New Story on WattPad!

Announcing a new story on WattPad–Rings of Saturn! Join Evie as she travels back in time in a race against the clock to try to save an entire city of people. This story updates on Fridays. Get started reading it today.


Under the Golden Cross

“Didn’t you kill any Turks today?”

Joseph looked down at his tunic, white with a red cross. The other man, large and looming, wore a dark splatter across his. A badge. “I carry the golden cross. I’m no killer.”

At dawn, Joe rode into battle. Pulled from his horse, he dropped the cross and plunged his knife into his attacker’s neck. Red sprayed across Joe’s tunic, dripped onto the cross in golden sand.

This piece of historical micro-fiction takes place during the Crusades, a topic I’ve always been interested in writing about–but I need to do much more research before even imagining writing a novel set against the backdrop of those wars.


Indirect Dialogue


I’ve been playing around with indirect dialogue lately, and I think I’m in love. To be honest, I hardly ever used this in the past, but now that I am using it, I notice a few things:

  • My stories are smoother
  • I can spend time showing where it counts
  • I don’t feel like I’m writing a play

Using indirect dialogue is like coming up from being under water and taking a breath. But before I get into discussing how it helped me achieve these three differences, there’s one thing you absolutely have to know:

What is indirect dialogue?

If you already know the answer, great! You’ll want to read this anyway because I’m going to refer to the examples later. If you don’t, no worries–I’ll get you up to speed.

I’m sure you’re used to seeing direct dialogue in a book or story. Direct dialogue might read like this:

“Mom, I want to go see a movie with my friends,” she said.

“What time does it get out?” Mom asked.


“That’s past your curfew.”

“Please? All my friends are going and I just aced that math test.”

“Oh, alright.”

Direct dialogue happens on the page like your reader is in the room (or whatever setting you’ve selected).

Indirect dialogue is reported after the fact, with just enough information to inform the reader of what they need to know, like this:

Mom agreed I could stay out later than curfew to see the movie with my friends because I aced my math test.

Do you see the difference? Great! Let’s move on to how incorporating indirect dialogue helped me improve my fiction.

Smoother Stories

In the example above, the direct dialogue takes up six lines. The indirect dialogue only takes up two lines. This helps my fiction move at the pace I want instead of being forced to plod along in dialogue that only serves one purpose.

That’s the key to writing dialogue–writing it directly requires that it perform multiple functions. Not only does it need to inform (and hopefully engage) the reader, but it should reveal something about the characters: personalities, motivations, fears, etc.

Indirect dialogue doesn’t have to do all of that. It just has to inform the reader. If you have a bit of dialogue that exists only to offer the reader info they need, consider making it indirect.

Also, the story flows better visually. Large swaths of dialogue were just weighing my work down. Now I try to combine indirect and direct dialogue so that I can get in and out of quotes quickly, and back to the story.

Space to Show–Where I Need It

I’ve written about showing vs. telling before. Showing takes up more space than telling, and it slows the pace of a story.

Sometimes, that’s what you want–to slow things down. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you want to slow the story, but not with dialogue.

Using indirect dialogue instead of always relying on direct dialogue means you have the space to show where it counts. Remember: Showing doesn’t need to happen throughout the story. It needs to happen where it’s important.

My Novel Is Not a Play

Plays are wonderful. I love watching them performed on stage, I love reading them, I love acting them out on the loft in my house when no one’s around. But my novel is not a play.

I don’t want it to feel like a play when I’m writing it. If I’m including play written scenes like Kathryn Davis does in her eloquent and wonderful book, Versailles, then that’s one thing–but if I’m not, it shouldn’t write like a play and it shouldn’t read like a play.

There’s more to a play than dialogue of course, and I completely admire playwrights. I think it must be difficult to convey everything that’s going on in dialogue and stage direction and no freedom to break into exposition.


What’s your favorite passage that includes indirect dialogue? If you write, do you like to use it? Why? If you don’t like to use it, how come? Discuss in comments!

Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt: Historical Micro-Fiction


I love historical fiction, and micro-fiction is fun to write. So today’s writing prompt is to write a work of historical micro-fiction. You can pick any historical time period, any place, any event. But here’s the tricky part: Don’t exceed 75 words. Have fun!

Fiction, poetry

WattPad and FanStory

I’m new to using both of these sites that I’ve been meaning to use for a really long time. What can I say? Other things had to happen first. But I want to share with you that I’m now active on both.



This is where I’ll post serial fiction. Right now, I’m working on Pathogen, a story I’ve been meaning to write and share for a long time. While my main fiction focus is on historical literary works, what I post on WattPad will be just for fun, for us to enjoy together. Because of that, I’m sorry to say–I’ll only be posting about 1,000 words or so each month.

Even with that pace, we can unfold stories there together, writer and readers. I just published this month’s section, which I originally wrote years ago as part of my MA program–but I wanted to give it a once over before publishing it and now I finally had the opportunity. Look for the story to continue next month!

Start reading Pathogen today.


This is where I’ll post short fiction and poetry. My main goal here, in addition to connecting with other writers, is to participate in contests. I started posting yesterday, and FanStory only allows me to post two things each day, so there are only four right now. But here’s what you can read if you head over there today:

  • “Dept. of Reformation,” a pastiche of Jenny Offil’s book, Dept. of Speculation
  • “The Coach,” a short story told only in dialogue, no dialogue tags or quotation marks.
  • “In Memoriam J.G.M.,” a pastiche of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam A.H.H.”
  • “Land of the Gods,” a poem I wrote after the earthquake, tidal wave, and nuclear meltdown in Japan

Update: After a few days of use, I’ve decided not to participate on FanStory. I’ve removed the above listed posts and I will share them here next week, along with others I’d posted to that site. 


I welcome feedback on both of these sites, so if you’re a member, please feel free to share your thoughts on these and any other pieces I share. Happy reading!

Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt: Through the Window


Your task this week is to write a story about what your narrator observes through a window. Your narrator can be looking in, or looking out of that window–but the entire story must take place within that field of vision. The story can take place in one scene, or over a longer period of time. The window can be any sort you want–a window in a house, the emergency exit of an airplane, or a car’s windshield are just some examples.

Have fun with this and keep it under 2,500 words.

Fiction, MFA

Earning Emotion

So far this week, I’ve drafted 20 pages for my thesis. Granted, I am writing some of the same scenes over and over in different ways, but I threw in something new too. There’s something emotional that happens early in the book, but I’ve been told that two attempts didn’t come close enough to earning that emotion.

What does it mean to earn it?

I used to think that it would take a lot of space–a lot of words on a lot of pages–to really earn emotional scenes. The scene in question–I knew it was emotional, but I thought that I could earn that with backstory. This week, I learned a couple of important things:

  • I can earn emotion in less space than I thought by finding new ways to focus on scenes and handle the passage of time.
  • At least some backstory necessary to earn emotion has to happen before the emotional moment–the climactic moment of a scene or chapter.

I knew this time I did a better job earning that emotion because while writing, I felt it. I got a little choked up. Given that I’ve written this emotional climax so many times by now and I’ve not had that reaction, I feel like this is an important difference. Might there still be tweaks to make? Yes. But I’m a lot closer than I was.

All it took was a few pages explaining how my protagonist got to that emotional climax. I thought doing so would not interest me or my reader, but by changing up my structure, I think I’ve found a way to make it interesting.

We’ll see what my mentor has to say about it later this month/early April.