Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What Real Dialogue Sounds Like

Read Like a Writer Series #4

Feature novel: Steel Pennies for $0.99.

Have you ever become frustrated by a story’s dialogue? It sounds stilted. No one really talks that way. If the gang banger was that ticked off, why didn’t he use cuss words?

Dialogue may be the most difficult lesson for a writer to learn, yet it’s the thing that throws you as a reader right out of the story and onto another book.

What does real dialogue sound like? Writers imitate the speech they hear around them, but often forget or never learned that in weaving a well-told tale, the dialogue moves the plot forward. The challenge is to make it sound like real people while leaving out unnecessary verbiage.

As a reader of dialogue, you can sharpen your ear the same way you hone your ear for music – by listening. Next time you’re out and about, pay attention to the speakers around you. Yes, I want you to eavesdrop. Where are the best places for this nefarious activity? Try the obvious like your local coffee shop. Sit on a bench at your local mall so you can listen to the tidbits of conversation you pick up as people pass you by. Listen at work or school. What are people saying and how do they say it? TV and movies also provide a base for dialogue, but be careful to listen to good TV or films.

One of the fun things with movie dialogue is to listen to the characters in the old movies from the thirties and forties. Listen for slang that is no longer used or sappy romance dialogue that wasn’t believable then and is plain laughable today. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Oh, you big lug?”

This month’s full-length feature novel is Steel Pennies. “I contemplated how my hand had been up inside Cynthia’s skull.” Check out Steel Pennies, a noir thriller coming of age novel set in 1960. Read a chunk free on Amazon. Hey, it’s only $0.99 today.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Improbable Fiction

Improbable Fiction is a play written by Alan Ackybourn that runs through June 4, 2017 featuring the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble at the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage located at Fawell and Park Boulevards in Glen Ellyn, IL. The play stars Robert Jordan Bailey who has graciously agreed to stop by for a blog visit. It’s a must-see for writers and anyone who loves a writer.

Tell us a bit about Improbable Fiction. What drew you to this play?
The script follows an amateur writing group’s monthly meeting. You get to know an amusing group of writers all struggling with the creative process. Act II turns what you have learned on its head by fancifully exploring a common exercise utilized by writers groups. The show is both an engaging character study and a rip-roaring farce.

BTE has a long history with the playwirght, Alan Ackybourn. This particular script was written for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England, where he served as artistic director. Since this is BTE’s 30th anniversary season, we thought the celebratory tie-in appropriate. We also loved the theatricality of the piece and the way it speaks to and pokes fun at the creative process while all the while championing the effort.

What originally drew me to this play? Well to be honest, when I first read it, I wasn’t a fan. But one of the distinguishing elements of playscripts is that they are not a sum unto themselves but simply the written pathway for what is intended to be a live action event. Sometimes what is on the page is hard to visualize. Thankfully Connie and Amelia (our artistic director and associate director) saw the charm and potential that eluded me. Once I started working on the piece, I saw so much that I had missed. I love playing Arnold. He is such a sweet, open soul, full of heart and empathy.

What can audiences expect when they go to see Improbable Fiction?
Surprises! Act I is all about getting to know the members of the writers group – and they are a lovable bunch of eccentrics.  But Act II takes a surprising turn that keeps you guessing until the end! Audiences can expect to fall in love with these characters but also expect to leave the evening sore from belly laughs! And there are clever insights along the way as well.

What do you find to be most interesting about your character in Improbable Fiction?
Arnold has great empathy for the struggles of the other writers in the group while not having a shred of self-pity for his own perceived lack of creative imagination. His backstory is that of a man who constantly gives of himself and has unwittingly crafted an idea of himself that may be flawed. I find the flawed narratives we accidentally write for ourselves to be fascinating. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? Arnold also ends up caught in crazy and shocking events and, for me, getting to play that is a comic gift. It’s sort of like being in an old episode of “Bewitched!”

What is your favorite thing about acting?
Gosh, that’s a hard one.  I’ve been acting for thirty years now and I would have to say there have probably been different “favorite” things at different times. Actor friends would harass me for saying it – as it sounds horribly pretentious – but I really love the “work” of it. The research, (learning about time of the script, background of the character, dialect, etc.), creating a character and establishing the relationships with the other characters.  One of the first things audiences often comment on is “how did you memorize all those lines?” but that’s only the start. Knowing what your character says and how he chooses to say it informs so much of what you create. And the BTE rehearsal process is so quick (5 weeks), one needs to show up the first day completely memorized!

Have you ever tried to write a novel?
I have thought about it.  I love to read – something theatre gets in the way of – and I have toyed with giving writing a try. They say everyone has one novel in them, maybe I will attempt to squeeze mine out one day.  

What do you have coming up next?
BTE is gearing up for its 31st season so I am putting a lot of energy into that. As an ensemble and board member, I am involved even when I am not on stage. All three shows of our 31st season – 39 Steps, Time Stands Still and Outside Mullingar, focus on lovers whose relationships are in flux. I will be acting in the Spring show Outside Mullingar. It’s a more serious script than what I have done this year. Though I love farce, drama with a hint of comedy is what I really love doing. If you haven’t gotten your subscription for next year, please purchase it before June 6th so you get the 25% discount! I have also been doing some auditions so who knows, maybe I will pop up on some other stages before spring of 2018!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Are You The Best Person to Write Your Book?

Blog Your Way to a Book Series #4

Before reading this blog, take advantage of my special offer of a free ebook in honor of St.Patrick's Day. Click the Special Offers button above for more information.

Of course you are! You’re the expert in your chosen topic – or you will be by the time you research your topic and place your unique spin on it. You need two things to qualify as a business book author. You can handle both of them or hire a pro for the job. But in the end, your blog post requires the involvement of your brain. Two things you need to qualify as the best person to write your book:
1. Writing Skills
2. Something to Say

Writing Skills
Well, duh. Remember in this series you don’t have to worry about writing your book yet. Instead, write a series of simple blog posts. Posts may run anywhere from about a hundred words to say 500 at the high end. Write your blog post until finished. If it seems long, chop it into two blog posts. Writing a blog post requires:
Knowledge and expertise: Write your message based on your expertise for the topic and theme you have already chosen (review the previous blog post on this topic if you haven’t taken this step yet.)
Critical thinking skills: When you write about a topic you have to analyze it and render judgments that will inform your readers and motivate them to act in new ways.
Wordsmithing: You should have at least a basic understanding of how to structure a sentence and paragraph. If you don’t, consider an English 101 class at your local community college. You need to understand basic grammar, word choice, and other things that constitute a well-crafted essay. Otherwise, you will require a budget for a professional, like me, to write and edit for you.
Storytelling: Create a well-crafted message with impact that motivates your readers to take an action. Storytelling involves the way you set up your topic in the reader’s mind and then wow them with a compelling statement that builds tension in the reader’s mind. Hook the reader’s attention and keep hooking them throughout your blog post with challenging statements and questions that continue to raise the level of tension. Tension is the key to storytelling. It’s the feeling in the reader’s heart that makes them want to know more.
Promotion: Blog posts succeed when you attract readers. When you blog your way to a book, you will at the same time build readership for your book when it comes out.

The second thing is having something to say about your topic. I’ll dive into what to say in my next blog post on this topic. In the meantime, have fun. And if you would like my help as a coach, post a comment below or contact me at paul dot Lloyd dot author at gmail dot com.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Writing Prompt #6

Prompt: When Martie caught the grunge…

4 Minute Timed Writing Result
When Martie caught the grunge, Blimslammer didn’t understand her immediate needs but caught on quickly when Martie slammed the bathroom door in his face.

“On Triffedoink, we  use 100% of our consumption so the grunge doesn’t exist,” said Blimslammer.

“Well, we need a private moment here on earth platform G7 and the artificial gravity really doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, so now I’ll need a shower, won’t I? So you go find something to do while I clean up.”

“Okay. No worries. I’ll make dinner.”

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I would be honored if you chose one of my novels for your next Amazon reading experience by clicking here. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it by commenting below or on Amazon. I also enjoy hearing from readers. Click here for my email which is paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com. (Thanks for taking time to figure out that email address so I don’t have to worry about the spider bots getting me.)

Be sure to click on the BOGO button above for my latest buy one, get one free book offer.

Monday, November 28, 2016

What Are Your Business Passions?

Blog Your Way to a Book Series #3

Writing a book about your business expertise? Start by making a list of the things you might write about as blog posts. Later, you’ll gather the blog posts into a book. Business activities to place on your list:
  • Favorites that you are passionate about
  • Things you have special knowledge or experience about
  • Significant problems you have solved
  • New innovations you developed
  • Ways you improved existing methods
  • Anything else that interests you
Write your list and save it for future reference, but before you do, choose one topic that most appeals to you. This may be a tough decision, but you’re up to the challenge. Ask a few associates to choose one from your list that best describes what you know or do best. Often your colleagues and customers know your business expertise better than you do. Once you’ve gathered the list and surveyed your network, pick one topic to be the main focus of your book. The other items on the list will be useful as supporting material for your main topic.

With a topic in mind, think about a theme. Your theme is the main idea or underlying principle behind your book’s topic. For example, the topic of Jim Egerton’s book, Business on the Board, is how to deploy effective strategies and tactics in managing your business, functional area or department. His theme is: Use chess to guide your business decision making.

Once you have a topic and a theme in place, answer the following question: What is the wildest or most unexpected thing you can say about your topic?

Make a list of wild and unexpected statements about your topic and theme.  Don’t worry about whether they are true or false at this point. The idea is to circle around your topic and theme to give your book a sense of direction. Think of this exercise as a way to fine tune your topic and theme or test it to see if it passes the “Who cares” test.

Have fun. And if you would like my coaching help, post a comment below or click here to contact me at paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Buzzsaw Brain Training

The mind is like a buzzsaw, it can rip and tear, hurt or maim. It can kill a relationship. Put a break on your buzzsaw ways by thinking before you speak or act. Attach a brake to your mind to achieve a quality work life as part of a successful family and career. It all starts with work life balance.

If you try to feed wood into a buzzsaw improperly, the saw will jamb or the wood will be kicked out and thrown across the room, or it could be sucked into the blade and drag your hand with it before you can let go.

A brain works the same way. Thoughts are like pieces of wood. If you feed thoughts through your brain properly, you will have good things to say – uplifting things – funny things – happy things – compassionate things – consoling things – profitable things.

If you feed thoughts through your brain in the wrong way – evil thoughts will kick out – you may say unkind things – hateful things – degrading things – sad things – unprofitable things.

Train your brain. It’s like a muscle. It gets stronger with exercise. You will grow with it. Your spirit will grow with it also.

Here’s my contribution to brain training: Click on my BOGO page above, and you’ll discover how to purchase one of my novels or short stories and then receive The Case of the Knife-Tossing Networker: 12 Mysteries Requiring Deductive Reasoning for free. This 154-page PDF ebook includes a Special Bonus: The first 9 chapters of Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters. Not only will you exercise your brain by demonstrating your skills in using the Internet to make a purchase, but you’ll also stretch your mind as you try to solve each of the 12 mysteries that require you to use deductive reasoning to figure out whodunit. No worries about solving the mysteries because I provided the answers for you in case you become stumped. ACT NOW because it’s free with a purchase and an offer like this is not here to stay.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Favorite Halloween Posts

As it turns out, I haven’t posted a scary story on Halloween on the blog. Instead, here are three past posts for your consideration for your Halloween reading.

Not Just Any Ghost
Rediscovering the Ring
How can a Christian write a story where a character commits a murder?

Among my novels, Hags, Steel Pennies and the Snpgrdxz series should tickle your scary bone. Save Fulfillment for your Christmas season reading.

I would be honored if you chose one of my stories for your next reading experience. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it by commenting below or on Amazon. I also enjoy hearing from readers at my author’s email address which is paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com. (Thanks for taking time to figure out that email address so I don’t have to worry about the spider bots getting me.)

Be sure to click on the BOGO button above for my latest buy one, get one free book offer.