Happy Boxing Day, (belated) Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Wonderful Winter Solstice ... whatever you choose to celebrate or ignore, I wish it all to you with a homemade candied cherry on top. I've been almost radio silence on this blog for most of the month due to the craziness of the holiday catering (and musician) season, plus some personal malarkey keeping me running amok. (Amok amok amok!)
I haven't been writing as much as I would like, in part because a good chunk of that is editing, which takes more brainpower, and generates additional and undesirable desires to stab something. Seeing as I work around knives, it's best to be cautious. I have actually been contributing writing for a work feature, Kitchen Wisdom Wednesdays, and that's been a lot of fun. I've toyed with posting Foodie Fridays here, but I know myself and I fear I wouldn't maintain it.
In my (leisurely, molasses-esque) editing, I noticed something new. I've had a couple short stories go to press over the past few months, and both editors thought I used too many speech tags and, to a lesser extent, too many action cues connected with dialogue. Now, for me, I often find that's a comment I give other writers in reverse: their dialogue can feel like "talking heads" to me, words floating in space without clear connection to characters.
As I went back through these stories to trim up speech tags, I found I resisted it. It made the characters' speech feel disconnected to me. Somehow, having tags in particular spots made the dialogue feel more grounded, more attached to the character speaking. What I realized is that it comes back to something in my underlying nature. I'm a very kinesthetic person: I experience the world and learn through action, tactile sensation, movement and activity and *doing*. So cutting those ties - via cutting the speech tags - was very disconcerting to me.
To some extent, I still feel as if I make good choices on this topic; I also feel that part of this is stylistic, a writer's way of crafting prose. But this whole experience has taught me to look more closely at the dialogue and analyze, not always listen to the instinct I wasn't even aware of before.