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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Jun 30, 2023

Mark interviews Jeff Elkins about his writing, about dialogue and character voice, about his new book The Dialogue Doctor Will See You Now, and more . . .

Prior to the interview, Mark shares the winners of the complimentary tickets to BookMARCon, the surprise winners of complimentary pizza, a personal update, and a word from this episode's sponsor.

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During their conversation Mark and Jeff talk about:

  • Jeff's "nickname" as "The Dialogue Doctor" as well as his background as a writer
  • What Jeff has seen in the past eight years that he has been involved in the indie author space
  • The latest novel Jeff released in March 2023 co-authored with J.P. Rindfleisch called NRDS: National Recently Deceased Services which is described as "Ghostbusters meets The Office"
  • The first collaboration Jeff had done with his best friend years ago
  • Wanting to reengage in and looking for a way to give back to the author community in 2020
  • Adapting what he does professionally, training professionals in difficult conversations, and leveraging that to help authors apply those skills to their writing
  • Doing more than 200 1:1 sessions since 2020 with authors to help them with their dialogue
  • Liking helping writers perhaps more than he even likes writing
  • The Dialogue Doctor community that seems to operate as a problem-solving community
  • Jeff's book The Dialogue Doctor Will See You Now, coming July 1, 2023
  • The structure of the book, which is hear the problem, learn the philosophy and the strategy for fixing it, then do a reading challenge, then a writing challenge
  • The emotional journey a character goes on and the emotional shape of stories
  • How you can have all the right plot points but not have the right emotional journey and the reader will disconnect from it
  • Replacing the words hero, alley, and villain with terms like vehicle (the point of view character), the engines (characters who help move them forward), the anchors (those who weigh the vehicle down or bring out the worst versions of the vehicle)
  • If you need the character to struggle, put them in scenes with their anchor
  • If you want a big emotional moment where the character has to make an emotional choice, have the character enacting upon the influence of the anchor, then introduce the engine into that scene
  • How when we talk about dialogue we're really talking about overall character interaction
  • Building a character voice and ways of building a dynamic cast around a character where they can all build upon one another
  • The difference between segments and scenes
  • Jeff's "Apple a day" style advice for writers
  • And more...

After the interview Mark reflects on dialogue being one important aspect of overall character interaction, the readers emotional journey, and the value in helping other authors.

Links of Interest:


Jeff Elkins coaches authors and podcasts as the Dialogue Doctor. Since launching the Dialogue Doctor in 2020, he's held over 200 1-on-1 coaching sessions with authors focused on helping them improved their dialogue. In addition to 12 novels, Jeff is the author of The Dialogue Doctor Will See You Now: How to Write Dialogue and Characters Readers Will Love -- a primer on how to write great dialogue, dynamic character voices, and powerful casts of characters.


The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0