Conversation versus Dialogue

dialogue conversationThe draft novel is written with the final words “The End” displayed on the last page. The easy part accomplished, and the work to get it suitable for publication is undertaken.

Scene 1 introduces the characters and sets up the coming conflict. The hook set to keep readers reading. Confidence grows.

Scene 2 brings in the supporting characters. The narrative reads well. Confidence remains positive.

Conversation versus Dialogue

Scene 2.5 has several characters together. This scene is sparse on narrative, relying on the characters interacting via dialogue. The writer spits out lines for Character A. Then come some for Character B. The two exchange lines for nearly two pages before Character B leaves in a huff. Character A spends several sentences of internal narrative before Scene 3 starts.

Reading the scene’s revisions, something is off. What might it be?

Scene 1 had received several small word changes. Scene 2 starts well, but Scene 2.5 rubs wrong. There is little narrative, but the characters have plenty to say. There is no zing in the conversation. Character B’s response to what Character A says is artificial, as is A’s to B’s.

Ah, the problem is a conversation is not dialogue. At least, not in a novel where the reader can act as Character B, and leave. Conversation masked as dialogue is boring and can fail to move the story forward.

What makes good dialogue?

There are many craft books dedicated to the subject. These are some that I own and read and have reread:

Writing Great Fiction-Dialogue by Gloria Kempton,

Dialogue (Busy Writer’s Guides Book 3) by Marcy Kennedy, and

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript by James Scott Bell.

What are your thoughts on what makes good dialogue? Use the comment form to let me know.


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Amanda Post Memorial Tournament 2018

Pipeline 2008 Boy's RedThe Amanda Post Memorial Tournament again marked Pipeline Soccer Club 2008 Boys Red’s spring outdoor season. Last year, I noted the boys won one game and lost two. This year’s result was the same, 1-2.

Weather plays its role

Two days before the tournament, a windstorm hit Maryland and the East Coast. It was called a “bomb cyclone.” There was gust exceeding 60 mph. Saturday, the wind was gusting between 40 and 6o mph.

The high wind created interesting times for the boys. Multiple times on throw-ins, the wind caught the ball and pushed it out again leading to re-throws. The wind rolled balls placed for goal kicks and corner kicks. The wind caught high passes making sending the ball to teammates challenging.

Pipeline Amanda Post Memorial

Pipeline boy’s 2008 Red team has eleven boys on the roster. Only nine were available for this tournament. This created rotation challenges putting boys into roles they rarely play. The boys accepted the rotation and showed their understanding of team play and the relationship of roles.

Saturday’s Games

The boys lost the first two games. They started slowly in the first game and fell behind 1-2 in the first half. They scored once in the second half while allowing one more. The final score was SAC United Gold 1-3.

It was warmer for the second game with the temperature nearing 45 degrees and the wind dropping a few miles per hour. The boys took time to get playing up to their potential. They fell behind 0-4 at half time. The coach provided encouragement during the break which sparked the boys to a 4-2 second half performance. The final against Tri County 08 Torpedos was 4-6.

Sunday’s Game

Sunday’s game was the consolation game. The temperature was again in the 30’s and winds only gusting to 25 mph. The boys scored first and often. The final score for the game against SAC Select Hammerheads was 7-1.

Coaches, boys, and parents had hoped for a better result. The boys expressed feelings that the extreme cold and wind had affected their play in the first two games during a post tournament meeting. They accepted they could have played better, highlighted by the play in the second half of game two.

The next challenge for the team is a tournament the weekend of March 17th. Wish us luck using the comment form.

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Retirement Party

retirement partyMy wife hosted a retirement party on Saturday to fix my retirement in my mind and those of my friends.

My wife suggested the party a few weeks after I announced my retirement date to my boss and family in early November 2017.

She and my children brainstormed the details. Where and when to have it. Who to invite. Food or not, and other details which I wasn’t privy. Periodically, one of them would ask when I wanted to have the party.

Serious discussions with my wife resulted in the decision to have it at The Lanes on Fort Meade on 24 February. We have been fixtures at The Lanes since we moved to Fort Meade in 1985. She worked there as a night shift manager, and, for a time, as an administrative assistant. Both of us have been league secretaries of mixed and men’s leagues for almost twenty years. Though not the only location considered, it became our choice.

I left the details to my wife. She made the arrangements. She reserved the venue, ordered food and refreshments, and issued invitations. Her coup de grâce was baking and decorating two cakes for the retirement party.

The party is a memory now. One that will not be soon forgotten. My wife and a core group of family and friends ensured the party’s success. The food was great and there was entertainment at my expense.

I received a floppy hat called “Retirement Survival Hat” from my wife. From friends, one couple gave me a tee shirt which I wore the entire party.

Another couple brought guffaws from the crowd with gifts including several dollar store gifts-a hand clapper for when my hands hurt too much to applaud, a coloring book and large crayons for periods of boredom, a Yo-Yo when things go up and down, artic cool pain relieving gel (guess what that was for), and more gag gifts.

retirement party

I am thankful to my wife, family, and friends for taking the time to celebrate my retirement with me. Thank you to everyone who made the day special.

Would you want a retirement party when you retire? Tell me your thoughts using the comments form.

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A Writing Milestone

writing milestone

courtesy of

Every week is becoming a writing milestone week in my writing career. Those who are unaware, I began my first novel less than three years ago. Since then, I completed two drafts with the first over 100k words. The second written during NaNoWriMo and is 50k. The novels need editing or revision to bring them to publication.

Aside from the novel drafts, I wrote a microstory published here and a short short story submitted to a contest.

The milestone this week was completing a first edit of the shorter draft novel.

What did editing show me about my writing?

There are multiple areas for improvement as noted here.

I am a wordy writer. I enjoy using adjectives and adverbs at every opportunity. Concise sentences reduce the word count and require disciplined writing. Additionally, more scenes needed to get the word count to an acceptable level for the genre.

I have a particular love for the word that. I use it at every opportunity. How often is that? Approximately 300 times in the 50,200+ word draft.

I enjoy passive verbs. Given the choice of active versus passive verbs, I chose passive more often.

Vague or abstract words replace precise or distinct descriptors. This enables the reader to insert himself/herself into the novel visualizing whatever comes to their mind. Should I hinder their involvement?

The Point of View (POV) character is rarely named after the first sentence of a passage. The multiple uses of he, she, him, and her in the same and connecting sentences offer the user the challenge to figure out who is taking action in the passage. Don’t readers appreciate the opportunity?

Courtesy of

Should I continue to edit or revise?

Most certainly others are required! Consideration for the reader in mind, another editing pass is mandatory. I suspect the second may turn into five, ten, or maybe twenty revisions.

Is my experience different from yours when writing a novel? Let me hear from you using the attached form.

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My First Microstory


rawpixel / Pixabay

I finished a microstory today. It is my first and proved to be a greater challenge than the short-short story I recently blogged.


What is microstory? YourDictionary defines it as  “an extremely short story.” Mythcreants defines it this way. “The traditional definition is a story that is 300 words or fewer, making it a subset of flash fiction.”

The article focused on a tighter definition: 100 words. Microfiction Monday Magazine only publishes stories of 100 words or less. I considered other sources and decided to attempt a story 100 words or less.

I am by nature a wordy writer. I envisioned a story and wrote it. The result was over 200 words describing an event that occurred in 30 seconds or so. After several revisions and word substitutions, it was less than 100 words long.

My granddaughter played soccer last fall for Pipeline Soccer Club. One game ended in a tie and a shootout held. This became the topic of this untitled short story.

3dman_eu / Pixabay

Elizabeth watched the soccer ball fly past her team’s goalkeeper into the net.

Her team was down one goal in the championship game shootout. Bugs danced in Elizabeth’s stomach at the thought she must score, or else her team loses.

Elizabeth raced to the penalty kick area and watched the referee place the soccer ball.  She silenced the bugs by focusing on making a hard strike on the ball. She must score. The sound of the whistle startled her. Three steps and ….

The bugs died with the roar of the crowd. Score, tied!

I enjoyed the time spent on it and found it an interesting diversion from editing my draft novels.

I encourage you to tell me your thoughts on microstories, mine, and flash fiction. Use the comment form.


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Sleeping in, Not!

geralt / Pixabay

Week One

The first week of retirement was interesting and not what I expected. My friends told me I could sleep-in mornings once retired. Little likely I learned.

My wife is the secretary to a Monday morning bowling league. Often, she asked me to take a day off and go with her. Retired, I had no excuse. Early rise to find me at The Lanes on Fort George G. Meade. No sleep in on Monday!

The benefit of Insurance

Although I stopped going to the office and getting paid on 26 January, my insurances continued through 31 January. The wife informed me she had a dental appointment on Tuesday morning. She suggested it was an opportunity to let our dentist know our insurance profile was changing. So, early rise to suffer traffic on the 695 Baltimore beltway at near rush hour.

The receptionist made the adjustments while my wife met her appointment. Fate intervened to ensure an appointment perfect for me to get a cleaning while still insured.

How fate loves me! If there is anything wrong in my mouth, it will raise its head during a cleaning. The beast reared as a filling sought a replacement. As I was checking out, the appointment receptionist pointed out an opening on Wednesday perfect for me. More work done while still insured. How could I refuse? A 9:00 a.m. appointment, of course.

Weekday three found me again in the Baltimore near-rush hour traffic at an early hour. Would I ever be allowed to sleep in?

Sleeping In?

creozavr / Pixabay

Thursday showed up on time. I passed the early hours in dreamland. 6:10 a.m., 30 minutes later than the 5:40 I woke when working. Finally, sleeping in! After feeding the dogs who are accustomed to eating at 6:00 a.m., I crawled back under the blankets for a short nap. Retirement is great.

We went bowling Friday night. Several people queried how I enjoy being retired. My stock answer was, “It has been like a vacation. I expect in a couple of weeks I will feel more like retired.” I have taken vacations longer than a week which had days as busy as this week.

My view of retirement is days in the row devoted to writing, reading, listening to music, or watching movies without feeling guilt. Those days are not far off, I hope!

Have you had weeks as busy as this one? Are your vacations just workdays away from the office? If retired, are you enjoying it? Tell me in comments.

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Retirement, a New Beginning

skeeze / Pixabay

Standing in front of the Military Induction Center in Chicago, Illinois at 6:30 am, I had no thought I would retire on 26 January 2018 after 51 years, one month and 28 days. The years either in the US Navy or contracting to Navy affiliated organizations. So ends a phase of my life and the start to another.

I retired all of two days ago, yet I received questions for a week about my plans and feelings about retiring. “Will I miss working?” “How will you keep busy?” “What are your plans for retirement?” “What does your wife think of you retiring?”

Will I miss working? No, I will miss the people but not the stress of the office. The task I was fulfilling has moved from the design, through the development, and into final implementation. I am happy to leave the fine-tuning and adding new capabilities to the incoming staff.

Retirement Rving

MemoryCatcher / Pixabay

My plans center on family and enjoying life. My two children and seven grandchildren live next door or within a short distance. Other family, my wife’s, and mine are within a few days RV travel. Funds permitting, we will see them. Besides travel, there is a myriad of honey-dos to keep me busy for some time. Oh, almost forgot my woodworking tools are feeling lonely and would appreciate the attention. There is plenty to keep me busy.

Two days into retirement and I haven’t tired of it yet. I suspect I never will. Are you retired? Are you glad? If not retired, are you looking forward to it or dreading the day when you do? Tell me in comments.

Posted in Fall of my life, RVing, Winter of my life | Tagged , , | 5 Comments