Spaces, The Final Frontier

Spaces, The Final Frontier  (2).png

Spaces, The Final Frontier

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

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

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

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

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

The benefits of single space:

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

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

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

 “        ?         .     ;     :     )    &    @

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

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

spacing

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

I merely repeated this for all punctuation.

These do not get spaces:

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

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

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

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

My advice about spacing after punctuation

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

Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

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

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The Editing Dead End

The Editing Dead EndWell I know I’ve been MIA for a bit, life is unexpected and full of… well life. I have been editing my new book Prophecy Ink, and I have to say it’s fun and frustrating all at the same time. I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and New Year.

I have taken the editing for Prophecy as far as I can on my own and with Microsoft word’s ‘help’ (that’s a loose term it’s limited)

I feel as if I hit a dead end. I know there is work needed to it so what to do?  I started looking at editing programs as a live human one is still way outside my budget. After months of research and thinking it over I decided on Grammarly. Now I’m not being paid to talk about it, and this is not a product review in any ‘professional’ sense.

It is the program I’ve decided to use and therefore I will show some of its features, benefits and cool things I’ve encountered so far. It is a big program. I will focus on one or two things at a time. For now, I’ll explain what it is.

Grammarly is a live program that you download to your computer. It can run in windows, which will check online documents like blog posts and emails. It can also be run in word documents or on the Grammarly site itself.  In a word document, it appears as a tab when you click “enable Grammarly.”

The free version is a bit limited but still extraordinarily helpful for blogs, emails and word documents.  It offers the following:  Contextual spelling, Grammar and Punctuation.

I hesitated and tried out the “free” version for months before paying for the full version. It is pricey.  With the full or “premium” version you have access to all things shown in the tab below.

grammerly what it does

As you edit, those little red numbers drop. If while writing you make a mistake it lets you know by highlighting. This far, I have found the program to be easy to navigate and user-friendly.

I’m excited to use this program to polish my manuscript further and will break it down and show just how much it goes beyond what is built into the usual “word processing” program such as Microsoft office.

My advice about The Editing Dead End.
If you feel stuck and know it’s not perfect yet, search for programs that might suit you. Or if your budget allows, find an editor or copy editor to take a crack at your work. Turn that dead end into another fruitful path to take. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

Identical

That is disgusting

I know this is a post from a long while ago. Since I’m on vacation, I decided to sail through today and share one of my old favourites.  Don’t worry I’ll get back to new and fun posts shortly.

That is disgusting

People can be gross, I mean really gross. They do things that make me cringe.

When a character does something disgusting and it’s shown and not told, I will be disgusted too. And that is the entire point of reading a book. I want to be in the story. I want to feel it.

For example:

Billy sat in the back corner of the coffee shop. In one hand, he held his book. With the other, he carefully dislodged a decent clump of moist mucus from his nose. After examining his generous prize, he rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as he continued to read. Without a thought, he flicked the carefully constructed ball. He happened to see it plunk into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.

He glanced around quickly, nobody was looking. Nobody witnessed the once in a lifetime accidental shot. Feigning interest in his book, the devil in his head urged him to silence. He watched the snotty woman in a pale green sweater sip her coffee-surprise. Had she not been so incredibly rude to him earlier he might have spoken up. Then again, he might not have.

When the woman finished her present, Billy got up to leave, pausing at her table.

“Good coffee?”

She looked up from her tablet, her face morphed into a sneer and she tutted. “It’s a latte, and I’m still not interested in someone,” she looked him up and down, “like you.” She dismissed him completely giving her tablet her attention.

Billy walked away, a slow satisfied smile creeping to his lips.

I loved writing this because Billy the bad-guy is as much a victim as the woman who is horrible in her own way.

Billy has a habit. He likes to pick his nose. It’s called rhinotillexis. If he eats it, it’s called Mucophagy. Does the reader need to know the specific detail of what the act is called? Maybe. If it’s relevant to the story. Otherwise, leave it as a quirk or bad habit.

Cringe worthy things happen all the time. Like when someone hands you money that was carefully tucked away in her sweaty cleavage. What bothers you might not bother someone else.

My advice about grossing out your readers.

If it gives you the heebie-jeebies or turns your stomach, it’s safe to use. My example was a very long way to say, – He picked his nose, flicked it into the shrew’s drink and watched as she drank it. – Blech.

-Sheryl

Other related posts.

My Posts From The Start

Tag! You’re it.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Sail

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

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

There is so much more

Writing is definitely something that consumes me. I love it, every aspect of it. For me putting words to pager (or screen) is exciting, fun and I can’t get enough.

There is so much more to writing than just putting words down. There is plot, characters, story arcs, scenes, grammar, sentence structure, paragraph structure, chapter structure and more to consider. There are the nuances to story telling such as how to describe even ordinary things or people, how to move the story along, bring in characters and show the reader their stories.

It can be overwhelming if you look at it all at once. There is so much to do, to think about and consider. I say bah! Just write. Use what tools and rules work best for you. I do. Then I go back and apply the rest. Such as: show don’t tell, filter word removal and more. I don’t look at the editing or revising as work, it’s a part of it. A chance for me to fine tune and perfect what I’ve written. I never make the mistake of fooling myself in believing what I wrote is perfect. There is always room for improvement.

I started this blog as a means to share what I’ve learned. In writing, editing, querying and the pursuit of being published. I also started this blog to strengthen my platform. Along the way I have met amazing and talented people who not only support my efforts, but put out amazing blog’s of their own. I am continuously learning and enjoy sharing. More importantly, I appreciate all my readers and the comments that are left for me.

I have learned to stretch my writing muscles and be open to ideas and methods I’ve never tried before. To attempt stories in different perspectives and view points. I have fun writing my blog examples and accidentally got a book out of it. It’s very important that I keep reading other people’s work published or not. For me it’s a way to see and understand how other people think. What they like and want.

My imagination is only limited by myself. One thing I’ve learned to do is to see and ‘feel out’ alternate options to a story arc. Be it major or minor. The options are endless and sometimes, the unexpected one boosts the story.

I have learned to never give up. To look forward and dare to dream. That hard work and persistance will get you to the next step.

So thank you to all that read my blog, thank you to all that leave comments and to all that write fantastic blogs for me to visit and enjoy.

My advice about writing.
Write what makes you happy. Don’t strive to write what other people are writing. Write for yourself and most importantly, write how you want to. If you like it, someone else is bound to. 

-Sheryl

Some of my favourite posts I’ve written.

That is disgusting

Isn’t it romantic?

Roller-coaster Conversations

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Ordinary

Oh no! Not the not’s!

I’ve talked before about the really very weak adjectives that are used too often in my post ‘it’s really very unnecessary’. I thought I’d slink back to that subject to discuss the not so good adjective use. Something I’m guilty of doing.

This is worse than using weak adjectives such as really and very, it’s when I start using ‘not’ to say what isn’t opposed to saying what is.

For example;

It’s not hard. > It’s easy.
It’s not very tasty. > It’s gross. or It’s disgusting.
He’s not really mean. > He’s nice.
They’re not expired. > They’re fresh.
That isn’t hot. > It’s cold.

Even with my few examples of ‘not’ the really’s and very’s snuck in.
How would this look in my writing? I just happen to have an example.

Dale grabbed Amber from behind wrapping his arms around her waist and laughing when she yelped in surprise. 
“Crap Dale! You scared me half to death.” She said nervously as she turned around. “That was not nice.”
“You’re not paying attention today. It wasn’t hard to sneak up on you.” Dale kissed her tenderly then asked. “How was Scott today?” 
“He wasn’t mean. I think he regrets what he did and isn’t acting weird.” Amber frowned and looked away. 
“But?” Dale prodded.
“Scott wasn’t my problem today. I found out something about myself that was not flattering.”
Dale took her hand in his. “Let’s go back to your place and we can talk about it.”
Amber nodded, squeezed his hand and sighed contentedly as they started walking. (127)

I even had some contracted not’s in the form of Wasn’t, but not all of them have to go. Like with all things, moderation is key.

Dale grabbed Amber from behind wrapping his arms around her waist and laughing when she yelped in surprise. 
“Crap Dale! You scared me half to death.” She said nervously as she turned around. “You’re mean.”
“You’re distracted and easy to sneak up on.” Dale kissed her tenderly then asked. “How was Scott today?” 
“He was nice. I think he regrets what he did and is acting normal.” Amber frowned and looked away. 
“But?” Dale prodded.
“I found out something unflattering about myself.”
Dale took her hand in his. “Let’s go back to your place and we can talk about it.”
Amber nodded, squeezed his hand and sighed contentedly as they started walking. (112)

With some or all of not and it’s contractions highlighted such as I suggested in my post “well colour me silly” I was able to focus on them and remove the negative and redundancies. I also read the dialogue aloud and the not’s and whatnot’s did sound better removed or changed.

Not only did I fix some awkward naughty-not’s but I was able to do my favorite thing and reduce word count by 15 words. Not a huge number but a good start. I’m super guilty of this, so I add not and version

My advice about Not not-ting.
Highlight them and then proof read, if they are necessary or fit in perfectly then keep them. Otherwise I suggest cutting them out. 

-Sheryl

Related posts to this one that are worth a read.

Well colour me silly

It’s really very unnecessary

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Nervous

Sound and selfish advice

There comes a time when things don’t go the way one expects. I think there are two main types of people in this sort of scenario. One who rolls with it and hopes it goes back to their way, and the other who manipulates and makes things go back to their way. Or so they hope anyway. They are the trouble causer’s. The selfish people who will do what they need to do to get what they want. Whether they realize it or not.

I wouldn’t say I write people this way all the time, but a good antagonist is a bad and selfish person. Or should I say a selfish person makes a good antagonist? Either way when someone spoiled wants the cookie, what wicked words will they weave? What dastardly deeds with they do, to obtain their goal?

Dale stopped outside Scott’s office and poked his head in the door. “Hey their giving Alice the office baby gift and card as soon as we’re all out there.”
“Hey.” Scott beckoned him in with his hand.
Dale stepped into the office. “Sup?”
“You’re work is way off today. You’ve been avoiding me too. What’s going on?”
Dale shook his head and looked out the window. “Nothing, just an off day.”
“It’s going around. Amber’s been weird too.” Scott cocked his head to the side, at the mention of Amber, Dale inhaled sharp and quietly. Dale left the office and Scott followed.

The gathering was cheery. The occaion was one to celebrate. Alice is well liked and will be missed during her year away. Amber stood alone, a strange pained look on her face. Scott watched Dale stand across the room from Amber behind the crowd, and Scott went to his side. Something happened between his two friends. Amber wasn’t flirting with him incessantly and was demure. It was so unusual to not have her mooning over him it was as if a part of his day was missing and it was throwing off his groove.
“Spill it.” Scott spoke quietly with his head closer to Dale as Alice opened the sacred card, sighned by all so it must be witnessed by all.
Amber stood stone-faced staring at the gifts Alice opened. Amber glanced up to see Dale and Scott head-to-head whispering and the colour drained from her face. Scott noticed, after the third jab to get Dales attention Scott pulled him out of the open office down the hall back to his office.

“What the hell happened between you two?” Scott closed the door.
“Nothing.”
“Liar.” Scott stopped and sucked his breath in. “Oh my God you slept together.”
“No.” Dale ran his hands through his hair. “Once. We were drunk.”
“Shit Dale when isn’t she drunk?” Scott rubbed his eyes. Dale was a good-looking man. However having two women in one week choose another man over him was too much. “Really? Amber? Sure she’s got an ass worth worshiping, and man.” He held his hands out mocking breasts. “She’s stacked, but you had to stoop? Man, you are way better than that.”
Dale clenched his fists at his side. “She’s not as bad as you think. And it was a one night stand.”
Scott laughed. “Oh come on Dale she brags constantly about her escapades. Constantly. It’s disgusting.”
“No more or less than we are.”
Scott shrugged. “Were men Dale it’s different.”
Dale scrunched his face in anger. “Are we? She boasts like we do, but it’s all a show.”
“Oh? And how would you know?” Scott sat at his desk and sneered. “Because she told you she’s a good girl? She told you she doesn’t sleep around?” His spiteful laugh made Dale tilt his head and crack his neck.
“Yeah she did.”
Scott recovered from his laughter. “Let me guess, she said she rarely drinks and doesn’t take random men home regularly. I’ve seen her leave the bar with at least ten men in two months Dale. Ten different men. Two just last week.”
“She said-”
Scott held up his hand and cut him off. “Lies Dale. If I told you every morning I make a power smoothie and I put a hundred-dollar bill in it, blended it and drank it, would you believe me?”
“You don’t.”
“Dale you don’t know one way or the other what I do when you’re not around. You don’t have a clue what she really does when she’s not around you.”
Dale glanced at the closed door, in the direction of Amber’s desk. No, he wouldn’t know.

People can do and say almost anything to get what they want, even if they didn’t realize they wanted it in the first place. Scott may not be lying but he sure is saying what will get him his attention back. People do this all the time. Twisting truths or their version of events to best suit their needs. It’s frustrating to read, but for good reasons. Someone is getting in the way of someone else’s potential happiness or just getting in the way. I like to evoke emotions with my writing, I hope I do at least, and get the reader to earnestly dislike someone or feel sorry for someone else. I want the reader to hope for a desirable outcome and then put obstacles in  the way. It’s so fun to torment, isn’t it?

My advice about writing self-serving moments.
Do. Do write them, it is sooo much fun to read people being selfish and ruining things for others. Clean and tidy people are not common; don’t make your characters common.

-Sheryl

Other posts

That sounds right

Getting a little touchy feely

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Sacred

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