Tag Archives: writing advice

5 days of tips to developing character with dialogue: or dialogue to the nth power

Utopian flying machines, France, 1890-1900 (ch...You all are in for a treat this week.

And I mean it.

I’ve loaded up a full 5 days of authors talking about dialogue and character. If you are a writer struggling with dialogue (and who doesn’t) you’ll get the skinny on what drives the dialogue from a thriller writer, fantasy, steampunk perspective.

If you’re a reader, you get to see the behind-the-scenes process that streaks through an author’s psyche as they work to deliver realistic characters you can love.

You know I don’t like to flood in boxes with blog posts…but I think it’s an exciting series with something for everyone to mull over. Please make a note to visit and if you like, please do share. These authors are all worth following.


  •  Feb 20 is bestselling thriller author: Mel Comley discusses dialogue
  • Feb 21 is the incomparable Walter Shuler : a gent whose world creation is just delicious.
  • Feb 22 we have Vivienne Tuffnell who writes from a more literary place about characterization and periphery characters
  • Feb 23 Gordon Bonnet will discuss dialogue from a speculative fiction writer viewpoint. (I love his blog)
  • Feb 24 is steampunk author AJ Barnett who offers up a whole heap of info on dialogue.

If you liked this post, please do share.

Thea is the author of several novels that she considers left of mainstream. You can find her on BN, Kobo, Sony, Apple

Anomaly by Thea Atkinson

Writer Wednesday: that junk in your trunk is Steampunk @goblinWriter

Prelude Ramble by thea

Sometimes you find someone on Twitter that a the most intriguing handle (@goblinwriter) (mine is the very boring @theaatkinson) , and then you discover they have mentioned you on their blog, and THEN you realize they write Steampunk. You have no idea what Steampunk is.

You don’t want to say so, because well, you’d look ignorant and uneducated and so you sully forth, chatting and Rting, and reading blog posts and then you realize: Hey! Not everyone knows what SP is! I’m not alone.

What a great guest post that would make. Even better: what an awesome writing exercise it would make. So I asked this goblinwriter if she would guest post on my blog for Writer Exercise Wednesday and I’m delighted to say, she said yes. Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for:

Purchase for your Kindle

Writing Exercise: Escape the Dungeon!

By Lindsay Buroker

Thea asked me to talk a bit about steampunk and offer up a writing exercise for you good folks.

I’m not sure I qualify as an expert on steampunk, but I am an indie fantasy author with a fondness for filling my characters’ world with steam-powered machines and industrial-revolution-era gadgets that might have been but never were. Airships, steam-powered dog sleds, mechanical attack butterflies… You get the picture.

I also have a fondness for characters who can use their brains to get themselves out of trouble. Hey, my childhood idols were Spock and MacGyver. What can I say?

Thus, for today’s writing exercise, I’m going to challenge you to come up with a creative way to get your characters out of a dungeon cell, police interrogation room, serial killer’s basement, a garden shed, etc. The setting is up to you, and you needn’t be a fantasy author to give this a try.

Here are the rules:

  • The door is locked, there are no breakable windows, and brute force won’t work.
  • You cannot trick the guards by having your character’s sidekick pretend to be sick (sorry, but Hollywood has used that one to death!).
  • You can place up to three items in the prison for your characters to use, but they must be logical finds, such as a water heater in a basement, roadside flares in the trunk of a car, fertilizer (MacGyver’s favorite bomb-creation material!) in a garden shed.

That’s it! Have fun with this.

Oh, and while you’re thinking of your brilliant escape scenario, I invite you to check out some of my fantasy books. My goblins are particularly known for thinking their way out of situations with their inventions and schemes (hey, when you’re three feet tall, brute force isn’t much of an option!), and, Kali, the young heroine in my Flash Gold novellas is a self-taught tinkerer who’s been known to bring down a pirate-infested airship with nothing but the supplies on her steam-powered dog sled….

You can also visit my e-publishing blog if you’re looking for tips on ebook creation, book promotion, or social media. Thanks for reading!


If you don’t like this exercise, The Writing Network (twitter ID @theladywrites) has a different

one you can try. It’s just about getting creative and feeling inspired. Doesn’t matter to me whose exercise you do, just exercise.

BTW: by Thea

Free short story by Thea Atkinson
God in the Machine is free. totally free

I don’t write Steampunk and I doubt I’d be good at it, but I do think the cover of God in the Machine is reminiscent of what I would think SP conveys. It’s free at feedbooks and Smashwords. Go on and download it.

Thea’s 3 Mashup. :It’s all about me, baby @guineapig66 @booksandpals @siblehodge

June 17, 2011

First of all, I woke up in a frenzy this morning. Had a heap of things to do before I had to run off to work and do all those Friday errands that have spilled over from the last Friday when I didn’t get the errands done. So. I forgot the mashup.


Ha Ha! Joke’s on me cause I ended up finding 2 really great reviews today! Yippee! So In honor of the really generous folks who review us poor dejected indies, this one’s for you! (and me of course; it’s all about me.)

I really want you to go over and comment if you can, if you find the time, if you care at all about indies and their support system cause reviewers are part of it, baby. I don’t care if you read the review, but as writers, it’s nice to show any reviewer support. So without fanfare and excitement, here are my three:

  • Sibel Hodge is a stunning writer and she reviews too. She posted a review today for One Insular Tahiti. Thanks so much Sibel
  • Big Al is probably the best known and I really love his site. It’s full of great, insightful reviews of tons of books. You could drown in the reading list. He reviewed Anomaly a month or so ago

happy reading!

Do your sex scenes sizzle or fall flat? @bethanyhalle @gpwriter #mywana

Writer Wednesday Exercise

Sex scenes are tough. How hot is too hot? Just exactly what DO you call the necessary bits of anatomy? What if the writing just falls…limp?

Finding the right balance between steamy and corny is my greatest fear. Especially since I write psychological thrillers: to me, everything has to come from the character and be authentic.

I write a sex scene in just about every novel, and I think I’m OK with it—with what I end up with anyway. Anomaly had a very short scene that I thought was critical for J’s character, One Insular Tahiti had a forced sex scene, and Secret Language of Crows had an invisible sex scene.

I’m not a master of erotica like Cassandre Dayne or George Pappas but I’ve learned a couple of little things along the way that have helped me when I needed to write a scene.

  • Just call the anatomy bits what they are (unless you’re writing for one of those pulp romance novels) or at the very least what the ‘character’ would call them.
  • The characters still have to react to one another. It’s not about listing out mechanical acts
  • You don’t have to describe each and every detail. Just the highlights.
  • Stay clear of alliteration
  • Consider rhythm. Ahem. Sex has rhythm. Keep that in mind. And get it right. It doesn’t have to overtly match that of real sex, but it needs to have some sort of scene matching rhythm. Is the encounter a harsh one or is it romantic?
  • Stay away from clichés. If you must use one/or recognize one in the scene, change it to a conceit.

So: your job? Take one of your characters and put him/her in a situation where some sort of sexual encounter is a forgone conclusion. In fact, it is a NECESSARY thing for the evolution of the scene or character. You might not use it in your novel, but you might discover a thing or two about the character that you can use somewhere else. It can be a vanilla style or erotica style or straight out hardcore. Your call. Your writing.

But please come back and comment. Tell us how you made out. Or tell us what your tips to writing these scenes are. Tell us anything. You’ll get entered to win a copy of Larry Enright’s Four Years from Home at the end of June.

A few resources to help you out:

Thea’s 3 Mashup. :Take advice from Kristen Lamb and get er done

June 10, 2011

In honor of finishing Kristen Lamb’s book We are Not Alone I’m using her as a theme for my mashup this week. If you haven’t visited her blog and you are a writer trying to find ways to make sense of this whole social media thang, you really should subscribe. You should buy the book, in fact. (Just don’t take the advice of creating a MYSpace profile. She will tell you that after the book released MYSpace went ballistic.)

Speaking of Kristen Lamb, I’ve been working on advice from her blog to create posts that invite comment. Not working for me yet as I haven’t managed it successfully, but Vivienne Tuffnell’s blog is rich with comments. Each post she writes is full of people writing back to her and to each other. How does she do it? It’s worth the visit for investigation.

Mark Williams and Saffina desForges admittedly used Kristen’s (hope the first name’s ok, hun) advice to move into the top 10 – and one of them will correct me on the numbers I’m sure if it’s higher, and I think it is. They read Kristen’s book and applied the advice. They took off. I’m sure it has something to do with the writing, but readers have to find a writer first before it can become a sensation. These two even received mention on Kristen’s advice blog. I’m sending you to Mark Williams International because it’s wonderfully picture heavy and comment laden.

So how many of you have read and employed the advice in the book? Tell us about your successes and your failures. I’m listening.

Thea’s Three Mashup on reading #amblogging

Thea’s Three Mashup

May 20, 2011

This week is all about reading and reader reaction.

1. Mariyta’s Musings: Why She’ll only buy indie authors

2. Big Al’s Books and Pals is a review site. (Big Al gave Anomaly 5 stars) and Big Al has a very active forum thread on Amazon.com. I really enjoy how he puts reviews together. You might want to check him out and see what he’s read lately.

3. I’m pretty sure i fail still at the tips on this posting, but it talks about creating great content that readers can read with ease. I just kind of happened upon it, so I’m not sure of the blog name (I think it’s 1st web design). but you see the linkie thingie, right? click, read, and learn.

That’s it for this week. I’m having fun doing these mashups. If you’ve found a place you liked this week, feel free to add the link below in the comments section.