Sunday, March 18, 2012

You've got to have THAD!

When  editing your work-in-progress, check carefully scenes containing dialogue. If two characters are speaking, you can often avoid tags (he said, she said), but you must not have talking heads.

That's why it's important to consider a Talking Head Avoidance Device.

What is thad? It's just about anything you can think of to keep your characters doing something while talking. They can be fixing a car, chopping vegetables, drinking coffee, jogging in the park, changing diapers, planting a garden, but they must be doing something or you risk scenes with talking heads.

In addition, make sure your dialogue isn't On the Nose. Dialogue usually contains Subtext and that's what makes the scene important to the story.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Most memoirs, unlike most autobiographies, cover a segment of the author’s life. This means scripting a memoir begins with making choices. What point in time does a writer want to consider?

Here’s an exercise to help you select a topic that seems worth writing about.

Examine your life by making lists that will help trigger memories. Such a list might include: Turning points, emotional extremes when feelings reached highs and/or lows,regrets, good and b ad decisions, philosophy. goals achieved or not reached, and vivid childhood memories. Photographs are a great source to jog memory. Sort through them and find images, people and places that had an impact on your life.

We are the culmination of every experience and everyone we've met. What specific events, individuals, and decisions led you to become the person you are today? Chances are there are universal terms to describe these experiences, words or phrases that can be used to inspire memories.

Once you’ve completed your list, choose one item and script a timeline. If you’ve chosen an individual, then you might outline the relationship from beginning to end––how you met, what life was like before the encounter, how this person helped you change, and what valuable lessons you have learned.

Writing memoir can be much like writing fiction. If it’s a turning point or an emotional extreme, consider things like setting, characters involved, actions, feelings, and cause and effect.

The timeline can begin at any point. The more you contemplate the experience, the more you will recall and fill in the gaps, whether these details precede the event that began the timeline or follow it.

With the timeline complete, you have a frame upon which to hang your story with a beginning, middle, and end.

You can now examine each step on the timeline beneath your writer’s microscope. This might mean creating an additional list for each item on the original timeline; or you might write in depth and detail about each individual, moment, feeling, decision, and place. These memory builders written on note cards can then be configured into some kind structure and strung together to create a memoir chapter or story.

Using such small steps will lead you from list-making to story telling make a writer out of you before you’ve had a chance to realize what you’ve done.

 1. Get note cards or paper or use a journal. Then get a pen or pencil. Writing lists by hand is better than writing lists at the computer.

2. Decide what kind list you will write.

3. Write quickly without thinking about it. Force yourself to write faster by setting a timer.

4. Take your list with you. If you have to wait in the doctor’s office, you can add to your list. If you’re in a coffee shop, you can add to your list and look like a writer.

5. Once your list is completed, choose one item. 6. Start writing a timeline to fit the item you’ve chosen. If you get stuck or blocked, go back to your list and choose a different item.

7. Once your timeline is completed, you’ll have your story outline.

8. Take a look at the outline. You now can make new lists to fit each step of the outline. Take those lists with you wherever you go and pull them out during an afternoon lull or in the middle of the night if you can’t sleep.

9. Refine your lists and analyze them.

10. Write a beginning sentence.

Congratulations. You've begun your memoir!

Here is an editing checklist to get you started in the right direction and avoid basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Make a professional impression. Be competitive.

Spelling: Have you gone through your manuscript with spell check? "It's" and "its" need to be used correctly ("it's" is a contraction for "it is"; "its" is possessive).
Check other homonyms. Spell check doesn't catch them. (For example, "He peaked at her through the blinds and saw the peek of Mt. Everest.")

Grammar: Is dialogue is punctuated correctly? Are there run-on sentences, unintentional fragments? Do subjects and verbs agree in number? Are verb tenses consistent throughout? "That" and "which" used correctly?
 What about pronoun references. Are they clear? Or confusing? Does sentence structure vary in descriptive or expository passages. What about word choice? Have you checked your basic facts? Good resources for writers are: Chicago Manual of Style, Elements of Style, English Made Simple or Diana Hacker's Rules for Writers.

It's important to select the right words in speaking and writing. At Self-TOT, we offer vocabulary experts, tutors for grammar and essay revision, peer coaches for a work in progress as well as all kinds of resources and people to help writers of all abilities improve their careers and follow their dreams of succeeding as students or writer.

Our clients are people of all ages who know the importance of writing well––people like YOU! Self-TOT is the appropriate choice for writers who need help with story structure, content, revision, dialogue, formatting manuscripts, query letters, synopses and book proposals––at any stage of a work-in-progress.

We are the best choice for students who require assistance in essay writing. Self-TOT is the dynamic choice for writers needing peer coaching or editing. This should be your first choice if you want to improve writing skills.

It costs nothing to query us for advice or an estimate. Writing can change your life! Writing can save your life! Contact us TODAY: