Monday, December 17, 2007

Still Learning

Perhaps obviously from all the posts here, I send stuff in to any romance contest that accepts published writers. It's always a very strange experience when I get the score sheets back when my novel didn't make the cut (which is, btw, ninety percent of the time.)

A couple of days ago, I got one that fascinated me. One of the judges heaped on praise, including making a point of noting that she felt that I'd handled, of all things, dialogue tags effectively -- specifically not over doing the adverbs describing how people are talking, i.e, "he said angrily." She said that she was impressed that I allowed the dialogue to imply how things were said.

The other judge also made an issue of my dialogue. She, however, had problems with it. She thought that I had a tendency to over do my dialogue tags. I'd have people using the other conversant's name in dialogue and then also use the speaker's name, i.e, "You're being stupid, Garnet," Sebastian said -- even when there's only two speakers in the room.

Yeah, I do that. I'm going to be willful and say that even though I think I'm going to start paying attention to how MUCH I do it, I'll probably continue to do it at times. The reason I do it is simple: people talk like that. Or, at least, *I* do. I use a person's name in coversation, even when there's just two of us, for emphasis. Particularly when we're talking about something sensitive, I'll use the other person's name: "You know I'm right, Shawn." (To which, in real life, she'd reply, "Like hell, Tate.")

I use it also because I'm writing in first person. It's a very quick way to introduce the main character's name -- full name, when it's otherwise quite awkward to try to work in, as most people don't think to themselves, "I, Garnet Lacey, considered kissing my vampire lover, Sebastian Von Traum, on the lips!"

But if you're mad at someone, you might do a parent thing -- using someone's full name to show the level of trouble they're in -- and say, "Stop singing that annoying song, Garnet Lynn Lacey."

Even though I'm a bit defensive about my use of names in dialogue between two people, I'm now paying attention. I think that the worst thing that can happen to an author is when they think they've learned everything there is to know about writing and stop paying attention.

So I'm awake now. And that's a good thing.

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