The Little Details

As I make my way through my second edit between living my life, I’ve noticed something is missing.

The little details.

I’m missing the little details. I have people dressed but in what? I have people entering a room but it’s empty. I have people in a car that was never described and dancing to music that isn’t acknowledged.

This is a bad thing, but it’s expected. When I write my original draft, I tend to skip the little details in favor of writing the story. My fingers fly across the keyboard and because they can’t keep up with what I want to say, the little details are left out. This isn’t always the case but it does happen. There will be naysayers out there that say “if you can’t write it properly the first time you’re not a good writer.”  Boo to them. Naysayers will do anything to bring me down and I don’t care what they say.

This book is so much fun and it’s very fast-paced. It happens in under two weeks. Because of the pace and excitement level, I did skip a lot of little details.

I don’t see this as a problem, now I have the opportunity to go back and fix what’s missing with a calm mind.

For example:

Original:

I rushed to get dressed and ran down the stairs to the busy street. I skipped my morning coffee. I would get one from the franchise near the office.

I hurriedly walked the six blocks north and dodged people too busy to care that they were in my way.

This needs some work. Now you don’t know the character or why she’s rushing, that’s not important for this example. Because word count is of little concern this time around, I can embellish without worry.

Corrected:

There was no thought to the grey pencil skirt I slipped over my hips nor the powder blue blouse I fumbled to button. I tore a pair of stockings in my haste and cursed until I had my blue flats on my feet.

After nearly tripping down my apartment stairs out to the busy street, I elected to skip my usual morning coffee from the little shop across the street. I needed to get to the office six blocks north. The sunny morning was an exercise in dodging people too busy to care that they were in my way.

Now she’s wearing specific clothes because this story is fast paced I try to keep track of what each character is wearing by having a day summary for each day in the story.

When putting in details like skipping the coffee, it’s an opportunity to set the mood for later or a moment when she might go to get one elsewhere. When editing it is easy to put in small details that can have a big impact. They are foreshadow’s on a small scale.

Finding the missed details can be a challenge, I’ll often have others read my story and let me know when they can’t imagine what a character’s wearing or doing or where they are exactly.

My advice about little details.
Fit them in without listing them off, have the character interact with the object or space you’re describing. Whether you put them in from the start or later when you edit, don’t forget to mention what kind of coffee someone is sipping.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Other posts about details

Details, details, details

She’s a person not a cake

Dancing

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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

Becoming Bad

There comes a time in my story when I need to bring a character over to the dark-side. Generally if its someone who has been dabbling or leaning over the line for a while I’ll have something give them a nudge. Or I’ll reveal their true nature that was there all along just being hidden.

I like to carefully foreshadow a characters corruption with influential words or actions that betray their true nature or intentions. If I don’t do this it can leave the reader confused as to why they became bad or acted out aggressively.

This I find can be complicated or even hard to do if I become attached to a character or decide to lead them down the dark path even though they started on the light side as the character in my example did.

I personally like to give these flippers a rich story, something to get the reader interested in them but leery at the same time.

Amber wrenched open the door to stop Scott’s incessant pounding before it upset her neighbors.
“Stop it.” Amber scowled. “Come in already.”
Scott dripping from the rain wiped his face and teetered on his feet.
Amber closed the door. “Ugh. You’re drunk. Why are you here?”
Scott grabbed her by the shoulders “First Sasha now you. Why?”
“What?” Amber tried to pull away wincing at his sour breath.
“She turned me down now you are, are you playing some game?”
“Oh my God Scott. I’m with Dale, I’m having his freaking baby. Sasha just didn’t like you. I’m beginning to wonder if she saw something I didn’t.” Amber tried to pull away again. “Until recently that is. Let me go.”
“No! This isn’t how its supposed to be. I get the girl! Me, not Dale, me! If not Sasha then you at least.”
“Charming.” Amber shoved his chest and managed to get out of his grip. “Get out of my apartment. I. Don’t. Want. You.”
“Liar, yes you do. You want to have sex with me.” Scott said with a slur and grabbed for her again forcing his mouth over hers. Amber brought up her knee, wedged her foot against his thigh and pushed Scott away.
“You don’t know squat abou twhat I want. Get the fuck out of my apartment now.” She ran for her cellphone, her hands shaking.
“It’s not too late Amber. Dump Dale, you can get rid of the problem and be with me. You know that’s what you really want.”
Shaking and fighting back tears she eyed the door he now blocked. “I’m calling 911.” She held the phone up to her ear backing up toward the kitchen. Scott advanced too fast,  the phone from her hand and ended the call.
“Don’t be a bitch Amber, I’m just offering you what you want. I know that parasite isn’t Dale’s, I wont let you hurt him. Dale and I’ve been friends since university. Admit that you’re a slut, and I’m all yours.”
Amber turned and ran to the kitchen, grabbed a chef’s knife from the block and spun to face the wild-eyed drunk Scott. “Get out, get out, get out you bastard, get out!”
Scott held up his hands and backed up back down the hall as she advanced. The image of his ex fiancée with a knife in her hand calling him a bastard slammed into his mind hard. The impact, though mental, was like a physical blow. He stopped her then, he would stop her now… His face darkened, he lowered his chin and glared.
“You’re threatening me? First you tease me, then trick my best friend to have unprotected sex with you, fake your pregnancy to trap him and now you’re threatening me?” A crooked smile distorted his face. “I’ll make you pay for this Linda, you’ll regret crossing me again. Dale will see the truth in you just like Andrew did; you slutty little whore!” Scott hurled Amber’s cellphone at her face forcing her to duck as Scott left, slamming the door behind him.
Amber stumbled against the door sliding the dead-bolt in place and scrambled for her phone to call Dale. “Please, please pick up, please.” She wiped her tears as she collapsed to her knees on the floor.
Scott spat on the door and stumbled in his blind fury out to his car. He would take care of her just like he did Linda. “Treacherous bitches. Sleeping with my friends.” He slammed his palms against the steering wheel. “Nobody cheats on me.”

Sooo… Yeah Scott’s gone off the deep end, no surprise there really. Dangerous people become desperate and desperate people are dangerous. When I write someone loosing control I give it back to them quickly. An irrational bad guy isn’t as fun as someone who can regroup, plan  and carry out a dastardly plan. For Scott to tip the scale I gave him alcohol to lower his defenses and mess up big time.

My advice about exposing the bad guy.
Make it sudden, startling and abrupt. However make sure there is enough foreshadow that the reader isn’t scowling at the pages wondering WTF?

-Sheryl

Some other posts you might like

The jerk-face warrior

Two-faced phony-baloney

I swear! Or do I?

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Squat

Conver(Conversation)sation

I love dialogue, good dialogue that is. I try to keep it interesting and realistic. I like to avoid droning, dull, stiff and pointless conversations. But what if a wee bit of pointless is necessary? What if it could be a foreshadow or just fun?

After looking at trivial conversations and removing the repetitiveness of it, I look at the logic and make sure it’s not to dry. So the dialog is okay, but what if it’s still dull or not going anywhere? It’s time to pop a little extra something into the conversation.

I don’t do this often if at all. If I do, it’s for a foreshadow or to highlight the characters personality, history or inclinations. Sometimes to show a characters quirks. What I’m talking about is conversation within a conversation. We’ve all done it and all been witness to it. It happens more often than people realize.

For example:

“The workload seems double lately. Everyone’s on vacation all at once.” Dale wiped mustard from his chin with a paper napkin.
Scott shook his head. “I’m sick of covering for Sasha. Her vacation was over a week ago.”
Dale scowled. “It’s weird, frosty knickers didn’t mention to anyone she was planning a vacation.”
Amber looked up from her lunch. “You mean the impromptu vay-cay that just happened to be right after Clifton gave her the mystical pink-slip file?” She looked at Dales confused face. “Remember Troy?”
Dale nodded. “Yeah.”
“Mmm.” She swallowed the large sip; the straw flicked from her lips. “He got the file and a month later.” She slammed her palms on the diner table. “Gone.”
Scott shoved a french fry in his mouth. “Same happened to Gale and Peter too. Both fired after about a month.” He furrowed his brow while chewing. “Or quit. Not sure which.”
Dale tilted his head. “Huh. So where’s Clifton then? He’s M.I.A. too.”
Amber picked up her half eaten burger. “Ooh maybe they’ve run off together. A tropical tryst getaway.” She took a big bite, chewing while watching Scott think too hard.
“Valery says vacation.” Scott looked at his two friends. “But her behavior and tone say otherwise.”
Amber set her burger down, picked up a couple fries and dipped them in ketchup. “Probably because she know’s the ice princess and creepy Clifton are stooping it on the sly.”
“Frigid remember?” Dale stole a fry from Amber’s tray and she playfully swatted his hand. “She probably took time off for stress. Poor crybaby’s been wigged out and acting crazy lately. Miss glacier could use a good stiff one on hot sunny beach if you ask me.”
Scott thought back over the timeline as Amber and Dale laughed heartily. A vacation made sense. However something was niggling at his mind. Something wasn’t quite right.

Originally it was just a conversation about Sasha being gone too long on vacation and it coinciding with the boss Clifton’s disappearance. I added the side story about the file since at this point it hasn’t come up in a while.

It could be as simple as this:

Valery tapped her toe impatiently as Scott scanned his email. “No, sorry. I have no idea. It wasn’t sent to me. Clifton was the last to have the file.”
She huffed. “Great and he’s not reachable. I need that dammed file.”
Scott shrugged. “I know his passwords. I can unlock his computer for you.”
Valery narrowed her eyes at him.
“It’s no big deal, he asked me to log in about a month ago.” Scott nodded. “This HR guy came in for a meeting. Clifton was running late and wanted me to show him a list or something.” Scott shrugged again. “Guy was super creepy, kept looking at you and Alice and stroking his chin. Anyway he took a printout and left before Clifton showed up.”
Valery scrunched her eyes tight a moment. She was one to cling to rules and regulations as if they were law. “I really do need the file.” She gestured for Scott to go to Clifton office. “What if the password was changed?”
“Clifton is an idiot, ah…” He cleared his throat. “I mean, he never changes them.”

Subtle or not, a side conversation within a conversation can add a hint or foreshadow in a way that isn’t glaringly obvious. The side conversation can be pointless too, if that’s the case I’d make sure it’s humorous or showcases a characters personality.

My advice about conversation within conversation.
If you run into a conversation that needs a little something, like a small dash of salt in chocolate chip cookies. Without it they are too sweet. I forgot once and they weren’t horrible, but the cookies were definitely missing something. Stick a small side story or conversation in the middle of a conversation if it can help.

-Sheryl

Other Posts

Drunken secrets

One step forward and two steps back

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Cling
Fry

What did you mean?

I have read stories and books that miss one very important thing. Setting up an emotionally charged statement before it happens.  When I’m reading dialogue it can be frustrating to get to the end of a sentence only to discover my inner-voice was way off on the tone that the character was meant to be speaking in. I call this emotional tone delay. I read said dialogue, find out the tone I imagined was wrong then have to either read it or mentally replay it in the correct tone.  If it happens too often I like the book less and less and less.

How it sounds in my head as the writer isn’t necessarily the way it sounds in the readers. This is why it is so important to create a welcoming world for the reader to jump into. Show them tone and emotion instead of bludgeoning them with a tag.

“Really?” Amber said with excitement.

By putting the tag at the end, what ‘voice’ I read that in was voided. As a reader that can be annoying and then all voices sound out deadpan and the emotion is applied after the fact. It makes for some terrible visualization and fantasy.

Amber grinned and bounced on the balls of her feet. “Really?” 

Sarcasm is often lost in print if I want to convey a tone of voice shows the tone by posturing the character. My rule I’ve adopted from others: Don’t get lazy and tell the tone.

“Really?” Dale said sarcastically.  

Set it up properly so the reader knows it’s sarcasm or tags it with an appropriate action.

Dale inhaled slowly. “Really?” He rolled his eyes.

Creating the tone before the character speaks is important. This can be as long as a paragraph or as short as a few words. Setting the reader up for a smooth transition to the words lets them enjoy the story without having to “re-hear” it in their head before moving on.  So what happens if the set up is the wrong emotion conveying action?

Scott tilted his head to the side. “Really?” 

That could be humor, anger, annoyance, sarcasm or maybe tease. Normally in a story, there would be leading up to a statement like that. But I’ll pretend there isn’t and Scott’s statement is the start of the conversation or scenario. While tilting the head can convey emotion it is often a quirk or habit that without context could mean anything.

Scott crossed his arms, tilted his head to the side with his brow furrowed. “Really?”

Sure it get’s wordy, however, if I really want to show the reader how Scott feels then I will make it work. I might even take the head tilting out unless I have that as Scott’s quirk. I wouldn’t want everyone going around gesturing the same way.

Scott tilted his head to the side as a sly grin spread across his face. “Really?”

Scott’s head tilted to the side as he stifled a snicker. “Really?”

Scott’s fist slammed on the table then he tilted his head. “Really?”

If the tone isn’t foreshadowed by action before the statement, the reader will likely project their own emotion into it. That may or may not work out and may or may not put them off the story which in turn will mean devastation for the review and reader’s opinion of the story and author.  I can write words and have my own idea how they are supposed to sound, but if I don’t let the reader in on it, then I’ve let them down.

My advice about acting out emotion.
I do this to keep the reader engaged, I highly recommend it. Don’t let the reader decide what ‘vocal’ tone the characters are using, show them so the meaning behind the word isn’t lost. After all, you don’t want a character to move when you mean swoon. 

-Sheryl

A post or two from a while back.

Squirrelly concentration at best

Time to take out the trash

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Mope
Devastation

Don’t burn the turkey!

Some would say there is a fine, delicate and balanced skill to cook the perfect turkey. The same goes for writing a book. Fresh or frozen(Genre)? How do I dress it(Content)? What temperature and for how long(Word count and style)? Moreover, how often to baste(Revise and edit)? Sure, that’s all fine and dandy for the poultry but how does that apply to my book? I need to pick the genre (Or write the genre my heart picks) Books take a lot of prep work, (even if that prep happens throughout.) Editing and revision is important, but how many times do I edit and revise? How do I know when it’s done and to take the book out and serve it to my readers?

For me I had some guidelines, a list of things I needed to accomplish.

Story flow
Word count reduction
Filter words removal(Started doing this one word at time)
Foreshadow check and instillation
POV check and correction
Action tag revision (Show not tell)
Dialog tag revision (Show not tell)

I ended up revising and reviewing BiaAtlas many times. I had others review it for me and point out the obvious, such as misspelled words (that are technically not misspelled), but clearly wrong. And then I revised again.

Word count became by biggest challenge. As a first time writer and this being my very first book it had to, I mean had to, be within an industry standard word count.

When I finished my first draft I found out my book was 15,000 words over the maximum allowable of 125,000.  Then as I went along and got it down to 125,000 with a lot of work.  I sought professional consultation and the consensus is, it needed to be below 120,000.  That was 5000 more to remove from a book I thought was done.

A little discouraged, yet determined I went about checking filter words and checking carefully for verbose descriptions. During this final review, I discovered one thing that I was stupid kinds of excited about and embarrassed over. I was up to this point reviewing one word or issue at a time. I’m not a professional editor to look for multiple infractions at a time… unless… as discussed in “Well colour me silly” I had a stroke of good fortune and had the idea to highlight all the potential trouble words at one time.

Holy Smokes! It worked!

By making all the words that might indicate a POV change or sentence issue, I was able to do one final and successful edit. I have only 704 words left to remove and 23 more chapters to go.

I made a list( A long list) Of words I know are filter, overused and issue words and made them stand out with bright colours. I made an excel file list with each chapter, the word count, how many were removed per chapter(entered as I finished), how many I had to go(This column was encouraging) and on average how many words I need to remove per chapter to achieve my goal(this changed with each line to reflect previous chapter edits)

As long as I stayed close to or over the removal average things moved along smoothly.

Now I will keep going and finish reviewing each chapter until I’m done and the further below that magic number I can get, the better chances I have of getting a Literary agent to look closer at my work and take me seriously.

I found there was some repetitiveness and verbose sentences that were easily reconstructed to lower word count and I’m beyond happy with how BiaAtlas now reads and flows.

So for me I know that BiaAtlas is nearly done roasting. Once I’m done getting the word-count down below 120,000 I will stop, take it out of the oven and let it rest(query more agents) and serve it to my guests(Get it published).

So thank you to all that bother to read, comment and like my blog posts. I appreciate every single one of you.

— an update since I pre-wrote this post on Sunday. I have 8 chapters left and I am now 233 words below the max!!  Woot woot! Now to keep going, the rest is just gravy.

My advice about not overdoing the editing.
Draw a finish line and stick to it. Know when to stop and say it’s done, potential imperfections and all. My finish line changed, I thought the turkey was done but the professional thermometer said otherwise. I adjusted and redrew my line. This time it’s firm and I’m very excited.

-Sheryl

Related blogs

Well colour me silly

The “word count” down.

I’m ‘that’ kind of writer

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Fortune
Fortune

Karma. It really is a B*tch

Rumors are a part of life. People gossip, people believe it and others just love to embellish what’s already there out of pure fun. The most powerful kind of rumor are those seeded with truth because they ring true on some level. The more believable the more powerful a rumor can be.

When I write rumors into my stories, I give them a base. A rumor needs something to work from, something that might make them believable. Back story or foreshadowing early on or at least a chapter before the rumors fly. I do this because most rumors start as fact, true or not someone takes that tidbit and runs with it, morphs it and makes it extravagant and tantalizing.

Purposeful rumors are ones set adrift on purpose with a goal in mind. Usually that goal is to hurt someone, tear them down or maybe just make them feel bad in retribution. Sometimes I might write someone telling a rumor with the goal of flushing out the gossipmongers. Since rumors are realistic, they are easy to come up with.

Accidental rumors are the kind that are secrets overheard. They can be the weak-willed telling all with little provocation or someone accidentally blurting it out because they just suck that much.

No matter how you slice it, rumors can cause tension, upset and all kinds of juicy drama. And sometimes, just sometimes rumors are true.

“Karma.” Amber mumbled at the screen. Her frown etched deep on her face. Karma. The word slammed her mind like a battering ram. She deserved this and was only now seeing just how awful she truly is. The words “office slut” kept auto-correcting every time she typed her name. She had no idea how to fix it. She opened her mouth to ask Dale then closed it. Out of curiosity she typed his name and it auto corrected to Baby Daddy. She deleted it, took out her phone and texted Dale asking him to fix it and put a password on her computer.

With shaking hands and a pale face, she opened Scott’s door.
“Did you do it?”
“Do what?” He asked eyes narrowed.
“Did you change my auto-correct?”
He sighed. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. There are rules about messing with other people’s property here and unlike you I abide by them. And honestly, I have better things to do than tease you. I can see how upset you are and you are a friend. I’m not that big a jerk.”
There was enough truth in his eyes for her to believe. “Okay.” She turned to leave.
“But.”
She looked at him sharply.
“Amber the rumors are flying and fast. Who did you tell?”
“I was going to ask you. Only three people know and Dale and I wouldn’t say anything.”
“Like I said, you’re a friend and so is Dale. I respect you two too much to be a total ass. Someone must have overheard us.”

Amber nodded and left his office. He’s petty and selfish but gossip was never his thing. Not really. Snickers and heads turned away a smidge too late. Everywhere. Double glances and covert stares. The office was infested and so fast. Plagues had nothing on this. Her cellphone buzzed and she read the text from Dale. “Fixed. Password is where you told me. WTF? U tell?

She bit her lip and replied. “No. Scott guessed.” She looked at Dale’s response. “He didn’t do this.”
Amber made her way to her desk. Rachael looked at her smugly and Francis barely hid her giggle before turning away. Amber sat at her desk numbly and entered her new password “Russo”. She looked at the ad she was to proof next. It was from Francis on Birth control. Amber looked across the open office as Francis shook her head barely containing her merriment. Karma. It really is a bitch.

Can’t say she didn’t have it coming. Rumors are fun to write and fun to play around with in the wonderful world of my writing. I hate rumors for real they carry too much power and consequence for both ends. This wouldn’t have worked if I hadn’t had Amber picking on Sasha and being horrible in general. To give the rumor credit she needed to be the type of person who a, deserved it and b, is likely to be what they say, the office slut. Even if it’s untrue, she made it likely.

My advice about rumors.
Real world, no. Written world of our make-believe, oh yeah! Get your bully on! Terrorize your characters.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

I swear! Or do I?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Abide

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

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

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