“Make it blue.” – “No. It stays green.”

Nothing spices up a good character interaction like a little disagreement. Conflict in the obvious can be instrumental. For example, the first sentence I wrote was a disagreement. “No Joe, I don’t believe in superheroes.”  In one sentence, I established a contrast in opinion between two people. The conversation goes on and is the introduction to the story and the speaker’s journey.

A well-done argument is not always easy to do. Especially if the subject matter is a personal point to be proven by the writer. To be convincing they will have to be able to see the other side of the argument. To be able to portray the conflict evenly. Perhaps they come to agreement, perhaps not. Realistically people are not as bending as you might think. The stodgy set in their ways true believer is not going to come around in one conversation. When I create a disagreement, it is like a mini story in its own. Whether it is resolved within the conversation or throughout the story doesn’t matter. It needs to have a reason and resolution. That doesn’t mean one side is vindicated, it could mean it results in a divide between friends or allies. It could lead to them becoming enemies or better friends. For every great conflict, one side is right and one side is wrong in the eyes of the beholder. It’s all about perspective.

Debating is a great way to get a good grasp on how to see things from the other side. If I want to pick a fight or argue intelligently, I take the time to research what I’m opposed to. I prepare to fight for what I’m against. It is interesting and fun.

Silly or serious. Good or bad, disagreements give characters depth, a glimpse into their personality.

There are subjects I don’t touch such as real politics (including war), religion and the judicial system. They are in the hot topic category and unless that is what my book is about, I don’t like to make them a point of heated contention between characters. This can alienate a reader if I’m one sided, if I can’t be objective I leave it be. I’m writing to entertain not bludgeon my readers with my opinions or beliefs.

I’ll start by listing the pros and cons of the subject matter so I can give both sides proper ammunition. I’m careful not to make it about personal tastes and more about beliefs.  Fighting over cream in coffee is petty and unless it is key to the story or character development, it’s not interesting.

Sasha tilted her head and cracked her neck. She worked for hours on this layout and green was the best option. It suited the product, the point and looked awesome. “I’m not changing it.”
“It should be blue.” Valery crossed her arms. “The soap is yellow; green just makes it look ill.”
Sasha put her hands on her hips met Valery’s eyes. “Soap can’t look ill.”
“Make it blue. I like blue better.”
“No. I like green it’s staying green.”
Valery tilted her head. “Do both, let the client decide.”
“No” Sasha shook her head. “It stays green end of story.”
“Fine, you’re on your own with this one Sasha. Good luck.” Valery stormed out of the office attempting to slam the door. It eased closed. The boss installed the hydraulic door closers after he got tired of the hot tempers of his staff. Sasha looked at the screen after her friend was gone. It looked fine in green.

That was a generic argument with little substance, reason or resolution. They are bickering like children who just want it their way. How about a little backup for Valery and a reason for Sasha.

Sasha tilted her head and cracked her neck. She worked for hours on this layout and green was the best option and she loved green. It’s what the client wanted, it suited the product, the point and looked awesome. “I’m not changing it.”
“The background should be blue.” Valery crossed her arms. “The soap is yellow, green just makes it look ill.”
Sasha put her hands on her hips met Valery’s eyes. “Soap cant look ill.”
“Blue is a contrasting colour. It will draw the focus to the product first then the words.”
“No. I like green. It’s staying green.” Sasha looked at the screen. The words were the first thing you noticed, that was what she intended.
“Sasha, I love the style, layout and the font is perfect, but the attention is the soap, not the slogan. One change, just the colour.” Valery tilted her head. “Do both, let the client decide.”
“No, it’s staying green end of story.”
“It will be the end of the account fi you can’t be flexible. Do both.”
“I like the green, I like that the slogan comes first. That was the point they are rebranding not selling the same thing over again.”
“They are selling the same old thing. Your job is to make it more noticeable, fresh and new even though it’s not. Green is what they did before, that is just a darker shade of the same thing that didn’t work.”
It was a risk to use blue, the client asked for green; Sasha was giving them what they wanted. “It stays green.”
“Fine have it your way. You’re on your own with this one Sasha. Good luck.” Valery stormed out of the office attempting to slam the door. It eased closed. The boss installed the hydraulic door closers after he got tired of the hot tempers of his staff.
Sasha looked at the screen after her friend was gone and reached for the mouse. “What would it look like in blue?”

The point of this conflict was to open Sasha’s eyes to being flexible and taking chances. Her character development grows fast from here. By taking a risk and going against the grain, she finds her flair and confidence for thinking outside the box. Her friend Valery always saw Sasha’s potential so pushed her.

Conflict doesn’t have to be controversial or in your face yelling. It can be subtle too.

Cal clenched his jaw as he watched Gael count the cash and tuck it into the little black folder.
Gael stood grabbed his jacket and turned to Cal. “You’re turn next week.”
“Next week.” Cal shook Gaels hand and smiled as he walked away. Turning back to the table he slipped ten dollars into the folder to cover the tip. “Cheap bastard.” Cal nuttered as he left.

This could be left as is, or it could come up later as crappy karma for Gael or even good karma for Cal. They might end up in a heated argument and Cal might toss this thrifty selfishness as ammunition for something greater. Bottom line Gael is cheap and thoughtless for the server who worked hard. Cal being the too honest detective, couldn’t just leave it be. Subtle tension or conflict of interest is my favorite way of building up to a fall out or fight.

My advice about conflict
Subtle or explosive it should have an impact and a point to the story or characters.

-Sheryl

Oops! What did I just say?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Disagree
Yellow

What to do?

I love a good dilemma. The moment in a story when a character must choose between two impossible choices. It is in that when I really dig in. I have my own opinion formed because the writer has brought me to this point along with the character. What will they do? I must know.

This is what every author wants from a reader. Sitting on the edge of their seat, holding their breath as their eyes skim the words and tensing from anticipation. Because when this happens, magic happens. The reader is invested they have become part of the story and the story part of them. They may cheer because the character chose wisely or cry out “No!” because they went against the readers idea. Either way it works, it makes them read on, it solidifies the moment in their memory because it was charged up. Now they are going to go tell their friends. “You have to read this.” At least this is what happens when I read a book.

Sasha sat facing her boss. Mr. Clifton. A beady-eyed man who had never spoken more than twenty words to her in six years. A man who fired people on a whim all because he can. He was the owner and he liked to strike terror into his staff. He owned an advertising and design company and had no clue which end of a paintbrush to use. For Sasha it was an insult.

“Miss Parsons.” He picked up a small folder from his desktop. “I was told you caused quite a stir yesterday changing out the ad layout last minute.”

“I did sir. I felt it was.” She stopped at his swiftly raised hand.

“No need. That little stunt gained us their full account. Instead of one layout they want five on all media platforms.”

Sasha swallowed hard. That was unheard of. All that over her idea?

“Take this.” He held the folder out to her. “I want you to do a private project for me. One that you cannot share or talk to anyone about. No one.”

Her stomach jumped. The folder. The preverbal pink-slip. Every time someone worked on a hush hush project for Clifton, they disappeared. It was the big office rumor and scary story. The mystery that made them all walk on eggshells. This didn’t make sense. She was a dammed good artist. She worked hard and has made this company a lot of money.  She took it with her shaking hand and opened it. Six pages. All simple images, all but one were common items.

“They are numbered, they must all be used in order and the last is to be subliminal.”

She looked up suddenly. “But that’s restricted border line illigal we can’t do that.”

“Cant? That’s not for you to decide young lady. I need someone talented to pull this off. I think you are the one. So here are your choices. Do this project in secret and make sure it is good.” He leaned forward. “And I might consider you for Wilber Marks position. Corner office, name on the door and your own department to run. Refuse and well.” He shrugged. “Go on, go work your magic.” He dismissed her with a waive of his hand.

She got up and walked out numbly, folder in hand. Wilber was retiring and she desperately wanted his job. She wasn’t the only one. She looked at the pictures again. The message being conveyed was clearly something illegal and the method questionable. That it was to be secret made her conscience bang around in her head. “But Wilber’s office…” She walked back to her small windowless office and closed the door. “Six years is a lot to throw away.” Sasha frowned at the pictures. “Do something illegal, get a promotion and a fat raise or quit.” She sat back and chewed her lip. She couldn’t afford to quit her job, it took forever to get this one and nobody is hiring that she knew of. Competition is fierce.

She stared at the images. This was a decision she had to make on her own or she would lose the option to decide. She wouldn’t risk Valery’s input lest he fire her too.

“What do I do?” She rubbed her temples. “Sell my soul and move into the corner office or foreclose on my mortgage and move into my parents basement?”

What she decides isn’t what you think. It took me a bit to decide what to do(The writers dilemma) and it ends up being a huge turn in the plot. I sat there and thought about what would happen with each choice. Then I thought what would the reader expect a good honest person, but in a tight financial situation to do? I chose to do what is unexpected not what the reader expects. This is the point where her life is about to be completely turned on its head. The dilemma acts as a catalyst for everything that happens to her from this point on. FYI This isn’t from BiaAtlas. This story started with a blog post. It has since turned into a side project.

My advice about dilemmas.
Take advantage of an opportunity to make characters decide their fate. Decisions like these happen for real and are relatable. Who doesn’t love a good tense moment of “What to do?”

-Sheryl

Other posts:

Oops! What did I just say?

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Dilemma

The joy of pretend world

When my son plays with his toys, like Lego, dinosaurs, hot-wheels or whatever he chooses. He is lost and submerged in his pretend world. Happy carefree and having fun.

It is fascinating to watch. Most children’s shows, movies and books are based off of the imaginary world they so easily dive into. They are written by adults who can successfully still access the mysterious world of child’s play. I envy this play this ability to create entire worlds in their heads and become part of them.

Wait, isn’t that what I do? Yes, yes it is. When I sit and write, my pretend world is a little more grown up, but it is still an imaginary place. It’s mine and its a crazy wild and wonderful world. So when I look at my son and he comes up with fantastical scenarios that only he can see, I smile realizing I do the same thing. Only I write mine down instead of acting it out. I play the story in my head I move the characters and change their environments at my whim.

Every aspect of my book is my doing. From the people, their clothes, what they eat and do. To how they act, behave, their history present and future. Their love lives or lack of, their tendency toward good or evil. The worlds in which they live interact and move through. Ever little single thing is created in the creative corner of my mind, the play-center of my adult life.

My pretend worlds bring me great joy and I am so happy to know that I’m still a kid at heart. I haven’t forgotten how to create pretend worlds they are just different. Now I can share my imagination with others and when I read a book I know I’m sharing in someone else’s pretend world playtime.

My advice about pretend world.
If you write fiction, you’re a big kid like it or not. Welcome to the club, love it, embrace it and don’t forget to play well with others. 😉

-Sheryl

Earlier posts

Silliness and seriousness

Eyes that carry worlds

That sounds complicated

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Pretend
Center
Imaginary

Hey! Its’ Interjection

When I’m writing conversation I try to make it flow and express emotion the situation clearly. Conversation is not meant to be filler, nor should it ever be. It must be part of the story, what keeps it moving forward while developing characters and their relationships.

I have learned that a simple statement can be read out of context very easily(I’ve experienced this). The reader isn’t necessarily on the same page as I am, and cant possibly be on the same page if I don’t make my writing and intent clear. This leaves the reader to jump to voicing conclusions and set the tone themselves. This can be influenced by their own mood. You hope that they get it right in their minds voice, that it sounds appropriate. Chances are, if you’re hoping and they’re guessing, it will be wrong. This can lead to a frustrated reader when they find out you meant something different than what they interoperated. Bad writer, now go have a time out!

One word can make all the difference. Without action tags these can still express the feeling or emotion. When I’m trying to dress up a lame statement for a night out on the conversation, I’ll try a few approaches to find the winning outfit.
One simple interjection at the beginning dramatically change the statement.
An interjection in grammar is:

1.    Any member of a class of words expressing emotion, distinguished in most languages by their use in grammatical isolation, as Hey! Oh! Ouch! Ugh!

2.    Any other word or expression so used, as Good grief! Indeed! *source: dictionary.com

I’ll start with this.
“I have so much to learn.”
Yawn… Let’s interject some style.

“Ugh! I have so much to learn.”

“Yay! I have so much to learn.”

“Oh no! I have so much to learn.”

“Damn! I have so much to learn.”

That cleared it up a bit. If I read any one of those I would give it the right tone or expression.

Now changing the tone can be as easy as changing the action tag. Like swapping flats for heels. Or a suit for a tuxedo.

Dressed to under-impress:
“Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha opened the door.
Sweatpants and t-shirt effort. Lame. How did she open the door? What was she doing? What tone did she have in her voice? How can I expect a reader to know what’s in my head? Back to the dressing room we go. Let’s try it with an action tag then with the tag and the added word.

Frustration or impatience
“Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha tilted her head back rolling her eyes to the ceiling as she opened the door.
“Ugh! Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha tilted her head back rolling her eyes to the ceiling as she opened the door.

Excitement
“Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha grinned as she opened the door.
“Yay! Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha grinned as she opened the door.

Urgency
Sasha glanced at her watch. “Come on, it’s time to go.” She opened the door quickly.
Sasha glanced at her watch. “Oh no! Come on, it’s time to go.” She opened the door quickly.

Annoyance
“Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha furrowed her brow as she opened the door.
“Damn! Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha furrowed her brow as she opened the door.

Anger
“Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha stomped her foot as she opened the door.
“Argh! Come on, it’s time to go.” Sasha stomped her foot as she opened the door.

I try to make each sentence or statement count. I may not succeed but if I address most of them I happy.

My advice about Interjections
I generally use them sparingly because they often come with the mighty over used exclamation point. If the situation is intense or needs a strong reaction, try them. Don’t forget  to try an action tag.

-Sheryl

Related posts worth checking out:
Unidentified Fervent Outburst!

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Jump

Hold your tongue!

I’ve talked about blabbermouths and chatty people in Shut your cakehole. I’ve discussed keeping dialogue out of scenes for logical reasons in Shhh don’t say a word. There are times when I feel dialog needs to be left out to make a point or establish a characters frame of mind.

When it comes to people, there are those that are quieter than others are. They speak less frequently and often only contribute when there is something important or witty to say. These are the characters that impart wisdom and random insights that can stun others, change the direction of the story or even provide a key observation to move the plot forward. There are also those that for extenuating circumstances clam up and have little or nothing to say.

For these people I will write them in a conversation by an appropriate action. Especially if the conversation is contrary to their personality. If the conversation is annoying to them I might have them roll their eyes, then have a chatty chipper person call them out only to respond with a mere shrug.

“I can’t believe that happened!” Valery raised her hand to cover a giggle.
Anne leaned closer to Sasha and Valery. “I know right?”
“Of all people, he flirts with Sash.” Valery grinned at her frowning friend. “You little minx you.”
“For someone dressed for Sunday school you sure are getting a lot of attention tonight.” Anne glanced at the handsome man named Balor the first of two to flirt with Sasha and downed a tequila shot. She and held one out for Sasha who waived it away.
Valery giggled again then leaned into Sasha. “That Cal guy was totally trying to get your attention, and the other one, a smidge weird, but still into you.”
Sasha rolled her eyes and glanced over at Cal. He smiled, she looked back at the shooter Anne held in front of her face and gently pushed it away.
Valery set her drink down hard on the table. “Oh common Sash, lighten up you need to move on already.”
Sasha pursed her lips, narrowed her eyes and stalked off to the restroom.
“Should we go after her?” Anne downed Sasha’s tequila shot.
“Nah.” Valery waved her hand in Sasha’s direction. “She needs a dose of reality.” “Or a good lay.” Anne burst out laughing.

 Not talking doesn’t mean Sasha is always this way, she is in an uncomfortable situation and her friends are being pushy and loud. It is a good way to show her annoyance and impatience, set the tone for her pending character development, and maybe hint at a backstory.

My advice about silence in dialogue.
It can be a very good way to bring depth to a character, or prepare them for their journey of self-discovery or change. Alternatively, it can be a good personality trait. Either way, don’t forget that not everyone has to participate in the conversation.

-Sheryl

Related Posts:

Shut your cake hole

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Silence

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

Similar Posts

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

A Hairy Subject

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Hike
Minimal

Where did it go?

I have found myself stumped more than once while on my writing journey. A stumper of a moment that stands out the most is the loss of a prominent object. Where did it go?

In chapter two, I introduce a characters vice, an object she carries with her always. Let’s say it’s a pocket knife, her security blanket and foreshadow for other conversations. All of a sudden, I realized two chapters later that the knife disappeared and was completely forgotten. Oops.

I need to write it back in, but now the story has progressed without it and I prefer that it’s gone. It was awkward and held her back.  What to do, what to do? Write it out? Change the story? I thought about it and realized it needs to stay, but clearly not for long. Then it struck me, kill the knife off like a beloved, but useless character. This could be fun.

I went back with a sly grin on my face, made a point to have another character remove it from her presence subtly. Later he presents it to her in a humorous way, both embarrassing her and making her realize just how useless it is and that she needed to let it go. By doing this I killed off the object that started off with meaning, but it’s purpose petered out. An added bonus is that it was a great way to kick-start her character development. Her journey to be less dependent on others and things now out of the gates, her race has just begun. Thanks to the ‘security blanket’ knife being let go, it also symbolized her leaving her old self behind as she leaves it behind as well.

Opportunity can knock in the most unexpected ways. A forgotten object remembered, can shift the story or characters development in a tangible way. She didn’t ever need the knife, just some confidence and a dose of reality. That I was able to make it more important to her growth as a person, while removing it from the story, was an amazing and unexpected outcome.

My advice about being stumped.
Look at the problem from another point of view, perhaps your plan or direction isn’t the only possible outcome.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Stump

Expect the unexpected… or not.

Sometimes a character or a side-stories direction can peter out. They will lose direction, interest or momentum. I like to make a side story/character impactful in some way. I generally have an idea where it will go and how it fits in and affects the main story.

What happens when it’s not meeting the mark? It’s time to recharge the story or character.

What do I do? First, I don’t let myself get discouraged. Then I take a break to come back with a fresh perspective and take a good look at the problem. Usually for me the issue is lack of action. Second, I think about what I want to accomplish and can I spice it up. This can take seconds to days or even weeks to come up with a new direction, a game changer. They can be main or subplot twists. They don’t have to be dramatic or huge, subtle works too. That can be tedious to wait for an idea from the deep recesses of my brain. I make two lists to spark inspiration. One is random things that can happen and one of random things that make no sense to the story. They can look like this.

Possible

  • Serious injury
  • car accident
  • wins money or item
  • break in
  • theft
  • finds a big clue or evidence
  • betrayal
  • falls for the wrong person
  • new adversary
  • loss of funding
  • inadvertently kills someone (maybe self-defence)
  • breaks the law
  • saves a life
  • loss of power
  • shift in management
  • new team member or co-worker
  • failed plan

Impossible

  • company suddenly shuts down
  • death of main character
  • death of support character
  • become outlaws
  • bad guys become in charge
  • asked/told/commanded to do something unethical (Great for conflict creation)
  • plans or commits murder
  • spills information or secrets to the wrong guys
  • Takes up arms against allies

I make these lists primarily to put ideas in my head. Often they will lead my mind down a path to something that makes me gasp, sit up and feel excitement. Determining what’s possible and impossible will depend on the base morals of the story and characters within. For this, I’m not worried about foreshadowing, unless it’s really big and needs a little set up. I like surprise, the random things that the reader doesn’t see coming. However I use this in moderation, if it’s a constant storm of ‘what the hell just happened!’ it can distract from the story and turn the reader off. Plot twists are great. Plot turns are fantastic, blowing it to kingdom come… probably not a great way to endear readers to you. I say this because I’ve read books where nothing was foreshadowed, big things happened all the time for no apparent reason and it was frustrating beyond reason to read.

It’s kind of fun to look at where you want it to go, and make a list of the exact opposite and think about what would happen if…

My advice about recharging a lifeless character or plot.
There are unlimited options to stir the pot and rejuvenate a character or story, my actual lists are much longer and really random.  Make some lists and keep an open mind. It’s okay to play devil’s advocate if it saves the story from becoming a Yawn-farm.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Recharge

 

Getting a little touchy feely

Feel, feeling and felt. Three destructive little filter words. These words shift perspective from the story and into the character. It’s awkward to read and leaves a reader feeling disjointed even if they aren’t aware. I don’t write in first person perspective so these words in particular can cripple a sentence fast.

What to do about them. I use them a lot when I write, it’s how I get out what needs to be said, what I need to express. It’s lazy and I’m okay with that because it won’t stay that way. I searched my manuscript and found the following incidences:

Felt 67
Feel 112
Feeling/feelings 23

Not all of them are filter word incidences. Within conversation or dialogue, they are fine or as a verb unrelated to emotions. These three are often (At least in my case) plunked into wordy sentences or super lazy ones.

For example.

Joe put the Sandwich“>sandwich together hastily. He felt the hunger pangs in his stomach. It had been ten hours since he remembered to eat last. He left the house with the printout to meet Sasha. He was excited to show her the new proof and felt certain she would believe him now. (52)

There’s a whole lot of telling going on. Let me try that again.

Finally, Joe found some undeniable proof after searching eight hours straight without even a snack. His stomach growled as he picked up the printout, his hastily made ham sandwich and ran out the door to meet Sasha. (37)

 That was better, less wordy too. Here’s a mistake I make all the time.

Joe dragged his feet along the path, feeling the course gravel scuff the soles of his shoes. (17)

There is no reason to feel through his shoes and yet I am guilty of having characters ‘feeling’ unnecessary things.

Joe dragged his feet, scuffing his shoes along the coarse gravel path. (12)

Joe is an emotional person so writing his feelings can be tricky.

Joe looked at Sasha then back to the path. He felt frustrated with her constant lack of interest in him lately. She just wouldn’t listen to reason, he was right this time and he knew it. He even had the proof in his hand to show her. He felt angry when she sighed dismissively and now he was ready to snap. (61)

In that one, I made a few oopsies. Filter words, wrong perspective, and wordiness. Instead of showing, I told his emotions.

Joe glanced at Sasha as he clenched his jaw. She was ignoring the hard evidence that he worked hard to find. She rolled her eyes when he tried to show her again. When she sighed dismissively, he clenched his fists, crumpling the precious printout. (44)

Sometimes it’s not about word count and more about beefing up empty sentences.

Feeling tired, Sasha crawled into the bath. The hot water felt divine. (12)

It’s like whiplash. In her mind, out and then back in. To fix this I would add words, it’s not always about keeping word count down. That and it was a very boring sentence. The temptation to overdo it here is strong. Before I learned to make every word count, (Haha at least I try to) and to stop double describing things, it might have looked like this.

Stifling a yawn of exhaustion, Sasha eased herself into the hot jasmine scented bath. The heat from the hot water and scent of flowers soothing her tired body. (28)

Gee, do you think the water is hot? Baths usually are duh, I’m not sure, and it’s not super clear, but she might possibly be tired. *Rolling my own eyes.

Yawning, Sasha eased into the jasmine scented bath. The heat from the water soothing her tired muscles. (17)

There much better. Only five words added from the original and it’s not hurting my brain to read it.

My advice about feelings.
Everyone has them, good or bad just make sure to keep them outside the characters body or mind. Unless you are writing in first person, show the feeling don’t tell it. he clenched his jaw (instead of) he felt frustrated.

-Sheryl

Other fun posts

Splendidly Stupid

Details, details, details

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Sandwich
Final

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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