Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dialog Tips, Part II/Contest/Call for Submissions

Dialog is one of the most difficult aspects of writing to do well. Here are more tips on writing interesting dialog.

Listen to how people talk. Some people phrase words in more interesting ways than others. If you hear a different turn of phrase, write it down so you won’t forget it. You just might develop a character who could utter those exact words.

Alfred Hitchcock said that a good story was "life, with the dull parts taken out." Dialog is the same. In real life we stammer and repeat during conversations. Dialog should represent how we talk but get to the nitty-gritty with an economy of words.

Break up dialog with action.

“Are you staying the night?” Jody asked and he pulled out a chair.
Anne pulled her coat around her and stepped toward the door. “Probably not,” she said.

This type of narrative with dialog is useful in long passages and it makes the character appear real.

Sometime dialog tags are not needed if the characters can be identified by their words.

“You never listen,” Brad said.

Joan stared straight ahead. “I always listen.”



When in doubt, consider the two purposes dialog serves: promote the plot and develop the characters.

Contest for Adult Writers:

Zocalo Public Square Poetry Prize is awarded annually to the U.S. poet whose poem best evokes a connection to place. ‘Place’ may be interpreted by the poet as a place of historical, cultural, political or personal importance; it may be a literal, imaginary or metaphorical landscape. We are looking for one poem that offers our readers a fresh, original and meaningful take on the topic. Like everything else we feature, we will most be on the lookout for that rare combination of brilliance and clarity, excellence and accessibility. The winning poet, as judged by Zocalo Poetry Editor Stephanie Brown, will receive $1,000.” NB: “The winning poem becomes the property of Zocalo Public Square.”
Details at
Submissions: September 5-November 5, 2011

Call for Submissions for Student Writers:

FRODO'S NOTEBOOK actively seeks four types of submissions from teens.

1. Poetry. We prefer poems of under 36 lines. Address to poetry
editor Julia Shields and send in the body of an email to

2. Creative/Personal Essays. Creative nonfiction, narrative-
driving and reflective; not journalism or opinion. Address to
editor in chief Daniel Klotz and send as a .doc (Word), .rtf,
or .txt attachment to

3. Fiction. Almost exclusively short-short stories of under
1,200 words. We mostly want “literary” fiction, but send us
your fantasy or sci-fi if it’s really good and not fan fic.
Address to fiction editor Timothy Rezendes and send to

4. Articles. Reviews of current books, movies, and art, as
well as cultural critique, op-ed, and original journalistic
reportage, as long as it has a literary/artistic subject or
slant. Usually under 1,200 words. Send a writing sample or
two to editor at large Ben Carr at

Details at

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