Sound and selfish advice

There comes a time when things don’t go the way one expects. I think there are two main types of people in this sort of scenario. One who rolls with it and hopes it goes back to their way, and the other who manipulates and makes things go back to their way. Or so they hope anyway. They are the trouble causer’s. The selfish people who will do what they need to do to get what they want. Whether they realize it or not.

I wouldn’t say I write people this way all the time, but a good antagonist is a bad and selfish person. Or should I say a selfish person makes a good antagonist? Either way when someone spoiled wants the cookie, what wicked words will they weave? What dastardly deeds with they do, to obtain their goal?

Dale stopped outside Scott’s office and poked his head in the door. “Hey their giving Alice the office baby gift and card as soon as we’re all out there.”
“Hey.” Scott beckoned him in with his hand.
Dale stepped into the office. “Sup?”
“You’re work is way off today. You’ve been avoiding me too. What’s going on?”
Dale shook his head and looked out the window. “Nothing, just an off day.”
“It’s going around. Amber’s been weird too.” Scott cocked his head to the side, at the mention of Amber, Dale inhaled sharp and quietly. Dale left the office and Scott followed.

The gathering was cheery. The occaion was one to celebrate. Alice is well liked and will be missed during her year away. Amber stood alone, a strange pained look on her face. Scott watched Dale stand across the room from Amber behind the crowd, and Scott went to his side. Something happened between his two friends. Amber wasn’t flirting with him incessantly and was demure. It was so unusual to not have her mooning over him it was as if a part of his day was missing and it was throwing off his groove.
“Spill it.” Scott spoke quietly with his head closer to Dale as Alice opened the sacred card, sighned by all so it must be witnessed by all.
Amber stood stone-faced staring at the gifts Alice opened. Amber glanced up to see Dale and Scott head-to-head whispering and the colour drained from her face. Scott noticed, after the third jab to get Dales attention Scott pulled him out of the open office down the hall back to his office.

“What the hell happened between you two?” Scott closed the door.
“Nothing.”
“Liar.” Scott stopped and sucked his breath in. “Oh my God you slept together.”
“No.” Dale ran his hands through his hair. “Once. We were drunk.”
“Shit Dale when isn’t she drunk?” Scott rubbed his eyes. Dale was a good-looking man. However having two women in one week choose another man over him was too much. “Really? Amber? Sure she’s got an ass worth worshiping, and man.” He held his hands out mocking breasts. “She’s stacked, but you had to stoop? Man, you are way better than that.”
Dale clenched his fists at his side. “She’s not as bad as you think. And it was a one night stand.”
Scott laughed. “Oh come on Dale she brags constantly about her escapades. Constantly. It’s disgusting.”
“No more or less than we are.”
Scott shrugged. “Were men Dale it’s different.”
Dale scrunched his face in anger. “Are we? She boasts like we do, but it’s all a show.”
“Oh? And how would you know?” Scott sat at his desk and sneered. “Because she told you she’s a good girl? She told you she doesn’t sleep around?” His spiteful laugh made Dale tilt his head and crack his neck.
“Yeah she did.”
Scott recovered from his laughter. “Let me guess, she said she rarely drinks and doesn’t take random men home regularly. I’ve seen her leave the bar with at least ten men in two months Dale. Ten different men. Two just last week.”
“She said-”
Scott held up his hand and cut him off. “Lies Dale. If I told you every morning I make a power smoothie and I put a hundred-dollar bill in it, blended it and drank it, would you believe me?”
“You don’t.”
“Dale you don’t know one way or the other what I do when you’re not around. You don’t have a clue what she really does when she’s not around you.”
Dale glanced at the closed door, in the direction of Amber’s desk. No, he wouldn’t know.

People can do and say almost anything to get what they want, even if they didn’t realize they wanted it in the first place. Scott may not be lying but he sure is saying what will get him his attention back. People do this all the time. Twisting truths or their version of events to best suit their needs. It’s frustrating to read, but for good reasons. Someone is getting in the way of someone else’s potential happiness or just getting in the way. I like to evoke emotions with my writing, I hope I do at least, and get the reader to earnestly dislike someone or feel sorry for someone else. I want the reader to hope for a desirable outcome and then put obstacles in  the way. It’s so fun to torment, isn’t it?

My advice about writing self-serving moments.
Do. Do write them, it is sooo much fun to read people being selfish and ruining things for others. Clean and tidy people are not common; don’t make your characters common.

-Sheryl

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Sacred

Phony-baloney disguised

Just like two faced people the fakers, liars and the pretenders can also wear disguises. The people also move through life insincere and artificial. Today I’m talking about the kind that put on a disguise to fit in and cover the genuine person they are and deny.

The hiders who wear clothes they hate or act contrary to their personality are often desperate or damaged. They can become very dangerous very quickly if provoked or nudged appropriately and like Two-faced people, the disguised can become nemesis or enemies, villains even if they aren’t already.

Wearing the cloak of deception can be exhausting. This behavior can be as innocent as wanting to fit in, to a deep seeded need to hide their true nature. The quiet nice guy who kept to himself, was never a suspect for Serial killing until he’s caught. The reasons for pretending to be someone your not is vast.

Base reasons for pretending

Shame
Desire
Greed
Fear
Broken Psyche

Examples of why people might pretend to be someone they’re not

Abused as a child or adult
Embarrassed about their interests
Want to fit in to a new group
Want a promotion or new job
Have a bad habit that is illegal or borderline illegal
Ashamed of sexual inclination
Afraid of rejection
Desire for revenge
Double agents
Being forced to be someone they’re not
Anyone with a secret

Often people who are pretending are just trying to get through the day. Pretending to be happy serving coffee to the ass-hat that claims it was made wrong three times just for laughs. While others pretend to be dumb so their friends don’t pick on them. So what happens when the façade starts to crumble or peel away?

Sasha closed her office door and looked at the paper name plaque in her hand. It had been taped over her name on the door. “Ice Queen”.
The walk through the open office area was eerily like a walk of shame. She turned on her monitor and clenched her fists.
“Okay.” She thought a moment how to approach this. It hurt her feelings and sparked her fury. The image of a crown made of ice with tiny icicles was her new wallpaper.  If she went to the uppers it would look pathetic and would only get worse. She would talk to Scott and choose the high road. She always did.
“Oh how I’d love a little payback.” What she was most worried about was anyone at the office finding out the truth behind her standoffish behavior when it came to men. She jumped at the knock at the door.
“It’s open.” She called and stared at the screen.
“Hey can we talk?” Scott closed the door behind him.
“I think you’ve done enough of that already don’t you?” So much for the high road.
“I didn’t tell anyone that you bailed on me.” Scott sighed and rubbed his eyes with one hand. “Look Sasha I like you, I want to…” He threw his head back and then looked at her. “You’re smart, talented and beautiful you can’t blame me for trying. I’m going to warn you, I don’t give up easily.”
Everything Scott said was with purpose. The order of those complements was not a slip.
“Maybe you should save yourself the trouble. I’m not going to date you or sleep with you Scott.” She pointed at the crumpled ice queen paper in her recycle bin. “I’m not feeding that gossip beast.”
“I don’t get it, you’re all confident and distant, then you’re shy and sexy then bam.” He hit the desktop with his hand making her jump. “back to distant.”
“Don’t you mean frigid or cold?” She crossed her arms.
The urge to run home and cry was almost winning.
“Your acting strange lately Sasha.”
The truth was she was having trouble maintaining her aloofness, her casual-self at the office.  Then to make it worse Baylor threw her for a loop and she wasn’t hiding as well as she normally did.
She looked at Scott. He was attractive but he was acting strange too. Or was he? She tilted her head.  Was she not seeing others clearly through her own disguise?
“Sorry Scott it’s not going to happen. If you need help with any other projects we can work on them here. Now if you’ll excuse me.” She opened her desk drawer. “The ice queen has work to do.” The last words came out quietly. The drawer was lined with plastic and filled with ice.
Scott stood to leave. “But Sasha I think-”
She slammed the drawer shut. “Get out of my office Scott.”
“Lunch. I’ll take you to lunch. We can talk then.” He slipped out before she could say no in person.
She glared at the door. “Didn’t tell anyone my royal ice queen ass.” She closed her eyes and the vision of Cal punching Baylor came to mind calming her temper.

Two pretenders with different agendas. One is two-faced, with a personal investment and the other wearing a failing disguise. Sasha’s carefully crafted persona is falling apart. How long until she realizes the costume doesn’t fit well and it’s making her miserable?

Not all fakers are bad, not all of them are good. Most fall somewhere in-between. I’m giving Sasha a hard time because it’s part of her journey. She has to fall before she can get up and dust of the fake present and her shadowed past.

My advice about phony baloney disguises.
Paint that false smile for the spotlight and let it fall behind the curtain. Show the truth in people by the lies they present daily. Tiny or huge, take a chance and let a character develop a veil or tear it off.

-Sheryl

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Tiny

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

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Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

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Artificial

Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

As a novice writer, I have had to learn many things. I have had to do a lot of research and listen to advice of all sorts and from all sources. Unless the information is coming from a credible source, and I mean completely legit, I don’t generally take things for face value. Some may say that’s jaded but the truth is, it is experience. There is an abundance of false information disguised as fact on the internet. That same false information is perpetuated by mouth and email by those that don’t fact check and are willing to believe the first thing they read/hear/see.

This willingness to jump and believe the sensational hogwash is often referred to as gullible. Funny enough that word is not actually used often to describe these duped people. Someone gullible enough to just take things for face value would take great offence to be labelled something so insulting. With social media it is easier and easier to fall for lies and ‘jokes’ because more and more people are believing these methods of information dispensing is legit and policed. No none of it is.

There are four types of people in this scenario, the apathetic, the wise, the gullible and the perpetrator. All three have a place in the world and both can easily jump into a story and create interesting backstory or friction between characters.

The Apathetic: These people just don’t care one way or another. They see everything as mildly entertaining/lame/boring/unimportant. This person can be frustrating because of their lack of… well… anything. They don’t care and don’t not care. Ugh. DOOOOO something interesting already!

The wise: They think and question everything using common sense and instinct to determine if what they see/hear/read is real or fabricated. These people are often the champions the ones to point out the scam and educate others. They are the hero’s that save the word from miss represented information. While often good, if taken to the extreme a know it all can earn a sucker punch to the jaw, real or imagined.  😉

The Gullible: Latches on to anything sensational and excitedly rides it as gospel truth. They can range from the fanatical who will actually fight for what they deem believable, to those that when told it was false they laugh embarrassed and let it go. “Ha ha, silly me. I can’t believe I believed that baking soda and vinegar in a bottle will fill a balloon with helium.” (No, I didn’t but a lot of people did and still do. My 8 year old even saw that as false but a 36 year old ran out to buy supplies.) Then on the other side of the spectrum. “The Trump gets a new heart transplant from children every 10 years to live for ever. It’s true! I saw it this morning. There was a picture and everything.”

The Perpetrator: This type of person sits giddily and takes joy and pleasure from creating believable forgery information. Seriously, they will create/say/do anything to see if people fall for their fabrications. These people are smart, even generous, devious and even evil. These are users and abusers, the bad people in disguise or under the radar. “I wonder if I say the newest study *create study* says you can regrow your hair using a mix of raw eggs, two day old dog dung and mashed beets slathered on your head for an hour, if anyone will do it?” *Giggles and gets to work.

There are so many ways dishonest people with the tendency to want to harm others can carry out their compulsions these days. Are they just silly teens getting off on causing a little chaos or serial liars that live off the high of knowing someone somewhere fell for their made up fiction disguised as facts? I see potential for friction between characters, potential for evil to get a foot hold and use the gullible. Foreshadowing gullibility is as easy as someone stating they saw truth in the absurd and someone else countering their claim with words, action or even a ‘are you serious’ facial expression.

My advice about falsely presented fact.
Trust your instincts and if it seems to good/crazy/scary/weird to be true, fact check and source check. Adding these behaviors into a character or two could be interesting. A gullible person can easily become an unknown pawn in some perpetrators dastardly plan. Can the wise see and stop it in time?  Oooh exciting?

-Sheryl

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