Tag Archives: internal dialog

a Looong day of Editing

I’m trying to hustle and get my Arson manuscript ready for Amazon. Now that I have cover art, it’s time to get my butt in gear. I keep a long list of words that can usually indicate a place that should be rewritten. These are mostly weak verbs and filtering words. Sometimes I’m stubborn and keep what I’ve written, but I’m usually better for the effort.

I can search for specific words or phrases, and this speeds things up. I spent an hour going through my MS twice; once for your, and once for you’re. When I came to “thought”, I was in a conundrum.

Perry is kind of a jock who became a firefighter. I never realized he was such a thinker. The goal is to stop telling readers what he’s thinking, and show them what he’s thinking. That wasn’t my problem. The problem is when internal dialog and spoken dialog are in the same paragraph.

I asked my blog friends what they prefer and headed for the writing cabin. It’s about time to outline a new project, and it would keep my mind off things for a bit.

I landed and rode the elevator to the basement. My ears were assaulted by a rousing rendition of Miserlou. It only got louder as I trudged upstairs.

Lisa* had the guitar and was rocking out. Doubt** was doing something like the swim and a flamenco dance. I slapped my hand over my forehead and said, “I thought we weren’t going to encourage him.”

“I’m not,” she said. “I was practicing and he took it upon himself.”

“Uh huh. Does Bunny approve of your choice in music?”

“He’s upstairs chewing on some fresh branches.”

“I need to start outlining my next story. Can you find me the index cards and the cork board?”

She sat her guitar down and ran toward the stairs, “Right away, boss.”

Doubt flew back to his perch in my office.

While Lisa got the supplies, I looked at my MS again.

Doubt croaked, “Italics, italics, italics.” He even said it in italics.

“What do you know? Stupid bird.” I checked my blog and the answers were overwhelmingly in favor of italics. I glared at Doubt and said, “Shut up.”

He paced back and forth and said, “Ha, ha, ha.”

“Maybe we’ll try Timbuktu the next time.”

Lisa sat up the cork board, cards, and pens. I went to work on my premise. It wasn’t great, but I could improve it later. I handed it to Lisa and she pinned it top center, like some kind of game show hostess.

I got a good start on Act One. I even added a few photos that Lisa printed for me. I moved some cards around. It felt better introducing the characters in a different order. Chapter one has to suck readers into the story, and a different character seemed better suited for that.

I smelled the sandalwood before Lorelei*** showed up. Somehow, her shorts and sandals looked great with her baggy Greek National soccer shirt. She looked the storyboard up and down. “Looks like you’ve been slacking off. I thought you’d be nearly to denouement by now.”

“Well, I wanted to go mushrooming. I still want to go fishing too.”

“That’s fine, I just thought you’d be ready to write by now.” She looked at the pictures and smiled. “Who’s this Neanderthal looking character? He looks absolutely brutal, is he your villain?”

“Yes and no. He’s more complicated than that. He gets an interesting story arc.”

She strolled over to Doubt and gave him a treat. “This looks like beach sand in his tail feathers. What have you been doing to him?”

My jaw dropped open. “Um, you know. He gets into things. Who knows what he’s been into.”

“Keep working on the storyboard, but it needs some help. You should use the left side of your brain to help with story structure and organization.”

Lisa made a check mark in the air so I could see it. Lefty isn’t real creative, but he’s good with plans, charts, and maps. Maybe he could help next weekend.

I grabbed my hat and said, “That’s all folks. I’m going home to work on Arson some more. I can email card ideas to Lisa if something strikes me during the week.”

*Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s a robot and helps me at the writing cabin these days.

**Doubt is a raven. He was a gift from my Muse and is supposed to be helpful. Mostly, he just pisses me off.

***Lorelei is my Muse. Thank God for the distraction of World Cup, or I’d be in trouble.



Filed under Muse

Help me Writers

I’m working on my Arson manuscript. I’m running into a problem with punctuation. It isn’t a big one, and there are several suitable styles.

The issue is with internal dialog. I don’t like italics for this purpose. I prefer italics as news broadcasts, signs, letters, email; that kind of thing. I also use them with one word of spoken dialog on rare occasions. Like this: “It’s doctor Pennington, actually,” she said.

All my research says it’s appropriate to punctuate like any other dialog and use a tag of “he thought.” This has worked well, until internal and spoken dialog wind up in the same paragraph.

I like it when characters think one thing and say another. My main character, Perry does this on occasion. When using my preferred punctuation method, I don’t like the way it looks.

I’ll make something up as an example. “Well, you’re a 300 pound blimp with a receding hairline,” he thought. He said, “Yeah, I think you have a real shot with her.”

I don’t like it. It’s a bit better with some action in the middle to separate the two, but still not great. “Well, you’re a 300 pound blimp with a receding hairline,” he thought. He placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder and said, “Yeah, I think you have a real shot with her.”

I like internal dialog with no punctuation myself. I know this is wrong, so I’m avoiding it. It does stand out against the spoken dialog though.

I toyed with the idea of a single quote for internal dialog, but I don’t love it either. ‘Well, you’re a 300 pound blimp with a receding hairline,’ he thought. He said, “Yeah, I think you have a real shot with her.”

So what should I do? I want to be consistent, whatever I decide. I don’t like italics in his situation, but I’m not loving the other options either.

Help me out here you writers and readers. My goal is to whip Arson into shape within ten days or so.


Filed under Writing