Archive for July, 2010

Orange Man Talking BubbleSPEAKING OF DIALOGUE…

I have a friend who speaks easily and with lots of expression.  It’s as if the thoughts swirling in her head are pushing the words out of her mouth. She can do this for a long time! Her husband however, doesn’t say much.  When he does, I lean in to listen. He speaks so quietly and so carefully that sometimes I want to finish his sentences.

When writing fiction, it’s important to make your characters sound different from each other.  But how?

One way I do this is to give characters certain expressions that they repeat fairly often. In my novel, BLUE, Bessie Bledsoe responds to bad things by saying, “Have mercy.”  That suits her personality because she’s the sort of neighbor who comes in with hugs and an apple pie to cheer up my other characters when they need it.

In THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary Schmidt, 7th grader, Holling Hoodhood often starts his sentences with, “Let me tell you”. This opening phrase is perfect for Holling because his life is full of drama and he is going to tell about it. (My advice? Get The Wednesday Wars and read it!)

Humor, sarcasm, and moodiness are also tools for creating unique speech.  And of course, some characters will be educated while others might use lots of poor grammar or maybe just one incorrect speech pattern that sets them apart. Making use of speech that reflects a region or ethnic group, is also highly effective! (But it’s tricky – proceed carefully.)

If you need help making characters sound individual, try listening to your family or a group of friends while eating pizza or watching TV. You might even want to take a few notes. Just don’t tell your brother he’s about to show up in your first novel.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter

Author, Historical Fiction

COMFORT (Blue sequel)






TALKING STORY (E-Newsletter)

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We are conducting our Sixth Annual Art Contest to commence on June 21, 2010; the deadline is midnight,

September 30, 2010. The winners will be notified by December 15, 2010 and, with permission, winning art entries

will be posted on our website in 2011. This contest is open to all students enrolled in grades 1 through 4 in public

and private schools, as well as those who are home schooled. We will have two separate categories: one for grades

1 and 2 and one for grades 3 and 4. The theme, judging criteria, and prizes are listed below. Winning entries from

previous years can be viewed at: http://www.teachersagainstprejudice.org

See details here: Teachers Against Prejudice Art Contest

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What :  ”Totem Head’s 2010 Story Contest”

Who :  The contest is open to US residents under 19 years old.
Note to parents :  If your child cannot write yet, you may type their words for them.

Categories :
1. Ages 11 and under
2. Ages 12 to 18

When :  Send your entry before 31 Dec 2010.

Prizes :
One winner from each category will receive the following prizes.
1. Publication on AdventureWrite.com/kids
2. $50 cash
3. Certificate of Achievement

See details here:   http://www.adventurewrite.com/kids/contest

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Every story needs a strong main character.

How do you create a good protagonist?

  1. The protagonist is usually the character who has the most to gain—or lose—in the story.
  2. A protagonist doesn’t have to start out being a good guy, but more often than not he becomes heroic by the end, because we like to root for the good guy.
  3. The protagonist should be someone you—and your readers—can like and/or admire.

Find out more about creating strong and sympathetic characters in the members’ section of the YAAGroup.org.  Visit:  www.yaagroup.org

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