Thursday, November 13, 2014

Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Melissa Maygrove Writing Tips on Dialogue and Editing

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. This week our author tipster is Melissa Maygrove.  Melissa says she loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers. She did just that with her book, Come Back, just released last spring. 

You have an opportunity to win  a $15 gift card to Amazon and a signed paperback of Come Back (US) or Kindle e-book (US or international). All of this goes to one winner! Thank you, Melissa! Enter at the Rafflecopter at the end of this blog post. 
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Congratulations, Melissa, on the release of this intriguing historical romance, Come Back.

What question do you get all the time from budding authors?
One thing I encounter often with budding writers is the fear of showing their work to others. Some remain closet writers for years. It’s never easy to receive criticism, however constructive, but you must if you want to reach a level of quality worthy of publication. My writing improved greatly once I joined a good critique group.
If you’re serious about making progress, investigate the various critique options and writing groups available to you. (I prefer swapping critiques online, but doing it in person in a local group is fine, too.) When you find a group that you think will be a good fit, give it a try. It might take some trial and error to find compatible online partners or a group that suits you, but don’t give up.

J.Q.-I really like your point on finding a critique group. Because of the the support of my Koffee Kuppe critique partners, I submitted my first e-book, Sunshine Boulevard, and signed a contract for publication. 
What writing tips do you have for us today on dialogue and editing?


Many writers find dialogue difficult to write, and poorly written dialogue can ruin an otherwise good story. It has to sound natural, not stilted. And although it can contain errors (if it fits the speaker) or changes in spelling that show accent or dialect, it can’t be so full of such things that it’s difficult to read.

When writing dialogue:
  • Make it sound natural. Think about how people speak to each other. We often use contractions, and we don’t always speak in complete sentences. 
  • We also don’t tell people things they already know. Don’t use dialogue to info-dump.
  •  Make sure your word choice fits the character (heritage / country of origin, background, educational level) and the time period if you write historical novels. Use an etymology dictionary to check words and phrases if you’re unsure when they were coined.
  •   When writing dialect or accent, less is often more. Add enough to give the reader the flavor of the speech, but don’t go overboard. It’ll make for difficult reading, especially if it’s for a main character who has a lot of lines.
  •   And be consistent. If your character makes particular grammar mistakes in his speech (because he’s uneducated, for example), have him do it consistently in his lines and in his thoughts.
  •   Don’t be afraid to let punctuation work for you. A dash at the end of a line indicates an abrupt interruption, while ellipses indicate a trailing off. Trusting such marks to convey pacing can save you some (unnecessary) action beats and make the reading experience better.
  • When you’re done with a scene, read it aloud to see how it sounds.
1.      EDITING

My best editing tip is: writers—even those who work as editors—cannot edit their own work. You could do a hundred read-throughs of your manuscript and still not catch all the mistakes. At the very least, get your story checked by a competent proofreader before you publish.

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Western Historical Romance
Adult / New Adult

 Sometimes a single choice 
alters the course of a person's life forever.
 Buy Link:  Amazon

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About Melissa:

Native Texan Melissa Maygrove is a wife, mother, nurse, freelance editor, and romance writer. When she's not busy caring for her tiny nursery patients or shuttling teenagers back and forth to after-school activities,
Author Melissa Maygrove
she's hunched over her laptop, complicating the lives of her imaginary friends and playing matchmaker. Melissa loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers.

Visit Melissa's author site to find out about her and her books. 

Sign up for Melissa's newsletter hereShe doesn’t send them often, only when there is important news, such as a new release.

If you're an author, do you offer a newsletter for readers? If you're a reader, do you like to keep in touch with your favorite writers via newsletters? Please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Melissa said...

Thank you for hosting me today, Janet.

J.Q. Rose said...

You're welcome, Melissa. Thanks so much for participating in the series. Looking forward to a great visit!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Oddly enough, I've never been nervous about showing my work to others. Maybe I just didn't know I was supposed to be nervous.
Reading out loud is one of the best ways to find out if your dialogue sucks.

Melissa said...

I wish I had your self-confidence.

LOL - Very true, Alex. Thanks for visiting.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Alex, Somehow I knew you would not be shy. Thanks for stopping by.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I was a closet writer for years. Pretty sure my husband thought I was having an affair. I need one of those etymology dictionaries. You're so smart- I'd never even heard of one of those!

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Elizabeth, nice to meet you. Glad you opened the door of the closet to share your stories.

Melissa said...

Elizabeth, I'd be lost without it!

Janet, I just finished Liz's latest book, Bella's Point. It's very good. ;)

Unknown said...

Excellent tips! Especially like the ones about working to find the right critique group fit and not attempting to be 'the editor' for your own work. :)

Melissa said...

Thanks, EJ.

Ha! You saw my MS after my proofreader got ahold of it. There were so many colored tabs marking errors, it looked like the Easter bunny had been there. :P

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi E.J. Right on about not "editing" your own work. After awhile, my eyes glaze over and I just skim pages and pages. Surprisingly (or not) I don't find any typos or problems! Thanks for stoppin in and leaving a comment! said...

True. It would be wonderfully efficient if we could adequately edit our own work. But we cannot. At least, I can't. Thanks for the helpful pointers, Melissa. xo

Melissa said...

Thanks for visiting, Robyn. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Robyn, Glad you picked up some "helpful pointers." My goal for this series is to help authors find some nuggets to help them in their writing. Thanks for coming by.

Neeks said...

Great blog post, and useful tips! Thank you Janet and Melissa!

Christine Rains said...

Excellent advice. Once upon a time I was nervous about sharing my stuff, but, okay, I still am sometimes! My critique group has done wonders for me. Every writer needs one.

Melissa said...

Thank you, Neeks and Christine. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Neeks, you are welcome!

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Christine, I still am nervous about sharing my writing too! But when I share it, my crit group always offers helpful suggestions instead of tearing me down. Constructive criticism is the secret of a good crit group. If there is something wrong, the group (person) should offer suggestions to make it better. Usually I am inspired to keep writing when with my group. Thanks.

Cathrina Constantine said...

All great advice Melissa!! Especially about editing and reading your work out loud!!!

Melissa said...

Thanks, Cathrina. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Cathrina, Yes, reading your work out loud...but escape into a room by yourself or people will wonder! LOL Thanks.

Michelle Wallace said...

Great interview!
Thanks for the tips on dialogue writing!
Another great way of capturing ideas for dialogue, is to eavesdrop on interesting conversations...but that comes with the danger of people thinking you're a stalker or weirdo! LOL

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Michelle, LOL! Yes, I find myself "listening in" too and studying people's gestures for a character in a book. Thanks for stopping in!

Melissa said...

Funny, Michelle. People already think we writers are strange. Why not add 'stalker' to the list? :P

Thanks for visiting. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Congratulations to Michelle Wallace, winner of the drawing for Melissa's ebook. Enjoy! Thank you Melissa.

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