Sunday, April 15, 2012

Breaking into a Gallop (a.k.a. manipulating dialogue.)

I write a story. It has a great plot, complex characters, punchy dialogue, and a captivating setting and it puts my critique group to sleep. It plods. After they awaken, between the sounds of deep sighs and stifled yawns, I hear their comments, “it’s coming along,” or “keep up the good work,” or “interesting” (ha. Interesting. A euphemism for I’m trying to think of something positive to say). Red-flag words for “boring.”

No matter how well one writes or how engaging their characters and plot, if it plods, it fails to engage the reader, and leaves the writer wondering why.

The question becomes, I believe, how to write in a way that pulls the reader in and incites the reader to relate to the characters conflict and plot in such a way that she not only wants to finish the story, but is also satisfied with the read.

Part of my writing MFA program involves reading a variety of fiction and analyzing the various techniques writers have used to make their stories “work.” My initial reaction to this aspect of the program was why? And, so what? And what does that have to do with me? The answer is that reading good literature and studying what works and why, is a proven way of improving one’s own writing.

Sandy McDow is a new Editor to the Gold Man Team. Keep checking back for more from Sandy and the rest of the GMR team. Also, check out to learn more about Sandy McDow and the mission of GMR.

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