Saturday, February 25, 2017

Monday's Minute Challenge


Recently, I entered Tessa Emily Hall's Monday's Minute Challenge writing prompt contest and received a first place award. =) You can read my entry below:

I squint against the piercing gusts of wind that whip my cloak around my near-frozen body. Footprints, barely legible in the packed snow and speckled with particles of dirt, lead north.

Of all the places, north.

Gritting my teeth and battling the uneasy feeling inside, I trudge onward. Frost glints in the spare sunlight, snow sparkles in an eerie way. But these are all normal sights for me since the beginning of the Winter.

I maneuver around a patch of ice, keeping an eye ahead of me, and yet glancing behind every minute or so. I have done well enough hiding my tracks, but if the beasts were sent after me…

I shake such thoughts from my head and come across an open meadow. Not the safest place for me, but I gasp. There he is.

“Henrik!” I hurry to the crumpled figure. No response. “Henrik!”

When I’m steps away from the fur coat-covered body, he bolts up, remaining on his knees. Surprised, I fall backwards. I don’t even try to get up when I see the blood-dipped knife in Henrik’s hand, the crazed look in his eyes.

They don’t hold the joy or mirth I knew.

“I never really loved her.” He cradles the knife closer to him. A drop of scarlet spreads on the snow.

Alarmed, I search him for any wounds from my vantage point. None. Then where… There is no body. No sign of a fight, nothing.

“Who?” I breathe, watching a cloud form in front of my face.

“She made me. I didn’t want to, but she made me. The light… But I never really loved her anyway.”

Another drop of blood. But it isn’t coming from the knife.

“Who didn’t you love? Who made you?”

Henrik looks up. “Her.”

*shivers* That is... The most morbid thing I've ever written. 

If you'd like to enter the next Monday's Minute Challenge contest, click here. I'd love to read your entry, so let me know if you do participate in the comments! And I should be posting again tomorrow, so stay tuned.  =) 

Have you ever participated in Monday's Minute Challenge? What genre do you like to write (or read) in? Will you be participating in the next writing prompt contest? Let's talk!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

What Is Love?

Once upon a time, I had another blog. It was a teeny tiny blog, A Little Bit of Everything. On that blog, about a year or so ago, I posted my thoughts on what love is. This February, in the month of love, I thought it would be fun to repost one of my favorite posts from my old blog of long ago. Without further ado, may I present a (partially edited) piece on love. 

Everyone’s favorite talking snowman puts it right out there. Plain and simple. I don’t know if Olaf used a dictionary or anything, but he’s pretty much spot on when it comes to what love is. Maybe he should be classified as a love expert...

Love isn't a fuzzy, warm I'm-on-top-of-the-world feeling. Love isn't a fondness for others (or for my favorite red velvet cake). Love isn't smiles, romantic dinners, and red roses. Love isn't hugs and kisses or x's and o's.

Love is putting someone else's needs before yours. It’s saying, “You first, I’ll go last.” Love is a sacrifice.

Jesus Christ illustrates this the best of all.

God sent his one and only son into the world as a fragile baby to die. It most certainly wasn’t Jesus’s need to live a lowly human life and end it all by hanging on a cross… It was ours. He didn’t just tell us he loved us-he showed it with his actions.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

-Romans 5:8 NIV


Jesus's sacrifice shows, as the Jesus Storybook Bible puts it, a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. That's God's love for his children in a nutshell.

This February, during the month of love, remember that you are loved by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are loved with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.
What do you think love is? How does knowing that you are loved SO MUCH make you feel? How can you show love this month? Don't you LOVE Frozen (and isn't Olaf the best?)? =) How did you celebrate Valentine's Day? Let's chat!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Speech Tags and Action Tags: Part Two


Last week, we looked at the importance of having a great speech tag and action tag balance. Today, we’ll discover four tips that will help us achieve that balance.

Use Vivid Speech Tags


Using vivid speech tags such as pant, wheeze, mutter, hiss, spit, screech, rattle, gag, etc. help paint a picture in our reader’s head. Like I discussed last week, they can show instead of being “telly.” Click here to read a bit more about that.

Use Action Tags That Contribute

I mean, why would you focus on your character chewing gum in the midst of a life or death situation? When writing dialogue, pick action tags that contribute to the overall mood and goal of the scene. Don’t focus on your character fiddling with a pen unless it means something to the scene, such as your character feeling idleness, nervousness, or agitation.

Throw In Some Monologue


Because I write in first person, I love throwing monologue into my dialogue. It gives the reader a deeper understanding of what the character is feeling by showing them what’s going on in the character’s head. Take, for example, the snippet below:

“Hailey, truth or dare?” Jason shoves his hands in his pockets. 

I close my eyes. Not this again. I can’t afford to pick either. “Jason, I—”

“No.” His jaw clenches. “No. For once, let me talk.” He takes a step toward me. “Truth or dare?” 

I don’t think. Shaking like a windblown leaf, I whisper, “Truth.”

Jason doesn’t hesitate. “Do you love me?”

*whispers* Obviously, I've been reading The Language of Sparrows. =) But anyways, with Hailey’s monologue in the scene, her feelings deepened, and the scene grew even more serious than it would’ve been when void of monologue.

It’s Okay To Use Neither

All that said, it’s totally okay to use neither action tags nor speech tags, in instances such as arguments between characters or deep conversations, like Hailey and Jason’s. Let’s take a look at how that would pan out.

“Hailey, truth or dare?” 


I close my eyes. Not this again. I can’t afford to pick either. “Jason, I—”

“No.” His jaw clenches. “No. For once, let me talk.” He takes a step toward me. “Truth or dare?” 

I don’t think. Shaking like a windblown leaf, I whisper, “Truth.”

“Do you love me?”

Sometimes, using neither speech tags or action tags make a scene more dramatic and OH MY GOODNESS DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?!?!?

Wow. This is the end to my first blog series on Notebooks and Novels. HAVE I REALLY ONLY BEEN WRITING ON HERE FOR A MONTH?!?! *calms down* I hope this series has helped you write some fabulous dialogue. Let’s talk about it in the comments section, shall we?


Do you have any tips for writing dialogue? Everyone in the universe wants to hear them! What did you think of this short series of posts? Did anyone else watch allll the Hobbit movies this week? *wipes tears from eyes* SO GOOD. Let’s chat about all things Tolkien and writing!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Speech Tags and Action Tags: Part One


Speech tags. Action tags. Words that I feel we writers either overuse or don’t use at all Poor things. Today, we’re going to look at how we can give speech tags and action tags a happy medium in our stories.

Before we move on any further, let’s take a look at how speech tags look to a reader by reading a sample of writing in its gorgeous speech tag drenched form.

“Lyon,” I said, falling onto the ground in exhaustion. “Do you hear that?”

Lyon stopped and, cocking his head to the side, answered, “Hear what?”

Honestly, Lyon? Exasperated, I said, “That sound coming from the path. Are you deaf?”

Lyon’s eyes widened as the sound found his ears and he said, “No. That’s not possible.” Dropping our precious map and taking off in the opposite direction of the path, he yelled, “Run, Kiera, run!”


Now take a look at the difference in the same sample using action tags instead of speech tags…

“Lyon.” I fell onto the duty ground. “Do you hear that?”

Lyon stopped, mid stride. He cocked his head to the side. “Hear what?”

Honestly, Lyon? “That sound coming from the path. Are you deaf?” My voice came out like the growl of a bear.

Lyon’s eyes widened as the sound found his ears. “No. That’s not possible.” Suddenly, he took off in the opposite direction of the path, dropping our precious map. “Run, Kiera, run!”

What difference could you detect in these short samples? The first one was all right, but the speech tags gave it a “telly” feel and slowed the story down with extra baggage. However, in the second one, action tags helped to immerse you in Kiera and Lyon’s story while keeping the pace moving.

Using speech tags can be a form of telling. Action tags are much better for when we want to SHOW our readers something. Action tags help put our readers in the story world. Even without speech tags, we saw that Kiera’s tone was grumbly.

More photography. =D
Am I saying that we need to completely slash speech tags from our writing and throw them into Mount Doom? No! Some of the greatest authors to put pen to paper-C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Suzanne Collins-they used speech tags.

Speech tags can be our good friends in moderation. In some instances, I believe that these “telly” words can SHOW. Consider the third revision of Lyon and Kiera’s story.

“Lyon,” I panted, falling onto the dusty ground. “Do you hear that?”

Lyon stopped, mid stride. He cocked his head to the side. “Hear what?”

Honestly, Lyon? “That sound coming from the path. Are you deaf?” My voice came out like the growl of a bear.

Lyon’s eyes widened as the sound found his ears. “No. That’s not possible.” He took off, dropping our precious map and shrieking over his shoulder, “Run, Kiera, run!”


With vivid speech tags, we saw more than with just action tags. We were shown that Kiera must’ve been really tired, because she panted in addition to falling to the ground. Lyon’s distress and fear went up a notch when he shrieked.

Speech tags and action tags aren’t necessarily enemies. I believe that, with the right ratio, readers can get an even better experience in the words we write.

Next week, we'll be looking at some tips to help us out on achieving a great speech tag/action tag balance in our dialogue.

Which do you prefer to use-speech tags or action tags? What are your thoughts on speech and action tags? Do you have any tips for writing great dialogue?
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