Dialogue: Punctuation

“There was something I was going to write about for my Indies Unlimited post this week,” I said to my daughter Kat. “Do you remember what it was?”

“Hmm. Maybe it was punctuation in dialogue,” she said.

“You’re right!” I said. “You were saying that your teachers never went over it in school.”

“Yeah,” she said. “We concentrated on learning the rules for writing essays, because that’s what kids need to know to pass the state-mandated tests.”

I interjected, “Which the kids need to do so the teachers can keep their jobs.”

“Exactly. And there’s no dialogue in an essay.” Continue reading “Dialogue: Punctuation”

“Pick Six” Writing Tips

robert clay norman
Author Robert Clay Norman

Football season is here, and so I offer these suggestions to assist you in scoring your own “touchdown.” (For you non-pigskinners, “Pick Six” refers to a defensive touchdown from an intercepted pass.) My book is a narrative memoir, but I think these principles would apply to both fiction and non-fiction writing. Some of these tips come from others, and I pass them along certain that the originators would encourage it. A few of the ideas are mine. Perhaps some of these tips will be of help to you.


1. Buy the book Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark. It is only about $9, and contains 50 tips that will improve your writing skills. It is a small book and a fun read. One good thing about this book is that you will realize that you are already using some of these tools, and reading this book will reinforce and validate your work thus far. Even better, you can pick and choose which tools to emphasize and adopt. The book can be read in any order you select. The reader doesn’t have to begin at the beginning in order to gain insight into these tips. Besides, can any of us really remember 50 of anything? Clark does a wonderful job of offering dozens of useful tools, and the user can consider and accept those of choice. Kind of like a great Asian lunch buffet. Continue reading ““Pick Six” Writing Tips”

Body Parts

I am more than my eyes alone.

“Smooth and smiling faces everywhere, but ruin in their eyes.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

I did not plan on starting this week’s post about eyes. Eyes may be the windows of the soul, but how do you describe your character’s eyes or facial expression without being cliché?  A book I recently finished repeated the same phrase over and over again – “his smile never reached his eyes”. Yes, we can figure out that this person is not genuine. But, what other body parts can we use to gain insight into our character’s motivation, career opportunities, pride or self-esteem? Let’s start with a story about feet.

When we moved to Florida from New Jersey I was disappointed to realize that I could no longer indulge my habit of checking out what kind of shoes people were wearing. I love shoes. Many people in Florida don’t wear shoes – they wear flip-flops. It can be 35 degrees, and they’ll be in flip-flops. And, sadly, for some of them it doesn’t matter to them what their feet look like. Continue reading “Body Parts”