Saturday, March 5, 2011

Need Help Mapping Out a Scene? Try "The Dialog Spine"

Brandy's note: I came across Mr. Westerfeld's post from 11/1/09 on his website and immediately knew I had to include the post as part of my collection of writing tips. This technique is one I often use in my own writing - and now it has a name! The Dialog Spine! Original post here. 
Follow him on Twitter: @ScottWesterfeld and check out his writing.

by Scott Westerfeld
posted 11/1/09 on

Many writers use the so-called “dialog spine” as a way of mapping out a scene. As a sort of “zero draft,” they write just dialog, with no setting, action, or even attribution. It’s a quick once-over of conflict and resolution in a scene, without any tricky bits to slow you down.
This, of course, assumes that you find dialog easy. For some people, writing the action/description/whatever first might make more sense. In any case, you don’t have to make your dialog (or whatever) perfect. It’s just a way of mapping out the main beats in a scene.
But there’s another trick that I use the dialog spine for: blowing out the cobwebs. And by cobwebs, I mean “writer’s block,” “general ennui,” or “an idea that just needs to be written down, but I don’t have time.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

10 Questions to Ask an Agent Before You Sign

by Chuck Sambuchino 
Original story posted here at

You have spent considerable time trying to create the best impression on potential literary agents. You have done so well that an agent has contacted you—congratulations! The tables are now turned. It is time for the agent to impress you. Your objective is to hire an agent you can trust with your money, your work, and your future. It's all part of finding your perfect match.