Friday, 24 February 2017

What Is Realistic Dialogue?

What is realistic dialogue? That's hard to say as to be brutally honest it's a very subjective notion. What I think is realistic dialogue may not be what the next person thinks it is.

The most obvious starting points are accents and slang. Should the writer attempt to introduce these two verbal notions into dialogue? Most of the advice given to me is 'no'. Accents and slang put the reader off because they require deciphering, can date the story, and can be done extremely badly. Using accents and slang can add realism but can also marginalise your audience. Writers tend to want to reach the widest audience they possibly can and to do that communication needs to be clear.
The other argument is that dialogue has to be true to the character. You can't have an eleven year old boy talking like an elderly grandfather about philosophy or a Queen gossiping like a public house landlady. The character dictates the dialogue in the same way character dictates behaviour. I think as long as the writer follows that rule then there shouldn't be an issue of the dialogue being unrealistic.

I've also been given the advice that the more you listen to people the more you can pick out exactly how they speak. A man will speak one way, a woman another, a child another, a drug addict another, etc etc. This is assuming that this dialogue is unique to 'types' of people and can be recognisably reproduced ie stereotypical utterances by stereotypical people. This theory seems suspect to me. Stereotypes are not real people in all their nuanced glory so how can stereotypical dialogue be realistic dialogue?

To a certain extent listening to people allows a taste, a flavour of how dialogue works and adding that flavour makes dialogue better. But dialogue is constructed around a story, it is essentially artificial, an imagined reaction to an imagined situation. You can't sample that off the street, you have to make it up. A writer has to measure their own reaction and subvert it into their character's reaction and translate that into dialogue.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Magic Formula

When you start out writing you are inevitably looking for recognition and success. Then, when you receive rejection after rejection you ask the inevitable questions: Why? What is wrong with my writing? How do I get better?

As a consequence you stop reading books as a reader, enjoying the story for itself, and you start pulling apart the internal mechanics. How are pronouns used - How much description is enough description - How much character development is enough - How is the pacing - How is the story following the rules of the genre.

I could go on, but the basic result is a list of things to do and things not to do. It is a list that is ultimately crippling to the writer, creating creative paralysis.

The problem is there are so many people out there that will tell you how to write. It's like the formula for a successful novel can be disseminated and replicated easily. A formula that will aĺlow the churning out of book after book, all the same, all exactly what the given audience requires.

How can I say how unsatisfying this is? I can't start reading a book without seeing the man behind the curtain anymore. It takes something really amazing and unique to keep my attention, otherwise I can almost see that checklist being ticked off.

I know we all write to a formula, we kind of have to, it's called structure. But I believe it should be a formula of our own devising rather than one dictated to us as a requirement for success and recognition. Anyone can write a generic novel, only you can write your novel. That does and does not mean 'anything goes'. There still needs to be structure, order rather than chaos, but that order can be comprised of your own design. It can be everything you want it to be rather than everything someone else tells you it should be.

There is no surefire way to success. There is no magic formula, and writing a book that way will not satisfy you. The marketplace requires variety above all else. Please yourself and sometimes that will please others too. Try to please others and you may please no one, not even yourself.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

***ANNOUNCEMENT*** New Chapter of 'Hunter No More' Released to Wattpad Every Thursday

I recently decided to serialise my second novel 'Hunter No More' on Wattpad. I've heard a lot about Wattpad and wanted to experiment with reaching a new audience. We will see how it goes, but I'm hopeful the cliffhanger endings in each chapter will encourage readers to come back each week and find out what happens next. This doesn't mean the novel is unavailable on amazon, simply that I've taken it off KDP for the time being.

Reviews For 'Hunter No More'

Below: A reminder of what 'Hunter No More' is all about and why you should look it up on wattpad.


The Hunter Class Spacecraft designated 'The Amberjack' disappeared during a routine mission to Seek, Locate and Destroy the enemy Machine Mind contingent known as ‘The Ochre’.

Conclusion: It was either destroyed by the Ochre or went rogue for reasons unknown. If sighted, approach with extreme caution.

On the planet Borealis, a violent revolution forces Samantha Marriot and her parents to flee their home for the relative safety of ‘The Rainbow Islands’. Once there, Sam discovers a secret her father has been keeping from her all her life, a secret that will change everything. Meanwhile, The Machine Mind Hierarchy of Earth dispatches a ship to rid themselves of the planet’s troublesome human population.

The only hope of a defence lies with a damaged binary Hunter unit that has long since abandoned both its programming and weaponry. In order for the unit to succeed it must call upon the aid of an ancient enemy, and prove, once and for all, it is a Hunter no more.