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

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

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Abide

The jerk-face warrior

Jerks are people that aren’t necessarily the bad person. I think of jerks that are just contrary or mean without true malice. A self-serving person that is borderline if not a bully. I’ve read books where the protagonist complains about a jerk, but the jerk is either not a jerk or the writer doesn’t show it for it to be believable. Honestly if I want to believe someone is a jerk I want proof, I want the example and I want to agree fully with the protagonist. If I don’t then they lose credibility in my eyes. Show me an ass and I’ll dislike them as I was meant to.

Being mean doesn’t mean the person is bad. A good person or even the hero of the story can be a jerk on a good day. But hey that can lead to some interesting confrontation or dialogue.  If it’s really out of character then maybe it will lead to the revelation moment, when the past or truth is revealed.

 A jerk is condescending to someone undeserving.

Dale rolled his eyes at the barista. “This would be perfect if you’d made it correctly.”
Tittering behind her hand Amber nodded. “It’s too much to ask of the minimum waged.” She whispered loudly.

A jerk is often found giving backhanded compliments. 

Amber smiled sweetly. “The new company promo is out Sasha have you seen it?” “No, not yet.” Sasha smiled and looked at the printout Amber held.
Scott peered over her shoulder. “It’s a good picture of you Sasha, you look slimmer in it.”

A jerk insults someone close, like spouse or family member to/ in front of others.

Sasha took a deep breath and went back to the table. Her father and mother had invited friends, whom she’d never met. Mr. and Mrs. Welsh and they were already three glasses of wine in. The regret to come to this dinner was setting in just fine.
“Sasha darling you do take forever, your food is getting cold.” Her mother smiled and refolded her napkin on her lap.
“Sorry.” Sasha sat and listened to the idle pompous conversation of the wealthy as they ate. She should fit in, she was their daughter, but it wasn’t her cup of tea to boast and brag.
“What is it you do again Sasha?” Mrs. Welsh asked as she lifted her wine to her perfectly painted lips.
“I’m a senior graphic designer at Clifton-” The kick from her mother stopped her from continuing.
Her father smiled and cleared his throat. “Sasha hasn’t found her true calling as of yet. We are hoping she considers law or architecture. Something more respectful.”

A jerk takes food without permission.

Sasha sat at her desk and took out her pumpkin spice muffin. Amber strolled in without knocking and dumped a file on her desk.
“Ooh pumpkin. Yum.” Amber leaned over and pulled a piece off, popped it in her mouth and left.

A jerk brags or boasts.

Scott walked briskly out of Morrison’s office a deep frown on his face.
“What did he want?” Sasha asked as Amber stopped filing and stood beside Sasha. He stopped and pouted prettily then grinned broadly “Guess who got the promotion?” He raised his arms, closed his fists and pointed his thumbs at himself. “This guy, that’s who. Yup. I totally deserved it.”
Sasha plastered a small smile on her face and glanced at Tory, he deserved the promotion hands-down, not Scott.

A jerk leaves a mess behind.

Cal went to the lunchroom as Detective Poulson finished making his coffee.
“Morning Cal, how’s that Crowen case going?” Poulson spilled sugar then set the dirty spoon on the counter beside it.
“I’m heading over to the latest victims house in half an hour.” He held up a box of bagels. “I was just brining these in before I go.”
Poulson picked up his coffee and headed toward the door. “Let me know if you need any help, that prick needs to be locked up once and for all.”
“Will do, thanks.” Cal frowned at the counter as he set the box down and pursed his lips at the wet coffee ring, spilled sugar and dirty spoon. The cloth was less than a foot from the mess, as was the sink.

A jerk in inconsiderate.

Sasha indicated to take the parking space that was just becoming available. Before the car fully drove away another swerved around her and eased into the now vacant spot.
“Hey! I was here first.” She yelled at the driver as he hurriedly got out of his car.
“I’m in a hurry, sorry.” He waved at her absently and kept walking.

A jerk says inappropriate things.

Sasha and Valery leaned over the table looking at the proofs. “That is quite the view.” Scott leered at their backsides as he entered the room.

Amber closed the panel on the projector. “There. All fixed.”
Dale leaned back in his chair. “Not bad for a girl.”

Jerks do a lot more than what I described. Jerks or jerk moments happen, they can be ignored, addressed or confronted. They can be a minor or major part in the transformation of the protagonist or even the antagonist. Whether they start rumors, complain for no good reason, decline donations or contributing to a group gift or are undeservedly bossy, Jerks are necessary for creating conflict or tension, small or large. My husband calls people like this Jerk-face warriors.

My advice about jerks.
If and when someone pisses you off, think about why and what they did. Will that work in your story? I don’t recommend making it over the top in your face without provocation. Jerks are just simple small people that make life less pleasant and the work day just a wee bit longer.

-Sheryl

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Transformation

Shut your cake hole

Blabbermouths are common in the real world. To your face or behind your back. So why not put them in the story? I love a good jerk, the one that makes you grip the book a little harder and hope they get their comeuppance or feel bad for what they’ve done. Whether they know they are loudmouth squealer or not, doesn’t matter. That they stir the pot does. A proper bigmouth can change the game and save a floundering storyline.

Here is a little tid-bit of mine from a work in progress:

“Good morning Nell, Wendy.” Hank smiled and sat at the meeting room table.
“Oh good morning Hank.” Wendy gushed. She had no problem flirting with the unnaturally handsome Hank. “How was your weekend?”
As usual, Nell sat quietly since Wendy cut off any chance of casting Hank a greeting. Hank finished his tales of golf, beer and a spontaneous trip to the beach without a glance toward Nell. “How about yours Wendy?”
“Ah same ole, same ole.” She waived her hand. “Now Nell had quite the adventure.” Her sly tone was devastating.
There was zero chance Hank would drop the subject. Nell shot her a what-the-hell look. She knew better than to confide in her friend, but did it anyway.
“Oh really.” He slid his gaze to Nell. “Do tell, what could Nell possibly do that has her redder than your blouse Wendy?”
“She had a hot date.” Wendy ignored Nell’s kick to her leg. “Like really hot.” Wendy fanned herself.
Hank tilted his head staring at Nell. She was quiet, mousy and barely noticeable on a good day. All work and no play. Usually. “With whom?”
“Wendy.” Nell’s clenched teeth made her plea to shut up, louder than she meant. The last thing she wanted was Hank, of all people to laugh at her. “Please don’t.”
“Now I have to know.” Hank chuckled.
“She and Barry from accounting went to Point Garrison beach yesterday. Apparently it has an amazing view.” Wendy waggled her eyebrows.
Nell’s cheeks drained of all colour as he smiled broadly, understanding that he was the view.

My advice about Chatterboxes.
Use them. Make them make your story tantalizing or spice up a dull storyline. Someone spilling the proverbial beans can start a good conflict. I like to use it as an opportunity to let someone behave outside their comfort zone.

-Sheryl

 

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Cake