citizen’s Academy, so I added the knowledge I gained there to the story.

My research for book two also focused on the terrain of the river – driving and walking along the shore to pinpoint the precise location of the opening of the book. And I learned a whole lot more about the internet and ALL the resources that are available there. In addition, I interviewed agents who dealt with entrapped, trafficked and exploited kids. I researched and studied the woods and the little tiny “houses” that people rarely notice that dot the landscape. I also spent a great deal of time with my nose in medical books! And luckily I had studied some law, but had to research international trials and the basics of the federal court system.

All in all, my research is always the most time-consuming activity. But I love it!

7.      Did you cry while writing one of your books?

I don’t think that I ever cried while writing – at least not because of the story content. There are sad moments for sure. But because I know how this all ends, I wasn’t overwhelmed with sadness. I cried when I wrote the dedications, though.

8.      Do you have trouble saying goodbye to your characters when the book is finished?

So far, I haven’t had to say goodbye. At least not with the Sean Gray series. There has been only one death in book one. (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the story). Maybe after the next book, I might be sad to say goodbye to Sean and his friends. I don’t know. I am already working on several other books, so I guess that will make it easier.

9.      What’s your favorite book you’ve written?

I wrote a book of poetry years ago. It has never been published – but I still love it. In all honesty, I would have to say Hiding Carly is my favorite. It was such a surprise – a true gift from God. Sean is a really cool kid. I would be proud to have him for my own son. Everybody should know a Sean Gray.

10.  What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you related to your writing?

The funniest thing that has happened to me related to writing is finally deciding to put one of those imaginative and inspired stories to paper. I started out writing the “great American novel.” It was an adult novel. I started typing away. Then it struck me that I had no idea what I was doing.

So, I got the bright idea that I would start out my writing career with a children’s book. After all, writing a children’s book had to be easier. It was for kids!

What a delusional moment that was. Bring in the PTO/PTA/ALA, etc. I was a teacher, but had to really study all the rules and regulations of writing for children. Word choices, reading levels – I knew them – but from a teacher’s point of view. Now I had to figure out how to write the right words for my audience. The guidelines for writing for children are much tighter. It’s a chuckle!

11.  Ann, you are well-known for your ability to write great dialogue.

Thank you, Joan.

Would you please tell us the main purposes of dialogue and hints to lead readers to write better dialogue?

Three of the main purposes of dialogue are:

  • Dialogue brings a novel to life. It is the heartbeat of the emotion and the conflict.
  • Dialogue gives necessary information. Rather than long narratives of backstory, characters can reveal information through their conversations.
  • Dialogue reveals character. It can show how someone feels and it can also show how characters feel about one another.

Three tips for writing more effective dialog are:

  • Listen to people – especially to the people of the age(s) for whom you are writing. Eavesdrop on their conversations. Observe speech patterns, and rhythm and pacing.
  • Ground dialogue in the scene – conversation should advance the plot of each scene. It should take place somewhere – on the telephone, at the park, etc. The dialogue of your characters should be purposeful in the context of the action of the scene.
  • Give Your Characters distinct speech patterns – your characters are of a different age, sex, etc. therefore they don’t sound the same. They have different personalities. Consider their age, gender, social and economic background, education, etc. Write their dialogue accordingly.

12.  Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you as a writer?

My mom always was one of my biggest fans. She truly believed that I would write a great novel. I was fortunate that she read Hiding Carly before she died.

My best friend, Susan Waites, is my biggest supporter, my beta reader, my hand holder, and my headache therapist!

Then there is you and the Savvy Wordsmiths critique group. You all are wonderful friends and energetic supporters.

I know you asked for one – but my family and my friends lift me up and push me forward all of the time.

Most of all, I have to thank God for giving me life and the gifts that have enabled me to write, to teach, to speak, to counsel. I am blessed indeed.

13.  What are you writing now?

I am working on several projects. Ranging from a Picture Book to Middle Grade to Young Adult and Adult, fiction and some nonfiction. I also am working on my autobiography. (A true fictitious tale focusing on growing up in small town Ohio in the 60’s!) And a devotional – a promise I made when I first began. One I will keep.

At the top of my list, however, is the third and final book in the Sean Gray series. As I said above, I know the ending. And the journey from Fallen Prey to the series end is rife with turmoil, trauma, and tragic circumstance. The many plotlines have all but short-circuited in my brain!

14.  What do you do for relaxation?

  • I play with my wonderful baby, Jesse (he’s a Maine Coon rescue cat).
  • I work out – I love Les Mills Body Combat (mixed martial arts) and Body Flow (Tai Chi, Pilates & Yoga).
  • I listen to Beethoven, and sometimes I play the piano or saxophone.
  • I love to draw (pen, ink & charcoal) and paint (watercolor)
  • I love the ocean. It is my favorite place to breathe.
  • My favorite cities are Kihei (Maui), New York, Rome, and Paris.
  • My favorite food is pizza – New York Style.
  • My favorite dessert is Italian Ice from Brooklyn.
  • My favorite alcoholic beverage is Cabernet Sauvignon. Otherwise – water will do just fine.
  • My favorite color is black.
  • My favorite song is “Desperado” by The Eagles.
  • My favorite movie is The Notebook.

15.  It is great that Amazon gave Hiding Carly a Best Sellers Rank of #1. Tell us about that.

Congratulations, Ann.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog. I enjoyed learning more about you and your writing. I wish you success in every writing adventure you take.

Here’s an awesome interview that Ann Eisenstein did for ABC Charleston on December 30, 2013: 


Copyright © 2013  Ann Eisenstein
Copyright © 2013
Ann Eisenstein

Purchase Hiding Carly:


Barnes & Noble


Peak City Publishing


Purchase Fallen Prey:

Soon to be available at all major bookstores and online at:

Copyright © 2013  Peak City Publishing
Copyright © 2013
Peak City Publishing


Barnes & Noble


Peak City Publishing

Both books are also available through Follett and Ingram.

Social Media Links for Ann Eisenstein:

Ann Eisenstein’s Website
FB Author Page: Ann E Eisenstein
FB Character Page:  Sean Gray JSA
YouTube Video Hiding Carly:


GIVEAWAY: If you leave a comment, I’ll put your name in a hat to win a free autographed copy of Ann Eisenstein’s new book, Fallen Prey.

What a great prize! You and your middle-school child or grandchild will love it!

Feel free to share this post with your friends.

I’ll have random.org choose a winner’s name at midnight on Sunday, December 15, 2013. I’ll post the winner on Monday morning. 

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

What Is the Purpose of Dialogue in Your Story?

“What Is the Purpose of the Dialogue in Your Story?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Speech and Thought Bubbles Image Courtesy of Digital Art at www.freedigitalphotos.net
Speech and Thought Bubbles Image       Courtesy of Digital Art at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

What is the purpose of the dialogue in your story?

Nathan Bransford says:  Good dialogue has a purpose and builds toward something. A good conversation is an escalation.

Ginny Wiehardt says:  Break Up Dialogue with Action.

Remind your reader that your characters are human by letting them know the characteristics of their physical world: sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touch, and the aura it creates for them.

Physical details break up the ping-pong talking heads dialogue on the page. Add action, reaction, and description of place. Dialogue separates long passages of description. It makes it easier to read a page.

Does dialogue serve more than one purpose in your story?

ZZ Packer says dialogue has to hit six or seven different things. William H. Coles says a line of dialogue can’t be there for only one purpose.

Here are ten things dialogue can do. I think dialogue must do the first 6 and sometimes 7-10. What do you think?

  1. Advance the story plot and/or use conflict to change direction of plot
  2. Highlight character desire and motivation
  3. Create voice and tone, either for story or character
  4. Provide understanding of the gradual enlightenment and insight of characters
  5. Meet rhythmic necessity of human speech compatible with characters, time, and place of story.
  6. Add drama by showing escalating, increasing conflict and the resulting actions and reactions
  7. Emphasize theme or meaning
  8. Show time transition, usually subtle
  9. Create atmosphere, mood, and/or ambiance that is distinctive of the setting
  10. Inform the audience, but too much at one time about the plot, character’s history (backstory), setting, and theme

Let’s check the dialogue of a best selling novel:

“Ok. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. It’s only a Visa bill.” Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.

  1. It let’s us know that there’s a problem with the main character’s Visa bill.
  2. It illuminates the main problem of the main character that the rest of the story is how she keeps trying not to pay this bill.
  3. It highlights the theme of the story.
  4. If the bill isn’t paid, it creates drama.
  5. It informs the audience.
  6. The words and rhythm hints that it’ll be a comedy.

To improve your writing of dialogue, read the books of authors noted for writing great dialogue:

Meredith Borders named ten authors who write great dialogue. Here are three of them: Judy Blume, Toni Morrison, and Douglas Adams. Read her article for all 10 and examples of their dialogue.

Taylor Holmes lists Top 10 Best Dialogue Movies:  Here are the first three: #1 Pulp Fiction #2  American Beauty, and #3 Reality Bites. Read her article for all 10 and dialogue excerpts, too.

Check three dialogue passages in one of your own stories. Does your dialogue serve more than one purpose? I’ll bet it does.


  1. Ali Hale. “Dialogue-Writing Tips.” http://www.dailywritingtips.com/dialogue-writing-tips/
  2. Ali Luke. “10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Dialogue:” http://writetodone.com/2011/12/12/10-easy-ways-to-improve-your-dialogue/
  3. Dorian Scott Cole. “What about Dialogue, Is it Visual?” http://www.visualwriter.com/
  4. Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. “Writing Great Dialogue:” http://thewritepower.blogspot.com/2012/07/friday-fix-craft-writing-great-dialogue.html
  5. Dr. Stan Steiner. “Dr. Stan Steiner’s Suggested Children’s books:” http://idahoptv.org/dialogue/booklistSteiner.cfm
  6. Erin. “Dialogue Dos and Don’ts:” http://www.dailywritingtips.com/dialogue-dos-and-donts/
  7. Frederic Raphael. “Frederick Raphael’s Top 10 Talkative Novels:” http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/09/frederic-raphael-talkative-novels
  8. Ginny Wiehardt. “Top 8 Tips for Writing Dialogue:” http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/crafttechnique/tp/dialogue.htm
  9. Meredith Borders. “Top 10 Authors Who Write Great Dialogue.” http://litreactor.com/columns/top-10-authors-who-write-great-dialogue
  10. Nathan Bransford. “Seven Keys to Writing Good Dialogue:” http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/09/seven-keys-to-writing-good-dialogue.html
  11. Stephen Parolini. “How to Write Good Dialogue:” http://www.noveldoctor.com/2011/05/04/how-to-write-good-dialogue/
  12. Taylor Holmes. “Top 10 Best Dialogue Movies:” http://taylorholmes.com/2011/03/09/top-10-best-dialogue-movies/
  13. Tom Nissley. Ephemeral Firmament blog. “Good Talking in Books:” http://ephemeralfirmament.typepad.com/ephemeral-firmament/2011/06/fortnightly-firmament-4-good-talking-in-books.html
  14. Tsh. “10 Great Authors in Children’s Literature.” http://simplemom.net/10-great-authors-in-childrens-literature/
  15. William H. Coles. “Essays-Dialogue” http://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/essays-on-writing/dialogue/
  16. William H. Coles. “Literary Fiction Workshop.”  http://literaryfictionworkshop.com/
  17. Dr. Stan Steiner. “Dr. Stan Steiner’s Suggested Children’s books” http://idahoptv.org/dialogue/booklistSteiner.cfm
  18. New York Public Library. “100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know:” http://kids.nypl.org/reading/recommended2.cfm?ListID=61


Pretend you are an editor or agent. Try these pitch exercises – one click.
9 questions page 1; 1 question page 2; answers on page 3.

Pitch Exercise #1 Books and Movies – Mixed Genres:

Pitch Exercise #2 Books and Movies – Romance:

Thank you for reading my blog. Please feel free to ask questions and/or leave comments. Click on comment and scroll down to the bottom of the page.


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards


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Backstory: In Description, Dialogue, and Flashback

“Backstory: In Description, Dialogue, and Flashback” by Joan Y. Edwards.

When I did a workshop at the Muse Conference, participants wanted information about backstory and flashbacks in particular. I did a little research then. I did a bunch of research afterwards. I told the participants that I would write a blog post about them. I started to do two separate articles. However, they are all part of backstory. So here you are, as requested. My opinions and my research about backstory.

I’m going to tell you the fun part at the beginning. If you would like to copy and paste a sample Backstory in description or dialogue from your work in progress or a Flashback in a scene with your story’s dialogue and narration. Go for it. I’ll give you my feedback. Other readers are welcome to give their feedback, too.

If you find an excerpt from a book that you think is a good example, please post it in the comment section, too.


Backstory is all of the experiences of a character or the circumstances of events that took place before the action on page one of your book. If you make a timeline, in chronological order,  all of the backstory occurs before page one of your novel.

You want to drop it in your story at the right place to help move the plot along to its climax. Too much backstory leads to boredom. There’s no tension in the backstory…it’s finished and over with. Your story, however, is still going on. The reader doesn’t know the outcome of it yet. You want the backstory you insert to add more questions than it answers. You want it to add tension to your story.

When you wrote your novel, you included backstory information. This information was essential to help you,the writer, get the story down on paper. Not all back story information is necessary for the reader to understand the character’s present situation. So, when you revise your story, you want to delete unnecessary backstory information.If the reader doesn’t need to know it, cut it out and save it in a backstory folder. You can reactivate it later, if necessary. A reader might not need to know that Harry was in the armed services until he practices that special Green Beret’s  hold for his fight in Chapter 11.

There are three ways you can put backstory into your novel: in Description, Dialogue, and Flashback (narrated with flashback scene, inserted exactly as it happened).

  1. Description (sneak the facts in here and there)
  2. Dialogue (have characters mention the backstory facts; make it smooth)
  3. Flashback (narration with flashback scene, exactly as it happened)

 Backstory in Description and Dialogue

In description of main character’s body or objects in the setting or in dialogue, needed backstory can be added in bits and pieces. Perhaps three sentences at one time or a short  paragraph at a time. Alicia Rasley says, “The purpose of backstory is to show how the past affects this character in the present.” Jason Black says, “Long passages of backstory interrupt the action. They kill the pacing. They bring the story to a dead stop.”  Your  backstory should explain the prior dangers, deaths, and losses that left your main character wounded emotionally.

Here’s a scene I made up to show emotions. It also has backstory in it in narrative description. Read it and tell me what you think.

Jake thought as he looked at the men pawing the waitress. “How can they do that?” His heart pounded inside his chest. He remembered his sister talking to him about the man who raped her. She said, “No one tried to stop him.”

Jake immediately left the bar stool. He stood in front of Preston Richards. “Take your two men and leave. Don’t ever come back.”

“You and whose army is going to make me leave,” Preston said as he blew smoke from his cigar into Jake’s face.

Jake’s three bouncers approached. They were six foot five and weighed 300 pounds. Their muscles were larger than Preston’s whole face.

Preston said, “Okay. We’re leaving. But, we’ll be back to get her later. You can count on it.”

In the above narration, I added backstory to the description of Jake. It was only two sentences. Did it add or detract from the story?

Suppose I went on and on about his sister and how she was in counseling, etc. It would have taken from the present scene. However, I only put enough to add fuel to the fire. It left questions for the reader, “How is his sister? Did she get pregnant by the rape? Is Jake going to get rid of these guys? How? No one helped his sister, was Jake going to be able to protect this girl in his bar? For now? What about later?

Resources that tell you about backstory

 as used in description or dialogue:

a. Alicia Rasley. “Top Ten Plot Problems, Problem 1: Backstory” http://www.sff.net/people/alicia/prob1.htm (Examples of backstory in description)

b. Alicia Rasley. “Coherence in Backstory:” http://edittorrent.blogspot.com/2010/08/coherence-in-backstory.html

c. Jason Black, Book Doctor. “Six tips for using backstory to create compelling characters:” http://www.plottopunctuation.com/blog/show/24 (Gives you ideas on how to create backstory and make your characters compelling.)

d. Jason Black, Book Doctor. “Warning: Rookie Backstory Mistake Shown to Cause Rejection Letters:” http://www.plottopunctuation.com/blog/show/warning-rookie-backstory-mistake-shown-to-cause-rejection-letters

e. Kimberly Appelcline. “Backstory:” http://www.skotos.net/articles/Backstory.html

f. Orson Scott Card (1988). “Character & Viewpoint,” p. 113. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books. ISBN 0-89879-307-6.

g. Rebecca LuElla Miller. “Ins and Outs of Backstory, Part 1:” http://rewriterewordrework.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/ins-and-outs-of-backstory-part-1/

h. Rebecca LuElla Miller. “Ins and Outs of Backstory, Part 2:”


i. Rebecca LuElla Miller. “The Ins and Outs of Backstory, Part 3:” http://rewriterewordrework.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/the-ins-and-outs-of-backstory-part-3/

j. Wikipedia.org. “Back-story:” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back-story#cite_note-0

 Backstory as Flashback narrated in

 a scene with dialogue just as it  happened.

A whole episode or scene of backstory inside a story. Usually, a flashback interrupts the main narrative with a whole episode or scene of backstory to relate an incident or series of events that happened earlier in the hero’s life.

To use or not to use a flashback; that is the question. Debatable. Some say use it. Others say don’t.

I’ve never written a manuscript with it. I’ve seen movies use it. I’ve read one or two of the picture books mentioned below that use it. If used improperly, it takes me out of the story. It may not work that way for everyone.

Read, study, and practice the flashback techniques found in the resources below. If you use a flashback, make it a well-written, effective one that enhances your manuscript not one that distracts from your story or stops it dead in its tracks.

Wiki answers gives the following example of a flashback: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_an_example_of_flashback

For example, in Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon (first published in 1940) the hero, Rubashov, spends hours in his prison cell thinking about his own past and reliving it, so to speak.

Films that use flashback:

a. David M. Evans and Robert Gunter. Text for Screenplay for Movie: The Sandlot http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Sandlot-Kids,-The.html

b. Scott Frank. Text for the Screenplay for the Movie: The Lookout. http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/The-Lookout.pdf

c. Orson Welles‘s film Citizen Kane (1941).

Stories that use Flashback

a. Emily Brontë‘s Wuthering Heights, the housekeeper Ellen narrates the main story to overnight visitor Mr. Lockwood, who has witnessed Heathcliff’s frantic pursuit of what is apparently a ghost.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Apples

b. (text) Andrew Lang. “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad The Sailor.”an Arabian Nights tale http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/lang1k1/tale15.htm

c. Andrew Lang. “The Three Apples“, an Arabian Nights tale. The story begins with the discovery of a young woman’s dead body. After the murderer later reveals himself, he narrates his reasons for the murder as a flashback of events leading up to the discovery of her dead body at the beginning of the story

d. (text) William Faulkner. “A Rose for Emily.”

Picture Books that use Flashback

a. Barbara Cooney Miss Rumphius: http://www.amazon.com/Miss-Rumphius-Barbara-Cooney/dp/0140505393

b. Bonnie Pryor. The House on Maple Street: http://www.amazon.com/House-Maple-Street-Bonnie-Pryor/dp/0688120318

c. Byrd Baylor. One Small Bead: http://www.amazon.com/Small-Blue-Bead-Byrd-Baylor/dp/0684193345

d. David Macaulay. Why the Chicken Crossed the Road: http://www.amazon.com/Chicken-Crossed-Road-David-Macaulay/dp/0395442419

e.  Deborah Grate Frinks. Blinded by Colors: http://www.amazon.com/Blinded-Colors-Deborah-Grate-Fink/dp/1413794637

f.  Judi Kurjian. In My Own Backyard: http://www.amazon.com/My-Own-Backyard-Judi-Kurjian/dp/0881064440

g. Jon Scieszka. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs: http://www.amazon.com/True-Story-Three-Little-Pigs/dp/0140544518. Hear it read aloud: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcsUfYBHhm4&feature=related

h. Patricia Polacco. Pink and Say: http://www.amazon.com/Pink-Say-Patricia-Polacco/dp/0399226710

 Resources  about Flashback

a. Bardicblogger. “Using Flashbacks.” http://bardicblogger.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/writing-tip-using-flashbacks/

b. Brook Monfort “Using Flashbacks in Storytelling – Fiction & Film.” http://brookemonfort.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/using-flashbacks-in-storytelling-fiction-film/

c. Pearl Luke “Flashback:” http://www.be-a-better-writer.com/flashback.html

d. Darcy Pattison. “Scene 18: Special Scenes: Flashback Scenes: Dos and Don’ts.” http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/scene-18-special-scenes-flashback-scenes-dos-and-donts/

e. Darcy Pattison. “Backstory’s Emotional Weight:” http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/backstorys-emotional-weight 

f. Deborah Grate Frink. “Flashback:” http://deborah-grate-frink.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/flashback.pdf

g. Elaine Radford, Scriptologist.com. “Flashbacks:” http://www.scriptologist.com/Magazine/Formatting/Flashbacks/flashbacks.html

h. FreeDictionary.com. “Flashback:”  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/flashback.

i. Kim’sKorner4TeacherTalk.com. “Flashback:”

j. Proteacher.net. Discussions, “Flashback Picture Books:” http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?t=74603g.

k. Sandy Tritt “Flashbacks and Foreshadowing: http://users.wirefire.com/tritt/tip11.html

l. Syd Field. “The Use of Flashbacks.” http://www.writersstore.com/the-use-of-flashbacks

m. Wiki.Answers.com. “What is an example of flashback?http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_an_example_of_flashback#ixzz1awPR4y00

n. Wikipedia.org. Wiki. “Flashback (narrative)” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashback_(narrative)

Resources to Help You

 Revise Your Manuscript

a. Claire Kehrwald Cook. Line by Line. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0395393914

b. Dwight V. Swain. Techniques of the Selling Writer: http://www.amazon.com/Techniques-Selling-Writer-Dwight-Swain/dp/0806111917

c. Elizabeth Lyon. Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0399533958


Never Give Up

Please check out my books:
Flip Flap Floodle, Will this little duck’s song save him from Mr. Fox?
Joan’s Elder Care Guide A guide to help caregivers and elders never give up

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2011-2018 Joan Y. Edwards


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James N. Frey Books to Improve Your Writing

Dear Readers,

Put these four books at the top of your reading list. They will empower you towards your goal of publication. They are a writer’s private writing course.

I highly recommend them.

…Joan Y. Edwards

Below are my reviews of these four books.

How to Write a Damn Good Novel (1987) by James N. Frey

James N. Frey explains in an easy to read and comprehend voice. It’s easy to learn the writing process with his book. He asks, “What are you trying to prove about human nature?” He explains Egri’s theory that a premise is character, conflict, and conclusion. He explains how to choose the right viewpoint for telling your story. He tells when to use flashbacks and when to leave them out. He gives several ways to gain benefits from a critique group. He shows you with examples of premise and dialogue using popular stories and movies. He also shows you by making up a character or story right before your eyes.

How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II (1994) by James N. Frey

In this one, Frey says about criticism: “Your ego is filleted right before your eyes.” He says that writing groups give you feedback to make your manuscript more powerful and effective. If you hang in there, you will learn to cope. With your premise, you are saying to your readers, given these characters and this situation, human nature is such that it will end up this way. The ruling passion of a character determines what the character will do when faced with the dilemmas he or she must overcome in the course of the story. What is it he wants more than anything else in the world. In a novel, he tells us that something bad is going to happen, usually at an appointed time and the characters must stop it from happening and that ain’t easy. He says to put sympathetic characters into menace, and light the fuse. Makes your readers worry and wonder about them. He tells you seven deadly mistakes writers make. He advises writers to write what they have a passion for, what they really care about deeply He has examples of stepsheets containing the action and consequences from the beginning to the end of a story:

The Opening Situation
The Inciting Incident
First Complication
Second complication
Third Complication
Fourth Complication
Fifth Complication (Add as many complications as you need for your novel)
The Climax (The Climactic Confrontation)
The Resolution

When you do similar exercises with your own manuscript, Frey’s advice will lead you to a better, stronger story…One that will lead you closer to publication.

How to Write a Damn Good Mystery (2004) by James N. Frey

Frey’s explanation of detective stories, how to use hero myths to help make your story complete.

You can use it to help you critique your own mystery novel and put it on course to success using his  expertise and knowledge.

Frey explains how to use a five-act design for a good mystery.

1. Accepts mission
2. Tested and changed, dies and is reborn
3. Tested again and finally success
4. Traps the Murderer
5. Resolution, tells how events of story impact major characters

He explains how to choose the right viewpoint for telling your story. He shows you how to use plotting in stepsheets. He give you hints on how to find a good agent or editor for your manuscript.

The Key: How to Write a Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth (2000)

by James N. Frey

Frey takes you step-by-step showing you how to write a novel using the monomyth steps of the hero. He actually writes a novel within this book. Starts with the premise, theme, pitch sentence, theme sentence, biography of characters, stepsheets showing the actions and consequences, and resolution. It’s very beneficial for writers because he tells you what’s going through his head, you see the words on the page, you can write your own as he is showing you how with his examples. He compares writers to the heroes who actually go through the same steps as a hero on his journey.

A Hero’s Journey

Call to Adventure
Supernatural Aid
Threshold Guardian-tells them not to go, it’s dangerous
Challenges and Temptations
Abyss: Death and Rebirth
Gift, Prize for the Return

Here is a Wikipedia article explaining the Monomyth – The Hero’s Journey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth. Here is a chart from Wikipedia showing the hero’s journey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heroesjourney.svg

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope that you’ll read one or all of these books for yourself. I want you to see how clearly and simply James N. Frey explains what to put in your novels and the order in which to write it.  This will help you get to the top of your favorite publisher’s list.  I appreciate his allowing me to review his books on my blog.

To those of you who are reading this. Thank you. I am honored. Good luck in publishing your work.  For more encouragement to submit your work, read Linda Andersen Is Proof That PubSub3rdFri Works. Let me know if Pub Sub 3rd Fri helps you get published. I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share a link to my blog with others.

Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards