Tiny Tim and the Big Hole in the Ground


When I’m writing dialogue, every other sentence seems to begin with “well” or “so.” Those are the first words to get the ax when I edit. I know this even as I type them, but they still get written. Sometimes, I edit them out as soon as they’re typed. Other times, they make it through scene-completion, only the be knocked out during my first revision.

“Well,” as my mom would chastise me, “is a big hole in the ground.”

Using these words is my crutch. Once they’re on the page, I can get to what people are really saying, but not until then.

“Well” and “so” indicate hesitation or waffling, but this doesn’t reflect my character’s indecision so much as my worry that what they’re saying isn’t right. I’m not confident that my dialogue sounds real and reveals as much as it should.

Actors are able to infuse dialogue with tone and feeling. As strange as it sounds, I want to be able to do that without having to write a description of how my characters are speaking. I want the words to speak for themselves…and I know that’s counter to, well, the point of writing prose.

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische


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