The “What ifs” Of Imagination

Imagination. Without it we would never go beyond what we can see, touch, smell and hear. Creativity and imagination go hand in hand.

I’ve talked about the joys of pretend world. Fantasize and imagining things and then acting or writing them down for entertainment value. I love visualizing and then recreating what I’ve imagined.

Having an overactive imagination is a challenge. I can look down a set of stairs and envision all the terrible things that could happen if I fell. Fear, paranoia and negative thinking right? Well sure I can come up with some pretty gruesome ideas. Yet, there is a flip-side to that too. Me looking down the stairs about to fall and say… someone slips an arm around my waist to prevent me from falling… It takes a whole other spin.

While it’s easier to go dark and see the potential for sensational terror, it can be rewarding to not shake off the imagination process and instead guide myself to see more than the negative. Such as crossing the street. On average one simply gets to the other side – hum drum nothing fun. What if something happened along the way? What if the destination was not what I intended, what if I set out in the morning to go to work and by the time I got across the street and set my foot down on the cracked concrete it’s suddenly night? What if the puddle I’m about to step into is reflecting something different than the actual world around me?

In any given situation my vivid imagination can break off and follow quite a few possibilities. Some will work for a story some wont. I don’t dismiss any of them because what doesn’t work with one story line may be a Cinderella’s slipper fit for another.

Amber straightened her blouse. “I can do this.”  She said to herself and envisioned beyond the door, the friendly greetings she would give and the casual conversation that followed. She took the five steps and went into the staff-room. Conversation hushed to near none existence. John and Burt got up from the table and left brushing past her. Alice, Preeta and Li muttered lame excuses and shuffled out leaving only Rachael behind. Rachel dumped out her unfinished coffee and headed toward the door before Amber could start in on her. 
“I’ve become the social pariah.” Amber said quietly to herself.
Rachel stopped in the doorway smacking her hand on the metal door jamb and turned. “You haven’t become anything. That would imply you were ever liked by any of us.” 
Amber swallowed her bile at the harsh comment. “I’ve been nice lately.”
Rachel rolled her eyes. “No Amber you’ve been quiet, living in your teeny-tiny, itty-bitty little bubble of self-importance. Not being mean is not the same as being nice.” 
Amber closed her mouth, clenched her fists and watched Rachel leave.
“Oooh she’s such a bi-” Amber snapped her mouth shut, relaxed her fists and rubbed her face. Rachel isn’t a bitch, she’s honest and if Amber wanted to be different, she had to make the world see her that way too. 

That was not the only idea I had for relaying that particular life lesson to Amber, but it was the one that fit the best. Amber’s used that staff-room as a bullying platform more than once, therefore it seemed fitting that she get gobsmacked there too.

My advice about vivid imagination.
Let it roll, play it out in your mind, but don’t forget to imagine from multiple angles good, bad and every possibility between.

-Sheryl

Related posts

The joy of pretend world

Mystery Items

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Vivid

Becoming Bad

There comes a time in my story when I need to bring a character over to the dark-side. Generally if its someone who has been dabbling or leaning over the line for a while I’ll have something give them a nudge. Or I’ll reveal their true nature that was there all along just being hidden.

I like to carefully foreshadow a characters corruption with influential words or actions that betray their true nature or intentions. If I don’t do this it can leave the reader confused as to why they became bad or acted out aggressively.

This I find can be complicated or even hard to do if I become attached to a character or decide to lead them down the dark path even though they started on the light side as the character in my example did.

I personally like to give these flippers a rich story, something to get the reader interested in them but leery at the same time.

Amber wrenched open the door to stop Scott’s incessant pounding before it upset her neighbors.
“Stop it.” Amber scowled. “Come in already.”
Scott dripping from the rain wiped his face and teetered on his feet.
Amber closed the door. “Ugh. You’re drunk. Why are you here?”
Scott grabbed her by the shoulders “First Sasha now you. Why?”
“What?” Amber tried to pull away wincing at his sour breath.
“She turned me down now you are, are you playing some game?”
“Oh my God Scott. I’m with Dale, I’m having his freaking baby. Sasha just didn’t like you. I’m beginning to wonder if she saw something I didn’t.” Amber tried to pull away again. “Until recently that is. Let me go.”
“No! This isn’t how its supposed to be. I get the girl! Me, not Dale, me! If not Sasha then you at least.”
“Charming.” Amber shoved his chest and managed to get out of his grip. “Get out of my apartment. I. Don’t. Want. You.”
“Liar, yes you do. You want to have sex with me.” Scott said with a slur and grabbed for her again forcing his mouth over hers. Amber brought up her knee, wedged her foot against his thigh and pushed Scott away.
“You don’t know squat abou twhat I want. Get the fuck out of my apartment now.” She ran for her cellphone, her hands shaking.
“It’s not too late Amber. Dump Dale, you can get rid of the problem and be with me. You know that’s what you really want.”
Shaking and fighting back tears she eyed the door he now blocked. “I’m calling 911.” She held the phone up to her ear backing up toward the kitchen. Scott advanced too fast,  the phone from her hand and ended the call.
“Don’t be a bitch Amber, I’m just offering you what you want. I know that parasite isn’t Dale’s, I wont let you hurt him. Dale and I’ve been friends since university. Admit that you’re a slut, and I’m all yours.”
Amber turned and ran to the kitchen, grabbed a chef’s knife from the block and spun to face the wild-eyed drunk Scott. “Get out, get out, get out you bastard, get out!”
Scott held up his hands and backed up back down the hall as she advanced. The image of his ex fiancée with a knife in her hand calling him a bastard slammed into his mind hard. The impact, though mental, was like a physical blow. He stopped her then, he would stop her now… His face darkened, he lowered his chin and glared.
“You’re threatening me? First you tease me, then trick my best friend to have unprotected sex with you, fake your pregnancy to trap him and now you’re threatening me?” A crooked smile distorted his face. “I’ll make you pay for this Linda, you’ll regret crossing me again. Dale will see the truth in you just like Andrew did; you slutty little whore!” Scott hurled Amber’s cellphone at her face forcing her to duck as Scott left, slamming the door behind him.
Amber stumbled against the door sliding the dead-bolt in place and scrambled for her phone to call Dale. “Please, please pick up, please.” She wiped her tears as she collapsed to her knees on the floor.
Scott spat on the door and stumbled in his blind fury out to his car. He would take care of her just like he did Linda. “Treacherous bitches. Sleeping with my friends.” He slammed his palms against the steering wheel. “Nobody cheats on me.”

Sooo… Yeah Scott’s gone off the deep end, no surprise there really. Dangerous people become desperate and desperate people are dangerous. When I write someone loosing control I give it back to them quickly. An irrational bad guy isn’t as fun as someone who can regroup, plan  and carry out a dastardly plan. For Scott to tip the scale I gave him alcohol to lower his defenses and mess up big time.

My advice about exposing the bad guy.
Make it sudden, startling and abrupt. However make sure there is enough foreshadow that the reader isn’t scowling at the pages wondering WTF?

-Sheryl

Some other posts you might like

The jerk-face warrior

Two-faced phony-baloney

I swear! Or do I?

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Squat

Karma. It really is a B*tch

Rumors are a part of life. People gossip, people believe it and others just love to embellish what’s already there out of pure fun. The most powerful kind of rumor are those seeded with truth because they ring true on some level. The more believable the more powerful a rumor can be.

When I write rumors into my stories, I give them a base. A rumor needs something to work from, something that might make them believable. Back story or foreshadowing early on or at least a chapter before the rumors fly. I do this because most rumors start as fact, true or not someone takes that tidbit and runs with it, morphs it and makes it extravagant and tantalizing.

Purposeful rumors are ones set adrift on purpose with a goal in mind. Usually that goal is to hurt someone, tear them down or maybe just make them feel bad in retribution. Sometimes I might write someone telling a rumor with the goal of flushing out the gossipmongers. Since rumors are realistic, they are easy to come up with.

Accidental rumors are the kind that are secrets overheard. They can be the weak-willed telling all with little provocation or someone accidentally blurting it out because they just suck that much.

No matter how you slice it, rumors can cause tension, upset and all kinds of juicy drama. And sometimes, just sometimes rumors are true.

“Karma.” Amber mumbled at the screen. Her frown etched deep on her face. Karma. The word slammed her mind like a battering ram. She deserved this and was only now seeing just how awful she truly is. The words “office slut” kept auto-correcting every time she typed her name. She had no idea how to fix it. She opened her mouth to ask Dale then closed it. Out of curiosity she typed his name and it auto corrected to Baby Daddy. She deleted it, took out her phone and texted Dale asking him to fix it and put a password on her computer.

With shaking hands and a pale face, she opened Scott’s door.
“Did you do it?”
“Do what?” He asked eyes narrowed.
“Did you change my auto-correct?”
He sighed. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. There are rules about messing with other people’s property here and unlike you I abide by them. And honestly, I have better things to do than tease you. I can see how upset you are and you are a friend. I’m not that big a jerk.”
There was enough truth in his eyes for her to believe. “Okay.” She turned to leave.
“But.”
She looked at him sharply.
“Amber the rumors are flying and fast. Who did you tell?”
“I was going to ask you. Only three people know and Dale and I wouldn’t say anything.”
“Like I said, you’re a friend and so is Dale. I respect you two too much to be a total ass. Someone must have overheard us.”

Amber nodded and left his office. He’s petty and selfish but gossip was never his thing. Not really. Snickers and heads turned away a smidge too late. Everywhere. Double glances and covert stares. The office was infested and so fast. Plagues had nothing on this. Her cellphone buzzed and she read the text from Dale. “Fixed. Password is where you told me. WTF? U tell?

She bit her lip and replied. “No. Scott guessed.” She looked at Dale’s response. “He didn’t do this.”
Amber made her way to her desk. Rachael looked at her smugly and Francis barely hid her giggle before turning away. Amber sat at her desk numbly and entered her new password “Russo”. She looked at the ad she was to proof next. It was from Francis on Birth control. Amber looked across the open office as Francis shook her head barely containing her merriment. Karma. It really is a bitch.

Can’t say she didn’t have it coming. Rumors are fun to write and fun to play around with in the wonderful world of my writing. I hate rumors for real they carry too much power and consequence for both ends. This wouldn’t have worked if I hadn’t had Amber picking on Sasha and being horrible in general. To give the rumor credit she needed to be the type of person who a, deserved it and b, is likely to be what they say, the office slut. Even if it’s untrue, she made it likely.

My advice about rumors.
Real world, no. Written world of our make-believe, oh yeah! Get your bully on! Terrorize your characters.

-Sheryl

Other posts

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

I swear! Or do I?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Abide

Aftermath and consequences

I’ll keep this brief because the chapter is not. The aftermath of drinking is usually a hangover, the aftermath of prying into ones secrets is usually anger. Actions have consequences and it is important to include them. After all if I went to the trouble of including them I had better have a way past it all. This is something that needs to be addressed before the story can move on. In Drunken secrets Cal gave Sasha rum on an empty stomach and tried to get her to talk about her secret. Now she’s sober and it’s time for a little reality before things get crazy again.

Sasha woke with a pounding head. Sugar and alcohol on an empty stomach was a recipe for disaster. Her faded foggy memories came into focus as she showered her still aching body.

“That slimy bastard.” She muttered drying her hair with a towel. “Once a cop always a damned cop.” She pursed her lips and went out to find the coffee she smelled and hopefully some Tylenol.

“Good morning.” Cal chuckled and looked at his watch. “Or near afternoon.”
Sasha sat after filling a mug with coffee from the pot on the desk.
“Sleep well?”
She glared at him.
“So you are mad.” Cal waited and cocked his head to the side. “You know it’s mean to tell a detective a juicy tidbit then drop the subject declaring it off bounds.”
She narrowed her eyes and sipped her coffee, downing the Tylenol he left on the table for her.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pried.”

“You do realize how despicable you are. How could you ply me with booze and question me like that? Did you think talking about it would make it better? News flash detective, it wont, it will make me bitchier and angrier.” She got up, grabbed a Danish from the tray on the table and stormed to her room, once again the door eased closed with a gentle click even though she pushed heavily on it. Tears fell unnoticed and unchecked.

“Why is he so determined to make me talk about it?” She flopped back on the bed remembering that she fell asleep on the couch.She didn’t mind that he put her to bed nor that he put her clothes away. He was undeservedly kind to her.

Sasha was too distracted to focus on work. “This is crap. My idiot boss wants the impossible. I’m meant to fail this. This is how they get rid of people.” She nearly punched her laptop and when Cal knocked on the door, she nearly threw it. “Dammit I’m mad.” She opened the door.

“I ordered lunch. Mad or not, you need to eat.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Stop acting like a child Sasha. One of these days you have to face whatever was done to make you so angry and unhappy.”

She sat at the table. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Her favorite. She picked up her spoon. “I’m not unhappy. Just one week out of the year, sometimes two.”

“But you are angry.”
“Damn right I am. This is really good soup by the way.”
“Why do you let Ben win?” Cal asked taking a bite of sandwich.
“I don’t let any man win.”

“Sooo many pins. Listen, whatever Ben did is done. He, I’m assuming moved on and is happy, therefore you let him win. The thing is Sasha, being alone is sad, not something to be proud of.”

“Listen detective, I’m happy. This crap with Baylor on top of my usual self-pity party week has me off my game. I’m not myself right now. I earned the right to be miserable for two weeks. Drop it.”

Cal lowered his chin. “Nobody earns misery for being betrayed. Even one second of misery means he wins.”

Sasha ate silently. He was right, but she would never admit it out loud. She couldn’t stop her misery, but it only lasted for a little while. Then it faded. Mostly.

“I need a vacation from this fake vacation.” She sighed. “Any word on Baylor?”

“No. Nothing. He’s hurt and hiding. If he has any underground connections he could be treated off record.”

“Great. So why not use me as bait?”

“No way. He’ll up the ante now.”

“Why doesn’t he just give up?”

“Because you got him arrested, hit him with your car and you snubbed him at the bar. Not in that order.”

“Funny you should say that, I didn’t snub him. I… I did. I let him use cheesy lines then said no thank you. Just like with you moments before.”

“I wasn’t cheesy and I didn’t use any lines.”

“You don’t need to. I can tell which you’d use if you had. Happens every time I say no. For some damned reason guys try harder as if I’ll magically change my mind.”

“Why don’t you?” He popped the last bite of grilled cheese in his mouth.

“Drop it.” She held her breath. 

Cal swallowed while shaking his head. “Okay Ben ruined you. Wow, he must have been impressive. So what? He gets to be happy and you miserably hate men for the rest of your life?”

“Ugh. I don’t hate men. I just don’t want a boyfriend. It’s why I snubbed you at the bar.”

He smiled slyly. “Who said I was looking for a girlfriend. You assume too much.”

Her mouth fell open. “You are a pig.”

“Now that one’s doubly funny.” He laughed. She took a moment to realize why and laughed too. “Sasha you can’t tell me you locked your heart and libido away for two full years because of one jerk.”

Her face went red and she frowned. “What is wrong with you?”
“Incurable snoop.” He shrugged and looked up startled as the fire alarm went off.
“What?” She jumped up dropping her spoon to the floor.
“Stop.” Cal grabbed her arm as she moved to look at the escape map.
“We have to get out.”

“No. We don’t.” Cal took out his phone and dialed. “Theo do you see smoke?” He listened. “Okay send Ducky around back and call back-up.”

“What’s going on?”

“Relax Sasha. No smoke no fire.”

“Baylor?”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“We should leave.”

“Yes and get caught up in all the others panicked and running out the pre-determined exits? We’d be separated in seconds. They’ll call me if there’s real smoke or if they see anything suspicious.” They stared at each other a moment, both thinking the same thing. It’s suspicious.

I know that was a long one thanks for sticking it out. Sasha needs one more push I think. Something to get her back up on her feet. The aftermath was dealt with now I can move the story along.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Switch it up, and swap it out.

Desperately procrastinating

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Faded

Conversing is easy…not!

There are some things in writing that irk me. I do my best not to do these things and try very hard not to let them minimize my writing.  There are some well-known authors out there that dabble in the ostentatious style of writing. Whether it’s a little or a lot, it can be tedious and frustrating to read.

I don’t enjoy when a scene is dressed up unrealistically or conversation is flowery and overdone. Writing can be extravagant without browbeating the reader into a puddle of eye rolling. I’ve talked about establishing the scene in Setting the mood and keeping it simple in KISS you’re writing. What about conversation?

Conversing is easy… not! Well it is in the real world. If I don’t write the way I talk and the way others actually respond then it can quickly become garish or even mundane if the conversation is unnecessary or could be easily replaced by a summary like I talked about in What happened yeserday?.

There are words I find in writing, even current books that are used outside narrative and within dialog that, honestly just don’t belong. Words that would never cross a real person’s lips. Sure I love to use “old fashioned” words and I adore the unusual, but too much is garish. It’s all about moderation.

For example:

The comfortable small lounge bar wasn’t crowded since it was a weeknight and not very late in the evening. “Scott, I do really enjoy our time out together. Thank you ever so much for treating me to a drink. After the overly busy and stress filled day I’ve had it is an extraordinarily kind gesture.”

Amber set her empty glass down on the round table, sat back on the soft cushioned couch and gingerly touched her bandaged forehead. It was so very small a cut, but bled so much it seemed a whole lot worse.

“You’re most welcome Amber, it is my utmost pleasure to cheer up your desolate mood. I too had a day that was hard and stressful. It would seem Dale is determined to the utmost to continuously point out that I was defeated by a woman so impervious and unobtainable.”

Scott waived at a server for refills and smiled at his friend. She was very attractive and extremely willing. That was however the entirety of the problem. He wanted a challenge, he wanted ever so much to conquer and win over a woman of moral fortitude. Amber was definitely a woman lacking discriminate taste when the matters of choosing potential suitor.

“Yes indeed, you can say that again Scott. Dale was gloating ever so much today. It seemed it was all he was capable of doing. Normally I would acquiesce and join in such banter, but Sasha is quite possibly the most elusive heartless stick in the mud I’ve ever acquainted with.”

First of all that was uber awkward and so over the top I gagged a couple times writing it. This is an extreme example but I read a lot and I’ve read some super awkward conversations that realistically would never happen. Or at least not in any situation I can think of. Maybe I’m wrong but if it’s awkward to read then it would be super awkward for people to actually say.

Let me tidy it up and modernize it a bit.

The small uncrowded lounge bar was perfect for an early evening drink. Amber downed the last of her martini. “What a super stressful crap-tacular day. I can’t thank you enough for treating me to a drink Scott.” Amber set her empty glass down on the round table, sat back on the soft cushioned couch and gingerly touched her bandaged forehead. The small attention-causing cut had bled profusely, but didn’t hurt then or now.

“No problem Stitches McGee” He teased. “I needed one as much as you. Dale was a dick all day, gloating about winning the bet. I should have known Sasha was a total unobtainable ice bitch.” He shrugged. “But my ego got in the way.”

Scott waved at a server for refills and smiled at his attractive and willing friend. He wanted a challenge, to conquer and win over a decent woman, which was not Amber. Amber was more fly by night, go where the bed sheets are open, not the kind of girl to bring home to mom and dad.

“You can say that again, I got sick of Dales crowing myself. Normally I would join in, but you didn’t deserve to be snubbed so coldly by princess frostbite.”

It is possible to have a character of wealth or education speak properly or with class, without them sounding like a pompous windbag throwback from an 1800’s romance novel. (Well unless it is a story set in the 1800’s then by all means have at it.) I have a character that speaks properly and never contracts words unnecessarily. He still uses jargon and I don’t overdo the filter words and unnecessary additives. The people he converses with speak normally, and are sometimes more flippant around him for contrast.

People speak differently, they have different lingual quirks and in a story, it’s painful to read dialogue that is the same across the board for each character. It makes for stiff conversation that I personally start skipping over or I’ll just put the book down.

My advice about ostentatious conversation.
Um don’t. Make sure each characters voice is as unique as they are. Give them catch phrases or lingual mannerisms that are theirs alone. Sure, you can have someone pick up a slang term from another and make fun with it, but really, just keep it realistic.

-Sheryl

Posts related and mentioned in this one

KISS your writing

Setting the mood

Missing body parts

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Ostentatious
Conquer