- Email me
- Nail Your Novel: books
- FAQ: I’m a new writer: which book should I read first?
- My writing process: the picture tour
- Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and how you can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
- Reviews of Nail Your Novel
- Who’s tweeting about Nail Your Novel …
- Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel
- Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel
- Who am I?
Posts Tagged podcast
Every week, my bookseller friend Peter Snell gets customers who ask him nervously: ‘how do I write’ and ‘how do I get published’? Sometimes they give him manuscripts or book proposals. I get emails with the same questions.
So we decided to team up for a series of shows for Surrey Hills Radio. If you’re a regular on this blog, you’re probably beyond starter-level advice, but if you’re feeling your way, or your friends or family have always hankered to do what you do, this might be just the ticket.
If you follow me on Facebook you’ll have seen the various pictures of us goofing with a fuzzy microphone, recording in the bookshop while customers slink past with bemused expressions. (Yes, that tiny gizmo is the complete mobile recording kit. It’s adorable.) So far the shows have been available only at the time of broadcast on Surrey Hills Radio (Wed afternoons at 2pm BST), but the studio guys have now made podcasts so you can listen whenever you want. Shows in the back catalogue have covered
- giving yourself permission to write
- establishing a writing habit
- thinking like a writer
- getting published 101
- how to self-publish.
This week’s show will be on planning a non-fiction book and the show after that will be outlining a novel – and will also include sneak peeks of the advice I’ve been cooking up for my third Nail Your Novel, on plot. So you want to be a writer? We have the inside knowledge. Do drop by.
audio, authors, Barton's Bookshop, beginners, books, drama, entertainment, establish a writing habit, facebook, fiction, free audio, having ideas, how to start writing, how to succeed at NaNoWriMo, how to write a book, how to write a novel, ideas, inspiration, learn to write, learn to write a book, Leatherhead, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Peter Snell, podcast, Podcasts, preparing for NaNoWriMo, publishing, radio show, Roz Morris, self-publishing, start your novel, Surrey, Surrey Hills, Surrey Hills Radio, write a book, writer's block, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing business, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing life, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart, writing routine
This seems to be ‘back to basics’ week on this blog. On Thursday I scrambled out a fresher’s guide to ebooks in response to questions at a speaking engagement. And this podcast, recorded the previous week, seems to be the perfect complement. It’s with Nick Thacker, who has a regular show called Self-Publishing Answers, where he endeavours to discover the secrets to writing, publishing and selling successfully.
I’ve answered many of these questions before, but I found it interesting how my perspective on some of them has changed with experience. Especially book marketing. Normally when I’m asked about selling books, I find I run out of useful advice very quickly. I don’t buy advertising, I don’t game the charts and I don’t price strategically – all things that most indies do to get the best marketing advantage. The marketing I do is guesswork, whim and finger-crossing, mainly. Even so, I’ve noticed certain patterns that work – which I didn’t realise until I started discussing them with Nick.
We also chatted about the long-term mindset when it comes to writing – how it’s more important than ever to learn your craft and be patient before you publish. Nick confessed he’d learned a few lessons in that direction too. Anyway, if you’re looking for a bit of advice on writing, publishing and marketing, head this way and listen immediately or download. And he asked about ghostwriting too :)
audio, authors, beginners, how to market a book, how to market a selfpublished book, how to write a book, how to write a novel, interview, Livehacked, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Nick Thacker, podcast, publishing, Roz Morris, self-publishing, selfpublishing, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing business, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
Do you need help to get your novel started or finished? Four of us experienced scribblers talk about how we stay creative through the tough times and reveal our secrets for drafting, fixing and finishing, not to mention keeping our confidence. Solutions include running, composing music, meditation and lying on the floor scribbling on sheets of A4 using the hand you don’t normally write with.
My co-conspirators are Orna Ross (who is the author of Go Creative, several literary novels and leader of the Alliance of Independent Authors), Kevin Booth (who’s a translator as well as an author and trained as an actor before he took up writing), and Jessica Bell (who runs the Vine Leaves Literary Journal as well as having a parallel career as a singer-songwriter, which you might well know already from her appearances on The Undercover Soundtrack).
We’re forming the creative posse at IndieReCon, a free online conference for writers at all stages of their publishing careers. Do come over – and check out the other terrific events in the line-up. There’s info from all kinds of experts in publishing, writing and marketing.
Alliance of Independent Authors, authors, entertainment, F R E E writing, fiction, Go Creative, guest post, guest posts, having ideas, how to be creative, how to beat writer's block, how to write a novel, IndieReCon, inspiration, Jessica Bell, Kevin Booth, meditation, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, Orna Ross, Planning, podcast, Podcasts, publishing, revising, Rewriting, Roz Morris, self-publishing, seven stages of creativity, video, video posts, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, writer's block, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing life, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart, writing routine, writing to music
This weekend I guested on John Rakestraw’s Google writing hangout. He sent me a bunch of questions about dialogue, and I wrote so much in preparation that I got an epic post. Then when we got nattering on air with his co-conspirators, we delved off into other questions anyway. So I thought I’d run a dialogue special in the next few weeks. If you’d like to watch the hangout the link is at the end of this post.
(That pic is not Mr Rakestraw and friends, BTW. Tis Husband Dave at the BBC, pretending to read the news with his writing partner Jamie Thomson.)
Meanwhile, here’s today’s topic -
How do we get the characters talking?
Some manuscripts I see have no dialogue, or very little. There will be plenty of description, back story and even action, but the writer won’t have allowed the characters to step out of the narration and express themselves and interact with others. If there are conversations, they will mostly be reported instead of shown ‘live’ -
‘he told her that the best thing he’d ever done was to buy that log cabin in the woods – especially now they needed somewhere to hide until the stalker stopped watching the house’
Of course, sometimes there are good reasons to report a conversation. It’s by no means forbidden. But if all or most conversations are reported it can feel like the characters are being shepherded by the book and never acting independently – and so they don’t seem as real.
Dialogue makes characters real
Dialogue scenes let characters come to life. We see them acting, responding to other humans, experiencing events. For the reader, it’s like the difference between reading a report and being an eyewitness. They feel a personal, vivid connection with the moment.
And it’s a rich connection. Dialogue scenes allow you to demonstrate human complexity – what the people feel about each other, what their innate responses are according to their personality. (This can often create trouble for the writer, as I’ll discuss in a moment.)
What about first-person narration?
First-person narratives might need less dialogue because we already feel the character. Every piece of description, back story or other prose will be seen through the filter of that person’s psyche. So will their encounters with other people. But it will seem odd if there are no scenes where other characters are allowed to breathe, act, emote and be real.
Readers often look for dialogue before they decide to buy
Some readers flick through a book and are put off if there isn’t a good proportion of dialogue. Dialogue is easier to read than screeds of prose. But that’s not just because the paragraphs are more spaced – it’s because good dialogue is vivid.
So why do writers find it hard?
Some don’t of course. And if you’ve been reading this with a halo of confidence, could I ask if you find non-dialogue prose difficult?
This difference is usually where the problem lies.
Writing dialogue requires a specific frame of mind. When you’re in the flow of setup, action, back story or description, it’s tricky to switch to dialogue. In every other kind of narration, you control the camera, the voice of all the in-between stuff. For dialogue you have to let other minds in. That’s quite a gear-change. Especially if you have to inhabit several people, with different agendas and personalities.
Sometimes you realise, as you put yourself in their shoes, that they don’t see things the way you do. The lines you want to give them feel false. Or they run away with the story because of their responses. You have to let them find their own way, and maybe adapt what you wanted them to do. You realise a plot event is impossible because the characters won’t do it and you can’t work around it. This sense of frustration rarely happens with other types of scenes.
How to get your dialogue scenes running smoothly
Write dialogue scenes on different days from narration. Give your brain time to adjust.
Don’t put too many characters in the scene. In novels, it’s hard to manage more than three people who are all talking and responding. In fact, three’s a crowd because someone usually has to take a back seat. I’ve often seen writers try to emulate the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs where seven characters are sitting around a table. In the movie it works, but in prose it usually becomes an unmanageable mess.
Be prepared to rework a dialogue scene over and over. I’ve often had to spend several days on a dialogue scene, trying to get it truthful and authentic (not to mention interesting). Some characters can be particularly stubborn; Gene Winter in My Memories of a Future Life was exciting to use because he was unknowable and unpredictable – but this made him a devil to handle. He sounded wrong until I found something he’d agree to do. This struggle, of course, made me write better scenes.
This is the great challenge and reward of dialogue. Because you’re taking a step into the characters’ psyches, you find out what they’re really made of.
Next post: dialogue is more than talking. Watch the full discussion with John Rakestraw here.
Thanks to Budd Margolis for the pics of Dave and Jamie
There are more tips on character creation, character voice and dialogue in Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel 2
Do you have trouble writing dialogue scenes? How do you approach them?
authors, BBC, Character, character voice, characters, Dave Morris, deepen your story, dialogue, Dialogue scenes, entertainment, guest post, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Jamie Thomson, John Rakestraw, My Memories of a Future Life, news, novels, podcast, polishing, problems writing dialogue, publishing, Rakestraw Book Design, revising, Rewriting, Roz Morris, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing characters, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
‘Roz from the land of Harry Potter’ – an otherwise serious discussion of writing with John Rakestraw
When Americans interview Brits in sweltering summer heat, their thoughts turn to Harry Potter, the Beatles and the Queen. But we do also get down to serious matters. My host, John Rakestraw, had got his mitts on the characters book and wanted to quiz me about creating fictional people, killing darlings, editing, dialogue and subtext.
John was one of the earliest blogger-podcasters to pick up on Nail Your Novel. He demonstrated this by waving his copy – the primitive edition I made on Lulu when I first published it four years ago! Folks, you may overwrite your early designs and wipe the files, but you can never hide from them. (Watch for the moment when one of the other guests says ‘um, why doesn’t book 2 look like book 1…’)
Anyway, come on over to see us. And if you remember the original coffee-and-blue 6×9 edition of Nail Your Novel, give me a wave here!
authors, character building, character design, characters, characters and viewpoint, characters emotion and viewpoint, characters in search of an author, characters with secrets, darlings, fiction, fiction characters masterclass, fictional characters, great fictional characters, harry potter, host john, how to write a novel, how to write fiction, how to write fictional characters, how to write great characters, improve your novel, improve your novels characters, improve your writing, interviews, John Rakestraw, mitts, My Memories of a Future Life, podcast, podcasters, publishing, Roz Morris, subtext, sweltering summer heat, the Beatles, the Queen, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing fiction, writing masterclass, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart, writing tutorials
Why is all good fiction driven by characters? How can we widen our repertoire so our fictional people aren’t carbon copies of ourselves? What kind of research can give us greater understanding of situations we have no experience of? Should we bother to create our villains with as much empathy and insight as we lavish on our protagonists? If our MC’s enemy is utterly evil, how can we possibly crawl inside their minds – and why would we?
In the yellow corner is Joanna Penn. In the pinkish corner is me, answering her questions. We’re at her blog The Creative Penn, and you can read a text summary, download a 50-minute audio podcast or watch us grin and and wave our hands while we discuss how to write convincing and compelling fictional people. Do come over.
audio, authors, carbon copies, Character, character building, character design, characters and viewpoint, characters emotion and viewpoint, characters in search of an author, characters with secrets, deepen your story, entertainment, fiction, fiction characters masterclass, fictional characters, great fictional characters, guest post, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write fiction, how to write fictional characters, how to write great characters, ideas, improve your novel, improve your novels characters, improve your writing, inspiration, interview, Joanna Penn, literary fiction, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, podcast, posts at Creative Penn, protagonists, publishing, Roz Morris, self-publishing, The Creative Penn, video, villains, writercraft, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing fiction, writing masterclass, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart, writing tutorials
I’m at Chila Woychik’s Beyondaries ezine today, musing about what it might have been like to take ABBA’s back catalogue and try to write the plot of Mamma Mia. Those of you who’ve followed this blog since its first days might recognise the post. It was one of my very earliest, but evapourated when I moved from self-hosting. So here it is again with hand-waving. (If you remember it from – gulp – 2009, wave back in the comments.)
As before, I’m in stimulating company at Beyondaries. Dan Holloway writes about fusing perfume and poetry. Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick talks about tackling the blank page. Grace Bridges talks about stories as ‘the thin places where realities merge’. Small press editor Gray Rinehart describes life as gatekeeper of a slush pile. And proprietrix Chila talks about creativity in the very atoms of the air.
In the meantime, I’m taking a blogging break this weekend while I plough on with the next book. Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters To Life is due for release in May, so if you’re interested to know more, sign up for my newsletter.
ABBA, authors, Beyondaries, Chila Woychik, Dan Holloway, elizabeth hardwick, entertainment, fiction, Grace Bridges, Gray Rinehart, having ideas, how to write a book, how to write a musical, how to write a novel, how to write a plot, inspiration, literature, mamma mia, musicals, My Memories of a Future Life, novels, oscars, Planning, plots, plotting, podcast, Port Yonder Press, publishing, Roz Morris, self-publishing, Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick, video, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing life, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
How long does it take to write a novel? Years, months, a Nanowrimosecond? I’m riffing on this idea today at Beyondaries, the ezine of Port Yonder Press.
Port Yonder is one of those publishers whose remit I could have written myself. It looks for strong, original crossover books with award-winning potential. In charge is managing editor Chila Woychik, who recruited for her ezine a bunch of writers who like their rules thoroughly bent and kicked.
Among the other contributors is Dan Holloway, who often stops here with a challenging take on whatever I’m talking about. His video is about the music of words. Also at Beyondaries you’ll find Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick talking about finding poetry in the everyday, and Grace Bridges comparing Witi Ihimaera to Doctor Who. And of course, Chila herself on the stubborn, self-driven qualities that mark out a true creative.
If you fancy a trip beyond the usual, pull up at Beyondaries.
authors, Chila Woychik, creativity, Dan Holloway, Doctor Who, entertainment, fiction, having ideas, how to write a novel, ideas, inspiration, literary fiction, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, novels, podcast, poetry, Port Yonder Press, publishing, Roz Morris, self-publishing, Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick, Witi Ihimaera, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing life, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart, writing style
How to self-publish an ebook and get a traditional book deal – guest spot on The Write Lines podcast
When I was first discovering blogs – and looking for a home for my own fiction – I discovered The Write Lines on BBC Radio Oxford. Presenter and novelist Sue Cook brought together experts from UK publishing to give advice, information and resources for new writers.
Fast forward through a few revolutions and the latest series (now a podcast) is exploring indie publishing – both as a leg-up to a traditional deal and a viable option in itself. Some of the authors whose blogs I was reading as the first series aired are her experts this time – including Nicola Morgan and Catherine Ryan Howard – and me. I feel like I’ve graduated. Exciting times…
In my episode I’m sharing a studio with indie superstars Mark Edwards (one half of the Edwards/Louise Voss partnership) and Mel Sherratt. You can either listen on the site or download….
Amazon, authors, beginners, bestseller lists, bestsellers, books, bookshops, crime novelist, crime novels, ebooks, entertainment, how to have an Amazon bestseller, how to make a print book, how to publish an ebook, how to write a book, how to write a novel, interview, Kindle, literature, Louise Voss, Mark Edwards, marketing, media, Mel Sherratt, My Memories of a Future Life, novels, podcast, print books, publishing, retailing books, Roz Morris, self-publishing, Sue Cook, The Write Lines, Voss and Edwards, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing business, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing life, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
Oh yes it will. Or so my novel asserts. I’m proud to be interviewed today by Washington journalist Bill Thompson for his new site The Bookcast. He put me through my paces with all the big questions – reincarnation, hypnosis, destiny – and whether we seek answers from fiction. Oh, and whether any of my novel came from real life (mine).
Bill’s also looking for indie authors to interview – so if that’s you, head over to his site and drop him a line.
Bill Thompson, how to write a novel, interview, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence, novels, podcast, Podcasts, publishing, Roz Morris, The Bookcast, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing life
I post 4 to 5 useful writing links per day… and other stuffMy Tweets
- ‘Summoning Christmas in July’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Jan Ruth December 17, 2014
- Living the stuff of novels: the ghostwriter’s lot December 14, 2014
- ‘Harmony from fragments’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Rochelle Jewel Shapiro December 10, 2014
- Editing seminar snapshots: writing for a blog vs writing for a book December 7, 2014
- Editing seminar snapshots: negative criticism and author control December 5, 2014
- ‘We become readers in our listening’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, EJ Runyon December 3, 2014
- Editing seminar snapshots – how long to allow for rewrites December 2, 2014
Sign up for my newsletter
See what I did there…