Today is Sample Sunday on my blog. I put up a short excerpt from one of my books for your reading enjoyment But the rest of this week is going to be a little different. This week is dedicated to writers. Tips for writers Tips on formatting your book. Tips on promoting your book. Wednesday, there will be an interview with Amazon bestselling author, Melissa Foster. The weekend is going to be a blog hop with about 200 other authors.
Happy April Fools Day!
She was going to die.Kari Davis knew it as well as she knew her name.
Less than an hour ago, she’d been terrified that she would be killed—now, it appeared Mother Nature was calling dibs. What did it matter? Dead was dead. At least the storm wouldn’t go out if its way to make sure her death was as painful as possible.
A light snow had turned into a whiteout. Visibility was nearly non-existent. She couldn’t tell for sure that she was even on the road. Her hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles were cramping.
“Calm down,” she muttered. The last twenty-four hours had been a living nightmare—she hadn’t thought things could get any worse, but of course, they had. The snow had begun slowly, and then built gradually. The radio was warning motorists to stay off the roads.
If only she could. Pulling over wasn’t an option. Not if she wanted to live. She tried to relax her death grip on the steering wheel.
Before she could take her next breath, the car started careening out of control. Immediately she took her foot off the gas pedal, instinctively remembering her driver’s education course from years before.
She felt herself spinning and released an involuntary scream. She couldn’t see anything but white. She didn’t know how to drive in this kind of weather. All she could do is hold on. Was she supposed to put on the brakes? Straighten the wheel? God, help me, she thought wildly. She just couldn’t remember.
As if in answer to her prayer, the car began to slow, then finally came to a halt. Her hands were shaking badly as she relaxed her grip on the wheel. What was she supposed to do now? She didn’t know if she was headed in the same direction or not. For that matter, she didn’t even know if she was still on the road or if she’d ended up on the side of the road.
It wasn’t until then that she realized the car had died. She turned the key in the ignition, but it wouldn’t start. She pumped the gas and tried again. Nothing. “Damn it!”
Here she sat, in the middle of nowhere with a dead car and the blizzard from hell blowing outside. There was no one to call; by now, Derrick would have convinced everyone that she was crazy—or worse, a murderer. She had no idea who she could trust, so had just run into the worst storm in Oklahoma history, apparently.
Her eyes burned as she considered her situation. Dead car. Middle of the night. Storm of the century. With a muttered curse, she tried once more to start the car. Still nothing. There was nothing she could do.
Her eye caught on the book lying on the seat next to her. With an almost hysterical laugh, she picked it up. At least I won’t be bored, she thought wildly, and tossed the book aside.
Kari considered getting out of the car and trying to walk—but didn’t—at least not yet. She’d read somewhere that you were supposed to stay with a stranded vehicle. Right now, though, she wanted away.
Would she rather freeze in a car or let Derrick and his henchmen find her? What did it matter? she thought yet again. At least with the cold, she’d just fall asleep. She had little doubt that if Derrick got a hold of her that her death would be far different. She shivered, both from cold and from reaction. There was nothing she could do. If a car didn’t come along soon—she’d freeze before Derrick had a chance to find her.
She didn’t have any clue at all where she was. Somewhere between Oklahoma City and Shawnee. Now, though, she didn’t even know which direction was which.
Cautiously, she opened the door and stepped out of the car. It was too dark to see anything much, but at least it looked like the car was on the edge of the road. At least some poor soul wouldn’t plow into her car. Freezing, she climbed back into the car. Damn it! Just a little luck would be nice. Someone will stop. Someone safe.
She wanted to live! Not that it mattered one iota what she wanted.
She’d run from Derrick as fast and as far as she could—only to put herself more at risk.
It wasn’t supposed to snow like this here! She was sitting on some road in the middle of central Oklahoma. She cursed her own stupidity for getting off the freeway. At least there, someone would have spotted her—even just a cop doing patrols.
But here, no one would find her. She hadn’t seen one car the entire time she’d been on the road—and that had been when she could see the road. Now, she had no certain idea where the road even was. With a tired sigh, she leaned back and closed her eyes. At least she had a flashlight, and wasn’t in total darkness. She guessed that was some small consolation. Part of her wanted to grab the hammer in the backseat and bash something, but of course, she didn’t do that. As it was, she was freezing. As satisfying as breaking a window might be, it would also make her freeze a lot quicker. Suddenly, she was tired. Just a little sleep. She’d been running on adrenaline for hours. It had easily been twenty-four hours since she’d slept.
She’d sleep a few hours until morning. Maybe someone would come by once the sun was out. Surely at least some road crews would be out trying to clear the major roads.
With that thought, she remembered she’d avoided the major roads. She wasn’t anywhere near a major road right now. That likely had as much to do with her not seeing another car for hours as the storm did.
Someone had to live around here somewhere—but even as she had the thought, she couldn’t stop the pessimistic thought that she wouldn’t be waking up. Even with her coat on, she was already freezing. Her hands felt like blocks of ice. The radio had said the temperature was in the single digits. She was more than sure the chill factor was much colder than that. Maybe if she layered her clothes? Would it matter? Probably not, she decided gloomily. She’d be likely frozen by morning.
Today I'm going to be talking about writing dialogue, whether in first person or third. I've read so many books in the last few weeks with major issues within dialogue. Below are some samples from my own writing--both done correctly and incorrectly. Can you tell which is which? The answers will be at the bottom.
1. "Eat," he said gently. "You're safe here."
2. "Eat." He said gently. "You're safe here."
3. "Eat," he said gently, "you're safe here."
Which do you think are wrong in the above 3 samples? Not sure? Basic for you? Here's another.
1. After a long pause, he released her shoulders. "We’re going to my house. It’s just a few miles up the road."
2. After a long pause, he released her shoulders, "We're going to my house. It's just a few miles up the road."
3. After a long pause, he released her shoulders, "we're going to my house. It's just a few miles up the road."
How bout with internal dialogue in third person writing? Which is correct?
1. Oh God, someone has to find me.
2. Oh God, someone has to find me.
3. Oh God, someone has to find me.
In the first sample, the first and third are correct. Normally, I prefer to use the first example.
In sample two, the first is correct. With action tags, normally a period is used. Action is a way to keep the reader from becoming confused as to the speaker. Long blocks of dialogue can be confusing for readers. Also remember that when there is a long block of dialogue that takes more than one paragraph, you do not close the quotes until you are finished. Like this:
"I don't want to tell you about this. You would be in danger. He's a murderer and I don't want to be responsible.
"Last week I watched him shoot a man and he's going to kill me too."
Now, of course, this is just a small paragraph used for demonstration purposes only. By not closing the tag in the first paragraph, the reader knows it is the same speaker talking.
In the third, the first is correct.
Dialogue is a tricky thing for many writers. There are some great resources online that you can use. Remember, 'he said/she said' gets boring. Mix in some action tags, too.
One reminder dialogue punctuation. If an exclamation point is needed--by all means, use it. But don't overuse them, or they lost their impact. Never use multiple punctuation in a sentence. Same thing with question marks. I've read several recently with paragraphs like this:
"I hate you!!!!" she screamed at the top of her lungs.
Give the reader some credit. The fact she's screaming at the top of her lungs and one exclamation point make the point.
Some writers think you need to use a tag with each line of dialogue. You don't. Read the following:
"I hate you!" she screamed
"Not as much as I hate you," he yelled
"I don't care!" she said.
"You will!" he said.
See how boring that is? How bout something like this:
"I hate you!" Her fists were clenched tightly as she glared at him.
"Not as much as I hate you!"
She wasn't going to let him get to her. No way, no how. The veins in his temple were throbbing. She knew that meant he was furious. Too bad. So was she. "I don't care."
"You will!" He turned on his heel and walked out the door, slamming it behind him.
So which sample is more exciting? Which one pulls you into the story? Remember the golden rule of fiction: SHOW DON'T TELL. Her clenched fists show her anger. Since we are in her point of view--she's the one that notices his throbbing veins. We can see he's angry by her view of him. Also we can tell by the slamming of the door.
Any more basic dialogue questions? Just post them below.