Releasing your inner dragon

Writing dialogue: The mistakes every writer makes at least once!

February 22, 2024 Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake Season 4 Episode 6
Writing dialogue: The mistakes every writer makes at least once!
Releasing your inner dragon
More Info
Releasing your inner dragon
Writing dialogue: The mistakes every writer makes at least once!
Feb 22, 2024 Season 4 Episode 6
Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake

Send us a Text Message.

Join Drake and Marie in a dialogue... on dialogue! They discuss the mistakes writers make and how to fix  them.

Writer's room (50% off for lifetime membership):

Membership for Just In Time Worlds:

Give us feedback at releasingyourinnerdragon(at)gmail(dot)com


Drake's Contact Details:
Starving Writer Studio:
Drake-U:  - Use RYID25 for 25% off!
Writer's Room:

Marie's contact details:
Just In Time Worlds:

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Join Drake and Marie in a dialogue... on dialogue! They discuss the mistakes writers make and how to fix  them.

Writer's room (50% off for lifetime membership):

Membership for Just In Time Worlds:

Give us feedback at releasingyourinnerdragon(at)gmail(dot)com


Drake's Contact Details:
Starving Writer Studio:
Drake-U:  - Use RYID25 for 25% off!
Writer's Room:

Marie's contact details:
Just In Time Worlds:

one I want to see.

Does the dialog.

By itself, does the reader understand what just happened if they just read the dialog?

Because if they.

Do, then the narration is just going to strengthen that. But too it allows me to line by line by line at each piece of dialog and go.

Does that dialog.

The way it's written? Does it show how it said.

Without me.

Adding anything to it? Because You're not going to. The thing is, it's just like being a showy writer. You know somebody last night when we read my stuff, they were like, Hey, that line is a tell. I'm like, Yes, it is. But look at everything around. It like you're never going to write every single line of show. That's impossible.

Plus you'll just be as bloated manuscript that no one would want to read. It would be.


Telling is, you know, needed. You need that tell in there. So it's the same thing with dialog. You're never going to write. Every single piece of dialog is going to be.


Morning. I'm going to, you know, fillet whatever. However you want to look at every line and see if it can be because the ones that can be, if you miss them, are just missed opportunities to making just that much better.

Releasing your inner dragon.

so before we get in a discussion about what dialog is, what do you think dialog is not?

Dialog is not the way we talk to each other. It is not two characters having a conversation. Your characters are not real. They are not talking to each other. You, the author, are writing some dialog that needs to do stuff for your story. The reader is not there to consume the way two characters talk to each other.

Or at least what their, you know, the fact that they're having a conversation.


And, you know, that is definitely something that I've preached for years and years and years. This dialog is there for the reader. It's not there for one character to give information to another character because.

They're not real. They don't exist. They're there for the reader.

They're there for the readers. Consumption and pleasure and emotional fulfillment and understanding of what's going on. That's it. And so and the reason why I think.

We both really.

Push this is I think that's a mentality that separates.

Really good.

Storytellers from meh storytellers, because there's so many storytellers out there that are like, no, I write, I write. For me, it's my pleasure. I only care about me and I love my characters. And so I'm going to, you know, cater to my characters.

And I just don't think.

They have the impact. As somebody who's like, no, these characters are here to please the reader. Like, it's the reader that has everything.

I also think it's particularly important in Dialogue's case because the way we talk to each other as human beings is very different from how you want to write dialog in a book. Because the way we you take this podcast, we have a million sentences that don't end properly like the one I just did. You see that that sentence didn't end.

Right. I have run on sentences. You know, we talk to each other in these massive, long, convoluted sentences. That comes back to an eventual point to remember when I say that we don't write this way. And the reason we don't write this way in dialog is because we don't read this way. When you hear somebody talk like this, it's fine because we listen in this sort of disjointed way and we absorb that information.

But when you write, when you read something, you're reading it with sense in mind. Your brain wants to make sense out of what your reading. And when you have this long, convoluted sentence that only gets back to the point in like five lines down, you're going to sit there and try and parse out exactly what it means as the reader.

And that will slow down your reading and it will massively impact the enjoyment of the book. Yes. So and that's why I feel it's also important to say that dialog is not the way we talk to each other.

It's also.

I think, even deeper than that.

Because we don't even notice when.

We're listening to somebody.

Talk foibles.

Whereas when we read and the reason why I started typing is and I thought I kept it, but I'm not finding it on my computer. So one of my favorite shows and I've said this before is my name is Earl. It's just brilliantly written white trash people, trailer park people that just have horrible lives. And I'm I grew up there.

So, you know, it's it's it's attractive to me to go back and wallow in the funniness of that.

And I wish I could.

Pull it up. But there's this line that the the younger brother, Randy, says, and I literally.

Stopped the.

Show, rewound it, watch the scene again, rewound it, watch the scene again, and then wrote it.


Because verbally.


Brilliant. And a TV show having him say, this line is brilliant.

But I was showing.

People and I don't know what I did with it, but I was showing people and, you know, my students, the stuff.

I have the line. If you want it.

Do you? Did I send it to you?

You, you sent it to me on Discord and I've just found it so awesome. The line is Randy said, Are you going to tell her she's alive? She thinks he's dead, but he's. But he's not. He's not dead. He's living. He's alive. He's not dead like she thinks he is. The old man said, Did you know? Did you know the lost war almost didn't happen.

I'm not sure what that connection is, but. But the Randy line is. Are you going to tell her she's alive? She thinks he's dead, but he's not. He's not dead. He's living. He's alive. He's not dead like she thinks he is.

Yeah. So, like, when he said it.

It's brilliant because, like.


Freaking out over the fact that his mind, he's just learned somebody is alive that is supposed to be dead. And it means something, because it's like, I'm pretty sure it was a guy who faked his death to get away from his wife. I remember this the the thing. And so Randy's now kind of putting that together because he's not the sharpest of tools.

And he's like, but she's he's not dead and she doesn't know. And like, are you going to tell? We have to tell her, right?

I mean, she's not you know, he's not dead and she thinks he's dead. If you read that when you read that on paper, it's annoying as crap. It's terrible. But when you hear it.

It's like, that's funny. He's freaking out over this one thing that's kind of really funny. And that was I'm. I want I want you to send me that or I need to look it up on Discord or whatever. But that's a great example of what you can get away with in a.


Or in real life.

Versus You can't do that in pros. You can't. It's impossible. No one will read it correctly because it this is what we talk.

About a lot. You know, I always say that only about 60 to 70% of conversation.

Is the contains.

The information that you're delivering to the listener. The other 30, 35% is inflection, facial features, body language. And like, you know, for you guys, listen just on the podcast, you're still getting a lot of information from just how we say things and how we stress things and and just the tonal way we are discussing and having conversations. There's a huge amount of information that readers gain or listeners gain from that information.

That doesn't exist. It it sort of exists.

And I talk about this all the time about.


You don't want to punctuate 100% grammatically correct. What you're really trying to do is punctuate.

To force the reader to.

Try and read it in the way you want it read, which is why I like you, italicize a certain word in a sentence that you're because you're hoping that they will. You know, like.

If I wrote if I.

Wrote the line that I just said, you know, there is a huge impact on how things are said, I would italicize.

Huge hoping.

That the reader would read.

It. There is a huge.

Impact on because that's the way I say it. And so these are tricks now, it doesn't obviously it's not 100%. It's never going to. Some people are just going to read. There's a huge impact on the way people are like because that's just the way they read. But you're hoping to use punctuation and formatting and everything like that.

You know how we divide fragment a sentences or breaking out paragraphs or or whatever, you know, em dashes and ellipses and all these different things that you're hoping that the reader will read it in the way that will have the most impact on them. Yeah, but again, if you don't think about this stuff, then you never do it.

That is, all of those things are very true.

Which is something that I pop. So in the writer's room, you know, for our weekly critique meetings, the writers read their stuff out loud. And I will. One of the things that will always, Mark, is when they read something like there's a huge impact on what it's just written there's a huge impact on, and that's when I'll always mark it and bring up, Hey, you read it with an inflection on the word huge, but there's nothing in the text.

To show me that.

I should stress that word.

So if anybody if anybody ever wonders why I don't italicized fantasy words like made up words in my pros, the reason why I don't is because I don't want the reader to read them with emphasis. Because the person who unfaltering the whole book through the point of view character would not think of those words as this is.

That's that's something that you've changed me on because I always I never I never italicize for the exact same reason. It didn't read right to me because I'm trying to train the reader that when I italicize a word, it means one of two things. It's either inner monologue, which I write in a specific way. So you should know that it's in a monologue or it's a word that I want you to stress as you read it.

So if I was to write, you know, you know the essence in italics, it doesn't read. So I've never done that. But the one thing you have changed me on is and I still do it way more than you would probably be happy with, But I do capitalized special words and I'm trying. I'm actually like I have one of my edits now and going through and preparing the first book for release here in July of the Genesis saga, The rewrite is I am consciously capitalizing certain words now.

Some I'm still not like I'm still.


There is nothing wrong with leaving some things in capitals. Like I capitalized gods, I capitalized the Emperor's title, you know, things like that. But there's things which to my mind, the point of view character would capitalize, right?


So like the essence, I still capitalize essence. I still capitalize shapers. And I think the biggest reason why my biggest justification for that is it's a common word. Yeah, but it's an uncommon word in this world.

Yes. The other.

Thing that people would take me on is I absolutely 100% capitalize human and it's because.


Acutally have races. So there are other races and those get capitalized.

I don't capitalize elf if I ever have like not I don't care to go the other way.

That's the other way. And I'm fine. I'm fine either way. What pisses me off.

Is when they lowercase human and capitalize elf and dwarf and it's like.

One or the other, you either capitalize everything or you don’t capitalize it.

Right. So I just chose getting.

We are getting off track before we return to dialog, if you want to connect with us on Discord, having just spoken of discord, there is a link to our Discord server. We have one now where you can connect with us, but.

Just to.

Expand it, it's absolutely.


Yeah, we do it. It is connected to us at all times now. I ignore it when I'm busy, but the nice thing is, is it's a way to drop a message to one of us and or to both of us, and eventually we're going to get to it and and chat and communicate. And sometimes when I'm bored, you know, at 9:00 at night, I'll literally just start having a conversation with people.

So if it is something that you're interested in, definitely join our Discord server. It's it's completely free for everybody just to have a way to connect with us on a regular basis 100%.

And so we've spoken extensively about what dialog is, what to your mind is dialog, and what should it do to be good dialog.

So I think dialog.

Needs to accomplish five main.

Points because, you know.

One of the things that I say in my teaching when I'm teaching dialog is I say if you write dialog the way people are talking, you're literally losing 30 to 35% of everything. You mean it's just like we said, 30, 35% comes from inflection and body language and facial features, which we don't have in pros. So that's.


Basically writing a novel where you're pulling 30% of all words out randomly and just not giving it to the reader. So you do have to be very focused on your dialog and it does have to read. You don't want it to read like narration. Like narrative is narrative, and dialog needs to feel like dialog.

It's sort of like The Wizard of Oz.

You know, the audience sees it as this big screaming, flaming head, but really just some nerdy dude behind the curtains pulling cords.

So really dialogue. So it's a twofold. It has to feel like normal conversation, but it has to accomplish at least.

These five things. It needs to.

Grow not only the.

The P.O.V. character, but also your secondary and tertiary characters.

Your secondary, tertiary characters.

The only thing that the reader will ever get about them is what they say and what they do.

So what they say is half of your character.

Development for your secondary and tertiary characters, because we're never inside their heads. We're only inside the narrator's head.

So we have.

An internal thing for the narrator, which.

Is awesome. But for everyone else.

What they say and what they did. Did you want to add something to that?

No, Just also what they don't say is sometimes equally important.

Very good and subtext and all of that stuff, which gets much more esoteric and more difficult to pull off. But yes, it's very, very important to to hone those skills.

But it also we.

Are telling a story, so it needs to both move the.

Plot and.

Move the story. And the reason why separate those is the story is the events. It's the physical thing. We're going to start off on a desert planet. We're going to meet an old hermit. We're going to get a magic sword. Our parents are going to get killed by the empire. We're going to go and learn how to fight the empire, and then we're going to blow up the empire as big, you know, battle station.

That's the story. But that's not the plot. So the plot.

Also needs to be moved because the plot is underneath the story. It's that invisible layer that we talk about. So it needs to do both.

so those are the two main things. I mean, it has to move the story, move the plot.

But it also has.

To. How did you phrase it before this about the character?

It has to show the culture.

Well no you.

Said that, but I was talking about the character. We’ll get to the culture in a second.

It has to show the character. It has to embed the characters mannerisms.

Actually, the way you put it, I really like you said, it has to do something like and correct me.

it has to solidify the character image.

in in the reader's mind.

Yeah, in the reader's mind, something like that. Yeah. So the point is that characters have distinct ways of talking and they have unique expressions, you know, that relate to to them and the culture that they come from and so on.

Well, and it also.

Where I thought you were going with that and again in the beginning before the podcast, we bullet point everything. So we're shorthand in each other. So maybe I was reading more into this, but, but it's so Randy, since we already use that piece of dialog. Randy is an idiot.

But he's got this golden heart. And so.

The way he talks like that, the.

Thing that we just read that shows he's not very socially, you know.

Capable, he's not an intelligent, you know, brainiac.

But he does he's freaking out because he feels he’s just not articulating it.


But he feels, wait, we just found out this wife, this woman's husband, who she is grieving for the last ten years, he ain’t dead He's in her apartment, shacked up with some chick. Like, that's wrong. That's morally wrong. And now we now have that information, like, what are we going to do about it? So he has no.

Way to articulate it correctly, which is why he does the whole, you know, back and forth with the thing.

And and it and yes I see what you're saying. So dialog needs to show the character's personality. It needs to the way that they speak, needs to embed the personality for the reader. So I have a character in the Samuel Chronicles herself who is very cold, very collected, and when I write her dialog, I use minimal words.

She will say minimal like the absolute minimum, very abrupt sentences, a.

Lot of subtext.

Yes, but it's very withdrawn, very held back, because that is how she is as a character, and that's how I try and write her dialog.

So my eldest.

Doesn't usually.

Read my stuff before anyone else, but for whatever reason I have a chapter that I'm working on that he actually sat down on my computer and actually read and I didn't know that because he uses my computer a lot when I'm because he's.


All night long and I've got a very, very beefy computer set up to do animation. And his is a less than that. So at night he'll just use my computer. Plus I've got five feet of monitors and all sorts of things. And so I didn't know he read this. And the other day we were talking and he's like, I actually really love this gentry character.

And I'm like, first of all, how did you read it? And he said, Yeah, you know, he's on the screen and I read it when I sat down and then I'm like, But it's a secondary character and it's the, you know, the first chapter she's ever been in.

And it's like, yeah, but just.

And it's, it's a secondary here. So you're not even in her head.

But he was able to go,

Yeah, she has this personality, she's this type of person, she does this, she thinks this. And, and I really and I'm like, all of that you're getting just from her dialog because that's it. It's just her and then also, obviously, you're getting it from how the narrating character views her. But yeah, that's how powerful dialog can be in showing the personality of that character and making because like I don't think anybody's going to read herself and go, man, this is a chick that I just love to hang out with, and she'd just be fun.

Whereas Gentry is one of those characters of like.

Man, she's, she's, she's a person.

That you want to go out partying with because she's going to find the things that are, one, going to get you in trouble. The two are going to be memorable stories later on. You're not going to say that about herself. Yeah. And again, it comes from just what they're saying and how they're saying it. And so that is another thing dialog has to do is it really has to solidify who these people are and what they are to that reader.

And then the last thing you know, and this was important to you because it's, you know, so world building, but it's the culture side of it.

So I cannot and I know that I beat the drum a lot. I cannot overemphasize this enough. Your expressions that people use in your dialog are prime real estate for culture building. It helps show what the cultures find important. It helps show where they put their emphasis. It helps you build out your religion. It helps you build out the kind of professions that are held in high regard in the society which are held in low regard.

It's amazing. And if you just just think of the word spinster, we get the word spinster from an old woman who's unmarried and supporting herself by spinning. That's where it comes from. That is that is the root origin of that word. It tells us how central spinning used to be before the automation thereof.

And now it means somebody who.


Probably a what's the word I'm looking for, not a thief, but a shyster, you know, somebody who, you know, is not telling the truth.

Yeah, sure, but. But spinster actually still means like a woman who's unmarried, you know?

Right. But I'm saying not really, because no one we don't that, that.

That yes, profession

Doesn't exist.

100%. But I mean, the point is that the the word comes from a conic tation.


Right. And I'm not please do not misunderstand me here. I am not advocating for the creation of con languages. Constructed languages, in my opinion, are an endless time sink and a waste of effort. Sorry if you're a conlang person, but I do not see the value. But if you think about your expressions in your world, your idioms, in.

Your when you say.

When you say, I want to want to chase that rabbit, you explain what you mean by conlang people.

So conlang people or people who create constructed languages as in fact languages like Elvish or Klingle.

That's what I thought you.

Meant. But I wanted to make sure that was clear because because also it's like, wait a minute, now I'm kind of doing that. It's actually not just with the accents, but especially with the camera. Ah, the silhouette and this way of speaking where everything is an allegory.

Now see, that's fine, right? That is ways cultures talk, right? conlang means literally creating the Elvish language or the Klingon language like it is.

Where you were going.

Time sync. That is not going to actually help you characterize any.

Yeah because I mean, yeah, there is a small, tiny fraction.

Of a fraction of a percent of people who.

Actually love.

Learning Elvish that Tolkien created all that because he literally created an actual speakable language. He was a linguistic professor.

But but the vast majority of yes.

Because it's written in Elvish and then in English, we just skip the Elvish because it's gibberish. And we just read the English part.

Tolkien loved languages for its own sake. He didn't create the Elvish language for the reader, right? He created it because he loves languages. And if that's why you creating the conlang, more power to you, you are going to enjoy it. But it is not actually going to help. You worldbuild.

What no one else will build are very.

Interesting. What will help you build build is to think about how the people express things like, I'm done with this discussion. Okay, so let's say that that is the thing that you want an expression for. Think of the difference it makes in expressing the culture. On the one hand, you can say, I wash my hands of this discussion.

There's an immediate sense that this culture has enough water available to wash their hands, right? Versus I dust this discussion off my feet. The senses. This is a drier culture that lives in a drier environment with sand is a thing that's more and just with those word choices, you have distinctified the two people who come from different cultures.

Yeah, and I did not really understand the power of this. And still until I started creating this allegorical language for the solutions where everything is an allegory from some nautical thing. I mean, even like, you know, just to go what you were saying, this one guy's prying into this other guy's business and it's obvious that the other guy does not want to go down there.

And so finally the guy says, I'll troll those waters no longer because.


It does this amazing thing that, you know, in all of Act one, we're never really around anything ocean or sea or we're in a port city or whatever, but we're never actually amongst fishermen. And yet because there are these silhouetted characters.

You literally can't.

Not see them.

As a sailors. They, they just because everything they say has something to do with the sea. And then you have to kind of discern.

You have to figure out what they meant because they never they don't say one single thing in.


Yeah, they say everything as an allegory and you have to go, you know, And that's one of the things that I'm really paying attention to. So like when he says, I'll travel those waters no longer in the context of the conversation, you're like, he's not going to pry. You're never even going to flinch over that. You're not going to slow down.

You're going to keep reading. You know what it means. And so that's the trick is to make sure that I'm not creating Elvish, that you're not going to know what the hell I'm talking about. Then I'm going to say something and you're going to go, okay, yeah, I know this 100%. I know what that means without having to actually think about it.

And that's harder than you would think it is.

And I like we will go through some examples of dialog from our own writing in the next episode, because before we get to examples of what good dialog is, we need to talk about the ground rules for creating dialog. So we'll be doing that in the rest of this episode. And then if you want to be part of our discussion of, of dialog and what we were trying to achieve with dialog and so on, hit the subscribe button and the Bell Bell icon so you get notified of the next one.


And before we continue, while, while we have you, we are looking for first pages to do an episode where we read those first pages of a novel and we say whether if we were publishers, which we're obviously not, but if we were publishers, we say whether we would publish it or not based just on that first page and why not?

So we'd say we would stop reading and why we stopped reading there we're currently halfway there. We want ten of these pages before we run the episode, so we've got enough to fill an episode. So if you are feeling brave, send us your first page to releasing your inner dragon at gmail dot com.

And this is a great thing because so.

Many people forget that you, you don't look, you can't look at your own.

Writing and decide what other people are going to do. That's why you have drakes rule of 10 where you have to get ten people. They don't care about you to look at it and tell you what they feel. You try your.


To make them feel what you want, the way you hope that they feel. But then you have to test it out. You have to get people to go, yeah, no, I felt exactly what you're feeling or that's one of the reasons why I like one of the questions I asked it in every chapter for my beta readers is what was the line on the opening page that made you go, I got to keep reading.

I know what that is, or at least I know what I did to do that.

But it doesn't mean that I've succeeded.

So I need to have other people go, it was this moment or this line or whatever. And then it's like, okay, yeah, Now that's what I thought. I thought that was going to be the hook that is going to drag you through the story as opposed to, you know, you just not caring about anything. And if, you know, three of them say something different or nothing or whatever it means, I got to strengthen it up three or more because I want eight out of ten.

And so it's the same thing here. The first page read, it's going to let you see what people who are in the industry would. And again, we're not agents or publishers, but we've dealt with so many.


You know, we kind of know how they think. And so it gives you a writerly kind of look at, you know, this is where an agent's going to just say central rejection letter, it's fine, as opposed to.

And it's not necessarily you said, would it get.

Published on the first page?

I don't think at least would we continue with it.

With the with the agent or.

Publisher, continue reading because that's the goal. If you can get an agent or a publisher to continue reading after the first page.

Your chances of them actually doing something with it are amazingly better than not.

And we'll talk about that in the next episode because that's a whole rabbit chase that I can go down.


But yeah, so let's get.

Into let's get into.

Defining, you know, next episode, we'll actually go through a bunch of examples and everything like that. But let's set those ground rules and kind of go through so.

I kind of.

Think first, when you start with like punctuation and like, like how do we denote that something is a piece of dialog.

Okay, so let's let's start by talking about speech tags and how you punctuate them. But in the same way as we spoke about what dialog is, I do want to emphasize here what a speech tag is, not a speech tag is a very explicit thing that denotes speaking. It's said or whispered or asked.


Those those things are speech like smiled is not a speech that you don't smile a word. You say a word, you whisper. Would you declaim a word but you don't smile.

At a.

Speech Tag does one of two things, and it hopefully will do both if needed. It denotes who said it and how they said so. Using your example, you don't smile a word. So you know, he smiled. Doesn't is in a speech tag because you can't smile dialog. Yes it does the one thing because it says, you know maybe it's Drake smile.

So we know Drake said it, but smile makes no sense because it's not a speech tag. It doesn't it doesn't show me or tell me not show It doesn't tell me how the speech was said.

Yes. Now, if you do have a speech tag, an actual speech tag the way you punctuate your dialog is open and opening quote, the piece of dialog, comma, and then closing quote, Unless it is a question in which case it gets a question mark or use an exclamation which gets an exclamation mark, but the period is not used, it is the comma.

Then your speech tag or the first thing there after the speech that like he said, he said they say she said whatever is a small letter, it is not capitalized.

Unless it's so. If you wrote, Drake said, I would.

Say that Drake.

Capitalized. But if it said said, Drake then said would be lowercase.


And the reason for this is and I think this is a way that I've found that that makes me understand a little bit better.

When we're thinking.

Punctuation, the entire thing is one sentence.

So the dialog and the speech tag are one sentence. So we don't put a period in the middle.

Of a.

Sentence, even though technically.

That's the end of the.

The dialog.


The sentence itself is.

Going to continue on to the end of the speech tag. So that's why it's open for dialog, comma, close quote, to let the reader know that that's the dialog portion of the sentence. And then the speech tag, you know, said Drake, Drake said whatever. And then period, because it's all one sentence.

And the only time when it would be open quote, dialog, dialog, sentence, comma, quote, he said, quote, More open quote is if you're doing a truly terrible thing called splicing of the sentence, and we will get there. So we will circle back to that.

Yeah. Because that's that's.

Its own monster.

Yeah. One thing I wanted.

To add with punctuation is you can do it the other way. You can have the speech tag at the beginning.

And it basically.

Gets the same.

Thing because it's still one.

Sentence, but now we're going to go, Drake said.

Comma, comma.

Open, quote.


Because we're starting a, you know, a dialog sentence. And then that dialog goes and then the punctuation at the end period question mark, exclamation point, and then close quote. So it's still the same way, but we're going to now put that comma between the speech tag and the dialog.

And the dialog sentence gets capitalized.

And the dialog sentence does get.

Capitalized. Now why do we do it this way?

I have no idea. But this is this is how we do it.

That's the way it's done. And like I said, the easiest way.

To remember that is that it's all one sentence. The speech tag.

And the dialog.

Is one sentence. And so if you think about it like that, you'll start going, okay, So I'm going to punctuat it as one sentence. It's just that there's a little weirdness when I shift from because I have to let the reader know that we're either shifting from a speech tag in the dialog or shifting from dialog into a speech tag.

That's it. So that.

Middle part.

You know, if the tag is first, we're going to put a comma at the end of that open quote, capital for the dialog. If it's at the end, we're going to comma close quote too, to show that the dialog is ended in the we're going to lowercase and continue the sentence for the speech tag. So it's the middle part.

That's weird. But really, if you think about it as one sentence from from beginning to end, then it starts to make a little bit more sense. I think it helps people go, okay, that middle part is there now.

I guess before.

I want I want to say one more thing on speech tags before we go into like not using speech day, right? Please do not use -ly adverbs with speech tags. It it is a terrible, terrible habit and it leads to a horrifying thing called topology of speech tag where you say, I whispered softly, my guy whispering is already soft or I shouted loudly, That's what I'm going to do.

If you write that I'm a I'm a reach through here and shout loudly at you about using -ly adverbs.

So let's take a step back. So first of all, speech tags are always tells.

You know, we talk all the time about you should be a showy writer, not a telly writer.

Every single speech tag is a tell, Drake said, I'm telling you that Drake said, what you just read. There's no.

Show in.

That. So what people do. So when I teach.

Adverbs, I always say there's basically three ways to use adverbs. Two are incorrect and one is font. But the two incorrect ways are either A they are redundant, they do nothing. So what you were just talking about shouted loudly, There's no other way to shout raced quickly. There's no other way to race, you know, whisper quietly. There's an unless you're a three year old and they whisper very loudly.

And then I would might be right, He whispered loudly enough for like.

Look at that fat woman like Mommy.

He whispered loudly enough for the fat woman to hear him like, whatever, because that's embarrassing. Because if anybody had a three year old, you know, they have no control over their whispering. But the the second way is that you're strengthening you're trying to strengthen a weak verb. So when you write, you know, Drake said menacingly, Now that's not redundant, but the -ly adverb is being used because you didn't show that Drake said something menacingly.

So you have to now add this crappy -ly adverb to strengthen your inability to actually show Drake saying something menacingly. So that's what we we need to start with speech. So now I'm not saying don't use speech tags. There's only two authors that I know of that don't use speech tags at all. And that's me and the dude who wrote the rode the dude who wrote rode also doesn't use punctuation at all.

So you have no idea who says anything ever. And it's.

Horrible. I don't know how he won.

The the whatever it is, the Nobel Prize or Pulitzer Prize or whatever it is that he won for his the.

Road. But it's a terrible story And the.

Terrible written you know, the fact that he doesn't use punctuation and I know I do it correctly because no one ever mentions it. No one says, Drake doesn't use punctuation. It's terrible like they do with the road, but they also don't compliment.

Me on it. No one ever goes, my goodness, Drake doesn't use punctuation and all. That's because they don't notice it. They never see it.

Drake uses punctuation. Drake doesn't use speech tags.

Yes, I'm sorry. I use I don't use speech tags because I'm a very showy writer.

And when I learned that all all speech tags are tells I'm like, well then, I just won't use it. Here's the problem, and I really wish I hadn't planted my flag in the I'll never use a speech tag, ever.

Sometimes the.

Best way to tell the story is Drake said.

It. When you remove that from your arsenal, you lose the ability to use it. It is sometimes it's is good. Sometimes it makes you do weird linguistic gymnastics. You have to rearrange crap. You have to change in.

Ways that you didn't think that you were going to change.


Also, sometimes the dialog is strongest naked. Sometimes the dialog itself is so strong that the actions actually detract from them. And all you want is that invisible identification of who said it. So the reader doesn't get confused and you just add the.

Speech tag Drake said. Yeah. Yeah. So while I preach, stay away from.

Speech tags as much as you can because you absolutely should. It will absolutely improve your writing.

Yeah. Do not follow.


Down the path.

Of never using a speech that.

Because it.

Also does weird things. Like one of the stories that I always tell is in book three of Genesis, when the Lion Dude met his people for the first time in my head and in my plot, I had this scene because they're out in the prairie. So it's just.


It's grass for as far as you can see, and nothing else, just low kind of gentle hills and grass. Just think of, you know, the African safari, whatever. And so it was an older kith lion dude teaching a younger kith about their religion and culture because he's never been involved and he's never met one of his own people before.

And so it's this very iconic, you know, kind of scene in my head.

But when you don't use.

Speech tags, you have to use.


So instead of having this iconic moment where it's.

Just two people.

Talking about religion in a sea of grass and a setting sun, I had to play with stuff. So I eventually added that, you know, because he obviously reached down and picked up of his grass, he obviously chewed on the piece of grass. He obviously threw the piece of grass on the ground. Right. There's three things I've done. So I added a tree and I added some boulders that were near them.

And then, yeah, they brought food because there's no better way to have a long conversation play with stuff than if you're actually have tons of things that you're eating and cutting and slicing and sharing and passing and drinking and all this other stuff. So it wasn't. It's still a great scene in my, you know, in my opinion, and no one's going to read it and go, man, this should have been, you know, all this extra stuff.

It doesn't do any of that. But it's not the scene that I had originally envisioned.

And I will like. I think it is very important to try and steer clear of speech tags like as far as not all the way clear, I do not follow Drake on this. So you are 100% safe in not following Drake on this, but I do try and limit speech tags because it also gives you an opportunity to think about what's around you and to combat white Room syndrome and for those and also talking heads, but white room syndrome for those of you who are not aware, is when you don't describe what's going on around you and talking heads is what happens when you just have to heads talking at each other in a white

void and cutting down on your speech tags will give you the opportunity to remind the reader of what is around them and will cut down on the talking heads and on the white room. Yeah.

So there's there's other things you can do in there too, that we're not going to get into here. But like, you know, setting the scene and worldbuilding and character development, all this other stuff that you can use the, the showing the reader who's saying stuff. And we're going to get in that in a second. Yeah, but.

It made me go,

So my normally I do an open Q&A for anybody for free. The first Tuesday of every month from 530 to 730 Pacific Time. And if you want to to be a part of that, there's a link down below. But basically it's just forward slash Zoom, Drake, the letter U .com forward slash Zoom. And you can join the special mailing list just for the zoom.

We had some technical difficulties this month, so we didn't do it Tuesday. We're actually doing it next Tuesday. The problem is, is that these are prerecorded so this won't come.

Up to like three weeks after. So I can't say, you should join me. And I'm literally talking about that topic next Tuesday, which is going to be.

Like four Tuesdays ago.

You was, but if you would like.

To be included. Yeah. forward slash Zoom and then you can join my monthly Q&A. You can bring me questions. I always talk about something for 15, 20, 30 minutes. And then and then for the next hour and a half I just answer whatever whatever questions are thrown at me. So there is a lot you can do with them and yeah.

So they're called.

Action tags and I hate that word. And for.

Literally a couple years.

I've been trying to figure out a better way to because I thought, well, it's, it's narration or it's complete sentences or whatever. And the funny thing is, is literally.

When we were.

Both pointing this episode, I went, my goodness, I just figured.

Out what to call these. So what you're really.

Doing has action tags. The reason why I don't like action tags is because.

Sometimes they're not action, sometimes they are. But they're also.

You know, they could just be an inner monologue, you know, or, you know, an inner narration thing. They could be an emotional thing, They could be whatever. They don't have to be an action. So I've always hated the term action tag.

What we're really.


Is we're utilizing paragraph structure to show.

As opposed to a speech tag telling the reader who said what.

We're using paragraph structure to show.

The reader who said it. So just to break down paragraph, structure.

Paragraph, structure.

In pros, this is not the official grammar definition. This is the pros definition.

A paragraph is one character's dialogs.

And action in.


Moment of time. And the reason why I say one more time because it differs if you're in the moment, it could be a split second. But one paragraph could also be, you know. Drake stared out the window as as fall roled in a winter, which became spring, and then summer was there, and then it rolled in a fall.

And he found himself in winter again. Like, that's one paragraph because it's one character and one moment of time I'm just staring out the window for a year and three months. But normally when you're in a dialog scene, you're in the moment. So a paragraph structure is that one character saying, one thing that's all related, you know, one topic, and then also doing whatever you're doing in that second moment, half a split second, whatever we want to talk about.

And so what we're doing with an action tag and again, that's the official term for it, I'm trying to change it. What we're really doing is we're just using the.


Any dialog that's in this paragraph that Drake is also doing, feeling, you know, experiencing something that means that Drake said whatever is in this paragraph, because we're utilizing

Paragraph structure to show.

The reader who said, as opposed to telling them, who said, So let's talk about those. Let's talk about these. You know, again, I don't have another cute word for them, so we'll still call them action tags. But but understand, it's paragraph structure.

Is what we're.

So those are, in my opinion, because they are the things that combat white white room syndrome. They are the things that combat your your talking head talk and so on. But the one thing you need to be cautious of when using them is you need to be careful that you're not breaking up the dialog. So much that the conversation is hard to follow.

Okay, so that's one of the things you do need to be cautious of, because if you say something and then you have a paragraph worth of like action and description and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and then the dude answers the reader's like, What? What? Wait, what did he say? What is he answering? What's going on here?

Yeah, and this comes down to controlling pacing, you know, and we talk about this all the time where and there's several different aspects of this. So sometimes you might have a really long piece of dialog.

But when the reader's reading in your.

Head, you know who's saying this because you're.

Writing it. But if it's like a paragraph long before we get to.

You know, Drake let out a sigh, whatever.

I don't know whose voice.

To read this in.

For like a paragraph.

And then I get to Drake let out a side. So what we want to do and we're gonna talk about dialog splicing in a second, like we're almost there.

But we're either going to lead.

With Drake, let out a sigh quote, and here's a bunch of dialog, and then we know that Drake said it.

Or we're going to do a very small.

Truncated sentence and then what's called dialog splice. So maybe it's.

How dare you.

Period, close quote. Drake let out a sigh, open quote, long paragraph of what he means. So we have this piece of dialog because it just feels right, because sometimes it doesn't feel right to open with the the characters, you know?

Narration And the reason.

For this is the last paragraph.

So if I was to write, you know, you're a pigheaded idiot.

And then I go into this long narration and.

Then how dare you? Like, no one's going to wait that long, because believe it or not, people kind of feel, especially when you're in the moment. They are painting.

This movie in their head. And so.

As they're going through it, if if they have this long.

And we're going to talk about this in the dialog splicing as well, but if they have this long moment of pause before the next thing is.

Said, it makes no sense, even if that even if you must give the reader that piece.

Of inner, you know, inner narration, whatever, because it's if the reader doesn't understand how you're just a pig faced idiot, if, if they don't understand how that affects Drake, then they're not going to understand the reaction.

Great. But they still think like, you still think, How dare you? And then you can give me a.

Longer narration because now I've answered and then I can come back with, you know, whatever. If it feels. And again, that still is subjective because it still comes down to pacing and everything like that. So maybe, you know, in that case it's how dare you? And then a very small piece of, you know, Drake spit on the ground and then more dialog because it makes more sense to there And then the narration of the reason or whatever.

So it all.

Comes down to pacing. It all comes down to trying to figure out.

You just.

Have to. And again, we said it earlier every word is for the reader. Drake is not in that instance, in this fictitious story. Drake is not real. Drake may not be real even in the real world, but definitely not in a story. So why is Drake, you know.


Because the reader needs to be incensed. So that's what we're doing, is we're making the reader feel something.

And I mean, I splice dialog with actions or whatever, with emotions and so on to control the pace. So if I want the reader to have a pause between one sentence and another, I will put something in between and I will try and avoid the. He paused because, yeah, you can do that. But it's literally just telling the reader.

He paused. Right.

Well, let's let's define what a dialog splice is.

So that they know what because dialog splice is negative. Technically we're using the term, but we're using it in a positive way because I think there is a way to dialog.

Because it's still there's no other.

Word for it than to say dialog splice So again, that's one of those arbitrary terms. But really what dialog splicing means is when you cut in the speech tag or the narration in, you know, using the paragraph structure.

In the middle of something being said so.

But not in the middle of the sentence.

please. right And the actual middle of the book.

But, but, but you say the whole dialog you put, like the dialog ends and then you.

Don't know I'm.

Saying the bad way I'm.

Done with the bad.

the bad way.

The bad way is where you, you actually shove it in the middle of the actual like.


You know, like so a good way might be let.

Me tell you something, kid. Drake cocked one foot up on the barrel in front of him.

You just don't like that. The reader can.

Imagine that that pause and that action is.

Natural. But if it's more like, let me. Drake put his.

Foot up on the barrel, Tell you something, kid.

Like, no, like, no, he didn't stop. He didn't say.

Let me and then did something and then, you know, finish the sentence, tell you something good.

Like and that's what people that's what we call and I think.

The industry calls dialog splicing.

Yeah. And I think that comes like doing that with your dialog comes from a desire to be like, but he does the action in the middle of the sentence. It happens at the same time. I understand, but that is not what your pros conveys because pros doesn't work that way. Yeah, what it conveys is that he said half the sentence, he puts his leg up, he sees the other half of the sentence.

It reads weird. Yeah. Don't do that.

Yeah, it just it it again, we're painting a movie and the reader's imagination, they. The imagination can't paint that because the imagination is going to pause while Drake does.

They're going to pause the dialog while Drake does the motion and then pick back up the dialog. And the imagination is like that. That's not how reality works.

I'm this is weird and it's not it's not much better. It can work when the dialog.

Has a natural comma.

In it. However, the way people.

Do it in my mind that is still wrong is they'll do. And I'm just going to use a a sentence, not really dialog because I hate doing coming up with examples but like quote, running into the kitchen comma, close quote. And then action, you know, Drake said and then open quote, The dog slipped on the banana peal and what they'll do is they'll do.

Open, quote.

Running into the kitchen with a capital R comma, close quote, said Drake, lowercase comma, open quote, and more dialog.

We don't we don't put commas.


It's technically that is the correct punctuation for that, but it is trash and you shouldn't do it.

It just doesn't read well.

And no, it doesn't treat well at all. I agree. But it is technically, technically, according to the Chicago Manual, that is the correct way to punctuate that crap. It doesn't change the fact that it's crap and you shouldn't do that. Right?

So the solutions are either do the whole sentence as dialog and then do it.

Or I'm occasionally.

It makes sense to me to break it up at that comma. But what I'll do is I will open quote, beginning of the sentence to the comma, close quote, and then action or, you know, speech tag.

And then period and then open quote.

Capitalized the next part of the sentence.

Because we speak in broken sentences all the time. And because of that, it reads so much.

Better for the reader. They just flow through it because then they break up. This was said then in action, then this was said. And technically I put a period at the end and I wouldn't use the comma because I'm using. I don't use speech tags. So you don't put a comma between an action tag. And again, it's not an action, it just narration.

If it's not a speech tag, then it's just the dialog is a sentence. So I would put half the sentence with a period, close quote. And again, I do this.

Very rarely because it rarely is.

The right move, but I'm not going to say that I've never done it one in a million times. It'll happen.

Because it actually reads.



But those times are so few and far between. I couldn't even tell you where I could pull an example out of my right. But I know I've done it. I absolutely know I've done it because it read exactly right. And so I did the half sentence period, close quote, not a real sentence, but it's a dialog and people talk in weird ways all the time.

Then a piece of action, you know, a piece of just regular narration period, and then open, quote, capitalize and finish the sentence.

I don't think I've ever done it just because as we say, like, yes, people talk in that way, but we don't want the reader to be struggling.

So again, that was on the point. If I did it.

And I can't say that I have, but if I did, it was because it was the right way to paint that picture.

The pause of.

Just like when we were talking about what? Let me tell you something, kid. Drake put his foot up on the barrel. That's a pause that the imagination is like, yeah, No, he said this. He took a moment to do this thing, and then he said the rest of what he was going to say. That's kind of an example because technically, if I was writing that whole thing as dialog, I could put a comma after that.

You really shouldn’t right but you could

I would phrase the sentences in such a way that the period makes sense, right? That it even if it's a short sentence, it still reads like a sentence.


So again, if I did it, it was because you don't really you're never going to get tripped up on the fact that I did a whatever. But as we always say on purpose by design, what you don't want to do is just accidentally do it, because then normally you're going to mess that up. So that's why I said I can't pull an example that I've done.

But I can't believe that I haven't done it.


There is there's got to be a.

Time where that feels exactly right. Like it feels the exact thing that I want to do, but we're talking one in a million times. We're not even talking about something that you're going to do even every couple of chapters, not even every couple of novels, like once every couple of novels is what we're talking about here. So I just don't want to definitively say.

Don't ever do this now, but pretty much don't ever do that.

Yeah, yeah. Basically don't do that. But know if you do have to do that, be very cautious.

So but just.

Pay attention to your dialog splices and and, and in the next episode we'll actually pull out some examples and we'll go through them kind of explain why we feel that works. And that's the other thing.

So I've heard the.

Word bombastic.


But last night I got dropped in the writers room and and when it got dropped, the person said it in a sentence, like, everybody knows what this means. And I was sitting there going.

Should I admit that? I don't really know what bombastic means. Like, because, you know, normally.

If your words drop that you don't know, you can pull it from context.

But I actually couldn't.

Pull it from context. But we were talking about basically it's when somebody is saying something in exaggerated importance or they really have no no real empty you know, they have empty means of why they're saying it.

It's an it's an empty vessel makes the most noise.

It's it's an opinion. It's a it's.

A fancy way of saying it sounds like it's that. But actually it's it doesn't have that much meaning. It's very inflated and it's just an opinion. Right.

It's a complete opinion.

So this starts to get very bombastic.

When we talk about this stuff, because we just said the Chicago morning style.

Actually tells you to do.

It one way, but also that's an antiquated, crappy way. It's just not comfortable to read. And so.

Because it.

Happens so.

Rarely, it feels like a typo. Even if it's right, it feels like a typo.

To most modern readers. And so we just don't do it that way.

It's sort of like what we talk about, about spinster things change. No one would.

Ever use the word no modern person, you know, under the age of 35 would ever use the word spinster to mean a woman who makes a living spinning yarn or whatever.

No, no. So spinster actually means an unmarried woman?

yeah. No one would.


No one under 35 is ever going to use that word for that, because things change organically over time. And so that's the same thing here. Sure. The Chicago Man style says X, but no one wants to see that it's not comfortable to read. You don't know what to do with it. Anytime you hit a punctuation that's weird that you don't see normally, it always pulls out a story because you now have to figure out, Wait a minute, what is the writer doing here?

Is this something important? Should I? Whatever.

So dialog splicing.

The way we do it, which we'll talk about in the next episode I think works really, really well. Just like I said, Let me tell you something, kid. Jake put his foot up on the barrel. You don't, you know, you haven't lived long enough to blah blah. So that builds this image in the reader's mind and they see it and it flows through.

And that's nice to me.

Again, there people out there that are probably going. No!

you've never it's all dialog and all narration and no other way. But again, creative.

Is the first word of creative writing. So if you can't be creative, you're not really a good creative writer.

And I guess let's, let's talk about the last thing on our list, talking about, you know, things like, Let me tell you something, kid Fuller dialog. So there are people in this world who will adamantly tell you that all dialog must be completely relevant and you should never use filler dialog. I both agree with this point of view and disagree.

So mostly I agree you should not write small talk unless the small talk is your scene setting mechanic or is your way of showing that the character is nervous or is your way of showing that one of the secondary characters really does not engage in small talk? So you've got the character spouting small talk, trying to make conversation, and you've got the secondary character going, No.

Yeah. And then you're showing the discomfort through the dialog. So you are showing the environment or the emotion or the experience. Then you can absolutely have this kind of filler dialog.

I think it's two.

Other things because there's two other ways that I'll use it. One is to control pacing If I want to slow pace, because that's all it's going to do is slow things out, speed up the pacing with filler dialog.

But if I do.

Want to slow things down, you know, that might be it. But another thing is, and this is not necessarily dialog so much, I came up there because like in.

Scripts and if you.

Ever notice, but in movies and TV shows, no one ever says hello when they pick up a phone or and no one ever says, okay, goodbye.


And maybe it's just because, you know, I'm a good ol center boy that has Southern mannerisms. Certain scenes don't feel right ending abruptly like that.

So for the feel of it.

For the feel of the esthetics of it, you know, I might write, you know.


You know, okay, Mom, I love you. Bye. Even though everyone's like, But.

That's still a dialog. It doesn't do anything. I'm like, But it shows.

Yeah. So I would disagree with people who say it doesn't show anything because it shows the continuous relationship.

Right. But also sometimes, you know.

And again, this is where it strays into narration and out of dialog. But like.

Like sometimes it's just weird.

If the scene ends to me as opposed to because like, we're in a conversation and then the conversation is obviously over. So the chapter two ends as opposed to me going.

All right, well, I'll.

See you later, Drake turned and headed out of the room.


That little.

Bit, just the OC. See you later. And then heading out of the room just.

Just puts a cap on.

The end of the scene. And I feel more comfortable that. Yes, as opposed to you go, you know, maybe the last line you say is, all right, well when know where decide and then that's where the scene ends as opposed to.

You know, I agree. All right.

See you tomorrow. Drake turning left the room.

Those extra couple of.

Lines I don't think are.

Egregious. I don't think. Do they move the story?

Do they do anything? No.

But to me.

It kind of finishes the scene.

Yeah. It soothes out the pacing and puts a cap on the on the thing. So and I agree with that. Like I, I am not like every line of dialog, but I'm also not a minimalist writer. Right. Yeah. If you are a minimalist writer, you will not agree with this segment at all.

But one of the.

Girls in the writers room, the nice thing about having her in the critique group when she's there is that she is a minimalist writer because she writes in a completely different genre.


Fantasy. You tend to be more verbose because we want to paint a much deeper, richer tapestry as opposed to, you know, a white writer or literary fiction writer, whatever, where it's all about feelings and and whatever. So I love because, like, she'll edit somebody's writing fantasy and she'll say, cut this, cut this, cut this. I don't. Okay, let's talk about this for a minute.

I do agree with this one. That's just filler words that don't do anything.

But this actually.

Does X and this actually does.

Y you wouldn't write it in your story.

But this does something for our genre and.

Our our audience.

And so you do need to understand your audience and who you're writing for.

Yes, absolutely. But but it is good to sometimes look at them like, you know, minimalists do have a good eye for like what is just filler. And it is worth sometimes listening to them and being like, am I am I putting in too much.

I am constantly.

Popping people on just filler words.

Just just words in a sentence, three words in a sentence. It's just they don't do anything.

They don't add anything. Every single person you read last night, a group I that too, even. And The minimalist was there and I even did it to a couple of her sentences.

So but then.

You know, I said after group, I stayed after with a few people because they asked a question. And so I pulled up some of my writing and I can't read my writing because my work in progress, I can't read my writing without editing it. And so like we got to some points and I was like, that whole line doesn't even need to be there.

That's just like.

So I did it on my own writing last night the exact same thing that we talked about because we're all human. No one is.

No one is a perfect writer. There's no such thing. I could make Shakespeare better and Shakespeare could make me better. Like there's no such thing as being done.

It's the only thing is being published right? My work is never done.

It's like you could not edit Shakespeare because you can't read Shakespeare.

I can read.


yeah. You can read his rhyming couplets.

And I am rewriting Shakespeare as a secret project.

I can listen to a Shakespeare play, but I ain't going to sit there and read his stuff.

Yeah, I can see that. I mean.

I've read Shakespeare so many times, but anyway.

Actually there's You said.

It's the last thing on the list. But there's two other things, the topics that that are on the list, or at least on my list, that I think we should cover before we close us out. Okay, One is simple and then one is a little bit more intense. So I'll let you do the simple one.

Which is whether it's a speech tag or.

Using paragraph structure to show who said something.


And it's kind of twofold. So I want you to talk about.

One, why.

The dialog should stand on its own and be able to show how it's being said without any additional help. And then why adding a speech tag or.

Action can

Possibly weaken

If you do the dialog correctly.

So dialog look, if you can write a line of dialog that is so strong that it comes from like obviously the whole scene is structured right and it's building up and there's this line of dialog that is so strong that it resonates into the reader. If you then attach a sentence to it or you attach a speech tag to it or you attach anything to it, really you actually weaken the dialog because by standing by itself in a paragraph on its own, it is serving the plot with the most impact.

And this would be examples like you have a villain talking to somebody that they've got in chains and then at the end the villains like tomorrow you'll die, you know, something like that. And if you then say the villain said menacingly, I mean, come on, you just weaken the impact of the effect.

Even if you do it. I mean.

That's, you know, obviously the -ly adverb. So let's not even get like, you know.

Tomorrow I'm going to fillet the flesh off your body, menace, drip.

From his words.

So we can even be showy.

The next thing.

And yet still.

Weakens it because the the dialog by itself is so strong that anything you attach to it just weakens the dialog.

Even if it's so.

You know, like, that's why I want to change it too, obviously, you know, he said menacingly. It's just a terrible, crappy, -ly adverb. Tell.

But even if you.

Wrote something that was more showy, like menace, you know, dripped from his words, where it's actually you're showing something that still weakens.

The fact that I just said.

Or even if it's an action like he leaned into her face. No it's still weakens it like.

Unless you do it before he leaned to her face.

And I think you do that.

I do it before structure, but that piece of dialog is so strong it deserves to stand bold. Yeah, it's like having a one word or a two word paragraph or a single sentence paragraph. It is strong enough to stand by itself and it strengthens the narrative by standing bold.

And it also it doesn't just it isn't just.

The gut punch, strong, whatever.

It also already.

Shows how it says.

No one's, going to read like tomorrow, I'm going to cut the skin off your body like no one's going to read it that way. If it's this dark scene.

Now, if you have this character who is already like the Joker kind of crazy character and he's going to say something like that, but you've already set that.

Up because this is a dark serial.

Killer scene and we've been capturing the has been captured and now is in chains and and we get to that line.


The line is already showing how it's said. We don't need to then tell how it's said. Yeah, that's really what you're doing.

Now, here's.

The thing that I want to add to that. You really do want to try to write every piece of dialog that way. So one of the drafts that I do and I talk about my macro all the time and I'm actually making a video class on my macro, so I'll announce that when it's up on DrakeU there'll be a whole class that you can take and go through my entire macro.

And then also you get the macro and everything like that as a part of the class. But one of my macros highlights all your dialog and only dialog. And so that's one draft that I do, and it's really usually toward the end where I will hit that macro, it'll highlight all my dialog and then that I can just read the whole chapter without reading any narration.

I'm just focusing on on the dialog and I want to do a couple of things. One I want to see and when we're talking about dialog scenes, if it's an action scene and none of dialog in it to do this, but if it's a dialog scene,

one I want to see.

Does the dialog.

By itself, does the reader understand what just happened if they just read the dialog?

Because if they.

Do, then the narration is just going to strengthen that. But too it allows me to line by line by line at each piece of dialog and go.

Does that dialog.

The way it's written? Does it show how it said.

Without me.

Adding anything to it? Because You're not going to. The thing is, it's just like being a showy writer. You know somebody last night when we read my stuff, they were like, Hey, that line is a tell. I'm like, Yes, it is. But look at everything around. It like you're never going to write every single line of show. That's impossible.

Plus you'll just be as bloated manuscript that no one would want to read. It would be.


Telling is, you know, needed. You need that tell in there. So it's the same thing with dialog. You're never going to write. Every single piece of dialog is going to be.


Morning. I'm going to, you know, fillet whatever. However you want to look at every line and see if it can be because the ones that can be, if you miss them, are just missed opportunities to making just that much better.

So that's the two things. And and it really comes down to the number one problem. Almost every single new writer makes.

And that is well after you get past the stage of just being telly because every new writer's just a telly writer.

But after you get that.

After you've heard the term show, don't tell and you start understanding what it is, the next phase you get into is you tell me something and then show it to me or you show me something and then tell it to me.


If you read the original version of Farmers and Mercenary, that's my number. One thing that I hated about this is that was the stage that I was in, you know, back in 2005 when I wrote this. So there's a lot of look at how showy this line is.

And just in case you missed it, let me tell you what I just showed you.

So every writer goes through that. That stage. But for dialog, it's vitally important. So you definitely it because the problem with that and.


Also don't want to do it. Narration But the problem dialog is actually cheapens and weakens when you actually hit that dialog that's so breathtakingly beautiful. The next part just ruins it.

Yeah, I agree.

And then lastly.

Something that's near and dear to my heart, and this is a.

Controversial subject of.


And I'm talking about inner monologue.

Because some people.

Hate in a monologue, they do not write it, they do not want to read it. And you just have to if you make the decision to use inner monologue, there is going to be a small and it is a small minority of people who will not read you because they just don't. They refuse to read inner monologue and that's fine.

You're the one thing that will kill you as a writer is if you try to please everyone. That's impossible In this industry. What you want to do is please the vast majority of people that you can. And so I am a huge fan of inner monologue, probably more than anyone else. Like I will use two, three, four pieces of inner monologue on every single page.

I use it a lot.

And that's way more than most any other writer does.

But here's the thing.

I've had fans that have reached out to me that have said I'm one of those minority people who absolutely will not read. Anybody who's who writes inner monologue.

I just won't read it. And yet I don't even notice it with yours. Like, it's awesome. Why is it that I hate every other person writes in their monologue? Yeah, yours is really good.

And it really comes down to and I've just recently learned how to teach this In the last year. I've taught it in like 30 different ways. And then year I just stumbled upon this and it and it has clicked with my students. Basically what I say is inner monologue. If you're going to write something in monologue,in inner monologue.

It should do.

Something. In addition.


Had it been written in narration. So if you can write so every piece of inner monologue, I always write narration as well.

And then I read the two of them. Does the inner monologue make me feel.

Something that I didn't feel with when I read it? Narration Does it make me feel an emotion? Does it make me feel close to the character?

Does it If it doesn't, if they're the same, if they literally.

Don't feel any different, I'm going to write it narration.

Every time because it doesn't do anything. But if the inner monologue brings me close.

To the character, makes me feel an emotion, you know, maybe it's maybe it's a line where

So last night in the writers group, one of the

writers, she actually was work because she's still learning how to do this whole inner monologue thing. And so she was like, Look, I use a couple pieces of inner monologue, you know, tell me what you think. And so there was two pieces that she used in this one, the paragraph.

If you could stop letting his emotions get the better of him, maybe he'd be able to control his weird abilities. And then the inner monologue was and maybe I'd stop ruining my own damn.

Social life.

To me if we wrote that in narration. If he could stop letting his emotions get the better of him, maybe he'd be able to control his weird abilities and maybe he'd stop ruining his own damn social life. Fine. It's information. But when I read it as inner monologue and maybe I'd stop ruining my own damn social life, it the emotion that I get out of that is frustration.

I don't get the.

Frustration if it's a narration. So therefore, since I get something extra out of it, I'm going to write that an inner monologue because now the reader will get frustration out of the line that they didn't get. They get the.

Information and the.

Frustration of themselves as opposed to in narration. And then the second piece is when this badger jumped out to attack him. And so it said and there was a lot problems with this line, So we talked about this in depth, but I just read it the way it was written, remembering a nature show he had seen once upon a time, a cold sweat beaded on his forehead and moisten the.

Pits of.

there's a word missing, too, and moisten the pits of his favorite flannel shirt. And then the inner monologue was.

Badgers are.

Bat poop crazy, vicious crap. And I'm cleaning up the.

Words for YouTube.

And I'm like, okay, so first of all, there's two problems with this. One.

Badgers are bat.

Poop crazy vicious if it's said or narrated, I don't feel any different. I don't feel an emotion. I don't feel.

That the thing is.

More vicious. I don't feel anything so that I'm going to write in there. And again, there was a lot of problems with that sentence. Even we talked about that a lot. But there's an example of no. the other problem that I have with it is he's about to be attacked. No one thinks in complete sentences in that.

And if they did, they would always.

Start with the expletive. So he would say.

Crap badgers are bat poop crazy vicious.

Again, the whole that whole part of it I wouldn't do, but I would definitely do the crap and she didn't write crap, but so the crap versus just writing crap in narration, write crap in narration. It doesn't do anything. Him thinking crap makes me go, you know, he just said a naughty.

Word because he's.

You know, that's what we do when we're not thinking about things. Something is startling us, so it does something better for the narration. So that's my lesson on inner monologue. I think if you're going to use inner monologue, if you can run it past that filter, if you can just write it both in narration and in inner monologue and read them both and go, Does the second way make me give me something I don't get in the narration?

Does the inner monologue make me feel something? Does it make me feel closer to the character? Does it does it give me more insight, into the character, how he thinks like the crap line.

Any of it. If it answers yes to any of.

Those, then it's probably a pretty good inner monologue.

Line. if it doesn't? If it reads the.

Exact same as narration, don't make your reader suffer through it.

Just just write it as narration. Because what's the point.

Of doing it, this inner monologue at that point?


So that is just something, you know, And again, this is a very controversial subject because there are going to be listeners out there and you can tell us in the comments down below, but there are listeners out there like.

Nope, nope, not read it won't read ever. If you write inner monologue you're out.

And that's fine. But I don't like absolution. So you know, just my opinion.

And I think that that is a good note on which to end this episode and we will see you soon for another look at dialog. Bye.

Good day to our esteemed listeners. I'm Marie Melanie and it has been a pleasure guiding you through the nuances of writing and worldbuilding.

If our podcast has enriched your serial journey in any way, please consider liking and subscribing.

Sharing our content with your peers is a powerful way to support our mission and ensure we continue to deliver insightful and valuable episodes.

Your engagement is greatly appreciated.

for a deeper understanding of the topics we've discussed. Head over to Just in Time World on YouTube. It is a treasure trove with fantasy meets history and science. Every Tuesday, you'll find new videos that delve into the intricacies of world building.

Drawing from our rich real world history.

Whether you're a writer, a role player, or just a fantasy enthusiast.

Just in Time Worlds offers unique insights that will enrich your perspective.

Check it out and join the journey of crafting incredible worlds.

if you are ready to take your writing to the next level and work with a group of highly motivated, dedicated writers who are all working to not only improve their writing, but improve your writing. Plus, you get to work with me on a weekly basis.

Then I'll encourage you to check out writer's room dot us. This is a website that I have created that I really wish I had 30 years ago. It's everything a writer needs to become a better writer. Not only do we do weekly critique sessions, both from other members as well as me,

we have daily writing sessions. I do want the classes Q&A.

We have activities. I do all sorts of learning exercises such as I do a quarterly writing contest and just tons and tons and tons of things.

So if you're really serious about your writing and you want to actually finish that novel and have a chance of it being published,

then I encourage you to head on over to the writer's room and join me there.

and is a special promotion for listeners of releasing your inner Dragon.

I'll go one step more if you would like to get 50% off for three months. Reach out to me. There's a million ways you can do that. You can do it through starting Writers Studio, Dotcom, Drake,

Any of my social media such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, X, whatever. Reach out to me. Say that you would like to check out the writers room for 50% off and I will send you a link that will allow you to do just that.

So hopefully you're ready to start getting serious about writing and I'll see you in the writers room.

Podcasts we love