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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Happy Monday! It is time for the top-ten writing articles from No Wasted Ink. I admit, I needed to surf twice as long for articles this week. Writers were taking a vacation or doing holiday related articles for the most part and I wanted to find things with more useful content. I found a good batch and I hope you’ll enjoy them.


International Interactions with Tolkien – A Roundtable

Breaking Into Publishing Isn’t Easy, but if You’re Not in America, It’s Even Harder

Writing Goals: Clearing Your Path For Creativity In The New Year

Why Book Reviews Are Important and Where to Find Them

How to Write When You’re Not Writing

Five Unnecessary World Additions in Popular Stories

How to Write a Compelling Antihero

2022 Publishing Predictions

Journals adopt AI to spot duplicated images in manuscripts

Trusting the Reader

Three Tips For Writing Compelling Dialogue by Rita M. Reali

Photo by Julia Kicova on Unsplash

When folks in the writers group I belong to comment on the work I submit each month, the most frequent comments I hear are how spot-on my dialogue is, how I seem to have captured the essence of each character through his or her words, and how the dialogue really rings true.

I’m often asked how I manage to write such realistic and compelling dialogue. It boils down to a few key elements, which I’ll share with you here.

First, it’s important to realize how real people speak. You probably wouldn’t ever hear anyone have this conversation:

“Where are you going this weekend?”
“I am not sure where I am going this weekend. I think I might go up to the mountains. They are really pretty at this time of year.”
“Yes. I understand the mountains are pretty this time of year.”
“I would also like to stop in to see my cousin. She is going to be having surgery next week and she is pretty nervous. So I thought I would pay her a visit.”
“That is nice of you. You are always so considerate.”

This exchange is stilted and awkward. Folks just don’t talk that way. If you listen to conversations around you, you’ll realize people tend to use contractions – and speak in sentence fragments. A lot. Here’s how this bit of conversation would sound if two real people were having it:

“Where you going this weekend?”
“Dunno. Maybe the mountains – they’re really pretty this time of year.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that.”
“I’ll probably stop in to visit my cousin, too. She’s pretty nervous about her surgery next week.”
“That’s nice of you. You’re always so considerate.”

It’s 50 percent shorter, it’s more direct and it sounds more natural. People rarely reply to questions with full sentences – or by including the wording of the original question; they respond in fragments. I also used contractions. Not including contractions in speech sounds wooden and unnatural.

Second, be aware of what your characters are doing while they’re speaking. Include beats that give readers a visual on what’s happening. Here’s part of an exchange between two characters in my work in progress, Brothers by Betrayal. Gary is talking with Erin, his teenage daughter, who’s been grounded for two weeks (but who wants to go out with her friends for her birthday tomorrow):

Gary leaned against the doorjamb, his arms folded. “Look, Erin, you keep saying you want me to treat you like an adult. Then act like one. Children whine. Grownups accept the consequences of their actions without complaining.”
“But it’s not fair.”
He shook his head. “I’m done discussing this, Erin. I told you no and that’s final.”
“But Daddy…” she whined.
“Punkin, I gotta be up early in the morning. I’m going to bed. Talk to me again on Monday.”
“But the party’s tomorrow night.”
“I’m aware of that. And we’ve already established you’re not going.”
Erin thrust her lower lip out in a pout. She kicked at the leg of her desk. “Then what’s the point of talking on Monday?”
Gary gave a weary sigh and shoved away from the doorjamb. “I’m not having this discussion with you now, Erin. Goodnight.”

Note the absence of “he said” and “she said.” The only attribution is “she whined,” which tells the reader how the line gets delivered. The rest of the excerpt uses beats – snippets of narrative that precede, follow or are interwoven amid dialogue – to clue readers in to action taking place with the dialogue. Sometimes, when action is concurrent with dialogue, the author will interrupt the dialogue with a beat. Like this:

Inside, Gary approached Paula G., the woman who was serving as leader for the meeting. “Hi Paula, I’m Gary” – he laid his hands on the teen’s shoulders – “and this is my daughter Erin. This is her first meeting.”

I tend to get pushback from the writers group denizens about my use of en dashes with spaces to offset beats within dialogue. As it turns out, it’s a U.K. style. U.S. style favors em dashes (—) with no spaces. For a fine discourse on use of the various dashes (en, em and 2em) in your writing, read this blog post.

Third, run your dialogue aloud to hear the cadence of the words instead of simply seeing them in print. Often, we write what we think we want our characters to say, only to find, when reading it aloud, it’s clunky or awkward. And if it sounds off to you, think how it’ll sound in your readers’ heads. And no matter how fond you may be of a bit of dialogue, sometimes it has to go. The difference between a good writer and a great writer is often the willingness to excise those bits of dialogue that don’t sound right or advance the story.

For more tips on ways to improve your dialogue, check out this helpful article from the folks at Writer’s Digest.

When you’re tackling a tough bit of dialogue, what advice do you find works best for you?


Author and Editor Rita M Reali

Rita M. Reali is an international award-winning author and longtime editor who most enjoys editing memoir, general fiction and romance, along with inspirational writing. She’s self-published four novels: Glimpse of EmeraldDiagnosis: LoveThe Unintended Hero and Second Chances – the first four in the seven-volume Sheldon Family Saga. Her fifth novel, Tender Mercies, is due out this June. As a former disc jockey in her native Connecticut, Rita used to spend her days “talking to people who weren’t there” – a skill which transferred perfectly to her being an author. Now she talks to characters who aren’t there on “a little chunk of heaven in rural Tennessee.” Contact Rita.

Rita Reali Books

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links


Welcome to No Wasted Ink’s top-ten writing articles as selected from my general surfing of the world wide web. I love to read writing articles to help me keep up with what is going on in the writing community and to learn new tips to improve my writing. I select the best ten from those and share them here with you. Enjoy.

On Trauma-Informed Writing

Mythic Structure: Refusal of the Call to Adventure

How Symbolism Adds Depth to a Story

Amazon Keywords And Atticus For Writing And Book Formatting With Dave Chesson

Nicola Barker is Our Great Post-Punk Novelist

Words Without Borders: Kaaps Writings From South Africa

When—and Whether—to Hire a Developmental Editor

4 Lessons Learned from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Build mysteries around whether characters will succeed or fail

Independent Publishing: Off The Beaten Path

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links


Happy Monday! Welcome to the No Wasted Ink top-ten writing article round-up. As I surf the web, I look for articles that interest me as a writer and then share them here on the blog with all of you. This week I found many with writing tips, marketing help for authors and other topics of interest. I hope you get as much from them as I did. Enjoy.

Guest Posting Best Practices for Serious Writers

Why Writing Second Person POV Appeals To Marginalized Writers

Your Massively Transformative Purpose

What Can You Get Away With In Fiction?

Using Magnets to Attract Readers

Talk is Cheap: Harness the True Power of Dialogue

Keeping Readers Happy With Your Novel Series

When Are You Ready for Professional Editing?

Short Stories As The Basis To An Award-Winning Author Career With Alan Baxter

Uses for Scrivener Beyond the Manuscript

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links


As we come to the final deadline for Nanowrimo, I thought I’d post a few links to writing articles to help inspire you. Keep up the good work and I wish you all success with your Nano projects! Good luck.

9 Things Every Debut Author Learns

How to Make Your Character’s Choices More Difficult

Using Conflict to Build Tension

Fight Scenes: Deep Cover & How to Write the Good Fight

The Importance of Commas, Meter, and Reading Aloud for the Fiction Writer

7 Simple Social Media Tips for Successful Authors

The Half-life of Verbs

How to Use Real People in Your Writing Without Ending Up in Court

Writing my Way Through Trauma

How to Write Faster: 8 Tips to Improve Your Writing Speed