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May 2017

The New Laptop

When I started writing, I bought a laptop. I couldn’t afford the prices but by a miracle, found a used one for $250. It was an HP Pavilion dv6. It was made in 2012. Brand new, it was $750. Alas, this poor laptop is now limping its last limps.

I had tolerated the BSOD (blue screen of death) for years. It came and went without rhyme or reason. Its parameters were just as random, sometimes the same, other times not. Nowhere online could tell me what the parameters meant. They either weren’t listed or came up as “random memory failure”. My frustration and fear had mounted to where I relinquished in buying a new one.

I thought, “I’ll try to keep it around the $250. I mean, come on, I’m trying to match a five year old device, so it shouldn’t be that expensive.” Please, save your laughter for later.

Upon browsing Amazon, my price slowly rose, with great opposition, until it was around $500. I found one, but it was plastic, not metal, and one reviewer said not to use it for Photoshop, etc, you know, what I’ll be using it for. My Dad offered a Macbook, but I’d rather die. Literally. My hatred for Macs only grew when I was forced to use one at the law office. Not a single person there liked them or could use them. They came to me for help, even the networking professional complained about it. I remapped the keyboards to that of a PC, something the other secretary asked me to do to hers as well. But I digress.

When we went on our anniversary trip, Arlis said to try Best Buy. It was on the way, why not? Oh I found the equivalent of what I had in metal, etc. For $800. I was MAD (I’m still pretty peeved). Why should I pay MORE for a device equivalent to that of five years ago?!?!?!

Computers go through this wavy phase of good machines/bad machines, good prices/bad prices. Right now we’re in a bad machine/bad price phase, hence why I built my past desktop, which still out performs most new ones. The public has been brainwashed to think it’s all about RAM when it’s not. The CPU is vital, something the Best Buy salesman agreed with me on. Don’t get me wrong, RAM is important, but it is useless without the processing power required. It’s like feet without legs.

So anyway, I bring home the new laptop and find a black line down the monitor. I didn’t really care, but online said it would only get worse. We exchanged it for a new one, and now I’m spending FOREVER downloading all the software I need to install in order to see if it will even run what I need it to.

This is part of why I’m so discouraged of late. My schedule has been drastically held back when it was already months behind. I accept that I’ll never catch up, but I don’t want to make it worse!

There is some solace. I posted about my BSOD on a professional forum. After two days, ZERO response on a very active forum. Now, this could mean they don’t take me seriously enough to respond, but I don’t think so. I honestly believe it’s because I made the right decision and got a new machine before the old one bit the dust. I’m just happy I saved all my books in time. That last error message was scary!!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I haven’t run in nearly a week due to our trip, and I have some frustration to remove. Running always makes me feel better.

Writing Dialogue

If there’s one thing I can write well, it’s dialogue. It’s probably the only thing I write well. Unfortunately, it’s also the only thing I write. Let me explain. Most of my Cupolian books were practically scripts before the details were added. I didn’t even have tags to tell me who said what. I had to either know, tell by the words used, or guess when I went in later to add what was needed. I’ve gotten better, but it’s still my main method at times.

Here’s the problem. You don’t want just dialogue. They say for your books to be mainly dialogue because that’s what readers like. I could go on as to why, but I shan’t for now. Let me simply say they don’t actually mean that. Dialogue should be less than half of your story. The other half needs to consist of tag lines and action (I don’t mean shooting fight scene action-I simply mean things happening, etc). If you have the same problem I do when writing dialogue, and you want your dialogue to read better, here’s my trick.

Dialogue has several purposes, and pacing your dialogue is extremely important. Slow a scene down by adding more words outside of the quotes-quicken the scene by having less. Use action tags when you can instead of regular tags. For example, if I have an argument between two people, I would set the conversation up with two tag lines, one after each has spoken the first time, and then have no more. This makes a 1,2,1,2,1,2 dialogue that reads fast. Obviously, you don’t want that all the time.

If your characters are talking casually, and you find there’s too many quotes and not enough action, give them something to do. Ever notice how Harry, Ron, and Hermione are always doing homework or knitting elf hats or some other thing you really don’t care about? There’s a reason for that. Take this section here:

“Excuse me?” asked Taika.
“Well, I came over here to prepare for our journey into the labyrinth, but Gevin here beat me to it.” Anya could feel her emotions rising again, but this time they were different, more edgy and with a pinch of anger.
Taika sighed deeply and stepped down from the shelf she had been balancing on. She dusted her hands off and faced the two of them. “Actually, I did most of that planning last night, and I came to the conclusion there is only one way in.”
Anya stared at her and said, “And?” after she didn’t continue.
“We’ll have to sneak back into Cupola.”
Anya peeked over at Gevin who was still busying himself by putting parchment markers into books. “I don’t understand. I thought we knew that already.”
“That part, yes, but not the addendum.”

I gave them something to do. They’re indexing books for Taika. Without this activity, it would read like this:

“Excuse me?” asked Taika.
“Well, I came over here to prepare for our journey into the labyrinth, but Gevin here beat me to it,” said Anya.
“Actually, I did most of that planning last night, and I came to the conclusion there is only one way in.”
Anya stared at her and said, “And?” after she didn’t continue.
“We’ll have to sneak back into Cupola.”
“I don’t understand. I thought we knew that already.”
“That part, yes, but not the addendum.”

See the difference? Now, the second part is great if you want a fast paced conversation, but you should only use faster paces if there’s a reason, like an argument or a quick discussion because the characters are running out of time and have to discover something fast. The opposite is also true. Do not draw out a conversation that needs to be fast. If two siblings are having a fight, don’t describe them at a quilting bee in the process, unless of course they are at a quilting bee and have to fight through the corners of their mouths so as not to draw attention which would be rather amusing. But-you get the idea.

Summary—if you need to draw out the dialogue, give the characters something to do. It doesn’t have to be relevant, although that helps, but find something, even if it’s knitting or poker. Anything.

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