So you can read my books

Friday, November 5, 2010


Sure you do. Deep down we all do.

But how to pull off that miracle?

Like the photo to today's post suggests ... by giving the reader what he wants to read.

And that's what has readers come back to read our novel a second ... even a third time.

It's what has them rush to their friends, talking about the book that they just have to read.

Word of mouth gives birth to bestsellers that become modern day classics ... to movies being made of said novels ... maybe your book.

Word of mouth.

That phrase leads us to one of the three things will ensure your book is worthy of coming back for seconds,

thus becoming a classic -- (Sorry, I ran out of space -- I only got to one of the three.) :

1) Dialogue that sparkles.

Take the sixties Western, THE PROFESSIONALS :

Burt Lancaster. Lee Marvin. Robert Ryan. Ralph Bellamy. Jack Palance. Woody Strode.

Each actor at the apex of their careers. How did the director draw in so many large stars at the time of one-star vechiles?

The studio couldn't afford that much in salaries.


Each actor was given lines that didn't just say something but words that MEANT something. Words that didn't just move the plot along but spoke to something primal within the hearts of the audience.

Such as :

Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) : Rico, buddy. I don't deserve you.

Rico (Lee Marvin): I agree. I can understand you getting in a crap game and losing $700 you didn't have, but how'd you lose your pants?

Bill Dolworth: In a ladies bedroom, trying to raise the cash. Almost had it made, too. Do you realize that people are the only animals that make love face to face?


Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) : Maybe there's only one revolution, since the beginning, the good guys against the bad guys. Question is, who are the good guys?


Rico: So what else is on your mind besides hundred-proof women, 'n' ninety-proof whiskey, 'n' fourteen-carat gold?

Bill Dolworth: Amigo, you just wrote my epitaph!


Jake Sharp (Woody Strode) : Mr. D, whatever got a loving man like you in the dynamite business?

Bill Dolworth: Well, I'll tell you. I was born with a powerful passion to create. I can't write, can't paint, can't make up a song...

Hans Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) : So you explode things.

Bill Dolworth: Well that's how the world was born. Biggest damn explosion you ever saw.


Jesus Raza (Jack Palance) : La RevoluciÛn is like a great love affair. In the beginning, she is a goddess. A holy cause. But...

every love affair has a terrible enemy: time. We see her as she is. La RevoluciÛn is not a goddess but a whore.

She was never pure, never saintly, never perfect. And we run away, find another lover, another cause. Quick, sordid affairs. Lust, but no love. Passion, but no compassion.

Without love, without a cause, we are... *nothing*! We stay because we believe. We leave because we are disillusioned. We come back because we are lost. We die because we are committed.


[last lines]
J.W. Grant (Ralph Bellamy) : You bastard.

Rico: Yes, Sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you, Sir, you're a self-made man.


On the surface THE PROFESSIONALS was just an adventure tale, plain and simple.

But your novel to become a classic cannot be plain and simple.

It must have depth. Your dialogue must do more than say something -- it must MEAN something.

As THE PROFESSIONALS had depth. Beneath the adventure was an examination of what it means to be a professional in all you did, what it took for mature, intelligent men to fight for love or for a cause when ultimately all loves, all causes, betray you.

Each character had a different surface answer. But their base-rock answer was the same : you lived in such a way as to not betray yourself -- you fought because of the people you battled alongside and for.

And that leads back to us :

as authors we write for ourselves and for those who read our words -- not to betray ourselves or the readers who paid cash money for tale. In the end, we want what all authors want :

to tell a story that sings a song of the soul, that murmurs "You are not alone."

And for the caged bird in all of us :


  1. How do you think these things up. Great dialogue. Had did you get the transcript? Or did you just take if from the trailer? That had to be hard.

    I'm sure your dialogue is profound and meaningful in you novel, but with mine most of my dialogue is with two eleven-year-olds and a twelve-year-old. So I have to rely on upbeat and comical dialogue. Which at times is not so easy. Keeping this age group entertained is no easy feat. I also believe a novel should not be all action and no substance. It annoys me when all potential agents and publishers want it action, action, action ... what about beautiful prose, description, and just an interesting story. My original concept for my novel was to be a charming story about the developing friendship of an ostracized girl and her new best friend. Granted both have unusual gifts. But I had to add all the action to make it more intriguing. I guess my point is we should strive for both a perfect balance. Is that possible in today's action-seeking market?

    Roland, you seem to have a pulse on today's market. From your posts you are showing us how to make our projects more marketable. I for one would like to thank you for that.

    I hope you get to rest a bit today. I know you had some day yesterday. Have a great weekend and take a few minutes to de-clutter. lol


  2. Michael : Each genre has its own scope and demands. If your dialogue is true to the loneliness and groping for friendship between two isolated girls, you will have a winner -- and if you add a trollop of a troll or two! LOL. I work through this weekend. Whew! Gone is the light duty. Sigh.

  3. Roland- Thanks for posting this- i really think this is what I keep thinking I'm missing in my dialogue and paragraphs. I want my stories to speak- but I'm having a hard time giving them depth. i think I'll refer back to this post when i do revisions. Thanks again!

  4. Sometimes with dialogue, less says more.

  5. I read your re-post yesterday and found myself asking if I had accomplished what I needed to in the first fifty pages of my NaNo project or if I had gotten the theme of it in there by using a secondary character. So I went back and read the first fifty. Shame on you, no forward progress...

    or was there.

    Okay there was, so no shame, only thanks.

    I found my answer to both questions: No, I had not done either thing effectivly.

    So I went back and edited a lot of chapter two, but no exposition. Just dialogue.

    And then I took a break to blog and read this post.

    It made my day to know I was finally getting things done, and doing it effectivly. It's like you're hanging over my shoulder and shaking your head sometimes, Roland. And then you step back and say "hmm... this is just what she needs to get that done."


  6. Jodi : Your comment made my day. I'm glad I helped point you in the right direction. The credit goes all to you, for it is your insight, your perception, and your talent that took my words, ran with them, and made your prose stronger than it already was.

    Summuer : Here in the blogverse, we each have each other's back. I'm glad I had some insight to help. Depth comes from pain ...
    pain learned from,

    pain run away from because its lesson is too frightening, too threatening to hold in our minds,

    and pain which helps us to empathize with those struggling around us :

    Have your character's word reflect that kind of pain and you will have your depth.

    Elena : How true. And what characters do not say also reflects who they are and what they love ... and fear.

  7. Sorry, Summer, I'm writing this on the run, and I slipped up on your name. Rats!

  8. I really enjoyed this post, Roland. And it is so uncanny that you spoke of The Professionals as I watched this movie with my son about a month and half ago. Thought I would introduce him to some classic westerns. He is an avid movie buff with an open mind.

    Michael: If you get a chance to listen to that age group chatter, you will have lots of amunition. Children really do say the darndest things and you'd be suprised at how mature some of their comments can be. My son's favorite word at the tender age of two and a half years was "inconceivable". Even stranger, was that he used it correctly every single time. I have The Princess Bride to thank for it, a movie he watched more times than I can count.

  9. This is the best advice! "to tell a story that sings a song of the soul, that murmurs "You are not alone."

    So true. To relate to an MC is to find a friend.

  10. Thanks, Terry.

    Thanks, everyone. It's been another 10 hour 300 mile day today. And tomorrow I basically work the blood center alone. You may not see me here for a couple of days. I thank each of you for making me feel not quite so alone in the dark.

  11. One of the reasons I'm so excited about the nano experience. I'm getting the story in and it leaves me room to go back and put in all the good stuff.

    I usually waste hours trying to get something just right and never get to the story or accomplish much. I read that Dean Koontz can spend over an hour on a sentence. Done it. That's the biggest reason I got bogged down and stranded with my wip. I spent too much time tweaking and not enough on story-ing.

    Again, great advice. I'm just were talking about dialogue. I remember watching one of the James Bond movies a few years ago and the dialogue was so horrible it it I couldn't finish. They just don't write 'em like they used to...