Talking Heads

I’m reading James Scott Bell’s Revision & Self-Editing and laughed out loud when he talked about “talking heads”. This is when two people meet and just stand and talk.


You need to give the scene some action, whether it is with the characters themselves or their surroundings.

It can happen with just one head too, as seen with my character in the first chapter. I had my heroine escaping from a convent and while she is running away, her thoughts take her back to the events that led to her escape. A long parade of thoughts with no action. Someone pointed this out to me and suggested I add in details of her surroundings and her actual run to break up her inner thoughts.

Don’t you love it when a light bulb goes off and you “get it”? It is such a good feeling! Needless to say, I fixed that scene right up and it works alot better!

Do you ever have talking heads or are you past this phase in your writing?

18 responses to “Talking Heads”

  1. LOL I love that picture. I also love that 'light bulb' feeling when something clicks on a new level.

    Yay for crit partners who point things out.


  2. Great pic and a great reminder to us. I can think of a few scenes I've written that need some action to break up the dialogue.


  3. What an amazing pic for this post. Did it take you forever to find it?

    For the most part I don't do this anymore. I tend to catch myself fast and press the delete button. But during revisions I'm always sprucing up dialogue!


  4. I love light bulbs! Especially when they go off in my head…which seems to be happening at least once a day this summer. It's awesome!

    The only time I like talking heads is when I watch The Office. Halarious.

    Glad you're liking revision and self-editing. Very practical stuff, isn't it?


  5. Oh, I have definitely done this in the past. And there are times I still do when I'm stuck in a scene and I don't know where to go. Then I look back at it the next day and end up having to delete it all 😀


  6. Oooh, great picture, Sherrinda!

    I think I do this blah blah blah blah thing too often, even though I write non fiction. I'll be aware of it now.

    Instead of having my hus. and I sitting on the couch talking, I can add that the cat was behind us playing her own version of “Cat's in the Cradle” on the piano. Will that work?

    Thanks for the tip!
    Happy Weekend,


  7. I'm not sure I'm ever past any of that. LOL! Each scene is different. Thanks for the reminder.


  8. Great post! I'm guilty. I do it all the time. At least if we are aware of it, we can fix it. 🙂


  9. Love the picture! Sometimes replacing attributions (he said) with a physical description (called a beat) can help add detail.


  10. I'm guilty. I've probably done it in the MS I'm working on right now! Thanks for bringing it up, though, b/c now I'll know to look for that. Do you like James Scott Bell's book? I don't have that one.


  11. Erica, I wish I had more light bulb moments, but I am sure during this editing phase, more will go off!

    Quixotic, the pic made me laugh. 🙂

    Eileen, the pic didn't take very long. I didn't know this, but there is a band called the Talking Heads and most of the google images brought them up. This is a cover for one of their albums! lol Yea for learning and applying before you write!!!

    Katie,I am loving the practical elements of Bell's book! It is just what I needed.

    Cindy, oh no! Having to delete your section? Say it isn't so!!!

    Jeanette, you crack me up! The cat can count, I suppose! You are too funny!

    Jessica, girl, you need to tell me you get past these hurdles, because to not learn them and apply them haunts me!

    Lazy Writer, (I have trouble calling you that! No writer is lazy!!!) isn't it a good thing we can catch this kind of stuff in the revision process? Of course, I wish I could learn it from the get-go and not deal with it later! lol

    Tara, oh yes, I am just now learning that as well. (about the beat instead of attributions) I'm learning so much these days!


  12. Heather, I am loving this book by Bell. He is VERY practical and I love practical. He spells it out and gives you examples that show you what he means. It is perfect for me!


  13. Hey, I really want to finish reading your story! I think I still have some of your chapters. Do you want me to read through what I have or do you have anything new to send to me?


  14. Yup–I have done that many times and have had to cut and cut and trim when I could.
    I too loved that picture!


  15. Hi Sherrinda –

    Talk about a picture being worth a 1,000 words! It drew me into the post immediately.

    I've also heard the talking heads described as a ping-pong game. One character says something, and the other one responds. It's one of those areas where I came home from a workshop and went through my manuscript.

    Have a blessed weekend!



  16. I really struggle with my actions during conversations. I've had to go back in and give some scenes a lot more movement.


  17. Great picture! Lets see I think I've had talking heads and head hopped and I'm sure if there are other head things I've done those too!


  18. Jody, goodness girl, you don't have time to read my stuff right now! Don't you have your hands full?

    Terri, I think we all do it, at least at some point in our journey, if not all the time!

    Susan, ping-pong is a great way to describe the head hopping! lol I'll have to remember that!

    Joyce, I'm having to do alot of that in my editing right now and really, I am probably not doing enough of it!

    Debbie Lynn, lol, I'm sure if it has anything to do with talking heads and POV, I've done messed it up! I sure am learning alot though!


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