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Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: bruna-deluca on July 26, 2015, 12:03 AM

Title: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on July 26, 2015, 12:03 AM
Morning all,

I'm struggling with voice at the moment. I'm writing a PB where one of the characters speaks to the (unseen writer) at the beginning and then it's mainly two (perhaps occasionally three) characters speaking to each other. The whole he said/she said thing won't work like this. I also don't want to use their names in every utterance - i.e. "I'm speaking now, Jack" "No, Jill, I'm speaking" "Are you, Jack?" "Yes, Jill" etc etc.  :confused2  :gaah

Does anyone know of similar texts I can look at to see how they have been done? I'm wondering if it's something the illustrations can help with too.

Thank you!
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: Dionna on July 26, 2015, 03:03 AM
Hi bruna-deluca!

I'm not totally sure I understand your question, but there is nothing wrong with dialogue tags even if your story is told in second person.

You come into the copy room. Peter, the new guy is in there. He says, "Hello there, beautiful. Do you have a name?"

You back away, slowly. "My name? Why do you need to know?"

Peter comes closer, cornering you near a copier. A burning swells into your face. Just then, the door opens. It's Jack.

"Hi, Jill," Jack says. "Is everything all right?"

You say, "My name's not Jill."


If you mean that the main character is telling the story in first person but includes the reader, it's still not wrong to use dialogue tags.

I'm in the copy room when the new guy comes in.

He says, "Hello there, beautiful. Do you have a name?"

Have you ever had a feeling, an intuition, that the person you've just met is some kind of psychopath? Yeah. That's why I said, "My name? Why do you need to know?" And I turned my back to him.

But while I'm standing there, copying my stuff, you won't believe what happened! He came right up to me and began to blow on my neck!

I felt a heat rise in my face. And you know what? I would've slugged the dude had Jack not walked in.

"Hi, Jill," Jack says. "Is everything all right?"

"My name's not Jill," I say. But my cover was blown.
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: Dionna on July 26, 2015, 03:11 AM
Here's a helpful article.

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/what-point-of-view-should-you-use-in-your-novel
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on July 26, 2015, 07:05 AM
Hi Dionna,

Thanks for replying and for your examples! 😃. I'm still not sure dialogue tags will work...but, you have actually given me an idea I'd like to try out.
And I still have the article to read too. Much appreciated.
I can see why my question wasn't clear. I'll revise it! Thanks again
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: Dionna on July 26, 2015, 12:36 PM
Could you give an example from your text?

At any rate, whatever POV you choose, to avoid confusion dialogue tags are used. They are as unobtrusive as properly placed commas. Just be sure they are used appropriately and  punctuated properly. Once the identity of the speakers is established, however, you don't need the tags in every instance.

"Hello!" Bunny said.

"Hello," Turtle said.

"What you up to?"

"Oh, nothing."

But Turtle could see what rabbit was hiding something behind his back.
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: DianaM on July 26, 2015, 01:19 PM
Well, they're early readers, but the Mo Willems "Elephant and Piggie" books are done without tags. All dialogue, from what I remember. Might be worth checking out.

I also like Dionna's examples.
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: JulieM on July 26, 2015, 03:17 PM
Yes, and I'M BORED is fantastic too. And DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS (and other Pigeon books).
(At least, from my memory they are great examples of speech without tags.)
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on July 26, 2015, 03:23 PM
Could you give an example from your text?

At any rate, whatever POV you choose, to avoid confusion dialogue tags are used. They are as unobtrusive as properly placed commas. Just be sure they are used appropriately and  punctuated properly. Once the identity of the speakers is established, however, you don't need the tags in every instance.

"Hello!" Bunny said.

"Hello," Turtle said.

"What you up to?"

"Oh, nothing."

But Turtle could see what rabbit was hiding behind his back.

Ok getting over my shyness at giving an example here. I haven't gotten very far as I've been stumbling over the voice issue. It might be a bit cartoony but can at least learn from it. Another character is planned for the end but I haven't gotten to him yet.

Your comment above has helped me with another MS (also dialogue heavy)!

Once upon a time there was an alien who...
“STOP!! A princess! Once upon a time there was a princess. Everybody knows that, right? Who wants to read about…him? Her? It?!”
“zeeb!”
“Luckily for you, I’m between stories at the moment. I can start right away. Shoo alien, no one wants to read about you. Now, where were we?...ah yes, in my castle. Now, I  can do spoilt...but intellectual? A classic damsel in distress?”

“Heeeeelp!”

{Princess and alien tied up  and on plank of pirate ship. Alien bouncing happily}
“I’ve come aboard to steal this story and I’m going to sail her off to sea. We’ll look through telescopes, find treasure and do other piratey things!”
“Come on, Princess, show him?...her?...it?..how it's done."
“I'm not jumping in there! I've just had my hair done!”
“Well, you have to! Don’t worry though. I'm going to jump in and save you. That way I'll be the hero as well as the baddie”
“On one condition…I get to be a pirate too”
“Ok, but I'll be the head pirate”
“What'll we do with him?..her?..it?"
“He can be my parrot."
“Zeeb!”





Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on July 26, 2015, 03:25 PM
Thank you Diana and Julie. I will check them out!
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: Dionna on July 26, 2015, 04:44 PM
Given your example, I see what you mean. I don't think dialogue tags are needed. But you will need to punctuate in such a way that your reader will be able to follow the flow of your story.

Something like:

Once upon a time there was an alien who...

STOP!! Not an alien, a princess!

Once upon a time there was a princess who was in love with a handsome knight...

No!! Wait!! Not a handsome knight, a terrifically ugly dragon.

Once upon a time there was a princess who was in love with a terrifically ugly dragon who loved to blow kisses.

NOT THAT!! NOT KISSES! Boogers. He throws boogers!

Once upon a time there was a princess who was in love with a terrifically ugly dragon who loved to throw boogers.


ETC.

Just make it logical. Give it flow. Be consistent.

Happy writing!!  :dogwalk
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: Dionna on July 26, 2015, 04:49 PM
Check out: The Monster at the End of This Book...Starring Grover! By Sesame Street.

I think that's the style you're trying for.
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on July 26, 2015, 05:12 PM
Lol Dionna. In my case it's going to be a dinosaur. Thank you for all your pointers. You have given me food for thought!
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: Jean Reidy on July 27, 2015, 01:25 PM
What about formatting your text with the speaker name in italics with a colon before each line? That will indicate who's speaking but without a dialog tag actually in the text. Then the illustrator and book designer can decide how the speaker will be shown - either page by page, using a dialog bubble or some other creative way.
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on July 27, 2015, 01:46 PM
What about formatting your text with the speaker name in italics with a colon before each line? That will indicate who's speaking but without a dialog tag actually in the text. Then the illustrator and book designer can decide how the speaker will be shown - either page by page, using a dialog bubble or some other creative way.

Thanks for that Jean. That is a good suggestion. I didn't realise that could be an option really...to let someone else figure it out! ; )
If I develop this story, and I'll try even just for practice and experimenting, I'm hoping the dialogue will be clear without tags. As it is poking fun at common characters in children's books, their dialogue is going to be stereotypical so hopefully it will be fairly obvious who is speaking.
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: veronica-bartles on July 27, 2015, 02:42 PM
Have you ever read ONCE UPON A COOL MOTORCYCLE DUDE by Kevin O'Malley? Your story reminds me a lot of that. :) Maybe reading a few books of this sort will help you nail down the best way to format. :) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/639.Once_Upon_a_Cool_Motorcycle_Dude?ac=1
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: monique-wakefield on August 02, 2015, 05:38 AM
I agree with jean. I had a similar formatting issue with my PB using only dialogue. I think writing in a play format will help. I'm getting mine critiqued soon, maybe I'll have more insight to share after that. Good luck!   :running
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on August 02, 2015, 12:03 PM
Have you ever read ONCE UPON A COOL MOTORCYCLE DUDE by Kevin O'Malley? Your story reminds me a lot of that. :) Maybe reading a few books of this sort will help you nail down the best way to format. :) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/639.Once_Upon_a_Cool_Motorcycle_Dude?ac=1

Thank you for that. I've had a quick peek and it looks interesting. My PB collection is growing larger and larger. Luckily I have a tiddler as an excuse ☺
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on August 02, 2015, 12:05 PM
I agree with jean. I had a similar formatting issue with my PB using only dialogue. I think writing in a play format will help. I'm getting mine critiqued soon, maybe I'll have more insight to share after that. Good luck!   :running

Thanks Monique,  I'd be very interested to hear about any feedback you had on that. Goo d luck with your manuscript!
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on August 03, 2015, 08:41 PM
Play format usually works. The illustrator will position the text to help the reader understand. It could be done in speech bubbles like a cartoon or simply put closer to a character. Good luck with this story.
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: monique-wakefield on August 23, 2015, 05:14 AM
Bruna-Deluca I received some feedback from writing in voice. There was some great feedback but I will go over the concern. The main concern was to see if you couldn't make it into a third person story (For my MS). It might not find a home in a publishing house the way its written now. I'm still waiting on another critique to come in so we will see if they have a different opinion. That was the main advice I thought I would pass along to you.
Don't get discouraged or feel like you have to change your MS. The Day the Crayons Quit - By Drew Daywalt is a wonderful story between the reader and the crayons :)

I hope this helps.
 :stuck
Title: Re: Voice question
Post by: bruna-deluca on August 24, 2015, 02:31 PM
Monique-wakefield I am seriously impressed that you remembered this post and shared your feedback.

I love "The day the crayons quit". I can't help but wonder how Drew Day Walt felt as he was writing and subbing it. It's such an original concept.
 I suppose if you are writing the story you really want to write, rather than the one you think you should be writing, then that authenticity is going to show up on the pages.

Thanks again for your help and best of luck with your ms!
Bruna