Expect The Unexpected… Or Not – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

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Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Expect the unexpected… or not . Originally posted on Sep 10, 2016 5:27 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is it’s easy to let a character peter out, and lose them in the story.

Expect The Unexpected… Or not

Sometimes a character or a side story’s direction can peter out. They will lose direction, interest or momentum. I like to make a side story/character impactful in some way. I generally have an idea where it will go and how it fits in and affects the main story.

What happens when it’s not meeting the mark? It’s time to recharge the story or character.

What do I do? First, I don’t let myself get discouraged. Then I take a break to come back with a fresh perspective and take a good look at the problem. Usually, for me, the issue is lack of action. Second, I think what I want to accomplish and can I spice it up. This can take seconds to days or even weeks to come up with a new direction, a game changer. They can be main or subplot twists. They don’t have to be dramatic or huge, subtle works too. That can be tedious to wait for an idea from the deep recesses of my brain. I make two lists to spark inspiration. One is random things that can happen and one of the random things that make no sense to the story. They can look like this.

Possible

  • Serious injury (be careful with this one. Know the injury, the pain response and how they would move, act and feel. If you’ve never been seriously injured, talk to someone who has.)
  • Car accident
  • Wins money or item
  • Break-in
  • Theft
  • Finds a big clue or evidence
  • Betrayal (Make sure there is a reason for this.)
  • Dissolve a friendship (People grow apart, things can tear friends or lovers apart. Make sure it fits in the personalities and break a heart.)
  • Falls for the wrong person
  • New adversary
  • Loss of funding
  • Inadvertently kills someone (maybe self-defense)
  • Breaks the law
  • Saves a life
  • Loss of power
  • Shift in management
  • New team member or co-worker
  • Failed plan
  • Abduction
  • Fire
  • Natural Disaster
  • meet someone new (Sometimes the introduction of a new character can spice things up if their personality clashes or drives the story forward.)

 

Impossible (Kind of possible but not great ideas that are book specific)

  • A company suddenly shuts down
  • Death of the main character (NEVER do this.)
  • Death of support character (While popular, this can be risky for a debut author to do.)
  • Become outlaws
  • Bad guys become in charge (Unless this is temporary or important to plot, I won’t do this as it doesn’t work for my story.)
  • Asked/told/commanded to do something unethical (Great for conflict creation)
  • Plans or commits murder
  • Spills information or secrets to the wrong guys (This can work, but it has to be written well and fit into the story.)
  • Takes up arms against allies (There better be a damned good reason. Since I wrote this, I do have a character that does this, it was foreshadowed, not a surprise and it was important to the plot.)

I make these lists primarily to put ideas in my head. (The lists are not always the same and are story specific. They are ideas that fit or won’t fit with the particular project I’m currently working on. For example in my new book, my MC off-hand thinks of murder. She’s given a good reason. That is a kind of planning. In my original MS, I wouldn’t have my MC even think about it.) Often they will lead my mind down a path to something that makes me gasp, sit up and feel the excitement. Determining what’s possible and impossible will depend on the base morals of the story and the characters within. For this, I’m not worried about foreshadowing, unless it’s really big and needs a little setup. I like a surprise, the random things that the reader doesn’t see coming (I still like this.) However, I use this in moderation, if it’s a constant storm of ‘what the hell just happened!’ it can distract from the story and turn the reader off. Plot twists are great. Plot turns are fantastic, blowing it to kingdom come… probably not a great way to endear readers to you. I say this because I’ve read books where nothing was foreshadowed, big things happened all the time for no apparent reason and it was frustrating beyond reason to read. (I still agree with this, too much is… too much. I have also recently read a book where the big random things happened and they had nothing to do with the story. It was weird and hard to care about the story because of it.)

It’s kind of fun to look at where you want it to go, and make a list of the exact opposite and think about what would happen if…

My advice about recharging a lifeless character or plot.
There are unlimited options to stir the pot and rejuvenate a character or story, my actual lists are much longer and really random.  Make some lists and keep an open mind. It’s okay to play devil’s advocate if it saves the story from becoming a Yawn-farm.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/your-daily-word-prompt-dissolve-august-16th-2018/

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Twitter and Blogging

Twitter blogging

Hello everyone. Life is busy and this is good. The new kittens we adopted are settling in, I’m re-writing BiaAtlas which needed to be done badly. Propechy Ink is out in the queryverse and I’ve gotten rejections.

I also joined twitter a couple months ago and I’ve learned a lot from the supportive writing community there. If you are a writer and you are not on twitter, it’s something to consider. You can access and use Twitter on a PC as well as a cellphone. Finding other writers is easy. Search the hashtags #amwriting #amquerying #amediting #writerslife #WIP #pitchwars #querytip  they are good places to start.

Right now there is a flurry of Twitter activity surrounding #PitchWars (click the logo below to visit the PitchWars website.

pitch wars

If you have a finished manuscript and are ready to query or are querying I recommend you check out PitchWars. It is a twitter competition to win a mentor who will help polish up your manuscript and query materials. There are also other events like pitch parties that allow you to mini-pitch to literary agents and publishers without a standard query(Still query, these are fun but not the only way to query agents and publishers)

So that is what has been keeping me busy lately, that and summer. It has been crazy hot, but we’ve kept busy and are enjoying the outdoors as much as we can.

I do try to read blogs and those that post in the daily prompt. I’m not always successful, but I try. That said, I don’t seem to be writing a lot of blogs lately. I have to pick and choose what to focus on. I want to give a shout out to my fellow bloggers who are putting in an effort to provide a daily or weekly word prompt or prompt for the bloggers out there. Perhaps in time, I will find more time to blog and take advantage of these daily prompts. If I’ve missed any, let me know and I’ll include them on my next shout out post.

Fandango’s one-word challenge
FOWC with Fandango — Handle

Word of the Day’s Challenges
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/spying/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/08/12/kiras-sunday-scribbles-3/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/close-up-tuesday-photo-prompt/

Flash Fiction For Aspiring Authors Prompt:
https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/fffaw-challenge-178th/

Mind Love Misery’s Photo Challenge:
https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/photo-challenge-226/

Ragtag Community Prompt:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/rdp-75-blue/

Daily Addictions’ Prompt:
https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/2018/08/11/daily-addictions-2018-week-32/

Last but not least, the prompt that I host:
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/your-daily-word-prompt-dispense-august-15th-2018/

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Spaces, The Final Frontier

Spaces, The Final Frontier  (2).png

Spaces, The Final Frontier

There seems to be some debate online and in the blogosphere about spacing after punctuation. I’ve talked about spacing before because I used to do it wrong and once in a while I catch myself double spacing. I have read articles arguing both single and double spacing after punctuation is correct. However, I found a vast majority that for manuscripts being submitted to literary agencies and publishers they want to see single spaces after punctuation. I have consulted with industry professionals and they all say single space only. Why is that? I’ve summed it up for you.

Back in the day when typewriters were the only form of typeset commonly used, all the letters took up the same amount of space, the typeset was visually ‘gappy.’ It didn’t matter if it was an i or a w or a , or . Thus to create a visual break a double space was used after all punctuation.

Today with the use of computers the industry standard for novels and general writing is a single space after punctuation. Now I know What people are going to say. But I was taught to double space.” Yes, and so was I. Because those teaching learned double space. We teach what we learned ourselves. There is an air of stubbornness about this subject that is fascinating and odd. It’s how I always did it, and I’m not stopping for anyone.” That’s fine, but if that level of stubbornness is displayed over something so minor (and easy to fix), the writer might be deemed inflexible and hard to work with and an agent or publisher might pass. While our books are our babies and we pour our heart and souls into them, I was given some golden advice from a trusted industry professional.

“If you are unwilling to change anything in your manuscript, edit or even revise to an agent or publishers request then traditional publishing may not be for you. Be flexible, willing to change, learn and grow. They know what they are doing and what will sell.”

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. How many times have I tolled over my manuscript? Changing things here and there, it can be an unending task. So why would I stop, submit to an agent or publisher and then say that it’s perfect and no I won’t change that paragraph, setting or the double spaces after punctuation? 

The benefits of single space:

The single space saves on space on the page. Seriously, in a book of 410 pages single spaced if I were to double space after just the periods it would add one full page, more if I were to do all punctuation. In this document there 5277 spaces removed when I went from double-spaced to single and ONLY after periods. Imagine how much more it would be if it were with all punctuation.

Honestly, when I found out I needed to reformat three completed 400+ page manuscripts to single space, I was floored and exasperated. Damn, that’s going to take forever! No, it isn’t. All I did was make a list of ending punctuation where a double space would follow. Such as:

Periods, commas, semicolons, colons, exclamation points, question marks, and quotation marks.

 “        ?         .     ;     :     )    &    @

(Use spaces before and after @ symbol except when it’s in an email.)

I then went to the find and replace feature(indicated by the red arrow below)

spacing

A box will pop up to “Find what:”  this is where I will type a period with two spaces after it then, enter a period in “Replace with:” with only one space after the period. I can then either “Find next and Replace” one by one or I can “Replace All.”

I merely repeated this for all punctuation.

These do not get spaces:

                                   Dashes         Wide-eyed. “I was going to-”  Ten-year-old
                                   Slashes         Either/or  This/that
Special Characters %  #  $         The #5 was actually $5.00.  10%  

The bottom line is if you want to double space go for it. It seriously only took me about a week to break myself of the double space habit. (I still do from time to time. Especially if I’m tired.) I have researched this subject on an off for a few years now (when it comes up), and I can say that the current majority says double space isn’t necessary or desired.

Now for a real kick in the pants, the newer generation is teaching themselves to write without spaces after punctuation at all. Why? Texting and laziness. I can just imagine all their English teachers cringing or pouring an extra glass of wine as they grind their eyes across their writing.

One article or blog will say one space others will be adamant it’s still two. I go by what the current professionals tell me, the ones working in the industry. Now if a teacher says to double space, then follow their instruction, but when an editor, publisher and professional writers all say single, I’ll follow their advice because I am sending my manuscript to them not my high school teacher from many moons ago.

My advice about spacing after punctuation

Single is industry standard. If you’re going to self-publish, then it’s up to you. If you’re looking at traditional publishing, conforming to that standard is necessary. P.S. that Search and Find feature is totally my favorite tool. Never use no-spaces after punctuation. Ever. Just don’t. It’s not natural to read without a space break between sentences. Single or double after punctuation is ultimately up to you, just be consistent.

Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/your-daily-word-prompt-natural-august-13th-2018/

Six Word Story Challenge 11/08/18

six word SP

Here is this week’s six-word story challenge. This prompt is now hosted by Wonderwall360 and Kirstwrites. Once a week they post a one-word prompt, and we get to create a six-word story in response. At the end of the week, there is a Poll for everyone to vote for their favorite story and the winners get a badge. Even if you don’t participate in the prompt, you can still vote for your top three picks at the end of the week.

The prompt this week is:

Fashion

What six words would you use to tell a story about the word Fashion?

Join the fun and tell us a six-word story.

My story:

“She literally killed in that dress.”

Come on over to Wonderwall this week to tell your six-word story to this week prompt. Click on the image below to participate in this week’s prompt.

Six Word Story icon.png

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
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VOTE NOW! For the Six-Word Story Challenge – TRAVEL

Whether you participated or not you can still vote for your favorite top three stories. 

My story for the TRAVEL prompt was:

“Book open now off I go!”

Head on over and vote for your top three favorite submissions even if you didn’t feel like participating. More votes = more fun.

6 word vote

 

Also, don’t forget the Daily Word Prompt, click below to participate and follow the New Daily Prompt.

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Feeling Off

Sick emoji

Hi Everyone.

Normally I do a Throwback Thursday post. Unfortunately, I’m not feeling very well and don’t have the energy to focus on writing or editing at the moment. I know I missed Tuesday as well. I will post the link to the six-word story voting when it is available.

Cheers everyone, have a good day.

Hopefully, next week will be back to normal. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Six Word Story Challenge 04/08/18

six word SP

Here is this week’s six-word story challenge. This prompt is now hosted by Wonderwall360 and Kirstwrites. Once a week they post a one-word prompt, and we get to create a six-word story in response. At the end of the week, there is a Poll for everyone to vote for their favorite story and the winners get a badge. Even if you don’t participate in the prompt, you can still vote for your top three picks at the end of the week.

The prompt this week is:

Travel

What six words would you use to tell a story about the word travel?

Join the fun and tell us a six-word story.

My story:

“Book open now off I go!”

Come on over to Kirstwrites this week to tell your six-word story to this week prompt. Click on the image below to participate in this week’s prompt.

Six Word Story icon.png

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

Your Daily Word Prompt – Belated – August 6th, 2018

Sorry, everyone, the daily post was delayed today. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Your Daily Word Prompt

August 2018.png

Daily Prompts – Words and Images

To participate in This Daily Prompt, all you have to do is publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be words, images anything that you like. Put the link (listed below) in your post to create the automatic pingback. You can leave a link to your post in the comments if you wish.

Today’s Word:  Belated

Please link to this prompt in your post by using this URL in the text of your post or at the end of your post:

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/your-daily-word-prompt-belated-august-6th-2018/


Make sure to check out the comment links and pingbacks to view other posts inspired by today’s prompt.

Thank you and happy blogging. 

-Sheryl

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Desperately Procrastinating – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Desperately Procrastinating . Originally posted on Sep 12, 2016 8:12 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to procrastinate, heck I’m doing it right now. I have a book to re-write and I find myself doing a lot of other things, especially as I acclimatize to all the changes in my life right now.

desperately

Desperately Procrastinating

As I sit revising and proofing my book again, (Now I’m in the midst of a total book re-write which happens to be the same book I was proofing at the time I wrote this) I find myself constantly distracted. Granted there is a lot going on, it’s as if my mind is like rays of sun through a crystal, leaving little rainbows scattered about.

A slight desperation zings through me to work and get the word count down to a more reasonable number. (Too funny, I am still trying to bring the word count down. that reasonable number of 120k was still too high for industry standard.) As I read carefully, I remove wordiness and missed filter words, the thump of a bird hitting the window veers my attention off the road. As my concentration crashes, I catch a glimpse of my sprinkled light.

I get back on track. Wait, I need a drink. So I go to the kitchen to slake my thirst with some freshly brewed tea and stop to pet the cat. I see little rainbows of inspiration.

Every distraction leaps out and demands my attention. Is this a bad thing? Nope, not in the slightest. It’s the mundane everyday things that influence my creativity. Stepping on a piece of Lego hurts like nothing else, it reminds me to put pain and discomfort into my characters. Another aspect I try not to forget. (This is good advice. Random things can happen in life, why not in a book. Stub a toe or bang an elbow to releive scene tension or open dialogue in a funny way. Make sure to show the pain rather than tell it. for example. Moira crept into the unfamiliar kitchen and misjudged the distance to the counter. She held her elbow, pressed her lips together to stifle the noise. The lights flicked on. “You tiptoe like a tap dancer,” York said.)

Some days the distractions come easier and I willingly submit to the wonderfully regretful world of procrastination. Even as I peruse memes and click-bait online(Now it’s twitter I don’t click-bait anymore), the scattered shards of rainbow light glitter and motivate me. Suddenly it’s back, the drive and desire to focus and work. 

My body and mind need sleep to recuperate. I think that some days, my mind needs a mini vacation from concentrating and creating. Against my better judgement, my mind desperately procrastinates, fervently hoping my guilt stays in the shadows so it can have some free time. (I still do this.)

My advice about procrastination.
It’s not always a bad thing, in my opinion, it can be a sign to take a break or change venues for a moment. If I’m distracted or find myself procrastinating too easily I know it’s time to change it up and do something else for a while. Usually something fun.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
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https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/your-daily-word-prompt-acclimatization-august-2nd-2018/

 

Rejection’s Are Okay

Rejected

Rejections are okay, they are not the end, just a step along the way.

I want to talk about rejection. Specifically about the Query process and query rejections.  I have a finished manuscript also known as a novel or book. I have a cover letter called a query letter that outlines the story and me. I have a synopsis prepared, that is an outline of the entire novel in two pages. 

With all that ready to go, I research Literary Agencies and Literary Agents carefully. I’m searching for one that represents my Genre and subgenre’s, one that I feel would be a good match for my project and me. Then I follow their personal or agency submission guidelines and send them the materials they want to see. (Never send more than what they list)

Then I wait. I check my email like an addict and hit that refresh button as if I can’t function without doing so. Each time I hold my breath, scrunch my eyes and pray to see a Yes, please send more materials.

The dream is to get a yes and then have the agent fall in love with the manuscript and want to represent me.

This is the road to Traditional Publishing. It is a bumpy road full of rejection potholes. 

So what happens when you get a rejection from an agent?

First, the emotional let down is akin to being punched in the gut. They are after all rejecting my heart, soul, and hard work. Oh, and they are rejecting me. It sucks.

Here is a sample of a rejection email I received.

“Thanks so much for sending along the sample pages of Prophecy Ink I’m sorry to say, though, that I just wasn’t as completely drawn in by the material as much as I had hoped.  What with my reservations, I’d better bow out.  Thanks so much for contacting me, though!  I really appreciate it, and wish you the best of luck.”

As it turns out this one was what is called a FORM rejection. A copy-and-paste response. While we hope and pray for some feedback from rejection, the reality is that Agents are busier than we think and this form saves them time. They already spent time reading the queried material they listed to send. I figure the agents are hopeful when they open a query, “Maybe this will be the one,” and when it’s not, I bet they are crushed a little. Now they have to reject someone and their hard work. That has to suck to do. Even if it isn’t personalized the responses are polite and I appreciate that.

If I have an email to respond to, I will thank them again for their time and consideration. I have no idea if Agents want this or not. Despite crushing my hopes and dreams, they are human too, I figure a nice thank you is appropriate.

Side note: some writers get aggressive at this point. They can become belligerent, rude and insulting to agents that say no. Don’t do this. It doesn’t make you right, better or even a good human. That and agents tend to talk and know each other. Just be nice. Patience is required for Traditional Publishing.

Now I have rejection after rejection coming in. Most are form, and some have a little personal note. 

All rejections are hard to take, however, all rejections are a step forward. The advice or message in the rejection can sometimes be helpful. Take this for example:

“After reading your first page, I’m sorry this manuscript is not a good fit for me.” and “I read the first chapter and will pass on this project.”  

These both pointed to a potential problem. I paused queries and took a hard look. Did some digging and research and eventually found some other agents talking about story openings that will get an instant “No” or “Pass.” Huh. No scenes where the Main Character is dreaming, waking up, walking around doing mundane chores… the list went on. I’ll get into that another time. 

Well crap. My story hinged on the premise that Moira wakes up with a tattoo she doesn’t recall getting. Double crap. The chapter was in need of renewal, a renovation of sorts. So I rewrote the first chapter to have her already awake. Is that enough? Time will tell. If I need to rewrite a different angle, I will. Refusing to bend, adjust or change my work will not help me become published. Some would say it’s a “Pushover” or “foolish” thing to change to fit a standard. It’s not. The entire point is to get by a book published and if agents and publishers turn down something for a specific reason and I’ve used that “Something” you better believe I’m going to change it. It would be like walking into the office wearing a bikini. Sure it looks good, and it’s technically clothing, but if they say “You need to change the clothes to work here” You’re likely going to change into more appropriate clothing. Changing the opening isn’t compromising the entire story or me. 

Anyone pursuing traditional publishing will receive rejections. A lot of them. Sure there are the magic few that got signed right away. There are also lottery winners who’ve wone millions. Not many, but it can happen. I’m not holding my breath on luck. I will keep pushing, keep querying and keep trying until I find an agent who wants to work with my manuscript and me. 

My advice about Rejections. 

Rejections are Okay. Get them, get over them, and keep on going. Don’t let rejections deter you or get in the way. Learn from them if you can and know that eventually when you get a YES, all the rejections, hard work, and time will make that yes, sweeter.

-Sheryl

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
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https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/your-daily-word-prompt-Renewal-august-1st-2018/