Does It Sound Like Writing?
I've been reading Jurgen Wolff's book, Your Writing Coach. It's broad look at various types of writing from fiction to nonfiction from books to screenplays to magazine writing. I've appreciated his vast writing experience and his solid bits of advice. Because Wolff comes from a film background, he has included online bonuses for each chapter. Of course, you have to go to his website and register (smart) plus type a key password from the book to access the bonus film clip (also wise because it forces people to purchase the book to have access). I've only looked at a few of the bonus clips but plan to look at more in the days ahead. This book is loaded with practical and tested advice from a practicing writer who has helped other writers.
As an example in his chapter called Watch Your Language, he includes a brief look at novelist Elmore Leonard's ten rules for showing and not telling. I found the expanded list online at Leonard's website. They are fascinating and helpful rules. After these rules, Leonard writes, "My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It's my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing." I loved that line: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. It's good advice from my perspective.
A bit later in this chapter, Wolff writes about how to master dialogue saying, "The most useful skill for someone who wants to write good dialogue is eavesdropping. By listening carefully to how a variety of people speak, you absorb a lot of useful information. There is a fantastic website for any writer who wants to get a sense of the voices of real people: http://www.storycorps.net/. It features more than 10,000 recordings of people talking to each other about aspects of their lives." It’s another resource for you to use in improving your dialogue. It makes it easy to eavesdrop.
I recommend Your Writing Coach as a solid investment in the future of your writing life.