“Say that to my face!” ~ A Quick Introduction to Punctuating Dialogue

Dialogue is such a beautiful, funny, irritating, headache-inducing … Wait, where was I going with this?

In all reality, dialogue doesn’t have to be difficult or tricky. It may seem like it at times, but knowing the basics can make it much easier to know what to include and what to cut during revisions. Today I only want to discuss dialogue punctuation. We’ll get into the more nitty-gritty of dialogue another time.

Let’s start with something simple:


Note that the comma is inside the quotation marks. This happens when the dialogue tag comes after the dialogue itself. If it tickles your fancy, you can switch Amanda and said.

You can also put the dialogue tag before the dialogue itself. When doing so, the comma is placed outside the quotation marks:


If it’s clear who the speaker is, the dialogue tag can be dropped if you so desire. I feel it’s good to mix it up, use some dialogue tags, some without. (Again, as long as it’s very clear who is speaking.) There are several variations that can happen here. Action can be sprinkled in to help show that the characters aren’t talking in a vacuum. Because, really, we typically don’t stand perfectly still, doing absolutely nothing when we’re having a conversation, right?


When adding in action in between dialogue, if the same character is speaking and moving, keep it in the same paragraph. As soon as you’re changing speakers, or a new character is taking over the action, start a new paragraph. For example:


Em dashes are your friend. (Click here for a great explanation on the many uses of the em dash.) (Please note that an em dash (the longest of the dashes) is being used, not an En dash or hyphen. I’m very much a fan of the Chicago Manual of Style, and they have a wonderful post on the differences.) In dialogue, em dashes can be used to show interruption, whether it’s a thought or another speaker, or simply to show a sudden action in the middle of a sentence. Ellipses can also be used to show trailing off or faltering.


When a character is particularly long-winded, you’ll want to break up the dialogue into separate paragraphs. When doing so, drop the quotation mark at the end of the first paragraph, but add a quotation mark at the beginning of the next paragraph. Also, notice how the first sentence of the dialogue is interrupted by a dialogue tag between “No” and “that’s…”. When doing interrupting a sentence like this, a second comma is placed behind the tag, but only if it’s interrupting a complete sentence. Only a period is needed if the dialogue before the tag is a complete thought.


The beautiful thing about writing creatively is that, once you know the rules, you can break ’em. But you have to know them. Again, I’m a huge fan of the Chicago Manual of Style and keep a copy on my shelf for reference.

Well, that’s it for this post! I hope you found it helpful. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for writing dialogue in the comments!


Wednesday Writing Warriors: G. Dean Manuel

It’s been some time since I’ve been able to post a Wednesday Writing Warrior, but today I would like to introduce G. Dean Manuel! He has also allowed me to post a bit of his work, which you can find below the interview.

TSW: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Manuel: I’ve been into writing since the 3rd grade. I remember writing a really derivative piece called “A Unicorn Day” that was totally taken from “The Last Unicorn”. Couldn’t stop me after that.

TSW: In which genre do you classify your writing?

Manuel: I’m most certainly Fantasy. And Sci-Fi. Ooooo… Dramatic Fiction also. Wait, wait… Comedy. One second: Slipstream! If you can’t tell, I don’t narrow down. I’m a multi-genre writer and I like it that way. :)

TSW: What books/short stories/novellas/poetry have you published, or what projects are you working on?

Manuel: Well, so far I’ve only published The Tommy Case Files #001: The Dollhouse. Now, there are many things that I give away for free or publish on various websites. Stories like The Twilighman (That also stars Tommy Twilight), Laundry Knights (Also starring Tommy), The Fall of Lord Covington (You gues—actually you didn’t, it’s about a teddy bear).

I’ve got several stories currently sent in to some anthologies. I’ve got a couple that have been accepted. My story, “Grandfather” will appear in Heart of a Child, releasing in March. Another story, “The King’s Road”, will be featured in Unsheathed, releasing in spring. Also you can find my story, “Bounty: Greed”, a Weird West story, featured in the sixth issue of Gathering Storm magazine.

I’m also working on a super-hero fiction called The Crucible, a slipstream story called Lost and Broken, and a supernatural serial killer story called The Shadow Man’s Acoming.

TSW: What is your favorite writing resource, be it a book, website, program…?

Manuel: … This is a super secret, awesome website. http://www.scotranslate.com/ IT TRANSLATES ENGLISH INTO A SCOTTSMAN’S SLANG!!!

TSW: Are you a plotter or pantser?

Manuel: I am a pantser when it comes to writing short stories. I’ve recently become a plotter when it comes to novel length work.

TSW: Can you give us a glimpse into your writing routine?

Manuel: I start with a concept. Something usually very basic. Like what if your psyche was broke down to its component pieces. Then I figure out some characters. Then I let them talk inside my head. They discuss, argue, and laugh. Somewhere in the middle of all that, a story starts to present itself.

One of my favorite characters, that I’ve written, this is a total aside, is a character named Wanderer. Total Pony Express cowboy. Talks about his mammy. Just hold a sec, I’ll get you an excerpt. Ok, back. You didn’t notice, but that took a while. Two deliveries (One food, the other furniture) and a hungry dog later, here is the excerpt from Lost and Broken:

The Wanderer snatched his hat off his head and gave a hoot, slapping the hat on his knee and guffawing scratchily. “Well, did you think the Wanderer is the name my mama came up with? It’s just what the locals call me. I lost my name long ago. I had a mighty sadness take over me for a while until I remembered something my Mammy told me: A name ain’t nothin’ but some dern fool stringin’ together some letters to make some sounds and expectin’ you to answer to it. I reckon if’n you start answerin’ to some other string a letters that make a different bit a noise, then that’ll be yer name. So, I started answering to the Wanderer.”

“But a name is more than that,” he said, searching for the proper words, “it is a shield against the world.”

“Well, that is a mighty poor shield you be havin’ then,” the Wanderer said.

“No, it isn’t a shield,” the soldier said frustrated, “it is who you are, a name identifies you to everyone else.”

“Who you are, you say?” the Wanderer said with a lopsided grin, “so if I named you a dern fool of a pole cat at the beginning of yer life, would you be a fool the rest of your life? Sounds more like a prison cell than anything else! Be glad ya lost yer name that way’d you’d be free!”

TSW: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?

Manuel: Different things at different times. I don’t find anything hard all the time. Sometimes the characters just aren’t talking. Sometimes they sing. Sometimes it is the plot. Or the setting. Everything at one time or another is difficult.

TSW: What’s the first book that made you cry?

Manuel: Dragons of Spring Dawning. Dragonlance. Flint Fireforge’s death.

TSW: What does success look like to you?

Manuel: That scene in Rocky where he makes it up the steps and is standing there with his hands in the air.

TSW: Are there any writers who inspire you?

Manuel: ... Lots. Tad Williams, Kevin Hearne, Sara Dougglas, R A Salvatore. That is to name a few.

TSW: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey as a writer?

Manuel: That not everyone is going to like you a 100% of the time. That you are doing good if people like you 25% of the time. Hell, if you can get them to like you 50% of the time, then you are doing something amazing.

About Greg Manuel:
I don’t think there is much else I can say about myself… who am I kidding, I could go on and on. But I won’t. Want to find me? You can find me on:
Facebook: @Deantheblogger

Twitter: @courtjester005

Blog: https://writersloungeblog.blogspot.com/


And now for some of Greg Manuel’s work:

“You’re Beautiful”

She’s barely thirteen with all of life ahead,

Barely at the beginning, she wants it all to end,

Looking in the mirror, not a kind word ever said,

Young girl, a little confidence I want to send,

She seeing with eyes the world has pulled apart,

Can’t tell she’s beautiful, never knows she’s beautiful,

The world just criticizes and leaves a hole not a heart,

It’s our fault she doesn’t see she’s beautiful, it’s inexcusable.


Let me catch you before the tears can start,

don’t even know yourself, how can you hate who you are?

So take  these words and let them find your heart,

Know you’re beautiful, beautiful like a star.


Jump forward and now she’s eighteen,

Sees the world through a mask of jealousy,

Can’t love herself and that’s obscene,

life falling within her entropy,

Never sees her worth, she lives in spite,

Tears others down but it never brings her up,

Young lady, you’re beautiful, don’t lose the fight,

now‘s the time to stand up


Let me catch you before the tears can start,

don’t even know yourself, how can you hate who you are?

So take  these words and let them find your heart,

Know you’re beautiful, beautiful like a star.


Mid-twenties, she’s at the bottom of the glass,

Sex is a tool, because she can’t start forgiving,,

Found a man but he’s nothing but an ass,

He’s punishment, she’s never started living,

Unhappy, sick, bound by the weight of hate,

lost her voice to life constrained in depression,

Believe you’re beautiful, it isn’t too late,

Say it, let that be your confession.


Let me catch you before the tears can start,

don’t even know yourself, how can you hate who you are?

So take  these words and let them find your heart,

Know you’re beautiful, beautiful like a star.


Thirties now and she’s finally found herself,

Put all the bad thoughts high up on the shelf,

A mother now, she loves everything she is,

She’s found someone and now she’s his,

A little daughter, now she is dutiful,

Please, remind her she’s beautiful.



Also, here’s a snippet of a short story, “The Heist”, about his character Vincent Fleet: 

Vincent Fleet, the title character of this story, is someone near and dear to my heart. I know this is crazy to admit, but he was a character of mine for a Living Greyhawk campaign. I tried to capture his essence without combining it with any poor D&D tropes. That being said, I had six long and lovely years of playing this character and couldn’t just let him die. He was the character that had the audacity to light a cigar off a fire god’s leg… you can’t let balls like that die. I hope you enjoy and thank you for the read! This story is part of a story exchange, Truly Hunter has written one of her own, “Tempest Moon”, that will be appearing in my blog. Hope over and give it a read!  

                                                                                                          –G Dean Manuel


He clung to the wall with the barest of handholds, his strong fingers supporting most of his weight. He looked down, his violet eyes scanning the area quickly and carefully. He was happy to note that not even a tremor of discomfort passed through the muscles of his arms at having to hold him suspended in such an awkward position. That meant that his latest acquisition, the platinum bands that encircled his upper arms with delicate traceries of bulls and bears, had been worth the king’s pieces he had paid for them.

After a few moments he was satisfied that no traps, trips, or alarms would impede his way down the wall. He struck a nimble course down the wall, swinging from handhold to handhold in a rather rakish manner. When he was about 8 ft. above the floor, he pushed off the wall with the balls of his feet, tucking his knees in and twisting. He landed on the floor without even a whisper of sound, the soft soles of his leather boots absorbing all of it. He sketched a court-like bow, waving at an imaginary audience. Sometimes, just sometimes, he wished someone was around to enjoy the skill with which he did things.

Shaking off such unhealthy ruminations he focused back on to the task at hand. Such thinking got thieves caught, he thought darkly. Though, he mused as he glanced up the almost 40 ft. to the window he had climbed from, he was a maestro at work here. He let a warm sense of pride suffuse him as he pondered how easily he had scaled the outer keep walls, the inner curtain walls, the keep walls, and then down the walls of this great hall. He had won his way through to the great hall of this slumbering keep without alerting a single guard, dog, or whatever other manner of creature the keep’s residents may employ.

Of course, it wasn’t really pride he felt, he admitted to himself as he exited the hall, carefully dipping from shadow to shadow, drawing the hood of his cloak up. His cloak seemed to match the quality and depth of the surrounding shadow, making him nigh invisible to any but the closest of inspections. Not that most of the big races would have even noticed him even if he wasn’t cloaked in shadows. Vincent barely stood 3’2”, and most big races, especially humans, ever looked that far down. Hell, he had seen 70 winters pass, give or take, and still most acted as if he was a child! Of course, hardly anyone got to see him as he looked now, he thought with a smile. His body was festooned with a horde of magically enhanced equipment, worth more than most kingly treasure rooms. That is not to say that he was some charlatan, only boosted to his level of skill through the use of magical enhancement! Far from it. As a young lad, he was taught to use every advantage open to him, and his skills had afforded him many advantages over his 70 years!

Besides the boots and cloak, he wore black woolen pantaloons that were tucked into his soft leather boots. A black silk shirt and spidersilk gloves hid the rest of him from view, his head concealed by the shadowed recess of his hood. His eerily violet eyes seemed to float within a pool of blackness. As he made his way down from the great hall, he started mentally going over the map in his head. He knew that the room that he wanted was very close, that is part of the reason he had chosen this entry point. He walked briskly down the hallway, making two quick turns then stopped abruptly, the hairs in the back of his neck standing on edge. He didn’t immediately see what had put him on alert but he had been doing this too long to ignore such a feeling. He stood frozen as if made of stone, his only movement the slight adjustments of his head as he scanned the walls, floor, and ceiling. He looked around warily as his initial sweep of the area produced nothing that would have warranted this feeling of unease. He was about to chalk it up to one of those times that his senses were in overdrive when a shadow caught his eye. It wasn’t that it was out of place, more that it was too big. As he studied he noted that shadow was deeper towards its end rather than its beginning. He closed his eyes, letting his vision slip into the spectrum that allowed him to pierce the darkness with ease, revealing the tight packed sigils of the ward that was inscribed within the wall. He studied it carefully, not yet moving until he had ascertained that it would be set off by him breaking the line that it drew across the hallway.

Now, most thieves were trained in the basics of lockpicking and trap disarming by their local guild. Now few individuals ever took it beyond there, most content to be pick pockets rather than second story men. Few were the elite thieves that could deal with all the mechanical traps that seemed to proliferate in this modern age. (Vincent naturally blamed the gnomes, but then Vincent seemed to blame the gnomes for most things these days. Not that this time he was far from the truth, for the gnomes of Formaggin’s Hall, the great dwarven hold, were tasked by their dwarven lords to seek better ways to protect the vast treasuries that resided underneath their mountain. But really, Vincent just liked blaming gnomes.) Now, amongst those elite few, only a handful of masters existed that could take apart a magical trap, and among those, Vincent could count on one hand the number that could bypass this trap, leaving no evidence of passage. Of course, Vincent was one of those fingers. Vincent agile hands worked their way across the magical ward, marking without touching the contours of the trap. He closed his eyes, reaching out, feeling the energy contained within the arcane sigils and deftly redirecting their flow. He smiled, opening his eyes once more, to look upon his work. After a moment’s inspection to make sure that there were no other surprises, he shook his head, quietly clucking in disapproval. If they wanted to keep their valuables, why didn’t people protect them better? Of course, he thought, not many were there that were prepared to challenge the likes of Vincent Fleet!

No longer was his step as jaunty as it had been just moments before. He was an extraordinarily skilled, arrogant bastard, but even one of his skill could find himself dead if he did not take things seriously at times. And if that ward upon the wall was any indication, now was one of those times. He began scrutinizing the walls more intently, alert for even the slightest indication of something out of the ordinary. He was slightly disappointed when he realized that the ward probably was the breadth of the powerful defenses that protected this man’s treasure. Sadly, it was a rare occasion when he would be challenged during a heist but luckily he was very deficient in many other parts of his life, so challenges did abound.

He had almost returned to his jaunty pace, seeing the door of his destination when he noticed the slightest shimmer in the air in front of him. He stopped, his cautiousness returning tenfold and examined the corridor he was in. Crossing the corridor, nearly invisible to the naked eye, was a spider web about 6 feet across and almost 10 feet high. Each strand was nearly an inch in width and Vincent had to fight down the rising panic as he calculated the size of the spider that would have spun the web. It wasn’t that he was particularly scared of spiders, but everyone would be scared of spiders the size of a dog, he mused. His hand darted down to the kukri belted at his side, sliding it soundlessly from its sheath. He rolled back his sleeve of his other arm, revealing a bracelet hidden beneath. He spoke an arcane command word under his breath, causing an oval of force to wink into existence, about the rough equivalent of a buckler upon his forearm. Vincent backed away slowly from the web, scanning left to right, up to down, trying to locate the owner of the web. He had begun life as a denizen of the Deep Realms and knew a thing or two about giant spiders and gave a silent prayer to the gods of chance that this one would be of a more mundane variety.

He wheeled quickly, cursing in the same breath that he had just prayed in, instincts honed too perfectly to ignore telling him that the spider was behind him. He groaned inwardly as he watched the spider step from the wall, its body solidifying as it left the protection of the stone. He quickly sheathed the kukri he was holding, knowing it would avail him naught against the likes of a spirit spider, drawing instead a bone bladed dagger that had a slight ethereal shimmer to it. He may not be the most skilled fighter in the boundaries of Witchhaven, but he was certainly one of the better prepared.

The spirit spider eyed him balefully, its long legs clicking upon the stone floor of the hallway. Vincent was almost taken by complete surprise, barely dodging out of the way, as the spider spit a web at him. He rolled into a wary crouch, prepared to launch himself once more if needed but the spider seemed to have grown bored of the game and was closing the distance between them.

Vincent rolled backwards, the spiders forelegs coming down on the spot where he had been. When his hands met cold flagstone, he pushed up, easily springing back to his feet. He immediately lunged forward, dagger held in a reverse grip, his blade biting deep of a foreleg. The limb fell to the ground then dissolved into ethereal nothingness. The spider chittered angrily, shocked that his blow had connected. It existed between two planes, the physical and the spirit, and it took a specially enchanted blade to hit it with any surety.

The spider attacked in wild abandon. Vincent ducked and weaved around the viscous blows. The combat had an eerie surreal quality about it. It took place in almost complete silence. Vincent was barely a whisper on the cold stone and the spider’s pointed legs only made the barest of clicks upon the flagstones. The spider was fast but Vincent was faster. He was patient. The spider finally over extended itself, a reaching blow with its good foreleg. Vincent masterfully flipped over the sweep of the leg, landing silently on his feet.

Vinnie struck, an overhand blow at the second leg, severing it at the joint. The spider’s balance faltered. He didn’t wait for it to recover and kicked out at it. The blow coupled with the loss of its leg caused the spider to tip to the floor. Pressing his advantage, Vincent gripped his dagger in both hands and plunged it into the exposed underside of the spider’s maw. It sank deep. Vincent held it until the death throes of the spider weakened and finally ceased all together. Like the severed limbs, the spider’s body dissolved into a pile of ethereal dust.

Vincent took a moment or two to access his situation. Wounds could be missed in the heat of battle. Adrenaline had a way of hiding pain. Vincent felt confident that no blow had been struck but he liked to be sure. He was wearing a mithral chain shirt with a mithral undershirt. The main piece was elven and the undershirt was dwarven. Each was exquisitely crafted. The elven chain shirt he had won at the tables playing against an elven swordmaster. He had to have it resized but it was worth it. The shirt had saved him more than he cared to admit. The undershirt was a marvel of dwarven craftsmanship. The links were so tiny it was more woven than forged. It had stood between him and a sword blow a time or two too.

With the spider dead, the web had itself disintegrated. Vincent hummed silently to himself. Things were going quite well. He should be done with this job ahead of schedule and be able to catch an ale at the Hooded Lantern, his favorite tavern in the area. Nothing barred his way from there to the door to the treasury room.

He paused and didn’t immediately approach the door. Something didn’t feel right and Vincent knew it wasn’t the time to let his arrogance get the better of him. His keen eyes scanned the area. It took him only a moment to notice what was out of place. There was a carpet laid out in front of the door. Vincent smiled. He imagined that this man had gotten tips on protecting his valuables from a book entitled “How to protect your valuables for idiots”.

He carefully pulled up a corner of the carpet. He stuck his hand underneath and confirmed his suspicions. Pit trap. Vinnie opened his pack and withdrew his climbing kit. He took a couple of spikes from the kit. Strategically placing them along the scene, he tested to make sure that the trap couldn’t be sprung. Once sure, he turned his attention to the door. He closed his eyes and ran his fingers over the door and frame. When his tactile inspection yielded nothing suspicious, he opened his eyes. He gave the door a once over with his eyes then turned to the door lock.

Vinnie snorted. Could it really be this easy? It was an exceedingly difficult lock but not the most difficult he had encountered. Much easier than he expected. He inserted his tension bar into the lock and with a small bit of wire he manipulated the tumblers. He felt them fall, one after another with satisfying clicks, until he finally turned the tension bar and the door released from its frame.

He withdrew his tools and immediately threw himself into a roll left. He was scant inches in front of the blackjack that was arcing towards his head. He twisted in the middle of his roll so that he ended facing his adversary. His hand disappeared within one of the hidden recesses of his cloak and threw the bottle secreted within. The man reacted without thinking and caught the bottle. Vinnie grinned at him and whispered, “Taramos.”

“Dragon’s balls,” the man said as the bottle spewed its noxious contents right at his face. He caught the cloud squarely in the face.

Vincent moved forward and caught the man before he fell boneless to the floor. He was surprised to realize he recognized the man. Valnos of the Blade he was named. A decent second story man and enforcer for the street gang the Nighthowlers. He considered his situation as he retrieved his bottle. He didn’t kill unless absolutely necessary. Besides, the Guild frowned upon such actions. Vinnie satisfied himself by patting the Blade down and retrieving his Guild token. With it, he could extort Valnos for a favor.

He decided he would have to hide the unconscious body. He grabbed Valnos by the arms and drug him to the nearest storage closet. He dumped him unceremoniously within. The potion he had used would keep him unconscious for at least fifteen minutes. Vincent planned to be long gone before he woke up.

Opening the door to the vault room, he made a quick scan of the contents and gave a low, appreciative whistle. He deftly pocketed a few choice gems that he appraised at middling worth. Nothing worth more than 200 king’s pieces. Harder to trace that way. Jewelers tended to recognize gems of a certain value. They ended up with names. Vinnie didn’t need that kind of attention.

He reminded himself that this wasn’t a personal shopping spree. He was hired to breach the treasury of this small keep for a specific item. It was time that he retrieved it. His employer’s instructions were very specific at this point. Just like he was told, there was a trap door in the northwest corner of the room. The door in the floor opened easily when Vincent uttered, “Karnos.” So far, just like he’d been told.

He descended the ladder into a small cave-like vault. These items within were supposedly items of no small arcane power. His instructions at this point were to only retrieve a mask. Remove nothing else. Vinnie located the mask quickly and removed it. It was a small thing, made of some pliable material. It was made to fit over the face, covering eyes and nose. He stuck it in his pack. He abided by the contract and took nothing else. But it was hard. Vinnie’s hand reached out to touch things of its own accord. He mentally reeled it in. Considering this was a vault of magical treasure, he couldn’t be sure what all this stuff did or how dangerous it was. Prudent thing would be to leave it. For now.

So, he climb back up to the now less stellar treasury room. He stole a few more things on his way out, to make himself feel better about leaving the magical hoard downstairs.


Finding a Manuscript Editor

Ah, the daunting task of finding an editor. And not just any editor . . . the right editor. The one who will mesh the best with you and your style of writing. From knowing what kind of editing your manuscript needs to understanding pricing, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.


First things first:

  1. Ask for a sample edit.
    Most editors will provide a free sample edit, generally up to a certain word or page count. This is a great way to gauge if you and your editor will be a good fit; it gives you an opportunity to take a look at what kind of feedback the editor gives. Did they mesh well with your particular voice? Did they allow your writing to keep its unique tone and voice, or did the editor try to mold it to fit their own voice? Did they miss any glaring errors? Was their feedback constructive and helpful, or was it condescending?
  2. Find out what kind of experience and/or qualifications they have.
    Have they worked for a publishing house? Do they have many years experience, or are they just starting out? Keep in mind that’s there’s nothing wrong with opting for someone who’s just starting out; in fact, it may save you a few bucks. You might find college students or even professors who freelance part-time. I, myself, am a college student, majoring in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in fiction, and will soon be offering editing services — keep checking back!(Personal experience: I once made the mistake of not finding out an editor’s experience/qualifications. She had a good price on manuscript evaluations, so I figured, why not? I was looking for feedback beyond beta readers on a manuscript I’d already done several rounds of revisions on. Some of her comments made it sound like she barely dealt with the public — quite condescending and closed-minded. Also, her feedback was all over the place and contradictory. She came across more like somebody who just likes to read as opposed to a qualified editor. Fortunately, I was only out ~$20 and a lesson learned.)
  3. Know what their main focus is.
    What type of editing are they most comfortable with? Proofreading, copy, or developmental? Substantive/line? Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Some editors may focus solely on one or the other, while some may do more than one. What’s also important is to know what type of editing your manuscript needs. Proofreading should be the very last step, while developmental should come first.
  4. Find out their pricing before asking for a sample edit.
    Don’t waste their time and your time by asking for a sample edit before finding out if they’re out of your budget.

Finding the right editor, the one who meshes well with you and your writing, can make all the difference in the editing stages of your manuscript. Working with the wrong editor will make the whole experience unpleasant (and potentially cost you more money if you end up having to hire a different editor — I’ve been there!). Take the time to make a list of potential editors and ask for sample edits, and make sure to keep an open mind to editors.

Here are some extra resources to help you find the right editor:

The Editorial Freelancers Association: www.the-efa.org
Standout Books: https://www.standoutbooks.com/how-choose-right-editor/
The Creative Penn: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/07/14/how-to-find-the-right-editor/
The Write Life: https://thewritelife.com/how-to-find-an-editor-crucial-questions/


Point of View: First

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s talk about each viewpoint in more detail. If you missed the first post on the basics of Point of View, you can check it out here.

First Person POV is something many people either love or hate.. Writing in First — and, more importantly, doing it well — can be a bit tricky. Done poorly, it will draw your readers out of the story and, most likely, force them to put your book down before they even get to Chapter Two. But, when done well, using this POV can truly bring your story and your characters to life.


The pitfalls:

  • It’s harder to show, not tell. (If you need help showing instead of telling, visit Showing vs. Telling: 10 Resources to Help you Show, Not Tell)
    It’s easy to fall into the trap of walking your character through every step they take:
    “I stood and went to the cupboard. Then I took out a mug and poured myself a cup of coffee.” This is telling. While some telling is necessary, an entire story like this would be pretty boring.
  • It’s easy to let your own voice slip into the narration and take over your character’s voice.
  • It locks you into one character’s perspective. (We’ll touch on head-hopping and using multiple first person’s POV later.)
  • Your reader can only know what your character knows, sees, or experiences, making it a little more difficult to work in descriptions and setting. An additional downfall of this is that it can create a vacuum of filler words: I heard, I saw, I felt. This slips back into telling, not showing. These filler words distance your reader from the story.

This is not to say, however, this POV can’t be done. Below are three timeless works of fiction that are written in First — two of which are my absolute favorite books. Some examples of first person:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Now, for some strengths of writing in First:

  • It’s intimate. Readers get a firsthand look into the mind of your character and experience the story on a much closer level, as if they’re watching the story unfold through their eyes. This can really evoke the reader’s senses and pull them into the story.
  • Great for unique voices. To Kill a Mockingbird is a good example, with its story told through the eyes of a child — Scout.
  • Readers can get a feel for your character’s history, or even the setting, such as using a Southern U.S. dialect.
  • An unreliable narrator in First can create amazing plot twists and intrigue in a good thriller or mystery, such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Fight Club by Chuck Palanhiuk is an amazing example of an unreliable narrator.


Some tips for writing in First:

Utilize the five senses. The bubbling champagne tingled on my tongue. His cheeks were rough against my fingertips, giving a stark contrast from the softness of his lips. The deafening discord around me — from the cheering fans to the screaming guitar blaring from the amps — drowned out even my own thoughts.

Give your narrator a unique voice. While your narrator doesn’t have to have a strong accent to the point of marring the narration itself (think Lennie from Of Mice and Men), they shouldn’t sound stiff and robotic, unless, of course, your narrator is a robot. Make them sound human.
An interesting read is Flowers for Algernon, a story about a learning-disabled man who goes through an experimental trial to raise intelligence. As readers, we see his intelligence grow through the language of his diary entries.

Know your characterKeep in mind their history and back story. Where did they grow up? What sort of education did they have? What is their personality like? Are they abrasive and rough around the edges? Or gentle and kind?


Other things to keep in mind.

Head hoppingWhile some more popular books or series head hop, know that it can be jarring for readers. Yes, it’s a way to get around the limitations of what your character knows, but some might consider a bit of a cop-out. (I recently read Me Before You, which involved several instances of chapters narrated by different characters. I found those chapters boring or irritating — I found myself wanting to get back to Lou’s chapters.) Personally, I’m not a fan of it. The one book that I’ve personally read that did two different first-person POVs was Gone Girl; the first half of the book was told by one character, the second half by the other.

Your narrator doesn’t have to be your protagonist — peripheral narration. Think Nick Caraway in The Great Gatsby. He’s a first-person narrator who isn’t in the midst of the action.

Don’t be afraid to play around with different points of view and narration types. If one doesn’t work out, consider it good practice!


What are your thoughts on First-Person narration?

Wednesday Writing Warrior: T.G. Campbell

Welcome to another edition of Wednesday Writing Warriors! Today I have crime author T.G. Campbell.

TSW: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Campbell: I’m the middle child of five and, as we were growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for my siblings and me to watch a crime drama on television with my mother. We would all discuss, and try to figure out, the mystery unfolding on screen. As I grew older, and I’d exhausted the young adult’s section in the local library, my mother introduced me to Agatha Christie’s books. I was hooked from the very first word.

It was Christie’s books, and the many years spent watching police and crime dramas on television, which birthed a dream  in me to become a police officer. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, I was unable to realize this ambition. Rather than dwell on something I couldn’t change though, I decided to turn it into something positive. If I couldn’t be a police officer I’d write about one instead.

My first attempt at writing was actually a series of (short) scripts for a crime drama called the Sunsdale Murders. It featured a broody, female Detective Chief Inspector, called Colette Campbell, at its center. Needless to say, these scrips have never seen the light of day since!

My best friend, Jenny, always had words of encouragement for me whenever I’d produce a new ‘Sunsdale’ script for her to read, however. I wanted to repay her for this unconditional support by writing something especially for her. I also wanted to challenge myself to write a mystery like one of Agatha Christie’s. I therefore borrowed Writing Crime Fiction by H.R.F Keating from my local library, studied the mechanics of the classic detective story which were outlined within, and wrote Death of a Kindred. It was only forty pages long—and featured detectives with ludicrous names—but it was, nonetheless, a complete murder mystery. I presented it to my best friend for her sixteenth birthday—much to her delight—and discovered a newfound addiction for writing mysteries. My friend and I are still best friends to this day and, yes, she still has her copy of Death of a Kindred.
TSW: In which genre do you classify your writing?

Campbell: Primarily crime fiction. My current works are all set in London in 1896 though, which gives me a compulsion to provide as much of an accurate portrayal of the clothes, real-life-places, technologies, etc., as possible.  I want to transport my readers back to the era in addition to challenging them with the puzzle of a good murder mystery. As a result, my writing may also be classed as Victoriana, crime-historical fiction, and historical fiction.
TSW: What books/short stories/novellas/poetry have you published, or what projects are you working on?

Campbell: Currently, I have two published books featuring the Bow Street Society: The Case of The Curious Client and The Case of The Lonesome Lushington. They are volumes one and two, respectively, in a long series I have planned.

There are also three short stories, currently published in eBook format only, which also feature the Bow Street Society. These stories form a sub-series of mini mysteries, designed to be read on the go, called the Bow Street Society Casebook. The aforementioned stories are, in order: The Case of The Shrinking Shopkeeper, The Case of The Winchester Wife, and The Case of The Perilous Pet.

I’m currently working on the third book in the main series—to be published in 2018—and a Bow Street Society Casebook short story collection. The collection will include the published stories above in addition to two, previously unseen, stories. There will also be a ‘notes from the author’ section, explaining the inspiration behind the collection, the real-life historical context of the plots & places, and my reasoning behind the mysteries’ creation. This bonus feature also appears in The Case of The Curious Client’s second edition, and will feature in the forthcoming second edition of The Case of The Lonesome Lushington.

Aside from my fiction writing, I also write a regular, monthly feature for Fresh Lifestyle Magazine. I was invited to write for the online magazine after The Case of The Curious Client won the magazine’s Book Award in April 2017. My feature has covered a wide variety of topics since it begin in May, including the tradition of street food in the Victorian era, Victorian era haircare techniques, and interviews with fellow authors John Bainbridge and Richard Jones. John writes Victorian era-set thrillers, while Richard has written numerous books about the paranormal and conducts regular historical tours and ghost walks around London.

Using some of the material from my extensive research, for my Bow Street Society books, I also wrote a list for Listverse entitled Top 10 Little Known Facts about Victorian Era Scotland Yard.

TSW: What is your favorite writing resource, be it a book, website, program…?

Campbell: The Queen’s London: A Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the streets, buildings, parks and scenery of the great metropolis in the fifty-ninth year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria by Cassell & Company Limited. It is a vast volume containing photographs of Victorian era London, along with descriptions to accompany each image. The reason why this is my favorite writing resource is because it was published in 1896—the very year my books and short stories are set! This was pure coincidence, but this source has been invaluable when forming a picture of a real-life place for the reader—specifically a picture which is true to the Victorian era incarnation of that place.

I found this source on Lee Jackson’s Victorian Dictionary website. The website itself is a veritable mine of literary and journalistic sources, from the Victorian era, about London.


TSW: Are you a plotter or pantser?

Campbell: I am, without a shadow of a doubt, a plotter. The crime fiction I write follows the classic “clue-puzzle” blueprint of the crime fiction golden age of the 1930s/1940s. Agatha Christie was the Queen of this type of crime fiction. It places as much emphasis on the puzzle, i.e. the mystery, as that which is placed on character development, setting, dialogue etc. It’s very important to me that my readers are able to follow the various clue trails and, in doing so, have the opportunity to solve the mystery. Rather than constantly dupe my readers into believing false information and/or leading them to a false solution, I strive to give my readers enough information so they may make an educated guess by the time they reach the “big reveal”. When the readers’ suspicions are proven right, the reader may be given a tremendous sense of satisfaction and enjoyment from that satisfaction. For me, this is what classic “clue-puzzle” mysteries (or cozy mysteries, as they’re referred to today) are all about.

I therefore have to plan out the mystery for each book/short story I write in order to ensure the reader can follow the trails. It also helps me organize characters’ alibis, red herrings, and the detectives’ journey from problem to solution. For me, the crime scene is the departure point for the reader and detectives alike. From there, I guide them both along various paths in the garden, i.e. the mystery. These paths may converge and separate at various points along the way but, ultimately, they will all flow into one path which leads both the characters and detectives to their final destination—the solution.

TSW: Can you give us a glimpse into your writing routine?

Campbell: I rarely write an entire first draft before I start the next stage of self-editing my work. I used to write an entire first draft and then start to edit it into a second draft but I, honestly, found it too difficult. With the many twists and turns a mystery story may take, I found I couldn’t hold the entire draft within my head while editing it. When I started writing The Case of The Curious Client, I decided to make things easier on myself. I wrote each chapter within its own Microsoft Word file. Within each file I’d write the various sections (or scenes), following my master plan.

After writing the first draft of a scene I would leave it, go away from my computer, think about the scene’s various elements, e.g. character developments, dialogue, descriptions, clues etc., and iron out any inconsistences in my head. When I returned to the computer, I would make the necessary changes. I would keep doing this until I was satisfied it was complete enough for me to move on. A lot of my ‘writing’ is actually done away from the computer and within my own imagination. Even though it sometimes feels like I’m watching a scene from a television program on repeat.

After all the chapters are complete, I put them together and take a day to do a full read through from start to finish. After this, it goes to my Beta Readers, followed by my editor. More editing and tweaking always follows, right up to the point where I hit ‘publish’.

I know a lot of other writers may frown upon my methodology when it comes to my initial drafting but it’s the method that works best for me. Due to the fact I write my chapters in separate files, I don’t keep a running tally of my word count. Actually, I have no idea of what my final word count will be/is until I put all the chapters together into a manuscript. I find keeping track of a word count as restrictive as trying to hold an entire first draft in my head!
TSW: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?

Campbell: The technical side—that is, formatting. I’m very fortunate to have found an excellent editor in Susan Soares though. She’s taught me a great deal about this side of the process. I think I find the technical side the most difficult because everyone has their own opinion on what it should look like. Style manuals, articles, blogs, vlogs, even Facebook writing groups all have rules on how a page should be laid out and the whole show vs tell debate.

While I do agree quality should always be paramount —and that there is a minimum standard of quality all authors should strive for—I’m reluctant to automatically bow to the ‘rules’ of others simply because “everyone else does it”. Popularity doesn’t always equal quality. I therefore analyze the advice/rules I’m being given and decide if they make sense and/or are something I’ve seen done in traditionally published works. 9 times out of 10 I roll with the advice/rules. The rest of the time, I go with my instincts.

TSW: What does success look like to you?

Campbell: Someone who is so engrossed by my writing they feel the suspense and intrigue, smell the scents of Victorian London’s streets, know each character intimately, and feel a desperate emptiness when they finish reading my book/short story. Even if just one person experiences this while reading my work, I would’ve achieved success.
TSW: Are there any writers who inspire you?

Campbell: Agatha Christie —of course! I’ve also recently discovered the books of John Bainbridge. His Victorian era thrillers, about an avenger called William Quest, keep me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. John’s works don’t get the widespread readership they deserve, which is a shame. I’d recommend the William Quest books to anyone who enjoys action, intrigue, and adventure—even if history and the British Victorian era aren’t their usual go-to topics for their reading material.
TSW: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey as a writer?

Campbell: Negative—even brutality harsh—feedback/reviews can be just as important, if not more important, than positive ones. They have the power to guide a writer back onto the right path by helping them identify what’s not working in their writing. Sometimes, pride can blind us to reality. Putting aside our pride and accepting we were wrong—despite our best intentions and hard work—can be the hardest thing to do, especially when you’re an independent writer. If you achieve this though, it can be very enlightening and very rewarding. It will also make you a stronger person and a better writer in the long run. Remember, failure is only an option if you choose it to be.

About T.G. Campbell:

T.G. (Tahnee Georgina) Campbell is the creator of the Bow Street Society—a fictional group of amateur detectives operating in Victorian London in 1896. Each of its civilian members has been enlisted for their unique skills or exceptional knowledge in a particular field, e.g. illusions, architecture, art etc. The Society feature in several published books and short stories. T.G. Campbell also writes a monthly feature for Fresh Lifestyle Magazine, covering a variety of topics from Victorian haircare to street food. She has published Top 10 Little Known Facts about Victorian Era Scotland Yard on Listverse. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Winchester (Jane Austen is buried in that town’s cathedral). She’s previously worked for a charity supporting witnesses attending criminal court, and a project assisting current and ex-offenders into paid work or training. She enjoys doing extensive research for her writing, including visiting museums and locations in and around London on a regular basis. She currently lives in a city just outside London with her canary, Tweeps, and an extensive collection of souvenir cups.

Connect with T.G. Campbell at: