A chance moment

I blabber on about writing a lot. Probably because I can. There are moments in life when separate things slip together and all of a sudden bam! It all makes sense. The sudden realization of something either right before your eyes or close to it.

I like to lead a character up to the moment when they finally look up, wide-eyed and  realize something important. If I’m writing a scene but don’t know how to bridge the events properly I’ll use a chance moment. Something random but not unbelievable.

The options for purposefully random chance moments are infinite. Since they are random, you can choose anything or anyone to make it happen. Even a character never before used. So long as it all fits the story and is not truly random and unbelievable.

“Scott you look terrible.” Valery stopped him in the hall outside the lunchroom.
“Couldn’t sleep.” He ran his hands through his dark hair. 
“Do you need time-” Valery stopped abruptly when he looked her in the eyes.
“Sasha’s in trouble isn’t she?” He rubbed his face after her minute nod.
Valery leaned closer lowering her voice. “She was in protective custody.”
“Was?”
“I only found out most of this yesterday. She was told to keep it from us for her safety. Did she tell you about that guy attacking her?”
Scott nodded. “A little.”
Valery tapped away on her smart phone and held it up to him. “When this came out in the news last week I…” She swallowed hard as Scott stared at the image of Baylor Crowen.
“Shit, that’s the guy? The mangler attacked her?”
“Yes. They only got his picture because Sasha got him arrested. Apparently he tried again.”
Scott took her phone for a closer look. “That’s when she went on vacation?”
“Yes. The detective said.” Valery swallowed hard, her voice cracking from strain. “He found her while under protection.”
Scott’s mouth fell open, but he couldn’t speak.
“Something happened, the cops wont say what and I have no idea what’s going on.”
“He looks familiar.” Scott squinted at the screen.
“Well he’s been headline news twice since last week.”
“I know.” He tapped his chin. “But…” He saw Jenny approaching with her overly bubbly gait. She was Clifton’s unofficial assistant. The gossip about the two of them isn’t kind.
“I actually met him at the bar the night he attacked Sasha. I thought he was hot.” Valery shivered at the memory. 
“Who’s hot?” Jenny grinned and peeked a the phone. “That’s the weird HR guy.”
Valery and Scott looked at each other alarmed.
“HR?” Valery queried.
“Uh huh.” Jenny sat. “He comes in every few weeks to see Clifton.” She scrunched her face. “He’s sorta hot, but prefers brunettes. Too bad.” She twirled a lock of her dark blonde hair around her index. “It’s funny for HR, he’s never talked to anyone. Just oggles Alice, yells at Clifton and leaves.”
“He’s been here?” Valery glanced at Scott. If she had seen him, she’d remember.
“Sure has. Not lately though. So whats up with him?”
“Oh.” Valery licked her lips and grabbed her phone from Scott. “He’s not on our payroll anymore. Since Clifton’s away would you let me know if he comes by again? He left some things here.”
“Sure thing Valery.” Jenny held up a thumb drive. “Amber needs this. Later.”
Valery was already dialing the number detective Thorn gave her as she dragged Scott toward her office.

Since Valery and Scott are minor support characters I didn’t want them to figure too much out on their own. So in Comes Jenny to slip in the missing piece of the puzzle.  The only hitch to having someone provide random information is it needs to be believable. I’ve mentioned a mysterious HR guy before so I could work it in this way. It’s also a bit more exciting than a narrative or dual dialogue of Scott and Valery “working it out”.

My advice about a chance moment.
I love them if I’m stuck with a way to get to a point in an interesting or exciting way. Give it a try, and see what happens.

-Sheryl

An old post or two

Building chemistry

What exactly did cupid do?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Infinite

Rules rule the rules

Rules. They are meant to be made, followed, broken and even disregarded completely. There are those that abide them to the letter and those that avoid the responsibility of even knowing them. So it would stand to reason that I would write such personalities into my characters.

The struggle to abide by rules is real, its tangible because most people have encountered a moment in life where the rules simply cannot apply.  There are self inflicted rules, rules imposed by others and rules imposed for safety or the law.

Almost everything is governed by rules:
How to write, how not to write
How to edit, revise and review writing
What to wear and how to wear it
Who to socialize with and when
What to eat and drink, when to eat and drink
How to do a job or task
How to drive
Basically how to live. The rules are never ending some serious and some ridiculous.

As a writer rules are everywhere, some I abide by, some I take with a grain of salt. A lot of rules “made up” are just that, made up. Somones over inflated ego passing off opinion as fact. However when it comes to writing about rules or implementing life rules in my writing, I am in charge, I choose who follows what and when. More importantly I control who breaks them and causes trouble.

I like to have someone straight laced be forced to break a rule or forced by circumstance to decide to break a steadfast rule they hold true to normally. It can be equally fun to have a rebellious persona find need to follow one too. The inner turmoil this might dredge up can be fascinating to both write and read.  All I do is think about how I personally feel when faced with a rule that is either holding me back or keeping me safe. I apply my state, emotions and reactions to my writing.  Not all rules are good some can be restraining, cause problems and even tension.

Scott stood outside Clifton’s office and glanced down at the article on his cellphone. He had the code to get in, in fact he had all Clifton’s security codes. It was easy to get the overly cautious boss’s codes from his overly snoopy spy program. Only because it was installed wrong and Clifton had no clue about anything. This would mean termination if he was found or caught, but he had to know.

With a heavy sigh he wiped his sweaty palms on his pants that bespoke his nervous state. He glanced up and down the hall then punched the three digit code into the pad and the door opened. Slipping in and easing the door closed behind him he let out his pent up breath. The computer was already on and not logged out.

“Idiot.” Scott whispered to the bright sunlight office as he sat and began his search.  “First things first.” He took out his cellphone with the picture of Baylor Crowen from he news. He thought he recalled seeing this guy before come in for a meeting. He showed up early, went into Clifton office and disappeared before Clifton even showed up. The boss was weird so nobody questioned it.
“Holy sh…” Scott leaned closer to the security footage of the day Baylor attacked Sasha. It was him, no doubt. Heart racing and palms sweating Scott glanced at the door as someone walked by. He could lose his job for this.

“No.” Amber shook her head and looked away from Scott.
“Ah come on Amb’s I need your help.”
“Oh like hell you do. You just want me to take the heat for your snooping like usual. I told you to let it go. I told you not to go into Clifton’s office.”
“Since when do you care about the rules?” Scott smiled sweetly. “I’d love it if you did this for me.” 
She narrowed her eyes. He was too attractive. Why Sasha didn’t jump at the chance to be with him she would never understand. She pushed Scott to pursue Sasha hoping he would realize she was as warm as a tundra stone in mid winter. 
“No. I can’t.”
“Can’t?” Scott tilted his head seductively. “Or won’t”
“Both. If you want to break into Valerie s personal email and the companies HR files you’re on your own.”
“But just think of all the juicy ammo you could get.”
She sighed. “Three days ago I’d be all over that offer. I can’t Scott. I hate that I even know. And for what? Sasha? She doesn’t like you. It’s pathetic that you moon over her, that you chase her shamelessly.”
Scott laughed loudly. “Oh hello kettle.” He wiped his eyes. “So rich coming from you!”
Clenching her jaw she threw the binder at him and stormed out of his office.
She couldn’t help her feelings. As she approached her desk she watched Dale work, engrossed in an edit he didn’t see her approach. Dale did love his work and he was exceptionally good at it. Did she help the wrong guy get the promotion? She looked back down the hall toward Scott’s office who laughed at her constantly then back at Dale who helped and encouraged her consistently. The sudden burning in her stomach made her turn toward the washrooms instead of her desk.

Breaking rules can be so much fun and can take a story in so many different directions. The options are endless and I’ll often think out a few different scenarios before committing to one.

My advice about Rules.
The same rules that apply in live, apply for writing life. Rules exist, they can be ignored and broken, followed and worshiped. It’s totally up to you how you want your characters to respond to rules and the potential of breaking them. 

-Sheryl

Other posts

Eating emotions

Spell check doesn’t catch them all.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Bespoke

+ Tears

I have a lot of fun watching people, their reactions and comparing them to my own. It is fascinating to realize that people respond in such a wide variety of ways to simple things.

Since I’ve talked about blood and sweat it’s fitting that I take a poke at tears. Tears are wrapped tightly around emotions and pain and a huge part of life. They can easily be over used in writing and are often the go to for anyone wanting to brashly show emotion. The temptation to turn to tears is easy because they are the visible product of emotions that come from the windows to the soul.

I like to get overly creative with tears and or crying if I can(or remember to). Mostly because if I’m careful they can express an emotion without internalizing the POV. The trick is to stay away from melodrama and understand that crying isn’t always why we tear up. Also not everyone cries and some cry at the drop of a dime.

Reasons for tears
Sadness

Anger
Embarrassment
Desperation
Joy/happiness
Something in the eye
Cold or illness
Wind
Flash of bright light
Pain
Manipulation (this one can be fun to give an antagonist to use.)
Acting

It is easy to go right to crying when writing but it actually can take a lot before a person is emotionally there. This is where paying attention to real people and how they deal with emotions can help.

Some ways to describe or elude to tears
Welling up

Mist/misty/misted
Drops/drips
Streaming
Glistening
Wet/wetted
Damp
Moist (A lot of people dislike this word, use with caution)
Watering
Rapid blinking
Wiping eyes (With anything really, tissue, fingers, sleeves…)

Now that I have an idea how to cause and describe tears. What other things happen when tears are imminent, occurring or when they are over.

Signs tears are about to happen/are happening or have happened
Red nose
Blotchy skin
Sniffles/runny nose/blowing nose/dripping nose
Red eyes
Puffiness
Streaking makeup
Wet skin/drips on clothes/Tear stains (On clothes or if face is dirty tears leave streaks)
Stuttered breathing
Hiccups
Difficulty talking
Down cast eyes
If from sadness a closed off posture, rubbing hands or arms. Looking down at hands or lap People often feel shame after crying (I try to remember to show the shame and not tell it)

For example:

Amber listened to Valery list off her so-called offenses against Sasha and a few others in the office. Most of it was here say and not actual proof or had little fact to it. This is personal, it had to be. Blinking rapidly Amber let big globs build up in her eyes until her vision blurred and then blinked the fat drops down her rosy cheeks.
Valery handed her a tissue. “What do you have to say?”
“Thanks.” Amber sniffled and dabbed the corners of her eyes. “It’s all out of context, I’m being targeted. Jealousy I think.” Amber blinked up through her false lashes at Valery. “It happens all the time.” She fidgeted with the tissue in her hands. “It’s not my fault if that’s how people are going to be. I’m awfully sorry if my sense of humor caused heartache. I’m just the bystander caught in whatever is going on. I get sucked into the gossip too easily, it’s my weakness.”
Valery consoled the desolate Amber and sent her on her way once she calmed down and promised to be nicer and more careful about gossiping.
Amber sniffled as the door closed behind her, a sly smile eased across her lips. “Works every time.”

Cal closed his eyes a moment and took a deep breath as he closed the door behind him. He swallowed and cleared his throat. The woman was a shattered mess of her former self.
“Bastard.” Cal murmured and pressed his forefinger and thumb to his burning eyes.
Detective Miller clapped his hand on Cal’s shoulder. “She’s lucky to be alive Cal, bring her justice, catch the guy.”
Cal shook his head. “That woman’s life is forever changed and that filthy no good piece of…” Cal sighed again, rubbed his face and eyes. “The scum that did that to her Miller, he’s on the loose again.”
The reality was Cal shouldn’t be on the Baylor Crowen case at all. If it wasn’t for a lucky break or two he would have been pulled for being too close to this case. His cell rang and held it to his ear. “Thorn.” Listening his grim face fell further. “What do you mean the officer lost her?” Cal took a slow deep breath in. “I’ll go myself.”
“The protection lose Miss Parsons?”
“Yeah, traffic separated them, she didn’t go where they anticipated and she’s not answering her cell. They’re going to do a drive by her house to see if she’s there.”
Miller cocked his head to the side. “Just a drive by?”
“Yup and a lot of good it will do her if he’s already there. Shit.” Cal turned and Detective Miller followed. “I should have insisted on better protection.”
“Some on the force think Baylor Crowen isn’t Dr.Demolish.”
Cal was nearly running as he got to the parking lot. “Tacky Miller and I bet my life savings that he is.”

 Not all tears need to be shed, some can be close and then disappear. They don’t have to be streaming down in torrents to be useful. Just enough to elude to something greater such as Cal’s reason for hunting down Baylor Crowen and even switching departments to follow him. I pay close attention to how I want a particular character to present tears and keep this info in their Bio’s. A person that cries at sad commercials might not cry in front of others. A man who cries might need to be pushed to his brink before it happens.

My advice about tears.
Tears are not always something to cry about. If you’re going to give someone a reason make it a good one that furthers the story in some fantastic way. Don’t forget to show and not tell, but don’t make everyone crybabies or stoic-feel-nothings find a balance and mix up the degrees of teary moments.
-Sheryl

The other two related posts

Blood

Sweat

That is disgusting

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Filthy

In the eye of the beholder

Eyes are an obvious method to convey emotion.  However they are limited in possibilities. I bat my lashes as much as the next writer and I know a good glare when I see one. Relying on the eyes is not enough it is only part of the story.

The human body parts works as one, it gives away more emotion and can speak louder than words. Emotion is expressed in gestures, movements, facial expression and even breathing.

Now is not the time to get artistic. I know better than to mix angry actions with kind or shy with boisterous expressions. Keep it real, or the reader might not be able to play along. That’s right play along. I know I’m not alone in this, when I’m reading a scene and the protagonist bites their lip I sometimes to the same. If they hold their breath I might be mimicking the same. But only if the scene has pulled me in by showing me the emotion to the fullest. As I read I want to be in the story what better way than to be able to facially take part? I will attempt to get through the next part of Sasha’s story without a single eye reference, direct or indirect.

Lunch was a disaster. Across from Scott, Sasha rearranged the food on her plate with her fork, as he once again monopolized the conversation. He had cornered her at the office and insisted, she gave in not wanting to make a scene. After forty minutes of Scott flirting and bragging she paid her share and got up to leave.
“Hold on.” Scott called as he caught up to her outside. “What’s the rush?”
“I have a lot of work to get done.” She picked up her pace.
“Ah come on Sasha.” He grabbed her arm forcing her to stop.
Yanking it free she held her breath and pursed her lips.
“What do I have to do?” Scott lowered his chin and stepped closer forcing her back against the wall of the restaurant. “Why are you so afraid of men?”
“Afraid? I’m not afraid of men Scott. I’m just…” She pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath. Upon releasing it she dropped her hand.
“Someone broke your heart huh?” He brushed the back of his hand from her chin along her jaw to her ear. The corners of her mouth fell, she turned her face from his as he moved to kiss her. He snorted, gripped her chin and moved her face and pressed his lips to hers.
Her hands pushed on his chest, but he held her tight. Again it wasn’t horrible, a pleasant warmth filled her chest beneath his tightly gripped hands. His soft lips pressed hard as his fingers pulled her chin to open her mouth. His gentle tongue moved too fast.  The mix of forcefulness and gentleness was wrong and she pulled her head back and shoved him hard.
“Don’t.”
“Why not? Give me one good reason. Not some crap excuse Sasha. I’m a dammed good catch for.” He clamped his mouth shut, her head tilted slightly to the side.
“For what Scott?” She waited for him to say ‘someone like you’.
“I’m a good catch for you, and you for me.” He smiled. “Why don’t we go out for some drinks tonight. Maybe dance and have some fun.”
“Not tonight I need to work on a project. Maybe another night.”
“Right, so you can find a more believable excuse later? Do you know why Amber is so hostile lately? Why the gossip is mostly about you?”
She opened her mouth and nothing came out.
“She wants me, but I want you. You, who wont even kiss me back for more than five seconds. You parade around the office cold and detached, apart from everyone, doing your own thing and upstaging everyone. Show some passion Sasha, for someone or something other than work.”
“I kissed you back isn’t that enough of a start?”
“I’m to be grateful your frozen lips moved, even if nothing else did?”
She walked away fast shaking her head fighting back tears. Scott apologized repeatedly and tried to recant. She didn’t acknowledge his desperate backpedaling. All she could think was ‘why is he backpedaling at all?

That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I know I rely on the eyes too much and am constantly working on alternate expressions. This is where closing my own eyes and envisioning the interaction is key. I wouldn’t cut out the eyes completely, but I’m more aware to rely on them less.

My advice about cutting out the eyes.
Give it a try, not literally of course, that would be gross and scary.

-Sheryl

A couple older posts:

Eyes that carry worlds

Ghosts that write stories

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Rearrange

And the ugly

Ugly habits. I generally think of these as social habits, quirks and ticks. The kind that make someone ugly inside and out. Not like putting the empty milk container back or leaving the toilet roll empty for the next person to deal with. I mean the things that make someone seem just a little more rotten than the next. When I talk about ugly people I am not talking about physical looks but what’s inside. The hottest person can be hideous on the inside. (We all are if you take that literally, blood guts and organs. Blech)

Like good habits and bad, Ugly ones can give characters one more valuable layer to the complex network of attributes that make a person human. Everyone has an ugly habit to some degree. Whether they instigate, perpetuate or stand by and do or say nothing. Ugly habits can start simple and evolve quickly to a subconscious action.

Ugly habits

  • Gossip/spreading rumors
  • Snide looks of disapproval (Generally scoffing the quality/value of someones attire)
  • Selfishness
  • Self-serving behavior
  • Blaming others or setting others up
  • Sabotage
  • Put downs, insults and barbed comments
  • Grandstanding
  • Over-talking others (Speaking over someone stealing their moment or putting them in the background)
  • Talking down to others
  • Hiding or stealing small items to cause inconvenience
  • Eavesdropping

Creating ugly people is fun, they cause trouble, but in the background. They can inspire others to be like them and teach them the habits of tearing others down. Ugly people can spur change for the good two. One step too far and the protagonist will push back or beat the ugly at their own game. There always seems to be the one, the ringleader that inspires the others to be nasty or maybe they fly solo and make everyone miserable.

Holding her laptop bag in one hand and briefcase in the other Sasha approached the trio around Scott’s desk. They stopped talking, the guilty ‘we were just talking about you’ looks unmistakable. Scott gave her his customary once over and smiled in his cocky flirty manner. She didn’t blush, not this time.
“Good morning Scott, Dale, Amber.” Sasha nodded as she approached.
Dale bit his lips as if stifling a laugh. She never noticed the derision before, she had only noticed Scott’s flattering and distracting leer. She was too focused on the presentation this afternoon to be affected by it.
Amber smiled too brightly. “Don’t you have a meeting with Getty Shoes today?”
“I do and I need to go prepare.” Sasha furrowed her brow when Amber smirked and raised her eyebrow.
Shaking her head Sasha continued on to her office Sasha had to prepare and didn’t have time for Amber’s games today. The Getty account was potentially a big one and she was nervous. Amber had wanted this one and had been snippy that she didn’t put her on the team. Amber was the office easy and jumped into bed with anyone that could benefit her position. Or so the rumors went. Sasha hated rumors so ignored them, even if Ambers flirting was over the top more often than not.
With everything ready, Sasha double-checked everything as the department head, Alexander Mozar, entered.
“Mr. Mozar.” Sasha was surprised to see him. “How may I help you?”
He looked her over and lingered on her feet. “I don’t think you should present today.”
“What? Why not?” Sasha set her notes down absent-mindedly.
“An alternate design was brought to my attention, as was the suspicion that you were not taking this account seriously.”
Her mouth fell open. Alternate design? The pieces were moving into place.
“I don’t understand sir.”
“Do you own a pair of Getty shoes Sasha?”
“I… Ah…” She looked down at her feet. What did it matter? She thought back to earlier that week as she prepped the layouts. Amber had gushed over her Dahlia shoes she wore. They cost a mint even on sale and she rarely wore them. ‘Oh Sasha you should wear those next time you present, they make you look strong, powerful and sexy. A sure fire winning combo if you ask me.’ Then yesterday. ‘If I were you, I’d dress to impress tomorrow.’ All week had been small comments from her and from Scott. Small comments, subtle moves.
Without even thinking, she wore the Dahlia shoes. She was a pawn.
“Sasha, Dahlia is owned by Banes & Co. who are Getty’s biggest competitor. Do you have a change?” Checkmate. “No sir.” He shook his head slowly. “Scott and Amber will take over the presentation. Give them your notes and fill them in. They will present your idea and Scott’s. The client can decide. Waste not want not.” He opened the door and waived them in. “Next time Sasha do your research.”
Both Scott and Amber sported Getty brand shoes and smarmy little grins. Scott was too impressionable to be so sneaky. She underestimated Amber’s determination. A costly oversight. Sasha handed over the notes, gave them the rundown and left with her feelings hurt, fury bubbling and her head held high. The snickers behind her nearly shattered her fractured pride. She wanted nothing more than to stick her head underground like a cartoon ostrich.

Small or large the impact of devious ugly behavior can really muddle things up. I love adding the type of people that frustrate the reader just a little. “Ugh that person needs to go down!” so eventually when Sasha does indeed rise above, get her bearing and her backbone in place she can indeed take Amber Down. The “Yay!” moment will come eventually. Sasha’s a mess and has a long way to go yet.

The ugly’s make for great side stories and interactions. They are the impactful ones and the ones you want to strangle, but they usually aren’t the main villains of the story. Ugly not pure evil.

My advice about ugly people.
Write them like you want to punch the living daylights out of them. As if they are the most frustrating people on the planet because they always get their way. Until the eventually don’t. Give them lots of rope to hang themselves and have fun bringing them down. *Insert evil laugh of triumph*

-Sheryl

Related posts

The good…

The bad…

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