Roller-coaster Conversations

There is nothing worse than a drab, monosyllabic conversation. A parley with no point and no book gripping content. It’s like conversation for the sake of conversation. Page filler that is not going to get the pages turned quickly if at all.

I’ve mentioned before that conversations should have meaning to the characters and impact the story in some way to be effective. I’ve mentioned that showing emotion is important and so is including emotion in conversation.

The more personal the conversation the more emotionally charged it should be. I work hard to make that happen. On that note I like to throw the characters and the reader for a little emotional roller-coaster ride. No serious conversation or confrontation is limited to one or two emotions, they are fire, ice, steam and earthquakes from beginning to end. I try to have a point to the conversation, a reason for it’s existence.

This example of a roller-coaster conversation is a rough draft and not fully edited.

Amber crammed her hands into her jacket pockets and scrunched her shoulders against the cold breeze. Normally it wouldn’t affect her, but lately everything seemed to be different and not in a good way.
“That’s a mighty big frown. You didn’t like the show?”
Amber turned her head toward Dale. He was trying too hard. “It was okay. I just don’t think they deserved that huge standing ovation.” 
His brow nit and he sneered. “So why’d you join in then?”
She shrugged her taught shoulders. “Dunno, didn’t want to look like a jerk I guess.”
They walked in silence, each lost in thought and the tension thick between them. By the time they reached her apartment, Amber was shivering.
“You coming up?” She unlocked the door.

Dale nodded and followed. They agreed to talk after the show. It would probably be a waste of time like all their other attempts. They ended up hanging out neither wanting to actually bring it up first. The second Amber had her coat off she went to find a sweater then to the kitchen to make a tea.
“Want one?” She held up a box of herbal mint tea.
“No thanks.” He looked around at the overly clean interior, Amber may be a lot of things, but messy isn’t one of them. “Where’s Bea?”
Amber filled her mug from the hot spout from the water cooler. “At her girlfriends. I think she’s moving out bit by bit. She just hasn’t said it outright yet.”
“Why?”
Tilting her head to the side she dunked the teabag to a steady rhythm. “Why do you think?”
Dale stared at the bobbing teabag. “Right.”  He looked at her face. “So will you get a new roommate?”
“Yes.” She sipped the steaming tea. “In about seven months or so.” She laughed at his frown. “I can afford this place on my own no problem. I’ve been squirreling her rent away. Even on mat leave I can afford it fine.”
He followed her to the living area and sat on the couch bedside her as she pulled a blanket over herself and held the warm mug between two hands. “I’m screwed in the winter if I’m going to be this sensitive to cold.”
“My mom said you’ll be a furnace once you show.” 
She glared at him her cheeks flushing. “You told your mom?”
“I had to talk to someone Amber.” He rubbed his face with his hands. “You’re not the only one freaked out you know.”
Amber looked into her mug, a few flakes of mint leaf escaped the bag and danced at the bottom. “Great. Did  you tell her you knocked up the office slut?”
“I told her I got my girlfriend pregnant.” He held up his hand when her head snapped up and she opened her mouth. “But that we’re not serious and probably wont stay together. I thought it would be better for her to like you.”
“Thanks Dale.” She tried to smile and failed. “I think we can manage as friends.” She looked at him again when he snorted. “What?”
“Friendzoned. I don’t want to be just your friend Amber.”
“I know and I said I’d try Dale what more can I do?” She set her tea down on the coffee table.
“Try? Do? You’re not trying and you’re not doing anything Amber.” Dale shook his head and shifted sideways on the couch to face her. “I hate this, this.” He slammed his fist on the couch and she flinched. “Ugh. Do you think I like being the fool? The idiot that fell in love with a girl who only has eyes for the actual office slut?”
Her mouth fell open. Scott was perfect and she almost said so then closed her mouth. He wasn’t perfect by a long shot. 
“God Amber you said you wanted to see if we can be a couple but you’re not emotionally available. You’re in love with a shithead who doesn’t deserve the time of day from you.”

She replayed his words in her head while picking at a loose string on the blanket. Her infatuation with Scott was superficial. She looked up at Dale, his eyes dancing, his lips pursed and the muscles of his jaw working overtime. 
“Dale. I’m attracted to Scott. Less so lately, but I don’t love him as more than a friend or buddy or guy to have a crush on.” She blinked back unwelcome tears. “I don’t think I even have a crush on him anymore.”
“Then why not give me a real chance?”
Her eyes spilled over and she wiped her face. “I’m afraid of you Dale.” She wiped her face again. “Afraid you’ll make me love you then leave when it gets tough. Dammit I never cry, stupid hormones.”

Dale blinked at her. She did believe it, not because he’s given her any reason to, but because someone else had. Someone important. She had walls, big tall barriers that made her act and pretend to be easy going and happy-go-lucky regarding men and casual-sex relationships. It was all a facade. He shifted closer and pulled her into a hug until she stopped crying. “Want to know a secret Amber?”
She shifted back and nodded as he hooked a finger under her chin to force her to look up at him.
“I did a little happy dance inside when you told me about the baby and that you were keeping it.”
She furrowed her brow. “Why?”
“Because it meant one way or another you’d be in my life forever.” Dale leaned in and gently pressed his lips to hers, moving them lightly waiting for permission to continue. She moved her lips and set her hand on his bicep gently.  Permission given. He pressed harder and she opened her mouth to his. A low noise of approval escaped his throat when her tongue flicked across his bottom lip and met with his. 

In my opinion the better the ride, the better chance I have of keeping the reader at my theme park of a book. I wanted to show Dale’s commitment, Amber’s strife to change and that her transition is underway. I also wanted to give a bit more backstory to Amber and why she is who and how she is.

My advice about roller-coaster conversations.
Roller-coaster conversations are as enjoyable to write as they are to read. Emotional and pretentious characters can have the best unpredictable conversations. Let them be erratic and unstable, it’s really fun.

-Sheryl

Some other conversational posts I wrote

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Hold your tongue!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Interior

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Regarding Resolutions

Inspiration for this post came easy as we rang in the New Year and the word resolutions came up. The time of year when we make promises to ourselves and boast of them to our friends and families in hopes to guilt our way to keeping them. Kudos to those that can and do.

Resolutions in writing can be fun. Have a character make one and break it. The bigger the resolution the more fun the repercussions can be. I wouldn’t personally make it a huge part of the story, but just in the background, to promote comradery, character development

“So what’s your resolution Nina?”
Nina glanced over at her best friend Hanna who dragged her to this party in the first place. Traditionally she went to a much larger, much rowdier party in the city. This on wasn’t that small, but it was less than she was used to. There was one thing she had been meaning to stop.
“No more one night stands.” Nina nodded and sipped her champagne. There was about thirty seconds before midnight. It had been a fun night of dancing and flirting. The selection was tempting, but a good number of the men had attachments on their arms already. She narrowed her eyes at her friends chuckle.
“You wont last a month.” Hanna grabbed another glass of champagne from a waiter walking by. “I’m going to start making my own lunches.”
Both women laughed. Hanna hated cooking as much as Nina hated dating.
“Well.” Hanna grinned. “Time to find a single guy to kiss.” She turned and B-lined for a tall blond she’d been dancing with earlier.

The countdown began and standing alone in her slinky black and red dress, Nina boisterously counted down with the crowd.
“Happy New Year!” Nina sipped her Champagne and looked up to see an incredibly attractive dark-haired man she’d never seen before now before her.
“Happy New Year.” His lips curled in a stunning smile, he put his hands on either side of her head and leaned in.
Nina nearly dropped her glass as her body reacted instantly. She opened her mouth, he took the invitation and deepened the kiss. His right hand moved behind her back and pulled her closer as his left curled into her hair. It was obvious she wasn’t the only one turned on. She pressed closer as his hand gripped her buttock.
Breaking the abnormally intense kiss, she opened her eyes to stare into his lusty deep brown ones.
She swallowed hard . “So much for resolutions.”

A resolution doesn’t have to be a done on New Year’s Eve, if it can help a story along to have someone struggle as they restrain from smoking or eating pizza then why not add that mini strife? It can be a great way to showcase someones strength and resolve or their weakness and minor flaws?  Nobody’s perfect and perfect characters are boring. I love to make people struggle in my stories, this is one more way to illustrate that.

My advice about Resolutions.
I prefer to set goals, whatever your preference if you want to shake a character up a bit or show their weaknesses, let them break a small or large promise to themselves. Oh what fun you can have with the inner struggle of a character torn by indecision and guilt.

Happy New Year everyone! May 2017 be the year for dreams to come true.

-Sheryl

Some fun posts from… last year 😉

Blood

Sweat

+ Tears

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Year

Cheating

There are many ways to cheat, some affect life more than others. Some not at all. You can cheat yourself, you can cheat others and you can cheat death… well maybe.

Cheating is a broad word that applies to so much and so many things. For this blog’s purpose I’m going to talk about one. and it’s not the scandalous one either. I’ll save that for another post.

I’m talking about when someone avoids telling emotional state by putting emotions in dialogue instead of showing them. I discuss Show VS. Tell a lot. There is a reason for it and I’ve talked a lot about that too. Showing draws the reader in, it makes them feel welcome and a part of the story. I strive for showing emotions constantly after all nobody likes to be told how to feel about a character or the situation. I digress.

To show emotion I use action and action tags following dialog. I also use visual emotional words.

“I don’t think I can.” Valery said sadly.
VS.
“I don’t think I can.” Valery looked down and sighed.

The temptation to add an emotion description after ‘sighed’ is strong, but it’s unnecessary. Sure changing it adds word count, but instead of telling the reader she is sad, I showed them she is sad. The point is to keep the emotion ‘tell’ out of the narrative.

Now that is how I address emotional telling outside the conversation. Not as easy as it seems, that’s why people (including myself) revert to telling emotion. (Until I revise the crap out of it)

So what happens when someone follows the rule of Show not tell, and cheats? Well it looks something like this.

“I’m sad, I don’t think I can.” Valery said. 

Okay so the emotion is out of the narrative like it’s supposed to be. And it’s totally okay for a person to say how they feel. From time to time. By that I mean, like almost never. Also the ‘Valery said.’ falls under “he said – she said” taglines. Less is more on the dialogue tags (IMO). They are a verbal period that hammers the end of a sentence and too much can  punch the flow. I digress again.

The question is, how does cheating by plopping ’emotion telling’ into dialogue affect a story?

They pulled the car up to the house.
“I’m sad, don’t think I can.” Valery said.
Jackson smiled reassuringly. “I know it’s hard and you miss your friend.”
“I do. Ugh and I’m angry and frustrated that I can’t do anything to help her.”
“I can see it makes you angry. I don’t like when you’re upset, It bothers me.” Jackson said quietly. “Maybe there is something you can do indirectly to help.” 
“Like what?” 
“By doing what you came here to do Valery. You are a kind and loving friend to take care of her house and collect her mail until she get’s back. Come on, let’s go get Sasha’s mail so I can take you home and make you feel better.” He said suggestively.
“That sounds like a fair deal and makes me feel better.” She said with a sly smile. 

Gag. Okay, sure people announce how they feel in real life, but as a reader I don’t care to read them say it too often. It does not lend to my vivid imagery I create from words. I want more from a story than to be told she’s sad and angry and frustrated. For me I seem to become wordy when I start telling, the trouble is the wordiness isn’t quality, it’s filler and repetitive. (Yes this is what revision is for, review it, see it and fix it.)

Valery’s smile faded as the car pulled up to the house. “I don’t think I can.” 
Jackson rubbed her shoulder. “I know it’s hard to miss a friend.”
“I do. Ugh.” She slammed her fist on her knee. “I hate that I can’t do anything to help her.”
Jackson took her fist in his hands and kissed it. “Maybe there is something you can do indirectly to help.” 
She looked out the window at the empty house. “Like what?”
“By doing what you came here to do Valery; she’ll appreciate it when she get’s back. Come on, let’s go get Sasha’s mail so I can take you home and make you feel better.” His eyes slid over her body causing her breath to catch in her throat.
“Sounds like a fair deal.” She smiled slyly and opened the car door.

I have no idea if you agree or not, unless you tell me in the comments, but I think it’s safe to say by removing the emotions from the dialogue (where they shouldn’t have been in the first place) and showing them made a difference. It took some editing and I changed it a fair bit, but to show requires more information. It allows the reader to feel the story not just read it helping the reader to relax into the story.

My advice about cheating by telling emotion in dialogue too often.
Telling is telling and nobody likes to be told what to do and how to feel about a situation, therefore a reader wont either. 

-Sheryl

Other posts that are very much related to this one
Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Relax

Isn’t it romantic?

Similar to tender moments, building chemistry between characters romance can just as easily enter the realm of mushy cornball-skip to the end of the chapter – unreadable crap.

Who doesn’t love a little romance? I know I do. In fact many books and stories I read have a little or a lot. People like romance, the thrill of seeing love and the potential of sex. The genre of the story will often determine how much or how little romance will be in a story. It is however, ultimately up to the writer. I personally enjoy a little lead up, flirting and tender moments that bring two people closer. Romance should be personal. It is in real life.

I thought I’d try something different. For a few different couples I’d turn this simple three-line romantic conversation into something moving and individual for each couple. The rule, I can only use these three lines for dialogue.

“That’s how I know.”
“Know what?”
“That you’re worth the effort.”

Okay I’ll start with Dale and Amber, an atypical relationship, but one with potential.

Amber pursed her lips, lowered her chin and glared at Dale. His chuckle and glittering eyes made hers narrow at him. His apologies and persistence only made her blood boil. He was being an ass and wouldn’t stop asking her to dinner so they could talk.
He gestured at her overly defensive posture and pouty lips. “That’s how I know.”
“Know what?” Amber furrowed her brow at him and crossed her arms.
He chuckled and tapped her protruding bottom lip with his index. “That you’re worth the effort.” He walked away leaving her to stare after him, her lips parted and jaw slacked.

Hmm who’s next?  How about…  Valery and Jackson. Neither are romantic people, but perhaps they could have a moment.

Their schedules rarely coincided. Valery had almost given up seeing Jackson this week it was such an effort just to get time with him. His text earlier said he was swarmed with demanding clients and as in his style, he canceled his plans and showed up anyway. She was worried sick over Sasha being hidden away by some hot detective and her idiot boss was now MIA and she had to fill in. She needed some company badly.
And there he was, tall dark and ever so handsome. He tilted his head and gave her his best apology pout while holding out a bottle of her favorite Tintern Pinot Noir.  
Valery returned his smile with a sly one of her own. “That’s how I know.” She took the bottle and he followed her in. 
He took his coat and shoes off.”Know what?” 
“That you’re worth the effort.” She winked, grabbed his collar and kissed him deeply.

Last but not least, Tony and Anne

Tony’s hand lowered from her cheek to the back of her head and neck. He would not rush this with her. Anne stared into Tony’s steel-blue eyes mere inches from hers as her lips parted, her breath shallow and warm.
“That’s how I know.” He brushed his thumb over her rapid pulse and smiled.

Anne swallowed and whispered. “Know what?”
“That you’re worth the effort.” His eyes closed as hers did and he gently lowered his lips over hers.

Romance is worth the effort, at least it is for me. I plan and plot and scrutinize how to play it out. Subtle and tantalizingly stretched out or quick and passionate. Whatever I decide for those moody moments I know it has to be personal to the couple otherwise it’s like cut and past romance writing that just seems somehow wrong.

My advice about writing romance.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, keep it personal to the couple, watch the POV and show the reader, invite them in don’t just say “that’s romantic”.

Want to play? Give the three lines a try, and post a comment below with what you come up with for: (You can only use this dialogue.)
“That’s how I know.”
“Know what?”
“That you’re worth the effort.”

-Sheryl

The Ole Switcheroo

But I hate that

Desperately procrastinating

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Moody
Swarm

Tenderizing moments

Tenderizing moments. It’s not as easy as people think. I know if I’m not careful it can fall flat or cause serious eye rolling. Over the top smoochy rose petal laden sappy drippy drivel can quickly turn a good story into a giant cheese ball of corny.  I’m not talking about a romantic encounter or a well planned romantic rendezvous, I’m talking about a small moment of tenderness that shows the reader the extent of the love two people feel.  Show not tell. That is most important. Its super easy to say; “She felt warm and loved.” Or “her heart beat faster at the sight of him.” or even “Her heart swelled with love.” I prefer not to use the word love or any of it’s synonyms, I’d rather show it. Whether it’s romance or the love of friendship, family or siblings. A sweet moment should be simple and unique to the couple in it.

Adding flowery verses and overly proper dialogue can water-down the sentiment, because the reader is too busy trying to sort through the excess. Descriptions should match the emotions without too much clutter.

Tony turned the television off and looked at Anne’s peaceful face. Her lashes flickered in her sleep.  He reached over and brushed his thumb over her cheek. Her eyes fluttered and she opened them slowly, a soft smile curling her lips.
“I fell asleep.” She near whispered.
He kissed her forehead. “I have to go.” His warm voice fell over her like the fuzzy blanket she held close. 
“I wish you could stay.” She blinked slowly at him. 
A wish he himself had. Anne was warmth and comfort, he was about to head out to the opposite of that. “Would that I could Anne.” He brushed his lips over hers and pressed gently. Her warm exhale the invitation to continue. She had a generous kindness that he suspected stemmed from someone or someones being truly unkind to her in the past. Her delicate lips opened to his and he lost a moment in her welcome. He smiled as she opened her eyes again. 
“Goodnight. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow.” She nodded as he went to put his jacket and shoes on. 

Valery picked at the rim of her paper coffee cup. The crease in her brow matched the pout of her lips. 
“Hey you.” Anne sat beside her friend at the booth. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m worried about Sash.” Valery nudged the half empty cup away.
Anne nodded. “Yeah it can’t be coincidence she disappears and that Crowen creep makes headlines.”
Valery leaned her head on Anne’s shoulder. “The police finally said she’s in protective custody or whatever they called it and she’s safe.”
Anne put her arm around Valery as she sighed. “I doubt they realize the folly of their ways by saying protective custody just makes us worry more.”
“Right?” Valery sat up. “Saying it means she’s in definite danger.”
Anne closed her eyes a moment. “And we can’t do a thing to help her.”
Valery put her hands over Anne’s. “No we can’t.”

The warm and fuzzies, a moment of love and understanding. I try not to dwell on them or make them too long simply to preserve the believability. Moments like these are best read aloud to ensure they are real and touching.

My advice about writing tender moments.
Keep it simple and avoid filter words that tell the moment instead of showing. Strong and passionate emotions should be felt by the reader not understood.

-Sheryl

Other posts

The world is your tainted oyster

Ow! That hurt!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
 Folly
Blanket

Squirrelly concentration at best

Have you ever read a book and realize that you’ve been reading the same paragraph or sentence over and over and over again? It happens to me from time to time. That doesn’t mean that the story isn’t good, or the paragraph for that matter, it’s a symptom that I’m distracted or tired or I simply can’t concentrate.

Concentration is necessary, but so is distraction. I mean within my writing not outside of it. Distraction outside can be… distracting.  People get distracted, they fail to concentrate and it might not be a bad thing to toss into a characters day.

Some causes of distraction

Bad news
Good news
Shocking news
Too much work/work overload
Death/illness
Leaving something unfinished
Crush on someone
Falling in love
Falling out of love
A fight, physical or emotional
Injury or accident
Exhaustion
Embarrassment/Humiliation

Any situation that can’t be shaken for the sake of normal or expected day-to-day activities.

The loud smack of a palm flat on the desk startled Amber causing her to yelp.
“Amber.” Scott’s firm tone and narrowed eyes made her eyes widen. “I needed that proof half an hour ago and Wilson’s called you twice and you didn’t pick up.”
She blinked quickly and stood. “Sorry. I’ll get it now.”
“Don’t bother.” Scott glanced at Dale who was paying too close attention. “I got the proof myself. Wilson wants you in his office.” He leaned closer. “You’ve been a space case since lunch what happened?”
“Nothing, sorry. I must still be off from yesterday.” She ducked around Scott, shot Dale a ‘keep your mouth shut’ look and scurried off to Wilson’s office.
Scott stared at Dale who stared back. “Scott that editing won’t get done on it’s own man.”
“Yeah sorry.” Dale turned back to his screen.
“You okay?” Scott pressed his lips as Dale nodded and waved him away. He turned and went back toward his office mumbling. “Everyone’s gone mad around here.”

The bench across from Anne’s office edged a concrete path in her favorite park. The mature gardens splendid in their panoply of colours and textures. Anne sat on the bench and looked off to the distance; a slight smile curling her lips as she sighed. The unseasonably warm day smelled as if rain was coming. Anne’s thoughts turned inward. A pigeon crept up on her, flitted to the bench seat. She blinked lazily at the Sedum and Astor’s rustling in the gentle breeze. The skulking bird stretched its neck, grasped half her bagel right out of her hand and retreated to the middle of the path.

“Oh you dumb bird!” Anne uselessly kicked toward the pigeon with his prize. “Oh well, I bet you have a family to feed.” She watched the bird absently as it pecked away a large chunk of bread. Fat raindrops pelted the ground around the pigeon and she watched as it dragged and tried to fly with the carbs in beak.
She looked up suddenly when she realized she wasn’t getting hit by any mini water bombs.
“Were you just going to sit here and get soaked?” Tony smiled down at her his umbrella in hand shielding her from the rain.
“Oh! What a nice surprise.” She jumped up, grinned and threw her arms around his neck. “I was in la-la land and you valiantly saved me.”
“Yes.” He chuckled and returned the hug with one arm. “Those dastardly raindrops were up to no good.”
“Oh but they were, sneaking up on me while I let the pigeon steal my snack.”
“I saw.” Tony chuckled and then kissed her.

What was I writing about? Oh right, distraction and concentration. It can be minor or it can be major. People can make huge mistakes while distracted. Crash cars, Lose children, lock keys in the car, break something valuable, and let a secret slip or much worse. They can be funny or serious. My point is if there is a lot going on in someone’s life they might have a moment or two of distraction so I try to include them in a story if I can.

My advice about distraction.
Distraction is a good way to… oh, look a chubby adorable squirrel… Right my advice… what a fluffy critter with his bushy tail jumping up to… So I think if you write about distraction you need to… and now it’s destroying my bird-feeder. Yay! The little vermin jerk! Gnawing with its stupid sharp teeth, being all cute while… Oh yeah. People get distracted, it happens, so why not let a character get squirreled. I mean distracted occasionally?

-Sheryl

Other fun posts

 

People Watching

All that glitters…

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Panoply
Symptom

But I hate that

When I write or shall I say revise, I find ways to polish what I’ve written and employ some or all of the things I have found and learned. One thing I have recently been thinking about are our key character differences. Our differences make us unique from one another, this should also be true to characters of a story. I’ve talked about likes and dislikes and how they can bring about interesting conversation and plot turns. But what about hate?

The hate of a certain food, colour, object, task, job, behavior or even another person. I personally only give my good behaving characters one or two hates and they may or may not ever come up in the story unless they are pertinent or it can inject humor, tension, foreshadows or even comradery into a scenario.

I don’t mean the “Ooh I hate that.” Kind of hate, I mean the deep down, loathing-avoid-it-at-all-costs kind of hate. The sort of thing that Antagonists are riddled with.

A hatred of something or someone can be the entire purpose of a characters drive. Not everyone that hates is a bad person.

Anne’s smile faded as she approached the house. The loathsome sound of a small dog barking behind the door made her toes curl. The door opened before she could knock and the vile creature bounded out at her. Taking a step back, she gave herself points for not punting the yappy monster nipping at her shoes and jumping up at her legs.

Valery waited while her date loaded up his vendor hotdog with condiments. He didn’t know it was a test. If he reached for the bottle of vomit, she would bail on him. Petty, but anyone who ate relish was as vile as they come. You could kick a dog and she’d find a way to forgive, but to willingly consume the slimy, chunky, tangy booger-barf was a no go for her. He squeezed the bottle and it oozed out with small fart noises; she grimaced as her stomach lurched. Too bad, he was a great kisser.

Baylor crouched quietly waiting for his quarry. With each passing minute, his body tensed a little more, the grinding of his teeth his only company in the dark yard. The nearby animals sensing his furious presence wouldn’t resume their night-song or dare approach. His nostrils flared as car headlights approached. Nobody has gotten away before, nobody. Let alone have him arrested. She ruined everything, now he had to become someone else to be happy. A tainted happiness all because of some whore tease who tempted too many men falsely. If she lived through his payback, he didn’t care. It would be a first, he liked them to suffer forever, but this one, oh, this one destroyed his control, she who wasn’t even the real target to begin with, would pay dearly.

When I give a protagonist or supporting character a hatred, I try to make it interesting, against the norm or flat out weird. That way the reader will be shocked or taken aback by the hatred. It makes a person more believable it they If I have an antagonist with bundles of hatred, I would let it out slowly or hide it from the world in which they live. Perhaps the reader would be given glimpses, with a show gesture or two. Or, with an action or conversation that starts to elude to their deep seeded hatred. They are after all the one that throws the protagonist challenge after challenge until one of them wins.

My advice about hatred.
Keep it believable. Unique to the character, but not overwhelming if they are not the villain. If possible work the hatred into the plot as a device for conversation, character building or even the whole point of the story. Have fun with hatred, but remember most people keep such powerful emotions tucked away, deep down and loathe even to talk about it.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Sensible sensation

Did you smell that?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Relish

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

Two-faced phony-baloney

Fakers, liars and the pretenders. The people that move through life insincere and artificial. I’m talking about the ones that smile and say nice things to your face but then plunge the proverbial knife ten inches into your back the moment you present it.

From the mild emotionally damaging gossip to the all-out sabotage life altering warfare, the back stabbers hide behind deception and cruelty and thrive there. The two faced person can become very dangerous very quickly if provoked. Developing into a nemesis, enemies or villains. Even if they aren’t already.

Artificial people are opportunists and as a writer I present them with opportunity, which is key. Small moves at first leading and building to their grand finale. Whether it’s a side story to build the protagonists character or the main plot doesn’t matter. Someone who presents two selves to the world likely has an agenda, they are clever, tricky and tend to be very good at it.

Good choices for two-faced people

A best friend
Their lover or spouse
The neighbour
A boss
The sweet kind co-worker
Any relative the closer the better 

The list above is not set in stone, anyone can be two faced when it suits them, however in the interest of excitement, the closer the faker is to the protagonist, the better the drama and emotional fall out. A person like this has motive, they must have a good one or it wont make sense. Here is a list of some reasons for being two-faced.

Why the deception?

Jealous
Covets
Revenge
Aspiration or ambition
Love
Hate

Of course any reason for selfish behavior works. Make sure the reason behind their drive to be deceitful is clear. Amber can’t just cause Sasha to lose her job for no reason out of the blue.(Unless shock is what you’re going for. But if I did this I would write it well or it will be frustrating.) There has to be some hint or clue to the reader that Amber is up to no good, directly or indirectly. Whether or not Sasha catches on before it’s too late will depend entirely on whether or not it is part of her downfall to rock bottom, or part of her rise to stand tall and stop Amber from succeeding in her self-gratifying plot.

Sasha walked down the hall half-excited and half-nervous. Scott asked her to help him with the children’s shoe advertisement after hours. He couldn’t very well make them sexy and he was stumped.
She knocked on his apartment door, the diner he promised wafted to greet her as he opened the door. Aside from his method of getting this account he has always been nice, kind and flirty. Perhaps she should have tried partnering with him in the first place and not forced him to go behind her back?
Smiling at each other he stepped aside sweeping his hand for her to enter.
“Come on in Sasha.” His approving leer validated her decision to go home and change into something more casual and revealing. Straight to work, Sasha poured over his ideas and made notes and suggestions while he prepared the meal.
“Go on and make a draft if you want.” He tasted a red sauce and she wondered if it was homemade or canned. While he set out dinner she finished three options, pleased with herself she saved the files and sat at the dining table. Small talk. Sasha hated it. Despite them being co-workers she knew virtually nothing about the  handsome Scott Dekker.

He filled the silence with subject matter he enjoyed. He asked no serious questions about her or let her start a new topic. When he could, he touched her hand and smiled suggestively.
|Frustrated and unimpressed by the bland cannellini that was store-bought she glanced at the door. He was treating this like a date and her guard flew up hard and fast. He eagerly looked over her ideas with too much enthusiasm. The wine he drank might have played a part. Sasha was driving so declined.
“These are great, I can’t thank you enough Sasha, my ass is on the line over this account.” It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him not to backstab her again but she let it go.
“I should get going.” She headed toward the exit. “Thanks for dinner.” A complement was too hard a lie to tell.
He moved, put his hand on the wall, blocking her escape.
“Stay.” He brushed her long blond hair back. “To talk or whatever.” He leaned in to kiss her and she let him. Why not? The words fluttered in her mind like her eyelashes as he pulled her closer.

It was nice, butterflies flew in her stomach, a mild excitement stirred then fizzled. Scott backed off and smiled a cocky, victorious smile. It was all wrong and the flicker of anger in his eyes at her frown confirmed it.
“I’m sorry Scott, I don’t…” She looked around. “I can’t.”
“I know you’re attracted to me so what’s the problem? Is it because we work together?”
“No, no it’s not that.”
“Then what?” He dragged the back of his index finger down her cheek. She licked her lips. “I just… can’t.” Why not? Her mind screamed at her. He was hot and willing and other than they worked together there was no logical reason for her not wanting to. The problem is there was a reason.
“Goodnight Scott.” She opened the door and left quickly.
Scott breathed out hard through his nose and slammed the wall with the palm of his hand. “Stupid shrew.” He spat the words at the closed door. “I’ll win, yes I will. I’ll get you Sasha, you stupid little uptight celibate bitch.”

Are all two faced people bad? No, but it’s more thrilling to read about a deep personal interaction. In this Sasha is aware of the problem, her secret, the reason she shuts all potential suitors down. In her misery she sits comfortable and safe from whatever it was that might repeat.  I want her aware that Scott is up to no good, but not specifically what. Not yet anyway.

My advice about two-faced artificial people.
Boy oh boy can they cause some chaos. Embrace their destructive capabilities and run with it, have fun and let their evil grow.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

Setting the mood

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Artificial

KISS your writing

Keep It Simple Stupid.

AKA don’t be pretentious, if I had to look up the meaning of the word Honorificabilitudinitatibus to put it in my story, chances are most everyone else will too. If I litter my story with words to sound super smart I’ll sound like a jackass.(That’s my opinion.)  I’ve set more than one book down for this reason, not because I didn’t know what the word meant, but because, seriously? Big fun words have their place, I use them wisely or the reader won’t think I’m so wise. That’s not to say they don’t belong, but if it’s overrun it can be frustrating to read and borderline insulting.

For example:

Sasha stood before the group holding up the two layouts. “This is deleterious to our reputation. Neither are erroneous however, neither are optimal either. Both are nugatory to the client. We must commence by consolidating these two non-ostentatious layouts into one agreeable layout. We will have to ameliorate everything expeditiously, leveraging our proficiencies to implement the client’s prescribed parameters.” (55)

 Uh… yeah, what she said… and… close book. 

Sometimes big words have their place, we’re not in kindergarten. I Write for the audience, the readers. A fourteen year old may know what Commensurate means but is the word necessary? Can’t I just say equal?

Sasha stood before the group holding up the two layouts. “This is the kind of work that will destroy our reputation. Neither are wrong however, neither are optimal either. Both are of no value to the client. We must start by consolidating these two unimpressive layouts. We will have to improve everything expeditiously, using our skills to carry out the client’s request.”  (62)

 Better, but she’s still sounding a wee bit pretentious. Now if word count is an issue (and it always is for me) and I wanted to simplify this further I would do this.

Sasha held up the two useless layouts to the group. “This level of work will destroy our reputation. Neither is optimal, so we need to consolidate them. We’ll need to work quickly and actually meet the client’s requests this time.” (40)

I would have never written it like the first attempt. I did that to illustrate that the insertion of overly pretentious words can alienate a reader.

My advice about keeping it simple.
The thesaurus is great and useful, but remember to write for your audience not to “impress” or make them feel stupid.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Accommodate and contain perplexed

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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