Ow! That hurt!

I like to give my opinion and I like to share what I’ve learned. This time it isn’t necessarily about writing or style per say, it’s more of an individual observation on behavior. I try to envision what I’m writing about as I write and keep the scenario firm in my mind. The reason for this is believability. If it doesn’t look right in my mind, how can I expect it to play out in someone else’s?

Since there is action, violence and clumsiness in my stories, there is pain. It is a sensory response tightly tied to emotions and therefore is often an internalized experience and generally written the same way. But, what if I don’t want the POV inside my characters head? I look at others in pain. Yes I know that sounds weird, but its true. How do real people respond to pain? In the movies, the pain threshold is amped up a few notches for the Hollywood experience. So when someone is riddled with bullets and still carries on, that might not be realistic, but it’s fun to watch. But, is it fun to read? Maybe. It depends on how well it’s written.

Like with everything defining, I put my characters pain threshold in their bio. Some people are naturally tolerant to pain. Some take a bit to catch their breath and wits to continue on, while others will shut down until the pain ebbs enough to function again.  In addition, like with many other things, pain tolerance can be learned or they can develop a tolerance for it over time.

Aside from the obvious screaming, grunting, cries, profanities and “Ow! That hurt!” what else can we do to show pain? What are the physical indicators?

Grabbing the injured area swiftly
Sucking breath through teeth sharply
Pursing lips and moaning
Crying and tears
Sobbing
Wailing
Rubbing the affected area rapidly
Staring at the injury wide-eyed (Especially if blood is involved. I’ll talk about blood another time.)
Fainting
Falling to the ground(In various ways, also dependant on type and placement of injury)
Gasping for air (If wind is knocked out)
Blood, swelling or bruising
Broken bones (Best used if it’s an obvious or super disgusting break)
Stunned, Dazed or confused
Rapid breathing
Shaking hands

The people that shake it off would do just that. Shake a limb or even jump on the spot a time or two then move on.

Sasha admired the large bruise on her hip from being knocked to the ground earlier. She poked at it with her finger, sucked her breath in sharply and winced.

Cal ran over to the car. The woman in the driver’s seat was conscious, her right hand on her forehead and her left on her chest where the seatbelt dug in. He assessed her quickly asking her the standard questions as she gulped air and struggled to answer.

Anne walked with a slight smile to her lips, the sun warm on her face and a cool breeze brushing by. Her foot strayed too close to the sidewalk edge, her ankle gave way and she fell sideways to the ground. Landing hard on the grass, she cried out pressing her hands on her ankle.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow.” She blinked the tears from her eyes.
“Are you okay?” A tall man squatted beside her.
“No.” She swatted his hand away. “Don’t touch me it hurts!”
“Let me see, I can help I’m a nurse.” His soothing voice made her look up into his steel blue eyes. Reluctantly she gave him access.
“I’m Tony.” His gentle fingers pressed and ran across her skin.
“Ow! Anne.” She yelped and pulled her foot away when he pressed too hard.
“It’s not broken. Here.” He held his hands out. “Let me help you up Anne.”

The boy fell to the concrete with a dull thud. Sasha gasped along with a few others. He laid still as his mother knelt. He rolled over and sat up dazed and unsure why everyone was staring. He raised his hands seeing the scraped cut palms and red starting to surface near the tiny embedded pebbles and started wailing in earnest.

Sasha opened the new clients file, reached for the top page, it requesting a vegetal ‘feel’ for the advertisement and drew her hand to her mouth instantly. Sucking her finger, she scowled at the offensive page. She looked at the razor thin trench filling with blood as she pulled air through her teeth hissing at the wound.

These were tame everyday examples of immediate responses to pain. Obviously, there are other types such as acute from gunshot, stabbing, and broken bones.  Long-term pain can affect a person’s personality and even change them over time such as arthritis, improperly healed bones, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, Shingles, Fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines. These are just a few, adding this type of dynamic to a character can be beneficial to the cause as much as the character. If it’s not something close to you, do your research and talk to someone living with or near someone with chronic pain. Other types of reoccurring pain that can vary in intensity are menstrual cramps, labor and birthing, surgery, earaches and toothaches.

My advice about pain.
You can pretty much do anything you want to your characters and have them react in any way you want them to. From interesting, to predictable, to way out of left field. As long as you work it into the story in the same voicing you’ve been using all along it will add the ick factor or cringe moment that will make the reader want to know what happens next.

-Sheryl

Other sensory posts

Getting a little touchy feely

Did you smell that?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Vegetal
Heal

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I swear! Or do I?

NOTE this one is sort of NSFW, I did sensor though.

I got a review recently suggesting to add a profanity to my book. I’m not a prude by any means, I can be foul-mouthed when appropriate. I didn’t think the scene necessarily needed one. The biggies are not in my book and I haven’t given much thought to adding them… yet.

When reviewed by a professional I was told my writing is borderline Young Adult and New Adult. That the writing style and content could swing either way. Not a bad thing I was assured. This means I am open to a wider market. Huh. Okay so what to do about swearing?  At this point I think I’ll leave it out. Now it’s been brought to my attention I will have to think more on this. What is acceptable? What isn’t? Does it even matter anymore? Given the content and settings of my story I wont be adding them anytime soon, perhaps in the second book when things get a little more dangerous and the antagonists step it up a few notches.

This doesn’t mean my characters don’t drop some colourful expletives, I had one drop a few but I eluded to it in a very humorous way instead of just putting it out there. I also had another cut someone off mid F-bomb to make a point on their behavior.

This has me pondering, should I stick a couple in? It’s totally possible, but is it necessary?

Now I know this is a touchy subject and for those that might be sensitive I’ll respect that and sensor this list that was partially derived from Ofcom.

Worst offenders

C*nt
F*ck
M%th#rf*ck#r

Offenders

B&st&rd
B#&ver
C%ck
D!ck
D!ckhe&d
Pr!ck
P*ssy
Sn&tch
Tw&t

Sort of bad, but common

Assh%le  (IMO this belongs a bit higher on the list)
B&lls (This might be a personal issue, I don’t see a problem with it)
B!nt
B!tch
B%llocks
B*llsh!t
P!ssed/p!ssed off  (Not sure this is so bad?)
Sh!t
S%n of a b!tch
T!ts

Meh, more of a personal or religious issue here. I personally don’t touch religious ones.

Arse/Ass
Bloody
Bugger
Cow
Crap
Damn
Ginger
Git
G%d
G%ddam
Jes*s Chr!st
Minger
Sod-off

Swearing can be tricky if you are writing young adult, too much and parents might object, too little and the teens will roll their eyes. That’s not to say it MUST be included. It doesn’t, unless realistically the scene would call for it.

Here is how I avoid them.

Partial omission:

Son of a…  You can add any word/descriptive or leave the dots. “Son of a blowfly.” Depending on the character it could be funny. essentially a blowflies son is a maggot. So its a win-win in the insult department.

Her body reacted instantly to his touch. “Oh Fu-” Her words lost in his mouth as he pulled her closer.

The casual reference:

Sasha slammed her food down, the screeching of the tires drowned out her colourful string of expletives. Less than an inch of space remained between the car that nearly hit hers and her bumper.

Sasha tripped on the threshold, smashing her elbow on the mahogany console table by the door.
“Watch your mouth young lady.”
“It freaking hurts mom!” She seethed and rubbed her injured arm.
“None the less a lady does not speak such words, especially not in my house.”
Sasha rolled her eyes and mouthed the words at her mothers back in spite.

The substitution:

“Oh Firetruck!”
“You’re twenty six Anne you can say the actual word you know.” Sasha giggled at her friend.

“No, I wouldn’t date him again he’s a total Duckhead.”
“Seriously Anne, you quack me up!” Sasha snickered into her hand.

The PG Sillies:

Sasha scrunched her face at Cal. “Ugh. You’ve got poop for brains.”
“Oh my dear goodness no! Not poop for brains.” He held his side as he laughed.

“Smarten up or I’ll kick you in the tenders.” Valery crossed her arms as Dale guffawed.
“Tenders…” He walked away wiping his eyes.

The aftereffect:

Cal handed Sasha a glass of water. “I had no idea you even knew those sorts of words.”
She sniffled. “Sorry, I was scared.”

Cal waited for Sasha to calm down and sit. “You curse like an unsupervised drunk tween at their first party.” Cal chuckled.
“Don’t piss me off then.” Sasha pouted with her arms crossed. “I’m on the verge of raising the PG rating of this conversation significantly.”
“I doubt you could take it any higher.” He sat beside her chuckling softly. “On second thought, I would love to hear you try.”
“You’re annoying you know that Detective?”
“I try.” He laughed at her poor attempt to stifle a laugh of her own.

The thesaurus translation:

“You don’t have to be such a Donkey-sphincter about it Val.” Anne pouted as Sasha spit her drink out.

Sasha clenched her fist. “This is pure bull feces!”

To include them or not, I guess I do to some extent, I avoid the worst offenders completely. I’ll use pissed off or damn or dammit. Bitch, shit and ass or asshole are likely to be used at some point, while bad, there are even eight year olds know them and use them. Heck I’ve heard toddlers spit them out. It’s really about perspective and I suppose if the publisher says, ‘yeah tone that down’ I have no problem acquiescing.

My advice about swearing.
Use your F@#ing judgement, know your D@mned audience and maybe test drive the sh!t by having some d!ckhe@d read it and hopefully they give you honest F@#ing feedback.

-Sheryl

Other not so sh!#tty posts

That is disgusting

Eating emotions

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Second Thoughts

What happened yesterday?

There are times when I’m writing a scene and it becomes tedious. The moments are either repetitive or drawn out and might lose the reader. However, the story part needs to be represented so what do I do? Summarize. I try to stay outside my characters heads so this can become tricky, as it is easier to write a summarized day or whatever without jumping into introspective writing. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that POV, It’s just not what I’m going for.  I had a long chapter of events that occurred after the bad date and run in with Cal the following morning. However, it started to become filler drama. The over written paragraphs were irksome and needed to change. They were not quite enough to move the story forward in an interesting way and too much mediocrity to pass off as entertaining. So I’ll give a summary chapter a try and see how I feel about it. Ready? Set? Go.

Sasha jolted awake as her body hit the floor beside her bed. Scrambling to her feet, she examined her elbow.
“Weird.”
Falling out of bed was odd enough, but the bruise on her elbow from giving Amber the elbow drop from the top rope was a little funny. She didn’t even watch wrestling but the dream had a sweet satisfactory after-glow to it.

She turned on the hot water, running her hand in the shower spray until it was warm enough to step in. Holding her face under the sharp water the day before was slowly coming back. Scott sulked in his office all morning. Amber had snickered too loudly when Sasha screamed after finding a live mouse in her desk drawer. It turned out to be a shrew. There was no doubt in Sasha’s mind who put that there. Heads were down and hushed tones seemed to emanate from every corner of the office all morning.
“How am I the bad guy all of a sudden?” Sasha let her tears fall with the water as she washed her hair. “I’ve given them everything and I’m always nice to everyone.” The anger didn’t wash away with the soap as she slammed the conditioner bottle down.
Valery did her best to buffer and keep Scott and Amber busy for Sasha’s sake. Even after Sasha told her she shouldn’t have to.
“I need a vacation.” She muttered, shut the water off and dried off rubbing harder than normal. “Or a new job.” That vocalization brought fresh tears to her eyes. “Jerks. I love the job. I’m really good at it.” She wiped her eyes with the damp towel before they fell and then hung it on the towel rack. “Maybe too good.”

She opened her armoire. The thing she loved about this house was the abundance of details. Someone put a lot of time and effort into making it feel old and antique. Carved banisters with little ivy and flowers, real hardwood floors with contrasting wood inlays. The lack of storage wasn’t an issue. The previous owner left the cabinets, buffets and armoires that matched the mouldings.

When Scott had begged via email to go for lunch to talk, she gave in, if only to curb some of the tension in the office. Oddly enough, lunch was the nicest part of the day. He had apologized and asked to try again. When she said no, he pleaded if only to save their friendship. She managed to stifle her laugh then but at that thought laughed aloud while buttoning her blouse.
“Pft. Friendship.”
Still, she acquiesced and agreed to go out on a non-date to see if they can mend their so-called friendship. His motives were easy to see. What Sasha didn’t understand was why. He didn’t seem to genuinely like her as a person.
“I’m just the stupid shrew, the conquest.” She looked at her vanity mirror reaching for her brush. “I’m not ugly.” She tilted her face back and forth. “Just broken.” With a heavy sigh, she raised the brush stopping at a loud knock sound from downstairs. Someone was at the door banging again. Quickly she glanced at the alarm clock. “Who? It’s so early.” Scrunching her face, brush in hand she hurried down the stairs.

 Huh. A very long chapter summarized. With the characters behaviors and personalities already established, I didn’t need to spend another drawn out chapter of shenanigans. Amber is a childish bully who doesn’t seem to think her juvenile actions will have consequences. Valery is struggling with keeping the peace, Scott is up to no good and trying to lure Sasha back in and Sasha is fully awake and finally seeing what has always been there.

This was a fantastic way to cut back on word count and stop a somewhat repetitive and potentially tedious chapter from souring the reader’s experience. I think I’ll save that space for some real drama, the kind that will progress the story in a more exciting way.

My advice about summarizing.
I wouldn’t personally do this too often, but when I was stuck on that chapter and it felt as if it were dragging its feet like an unhappy toddler at the grocery store, I knew I had to do something about it.  If word count is an issue or tediousness, then I recommend giving it a try.

-Sheryl

Related posts

The good…

The bad…

And the ugly

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Irksome
Jolt

But I hate that

When I write or shall I say revise, I find ways to polish what I’ve written and employ some or all of the things I have found and learned. One thing I have recently been thinking about are our key character differences. Our differences make us unique from one another, this should also be true to characters of a story. I’ve talked about likes and dislikes and how they can bring about interesting conversation and plot turns. But what about hate?

The hate of a certain food, colour, object, task, job, behavior or even another person. I personally only give my good behaving characters one or two hates and they may or may not ever come up in the story unless they are pertinent or it can inject humor, tension, foreshadows or even comradery into a scenario.

I don’t mean the “Ooh I hate that.” Kind of hate, I mean the deep down, loathing-avoid-it-at-all-costs kind of hate. The sort of thing that Antagonists are riddled with.

A hatred of something or someone can be the entire purpose of a characters drive. Not everyone that hates is a bad person.

Anne’s smile faded as she approached the house. The loathsome sound of a small dog barking behind the door made her toes curl. The door opened before she could knock and the vile creature bounded out at her. Taking a step back, she gave herself points for not punting the yappy monster nipping at her shoes and jumping up at her legs.

Valery waited while her date loaded up his vendor hotdog with condiments. He didn’t know it was a test. If he reached for the bottle of vomit, she would bail on him. Petty, but anyone who ate relish was as vile as they come. You could kick a dog and she’d find a way to forgive, but to willingly consume the slimy, chunky, tangy booger-barf was a no go for her. He squeezed the bottle and it oozed out with small fart noises; she grimaced as her stomach lurched. Too bad, he was a great kisser.

Baylor crouched quietly waiting for his quarry. With each passing minute, his body tensed a little more, the grinding of his teeth his only company in the dark yard. The nearby animals sensing his furious presence wouldn’t resume their night-song or dare approach. His nostrils flared as car headlights approached. Nobody has gotten away before, nobody. Let alone have him arrested. She ruined everything, now he had to become someone else to be happy. A tainted happiness all because of some whore tease who tempted too many men falsely. If she lived through his payback, he didn’t care. It would be a first, he liked them to suffer forever, but this one, oh, this one destroyed his control, she who wasn’t even the real target to begin with, would pay dearly.

When I give a protagonist or supporting character a hatred, I try to make it interesting, against the norm or flat out weird. That way the reader will be shocked or taken aback by the hatred. It makes a person more believable it they If I have an antagonist with bundles of hatred, I would let it out slowly or hide it from the world in which they live. Perhaps the reader would be given glimpses, with a show gesture or two. Or, with an action or conversation that starts to elude to their deep seeded hatred. They are after all the one that throws the protagonist challenge after challenge until one of them wins.

My advice about hatred.
Keep it believable. Unique to the character, but not overwhelming if they are not the villain. If possible work the hatred into the plot as a device for conversation, character building or even the whole point of the story. Have fun with hatred, but remember most people keep such powerful emotions tucked away, deep down and loathe even to talk about it.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Sensible sensation

Did you smell that?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Relish

It’s a personal thing

I learned something interesting recently. It is something I was already doing, however, now I have a better understanding of how to make it work for me. I’m talking about personal items. The things I keep around me reflect who I am and what I like. This goes for anyone and everyone including characters of a story.

Personalizing the space around a character can tell you a lot about a person in a very short time. It can give a person opportunity to exhibit a bit of personality. Things that are common but can be very personalized.

Personal things that can strongly suggest a personality or like/dislike
Keychains (Big opportunity here)
Photographs/Calendars
Jewellery
Clothes (Like a sports team or band concert shirt)
Tidy or untidy desktop
Scuffed shoes
Personalized pens
Nail polish/hair colour
Tattoos
Purse/handbag/wallet
Books
Handheld electronic devices
Ringtones on cellphone
Music
Car
Computer desktop wallpaper

Not going over the top, I’ll have Cal interact with three different people.

Cal walked into the office stopping at Ralph’s desk. Cal was the new guy here and paying attention was paramount. Ralph nodded at him pointing at the obvious phone to his ear. Cal smiled and surveyed his desk. Ralph’s Mexico calendar had the days crossed off with a big circle on the twentieth. A stress ball and an Acapulco coffee mug sat among stacks of files. He set the receiver down.
“How can I help you? Detective Thorn.” Ralph said his name like a question.
Cal smiled sweetly at the tired man. They had met three times already, though his apathetic attitude spoke volumes.
“Two more weeks before you go scuba diving in Mexico Ralph, I’m envious. Do you have the evidence report on Cowen that was sent to the Judge for me?” 
He had it, the question was would he give it to him right away.
“It can’t come soon enough Detective.” Ralph rifled through the stacks on his desk. “Well soak it up and do nothing important, only fun. You deserve a little R and R.”
“Oh, I plan on it, Detective.” Ralph smiled handing him the file.
“Thanks, Ralph I appreciate how fast you got this for me.”
“No problem.”

Someone like Ralph is unhappy about work, tired and looks forward to his yearly jaunt to Acapulco enough that Cal’s small talk about his trip would go a long way. Now compared to someone with a clean and tidy personal memento free workspace.

Cal approached Nancy next knocking on her open door and waiting for her permission to enter. “Detective Thorn.” She nodded at him to sit as she straightened her keyboard and put her pen back in the holder. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“I got a call this morning that Baylor Cowen got out on bail.”
“Most unfortunate.” She laced her fingers placing her hands before her on the desktop. “The judge is not on our side it seems.”
“What is it going to take to get her under investigation? The evidence was solid.”
“So was your fist Detective. A black eye and a greased palm were enough to get him out.” She tutted once. “That being said I cannot fault you, I would have enjoyed seeing that man go down. If you want to look into the Judge and her decisions, I’ll see it approved. Have Nunez start combing the records.” Her curt nod was his dismissal and he stood and left. ‘No nonsense Nancy’ he had been warned on his first day at the precinct to be straight up with her about everything.

The no-nonsense Nancy would not appreciate small talk and would respond better to matter of fact straight to the point conversation.

Cal stopped at the evidence room before leaving. Trish was biting the end of her Party-Harty pen and the faded club stamp was still visible on her wrist. She sat up straighter when she saw him.
“Good morning Trish.” She blushed furiously at his use of her name.
“Good morning Detective you’re here early.”
“How’s that new club you said you were going to on Saturday?”
“Oh Club Hyperbole? It was a blast, great music, glow in the dark shots and lots of hot guys.”
“Glow in the dark sounds fun.” He gave her a charming smile and leaned on the tall counter. “I have to go see a witness this morning.”
“Lucky witness.”
“Would you happen to have an original printout of the evidence from the Crowen Case? Before it was submitted to the Judge or Crowen’s Lawyers?”
“I sure hope so.” She took out her key-chain with a clear pink mini martini glass dangling from it. She unlocked the cabinet and rifled through.
“Lucky you too.” She photocopied it and handed him the copy.
He took it with a wink. “Thanks, Trish.”
“For you? Any time Detective.” She watched him walk away.

Flirty objects on or around a person might suggest they are open to or respond best to flirting or personal remarks. My only caution with this type of interaction would be to be aware of personality. While Cal is a detective and likely to see these clues, Sasha would not necessarily be so in tune. Not everyone is a sleuth or intuitive, and not everyone has the personality to pull each interaction off without coming across as smarmy or as an opportunist.

This is also a good way to give the reader a better insight to the protagonist through the eyes of another character say if they visit their home.

My advice about personal items.
I wouldn’t say to use them for everyone all the time, just if you need a snapshot into someone minor or when introducing someone new. Instead of the standard head to toe description with a telling of who they are and how they fit in, try showing who they are in a first impression style.

-Sheryl

Other posts

The FAB pencil

Labor of love

Who’s who in the grand scheme of things

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Hyperbole
Record
Volume

One step forward and two steps back

The point of any story is to get from one point to another with entertaining bits in-between. Ideally, the protagonist is on a journey of some sort. Probably growth by emotions or achievements.  No path is smooth nor should it be. How dull would it be if nothing ever got in the way? If nothing pushed the hero off course and they sailed on through to the end easy-peasy.  Yawn. Double yawn even.

I am a huge fan of the setback, the ‘are you freaking kidding me?’ moments.  I don’t care for over the top non-stop terrible incident after terrible incident. The kind where the character can’t ever catch a break, so much that it becomes annoying. In those cases it’s more about bad luck or sensational writing without content. Like a sweet strawberry cream filled chocolate without the strawberry filling. It’s okay, because hey, chocolate. But where’s the gooey good stuff?

All in all, the protagonist should be steadily gaining ground and when setback they should triumph and move along to the next obstacle.

What about those obstacles? Well, I try to make them meaningful to the story in some way. Random death or destruction is fun but if it means nothing to anyone in the story, the reader certainly won’t give a rats ass either.

For example, I’ll talk about Sasha. She is pretty high up in importance at the design firm. She knows how to utilize others’ skills appropriately and is a team player. She lacks drive or the push to get her to do what she should really be doing and starting her own agency. So I’ve set Amber on her to make her work life hell and later someone else will toss her to the flames and really light a fire under her butt.  Now in her personal life. She has a secret and a few select people in her life know about it. Something bad happened and slowly, this will be drawn out by a series of relationship related events. Some good, some bad and some very much both. Her friends are trying to force her to move on, men are trying to drag her out of her self-inflicted misery, but eventually someone will give her the courage to let it all go and move on herself. Don’t worry the path is riddled with awful things that make her grow as a person.

Cal is a detective and loves his job. His journey has not been addressed yet, so no spoilers.

Not all journeys are for the greater good. A character can wander from the ideal path and become well… bad. These are fun to play with. You can get super mean and nasty to them to drive them over the edge. Or maybe they’re already there and are the ones tossing out the roadblocks on the sly for the protagonist to trip on.

Think of it like a ladder. The side boards are the progression, the protagonist will climb from the base of the ladder to the top. Some rungs may break and others may be missing. Eventually they need to get to the top. Some characters will be making their way down. It’s easier to go down and even fall fast. Then there are the rungs of the ladder. It’s okay to have rungs, the characters/events that serve only to help someone else up or down. They have no real part in the journey other than that one moment.

Overall, the strong emotion eliciting moments are the ones that will keep the pages turning. How are they going to get out of this mess? What happens next?

My advice about setbacks.
Use them appropriately with cause and purpose. If you over do the set backs then the reader might start eye rolling and get bored or frustrated. Remember its all about the endgame. How can a struggle or set back make the reward sweeter?

-Sheryl

Other posts

Desperately procrastinating

I’m just me

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Base

One hundred

Statistics are fun. This is my one hundredth post written. It may have gotten out of order a wee bit by a couple days. Oops.  Oh well. My point is I made it 100 days posting blogs that have for the most part been received with complements and favorable comments.

I don’t get the little notifications from WordPress, the congratulations on 1000 likes or whatnot, but that’s not important, I get them and I’m thankful.

To everyone that takes the time to read, comment, like and re-blog I want to say thank you. You all make this part of my journey that much more exciting, fun, interesting and educational.

Here are some fun facts;

People liking my blog posts have represented 74 Countries

I have received 2443 Likes thus far

My posts have 822 Comments (I think this includes my responses)
The first five people to ever comment: (Those in pink are still actively posting since August and are awesome by the way)
Michael 
Kristina
Yvonne
Fernanda
April
TouchUpdate

2025 Visitors have dropped buy for a visit.

My blog has had 5620 views since it started.

Finally yet importantly, I have 278 Glorious and fantastic followers so far.
My first six followers ever are:(again in pink are still actively blogging as of August)
DirtySciFiBudda
Yvonne
Mimi
Fernanda
Leslie
quintessentialeditor

I don’t mention this to brag, but in appreciation. I had no idea where this would go when I started and I still don’t. (Check them out and see if you don’t know them.)

I try to keep my posts informative, fun and at least interesting. They are based on my journey since I sat down and wrote a book with no idea how to do so. I have learned so much and I love that I find out new things nearly daily to better my skills. I am not an expert, but I do like to give my opinion and share what I’ve learned. I am open to suggestions (within reason) and love to hear from my readers and followers.

My book BiaAtlas is still in the process of being published. It is still a journey and I will continue to share the process as things arise.

Occasionally I fall short on time and will post a chapter of a book I’ve started. It is based off the characters I created solely for the purpose of blog post examples. Sasha, Cal and the people that antagonize them. I have a lot of fun with them and they are bludgeoned with situation after situation and often… well that’s because they are example fodder. 

I hope everyone has enjoyed and will continue to enjoy my two cents spelling, grammar, technical errors and all. 😉

So thank you again bloggers and readers, liker’s and commenters, I honestly appreciate all your support.

My advice today.
Don’t give up on your dreams, if it gets murky and you need a break, keep your dreams nearby you never know when inspiration will strike up your desire to start chasing them again.

-Sheryl

My first, second and third post ever.

One letter, one word, and one sentence.
The “word count” down.
Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Bludgeon

The limitation of imitation

Imitation is flattery, or so they say. Technically almost everyone everywhere are copycats in one way or another.  From tattoos, hairstyles, speech mannerisms to personal style we copy what we see to learn. We copied our teachers to learn math, science, English and more. We copy our parents and learn from them how to be adults etc.

In the world of writing, it can be more apparent. While some take inspiration and utilize a style, theme or subject matter others outright thief and pose the work as their own. Tisk-tisk, it’s obvious you know.  This is why copyright laws exist. I talked about this in copyright copyleft a while ago.

How can this behavior apply to writing stories? Well if people do, then the characters should to. What better way is there to endear someone to the protagonist than have someone look up to him or her and mirror them? On the flip-side what better way to toss a little friction in and have someone flat out copycat the protagonist and stir up some trouble? As with everything it can go any possible way, you want. For me I look to see what’s missing, if there’s a lot of drama, maybe a flattery break is needed. If not enough drama then lay anchor matey, the pirates are a coming.

It was too much to deal with. Sasha got up and turned her laptop on. Sleep was not her friend tonight. She couldn’t stop playing the so-called date over and over in her head. The tiny voice suggesting she is being unfair to Scott, then the other voice of reason reminding her he was behaving too pushy and aggressive. Both are traits she wouldn’t have applied to Scott normally. Something was up with him and it struck her as false. Deciding to work for a while, she checked her inbox.
“Huh.” She clicked open a message from Valery titled, Amber rising star.  Sasha left her personal feelings out of her conversations with Valery at work. Outside work they didn’t talk shop often and never gossiped. She read the blurb about Amber’s submission for the candle company. This would not help her sleep. The attached images opened and Sasha stared in disbelief. They were her designs, modified just enough to be passable as Ambers work.
“That sneaky little copy-cat.”  If it had been anyone else, she might have passed it off as flattery, but not Amber. She did this to Tony two months ago and snaked his position and he wound up leaving the company.  Sasha furiously examined each advert and sat back satisfied. She opened a reply box, dropped her image files into it and asked Valery to verify the time dates on Ambers. She didn’t have them, but Sasha did. The only reason Amber would chance copying her work was because lately, since Baylor attacked her, her work has shifted to a more edgier, sharper approach. It was working and getting her some great client feedback.
“We’ll see if you can keep up that level of work on your own missy.” Sasha yawned and closed her laptop after sending her email. She kept is short, sweet and matter of fact. Tomorrow would be an interesting day. The idea of going into the office to face Amber and Scott made her tired enough to finally fall asleep.

While cheating and copying is not the best way to get ahead, some people get away with it and it is infuriating. It is fun to let the antagonist get away with some clearly unjust actions for a while. It builds tension and allows the reader to grow a hatred for one while developing empathy for the other. Someone that can’t get by on their own work are limited to what and who they copy from.

My advice about copycats.
They are a fantastic way to bring some serious frustration into a story. They can also be a great way to bond characters and create lasting relationships. A mentor type situation is a great way to induce friendship.

-Sheryl

Related post  Copyright © Copyleft

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Copycat

Awkwardly awkward

It is super hard to read awkward writing. The kind stuffed full of filler words, superfluous action tags, jargon, perspective swapping and a whole lot of tell. I’ve written about those issues, but what about writing an awkward scene?

This can be fun. I love awkward moments. Why because they happen all the time in real life. Only in a story I get to create the moment and shape it accordingly. I also get to make it so much worse than real life if I want to. I can add layer after layer of discomfort employing my super evil laugh as my protagonist squirms. 

“At least it’s just drinks.” Sasha got out of the taxi. She drove home earlier, showered, changed and put on makeup. Valery kept calling it a date. Sasha kept denying it even though it was clearly a date. She brushed her hands over her dark-blue jeans and soft sweater that matched her brown eyes. She risked the pending rain and wore her favorite three inch calf high suede boots.
“Sasha.” Scott approached quickly. “You look fantastic.”
She bit back her usual snarky remark, smiled and responded. “Thanks. You too.” His dark jeans and black t-shirt made her heart beat faster as he put his hand on her back to lead her inside.
The bar was not what she expected. No dance floor, modern with glass tables. Meant for mingling and conversation the music was background and not overpowering. She jumped up into the chair at the high table and picked up the menu as Scott moved his chair closer and prattled on about a new car he was thinking about purchasing.
With drinks in hand she sipped quickly until the familiar warmth cascaded through her. Casting glances in the direction of the exit. Twice she pulled her hand out from under his as he rambled.
“So what do you think?”
Sasha whipped her head back to Scott wide eyed. She wasn’t listening and had no idea what he was asking about.
“Um.” She stalled and took a long gulp of her third drink as his hand slid up her thigh.
“You keep looking at the door. My place is closer, we can go now or wait a bit.”
She choked on her drink.
“Later then.” He laughed and ordered another round as she recovered and removed his wayward hand.
“You’re confidence is astounding Scott.”
He leaned closer brushing the back of his fingers over her jaw. “For good reason.”
She sucked her breath in as she looked over his shoulder, he misread and moved in for a kiss. Dodging his lips she leaned away.
“What the hell Sasha?” Scott cleared his throat and regained his composure. “Sorry, you throw off mixed signals.”
She was about to reply when Cal strolled by and stopped. Head cocked to the side he smiled. “Good evening Sasha, how nice,” Cal’s eyes slipped to Scott then back, “to run into you here.”
The chair did not swallow her up and she silently cursed it. “Um.”
“Who are you?” Scott’s arm slid around her waist. “Who is he Sasha?”
“Ah, he’s Detective Thorn. This is Scott from work.” She peeled his arm from her waist ungracefully. Cal extended Scott his hand. “He was the one that saved me from that guy that attacked me last week.”
“Oh right.” Scott shook Cal’s hand. “You sort of mentioned that.”
Her eyes narrowed. She had mentioned it in great detail after Amber caught wind of her whoring it up bringing home a bad man for a one night stand. She only told them to set the story straight. Neither he nor Amber asked after her welfare then.
“What brings you here?” Scott asked edging his chair closer to Sasha’s.
“Meeting a friend and his new husband for drinks.”
Scott relaxed noticeably and muttered. “Oh good.”
“It was nice to meet you Scott.” Cal looked at Sasha once again as she pushed Scott’s hand away. “I won’t keep you from your,” he flicked his eyes at Scott, “date.”
“It’s not a date.” Sasha’s quick response made the corner of Cal’s mouth curl as he walked away.
“What the hell do you mean it’s not a date?” Scott spoke through clenched teeth and she slipped off the chair and dropped two twenty dollar bills on the table.
“Goodnight Scott.”
He started after her while muttering, “Stupid shrew.”
Once outside he caught up and grabbed her arm nearly causing her to drop her phone. “What some cop shows up and you bail on me? You owe me more than paying for drinks.”
“Owe you?” She shoved his hand from her arm goosebumps rose on it from his eerie comment. “I owe you nothing Scott.”
He put his hands on her shoulders. “If it’s the cop we can go somewhere else.” His hands slid down her arms. “Look let’s go back to my place, have a few drinks and watch a movie or something.” He lowered his face to hers and kissed her. Her mind went wild with all the little sly looks of malice he’d been tossing her way. The looks of frustration and anger that flashed in his eyes.
She pushed him away. “This is wrong. I’m going home.” She headed toward a waiting taxi.
“I’ve put too much effort into you to just give up.” He chased after her.
She stopped with one foot in the cab. “Effort? What’s my favourite color? Don’t know? Yours is Green, peacock green to be precise. What’s my favorite meal? Drink? Do I have pets? Favorite movie?”
Scott took a step back his mouth opening and closing slightly.
“You haven’t really heard a word I’ve said in three years. You love spaghetti, long island ice tea, your dog McClane died eight and a half months ago and you are a huge Die Hard fan.” She sat in the cab slamming the door.  

Forcing someone to be awkward can give them a momentary break, enough to see reality. I used it to give Sasha a moment to pause and regroup. Awkward can be as simple as waving at a someone you thought was waving at you, but wasn’t or walking into a meeting late. It can be complicated as the moment a character realizes a mistake or has a revelation about what they really want. It can be a devastatingly awkward, like standing for an award or recognition meant for someone else. Or running into your stodgy boss at the sex store while picking up phallic lollipops for a bachelorette party.

My advice about awkward.
If your character needs a laugh break make it funny awkward and have them drop a Freudian during a presentation. If they are stuck, make it eye opening awkward. If they need to see something in front of their nose, you can make it devastating or revealing. As always have fun with it.

-Sheryl

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Eerie

Yes… no… maybe?

Okay I will. No, wait, maybe I shouldn’t…

Something that I forget to do in simple situations is employ conflicting emotions. Inner conflict. It doesn’t have to be voiced aloud, though if not writing in first person a little muttering under ones breath goes a long way.

Giving someone, opportunity to make a decision is a fast way to show-case them as a person. Someone might feel excited to be getting married but not completely sure if he’s ‘the one’.  A student might be nervous to move away from home but excited for the opportunities that lay ahead.  It could be a life changing decision, or one that makes little difference.

Should I have the piece of cake? I love cake, but I need to shed some pounds. Although, it is a birthday, but it’s too much sugar. Everyone else is having some, maybe just a sliver.

Inner conflict can enrich a moment and lend it power especially if that decision seems harmless but comes back to bite the antagonist on the ass later on. Now the trick for me is that inner turmoil is… inner. It is generally a silent thought process. So to show it instead of telling it forces me to have to look closer at what physical cues a person gives off during a moment of indecision. Maybe their hand jets out toward the cake and is pulled back then they flinch toward it again and then turn away to glace longingly back at the sweet temptation. Talking to ones self is also a great way to externalize, although I’m cautious with this, not everyone talks to themselves or mutters under their breath. I have some characters that talk to themselves and some that don’t. I keep track of them so I don’t have someone behaving out of character.

Sasha sat in her Living room and stared at the two sentence email Scott sent. He was being persistent and that was a problem. He insisted on drinks, the social lubricant. Sasha wasn’t stupid, lower her inhibitions and maybe he’d get lucky.
‘Let me treat you to drinks tomorrow night. To say I’m sorry for being a jerk.’
“Maybe getting lucky is what I need too.” She typed the word yes and clenched her hands and deleted it replacing it with No. She stared at the word no and added, thank you. Cracking her neck and blowing air out of her mouth fast she deleted that and typed. That would be nice thank you.
“Ugh, but would it?” She deleted that and leaned her head back on the chair. “Okay Sash, why yes and why no?” The ceiling didn’t have any answers. Her friends would say go for it. “Okay, okay a list. To start, we work together.” She typed the pro’s and con’s and deleted the notepad file. Then emptied the recycling bin on her desktop when her cell phone rang.
She fumbled with the phone. “Hello?” Smiling she leaned over and grabbed a pen, writing yes on one hand and no on the other. “Perfect timing Val. Left or right?” She laughed. “No I won’t tell you. Just pick one.” Sasha opened her left hand and frowned, the excitement of the game dissipated with the reality. “Looks like I’m going out for drinks tomorrow. I hope it’s not a giant mistake.”

Both options would present me with opportunity to create conflict and move Sasha along with her problem. Sometimes when I write things like this I’m not even sure what she should do. So I think about it and what lies ahead for either choice and go with the more volatile one. Drinks with the shifty, super cute office crush could be fun, or a complete disaster.

My advice about inner conflict.
Don’t forget to use it. Make it fun and if you’re not sure flip a coin or something. That works too.

-Sheryl

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Giant