Tales out of Tallis

Some of you may have noticed that the Dragonlord and Stone & Fire posts have been switched to private.   Don’t worry, that just means they are about to go to print.

As The Duchess is a short story that doesn’t exactly fit into either novel, it will remain up.

Silverfish and some of my other works are about to go the same way.  However, even if I do compile/edit the World Less Visible for publication, the stories will also remain here on my blog.



Hey fellow writers, it’s almost that time again.  Yep, November.  National Novel Writing Month.  I’m participating, which is partly the reason for my recent spat of world building posts.   I also decided to try doing a fundraiser for NaNoWriMo.  So, if you read my work and like it, please donate so NaNoWriMo can keep going strong.

And if you are also participating, good luck!

On Dialogue Tags

“Be wary of dialogue tags,” she warned.

“Ha,” he laughed.  “I’ll tag my dialogue as I please!,” he exclaimed.

“Peace,” she groaned.  “Have mercy,” she begged.

“I enjoy your pain,” he gloated.  “Let all tremble before my might,” he boasted…


Okay.  Yeah, I can’t do this anymore.  I’m annoying myself.  See the above?  Yeah.  Don’t do that.  If you must use dialogue tags at all, try to stick with ‘said’ and ‘asked’.  Let your characters words and actions show what they are doing and feeling rather than stick in a dialogue tag to tell them.

Other dialogue tags should be used very sparingly, if they are used at all.  If you are using other tags more than once in conversation, you are probably using them too often.  Dialogue tags should be nearly invisible to the reader, so when they aren’t, it needs to be important.  Emphasis.  Ye old out of character alert that something a bit out of the ordinary is going on here.  Used too often, they lose their impact and just become annoying.

Also, you can’t actually laugh a line of dialogue.  You can, however, say something while laughing or trying not to laugh.

And yes, I know, you’ll find English teachers, particularly at the Jr. High level, who tell you to use other words for dialogue tags.   I also know that while it is difficult, you must refrain from smacking them upside the head with the thesaurus.

Mental Illness in Stories

Look, I know it’s apparently ‘trendy’ or something right now to have your angsty character have a mental illness of some kind.  But please, please, please, if for no reason other than so you don’t look stupid, if your character is going to have a mental illness make sure you actually learn what the hell it is first.

Your character with Tourette Syndrome?  Yeah, there is a lot more to that than random cussing.  In order to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, you have to also have at least two motor tics.  In fact, Coprolalia?  The cussing thing?  Yeah, only about 10% of the people with Tourette Syndrome have that.  It’s not limited to Tourette Syndrome.  Also, it’s Tourette Syndrome, not tourettes.  And if you, anywhere in your writing, call it turrets syndrome, your readers get one free punch at your face.  Each.

If your character has epilepsy?  Then they probably do not drive, especially when they are in any part of the world with actual driving regulations.  Why?  Because it’s a goddamn seizure disorder, that’s why.  They are not legally allowed to drive unless they’ve been seizure free for a variable number of years.  Not months.  Years.

Also, if your character has a severe neurological disorder for which they are on medication (such as schizophrenia) and they go off their meds for any reason?  Yeah, it’s not going to be just a bit of a hangover.  It’s going to be ‘let’s take a trip to our good friend Mr. Emergency Room’.  It could KILL them.

It would also help if you learned the difference between ‘feeling depressed’ and ‘having clinical depression’.  Hint – Only one of those can be helped by going for a walk in the park or ‘just trying to cheer up and put a brave face on it’, and it’s NOT the latter.

If you are in the US, your character cannot be involuntarily medicated without a court order, and getting such a court order is NOT an easy thing.  If someone gives medication without the consent of the patient or their legal guardian, they can go to jail.  A doctor is not going to walk up and sedate someone in the ER for shouting.  They are going to call security and security is going to walk up and taze them in the ER for shouting.

And if you are in the US, a psychologist, a therapist, a counselor, and a psychiatrist are NOT the same thing.  Learn the difference.  Only one of those is also a medical doctor able to legally prescribe you medication.