How It Began

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wrote a book, now what?

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

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

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

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

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

-Sheryl

My first post: The “word count” down.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Collaboration

An Alluring Alliteration

I love dialogue. That’s no secret. I enjoy trying to give each character a style or quirk to their speaking that sets them apart. Whether it’s a slang word only they use, or they don’t ever contract words, or they have a habit of ending sentences in questions or have to always have the last word. Not all quirks are obvious and for me that means I was successful.

However there is one thing I do with dialogue that is fun and very noticeable. I only do this with one character or unless they are being silly on purpose. Alliteration.

Alliteration is a style device that is the use of a repeated sound, consonant sound or first letter(With same sound) in a series of words in a row.

An example that comes to mind is Mr. Popper’s Penguins(the movie). The outlier character Pippi has a particular penchant for picking P letter words. ie: “Punctuality is a particular priority for this prospect,”  She does this throughout the movie. For this character it’s almost like a behavior issue or verbal OCD. I don’t recall if it’s addressed in the movie or not or if she just babbles P words constantly.  That is an extreme example exemplifying my point.

I have a character that when flustered or angry she alliterates. I usually make it silly and because it’s so contrary to her character’s normal behavior/personality the others point it out.

There are three types of alliteration, the first is just called alliteration

Paul petted Polly’s pet poodle Pom-Pom.
Tom tutted tiredly.
Karl cleaned candy off the cushions.

The second is Consonance alliteration. This is a style identified by the repetition of similar or identical consonants in neighbouring words. Their vowel sounds are often different.

Consonance words in pairs:

Blank and think
Welled and scald
hear and beer
Hipster and hatter
Hog and frog

In rhyming:

Would Cail pull. the tail of the bull?
Callie held the rally in the alley.
The hook of the book makes it worth a look.
Writing fighting is enlightening.

The third sub form of alliteration is symmetrical. The phrase or sentence will have even number words that parallel. Like half way through the letter beginning each word mirror the first half.  I think the best way to show this… is to show it. It’s most often found in poetry, rhymes and music.

Soggy carrot cake sucks
Some people walking will pace steadily.
Pretty red apples make many amazing round pies.

I’m not likely to use Symmetrical on purpose in my writing but I do find myself using consonance from time to time as I like to rhyme.

My advice about Alliteration.
Symmetrical is ingeniously suburb. When you prime and rhyme in time with a blurb. Picking particular parts perfectly like perturb.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Phony-baloney disguised

Hahaha oops.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Outlier

Talking Trivial

Dialogue is important. Without it the entire novel would be a meaningless narrative. Yawn.  But why is writing dialogue so challenging? There are many reasons and I’ve touched on a few, but this time the reason isn’t trivial.

Trivialities in conversation can draw out a scene necessarily. It’s also mind-numbing boring. There are a few reasons trivialities in dialogue suck. One, nobody, and I mean nobody talks like that. Maybe in old sit-coms from the 50’s. Two, it’s probably filler conversation with no actual impact on the story. Three, if you’re watching that word count (even if you’re not) trivial conversation will kill the numbers.

So what do I mean? Let me demonstrate.

Dale sat at his desk in a slump. “Good morning Amber.” 
“Oh good morning Dale.” Amber replied and smiled.
“Did you have a good night last night?”
“Indeed I did, thank you for asking.”
“Was it better than the night before?”
“Yes, it was much better than Saturday night. And how was your night?”
“It was good.” Dale nodded and turned his computer on.
“Oh? What did you do Dale?”
Dale leaned back in his chair facing Amber. “I watched the game with Scott.”
“That’s good that you watched the game with Scott. Did you have a bit too much to drink?” Amber said while swiveling her chair from side to side
“I definitely had too much to drink for a Sunday night. Did you have time to think over our conversation from Friday?”
“I did think things over quite a bit and I have decided.”
“And what did you decide Amber?”
“I have decided to date you.”
“That’s good to hear, so you will give me a real chance?”
“Yes. I will give you a chance. We do have good chemistry.”
“I agree completely Amber. We do have good chemistry.”
“Dale, would you like to go for lunch today?”
“Yes. I would very much like to for lunch today.” Dale faced his computer as Valery approached.
(217)

Did you notice it? Even as I wrote that I was cringing from the repetitiveness. Make that four reasons trivialities are dull to read. Trivial conversation is a complete waste of space and if I come across it in a book my eyes float over the words skipping them or stop reading. It’s hard to focus on a story.  The other annoying aspect is neither have any character, its dry, dull and monotone. Nothing happened other than they chatted about Sunday night and made lunch plans. I think I’ll tidy that up a smidge.

Dale sat at his desk in a slump. “Good morning Amber.” 
Amber smiled. “Oh morning Dale.”
“Were you able to sleep better last night?” Dale turned his computer on.
“Yes thank God.” Amber rolled her eyes. “What’d you get up to? You look like hell warmed over.”
Dale leaned back in his chair facing Amber as she swiveled her chair side to slide. “Yeah, I watched the game with Scott and polished off a six-pack.”
Amber shook her finger at him as if he were naughty. “Tisk, tisk, on a Sunday no less.” 
“I’m paying the price. So did you decide?”
She nodded and glanced around surreptitiously. “You’ve proven we have chemistry so yes,” Her eyes darted about again. “We can be exclusive.”
He grinned.
Amber tilted her head slightly. “Lunch?” She shuffled her chair back into her desk.
“You bet.” He spied Valery approaching and turned to face his computer.
(151)

Whew, 66 words removed. Trivialities really do add the extra weight to the word count. Dale and Amber are not stiff nor are they proper. Therefore slang, jargon and comfortable interaction is necessary. There were only a few things I needed the reader to know, It’s Monday, Amber’s not sleeping well, he’s concerned, she decided to date him and he’s happy about it.

My advice about trivial writing.
Warm it up and relax the dialogue by letting the characters have the reins. Just make sure to keep it individual to the character speaking.

-Sheryl

Other posts I’ve written

Karma. It really is a B*tch

The secret’s out

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Float
Meaningless

Building chemistry

I have set down books that fail to build proper inter-character chemistry.  Why? Because there is nothing more awkward than reading stiff lifeless interactions that feel forced or unwelcome. They should flow and feel organic to the reader.  I love a story that sucks you in, makes you feel at home and a part of the story. So if conversation or interactions fall flat, chances are I’ll either slog it out or set it down. As a writer that would be the ultimate worst to know someone felt that way. Therefore I spend extra time building the relationships, good or bad.

So what do I do when it comes to interactions? I know that I respond/react/interact differently with different people. This should be true for my characters. If I don’t have a clear set idea of how that is I will make sure to keep notes on it in my character bio’s. I Cant have Amber being friendly with Sasha for no reason. Or Anne talking silly with Tony. These aren’t always super obvious things either, a reader will appreciate the detail even if they don’t outright notice it. In fact, they may appreciate it more if they don’t.

Some things that a person might do with one person but not necessarily another

Joking around
Teasing
Flirting
Show respect
Touching – touch an arm, back or hand
Intent listening undivided attention
Eye rolling or sneering behind back

Chemistry isn’t always about romance or the potential for it, however, it is what people think of when the subject comes up. It is a big factor in story telling. So I will focus on that as well. Building romantic chemistry is a very serious business. A lot has to happen. Physical cues, verbal suggestions, behaviors, actions, and reactions. It’s an elixir of buildup. If I’m writing a sudden ‘romantic’ chemistry the scene will be intense and hold a lot of action tags and cues.  If I can build it up over time I like to sneak in little tidbits. Like touching of hands, blushing and things like seeking out their company over others and maybe doing small favors that have great meaning.  Subtle and flirty.

Since chemistry is an internal thing, for me it is tricky. I don’t use internal or first person POV. So I use a lot of action and description to show the chemistry instead of telling the reader it’s there. I find this is the best way to suck the reader into the romance and build the hope that the couple will get together.

The chemistry between friends should, in my opinion, be about making each other happy or comfortable. Set them at ease and or rev them up for stress releasing fun. An awkward show of friendship in the form of stiff interaction or conversation would be unbelievable to the reader. Real friends chill, tease and care.

Dale leaned his head back on the sofa. Scott handed him a beer and flopped down next to him. After a long draw, Dale sighed heavily. Scott glanced over at Dale’s miserable face, picked up the remote and turned on the game. Distraction was necessary.
Scott decided to go fishing for the right conversation topic. “Amber was weird today.”
Dale nodded. “Sure was.” he lifted the beer bottle to his lips.
Scott smiled slyly. “Rachael tripped today. She did a fantastic face plant into the meeting-room floor.”

The tension left Dale’s shoulders. The non-Amber conversation welcome. “Oh?” He finished the last half of his beer in one chug.
“No blood, but the clients got quite the show.” Scott got up to retrieve Dale another bottle. “Thanks.” Dale took the offered drink, sat back and settled in to watch the game.
“You should have seen it.” Scott began to tell the spiteful story.

Romantic chemistry seems easy to write, but in reality, it can be difficult to stay in POV and show instead of telling. Fluid movements and simple reactions are, in my opinion, the best way to illustrate this.

The stars twinkled in the cloud-free moonless sky. Anne breathed deeply the cool air as they left the restaurant. Immediately Tony slipped his hand in hers lacing their fingers. With a small smile, she glanced at the delighted gleam to his face.
“I’m not used to this.” Her confession needed no explanation. 
“I know.” He squeezed her hand gently and rubbed his thumb over the soft skin.
“How?” She licked her lips. “How do you know?”
“Because.” He lifted their hands and kissed the back of hers. She sighed softly and he smirked. “You react to every little thing I do as if it were some grand romantic gesture.”
“Oh.” She looked away and swallowed several times. It was true, she just didn’t know it was obvious. 
“Don’t act like it’s a bad thing, Anne.” Tony stopped, let go of her hand and made her face him. 
“It’s not?” Anne blinked slowly as his right hand brushed her cheek, cupping her face.
His lips parted and he leaned closer. “No.” His warm breath played across her lips and she shivered. Their eyes locked and she held her breath. “I’d say it’s a good thing.”
It was all she could do to nod her head, speaking was not an option. 

Whether it’s romantic, platonic or rivalry, the interaction between two people should be personal. I do my best to keep it this way because it not only reads better but it elicits emotions from the reader. I really try not to mix styles between characters. Scott and Dale can chill and depend on the other for distraction, I wouldn’t have them behave the same way exactly with other characters. This quiet understanding is strictly for them. Same goes for Anne and Tony, he’s not her first boyfriend, but he’s the only one she gets breathless around.

My advice about building chemistry.
Start from the first moment characters meet. If they have met or already know each other before the story starts, show their comradery or chemistry subtly and often in little ways that will endear the reader to them and their Symbiosis.

-Sheryl

Other romantic posts

Setting the mood

It’s a love hate sort of thing

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Fishing
Symbiosis
Elixir