Thursday, February 16, 2023

Tips for Writing Dialogue (A Twitter Thread from 2022)

It is BETTER to have TOO MANY dialogue tags telling readers who is talking than TOO FEW.

Too many--a reader's eye can skip over them as they're reading and they'll fade into the background.

TOO FEW and a reader is pulled out of the story with "Wait, what? Who said this??"

ALSO be cautious about breaking up your dialogue of a single speaker into multiple paragraphs without dialogue tags to indicate that the new paragraph is NOT someone else responding. Yes, you can have an unclosed quotation mark--but if the previous paragraph ends with internal narration or action, then the reader doesn't have anything to clue them in without a tag. You don't HAVE to start a new paragraph after an interjected internal thought/staging.

I totally overuse tags. I will "said" my way through every dang line of dialogue even when I have an action that will work for the beat/cadence pause I need instead. But the word "said" becomes invisible--excessive dialogue tagging is a risk you SHOULD take for clarity. (And something you can always pare back later in editing if it really is too much.)

One more dialogue tip:
It works best at the beginning and the end of a paragraph. Framing it inside a sandwich of action/thoughts/staging can result in the dialogue getting lost to the reader. Sometimes you need it, like if someone's frazzled or tripping but use sparingly.

These thoughts brought to you both by my current writing in which I am trying to rein myself in and let my action beats do a little more of the lifting, and also revisiting an old friend favorite read that lost me in the weeds of poorly framed dialogue this round.

A good, compulsive story with good characters/chemistry who you are rooting for desperately might overcome the technical issues in the actual writing as someone speeds through a book but--there's no reason to give readers an excuse like that to put it down, you know?

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Friday, February 03, 2023

The Gods Make Their Own Rules: A Pagan Twitter Thread from 2020

I've been going through and curating my twitter archive over the last few months, wanting to reduce my public digital footprint, but this is a thread that I feel like could use a better platform. On Twitter, I've talked A LOT about my paganlife and my relationship to Thor. "Come for Thor, Stay for More!" has been a defining element of my brand for a while. Some of those threads really should have been blogposts from the start, probably, and I'll be moving a couple over here for reference now that I've dug them out again!


I have been spending a lot of time thinking and praying and engaging spiritually about my relationship to Thor and the genesis of it and I want to share a truth that I think gets drowned out by Heathens/Norse Pagans and the emphasis on Ancestor Worship.

What matters is this:
Are you having a spiritual experience/resonance/engagement with these gods?

If the answer is YES, then EVERYTHING ELSE is secondary. It does not matter who your ancestors are or where your family came from.

One thing has become REALLY clear to me in the last few months:
My relationship with Thor predates my awareness of him. My engagement with Thor predates my awareness of him.

I don't know how it gets decided, who ends up in which god's "house" (so to speak), but I was ALWAYS his.

It was always and ONLY just a question of me waking up to that realization--that he was there (and I'm coming to a realization, more recently now, that he was ALWAYS there, in shapes and forms that protected me from crisis before I had the vocabulary/context to understand.)

That ANY god is speaking to you on ANY level is the critical heart of the matter.

EVERYTHING ELSE is window dressing and entirely subjective and could very well be completely meaningless to your personal spiritual journey.

Maybe it is fate or maybe it is choice--maybe it is just some kind of inevitable ineffable universal mathematical equation, I don't know. But. It seems to me the gods make their own rules, and our job is just to choose if we want to say yes or no when they make themselves known.

This is not to say that community does not matter or play an important role in parsing our experiences of the divine, because of course it does--your community in the NOW matters. The people you choose to surround yourself with matter.

My Catholic Italian-American ancestors? They're still a part of my spiritual life. But who they are plays no part at all in defining my relationship to the divine--that's between me and Thor, between me and my gods.

I'm not saying this because I think it is an ABSOLUTE for any other community to accept--I'm saying it because it is MY truth, and if it is my truth, it is POSSIBLE it could also be someone else's, but they felt like it couldn't be because there's so much emphasis on "ancestors."

If you needed someone to give you permission to embrace whatever experience you're having with Thor or Freyja or whoever, REGARDLESS of where you were born and what your family culture might be historically, then this is it. Right now.

I'm giving it to you.


Disclaimer: I do not believe this gives anyone a right to speak over indigenous voices or to impose their interpretation of their spiritual experience with any divinity over any existing culture's truth.

What is true for one person is not necessarily true for ALL people.

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