Snoopy McSnooperson

 

As people, we are raised with certain values, behaviors that slot us into socially acceptable norms. The simple things that separate us from good and bad. Using these behaviors in characters can be rewarding both good and bad.

Simple values that we take for granted such as privacy. Having that violated can cause fantastic conflict or inner turmoil for a character. It can also give a villain or antagonist opportunity to shine. Writing bad people is fun, fun because they can step outside the social boundaries and wreak havoc on those that don’t. They can do what the average person won’t.

Some examples of people who may violate privacy purposefully or accidentally:

A child who hasn’t learned to respect privacy
A well-meaning parent suspecting child of wrongdoings
A teacher who over steps their boundaries
A boss or coworker who snoops
A friend who feels slighted or isn’t truly a friend
A stranger stealing identity
A stranger who broke into a house/apartment
A friend or family member looking in a private place innocently 

Examples of ways to violate one’s privacy

Read a diary
Rummage through a desk/bedroom/closet/office
Go into a wallet, purse or bag
Break into/invade one’s home/car
look through a medicine cabinet
hack a computer
Peeping through a window, door or via hidden camera
Steal identity/impersonation
Read employee records without permission
walk into the bathroom on someone
Listen in on a conversation, phone-call or voice mail
Enter a room/house/yard/garage without permission
Reading someone’s mail/email/text messages or test results

Good intentions or not, breaching one’s privacy can be disruptive. I use this invasion as a way to foreshadow a character who may stray from the right side or who is already bad, but hiding it. Snooping people are interesting because they so casually break a rule of honor.

Scott’s eyes narrowed as he watched Amber and Dale leave for lunch together; giggling and teasing one another. There was no way she hasn’t had sex with multiple candidates. Why Dale? Scott intended to find out.
He glanced around. Most of the office was empty by now and so he casually made his way to Amber’s desk. He adjusted her chair as he sat and unlocked her computer. Clifton gave him access to the spyware that logged all passwords in the event of sudden termination. The information he was finding very useful these days.
“Alright, Amber what game are you playing?” Scott opened her browser history and quickly found her private email, opened it and started reading.
“Incognito does not mean hidden moron.” Scott mumbled to himself and shook his head as he opened one sent to her mom titled ‘unsure’. He started from the beginning and as he read a sly grin spread across his face.
“Bingo.” Scott quickly copied the conversation and sent it to a dummy email he set up earlier. He authorized another access so she wouldn’t be alerted when he checked her email from another computer.
“She’s not smart enough to figure that out anyway.” Scott set her computer back to how she left it and went back to his office to do some research. 

Unless two people are in cahoots on a privacy offense, an infringement is likely a solitary activity. What I like to do in this sort of scenario is leave a bit of mystery and have the perpetrator make a mistake (Yes Scott made one). One that may or may not be noticed later on. What I won’t do is have someone magically witness it without making that known at the time of the incident. There’s not much worse than the surprise revelation to the reader that Rachael witnessed the whole thing but it wasn’t mentioned until later. “Hey, I saw Scott on your computer yesterday.” Ugh. Incidentally having someone caught red-handed is also an abundantly wealthy source of drama. Just don’t use the cliché term “Red-handed”.

My advice about privacy and invading it.
It’s such a successful way to subtlety show characters true to nature, whether they resist the urge to peek at an email left open or blatantly snoop to read it, you can let the reader develop emotions toward the character.

-Sheryl

A post or two from a while ago.

Take charge already!
The secret’s out

My Posts From The Start

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Privacy
Successful

Casual

Well colour me silly

So recently, I had a brain wave. Yes in the shower were all good ideas are born it seems. When I revise and search filter words etc, I have to go through using hte find feature and search one at a time. The reason is I’m not a professional editor and step by step is the only way I can keep focused. Sure I spot other issues and other words as I go, but not enough. I skip over and am blind to others.  After more than a year of writing, editing and revising, I asked myself. “What if I could just change the colours of the filter words etc. in the entire manuscript instead of finding and searching one at a time?” Huh. What a great idea. Then all the words I need to look at would stand out all at once.

I mosey over to my computer, once dried and dressed, and I employ my best friend google and low and behold… yes. Yes, I can.

What? How is it I never thought of this sooner? Why have I struggled and toiled so long? Duh *forehead slap.  I am certain there are a few or many out there laughing their asses off at me, how on earth did I not know this was possible? That’s okay I know I’m not the only one and thus I’m sharing this newly discovered tidbit.

I’ve talked about filter words, ing’ing, the over use of –ly so I wont dwell on what words need to be addressed, but how to find and change them? Thus far, I’ve been using the “find” feature to seek out and destroy each filter word or –ing one at a time. Now I can (and I’m stoked to try this on my second manuscript that is waiting ever so patiently for some TLC) highlight all the troubles and in one or two read-through’s address them all at once. Squeeee.

This instruction is from PCmag.com

Yes, you can. Here are the steps:

1. Press Ctrl-H, and click the More button in the Find and Replace dialog.
2. Click the Format button, and select Font.
3. Select the color to be changed—leaving all else blank—and click OK.
4. Click the Replace with box, and repeat steps 2 and 3 to select the new color.

5. Click Replace All.

The default color for text is Automatic, which shows as black on a white background. If you want to change some colored text to black, select Black rather than Automatic in the list. Then if you need to change it back, you can still distinguish it from the rest of the text. If you were to change it to Automatic, there would be no way to change it back.

**My only caution is after each one changed ACTUALLY click back to the text or page to start again otherwise things might not go as planned.

So, there are now more options. (Aside from colour you can underline, italic or even change font. This wouldn’t work for me since changing it all back later might cause formatting issues)

  1. Make all things you’re searching for one stand out colour
  2. Make all filter words the same colour, make all ‘ing’ the same colour, make all ‘ly’ the same colour etc. etc.
  3. Make each word etc. a different colour in order of priority. I red top down to blue least important.

For this final edit, I didn’t pick a strategy and just went with random bright colours since I don’t have a lot left. On the next book I will definitely use strategy #3 and plan it out.

Now this doesn’t mean I have to get rid of all of the filter words or -ings or -ly’s or whatever it is I need to fix, but it will allow me to find the areas that need to be repaired. My wordy sentences or the ones that are in the wrong POV.

Once I’m done I simply “select all” and make the text black again. The uber nerd in me is stupidly excited about this treasure of a discovery. After a little time, it is easy to see that this newly discovered (To me) method is the way to go.

My advice about using colour to find filter words etc.
Why the hell wouldn’t you? I will from now on and forever more, use this. I can’t even begin to express how excited I am about this. (And I’m a tad embarrassed it took so long to figure out.)

-Sheryl

Other related posts worth checking out

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Tag! You’re it.

Are you inging too?

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 Treasure

Dating Temptation

There are things that can date my writing faster than a blink of an eye. Trends. Objects, clothes, hairstyles, jewelry makeup, music, technology and more. The list can go on. The point is that historically speaking certain things are associated with certain time-periods.

My book takes place in modern day with a slight futuristic hint. If I were writing a historical piece or something set to a specific era I would perhaps use some jargon, sayings or events to set the time and setting. When doing that I would research and take the time to make sure I’m not talking about websites before they were invented or hashtags before the term was coined. Clumsy writing without facts or research will cause the story to stumble and fall. If I were writing to a specific point in time I would also be cautious about using repeated trends such as bell-bottoms and crimped hair.

However, for me and the purpose of this post I’m talking about keeping it vague and casual so that no specific time other than now is perceived. Sure it will be dated eventually, but if I can manage to keep out anything trendy now like hipsters, skinny jeans and the latest app. That’s not to say I don’t include dated objects or events. I’ll mention them as a reference and maybe a comment about “Hey that’s like…” or “Do you remember when … that was cool?” Major world events are safe to use as reference but I’ll keep the amount of time between then and what is written.

I’ve been asked why I do this. Simple, I was taught to and I like it. It makes sense to me since I’m not writing a historical story. I took a course that explained in detail the importance of keeping current trends out of my writing to keep it from becoming dated or ‘lame’ in younger readers minds. Now again if I want it to be dated (which I don’t) plopping pop up trends is the way to go. This is after all how cult favorites are born.  So, I don’t bring up specific events such as an election or terrorist attack, nor would I mention disasters or Olympics. Things that are time specific.

Technology is tricky it changes and evolves so fast that to mention something specific is risky. I do mention laptops and tablets, because they have been around long enough and are likely to be around a while longer that I don’t consider them pop up trends. Things like I-pod’s, cd-players, VHS, Tamagotchi, Sega-Genesis are definitely dated. Personal computer’s have been around long enough they are safe to use, I generally just use a generic term like computer and leave the brand out. So Mac or PC is not mentioned.  However I might say Gaming-console or even PlayStation or X-box, they have been around a while and will likely be, however I would leave out what generation the systems are.

Dating temptation is the strong urge(or instinct) to use dated branded items. The desire to use them is strong because they are familiar and easy to reach for. If I need a branded item and can’t do without, I look to the longest and still strongest survivors like Pepsi, Coke, Sprite and 7up. If not I would say Cola, pop or soda depending on the situation or character. (Different countries call the same things by different names.  In Canada stackable powdery candy are called rockets, in the US they call them Smarties, while Canadians call a candy coated orbital spheroid chocolate, Smarties.

My advice about trendy or familiar things.
If you’re writing and want to avoid sticking your story in a specific date then avoid dated objects, events and fashions. Also, beware of culture differences ie, candies. Apparently, they don’t have Crunchie bars in the us?

-Sheryl

Other interesting posts

What’s her name?

Show and tell

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 Clumsy