Little Angelic Villians

Kids are like antagonists. they have no boundaries, no filters, no remorse, they are clever and conniving. Self driven for self-gratification and they do whatever they must to get what they want. They can throw massive tantrums over any little thing. Oh and they usually have boundless amounts of energy and charm.

Like little angelic villains they can waltz in, stir the pot, cause endless chaos and ruin everything… all by being completely innocently honest.

Kids can say the damnedest things, there was a whole TV show dedicated to just that. Their unrestrained views easily bring humor, embarrassment and upset. On the flip side they can be unrelentingly kind, considerate and until they are taught to they don’t hate or judge.

Because of their natural unpredictability they are a fantastic tool to un-jam a situation, bring a little comedy, love, or even a gut wrenching tear-jerk of a moment.

I have children float in and out of my stories from time to time to serve a grander purpose. I write them carefully making sure they come across as their appropriate age. There is a lot of range since some kids are smarter than they should be and some… well bless them they’re just not.

Kids can be tricky to write, but if done well they can be a lot of fun too. However like with all things I strive not to make them cliché. They are little people with quirks, habits, opinions and feelings. Volatile feelings but feelings none the less. I love, love, love reading a story with a small child that has the child behave in a realistic way. Non con-formative to the Hollywood ideal of how children are.  Levels of tiredness, hunger, sugar and boredom can factor in. Some kids are good and others just plain naughty.

“Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.” The little girl in brown pig-tails tugged at the tired woman’s sweater. She was either unheard or ignored as the woman tended the infant in her arms wailing away at the top of her lungs.
Amber tried not to stare with horror at the scene they made.
“Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.”
The silent young boy, Amber guessed was eight or nine (not that she knew enough to guess), was checking off the grocery list. Satisfied it was all there he moved the cart toward the checkout where Amber stood waiting her turn. The other small boy in the seat of the shopping cart pulled his thumb from his mouth with a loud wet suck sound and reached for the candy bars on display. “Want.”
“No Bobby, no candy.” The woman said in little more than a sigh. “Margo please stop nattering I already said no.” She brushed the young girls hand away. “But mommy…”
Amazed Amber watched the woman tune out the girl again as she began her persistent chant and tug on her sweater.
“Want!” Bobby the toddler started to cry.
“Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.”
The boy finished unloading the cart and nudged Bobby’s finger back in the boy’s mouth. “Shh Bobby.” The boy petted the toddlers curly brown hair.
Amber was next and thanking God silently as the infant continued to wail despite the mothers best efforts to jiggle hush him gently. Amber touched her stomach absently and glanced back at the chaos behind her. She caught sight of a man behind the woman scowling deeply, his face turning a reddish-purple.
“For the love of God, can’t you shut them up?” The man said through his clenched teeth. Amber was thinking the same thing, but the poor woman looked exhausted as frustration, humiliation and anger flashed over her face. “Sorry.”
“The nerve of you, do something about your brats already.”
Amber’s mouth fell open at the mans brazen comment. The woman doubled her effort to hush her baby as the boy picked up his pig-tailed sister distracting her to silence.
Before Amber could say anything the cashier spoke up.
“Excuse me Sir. These children aren’t hurting anyone or being friggin rude or ignorant. They’re kids so whats your excuse?”
“Well said.” Amber nodded and turned her arid glare on the man then looked at the woman and it hit her hard. She could be this woman. Life did not always go according to plan. Her hand rested on her still flat stomach. No things definitely did not go plan. When she looked back at the man she saw herself in him. Glaring, judging and being the bully. With a frown she paid, grabbed her bags and rushed to get to her car before her tears spilled over.

Whether the children interact directly with my characters or not depends on the situation and what they contribute. Amber is on a better path, she may not stay there but for now I’ll have little bits of morality thrown her way. Lessons on karma, understanding and compassion.

My advice about writing children.
If you need inspiration take a walk in the park, go to the zoo, grocery store, library and look about. Babysit or spend time with children if you don’t have them. They are fascinating and frustrating and fantastic.

-Sheryl

Other posts I liked writing.

Blood

Sweat

+ Tears

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Jiggle
Arid

That’s what she saw

Choosing a book’s POV, point of view is important. It is partly conveying I am as a writer. Sticking to the POV chosen is most important. Swapping or mixing is generally not a great idea. I have read stories that mix and it’s hard to read.

A frustrated reader isn’t reading. Third person POV is the style I write in. There are two types of third person. Third person Limited and Third person Omniscient.

Third person limited is the story revolving around one person. There is no conspiring behind their back, no major or minor events happening away from them. It’s not limiting, just restricted. Things can happen out of their eyesight (Unlike the first person) but the view of the story revolves around one character’s actions, thoughts, and emotions. You can still show the emotions of others.

Third person Omniscient allows the story to be told through multiple characters. Less is more. Two maybe three IMO.  Now some big famous authors do write with a plethora of characters view, however, they do one very important thing. They don’t mix the views. Some say keeping the views to separate paragraphs is good, and I agree it totally is if it’s one, two or maybe three and they are in the same room or area. However, if there are many characters being followed keeping each to their own chapter (unless they cross paths) is recommended. So if I were writing about Pirates and this part of the story was about a Pirate named Tapper who secretly refuses to rob and pillage, I would start the chapter off with   -Tapper-  that way the chapter is clearly labeled as from Tapper’s view. (This chapter labeling can also work really well for first person perspective if you have more than one character narrating.)

I use Omniscient in BiaAtlas, I have two main characters, a third that sort of gets a bit of alone time and a bunch of support characters. If I decide to give them the spotlight I am ultra careful to either use a new paragraph or they get a whole chapter to themselves.

In third person narrative, I as the writer know everything. Thoughts, emotions, actions and well everything. I can say, show and explain whatever I want to. As long as I stay out of my characters’ bodies/minds. No jumping into one’s mind and speaking from their view(that would be first POV)  This is harder than I thought. Filter words and emotional tags are a good indicator I’ve slipped to the wrong POV. It also means I’m being wordy and can remove some.

This is where Showing emotions instead of telling them comes into play. I talk about this all the time. Why? Because it is super important.

For example how not to third person…

Valery felt sad as she looked out the window feeling the cool glass against her forehead. “I feel helpless.” She couldn’t think of anything to do to help Sasha.
Jackson came up from behind sensing her distress and slid his arms around her. The draft from the window felt damp as it brushed his arms he could feel goosebumps rise on his skin.
“Ah baby, that you feel this way shows how good a friend you are. The police will keep her safe until they catch the guy.”
She didn’t think the police were as reliable as they used to be and snorted a response.
Jackson felt she needed a change of activity he wanted her to stop staring at the depressing rainy view.” Come away from the drafty window love.” (131)

Now I’ll take that rubbish and shift it to one POV, the third. Remove the filter words such as feel, felt, want and think…

Valery frowned as she looked out the window, the glass cool against her forehead. “I feel helpless.” Her mind stuck on her missing friend Sasha.
Jackson came up from behind and slid his arms around her. The damp draft from the window raised goosebumps on his arms. “Ah baby, that shows how good a friend you are. The police will keep her safe until they catch the guy.”
She snorted in response, her faith in the police not as strong as it used to be.
Jackson nudged her from the rainy dismal view outside. “Come away from the drafty window love.”  (101)

Not only did I remove 30 words from the original draft, but I managed to pull the reader out of the characters heads/bodies and let them be a part without jumping perspectives. I have to say once I figured out how to highlight the filter words all at once,(Well colour me silly) it made a huge difference in how I look at my sentences when revising a third person POV story.

My advice about 3rd person POV writing.
This is the most common for a reason but can be challenging. Stay focused and watch out for those damned pesky filter words and emotional ‘feelings’. 

-Sheryl

Filter word blog post No “Filter Word” Parking Here
Dialogue Tag blog post Tag! You’re it. 
A showy Blog posShow and tell 
What I mean by Highlighting Filter words Well colour me silly

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Pillage

Ouch! My feelings!

Sometimes a character gets stuck on repeat. They just can’t get over an idea or past one. They will ask the same questions, do the same things and all because they just cant move forward. There are various reasons for this happening, perhaps it’s distrust or disbelief in another person. They might be confused or at their wit’s end. Perhaps they just don’t have a clue what to do or how to proceed. Whatever the case may be, it can make for fantastic drama and hurt feelings.

It had been a very long day. Tack on four hours of emergency overtime and the worlds most awkward late dinner and Amber was done.
Dale buttoned his coat as they left the restaurant. “I still don’t see why we had to play catch up for Sasha. It’s not our fault she disappeared.”
“You said that already.” Amber shoved her hands in her jacket pockets. “Three times.”
“Sorry. I’m…” Dale looked off to the distance.
“I get that this is weird and horrible and super sucky but you’re acting cold. You’re not a cold person Dale.”
He looked sideways at her, Scott’s words from earlier picking at his brain. “Are you sure, I mean a hundred percent certain it’s mine?”
Amber closed her eyes, exhaustion and frustration frayed her patience. “Why the hell would I lie about something like this?” She stopped walking and looked about. The closest people were far enough away not to hear. “Of all the damned things Dale why would I make this up? Do you think I want it to be you?” She shook her head. “Yeah, I’m a trashy little moron that thinks I can pin a pregnancy on any dupe. It’s not like there’s any magical mystical way to prove paternity.” She waved her hands and rolled her eyes.
“Yeah but are you sure?”
“Yes I’m sure.”
“What if it’s not? How would I know?” His words seethed with contempt.
“I may be a lot of things Dale, but I’m not a liar about serious things and I don’t sleep around. Not for real.”
“But it could be someone else’s. You’ve taken a few guys home in the past few weeks.”
“I haven’t.” Amber frowned at his angry face. “Screw you Dale.”
“Isn’t that what got you in this mess?”
She opened her mouth, shut it with a snap and stormed off.
He sighed and watched her walk away. It would be stupid to lie about this. Jogging after her, he caught up and grabbed her arm. “I’m sorry. It’s just Scott said-“
“Scott?” She turned a furious face to him. Of course Scott. She forgot all about her campaign to make him jealous. It didn’t work, but for some reason she kept doing it. Maybe she got a kick out of it.
“He said he saw you leave with men and get into an Uber taxi.”
“You can just say Uber.” She thought a moment. “I don’t know why I need to prove anything to you. I don’t know why I care at all what you think. Call Scott and ask him if he remembers the colour of the Uber car.”
Dale took out his phone with narrowed eyes. They started walking and Amber stopped in front of a bar. while he called.
“Well?” She asked as he put his phone away.
“White, he said it was weird but you always took a white cab.”
“Okay. My turn.” She took her phone out and sent a text. “Now when the car gets here, act drunk and like you’re going to get lucky.”
“Why?”
“Just do it.” She put her arm around his waist and leaned in. Two minutes later a white car pulled up. Dale started pawing and whispering nothing to her. Giggling she got in and he followed. “Hi Tom.”
“Hey Amber.” The driver scowled at Dale who was nibbling her neck. He pulled away from the bar, drove two blocks, pulled over and got out. Amber pushed Dale away as Tom opened the door on Dales side. “Ride’s over. Get out man, don’t make me pull you out.”
“What?” Dale sounded as confused as he looked.
“Get out, She’s not interested.”
“But?” Dale looked at Amber as she shrugged and smirked.
He got out, watched the white car drive away, took out his phone and sent Amber a text. “WTF?”
She replied. “I never take them home, it was just a show to make Scott jealous.”
“It it Toms?”
“Ass. Tom is my brother
.”

Dale stood there for a few minutes realizing she wasn’t coming back. With pursed lips he sent another text. “Is it Scott’s?
FU Drop Dead.”
He read her response a few times as he walked the short distance home. He glanced at his phone as a text came in. “I H8 U. Not UR problem anymore. UR off the hook, so relax .”
Dale punched his apartment door as he closed it behind him. “Ow, son of a-” He went to the kitchen to get some ice shaking his hand. “No doubt she’s bawling her eyes out.” He sighed and cursed discovering he had no ice. He closed the freezer and leaned his head on it. “Dammit.”

Dammit indeed. When I write characters that are under stress I try to remember to make them act a bit irrational and emotional. Creating tension and unhappiness is one of many options to bring a character down before they can get back up. Sometimes as the writer I feel the need to kick them when their down and see what their made of. I’m not sure where these two will go, neither are nice people.

My advice about hurting feelings.
It’s bound to happen, so go for gold and crush their make-believe hearts. Make em cry, ’cause seriously where else can you be totally malicious and hurt someones feelings with no real consequence? *insert evil laugh* writing is fun.

-Sheryl

Other posts

The FAB pencil

Getting a little touchy feely

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Mystical

It’s a love hate sort of thing

I spend a lot of time talking about feelings. How to show them instead of just tell them. That’s because the books I’ve loved the most suck me in and make me feel. However, there are times when showing an emotion can get lost if the context is missing. If I forget to set up or keep up the scenario it can be misread or taken, well a whole other way. Ideally, this would be part of a bigger picture, but what if it’s not?

 Balor put his hand on Sasha’s shoulder as she backed up into the counter.
“You need to leave.” She squeezed her eyes shut. She barely knew him, this can’t be .
His fingers brushed the side of her neck and she whimpered.  “I’ll teach you a thing or two.” Balor’s deep voice made her lips tremble. “Teasing me at the bar.”
“I didn’t mean to.” Sasha had barely looked at this man.
She spent most of the night trying to ditch Valery and Anne. She gasped for air as Balor gripped her Stylish“>stylish pink shirt in his left hand and brought his other hand up to her clammy neck. She moved her trembling fingers behind her reaching for the counter.

The door flew open and Balor let her go.
“What’s going on here!” Cal advanced on Balor fists clenched, he swung hard and fast at Balor, the sickening smack of fist to jaw made her flinch as Balor hit the floor.
“Did you follow me too?” Sasha’s legs wobbled.
“Dammed right I did. I saw this scum follow you out of the bar.” 

That’s not much to go on, so what did you take from it? What emotion was being shown through Sasha? I put in all the correct emotional responses in, I didn’t cheat. Yet it wasn’t clearly showing what I wanted. Still even in that scrap, the reader should know what’s going on.

What was really happening.

Balor put his hand on Sasha’s shoulder as she backed up into the counter.
Screaming was pointless nobody would hear.
“You need to leave.” She squeezed her eyes shut, she barely knew him.

His fingers brushed the side of her neck and she whimpered.  “I’ll teach you a thing or two.” Balor’s deep voice making her lips tremble. “Teasing me at the bar.”
“I didn’t mean to.” She had barely looked at this man, she spent most of the night trying to ditch Valery.
Cal was the one that made her laugh; he made her feel alive again.
She gasped for air as Balor gripped her stylish pink shirt in his left hand and  brought his other hand up to her clammy neck. She moved her trembling fingers behind her reaching for the counter as he raised his fist to strike her. If she could reach the knives, she might survive this.

The door flew open and Balor let her go.
“What’s going on here!” Cal advanced on Balor fists clenched, he swung fast and hard at Balor, the sickening smack of fist to jaw made her flinch as Balor hit the floor.
“Did you follow me too?” Sasha’s legs wobbled.
“Dammed right I did. I saw this scum follow you out of the bar.” Cal pulled out a badge and a pair of handcuffs. “Detective Cal Thorne.”

Taken out of context or not shown properly you might think that the first attempt was a romantic interlude and a jealous lover. However, her emotional responses belonged to Terror. The reason I brought this up was that I was reading a book this summer and set it down. I didn’t get back to it for a while and when I picked it up, what I read didn’t make sense. It was a large block of a chapter missing specific content. Sure, it was there but not right away. I had to go back a couple of pages to get the right feel and read it again.

In the grand picture the creepiness of Balor following her is clear as is his initial and violent contact when she gets home. But what if you had set the book down and couldn’t get back to it for a while and tried to pick up at that point?

My advice about showing feeling without context.
Put it in even if it’s subtle and just a little. For example, love and hate can be similar in select action tags.  You don’t want someone’s intense fevered stare of hate to be read as an intense fevered stare of love just before a fist fight, that might be awkward.

-Sheryl

Related posts:

Unidentified Fervent Outburst!

That is disgusting

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Stylish
Survive

Getting a little touchy feely

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

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

Felt 67
Feel 112
Feeling/feelings 23

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

For example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Sheryl

Other fun posts

Splendidly Stupid

Details, details, details

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Sandwich
Final