WFMAD Day 27 – talking heads

I still feel pretty punky, but managed to make some headway on my novel yesterday, which makes up for a lot of internal ickiness. I also started a large map of the territory of the book. There are several scenes in which I’ve written (this is the craptascular first draft, remember): "MC goes from Point A to Point B. Insert interesting details of his path." I imagine my editor and reader are going to expect me to actually make that stuff up and insert it. I’ll work on that today.

Do you have a Creature With Fangs, like mine, who has an unseemly need to be adored by millions? Enter this contest.

I have hundreds of cherry tomatoes. Anyone have a good recipe?


Today’s advice: "Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability."


Today’s prompt: Elizabeth George (Write Away) has a wonderful technique to get rid of those pages of dialog that meander along until your reader fears she has accidentally picked up a screenplay.

George calls them THADs: Talking Head Avoidance Devices.

You are going to make up a bunch of them.

Think about your MC’s life, and where and when she has conversations. Brainstorm 50 different kinds of actions that might reasonably take place while she is talking.

Hint: setting often determines action. If you are not clear about the What The Heck Is She Doing in a scene, first insert more details of the setting. That should get you going.

Scribble….Scribble…. Scribble…

14 Replies to “WFMAD Day 27 – talking heads”

  1. Can I tell you how refreshing it is to know that you have those first draft oddities, too??? My WIP is currently sporting, (in 20 point Times New Roman) “INSERT MORE OF CHAPTER 13 HERE”. I have no idea what should be happening there yet, and I am currently working on Chapter 18. It’s good to know that even fabulously seasoned YA writers, such as yourself, have those first draft prompts too!


  2. Hi Laurie! If you have a lot of cherry tomatoes you could use them in pasta! What I like to do is roast veggies in the oven, usually peppers, mushrooms, squash, etc for about ten minutes after I’ve mixed them and cover them with oil. Then I make the pasta, put a little butter on it when its done, and mix all the veggies in. You can also substitute alfredo sauce as well! But you can halve the cherry tomatoes and throw them into the veggies, and it tastes pretty good! πŸ™‚

  3. cherry tomatoes

    In Sicily this spring I fell in love with Pesto Trapanese. This recipe is a good approximation of the one I use (and am too lazy to look up and retype): Three alterations: roast the almonds in a pan, process them before you process them with the other ingredients, and save some of the pasta water to creamy up the sauce when you toss it with the pasta. Magnifico!

    Hope V.

  4. cherry tomato recipe

    I love your site. I dropped my last child off to kindergarten today and found your entry about your commitments the day you dropped your daughter off to first grade very timely/inspirational. πŸ™‚

    Here is a local guy who makes fantastic breads and pizzas and his seasonal recipes, especially for cherry tomatoes.


    Thanks and enjoy. Hope you feel better soon.

  5. For cherry tomato overflow

    From Cook’s Illustrated, my favorite cooking source.

    Tomato-Almond Pesto

    A half teaspoon of red wine vinegar and ΒΌ teaspoon of red pepper flakes can be substituted for the pepperoncini. If you don’t have a food processor, a blender may be substituted. In step 2, pulse ingredients until roughly chopped, then proceed with the recipe, reducing processing times by half.

    1/4 cup slivered almonds
    12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)
    1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
    1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
    1 small pepperoncini (hot peppers in vinegar), stemmed, seeded, and minced (about 1/2 teaspoon) (see note)
    Table salt
    Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
    1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 pound pasta , preferably linguine or spaghetti
    1 ounce Parmesan cheese , grated (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
    1. Toast almonds in small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool almonds to room temperature.

    2. Process cooled almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, pepperoncini, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes (if using) in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil, about 30 seconds.

    3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve Β½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

    4. Add pesto and Β½ cup Parmesan to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that pesto coats pasta. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.

  6. not really a recipe

    We like to simply rinse cherry tomatoes and while they’re still damp, roll them (lightly) in kosher salt. Yum!

  7. I don’t ordinarily like August–too hot, too dry–but I l have enjoyed dropping in on you every single day this month. And it’s encouraging to hear that you approach first drafts the way I do (“insert lovely poetic language here”). Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  8. tomatoes

    I have great recipe for cherry tomatoes.
    You crab a bowl, place tomatoes in bowl, crab a smaller bowl and pour salt in to the bowl. THEN GO TO IT!!!! I eat them like grapes with just a little salt on them. Sooooooo yummy!!!! Remember the John Denver song….”nothin in the world like home grown tomatoes”!!!!!!!
    “Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
    What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes
    Only two things that money cant buy
    That’s true love and home grown tomatoes”!!!

  9. I would toss them with extra virgin olive oil, basalmic vinegar, scallions, fresh ground pepper, sea salt, and fresh mozzarella.

  10. Good afternoon! I just stumbled across your blog today and I think the your content is fantastic. I’m on my 3rd uh…”practice novel”, but I still feel so green sometimes, probably because I was a little young when I began writing in the first place. I barely knew who I was and yet I expected to have a unique voice.

    Your posts are inspirational and informative…and let’s tack in reassuring. I’m so happy to see I’m not alone with the *Insert scene where MC [action]* littering my rough drafts. Sometimes you just need to get the mechanics down first.

    And boy did I need that dialogue exercise.

    Thanks x 10000 + !

  11. Cherry tomatoes and hummus is one of my favorite snacks! Love your daily does of inspiration, and I hope you feel better soon! πŸ™‚

  12. Craptascular is an amazing word.

    I will look into the cherry tomato thing, as, even though I don’t particularly like them, my dad does, and our plants breed like rabbits and create cute little cherry tomato plants. Friends now run when they see me coming, afraid I will foist more fruits and vegetables upon them. You could always just draw little smiley faces on them. I have an extreme urge to go do that now…


  13. Creature with Fangs contest

    Laurie, thanks for the info. about the contest. I’ll definitely be entering a picture of my Creature with Fangs! πŸ™‚


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.