From the Pen of a Writer, Part 2: Dialogue

29 June 2011

I am very excited to be introducing Part 2 of my From the Pen of a Writer series, since it is something I struggle with often. Dialogue can be difficult, because the author needs to make the reader feel as if this is something someone would really say. Dialogue that is too flowery is pretty, but not very realistic, which leads to the reader not being able to relate and in the long run, putting down your book... which you don't want. 

So, here is my spin on how to keep your characters' conversations natural. And if you have any other suggestions that I have not mentioned in this post, please drop me a comment and let me know. :)
1. Take Notes
Something that has helped me a lot with my characters' conversations is not just trying to make it sound realistic but also listening to the conversations that I and others have with each other. Since Violets Are Blue is set during the Edwardian era, I also have to do research and read books written about people who lived in that time, so as to immerse myself in the dialogue of the period. However, it is possible to go too far: I have been told before that my dialogue is a bit stiff or too formal. *blushes* I'm trying to improve that. Historical fiction dialogue can be very tricky, and I certainly haven't completely mastered it yet. The balance is between making it sound accurate and at the same time portraying that they were no different than we are now, though their conversations may sound more "formal." A fine line, indeed. :)
2. Tea Time
I'm not joking here. Sit down, have a cup of tea, and get to know your characters. Chat lightly about the weather, discuss hopes and dreams for the future, put yourself in their shoes. "But I invented my characters!" you protest. "Who would know more about them than I?" Well, you do know more about your characters than the average person... however, that still isn't very much. When I first began Violets Are Blue, I found it hard to mold my characters since I didn't know a whole lot about them. It really helps to give reason behind everything they do or say: why did the Bradshaws move; why does Violet not like water; why is Helen so dramatic and talkative. As I provided these answers, I became more familiar with my characters. Now it's much easier for me to write dialogues because I know exactly how each character will react to certain situations. And you will too. But it takes time. I've been writing VAB since last July (it sounds like a long time, but it really isn't quite as lengthy as you would think), and I still don't know everything there is to know about my characters. Writing is more than putting words down on paper; it's about getting into the head(s) of your character(s) and penning a tale from their perspective.
3. Third Time's the Charm
Okay, so you've finished writing a scene in your book and you want to read over it again to make sure it sounds right. Instead of simply scanning your eyes quickly over the words on the screen, read the conversation outloud, using the proper accents (if you can) for the characters. It's amazing how well this works; immediately, sentences that don't work seem to jump off the screen at you. Characters, especially when you use their proper accents, suddenly become real. Thus, when they say something that sounds a bit odd, the words will separate themselves from the rest of the page, almost as if they were underlined in red. When you're scanning  over the dialogue--not really reading it--it's so much easier to miss errors. 
4. The Truth Hurts
Nothing helps make your conversations sound realistic more than letting a friend or family member read over your writing and tell you what they think. They come in with an unbiased opinion and are willing to judge honestly. Yes, it can be painful. Yes, sometimes you will refuse to believe what they are saying about your carefully-written scenes. But, in the long run, you will come to the conclusions that they are right, and your writing will be so much the better. Besides, it's much nicer to hear critisism from a family member or friend who loves you, as opposed to a book agent or publisher who is going to be very direct and to the point.

What do you do when you're having trouble writing dialogue?

An Update and The Saturday Morning Afternoon Daybook

25 June 2011

Yes, 'tis me, Elizabeth Rose. I will not blame you if you do not recognize the name and simply wish to continue reading posts by Miss RaquelBrianna, and Jo March. Truly, these ladies outdid themselves. I almost want to remain "incognito" for a while, just so I can read more posts by them. *sigh* I wish... :)

To condense a nearly week-long trip into a few words is hard. It takes an experienced writer, and one who is able to examine all that has occured in the past week and process it, turning up an amazing post that not only informs the reader but also makes them want more. But, since I do not posess such a talent, I will simply have to put it all in plain words. These past two weeks have been busy, sad, happy, extraordinary, and terrible all at once. Monday, June 13th, through Friday, June 17th, Bree and I took a dance camp at our studio. We were dancing 3 1/2 hours straight every day (that's 17 1/2 hours total), and it was hard. Each day was fun, but it was exausting, too. Ballet, pointe, jazz, and hip hop--all in less than four hours. And early Wednesday morning, we were informed that our grandfather went to be with Jesus. He was 92 years old, and we knew this day was coming soon, so it wasn't a surprise. He was a strong Believer, and we know he has gone to Heaven, but we weren't able to be there at his side when he died (our grandparents live several states away), and that is a bit sad. Then, Saturday through Thursday, we were traveling. 'Twas so nice to be able to get out of the house, have a bit of a break, and just enjoy everything that is beautiful in life. Unfortunately, I can't exactly show you everything that is beautiful in life; just as we were reaching our first destination (Thomas Jefferson's Monticello), the camera decided not to work. This was pretty frustrating, I must say. So, to make a long story short, I have no photos. :( 

But, it was still a lovely trip. We visited Monticello, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Mount Vernon, and (briefly) D.C. I would have given a prize to anyone who guessed one of our many stops, but I was thinking specifically of Williamsburg. So, it is with great pleasure that I announce the winner: Miss Jenny! She was the first person to guess my location. Congratulations, Jenny! You should receive your prize within the next few days.

To clear my head and organize my thoughts, I have decided to join my dear friend Jo in doing The Saturday Morning Daybook. This is my first time, so please give me grace. :)

Date... Saturday, 25 June 2011.
Starting time... 3:40 P.M. 
Mood... Content, thoughtful.
Outside my window... the sun is filtering through the leaves of the many trees in our front yard, and I can catch glimpses of puffy white clouds and a radiant blue sky between the green foliage. 
I'm thinking... nothing at the moment.
I'm currently reading... Watership Down by Richard Adams. It's rather slow going, and I often have to push myself to sit down and read it. I know, surprising, eh? :)
I'm listening to... Something in the Water by Brooke Fraser. I love that song. ♥ By the way, did you know Brooke was already married when she wrote this song to her husband? Isn't that just precious? It makes me love the song even more.
I'm wearing... a white, scoop-neck top with slightly puffed sleeves and my knee-length jean skirt. 
I'm looking forward to... finishing Watership Down (it's required summer reading for my tutorial) so I can start Les Miserables, Johnny Tremain, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 
I'm hoping... it doesn't take me all summer to read Watership Down (I'm only 120 pages into the 400+ page book). 
Yesterday, I... did some chores (it's amazing how quickly laundry piles up when you're away), read Little Women for the hundredth time (there's nothing like going back and re-reading good books), and caught up on all the e-mails and letter-writing I had missed while out of town.
I'm hungry for... not much; maybe an apple?
The song stuck inside my head is... It's rather difficult to have songs stuck in one's head when one is currently listening to another song: Crows and Locusts by Brooke Fraser. Yes, I'm in a Brooke Fraser mood. :)
I love... coming home after a long trip. "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." :)
I loathe... writing a post and accidentally deleting several paragraphs. :(
This week, my goal is... to send out my birthday thank-you notes. I don't have many, so it shouldn't take long.
Did I meet last week's goal?... This is my first time doing TSMD, so I didn't have a specific goal.
Ending time... 3:57 P.M. 

Have a good afternoon, ladies!

P.S. Please keep Emily and her family in your prayers right now. Her mom has cancer, and she is not doing well. Pray that her platelets will increase and that her kidneys will function properly. Thank you!

"For where two or three come together in My Name, there I am with them." ~Matthew 18:20 

our highest calling {guest post by jo}

23 June 2011

This post will be short, and hopefully sweet. This is a thought I've been wanting to share for quite sometime, and I pray that it will be encouraging to you.
The older I become, the more questions I am asked; the most frequent being “So what are your plans for college?” or “What do you want to *do*?”
I used to avoid the question, dread it, hope no one would ask it. The reason was simply because I didn’t have an answer. I felt no desire to pursue math or science or writing or anything, really. At the time, I thought I had a problem, that I was unusual, somehow not thinking as far ahead as I should. I went through a time of uncertainty and confusion, wishing for some kind revelation about what I was supposed to *do*. 
The answer came softly, unexpectedly, and wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was simply the Lord reminding me of what my calling is. I am to follow Him, follow where He leads. If I’m doing His will, I don’t have to worry about what others think or about what kind of “career” I supposed to pursue. If I’m pursuing Him, everything else will fall into place. I realized that even though I *thought* that I'd been letting God be in control of my life, I was still holding on to my future. He showed me that He alone is in control.

I admit, it took work to get used to the thought that I really didn't have to help God with my life. But the peace that has come out that choice has truly passed all understanding.

Sisters, I encourage you to stand strong, trust in our Savior and depend on Him alone - not yourself - for everything in this life. He truly knows what's best, and if we're obeying Him, we are fulling our highest calling.

about the author: My name is Jo, I'm sixteen years old, oldest of eight children, and a rising senior in high school. I love music, my family, my Savior, blogging, swimming and so many other things! Please stop by and visit me at my blog - I *love* meeting new people!

The color and the savor. (guest post by Näna)

21 June 2011

Your walking down the street on a crisp autumn afternoon. The nip in the air, the click of your heels on the sidewalk, and the sense of purpose as you head toward your favorite coffee shop gives you that "on top of the world" feeling. After you place your order you fold you hands and look around. Scanning the small dining area it's the same as always. But something is different. The tables are the same. The decorations haven't changed and the music playing softly in the background is the same as always. What then is the difference? Simply, the difference between this week and last is just one thing: People. No people have always been there but today, for the first time in your year of loyalty to this cafe the people become more than just part of your surroundings. You start to see their faces and wonder about them. What are their stories? What pain lies behind their smiles? As you walk away you away sobered. It's the same path you have taken hundreds of times but now it is more. You notice the old man on the bench. The girl at the bus stop. The lady watering her window box. You soak this all in and realize that these are more than faces. They are lives. They are treasures. They are what Jesus gave His life on the cross for 2,000 years ago.
Being the light of the world and the salt of the earth is more than just living a godly life. Certainly this is important but before too long of just living our own good life we become nothing more than a person on a self-made platform. No being the light and salt, the color and the savor, means getting involved in these lives. Sacrificing our times, will, plans and yes even our own life to reach out to them with the love of Christ. Several chapters before the famous I Corinthians thirteen are dedicated to explaining spiritual gifts. What they are, their proper use, etc. But then Paul stops and in 12:13 says,"but I show you a more excellent way". He then launches into chapter twelve and the next thirteen verses are completely give to one topic: Charity. He even goes as far as to state it's superiority over tongues, prophecy and knowledge. These are all (what we would call) "amazing" things. The "more excellent way", however, is charity. Charity is not love (even though many versions of the Bible have falsely exchanged the word "charity" with "love"). Charity is, in fact, the act of love. The two most important commandments are these: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength" and "love your neighbor as yourself". We can love the people around us but until we start demonstrating that love (or practicing charity) we will not shed one ray of light in to this dark night.
For all those who want to change the world. For all those seeking something higher. For all those who desire to be the salt and light: Look around you. See the treasures we are fighting for. Show them love. Maybe in doing so your light of love will illuminate the One who has loved them with an everlasting love.

Guest Post: ~Miss Raquel

19 June 2011

Greetings, readers of Literary Lane!

I am very excited to be guest posting for Miss Elizabeth Rose. :)  And very honored to be starting this week off!  She has some other guest posters lined up that I'm sure you'll all enjoy very much. :)

Okay, be honest...I thought I was going to be posting on Monday (tomorrow), but something came up, apparently, that threw me to the top of the line, and I was needed to post today.  Well...I didn't really have anything prepared, so I was racking my brain for ideas on what to post.

'Well, this is a literature blog, is it not?  Hmm...'

'AND it just so happens to be Father's Day today.  Hmm...'

I kind of wanted to combine the two, so came up with a brilliant idea!! least, I hope it's brilliant. :P

Today, my guest post will be about 'My Favorite Fathers in Jane Austen's Novels'.  Interesting, eh?  Let's hope you'll stay intrigued...

And we shall start in order of the novels written...beginning, of course, with

Pride and Prejudice

At the beginning of this story, I really didn't like Mr. Bennett.

{Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennett) and Benjamin Withrow (Mr. Henry Bennett)}

I didn't think he was a very strong (morally...and probably physically :D) man, and I didn't like how he let his wife just sort of boss him around.

{Keira Knightley as Lizzy Bennett, and Donald Sutherland as Mr. Henry Bennett)
My appreciation and respect for him began when he says to Lizzy:

'Well, my dear, from this moment on you must be a stranger to one of your parents.
Your mother will never speak to you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins.
And I will never speak to you again...if you do.'

:D haha

I always laugh at that part. :)
And from that moment on, I really like his character.  And how loving he is to Lizzy, especially when he gives his consent to Mr. Darcy. ♥
And personally, I think I like Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennett better than Benjamin Withrow. :)

and my other Favorite Father from Jane Austen is from...


 Okay, I'm not going to even bother with the man that plays Mr. Woodhouse in the 1996 'Emma'.

 Michael Gambon was absolutely magnificent!!  He was the perfect Mr. Woodhouse. :)

  {Michael Gambon and Romola Garai}
I just love his whole character!!  How he's always so careful about the weather and it being too cold or too warm outside.

 And he always looks so adorable with his little hat and robe on. :) heehee

 And he is such a loving father of Emma.  He dotes on her.  And loves her - in the novel, it says he liked her better than Isabelle (the older sister).

(sorry!  Just had to put that in :)


Those are my two Favorite Fathers from Jane Austen Novels. :)

Hope you enjoyed this!

Please feel free to stop by my blog: God's Daughter.
Be sure to sign my guestbook and let me know you stopped by!!
Oh, and I'm planning on having a large giveaway when I reach 400 followers, so maybe you can help me out a lil' ;)

Thank you so much for having me, Elizabeth Rose!  It was a pleasure starting this week off for you :)

Off I go into the wild blue yonder...

17 June 2011

. . . Well, not exactly. But I will be traveling somewhere with my family tomorrow, leaving home sweet home for six delicious days spent laughing, loving life, taking pictures, and tasting adventure in one of my favorite place in the world.

Now here's where you come in: I'm not going to tell you where I'm going. I know you  may be sighing in agony now, but please bear with me. It's your job to guess where I will be stopping sometime during the next six days. (And no, "the van" doesn't count. :)) Since you don't know where I live, I guess it won't give away much if I tell you that it is driving distance from my home, although not a distance to be driven every day. Here are a few more hints:

- It is a place rich in history
- This should go without saying, but it is in the U.S.A.
- The clothing worn by a lot of people in this secret location is NOT what most would refer to as light.

And there you go! Enjoy guessing, ladies! The first person to guess my location will win a special prize. :)

Since I will be unable to post on Literary Lane while I am away, I have arranged for a few ladies to guest post. I'm excited about featuring them, and I know you'll enjoy reading their posts!

I will be back on Thursday (although I will probably not post that day), with plenty o' pictures.

Au revoir!

Happy Birthday!

10 June 2011

This is me, Bree, hacking into my sister's blog to wish her a happy birthday. This is what some of you said...

Hannah said…
Happy birthday to your sister!

Farmgirl said…
Happy Birthday Elisabeth Rose! You forgot a great blogger! ;)

Melody said…
Here's my note to Elizabeth Rose: Happy birthday, dear Elizabeth Rose! I hope you have a beautiful and fun-filled birthday. Blessings to you on this special day and new year of your life. :) Love & hugs, ~Melody

Bree said…
Love you dear sister, and hope that you enjoy your special day.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and strength.” ~Luke 10:27
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” ~Zephaniah 3:17

Love ya, chica!

Gwen said…
Dearest Elizabeth,
Happy Birthday! May God bless you, today and always!
I hope you have a great day, with grey skies. ;)
I don't know you very well, but from what I've seen, you a a truly sweet and special person. I'm very glad to have met you
xox and blessings,

Lindsay said…
Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Rose!!!! I hope you have a *fabulous* day! :) xoxo

Sunday Blessings

05 June 2011

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

~"It is Well With My Soul" by Horatio G. Spafford~

Blessings on your Sabbath day, dear ladies!

"Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul." ~Psalm 146:1

From the Pen of a Writer, Part 1: Everything You Need to Know

03 June 2011


I have been asked many a time to post my thoughts on subjects relating to writer's block, editing, and other such topics, and I have finally decided to take the plunge and make a blog series on some of my thoughts on these subjects. Please keep in mind when reading this post that I am not perfect and I still have trouble following all of these rules myself. So, instead of these being posts about what I do, they should be viewed more as posts about what I've learned and am still learning

With that in mind, I give you Part 1!
1. Good Ideas Don't Sit Around Forever
Many a time, I've had a good idea for a book or a chapter and I failed to write it down because I "wasn't there yet." Maybe I was only up to writing Chapter 5, and this was something that wasn't to happen until Chapter 12. However, when I eventually finished Chapter 11 and was ready to write Chapter 12, the idea had clean flown out of my head, and I could no longer recall any of it. Now, whenever I have an idea I like for a scene, chapter, or book, I write it down so as not to forget it. Let go of the fact that you may not be "there yet." Write it down in as much detail as you can when it is in your mind, and you'll be very glad you did later.
2. Outlining
Okay, so you've got a fantastic idea for a book plot. Your ideas are pouring out, but you don't know what to choose first. This, my friend, is the stage known as outlining. Outlining, frankly, I consider an optional thing. I didn't outline Violets Are Blue, but I do plan to outline my second book, Autumn Roses. I think it will make it easier for me to piece the story together if I have a good idea of where I'm going. So, I encourage outlining, but I don't require it. Many authors have been able to write amazing books without outlining beforehand. However, it takes a special person to do this, for others can choose not to outline, but then their book ends up being all over the place and not very organized. It's your choice. As a personal decision, I have found that I prefer outlining. It helps you get your ideas straight, and you can organize thoughts and make sure everything fits together. 
3. Books Don't Write Themselves
I'm sure you all know this. Simply by having a great idea and dreaming about it, you're not going to fill a Word document with 200+ pages or however long you plan on your novel being. If it's writing poorly you're afraid of, it's time you face the facts: you are always going to have to rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite again. It's the world of writing, and it's never going to change. So open up that blank document and just start writing! There will be time enough later to edit and add a clever beginning or a tear-jerking ending. 
4. Editing Is Your Dearest Friend
It's the truth. If you plan on publishing your book, you simply cannot turn in your first draft. Any good publisher will turn it down--not because it's bad, but because it's not complete. You have not given the publisher your full potential as a writer if you give him your first draft. Every writer has to write at least three drafts before they are ready to seek publishing. Each time I rewrite Violets Are Blue, I like it more. There is no way your book will be as good as it's ever going to be the first time you write it. When you write your first draft, ideas pour forth (that is, most of the time :), and you often end up typing as fast as you can but not nearly as fast as your imagination. In the editing process, you are giving yourself the chance to go back and improve all those emotional writing spurts, trim them, and make them legible to everyone else.
5. The Big Moment
This really should go unsaid, but when you are preparing to send your book to a book agent, editor, or publishing house, make sure you have no grammatical errors. It can make your writing look very unprofessional if the reader goes through and finds a bunch of misspelled words or sentences ending with pronouns. Also, no fancy fonts! Keep your fonts to Times New Roman, Ariel, etc., and keep them between 12. and 14., depending on the nature of the font. Justify your paragraphs. You can double-space (I did), because it makes it easier for an agent or editor to read over it, but you aren't required to do so. 

I hope you've enjoyed Part 1 of my From the Pen of a Writer series, which gave a brief overview of all the basic information about writing a book. Keep checking back for Part 2: dialogue!

P.S. Raising Homemakes is hosting a giveaway in celebration of their one year anniversary! Click here for all the details. 

Just Because..

01 June 2011

Just because... I don't do this type of post nearly enough. Really, ladies, I'm not as serious as I may seem!

Just because... It's summer. Which gives me a happy, sweet, dreamy feeling. "I was a little girl, alone in my little world..." *sigh*

Just because... There are certain things that make me want to jump up and down and do pirouettes. Finishing my book is one of those things. 

Just because... Bree is finally reading the original, full-text Little Women. And she's getting rather annoyed every time she tries to quote a scene she likes, and I can finish the sentence before she manages to get the words off her tongue. But it's all in sisterly fun, and it just warms my soul to see how much she's loving this book that is like a small piece of my heart.

Just because... After all these years, going through the car wash is still fun. And what makes it even more fun is seeing my baby sister's delighted expression as the soap pours down her window. 

Just because... it's never too hot for a good cup of tea. :)

Just because... Good friends are treasures. 

Just because... Cleaning the kitchen is not nearly as fun without my sisters and I singing together while we scrub dishes and sweep the floor. Especially when we sing this song. "Okay, Emilia, you be Chava, I'll be Tzeitel, and Bree can be Hodel!" 

Just because... Real butter is to die for. "Oh, isn't butter divinity?" (Young Amy March, Little Women 1995)

Just because... My sister makes me laugh. Here are a few examples of our daily conversations...

Me: (Looking at the delicious blueberry pie Bree just made that is cooling on the counter) "Mmm, it looks so good!"
Bree: "Don't you dare mess up my nice pie!"
Me: "Oh look, there's a little corner broken off... I'd better--"
Bree: "It's a circle--there are no corners!"

Bree: (explaining to me about the somewhat strange and loud noises coming from our bedroom) "We were trying to find my paperclip!"
Me: "You were trying to find your paperclip?"
Bree: "We were trying to find my very important paperclip!"

Bree: "Elizabeth, look at this! Elizabeth? Elizabeth!"
Me: "Can't you see I'm trying to shovel flour here?"

Me: "Elizabeth is just as made up as Elisabeth!"
Bree: "Yes, but Elizabeth is from the Bible. Elisabeth is just a random combination of vowels and consonants."
Me: "That's what all names are!"

Just because... Life is sweet. And I am blessed beyond measure.
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