Finding Excitement

My post is a bit late this week, but here it is none the less. I was thinking today about how so many things affect the writing process, both good and bad.

On the good side, there’s inspiration, ideas, emotions, mood, events, motivating family/friends, goals and so much more. On the flip side, all of those things in negative can be devastating to progress.

As a human and a writer I try to stay objective and filter out the negative, the comments the looks the moods and emotions. I do my best to stay positive and project that for others. It’s not always easy not to succumb to the negative.

I’m heavy into my second revision of Prophecy, my new book, and I noticed that I was feeling a bit blah about it. Hmm… it’s a hard job, yet rewarding. I love the story and characters but I was ho-hum. Why? Then I realized I was super solo on this part. It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it with the hubby because we’ve talked about it and nothing new is going on other than it’s losing filter words like there’s a hole in the bucket.

Excitement and recognition. As a human and a writer I thrive off recognition, but what about excitement?  Today I was talking with a friend about my book and he asked what it’s about so I gave him the book jacket synopsis. He was intrigued and we talked about the premise and I gave him a bit of a more in-depth semi synopsis. He was excited and told me the concept and ideas were spot-on, that he wanted to know more. That is a good thing. In this high energy conversation, it occurred to me that I shouldn’t just sit quietly that it’s okay to talk about the book and I should be.

This comes with a warning label of sorts. Naysayers and naturally negative or jealous people are not a good conversation when talking about an achievement or my book. They will have a snide tone or even say negative things. I would also never talk plot or ideas with anyone I don’t know or don’t trust.

My point is that I forgot to be excited about my book. Realistically it’s a huge accomplishment. I need to remember that and I need to remind my self that I deserve to be proud of that accomplishment. Everyone does, everyone deserves to be proud of what they do and accomplish. Whether it’s a book, or song, painting or deliciously baked cake, we need to stop worrying about what other people think and enjoy the fact that we have done something. It is even more important not to self-bully our setbacks and errors. Even if All I could write was one paragraph or one chapter of a book, that’s more than never trying at all.

My advice about excitement in accomplishment
It’s important to find excitement and pride in your work, in progress or finished because you bothered to try in the first place. Never let others tear you down, never let jealousy bring your spirits low. Be proud and be excited and the right people will share it with you not use it against you. (Especially if it’s cake)

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Succumb

The Fault In Our Comparisons

When I write I often compare things. Directly or indirectly doesn’t matter, but it needs to be complete and correct. There’s nothing worse than wondering… then what? Or the sentence is simply not making sense.

There are at least two things needed when comparing.  After that, there is how they are compared. First and foremost being complete when comparing is important.

Completeness in comparisons

Complete the sentence. Two items are needed for any comparison.

Incorrect: The shallow water is two degrees warmer.

Two degrees warmer to what?

Correct: The shallow water is two degrees warmer than yesterday.

Incorrect: She studied so hard.

She studied so hard, then what happened?

Correct: She studied so hard and failed the test anyway.

Now ‘so’ has been qualified.

Now that completeness is addressed on to the next issue with a faulty comparison, clarity. One must be clear when comparing otherwise things become… unclear.

Clarity in comparisons

Incorrect: Dale gave Amber more cake than his sister.  

This is unclear and could mean: Dale gave Amber more cake than he gave to his sister, or Dale gave Amber more cake than Amber gave his sister.

Correct: Dale gave Amber more cake than he gave to his sister.
Correct: Dale gave more cake to Amber than he gave to his sister.

If it’s unclear the reader is left to interpret the writers meaning. This can be a problem since everyone thinks differently and might not understand what the writer was comparing. Now that clarity is more clear on to the last faulty comparison. Consistency.

Being consistent is important for so many things and for so many reasons. In comparisons, it is important so the reader knows what is being compared to what. Doing this will eliminate the potential confusion or odd imagining of events in the reader’s mind.

Consistency in comparisons

Incorrect: The Apples from the market are cheaper than FreshMart.

This compares Apples to Freshmart

Correct: The apples from the market are fresher than the apples at FreshMart.
Correct: The apples at the Market are fresher than those at FreshMart.
Correct: The apples at the Market are fresher than FreshMarket’s apples.

Now I’m comparing Apples to Apples.

Here are a couple more examples.

Incorrect: “Amber is more beautiful than anyone I know,” Dale said.

This means Amber is more beautiful than Amber since Dale knows her.

Correct: “Amber is more beautiful than anyone else I know,” Dale said.

Now Amber is compared to other that Dale knows.

Incorrect: “This cake is better than any I’ve tasted,” Amber said.

Again amber is tasting the cake now so…

Correct: “This cake is better than any other I’ve tasted,” Amber said.

Now she’s comparing it to cakes other than the one she’s eating.

It is easy to miss these types of errors of comparison especially when speech and dialect can influence how we write. We are bombarded with improper grammar and speech ‘quirks’ that it can be difficult to notice that what is being said isn’t complete. I know I don’t always see these and will have to defer to a professional to get them for me.

My Advice about faulty comparisons.
Check for completeness, Clarity, and Consistency when writing comparisons. I recommend having more than one set of eyes take a look for them. 

-Sheryl

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My Posts From The Start

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Shallow

Yes… no… maybe?

Okay I will. No, wait, maybe I shouldn’t…

Something that I forget to do in simple situations is employ conflicting emotions. Inner conflict. It doesn’t have to be voiced aloud, though if not writing in first person a little muttering under ones breath goes a long way.

Giving someone, opportunity to make a decision is a fast way to show-case them as a person. Someone might feel excited to be getting married but not completely sure if he’s ‘the one’.  A student might be nervous to move away from home but excited for the opportunities that lay ahead.  It could be a life changing decision, or one that makes little difference.

Should I have the piece of cake? I love cake, but I need to shed some pounds. Although, it is a birthday, but it’s too much sugar. Everyone else is having some, maybe just a sliver.

Inner conflict can enrich a moment and lend it power especially if that decision seems harmless but comes back to bite the antagonist on the ass later on. Now the trick for me is that inner turmoil is… inner. It is generally a silent thought process. So to show it instead of telling it forces me to have to look closer at what physical cues a person gives off during a moment of indecision. Maybe their hand jets out toward the cake and is pulled back then they flinch toward it again and then turn away to glace longingly back at the sweet temptation. Talking to ones self is also a great way to externalize, although I’m cautious with this, not everyone talks to themselves or mutters under their breath. I have some characters that talk to themselves and some that don’t. I keep track of them so I don’t have someone behaving out of character.

Sasha sat in her Living room and stared at the two sentence email Scott sent. He was being persistent and that was a problem. He insisted on drinks, the social lubricant. Sasha wasn’t stupid, lower her inhibitions and maybe he’d get lucky.
‘Let me treat you to drinks tomorrow night. To say I’m sorry for being a jerk.’
“Maybe getting lucky is what I need too.” She typed the word yes and clenched her hands and deleted it replacing it with No. She stared at the word no and added, thank you. Cracking her neck and blowing air out of her mouth fast she deleted that and typed. That would be nice thank you.
“Ugh, but would it?” She deleted that and leaned her head back on the chair. “Okay Sash, why yes and why no?” The ceiling didn’t have any answers. Her friends would say go for it. “Okay, okay a list. To start, we work together.” She typed the pro’s and con’s and deleted the notepad file. Then emptied the recycling bin on her desktop when her cell phone rang.
She fumbled with the phone. “Hello?” Smiling she leaned over and grabbed a pen, writing yes on one hand and no on the other. “Perfect timing Val. Left or right?” She laughed. “No I won’t tell you. Just pick one.” Sasha opened her left hand and frowned, the excitement of the game dissipated with the reality. “Looks like I’m going out for drinks tomorrow. I hope it’s not a giant mistake.”

Both options would present me with opportunity to create conflict and move Sasha along with her problem. Sometimes when I write things like this I’m not even sure what she should do. So I think about it and what lies ahead for either choice and go with the more volatile one. Drinks with the shifty, super cute office crush could be fun, or a complete disaster.

My advice about inner conflict.
Don’t forget to use it. Make it fun and if you’re not sure flip a coin or something. That works too.

-Sheryl

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Giant

She’s a person not a cake

One thing that I learned that makes all the difference, is to make my characters real through details instead of the long dry head to toe description. People are going to imagine them their own way anyway so describing every single aspect is tedious and unnecessary. A girl who twirls her hair or a man who cracks his knuckles will be more memorable.

Cal is an attractive successful man, he sees two women at a bar, both pretty, one flirtatious and the other awkward. I want to show that Cal knows about style and quality. At this point Cal has already been introduced so there is no need to mention his appearance. BTW he is well dressed, tall and handsome. Typical for this type of interlude.

For example:

Cal watched the two attractive fit women at the bar. They were young pretty and an odd couple. The brunette had a bob cut and dark blue eyes. She wore too much dark eye makeup and ruby-red lipstick. She had a firm athletic body. Her long legs below her hiked up black Saint Laurent miniskirt, exposed her red lace underwear when she moved.

The other, the Blonde, wore sensible Dolce & Gabbana outfit and applied minimal makeup. Her tight pink shirt and casual black flair skirt fit her like a glove and she tugged at them awkwardly. She had pretty brown eyes and a small nose. Slim long legs and soft features. By far prettier than the brunette friend. She was dragged out tonight, the awkward smart friend too work driven to have fun.

The friend isn’t the only awkward thing there. Everyone knows what a woman looks like and if he’s interested there is a good chance they are attractive. Let me try that again.

Cal leaned casually on the wall as he watched the odd couple at the bar. The brunette looked over at him with dark blue eyes. The corner of her ruby-red lips curled as she tongued the straw in her drink and brushed the bottom of her short bob cut with her fingers. Too easy, with her black Saint Laurent miniskirt hiked up, proving her lace panties matched the over-applied lipstick. She was on the hunt.

Her modest friend however, the long-haired blonde in Dolce & Gabbana, would be worth the challenge. Again, she tugged on her tight pink shirt then adjusted her flared black skirt drawing attention to her strong legs. She frowned at her friend, following her gaze over to Cal. Her pretty brown eyes met his briefly before dropping to the drink in her hand. She was dragged out tonight, the overworked over achievers were bound to have something interesting to say and Cal was tired of boring easy women.

That may not be perfect, but it’s a lot better than the list of features before it. Believe it or not I recently read a book that did just that. The story stopped dead in its tracks for a paragraph checklist description of someone’s appearance. I try to avoid doing that.

My advice about describing physical features.
Try to work it into the scene instead of brow beating the reader with a dried up awkward list of ingredients. She’s a person not a cake.

 -Sheryl

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Mirror, mirror on the wall…

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Hike
Minimal

Shut your cake hole

Blabbermouths are common in the real world. To your face or behind your back. So why not put them in the story? I love a good jerk, the one that makes you grip the book a little harder and hope they get their comeuppance or feel bad for what they’ve done. Whether they know they are loudmouth squealer or not, doesn’t matter. That they stir the pot does. A proper bigmouth can change the game and save a floundering storyline.

Here is a little tid-bit of mine from a work in progress:

“Good morning Nell, Wendy.” Hank smiled and sat at the meeting room table.
“Oh good morning Hank.” Wendy gushed. She had no problem flirting with the unnaturally handsome Hank. “How was your weekend?”
As usual, Nell sat quietly since Wendy cut off any chance of casting Hank a greeting. Hank finished his tales of golf, beer and a spontaneous trip to the beach without a glance toward Nell. “How about yours Wendy?”
“Ah same ole, same ole.” She waived her hand. “Now Nell had quite the adventure.” Her sly tone was devastating.
There was zero chance Hank would drop the subject. Nell shot her a what-the-hell look. She knew better than to confide in her friend, but did it anyway.
“Oh really.” He slid his gaze to Nell. “Do tell, what could Nell possibly do that has her redder than your blouse Wendy?”
“She had a hot date.” Wendy ignored Nell’s kick to her leg. “Like really hot.” Wendy fanned herself.
Hank tilted his head staring at Nell. She was quiet, mousy and barely noticeable on a good day. All work and no play. Usually. “With whom?”
“Wendy.” Nell’s clenched teeth made her plea to shut up, louder than she meant. The last thing she wanted was Hank, of all people to laugh at her. “Please don’t.”
“Now I have to know.” Hank chuckled.
“She and Barry from accounting went to Point Garrison beach yesterday. Apparently it has an amazing view.” Wendy waggled her eyebrows.
Nell’s cheeks drained of all colour as he smiled broadly, understanding that he was the view.

My advice about Chatterboxes.
Use them. Make them make your story tantalizing or spice up a dull storyline. Someone spilling the proverbial beans can start a good conflict. I like to use it as an opportunity to let someone behave outside their comfort zone.

-Sheryl

 

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Cake