Today I welcome Jeff Elkins to Writing Pursuits. Jeff is an author of more than 10 novels, an editor, and a professional speaker. He is the host of the Dialogue Doctor Podcast and a Three Story Method Certified editor.
Kathrese (00 : 00)
Today. I'm excited to welcome Jeff Elkins to the podcast. Jeff is the author of more than 10 novels, an editor, and a professional speaker. He is the host of the Dialogue Doctor podcast and also a fellow Three Story Method Certified Editor. Be sure to stay until the end to learn about a guide to improve the dialogue in your stories. Welcome to the Writing Pursuits podcast where authors like you discuss writing, craft, author life, and book marketing strategies. I'm your host, Kathrese McKee, I own Writing Pursuits and write and produce the weekly newsletter, Writing Pursuits Tips for Authors. In addition, I am a speculative fiction author. Writing Pursuits is for authors who drink too much coffee, endure judgmental looks from their furry writing companions, and struggle f or words.
Kathrese (00 : 48)
If you are a writer seeking encouragement, information, and inspiration. This podcast is for you. Let's get to it. Hey, Writing Pursuits Authors. Welcome back to the podcast. To those of you who are new. I want to extend a special welcome. My name is Kathrese McKee, and I'm glad you're here. Please leave a comment, a star rating, and follow the show to help others find Writing Pursuits. Well, Jeff, thank you for being h ere.
Jeff (01 : 16)
Thanks! T hanks for having me. I'm excited to b e here.
Kathrese (01 : 19)
Well, great. We met last October in Cleveland when we attended J. T horn's Three Story Method editor certification, and we're part of a team of editors who used J.'s methods to offer diagnostic services to fiction and nonfiction authors. It was a pleasure to meet you there.
Jeff (01 : 36)
That was super fun.
Kathrese (01 : 37)
So what have you been up to since then? I know it's great.
Jeff (01 : 40)
I've been up to all kinds of things. I can't talk on the phone or like be on the podcast or anything unless I have something in my hands.
Kathrese (01 : 46)
Jeff (01 : 47)
And I used to play with Legos but oh no, my partner, I do the Dialogue Doctor podcast and my partner on the podcast, L aura, um tells me she can hear my Legos in the microphone .so I don't play with Legos anymore on the podcast. But what I do use is the J gave us at the end of the certification when we were all successfully certified there was a giant test we had to pass. It was really stressful. It was multiple choice. I'm just kidding. But when we were all certified he gave us a challenge coin and I am playing with the challenge coin right now. Actually no, I'm not, I'm not gonna click with my mouse. I'm not gonna play with Legos. Alright. I'm not gonna do, I used to have a fidget thing but my kids keep stealing it. So I'm not gonna do that either. I'm just gonna sit here and turn but in the memory of our time in Cleveland, I'm gonna sit here and turn the challenge coin in my fingers as we talk. What am I up to I man since October I'm doing the Dialogue doctor podcast. I was at several conferences since October which is great. I did a big workshop for the Vancouver Island Romance writers association shoutout to vera if anybody's listening from there. That was fantastic. That was fun. Sasha Black and I did that together. What else did I did? I had I actually took things that I do on a regular basis. I put out a podcast called the Dialogue Doctor podcast and it also has a YouTube component on the YouTube channel. And then I put out a free Tuesday newsletter about dialogue that teaches people in dialogue things. And then on Wednesday we have a bonus episode. That's to get the bonus episodes, you subscribe for $3 a month on our Patreon. Patreon. Uh the Jeff Elkins Patreon page and you get a bonus episode of the dialogue doctor. So like this week on the dialogue doctor, we had an editing session in the actual podcast. The newsletter was questions you should ask to determine your emotional flow. And then the bonus episode, which will drop tomorrow is all about using repeated scenes to show character transformation and actually write a repeated scene on the bonus episode, like show you how to do it. So that's what I do weekly for the dialogue doctor plus we have a slack community that you can get into if you're part of the Patreon in the slack community. There's about 100 of us in there and it's it's a lot of fun. We do a writing prompt. Every Tuesday. My partner Laura puts out an editing prompt every Thursday. Yeah it's good. So that's dialogue doctor world and on top of that I write fiction. So I actually wrote I had a huge week last week writing fiction because I was off from my day job. I wrote 38,000 words last week. You think it was a weekly high for me? You
Kathrese (04 : 20)
Wait you do the podcast, you do the newsletter, you do all that and a day job too.
Jeff (04 : 27)
Oh yeah I work a 40 hour week day job. My day job is actually really hard. I'm
Kathrese (04 : 33)
Just like I'm just like I shaking my head.
Jeff (04 : 36)
I don't know, I am I am the chief script engineer for a company called Submersion. Which Submersion is, we are a training company that simulates difficult conversations. So what we build is like a looks like a Zoom call that you're talking to somebody doing a Zoom call. But the person you're talking to is actually a form of artificial intelligence uh that is an automated character. So my job at Submersion is to build the training products and to kind of oversee the production of those automated characters. And so we work with all kinds of people. We do like suicide prevention work where we train people in suicide prevention, we give them these characters to practice suicide prevention calls with, we do interrogated, we've done interrogation work for the military and for law enforcement. We've done like counseling type work. Like we've changed people in motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy. So that's my day job. I lead the team that builds that stuff.
Kathrese (05 : 32)
Oh my goodness.
Jeff (05 : 33)
I'm kind of a project manager and weird nonlinear narrative writer. And then when I'm not doing that, I'm doing the dialogue doctor or writing fiction. Well
Kathrese (05 : 43)
Now I understand why you're the Dialogue Doctor because you're actually creating conversations that sound real. That could possibly be real. Especially for like suicide counseling. I would think that that would be very helpful to the person taking the training because they know it's not real, but it simulates real life And then they can practice responding in appropriate ways.
Jeff (06 : 09)
And that's actually how the dialogue doctor started. So I started working for Submersion, doing this mimicry of real conversation because that's what you know, I I lead one of the teams that I lead as the writing team and I also serve as a writer on the team. I tell our writers as we're training them and kind of bringing them up like, hey we're not creatives were professional mimics and so we mimic. We sit down with a group of SMEs my job is to sit down with a group of SMEs learn how a conversation happens, learn like what the expert in the conversation is looking for with the idea where the conversation goes, what kind of language the expert uses, what kind of intonation the expert uses and why the expert does all those things. And then I also have to learn the amateur way of doing the conversation and like if a student's doing it the first time, one of the mistakes that students gonna make, what's the expert gonna try to train that student not to do. And then we replicate the conversation. So before we got on the air, you would ask how I got into the Dialogue Doctor, I was working um for Submersion and I was writing books on the side, which is another story.
Jeff (07 : 16)
In the seven years, I worked for Submersion. I had written 11 novels and they just weren't selling well, which is a story in and of itself, I didn't have the capital to get them off the ground. You know, people read them, they like them, they have a ton of five-star reviews. Like everybody that reads, it was like, oh, this is great. I have, I've been slowly building a newsletter, but it was definitely a long game for me and it still is right, Like fiction is one of those, like maybe this will pay off in like 15 more years. I feel like one reader a week finds me. So to get to like the 100,000 readers that actually need to get a bestseller, I need, I need like 100,000. So we'll get there. But it was just keep writing.
Jeff (07 : 55)
So I was going to go to the Career Author Summit, which is now the Author Life Summit coming up this year. But in, this was 2,019, right before COVID, I was supposed to go to the career off their summit in 2020 and it got canceled for Covid and J. Thorn, who was leading the summit, put on his website, Hey, if you were supposed to come to the summit, we feel bad that it had to be canceled. So I'm gonna do a free coaching session with you um to talk about your author life, your author career. I was like, okay, so I signed up for that right away and he and I were talking, it was the first time I'd ever met him and we were talking about, I had listened to him on podcasts and stuff. It was the first time I met him and I was explaining to him like, hey, this is where my fiction is and I'm a little discouraged. I realized this is a long climb, but it's exhausting.
Jeff (08 : 43)
And I just, I don't know, I was writing about two books a year, I was like, I don't know how much I can keep this up. And he was like, well, you know, maybe it's time to give back because he had kind of talked to me about who I was before working in Submersion. I worked for non profits and you know, making a difference in the world is super important to me. And he had kind of found that out and he said, well maybe it's time for you to give back and kind of reignite your passion for writing your passion for fiction. He's like, what could you give the author community? And I was like, I don't know. He's like, what do you do for your day job? I was like, well, you know, I mimic realistic dialogue and he was like, you have to train people how to do that. I was like, nobody cares about dialogue, nobody wants to do that. And he was like, no Jeff, like everybody wants to do that. So, um that's I went and grabbed my, she's actually my boss at my day job, Laura, she and I have been friends for like 18, 19 years. I was like, hey, you want to do this thing with me so well that's how the podcast started and that's how it actually started with as an extension of my day job bringing what we learned from the training tech world into the fiction world and You know, the techniques and stuff that Laura,
Jeff (09 : 48)
Laura has been working for Submersion for 20 years, she's actually one of the founders. But for me, you know, over the last like eight years and before that being really engrossed in the nonprofit sector and having to talk to people all the time, bringing all of that, that I know about dialogue and know about people uh to fiction authors to try to empower people's fiction.
Kathrese (10 : 06)
You k now, sometimes it just takes that outside voice, right? Like j an outsider kind of looking at you and going well, have you ever thought about this and pegging it?
Jeff (10 : 17)
Yeah, and I love it, you know, it's a weird thing. So we've been doing dialogue doctor now for about a year and four months. We started in I formally started in September of 2020, okay, so you know, a year and five months maybe, I don't know, I don't know, math, I don't do the maths. So we were, you know, it was interesting, I did to kick it off just to see if it would work. I was like, I'm just gonna do 10 free editing sessions because jay and I like worked over the summer after we had that conversation, he's like, I'd love to help you build that thing. I was like great. So he and I worked over the summer and we kind of figured it out and he was like, man, you have a real gift for like teaching while you edit, for like editing somebody's work and then teaching them dialogue while you edit, which is the way we train writers at Submersion do together. It's more mentorship apprenticeship process. Our training is that it is a like, I'm just going to give you principles and you're gonna learn them from the white board.
Jeff (11 : 10)
And so I started I grabbed 10 authors and was like, hey let's just try this and I want you to honestly tell me if you get any value out of it and they're like, yeah, oh I love this. So then I just started doing that. I was just like, hey if anybody wants an editing session let's do that. And it was a good like four months before I started charging anybody laura and I have both been doing those all year. In 2021 I did over 100 different writers, we just take a scene and work a scene together. And it's been funny, you know, some of those that I worked with stuck and they became part of this dialogue doctor community.
Jeff (11 : 43)
So like yesterday I was doing a session with a guy named Eric. We give away free sessions to the community all the time. So if you're in the dialogue doctor slack about every two months later and I put up a sign up genius and we're like, hey we got some time, here is some free sessions, you know, grab them and so people in the slack I work with all the time. Like we do sessions all the time. So I did this guy named Eric who's in Northern Canada. Really fun. Great kind of beginning writer. He's grabbed three of those in 2021 3 of those free sessions and the first one was episode 35 of the podcast. The next one was episode 65 the third one will probably be episode 90 something, but I was laughing with him because on the third episode, like the one we recorded it last night and I was like eric man, I don't I don't know that I have anything else to teach you about dialog. Like we were talking more like story structure and like adding and scenery and like you know, creating emotional tone and like I was like what your dialogue is on point, you have become the master. So it's neat. I think what I love about it most is that through this journey of this last kind of year and a half or so, I've really watched a group of writers change how they write just through the coaching that we do and through being a part of the community and talking stuff out, you know, like finding problems and then solving those problems together has been really fun, you know, jay got me going and it's been a real, I would say life changing thing for me to actually re engage and it did re excite my fiction, he was right, I started giving back and all of a sudden the desire to write, you know, came on tenfold again,
Kathrese (13 : 21)
Man, that's awesome. Well that's what I like about being a three story method editor is being able to give back and and seeing people grow and uh really level up their skills if you will. Yeah, and then I've seen the desire and myself grow to get back in and work on my fiction. I 100% agree with you. What is your latest fiction book?
Jeff (13 : 43)
So, I've got one coming out in May of 2022. I was teasing some other authors about it today, we were talking about the Slack jail and I was like, Oh man, so it's a very personal book to me. It was the first book I wrote and it was seven years ago and it was really bad. I didn't know what I was doing, it's readable but barely But the problem is it didn't actually hit any of the themes I wanted to hit. So when I got excited about, I didn't write any fiction for like seven months in 2021 because I wanted to focus on the dialogue doctor and I wanted to get it up off the ground. And also because COVID was just man, that was just a lot. Uh So I have five kids and like managing their school at home, like they were home with me
Kathrese (14 : 29)
Jeff (14 : 30)
For coming. So that was like we're working at home with my kids, my five kids around. That was just a lot
Kathrese (14 : 36)
Jeff (14 : 37)
Yeah and my wife works full time, she had a job out of the house. So it was just it was a crazy season. So I didn't write any fiction, but I picked it up again in November and it's due to come out in May. I'm about to send my copy to my editors so they can slice it Up.
Kathrese (14 : 53)
Kathrese (14 : 54)
This episode of Writing Pursuits is brought to you by word marker edits, trusted by fiction author since 2014 to take their writing to a new level of excellence featuring story analysis and diagnostics to Kathrese McKee, a Three Story Method Certified Editor can help you prepare your story for the journey ahead. For more information. Go to word marker edits dot com and now back to.the show.
Jeff (15 : 21)
It's this it's the story of a young couple being forced to deconstruct their upbringing. And so it's a coming of age novel that circles around religion specifically American evangelicalism and this young couple growing up in American evangelicalism and being asked to um we're not being asked but being challenged to question what they believe about themselves in the world. And it's a heavy book. It's got some sexual assault in there. It's got racism. It's got discrimination around gender um, and gender roles. So it's not, you know, because it's the kind of book that everybody is like looking for on a beach read. It's sad, it's depressing, it's heavy um it's that kind of it's 100 it's going to be like 100 and 80,000 words. It's that kind of like fun beach read that everybody wants. No, but it is um it's sorry, I'm just teasing it is. It is a very it's a very special book to my heart because it, you know, it is not my story. It is fiction, but it is, there is truth to it from my Story.
Jeff (16 : 27)
You know, before becoming a writer before working for Submersion, I was a pastor for 15 years in the evangelical church and then for a small stand, I worked as a director of programming for an anti human trafficking organization. It is not my story, but it is about the journey that we went on. You know, my wife and I went on and it is, it is kind of like, hey, here's the conversation we had with the world and with like ourselves and where we were in the world at the time and with all the people around us. Like this is what this is how we got to where we are.
Jeff (17 : 02)
So it is fully fictionalized. But you know, there is, I hope there's truth in it, right? That's why I'm passionate to write it. So that's why I had to get it out. It's up for pre sale. If anybody, if anybody is like, man, that's sad, depressing monster. Sounds like the perfect read for me, go to Amazon. Inside Outside. It's up there for pre order. You can grab your copy.
Kathrese (17 : 21)
Inside Outside. I love it. That's a great title and it's a very current, very meaningful topic. It's funny and a lot of people are are going through that same process. Yeah, I see it all the time on TikTok. I see it all the time in other venues where people are kind of like challenging themselves and and thinking through what they really believe.
Jeff (17 : 45)
My wife and I joked that we were like 10 years too early when we went through this, we were very much alone. We were very much ostracized and cast out and you know, I had pastors calling me and asking me to coffee like, hey, can we get a coffee, can we hang out and be like, yeah, let's hang out. And then I get there. And it was like an intervention, right? Like we're concerned about the thing that you said about how you feel about the church. And so it was a really difficult time. Like, you know, I ended up leaving my job. Um we lost the house, we were like having to move with like four kids were moving back in with parents. Like, you know, I ended up, I worked as like, I know I worked as a temp worker for a year because I couldn't find work because who wants to hire a guy with a masters of divinity from seminary? Like how does that even translate to the job market? So it was just a weird season of life. It was really hard. And so now it's strange because we see this like there's this big community forming around like, hey, we're having this conversation together and part of me super excited. I'm like, that's amazing. I love that other people are having this conversation because I think good will come from the conversation. But then part of it is also a little pissed off about it because like, hey, where were you guys? Like 10 years ago when I was getting what I have to sit through interventions.
Jeff (19 : 05)
W here was, where was the Dirty Rotten Church Kids podcast, then, you jerks. But yeah, no, it's but it's been neat and so that's part of what's invigorated. my passion for the book was like, not so much from a sales perspective, that's not what it is because again, I haven't written a book that's like, hey, you're next beach read. Go get inside outside so you can cry. Um I gotta for me, it's like, hey, I want to add to this. Like I want to participate in the conversation going on. My biggest dream is that somebody would read the book and put it down and go, I'm not crazy. Like that's my, that's my dream for the book because if somebody would get it read it and go like, okay, I know that like my family thinks I'm crazy. I know that people in my church are telling me I'm crazy, but I'm not crazy. Like other people see this too.
Kathrese (19 : 50)
Other people see it.
Jeff (19 : 52)
And that's the goal. Um so we'll see, I also have on a lighter note, there's a lot coming out of Dialogue Doctor in 2022, we have, we're doing four workshops. Our first one is February 26th, and Laura and I are doing a five-hour workshop that will teach you to write a dialogue centric draft from start to finish. So we're gonna take you through the process of writing dialogue first draft, doing a second pass of that draft to add in the descriptions and scenery and emotional tone. Laura's going to do a whole like editing part to the last half. That's like, hey, here's how you edit dialog. So that's exciting. We're doing that in February and then we've got a characterization workshop that we did last year that people really loved that we're going to offer again in May.
Kathrese (20 : 37)
Jeff (20 : 38)
We're publishing three books this year which I'm excited about how,
Kathrese (20 : 42)
I mean, how?
Jeff (20 : 44)
Yeah, well we're writing, we're co writing them, which makes it easier.
Kathrese (20 : 47)
That does help.
Jeff (20 : 48)
Yeah, in April will have a book on characterization and how to write compelling characters that will engage the reader in August. We're hoping to have a book out about writing a dialogue, writing and editing dialog from scratch to finish. And then in the third book is hopefully going to be a general like a hero rules of dialogue book. So those are all coming out this year too, which would be great. And then I'm hoping to have another fiction book out. I started a mystery series with the detective, I started detective series in 2019 and it has three books in the series. I published the second two books in 2020. It's grab steal and fight and it's about a detective named Moneta Watkins who can, she can relive people's memories if she touches them. Uh and so
Kathrese (21 : 32)
As in a dead body,
Jeff (21 : 34)
She can do a dead body if you attach jumper cables to it.
Kathrese (21 : 37)
Oh, a-- l little shades of Frankenstein a little bit.
Jeff (21 : 41)
She got to rev it up first, You gotta crank it up a little bit and then she can do a dead body.
Kathrese (21 : 46)
That reminds me of iZombie. I think where she would imbibe how's that.
Jeff (21 : 51)
Eats the brains. Yeah, it is, it is very i-- I never saw iZombie. And then one of my readers read my book and they're like, oh you're doing a play on iZombie. And I had to go watch it. I was like I am doing a play on iZombie.
Kathrese (22 : 02)
Jeff (22 : 03)
But you know, my detective doesn't eat anybody, she just reliving their memories. But I have 1/4 book in that let's do. And I put it aside for 2021 because Covid was just, that was a lot.
Kathrese (22 : 14)
Well if you had your kids home with you and you were doing all this other, I just don't even see how you could think about fiction the level with you. I think I heard you on a conversation with J. It was talking about dialogue first. So I w as working on a look, I'm still working on it. And I actually kind of put what I had written to the side and went to the dialogue and it really infused it with more life. And so I'm, I'm continuing that and I'll have to look into your workshop session in February. I thought it was a really good approach so that if you're having difficulty, it's another tool in the drawer.
Jeff (22 : 56)
It's weird. I always wrote that way, even before working for Submersion and writing scripts when I was like doing nonprofit stuff and just writing fun short stories. A lot of my short stories would be dialogue only. It's just two people talking.
Kathrese (23 : 09)
So almost a screenplay.
Jeff (23 : 11)
Almost like a screenplay. And so I don't recommend that people write that way forever because it does add an edit to your process, right?
Jeff (23 : 18)
Jeff (23 : 18)
Writing dialogue first forces you to come back into a second pass to put in the emotional texture, the body language, the scenery, like the descriptions all of that, all of that. So I don't say like, hey, this is how everybody should write always. But I do say like you should spend a couple of months writing this way because once you've done it for a couple of months, it will radically change how you approach your work. And it'll put your characters front and center and it'll put the conversations we're having front and center and the thing that is true, especially in our modern age, it's been true. I can look at literature all the way back to like Pride and Prejudice and find this to be true. What readers love about reading is entering into the world of the characters and becoming a part of the world of the characters.
Jeff (24 : 05)
The way that we do that, the way that we connect and relate with other people is through talking. So like if you're going to a party, and you're going to get engaged in the party, you're not going to like stand on a ladder and look down at it. You're not going to like ask somebody to summarize to you all of the events of the party so far, what you're gonna do is you're gonna walk up to a group of people and start talking to them because the way that we naturally as humans connect to one another is through this speech element. We talk, we listen, we exchange ideas, we exchange emotions when we're doing that. Like that's how we express emotions to one another is through talking.
Jeff (24 : 46)
And so your our readers have that hardwired into their brain right there talking, the need to conduct to other people or characters through conversation is hardwired into our brains. So when they come to your book, they're going to connect to your characters through the conversations your characters are having with one another and that's why if you can write a dialogue centric first draft, if you can write your first draft that looks like a screenplay and it's just the characters talking and you can get your plot of the scene right?
Jeff (25 : 21)
Like the challenge choices and consequences. Like the three story method says you can get that challenge choice and consequences through your scene into that conversation then coming back and adding the textural details that inform the reader of the world. The couple lines here that talk about something interesting in the room that lets the reader know how the characters feel about where they are body language that accused the reader off into how they're feeling about each other, right? Like just a little odds and ends sentences here sentences there. You're gonna find that you have a much stronger and more engaging piece because you started with the element of connection that the readers looking for.
Kathrese (26 : 04)
Yes, I totally agree with that.
Jeff (26 : 07)
And I find it's even more true nowadays because our readers are so like movie tv podcast centric. So your readers coming to your book and it's likely that they've also watched several hours of tv and tv is just people talking, right? Like that's what a screenplay is. A screenplay is. Just people talking. So you know, there's action going on around them, there's events happening around them but the center of everything they're watching on TVs. People talking that part of our brain that's already hardwired by the time they get to your book, they are ramped into that in a huge way, right? Like our culture right now is just accelerating this constant engagement with people as the vehicle for emotional journeys.
Jeff (26 : 52)
You want to take your reader on an emotional journey, you've got to get your character's talking, you gotta make their talking the center of your piece. The best way to learn to do that is to start writing some dialogue centric first drafts where the dialogue is the thing and then you come back and do a second pass where you're adding in the extra bits that make it feel more like a novel. If you do it for just a couple of months, it will transform your writing forever. It's one of those things that once you do it, you're like, oh, this is how it works and that's what's so crazy because the race is once you do it and then you go back to read books you love like books that are that are successful books that people really that people have really grasped into, You're going to realize that all of those are dialogue centric,
Kathrese (27 : 32)
You mentioned Pride and Prejudice. One o f the things I love about that book is back and forth between the characters and the way they spark off of each other and challenge one another and what do you say, give cuts to each other.
Jeff (27 : 48)
Yeah, well it's the like the interchange the exchange back and forth between two characters or three characters or however many characters in the scene builds energy. So whether that energy is a sad energy or whether that energy is an exciting energy or playful energy, like there's different types of energy that are being built but it's electric right? Like the back and forth between these characters creates this energy and the peace that can't be modeled any other way. And so when your reader reads that book, they read to the end, they get excited and read to the end and fly through it because they get addicted to that energy and that exchange between the characters. If you're talking about like movies and cinema and all that, there is great news for us as authors which is we have a direct line that no other media has into our reader's imaginations. So when they listen to audio stuff, when they're listening to podcasts or audiobooks, there is a narrator translating the words for them through their imagination. That narrator is performing those words and those words are being translated into the reader's imagination.
Jeff (28 : 57)
W hen they're watching tv or watching a movie, there's a whole team of people translating what's happening into the reader's imagination, There's actors performing, there's directors cutting, there's you know, editors putting things together, right? Like there's a hole, there's visual effects teams like making things happen. Whereas when we read a book we have a direct line into the reader's imagination that no other medium has. So it's this massive power we have. So when we create energy and we use what we learn from these other media's that like man being character centric and conversation centric taps into the human imagination in an interesting way. Then we can do it in a way that they can't because we and that's why people get absorbed in books, so people get lost in books because we tap into their imagination, we have a direct line to it. So it's a great privilege to be a writer right now in this season of life because people do look for great story, like we're we're a culture that's in love with story.
Jeff (29 : 59)
And so we have this ability to go straight to their imagination, combine that with the energy created through character conversation and you've got a winning a winning combo there, It's a great time to be a writer before I started the dialogue doctor, you know, I had that summer with J where he and I were just working on stuff and I would tell him this would be like, hey this is true, like books or dialogue centric books are dialogue focused and he'd be like, I don't know about that. And so I would go, I mean it wasn't that he disagreed with me, it was just that he hadn't thought about it that way. So I would go and I went and grabbed like I had to double check like to make sure like, am I crazy or is this real? So I went and got like best-selling books from all different genres. I got some Neil Gaiman, I took Pride and Prejudice. I did Harry Potter, I did um some romance books like it just all of these different books, I did some sci fi books like I got all these books and I just went through them with a highlighter and I was like if it's a dialogue meaning it's an exchange between two characters, I'm going to highlight it And what I found is that like best-selling books of all time they're like 70, dialogue,
Kathrese (31 : 06)
Jeff (31 : 08)
Pride and Prejudice is like 80% dialogue.
Kathrese (31 : 10)
That is amazing.
Jeff (31 : 11)
It's just people talking to each other right? Like and that's it's a crazy thing but that's what I'm saying that once you see it you can't unsee it, that's wonderful. Right? Like once you read a book and you're like oh man, this whole thing like I'm thinking. I just this year I just finished a Hail Mary.
Kathrese (31 : 28)
Yeah by Weir.
Jeff (31 : 29)
Project Hail Mary by Weir. N ow that is a story about a man shot into space by himself to perform a scientific mission alone. Now he ends up meeting an alien and there's conversations in it. But even when he's by himself, the crazy amount of talking that happens in that book and it's why we love it because that book engages our imagination in this way that connects us to him emotionally through his talking. So like he wakes up alone in a spaceship. And the first thing he does is he has a conversation with the computer,
Jeff (32 : 07)
Right? Like why? Because we need to engage with the lead character emotionally. And hearing him talk to a static computer is the best way to do that when he's in a room by himself, Right? Like that's just And so like even books like that where you're like, oh this is a heavy sci sci fi book that is majority dialogue. Like it's just a weird thing about our brains that things that we love make us feel, we love things that make us feel connected. What makes us feel connected is conversation,
Kathrese (32 : 40)
Jeff (32 : 41)
Right, Right. If you want to connect to your reader, write conversations and put your action and stuff around it.
Kathrese (32 : 48)
Okay, I think we're almost out of time. But before we stop, I would like you to tell me a little bit about your book. Five mistakes you're making with your
Jeff (32 : 57)
Dialogue. Oh yeah, I forgot about that book. Uh that's so that's a free download. You can get a dialogue doctor dot com. So if you go to dialogue doctor dot com, you can get the free book there, it will just take you through. It's really short, it's not actually a book. It's more like a pamphlet just to get you started thinking about your dialogue and it gives you like, hey, here's The Five Most Common Mistakes People Are Making in Their Dialogue, just to get you thinking. It's like a primer. Like let's just get you thinking about it a little bit.
Kathrese (33 : 23)
So it's like a guidebook.
Jeff (33 : 25)
Guidebook. Yeah, it's totally free. Just go get into the website and the goal of it is to just help you like, hey, start considering your, your work through a little bit different lens. Yeah. And again, our our goal with that book and with everything we do with the dialogue Doctor is to empower writers to tell their stories in a way that will engage readers, right? Like whatever story you want to tell that I'm all for it. It's amazing. Like tell the story that's that's burning in your heart that's burning in your imagination that you've got to get out. Our goal isn't to change your story or to tell you like your story has to look this way. Our goal is to empower what you're doing so that it'll connect to readers, right? That's what we want to do.
Kathrese (34 : 08)
That's fantastic. Well, I want to thank you so much for joining me today and Writing Pursuits.
Jeff (34 : 13)
Yeah, thanks for having me on it. Sorry, I'll just talk Yeah, I mean, you know me, you
Kathrese (34 : 16)
Know, I love it. You're the Best.
Jeff (34 : 19)
Yeah, if you want if you wind me up I go here I come
Kathrese (34 : 21)
So find Jeff at dialogue dr dot com to get your free copy of five mistakes you're making with your dialogue and to tune into the dialogue, doctor podcast and also to keep tabs on Inside Outside which is the upcoming book in May. So thank you so much, Jeff. Next week I welcome Valerie is on to Writing Pursuits to talk about memoir, writing tune in next Wednesday for episode 21. To hear our discussion. My question for this week is what is the hardest part about writing dialogue. Please share your comments for episode 20 at Writing Pursuits dot com slash podcast. Thank you for joining me today. If you have questions about writing or need a story diagnostic, please go to Writing Pursuits. com. That's all I have for today. Until next time. Thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a comment and follow the podcast. If you're new around here, I hope you will sign up for the weekly newsletter. Writing Pursuits Tips for Authors. T hat link and all the links mentioned in today's episode are in the show notes at writing pursuits dot com. Please join us on Wednesdays for new episodes and keep writing, my friends. Keep writing
Jeff (35 : 35)
Gglot (35 : 36)
Transcribed by Gglot.com