Thursday, December 27, 2012

First Page of My Next (non-fiction) Book

Do not attempt to read this book if you suffer from any of the following conditions: mania, religious fanaticism, frequent heartburn, indigestion, Lyme's disease, bulimia, vertigo, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or Alzheimer's. 

In any case, consult your physician before proceeding or trying any the exercises in this book, or consult your psychiatrist. Side effects may include headaches, uncontrollable laughter, mild insanity, blindness, dizziness, schizophrenia, psychosis, happiness, the inability to take Fox News seriously, mania, religious fanaticism, frequent heartburn, indigestion, Lyme's disease, bulimia, vertigo, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Alzheimer's. 

This book contains blatant speculation, unsubstantiated facts, shoddy research and complete falsehoods.

Tried and True Techniques and Exercises
Every technique described in this book has been thoroughly tested and demonstrated to be effective, though mainly, the techniques were tested on various pets. Just thought you should know that.

Real Actual Warning:
First off, I apologize that when this book was written, my delete key was not functioning properly, or it could have been my old version of WordPerfect. So, in many instances, I say things that I do not mean and take no great pains to undo the damage. Someday, I will go back and fix these. (see Chapter 12: Procrastination is Your Friend). I might also blame a startling lack of white-out at my local office supply store.

This book is satire and is not intended as medical advice, nor psychological advice. Do not take this seriously. It is filled with spurious footnotes and bogus websites. Do not read the footnotes, do not click on the links provided. Do not attempt to employ any of the methods described in this book, especially if you are a sociopath, a serial killer, or ultra-conservative republican.

Do not attempt to read this book if any of the following apply to you:
(Turn back now and you may be eligible for a partial refund)
You think Rush Limbaugh is the height of sagacity. 
You have eaten humus on purpose. (just kidding)
You are a halal Muslim, an orthodox Jew or born again Christian, Mormon missionary, or devout Scientologist. 
(not kidding)
You’ve actually paid $600 for a haircut
You’ve never laughed at a Clavin and Hobbs comic (or, alternatively) you think Gary Larson is just weird.
You currently reside in Khazikistan

Wow, is there anyone left?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dialog 101

Often, I’m asked how I write dialog… I am very lucky I suppose, it comes pretty naturally. I more or less become the character and hear a slightly different voice in my head as my he or she speaks. There are some simple tricks as well. It’s fairly easy to tell your reader a lot about a character by just altering the dialog. Take the following example:

I knocked on the door again, persistently, hell bent on getting a reply. Finally, I heard a voice from inside.

“Awright, Awright, I’m comin’…”
“Yes, yes, shan’t be a moment…”
“Hang on a sec. I’m coming.”
“Hold your horses, I’m a comin’…”
“Yes, yes, patience, patience…”
“A moment, please…”

In the above, all these six potential characters have the same response. The reader can probably guess they are either already expecting a visitor, or they are all shopkeepers. And we learn something about each of them just by how they phrase their reply. Exactly what we learn is subtle… maybe we can gather a clue about where they are from, and even perhaps, their general attitude.

Compare these alternate replies:
“Who is it now?”
“Go away or I’ll call the police.”

This has a less to do with the character’s dialog style— though we might suspect that one of them is paranoid— and more to do with moving the plot forward. These two characters are not expecting a knock at their door.