Shall I help them see? 

Posted: April 17, 2017 in Daillies, Quotes

Shall I help them see my ideas, or to educate myself to theirs? The answer, I believe, is that I must “both be a borrower and a lender be.”

Margaret C. Ward


Major Places Visited  
Miami, Roatan Honduras, Harvest Key Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico, Everglades, Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas, Marco Island, Naples, little Hickory Island, Fort Myers, South Beach.


Overall great experience. People were friendly everywhere. Greatest challenges were bugs and crowds. The places we visited greatly expanded our experience of these areas. Weather was warm and sunny whole trip. Food was excellent. Cruise was smooth and comfortable. SCUBA in Honduras and Mexico was excellent. Keyes were hot and crowded. Many biting midges in Keyes. Key west is toxic with tourist. Naples was less crowded but filled with McMansions. Marco Island was bubbleland incarnate. Loved being with Heidi and visiting with family.

Travel Companions

Travelled with Heidi for entire trip. Travel on Cruise also included Mary Ellen Fruehan (mom), and Wendy (sister), Bill (brother in law), and Brett (nephew) Schobert.

March 16 – 18 Miami


Big city. Many beaches. Shopping everywhere. Boats everywhere. Crowded. Near perfect weather. Mostly bug free. Clean. High rise apartments looking like huge hospitals everywhere. No slums.

Air Travel

5 star

United. Left Bakersfield at 6h -> San Francisco (1hr) -> Miami (5hr). Arrive Miami 3h. Flights full. Econo-Sea at comfortable. On-time. Uneventful.


Intercontinental Miami. 3 Stars. Good location. Close to Miami River, shopping (cvs, Whole Foods, bayside), cruise port, and Miami Beach. Good service. Clean. decent pool. Restaurant over priced, food so-so. Beer selection sucked. Starbucks inside. Breakfast and happy hour Room included. Crowded. 30 min + wait for elevator. @$300/night so-so value.


Uber to Bako airport $10

Uber from MIA to hotel, $15

Rental Car in Miami, 24hr, $50

Paid parking everywhere.

Dinner at Jaguar in Coconut Grove for Ceviche. 5 stars. Great selection of Ceviche and excellent taste. Arrived during happy hour. Mango margarita was really good.

Dinner at Hotel. Americano. 2 stars. Taste so-so. Calamari was soaked in oil. Yuk. Little portions. Noisy. Next to bar. Service was brain dead.

Dinner at Bondings. Seafood. 3 stars. Tight seating. food ok. Too costly for performance. As was the case at all meals, loved being with family. Mary Ellen’s cousin Carlos and wife Merrie joined us as they live in Miami (and NYC).

Breakfasts in Hotel. Americano. 5 stars. In special room for special guest. Good selection. Included endless lattes. Great view of Miami.


South Beach

Long, wide, white sand beach. Busy, people and traffic. Ran on boardwalk (1hr), Heidi and I ocean swam. Excellent. Beautiful day. Beautiful people. Warm, clear azure water. Safe. Lucked out and found Street parking. Parking is $2/hr. Extreme crowds, peak of spring break. Street vendors and entertainment. Art Deco architecture – colorful, pretty. Eye candy galore.

Miami River

Next to Hotel. Many boats including med sized freighters. Ran for 1 hour. Long paved walk way. Quiet. Peaceful. Many marinas. A few homeless. Safe. Heidi really liked the public art in the area.

Key Biscayne

Driving tour. Clean. Long bridge gives excellent view of Miami Harbor and skyline. Bubble town.

Coconut Grove

Shopping, food. Decent walking. Bought Pilipino linen shirt. Roads in and out are crowded.

March 18 – 26 Norwegian Cruise Lines Cruise

Miami, Roatan Honduras, Harvest Key Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico, end in Miami


5 star Cruise. Enjoyed being with Heidi and Family most. Ocean was mostly calm. Excellent weather. SCUBA was excellent. Shore visits excellent. Accommodations and service was perfect. English spoken well in all ports. Safe.

Ship – The Getaway

The boat is 1000+ feet long. Huge. 4800 people. Newer. Check in and out was fast. Food was excellent. Ran each day on deck 6. Lounged in room enjoying visiting and the ocean views. Heidi and I stayed with mom in two bedroom luxury suite #16114 with balcony – very comfortable. Loved being together. Service was a 10. We had our own butler. We stayed in a luxury exclusive area of the ship called the Haven. The Haven Restaurant was excellent and was Heidi’s favorite restaurant on the ship. Seafood, steak, veggies, drink. Outside the Haven, somewhat crowded, but still very pleasant. We enjoyed watching outdoor movies on the back of the ship. We saw a magic and comedy show – enjoyable. Went to an art auction – fun but cheeses and a bit discreditable. . The wind outside the ship was constant. The ship rarely rocked.

Miami to Honduras March 19 – 21

Left on Sunday at 16h. Cruised out of port of Miami. Beautiful views of South Beach from Balcony. Sunny. Calm seas. Passed along Cuba before sunset. Had dinners and breakfasts at Heaven restaurant- seafood, meat, eggs, bacon – all good, all americano. Toured ship. Pools, saunas, basketball, rope course, climbing wall, bars, buffets, restaurants, casino, theaters, and saw tons-o people. This Cruise was mostly about visiting with family, respite, and food and entertainment as needed. I enjoyed the solitude and quiet while running on deck 6.

Roatan, Honduras March 21

Sleepy island off Honduras. SCUBA was excellent. Two forty minute dives. 100’ visibility. Tropical Fish of all colors everywhere. Barracudas. Eels and turtles. Aquarium like. Colorful coral. Dove along wall 110’. The dive center service was excellent. The resort at the dive center had a small island with several cabanas on stilts in the water. Stunning.(NOTE for possible future stay) The drive to/from the dive center through town revealed the laid back life style of the locals with little money. Fairly clean. Picked up some tasty local dark chocolate. Everyone loved it. Safe.

Harvest Key, Belize March 22

Shore Visit. It’s a bubbleland island exclusive to the cruise line. Large pool. Long and large Beach and lounging. Good seafood. Almost zero visibility for snorkeling. Heidi, Wendy, Brett, and I rented little electric boats. Felt like a kiddie ride in Disneyland. Decent view of the Belize mountains on mainland Belize. Extra safe. Very relaxing.

Costa Maya, Mexico March 23

SCUBA. See dive part of Roatan. Very similar. Super nice. Max depth was 65’. Dive shop was excellent. Little town where shop was located could be a decent future destination. Obvious tourist zone. Safe.

Cozumel, Mexico March 24

Shore Visit. Went in Van with everyone except Mary-Ellen to Ventana Del Mar and restaurant next door. Decent food and drink. Fantastic views of caribe. Waiters revealed their infamous donkey dongs. This place is xxx after dark. Picked up old Cozumel license plate at Junk yard. Toured beautiful town square. Clean and Safe place. Very friendly people.

Cruise final leg – Cozumel to Miami March 24 – 26

See Miami to Honduras March 19 – 21. Same thing

Everglades National Park, Florida City, March 26 – 28

   After debarking ship, picked up rental pickup truck, then picked up camping gear at Goodwill and Walmart and headed away from Miami.

   Stayed in Florida City in hotel for first two nights near entrance to Everglades National park. Plenty of decent budget hotels.

   Beautiful drive through park. Day trip. Very few people. Tall grasses, many Forrest, great beaches on gulf coast. Ospreys, Gators, lizards, iguanas, and birds abound. Decent hikes. There’s a 70 mile long Kayaking route that looked awesome. Bring bug spray – mosquitos and midges can get thick. Overall excellent experience.

Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas National Park, March 28 to April 1

   Ah, the Keyes. Biological masses of coral as far as the eye can see in all directions. Mangroves abound. Ship wrecks, underwater, everywhere. A boaters nightmare without proper charts and knowledge. The air temperature was in the mid 80’s and low 70’s at night. Comfortable.

   Tent Camped at KOA on Sugarloaf key. Close to hwy 1. Somewhat noisy from highway. Wore ear plugs and a blind fold each night to make sleeping tolerable. Decent spot for camping and lounging on beach. Good pool and hot tub. Excellent showers and restrooms. Excellent staff. Our tent was too small for our huge sleeping pad and our feet stuck out the door. Big mistakes. Woke up next morning with at least fifty bug bites. Tons of midges at dusk and dawn. Excellent hiking trail along key. Fairly muggy after 10am. Never rained – lucky.

   Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas. Went on Fast ferry, northwest, 60 miles in 2.5 hours. Visited fort/prison camp constructed in the 1800’s. fairly intact 3 story brick fort. Seemed like an odd place to build a fort. 3 miles away is another island, loggerhead key, with a super tall light house. This is the key where Heidi would like to do an artist retreat. I say, very beautiful. High Light for me was the snorkeling. Good fish counts and huge barracuda. Sea planes and boats at Anchorage. Beautiful sunny day. Ocean views were vast. On the boat ride over on the Yankee Freedom, we met a like minded adventure loving couple from Alberta, Canada; Doris and Sean Scott. Would love to keep in touch with them.

Key West

   Even blown out with tourist, still worth the visit. 100 years ago, in the Hemmingway days, the place was certainly a paradise. Now it’s gentrified, and packed with people. Noisy. The old architecture, beaches, and eateries is worthy of a tour.


   There’s many great places to eat – we greatly enjoyed Conch Republic Seafood, the Blue Heaven, and Garbo’s Grill eateries. Key lime pie everywhere – the absolute best is at Blue Heaven. Beware of over priced crappy places that appear to be worthy on yelp. Key west brew is so-so.


   The state park beach is the best on the key. Swimming, lounging abound. Higgs beach is a another great option – we watched our last sunset in Key West there – beautiful. There’s also a decent restaurant there. We listened to live blue-grass music from afar at Higgs.


   Duvall street is a party hole similar to Bourbon Street New Orleans – slobbering drunks, loud, obnoxious, dirty, rude, AND the homeless like this place. Sloppy Joes is a Joke – packed and smells like piss. Old, dead, live and recorded 70’s music plays seemingly everywhere and makes me want to vomit. Jimmy Buffet sucks.


   Oh yes, the Key West Public Library. Beautiful on the outside – old, restored quaint, but on the inside, its run down, small, noisy, and smelly. Half filled with throw away books, and the other half filled with homeless and poor at internet stations. There was a person using the toilet to bath in. I gave up trying to find a quiet place to write and just sit smiling watching the farce. And the staff – they were loudly counting down the minutes to closing time- yuk.


   One of the highlights was seeing a potential art/writing residency at The Studios at Key West. Bree Anne Buckley gave us a tour of the facility and residency cottages. We enjoyed visiting with Bree and hearing about much of the local Key West culture. I was particularly interested in his experience with the Key West homeless. May have residency potential.


   After 5 days and four nights in the bloated, busy keys, we were so ready to leave. Plus, as the wind died down, the air was heating up. That said, I’m certain there’s a way to get more enjoyment in the Keyes – just didn’t happen on this visit. Fishing, sailing? Fishing looks really good. Overall great experience.

   On return to mainland across the bay of Florida, we found a quiet place to reflect on life, on our trip, our love for each other. We set on an exposed coral reef at the end of an anonymous road on the north end of Key Largo below a beautiful cloud filled ominous sky. A man from Virginia, fly fishing using flies he tied himself, waded just outside the mangroves trying to catch Tarpon. He passed by us, removed his waders and clothe protecting him from bugs, talked a little about fishing, then disappeared down the road in his new luxury car. Heidi and I admired the houses built on stilts to help protect them when a hurricane arrives with the furious storm surge, then we too disappeared to the mainland.

   Next night, stayed in eco hotel in Florida City before heading to Naples.

  One option in Florida City is to stay at a hostel. Jungle like, looked fairly nice. $ 20/ night/person for tent site. We opted out.

Naples, Fl. April 2 – 4

   Reached 90f. Stayed in small cabin at KOA, Naples. Excellent cabin stay. Clean. Pool, hot tub. Excellent staff.

   Many decent places to eat. Recommend Grouper and Chips in Naples.

   Visited Marco Island. Sterile bubble-land loaded with many high rise condo’s. Given the

Ack of people on the streets, it’s a place we’re boring cave dwellers go to stay inside and watch CNN. I’m surprised the whole island is not gated. May be illegal to own a car here <2 years old 😉 most of the patios are enclosed in screens – bugs are the reason. Maybe this place with morph into the ultimate assisted living community. I wonder what happens to the homeless who wonder into this prison.

   Visited Little Hickory Island, Naples. Nice. Powdery white sand beach. Loaded with seashells. Took long walk on beach with Heidi. Beach is not very wide like in Miami. Many people, including us, enjoying themselves.

Went to Royal Scoop for ice cream – yummy.

Many walkways for running.

  Generally, saw many Country Club like private gated, bubble-hoods everywhere. Many newer sterile communities. I’m thinking this place is kind of a natural fit for the cave dwellers from the NE US cooped up in their houses by winter weather to travel here and stay cooped up in their winter homes to avoid getting eaten by bugs and not have to see the little people in Fort Myers.  

   On return to Miami, Hwy 41, we went on Air boat ride at Safari Company. Slow boating through willows, then wham! Full speed ahead. We loved this. Many Gator, bird, and turtle sightings. Tour guide was fun and informative.

Miami April 4 – 5

   Stayed at Extended Stay in Doral near MIA. Really nice value hotel. Clean, spacious, comfortable, full kitchen. Great value. Excellent staff.

   Went to South Beach for swim and run at South Point Park. OK, we finally found a quiet, somewhat less populated place in south Beach to chill.. Lovely walking along boardwalk. Great view of Miami skyline and harbor. On run North along the beach – thick with, mostly kids, strutting their stuff.

   For dinner, went to Brazilian restaurant near hotel. Gourmet food. The different meats just kept on coming – all you could eat. The lamb sucked and confirmed the best lamb I’ve ever had is in good ole Bako. Overall, one of the best meals on this trip. Excellent service.

   Next morning, up at 9, to Starbucks, had watermelon juice, then packed and off to airport.

   Be very attentive on the labyrinth of roads needed to get to the car rental center or you’ll drive in circles. With Heidi’s help, we made it on the first try.

Return to Bakersfield

United Airlines to Chicago, Denver, then Bako. Wrote this log, mostly, on return trip. Uneventful. Rainy and cool in Chicago. Sunny and cool in Denver. Awesome views of Heartland and snow packed Rockies. Happy to have ear plugs on first leg – caused screaming babies to diminish to a whimper.


Great trip. Great experience. Love traveling with Heidi – so loving, helpful. Loved so much visiting with family. What a marvelous, privileged life I live. So alive, awake, aware.

Heaven and Hell

Posted: March 12, 2017 in Philosophy

I was taught about inexhaustible mines of meaning by the Baal Shem; from the Kotzker I learned to detect immense mountains of absurdity standing in the way. 


You’re The One That I Want 

Posted: March 9, 2017 in Songs

(from Grease, the 1971 musical)
deConstructed And suNg by aNgus and juLia sTone
I got chills they’re multiplying

And I’m losing control

Cause the power you’re supplying

It’s Electrifying!
You better shape up cause I need a man

And my heart is set on you

You better shape up, you better understand

To my heart I must be true(nothin left, nothin left for me to do)
You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

The one that I neeeeeed oh yes indee-ee-heed
If you’re filled with affection

You’re too shy to convey

Meditate in my direction

Feel your way
I better shape up, cause you need a man (I need a man)

Who can keep me satisfied

I better shape up, if I’m gonna prove (you better prove)

That my faith is justified

Are you sure? Yes I’m sure down deep inside
You’re the one that I want (You are the one I want)oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

The one that I neeeeed oh yes indee-ee-heed
You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

The one that I neeeed oh yes indee-ee-heed
You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

The one that I neeeed oh yes indee-ee-heed
You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

You’re the one that I want(You are the one I want) oh oh oh honey

The one that I neeeeeed oh yes indee-ee-heed

Racism, Religion, and the Media

Posted: February 16, 2017 in Daillies

Media based on racism (“white”) and religion, (“christian”) is fraught with error and problematic. Only well thought out, over time (matured) discussions about such topics have any meaning whatsoever. Acting on emotions experienced by such topics is dangerous, dangerous to a life well lived. 

Interesting Article. Company paid apprenticeships are returning to the US as are long term careers. More and more companies are now recruiting high school grads and training them for a career with their company thus either bypassing college altogether or augmenting their apprenticeship with relevant college courses. Oh yes, getting an apprenticeship is also possible for a student in, or has graduated from, college. The caveat in all this is that, somewhere along the way, the student actually learned something, high school or otherwise, relevant to the apprenticeship. 

The link below takes you to the article. I’m happy to say I passed practice test. Give it go. 


Most of us have heard the typical advice about writing dialogue—make sure your characters don’t all sound the same, include only what’s essential, opt for the word said over other dialogue tags, and so on. Here’s more granularity. 

1. “Dialogue should stay on topic.”   In real life we talk in spurts, in jumbles, in bursts and wipeouts and mumbles and murmurs and grunts as we try to formulate our thoughts. We stumble and correct ourselves. We pause and reflect. We backtrack. We wander into tangents, and then get back to the point.

It’s often said that on the page, good dialogue doesn’t do the same thing. But I disagree.

Tangents reveal character traits and priorities. If dialogue is too focused and direct, it’ll become predictable. Readers want to see the motivations, the quirks, the uniqueness of each character. The prudent use of digressions can add texture to a story.

People don’t always respond to what was said or to the questions they’re asked. They interrupt, change the subject, and attempt to stay on their pre-determined course even after the conversation has taken a turn in a different direction.

“How come it’s so hot out here?”

“It’s supposed to hit 90 today. Hey, listen, do you want some lemonade?”

“Ninety? Man, I hate this. Remind me why we left Maine in the first place.”

“Ninety’s not so bad. So, lemonade?”

Even in this brief exchange, multiple conversations are taking place. They overlap, reveal the character’s attitudes and add verisimilitude to what’s being said.

At times you’ll want your dialogue to pool off into tributaries. This doesn’t mean it’s unfocused or random, but rather that it’s layered with meaning to show the goals of the characters, the social context of the conversation and the subtext that’s present in the scene.

In fact, sometimes you’ll want your characters to discuss trivial things. Subtext brings depth to triviality.

In Hollywood there’s a saying: “The scene is not about what the scene is about.” In essence, this means that what the readers (or viewers) are witnessing on the surface is not what lies at the heart of that scene.

Scenes that are primarily about romantic tension will often have dialogue in which the characters banter or engage in small talk. But in those instances, it’s what’s going on beneath the surface that matters most. Identify the core tension of the scene, then plumb subtext and use apparent triviality to your advantage in dialogue. (Caveat: This, like many literary techniques, should be used in moderation. There’s no need to show subtext in every scene, nor should you. Chase scenes, for instance, are best approached as what you see is what you get. An attempt to layer in subtext will only become a distraction.)

Don’t be afraid of digressions. Use them to insert red herrings, foreshadow important events, reveal clues about what motivates your characters, or add new dramatic elements to the story line.

2. “Use dialogue as you would actual speech.”

Although in real life people speak primarily to impart information, in fiction a conversation is not simply a way for something to be expressed—it’s a way for something to be overcome. As you’re writing, rather than asking yourself, “What does this character need to say?” ask, “What does this character need to accomplish?”

A woman wants to confront her husband about his overspending; he wants to watch the game.

The cops are questioning a suspect; she’s being evasive.

In both of these instances, the mutually exclusive goals of the characters create tension that affects how the conversation will play out.

When determining your character’s response to stimuli, remember that his agenda toward the other person will trump the topic of conversation.

“There’s this crazy thing they invented called the Internet. You can look stuff up on it. You should check it out sometime.”

“Ah. Now, that was sarcasm, right?”

“Um. No.”

“But that was?”

“What do you think?”

“Wait—was that?”

She looked at me disparagingly.

Words can be barbs. They can be sabers. They can be jewels. Don’t let them be marshmallows that are just passed back and forth.

Give each character a goal. The speaker might be trying to impress the other person, or entertain her or seduce her or punish her. Whatever it is, the agenda—whether stated explicitly or not—will shape everything that’s said.

“You’re not going to tell him about us, are you?”

“He’ll find out eventually. I should be the one to—”

“No. Listen, we have something special here. Do you really want to lose it?”

“It’s not just that. I have the kids to think about. What’s best for them.”

Here, neither question is answered directly. Often you can move the story forward more effectively by having the characters respond in a way that implies an answer, showing that they’re reading between the lines of what was said or have questions of their own.

3. “Opt for the speaker attribution said over all others.”

It’s true that you’ll want to avoid cluttering your story with obtrusive speaker attributions. Having a character consistently chortle, exclaim, retort, chip in, quip and question rather than simply say anything will become a distraction. Readers will stop being present in the story and will start searching for your next synonym for said. They get it. They know you own a thesaurus. Just tell the story.

On the other hand, the use of said can become tiresome when it appears repeatedly on the same page. And, when used improperly, it can also be a giveaway that you’re an inexperienced writer.

“Bob said” does not equal “said Bob.”

To hear how your dialogue reads, try inserting the pronoun instead of the character’s name. For example:

“That’s an awesome car,” Bob said.

“That’s an awesome car,” he said.

Both of those statements make sense. But look at what happens when you write it the other way:

“That’s an awesome car,” said Bob.

“That’s an awesome car,” said he.

If you wouldn’t write “said he” then don’t write “said Bob.” Stick with placing the speaker’s name before the verb unless there’s an overwhelming contextual reason not to.

Don’t use attributions simply to indicate who’s speaking. Use them to create pauses reflected in actual speech, to characterize, and even to orchestrate the pace and movement of the scene.

“She was strangled.”

“So,” he muttered. “Another one.”

That snippet of dialogue reads much differently from:

“She was strangled.”

“So, another one,” he muttered.

Additionally, speaker attributions can be used to maintain or diminish status. Compare the two following sentences.

“Come here,” he said. “Now.”

“Come here now,” he said.

See how the placement of the speaker attribution in the first example creates a pause that emphasizes the last word while also raising the dominance of the speaker?

4. “Avoid long speeches.”

Sometimes allowing a character to have her say reveals more about her than forcing her to speak in sound bites ever could.

In this excerpt from my novel The Pawn, a teenage girl is speaking with her stepfather after her mother’s death in New York City.

“Why didn’t you ask me if I wanted to move to Denver?”

“What do you mean?”

“After Mom died. We just picked up and moved. Why didn’t you ask me if I wanted to move?”

“Well, I just thought it might be best for both of us to get some space and—”

“For both of us?”


“And how did you come to know what would be best for me?”

“Tessa, I—”

“We’re supposed to be a family. Families make choices together about what’s best for everyone, not just for the one in charge.”

“Listen, I—”

“You took me away from all my friends. My mom dies, and you make me leave everyone I know and move across the country, and all I ever wanted was a family like Cherise has—a mom and a dad—and when Mom met you, I thought maybe it would happen, just maybe I’d finally have someone to teach me the things dads are supposed to teach their daughters—I don’t know, like about life or guys or whatever and maybe come to my volleyball games and make me do my homework when I don’t want to and tell me I’m pretty sometimes and give me a hard time about my boyfriends and take a picture of me in my prom dress and then stand by my side one day when I get married …”

“I never knew—”

“You never asked!”

The girl’s run-on response does more to show her attitude and personality than a back-and-forth exchange would. It also reveals characterization, expresses desire and provides escalation.

(Incidentally, notice how the dashes are used when a character is cut off, and ellipses when the girl’s thoughts trail off. Dashes and ellipses are not interchangeable.)

When deciding whether to let a character launch into a diatribe, consider if she’s trying to get her say in before anyone else can interrupt. Also, take into account the buildup of tension that precedes the speech. Like a garden hose, the more pressure, the more dramatic the release.

5. “Be grammatically correct.“

Always be willing to break conventions when it’s in the service of the story and the reader.

Kyle spoke before Daniel could: “So you told your dad? I mean, about the visions and everything?”

Although some editors might want to replace the colon in this example with a period, the primary issue should be how the punctuation affects the flow rather than how closely it follows a stylebook. Because the urgency of the scene has Kyle speaking quickly before Daniel has a chance to reply, a full stop would undermine that. A colon serves to better convey the scene’s uninterrupted pace.

Notice also in the above example that question marks indicate an upward inflection at the end of a sentence, not necessarily a question. So your primary concern isn’t always “Is this a question?” but “Do I want this to sound like a question?”

In dialogue, sentence fragments sound more realistic to readers than complete sentences do. Cut semicolons from dialogue. If you find them, it’s usually because you’re trying to include complex sentences that wouldn’t sound natural if they were spoken aloud. Choose commas and periods instead.

6. “Show what the characters are doing while they’re talking.”

Too often this results in on-the-nose writing and an overemphasis on the minutia of body language. If you find your character brushing his nose or repositioning his chair or crossing his legs and so forth for no other reason than to provide a respite from the dialogue, recast the scene.

Just as dialogue should reveal the intention of the characters, so should the actions that they take while they’re speaking. When we read that a character folded his arms, we’ll naturally wonder why he’s doing that. What is it meant to convey about his attitude or emotional response to what’s happening? Don’t confuse your readers by inserting needless movement. Rather, include action only as long as it adds to the scene or enriches it. If the action doesn’t convey anything essential, drop it.

7. “Keep characters’ speech consistent.”

I used to agree with this until one day I overheard a man in his late 20s talking on his cell phone in a hotel lobby. After a moment or two it became clear that he was a lawyer and was speaking with a client. He was articulate, spoke in complex sentences and sounded well versed in legal terminology.

A few moments later he received a call that was obviously from an old college buddy. Suddenly, his entire demeanor changed. He was joking around and talking more like a frat brother than a law school grad.

If those two conversations appeared in a book they would sound as if they came from two entirely different characters. That man’s history with those people affected his tone, word choice, grammar, sentence structure, use of idioms, everything. Even his posture changed.

Dialogue needs to be honest for each character in that situation. Don’t try to make your characters consistent in the sense of always sounding the same, but rather allow them to remain in character within each unique social context.

So, if a character is highly educated and every time she speaks she’s using impressive words, it’ll get old. She’ll seem one-dimensional. Or if she’s from the South and you have her saying “y’all” all the time she’ll become cliched.

Few people are always blunt, always angry, always helpful. We speak differently in different situations. Mood, goals, state of mind fluctuate. This ties in with character believability. Remember: status, context, intention.

Give characters a goal, a history and an attitude toward the other people in the conversation. And always strive for honest, believable responses rather than canned ones.
From Writers Digest