Four years ago, I wrote a post titled “Drop Caps, Indents, and Other Formatting Tricks in Word.” Regarding drop caps, I mentioned that Word drops and enlarges the first character, which, if you’re writing dialogue, means it’s your quotation mark that gets dropped and enlarged instead of the first letter. Some authors and editors get around this issue by simply leaving off the opening quotation mark.
At the end of that discussion, I said: “There are those who believe leaving off the first quote mark is confusing to readers. Luckily, there’s a workaround in Word for those who want the quote mark, but it’s time consuming. More on that in a future post.”
I’m a little late with that future post (sorry, Anthony!). Truthfully, my workaround stopped working momentarily after a Word update, but it’s back now. It’s a wonky sort of workaround, but it does work. Continue reading “Drop Caps and Quotation Marks: A Workaround”
Here at Indies Unlimited, we often get questions about the knottier issues of writing. Recently, Lynne Cantwell discussed the use of italics; today we’ll talk about quotes. In my editing work, I use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS), and that is my source for this information on using quotes.
The main thing to remember is that quotation marks (as all punctuation) are used as visual clues to your readers. It sends a signal to your readers about the context of what they are reading, and as such, they are necessary and invaluable to convey what you, the writer, want to convey. Imagine if you did not use quotation marks (or punctuation) in your writing. Continue reading “Quote Me on This: Quotation Marks 101”
Writers are well aware of the value of observation for giving us the details we need to make our settings come alive, for rounding out our characters by giving them habits or for providing details in our descriptions that help identify them. Today I’d like to take a closer look at a specific form of observation – listening – as apart from merely observing. As writers we can use less obvious aspects of listening to deepen our understanding of our characters and their relationships to each other.
Experts tell us that only 20% (others say 10%) of verbal communication comes from the actual words used. Let’s examine the remaining 80% of face-to-face communication. One obvious benefit of doing this is for writing dialogue. As we listen to, or even participate in conversations, we can observe cues to meaning not contained in the words. The easiest aspects to spot are volume, tone, and pitch, which give us the first clues as to the state of mind of the speaker. Continue reading “Listening: A Writer’s Tool”
One of the fastest ways to pull your reader out of your book and back into reality is to write unrealistic dialogue. When a character says or does something that is “out of character” it always makes me flinch or wince. So I thought it’d be helpful to share some of things to remember when writing or editing dialogue in your books.
One of the easiest ways to be aware of good dialogue is to think about how you talk to your family and friends. Do you go into detailed backstory when chatting to people who know you really well? Do you rehash details everyone in the room is already aware of? How often do you call people by their first name when you’re chatting to them? Continue reading “Realistic Dialogue – Things to Remember About Your Characters and What They Say”