He said, she said

Whilst I’m in the middle of typing up a storm to hit a decent word count today, I thought I’d share a couple of good posts I’ve come across from Justin McLachlan, that may be of interest to those of you who are also NaNo-ing this November, as they have some pretty good tips for writing and pitfalls to avoid.


In the ‘Common Writing Mistakes’ blog post (link below) Justin takes you through some of the easy traps that you can fall into. http://www.justinmclachlan.com/804/common-writing-mistakes/

I know I definitely fell head first into the ‘he said, she said’ one, when I wrote my first book. It’s true, you do feel sometimes like it can’t just be ‘said’; ‘said’ is boring and easy and….simple. But sighing, grunting, chortling, exclaiming and screeching your way through the dialogue of your novel can be exhausting for the reader – I know because a couple of reviewers mentioned it! These days, I find it much easier to write ‘natural’ dialogue, I suppose with some practice your style and writing patterns that you employ can moderate and change. My dialogue today often misses out ‘said’ as much as it includes it, with conversations happening around physical action (the showing not telling thing is another area I know I need to keep working at!) Now and again I will throw in an adverb or exclaimation…but nowhere near as frequently as they used to happen 🙂

Justin has a second post, that takes you into more detail on the ‘said’ debate. If you’re interested in reading more on that you can see the post here: http://www.justinmclachlan.com/1214/stay-away-dialogue-tags-list/?relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=804&relatedposts_position=1

The other pitfall from the list that I know I fell into, but try to steer away from these days (or catch during editing!), is overkill on adjectives and adverbs… Unless you were born a great writer (and Hemingway had something to say on that…) I think this is one of the easiest ones to fall into, when you begin writing. You may be well-educated, know lots of words and synonyms, a prolific reader…that doesn’t mean that you know how to write and describe the world of your book in a way that is engaging to someone else. I’d written a number of short stories, scenes and two full novels, before I completed and released Hope’s Daughter. I learned things from each one: how not to put all of the information that’s in your head into chapter 1; how to create a story arc; pacing…. When I released Hope’s Daughter I was able to learn more, because I started getting feedback from people about the book – there have been a number of reviews that have helped me improve and adapt my style, by pointing out things that were issues or flaws for them as a reader.

When you’re writing independently, you might be lucky enough to have some friends or writing buddies that will beta read your work…but there’s no to say, “cut this scene”, “don’t write like this”, “argh! I hate your main character!” as a conventional editor might do. In a way, you kind of have to gamble, because to get the best feedback, you have to put your work out there. Not every review will be helpful, but I know that just taking things on board, considering if you could improve what you’d done was a great benefit of publishing my book and getting feedback from readers. If people read it and like it, or love it, then great! You’re definitely doing something right…and use the other stuff people don’t get to help you refine and improve!

Ok – post over, I have to get some more writing done! But, hopefully with some new tips and some motivation, you too can shoot off today and get on with something creative 🙂 Good luck!


 “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way” ― Hemingway


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