Speech Tags or No Speech Tags?

Each novel manuscript I edit for my day job is a learning experience. It either reveals what doesn’t work in fiction writing or reinforces what does. In this post I want to talk about the speech tag. I briefly wrote about it in this post, but I wanted to expand on some key ideas here. Why? Because strong dialogue is so important for good fiction. It reveals character, it depicts drama, it reveals vital information, and it pushes the story forward. Used correctly, it can do so much for a story. But use it unwisely, and it can really be a drag. Of course, the primary purpose of speech tags is to ID the spakers, but I’ll just come right out and ask it. Are speech tags even necessary? What do they accomplish other than giving the reader more words to read? Because, I would argue, there’s a better way…

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Book Review: Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins

Book Review: Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins

NOTE: Don’t miss the drawing for a free book, mentioned below. I always enjoy reading the latest Christian thriller by Brandilyn Collins; in fact, her novels are part of the inspiration that got me started writing my own stories. Not to mention that each novel offers a wonderful blueprint of how a Christian suspense novel should be written. Each time I read another of her novels, I learn more about plotting, pacing, and all the other necessary ingredients for a good plot to work. But this novel especially caught my attention when I read the back-cover burb. The novel I’m working on now, my third, has a few similarities to Brandilyn’s premise (the protagonist needs brain surgery and gets an implant that offers more than anyone expects). So when I read her blurb, I thought, Oh no. Somebody beat me to it. But thankfully her story goes in a very…

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Turning Off That Internal Editor

Turning Off That Internal Editor

Over the last few weeks I’ve been making some excellent progress on my third novel, tentatively called Drone. I’m hoping to finish the first draft this year. But lately I’ve been facing a problem. What some ¬†readers may not know is that I’m self-employed and work my day job as a book editor. This type of job requires that I edit numerous pages of text on my computer screen every day. This job demands an ever-vigilant internal editor. My problem is learning to turn off that internal editor when it’s time to work on my own book. When I reread what I wrote during my previous writing session, a little voice in my head says, Oh, that’s stupid. The writing here is really sad. This scene is falt. Your story stinks! I don’t need the negativity right now. I struggle enough with self-doubt and insecurity with each project. That internal…

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Want to Make Phone Calls for Free? Part 3

Want to Make Phone Calls for Free? Part 3

See Part 1 and Part 2.¬† Last fall, I began a series of articles about my journey to “phone independence.” Basically, I found a way to make and receive free phone calls (yes, free) using an actual telephone and a free Google Voice account. This is possible through a gadget called the Obi 100 or Obi 110. This graphic pretty much says it all: If you are fuzzy on the details, please see Part 1 and Part 2 (listed above). I don’t plan to rehash everything here. Unfortunately, I’ve now hit a setback, and I wanted to be honest about it, since I agreed to document every step of my journey. This spring I was planning to port my landline phone number to Google Voice and take the next step. But then Obihai, the company that makes the whole phone-calls-through-Google-Voice thing possible, announced that Google plans as of May 15,…

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