Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grandkids Round Two

After spending six days with our other set of grandkids, I’m now completely fluent in two-year-old-speak. I’m also an expert on fire trucks, tractors, and any other vehicle that makes noises. With our four-year-old grandson, I learned how to build airplanes, helicopters and giraffes out of TRIO building blocks. I never knew a grandfather could be so versatile. Now it really is back to writing before the launch of my third Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit mystery novel, Senior Moments Are Murder, in August.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Enjoying the Life of a Two-year-old

My wife and I spent the last week visiting and taking care of our two-year-old grandson. What a treat. I’m now an expert on animals. My grandson and I spent hours talking about animals whether on matching cards, in books, stuffed or real. I learned you don’t need to say it exactly right as long as you’re enthusiastic. Some of the translations: monkey was “buddy;” lion became “ion;” sheep, “ship;” and dog, “goggie.” After a day of learning the words, we communicated clearly. What I found interesting is the learning process. An animated cat or a photograph were identified immediately as “kitty.” I also experienced what, in a positive sense, could be considered tenacious or in a negative way be called stubborn. With a cut on his finger, “boo boo,” he constantly then wanted “car,” which was a Disney Car movie band-aid. Whenever one band-aid fell off (five minutes after attaching it), he immediately said, “boo-boo,” followed by “car.” Grandparents learn as quickly as a two-year-old, and he soon had us trained. The other thing that has changed since we raised our kids—every piece of plastic in the house spoke or sang. I’d bump into a plastic farm set and it would immediately serenade me with “Farmer in the Dell.” When we travel, I take time off from writing. Now I’m reenergized and back to my normal writing schedule. That is until our next grandkid trip.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tags When Writing Dialogue

As a writer I’m always trying to improve my craft. One thing I’ve learned is to develop a balanced approach for using tags in dialogue. The simple and most direct is to write she said as in:
“It’s time to go to the movie,” she said.
Common practice is to use this rather than an exaggeration such as he expostulated. Dialogue can also be identified by movement or idiosyncrasies of a particular character:
“Make my day.” Sam raised his shotgun
Tags can be underused. I’m in two online critique groups, and once in a while I read a manuscript where dialogue goes on for a number of paragraphs with no tags, and I lose tract of who’s speaking. On the other hand, not every element of dialogue needs a tag. Robert B. Parker is a wonderful writer, and I enjoy his stories but listen to one of his novels as an audio book. Nearly every line of dialogue ends with he said. After fifteen minutes of listening, this grates on the nerves. As a result, I always read my manuscripts out loud on my last editing pass. There is nothing like hearing what you’ve written.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Ah, it’s reunion season. In the last two weeks I’ve attended two reunions for companies I used to work for. The problem is, I will see someone who looks familiar but can’t place them. At a reunion yesterday, name tags helped, for those who wore them, but with my eyesight I still had to squint at someone’s chest to see the name, and this wasn’t always well-received by the women. Once I was able to match a face with a name, most of the time I could remember how I knew the person, and we had a change to gab about old times. My forty-fifth college reunion takes place this year, and then in 2012 I’ll be going to my fiftieth high school reunion. Before then, I’ll have to review my high school year book and hope that the reunion organizers use large name tags.