5 Things, Writing, Writing Tips

5 Ways to Improve Dialogue

1. Go outside and listen to people talking. Restaurants, coffee shops, shopping malls and sporting events are all great places to see how people interact naturally. Make note of their emotional states and patterns of their speech. Do they pause at certain points? What words make them slow down or react?

2. Decide where your character is from and then seek out material from those locations. Youtube is a great resource for this. If it’s a language you know, listen to the radio stations for that area. If it’s a completely new place (a fantasy land or foreign planet) get a few ideas of what earmarks their local language may have.

3. Read your dialogue out loud. With others, if possible. You can usually tell immediately if something sounds contrived or unnatural. Is the emotional force of the scene being communicated in the words, or is the conversation too flaccid? If you can, try to improvise with people and record what works.

4. Learn how to format dialogue in prose. This may sound like a ‘duh’ but I can’t tell you how many issues I’ve seen that have been caused by lack of clarity resulting from poor dialogue tagging and misinterpreted writing.

5. Tap into how you feel. When two lovers are talking to each other, do you get warm fuzzies? Do you get nervous when the hero and the villain are at each other’s throats? Do you get teary when characters are saying goodbye for the last time? Even if you aren’t having a dramatic response, your heart should have some sort of reaction to your writing. If it’s not, ask yourself why.

mental health, Uncategorized

5 Ways to Immediately Deal with Obsessive Thinking

I have dealt with obsessive thoughts since I was a child. It would literally bring me to a point where I was beside myself with anxiety, and 9 times out of 10, it was actually over nothing. The feelings were made of razor blades and fabrications, a make-believe land where the cotton candy was actually fiberglass.

Even now, at the age of 30 and medicated, I still get crippled by it from time to time. So I want to share a few of the ways that I deal with popping the oil bubble in my brain.

  1. Acknowledge it. Don’t fight it. Let the thoughts pass unhindered, and pay them no more mind than you would a stranger walking past you in the grocery store.
  2. Find something else to do. Quickly. The sooner you can fill your mind with other thoughts, the faster the shitty ones will be crowded out.
  3. Talk to someone about it. This one is hard. Sometimes you are fairly certain that if you discuss your crazy thoughts with someone, they are going to call the Straitjacket Brigade to take you away. Find someone you trust and let them know that you’re going through a hard time. A real friend doesn’t mind that you need reassurance.
  4. Laugh. Find something funny and really let it go. I listen to Game Grumps when I’m feeling particularly obsessive.
  5. Tell yourself that this will pass. Take a nap. Eat something. Go about your day. Routine is your friend when the demons are at your back.
Poetry, Writing

Above the Jefferson

The stairwell is blood red
And two figures sit on the plush embrace
Holding hands and gripping
Water pipes that travel up the stories they are telling,
Clad in trenchcoats.

Down the hallway, a woman touches light
Like it is a cautious predator,
And the shadows will be the only things that
Keep her certainty safe
From the man on the bed and his wolf eyes.

In the ballroom, there is the gore
Of a thousand slain dancers who promised
Their forevers long ago to a partner
Who broke their toes and told them
That the world belonged to them and their children.

On the roof there is a scratching,
A tapping of a starling that looks down on a city that is
Worn and covered in scar tissue,
And it counts the sleeping forms in the abandoned parking deck,
Waiting to take the scraps of their clothes and create a tomorrow from them.

Uncategorized

Why I Still Make Lists

I love productivity apps. I’m always so excited to look at what I can do on my phone, and how I can get programs to react to me doing things. Cleaned my room? Look at the experience I gain for my character! Walked around the block? Look at my plant grow bigger! It’s very gratifying.

But I still keep paper and pen handy to make lists.

Why?

  • I like having a physical list in my hand.
  • I like the sensation of handwriting.
  • There’s a real satisfaction to drawing a line through an item on a physical list.
  • It’s usually quicker making a list that way.

The biggest reason I’ve found to do this, however, is the accountability. When I have a physical list in my hand, I’m more likely to look at it. To touch it. To move it.

If I am really subconsciously avoiding doing something on my phone I can just look at any other of the 50 billion apps that are open on top of it.In fact, I find myself forgetting sometimes that I even made note of things because out of sight, out of mind.

Do you have a traditional means of productivity? A tried and true? Tell me about it!

Poetry, Writing

Treating Chemical Burns

Smell the morning, like linen and empty notebooks,
And touch the air as it hovers and sparkles, no matter what the clock says,
Spoon the possibility into your coffee.

Cover your ears when the coal train thoughts buzz like insects,
The humming that gets suddenly louder
And stops for a second when everything tenses,
Fleeing and then returning for purchase.

Heed the copper smell of the creeping what-if
That clings to fingers and never concedes to any soap, any balm,
And accept its presence
Because hands still work even when they stink.

The color of the Bad Day isn’t blue
But rather every color and even ones with no name
That are worn on breast pockets and ties
And in flower crowns and tie-dyed necklaces.

Inhale the toxicity of the clenched jaw, the sweaty palms,
Let it linger until you can’t hold it in anymore
And then watch what animals form out of the smoke
As you let go.

You are more than the sum of your beautiful pain.

 

Uncategorized

How to Have a Day Job

Next week, I’m going to be moving my series How to Have a Day Job to Self Dare!

For those of you not aware of H2HaDJ, it began as a mailing list and then a blog series on my writing blog, bohemian.on.rye. I feel that it will be more relevant here, as this blog more heavily focuses on taking care of one’s self, which is the core of the series’ aim: teaching how to maintain your creative spirit while paying the bills. And I’m telling you not from some lofty cloud of complete self-reliance, but from the trenches, in my own day job.

For the first post, I was hoping that you all might have some questions or thoughts regarding your own career history. Is there some particular insight you have been looking for? What do you struggle with? What is the worst job you’ve ever done and how did you survive?

Tell me about it in the comments!

Poetry, Writing

How to Stuff a Rabbit

The first knife cut is the most important
Because it decides whether or not you have a hand that is patient
Or one that will ruin the room, that will torment those around you,

And you must be kind.

You will know everything as you shave paths
Through skin and body
Because you’ve never realized that there is something in between
Life and living,
Because for a person, once you pass the skin, it’s just blood.

Even in death, be particular about the company you keep.

And you’ll never get through it all because when you get to the ends
When you hold tiny hands in yours you won’t go around
But cut through, and there will be a piece of everything that it’s ever held
And you will take it through this final process.

Gently touch those you love as you disassemble them.

Rub and clean and pack and sew
Everything is details then,
Even in how the eyes stare up at you from what remains
And you know that the last requirement of all artists is to

Eat your carcasses.

Self Dare, Uncategorized

Be Kind

Be nice to someone. Right now. You don’t even have to spend money or pick up the phone.

Send them an email. Write a note and leave it on their desk.

Message them on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr with a fond memory and tell them that you’ve been thinking about them.

Text them a picture of something you bought together or a DVD that you watched together.

Make something for someone. Leave a dollar on their keyboard for a snack.

And afterwards, relish in the feeling that you made someone’s day. It’s like magic.