A little less conversation

I’m having a few problems at the moment. Writing problems, I hasten to add – I’m not about to sit here and blog to you all about my sciatica or anything.

First and foremost, finding the time to write seems to be the hardest thing of all. My time management is sometimes a bit questionable, and I have a tendency to live my life in a general level of chaos unheard of outside the mosh pit at a Justin Bieber concert. As much as I get home from work every day thinking how much I’d love to just sit down and try adding a bit more to the work-in-progress, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, it doesn’t really seem to be happening. At the moment, I’m basically managing an hour or so on a Sunday – which, in all fairness, is still better than what I’ve been averaging for the past however-many years, but is still levelling me out at about 1000 words a week, which I feel is not really getting me anywhere in any great hurry. The one thing that is keeping me going, interestingly, is the feeling of obligation to this blog and needing something to write in it, so I’m quite grateful I started it now, if only because there will be a public record to name and shame me if I start slacking.

The other problem at the moment that’s giving me grief is dialogue. In my effort to move the plot along a bit, I’ve managed to push my two main characters together in an environment that gave them a bit of room to grow and develop their relationship. This is encouraging, but the problem I’m having is building that through dialogue. I used to think I was quite good at dialogue – when I was a teenager, I used to sit and write play after play when dialogue was pretty much all I had to work with – but I prefer people to be kind of quiet and monosyllabic when I’m writing, and my concern is that this will be rather dull to read. The last thing I want is to end up with an endless series of one-line statements as two people get all British about their emotions and refuse to actually reveal anything interesting.

The hidden problem within all of that is not wanting to get into that primary-school trap of finding endless ways to avoid saying “he said”. More often than not I prefer to avoid that construction entirely, since if you’re doing your job right, the way they talk should be distinct enough that the reader should be able to identify who’s talking without assistance, especially if there are only two people in the room. All the same, I don’t want to let dialogue that should be sparkling fall flat on the page, so that’s something I’m really trying to pay attention to when I’m reading at the moment – how good authors can take an everyday exchange and really inject some life into that. I’m going to take some notes over the next week and perhaps I’ll post some of the better examples up here and discuss them a bit.

One final issue that I’m having that I feel is embarrassingly primitive of me: my tenses are a mess. I’ve lapsed from past to present and back again so many times that I’ve lost count at this point, and I’m still none the wiser as to which suits the WIP better. Hopefully I’ll manage to pin myself down to one or the other at some point, but for now, I’m going to have a bitch of a time when I come to the edit.

Word count (this week): 1,407
Total so far: 13,781

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