More Writing Hints

The Old Bay Crabcake mix does serve as a great “starter” for my crabcakes, but if you’re a purist, you can just add extra breadcrumbs and seasonings, and skip the mix as a start. If I skipped the Old Bay mix, I’d put in a couple dashes of cayenne pepper, plus lots more Old Bay seasoning.

As for writing tips, I promised a writing tip with every post, and I’ve been pretty faithful with that, I think.

Since there were a couple of comments about dialogue, I’d like to expand on that topic, if you don’t mind.

In an ideal world, each of your characters will have their own voice, and that voice will be so distinctive that you don’t have to ID the character, just type in what he or she or it or seloz says. All modesty aside, I have a pretty good ear for character “voice” and speech patterns, and I’m pretty sure I could write a long passage of dialogue between Jezzil, Thia, Khith, Talis and Eregard and not ID them, yet still have readers able to tell who is talking. Ditto for Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

Still, just to keep a scene from becoming “talking heads” you can always use some minor action as a way of IDing a character: Here’s an abridged passage from Storms of Destiny where I don’t use “said” at all, yet it’s clear who is speaking, I believe:


Eregard’s cheeks burned, and the audience guffawed as he blushed.

“So, citizens…what am I bid?”

A man from the front raised a languid hand, flicking his handkerchief at the auctioneer. “Five liera.”

The auctioneer did not seem pleased at the paucity of the offer. “Citizens, we have a fine young male here. He can read, write, and cipher! Please, do not insult us! Do I hear ten?”

A dark-skinned blacksmith waved in the Prince’s direction. “Ten.”

“Very well, we have ten…ten…ten…do I hear fifteen? I can’t allow you to steal this lad! Look at him! Excellent health, strong teeth. Fifteen, give me fifteen!”

A woman laughed raucously. “I’ll give you ten to take ‘im away, and bring out something decent!”


Poor Eregard. He was not having a good day…

Question: Since posting about synopses on Miss Snark’s blog, I’ve gotten a couple of email queries about my post. Does anyone need more info about synopses? I’ve made one or two posts on the topic, earlier in the history of this blog, but I’m happy to discuss them more. Writing query letters and synopses are really tough for most writers.

My take on writing a synopsis is that I try to make it as intrinsically interesting as I can. I envision my audience as having a very short attention span, perhaps that of 11 year old boys. If you can keep them reading, hook them on the story by writing your synopsis sparely, but dynamically, you’ll go far.

-Ann C. Crispin


  1. There are ways to cook crabcakes that don’t use Old Bay? What a frightening concept! 🙂

    Thank you for this blog, and the Writer Beware website by the way. I consider it an important resource, and a fair warning, in my own quest to eventually get published.

  2. Ann, I still have the copy of your “Storms of Destiny” synopsis from Dragon*Con, but I would certainly return here to read what you have to say on the subject.

  3. Actually, I think they can, Goody. I think there are enough differences between the styles and advice given out by various experts, that someone who was trying to incorporate all of them might well wind up frustrated and puzzled.

    Like I tell my writing classes…whatever I say may be wrong or right for you, in some instances. You need to sift through the info and pick what relates best to your own style and writing project.

    -Ann C. Crispin

  4. Poor Eregard. He was not having a good day…

    Though not as bad of a day as I thought he was going to have on that ship…

    As for the synopses, can an aspiring writer ever really have too much information or examples?

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