Floating Heads and Writing Desks

floating heads.jpgHave you ever heard of floating head syndrome?  I’ve heard it called talking head syndrome too.  It’s when the characters in a book are exchanging dialogue, but the author rarely mentions where the speakers are or what they are doing.  Without these little descriptive beats sprinkled in it feels like the characters are floating in the void while having conversations.

It’s a tap dance we do with the reader.  Give too many beats and the dialogue doesn’t flow, don’t give enough, and the reader doesn’t have a clue what the characters are doing while they are talking.  There’s a few ways to tackle the problem.

First, read the dialogue aloud and see how it flows. Next, you could also open some of your favorite books and look at how the pro’s did it.  If you are still undecided, ask someone to read a chapter or section. Once they finish, ask them what the characters were doing in the chapter.  If they’ll oblige you, ask them where the characters were as well. If the reader just shrugs their shoulders in response—it might be time to tweak those beats.

While this is good to know, it’s not why I’m writing today.  Sometimes I feel like we are all floating heads when I read blogs.  Even my own.  “Who is this writer?  Where are they writing from?  Is this blog written by a person or a futuristic artificial intelligence?” Corey wondered as he swiveled in his black office chair.

writers desk

So today I thought I would share where this blog gets written from—my writing desk.  It’s a normal desk, in a normal house, manned by a normal adult male.  However, it has the ability to let me reach out and touch the other side of the planet with my words.  It’s also the place where I create worlds, and if I want to, destroy them.  Pretty neat.

[Editor’s Update]

Writing Desk.jpgI wrote this post months ago and things have moved about in my study.  I didn’t like the cramped feeling of being surrounded.  The photo below is my new setup. It lets me spin about in my chair like a madman without bashing my legs. I also like how much it opened up the room. I wrote a post about how a writing environment can alter your productivity a while back.  This shift really bolstered my own process.

Whats your writing desk look like?  Do you have one?  Or are you a mobile master taking your work with you wherever you go?  Until tomorrow.  Keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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19 responses

  1. I always enjoy seeing where other people practice their craft. Right now I’m an “on the move” kind of writer, but I’ll be setting up a study in a few weeks after a big move; it’s the thing I’m most excited for. I love your space, it looks organised but cozily so, and the stormtrooper helmet is a nice touch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and posting Shaun! Good luck with your move, I know what a challenge that can be. I hope you are able to find a great space to set up in.


  2. My writing desk, right now:

    There’s a cat sleeping on the upper shelf: Una, a.k.a. “Floofycat” this time, although it could as easily have been Ashley or Doodlecat. On the lower shelf are two stacks of books, print copies of some of the novels I edited.To the left of the computer monitor are displayed a small collection of antique iron keys and a carved wooden raven.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My furry writing companion is a cat named Niblet. She wandered into my garage half-starved when I lived in Kentucky and eventually made it into the house. After that, she never left. Her place of comfort in the office is on the printer feed tray. I think she knows if she sits there it’s only a matter of time before she gets some attention from me. Sometimes I print a test page just to scare one of the nine lives out of her – she must have a lot more than nine…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my writing desk, a proper mess is what it is! A bundle of wires, a broken lamp, clothes strewn about the bed, and a drawer inhabited by a Wacom tablet I don’t use, along with a short story that’s been waiting to be revised for a year. The only thing I could call “neat” is the globe that rests there, and that’s a gift I got a few days ago.

    Still, it might be a trash hole, but it’s my trash hole!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing! Some people thrive in the madness of a chaotic space. All those misplaced items band together and send out positive vibes to the muse. Best of luck to you as you manage the madness 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice work space! Did you behead that storm trooper yourself?

    I’m fairly mobile. I have a small desk, but I write all over the house. And I travel a lot, so I’ve gotten good at writing wherever I happen to be at the moment. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m envious of your travels. Back in my Navy days I was moving all over the place. Now, with my wife being the active duty one, I only move once every three years or so. I plan to get more mobile (locally) when Thor gets into school. Which will be a few years. Until then, a hermits life for me!

      As for the trooper helmet…I was sitting there at my desk waiting for the muse to arrive, and she strolled in carrying it in her arms. She tossed the helmet at my feet and dematerialized. I’ve been waiting for her to come back for a while now…she must be out hunting for more parts.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I actually did a post like this back in the summer! I think it’s so interesting to see where writers work their magic 🙂 As much as I love to have a particular set-up and feel like I have a writing “home”, the truth is I usually just write where ever I happen to be whenever I have the time.

    Forever dreaming of a designated writing room!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can relate to trying to make the magic happen wherever you are. I used to do a bulk of my writing in the living room, but once my son got old enough to start crawling around and causing mayhem, I had to evolve. One of these days (likely a few years from now when he’s in school), I’ll start moving my writing from place to place again.

      Here’s hoping your writing room dreams come to true!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My writing desk depends on what I am writing. My morning meditations are at the kitchen table and my computer writing is at my desk in the office. Then there is my “thinking” desk. This is a stand up desk in the front bedroom. I do my best writing here because I can stop and stare out the window when the muse demands it. There is also a television in the room so I can write while watching baseball, football, or golf. Life is good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s very interesting that you have designated areas to address different types of writing. I always enjoy talking to different authors and seeing how environment impacts their creativity and process. I’m doomed if I try to write and watch tv. My eyes will look up at the tv, and when I look back down to the laptop an hour will have passed 🙂


  7. Couch for editing, anywhere for writing (if I am seized upon it is all just scrambling of pen and paper). The floating head thing is interesting. I’m sometimes afraid that I do this in my own work, I have to be real careful when I get crazy with dialogue. Thanks as always for the pointers and entertaining read!!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to operate almost exactly in the same way as you. Now I tend to do everything in my home office. The little guy will smack my legs non-stop and attempt to beat the laptop keyboard into submission if I work anywhere within his reach.

      I usually just write the dialogue, finish the chapter, then go back through. Sometimes it happens naturally, but most of the time my brain focuses on one part and forgets the other. When I read it seems very obvious, but when I write it’s much different. Funny how our addled minds function.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hehe mine once deleted a whole block of text with the push of a button, not super important luckily, but my brain worked so hard on it! So I reserve nap time for screen time. : ) I can write on paper other times, but not without getting my pen stolen, eventually.



  8. Pingback: Tics and Tells to Show not Tell « Quintessential Editor

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