The “What ifs” Of Imagination

Imagination. Without it we would never go beyond what we can see, touch, smell and hear. Creativity and imagination go hand in hand.

I’ve talked about the joys of pretend world. Fantasize and imagining things and then acting or writing them down for entertainment value. I love visualizing and then recreating what I’ve imagined.

Having an overactive imagination is a challenge. I can look down a set of stairs and envision all the terrible things that could happen if I fell. Fear, paranoia and negative thinking right? Well sure I can come up with some pretty gruesome ideas. Yet, there is a flip-side to that too. Me looking down the stairs about to fall and say… someone slips an arm around my waist to prevent me from falling… It takes a whole other spin.

While it’s easier to go dark and see the potential for sensational terror, it can be rewarding to not shake off the imagination process and instead guide myself to see more than the negative. Such as crossing the street. On average one simply gets to the other side – hum drum nothing fun. What if something happened along the way? What if the destination was not what I intended, what if I set out in the morning to go to work and by the time I got across the street and set my foot down on the cracked concrete it’s suddenly night? What if the puddle I’m about to step into is reflecting something different than the actual world around me?

In any given situation my vivid imagination can break off and follow quite a few possibilities. Some will work for a story some wont. I don’t dismiss any of them because what doesn’t work with one story line may be a Cinderella’s slipper fit for another.

Amber straightened her blouse. “I can do this.”  She said to herself and envisioned beyond the door, the friendly greetings she would give and the casual conversation that followed. She took the five steps and went into the staff-room. Conversation hushed to near none existence. John and Burt got up from the table and left brushing past her. Alice, Preeta and Li muttered lame excuses and shuffled out leaving only Rachael behind. Rachel dumped out her unfinished coffee and headed toward the door before Amber could start in on her. 
“I’ve become the social pariah.” Amber said quietly to herself.
Rachel stopped in the doorway smacking her hand on the metal door jamb and turned. “You haven’t become anything. That would imply you were ever liked by any of us.” 
Amber swallowed her bile at the harsh comment. “I’ve been nice lately.”
Rachel rolled her eyes. “No Amber you’ve been quiet, living in your teeny-tiny, itty-bitty little bubble of self-importance. Not being mean is not the same as being nice.” 
Amber closed her mouth, clenched her fists and watched Rachel leave.
“Oooh she’s such a bi-” Amber snapped her mouth shut, relaxed her fists and rubbed her face. Rachel isn’t a bitch, she’s honest and if Amber wanted to be different, she had to make the world see her that way too. 

That was not the only idea I had for relaying that particular life lesson to Amber, but it was the one that fit the best. Amber’s used that staff-room as a bullying platform more than once, therefore it seemed fitting that she get gobsmacked there too.

My advice about vivid imagination.
Let it roll, play it out in your mind, but don’t forget to imagine from multiple angles good, bad and every possibility between.

-Sheryl

Related posts

The joy of pretend world

Mystery Items

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Vivid

Mystery Items

There was a story I read recently that had me scratching my head. No, it wasn’t about head-lice or dandruff. I got to a scene and during this scene, there was an item being used. The descriptions were spot on, detailed and wonderful. Right up until the name of the object was used and hold the phone… that is not at all what I thought it was.  My imagination plunked in something that the author did not intend.

This kind of mystery item can cause a story to crash into imaginary oblivion and frustrate the reader. Or I suppose it can go virtually unnoticed as if it’s not really important, but that oversight alone is a whole other problem. There is a simple explanation as to why this might happen. One the writer simply forgot to flat-out tell me what the object was. This paragon of an author assumed I would know because it’s story related or possibly (And very likely) The author was trying to be too clever or ‘fancy’ with their descriptions they figured the reader should get it.

When I’m using creative descriptions I try to just announce what the item is in a non-abrupt way or get to it sooner than later. Too much later can be disruptive and reflect poorly on my skill.

HOWEVER, there are times when this can be funny, or done purposefully to add levity to the situation.

For example:

Amber shook her hands again for the fifth time in an hour. She couldn’t focus on the report she was reading. It was dull and boring and her mind was too jumpy. 
“Hey, you.” Dale grinned mischievously as he approached. 
“Hey.” Her eyes widened as he held out a small blue cube shaped box for her. 
“This is long overdue,” Dale said as she took the box.
Amber bit her bottom lip to contain her excitement and opened it. “Oh Dale I love you it’s perfect!” She jumped up from her chair, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. 
He chuckled as she backed up. “Is that all I have to do to get you to say you love me?” He teased.
Amber bounced on her feet taking the small shiny gold ring from the box and slipping it over her finger. 
Dale brushed a stray strand of Amber’s hair behind her ear.”You’ve been so stressed lately and I know you’ve wanted one.”
“Maybe tomorrow at this dumb meeting I’ll be able to stay awake with this to fidget with.”
“That’s the idea.” Dale kissed her forehead. 

Sooooo that should have been more romantic right? Maybe, maybe not. Dale and Amber may be headed toward unplanned parenthood but…

Amber shook her hands again for the fifth time in an hour. She couldn’t focus on the report she was reading. It was dull and boring and her mind was too jumpy.
“Hey, you.” Dale grinned mischievously as he approached.
“Hey.” Her eyes widened as he held out a small blue cube shaped box for her.
“This is long overdue,” Dale said as she took the box. 
Amber bit her bottom lip to contain her excitement and opened it. “Oh, Dale a finger-fidget. I love you it’s perfect!” She jumped up from her chair, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.
He chuckled as she backed up. “Is that all I have to do to get you to say you love me?” He teased.
Amber bounced on her feet taking the small shiny gold flexible ring from the box and slipping it over her index finger.
Dale brushed a stray strand of Amber’s hair behind her ear.”You’ve been so stressed lately and I know you’ve wanted one or something to help with your anxiety.”
“Maybe tomorrow at this dumb meeting I’ll be able to stay awake and focused with this to fidget with.”
“That’s the idea.” Dale kissed her forehead.

Poor Amber, though I’m not sure she’s quite ready for a different type of ring. They just started dating after all. With the lack of clarity, the first example had not only a different meaning but a different feel.

Now if I wanted to write these examples properly to demonstrate the frustration I would have carried on with ring comments, her fidgeting with it in the meeting, maybe someone commenting on it and then dropping the bomb that it’s just a stress revealing toy. That would be annoying if the reader was excited for them to be engaged. And annoyed that in hindsight the scenario did not fit a proposal whatsoever.

My advice about mystery items.
There is time and place for mystery, forgetting or neglecting to let the reader know what that something is, is not mysterious, it’s maddening.

-Sheryl

Other posts

The FAB pencil

Don’t burn the turkey!

Squeaky clean

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Oversight
Paragon

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

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

There is a part of my writing that makes me actually sit up and enter typo land as their unchallenged champion.

Violence and action. I LOVE a good action scene in a book, especially when it’s fun, interesting and Fierce. When I’m preparing to write my own, I sit and envision the scene over and over. Each persons’ actions and reactions and what’s going on around them. It’s a lot to take in let alone get out into written word.

My first action fight scene is a long one, several chapters in fact. It had to be, a lot happens. The entire story is pulled in, the whole point of it all is laid out and the villains for the next book are introduced and humanized.

That isn’t the first violent action scene in the book, but the first one I wrote. After I finished the first draft it was evident something was missing. So I wrote an intriguing and dangerous introduction for a character who is basically the reason the whole story takes place. I honed and revised that chapter so many times until I knew it flowed well and was pleasing to the imagination.

Writing violence is fun, but risky. The temptation to become melodramatic, cheesy or start telling vs showing is strong. I had oodles of tag lines, filter words and typos in the action scenes. Some of the reactions were over the top and they needed to be toned down to more realistic responses. Sure the science fiction allows for a certain amount of embellishment in the action department, but even fantastic it needed to be believable within the parameters I set throughout the story.

My advice about action and violence.
Get it out of your mind and onto paper or the screen. Once there, whip it into shape and draw the reader in by showing not telling the events. Action is exciting and violence is thrilling, it’s a great way to jolt a timid story or give a character reason to progress, regress or become someone altogether different.

-Sheryl

 

Related posts:

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Eyes that carry worlds

eyes world

When I think of the Eyes in terms of writing two things come to mind foremost. My own and my readers.

My eyes allow me to see what I’ve written. My mind’s eye to envision what I’ve created and what I am about to create. My hindsight allows me to see what I missed and what I need to fix, change or add. Often my eyes fail me and I miss the smallest of typos. That is why I rely on the eyes of others to catch them.

My readers’ eyes are what allow the world I create and all its characters to come to life. I strive to make this the most fantastic experience possible, as do all writers.

The eyes are a direct method of transportation. Carrying words from a page to the vast world of imagination within. They carry worlds from one person to another.

My advice.

Let their eyes feast on what you’ve created. Don’t hide your work in fear of judgment let them see it how they will.

-Sheryl

 

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

The “word count” down.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved