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Careers: Writing/moving along the storyline


I am attempting to put together my first novel. I feel I have a good set of characters and a story that needs telling. I am writing in first person as I feel third person is too distant for this character. On the other hand, I feel a lot of the plot progression comes across as: "I did this. Then I did this. Then this happened, and I thought this, so I did this." Over and over. How can I break up that pattern without sacrificing the intimacy of first person?
Also: tips for writing creative dialogue?  Stuck in a rut of obviousness!
Thanks so much!


Sorry for the delay in responding.  i've been thinking about how to best answer your question. Writing in first person POV can be a challenge until you get the hang of it.  One of the great things is the ability to surprise your protagonist. They can't see what's around the corner, or know what others are thinking or doing unless they see it happen or hear about it afterward. But, as you say, that can lead  to constantly reusing the same words. Fortunately, mixing it uo Is as easy as  changing the wording around.  "I went to the store in the morning." can become, "The sun was just clearing the horizon as my car pulled into the store's parking lot." They both say the same thing, but it's not as obvious or distracting to the reader.

The easy answer to "I thought this" is to remove the dialogue tags. Set off thoughts with italics. For example, "I can't believe you just said that!" He's being such a jerk, I thought.

can become:

"i can't believe you just said that!" What a jerk!

Readers automatically look to italics for things not spoken out loud.

Regarding creative dialogue, a lot depends in first person whether the person your character is talking to is being open and honest or is intentionally trying to conceal information.  Create three different conversations in your head or on paper under the following scenario: You're in high school and went to a party last night and your mother is asking you about what happened the next morning. You also need permission, in the same conversation, to go out with the same group of friends the following weekend.

In the first conversation, you're excited to tell her about the party because the guy you've been gushing about for the past week actually talked to you!

In the second conversation, the guy you've been gushing about ...but only to your closest friends,  is a college guy your parents would freak out about if they knew about, because he's a senior, and he offered you a hit off a joint.

In the third conversation, you're the mother, and your daughter has been secretive lately (because of her crushing on the college guy, but you don't know that.). You want to find out if there were drugs or alcohol at the party, but have no clue about the college boy until your daughter slips up during your questioning about drugs.

Same party, same people conversing. But the creativity required to give only the information the other person needs to hear  is the challenge.  Give it a try. I think you'll be surprised just how creative you can be when grounding or worse will be the result. :)

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions, and good luck!

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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing articles, short stories and novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery. I can also answer questions about writing for major print magazines in the outdoor genre (hunting/fishing/boating/travel.)


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books . Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen mass market novels since 2004, and have contracts for four more books through 2011. I've also published more than two dozen feature articles in leading outdoor magazines.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America, National Association of Legal Assistants.

Magazines--Guns & Ammo, Fur-Fish-Game, Rocky Mountain Game & Fish, Deer & Deer Hunting. Many others. Novels/Anthologies--Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

Published Author. Published Freelance Writer. Certified Paralegal with specialities in intellectual property (copyright, trademark, patent) and real estate.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, 2009, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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