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Posts tagged ‘dialogue cues’

How to create your own “dialogue cue” practice

In an earlier post, I wrote about some of the great tips I learned from writing guru Margie Lawson at the recent Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference.

Lawson coined the term “dialogue cues” to describe the psychological/emotional subtext around dialogue. (For a great discussion of subtext with examples, read The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter).

I’ve been experimenting with creating dialogue cues since Lawson’s class and made up my own “dialogue cue” practice as I did with metaphor practice.  Here’s what I do:

1.  Using one word or a short phrase make a list of attributes of your character—try using what Lawson calls “power words,” words that have an emotional or psychological impact on your reader.

The list for the antagonist in my current work might look like this: Sexy, Sensual, Ancient, Devious, Infectious, Hypnotic, Charming. Read more

Write dialogue cues like a bestselling author

At the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference this weekend, I took a series of phenomenal classes from writing teacher and psychologist Margie Lawson. I thought I was a fairly decent writer—I have a few awards to prove it—but what I learned this weekend after taking Lawson’s classes is that “I don’t know nothing yet.”

Let’s just say that by the end of the day I literally had one brain cell left.

One of my favorite classes was on dialogue cues. For the most part, I’ve already learned to keep my dialogue tags short. He said. She said. And to avoid attributions like the following:

  • “I don’t like you,” he said, disdainfully
  • “I hate you,” she said, angrily
  • “Don’t move,” he growled
  • “Get away from me,” she hissed Read more