An Interview with Sunday’s Speaker: Laurie Ann Doyle, Dialogue and You

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We caught up with Laurie Ann Doyle before she speaks for the club this Sunday. At our monthly meeting, she’ll be talking all about writing better dialogue. Doyle knows her stuff: she’s been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won the Alligator Juniper National Fiction Award. Her work has been published in The Los Angeles Review, Timber, Jabberwock Review, Road Story, Arroyo Literary Review, Under the Sun Magazine, and many other journals. She teaches creative writing at the San Francisco Writers Grotto and UC Berkeley Extension, where she received the Honored Instructor award. Learn more at her site, LaurieAnnDoyle.com.

We hope you will bring all pressing craft questions to this Sunday’s meeting. Until then, our social media chair Cristina Deptula asked her some questions.


Cristina Deptula: I see your new book, World Gone Missing, is a collection of stories about people who go missing, or disappear from our lives, in one way or another. How did you select that theme?

The truth is I didn’t select that theme as much as it picked me. Before I had even a thought of a book in my brain, my brother-in-law went missing. Decades later, sadly he still hasn’t reappeared. Though the opening story in World Gone Missing—“Bigger Than Life”—has a similar through-line, I completely fictionalized the characters and specific plot points. What remains true to life is the feeling you get when a loved one seems to vanish into thin air. The best way I can describe it is a sinking, helpless sensation. As the years wore on, I began to see my brother-in-law in new ways. I appreciated his subtle kindnesses and sharp wit, along with his sometimes brash and irrational nature. Thought I’m not sure this would have changed anything, I wish I could have been more compassionate.

As I finished the “Bigger Than Life” story and embarked on others, I realized that losing a loved one can trigger many conflicted feelings, and conflict is at the heart of fiction. Sometimes a person’s absence can free up a character to do things they’d never done before, wonderful things. Sometimes they find it almost impossible to move on. This realization got me going and in this book I’ve explored both the loss and liberation that absence can bring. But I had to get a chunk of stories written before that unifying theme floated up.

What makes dialogue good? So many people stumble over their words and not everyone speaks in an interesting way.

I love writing dialogue, and there’s a lot of what I hope is interesting dialogue in World Gone Missing. The tricky thing is that dialogue in fiction and memoir should sound like authentic speech, even though it’s not. Strong dialogue is distilled, rather than transcribed, speech. If you tape record people talking, you’ll hear lots of “filler” words: um, uh, yeah, etc. On the page, this needs to be edited out.

At my October 15 Dialogue Workshop, we’ll talk about the importance of giving the reader only the most dramatic elements of what was said. Usually less is more. Consider keeping your sentences or phrases short. The Russian author Anton Chekhov advised, “A line of dialogue should always leave the sense that more could have been said.” Depending on your character, you don’t have to necessarily be grammatically correct or eloquent. Quirky is great! If within character, use of profanity is also fine.

Consider the difference between “It’s a pleasure to meet you”—vs.—“Hey man, what’s up?” Or “I feel unwell”—vs.—I feel like crap.” Good dialogue accomplishes many things at once; it reveals the character and their relationships, creates tension, advances plot, and modulates the story’s pace.
On fascinating aspect of dialogue is that people often don’t mean what they say, or avoid the “real” subject. Strong dialogue also creates subtext, or the unspoken meaning underneath the words on the pages. Consider what your characters are not saying, where they are not finishing their sentences or falling completely silent. What is the implicit tension, as well as the explicit tension?

If you’re coming to this Sunday’s meeting to meet Laurie Ann Doyle, don’t forget we’re at a new location: Preservation Park.

Your workshop covers dialogue in both fiction and memoir. How do you think the ability to craft good dialogue could benefit the nonfiction author?

Dialogue is every bit as important in memoir as it is in fiction, because it’s vital in creating compelling drama and powerful scenes. In a nonfiction piece, you don’t have to accurately reflect every word that was said. It’s fine to reconstruct the conversation and give us the gist, including the most dramatic elements, as I discuss above. The key is to stay true to the people you are portraying and how they expressed themselves.

If you need more information, consider talking with a relative or friend, or reading old letters. If appropriate, you could even eavesdrop. Base your dialogue on the knowledge of the people you’re portraying. If they swore, include swear words. If they were excessively polite, craft your dialogue to show that. Again, work to stay true to the experience of them and yourself.

On October 15, we’ll go into greater depth on all this, and you’ll have a chance to try out some new dialogue techniques in a free-write exercise yourself.

Join us this Sunday at Preservation Park to meet Laurie Ann Doyle and learn all her tricks for writing terrific dialog.

 

 

 

 

 

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10/15 SPEAKER— “Said and Unsaid: Dialogue in Fiction and Memoir” with Laurie Ann Doyle

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Preservation Park

Our new locatation: Preservation Park

Is dialogue meant to reveal or conceal?

Strong dialogue in fiction and memoir actually accomplishes both, revealing the characters by what is said and not said. October’s featured speaker Laurie Ann Doyle will share excerpts from masters of dialogue, examining how artfully crafted speech, gesture, and silence helps the writer not only develop character, but generate tension, subtext, and move the plot forward. Participants will learn how to take full advantage of their characters’ expressive tics, favorite phrases, and utter withdrawal to build an immersive world for the reader. They’ll have the chance to free-write some of their own dialogue, trying on different personas, and share what they’ve created in a supportive atmosphere.

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About Laurie Ann Doyle

Laurie Ann Doyle is the author of World Gone Missing, a book of short stories to be released by Regal House Publishing in October, 2017.

The winner of the Alligator Juniper National Fiction Award, her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in The Los Angeles Review, Timber, Jabberwock Review, Road Story, Arroyo Literary Review, Under the Sun Magazine, and many other journals. She teaches creative writing at the San Francisco Writers Grotto and UC Berkeley Extension, where she received the Honored Instructor award. Learn more at her site, LaurieAnnDoyle.com.

But That’s Not All!

Get Marketing Support, Get Your Craft Questions Answered, and Network with Other Writers…and Check Out Our New Location in the Heart of Oakland

We are meeting at Preservation Park

Our next meeting will be right off 980 in downtown Oakland, at beautiful Preservation Park. Just off 12th Street, naturally you can get there from the 12th St. BART station. Those with limited ability can use the parking lot off of MLK Way; otherwise there should be plenty of FREE parking within the park and on surrounding streets.

Laurie speaks at 3:15, but remember our meetings start at 12, and include interactive groups to help you with your writing and your book sales. In our craft group, we discuss how to tackle challenges in our writing. In the marketing group we help you spread the word about your books and build your platform. We also provide tasty snacks and plenty of opportunities to network with other writers.

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Marketing Group
2:00–2:30 – Break, Book Sale
2:30–3:00 – Announcements

Featured Speakers

3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured member
3:15–4:00 – Featured Speaker Laurie Ann Doyle

Meetings are $5 for members, $10 for non-members.

JUNE 18: How to Turn Your Book into an Audiobook with Howard Van Es

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how to turn your book into an audiobook (June 18th 109 3rd St Oakland)

Come to Our June 18th Meeting
Featuring Howard Van Es

Our June meeting will feature Howard Van Es, president of Let’s Write Books, Inc. His company helps authors with editing, design, publishing and book marketing services. He’s going to talk to us about audiobooks.

Turn Your Book Into an Audiobook

Howard VanEs

Howard Van Es will speak at our June 18th meeting on how to turn your book into an audiobook

The market for audiobooks is exploding due to the growing number of computers, smartphones, and tablets, which make it easy for the consumer to purchase and instantly listen to their favorite books. Interestingly, Amazon has seen this trend and purchased Audible a few years ago. They also own ACX, which is the major distributor of audiobooks to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes, the three big platforms for audiobook sales.

The digital platform is another way to easily repurpose the content of books while tapping into more channels of distribution, which means more people being exposed to your book resulting in more sales and royalty payments for you. Howard Van Es will show you how to turn your book into an audiobook and tap into this hot trend in book sales.

In addition to running his company, Van Es is also author of 30 books of his own and has ghostwritten many others for clients. He is also the former owner and creative director of an award winning advertising agency.

Find out more about Howard Van Es at LetsWriteBooks.net

But Wait, There’s More

Howard Van Es will speak at 3:15, but remember our meetings start at 12, and include interactive groups to help you with your writing and your book sales. In our craft group, we discuss how to tackle challenges in our writing. In the marketing group we help you spread the word about your books and build your platform. We also provide tasty snacks and plenty of opportunities to network with other writers.

Our June meeting will also be when we announce our new executive board. Find out who is going to be running the Berkeley CA Writers Club throughout 2017, what they have planned and how they will steer this ship.

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Marketing Group

Simultaneously
12:30–2:00 – Social Hour
2:00–2:30 – Break, Book Sale
2:30–3:00 – Announcements & MEET THE NEW CWC EXECUTIVE BOARD!

Featured Speakers
3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured Member Joanne Ainsworth reads
3:15–4:30 – Featured Speaker Howard Van Es

Meetings are $5 for members, $10 for non-members.

Meeting Location: Jack London Park in Jack London Square

520 3rd Street, Oakland

One block east of Broadway. It’s a big brick building between third and fourth streets. Ring the buzzer to be let in, the code will be on a sign on the door.

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Get Inside Your Reader’s Brain with Novelist and Scientist Ransom Stephens

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Ransom Stephens speaks March 19 CWC - "Be a better writer...with SCIENCE!"

The Neuroscience of Reading

How to Make Readers Laugh and Cry

Neuroscience is like looking under the hood to see how It works. When you know how readers process your writing you can figure out what grabs readers, what bores them, and why. In this presentation, we’ll investigate how to write in ways that administer dopamine when you want readers happy and withholds it when you want readers sad. We’ll explore the roots of what people like and why bestsellers aren’t always critical favorites. Art is subjective, but our subjectivity has a lot in common. Join us for this exciting approach to writing March 19th!

About Ransom Stephens

Ransom Stephens, Ph.D., is a scientist, science writer, and novelist. He’s written hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from neuroscience to quantum physics to parenting teenagers. In his first novel, The God Patent (47North, 2010), a troubled father is caught in the science-religion culture war and in his second, The Sensory Deception (47North, 2013), scientists and venture capitalists use the relationship between the senses and the mind to give people the experiences of endangered animals. His first nonfiction book, The Left Brain Speaks but the Right Brain Laughs (Viva Editions, 2016), is an irreverent and accurate look at neuroscience for a lay-audience with emphasis on innovation in art and science. Ransom has given thousands of speeches across the US, Europe, and Asia and has developed a reputation for making complex topics accessible and funny.

RansomStephens.com

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Marketing Group

Simultaneously
12:30–2:00 – Social Hour
2:00–2:30 – Break, Book Sale
2:30–3:00 – Announcements

Featured Speakers
3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured Member reads
3:15–4:30 – Keynote Speaker Dr. Ransom Stephens

 

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Jan 15: Best-Selling Writer Joshua Mohr’s Innovative Approach to Plot and Character

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Josh_mohr_CWC_plaracterization_event

The Kiss between Plot and Character
with Best-Seller Joshua Mohr

Sunday Jan 15th 12-4 p.m.

Learn an exciting new approach to writing from an author whose books have been praised by The New York Times, The SF Chronicle, and O magazine. Josh Mohr’s unique voice won him the Northern California Book Award. This Sunday he teaches what he calls plaracterization (plot + characterization).

The best plots aren’t controlled by the author. They spring from the characters themselves. The writer masterminds all things, yes, but the more we as writers realize that our characters are sovereign beings with independent consciousnesses, the better prepared we are to traverse plaracterization. The third Sunday in January, let Josh Mohr show you how to apply this technique to your own writing.

About Joshua Mohrbest-sellinga author Josh Mohr

JOSHUA MOHR is the author of five novels, including Damascus, which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” He’s also written Fight Song and Some Things that Meant the World to Me, one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as Termite Parade, an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times. His novel All This Life recently won the Northern California Book Award. He is the executive editor at Decant Editorial, and his first book of nonfiction, a memoir called Sirens, is due out January 2017. Check out his site joshuamohr.net for more info.

Meeting Schedule for Sunday, Jan 15th, at
Connexion in Jack London Square

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Author Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Craft Support Group

Simultaneously

12:30–2:00 – Social Hour
2:00–2:30 – Break, Book Sale
2:30–3:00 – Announcements
3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured Member: Bobbie Kinkead
3:15–4:30 – Joshua Mohr

Admission

CWC Members: $5
Non-Members: $10

* Guests may visit any of our author support groups once before joining.

Click here for more information about location and time.

Here’s a flyer for this event you can download and share: cwc-flyer-joshua-mohr-edited

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“Inventing Zorgos” – June 16th’s Speakers are Louise Hart and Kristen Caven

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When their editor called authors Louise Hart and Kristen Caven to announce the new title for their book, they were stunned. What is the antidote to bullying?

Come listen to this mother- daughter writing team talk about their long journey through the publishing world. Since their first book was published in 1989, they’ve been published, re- published, self-published, and everything in between. Louise made it to the top as an internationally recognized speaker, retired, then came out of retirement to write some more, inspired by her daughter and grandchildren.

“Inventing Zorgos” is the kick-off event for their book launch of The Bullying Antidote: Superpower Your Kids for Life, coming out in July from Hazelden Publishing. Come find out what Zorgos is, and how you can use it in your writing career.

The location of the talk is the Oakland Public Library (enter on Madison Street); see flyer for meeting schedule. The CWC Featured Author is Judith Newton.

Dr. Louise Hart is the author of The Winning Family, On the Wings of Self- Esteem, and the forthcoming The Bullying Antidote. CWC’s own Kristen Caven, who illustrated Louise’s first two books, has been Louise’s partner every step of the way—as graphic designer, editor, ghostwriter and co-author, writing and publishing her own books along the journey as well. Together they have founded three publishing companies. Sign up for the Zorgos Reader at www.zorgos.wordpress.com.