Shut Your Cake Hole – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

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Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Shut Your Cake Hole . Originally posted on Sep 5, 2016 11:50 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to let a character run their mouth, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

Cake

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 matter. A proper bigmouth can change the game and save a floundering storyline.

Here is a little tidbit of mine from a work in progress: (Unrevised version, but it still gets the point across.)

“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 waved 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 color as he smiled broadly, understanding that he was the view.

(In this instance Nell is too shy to say much to the handsome Hank. Wendy’s plan wasn’t clear, did she do this to tease Nell? Did she play matchmaker on purpose or by accident? It all depends on Wendy’s character or who she will be. There was no reason to outline Wendy’s true intentions here, subtlety is key.)

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(or force) someone behave outside their comfort zone. (These types of characters don’t always have to say a lot, they can say little and still be blabbermouths.)

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

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Silliness And Seriousness – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

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Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Silliness And Seriousness . Originally posted on Aug 20, 2016 11:48 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to forget to let a character in a crap situation have some fun.

Silliness And Seriousness

Silliness And Seriousness

She envied their innocence, longing to go back to when a scraped knee was the most stressful part of the day. ‘Don’t rush to grow up.’ Her mom had said it often. As a young adult, she understood the wisdom of those words too late.©

This character is often being silly and doing things that are typically something a child might do. Why? because growing up doesn’t mean dismissing the essence of Youth completely. She herself is young, yet old enough to see and understand the worldly restraints of adulthood. Life will punch her in the teeth and kick her when she’s down, yet she will hold onto the things that make her and others smile. Joy in life, the shadows of youth that keep her from losing herself in an already too serious world.  She doesn’t see herself this way, but others in the story do.

I wrote her this way to allow for a humor break from the drama, danger, and violence. It gives a great opportunity for character interaction. The overly serious and stoic friend might find her enthusiasm annoying. He may or may not comment on it. He could find it charming and pay more attention to her. Or it could get her into trouble when she needs to focus. (Having a strong personality trait is important for the main characters IMO, it allows for growth one way or another.)

In my life, I have come across adults who range from silly and carefree to starchy and unendingly serious. The diversity of maturity is present in the real world so I put it in my characters. (People watching is a wealth of information. People are random. I love seeing how different people react to the same thing.)

My advice about being silly or serious.

Everyone was young once, even an adult character in a book. Who they were is who they are. Silliness and seriousness have their place, I don’t think it always has to be the obvious one. (Still true, I would add that every character needs a sliding scale of silliness and seriousness. Nobody is 100% one way. A man who never laughs at jokes or silly antics may howl at puns or “Dad jokes.” Don’t forget to have some fun.)

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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The FAB Pencil – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

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Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is The FAB Pencil . Originally posted on Sep 6, 2016 10:26 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that this is good practice and can be fun.

The FAB Pencil

The FAB Pencil

What’s so FAB about it? It’s just a lame pencil.

Or is it? I have gone through some nifty retail sales training. You know the kind that teaches you to sell your soul to the devil to make the sale. Up-sell, up-sell, up-sell.

I no longer wonder how they do it, how they smoothly transition you from buying the watch to including the warranty, the battery replacement program, the matching belt and shiny new car. I don’t wonder, because I know.

FAB Feature Advantage Benefit. Oddly, this applies nicely to describing something in writing. The lesson is to take an ordinary item say… a super lame ordinary No.2 pencil and show the customer something they can see, touch or smell about it. Then explain the advantage of the feature and smoothly move into how it benefits the customer.

The feature: it has No.2 lead
The advantage: No.2 writes smoothly
The benefit: consistent writing

Feature: built-in eraser
Advantage: erases efficiently
Benefit: saves time having to search for an eraser

F: seamless wood design
A: easy to sharpen
B: no slivers or sharp bits

F: bright yellow paint
A: easy to see
B: hard to lose

These things seem obvious, right? Maybe, but now they are clearly stuck in your head. How does this apply to describe items in a story? If you give a purpose to an item then it makes sense. If it’s horribly random then its distracting to the reader. If anything, it will help give an object depth. Even a yawn-worthy pencil. I do this with items my characters interact with that are important or interesting.

Sasha plopped the yellow pencil’s eraser end in her mouth. Scrunching her face she removed it instantly. The rubbed-rubber taste turned her stomach and reminded her of the party she went to instead of studying. She set the flattened tip to the paper to mark her answer. Only to rub it out second-guessing herself again.

Sasha jumped when the bell rang. She stared wide-eyed at the paper, a test failed before it was marked. Less than half the questions answered. Gripping the smooth pencil in her hands, she tightened her grip, snapping the light wood easily.

(I did a few edits on this one, the grammar was lacking and I was even missing a word. Just goes to show with a lot of practice and effort we grow and learn more every day.)

My advice about describing things.
Instead of just blurting out what it is with a standard ‘it’s blue’ description, dig deeper and see what it has to offer the user then the interaction between the object and user is more fluid. Be cautious that you don’t go overboard describing an item to the point of excess. Less is more. (I would now add Less is more, if that less is quality.)

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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Switch It Up, And Swap It Out. – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

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Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is, Switch It Up, And Swap It Out . Originally posted on Sep 2, 2016, 8:53 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that this was one of my favorite posts and it’s still relevant.

melody

Switch It Up, And Swap It Out.

“If you don’t read it, you will never know how it all begins and how it ends. Not to mention all the good stuff in the middle.” -SLM

I have been talking a lot about emotions and making people feel them in my writing. People run on emotions so putting them in writing is important as long as it doesn’t become eye-rolling melodramatic. I read a book recently that made me bawl my eyes out. The kicker is that the story that made me so upset wasn’t even about the main characters. It was a side story of characters not even active in the book. Awesome.

Recently a friend told me she became emotional and teary at a scene in my book she is proofing. I told her that was a huge compliment. Am I sorry she cried? No, because eliciting emotions is what I strive for. (Since this I’ve written more stories and my current one Prophecy Ink has received reviews that it brought out feelings for and toward characters.)

Sometimes the obvious isn’t, just as the subtle can be blatant. Even if I know what is coming, maybe I don’t. I have had moments when I’m writing when all of a sudden I look at the screen and I think, holy that would be crazier if… And then I change it up. Sometimes it’s a character swap, something designed for someone would be more impactful for another. Other times it’s a scene change. The library was the scenario but I swap it out for a dog treat bakery. If it can lead to a better conversation or something funny, I tend to lean to the unusual.

This example is not from my book, but from a collection of bits and pieces for another.

Side by side, Yava, and Theo lay facing each other, the melodious sound of Mary Lou Williams softly filling the small sterile room. It has been a day since Yava last spoke; too weak for words.
“They say, my love, that your entire life flashes before your eyes.” Theo brushed a stray wisp of white hair from her cheek with a shaky hand. “The days of youth, the pesky teens, dancing the night away, your first kiss, your first love.”
The corner of Yava’s mouth curled and relaxed.
Theo sighed softly. “Ah the wedding, making love, all those crazy kids. The fights and makeup sex. The cool nights and days in the sun. Our kids growing up, moving out and getting married. All the wee grandbabies have grown up. Some with their own tots.”
Tears pooled in her eyes and her lips pressed tightly together.
“Oh my love, my Yava, we have lived, truly lived have we not?”
“Yes, Theo darling.” She let her unchecked tears fall to the pillow. “No life has been filled as much as ours.” She rubbed her thumb over his fingers clasped in her hand.
A deep long exhale, the last blink of those sky-blue eyes etched forever in her mind as he slipped from the world to greet the flash of his life.

Originally, Yarva was the one to pass on. However, as I got to the end I thought, what if she doesn’t?  (Because I’m in edit and revise mode I changed the original story a little. Mostly because I can’t help myself.)

My advice about switching it up.
Don’t be afraid to try out a different angle or outcome. Write both or more and see what tugs at your emotions. Give it to someone else and see what they have to say. (This is still the advice I would give. I’ve completely rewritten chapters to make a scenario different or even change the character or outcome. It can make a dull scene so much better.)

-Sheryl

Don’t forget to check out and follow the new daily prompt. Today’s Prompt is: Adulation
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Oops! What did I just say? – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

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Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is, Oops! What did I just say?  Originally posted on Aug 27, 2016, 2:00 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is that this was one of my favorite posts and it’s still relevant.

Oops

Oops! What did I just say?

The other day I was reading a book written by a very well known author. I was enjoying the chapter and my eyes tripped on a word and the story ground to a halt. There was a typo. A word spelled correctly, but not the correct word.  I thought “Huh, even the best make Mistakes .” That is because they are human, just like me. I smiled and kept reading.

(I have since found three more “oops” errors in popular published books.)

My proofreaders and I have found typos in my book. There are probably still a bunch in there. I’ve talked about this before in revision posts, but I thought I’d show an example this time.  (There were A LOT of them. In my new book too. I was just editing and found one. I had the instead of they. These types of errors are easy to do and easier to miss.)

Example:

Sasha turned and looked over her shoulder at the reflection in the mirror. The tight red dress made her ass look phenomenal. Billy is going to love it for sure. Their second date. Running her hands over the soft supple fabric, he imagined Billy doing the same.

Fastest sex change in history 😉 also IMO the easiest typo to make.

Billy cleared his throat as the waiter approached.
“Are you ready to order?” The waiter looked at Sasha.
Sasha smiled up at the waiter. “Yes, I’ll have the Chicken Primavera.”
“Very good and for you sir?”
Billy nodded at the menu. “I’ll have the Anus steak medium rare, the spring vegetables instead of the potatoes please.”
“Excellent choice sir.”

Oops! I’m not sure what kind of restaurant Billy took Sasha to, but I hope they at least serve local beef.
In revision, I might be horrified and fix that mistake or take the opportunity to work it in. (I still like to take a moment and see if it can make for funny dialogue. Some of the best comedic moments are by accident. Even in real life. My son says the most entertaining things and mixes up words. I try to write them down because sometimes I laugh so hard it hurts.)

“Excellent choice sir.” The polite waiter took their menus and shuffled off quickly.
Sasha snickered behind her hand.
“What?” Billy furrowed his brow.
“I know you want a piece of ass Billy, but I figured you could at least wait until after dinner.”
Billy’s puzzled frown lasted only a moment before his face went red and he laughed.

(I still find mistakes like this in dialog funny. It happens in real life, and if like me, you have a friend that spoonerisms often or uses the wrong word, why not have a character prone to it too? Just limit it to one character and not all the time. Too much will become tedious and repetitive quickly. Save perfection for the narrative, let your characters mess up sometimes.)

My advice about mistakes.

You will make them. They can be fixed. Before you do, think about it, can it become part of the story? Defiantly have someone else review your work, they might catch a typo you passed by several times because you wrote it in the first place.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Did You Smell That? – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

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Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The second post I’m going to revisit is, Did You Smell That? Originally posted on Aug 26, 2016, 8:04 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that this was one of my favorite posts and it’s still relevant.

Did you smell that 2

My one weakness when setting a scene is that I forget to write in the smell. Or if I do, it’s hasty and obvious. Like. ‘He smelled pie.’  or  ‘She smelled wet dog.’

(This is still a weakness, I still have to stop and remind myself to add the smells into a scene. This is especially important in first perspective writing.)

That’s what revision’s for.

However, when I read a book, and the described smells appear too often, overdone or frankly unimaginable, I squint at the pages and no longer can I smell them in my mind. 

(Describing is a fine line. It is helpful to read the paragraph aloud or have someone read it aloud to you or just to themselves. It will help identify superfluous descriptives.)

Without:
Sasha made her way through the busy open-air market to buy the ingredients needed for dinner and dessert. She wanted to impress. She stopped in her tracks on the busy sidewalk upon seeing the ripe peaches. She planned to make chocolate cake. She couldn’t resist the fresh peaches and bought the basket of them. The cobbler would be better than cake.

With:
The aroma of fresh baked bread, pies, herbs, and meats of various types being cooked wafted up to greet her. Sasha loved the open-air market in the morning. She made her way through the bustling sidewalk purchasing the ingredients she needed for dinner and dessert. She stopped in her tracks on beside a busy stall as the sweet scent of sun-warmed ripe peaches hit her nose. She planned to make chocolate cake, that idea faded as she picked up the fuzzy red and orange fruit and held it to her nose. With her mouth-watering, she bought a basket. Her grandma’s cobbler would impress better than cake.

I do this all the time, write a scene and forget to make it appeal to the imaginary senses. It usually means I was hasty and to make it right it will add words. 

(I’m getting better at this, but I still forget or neglect descriptions. It is easier to add too much in at first and edit it down to a reasonable amount than it is to search and add descriptions later. If my brain doesn’t have time, I’ll leave an editing mark in the spot. [xxx add descriptions] then later I can use the find feature to go back or I’ll notices that block and fix as I revise.)

Without:
Tanya walked across the lawn in her bare feet. The feeling of the long cool grass soothing her tired, battered soul. It had been a long day of nothing going right. She stepped to the sidewalk, reached into the mailbox and took out the stack of junk mail and bills. With a sigh, she turned and set her foot down in the still warm dog poo.
“You have got to be fu-” She bit her tongue as a mother and toddler in a stroller went by.

With:
Tanya walked barefoot across the lawn. The long cool grass soothed her tired, battered soul. It had been a long day of nothing going right. She stepped across the sun-warm sidewalk, reached into the mailbox and removed the junk mail and bills. With a sigh, she turned to go back and set her foot down in a pile of still warm dog poo hidden in the grass. The pungent odor hit her nostrils as it squished up between her toes.
“You have got to be fu-” She bit her tongue as a mother and toddler in a stroller went by.

It’s not much, but it’s enough to engage my memory of the smell. Everyone knows what things smell like so there is no point dragging out the description of the scent, a vague or short direct reference is enough.

(The only time vague is good, is if it is a common smell like dog poo or orange juice. If it’s something less common, a good description or comparison is best. Such as when describing a perfume, room or food. Not all foods are common and the more complex the food, the better the description should be. However, if the item is not critical to the chapter or plot don’t dwell too much. You want to set the entire scene not focus on the one thing.)

My advice about sniffing out smells.
People don’t smell things constantly every moment of every day and remark on them mentally or verbally. The unpleasant smell of rotting fish will cause a nose to wrinkle, fresh cut onions may bring tears to the eye. Make the character experiences it and therefore the reader. Smell is a great way to set the scene, evoke an emotion or liven up a dull paragraph/scene. 

-Sheryl

Other related posts

Oops! What did I just say?

That sounds complicated

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Tulips In July – Writing Advice, Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post. 

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I’m not going to just repost an old post, I’m going to revise it and edit it as well. Make it fresher and add some new perspective as I’ve come a long way since. It’s fitting that today’s daily word prompt (Sadly the last) is Retrospective. I’ve started looking back to old posts to see how they compare now with all I’ve learned since. I found it interesting and thought that I might share that part of my journey too. Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The first post I’m going to revisit is Tulips In July. Originally posted on Aug 22, 2016, 9:52 AM.

Tulips in July

The story I wrote takes place in “real time” by that I mean an imagined year of the current year. (I have since learned this is a genre called Urban Fantasy) I was about halfway through when I realized to interact with the world around them I needed to know exactly what day of the year it is. It would be silly to have them looking at tulips in July. It became apparent that I needed to keep track of time as well as the characters.

(The same is true for my new book Prophecy, it is also an Urban Fantasy and relies on the realism of the setting.)

So I printed out a generic calendar from about ten years from now. It isn’t important that I say it’s April 17th, but it is important to stay on track.

(My newest story doesn’t have a calendar, I used a spreadsheet with the days of the week since it takes place in a three-week span.)

As I went back to the beginning, I wrote down any significant plot events on the calendar. As I moved forward, I discovered that by the end of the book, the story was off by two weeks. In the beginning, I eluded how long they would be working for. Instead of changing the conversation that outlined the length of the summer job, I wrote the difference in. It gave me the opportunity to add a little more dynamic to the mystery that I hadn’t thought about before. (Adding in foreshadows as an afterthought is easy to do as long as it fits into the story and doesn’t look like it was just tossed in randomly.) Fifty days in, someone in charge slips up and gives the protagonist has a very large clue. This is an important event. That clue leads her quickly to solve the grand mystery just in time. I actually planned it to be that day, so if I refer back, it’s an easy number to remember.

(With the new story, I kept track of the timeline from the start. This made it easier to keep on schedule. However, I realized quickly that I had one character working seven days a week and had to go back to fix that. Oops.)

Having a timeline or calendar of events made things much easier. I can refer back to it or even have the characters refer back. At one point, the number of days is actually mentioned. If a reader were to follow along that carefully, they would find it accurate. Even though it is a fantasy, some reality is required.

Since I wrote this, I have learned that keeping track of time and the day of the week is very important. Aside from smelling Tulips in July, it’s important for clothing descriptions, weather interactions, and things like bar nights or weddings on a Sunday. 

My advice about timelines

Use them even if it’s not important it’s a fantastic way to keep track of events or interactions that drive the story. Did Joe make the ominous phone call before or after he got the internship? If I need to check, I can refer to a calendar and not have to flip back chapters to find it if I forget. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

So there it is, the subject is as relevant today as it was the first day I wrote this almost two years ago. (Seriously? two years? Holy Moly.) Calendar style timelines are helpful, whether they are an actual calendar, a giant chart on a wall, a day by day list or a crayon drawing on a paper placemat. It’s a good idea. Thanks for reading, I hope you found some of this information useful, if not new, then I hope you didn’t mind the reminder.

Retrospective

Tidy Up Time

Tidy Up Time

While I edit and revise my new book, I’ve been taking small breaks to write my next one(I’m very excited about this) and to tidy up my Blogsite. I’ve changed the look and layout and I’m happy with the outcome. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than the elementary one I had before. 

Lately, I found that I was receiving a lot of vague spam comments and emails. I just spent the last two hours cleaning up and managing my subscriptions to blogs. I had to unfollow and follow a few as there were double follow links for some odd reason. 

I’ve been trying to catch up with some of the serial stories, articles and poems being written by some fabulous bloggers, and I know I’m missing a few. (Which is why I tidied up my subscriptions) All of this takes time, and my brain is bogged down so it’s taking longer than I would like.

I’m not sure how I’m going to proceed with my blog posts, at the moment the ‘what I’ve learned’ posts will be once a week. I’ll be checking in with a more personal post(such as this one) to say hi and update on progress, randomly.

I do have exciting news, I’m looking into a professional Editor/copyeditor to review my first 50 pages, my query letter and synopsis for Prophecy Ink. After a 100% rejection for BiaAtlas, I figured I would take a step back and revisit some ideas about editing. This is and will be an investment for Prophecy Ink which is a smaller more action-packed book than BiaAtlas which is more in-depth and character driven. 

I’m curious to see what they will say and do to my work. All of which I will share for those interested. I’m letting BiaAtlas sit(Much to my fan’s chagrins) for a little while before I pick it up and revise it again. I feel that the fault is in the query and synopsis. Hopefully, when I get Prophecy Ink done, I’ll have a more clear Idea where to take BiaAtlas. 

If you’re wondering why not get a professional edit on BiaAtlas, the person investing the cost to edit, likes Prophecy Ink more. I’m not complaining, both books are good. That’s not to say I won’t be thinking about it in the future for BiaAtlas. 

This all stems down to live and learn, the query is the most important part of the road to publishing. They are the toll-gate, the barrier through which you can only pass if you get it right. Perfectly right. In every way. As frustrating as that may be, I get it, with hundreds and thousands of people querying their books it’s tough competition. The agents can say nay a lot easier if there are blaring or simple errors. If it’s not catchy or perfect, they can move on to someone else’s query. Just like job interviews, if you don’t nail it, there are hundreds of others lining up for a shot. The market of queries is not in the writer’s favour. Sounds super negative, it’s not. They demand perfection(despite what some might say), and they get it. The trick is to be that writer giving perfection. 

It’s hard to please and easy to get a no. There is something called a slush pile, the imaginary place where all rejections go. Since submissions are digital, that delete button is super duper easy to press. 

So here I go again, preparing for the query battleground. I have some experience, more knowledge(Thanks to some lovely books and articles) and I’m going to tackle it again. This time I’ll go slower, and I’ll share my advice, mistakes and efforts along the way.

-Sheryl

PS, my thanks to a good blogging friend for helping me learn how to create nicer looking links. My next project will be to make my blogs easier to navigate.

 MPFTS.png

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

Vague

The Editing Dead End

The Editing Dead EndWell I know I’ve been MIA for a bit, life is unexpected and full of… well life. I have been editing my new book Prophecy Ink, and I have to say it’s fun and frustrating all at the same time. I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and New Year.

I have taken the editing for Prophecy as far as I can on my own and with Microsoft word’s ‘help’ (that’s a loose term it’s limited)

I feel as if I hit a dead end. I know there is work needed to it so what to do?  I started looking at editing programs as a live human one is still way outside my budget. After months of research and thinking it over I decided on Grammarly. Now I’m not being paid to talk about it, and this is not a product review in any ‘professional’ sense.

It is the program I’ve decided to use and therefore I will show some of its features, benefits and cool things I’ve encountered so far. It is a big program. I will focus on one or two things at a time. For now, I’ll explain what it is.

Grammarly is a live program that you download to your computer. It can run in windows, which will check online documents like blog posts and emails. It can also be run in word documents or on the Grammarly site itself.  In a word document, it appears as a tab when you click “enable Grammarly.”

The free version is a bit limited but still extraordinarily helpful for blogs, emails and word documents.  It offers the following:  Contextual spelling, Grammar and Punctuation.

I hesitated and tried out the “free” version for months before paying for the full version. It is pricey.  With the full or “premium” version you have access to all things shown in the tab below.

grammerly what it does

As you edit, those little red numbers drop. If while writing you make a mistake it lets you know by highlighting. This far, I have found the program to be easy to navigate and user-friendly.

I’m excited to use this program to polish my manuscript further and will break it down and show just how much it goes beyond what is built into the usual “word processing” program such as Microsoft office.

My advice about The Editing Dead End.
If you feel stuck and know it’s not perfect yet, search for programs that might suit you. Or if your budget allows, find an editor or copy editor to take a crack at your work. Turn that dead end into another fruitful path to take. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

Identical

Filtering Out Those Filter Words

Filtering Out Those Filter Words

I spend a fair amount of time talking about filter words. That is because they plague me without mercy. Some would say they are the hallmark of a bad writer, others would say even the best writers fall prey to them. So what exactly are they?

They are lazy words, extra words and useless words that creep into a sentence too often. They take the place of words with more literary value.

Here are some of the most common ones I find in my writing

  • Believe
  • Wonder
  • Thought, Think, to think
  • See, to see, saw
  • feel, to feel, felt
  • look, looked
  • Touch
  • Realize
  • watch
  • seem
  • note
  • That
  • Just
  • to be able to
  • hear, heard
  • notice
  • experience
  • sound 
  • Pretty
  • Here
  • actually
  • a bit
  • really
  • very
  • simply
  • rather
  • so
  • quite

There are lists aplenty online that have others and explanations. Basically, they can make a sentence stale and or repetitive. These little words can suck the life out of a sentence faster than you can say “I’m pretty sure I believe they seem to be actually very useless words.”

Here are some actual examples from my new story and how I fixed them.

Edna looked away from me and turned to her son. “You really have to stop bringing the stray’s home Tray, you’re not a boy anymore. I’m pretty sure you can’t fix this one.”

Fixed:

Edna released me from her trance and turned to her son. “You must stop bringing the stray’s home Tray, you’re not a boy anymore. You can’t fix this one.”

Not only did I chop out the filter words but I made Edna more of a bitch, which is good for portraying her character.

The next has a lot wrong with it.

Furious, Edna simply told me to sit and be quiet. I didn’t really get a chance to defend myself. I sat with a thud on the cheap chair that felt very lumpy and looked at my phone wondering what to do. I realized she doesn’t seem to understand and doesn’t want to listen to reason. 

That needs some rearranging and fixing for certain.

Here it is fixed;

Furious, Edna pointed at the lumpy cheap chair.”Sit and be quiet.”
She didn’t give me a chance to defend myself. I sat with a thud and scowled at my phone like a sulky child. What do I do? She doesn’t understand and won’t listen to reason. 

That’s better and gets to the point.

Filter words are best found in editing if they are highlighted. I do this all the time. I also highlight overused words like I, me, myself, said, ate, eat, drink, smelled etc… Overused words are easy to find as they are a type of filter words. I explain how I search and find them in Well colour me silly.

Not all filter words are bad, sometimes they fit into the sentence perfectly and belong there. Sometimes, rarely, but if I find myself excusing too many of them, I go back(Change their colours) and look at them again. It can be as simple as deleting them or as complicated as rewriting a sentence or even paragraph. It’s worth it.

My advice about filter words
Find them and then find a better value than them. They are easy to find once you start looking and you will be better off without them.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Well colour me silly

Mercy