Guest Blogger: Jill Horn

Since I’m busy catching up on my word count, I asked Jill Horn to step in for me this week. Jill is the author of the novella, “A Change of Heart,” as well as several nonfiction articles. For today’s topic, she wanted to discuss how she writes dialogue in her fiction.

Dialogue. How do I put this in my stories? This is something that I have found difficult when writing fiction. In the past, I wrote mostly nonfiction; so when I started writing fiction, I found it difficult to write for everyone in the book and make everyone sound different. There are some things I’ve done to help myself write better dialogue in my stories.

The first is to pattern a character’s speech after someone I know. When I’m writing a story and one of the characters in the story is similar to someone I know, then I try to make that character sound like the person I know. I also try to think of people I know who have a distinctive way of speaking. If I have spent a lot of time with someone, then it is easier to think of what that person would say in a situation. So I usually try to pattern a character’s speech after people I know really well and have spent sufficient time with. This technique is especially helpful if there are characters in my story that are based on people I know who also know each other in real life. I then know how they talk to each other.

Another technique that is similar is to base a character’s speech on a certain type of personality. When I make the character sketches for those in my story, if that character is not based on a person I know, then I try to think of that character as a certain personality type. There are several personality descriptive tools that are available. The Colors of Personality is one I have used, where you can read the different personality descriptions. As you write your character sketches, you can write down if the person is a blue-red, for instance. Then when writing dialogue for that person, think of how a blue-red would talk (maybe think of a blue-red you know) and write that way.

Dialogue is only part of the story though. Usually a good story flows between action, dialogue and thoughts. Sometimes, I write the dialogue only and then add in the actions, thoughts, and punctuation later. One book I have found very useful is “Write Great Fiction – Dialogue” by Gloria Kempton. Some of the ideas I’ve suggested come from her book.

Good luck!


Thank you so much, Jill! Click here to visit Jill’s website, where you can learn more about her book. The site also contains information about chemical-free Shaklee products, which I use to clean my home and stay healthy. If you have any thoughts on dialogue or questions for Jill, please leave a comment!


6 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Jill Horn

  1. I really want to make a success of my blog – at least for an interchange of ideas common to baby boomers, whether it be fears, hopes, dreams, lost loves, etc. Hopefully something positive will leap out at me given the fact that I was just laid off. My entire company shut its doors. I want to write an e-book “Behind Closed Doors – Dark Secrets of a Treatment Center.” I think it would be a good read. Don’t know a thing about writing ebooks and hope that someone in cyberspace does and will offer solicted suggestions.

  2. Dear sybilleruth,

    Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what you’re hoping to achieve. Are you wanting to advertise your blog or your book? Or are you asking Jill or me for advice on e-books? If so, what exactly are you hoping to learn about e-books?

    I’d love to try to help you, but I will need a more specific request. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for your reply…I guess I wanted to know two very different topics…how to direct traffic to my blog and also how to write an ebook and what it all entails. I think I have a good subject and I know I can write, but to put it all together is a bit unknown to me.


  4. Writing an e-book is similar to writing any book. First you focus on writing it: complete it, and then revise it as many times as necessary. Once you have a polished product, then you can choose from several options: 1) query agents, 2) submit to editors if they accept unrepresented work, 3) self-publish, 4) other options that I’m currently blanking on. Anybody can self-publish an e-book (and there are several venues for self-publishing). But if you want the backing of a publisher, that’s trickier. You need to either impress an agent or an editor, which can require several query letters and rejections. Unless one of them stumbles upon your blog and makes you an offer that way… but the odds of that happening are slim for any writer. Anyway, I hope that helps a little bit. Remember, there’s nothing really different about writing an e-book. But if you want to self-publish one, you’ll need to do some Internet research to find which route is the best one for you.

    How to direct traffic to a blog… that’s a very good question, with a very lengthy answer. So I’m going to save that for a future Tuesday’s Topic (look for it in two or three weeks). Thanks for the idea!

  5. Great site this emrowan.com and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor 🙂

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