The Edge Of Nothing – A short story

A couple weeks ago I entered a short story into a contest. I didn’t win, but it was a fun story to write. I had some beta readers that volunteered (from Twitter) who put in some time and effort to help polish it to perfection.

As promised here is the story that I wrote and submitted based off a provided prompt.

PROMPT USED: You are the protagonist of a novel-in-progress. Your author is experiencing intense writer’s block. You decide to have a word with the author to shake them out of it.

The edge

The Edge Of Nothing

By S.L. Mumby
Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

My life is on the edge of nothing. I am actually kneeling on it. This is what I mean. Here is the last paragraph that was written by my creator.

—Aymara’s knees bore her weight, the hard edges of the broken rock bit into her skin and cut through. Her precious blood colored the cold stone a dark red. Gripping the edge of the ruined floor, she leaned forward. The meager light from above failed her eyes, below her there was nothing—

See? Nothing and that is where I have been kneeling and bleeding for the past two fricking months. Oh yeah, my creator made me a modest, but tough-as-heck good girl. I cannot even gosh-darn-it swear.

Please understand that I am grateful. However, the fate of my people is on hold, and it is frustrating. My journey to get to this nothing moment has been a heck-ride of danger, violence, and passion unanswered-but promised. I am supposed to be saving my one true love at the end, I do not want to, and that might be the problem. Hey! Creator! Are you listening?

After a cliché sigh, my creator answers. “Yeah, I’m listening. You’re supposed to love Rayvon, the chemistry is there isn’t it?

“It is lust and nothing more! Loveless desire is horrible, and I hate it. I want love, real love.”

Pursed lips are the response my creator gives me. Every day my creator’s fingers touch the keyboard, every day there is a glint of promise that I will be released from this agonizing point and carry on with my harrowing tale. So I yell some more. “Let us go over it again shall we?”

“Go over what? I’ve been through the pages umpteen times, and I can’t see how to make you and Rayvon work through this. You’re too stubborn, and I think you blame him.”

I want up from this devil-inspired position. I need to think. I know what I want, I believe my creator does too and cannot see it yet. I grip the edge of nothing harder. “What if you look at it from my perspective?”

My creator’s eyes close. It is permission for me to go back and take a momentary reprieve from this frozen moment.

Fine, show me your perspective.”

Giddy to be on the move again, I dart back to the moments that brought my journey to a standstill before I even got there.

⁎—⸙—⁎

“Aymara, hold on!” Rayvon said as his arm stretched as far as he could.

She wanted to yell at him to shut up, to stop suggesting the obvious and find a solution. Aymara’s grip failed her, and she slid another inch. She screamed. There was real fear in Rayvon’s near-black eyes. His anguish and pain are evident on his face. Aymara knew he loved her in his own way, but she couldn’t shake the notion that his emotions were selfless…

⁎—⸙—⁎

Woah, wait a second.” My creator interjected. “I never wrote that you had doubts.

“You should have. I mean come on, you want me to believe the magnificent, glorious Rayvon happens to fall for the plain “softer” woman with no fighting skills? The one that just happens to be able to sense the way to Evton-moor, and the only one who can find the stupid Faevitreus? He is too beautiful for words, you said so yourself. It was tacky and predictable. He has eyes for Tamora, and despite my love for him there is a grain of mistrust amidst us.”

“Just because Tamora is unconscious right at this moment does not make her any less what every woman wishes she could be. She is perfect, tough, sexy as sin and strong in every way possible. I am flawed, with an absurdly dark backstory. Why is she not the protagonist?”

My creator and I have had this conversation before. “Rayvon is a worldly man and men look at pretty things. He will choose you in the end.

“Blech, he will choose me reluctantly. I do not want a man to choose me after considering others. I want a man who will jump over the edge of the wall on a rope to save me. Let me finish my point.”

Fine. Go on then.

⁎—⸙—⁎

Aymara’s hand burned as the broken wood she clung to shifted beneath her fingers. The floor of the old tower had cracked and fallen away beneath her feet. The others on the edge of and outside the tall tower room were still on solid ground. This tower hid the last key-fairy, trapped in a glass ball, called a Faevitreus. She huddled with her delicate iridescent wings wrapped about her body. She was one of six cursed fairies, and Aymara held her safe in her free hand. If the glass breaks, the curse will whisk away the fairy to hide her again in another prison of glass. The only way to free them is to smash them simultaneously on the altar of Evton-moor, the gate to the lands called Perish. Tracking down a reformed Faevitreus might take days, maybe weeks and they didn’t have the time to spare. The calling had begun, and those of age are making their journey to the portal to the Perish lands. Only those of age may enter Perish, and they die in the process.

“You’re the lightest, you must go.” Rayvon had insisted.

Aymara isn’t lightest of the group, Tamora is, but she’s out cold from a Dumas bite. Sometimes bravery hides stupidity. Aymara said to leave it be, it wouldn’t bother with the group if given a wide berth. No, Tamora couldn’t let a wee critter alter her course. Not even when Aymara said. “They live in fists.”

“Fists?” Tamora asked.

“As in groups of five bonded strongly. That one, the sentry,” Aymara had pointed at the cobalt blue snake, “is not alone.”

“Going around will take us an hour off our path. No, the path through these ruins leads directly to the Cliffside path up to the tower.” Tamora stuck her nose up and unsheathed her twin blades.

She had faced the snake and killed it. The other four dropped down from the archway above and one bit her. Tamora knows this area better than the entire group. She lived five years in the town near the tower of the damned. The tower is a place where the locals sent delinquent youth to spend the night and scare them straight. It is a place to fear and respect. Tamora was to lead the group through the ruins and up to the tower. Aymara’s anger at Tamora’s ego faltered under her fear. Many stories designed to keep children from misbehaving contain that tower. The bite of the snake is not fatal, but Tamora could be unconscious for up to three days. They can’t stay in the ruins while she wakes. The local inhabitants won’t be as kind as the Dumas snakes were. Dezan had been the one to hoist Tamora over his shoulder and carry her.

Dezan is the personification of the strong and silent type. He hails from a city far to the east where they grow tall, robust men with dark, handsome faces, pale green eyes, and soft white hair. When he speaks, it has meaning, and his voice is heavy with emotion…

⁎—⸙—⁎

You’re not in love with Dezan.” My creator interrupts. “Don’t describe him as if you are. He is a statue of emotion. Devoid of love and out to find the master of Perish to help Rayvon kill him. He’s on a revenge quest for the loss of the one true love of his life. He vowed never to love again.”

“Right and that is why he is so kind to me, why he is always there when I need him? He held me and wiped my tears when my sister was burned at the stake. Dezan made me eat when I was too sad to breathe. Dezan showed me how to use a knife, a sword, how to get free of bindings. Dezan is the one who checks on me every night to see that I wake before Rayvon, so I am not chastised for being lazy. Dezan is the one who sits with me and looks at the moon and puts fragrant Starflowers in my hair.”

Oh shit.” My creator sat up wide-eyed.

“Let me finish.” I insisted, and my creator nodded.

⁎—⸙—⁎

Four stories below Aymara, the floor creaked and moaned like living things. Aymara called out for Dezan. He was not far, he might hear. Rayvon reached again, inches shy of her hand.

“Hold on.” Rayvon pleaded. “I don’t know what to do.”

“I cannot.” Aymara cried out. “I need both my hands to hold on.”

Rayvon’s eyes darted from Aymara’s left hand to her right and back again. “I love you, Aymara. I will fight for you, and for what you believe in, but to do so, I need the keys. Throw me the Faevitreus!”

He had never before said the affectionate words that soared straight to her heart. If she died, they would need to find another who could sense the wee trapped fairies. That could take weeks or months even. Finding Evton-moor without her would be more straightforward than tracking the new Faevitreus, although difficult without Aymara’s ability to sense magic. Perish needed to be brought down, if her people were ever to be free. The thought of the monster men who resided in Perish dining on her mother and father stirred her anger and resolve. Rayvon was destined to destroy the power the lord of Perish holds over her world, their world, and she would do anything to see it come to light.

“Catch!” She hefted the ball into the air, and Rayvon caught it.

Rayvon leaned back on his heels and kissed the smooth surface. The fairy within grimaced at the audacity of his intimacy with her cage.

Unable to pull her body to grip with both hands, Aymara cried out in desperation.

“Git out o’ta way ya gibbit,” Dezan yelled at Rayvon.

Startled by Dezan’s sudden appearance, Rayvon dropped the Faevitreus. It rolled toward the edge and he lept for it. Dezan jumped over the side, ignoring the plummeting Faevitreus. His hand closed on Aymara’s arm as her bleeding splinter-filled fingers gave way and she fell. He pulled her into his arms and they dangled by a rope around his chest.

“I got ya ma swee, yer safe,” Dezan said, followed by a whispered promise, “I’ll na let ya go fer no-thin, no-ever.”

There was no time to cry, and no time to rejoice in his strong arms. The sound of glass breaking below and Rayvon’s rage-filled cry snapped Aymara from her moment of safety.

“Up ya go ma swee.” Dezan gripped the rope in one arm and lifted Aymara with the other. “Grab her!” Dezan yelled, and his voice shook from the strain. As Rayvon hoisted Aymara over the edge, the rope that held Dezan snapped and frayed.

“Help him!” Aymara shouted as she dropped to her knees.

Rayvon knelt at the edge and reached down. The rope snapped, and Dezan called out, “Aymaraaaa.”

He hit the floor below in a loud, thick crash. The wood gave way, and as Aymara made way to the edge, Dezan fell far below, into the depths of the tower and beyond.

Rayvon stood abruptly and turned his back to the hole. “We lost the Faevitreus.”

Aymara blinked and wiped tears. He was gone, her gentle friend and confidant. “No.” She pushed to her feet. “No.”

“We did. That blundering idiot made me drop it. We don’t have time for a delay like this.”

Aymara frowned at the man she had loved. His tender kisses seemed a distant, cold memory, too far to warm the chill in her heart from his cruel words. There wasn’t a rope burn on his hand. He didn’t reach for Dezan. He had plenty of time to grab the rope. If he had tried, the marks would mar his perfect hands.

“No.” Aymara gagged with grief and ran to the spiral stairs that circled the tower. With fleet feet, she made it to the ground and blinded by tears she pulled the door open. She could feel the Faevitreus below, it didn’t reform far, but it was there. The heavy rust-burdened door gave way to her frantic efforts, and she entered the room. The stone floor ring beneath her feet held a dark secret in its center.

“Oh by the stars.” Aymara hesitated. She could sense more than the poor imprisoned fairy below. “The stories are true.”

Aymara’s ability to sense and track magic is why she was chosen to help Rayvon. The magic below is dark and formidable. There was no mistaking that this was the secret door to Perish’s underbelly, the most terrifying place in existence. Stories and fables soaked the world of its horrors and the creatures that kept our world from the lands of Perish. Aymara rubbed her arms and gathered her courage. If the stories held true it was a way in and the magic she felt now would let nothing back out. She chose to ignore the fables of a sword called Satrebil made from dragon fire that could pierce the magic barrier.

Her hands shook as she inched toward the edge. Blood and a shred of Dezan’s shirt clung to the shards of wood still clinging to the rotted floor support. The force of his muscular body must have cracked some of the stone where the beams sat. Broken bits of stone littered the ground.

“No, Dezan, no,” she whispered as she lowered to the hard floor.

Aymara’s knees bore her weight, the hard edges of the broken rock bit into her skin and cut through. Her precious blood colored the cold stone a dark red. Gripping the edge of the ruined floor, she leaned forward. The meager light from above failed her eyes, below her there was nothing…

⁎—⸙—⁎

I am once again stuck on my bloody knees. At the point where my creator gave up on my story. My creator made a noise as if to clear a throat. “That is not how I wrote it. Rayvon declared his love for you, and you chose to give up your life for him, for the fight. Dezan died to save you so you could get Rayvon to the altar and get into Perish.”

“The tower was a trap, a gateway to the underbelly of Perish and it was meant to stop us from getting the last Faevitreus. Few survive the perilous place.” I said with defiance.

That is not how I wrote it, and Dezan never whispered sweet words to you. His last words were noble, begging you to honor his oath and revenge on his wife.”

“You should have written it that way, and he did whisper that to me. That is what revisions are for right? I hear you complain about that process enough. Go back and add it all in. I do not love Rayvon, I thought I did, but I cannot love someone who is using me and probably bedding Tamora. I love Dezan, you need to make him realize he loves me too.”

But he died, only three may enter.”

“He should not have died. His love was true, and pure and… real. Kill someone else, someone that needs the sacrificial redemption to clear their soul.”

My creator sat back and resumed the familiar pose of finger tapping on the chin. “Underbelly you say. Underbelly…hmm.

I was so close to getting out of this blasted position, I could sense it. “The Perish lord is expecting us to go to the altar to open the gates and we can if you carry on with the surface plan. All sorts of things can get in our way, but what if…”

What if that’s what Perish Lord wants… what if he’s waiting to be freed?”

“Yes! Dezan said that.”

No, he didn’t say anything like it.”

“Then go back and make him say it. He only says important things. Have Rayvon or Tamora brush him off or discredit him. What if we do not knock on his front door where he awaits us?”

Two hands lifted from a lap and set lightly upon the keys that tell my story and create my life. A small smile eased into place on my creator’s face. My heart soared with hope, a hope that had been lost when Dezan fell and opened what I think is the real way we that need to go. I had hope that I can finally save my people, save the world from a monster who controls us from his very own prison.

⁎—⸙—⁎

“Aymara, ma swee?”

The words were faint, far away, and so unbelievably real; Aymara called back, “I’m here.”

“He lived?” Rayvon asked incredulously as he helped Tamora walk. Aymara wasn’t surprised to see the warrior regaining consciousness now after disaster struck. “We need to leave and find the Faevitreus.”

“It is down there.” Aymara pointed.

“It broke,” Rayvon said.

“It has reformed down there. I have an idea, and you are not going to like it.” Aymara said as she opened the carefully packed bag containing the other five Faevitreus spheres…

⁎—⸙—⁎

Fingers flew across the keyboard, breathing life back into me, into my story. I had a chance to get to Dezan and continue our journey. It would be dangerous, it would be unexpected, and if my creator understood me, Rayvon is not the savior of our world.

I am.

⁎—⸙—⁎  The End ⁎—⸙—⁎ 

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

This is the first time I’ve posted more than a sample of my writing for blog post examples. I hope you enjoyed it.

Let me know if you want to see more short stories or not.

Cheers.
-Sheryl

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/your-daily-word-prompt-confidant-july-31st-2018/

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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

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

Word swap

I recently was reminded of a word that I totally forgot about. Malapropism. Sounds like a dreadful disease right?  It is a sort of disease of writing if you want to get fanciful. It means to use an incorrect word in place of a word that sounds similar resulting in nonsense. These words that sound similar and often look similar. It’s like swapping words that sound right but are definitely not. They can really gum up the works if spell check or grammar check don’t see a problem because the word is technically spelled correctly.

The funny thing about these word swaps are that we can easily scoot over them not realizing they are wrong. (unless you’re an editor or English major, which I am neither) Part of this is the easy mispronunciation of some of them. No one is perfect and those that think they are perfect are flawed for that belief. So what does a bit of Malapropism look like? Let me show you an extreme example:

Jackson ran his course hand over the bear skin of Valery’s arm. His intent was to illicit shivers from her and the move, like now, was always successful.
“This is tortuous Jackson.” Valery sighed.
“Your game not mine.” He kissed the back of her hand.
“You excepted the challenge.” She wanted romantic and she would get it. “Did I ever tell you about the first time I saw you?”
“No.”
“Hmm. It is a lovely storey. Well I was late for work, rushing to get my coffee and was about to leave when I saw you. I stopped in my tracks, stationery and unable to breathe. Loathe to approach such a stunning beauty. You stood there ordering coffee in that clingy red dress flouting your sexy figure.” Jackson ran his fingers over the palm of her hand. “It was a site I couldn’t tear my eyes from.”
“What a lovely complement.” Valery snuggled closer.
“I came up with a plan to insure you would say yes and a few plausible excuses for being late.”
“You were so bazaar.” Valery covered her mouth and giggled.
“Once I bumbled my way through and asked you out. I waited with baited breath as you smiled slowly, took a pen from your briefcase and scribbled your number on my cup.”
She smiled as his lips traveled in small kisses up her arm.
“Then?”
“I took you out and voila; now you’re all mine.”
“Jackson, that was romantically anti-climatic.”
“I still have the cup.”
Valery flung her arms around his neck peppering him with kisses.

I’d like to think I wouldn’t make those mistakes, but I would never claim to be perfect. There is one in there that I know I’ve mixed up. So how many were there? 15. Here are the corrections highlighted.

Jackson ran his coarse hand over the bare skin of Valery’s arm. His intent was to elicit shivers from her and the move, like now, was always successful.
“This is torturous Jackson.” Valery sighed.
“Your game not mine.” He kissed the back of her hand.
“You accepted the challenge.” She wanted romantic and she would get it. “Did I ever tell you about the first time I saw you?”
“No.”
“Hmm. It is a lovely story. Well I was late for work, rushing to get my coffee and was about to leave when I saw you. I stopped in my tracks, stationary and unable to breathe. Loath to approach such a stunning beauty. You stood there ordering coffee in that clingy red dress flaunting your sexy figure.” Jackson ran his fingers over the palm of her hand. “It was a sight I couldn’t tear my eyes from.”
“What a lovely compliment.” Valery snuggled closer.
“I came up with a plan to ensure you would say yes and a few plausible excuses for being late.”
“You were so bizarre.” Valery covered her mouth and giggled.
“Once I bumbled my way through and asked you out. I waited with bated breath as you smiled slowly, took a pen from your briefcase and scribbled your number on my cup.”
She smiled as his lips traveled in small kisses up her arm.
“Then?”
“I took you out and voila; now you’re all mine.”
“Jackson, that was romantically anti-climactic.”
“I still have the cup.”
Valery flung her arms around his neck peppering him with kisses.

It’s easy to miss one or two from time to time. I don’t beat myself up over it, I resist that temptation. Editing and revision are key to solving this hiccup. Having others revise your work is a good idea too. Sometimes as the one who wedged the offensive word in place, I cant see it as clearly.

Here are the words used in order with their meanings:

Course (A class) – Coarse (Rough)
Bare (Naked) – Bear (An animal)
Illicit (Illegal) – Elicit (To draw out)
Tortuous (Full of twists) – Torturous (Cause suffering)
Except (Not including) – Accept (To agree to)
Storey (Floors in buildings) – Story (A tale)
Stationery (Writing supplies) – Stationary (To be still)
Loathe (Hate) – Loath (reluctant)
Flout (Disregard rules) – Flaunt (Show off)
Site (a place) – Sight (See)
Complement (Goes well with) – Compliment (Praise)
Insure (Compensation life insurance) – Ensure (make certain)
Bazaar (Middle Eastern market) – Bizarre (Weird)
Baited (Fish hook) – Bated (On baited breath)
Climatic (Environment/climate) – Climactic (Climax)

There are many more out there, these are the ones I picked on for the example. Some that might show up may simply be typo’s.

My advice about Malapropisms.
It might be a good idea to make a list of these words(My list above is not complete) and use the “find” feature to see if any got mixed up.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Blood

Sweat

+ Tears

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Resist

TMI dude!

I was reading a story the other day and had a good chuckle. Not at the clever dialogue or humorous narration, but at what shouldn’t have been there.

It struck me that there is over usage of descriptions and there is over usage of action descriptions. They aren’t the same but they can both become overpowering to the point of ridiculous. The temptation to write a characters’ every movement is one of them. However, the unseen movements are sometimes the best because they are left to the readers’ imagination.

What I’m talking about is something I myself am mindful of. The urge to explain everything. Especially if a character is doing something specific like drinking, smoking, putting on makeup, grooming or eating. This is where the gist, is plenty. All that is needed is a good set up, maybe one more action and an end action. Like all scenarios within a story, they also need a beginning a middle and an end.
Let me show an example:

Scott leaned his back against the cool brick wall as Dale cracked open his ice cold can of Coke and took a large swig.
“So you’re okay with the whole Amber thing?” Scott asked eyeing the red and white logo with jealous eyes.
Dale looked at the can appreciatively then at his friend. “Yeah, I am.” He lifted the can to his lips again.
“Man, I don’t know if I would be. She’s a slut, she can’t all of a sudden be the good girl”
Dale sucked the residual liquid that was stuck in the lip of the can after chugging most of the soda. “I told you she was faking it to get your dammed attention.” He shrugged and tipped the can up draining the last of the drink. “Besides you know I’ve liked her forever.” Dale let out a long quiet burp muffled by the fist against his lips while staring at the empty can.
“So you two are a couple now?”
Dale grinned, crumpled the empty can in his hand and nodded. “Yup. The sex is amazing and she’s way better than you ever speculated.”
Scott grimaced. “TMI dude.”
“You’re just jealous that she doesn’t have a crush on you anymore, that she’s hot for me and that you missed your chance.” Dale tossed the crumpled aluminum into the recycling bin beside the garbage can as he walked toward the entrance.
Scott glared at the back of Dales head. There was too much truth to that statement.
(250)

Not only did the gratuitous descriptions of Dale’s actions bog down the flow, they were somewhat insulting. I think the reader understands the process of drinking a can of Coke. The drink wasn’t necessarily important to the story so if I’m honest it was descriptive filler. Sure, I found different ways to describe the actions but let’s see what happens if I treat the can of Coke like a mini story line and only mention it three times.

Scott leaned his back against the cool brick wall as Dale cracked open his ice cold can of Coke and took a large swig.
“So you’re okay with the whole Amber thing?” Scott asked glancing at Dale without turning his head toward him.
“Yeah, I am.”
“Man, I don’t know if I would be. She’s a slut, she can’t all of a sudden be the good girl”
Dale inhaled slowly. “I told you she was faking it to get your dammed attention.” He shrugged. “Besides you know I’ve liked her forever.” He let out a long quiet burp muffled by his fist against his lips.
“So you two are a couple now?”
Dale grinned, sucked the residual liquid stuck in the lip of the can and crumpled it in his hand and tossed it overhand into the recycling bin. “Nothing but net and yes we are. The sex is amazing and she’s way better at Bj’s than you ever speculated.”
Scott grimaced. “TMI dude.”
“You’re just jealous that she doesn’t have a crush on you anymore, that she’s hot for me and that you missed your chance.” Dale turned on his heel and walked toward the entrance.
Scott glared at the back of Dales head. There was too much truth to that statement.
(213)

I fall prey to showing redundant actions because I want the reader to be immersed in the scene, but I think confusing the need for scene descriptions with character actions causes this TMI (Too much information) problem. It also increases my word count and as a wordy person I need to watch that.

My advice about excessive action descriptions. 
The cliche, less is more, is so apt for this problem. Let the reader fill in the gaps; that’s half the fun of reading.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Inviting innuendo

Squeaky clean

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Unseen
Immerse

De-dangling modifiers

While researching something completely unrelated, I came across a term that I didn’t know. Dangling modifiers or misplaced modifiers. Of course once I did some further research I figured it out quickly and I discovered I dangle modifiers. Huh.

So what is it? Modifiers are words or phrase that modify something else. Often causing a confusing statement that can also be funny. Vague I know, the examples make it clearer what I mean.

For example:

Jim almost walked down every street looking for the dog.

Almost is the modifier in that sentence, but it implies that Jim didn’t go all they way down each street.

Jim walked down almost every street looking for the dog. 

Now the sentence reads correctly and the modifier is placed correctly. Now Jim is walking down the streets, just not all of them.

Let me try another:

Rolling down the street, Amber was terrified by the runaway car.

Since Amber comes right after “rolling down the street” Amber is the modifier and is the one rolling. Which is a weird thing to do.

Honestly in this case the “rolling down the street” is superfluous. But if one really felt that it needed to be said, perhaps this would be better.

Rolling down the street, the runaway car terrified Amber.

Okay so now the car is rolling, not Amber. Although the other might make for a more interesting story.

Next example:

Covered in dust, Scott questioned the plates cleanliness.

Because Scott followed the dust, Scott is dusty not the plate.

Covered in dust, the plate caused Scott to question the cleanliness.

What I would write in this case if I see the comma, I know it could be way better anyway. Besides I like to bring the sentence out of the characters head (I write in third) and make it part of the experience.

Scott ran his finger over the dusty plate and grimaced at the smudge on his finger. 

I’m sure I do this all the time. Maybe someday I’ll write without tonnes of errors, but until then I’ll ask others to proof. These sorts of mistakes are caught by proof readers or reading the book out loud to myself.  For me I try to take out the comma if it’s being used. I’s usually a clear sign that I’ve dangled the wrong damned thing.

My advice about Dangling modifiers.
De-dangle them, re write the sentence. Otherwise what the reader reads, might not actually be what’s happening.

-Sheryl

The jerk-face warrior

Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Someday

Don’t say my name!

Hello, my name is Sheryl. You probably already knew that, and if you didn’t then there it is for you. Names are important in writing. Choosing one is difficult and sometimes nerve-wracking. In writing the character name is used often in action and dialogue tags. It’s very important to identify the speaker or person involved.

But what about within dialogue? I thought about this a while. Like many things human, saying someones name while talking to them is a personal choice. Generally people will start a conversation with a greeting such as, “Hey Amber.” Some never say someones name… ever.  So how often does a person use the name of the person they are talking to, to the person they are talking to? Probably once, maybe twice and that second one would be. “It was great seeing you again Amber. Call me some time.”

Close friends might say each others name randomly during a conversation to make a point. “Seriously Amber you’re crazy.” Or “Wow Amber your hair has such a healthy shine.” or “Check it out Amber I got his number.”  There are people that really enjoy saying a name and will use them often. I have a character in BiaAtlas that will use a persons name regularly. He’s a teacher/instructor so it fits him a little better. He also speaks directly and often has a point to make. For him I make sure that he uses first names when in personal conversation and more often if he likes the person. I am also careful that others rarely address him by his name so it stands out.

Over use of a name within dialogue is not only superfluous but necessary. I do on occasion cheat and toss their name in to keep the flow of dialog for the reader to trip up the ‘action or dialogue tags’.

“Hey Amber you okay?” Dale stopped her in the hall, looked about to ensure they were alone and rubbed his hand on her arm.
She nodded with a frown. “Yes. I don’t know why I bother eating breakfast Dale. It’s such a waste of money.”
“How long does the morning sickness last Amber?”
“I don’t know Dale, forever?” She groaned and rolled her eyes.
“I left a present for you on your desk Amber.” He quickly kissed her forehead and continued down the hall.
She watched him go then made her way to her desk. A bottle of ginger-ale and a pack of soda crackers were in a small gift bag. Smiling she sat and cracked the bottle open.

That was definitely weird. Especially if read out loud. Now it was a short example so it was weirder than normal. I try to limit name use in dialogue, but even then I know I still over do it for realism.Now without the additives.

“Hey Amber you okay?” Dale stopped her in the hall, looked about to ensure they were alone and rubbed his hand on her arm.
She nodded with a frown. “Yes. I don’t know why I bother eating breakfast. It’s such a waste of money.”
“How long does the morning sickness last?”
“I don’t know, forever?” She groaned and rolled her eyes.
“I left a present for you on your desk.” Dale quickly kissed her forehead and continued down the hall.
She watched him go then made her way to her desk. A bottle of ginger-ale and a pack of soda crackers were in a small gift bag. Smiling Amber sat and cracked the bottle open.

Better. This wasn’t about word-count, just needed to be fixed.

I once knew a guy for 2 years. Spoke to him everyday on the way to work. After a while it was too weird to ask him his name even though he knew mine. I never ever knew his name.

My advice about Names in dialogue.
In dialogue use them sparingly and read the conversation out loud or have someone buddy read with you. If it sounds weird or unnecessary, it probably is.

-Sheryl

Other name related posts

What’s her name?

Who are you again?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Shine

Roller-coaster Conversations

There is nothing worse than a drab, monosyllabic conversation. A parley with no point and no book gripping content. It’s like conversation for the sake of conversation. Page filler that is not going to get the pages turned quickly if at all.

I’ve mentioned before that conversations should have meaning to the characters and impact the story in some way to be effective. I’ve mentioned that showing emotion is important and so is including emotion in conversation.

The more personal the conversation the more emotionally charged it should be. I work hard to make that happen. On that note I like to throw the characters and the reader for a little emotional roller-coaster ride. No serious conversation or confrontation is limited to one or two emotions, they are fire, ice, steam and earthquakes from beginning to end. I try to have a point to the conversation, a reason for it’s existence.

This example of a roller-coaster conversation is a rough draft and not fully edited.

Amber crammed her hands into her jacket pockets and scrunched her shoulders against the cold breeze. Normally it wouldn’t affect her, but lately everything seemed to be different and not in a good way.
“That’s a mighty big frown. You didn’t like the show?”
Amber turned her head toward Dale. He was trying too hard. “It was okay. I just don’t think they deserved that huge standing ovation.” 
His brow nit and he sneered. “So why’d you join in then?”
She shrugged her taught shoulders. “Dunno, didn’t want to look like a jerk I guess.”
They walked in silence, each lost in thought and the tension thick between them. By the time they reached her apartment, Amber was shivering.
“You coming up?” She unlocked the door.

Dale nodded and followed. They agreed to talk after the show. It would probably be a waste of time like all their other attempts. They ended up hanging out neither wanting to actually bring it up first. The second Amber had her coat off she went to find a sweater then to the kitchen to make a tea.
“Want one?” She held up a box of herbal mint tea.
“No thanks.” He looked around at the overly clean interior, Amber may be a lot of things, but messy isn’t one of them. “Where’s Bea?”
Amber filled her mug from the hot spout from the water cooler. “At her girlfriends. I think she’s moving out bit by bit. She just hasn’t said it outright yet.”
“Why?”
Tilting her head to the side she dunked the teabag to a steady rhythm. “Why do you think?”
Dale stared at the bobbing teabag. “Right.”  He looked at her face. “So will you get a new roommate?”
“Yes.” She sipped the steaming tea. “In about seven months or so.” She laughed at his frown. “I can afford this place on my own no problem. I’ve been squirreling her rent away. Even on mat leave I can afford it fine.”
He followed her to the living area and sat on the couch bedside her as she pulled a blanket over herself and held the warm mug between two hands. “I’m screwed in the winter if I’m going to be this sensitive to cold.”
“My mom said you’ll be a furnace once you show.” 
She glared at him her cheeks flushing. “You told your mom?”
“I had to talk to someone Amber.” He rubbed his face with his hands. “You’re not the only one freaked out you know.”
Amber looked into her mug, a few flakes of mint leaf escaped the bag and danced at the bottom. “Great. Did  you tell her you knocked up the office slut?”
“I told her I got my girlfriend pregnant.” He held up his hand when her head snapped up and she opened her mouth. “But that we’re not serious and probably wont stay together. I thought it would be better for her to like you.”
“Thanks Dale.” She tried to smile and failed. “I think we can manage as friends.” She looked at him again when he snorted. “What?”
“Friendzoned. I don’t want to be just your friend Amber.”
“I know and I said I’d try Dale what more can I do?” She set her tea down on the coffee table.
“Try? Do? You’re not trying and you’re not doing anything Amber.” Dale shook his head and shifted sideways on the couch to face her. “I hate this, this.” He slammed his fist on the couch and she flinched. “Ugh. Do you think I like being the fool? The idiot that fell in love with a girl who only has eyes for the actual office slut?”
Her mouth fell open. Scott was perfect and she almost said so then closed her mouth. He wasn’t perfect by a long shot. 
“God Amber you said you wanted to see if we can be a couple but you’re not emotionally available. You’re in love with a shithead who doesn’t deserve the time of day from you.”

She replayed his words in her head while picking at a loose string on the blanket. Her infatuation with Scott was superficial. She looked up at Dale, his eyes dancing, his lips pursed and the muscles of his jaw working overtime. 
“Dale. I’m attracted to Scott. Less so lately, but I don’t love him as more than a friend or buddy or guy to have a crush on.” She blinked back unwelcome tears. “I don’t think I even have a crush on him anymore.”
“Then why not give me a real chance?”
Her eyes spilled over and she wiped her face. “I’m afraid of you Dale.” She wiped her face again. “Afraid you’ll make me love you then leave when it gets tough. Dammit I never cry, stupid hormones.”

Dale blinked at her. She did believe it, not because he’s given her any reason to, but because someone else had. Someone important. She had walls, big tall barriers that made her act and pretend to be easy going and happy-go-lucky regarding men and casual-sex relationships. It was all a facade. He shifted closer and pulled her into a hug until she stopped crying. “Want to know a secret Amber?”
She shifted back and nodded as he hooked a finger under her chin to force her to look up at him.
“I did a little happy dance inside when you told me about the baby and that you were keeping it.”
She furrowed her brow. “Why?”
“Because it meant one way or another you’d be in my life forever.” Dale leaned in and gently pressed his lips to hers, moving them lightly waiting for permission to continue. She moved her lips and set her hand on his bicep gently.  Permission given. He pressed harder and she opened her mouth to his. A low noise of approval escaped his throat when her tongue flicked across his bottom lip and met with his. 

In my opinion the better the ride, the better chance I have of keeping the reader at my theme park of a book. I wanted to show Dale’s commitment, Amber’s strife to change and that her transition is underway. I also wanted to give a bit more backstory to Amber and why she is who and how she is.

My advice about roller-coaster conversations.
Roller-coaster conversations are as enjoyable to write as they are to read. Emotional and pretentious characters can have the best unpredictable conversations. Let them be erratic and unstable, it’s really fun.

-Sheryl

Some other conversational posts I wrote

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Hold your tongue!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Interior

Glance back to look forward

At the risk of sounding cheesy, I have to say I’m hopeful. For many things and many reasons. I could say it’s because the new year is coming, but new or not, I’d still be hopeful.

So much has happened this past year, good and bad. I wont bog you down with the personal pros and cons of my life, or all the things that did or didn’t happen globally, but I will share the part that is my writing journey.

I will glance back to look forward to 2017.  2016 was a busy writing year. I wrote two novels (After BiaAtlas). I have in planing, two entirely different story ideas for new books. I started a blog to share what I’ve learned. Through my blog I’ve discovered, learned and met some fabulous writers. I completed editing and revising BiaAtlas managing to get the word count well below the max allowable limit. Now just as the year is coming to a close, I’m taking the earnest plunge to find representation for BiaAtlas in the from of a Literary Agent.

So far I’ve queried 47 agents at 47 different agencies with hundreds to go. Unlike the last attempt, this time, I’m hopeful. Sure I expect a bunch of rejections, however now I’m ready for a “yes please send me more material to read.”

While BiaAltas Querying is in the works I will begin plotting out and planning my next book. A totally different genre, all new characters and crazy antagonists to kick them in the ass. During this I will start editing and revising BiaAtlas book 2 that is eagerly waiting it’s turn for polishing.

My advice about being Hopeful
No matter what aspect of your life you’re looking at, if you don’t feel hopeful take a step back. Take a good look as to why and then kick that party-pooper doubt’s sorry ass out the door and welcome hope in to the New Year party!  You control the guest list.

Happy New Year everyone!

-Sheryl

My favorite blog posts I wrote from 2016 and why

That is disgusting because it’s super gross and funny

KISS your writing Keep it simple stupid! This advice is my #1 fave.

The FAB pencil – Describing objects can be so much more than the obvious and overdone

I’m ‘that’ kind of writer – I had fun writing this one.

Well colour me silly – A discovery that saved me hours and hours and hours of work.

Well I can’t list all of my favourites I have too many. I enjoyed writing them all and each one is unique. So the last one is my first real blog post.

The “word count” down.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Hopeful

Not-So Happy Holidays?

The holidays bring out many emotions in people from one end of the spectrum to the other. It is this time of year that tends to inspire writers to put a holiday in their writing. I know I do. Holidays can be fantastic sources of interaction, story building and potential strife.

For me a book or story can sometimes be a small retreat from the real world. Even so, I prefer that sanctuary to be realistic within the boundaries of the genre. Writing a holiday can become unrealistic really quickly. Real family or friend gatherings are not perfect, they are usually not flawlessly rosy and completely happy events. People bicker, fight, argue, get stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, crowded to name a few.

They can put on airs and pretend all is well, coming across as fake and glazed over. Family members can have deep seeded issues that go back years. Secrets are always at risk of exposure by a thoughtless person. Especially if someone brings home someone for the first time to meet the family.

They can be amazing too, bringing a sense of love, peace, family, warmth and comradery to the surface. Fences can be mended, temporarily or permanently. Good news and celebrations all around.

Traditions, widely celebrated around the globe or specific and quirky to a person or group. They can be very exciting to write about and read. Real or fabricated.

The temptation to make a perfect holiday gathering in a story is strong, but and that’s a big but, it is soooo much fun to create chaos, embarrassment and hilarity. How people react to the Christmas pudding splatting on the floor can really set a mood. Mom might panic and cry over her shortcoming as a hostess, dad might chuckle, make light and start cleaning it up to make her feel better. Big sister the perfectionist might have a mini meltdown about diner being ruined. The moody uncle may cry bad omens and more foul to come.

Possible super drama causing Christmas disasters (and mini disasters)

Tree falls over or is knocked over
Wrong labels on presents
Relative gets too drunk
Turkey is burned
Table collapses
Power goes out
Everybody brought the exact same dish to the potluck
Car breaks down on the way
Huge personal fight with dirty laundry aired in front of family
Someone trips and falls face first into a gooey dessert
A child accidentally (or on purpose) pulls someones pants or skirt down
Everything that can go wrong does
Someone used the wrong/mixed-up ingredients rendering dinner inedible

 What will make the story is how the people react, act and handle things. I make sure to hold true to my characters behaviors and quirks. I love to take this opportunity to expose them or make them vulnerable to show a characters mettle as they make it through the holidays.

The thing is I don’t add a holiday in unless I can make it part of the story, make it have some meaning or influence on the characters or events. It’s not hard to do as long as I keep the basics and remember to have fun with it.

My advice about writing a holiday.
Perfection is boring, stir it up, make it drama and work it all into the main story-line not as detached side-dish that nobody really wants and only takes because it will hurt aunt Bertha’s feelings and ends up fed to the dog or hidden under mashed potatoes.
Happy holidays everyone stay safe and eat lots of turkey!

-Sheryl

Other posts

Covered up with paint and lies.

Hahaha oops.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Retreat