Another week of writing in the books. Here’s how I did.
I’ve been reading a fair amount of Elmore Leonard, a writer whose style I really enjoy. Today’s quote is another of his pearls of wisdom.
“Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.”
― Elmore Leonard
This is another one of Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing (it’s #3). I agree with it, and I try not to use anything but “said” in dialogue if I can help it. In fact, lately, I’ve been using fewer dialogue tags of any kind, as I often find I just don’t need them. Of course, there are folks who disagree with this rule, and I get that. Elmore Leonard wrote in a pretty specific style, and since I’m typically going for something in the same ballpark with my own stuff (though I would never actually compare my work to the great Elmore Leonard’s), his rules, including this one, work for me and help me tighten my writing.
Leonard also says the following about dialogue tags, and I think this is the real heart of the rule.
“The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied.”
― Elmore Leonard
I believe dialogue tags are a little like adverbs. We sometimes overuse them (especially the more descriptive ones) because we don’t trust the reader to get what we’re saying without them. In other words, as Leonard says above, we’re “sticking our noses in” when we don’t need to.
The novel is still with my critique partners. Well, the first wave of them, anyway, and I expect it’ll be a couple more weeks before I get anything back. Early feedback is positive, and so far the issues brought to my attention seem pretty easy to address. That’s not to say there won’t be larger issues, because of course there will, and I’m prepared to put in the work to set them right.
Last week, I also started going through the 35,000 words that I’ve written for the next novel. I like what I have so far, and I’m currently tinkering with the outline. I’m not quite ready to dive into full-on draft mode yet, but soon.
I heavily revised a short story last week, and I think it’s one of my best. It had been through my critique partners a few months ago, and there were a lot of notes. So I finally got my shit together and dove in, cut away a good 1,000 words, and ended up with something tighter, leaner, and I hope a whole lot better than what I started with. I subbed the story to Uncanny Magazine which recently opened to submissions.
Got a few submission out last week, including the aforementioned story to Uncanny.
One of the rejections was for a shortlisted story from a pro market. That particular story has now been shortlisted by three pro markets, so it’s come close, but no cigar yet. I sent it out yesterday again.
The two submissions last week put my at 79 for the year (I’m actually at 80 total with the submission yesterday).
Two blog posts last week.
8/6/18: A Week of Writing: 7/30/18 to 8/5/18
The usual weekly writing update.
8/10/18: Good Stories Get Rejected Too
This post is about dealing with the rejection blues with a positive attitude and some hard data.
This week I’m going to continue to assess what I have with my next novel while I wait for feedback on Late Risers. There’s also a couple of markets open to submissions that I want to sub to, and I need to revise at least one story for that purpose.
As I mentioned above, I subbed a story to Uncanny Magazine. They’re an SFWA-qualifying market with pro rates (0.8/word) and very well respected in the industry. They haven’t said exactly how long they’ll be open to fiction submissions, so if you have something that fits, get it in. Link to the submission guidelines below:
That was my week. How was yours?
‘we’re “sticking our noses in” when we don’t need to’ – love it!