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A Dash Of Skill And Nine Parts Of Speech

I try not to take things for granted. It still happens from time to time. I know the basics of writing and I know I make mistakes. Everyone does. I also know that not everyone knows what I know and vice versa.

I have A blog coming up that uses terminology that made me pause. Wait maybe I need to go back a few steps and toss in a refresher…  For myself and for anyone that might be interested.

Speech is part of life. Sentences, dialog and everything written contains speech. The necessary words that bring to life what we want to say. To do this we use words. Glorious, wondrous words. Only not all words are created equal. Not all words do the same thing. Some types of words have purpose.

There are nine basic types of words in the English language. (some say eight others will argue ten, and that’s fine. I’m going with the nine I know.) I went to Wikipedia to remind myself of the definitions, give my self a reprieve so I don’t screw them up and hear about it forever and ever.

  1. Verb – They convey an action (bring, read, walk, run, learn), an occurrence (happen, become), or a state of being (be, exist, stand). (Verbs are sometimes classified into two: lexical Verbs such as; work, like, run. Also auxiliary Verbs such as; be, have, must
  2. Noun –  They describe a thing or a person. Such as; living creatures, objects, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.
  3. Adjective –  They a describe noun such as; good, big, blue and fascinating.
  4. Determiner – They limit or determine the noun. Such as; some, many, an, some, and numbers. (These are sometimes classified as adjectives thus the eight)
  5. Adverb – They describe a verb, adjective or adverb. Such as; quickly, silently, well, badly, very, really. (Um… a lot of filter words are adverbs)
  6. Pronoun – They replace a noun with words such as; I, you, he, she and some.
  7. Preposition – They link nouns to other words. Such as; To, at, after, on and but.
  8. Conjunction – They join clauses, sentences or words. Like these; and, but, when.
  9. Interjection – I blogged about this one on it’s own!  An exclamation mark at the end of a sentence or the word “well” typically found at the start!

I know this is a lot to take in, and each have so much more than the rudimentary explanations above and the examples I’m about to give.

Example time

Noun verb   noun verb Verb
Amber sings. Amber is singing.
pronoun verb noun
She loves parrots.
noun verb adjective noun
Animals love good people.
noun verb noun adverb
Amber sings songs well.
noun verb adjective noun
Amber sings good songs.
pronoun verb preposition determiner noun adverb
She walked to the door swiftly.
Some fell on the ice badly.
pron. verb adj. noun conjunction pron. verb pron.
She hates big spiders but I adore them.
He loves chapter books but you loathe them

The following didn’t fit in a graph but contain all of the nine components.

interjection/  pron./ conj. /det. /adj. /     noun / verb/  prep./ noun /   adverb
Well,                she      and    my    young   dog     walk    to       town     quickly.

pron./ conj. /det. /  adj. /  noun /            verb/   prep./  noun /   adverb/  interjection
She       and    your   old     boyfriend     kiss    at         school    often      !

At this point in my life I’m comfortable writing a sentence and knowing I have the necessary components. I do think it’s good to refresh and remind ourselves what words are all about. Despite knowing them, I still pause when someone asks, whats a good verb for… or I need a better adjective for…

My advice about the nine parts of speech.
You might not need to know what they are to use them, but don’t presume everyone does. Not everyone is a walking dictionary. I know I’m not, which is why I’m constantly researching and learning.

-Sheryl

Related Posts

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Conversing is easy…not!

Exorcising Exposition

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

My Posts From The Start

 Reprieve

What Do I Do About That?

I write a lot. I make mistakes and I correct them. I try and I fail. I’ll try again until I succeed. It’s not easy to take something and show it to the world. It’s hard. There are outside forces one must face. Someone asked me what I do about the outside forces that affect my writing, my tenacity and my emotional state.

  1. Rejection
  2. Opinions good or bad
  3. Degrading Criticism
  4. Constructive Criticism.
  5. Doubt
  6. Fear
  7. Jealousy
  8. Sabotage
  9. Help and kindness
  10. Encouragement
  11. Trolls and haters

There is so much more I could list. The bottom line is no matter what a person does there will be things that help and things that hurt. I can’t say what you should do about either, it is a personal thing on how to handle them. What I can do is tell you what I do.

Recently I had an encounter with a man at a grocery store. The cashier kindly reminded the man he had some strawberries that he hadn’t packed yet. The man lost it. Yelling about knowing what he damn well bought. He used some strong language and even used a racial slur among his insults on the poor unprepared cashier. I’m not okay with any of that. I turned to the man and told him there was no need to be rude the cashier was only being kind. The man turned on me and used some more colourful language and called me all sorts of feminist derogatory comments. I told him to have a nice day and that I was sorry he was so miserable to attack someone who was being nice.

Long story short, it made me think. His insult was to call me something pretty offensive. I’m sure he found that to be a great and vindicating insult. I didn’t take offense. Why? Because to me what he called me wasn’t an insult. Sure he meant it to be mean. But the truth is he’s just a sad and miserable man. I shook it off and complimented the cashiers kindness and patience.  Water off a ducks back is the saying.

The reality is that I looked at the situation from the grumpy belligerent, racist, homophobic, rude mans perspective. I have no idea what brought him to sputter such hateful things(And loudly). But it couldn’t be good. What I do know is that he was interesting and yes, I tucked him away for a character bio.

So regarding my list… What do I do about that?

  1. Rejection… I keep trying. Even when others say not to. It’s up to me. Not them. Not giving up is harder than it seems. I have my ups and downs, but in the end I keep my eye on the prize. I set my stubbornness to task and I move forward.
  2. Opinions good or bad – Take them with a grain of salt, but never ignore them. The good ones are considered, the bad are heard but they don’t get a say in the end.
  3. Degrading Criticism – Look at the source. Is it from someone worth listening to? No? then I don’t listen. I won’t take criticism from anyone that hasn’t taken the time to get to know my work or me for that matter.  I check to see if they might possibly fall into haters, trolls or the jealousy category.
  4. Constructive Criticism – Take it, sit on it and revisit later. It takes time to accept it. This is the best of all. Sometimes it hurts to hear or read right away. Sometimes it looks like degrading until I look at the source and weigh the merit of the criticism. Does it have a good source? Someone with my interests in mind? Yes? Then I’ll take it and put it on a list to mull over later once I’m ready.
  5. Doubt – Doubt will come no matter what. I literally talk myself through it. I have a list of others that struggled to get published. I remind myself it’s about perseverance and dedication. This goes hand in hand with rejection at times. I get rejected then I doubt. It’s perfectly normal. But normal doesn’t mean I have to let doubt stick around. No thanks. doubt, I’m good.
  6. Fear – There is only one way to deal with this… head on. I take a deep breath and press enter. I take my chances putting my work out there with the understanding that I may fail and knowing that I may succeed. It takes tremendous courage to try, and even more courage to not sink if it doesn’t go how I dreamed.
  7. Jealousy – There is nothing I can do about jealousy. Personally I distance myself from it and do my best to not indulge. Either the source will come around or they will wallow in it. I’m not going to stop being proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished because others aren’t happy. If I can I’ll bolster them in their own achievements. If I can’t… then I do my best to ignore it. 
  8. Sabotage – See it for what it is, acknowledge it and walk away from the source. Cut them off and if I can, I’ll confront them. This is hard to do but necessary. I have a goal, to be a published author. I’m not going to let someone actively attempt to crush my dreams.
  9. Help and kindness – I try not to overlook this one. Sometimes bad opinions sneak into this category in disguise. The trick is to identify it and act appropriately.  Those that are genuine will shine, they will make you feel worthy and they often offer help in what way they can. Sometimes it’s an ear to listen or a solicited opinion. Whatever the case may be, cherish the kind and helpful people.
  10. Encouragement – This is what will lift me up. I suck it up like a sponge and add it to my rainy day arsenal for when fear and doubt come out to play.
  11. Trolls and haters – Just walk away. Unfriend, block and ignore. Once I identify a hater or troll I cut them out with no mercy. These people take perverse pleasure from hurting others. I cut some out of my life. Some were strangers, others were close. Was it easy? Nope. Was it worth it? Hell yes. Later haters.

Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Our trials and tribulations help define us as who we are. While I look at that list I ask myself, regarding others, am I on the right side? Do I do unto others as I would want unto myself? Sometimes it’s not easy to see when you’re on the wrong side of the list.

I could have yelled back at that man, I could have easily been rude or just as offensive. I didn’t. I might have when I was younger and more stubborn. But I couldn’t. Life is hard enough and it doesn’t need to be harder. I chose not to add to his grief and misery. I did “people watch” him. I learned from his behavior so something good came from it.

My advice about facing the good and bad.
Be prepared for both. Be ready to embrace the good and reject the bad. If you want encouragement, give it. If you want kindness, be kind. Be to others what you want for yourself and never give up.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Other fun posts

People Watching

Who’s who in the grand scheme of things

It’s not always the obvious choice

And the link to all my previous posts in order: My Posts From The Start

Impression

Link It And List It!

There is something I’ve been wanting to bring up about writing. It has nothing to do specifically with writing a manuscript, novel or book. But about how chapter stories are posted on blogs. How does a successful blogger keep readers coming back? I haven’t posted a chapter story on by blog yet, but have been thinking about it. So I’ve done some research, taken a blogging course from wordpress and done some digging through other bloggers’ stories to see what they’ve been doing to keep the readers returning.

I love reading serial and Chapter stories on blogs. There are some out there that have hit it on the nose as far as organization goes. I figure not everyone is aware of some simple tricks that can keep a reader reading and help them navigate your story with as little frustration as possible.(I wasnt)

The following have been observed on a few blogs I follow and I think they are great ways to keep a story organized for your long-term followers and for new friends that stumble into your blogspace.  (These are suggestions not rules.)

Each Chapter would ideally get their own blog post. You can include a picture or just a standard title all the tricks you need to post and edit blogs can be found here:  http://learn.wordpress.com/

The blue arrow is pointing to the icon to click on to add content or a picture into the body of the post. The purple is what you select to add a featured image or the post’s image(What shows up in the feed or reader)

aa add picture

First post a chapter or two of your story by creating separate posts.  Now you’re ready to make it easier for a reader to navigate your stories. This is very important if you have other posts in-between or if you don’t post regularly.

So in each chapter you can do one or two things to make this easy. One add a “Start from the beginning” and link the first chapter or you can link(I will explain how in a moment) this to a Story Chapter Page (I will explain this shortly)

And/or at the end of each chapter you can put a link to the next chapter of the story(See orange arrows below). This allows for continuous flow through your chapters so the reader doesn’t have to jump around. To add this one you have to wait until the next chapter is posted and physically go back to the previous chapter and add this to the body. (Note this link will appear as a pingback and you need to approve it in your comments)

aa story links.jpg

To Add links to the body of the post:  you can write the text and highlight it or you can create it during the link in the link options(C).

Red A – click this to open the URL-link creator
Red B – This is the URL that will link. This will fill in automatically when you select Red D
Red C – This is the link text. You can fill this in manually or if you highlighted text before clicking link that highlighted text will become the clickable link on the page.

AAA ADD LINKS.jpg

To add a page link and not a post link copy and paste the URL into the URL line(Red B)  you can get this by opening the page and copying it from there. I found it easier to open the page in a private window or “incognito window”. Once I’ve added the link(which I would recommend testing) I like to make the link Bold and change the colour to make it obvious. Many other bloggers do this to make them stand out. The default is an underline and light blue which doesn’t stand out when posted.  The bold option is shown below by the orange arrow and the option to change colour of text is indicated by the blue arrow below.

aa colour

Okay so now we can add links to the post. How about creating a “Story Chapter Page”?  This is a page for the story with each chapter listed and links to each(That you can easily add with the link button now) So your reader can now come to this page to continue on where they left off instead of being adrift, lost in a sea of posts.

To add a new page to your blog. This will appear in your blog banner. From your main menu screen click “ADD” beside pages.

aa adding a page

This next example shows that a new page will come up for you to create a new page for your blog.

aa new page

Enter the title of your story and any information you want in the introduction
Then make a chapter list so you can add links to each chapter. This page is the page you will link to at the beginning of the story if you want to have a link to the chapter page as I mentioned above.

1 in yellow shows chapter one with a link (Bolded and colour changed)
2 in yellow shows a chapter title highlighted and ready for a link to be added
3 in yellow is a chapter not yet posted. I’ve seen one blogger add “coming soon” to add anticipation for upcoming chapters.

aa chapter links on page.jpg

So now each post has a link to the Story Chapter Page dedicated to the story with a clickable linked list to each chapter. AND each chapter has a clickable link at the end of the chapter to brink the reader to the next chapter automatically(Done after the following post is posted by going back to the previous already posted blog and adding the “next chapter” link)

This isn’t necessary but I find it makes it a whole lot easier when you want to binge read a bloggers story easily without having to fish through their posts to find the next one.

Yes this is extra work, but a happy reader is a repeat reader.

Here are some examples of Fantastic blogs that have agreed to let me use their pages as examples for how linking stories or chapters in a list on a separate blog page can help a reader. I couldn’t include everyone I love following, some said no and others don’t have the specific page-link formats I’m looking to use as examples. Because chapter stories are best started from the start these bloggers clued in and made it easy to find the start.

CLICK ON THE BOLDED NAME TO SEE THE PAGE EXAMPLE
(Dont forget to look around they have some fantastic stories)

Lost Property – Serials Super fun stories, both short and long that are deep and captivating.  The link I have here goes to a list of short stories that are easy to navigate. I have been reading these stories and the chapter stories in the daily prompt and have enjoyed them immensely.

Devil Doll Musings – Short chapter, chapter stories that are imaginative and captivating. A little on the naughty side but a wild ride. Poke around on this website to see how fantastically it’s laid out. This link is to Rock Star a whirlwind romance worth reading. The chapters are listed in link form and it’s easy to follow. At the bottom this blogger uses “continues HERE” to make it easy to keep reading.

WriteMeBad – Romantic and smutty stories that are so beautifully written they captivated me instantly. Each story has their own page and chapter listed from top to bottom. (First to last) I started you off with the link to the first story Jay & Dee that made me an instant fan.

CimmerianSentiment – This one’s more than a bit naughty and has told me the format used was learned from reading others’ blogs and expanding on them. This page uses all the tricks I’ve mentioned above. The story I’ve linked is Blythe & Mac. A lovely romance with a touch of erotica. If you like spicy(very erotic) short stories, or romantic chapter stories. Take a peek. There are 18+ warnings on this site.

All in all I enjoy the effort and creativity that I keep coming across on different pages. If you have a trick or technique you use that you want me to blog about(Relevant to writing advice please) Please either private message me or leave it in the comments below. I hope I didn’t miss anything. This was a fairly long post. (Sorry)

I don’t have a chapter story to try this on, but I did create a page using all the tips above to create a click-able link to every post I’ve posted (Minus award posts). I don’t expect anyone to actually use it but it’s there in case someone does. Oh and I’ll make sure to update it regularly. My Posts From The Start

My advice about creating chapter links in a post and separate Story Chapter Pages.
It’s never too late to go back and add them. Once you get the hang of it (I tested this on a non published page) It’s actually easy. Tedious? Maybe but is it worth it? I think so. It would definately be easier if done fromt he start.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Adrift

Stories Classified

I have written a few novels, a couple Novella’s and a handful of short stories. It occurred to me that not everyone might know what that means. 

There are five classification of Stories. (Technically four, but I think Flash fiction deserves its own classification.)

The Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story and Flash fiction.

So what is the difference?

Flash fiction is 1000 words or under. Flash fiction technically fall under the category of short story as they are often called short-short stories. They usually focus on one singular incident or event and have three characters or less. Too many are hard to keep track of in such a short time. These stories tend to skip or give a brief synopsis of the ‘beginning’ of the story and jump right to the middle. Because of the compact ‘one bite’ nature of Flash fiction, they are somewhat difficult to write well. Flash fiction do not commonly have chapters as they are written to be read in a single sitting. 

A Short Story is Under 7,500 words. There is some debate on the actual number some say 1000-4000. The guidelines have varied over time. Short stories generally follow the classic story arc but tend to be less complicated than a novel and more complicated than Flash fiction. They focus on one main event, one plot and generally one setting.   Short stories are difficult to market for profit on their own and are often found published or presented as collections to increase their marketability.  Short stories most often do not have chapters. Instead they may have white space breaks as they are meant to be read in one sitting.

A novelette is 7,500 to 17,499 words.  Novelette’s are similar to a Short story in nearly every way, but with more room to improve on characters, prose and exposition. The word count of a novelette is more popular for writers and often focused in competitions and awards. These are often marketed on their own or can be found in small collections.  Like Short stories Novelettes do not typically have chapters and generally use white space breaks. (Not a rule) 

A Novella is 17,500 to 39,999 words. Like the smaller versions of a short story and a Novelette, Novella’s don’t always have chapters. There is no rule to have chapters or not, but a book less than 40,000 words is considered a ‘single sitting’ book. Novellas are more complicated in prose, characters and exposition. They remain simple and generally focus on one plot, few characters and limited settings.  A sub-plot or side story may occur however, it isn’t as common due to the restricted amount of words they would require. Novellas are found published on their own and in compilations.

A Novel is 40,000 words or more.  Novel’s focus more on a larger story arc involving multiple complicated characters, a grand lesson or journey, sub plots and arc’s. Novels often focus on a more intimate experience with the characters and story. They are broken down to chapters and meant to be read in multiple sittings. (Though I’ll admit to reading more than a few in one sitting.)

Basically, all categories of Stories are a challenge to write and wonderful to read. Believing any category is better than the other is a farce. They each have their own challenges and depending on the writer, one may be easier to conquer than the other. I’ve been dabbling in the various categories, I can manage (Barely) flash fiction, short story (Sort of), novella (Not bad) and Novels I have no problem with. For some reason I can’t seem to hit a story in the Novelette word count. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m wordy and I do struggle to write short stories and flash fiction. 

My advice about the story classifications.
It’s good to expand and gain writing experience/practice. I recommend trying to write all classifications. Who knows maybe you’ll find a passion for something new. There are all kinds of WordPress challenges to participate in. There are contests etc. for each classification have fun and see what’s out there.

-Sheryl

Other posts about word counts

It’s really very unnecessary

I’m ‘that’ kind of writer

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Farce

How It Began

A few years ago I started writing my first manuscript. It is called BiaAtlas. I had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to actually write a book.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write and have had some exciting ideas, only I lacked the confidence. Every once in a while I’d think about how overwhelming it must be to not only come up with a unique concept let alone write it in an entertaining and captivating manner. I would think of JK Rowling, Stephen King, JRR Tolkien, Jude Deveraux, Laurell K Hamilton, George RR Martin, Jim Butcher and so many more beloved authors and I’d have a mini anxiety attack. How did they do it? How did they manage to captivate the world with their stories. How do they get the story from thier head to the page?

The answer is simple. They all did the same thing. They sat down and started. Sure there is a lot that goes on but you cant get anywhere if you don’t at least start.

I had bumbled around with the main concept of BiaAtlas for many years, slowly building up the world in which the characters live. I collected ideas and started generating the characters in my mind. One day while having a beer on the patio with my husband, we started talking about things. The subject of his music writing came up and I confessed to my secret desire to write a book someday. “He said why not? go for it.”

For another few days I though about it. Why not? The only thing stopping me is fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of humiliation, fear of basically trying. That’s dumb and I told myself that.

The following day, now that the seed had been planted, I took a shower. With my brain in “what if” mode the first sentence popped into my head. I said it aloud and suddenly it all came into focus. Holy crap that’s it!

Dried and dressed I raced to my computer and wrote that line down.

“No Joe, I don’t believe in superheroes.”

This sentence started it all and I couldn’t stop. It was a collaboration of ideas that drove me to write out a story that had been with me so long. I told no one what I was doing. I got three chapters in and was certain I was on to something. I told my husband what I was up to but wouldn’t let him see it until it was done. I finished the first draft in about three months. It was wordy, messy and in very rough shape. After all I had no idea what I was doing.

I wrote a book, now what?

Then the research began. I edited, revised, edited, researched a whole lot more, revised again and kept going until I was ready for some professional advice. One bit of that advice was to strengthen my writers platform. It is much more difficult to get published if you have nothing to stand on. Thus the blog you are reading now.

This blog is about my journey as a novice writer to, hopefully, a published author. I’ve chosen traditional publishing for many reasons and I will continue down this path until there are no other options left or I succeed.

Even as I blog, I learn and discover. I’ve grown so much as a writer and a person. I’ve found a passion that drives me each and every day to push forward through rejections, nay-sayer’s, de-railers and those riddled with disguised jealousy…the saboteurs. I embrace the positive and those that help by offering support, constructive advice and kindness.

Now I have more than 6 manuscripts written and a lot of work cut out for me. I’ll continue writing and working to achieve my dream of becoming published traditionally. I will never give up.

My advice to anyone reading this
look inward to find your greatness and move forward no matter how many obstacles get in your way. Persistence will pay off and never give up on yourself.

-Sheryl

My first post: The “word count” down.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Collaboration

Re-assessing The Value

A while ago I read something that really stuck with me. I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it so I’m paraphrasing instead of quoting. It was in regards to Literary agent rejections. It went something like this;

“But you didn’t even read the whole thing. You only read the first 50 pages. It’ gets really good in chapter eight.”
The advice: “Then start the book in chapter five.”

As a writer I know how difficult it is to hear that maybe, just maybe some fat needs to be trimmed. For months now this advice has been rattling around in my brain as I worked on other projects. So I asked a couple of people who’ve read my book and I was surprised to hear that the first chapter was awesome, but it got slow until about chapter…. wait for it… chapter five. Huh.

I thought I was done, that it was perfect.(Well I know there is always room for improvement)

Now I’m not about to axe it all. Because there is some character building and significant foreshadowing going on in chapters 2 through 5. But. And that is a big huge ‘But’, what if I can trim it down? I started thinking and pondering the “What if I did?” and “Can I?” and most importantly “How?”

The answer to the can I is yes. Why not? The how is easy, just give it a try. So I took a copy of my book and saved it as “Rewrite”. I pulled out my proverbial axe and really started to question what was filler and what was necessary.

Another quote/advice I got (I can’t supply the source for) said; “Make each word count.”  I know I’m wordy, and I work to keep myself in check.

I decided to set my ego aside and take a good strong objective look at the content of each sentence, the necessity of each paragraph. But guess what I found? Filler. Lots of it. Not only filler, but I found repetition. I was saying the same thing over only differently to hammer home a concept/idea/description. I pursed my lips and re-read it. Did I really? Yes I did.

Now this is a big step for me. Something I thought I already conquered. I opened my mind to the possibility that less is more and started re-thinking things. What is necessary to the story and what is not? I was surprised to realize that with one or two small changes, the story would become more streamline. More pleasant to read. Now, I have gotten rave reviews from those that previewed it and I’m not taking anything important away nor the charm of the story. I know what they liked about it and that will stay.

As I work through it all, I’ve taken out my handy-dandy calendar of events and my charts and bio’s of the characters and started changing things. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was able to take out a lot by changing a little and I did not compromise the story at all.

I talked it over with someone who read the story and he gave me his summary. What he skipped I examined closely. Then after thinking about it I asked what he thought if I removed a few aspects and he said; “That part was good but hard to read, so yeah it would be better without.” At this point I was ready for the criticism and instead of feeling bad or like a failure, I realized there was opportunity to improve.

In two days I took out over 6700 words. If you know my word-count struggle, this is epic. The best advice I got was, if you can keep the word-count closer to the minimum vs. the maximum allowable word count for a genre, then a Literary Agent is more likely to look at it.

I’m not second guessing my work or myself. What I’m doing, after months of contemplation, advice and feedback, is re-assessing the value of the ‘boring parts’ or the filler and repetitious clutter.

This was my first of many books written. I’d be a fool to think it’s perfect, but it will be. I’ve had a lot of time to hone my skills and learn a lot more about writing since completing BiaAtlas. I’m excited to say it’s starting to look better, the story is moving faster and there is less unnecessary filler clogging up the works.  It can be daunting to write a story, let alone rewrite it completely. I’m approaching this logically, whit a plan and a level of excitement that is pushing me forward. I’m amazed at how fun it is to take something I worked hard on and give it a literary make over.

My advice about starting where it gets good.
Don’t shun the idea, don’t stress about cutting things out. Take the time to rearrange and try a new approach. If you don’t like it you still have the original. 

-Sheryl

Other related posts

Word swap

The ups and downs of writing

TMI dude!

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Maze

Unspoken Dialogue

I write in the present day/somewhat future. Technology plays a part of our everyday no matter what we do. Computers, cellphones and anything else you can think of. I talk a lot about dialogue. What about unspoken dialogue? By that, I mean in the form of Text messages and emails or even a hand written note or letter (Yes people still do this).

Once I’ve established your dialogue style, I stick with it. I personally always use “Double” quotations with curly ends (Unless my blog changes it for some reason). Keep this in mind for my how-to-text-in-a-story examples.

I have read numerous books with both texting and emails in them. The presentation or content is obviously up to the writer. I would caution with over doing it however. Too much is a total turn off. A very popular (Though I don’t know why) book series I read had a lot of back and forth emails going on. With every single email, the author included the formal intro, message and the full and complete signature.  The signature was altered each time and was meant to be cute, but after the third one I got bored/annoyed and hated reading them. I do believe there was a significant amount of eye rolling going on.

If you are pursuing professional or traditional publishing, they will have a set standard to which they want this type of text displayed. Don’t worry about it, as long as you keep it clear and as close to what they are looking for.

Here are the rules I personally follow when writing a text or email in a story. I’m sure I’ll miss a few, feel free to let me know what yours might be.

Make sure the dialogue stands out from regular text. (Quotation marks)
Use this in place of something happening – the ‘review’ type dialogue
Keep the font size of the text the same as the regular text. 12pt is industry standard.
Keep the text from blending into the narrative
Avoid being overly repetitive (Don’t forget dialogue/conversation counts rambling sucks)
Use Italics
Treat it like dialogue
Identify the sender of the message
Use the alternate quotation marks for texts (I’ll couple this with italic)
Indent from regular text(I don’t always bother it’s not necessary)
Dialogue tags and proper lead ups to identify the text/email

Alternate fonts can be used. However, the industry standard (North America) is Garamond or Times New Roman. Alternate fonts may stand out but may not be the best choice. (Publishers will decide ultimately anyway)
It can make it narrative if writing in first person or it can leave it out and hint at it.

Example time.

Amber glanced at the screen to read the text from Dale.
Running late.
She replied. ‘CU soon.

“Sorry I have to check this.” Amber said and glanced at her cellphone.
           Running late
She sighed after she read the message from Dale.

“Sorry Scott I have to check this.” Amber said and glanced at her cellphone. “Looks like Dale’s going to be late. He didn’t say why.”

I looked down at my phone as it chimed indicating I had a text. Dale’s going to be late again and as usual, he didn’t say why.

Amber looked at the screen waiting for the response from Dale. When it chimed she nearly dropped it.
      Running late.
“Ugh be more specific.” She muttered as she replied.
      How long?

I simply prefer the look of italic as an identifier.

Emails are different, they definitely need a lead up and introduction.(nobody reads an email before seeing who it’s from.) As I mentioned before they really do need to have a purpose to the story. Without purpose they may come across as lame or filler. IMO.

Amber set her herbal tea down and sat at her desk. She turned her computer on and opened the email marked urgent from Dale. 

From: Dale@CliftonInc.com
To: Amber@CliftonInc.com
Subject: Today
Urgent

Hey Amber,

Got in early, I’m heading to an impromptu meeting with Valery. Sounds urgent… as urgent as she can be.

The proofs you need are already on your desk in the to-do box. By the way, they look good. Valery has noticed your efforts. This project is a challenge but, you’ve got this!

Scott is in a mood this morning. You might want to avoid him today.

Sincerely,
Dale Engleheart
Design & Revision Department Supervisor
Clifton Advertising & Design Inc.
Phone: 1-800-555-1234
Fax: 515-555-1235
-It’s not in the design if it’s not in the designer. – Anonymous

Now imagine a string of emails and every single one had that introduction, signature and sign off? Ugh. Talk about adding filler to bump up word count. It can look like this, everyone knows what email looks like.

Amber set her herbal tea down and sat at her desk. She turned her computer on and opened the email marked urgent from Dale.

Hey Amber,

Got in early, I’m heading to an impromptu meeting with Valery. Sounds urgent… as urgent as she can be.

The proofs you need are already on your desk in the to-do box. They look good by the way. Valery has noticed your efforts. This project is a challenge but, you’ve got this!

Scott is in a mood this morning. You might want to avoid him today.

-Dale

If I feel the need to add the signature etc, then I’ll do so, it’s not a rule or anything either way. If I felt the need to add it I might, on the first one… Or the first of the that particular string of them, then never again.

My advice about nonverbal dialogue.
Whatever way you decide to identify nonverbal dialogue from regular dialogue, make sure to keep it consistent. Keep an example or your rules for this easy to access so if you go eight chapters without a text you can reference it to keep it in the same style.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue posts

Hold your tongue!

Creative Dialogue Tags

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Pursue

The Aftermath Of Rejection

Writing a story is an investment. Of time, energy, heart, soul and everything a writer has to offer. We put it all into our work and it’s hard when it doesn’t meet expectations and is rejected.

I’m going to be honest, it is very hard to be told no, over and over and over again. Every single rejection brings a deflating wave of disappointment down on me. Sometimes I feel fragile and shattered by the mass amount of no’s. The key is to let it go. Move on and forward. I expect rejections and I’m not bitter about it. It does suck no matter how I look at it or feel about it. I just refuse to let it stop my from trying again. When I started this journey I told myself that there was only one outcome, being traditionally published. I plan to do whatever I have to do to get there. I have a fantastic support network of family and friends that believe in me and offer the encouragement needed to get through the vast swamp of no’s.

I’ve talked about this before, but since it’s part of my daily life I’m talking about it again. Only this time what do I do when I’ve been rejected 100%? First, I look at the possible and most likely reasons my Query was declined.

  1. The agent is busy and I suspect didn’t actually read my query
  2. My query letter wasn’t good enough
  3. There’s too much competition (There always will be, I tell myself to get over it)
  4. My synopsis wasn’t gripping enough
  5. My hook wasn’t as hook like as it could be.
  6. They agent isn’t actually open (Even though they say they are)
  7. There are errors that may need addressing (Grammar, structure, flow, etc.)
  8. My story isn’t good enough. (Yes it is. Never believe your story isn’t good- I dismiss this thought as soon as it pops in my head.)
  9. I’m not a good writer. (Again I dismiss this one too. I am and will only succeed if I don’t give in or give up.)
  10. There are too many queries out there to get noticed (This is a numbers game where persistence will pay off)

Regardless of the potential possibilities I must be open to suggestion and set my ego aside. I will go through each and take the time to ask, can it be better? THe answer is yes.

SO what do I do about it?

  1. I buy/read books on query letters, synopsis writing and open my mind to the possibility that I’m not perfect and there is room for improvement. If I’m rejected 100% over 300 times, then something needs tweaking or fixing.
  2. I look at my notes on the agents and agencies before querying again. (This is a big task and I use spreadsheets to keep track)
  3. Professional editing is always an option (unfortunately it’s also expensive so I do my best to work through it myself.)
  4. I set my work aside for a while before looking at it again. Proximity can be blinding. 
  5. I never give up. I know what I want and I’m going to get there. Even when it feels insurmountable, I never stop trying. 
  6. I get others to read my work and ask for honest opinions. Sometimes, ah who am I kidding, all the time, criticism is hard to hear. But if I’m not willing to listen then I’ll never get my end goal of traditional publishing.  This is the hardest to do and I’ve taken some, sulked and over time mulled it over and found solid advice/reasoning and finally use it to move forward.
  7. I talk to others in the same situation and those that have succeeded. Jealousy will get me nowhere, petty thoughts of ‘why did they get published and not me?’ are dangerous and wont help.
  8. Keep my mind open to possibilities and change

Although I’ve had well over 300 rejections in my last round of queries I know I need to keep at it. I will revise my query letter, synopsis and try again. I’m also in the process of finding out how to better tailor each and every query to better my chances of getting noticed. There is one thing I’m doing that is huge, but I’ll discuss this another time.

My advice about the aftermath of rejection.
The entire process is an emotional battle field. No matter how carefully you plan your attack and defenses there will be struggle, loss, pain, highs, lows, frustration and elation, before you win the battle. The only way there is to never stop trying.

-Sheryl

Other related posts.

Keeping Track

Rejected

Tricky Little Non-Rejection

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Bitter

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the printout. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take it.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Lifestyle

Eclipses of Ellipses…

One of my favourite ‘fun to read’ authors uses dashes and ellipses spot on. She’s the one I emulate when I think of writing dialogue and structuring it correctly.

When we speak we pause, break, hum and haw, um and ah and very often we trail off just before or even at the end of a sentence.  Dialogue would be stiff and dull if we didn’t include these verbal patterns or quirks. When it comes to characters and how they speak I am careful to make sure they are different in some way. None of my characters are identical, sometimes they become similar but not identical. It’s important to know how to give them particular speech mannerisms in written word.

For today’s topic I’m talking about the habit or event of trailing off during or at the end of a sentence. Different than a pause its more like a hesitant break or hesitant ending. To express this in writing we use Ellipses.

So what are Ellipses they and how do I use them?

Ellipses… Three (Yes only three and always three) consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out. Three dots with no spaces between the last letter of the word, nor in-between them.

When used in dialogue it’s as if someone is lost in thought, thinking, about to eureka, disheartened, forgetful, afraid to finish, hinting at suggestion and so on. They are trailing off…

“That sounds…” Amber grimaced and shook her head gently.

Or

“Hey Dale, I wanted to ask you…” Amber looked away a flush rising to her cheeks.

Ellipses are great for characters that don’t know how to finish a sentence, don’t want to or don’t know how to. I probably use these too much. There is a point in my revision process where I will plunk the three consecutive dots into the ‘find’ feature of *word and seek-and-destroy any superfluous ellipses. I would hate for my readers to be bogged down by what I call Eclipses of ellipses… Too many too often.  I have been known to use this manner of ‘speaking’ as a particular quirk of a character. If I do that, I avoid other characters trailing off or fading out as they talk.

Outside of dialogue, in the narrative, ellipses are also used to suggest time is about to pass but isn’t quite worthy of page time. This used to omit section of time that need to be pointed out but not actually addressed in the story. I don’t actually use this form in my writing often.

Amber walked swiftly out of the office. Tomorrow would be a better day, but for now, she would go home and think over what happened and what she could do about it…

I have seen authors use these omission ellipses to re-introduce back from the omitted section. This is not something I would do often, if at all.

Amber walked swiftly out of the office. Tomorrow would be a better day, but for now, she would go home and think over what happened and what she could do about it…

… The walk to work was brisk. With a resolution to her predicament, Amber’s heels clicked with confidence. (The paragraph would continue on from here.)

I would probably use a chapter break instead of ellipses in this fashion, unless there wasn’t enough content to warrant it. For the most part, I use ellipses in dialogue or to end a suggestive bit of narrative. Perhaps a cliff-hanger.

My advice about Ellipses.
If used properly they can… bring a certain tone or voice to a character or situation. As with all things, too much of a good thing…

-Sheryl

Other punctuation posts

Unidentified Fervent Outburst!

Running off with Run-on’s

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