So, today I have a post over on the RRFS blog about dialogue tags which is probably pretty similar to the one I did last year here on this blog. I’ve learned a couple of things since then, (and not just about dialogue tags), and I’m going to be doing a series of posts over there about tips and tricks to editing your own work, especially if you’re a new-ish writer.
Feel free to take a look at the original post using the link above for a more detailed post. For now, here’s a really short and sweet version of it.
Read your work out loud and ask yourself these questions about your dialogue tags:
1) Is it clear who’s speaking what line?
2) Does each separate speaker have their own paragraph?
3) Am I using a word too repetitiously? (e.g.: does “said” appear on the page more than five times? Is it noticeable when I read the page out loud?)
4) Am I using the correct word? Does reading the page out loud make it sound like I am auditioning for a villain’s role in a melodrama?
Remember that dialogue tags don’t have to be a variant of he said or she said. You can use pieces of action to identify speakers just as well, like “Carolyn waved. ‘Hey girl!'” Not only is “Carolyn waved” not a variant of he said/she said but also adds variety and character movement when there otherwise wouldn’t be any. In most cases, it’s more interesting to read.
Next time I’ll be talking about tenses, so be sure to check it out.
So, I have a question for everyone.
A couple of weeks ago I saw Jupiter Ascending and I fucking loved it. I’ve been flailing about it a lot on Tumblr, and will probably get a post together about why I loved it and what it did right (and a bit that it did wrong–looking at you, terrible Russian stereotypes), but that is not what I am asking right now. There have been some talk online about how Jupiter Ascending is not a sci fi, but a fairy tale wrapped in the cloak of a sci fi film.
Which, okay, when I read that, that makes sense. But I pose this question, then: what makes a sci fi film, then? Bear in mind, I am by no means and expert in sci fi or film. I like sci fi, and I like movies, but I’ve never really been super excited about either in that kind of no-holds-barred sort of way that fans tend to experience.
So if Jupiter Ascending, a movie very heavily based on the idea of futuristic aliens being able to grow humans and harvest their genetic material and turn it into a fountain of youth, a movie filled with aliens and space ships and cool pew-pew guns, if that’s not a sci fi film, then what is a science fiction film? Because I honestly do not seem much of a difference between Jupiter Ascending and Star Wars, a movie that is mostly a soap opera but with cool space ships and weird, yodeling dog aliens and laser beam swords.
Jupiter Ascending may be a retelling of a fairy tale–it certainly has lots of fairy tale elements and a Trial of Three plot structure–but I’m not sure if that disqualifies it from being a sci fi. And if it does, then what is a sci fi? What are a sci fi film’s qualifications? What makes a movie a sci fi?