Deb Linda Turns to Dialogue to Avoid Talking to Herself

Since my lovely sister Debs have already covered the subject of dialogue in books so thoroughly this week, I thought I’d talk a bit about a different kind — the dialogue between author and reader.

Now more than ever, writers can freely interact, via various forms of social media, with their readers and potential readers. Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, personal blogs, and, yes, group blogs like this very one, all provide fantastic forums for actual back-and-forth discussions with the people most important to a writer’s career.

The thing about being a writer is that it can be isolating. Sitting in front of a computer, tapping the keyboard and watching words unfold on the screen in front of you is satisfying, yes–otherwise why would so many of us do it? barring that whole being a masochist thing, I mean–but it can also lead to some lonely moments. Playing with the people in your head is fun, but face it — they’re all, strictly speaking, “you.” (Yes, even the evil ones.) (Okay, in my case, especially the evil ones.)

And sometimes *cough* playing with talking to yourself just doesn’t cut it.

For most writers, the easiest — and fastest — way to interact with a mind other than their own is to pop onto Twitter, or over to Facebook, and begin a dialogue with some other lonely slob writer or reader. You can always commiserate with other the writers, which is indispensable in navigating the rocky road to publication, but it’s the readers you meet online who provide an invaluable peek into the minds of the people you’re trying to reach through your books.

I met every one of my beta readers online, and without the dialogue that sprang up between us, my books never would have been completed, much less sold. Our conversations let me know when I was on the right track and, even more important, when I was way off-base. For example:

Beta Reader: Gawd! You really think Ciel would do that?

Me: Um … I guess not?

Beta Reader: I mean, it’s just a little … you know.

Me: I think you may be right. Consider it undone. Thanks!

(Or something like that.)

And you know what I’m really looking forward to? Meeting new readers after In a Fix is out there in the world. I couldn’t be happier that the internet line of communication is  there, waiting to provide the opportunity for more dialogue. (Frankly, it’s a lot less intimidating than random people showing up on your doorstep with a bone to pick about an ill-chosen plot point. *grin*)

Obligatory end-of-post questions:

If you’re a writer, how has being able to establish a ready dialogue with your readers/future readers helped (or hindered — I suppose that’s possible, too) your writing?

If you’re a reader, does easy access to writers via the internet make a difference in the books you choose to read?

31 thoughts on “Deb Linda Turns to Dialogue to Avoid Talking to Herself

  1. You know, I started following a NYT-bestselling author on Twitter last year, and then started following her blog. I liked her voice, liked her genre, but I’d never read her books. So one day I ordered the first in her series–all because of her online presence. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it, but I’m still considering picking up one of her newer series, because hey–we all grow as writers, even the published ones. First books can be stinky sometimes, right? So I can 100% say that I’m willing to give her another go only because of her Twitter and blog activity.

    • Hi Summer! See, that’s what I’d do, too. If I don’t know an author, I might give them one shot. But if I’ve come to enjoy his/her online presence … well, I’ll try more than once.

  2. I think having an online presence is great. Meeting readers and writers is win-win for everyone involved. Hopefully, our books will benefit, we get to know some wonderful people, and (bonus) we don’t get any crazier than we already are!

  3. I met all my critique partners and beta readers online (not counting the husband, who is still an invaluable and astute reader.) And I’ve also met some of the readers of my book online — especially on Twitter. This often led to an invitation to interview or guest spot on their blog … since it seems that most readers who Tweet also blog.

    I’ve even met one or two of them in person at local book events after meeting them on Twitter. That was awesome, too.

    SO FAR I haven’t run across anybody tweeting that my book sucked. I suppose it might happen if I continue to publish books and if my books are widely read. That will be a little less thrilling, I suppose, but something that comes with the territory.

    Once In A Fix is out there and you set up a Twitter search for the title, you’ll get to eavesdrop on all kinds of conversations!

    • It must be so cool to actually meet with readers! I can’t wait for that experience. Well, unless they show up with sticks and stones, and want to hang me out to dry for wasting bookstore shelf space. I find the idea of that mildly terrifying. (Why, yes, I do have nightmares about that. *grin*)

  4. This is an interesting take, Linda. And I’m sorry for you always being last to get a kick at the weekly themes – but it does force you to come up with really interesting posts!

    I love the accessibility of authors on the internet and it absolutley has influenced me to buy books based on my interactions with them. On the school playground I could just tell people I liked them or if I didn’t, push them down into the dirt, but now, as a grown up, those things are discouraged. SO, I vote with my wallet, meaning I will buy the books of those people I like and not buy those of people I don’t like or think might be douches. Passive-aggressive? Perhaps, but I have found most writers to be awesome, friendly people and what better way to support them?!

    • Aw, thanks. 🙂

      Yeah, I love to support the writers I meet online. I keep all their books on a special shelf — the people I “know.” I love seeing them there.

  5. When I first started writing I met Laurie Halse Anderson at a local conference. She had a huge impact on me, so I started to follow her blog. I learned tons from her, enjoyed the experience and began to feel like a viable part of the writing community. It was a game changer for me. Great post!

    • Thanks, K-pop! It really is a life-changer to get to know our writing heroes (at least a bit), isn’t it? Such an inspiration to keep plugging away.

  6. Linda, I’m so curious to hear the responses to your last question. I have loved being online–which I have admitted many times I wasn’t at all certain I would before I started!–and I’m grateful to friends and readers who share their thoughts on the books they read. I’ve been lately trying to do more with Goodreads in terms of seeing it as a readers community and commenting on friend’s reads but I’m not sure I feel the same sort of back-and-forth that I do with Twitter in that regard.

    • Ugh. I fail at Goodreads. I keep meaning to pay more attention to my account there, and then I get all caught up in the other social media, and I DO have to spend at least SOME time actually writing books…

      I think my New Year’s resolution will have to be to figure out Goodreads once and for all, and spend more time there.

  7. As a reader, I love being able to interact with authors. And yes, I’ve bought books simply because I heard them talked-up online. As a writer, I need to make sure that my online dialogue doesn’t interfere with getting dialogue on the page. It’s a balance.

    • You’re absolutely right about balance, Delia. Social media is so immediate, so right there in your face, that it’s tough to ignore. Probably because there are real people on the other end of it, instead of characters. Our characters HAVE to wait for us. Well, until we’re up against a deadline, and then all hell breaks loose. *grin*

  8. dialogue is my favorite part of writing. i have been known to say, “When i forget how to write (dialogue) i just re-read some early elmore leonard.”
    i ususally play out scenes (dialogue) in my head while driving from somewhere to somewhere else.
    .
    you are wonderful ! .. bright, witty … and a bit mischievous !

  9. As a writer, I hope I’m establishing dialogue with future readers. As a reader, I’ve read some great books from authors I would never have known without the internet.

    Happy New Year!

  10. I love LOVE having Twitter and the like to hear from readers. I didnt’ get super involved until after MWF Seeking BFF was done, so I dont know that it affected the writing of THAT book… but i can only imagine how much I will hear my Twitter friends’ voices in my ear when I start book two….

    • Here’s a question I meant to ask you before — have any of your friend-dates tracked you down on Twitter since MWF Seeking BFF came out?

  11. as a reader, if i like an author’s online personality, i will buy that person’s books to support them, if i like the book or not. working in publishing and learning a whole helluva lot more about the writer’s side of the business, i’m coming to find that buying books is a wonderful way to support the people you like.

    and as a bonus, i get to read!

    it’s almost like the internet is to the author as the paparazzi is to the actor. except the author has way more control over what image is projected out. there’s no reason not to be likeable!

    • Oh, good comparison! And I agree — there’s no reason not to be likeable. Or at least not too obnoxious.

  12. I’ve got a couple of questions for you – d’you ever argue with your characters? If a person (er, no one in particular) was to find herself doing this, should they be concerned?

    • LOL! Yeah, I do, as a matter of fact. They usually win, too. But that’s okay, because they tend to know the plots better than I do.

      In answer to your second question…why, no. I’d be more concerned if you…er, “someone” didn’t argue with her (or his) characters from time to time. Arguing = conflict, and every writer knows good fiction is born from conflict. 😉

  13. My problem is that I write way too much dialog & not enough other stuff which I like to call filler. It’s weird that this should be my problem cause I’m not much of a conversationalist in person. In fact, inane chatter drives me nuts.

    • Ah, but when you write you control both sides of any conversation, so it wouldn’t be inane chatter. 🙂

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