The Little Details

As I make my way through my second edit between living my life, I’ve noticed something is missing.

The little details.

I’m missing the little details. I have people dressed but in what? I have people entering a room but it’s empty. I have people in a car that was never described and dancing to music that isn’t acknowledged.

This is a bad thing, but it’s expected. When I write my original draft, I tend to skip the little details in favor of writing the story. My fingers fly across the keyboard and because they can’t keep up with what I want to say, the little details are left out. This isn’t always the case but it does happen. There will be naysayers out there that say “if you can’t write it properly the first time you’re not a good writer.”  Boo to them. Naysayers will do anything to bring me down and I don’t care what they say.

This book is so much fun and it’s very fast-paced. It happens in under two weeks. Because of the pace and excitement level, I did skip a lot of little details.

I don’t see this as a problem, now I have the opportunity to go back and fix what’s missing with a calm mind.

For example:

Original:

I rushed to get dressed and ran down the stairs to the busy street. I skipped my morning coffee. I would get one from the franchise near the office.

I hurriedly walked the six blocks north and dodged people too busy to care that they were in my way.

This needs some work. Now you don’t know the character or why she’s rushing, that’s not important for this example. Because word count is of little concern this time around, I can embellish without worry.

Corrected:

There was no thought to the grey pencil skirt I slipped over my hips nor the powder blue blouse I fumbled to button. I tore a pair of stockings in my haste and cursed until I had my blue flats on my feet.

After nearly tripping down my apartment stairs out to the busy street, I elected to skip my usual morning coffee from the little shop across the street. I needed to get to the office six blocks north. The sunny morning was an exercise in dodging people too busy to care that they were in my way.

Now she’s wearing specific clothes because this story is fast paced I try to keep track of what each character is wearing by having a day summary for each day in the story.

When putting in details like skipping the coffee, it’s an opportunity to set the mood for later or a moment when she might go to get one elsewhere. When editing it is easy to put in small details that can have a big impact. They are foreshadow’s on a small scale.

Finding the missed details can be a challenge, I’ll often have others read my story and let me know when they can’t imagine what a character’s wearing or doing or where they are exactly.

My advice about little details.
Fit them in without listing them off, have the character interact with the object or space you’re describing. Whether you put them in from the start or later when you edit, don’t forget to mention what kind of coffee someone is sipping.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Other posts about details

Details, details, details

She’s a person not a cake

Dancing

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

Lost in Μετάφραση

Writing alternate languages within a story can be tricky for many reasons. One, I never assume the reader knows what is being said and two, I never assume that the reader will bother to look it up and translate it.

Therefore if I use alternate languages in dialogue that I myself am not fluent in, (And I do) I follow these simple rules I set up for myself.

– I have another character translate
– I have narration translate (This is awkward to write and read IMO because it still
leaves the characters not knowing what was said)
– I have the speaker translate after speaking their native tongue
– I never translate and have someone comment on the rudeness of the speaker OR I
leave it mysterious if it fits into the scene
– I make sure body language, expression and action translate for me (This one is fun
and challenging to do)
– If both or all characters in the scene speak… say Spanish I might narrate that they
are speaking Spanish, put the dialogue in English and change the font to italic.

There are points in my books where a character who doesn’t or won’t speak English. There is always a purpose for it story wise and for my purposes it’s necessary for character development.

There are plenty of online translation tools out there, but how accurate are they? For fun if you go to one of them type in a simple sentence. Translate to another language then another and another then back to English and sometimes what you get is hilarious or illegible… so sometimes yes and sometimes no for accuracy.

(This example has not been edited/proofed by anyone who speaks/reads/writes Italian)

Valery rolled her eyes at Anne’s juicy work gossip. “I think you should quit and find a better job. That place is toxic.”
“Ogni sciocco vuole dare consigli.” Tony said under his breath reaching for his coffee. 
“Seriously?” Valery glared at Anne’s boyfriend.
“He said Every fool wants to give advice.” Anne elbowed Tony. “Don’t be rude.”
“Since when do you speak Italian?” Valery looked across the small diner table at Anne.
“Since I’ve been teaching her. Want to learn?” Tony said with a sly grin. “Sei bella e arroganteo.”
Valery crossed her arms. “And what pray-tel does that mean?”
Tony just smiled and sipped his coffee. 
Anne shook her head and chuckled, “He thinks your beautiful and arrogant.”
Valery grinned. “Spot on Tony.”

I do have french, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Latin in my stories. For now I’ve used multiple translation services to make sure they say what I want them to. Before I finish editing will fully intend on having someone who reads, writes and speaks those languages proofread them for me.

My advice about foreign language in writing.
Be careful and seek assistance if using a language you are not fluent in, otherwise what you meant to say could be lost in Lost in Μετάφραση (Lost in translation) 

-Sheryl

Other posts about dialogue

Conver(Conversation)sation

Conversing is easy…not!

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Translate
Juicy

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

What a view I have!

Point of View. This is a topic of great conversation. I have brushed on it multiple times in many blogs, but have not dived into it just yet. The point of view is the view or voice that the story’s narration is written.

When I write, I work hard to either stay in one POV or edit it back to one POV. BiaAtlas actually has two character POV. It started with three, but that was too much so I made it two. Honestly I’m happy with that and I still had a small sample of a third POV that I couldn’t quite get out completely. This is okay because I kept them separate from the others.

There are four types of POV writing, first, second, third – limited and third-omniscient. I will explain each but to give them proper attention and not have a mile long post, I’ll tackle one at a time.

Let’s talk about first person. First person writing is identified by the use of the pronouns I, My and Me.  (I see often when people mix first person and third, it’s a bit hard to digest.) From what I’ve seen first person is a go to for romance and erotica, likely because they involve a lot of feelings, characters inner thoughts and emotions. There are a lot of books written in first that are young adult and quite popular, they follow one character only and from their point of view they experience it all. Nothing can ever happen away from the main character when this is the View choice.

There was one horribly popular/famous “romance/erotica” series that I really wanted to like but couldn’t because of the lack of… a lot. Because of the limited POV anything exciting or interesting that happened had to be witnessed by the character. Nothing too interesting did, it was a lot of people telling the main character stories about what happened. Ugh… doooo something main character, be interesting.

Anyway I digress. First person writing can be liberating without having to worry about the show not tell rule when writing… um no, wait that still applies. It is tempting when writing in first to constantly tell. Now my writing is not in first person, but I’ll adapt a bit for this example.

I sat there in the dark counting my inhales and exhales. To say it was all I could do would be accurate. There was no light, no sound and nothing more than smooth cold floors and unforgiving walls. Well there was a door. The damned door with no handle, window or anything tangible. I left fear behind hours ago, well it seemed like hours ago. It could be minutes or even days for all I know. Go on the blind date they said, it will be fun they said. Sure if being locked in a light free room is fun. I suppose that counts. 

When the door opened I closed my eyes, resisting the instinct to look. I opened them slowly to adjust to the blaring beam of light.
“Get up.” Marko the abductor commanded. 
Gladly I thought. What Marko the asshole doesn’t know, might actually kill him. I shuffled to my feet looking as unimposing as possible. My shoulders taught and jaw clenched. He’d drugged me to get me here, it would be the only way. I was going home, unless he has a gun. I looked. No gun.
“Let’s go Brenda, I have a surprise for you.”
Oh I bet you do. I shuffled toward the door. The second I got close enough I reeled my right arm back, and slammed his head into the wall as hard as my five three frame would allow. It was enough. Marko slid to the floor after the sickening thud of his head on the door frame.
“Right.” I looked down at him.”Moron I’m special forces.” I pulled him into the room and closed the door behind me. Now to find a phone and call the police. 

Oh. That perspective is fun to write. I’ve never written in first, other than my blog posts. I feel like there is a possibility here to discover. I think I may have to give it some serious contemplation for my new book series I’ve been brainstorming about. In first person I have access to emotions, thoughts and the protagonist’s perspective. It was kind of like writing my thoughts, how I would think, behave, feel and act in a situation. Huh.

My advice about first person writing. 
If you do this, be consistent. Stay in the perspective of your main and if you divide between two, separate them by chapters to keep the readers from getting confused.  Oh and don’t forget to still show emotions.

-Sheryl

Other posts I’ve written that other’s like;

Time to flip the switch

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Discover

What exactly did cupid do?

Conversation is necessary, it moves the story along. In one little conversation, I try to expose a little back story, a bit of character/persona show, and some allusion to back story and of course a little foreshadowing. I pack in as much as I can to make it worth writing in the first place.

If the conversation doesn’t have a point the reader will know. It will also drag the story down.  Each conversation should have a purpose, a reason for existing. Stiff conversation usually tells me I’m missing the human factor or emotion people exhibit when talking. If I read it aloud and it sounds like they are sitting stiff like Barbie and Ken then it needs a little smoothing out, relaxing of the sentences if you will. It also means I’m probably using filter words and too many dialog tags.

Let’s take a peek at the rough draft:

“Are you serious?” Val asked shocked and set her cup down.
“I am serious it maddening.” Anne replied sadly, “I like him, he likes me but nothing happens beyond kissing and cuddling.” Anne pouted. “Nothing.” 
“What is wrong with him?” Val asked.
“When I asked him about it do you know what he said to me?”
“What did he say to you?” Val asked and leaned closer. 
“He said he wants me to fall in love with him first because I am worth more than just lusty sex.”
“Aww Anne, that is so romantic.”
“I know,” Anne replied with disgust.
“So?”
“Well, if he walked away or I found out he is married or something, I would be heartbroken.”
“Oh. I understand.”
“Val, I swore I would not fall in love. I like being single and free. But he is just so perfect.”
“Is he too perfect Anne?”
“We do argue. He works too much. He bites his hangnails, slurps soup.”
“So cupid shot you with his arrow. Why can’t Tony see that?”
“I think it is too soon and you know I cannot say I love you to him.”

Blech, gag, and yawn. Oh boy.  SO if that was a first or rough draft of a conversation I would definitely need to soften that up, relax it and take the starch out. Oh and oops I have too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show’ going on. This always happens in my first attempt.

Revise time…

“You’re serious?” Val covered her mouth and set down her now empty paper coffee cup.
“Deadly.” Anne shook her head. “Nothing. He’s so sweet and hot and he kisses like nobody I’ve ever kissed before. There is too much chemistry yet…” Anne shrugged. “Nothing.” 
“What’s wrong with him?” Val waved her hands dismissing her question. ” Sorry, I mean…” 
Anne chuckled. “When I posted about it do you know what he said?”
“What?” Val leaned closer. 
Anne mocked Tony’s voice. “I want you to fall in love with me first.” Anne rolled her eyes. “I swear word for word, then he said because you’re worth more than just lusty sex.”
Val stomped her feet and clapped her hands quickly and lightly. “That is stupid kinds of romantic.”
“Ugh, I know.” Anne feigned disgust.
“So?”
Anne looked at her hands. “If only he knew. If he walked away or I found out he’s married or something, I’d be devastated.”
“Oh.” Val patted Anne’s hand. “You’re in deep aren’t you?”
Sighing heavily Anne nodded. “I swore I wouldn’t ever. But he’s just so perfect.”
“Too perfect?” Val grimaced.
“We argue. he’s annoying and works too much. He has the worst habit of biting his hangnails and slurps his soup. Oh and he puts his feet on the coffee table.”
“Yup. So how doesn’t Tony know cupid shot the crap out of you?”
Anne shrugged. “It’s too soon and I can’t say the words, so if that’s what he’s waiting for we’re doomed.”

I may be tooting my own horn, but I think that revision went well and reads better. The moment was experienced, not shoved down the reader’s throat. I think it’s important to really take a look at conversation and make sure it does more than babble. Anne has trouble with the word love and is reluctantly romantic, Val is a full on romantic and Tony is likable and charming.  That was fun to write and then revise.

My advice about cupids actions in writing.
Awww… everyone loves a little love, so long as the scene or conversation allows the reader to feel the jab of the arrow and live the moment not want to skip over it because it missed the target completely.

-Sheryl

Other posts

It’s a love hate sort of thing

KISS your writing

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Maddening

Lust

Tenderizing moments

Tenderizing moments. It’s not as easy as people think. I know if I’m not careful it can fall flat or cause serious eye rolling. Over the top smoochy rose petal laden sappy drippy drivel can quickly turn a good story into a giant cheese ball of corny.  I’m not talking about a romantic encounter or a well planned romantic rendezvous, I’m talking about a small moment of tenderness that shows the reader the extent of the love two people feel.  Show not tell. That is most important. Its super easy to say; “She felt warm and loved.” Or “her heart beat faster at the sight of him.” or even “Her heart swelled with love.” I prefer not to use the word love or any of it’s synonyms, I’d rather show it. Whether it’s romance or the love of friendship, family or siblings. A sweet moment should be simple and unique to the couple in it.

Adding flowery verses and overly proper dialogue can water-down the sentiment, because the reader is too busy trying to sort through the excess. Descriptions should match the emotions without too much clutter.

Tony turned the television off and looked at Anne’s peaceful face. Her lashes flickered in her sleep.  He reached over and brushed his thumb over her cheek. Her eyes fluttered and she opened them slowly, a soft smile curling her lips.
“I fell asleep.” She near whispered.
He kissed her forehead. “I have to go.” His warm voice fell over her like the fuzzy blanket she held close. 
“I wish you could stay.” She blinked slowly at him. 
A wish he himself had. Anne was warmth and comfort, he was about to head out to the opposite of that. “Would that I could Anne.” He brushed his lips over hers and pressed gently. Her warm exhale the invitation to continue. She had a generous kindness that he suspected stemmed from someone or someones being truly unkind to her in the past. Her delicate lips opened to his and he lost a moment in her welcome. He smiled as she opened her eyes again. 
“Goodnight. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow.” She nodded as he went to put his jacket and shoes on. 

Valery picked at the rim of her paper coffee cup. The crease in her brow matched the pout of her lips. 
“Hey you.” Anne sat beside her friend at the booth. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m worried about Sash.” Valery nudged the half empty cup away.
Anne nodded. “Yeah it can’t be coincidence she disappears and that Crowen creep makes headlines.”
Valery leaned her head on Anne’s shoulder. “The police finally said she’s in protective custody or whatever they called it and she’s safe.”
Anne put her arm around Valery as she sighed. “I doubt they realize the folly of their ways by saying protective custody just makes us worry more.”
“Right?” Valery sat up. “Saying it means she’s in definite danger.”
Anne closed her eyes a moment. “And we can’t do a thing to help her.”
Valery put her hands over Anne’s. “No we can’t.”

The warm and fuzzies, a moment of love and understanding. I try not to dwell on them or make them too long simply to preserve the believability. Moments like these are best read aloud to ensure they are real and touching.

My advice about writing tender moments.
Keep it simple and avoid filter words that tell the moment instead of showing. Strong and passionate emotions should be felt by the reader not understood.

-Sheryl

Other posts

The world is your tainted oyster

Ow! That hurt!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
 Folly
Blanket

Aftermath and consequences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t want to.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Great. So why not use me as bait?”

“No way. He’ll up the ante now.”

“Why doesn’t he just give up?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Drop it.” She held her breath. 

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

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

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

Her mouth fell open. “You are a pig.”

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

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

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

“What’s going on?”

“Relax Sasha. No smoke no fire.”

“Baylor?”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“We should leave.”

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

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

-Sheryl

Other posts

Switch it up, and swap it out.

Desperately procrastinating

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Faded

Bacon, Banter and Coffee

Conversation is a multi layered beast. It can change with the wind, the tone can be misunderstood and feelings altered because of it. Small talk is generic and often dreaded. When people talk in a story it should have meaning, it should have a point and a direction. Whether it’s establishing backstory, character development, relationship development, it should have a place in the story. If it’s put there as filler, the reader isn’t dumb, and will know. I love good Banter, fun dialogue that brings out a characters nuances, hints toward an end goal and show’s us a little about who they are. Banter is easier done once the characters main attributes and position within the story have been set. Why? Because banter is often a friendly exchange, with humor, or even sexual tension depending on who is conversing. A history between the characters is necessary, it doesn’t have to be much, but enough that they can joke or make light of something common.

I just love when I’m reading a book and the characters slip into banter style conversation. It makes me as the reader feel closer to the characters. I become invested and I become interested. Too much drama, tension, or emotionally charged conversation can smack of melodrama. Eye rolling glorious melodrama.

After Sasha’s chaotic evening and past weeks she’s due for a little banter.

Sasha woke to the smell of bacon and coffee. The abnormally comfortable bed cocooned her in warmth.

“I’m not on vacation.” She whispered the words wide-eyed as it all came back. With a hand to her aching head, she slowly moved her sore stiff body from the bed.  She grabbed the soft white hotel robe and covered up. Whomever went through her belongings only packed light nightwear. Nothing practical. It should bother her that someone riffled through her home to bring her things, but it didn’t. She looked at the splay of clothes on the other side of the massive bed. At least there were jeans, some fitted long sleeve shirts and a couple soft sweaters.

“Morning.” Cal didn’t look up from the paper as she padded barefoot to the table. “Hope you like more than fruit with horse food and ruined milk. I already ate.”

“Yogurt is improved milk.” She smiled at the two Ibuprofen tablets beside the plate and sat. “I sometimes treat myself, I think I’ve earned some cholesterol and salt with a side of carbs and grease.”

“I did order you plant matter as well.” He smiled when she snickered.

The article was nonspecific. Sasha’s name was still out of the story but Baylor was now headline news. For now the information, surrounding the case was contained. It couldn’t stay that way for long. He was on baby sitting duty because his superiors caught wind of his history with Baylor.

“So am I news yet?” She bit into the toast and looked at it. Real butter. “Mmm.”

“Not yet thankfully.”

“I wish it would be never.”

“We’ll do what I can. For now you’re stuck here with me.”

“As in all day?”

He turned the page slowly. “As in all day.”

She chewed the fried sausage slowly. She was being rude and knew it. It was partly because he hit on her at the bar on the anniversary of the worst day of her life. It was also because she liked him, was attracted to him and didn’t want to be. Mostly it was because Baylor had soured her mood and tainted her home. Again. Last night had been too much. Everyone was picking at her or asking her to go outside her comfort zone. A zone, she was being told too often lately, was a bit too small.

“I have work to do, I can do it here, but I should call Val and Anne and let them know I’m on an impromptu vacay.”

“Will they buy it?”

“I was chatting with Val yesterday about getting away for a few days. I didn’t say where, she knows about Baylor after the bar and the bail thingy.”

“Staying home isn’t getting away.” He folded the paper and set it on the table finally looking at her directly.

“It is for me.” She looked down at the empty plate. “Guess I was hungry.”

“You probably skipped supper and likely ate grass for lunch. Not to mention that much stress will make you hungry.”

She laughed.

Cal’s head tilted to the side. “What?”

“There was wheat grass in my salad at lunch.”

They both laughed. He pulled out his phone and held it out. “Untraceable and blocked. Two calls.”

She took it with a sneer. “Protective custody. More like Jail for the innocent; except lucky me gets two whole calls.”

“You broke a few laws yesterday, I see no one innocent here.”

“You’re a regular funny guy.” She stomped off to her temporary bedroom. At least her prison was four and a half stars. The door wouldn’t slam, it had a safety slow close. She scrunched her face when she heard Cal’s boisterous laugh behind her. “Jerk.”

In this, I wanted to portray that Sasha is sarcastic and health conscious, Cal is practical and nurturing. While upset about what happened Sasha is aware she is taking it out on a patient Cal. Much of their banter wouldn’t work if they hadn’t had some time together already.

My advice about Banter.
Know your characters and how they interact together (Not everyone is equal in reaction/action). Make sure to keep in mind where you eventually want them to end up. Nothing can lighten a story after a violent storm than some sunny friendly banter.

-Sheryl

Other fun posts

Silliness and seriousness

Ghosts that write stories

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Chaotic

Moving along…

Even I need a break from time to time, that doesn’t mean I’m not busy doing many other things while not writing a specific blog advice piece. The story of Sasha and Cal is progressing and evolving along with my blog post examples. So the following is another chapter from Cal and Sasha’s story. Following on the heels of the last few posts, I wanted to move the story along to get back to some more examples, advice and tidbits. Here is a brief recap. Sasha was attacked by Baylor in her home. Cal Saved her, he’s a cop. Work has been hell for Sasha, she’s being bullied by her co-worker Amber. Scott, another co-worker, has been attempting to date her while his true colours leak out.

While brushing her damp hair Sasha went to the back door in her kitchen after the third knock.
“Wait, the back?” She froze, her breath caught in her throat as the strangeness finally sunk in.
“Sasha I know your home, I can see you. It’s detective Thorn, I’m here on business.”
Shaking her head, she looked through the thin veil of a curtain covering the window. It was Cal and he had coffee. She could use a coffee after tossing and turning all night. She opened the door and stepped aside.
“Come in Detective. Leave your shoes on, the linoleum is old.”
“Do try to not look so miserable to see me.”
“I make no promises Detective. You said it was business. Why didn’t you just call?” She closed the door as he sat at the small kitchen table. Solid wood and seats four, a house-warming gift from Anne. The chairs creaked and the surface was weathered. It was a true antique, not a replica.
“I brought coffee.” He handed her a tall cup. “And some things should be done in person.”
“Thanks. I suppose it would be hard to text me a coffee.” Sasha opened the lid and frowned. The remnants of the previous day still clung, dampening her mood.
“Double cream, double sugar, the way you like it.”
Her light brown eyes met his dark grey ones. “You follow me everywhere I go and show up at my back door with coffee no less, I’m trying not to be creeped out.”
He chuckled. “You had a cup in your recycling bin with DD on it and your shade of lipstick, I saw it Saturday. I also saw what you added to your coffee yesterday. I came to the back door because I didn’t want to make a scene. A blue haired woman was too interested in me.”
“Phyllis my neighbour is out walking her unnaturally slow dog right?”
“She’s just nosy.” Cal sipped his own coffee looking around the soft yellow kitchen. The old marble countertops were well cared for as were the hand carved cabinets.
“I can see why they made you a detective. So to what do I owe this… coffee.”
“I got a call.” He ran his hand over the carvings on the table edge. “Baylor Crowen is up for bail this morning.”
She choked on her coffee and nearly spit it out on the table. “Bail? Isn’t he like super bad?”
“He’s been charged yes, but lawyers are tricky bastards, his lawyer pulled some strings and the judge will be in his favor, she even moved his case to the top of the pile. The evidence was compromised and he’s claiming you invited him home and changed your mind. Since he didn’t leave a mark on you.” He looked at his coffee cup and poked at the lid.
“My word against his. That sucks.”
“Yes it does. Also he’s claiming that I entrapped him and I sort of…” Cal cleared his throat. “Hit him.”
“I noticed, and thank you for that. Will you get in trouble?”
He half shrugged. “Maybe. Don’t worry about it.”
She tapped her finer on the side of her paper cup refusing to look at the large attractive man at her kitchen table. His piercing grey eyes staring and waiting for her to respond or react. “What is the point of having police if the criminals are just let go anyway?”
“The state of the system is not the police departments doing. I’d like you to come to the station to fill out a more specific restraining order before the hearing.”
“It takes over thirty minutes for police to show up for a domestic disturbance, two hours sometimes. How does a piece of paper protect me exactly?”
Cal smiled at her wit. “If he breaks the conditions he’ll go back to jail.”
“Back.” She sighed. “So assuming he wants to pay me a visit, who’s to say he won’t just bring a gun to a paper cut fight?”
He chuckled despite the seriousness of the situation. “At most it will make him hesitate or scare him off. He’ll be watched and more careful.”
“Ooh he’ll be more careful.” She rolled her eyes. “That’s a relief. So Mr. Bash, slash n dash will just be sneakier and plan instead of employing his usual spontaneity.”
Cal covered his laugh this time and she smirked at him. “I’m sorry detective, I make jokes when I’m nervous and I know they’re tasteless.”
“Nervous huh?” He smiled slyly. “And you can call me Cal.”
“Yes, I’m nervous, upset, whatever. There is a crazy man who goes around beating and cutting women’s faces to pulp who wants to finish what he started with me and he’s going to be free to do so.”
“Let’s go get some real breakfast, talk and head over to the station.”
She ran her fingers through her damp hair. “Okay. Let me call Va, ah my supervisor and.” She tilted her head. “Why are you here and not a normal officer?”
“I don’t live far and since I.” He stopped at her arm crossing and her lowered chin. “I’m invested.”
“Invested?”
He cleared his throat. “I’ve been chasing this guy for months, with no links to any evidence and him being careful…”
“You really did use me that night.”
“No. I was off duty at Starches with some non-force buddies. I spoke with  you before I saw Crowen there.”
She pursed her lips. “Why me? I saw the pictures of the other girls on the news, Valery is more his type.”
“My guess.” He said standing. “Is you snubbed him.”
“I didn’t snub him. I’m just not interested in dating anyone.”
“That was made painfully obvious. Even if it’s not true.”
“I go on dates if I have to, but I don’t date. There’s a difference.”
“A date is dating Sasha. Even that chump player thought so.”
“Look Detective, I don’t need.” She stopped. What could she say; he caught her on a date with Scott. “Give me ten minutes.” She set her empty paper cup in the vintage copper farmhouse sink and went upstairs to call work and put on some makeup.
She learned the five-minute makeup routine years ago and her complexion didn’t require more than a thin application of foundation. Today was already turning out worse than yesterday. The least she could do for herself was to primp and look good in her fear addled misery.
Cal looked at his watch when she came back nine minutes later. “Huh.”
“Don’t get all sexist Detective Thorn. I said ten and meant it. Nine is only because my supervisor was busy and didn’t have time to ask why.” She grabbed her purse and car keys.
“I’ll drive.” Cal opened the door.
“Yes you will. I have work to do this afternoon, Baylor Crowen or no, so I’ll follow in my own car. Unless I’m under arrest that is.”
“Not yet.” He smiled and went to his car as she locked up her house.

My advice today.
If you let the story take you on the journey the readers will gladly go too. I’ll get back to the usual post style next time.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

Setting the mood

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Primp