Side Notes

Side Notes

Side Notes

I’ve been gone for a bit, sorry about that. There was a reason and I do have some news I think is fantastic. I have finished my newest book and have begun the primary revision. I’m very excited about this story and can’t wait to share some information.  I’ll be composing a tentative query letter for it soon and I’ll post about that process as I’ve done a whole bunch more research on the subject.

For me, the writing process for this story became very involved. My writing time is limited (Full-time job + a family + summer = busy me) so when it came to writing I was deeply engrossed in the new story.

While I write, I often have thoughts or ideas. Whether they are yet to come or they are things to add or even things to change. I try not to go back while I’m in ‘writing’ mode and change things. For one, it throws off my groove and for two; I might change my mind before the story is done.

So, what do I do about the little or big ideas that pop into my brain? I make notes. I keep a pad of paper at my desk at all times. The more detail the better, I write down the idea and my reasoning. There is nothing worse than going back to see “Make the tablet a pen and pad of paper.”  If I forget why or the significance I could make mistakes in the change or lose the great idea because of lack of explanation or supportive information.

Here are some things I might jot down

  • A clever line or two of dialogue

  • A foreshadow for something ie. “Go back and foreshadow Belfast knowing about Lex”

  • Change in character name, behavior, quirk or appearance

  • A reminder to go back and add a quirk to a character

  • Location change idea

  • Add a character in

  • Notes to remind me to check whether or time of year ie. when is sunset in July or when do daisies bloom.

  • Add an interaction or moment in

(I just looked at my actual notes for examples)

Anything that is added after the fact, a quirk, character or moment are things that come to mind because of a new idea. I’ll be writing along and a clever scenario pops into mind. However, to make it work I’d have to change a conversation. I write a detailed note and either go back when I’m done writing or at least done writing the new scene.

Nothing in my story is set in stone until I’m certain I’m done with it. I add stuff all the time, just as long as it’s relevant to the story or scenario.

A word of caution, anything added needs to fit. Magically appearing or disappearing objects or people are frustrating, confusing and a clear indication of a novice or careless writer. If I change something, I go through with a fine-tooth comb to make sure all references or moments surrounding the change make sense.

My notes can get messy; sometimes I’ll make a spreadsheet or word document to keep track of the more important ones. Alternatively, I’ll transfer the handwritten notes to a word file so I can actually read them. (Yes, I have chicken scratch handwriting)

This pad of paper I use for side notes is often written on just after a shower or just before I fall asleep. It’s not the best time to have inspiration strike, but I’ve written many notes to the light of my wireless mouse so I don’t wake anybody by turning a light on.

My advice about Side Notes

Whether it’s a novel, poem, blog post or song, keep a pad of paper handy for when inspiration strikes. I recommend making notes or explanations on the notes so they don’t get forgotten or misunderstood later.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Tentative

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Title

Title. It’s a little word only five letters long. It is a descriptive heading or caption used to give a book, chapter, song, poem, picture or anything that needs an appellation.

For such a small word it holds a significant importance. I put a lot of thought into the title of my first book, and I mean a lot.

Here are some things a title of a book should convey or contain

  1. Be part of the story at some point. Don’t call it “My blue button.” and never have anything to do with a blue button tangible or imagined. Unless blue button is a euphemism that is a major part of the story, it might not be a good title.
  2. Hold some significance to the story/characters
  3. Be short and meaningful – It’s a title, not a log line
  4. Catchy / Interesting – I’m often drawn to alliteration titles or punchy hard words.
  5. Clever – boring titles suggest a boring book
  6. Not borrowed or stolen from another book – Just don’t. Google and search to make sure it’s not accidentally copying someone else.
  7. The feel or even genre of the book –  “Loved to death.” Might not be a good romance title but might be a good suspense…

So back to my title. The title of my book has significant meaning and plays a big part in the story as it progresses. However, now I’m rewriting the book to a point where I can re-submit to Literary Agents.  I’m changing the tone of many chapters, reducing the word count by more than 24000 words(Yeah seriously ugh, at least I’m almost half way there). The catch is that I will need to change the title or it will be passed over completely. This was not advice given lightly and was given by a professional in the industry.

So I will come up with a new title for the next round of queries for the Literary agents. I will likely either work BiaAtlas back in as a subtitle or ask for it to be the full title once my book lands a publishing deal.  I’m doing this so I can give my book a second chance. Typically you cannot resubmit the same story to the same literary agents for the second time. Unless the story/prose has been changed significantly.

It is hard to say what makes a title but I know a title can make or break the chances a story has being picked up by literary agents let alone publishers. In the self-publishing industry, it is even more important as it is what will make a potential reader stop or keep scrolling past the list of titles.

So how does one find out what a good title is? Take a look at books that are in the same genre. Even ones that aren’t. What are the similarities? Whats popular? Take a look at unsuccessful books on Amazon, how do their titles differ from top sellers? A great place to get a feel for what might or might not work is a bookstore or online stores. I personally like to go and physically look at the covers.

It’s daunting to think a one to five words can make or break my chances or success. No pressure right? I’m not going to stress about it as I said before, I can change it back or work it in another way. I was told at the beginning of my journey to be flexible and not be stone hard set in my ways or having my way. It was fantastic advice that I took and take to heart.

My advice about Titles of a book.
Be willing to change it if a publisher want’s to change it. Take a look at what’s working for others but don’t copy or steal. Be creative and meaningful.

-Sheryl

Other posts that are related

The many faces of Rejection

The “word count” down.

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 

 

That’s just the way it works

Writing is different for everyone. What is written, how and why. There is no wrong or ultimate right way. Sometimes the words flow easily other times the creativity bed is dry and parched. The pace at which I write can depend on a great number of things.

Time of day
Available time
Distractions
Mental Health
Physical Health
Emotional State
Stress/Anxiety
Energy level
The writing space itself
Anything that takes you away from the train of thought/creation.

The inspiration for writing can come from anywhere. Whether it’s a blogging daily prompt, a movie recently watched, a trip taken or a bug hitting the windshield. It can come at any time in any place in every and any possible form. The factors above can easily affect the ability to recognize inspiration just as much as it can throw a wrench in the actual writing process.

There are days when I actually can’t keep up with what I need to write. Then there are others where I take multiple pauses to imagine out the different scenario possibilities. Then there are the times when nothing happens.

I think of my writing phases like this

Drought – There is just nothing there. Noooothiiiing.
Foggy lake – The ideas are already there just below the surface useless beneath the fog. 
A spring rain – The ideas are on the way, gathering and about to bloom beautifully.
A storm – The ideas are raging and pouring down. I need to write them down so I don’t lose track Too much too fast, but still manageable.
A flowing River – It’s all good, I’m in a groove and loving every word of it.
A Vast Ocean – too much going on to bring it in line. No direction, currents of thought taking me in too many directions at once.

On drought days I walk away. I do something different and don’t worry about the lack of writing. Taking time to live life and gather moments that lend experience to inspiration, are just as important as writing. It’s how the spring rains come or the fog lifts from the lake.

Things that can get the creative river flowing

Movies
Books
Poetry
Music (I can’t count the number of times a song has inspired a chapter or character story arc. Sometimes it’s as simple as the emotion it evokes)
A party
A Play
Exercise
A comedy that induces laughs and chuckles (Or just laughing)
A visit to the park/amusement park/carnival/pier/zoo/pool etc. 
Basically anywhere where people/animals are to do interesting things.

I’m not talking plagiarism or stealing ideas, I’m talking about being inspired. Everything was written was inspired by an outside influence. That’s just the way it works. Some idiot mouths off in a coffee shop. Voila, new minor villain enters my creation factory. I tweak, twist and give them something plot related to say and Bam! Jack the sweaty asscrack guy with a racist comment enters the story to stir up trouble. That fly that hit the windshield? Toss that into the factory and instead of one its a swarm that actually paints the car in a crunchy gooey sticky mess… But why? And welcome a disgusting plot twist.

I’ve talked about creativity drought before (Post link is below) and it will likely come up again. Why? Because it happens. I see it every day with fellow writers and even myself from time to time. The frustration it can cause is real and can quickly become a cycle of frustration, doubt, depression, frustration and back around and around and around.

The trick I think is to recognize your writing phases (however you like to imagine them) Whether you see them as rivers, cogs turning, wheels, or even seasons. Be able to recognize when you’re in them and what you can do to move to a more desirable one if need be.

My advice about how to write.
Do it your way, that is the only way that will work for you. Never shy away from advice but don’t take it as gospel. And always, always take time for you.

-Sheryl

Some Posts that touch on creativity:

Doubt clouds out creativity

Query letter “creativity drought”.

(Insert description here)

Desperately procrastinating

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Chuckle

Foggy

Stick a pin in it!

I was asked once what happens when you run out of ideas? When you reach the threshold of your imagination? To which I responded; who says there’s a limit or an end?

I think just beyond the edge, that liminal point is never within reach if you don’t want it to be. It’s like in a dream when you run toward something and it never gets closer. A person who paints isn’t just going to run out of things to paint, a singer will always have a tune, a poets words will never run out. Not unless they choose to. Creativity in my humble opinion is like a muscle. Work it out and it gets/stays strong, ignore it and leave it unused and it will atrophy.

Neither Anne nor Valery questioned her sudden departure for a sudden last-minute American coastline cruise out of Nova Scotia. She blamed the Baylor incident and him being on bail, they didn’t need to know about last nights crazy backyard attack yet. She promised to be back by Sunday. A promise she had to keep since her job was on the line. Calls done, she took the phone out to Cal and went back to her room and spread the file out. Six pictures and descriptions. She could change the image but not the object itself. The car still had to be a car but any type would do as long as it was blue.

“Okay brain, let’s get creative.” She stared at the pictures, The blue car, the large apple, the square clock, an olive, the number 7 and the hand that had to be hidden and subliminal. “Tricky.”

Three hours later she stopped for lunch then went back to her room and skipped dinner. She came out four hours later no further ahead then when she went in that morning. Nothing was working and nothing looked right. Her mind was unsettled, she was at the threshold of creativity and she needed a break.

Cal stood with his arm up on the floor to ceiling window frame looking out at the great view of the lake from so high up. He had a fantastic profile and, she could see his shapely back and shoulder muscles though his blue shirt.

“How’s work?” He didn’t turn around.

“Fine.” She cleared her throat and sat hard on the couch staring at the black screen of the tv.

“You’re as good a liar as you are sweet-tempered.”

“I’m not normally so bitchy.”

He turned and looked at her. “Oh?”

“Well for starters I’m not usually assaulted then again a few days later. I’ve never run someone over with my car nor do I drive so recklessly. I also never lie to my friends.” She crossed her arms. “Until I met you that is.”

“I’ll put a pin in the usually. He sighed and sat beside her. “It was a stroke of luck that Baylor was at that bar. It’s not one that cops frequent.”

“Duh. It’s why Val chose it.”

“I’ll put a pin in that one too.” He narrowed his eyes at her pouty face. “Good luck or bad Sasha it’s as close as we’ve ever gotten to catching the guy. Even if I screwed it up. Now we have concrete evidence of his true nature, he broke bail terms within twelve hours and.” He stopped when she sighed heavily. “I’m sorry you’re stuck here with me.”

“It’s not you specifically. I’m just, it’s just a bad couple of weeks for me to begin with you just have terrible timing, Baylor has the worst possible timing.”

“I’m running out of pins. Let’s go back to the first. Why did you say ‘not usually assaulted’?”

She shook her head. “I hate talking to you, you pick everything apart.”

“It’s my job.”

“Right blue boy. So then you would know if you looked up my record.”

“Let’s say I’ve been busy and now I’m stranded in a hotel away from my desk, fill me in.”

“Is it important?”

“Yes.” He didn’t say why. It had nothing to do with the case.

“A long time ago I was assaulted by three men. I ended up charged since I hurt one of them badly and they all claimed he wasn’t in on the phony assault and they didn’t intend to hurt me.”

“What sort of assault?”

“Attempted rape.”

He relaxed. Attempted was better than actual.

“But because there wasn’t any rape and I don’t bruise easily they got off with community service except Bobbet jr. He pressed charges and I got community service. I was underage.”

Cal cringed. “Okay that is horrible. Next pin, why a bar with no cops?”

“Same reason for the bad timing.” She glared at him. “It’s none of your business and since it’s not public record I’m not explaining.”

“I’m not your enemy Sasha. You don’t seem the criminal type so what happened?”

“My ass-hat ex fiancée was a cop, you’re all tight in your little coppy groups. Therefore, I avoid all the old hangouts. I assume they’re all still the same since you guys never drop a habit.”

“That was seething with contempt. Should I start lumping you in with all blondes everywhere?”

She rubbed her face. “Point taken. Sorry. Like I said I’m feeling a little unlike myself lately and frankly you make a good punching bag.”

“I bet I do. I seem to represent all that’s wrong in your microcosm of self-pity.” He got up and went to the mini bar and came back with six mini bottles.

Sasha’s creative-block is self-inflicted and circumstantial.

My advice about Liminal.
There is no limit, no threshold to imagination unless you set one. Create away.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Over used and oft abused.

What happened to that guy?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Liminal

Setting the mood

subdued

Setting the mood

There are moments in a story when a scene or scenario requires a little extra TLC. The moments when something important happens or the ‘mood’ needs to be established. As humans, we revolve around our emotions and associate certain things with strong emotions. These usually evolve into memory association or recall.

‘The taste of the fried battered fish brought back memories of Anne’s father. He backhanded her at the dinner table for chewing with her mouth open. No longer hungry, she ran her tongue over the old scar from where her tooth cut her lip.’

‘The sound of Brian Adams crooning about doing everything for you, made Sasha smile dreamily. The memory of her first kiss at the Jr. High dance consumed her for a moment.’

‘Sasha bounced on her feet as they entered the bustling stadium. The savory scent of hotdogs, popcorn and spilled beer reminiscent of her happiest day with her grandpa before he passed away.’

‘Goosebumps crawled up Anne’s arm as the silk scarf pulled through her hand. The last time she felt a scarf like this was when she was caught shoplifting as a young teen.’

Adding moments like these can help define my characters and their history. Where they happy? Miserable? Bad or rebellious? How does it affect or play on who they are today in my story. It’s like creating foreshadow without having to actually foreshadow. I would do this to offer some insight into why a character might be behaving or reacting a certain way. I might also do this to foreshadow a moment coming up that is likely a turning point for the character. The options are endless, basically a brief emotionally charged glimpse into their past via association.

This recall is fun to use. Writing a scene that is designed to become such a memory takes planning or at least the thought to use it again later to benefit the story. It could inadvertently happen too, but for me I try to wiggle things into what I’ve already written to jazz it up a bit.

Setting the mood is easy to do. You need a brief description of the setting, something of the five senses to tie the emotional response to and the actual act that brings it all together. Good or bad, scary or romantic, this is my chance to make a moment in time. Earlier I mentioned four of the senses, taste, sound, smell and touch. Without them there is no way to make this moment work.

Sasha sat on the dock dangling her toes into the cold water, the sound of loons calling in the distance danced with the sound of the lake water lapping the rocky shore.
“Long day huh?” Cal sat next to her dropping his own feet into the water.
She looked away from the subdued light glittering water to his face. Somehow even more handsome in the twilight. After nearly being shot and then attacked, her nerves were on edge. Yet Cal calmly saved her, took her away from it all and remained steady and calm.
“You can say that again.”
“Nah, I don’t like repeating myself.” His teasing tone eased her agitation, he turned to face her and she held her breath.
He was beautiful to look at in his rugged angles and strong features. The twilight erased all shadows except for his day’s beard growth. She looked at his soft lips as they moved forward and touched hers gently. His hand slipped behind her neck entangling his fingers in her hair. With her eyes closed all she could do was feel his warmth, taste cinnamon and hear nothing but wilderness around her.

 Later on when Sasha is once again in danger or at her ropes end I might bring something into the scene reminiscent of this one to remind her that someone cares for her, or is worth living/fighting for. Maybe the call of the loons or the subdued light of twilight will cause an emotional recollection and pull her from her misery or fear. Whichever it may be.

My advice about emotional recollection.
Whether it’s a memory moment to give the reader a glimpse into their past or a scene set to become one later tying emotion with senses and an important moment/action will strengthen your story and your readers attachment to it.

-Sheryl

Related posts

It’s not always the obvious choice

Hahaha oops.

Covered up with paint and lies.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Subdued

Details, details, details

A book or story is full of details. A persons description, their back story, their habits and their environment. I’m talking about environment or setting if you prefer.

Now I could go into a long spiel about describing objects or the area around the characters, the in’s and outs of under and over describing things. Or how to make an object important like in the Fab pencil.  That’s not what this is about.

I like details, the little things that make the reader comfortable whether they are aware or not. My book takes place primarily in one location. This location is set up in a very specific way for a very important reason. Function. In future stories this facility is revisited and I can’t have it changing unexpectedly.

So I carefully mapped it out. Just like a world map of a made up place like middle earth, but instead it’s a map of the building. It’s detailed right down to maintenance rooms and off limit areas. The placement of rooms and areas is important to the interaction of the characters and for situations that happen in future books. They are not major events per say, but they are purposeful.

I’ll be honest, I made a simple mock-up using Lego to start. It was perfect for scale and to get a real feel for the actual space. (Lego rocks.) I then used a basic publishing program to draw it out in overhead 2D or a blueprint if you want to get technical. It was a long process but it helped me get a solid feel for the building layout. It also allowed me to give my readers a very clear image for their imagination.

This was important for me. At first I wrote from memory, what I imagined it to look like. Then I revised and found them walking through a door that would lead them into the showers not the cafeteria. Oops. While it might not be noticeable it might register as odd and ruin the mental imagery for the reader.

Every environment or setting gets a map of some sort. Not to necessarily be published with the book, but for me to make sure that the window in the living room stays on an outside wall and not opening to the bathroom by oversight. I have to be careful, nobody wants to see Joe go pee while watching the price is right.

My advice about using maps.
I highly recommend them, even if its a rough hand drawn sketch of Sasha’s house, if a scene takes place there and I want to go back later I’d rather refer to the map instead of flipping back chapters to find where the refrigerator is and if it opens left handed or right.

-Sheryl

Related posts

She’s a person not a cake

Where did it go?

Switch it up, and swap it out.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Careful

KISS your writing

Keep It Simple Stupid.

AKA don’t be pretentious, if I had to look up the meaning of the word Honorificabilitudinitatibus to put it in my story, chances are most everyone else will too. If I litter my story with words to sound super smart I’ll sound like a jackass.(That’s my opinion.)  I’ve set more than one book down for this reason, not because I didn’t know what the word meant, but because, seriously? Big fun words have their place, I use them wisely or the reader won’t think I’m so wise. That’s not to say they don’t belong, but if it’s overrun it can be frustrating to read and borderline insulting.

For example:

Sasha stood before the group holding up the two layouts. “This is deleterious to our reputation. Neither are erroneous however, neither are optimal either. Both are nugatory to the client. We must commence by consolidating these two non-ostentatious layouts into one agreeable layout. We will have to ameliorate everything expeditiously, leveraging our proficiencies to implement the client’s prescribed parameters.” (55)

 Uh… yeah, what she said… and… close book. 

Sometimes big words have their place, we’re not in kindergarten. I Write for the audience, the readers. A fourteen year old may know what Commensurate means but is the word necessary? Can’t I just say equal?

Sasha stood before the group holding up the two layouts. “This is the kind of work that will destroy our reputation. Neither are wrong however, neither are optimal either. Both are of no value to the client. We must start by consolidating these two unimpressive layouts. We will have to improve everything expeditiously, using our skills to carry out the client’s request.”  (62)

 Better, but she’s still sounding a wee bit pretentious. Now if word count is an issue (and it always is for me) and I wanted to simplify this further I would do this.

Sasha held up the two useless layouts to the group. “This level of work will destroy our reputation. Neither is optimal, so we need to consolidate them. We’ll need to work quickly and actually meet the client’s requests this time.” (40)

I would have never written it like the first attempt. I did that to illustrate that the insertion of overly pretentious words can alienate a reader.

My advice about keeping it simple.
The thesaurus is great and useful, but remember to write for your audience not to “impress” or make them feel stupid.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Accommodate and contain perplexed

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Border
Simple

Hahaha oops.

I may not have all the official or correct terminology when I talk about writing, but that’s just how it is. One word that I know I have correct is foreshadowing. I will never ever forget that one, it was burned into my brain by embarrassment. Grade nine English class – Some time ago, I wont say how long 😉  On an test I wrote down foreplay instead of foreshadow.  Hahaha oops. The teacher thought it was hilarious and told me it was a common mistake.  Uh huh of course it is I knew the right word, but wrote down the wrong one and was glad the teacher didn’t bring it up to the class.

Foreshadowing while less fun than my test error, is the simple art of showing or indicating beforehand.

There varying degrees/styles/types of foreshadows that I use.

The obvious set up foreshadow: The one that makes the reader go “hmmm” Then later, “I knew it.” These keep the story moving along toward the conclusion.

The tricky sneaky foreshadow: The one that once the reader gets to the conclusion they stop and think back to the set up and are impressed.

The subtle next story set up foreshadow: Drop a situation or conversation eluding to the next books theme or plot. This one is fun to do especially if it’s a random character that drops into play momentarily or if something happens somewhat out of place but possibly related.  Yup, I’ll have a bad guy or situation come up within the context of the main plot. I do this to elude to or direct the readers mind to wonder by the end of the book if that’s what’s going to happen in the next book. Sometimes this might not be subtle I might just make it an obvious set up.

The hidden Easter egg foreshadow.  Tricky and for the die-hard readers. Plunking in a hint or nudge into a story that may not come to fruition for many books to come. I’ll drop these into each book so that anyone who paid attention will be thrilled to have figured it out. This only works if you have written a series before perfecting the first or if you have the outlines clearly constructed for future books. I’ve done this with a couple things, I dropped a name in a random conversation that is not part of the story nor addressed again. It will be… And hey if I don’t end up using them it doesn’t matter.

Character change foreshadows:  The slight or not so slight indication that a shift in personality or persona is about to occur, maybe not immediately but the feeling is set for the reader.

The mystery statement foreshadow:  When a character states something that goes unresolved. Something potentially important, interesting or exciting.  He looked down at Tory’s lifeless body. “I cant figure out what Tory was after? Why bother with setting the fire then call it in herself?” ooh a secret or explanation someone else might divulge or explain later.

I’m sure there are more types, and I’m sure there are proper terms for them, but these are just the ones that come to mind for me now. I will be honest, I had most of the foreshadows for BiaAtlas planned out, but (and I totally do this) I’ve gone back and added some, changed others and boy oh boy is that fun to do. I know what’s going on but the reader doesn’t, not yet.

Every book has a beginning middle and end, somewhere along the way I introduce (indicate) the next book. Like prepping the reader for what’s to come, exciting them and making them want more.  Maybe foreplay and foreshadowing have something in common after all.  😉

My advice about Foreshadows.
While foreshadowing might not be as fun as foreplay, if done right you can tantalize the reader and keep them on the edge of their seat with anticipation. Plan them out and be flexible. If you’re writing a series, think ahead then go back to set it up.
 

 -Sheryl

Some funny posts

That is disgusting

It’s funny you said that…

Oops! What did I just say?

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

“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?

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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!

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