Friday, September 28, 2012

Well, I Promised, Didn't I?

So I promised you that I would write at least once a week from now on. And I fully intend to keep that promise. I even went so far as to think up a bunch of different blog topics during the last week and a half or so. Just so that I would be prepared when the time came to sit down and write. I came up with some good stuff, too.

At least I'm almost sure I did. Because, as I tweeted earlier this week, I didn't bother to write any of this stuff down. I used to have the most incredible memory. I would remember everything. Okay, well, I guess not everything everything. Not like this guy:

If you don't know who this is, that's totally lame. Also, you should go watch Sherlock on Netflix. Immediately. Or at least immediately after you finish reading this post.

But still, I remembered a hell of a lot more than most. I could remember huge chunks of conversations, verbatim, years after they took place. In fact, I once repeated back to my friend in college, right before we graduated and went out into the world, a conversation that we'd had early our freshman year. I did this because I mentioned something about him that he said never happened, when he'd told me all those years earlier than it had. And after I told him exactly what he'd said, he realized that he'd completely forgotten that such a thing had ever happened to him. Or, put a little differently, I knew more about him than he did.  :P

It was almost tiring, actually, having that many memories in my brain. But I kind of liked it nonetheless. And it definitely helped with my writing. I'm not going to get into how I felt about the creative writing program at my college right now (let's just leave it at this: genre fiction isn't sophisticated enough for some people), but I did still get some pretty good feedback on some of my short stories. (I'm also not going to get into how much I despise writing short stories, because I never have to write another one ever, ever again. So who cares if I hate them?)

Okay, getting sidetracked. The point I'm trying to come to is that, in all the feedback I ever got, in all of the fiction writing classes I had to take, one thing was consistent: they all thought my dialogue was completely natural/believable/real. This is because I have hundreds upon hundreds of conversations that actually happened milling about up in my brain. It's never been all that hard for me to draw on that knowledge to write dialogue that sounds like what people would actually say. Well, with contemporary characters, at least. My WIP at the moment is a traditional fantasy (something I haven't done for, oh, eight years or so), so that's a whole different kettle of fish.

Yeah, I didn't mean for this blog post to take this turn. In fact, I was mostly going to lament about how I guess I'm not as young as I used to be, my brain is turning to Swiss cheese, the mind is the first to go, blah blah blah. And how I need to write shit down. But I like the turn this post has taken. So the lesson of the day? LISTEN TO PEOPLE. Nothing you can possibly do will ever help your writing as much as listening to other people talk. You'll get a better idea of how they talk. The words they use. The cadence. So the next time you're sitting in a restaurant or shopping or just at your desk at work, listen to what the people around you are saying. Honestly, it's some of the best research you'll ever do. Nothing sucks more than crap, unrealistic dialogue in a book. That is one of the top two deal breakers for me.

Ooh. And now I have another idea for a blog post. Next time, I'm going to talk about the ultimate deal breaker. The one thing that will make me never read another book by an author, no matter what. Because with all the awesome books out there, why read something that sucks? And I followed my own advice and wrote it down. On the internet, no less. No way I can lose it now.

(And seriously, if you haven't already seen it, go watch Sherlock. It's amazing!!!)


  1. What is it? What's the deal breaker? Have I done it? Am I in danger of doing it? Ahh! I hate being curious. ;)

    1. Well, since I didn't write you an email that said, "I no longer wish to be CPs," I think it's safe to assume that you're in the clear. ;)