It’s not always the obvious choice

We all know that one person who is daring, you know, the brave and adventurous ones. I’m not one of them. Or am I? I may not be the first to jump up for skydiving or leaning over the edge of the CN tower, but if I take a close look, I’m more daring than I think. With no experience, I wrote a book, an entire novel. I dared to dream, believe and put my work out into the world. I dared to take the leap and contact literary agents. I bet if everyone thought about it there is something in their life that makes them daring.

This is why daring is a personality trait I like to give my characters. Whether small by standing up to a bully or grand by running into a room full of hostiles to take them on unarmed, or fun by being the first to bungee from a hot air balloon.

Daring people like to be challenged, it adds to the thrill of it all. So a high octane character will be whooping it up and the first in most things. First to laugh, cheer and take chances. While on the opposite end I would have someone quiet and recluse, that struggles with fitting in.

Gavin stood at the edge of the cliff. He looked down and grinned as his heart raced. “This is gonna be a blast.” He checked his jumpsuit and with a glance over his shoulder, he saluted Sasha and jumped. “Woohoooooo.”
Sasha’s hand went to her throat. No amount of preparation had prepared her for this. She edged closer to see him freefall, the bile rose to her mouth. “He’s going to die.” The weak words barely made it out. He opened his parachute and swayed in the wind as the resistance on the parachute slowed his decent.
Valerie’s hand on her shoulder made Sasha jump. “You’re next chicky.”
“No. No I’m really not. I don’t know why I thought I could do this.”
“Ah come on, it’s fun.”
“My idea of fun and yours are not always the same. I’m not daring enough. I’ll just drive down with John and meet you at the bottom.”
“Suit yourself.” Valery shrugged, ran and jumped off the edge with a howl of excitement. Sasha’s knees wobbled and she nearly fell back.

Not jumping from the cliff doesn’t make Sasha a coward in everything. She can face a boardroom of angry clients and sooth the situation and loves scuba diving, snorkeling and skiing. Creating variable depth to what a person will or will not do, can create great foreshadow for something they might have to face in the future. Perhaps I’ll have Sasha forced to decide, jump from the plane or die?

Being daring is not always the obvious choice, like when you play “Truth or dare?” People often choose dare because the truth can be scary, which makes me wonder if it’s actually more daring then to choose truth?

My advice about writing daring people.
Some people are and some aren’t. It’s not black and white, even a seasoned military person might balk a the idea of walking across hot coals or touching a tarantula.  Have fun with it.


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Shhh… Don’t say a word.

There are times when conversation is too easy and unnecessary. I try to be careful to not to have everyone talking to themselves. That is if they are not prone to it by character flaw. The temptation to have someone muttering or whispering under their breath is hard to ignore. Not everybody does so refraining for some characters is a good idea.

Huddled beneath the desk within the small office, Joe could only listen to the violent chaos beyond the locked door. His laptop open before him the waiting cursor taunted him. Cow-ard, cow-ard it blinked.

He wiped the sweat beading at the back of his neck and scrunched his eyes tight.

BAM! Joe’s legs darted out as his back clenched. A whimper escaped his throat as the walls rattled from someone likely being thrown against it. The muffled sound of fist on flesh turned his stomach to acid. He reached a shaking hand to the keyboard, he had a job to do while everyone else fought for their lives.

As his fingers touched the smooth keys Joe relaxed. All his emotions were eclipsed by his compulsion to do his job. He focused on the screen, this is the only way he was of use, the only way he could be of use. The blinking cursor now urged, help-them, help-them.

Solo interactions are easier to write dialog free, (IMO) than are two people communicating sans dialogue.

Allen grabbed the wrench from the near empty toolbox. “I wish we had better weapons. This is handy though.” He glanced out the doorway then to Sasha.

Sasha finished tying up the man she just knocked out. “At least you have something.” More intruders were on their way approaching cautiously.

Allen waved his hand. “Get back Sash, they can’t see you.” Readjusting his grip, he shifted his feet for a better stance.
Sasha watched wide-eyed, lips pursed and fists clenched. The intruders had guns and they did not. The element of surprise was all they had.
“Three men, one gun on the man on my right.”
“Got it.” Sasha nodded.

I don’t hate that, but if they are under attack and trying to surprise the oncoming men, conversation even whispering can alert them.

Allen grabbed the wrench from the near empty toolbox. A useable weapon or projectile is always handy to have. He glanced out the doorway then to Sasha. She finished tying up the second man she just knocked out. More were on their way approaching cautiously.

Allen caught Sasha’s attention, gesturing for her to get back to the wall. He was the decoy, the obvious target, not her. Readjusting his grip, he shifted his feet for a better stance. Sasha watched wide-eyed, lips pursed and fists clenched. The intruders had guns and they did not. The element of surprise was all they had. He raised three fingers on his right hand and crooked one finger on his left hand toward his right. Sasha nodded; three men, one gun and the gun was on the far right.

There are scenarios when my characters go quiet. Whether its necessity or they don’t have anything to say, depends on what’s going on. For example a wordless conversation between two kids on opposite sides of the classroom. Or, an awkward car ride after a fight.

My advice about going conversation-less.
Take a peek at a long string of conversation, is it all necessary? Are the characters just stating the obvious? Or telling what you, as the writer, can show the reader in a more effective way? I found a long unnecessary conversation leads to a lot of; he said, she said taglines or surplus awkward action tags.

– Sheryl

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