Today’s guest post is from Ryan Lanz, an avid blogger and author of The Idea Factory: 1,000 Story Ideas and Writing Prompts to Find Your Next Bestseller. For more on Ryan and his work you can check out his blog or find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.
Writers use dialogue tags constantly. In fact, we use them so often that readers all but gloss over them. They should be invisible. However, there are ways to misuse them and make them stand out.
In an effort to avoid that, let’s take a closer look at dialogue tags. Toward the end of “Tag Travesties” is something I sorely wish someone had told me before I started writing.
I routinely receive inquiries about my editing services from writers who are just about ready to hit the “publish” button, and writers who have a very rough draft and need to get it to the next level. What I’ve noticed is that most of these writers have a pretty vague idea about what they’re looking for in an editor. They’re unsure about pricing, expectations, and what they need to do to be part of the process.
One of the first things a writer learns is about the power—and the challenge—of the rewrite. For those writers who assume that everything Ernest Hemingway wrote flowed perfectly out of his pen on the very first try, the illusion is shattered. The more experience a writer gains, the more they know that rewriting is part of the process for all writers. But that doesn’t mean that rewrites still aren’t confusing, overwhelming, or just plain difficult. They most definitely can be all of those things. What can really be helpful is for writers to back up, look at a map, and make sure they’re not going in the wrong direction.
It was 2008 and I had just finished the sloppy first draft of my very first novel. It had taken me two years to write it. Two, long crazy years during which I painstakingly cobbled together the book piece by bloody piece. I felt like I had opened up my heart and vomited out everything it held onto the page.
Needless to say, it was a bit messy. It kind of looked like something that had just crawled out of a moat.
Whether we’re writing memoir, fantasy, young adult or literary fiction, there’s one judgment we writers recoil from more than any other. One thing we can’t stand to be called. One thing that makes us cringe to even think we might be approaching it.