(Insert description here)

There are times when I’m writing and I’m totally in the groove. I’m in the moment, writing and it’s moving along well then I have a scene that needs detailed description that I know will not only slow me down, but possibly derail my thought train.  I have a conundrum. I don’t want to stop to describe the walls or carpet,. I want to write, so I’ll plop an (Insert description here) and keep going.

This is totally okay. In fact, I heartily encourage this from my own experience. Here are a few reasons why leaving descriptions until later is a good choice for me.

  • Story flow and ideas will be stifled by slowing down to describe Sasha’s haircut and colour
  • The juices are flowing and describing the apartment will cause the events to slip away
  • I’m not overly familiar with how a police officer’s office might look and it requires research or a bit more time to imagine it correctly
  • I haven’t decided exactly how the office layout will be, so I let it go for now.
  • I know an outside distraction could occur any moment, I need to get my ideas down, and descriptions can wait.
  • When I need to consult a map and that’s time consuming

Part of the reason I do this is not to interrupt my creativity the other part is that I want scenarios, descriptions to be perfect, and a part of the story not a separate entity. Sometimes I need to write the scene before I can determine exactly where they are. I have even changed the location of a confrontation or dialogue solely because what I first imagined wasn’t quite good enough.

Things I’ll describe later because I’m in the groove.

A person’s appearance (Less is more IMO)

The setting for a scene

A building

An object of fascination or use

A place I’m not familiar with and requires research

A task or job I need to research further

An object that I’m not familiar with or it’s use

A food/drink I haven’t had before, so need to try before writing about it.

The point is that I often find myself wanting to write the story and not stop to focus on the little things that make the story savory. I can add them later or during revision as long as I leave myself a reminder.

My advice about Place markers.
They can be helpful. I do however recommend making them stand out by highlighting them in some way.

-Sheryl

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Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Conundrum

Chop, chop, prep that character

From bad to worse.

A character created to fall before they rise up, must do so gloriously. The way to get them there must be interesting and exciting. This takes planning and prepwork. Sometimes that can mean going backwards to add it in after the fact. This is fine especially when I’m not sure exactly where things are going until they get there.

For Sasha, the set up needs to be intriguing and potentially dangerous. Her life is shifting, mixing swiftly and the ingredients are smashing into one another causing her to see herself and her life in a different light.

I like to look at a character as if they are holding their plate above their head and I’m heaping on issues and problems for them to deal with, like potatoes and gravy at thanksgiving. The question is how much? That depends on what outcome I want.

To set Sasha up I need her distracted and her mind too full of issues. So I pile them on. I want her to be ready to accept her fall and have the new found strength to push back, get up and fight. It isn’t easy but I try to keep this subtle.

So far the issues I’ve given this particular Protagonist are:
Disapproving parents
A dark secret that makes her refuse to date
Scott pestering her to date him
Her friends nagging her to get over it and date
Baylor attacking her in her home
Amber and Dale bullying her at work
Her self-denied attraction to Detective Cal Thorn who she snubbed
And the following:

Sasha’s nerves were taught and frayed. After avoiding Scott, Amber and Dale she made it to the sanctuary of her small office. She stared off into space as Valery popped her head in the door.
“Hey you okay, why were you so late?” Valery sat primly in the chair across from Sasha’s
“Baylor got out on bail.”
“What!” Valery looked out the open door and lowered her voice as she got up and shut it. “I mean you said he might, but for real?”
“Yeah.” Sasha rubbed her forearms. “This morning, the judge didn’t hear a word I had to say, the others couldn’t identify him. The evidence is in question too. It was an utterly frustrating mess.”
Valery hugged her friend.
“He’s under watch and Detective Thorn said I would be too.”
“So would Baylor come after you?”
Sasha shook her head. “It’s not likely. The detective said if Baylor thinks he’ll walk away from this then he won’t do anything to land himself back in jail. Baylor was so charming and convincing”
“Could he get away with it?” Valery held her friend by the shoulders at arm’s length.
Sasha nodded. “The judge certainly thought so. Oh, Val it was as if she was accusing me of harassing Baylor! Thank God Detective Thorn was there, he was so kind and helpful.”
“You two are spending a lot of time together.” Valery’s suggestive tone was aimed to distract.
Heat crept up Sasha’s cheeks like flames as she looked at her friend. There was nothing she could say. It was a dammed if she agrees, and dammed if she denies type scenario. There is only one course of action possible.
“How is that new guy Jackson? Did he pass your stupid relish test?”
Valery laughed throwing her head back. “Typical Sash, deflect, deflect, deflect. No he piled the barf on his hotdog and ate it with gusto.”
“That’s too bad.” Sasha sat back down.
“Normally it would be, however he figured out that I was put off and made me tell him why.”
Sasha looked up from her hands. “And then what?”
Valery shrugged. “He promised to brush his teeth and never eat it in front of me again.”
“And you’re okay with that?”
Valery put her hand on the door handle. “I have to be, one look from him and I melt. It’s like I’m being burned when his flames for fingers touch me.” Valery chuckled and opened the door. “By the way, we’ll revisit that Detective of yours later.”
“Don’t waste your time Val, he’s just doing his job and I’m still not interested in dating.”
“Uh huh.” Valery closed the door. Her laugh, though muffled, and was easily heard.

I think I’ll add one more thing before Sasha snaps, I won’t say what just yet, but it will be a wild card.

Even though I’m tearing Sasha down it doesn’t need to be all melodrama or blatantly obvious. She is still Sasha, but more aware that things aren’t exactly as they should be, people are not who they pretend to be and her life isn’t heading the direction it needs to go.

My advice about prep-work.
Out of the blue life changing events are okay but are served better if the character is prepped properly. Give them a reason to want to grow or change, give the reader a reason to want them to.

-Sheryl

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Eating emotions

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Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Flames

Eating emotions

Eating. We all do it, and so do the imaginary people I bring to life in my stories. Food is important in the real world, it’s familiar and can bring people together or tear a person apart. For some, it’s just sustenance and not important. For others, it can be all consuming, the life-force to which their very souls depend. It can be joy, pleasure, happiness, torture, guilt, shame, control, and more. Food can signify the promise of fulfillment, both physical and emotional.

Nobody wants to read a full on description of every component of a meal, but a familiar description of sight smell and taste. (Use caution if not writing in first person narrative about describing smell and taste, it will need to be filter word free and shown not told.) Most people know what things smell and taste like, a small reminder or a luscious one can evoke emotion in the reader that holds them tight to the story and endears them to the characters I want them to love as much as I do.

Writing food and food interaction is a fantastic tool in my opinion to highlight a person’s likes, dislikes, flaws, quirks, and habits, good or bad. The opportunity is there to create witty dialog or bring characters at odd with one another to a common ground.  It can be a spectacular method of conveying emotion or even emotional state.

Comfort food. What not to do.

Anne wiped her tears and pulled her knees to her chest as the apartment door opened behind her.
“Hey, you.” Garry kissed the top of her head and set the large deep-dish pizza down on the solid oak coffee table in front of the couch that Anne sat on while crying. “After what happened I thought you could use some comfort food.”
She nodded and wiped her face again as he sat and pulled her into his arms. “It was humiliating that Jane got the promotion. I know how she got it. Thieving bitch.”
He rubbed her back. “Well.” He said sitting up and he reached down and opened the box. The thick bubbly crust perfectly cooked to perfection. The spicy garlic tomato based sauce well hidden below layers of melted stringy mozzarella cheese.  The hot and spicy greasy pepperoni covered the pie generously and the crunchy crumbled bacon stuck in the cheese smelled salty and savory.  
“Mmm.” She reached for a slice. “You’re the best-est.”
“I am.” He chuckled. “And eventually Jane’s true quality of work will become apparent because you’re going to stop doing it all for her. Then when they look, they’ll see who the talent in that office is.”
Anne covered her half-full mouth behind her hand. “Yeah. Screw her.” She smiled. (216)

Seriously, it’s pizza in a fiction, not a recipe book or flowery restaurant review.

Anne wiped her tears and pulled her knees to her chest as the apartment door opened behind her.
“Hey, you.” Garry kissed the top of her head and set a steaming pizza box on the low coffee table in front of her. “After what happened I thought you could use some comfort food.”
She nodded and wiped her face again as he sat and pulled her into his arms. “It was humiliating that Jane got the promotion. I know how she got it. Thieving bitch.”
He rubbed her back. “Well.” He said sitting up and opening the box freeing the smell of spicy sauce, cheese, bacon and pepperoni upon them.
“Mmm.” She reached for a slice. “You’re the best-est.”
“I am.” He chuckled. “And eventually Jane’s true quality of work will become apparent because you’re going to stop doing it all for her. Then when they look, they’ll see who the talent in that office is.”
Anne covered her half-full mouth behind her hand. “Yeah. Screw her.” She smiled. (169)

In some cases I want super vague, to demonstrate the characters lack of interest in the details.

Mark looked at the selection of chocolate bars and yelled ‘no!’ in his head. The reflection of himself in the shop window showed him the gut that hung over his slacks, his thick neck, and double chin.
His stomach growled as he looked back, blindly grabbed and placed two bars on the counter along with the chips. Then two more as the clerk rung up his selections.
Leaving the store his frown deepened as he unwrapped two bars and tossed the wrappers in the trash before climbing into his truck.
He barely tasted them as he finished the second before he even turned over the engine. “Tomorrow.” He looked at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. With tears pricking his eyes, he fumbled with another wrapper. “Tomorrow I’ll start the diet.” He sniffled with his mouth full. “Tomorrow.”

Everyone knows what a chocolate bar (Or candy-bar) is brand and type wasn’t necessary here. Sometimes a bit more detail is necessary to set the tone… This is where the idea discussed in The FAB pencil comes in handy.

The bright red strawberry gave off its ripe fragrant aroma as Valery brought it to her lips. Parting them slightly she bit into the sweet juicy berry as Grant watched. His mouth watered not for the food, but for the sensual look in her eyes. Both for the fruit and for him. Unless he was imagining her attraction. He closed his eyes a moment to open them as her strawberry flavored lips touched his.

My advice about food.
People eat, so should our imaginary friends. I do recommend keeping the descriptions short and sweet, not too salty. I can’t make any promises, but if you trim the fat when necessary and garnish when it’s important you will grab your reader’s attention.

-Sheryl

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Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Promises
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