Fast Flash Friday: Prompt #3

A lone shrine in a quiet wood. Swallows veer through the trees, tails as dainty as teaspoon handles. Paper lanterns hang from the boughs on wires so thin they seem to float like ghosts.


Meditative Monday: Big Reflections On Giving Our Writing “Energy” And Tiny Reflections On Being “That Weird Kid”

Hey everybody! Make sure you’ve got your tea and coffee somewhere close to your mouth hole because it’s time for another round of Meditative Monday.

Today’s topic was actually inspired by something that I’ve always wondered, but I always  found extremely hard to understand.

It’s this idea of art that is “energetic” and then art that is more “rigid”. The best example of this would be to look at drawings done by people in Disney or people who work in animation and related film industries. Their drawings have a lot of energy, bounce, and exaggeration.

“Rigid” art tends to be less expressive, but that’s not to say that it’s not cool-looking or doesn’t have any appeal. Anime straddles this often, so does video game concept art, still life, and realism.

For a long time, I wondered what is that “energy” that it has. And since I bias my focus on writing a lot, I started to wonder, “well, can I somehow get that “energy” from animation and put that into my writing?” It’s something that I want in my writing really badly, so I’ve been trying really hard to break down what that “energy” look like?

And this is what I came up with:

There are writers who have it on a vivid level. Aka. Anthony Doerr, Donna Tartt, Aimee Bender, Rebecca Mc Clanahan. These are the folks that you read and feel like you just sponge up their entire world and feel every sensation because it’s described so well.

Then there are writers who have this “energy” on a character level. I feel JK Rowling, Octavia Butler, and George R.R. Martin fit here for very different reasons. George RR Martin and Octavia Butler for staying true to realism and grittiness of human nature. JK Rowling’s characters all have memorability, but many of them are memorable in a more caricaturish, cartoony way to me. And of course, the grand guest of honor that I feel I must put here, is Margaret Mitchell.

Next there are writers who have a energetic voices. Rick Riordan falls in this category. John Green does too. Johnny Truant also falls in this category. So does David Gaughran to me. I think this category is a biased towards people who write in first person because third person tends to be all about trying to sound more “neutral” and bookish. However, another thing I notice is that people who are more humorous and free in their writing tend to stick out more for this.

And finally there’s people who just have this energy for emotions and making you feel stuff. Octavia Butler goes here. JK Rowling goes here specifically for The Order of the Phoenix. Erin Hunter sits comfortably in this spot. Margaret Mitchell makes a return here. She might have to fight with Octavia Butler in Writing Heaven for top spot though.

Now you might be wondering how this has anything to do with being a weird kid or if you can snatch up any of this energy for your own writing. Don’t worry. I’m getting to that, but the two topics are braided together, so keep your eyes peeled.

1.) Word Choice

If you want to push your writing to be more energetic in the “vivid” sense, as I did, I found this is where I had to direct the bulk of my focus. And contrary to what you might think, this does not involve learning new words.

In fact, you don’t actually have to learn any to pull this off. Of course, you still should. New words always help with getting more specific details. And particularity makes the reader slow down to read your writing more carefully in a good way.

But realistically, to get more energy in this category, you only need to know how to use the words you already know in a more creative way.

Anthony Doerr is the king of doing this.

He’ll write about peaches slopping into a bowl. People crunching down to look at something instead just bending. Slop and crunch aren’t special words. But we’re so used to seeing them in overused contexts like crunchy cereal or sloppy clothes.

Because Doerr uses familiar words in new ways, it sets his typical WWII story worlds apart from all of the ones I’ve ever read.

And that’s not all. Sometimes he’ll twist the part of speech. Nouns suddenly become verbs. Verbs suddenly become nouns. Sometimes those verbs and nouns get stickied together to make fun and awkward new words to create just the sensation that the story needs.

That’s the joy of reading people with that sort of energy in their writing. There’s just so much new and exciting sensation that your mind just implodes on every page.

But enough about that. If I keep going, I might start drooling or something.

2.) Voiciness

This sort of falls under word choice, but voiciness is different because you can pick all the right words and still sound about as unique as a brick in a wall. Doerr probably ain’t winning any awards for voice. His style is vivid off the charts, but you don’t really get the sense that a person is talking to you when you read his novels. Maybe in his memoir, but that’s a memoir.

Writers with strong voices make us feel like we’re talking to a unique person that you won’t find anywhere else, hence why third person has trouble here.

Second person, I feel can do fine here, but it’s a hard POV to pull off if you don’t know what you’re doing.

First person can have a field day here, but please don’t go deciding to write your novel in first person because you think it will give you easy voiciness.

It doesn’t. 

Voice is a blend of what words are used (level of education), how those words are used, accents and regional dialects, if any, character background filters (occupations, hobbies, experiences, etc), and a person’s unique way of seeing the world.

First-person POV does none of that. All it does is give us the pronouns. Personally, I feel like a writer might as well pick third person if their character is going to speak standard English with no injection of that character’s personality.

If all that comes easy to you, you’re in a good place. This subject might deserve another tap another day, but for now, we move onward!

3.) Humor/ Willingness To Write Freely

I’m not sure what it is about humor that engages us, but it’s worth a mention alongside writing freely.

Something I notice about people who write humor is that they never hold back. It’s rarely ever a tiny “quiet” humor. It’s bold, it’s in your face, and it’s unapologetically free, weird and awkward.

I suppose that’s why it resonates with me personally because weird and awkward is me in a nutshell. I can’t get with the popular, everyone is doing it kind of mentality. I feel like I die a little bit inside every time I’ve ever try. I’ve never been that kid that “fits anywhere”.  I’ve been more of the kid that’s always been ignored or marginalized to the side. There never seemed to be a place where I could, and even today, I still don’t really have a place like that. But I won’t really gripe about that, and if you’ve ever been that “that weird kid”, it’s not all bad.

Not having a “place”, I think, strengthened my writing a lot. Without lots of friends talking to me or outside influences dipping fingers in my work, my writing became what it’s supposed to be.

Now that being said, I admit none of this probably sounds very funny, but it does adhere to that writing freely part!

That’s something, ain’t it?

4.) Emotion

This one…

This one is hard guys. I’m sorry. 😦

But it is doable! If I can do it, so can you.

Getting good at emotions is half paying attention to yourself so that you can feel and label the sensations associated with your feelings, and half paying attention to others for physical reactions.

I have the blessing and curse of being a maladaptive daydreamer, which pretty much daydreaming, but with a catch.

I sometimes do it out loud and too much. 

So you can imagine what a pain it can be to daydream when you don’t mean to, in places that you don’t mean to, and when you desperately need to get something done. And for a while, I thought that the best thing to do was stop it and just try to be a normal functioning human being.

And boy was I wrong.

Because one, trying to stop it made it exponentially worse, and two it was actually making my writing better!

Think about it, if you need to write a scene where there are really strong emotions, it’s a much bigger pain to write that scene when you’re feeling completely relaxed. But because I’d often daydream the scene that was going on out loud, I’d just generate the emotions automatically and have an immediate reference for sensations, faces, body language, and dialogue.

Doesn’t really solve the problem about daydreaming when I shouldn’t, but hey, I’d rather be a little weird and good at writing than not weird and terrible at it. I’ve been thinking of taking up improv or amateur acting or something so at least I can put it to good use.

You may not feel the same about whatever makes you weird, but I’m of the mind that there’s gotta be at least one thing useful about our weirdness.

And even more so, weirdness is always useful for writing!

Fast Flash Friday: Prompt #2

Hey everybody! I’m back with another prompt for The Writing Sketchbook so let’s jump right in.

Prompt #2 Go!

He’s wearing sharp-alligator shoes. And equally sharp triangled lens shades. He’s in a snazzy beige suit and a matching fedora. A million dollar smile. He loves to host parties and take the ladies of his life out on grand nights out in town. He’s in love with love and arguably not with the women he dates.

Meditative Monday: The Joy Of Learning I Didn’t Need 9000 Social Media Profiles


This is going be one interesting Meditative Monday for me. I’m not usually one for gushing over social media. In fact, as you can probably tell from the me renaming my site and trimming the schedule, I don’t like anything that sounds like extra work.

And there was nothing that confused me more for quite a long time than wondering if I needed Twitter, Instagram, and all this other crazy junk that other people were using.

I do know folks who harp about social media being the “end all be all” for marketing. I was actually told by someone that I needed to be on Twitter, have Instagram, and all sorts of platforms that I’ve never heard of in order to be “successful”.

But that didn’t make any sense to me. It still doesn’t make any sense to me.

Why would anyone force themselves onto a platform they don’t like to force marketing on an audience that doesn’t really want to be sold to anyway?

To me, that just sounds like a recipe for everyone involved to be really miserable.

With social media there’s two sides I hear a lot. Either it’s ‘OMG! You have to have a/n (insert platform name) account’ it’s so good cuz I have a bajillion followers, or ‘social media isn’t working’.

Back and forth arguments just leave me wishing I could crawl under a couch.

So I turned to the knowledge of some more successful authors to see what they had to say on the subject, first Tim Grahl and his book Your First 1000 Copies.

And here was his two cents about it:

 Social media can make an author platform stronger by giving it a boost when it’s already built and functioning. But social media alone cannot make an author platform strong. Bestselling authors use social media to extend their outreach plan, not to represent all of it. They use social media to support and complement their core assets: their email list, their blog, their guest posts, their outreach.

And here’s some tidbits from David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital:

Even having a popular blog on writing or publishing (as I do) is of minimal use when selling books that aren’t about, you guessed it, writing or publishing. You may know that already, but here’s something you may not know: a popular blog on writing or publishing doesn’t even sell that many books on that exact topic, outside of the launch itself.


A social media platform is neither a necessary or sufficient condition of success. Some writers seem to think a platform like this is even more important if you don’t have the backing of a publisher, but it’s simply untrue. Authors such Michael Wallace and David Dalgish have sold approximately a million books between them without spending much on any of the stuff traditionally called platform building.

Being a new author myself, you can imagine the sigh of relief that came out of me.

Thank the clouds of jeebus, I can focus on writing and not have to run around trying to get on everything I see. I can just set up my little email list and go back to my little hole and just focus on the marketing that does the heavy lifting.

But you have to admit, the pressure we get to be on every bit of social media is overwhelming. Now it’s getting to point where jobs require it

I acknowledge that some people out there make it work like a charm. Some of you might be rolling in stacks of moolah and then go jump into your swimming pool of gold because your twitter following or blog or what have you pushed you to success.

So take what I’m about to say next with a pinch of salt, but here are some of the issues I feel that there is with social media.

We Still Don’t Understand The Full Story Of What Social Media Does To Us

It’s no secret now that social media has been linked to feeling more lonely and isolated and can be terribly addicting. Sure it connects us to people and ideas that we wouldn’t have known otherwise and I love that about it.

But at the same time, I’m a big believer that information can poison a person the same way fast food, unclean water, stress, and negative thinking can make you sick. This is why I don’t watch TV, and this is why I’ve killed my Facebook. I get overwhelmed easily by too much and negative information, but also the addiction to wishing people would like my stuff is downright unhealthy.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened Facebook on my phone to look at nonsense when I could’ve gotten a decent days worth of writing done.

I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from Facebook angry, scared, or unsettled because of reading something that I had no business exposing myself to.

I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten irrationally frustrated with the ‘Friend’ and connection aspect of Facebook and social media platforms because I’ve honestly never felt ‘more connected’ to anyone because they share something with me on a social media platform.

If anything, I feel less connected from being more connected. Maybe I’m doing friendship wrong or something, but the idea of being constantly connected to everyone I know via a platform is both unnerving and draining on both my productivity and my attention span.

I’ve often been told by my family that I’m like a little old person in a young person’s body,  and used to resent that. But now I’m starting to see what exactly they’re talking about and more and more, I feel myself getting drawn to ‘old-school’ ways of doing social things like seeing a person’s face when I’m talking to them, calling someone up to talk, or emailing them.

One of the most eye-opening moments to me…

It was a day when I got onto the bus to go back to my apartment and I decided not to look at my phone for the whole ride.

And the first thing I noticed?

Everyone’s head was buried in their phones. Minus the bus driver of course.

This is not over just one bus ride. Or limited to just the bus.

I’ve seen this everywhere.

Now it’s to the point where we bring our phones to the table when we’re out with friends. I’m unfortunately guilty of doing this one sometimes, but I’ve been making progress on cleaning myself up.

I’m even debating on doing away with phones altogether when my contract is up in June.

A scary thought these days, I know.

Today it seems like we need to have a way to connect with others and for others to be connected to us. But I often wonder who really benefits from this?

Something that I’ve come to terms with is realizing that I don’t actually have a phone for me. It’s for other people to reach me. And other people rarely do this aside from family and spam callers, so I don’t see the value in keeping one aside from being able to call 911.

I’ll have to work something out about that, but keeping a phone for other people to contact me?


I highly doubt I’ll be missed.

Jumping On Too Many Social Media Platforms Can Spread You Too Thin

Scheduling tweets, trying to come up with a clever post for Facebook, maintaining your blog, doing this, doing that… Just thinking about it is enough to give me a headache.

I’m not the most organized person, so being everywhere is a nightmare. I’ve only just started getting better at focusing and being happy with the help of Calm’s meditation programs. I really don’t want to lose this progress.

But on a side-note, I feel like if someone is not a patient person, then you’re subscribing for exponentially more disappointment and frustration when social media doesn’t produce the expectations you want.

For me, that’s not being fair to social media, as platforms weren’t designed specifically for our marketing expectations. It’s not being fair to ourselves or our writing either. At the end of the day, people aren’t buying our social media accounts or posts, they’re buying our work.

Sure you can make the argument that planning ahead for launch doesn’t hurt, but even that’s something you’ve got to be careful with because 100,000 followers might sound like the dream, but what do those 100,000 matter if they don’t care about the stuff you’re putting out?

The Good Stuff That Comes Out Of All Of This

I know I’ve bashed social media so much so far, but please don’t let anything I’ve said make you want to dump all your platforms.

If you love Twitter, you do Twitter. If you love Tumblr, you do some Tumblr. Whatever works is valid. Wherever your happiness and your money is at the end of the day, that’s where the focus should be in my opinion.

Besides, I haven’t given up on other social media platform completely! I actually started a Pinterest account. 😀 Because this account is just for me and I don’t share the actual account with friends or anyone I know, I’ve actually gotten productive use out of it.

The Pinterest account is actually what inspired me to take my drawing more seriously again. It gives me a steady stream of references for drawing that I can experiment with and healthy food ideas that I make at home for my family. I don’t spend ridiculous amounts of time on it. It’s the perfect win-win for me.

And the best part?

Pinterest has a follow feature, but I find that I’m not attached to it the way I was about Facebook or other mediums. I was actually shocked and confused the first time I saw someone follow me in my notifications because it didn’t occur to me that people would do that.

But hey, I never said I was the best at the internet.


As an new author struggling to get a foothold in the world and learn the ropes, it can be downright terrifying to get in there and start building your audience. Out here on the web there’s so much information and you can never tell who is right or wrong or even if it’s just your unique situation that’s killing your sales.

But when it comes to what helped me make the ultimate decision to just focus my attention on my writing, I feel like I can’t leave here without mentioning Mary Buckham. I found out about her from her Writing Active Setting series, and I love it because it helped me a lot when I tried to get better at description.

So one day, I worked up the courage to email her.

For me, that’s asking for a lot, as I do have social anxiety, so cold-calling takes a freakish amount of psyching up. I figured that she’d be busy, or not care, or maybe not even see my email.

But she did.

And I was happy to find she had huge thick paragraphs of really good advice to give. I still keep them and look at them as I check things off on my author’s to-do list.

But the most important bit in it what she said is this…

Don’t drive yourself crazy with trying to do all social media sites or approaches at once. But now’s the time to dip your toes into the water and see what you enjoy doing in connecting with potential readers who are reading what you are writing. How do you know who they are? Because you’re following authors who are writing what you are writing, too.
I hope this helps a little. Plan for success. Take baby steps in learning what happens after you’re published before you are and you’ll be patting yourself on the back down the road instead of drowning 🙂

Hopefully, this helps to ease some worries out there. It’s helped to ease mine when I thought I’d go crazy from all this marketing business and it’s definitely helped me become more comfortable with being an author.

Fast Flash Friday: The Writing Sketchbook Project And Prompt #1

Hey everybody!

I know what you’re probably thinking…

It’s Friday, what in the name of butt-monkeys almighty are you doing posting things?

I had that same exact thought yesterday, but I decided, “Meh, I’ll do it anyway.” You never know who you might help or inspire with what you say, so I figure that this is worth a shot.

But also, I am still staying true to my motto of “as long as it doesn’t strain my writing” by doing this because this doesn’t actually cost me too much extra time or effort.

Though now you might be wondering what this is referring to. As the title suggests, this is The Writing Sketchbook. It came from the idea I’ve been having for a while because as some of you know, I love writing and drawing and even more I love thinking of ways to combine the two.

And my favorite writing exercises of all time is the Character Sketch and the Setting Sketch. These are basically where I listen to a music piece and craft a whole new character or setting on the spot for that piece. My now 600+ pages of freewriting documents are full of these little tidbits that are sort of not doing much on my end.

So this is where The Writing Sketchbook comes in.

I know some people out there like pre-made prompts and ideas to help them when they get stuck, so I don’t mind sharing my writing sketches as prompts here. I’m not using all 600+ pages of them anyway, so feel free to use it or ignore it.

But what I will say is this…

Because they come from my freewriting, there are a lot of sentence fragments since it’s mostly a stream-of-conscious style. I’d like to preserve that if you don’t mind.

So without further ado…

Here’s the Prompt #1.

In the rain. The drenched telephones stretching high toward a dreary cloud-sheeted gloom. The rain patters endlessly. Streetlights shed a muddled glow in the street water. Condensation fogs the windows of the lonely red car on the sidewalk. The streets lay empty. No one is driving. No one cares for the run-down shack of a house on the corner. The missing roof shingles. The weedy lawn. The abandoned tricycle behind the chain-linked fence.

Meditative Monday: The Struggle For Patience And The Bigger Struggle Against Anxiety

Dear Reader…

As you sit and grab your coffee, tea, or whatever favorite morning beverage you usually drink alongside this post, let’s have a little chat.

Today’s topic is patience and anxiety.

If patience comes easy to you, I’m jelly. If patience comes easy to you in all aspects of life, I’m peanut butter and jelly with green tea and equally green bananas.

Patience doesn’t come easy to me, and I find that it’s a hard art to keep in this day where we can almost make things happen the instant we have them. Even if you’re not an author, you might be able to relate.

There’s always someone telling us: Do this and your business startup will make millions! Do this and you’ll have millions of followers! Do this and your readership will skyrocket!

So naturally we try it and then…poof.

Nothing happens.

Or maybe we see a little tick, but it’s not anything substantial.

The part that a lot of people leave out of their titles and clickbait ads is how much patience is required.

There’s the patience needed to actually get through a book draft, which is hard enough for many. There’s the patience to not shake the computer screen when promotions only show you the numbers of a sales drop and not the cause. There’s the patience to keep chipping away at social media outlets even when it feels like nothing is working. There’s the patience for editing. Patience for book covers.

Sometimes it gets so bad for me that it feels like it not even the current problem anymore. I feel like I need patience for patience.

If any of these sound like you, hey you’re not alone at least. There was no patience class in school, or stress management class, or anxiety management (or at least for me there wasn’t).

But the good news in all this is that I’m learning. Calm has a small part of a program dedicated just to learning more patience, and I’ve had that on repeat these last few days because I’ve picked my old drawing hobby again.

And it’s been hell.

It’s like all the anxiety and fear that left me alone in writing and the ones that never bother me when I make music, suddenly got dumped on me during drawing. It was overwhelming at first, hearing all that negative self-talk being extremely loud and obnoxious. Sometimes it got so awful that I kind of just had to put the paper down.

But me being me, I couldn’t just sit there and take that. I’m one of those people that can’t stand being ordered around. I don’t even like being ordered around by my own self. I’ll be damned if I let a passing feeling tell me what to do.

So I tried again.

And again.

And again.

Every time I felt myself getting unhappy, I’d go back to Calm’s patience meditation and remind myself that I’m expecting too much too soon and that I’ve got to take baby steps like every other artists out there.

Drawing, I feel, is a harsher environment than writing because with writing, you can fix it in the next draft and polish the same thing until it shines.

Drawing doesn’t baby you. Sure you can draw over stuff (assuming you’re using pencil or something that’s erasable), but if you suck, you see it right away and it’s demoralizing.

There’s also the fact that there’s so much to learn at such a tender stage. Perspective, human anatomy, color, light and values, proportions, creature design, hair, drapery and wrinkles… Even if you’re motivated to work through your mistakes, the sheer amount of shit that you have trek through is tiring. This is probably my biggest problem area.

Anxiety, I will punch in the face, but impatience is sneaky. Impatience entices me with stuff I like doing more and other stuff that I should be getting done, like writing, and by the time I notice it’s getting me, the damage has already been done.

But that’s where my new budding patience is coming in.

Thursday, I finally managed to pick up the sketchbook for a few hours to practice doodling characters. Maybe by the time you all read this, I’ll be able to keep up that duration.

But baby steps folks.

Always patient baby steps.



“The Dos and Don’ts to Dialogue Tags”

by Ryan Lanz

Writers use dialogue tags constantly. In fact, we use them so often that readers all but gloss over them. They should be invisible. However, there are ways to misuse them and make them stand out.

In an effort to avoid that, let’s take a closer look at dialogue tags. Toward the end of “Tag travesties” is something I sorely wish someone had told me before I started writing.


Why do we use dialogue tags?
The simple answer is that we use them to indicate who’s speaking. In visual media, such as movies or television, the viewer can easily tell who’s talking by lip movement and camera angles. When reading a book, obviously that’s not an option.


Tag travesties
There are certainly ways to misuse dialogue tags. When I was a new writer, I felt compelled to overwrite. I ‘m sure every new writer goes through a version of this. I observed how successful writers used simple tags like “said/asked” and thought to myself, that’s boring. I’m going to be an awesome writer by making them more interesting. You don’t have to admit it aloud, writers, but we all know that most of us have. Let’s look at an example of this:

  • “We can’t cross this river,” Alanna exclaimed repugnantly.
  • John crossed the room and shouted disgustedly, “I’ll never take you with me.”
  • “This has been the worst day ever,” Susie cried angrily.

For those of you who still aren’t convinced, let’s up the dosage with a paragraph:

Hank crossed the room and sat down. “We should have never waited this long for a table,” he seethed, leaning over to glare at her. 
“If you wanted a better spot, you should have called ahead for a reservation,” Trudy returned pointedly.
“Well, perhaps if you didn’t take so long to get ready, I could have,” he countered dryly.

Can you imagine reading an entire book like that? *shiver*

So why do new writers feel the urge to be that . . . creative with their dialogue tags? Back in the beginning, I thought the typical tags of “said/asked” were too boring and dull. It didn’t take me long to realize that dull (in this context) is the point.

Image your words as a window pane of glass, and the story is behind it. Your words are merely the lens that your story is seen through. The thicker the words, the cloudier the glass gets. If you use huge words, purple prose, or crazy dialogue tags, then all you’re doing is fogging up the glass through which your reader is trying to view your story. The goal is to draw as little attention to your actual words as possible; therefore, you keep the glass as clear as possible, so that the reader focuses on the story. Using tags like “said/asked” are so clear, they’re virtually invisible.

Now, does that mean that you can’t use anything else? Of course not. Let’s look further.


Alternate dialogue tags
Some authors say to never use anything other than “said/asked,” while others say to heck with the rules and use whatever you want. Some genres (such as romance) are more forgiving about using alternate dialogue tags. I take a more pragmatic approach to it. I sometimes use lines like:

“I’m glad we got out of there,” she breathed.

The very important question is how often. I compare adverbs and alternate dialogue tags to a strong spice. Some is nice, but too much will spoil the batch. Imagine a cake mix with a liter of vanilla flavoring, rather than the normal tablespoon. The more often you use anything other than “said/asked,” the stronger the flavor. If it’s too powerful, it’ll tug the reader away from the story and spotlights those words. In a full length book of around 85,000 words, I personally use alternate dialogue tags only around a few dozen times total.

By saving them, the pleasant side effect is that when I do use them, they pack more of an emotional punch.


Related: How to Write Natural Dialogue


Action beats
I have a love affair with action beats. Used effectively, they can be another great way to announce who’s talking, yet at the same time add some movement or blocking to a scene. For example:

Looking down, Katie ran a finger around the edge of the mug. “We need to talk.”

That added some nice flavor to the scene, and you know who spoke. The only caveat is to be careful of not using too many action beats, as it does slow down the pacing a tiny bit. If you’re writing a bantering sequence, for example, you wouldn’t want to use a lot of action beats so as to keep the pacing quick.


Dos and don’ts
Sometimes, action beats and dialogue tags have misused punctuation. I’ll give some examples.

  • “Please don’t touch that.” She said, blocking the display. (Incorrect)
  • “Let’s head to the beach,” he said as he grabbed a towel. (Correct)
  • Sam motioned for everyone to come closer, “Take a look at this.” (Incorrect)
  • Debbie handed over the magnifying glass. “Do you see the mossy film on the top?” (Correct)


Like many things in a story/novel, it’s all about balance. Try alternating actions beats, dialogue tags, and even no tags at all when it’s clear who’s speaking. By changing it up, it’ll make it so that no one method is obvious.




Ryan Lanz is an avid blogger and author of The Idea Factory: 1,000 Story Ideas and Writing Prompts to Find Your Next Bestseller. You can also find him on TwitterFacebook, and Tumblr

Image courtesy of Onnola via Flickr, Creative Commons.