Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

As a novice writer, I have had to learn many things. I have had to do a lot of research and listen to advice of all sorts and from all sources. Unless the information is coming from a credible source, and I mean completely legit, I don’t generally take things for face value. Some may say that’s jaded but the truth is, it is experience. There is an abundance of false information disguised as fact on the internet. That same false information is perpetuated by mouth and email by those that don’t fact check and are willing to believe the first thing they read/hear/see.

This willingness to jump and believe the sensational hogwash is often referred to as gullible. Funny enough that word is not actually used often to describe these duped people. Someone gullible enough to just take things for face value would take great offence to be labelled something so insulting. With social media it is easier and easier to fall for lies and ‘jokes’ because more and more people are believing these methods of information dispensing is legit and policed. No none of it is.

There are four types of people in this scenario, the apathetic, the wise, the gullible and the perpetrator. All three have a place in the world and both can easily jump into a story and create interesting backstory or friction between characters.

The Apathetic: These people just don’t care one way or another. They see everything as mildly entertaining/lame/boring/unimportant. This person can be frustrating because of their lack of… well… anything. They don’t care and don’t not care. Ugh. DOOOOO something interesting already!

The wise: They think and question everything using common sense and instinct to determine if what they see/hear/read is real or fabricated. These people are often the champions the ones to point out the scam and educate others. They are the hero’s that save the word from miss represented information. While often good, if taken to the extreme a know it all can earn a sucker punch to the jaw, real or imagined.  😉

The Gullible: Latches on to anything sensational and excitedly rides it as gospel truth. They can range from the fanatical who will actually fight for what they deem believable, to those that when told it was false they laugh embarrassed and let it go. “Ha ha, silly me. I can’t believe I believed that baking soda and vinegar in a bottle will fill a balloon with helium.” (No, I didn’t but a lot of people did and still do. My 8 year old even saw that as false but a 36 year old ran out to buy supplies.) Then on the other side of the spectrum. “The Trump gets a new heart transplant from children every 10 years to live for ever. It’s true! I saw it this morning. There was a picture and everything.”

The Perpetrator: This type of person sits giddily and takes joy and pleasure from creating believable forgery information. Seriously, they will create/say/do anything to see if people fall for their fabrications. These people are smart, even generous, devious and even evil. These are users and abusers, the bad people in disguise or under the radar. “I wonder if I say the newest study *create study* says you can regrow your hair using a mix of raw eggs, two day old dog dung and mashed beets slathered on your head for an hour, if anyone will do it?” *Giggles and gets to work.

There are so many ways dishonest people with the tendency to want to harm others can carry out their compulsions these days. Are they just silly teens getting off on causing a little chaos or serial liars that live off the high of knowing someone somewhere fell for their made up fiction disguised as facts? I see potential for friction between characters, potential for evil to get a foot hold and use the gullible. Foreshadowing gullibility is as easy as someone stating they saw truth in the absurd and someone else countering their claim with words, action or even a ‘are you serious’ facial expression.

My advice about falsely presented fact.
Trust your instincts and if it seems to good/crazy/scary/weird to be true, fact check and source check. Adding these behaviors into a character or two could be interesting. A gullible person can easily become an unknown pawn in some perpetrators dastardly plan. Can the wise see and stop it in time?  Oooh exciting?

-Sheryl

Other posts people liked a lot

KISS your writing

She’s a person not a cake

The FAB pencil

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Trust

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I’m ‘that’ kind of writer

That. Holy moly is that a filter word or what? Yes, by gum that it is.

That is a word that shows up for no apparent reason other than that it litters our daily dialogue. That is a word that many others say that needs to be addressed. That’s the whole truth, that I know to be true. I did that search that out of curiosity. Surely that’s not a word that I over use right?  1239 incidences of that. That cant possibly be used that inappropriately can it? Or as filler? Nah. One day down and I removed 187 useless that’s and an additional 287 words that tagged along for fun. Huh. That’s insane that is.

In a document of 123820 words that 1239 isn’t so bad.  Well that is bad when I’m burning the candle at both ends, trying to get that word count down below that mark of 120000. And generally that is a filter word, so if that’s not necessary, it should go.  Sometimes I find that it’s easier for me to determine how necessary that word is by reading that sentence out loud to myself.

For example:

“I don’t think that this is a good idea.”(9)
“I don’t think this is a good idea.”(8)

“I thought that I would need a match to light that candle.”(12)
“I thought I would need a match to light the candle.”(11)

Girls love that about him.(5)
Girls love about him.(4)  – No that ‘that’ needs to stay see not all of them are clutter.

Sasha said earlier that day that Cal was a jerk. (10)
Sasha said earlier that Cal was a jerk.(8) – Better and this would work
Earlier Sasha said Cal’s a jerk.(6) – Much better, I would go with this.

They were told that they would be tested.(8)
They were told they would be tested. (7)

I get that writing is a reflection of yourself and that your voice is your own. I’ve heard others say that by taking out words that they use regularly or normally that their writing style is being compromised by that. I have learned that how I write is how I write. I learned that when I write better, that it’s still me, only better. That’s simple right? (67) (10 that’s)

FYI this is how I would fix that one (Not that I’d put that many that’s in that to start with). Oooh that is kinda fun to do that on purpose. Anyway… back to removing that and the useless words that that brings.

I understand writing is a reflection of yourself and your voice is your own. I’ve heard others say by taking out words they use regularly or normally, their writing style is being compromised. I have learned that how I write is how I write. When I write better, that it’s still me, only better. Simple right? (56) (2 that’s)

Okay so I would probably trim that up more but for this purpose that made my point. I didn’t take all of the ‘that’ out either.

I have used 87 incidences of ‘that’ in this post of 642 words (not including the title or feature image). See how easy that that is to interject a that or two? I know you noticed because I pointed that out from the beginning.

My advice about that.
Take a second look, you might not need that that after all.

-Sheryl

For fun, I looked at my blogs and here are the eight that had ‘that’ in the title. I’m not going to link them all, WP doesn’t like that, I’ll link the first three.

What happened to that guy?

That sounds complicated

Ghosts that write stories

It’s funny you said that…

That is disgusting

The ‘been there done that’ people

Did you smell that?

That sounds right

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 Candle
Filter

It’s really very unnecessary

I’m back to redundant words, they take up a lot of my time when revising. Really and very take the stage. Just like up and down, very and really very often have an entourage of unnecessary words tagging along for the free ride. I know when I’m using these words that I’m getting wordy and to slow down. I go through what I originally wrote and take a good look at what needs to be changed.

Generic spell check programs will catch some of them, but not all.
For example:

The very blue sweater was really loose on Sasha. (9)
Sasha’s blue sweater was loose. (5)

See? Same point, four words less.

Cal was very late. He was really going to get a lecture from the Sargent this time. (17)
Cal was late. A lecture was imminent from the Sargent this time. (12)

The temptation to say it’s ‘very’ anything is really strong. 😉

She held her hand up. It was very dark, too dark to really see her hand in front of her face. (21)
It was too dark to for Sasha to see her hand in front of her face. (16)
Or
It was too dark to for Sasha to see her hand before her face. (14)

When I search for the redundant words or filter words I only search one at a time. That way I can focus on what I need to fix. Usually I find other things to fix and other words to remove along the way.

My advice about the very unnecessary and really redundant words.
It is really very easy to plunk extra words in, it’s really very unnecessary so just don’t do it. Get that search/find feature going and nix the redundant ones.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

The “word count” down.

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 Original

Details, details, details

A book or story is full of details. A persons description, their back story, their habits and their environment. I’m talking about environment or setting if you prefer.

Now I could go into a long spiel about describing objects or the area around the characters, the in’s and outs of under and over describing things. Or how to make an object important like in the Fab pencil.  That’s not what this is about.

I like details, the little things that make the reader comfortable whether they are aware or not. My book takes place primarily in one location. This location is set up in a very specific way for a very important reason. Function. In future stories this facility is revisited and I can’t have it changing unexpectedly.

So I carefully mapped it out. Just like a world map of a made up place like middle earth, but instead it’s a map of the building. It’s detailed right down to maintenance rooms and off limit areas. The placement of rooms and areas is important to the interaction of the characters and for situations that happen in future books. They are not major events per say, but they are purposeful.

I’ll be honest, I made a simple mock-up using Lego to start. It was perfect for scale and to get a real feel for the actual space. (Lego rocks.) I then used a basic publishing program to draw it out in overhead 2D or a blueprint if you want to get technical. It was a long process but it helped me get a solid feel for the building layout. It also allowed me to give my readers a very clear image for their imagination.

This was important for me. At first I wrote from memory, what I imagined it to look like. Then I revised and found them walking through a door that would lead them into the showers not the cafeteria. Oops. While it might not be noticeable it might register as odd and ruin the mental imagery for the reader.

Every environment or setting gets a map of some sort. Not to necessarily be published with the book, but for me to make sure that the window in the living room stays on an outside wall and not opening to the bathroom by oversight. I have to be careful, nobody wants to see Joe go pee while watching the price is right.

My advice about using maps.
I highly recommend them, even if its a rough hand drawn sketch of Sasha’s house, if a scene takes place there and I want to go back later I’d rather refer to the map instead of flipping back chapters to find where the refrigerator is and if it opens left handed or right.

-Sheryl

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She’s a person not a cake

Where did it go?

Switch it up, and swap it out.

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Careful

That escalated quickly

Arguments are fun to write, but need a little TLC. It’s easy to argue your my point of view but when writing it’s important to write with both sides in mind (or more if there are more opinions involved.) This daily prompt is similar to one on Sept 28th when I talked about disagree:  Make it blue.” –  “No. it stays green.” 

When I think argument, I don’t always think fight. Arguments are IMO a verbal banter of opposing opinions or desired results. Generally when I write an argument it’s either resolved or it is not and the subject will definitely come up again. Today I’m going to talk about the escalated argument. The one that does lead to a fight.

Arguing early in a story is tricky because the reader doesn’t know the characters yet and don’t have a loyalty to any particular side. I will use an early argument to establish personality, strengths or flaws in a character. An argument later in the story is fun because I can pull on emotions and the characters personalities in the conversation.

When I start an argument, I treat it like a mini story itself. It has these components.

Beginningthe opening to the argument, the discovery of the conflicting opinion/ideas Middleboth sides argue their points intelligently. This is not the time for the writer to prove a point.
End or Fight – Conclusion, either one side concedes or the subject is dropped and neither are satisfied. This is where a physical or emotional fight happens. This can lead to fantastic friction and drama.

Pen smirked at Cal as he came back from the bar, rejected and shrugging.
“She wasn’t interested.” Cal set his new drink down.
“Cal you just need to be more aggressive if you want to get laid. You’re too considerate of their feelings.”

“Pen, it’s not always about getting laid.” Cal set his drink down on the tall table he was leaning on.
“Suit yourself Convent Cal. I bet I can talk that little hot blonde into a restroom quickie.”
Cal lowered his tone. “Leave her alone. She’s not your type.”
Pen glanced at Cal’s clenched fists then sneered. “You don’t know her. What do you care if I bang a chick that turned you down?”
“Pick on someone more your speed. Her friend is amiable.”
“Amiable?” Pen laughed then leaned closer to Cal. “No I think I’ll take your blonde and show you how it’s done.”
Cal grabbed Pen’s arm. “Leave her alone.”
Pen jerked his arm free. “Or what? You’ll hit me? You’d risk our friendship over a useless piece of-”
“Leave her alone.” Cal warned lowering his chin. “She deserves better than your prowling, in fact no woman deserves how you treat them. You make me sick.”
Pen swung his fist barely clipping Cal’s chin. Cal’s counter punch connected with Pen’s jaw in a thick thud knocking him to the dirty sticky floor.
“Bastard.” Pen rubbed his jaw as he stood. He swung again at Cal and missed. His face went red from the laughter around him. “What’s your problem?”
“You treat women like trash Pen. You treat your friends like crap and I’ve had enough.”
“Fine have her, oh wait, you can’t because she snubbed your pathetic do-gooder ass. I’m outta here. Don’t call.” Pen staggered away and out of the bar, it was busy enough not too many people noticed the altercation.

That escalated quickly. If I have arguments they usually have a bigger purpose, I try to avoid controversy or topics that can alienate a reader unless I know that I can argue both sides and not start preaching my point of view.

My advice about Arguments.
Play around with them and use them to create tension or showcase your characters strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve written conflict and removed it if it throws off the story flow. Usually it helps.

-Sheryl

These posts are very related to arguments: 

“Make it blue.” “No. It stays green.”

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

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Argument
Controversy

KISS your writing

Keep It Simple Stupid.

AKA don’t be pretentious, if I had to look up the meaning of the word Honorificabilitudinitatibus to put it in my story, chances are most everyone else will too. If I litter my story with words to sound super smart I’ll sound like a jackass.(That’s my opinion.)  I’ve set more than one book down for this reason, not because I didn’t know what the word meant, but because, seriously? Big fun words have their place, I use them wisely or the reader won’t think I’m so wise. That’s not to say they don’t belong, but if it’s overrun it can be frustrating to read and borderline insulting.

For example:

Sasha stood before the group holding up the two layouts. “This is deleterious to our reputation. Neither are erroneous however, neither are optimal either. Both are nugatory to the client. We must commence by consolidating these two non-ostentatious layouts into one agreeable layout. We will have to ameliorate everything expeditiously, leveraging our proficiencies to implement the client’s prescribed parameters.” (55)

 Uh… yeah, what she said… and… close book. 

Sometimes big words have their place, we’re not in kindergarten. I Write for the audience, the readers. A fourteen year old may know what Commensurate means but is the word necessary? Can’t I just say equal?

Sasha stood before the group holding up the two layouts. “This is the kind of work that will destroy our reputation. Neither are wrong however, neither are optimal either. Both are of no value to the client. We must start by consolidating these two unimpressive layouts. We will have to improve everything expeditiously, using our skills to carry out the client’s request.”  (62)

 Better, but she’s still sounding a wee bit pretentious. Now if word count is an issue (and it always is for me) and I wanted to simplify this further I would do this.

Sasha held up the two useless layouts to the group. “This level of work will destroy our reputation. Neither is optimal, so we need to consolidate them. We’ll need to work quickly and actually meet the client’s requests this time.” (40)

I would have never written it like the first attempt. I did that to illustrate that the insertion of overly pretentious words can alienate a reader.

My advice about keeping it simple.
The thesaurus is great and useful, but remember to write for your audience not to “impress” or make them feel stupid.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Accommodate and contain perplexed

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Border
Simple

Are you inging too?

I was editing away and I realized that there are three sticky little letters that often find their way into my writing. So I thought it might be an issue, after some research and revision I fount that it is. adding ING to the end of words indicates that I’ve switched tense and can set the wrong tone or voice even.

When ing is in use, it is likely that the sentence is in past tense when I probably mean it to be present.

For example:

Sasha was walking to work.
Sasha walked to work.

I try to replace –ing with –ed. Walking becomes Walked. Not rocket science. This is not to say all –ing words are bad or unnecessary, if I mean to be talking in past tense, then I’ll leave them be unless I am writing too much in the past tense. I do try to avoid that.

Let’s see –ing in a bigger example or two: 

Sasha was walking to work when a man stepping in front of her stuck his foot out. Tripping she fell down scraping her knee and wrist. (26)

Eeep. I may have actually wrote that that way. Blech. Okay, tidy up time.

As Sasha walked to work, a man stepped in front of her. She tripped on his foot, scraping her knee and wrist. (22)

Well how about Cal? Let’s see what he’s up to with his –ings.

Cal was holding his breath and reaching for his gun. Popping the thumb brake and he started pulling the gun out from the holster. He had raised his gun up and was aiming it at the man in the shadows. (40)

Oooh repetition and ing all in one go. Do you think he has a gun? The reader isn’t dumb and ick to the ing’s. That was gross to read, way too choppy.

Cal held his breath as he reached for his gun. He popped the thumb break, pulled it out of the holster and aimed at the man in the shadows. (29)

 My advice about ing.
Take a good look at them and determine if they are they necessary? Probably not. Is it creating choppy reading or the wrong tense? Then get rid of them.

 -Sheryl

Other posts

Shut your cake hole

Copyright © Copyleft

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Realize

Who’s who in the grand scheme of things

When I create a character such as Sasha, I build them up from the bottom to the top. It’s called backstory From their childhood and any traumas or lack of, all the way through life experiences to their present day. They need moments that define who they are, incidences good, bad and mediocre to sculpt their persona. Coworkers, strangers and friends that come and go or stick around are important. Family however are the most important. Whether they have none or too many members needs to be established. Family shapes who we are and should play a part in my characters life as well.

I create family trees for everyone. How important they are depends on how deep, the roots and branches go. The mains and prominent villains get the biggest trees or the ones with the most details. Each family member has a small bio whether it’s used or not. A vague reference to Uncle William being the family drunken mess could play a big part on my character Sasha’s views and behavior toward drinking. Perhaps he scarred her with a particularly bad episode so is leery of ever getting drunk enough to lose control. Maybe Grandma Jillian was a remarkable woman who struggled through one adversity after another and solidified Sasha’s strength and determination in life. Was it her great uncle, who threw her high in the air scaring her and missing once that caused her fear of falling? It’s important to know who they are and what role they play.

Is it always black and white or set in stone? No, I’ve changed family members to fit the story to led a moment or two to influence Sasha. My point is that without a history, without friends and family influence or lack of a person is empty of life experience. She had a family but her friend Anne didn’t, she grew up alone bouncing from obscure relatives to foster homes. She has issues and they show in her interaction with Sasha. Are they in your face, holy crap she’s damaged interactions? No that’s not realistic. People brood and often hide their feelings only letting shreds out. Mystery is tantalizing and even if its small it will foster the readers interest in the character.

How far do I go back? Usually one generation beyond use(I’ve even gone forward one preparing for the future). If she only ever mentions her Grandparents then I’ll go back to the great grandparents and their children. Not all branches are full or finished if its completely unnecessary. If Sasha’s grandma mentions she had two siblings but I talk about a third that might be noticed. That is why I use family trees. Even for the bad-guys especially if they come in to play even a little. Mine are created in an excel spreadsheet, each member has a description. Height, age, birthday, build, eyes, hair and skin color. Ethnicity and languages they speak and job. A brief bio on their history if necessary. I add to this and edit all the time. Maybe it wasn’t uncle William but Uncle Paul instead. It really depends on how I want to progress the story.

Each tree is important, for each book I have a small forest of trees big and small. For BiaAtlas I have three main family trees and I’m careful to maintain accuracy.

My advice about family trees.
Don’t look at it as a chore. It is the opportunity to build depth into your story and characters. It may or may not be needed but it helps me keep who’s who sorted out and provides a wonderful source for potential drama or character growth.

-Sheryl

Related posts

 What’s her name?

What happened to that guy?

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Tree

It’s not always the obvious choice

We all know that one person who is daring, you know, the brave and adventurous ones. I’m not one of them. Or am I? I may not be the first to jump up for skydiving or leaning over the edge of the CN tower, but if I take a close look, I’m more daring than I think. With no experience, I wrote a book, an entire novel. I dared to dream, believe and put my work out into the world. I dared to take the leap and contact literary agents. I bet if everyone thought about it there is something in their life that makes them daring.

This is why daring is a personality trait I like to give my characters. Whether small by standing up to a bully or grand by running into a room full of hostiles to take them on unarmed, or fun by being the first to bungee from a hot air balloon.

Daring people like to be challenged, it adds to the thrill of it all. So a high octane character will be whooping it up and the first in most things. First to laugh, cheer and take chances. While on the opposite end I would have someone quiet and recluse, that struggles with fitting in.

Gavin stood at the edge of the cliff. He looked down and grinned as his heart raced. “This is gonna be a blast.” He checked his jumpsuit and with a glance over his shoulder, he saluted Sasha and jumped. “Woohoooooo.”
Sasha’s hand went to her throat. No amount of preparation had prepared her for this. She edged closer to see him freefall, the bile rose to her mouth. “He’s going to die.” The weak words barely made it out. He opened his parachute and swayed in the wind as the resistance on the parachute slowed his decent.
Valerie’s hand on her shoulder made Sasha jump. “You’re next chicky.”
“No. No I’m really not. I don’t know why I thought I could do this.”
“Ah come on, it’s fun.”
“My idea of fun and yours are not always the same. I’m not daring enough. I’ll just drive down with John and meet you at the bottom.”
“Suit yourself.” Valery shrugged, ran and jumped off the edge with a howl of excitement. Sasha’s knees wobbled and she nearly fell back.

Not jumping from the cliff doesn’t make Sasha a coward in everything. She can face a boardroom of angry clients and sooth the situation and loves scuba diving, snorkeling and skiing. Creating variable depth to what a person will or will not do, can create great foreshadow for something they might have to face in the future. Perhaps I’ll have Sasha forced to decide, jump from the plane or die?

Being daring is not always the obvious choice, like when you play “Truth or dare?” People often choose dare because the truth can be scary, which makes me wonder if it’s actually more daring then to choose truth?

My advice about writing daring people.
Some people are and some aren’t. It’s not black and white, even a seasoned military person might balk a the idea of walking across hot coals or touching a tarantula.  Have fun with it.

-Sheryl

A related post

It’s a love hate sort of thing

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Daring

Labor of love

Labor of Love

Every writer and artist dreams that they’re going to write the next <a href="http://Breakthrough“>breakthrough masterpiece. Then doubt comes along and the words “What if it’s not good enough?” comes along and dashes the confidence.

But what if it is? This is the question that needs to follow any doubt that rears it’s ugly head. I came to the realization that if I think it’s good someone else is bound to like it. If I think, it’s great however people will be excited to like it. It’s all about aiming high. If you want a six-figure contract, believe you’ll get it. Then do what you need to do to make it happen.

Success comes at a cost, not the Hollywood sell your soul to the devil cost, I’m talking effort, sweat and tears. I’d say blood but only if paper cuts are involved. 😉 It is hard work to be published traditionally. There are rules and procedures and it’s anything but easy. World famous authors know this struggle, sure once they get famous nobody sees what they went through just that they’re there now. JK Rowling herself says persistence pays off. If someone says no, try someone else. She was turned down multiple times before someone eventually saw the value in her writing. Imagine being those publishers that said no… See?  So, when I sent out a bunch of queries I rode the excitement/doubt rollercoaster, I’m still on it.  One minute I’m excited and I know someone will love what they see, then I check my inbox and nothing. Down I go. I remind myself it’s only been a week, BiaAtlas is good and I know it, so back up I go.

This whole experience thus far has taught me so much. How to be patient. How to write, edit and revise. I learned how to hone my research and fact check. I’ve learned how to determine good advice from self-serving jealously driven criticism. I have learned not to compare myself to others directly, not to look at them and say I could never be as great as they are. Why not? Who says so? Me? Did I say I couldn’t? Well shame on me then, because then I‘m the one holding me back.  

There will always be the naysayers the ones that will say or suggest you or your work isn’t good enough. To that I say look at the source.

No matter how hard or difficult this process has been, I’ve never been happier. The thing is I wrote a book, I did and it’s amazing that I did.  I had no idea what I was doing and I learned it doesn’t matter. You can fix the technical stuff later, but when you write from your heart and soul you have a masterpiece. When someone uses the term ‘labor of love’ I now fully understand what that means and both myself and my book deserve all the effort I can give it.

My advice about sticking to it.
People can tear you down, but only you can determine how far.  So dust off that old manuscript, sharpen your pencils and flex your fingers. Be tenacious, be bold and above all else be confident and create or revisit your breakthrough masterpiece then get ready to run with it.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Breakthrough
Tenacious