Monday, March 23, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks


This week author Marianne Stephens joins us with her tip. Marianne writes both mainstream and erotic romance (as April Ash) in contemporary and paranormal genres.

Marianne’s Tip
Dialogue, Dialogue, Dialogue: Keep Dialogue “Real”

My first attempt at writing was a dismal failure. I wrote a 50,000 word story, sent queries to agents, and had one actually ask to read it. Surprised me since I kept thinking “This can’t be so easy. You haven’t paid your dues yet”.

I was right!

The agent politely told me that I needed dialogue in my book...not all the narrative I’d written. I had much to learn.

Characters need to speak as if they’re standing next to you and talking to you. They use contractions and colloquial terms. They sometimes don’t finish a sentence, but let it end abruptly. They also use fragments/phrases, not complete sentences. Examples:


“All my fault for not opening my eyes and seeing the truth. People tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen.” She poured more of the pink bubbly into her glass. “I don’t mean to bother you so if you need to go, please don’t let me keep you. I appreciate that you delivered the box. Just can’t imagine who sent it.”

Colloquial terms:

Alan downed his drink and held out his glass for a refill. “No place to be. Wanna talk about what happened? I can be a good listener.”


“Your turn, Alan. Tell me your story. Broken heart? Lover somewhere waiting for you?”

Abrupt end:

Confused, Amy stared at him and then at the flowers. “You don’t have to do this, Alan. I know I was so pitiful last night and you…”

All these examples are from Cupid’s Curious Case, my short story in the Naughty Hearts Anthology.

Excerpt from Cupid’s Curious Case

Amy picked a pink candy with a red heart on it. Alan chose a blue piece that had white sprinkles on it. They popped their chosen pieces into their mouths at the same time.

A tingle went through Amy as she savored the rich treat. It spread through her body, and sent a shocking flame of desire to every inch of her body. There was a catch in her breath, and she itched to satisfy a lustful need she’d never felt with Scott.

She peeked at Alan, and noticed his eyes were closed as he devoured his candy. His breathing quickened, and dropping her gaze lower, she spied a distinct bulge pressing against his jeans’ zipper.

Alan opened his eyes and stared into hers. A heightened sense of craving, want, desire seemed to spark between them. Amy was at a loss for words, at least common sense ones. She wanted him. Here. Now. With a wanton passion.

“Try another piece,” she whispered, almost afraid to say anything.

“I—Sure. These are overwhelming. All my senses are aware of the decadent taste it leaves in my mouth. You too?”

“Yes,” she managed to answer before biting into a green piece of candy with a soft, minty inside that slid down her throat, leaving more tingling sensations wreaking havoc with her body.

Alan raked a hand through his hair. “Is it me, or is it hot in here?” 

A stinging rush of heat course through her, settling in her cheeks. “It must be the champagne.” She fanned her face with her hand. “It does feel warmer than before.”

“Why don’t we open your window a little? Cool us off.”

Both stood, and walked to the window. Amy cranked it open and a rush of cooler air flowed inside. For a moment she shivered, and then felt warmer as Alan, wrapped his arms around her.

“You’re cold. Maybe this wasn’t a great idea.”

Amy clasped his arms, hugging them tighter. “No. I mean, we can close the window, but I’m enjoying standing here with you.”

Alan pulled her back towards him. Amy couldn’t stop her hormones from racing into overdrive at the sensation of rubbing against the bulge in his jeans. “Turn around, Amy. I want to see you while I hold you in my arms. Please.”

She quickly turned to face him, never losing contact. Heat radiated between them, satisfying her passionate lust now controlling her every thought. “I want to be held by you—touch you.” She rested her head on his chest. “We’ve missed out on being with each other all this time. I feel a need now. And no, it’s not the champagne talking. It’s me. I’ve always hoped for more between us.”

Alan lifted her head, lowered his mouth to hers, and began with a slow, gentle kiss. He pulled his head away and said, “We’re together now. I want this. I want you. No, like the note said, I desire you.”

His next kiss was more urgent as he rubbed his hands down her back and lifted her rear end closer. “Tell me now if you want me to stop and I’ll leave. I’ll go, but I don’t want to.”

“No. Please stay. I want you,” she moaned, consumed in a need to have Alan make love to her.

You can find Marianne at:


Thanks Marianne, for dropping by and sharing that great writing tip on dialogue.


  1. Great tips, Marianne! And that excerpt - whew! It's definitely hawt in here... ;)

  2. Great examples and excerpt. :) Isn't it funny how a writer hears those voices with accents?

  3. Hi, Marianne! Writing contractions was the hardest part for me. I grew up not speaking in contractions. "Nice girls didn't" sort of thing. Having a good balance for the story will be best. I love writing dialogue.

  4. Hi Marianne, thanks for sharing. Dialogue is my favorite 'thing' :) I love how the character's personality shines through with their words.
    Jacquie Biggar

  5. Great advice. I usually write very formally and have had to learn how to break that habit. :)

  6. Thanks to all who commented. And thank you, Bev, for hosting me today!