Much like the Not Ready for Primetime Players, there is a group of amazingly talented authors on the cusp of stardom. They gather here at the Not so Famous Author's Blog to tell you all about writing and smashing your head on a desk. No just the writing part. .


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Build a Platform and DON"T FALL OFF!

Building a platform was a term I didn't fully understand when I jumped into writing as a career.  But if you stop and think about what a platform is... it makes sense.

A platform is a place to stand where you are visible, easy to find, and heard.  Some people start building platforms for themselves before they even start writing their first book.  Others, like me, jump in with publishing their books and then realize they need to swim or they will sink.

While I've never been overly fond of swimming, I am in a position where I need to swim or get out of the writing waters.  Given how passionate I am about writing, I had no choice but to dog-paddle my way around until I learned to build a platform.  I suppose that means that I've been building my platform while swimming.  That doesn't sound like the easiest thing to do -- it isn't -- but it can be done.

Something I've discovered about myself over the past eight and a half months, since my first book released, is that while I may not be great at "on the spot" work, I do work well under pressure.

My platform has started.  It may be a small, unsteady, floating craft reminiscent of Huck Finn's, but it is under me.  The trick I must perfect now is to not fall off!  There is a trick to balancing on such a craft.  I must keep balance and continue to grow and build.

Thankfully, I have discovered some wonderful people along the way that have helped to stabilize my raft and have tossed me a line now and then with some much needed resources and support.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Writer's Block AKA The Seventh Circle of Hell

Writer’s block. The bane of every writer everywhere. This horrible phenomenon can strike at any moment, stealing the momentum you’ve gained in one fell swoop. It’s agonizing. It’s terrible. It’s downright crippling. It’s just plain rude.

It’s more than just the muse abandoning you and leaving you to wallow in your own sorrows. It’s a legitimate degeneration of the brain. Words will not come. Ideas will not surface. The simple task of putting pen to paper is not unlike the labors of Hercules. I’m pretty sure it’s worse.

It can reduce the once self-confidant writer to a sobbing puddle of tears on the floor. I’ve had this feeling as of late, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s not a pretty sight. I’m usually easygoing, up for a bit of witty banter with my Facebook peeps, throwing around some happiness or a laugh wherever I go. However, with the writer’s block riding shotgun on my daily life, I may or may not have turned into a snappish and snarky version of myself that can send even the most even-tempered of folks running for the hills.

Right now, as I’m typing this post, the blinking of this mothereffing cursor mocks me. I feel it in my bones. I’m in the middle of finishing a novel, and I’m behind schedule. So behind, I’ve missed my deadline. And that just sucks. I’ve never missed a deadline before. NEVER. And it’s all because I can’t get words out. I have an outline, so I know exactly where this story is going. But the twenty-six letters I need to rearrange to get something down that someone somewhere might want to read one day won’t come together and form cogent thought. It’s just random words on the screen. I’ve even resorted to the old faithful combination of a good pen and spiral notebook. Yep, still just word vomit.

So, what to do? The more I think about my block, the worse it gets, which is terrible for everyone involved. But getting rid of the block is a process, much like working through any difficulty. First, there’s Denial.
No, really, everything's fine. This is not writer's block. It's not.

Second is Anger.

Next comes Bargaining.
Lord, if you do me this solid, I will never write another explicit sex scene. I promise.

Then everyone’s favorite: Depression.
If I can't write, I have nothing. My life is over.

Finally, we get Acceptance.
This too shall pass. It's okay, I got this.

Writer’s block happens to the best of us, and understanding that is a good way to move past it. Take the time to give the block the attention it requires. Focus on another project, talk it out with friends, take a break from writing if you need to. The creative mind is constantly bombarded with stimulus, so it’s only natural that every once in a while the brain puts on the brakes and says, “Hell, no, I’m not going any farther.” Respect that. Allow yourself to work through it. You’ll be writing again in no time. 

Tara S. Wood can be found lurking on the internet. Or in these fine establishments.
Moon Rose Publishing

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rats Rock

Writers are always researching and learning, and sometimes we discover some really weird stuff.

For example, when I started writing Very Bad Things, I did some reading up on intelligence in animals. Which may seem strange for a NA romance writer, but my heroine Nora Blakely is kinda quirky, and one of her idiosyncrasies is assigning an animal to the people she meets. For example, she calls her timid best friend a bunny; she names the evil bitch at school a viper; she calls her best guy friend a lion. She pretty much has this whole people-animal menagerie in her head.

Needless to say, she's a bit different.

Here's the surprising part: Nora compares Leo (the love interest) to a rat because he's a caretaker. What? Did I just say that right? Yes, forget all about the sharp teeth and humped-up back, my friends, because rats are cute and cuddly; rats are sweet; rats are loving; rats are your best friend...not your dog. You see, even though the movies and books often portray rats as greedy and villainous, researchers have proven that rats are very intelligent, socially benevolent creatures. In fact, there was one study where the scientist presented a lab rat with either eating chocolate chips or rescuing another rat from his cage. The rat first freed the friend-rat from his cage and then they ate the chocolate chips together. I don't think I'd do that. Not if chocolate is involved.

To take this a step further, Dr. Jaak Panksepp, a professor of comparative anatomy at Washington State, made this video of rats GIGGLING while he tickled and played with them. Yes, I typed that right. I watched this thing several times. Almost made me want a pet rat. Almost. That Bubonic Plague event is still in the back of my mind, though. 

Video of freaky rats giggling

So the next time, you come across a rat, just reach down and give them a little tickle. Yeah, video that and send it to me. I'd like to see what happens. I may even write a story about it.

On a side note, Very Bad Things releases September 10. It's a dark, sexy read, and there were no rats harmed (or tickled) in the writing of this book.

Also, my cover and new trailer made USA Today! That's kinda a big deal, peeps. Check it out.


Author Website

Okay, I couldn't leave you with that insane, scary pic of the rat up there, so here's a sweet one to send out into the world. Rats rock.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Most Important Thing in Writing

The most important lesson any author can learn, the most important ability any author can have is to show rather than tell. 
Which works better?
Telling:  Evangeline was a total badass when she drank.
Showing:  Evangeline downed the shot of whisky in a gulp and threw the glass into her ex-husband's face.    

With the second one, we see through action what Evangeline is like rather than letting the writer explain it to us.  Readers need to be treated as adults who can figure these things out for themselves. 
Showing rather than telling allows the reader through your character to feel the texture of the story.  Showing rather than telling brings your writing to life and makes your writing good. 

How to Show
Use the senses: 
Telling:  I felt seasick
Showing:  My stomach roiled.  I reached out a hand to steady myself.  The cold metal of the railing stung my fingers and the icy ocean splashed over my head, choking me. 

Telling:  Louann didn't think she would ever see him again.
Showing:  "Have a nice trip."  Tears weighed Louann's eyes down and she watched his cowboy boots shuffle through the dust.  "I'll make a pie dinner.  You'll be back for dinner, won't you?" 

How to Avoid Telling Rather than Showing
Search your document for adverbs and get rid of any you can.  When a writer says "She stared at him mutinously," she's not letting us know how the character looked, at least not in any way we can picture and the reader is being told how to think about the character.  Another search you can do is for the word "felt."  Unless the character is a hatmaker, these are place where you are telling us someone's emotions rather than showing us.  When you've spellchecked these, go through on another editing pass.  Look at passages and ask "is it alive"?  Now that you know what to look for, you can see what is telling and what is showing. 

Amanda Albright Still, selected by readers as one of Houston's Favorite Authors, is a compulsive reader who enjoys just about every genre and writes the Galveston Hurricane Mystery Series, ECHOES OF THE STORM, BRIDES OF THE STORM, and SECRETS OF THE STORM (out later this year).  She When not writing, her husband, college-age daughters, and she toil at restoring a Victorian house on Galveston where she believes those old walls have stories to tell.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jason Writes Some More

Wow! Over the last three weeks, I have been writing a new book. One of those ideas that jumps inside your head and you have to work on it straight away. If you haven't had one of these yet, trust me, you will.
I am now on 30,000 words, the cover is done, it's listed on Goodreads(you'll get the link in a minute) and my marketing strategy has begun. I said it at the start and I'll say it again … WOW!!
It is in a new genre for me; dystopian with a YA flavour as well. The main character is a sixteen year old girl.

I'm also running my marketing a little differently too. Facebook is not going to feature prominently with this book. Wait? Did I just type that? Let me check … Facebook is NOT going to feature prominently with this book. Yeah, I must have.
So, why not? Well, I'm crazy like that. But, I decided to do it that way. I still don't like Facebook as a marketing tool, believe it or not. It's crowded. It's the busy party or nightclub where you are on one side and your friend is right over the other side. You shout and shout to get their attention but they JUST DON'T HEAR YOU!!
I won't say exactly how I'll market, but if you hear about the book, I'm doing it right :)
Plus, I get to be sneaky. Ooh, I love the sneaky! ;)
Do you ever watch a commercial on the television, or see a link on the internet, perhaps a flyer handed out to you? You know the ones, they are very vague and make you WANT to know more.

Here's the link for Goodreads; If you could all add it to your TBR lists, and suggest it to your friends on there, that would be sooooo helpful.

I hate to blog and run, but I am on a roll with this and I must keep the creative streak flowing! I'll follow up on progress in the next blog … :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Surprise Guest Blogger - Ally Thomas!

The Author of the Vampire from Hell Series Returns
Hi, I’m Ally Thomas and I’m a writer.  Today, fellow author friend Emily Walker asked me to be on the “Not So Famous Authors” blog.  I readily agreed because Emily is a wonderful author and a supportive friend in the world of Indie Authors.

This blog is described as being one that "Much like the Not Ready for Primetime Players, there is a group of amazingly talented authors on the cusp of stardom. They gather here at the Not So Famous Author's Blog to tell you all about writing and smashing your head on a desk. Not just the writing part."

When I read that part, I almost hesitated to be on the blog today because I don’t feel I’m an amazingly talented author or on the cusp of stardom.  I should probably tell you why.

Briefly, I can tell you the last installment of my series I wrote was over a year ago.  That’s a tough statement to say even now or share with the world.  But it’s okay because I know what that really means.  It means I haven’t given up, not yet and I’ve returned to writing.

I may not be a famous author some day.  I may not even be a talented writer (if you read some of my reviews), but I have something far more enjoyable.  I have readers out there who want to read more of my stories, especially the Vampire from Hell series.  For me, that’s what writing is all about.  Sharing it with others is the whole point.  And thankfully, my readers are the ones who brought me back to writing.

Here’s the longer part to this story…
No one tells you when you start out as a person pursuing a creative profession such as writing that you may have more on your hands than just the act of writing.  When I published my first story, The Vampire from Hell – The Beginning (Part 1) in early 2011 on Amazon, I had accomplished a goal I had wanted to achieve my whole life.  I had published something!  I was beyond excited about the new journey of writing.

In the summer of 2012, soon after finishing Parts 2 and 3 of my series, I fell into a writer’s block.  Long before I took up writing, I really thought writer’s block was some lame excuse authors made up.  At the time in 2012, I didn’t understand what was wrong, what had happened, or why I couldn’t write the next part in my series (Part 4).  The ideas stopped, my imagination dried up, and my characters were silent.

Now, looking back, I see it very clearly.  I had burned myself out.  I had pushed myself further in the first year of writing than I should have, and I had destroyed my creative self.  I had been working two jobs, my day job and waking up at 3 am to do my writing.  With everything else related to my personal life, I had to also keep my world as an Indie Author moving forward.  I worked feverishly to promote, market, and share my stories with many new readers.  It soon dawned on me, as an Indie Author, just how much time promoting and marketing takes away from writing.

Before I knew it, I had dug a hole for myself, jumped in, and was buried neck deep.

That’s the basic reason I stopped writing.  There are a few other reasons, but I won’t go into them here.  My way out of my writer’s block was to put everything on hold.  I thought the best plan of action would be no action.  What do you do when you have destroyed the one thing you’ve always wanted to do?  I’ve dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember.  I had to accept that I had failed to finish my series, and that there was a good possibility I may never finish it.  I had to figure out a way to fix it, not just drop it.

Ultimately, I didn’t want to leave writing.  Normally that is what I do when I realize a creative project has run its course.  I just stop.  But writing is more in my blood than anything else.  It’s like breathing.  And even though I knew it was painful at the time to breath, I had to figure out a way back to the keyboard.  That was the real challenge because I had to face myself and a lot of demons to become productive again.

Around Thanksgiving 2012, I opted to write a few paranormal romance stories.  I wanted to see if I could do something different.  I thought even if I couldn’t write on my current series, maybe I could at least write something.  During the Spring of 2013, I wrote and published a few stories under two pen names and it helped me see just how much I like the genre of fantasy I write in and how talented many of the romance authors I know truly are.

So with all that being said, I found my way back to the keyboard in the late Spring.  I continued to get emails and posts from readers who loved reading my books and wanted to know more about my heroine’s story.  With their encouragement, I decided to give this whole writing thing another try.  That’s why today I can confidently say I have decided to relaunch my series, The Vampire from Hell.

New Covers

Today I’m revealing all four new covers for each installment:
·         The Beginning – Part 1
·         A Vampire Among Angels (Part 2)
·         A Vampire On Vacation (Part 3)
·         The upcoming The Vampire from Hell Returns (Part 4)
I’d like to thank Cora with Cora Graphics for creating covers for Part 1, 3, and 4. created Part 2’s cover.

New Release
Also today I’m happy to announce a revised Anniversary edition of the first 3 parts of my series will be available soon.  I’ve included the cover for you to view.  I made that one :D This release will be called “The Vampire from Hell Revamped” and it will be available in ebook and paperback before “The Vampire from Hell Returns (Part 4)” is released.
Primarily this is for my fans, who have stood by me through thick and thin.  But readers new to the series can enjoy the book as well.  I’ve included several new scenes, character sketches, story insights and behind the scenes information.  I think it may be a fun way to re-read the series and get ready for the next installment that is on its way.  Please note: the overall plot of the series up to Part 3 (A Vampire On Vacation) has not changed.  Various chapters have been elaborated upon for the enjoyment of readers and my fans.

Free Ebooks
You can start my series, the Vampire from Hell for free.  Also I have several free ebooks available that you may like to check out.  Go to for more links and more information.
I’d like to thank Emily for inviting me to be on the “Not So Famous Authors” blog today and for letting me share this today with you.  Feel free to share your comments on the covers and/or anything I discussed in this article.  I’d love to hear from you.  You can also email me at ally at allythomas dot com.

About the Author
Ally Thomas loves writing fantasy and paranormal books for that showcase vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, and any furry monsters who go bump in the night. Her paranormal fantasy series, The Vampire from Hell has been on the Top 100 Amazon bestsellers list in Fantasy since its first release in 2011.

Ally lives in the great state of Texas with her husband and is currently working on the next installment of the Vampire from Hell as well as exploring her passion for vampire romance with a new YA paranormal romance series called The Moon Journals.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Busy Blogger - Author Update

It is amazing how much time goes into maintaining your blog.  I really appreciate this particular blog because there are so many amazing writers involved!

I have done a few blogger workshops to help existing bloggers and encourage newbies to join the busy ranks.  There is a new workshop that I'm working on putting together coming up next month.  It is a Blogger's Choice and so far the biggest request is about monetizing your blog.  So, I have my work cut out for me as far as research goes.

As for today (the day this post goes live)... I am having a live interview on Facebook for my Tunuftol series.  People will be asking me questions about the series and books in general, but it is also open to character interviews.  My characters are alive and well in my imagination and fully able to provide answers to the general public.  So..... I'm hoping it will be a blast!  

This event is part of the celebration for the release of the third book in the series: The Jewel of Nirel (released July 28th) 
 Due to my excitement, I can't stop talking about it!!!

You can stop by and check it out if you like.  If you do, let me know that you read today's post and I will have a surprise for you!! ;)  

I've got several projects in the work... as usual.  However, I'd love for you to stop by and just say "hi" some time.  Whether on here, at my main blog: Rambling Voices in My Head, or on Facebook.  Don't stop checking in here though.

With all these great authors all in one location, you can't go wrong!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Mamaw's Cactus

Mamaw's Cactus

It's funny how we put such significance on little things. We expect them to live up to these monumental roles we have given them, and when they don't measure up, we are angry. 

My Granddaddy's Lily
My Mamaw's Rose
My Mamaw's Cactus

Kept by me after their deaths not too long ago. It helps me and I feel like they are a part of me, and with me. I know it's silly to hold such stock in material things. I don't get to keep a lot, our house is almost museum quality clean. I do get to keep these things though.

Mamaw's Cactus is dying, and a picture fell over and crushed the rose I took from her casket. My uncle passed away right after and I didn't take a rose, just a picture. The rose rode around in my car for a couple of months, until I had my car cleaned, and then it came in. 

The succulent survived for a year. My Mamaw had the greenest thumb out of anyone. She had kept the succulents, the roses, and all the flowers alive for years.

As it wilts, it's petals turn mushy and wet falling off sadly in the little planter, I can't help but feel sad. The rose crushed, the cactus dying, but she lives on in my heart. I have some of her jewelry  and a Cameo to remind me of her. I water Granddaddy's lily everyday and it seems to appreciate that. 

You see what I mean. We put a lot of pressure on little things, at least I do, and expect them to live up to our expectations, only to be mad when they don't.

I was feeling sentimental for today's post!!

My new release is out His Boss Lady
Emily Walker <3

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Author's Life
By Amanda Albright Still

Recently, I got a snub from an author who isn't particularly famous, but certainly better known than I am. I determined that when I am well known, I will also be known for being nice. Heck, one of the nicest mystery writers I've ever met is one of the most successful, Carolyn Hart. I probably would never have been published if she hadn't pushed me to go talk to an editor at a conference.   I told her about my novel and she said, "That sounds thrilling.  Go over there and talk to that editor."  I shook my head.  I just didn't have the nerve.  She insisted and I wasn't going to let an icon down, so I spoke with the editor and then kept speaking to editors until my first novel, SHADOW OF TWILIGHT got published. 

Anyhoodle, I asked an author who writes in my genre to give me a blurb.  She not only declined to give a blurb, but to even read ECHOES OF THE STORM or BRIDES OF THE STORM to see if they are blurb-worthy.  She declined with a flimsy and rude lie.  

The snub left me feeling discouraged, but discouragement is just part of being a writer.  I went on.  I sent my book out for more reviews, to some of the leaders in the industry.  I also gave books away to storm-ravaged regions of the country and to prize winners. 

I got a call from a woman who said she liked my book and would love to have me come over to her house. She said her name, which I thought was Kathryn Clark, which didn't ring any bells.  She probably had won my book in a contest.  I called her back because I figure, I'm determined to be nice when I'm a famous author, so I have to be nice on the way up as well.  If she wanted me to come by, fine. I'll call her and see if she's a nice lady or nut job.  Either way, I have a fan.  

 Well, I called and found I'd gotten the name wrong. It was "Kathryn Falk" who is the publisher of Romantic Times, RT-Book Review, one of the biggest names out there in book land. She wanted me to visit her at her ranch. She also has a villa in Italy and a chalet in Austria, but the Texas ranch was the closest.

 I don't know if her magazine will review my book. I'd love if they did, but just meeting her and hearing her stories about E.L. James, Truman Capote, and Barbara Cartland was wonderful. Having someone like that say my book was good just made me feel great. She also gave me advice on the business of books that I couldn't have gotten anywhere else.

 Somehow, knowing that there are people at the top this nice made me feel great about being a writer. Yes, we'll face snubs--I think some folks who've been through the rejection writers face have a need to lash out--but there are plenty of great people around.
Amanda Albright Still is the author of the Galveston Hurricane Mystery Series, ECHOES OF THE STORM and BRIDES OF THE STORM, which take place just after the Great Storm of 1900. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Toddlers Smoking and Padding their Bras: What I Learned from Watching Toddlers and Tiaras

If you think spraying tanning a five-year-old is okay, then don't read this post! Stop, right now.

When I need writing ideas, all I have to do is turn on the television to get the juices flowing. So when I stumbled across TLC’s show Toddlers and Tiaras, my remote stopped and my mouth opened. What the heck was this? Was it real? 
Are there really momsters (moms) out there who seriously validate themselves by parading and pimping their kids on national television?. Yes, yes, and yes.

These people are wacko, and I’m being nice.

It's a popular, reality based show which premiered in 2009 and now has two spin-offs, Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo and Cheer Perfection.

So, of course, I got hooked on it. I mean, it’s like watching a train wreck. And it makes you feel really good about yourself as a mom, especially when you’d rather be writing than cook dinner for your family, not that I do that, of course...okay, maybe once or twice. So, I may suck at cooking, but hell would freeze over before I put my "little me" in a sailor’s outfit so she can clog to “I’m Bringing Sexy Back.”

In case you’ve missed this Academy Award winning show (not), then I complied a little list below of what I learned from watching Toddler and Tiaras. Enjoy.

What I learned:

  1. Those kids are whiny! What in the world is wrong with the children? Oh wait, it’s because crazy mom is stuffing them in an itchy costume and dragging them across the country so they can enter the ULTIMATE SUPREME beauty contest. Yes, they drive 865 miles in an old, beat-up car. They eat fast food and sleep in sleazy motels. But, hey, the cowboy gear she bought for her little one cost $1800 dollars, so it’s all good.
  2. Best Personality Winner actually sucks big time and some of the moms and contestants cry when they get it. If you’re fat or pimply or don’t have the required amount of skin showing, you’re a shoo-in for this dreaded award. You must run off the stage in tears, while your mother passes out in her seat from mortification.
  3. Sequins. You must have more, more, more, more. Think sparkle, think glamour, think porn star. 
  4. Momsters are scary. I mean, scarier than Jason or Freddy Krueger.
  5. Smoking and padding bras are encouraged. Yes, this happened, I am not lying. One toddler was Sandy from Grease, so mom gave her a cigarette to puff on while she danced to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” Okay, maybe that wasn’t the song. And yes, a mom, padded her little girl’s bra so she could sing a Dolly Parton song. I almost peed my pants at that one. No five-year-old needs a double D bust while she belts out “Nine to Five.” Really.

With all that aside, you gotta admit, this is some good stuff to write about. Glitz and drama and a future therapy session, people. I sense a bestseller!!

This month I’m watching Shark Week on Discovery. Wonder what ideas/lessons I’ll learn from it. Check back to see!

Oh, and just so you new adult romance comes out in FOUR WEEKS! Check out my links below after the smoking toddler pic!!

Ilsa Madden-Mills
Very Bad Things

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

He Said, She Said The Nitty Gritty of Using Attributives

He Said, She Said
The Nitty Gritty of Using Attributives
Today let us discuss attributions, how we use them, how to use them right and how to avoid them like the plague.


the act of attributing; ascription.
something ascribed; an attribute.
vb  (usually foll by to )
to regard as belonging (to), produced (by), or resulting (from); ascribe (to): to attribute a painting to Picasso

a property, quality, or feature belonging to or representative of a person or thing
an object accepted as belonging to a particular office or position

a. an adjective or adjectival phrase

b. an attributive adjective
logic  the property, quality, or feature that is affirmed or denied concerning the subject of a proposition

An easier way to explain what an attribution is would be showing you.

“Do like you my new dress?” Peggy asked.

Here, ‘Peggy asked’ is the attribution. It is the phrase that represents ownership of the sentence, generally in dialect within a novel.

Dialog is probably one of the most complex issues in writing a novel. You want to type properly yet you also need it to sound as natural as possible for that specific character and still somehow be legible no matter what. It is a complex combination of knowing when to say cannot versus can’t, do not versus don’t, etcetera and so on. 

The way we write our dialect is more defining to our protagonist’s voices and who they are more than anything else in our books. It tells us a great deal of what type of person they really are. For example even a slight accent can paint a picture if written properly; inciting the imagination of our readers to build entire backgrounds of a character’s life no matter if we leave such a thing out altogether.

The beauty of a novel is the painted picture it creates inside of the readers mind. Some words we may be tempted to overuse in our books, trying to be clearer on precisely what is going on while trying to paint our stories. However, this is not always necessary.

Attributives should be held back for when clarifying who is speaking (when necessary) or the manner in which they are speaking, IE: Her voice trembled from fear, Seething anger lit fire to his every word. 
Describing the influx of voice is far more important than even stating who said it in many cases.

Based on the character, how things are said, their current mood, even the specific sentence as it pertains to the paragraph or situation is sometimes all the indicator we need as to who spoke. In this example you will be able to see why:

Bob and Caryl sat out on the deck, watching the sunset. “Bob, would you please pass me my hat?” Caryl asked.

If we know that it is just Bob and Caryl together, and Caryl uses Bob’s name when she speaks, then there is absolutely no reason we need to add on ‘Caryl said or  ‘she said/asked’  Everything has already been implied thoroughly to the reader.

Often times when the character speaking uses another character’s name and addresses them directly it improves your story flow better than he said, she said, she replied, commented, etcetera.  In every day speech we might not address people by name as often as we may do so in books, but by doing so it can allow you to cut down your attributives and get right to the story. Seeing a redundant use of attributives, (he said / she said) may actually pull your readers out of the story more than you realize or want them to be. When they have to read things like that over and over again, it is almost like a subconscious reminder that we’re reading a book, not witnessing (Or in some ideal cases, being a part of) a story.

This is not saying every sentence you write should address by name or that you should never use an attribution. The goal is to find a happy medium that best suits your novel and sounds the most natural for the story while maintaining fluid story flow.

More often than we may realize in our dialect, there are generally only two people speaking together. Sometimes, however, there is a group of people discussing one topic or a room full of people carrying multiple conversations. This is a time when attributions will be greatly needed in one form or another. One thing that may really help your story flow properly might be adding subconscious attributions; a sentence that indicates who spoke without directly saying so.

Here, actions are used by the person speaking. In the book itself this method indicates who is the focus of the paragraph and thus who is speaking...

(Character 1, aka Paul, is speaking) “Uh huh. Well anyways, I got us some breakfast.” He popped the can open, downing half of his in one gulp while I just stared at mine.

(Character 2, aka Lianna, is speaking) My brow wrinkled curiously. “How’d you get over here so quickly?” While looking over at the food on the counter, I opened the can.

(Character 1 is speaking) “Eh, I already had the food. ‘Sides, you gotta eat something other than bad Chinese and Riads once in a while.” Paul smiled, winking at me.

I hope this article has helped you understand attributions and facilitated in building your strength as a writer.

Happy writing!

Jacquelynn Gagne, Editor in Chief of Ambrosia Arts