Citing Is Major For The Aspiring Writer

§ July 5th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

aspiringwritingIn the recent movie Seven, Brad Pitt tracked down a killer who modeled his crimes after the seven deadly sins. If the killer had taken a more professional view of sin, he might have plotted quite differently. For a doctor, I suppose, the great sin is leaving a sponge in the patient. For an accountant, it’s got to be moving money from your clients’ ledgers to your own. And for a writer, of course, the deadliest sin is plagiarism.

Every writer has heard stories of careers ruined by a single, inexplicable slip of passing someone else’s work off as his or her own. Yet every writer also knows the importance of thorough research, including hitting the books with secondary sources–in short, using other writers’ work. So where’s the line between deadly sin and dogged reporting? And how do you keep from crossing it without losing your own readers in an ocean of attribution § Read the rest of this entry…

Talking Skin Tag Removal Creams And Their Effectiveness

§ June 29th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § 1 Comment

skintrcsSkin tags are small, harmless, soft pieces of hanging skin. The have a short, narrow peduncle (stalk) that connects it to the surface of the skin. They can appear virtually on any part of the body, but normally show up in the areas where the skin rubs up against other skin. Typical areas where they can appear are:
• Armpits
• Eyelids
• Under the breasts
• In the groin area
• On the upper chest
• On the neck

Skin tags are characteristically small, benign, non-cancerous tumors of the skin that don’t exhibit any type of symptoms. They are also known as a acrochordon.

A person generally doesn’t notice a skin tag until it has been scratched or rubbed off which can cause pain or discomfort. However, in some cases, depending on the location of the skin tag, they can cause irritation or pain and may not be aesthetically pleasing.

Over 46% of the population experience incidences of skin tags. Some people are pre-disposed to the condition. They are common in people who are overweight or have diabetes.

There are a vast number of commercial over the counter skin tag removal products available, including such names as Revitol Skin Tag Remover and Wart& Mole Vanish.

You should always consult your doctor before trying any product and to verify that in fact what you are experiencing is a skin tag. In some cases skin tags can look very similar to certain types of skin cancer.

The following are the best products I recommend to remove skin tags. Full and comprehensive reviews of these skin tag removal creams are here.

Tee Tree Oil: One of the best and highly recommended products available for skin tags is tea tree oil. You can purchase it in your local health § Read the rest of this entry…

Writing For Business Takes Guts

§ June 25th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

writingIn 2014 Americans spent more than $2 billion on business-related books.

You can get a share of that business.

The market is so hot that writing a business-related book has become one of the best ways to break into print. Many topics can be explored by authors who wouldn’t consider themselves “business” experts. Editors actively seek manuscripts covering job and technical skills training, starting and running a business, market trends, sales training and coaching, performance improvement, business letter writing, financial and investment advice, time management, company case studies, leadership styles, new management philosophies, career guidance, and much more — including computer operation manuals, guides for women and minorities and biographies of famous business personalities. According to, strong writing is essential for almost all of the top 10 startups-most-likely-to-succeed in the US.

The Root of All Success

Most business books § Read the rest of this entry…

Getting Organized Is Everything With Article Writing

§ June 22nd, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

begoniasUse this seven-step “building block” process to keep your articles on track, without getting locked into the rigidity of a commanding outline. Here’s the plan that I tend to roll with:

* Let’s say you’re writing a piece titled “How to Grow Bigger and Brighter Begonias.” Before you start writing, organize your research material through a system of indexing and filing; you must know where everything is and how to get at it easily. (If your notes or interview transcripts aren’t extensive, you can simply number your notebook pages, then make a list of broad information categories with references to page numbers.

* Stop thinking of your article as an article. Concentrate only on the first step-your opening. What is it about growing begonias that most interests you? What will be most interesting and valuable to your target reader?

Start writing with a good begonia-related line that will grab readers’ attention, set the right tone and get to the point quickly (be sure you know what the main point of the piece is). If § Read the rest of this entry…

Get Bibilical When It Comes To Series Creation

§ June 15th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

If you drank a gallon of gasoline and then sat in a hot tub filled with napalm to have a cigarette, your chances of survival would be better than your chances of selling an original series idea to television.

The best way to do it is still to work your way up in the world of episodic television by successfully peddling scripts to other people’s shows, then become a staff writer on a series, then a story editor, an executive story editor, an associate producer, a supervising producer, a co-producer, a producer and finally an executive producer. Why, in five or ten years …

Despite these odds, creating a TV series is not categorically § Read the rest of this entry…

Keeping A Strong Balance

§ June 5th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § 1 Comment

It was 9:30 at night and I was driving north on a quiet road, hooked to a cell phone. My 6-year-old son, Lucas, sleepy and tearful, was on the line.

Do you love writing better than me?” The asked.

Peering into the darkness, I increased my speed. I had just walked out in the middle of a blue-ribbon publishing panel so I could be home in time to put Lucas and his older sister to bed.

“I love you and my work,” I explained. They’re two different kinds of love. Mommy has lots of love inside.”

I listened to his shortened breathing. “It’s just like your hockey,” I went on. “You love hockey so much, but you also love Mommy.”

uniwritingtimeFor the moment, Lucas seemed content. Now I was the one feeling off-balance. I hadn’t expected to be explaining Freudian concepts of love, economic freedom and work to my first grader from the shadowy womb of the car. The need to write and the need to mother were on a collision course that evening. The clash seemed particularly jarring because it came amid the holiday season’s heightened expectations. It was the week before Thanksgiving, and my children were looking forward to their upcoming vacation in Florida with their father. I would miss them, but I welcomed nights of uninterrupted writing time.

Their flight was scheduled for Friday afternoon. Most of my week was filled with odd computer problems and evening writing events — all of them promising to be interesting and stimulating. As usual, I did mental gymnastics, trying to figure out how to vault to my writing events and still stick my landings at home.

I forced myself to make choices. I’d forgo my ongoing fiction class; I’d attend a new screenwriting workshop. But the real crunch came with the publishing panel, scheduled for Thursday, the night before my children were leaving.

I planned an early, cozy dinner together and arranged for the children’s favorite sitter. On Thursday morning, however, my daughter woke up with a horrible, hacking cough, and I left work early so we could go to the doctor. At 10, Elissa considers doctors’ visits a fate worse than losing telephone privileges. Her mood was bleak, and when she was diagnosed with bronchitis, she turned sullen. We waited for a prescription for nearly an hour. When I was curt with the pharmacist, Elissa ducked down the nearest aisle, embarrassed.

Our cozy dinner became a hasty affair of some good homemade soup and half-eaten sandwiches. The sitter came and I rushed out to the publishing program with promises of being home in time to read bedtime books. In one § Read the rest of this entry…

Getting Smart With Sources

§ May 27th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

smartwsIt’s a writer’s nightmare: That magazine you’ve been angling to write for, that editor you’ve been courting so assiduously, finally comes through with a plum assignment. Your big chance to break into some coveted market is at hand at last.

And then you can’t deliver.

It’s not your fault, of course. Maybe Your source takes a six-month fellowship in Zimbabwe. Perhaps a crucial interviewee gets cold feet about talking to you. or your hard drive crashes. Or, worst of all, maybe you start researching your story and discover it’s not the story you sold to the editor — what you promised m your query just isn’t so. That hot trend sweeping the country turns out to be colder than Hula-Hoops, or the medical miracle promising relief to minions gets deflated by a contradictory study.

Whatever the reason, your article goes awry and you can’t deliver on an assignment. What should you do? Can this marriage of query and reality be saved?

As with most such cosmic questions, the answer is: It depends. The important thing is not to panic, to think creatively, to be honest with your editor, and to never, ever deliver an apple when your assignment asks for an orange.

Being honest with your editor and sticking to the assignment doesn’t mean giving up at the first detour, The immediate thing to do when an assignment goes awry is to evaluate the damage § Read the rest of this entry…

Scriptwriting Ain’t As Easy As It Looks!

§ May 17th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

scriptwritingPlymouth, Michigan, doesn’t have much in common with Hollywood. But from there Burnstein tickled Tinseltown’s funny bone with his script for Renaissance Man, the film that started his career. Since then, he co-wrote Mighty Ducks 3 and is currently writing an original science-fiction film for Avnet/Kerner, the production team behind Ducks.

“At the start, the odds are against you because you don’t live in Hollywood,” says Burnstein. “But you can distinguish yourself because of it. The most important thing is to have a screenplay worthy of reading, one that is really your best shot.

“Don’t fall in love with the first draft. Rewriting is critical because so many scripts are floating around Hollywood,” he says. Burnstein claims only the title and lead character’s first name remain from his first draft of Renaissance Man. “You could write 19 first drafts for 19 different movies and sell none, or rewrite one project 19 times and be in a position to sell it.”

Finding Connections — and Making Your Own

As in most things in life, personal connections can be crucial. And if you’re not on Speilberg’s dinner list, you’ll need to be creative — and diligent.

Friends. A friend introduced Burnstein to § Read the rest of this entry…

Creative Exercises #2 – Get Clear

§ May 9th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

creativeexFor many writers, noise inhibits creativity. How do you reduce this potential distraction and focus on your writing? In just the same way you can ignore background sounds when you’re caught up in a good book or movie: You devote yourself to the story. To have the same keen attention, you must block out annoying racket and sharpen your concentration.

William Faulkner ignored the constant ear-splitting roar of a dynamo as he wrote “Sanctuary” during his midnight to 4 a.m. shift in a Power plant’s boiler room. Dr. Albert Schweitzer penned numerous articles and books amid the clamor of his jungle surroundings.

You can use a steady noise to cover up other abrasive ones. An air conditioner or fan drowns out practicing musicians, dogs barking or carpenters hammering next door. Many writers find that it’s easier to concentrate on their work with an inoffensive background sound.

Music helps, too. Certain types of music written by Baroque composers (Bach, Vivaldi and others) are particularly relaxing. The stringed instruments and the tempo of 55-60 beats a minute produce a conducive setting for writing.

Sounds aren’t the only noise a writer must deal with. Interruptions come in all shapes and sizes, but focusing on your work can help you deal with any distraction.

Trying a new approach to solving some of your old writing problems can boost your creativity and productivity. Your writing will become as Henry Miller said, “like life itself, a voyage of discovery.”

Sleep, Perchance to Write

To produce dreams that enhance your creativity, you must first conjure a mental picture of your writing goal and then create a statement affirming that the goal has been achieved. Then follow these steps:

* Get comfortable. Noise should be at a minimum. Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose. Take the air down to the diaphragm. Count to three. Exhale through the mouth. Do this three times.

* Imagine yourself within a pleasing scene. For me, it’s lying on a lounge chair near a pond on a warm fall day. The water reflects the colors of the surrounding tree leaves. All of nature is in harmony.

* Push your heels down on your chair or bed. Feel the tension; now relax them. Do the same thing with your hips, back, shoulders, neck, head, arms and hands. Push down against whatever surface they’re touching, then relax. Tighten and relax the muscles while taking three deep breaths. Repeat silently ten times: “I am becoming more and more relaxed.” (The main objective is to relax your mind and body so that the subconscious will accept your affirming statement.)

* If procrastination is the problem, picture yourself doing something you enjoy — gardening, reading, whatever. Immerse yourself in the activity and feel the pleasure that you derive from it. Next, see yourself going to your desk with the same enthusiasm for your writing. For other writing goals, picture yourself accomplishing them.

* Silently repeat this statement ten times: “Because writing is important to me, I approach it with the same interest I have in (name activity). Other things will be done after I finish my writing.” For other writing goals, repeat a statement that affirms that your goal is achieved. Keep the statement positive and in the present tense. If you do the exercise during the day, finish by saying, “When I open my eyes, I’ll feel great.” Otherwise, allow yourself to drop off to sleep.

One Character to Go, Please

To achieve specific goals for your writing, you must “program” your mind to work on the problem as you sleep. You may, for instance, want to develop a character for a story.

* Before going to sleep, review everything you’ve written about the character. Then do the first three steps above. When your mind and body are relaxed, the critical (conscious) mind becomes nonjudgmental and the inner (subconscious) mind will accept what you say.

* Picture your goal as achieved. See your character in detail as you’ve described him. Finally, say several times silently: “I see my character as a fully-developed person in my dream.”

* When you wake up, keep your eyes closed and try to re-create the dream. Then write down everything you can remember. Do this before you get out of bed; otherwise, you’ll forget the dream.

It’s best to do your dream planning when you’re not under a lot of stress and when you can wake up without an alarm clock (they can make you forget your dreams). It might take several nights or longer, but keep a positive feeling that you will have your desired dream.

You can use this method to help reach any writing goal. The point is to relax your critical, conscious mind and allow your subconscious to offer suggestions.

Creativity Exercises Part 1: The Basics

§ May 2nd, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

crativityRobert Frost defined creativity as “looking at something old in a new way.” Often our own creative batteries need recharging in order to develop new solutions to old writing problems: finding time and ideas, getting started, and dealing with distractions. The following tips will get your creative gears in motion.

Finding the Write Time

Life circumstances can limit both your writing time and your creativity. How often have you said, “I’d get so much writing done if I just had an extra hour in my day”?

To find that extra hour — or even just 15 minutes — to nurture your creativity, try examining how you’re spending the time you have. On a sheet of paper, list all your waking hours. For each hour record your activities — and be specific. For a week, make a note of everything — taking a walk, reading, preparing dinner and commuting to work.

At the end of the week, look back on the daily logs and circle each day’s leisure time. Then go through the daily logs again and draw a fine under those leisure times when you’re absolutely free of distractions and interruptions — these are potential writing times. You’ll probably notice that you’ve made time for watching television, talking on the phone, going out to dinner. If you can do it for those activities, then it’s not unrealistic to find and devote 15-60 minutes a day to writing.

Look first at the hours from about 7 to 11 p.m. Is there a television program you watch faithfully each week? The news? A sitcom? Do you watch a show before or after that one? Could that time be used for writing?

Next, look for uninterrupted chunks of time throughout your day. Do you take a bus or train to work? If your round-trip travel time is 45 minutes, can you use 30 of those minutes as writing time?

Dan, a student in one of my classes, used his commute to think through and write a story. Every day on the bus, Dan focused on his story and concentrated on his character. He didn’t waste 10 or 15 minutes trying to out what to write about; he simply took notes on the thoughts he had about his story.

After a few months, the plot line began falling into place. Dan’s character became more and more believable. In fact, most of the story was written using those 20-minute sessions on the bus.

Marjorie Holmes is the author of numerous books and articles, as well as the mother of four children. How did she manage to do both? “There were thousands of times when I thought I would go mad, mad, mad, with interruptions and frustrations,” Holmes said. “Yet no matter what, I managed to turn out a little something almost every day. Even a scrap of an idea or an observation.”

Curiouser and Curiouser

Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect,” said Samuel Johnson. Writers who lack it — or stifle it — are at a disadvantage.

One powerful idea generator that activates curiosity is the daily newspaper. It pulls you into a whirlwind of emotions and events. Crime, death, advice and laughter are discussed, documented and delivered to your doorstep. Reading the paper can be a routine exercise or a treasure hunt for ideas.

Become a creative reader. Tackle those pages with a pen in your hand and this question in your mind: How can I use this in my writing.? Jot notes in the margin. Put check marks next to articles to clip for future use.

As you read about the teenager who unexpectedly inherited $3 million from an eccentric neighbor he’d befriended, your active mind should ask questions: How will this change his life? How would the average person spend that much money? What would I do with it? You can explore the answers to these questions and others in your own articles, stories and poems.

Advice columns such as Dear Abby suggest a host of potential topics. Many even provide a story fine. What could you develop from these questions: How do I deal with a child who is on drugs? A jealous spouse? A workaholic husband?

Interviews on TV talk shows range from the informative to the bizarre and can stimulate your creativity. A show that reunites high school sweethearts after 30 years might prompt you to consider whether you’d marry your high school sweetheart today.

Of course, your daily newspaper and favorite talk shows are only two places to apply this technique. Once you develop your curiosity, you’ll question everything around you and imagine all the possibilities.

Sleep on it

A stimulated imagination works nonstop. Even when you’re not awake, you’re thinking and creating and dreaming. Ideas for stories and ways to develop them can be revealed in dreams. Plots can be acted out by your characters on your mind’s movie screen. Why not tap into this source?

Even people who say they don’t dream really do; they just don’t remember. We spend 20% of our sleeping hours dreaming. Adults may dream for up to 90 minutes during an eight-hour period. This can be a very creative and productive time, especially if other duties limit your writing time.

Authors, scientists and artists throughout history have looked to dreams for ideas and insights. Dante, Goethe, Milton, Blake and Tolstoy were influenced by their dreams. J. B. Priestly dreamed his three essays “The Berkshire Beast,” “The Strange Outfitter” and “The Dream” in detail.

Researchers agree that whatever thoughts you have right before sleep greatly influence the content of your dreams. After thinking for several nights about a poem that could convey her feelings about depression, Anne, a beginning writer, had a dream: “I was alone in a large Victorian house. A foot of snow had fallen during the day — the wind drifted it against the door. As I looked out the window, I felt an overwhelming sense of isolation and depression. The blizzard became the metaphor for depression in my poem.”

With practice, you can deliberately induce dreams of artistic creations or dreams that solve problems. “Your dreams can become your own source of inspiration,” says Dr. Patricia Garfield, author and dream researcher. (See the sidebar on page 31 for advice on how to influence your dreams.)

Warming Up Your Writing Muscles

Perhaps your creative roadblock isn’t in getting an idea, but in how to get it on paper.

These five exercises will help you break the ice at the start of a writing session. I recommend you spend a minimum of 15 minutes warning up for every hour you intend to write.

* Pick a word that defines your mood at the time you’re writing (such as sad) happy, romantic). Write several paragraphs about how you feel and why. This exercise can act as a catharsis to clear away emotional blocks that inhibit your creativity.

* Read a favorite poem or quotation and write your reaction to it. A literary shot in the arm or an insightful comment can stimulate an idea. It can cause you to recall an experience, a person or an emotion you could write about.

* If you’re planning to write a story during your regular writing session, use journalism’s five Ws to help you figure out what to say: Who is the story about? What is the plot? Where does it take place? When does the action happen? Why are you writing it? Write a rough outline based the five Ws.

* As you look at your high school year-book picture (or one taken when you were a teenager), ask yourself these questions: How have your priorities changed since then? What career did you want to pursue in high school? Did you do it? What three important life lessons have you learned since you graduated?

* Open your journal. Keeping a journal or diary or writing letters may be especially helpful if you have trouble developing an idea. A journal serves many purposes. It can be a trusted friend to confide in or a sounding board for solving problems.

“Creative people in many fields have traditionally kept journals because the form encourages the creative process,” wrote Tristine Rainer in her book The New Diary. “The journal provides a place to deposit the first flash of creative imagination or experience.”

Cecilia, a former student, writes articles about teenagers and their problems. Before beginning a piece, she writes letters to her niece and nephew who are in high school. Cecilia never mails these letters, but they help her picture her readers and their needs. They let her express her ideas in a way that would interest teens.

“No writing is a waste of time,” author Brenda Ueland assures us. “With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has stretched your understanding.”

Diction Is A Real Thing: Consider It

§ April 15th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

dictioniartA basic piece of advice for writers, given so often that perhaps you’re sick of hearing it, is: “Everything in a story — dialogue, action, thoughts, mannerisms, descriptions — should both advance plot and reveal character.” It’s good advice. The problem, however, is that it tens you what to do, but it doesn’t tell you how.

Since “everything in a story” is dauntingly broad, let’s narrow it to this: How does dialogue reveal character?

The obvious answer is through content. The person who says “Look at that adorable baby” is a much different character from the person who says “Anyone who hates children and dogs can’t be all bad.”

The content of your character’s dialogue is the main way you let us know who he is inside.

However, it’s not the only way. You have other tools at your disposal for making dialogue convey characterization. They am diction, sentence construction and grammar.

What Words to Choose

Diction means word choice, and it reflects your character’s education, precision, imagination and background — no matter what the content of the speech. Consider the following two passages. Both are dialogue, in which a character comments on another character’s housekeeping:

“Course she ain’t much of a hand to housekeep: slut’s wool all over the place. When yer mind is that fixated on things above, the dirt’s bound to settle below.”

“I know I can leave all household arrangements to you, Mr. de Winter said so, and you must just run things as they always have been run, I shan’t want to make any changes.”

Can you see how much the diction tells us about each of these people? Mr. Spencer and his language are uneducated (“ain’t), colorful (“slut’s wool”) and analytic (he gives a reason why his neighbor’s housekeeping is so bad). His word choice also reflects his country background through his use of regional idioms (“much of a hand to housekeep”). In contrast, the young second bride of Maxim de Winter uses entirely different diction. Her words are formal (“all household arrangements”), bland (no colorful word choices) and general (no details like “slut’s wool”). Her diction reflects an educated English background (“shan’t”). This is appropriate, because the young woman is formal, bland, educated, British and very uncertain of herself.

A subdivision of diction is language specific to a given group: slang, dialect and jargon. The rule here is to tread lightly. Often just a single word of slang, dialect or jargon is all you need. Look, for instance, at these five replies to the simple question “How was the movie?”

“It sucked.”

“Y’all really want to know?”

“Bloody awful.”

“My word, it was violent.”

“Domestic poison, foreign major-grosser.”

Each reply uses diction to tell us not only about the movie, but about the speaker. These speakers are, respectively, a youth, Southern, British, genteel and in the film business. Or else they wish they were those things.

What is your character like? Do her words — not only the sense of her speech, but the individual word choices — reflect her personality and background? If not, can you alter a word or a prase here and there so they do?

The Complexity of Sentences

This one is tricky, because much depends on context. For instance, each of the following uses short, curt sentences:

“Make three copies of that, please.

Send one each to Jane Denby and

Chad Lawrence. Put the third in my

personal file.”

“I never knowed my daddy. He left

early. I was 9. He left my dog. it was

named Curly.”

“That’s Jemison. Candy’s lawyer. A

real son of a bitch.”

These sentences are all similar in length and simple in construction (no dependent clauses, no compounds, no participial phrases, and only the first uses simple prepositional phrases). Yet each gives much different impressions of the speakers, due to content and diction. In the first, the curtness comes across as commanding. In the second, as simple-mindedness or extreme youth. In the third, as gruff taciturnity. Such flexibility makes it difficult to issue absolute rules coordinating sentence structure with characterization.

However, here are some helpful guidelines:

* Long, complex sentences give an impression of education and intelligence. Here, again, is the second Mrs. de Winter:

“Whenever you spoke to me or

looked at me, walked with me in the

garden, sat down to dinner, I felt you

were saying to yourself, `This I did

with Rebecca, and this, and this.'”

The dependent clause, lengthiness and parallel structure (“spoke,” “looked,” “walked,” “sat,” each followed by a prepositional phrase) tell us that this person is intelligent. Stupid people simply don’t talk like this. They can’t. (Note, however that the reverse is not necessarily true. Short sentences don’t mean a character is dim-witted. There can be other reasons for curtness, as we saw in the three examples above.)

* Very long, very complex sentences may make a character seem pretentious. This is especially true if the diction is also formal. Jean Brodie, the queen of pretentiousness (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark) expresses her sense of job security in this overblown way:

As for impropriety, it could never be

imputed to me except by some gross

distortion on the part of a traitor.

She sounds like the pompous snob she is.

* Speeches that pair a heavy-duty subject with a lightweight one make a character seem ridiculous. It’s a great way to create a comic effect. Jean Brodie, who’s not only pretentious but ludicrous, demonstrates this sort of sentence construction as she describes her summer vacation:

In London my friends … took me to

visit A.A. Milne. in the hall was hung

a reproduction of Botticelli’s

Primavera which means The Birth of

Spring. I wore my silk dress with the

large red poppies which is just right

for my coloring. Mussolini is one of

the greatest men in the world, far

more so than Ramsay MacDonald,

and his fascisti….

What a mismatched jumble! Like the character.

* Sentences that run on and on indicate an emotional person, either always emotional or in the grip of temporarily upsetting circumstances. Teenage John Maples, in John Updike’s story “Separating,” uses short sentences fused into one long incoherent sob:

“It’s not just the separation, it’s the

whole crummy year, I hate that

school, you can’t make any friends,

the history teacher’s a scud.”

To create a sense of emotion out of control, try long sentences that are constructed of short ones separated by commas.

Grammar Guides

This one’s easy. A character who uses correct grammar will be perceived as brighter than one who doesn’t.

In a way, this is very unfair. In real life many intelligent people deliberately speak ungrammatically. Sometimes they want to hide their intelligence; sometimes they want to fit in with neighbors or family, sometimes they were raised to think that correct speech is stuck-up. If that’s the case with your character, you must make sure we know it. You might, for instance, have another character say something like, “Dan talks like a dockworker but don’t let that fool you — he’s as shrewd about business as they come.” Or, you might indicate intelligence with a physical detail: “Candy’s silly words tripped all over themselves, but her shrewd blue eyes never left Sean’s face. He could see the calculation there, steady and cold as precision machinery.” Or, you might structure an early scene so that we’re shown the contrast between bad grammar and intelligent action. In fact, these techniques can actually aid characterization by adding very human texture and contradictions to a character that might otherwise seem one-dimensional.

In one sense, of course, how characters talk is never a function of their personalities alone, but also of a writer’s overall style. No character in a Henry James novel, no matter what his station in life, will talk like a character in a Joseph Wambaugh novel. But within the limits of your own style, your characters should not all sound alike. If they do, you miss opportunities to deepen their characterization through their dialogue. Pay attention to each person’s diction, sentence construction and grammar. It will make your dialogue far more revealing, interesting and readable.