Sensible sensation

Immersing the reader into the story is something I still strive to achieve. When writing it’s important to use all five senses. Smell, sight, taste, hear and touch. Now it’s not imperative every scenario have all five, but it can help plump up a drab sentence.

For example

Joe picked up the book from the desk. It was heavy and bound in black leather, it crackled when he opened it.

Yawn. I need to make this book more important, to focus on it and make Joe experience the book. To do this I use a technique explained in The FAB pencil to describe the book better. This is not going to decrease word count by any means, but is a great way to add words if that’s the goal.

Now for fun, I’m going to add all five senses to this interaction and bring Joe and the book together like lovers on a moonlit night, instead of strangers on an awkward blind date.

Hear

Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.

Touch

Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk and ran his fingers over the hard smooth surface. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.

Smell

Joe picked up the heavy leather bound book from the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard smooth surface. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the room as he opened the cover. He inhaled the musty scent of old paper and ink as it wafted to his nose.

Sight – this isn’t always necessary since he is clearly looking at the book. Depending on how important the book is, will depend on how much time I put into describing it and the interaction. This book is important so it warrants a better description. At this point I have decided that picking the book up doesn’t make sense. It’s unnecessary.

Joe peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.

Taste – I’m not likely to have him lick or eat the book, that would be weird. Maybe if this was a totally different scenario or he had a paper eating problem it would fit, however for this I’ll keep taste subtle.

Joe licked his salty lips as he peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.

Voila. Now Joe fully interacted with the book. Making him lick his lips also added emotion, depending on what came before this interaction it might be excitement, anticipation or nervousness maybe even fear.

My advice about senseless writing.
Take some time to make important objects blend into the story, make them become part of the experience and not a foreign object explained coldly.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Related posts

The FAB pencil

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

 

Together

Solicited advice.

Twinkle – The word prompt of the day.

There are all kinds of things associated with the word twinkle. It’s a word that conjures the image of light and joy. Twinkle toes, the twinkle of tinsel on a Christmas tree, the moonlight twinkling on the midnight water, a child’s lullaby about stars. For me today the idea of publishing my book has put a twinkle in my eye.

I’m not a fool, I know when I’ve reached my limit and need to solicit professional advice. So I did. Yesterday I had a very motivating consultation. I was told that I am off to a good start and with a little polishing and a lot of work there is potential for my book to be published. I intend to put in whatever effort is necessary to accomplish this task.

My query.  It needs work. I was glad to hear this, because not only did I find out what was wrong, but what to do to fix it. It really was dismal and now it’s showing real promise.

My synopsis. Believe it or not, had a lot of tell, not show. Oops. Well that’s fixable. I also shied away from putting it all out there, laying the full story on the line ending and all. That will be corrected. It is harder to spill the beans when your story contains mystery that was carefully worked in. Keeping it in two pages 12pt double spaced is not an easy task.

My first 50 pages. This is what set me up on cloud nine. While not perfect, I was told my writing is clean, suspenseful and it has good flow, action and dialog. This matches up with what a few others have said, and I can’t tell you how amazing it is to know that it’s not problematic.

My overall word count is still high. I will do what I can to address that. I’m sure if I go over the manuscript carefully I can clean up some sentences.

So armed with the information I need to proceed, the path to publishing is not indirect as it used to be. I am much closer to querying agents in earnest and that is very exciting.

My advice about getting professional help.
Research the professional. What do they have to offer and how professional are they about it? Check many reviews and critiques. Take the time to make sure, if you are paying for a service, that you are getting your value from it. Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice out. If you want others to take you and your writing seriously, then do so yourself.

-Sheryl

PS I’ve been playing with new logo designs. What do you think of the one I used for this post?

Other posts related directly to this one.

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

The first 50 pages.

Query letter “creativity drought”.

The prickly process of writing a Synopsis.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Twinkle

EEEP! I’m Nerve-cited

Today I have my meeting with the literary consultant. I am both nervous and excited. My son calls it nerv-cited.

I’m excited to be taking this step forward in the process to get my book published. I’m nervous to hear him say it’s not worth it. I know it’s just one opinion, but I put a lot of stock in this particular opinion. I don’t expect him to need to be brutally honest, but I do expect honesty.

What we will discuss:
My synopsis
My query letter
My first 50 pages
Is the manuscript ready for queries?
What to do when I get inquires from agents?
And more I probably don’t know about yet.

Honestly I know deep down my manuscript is worth it. I know it’s good and I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished.  I’ll post about how it goes and what was accomplished etc. Good or bad I’ll share since it’s all part of my journey.

I need to prepare mentally and physically.

-Sheryl

 

The first 50 pages.

The prickly process of writing a Synopsis.

Query letter “creativity drought”.

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 describing 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 end in her mouth. Scrunching her face she removed it instantly. The rubbed-rubber taste reminding 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 pencil in her hands, she tightened her grip, snapping the light wood easily.

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.

-Sheryl

 

Other posts

More is less, and vice versa.

It’s funny you said that…

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Obvious

Plop

Over used and oft abused.

Ah, the word shiver. Over used and oft abused. This is on my personal list of filter words. One that is injected into a sentence to replace showing an emotion. I find it in plethora among the words of a romance, horror or mystery. Or just dumped in to lazy writing, like I’m guilty of. 😉

At first I used this word freely, it’s a great way to express an obvious feeling right? Well yes and no. People shiver for different reasons, it’s those reasons that suggest this blanket word can be stretched out or removed altogether.

Example 1.

Billy’s fingers gently brushed the back of her arm sending pleasant shivers across her body. (15)

Not a bad sentence really. A few unnecessary words. If I’m also worried about (word count) I would remove gently and pleasant, they are implied anyway. Three words doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly.

Her skin tingled as Billy’s fingers brushed the back of her arm. (12)

Example 2.

Elouise shivered suddenly for no reason whatsoever. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” She muttered to herself. (18)

Meh, it could use a little trimming and rewording.

Elouise frowned and rubbed her arms. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” (13)

Example 3. (I still write like this.)

Tod had never felt so bone achingly cold in his life. He was shivering so hard his teeth chattered loudly. (20)

Now I know enough to rewrite it to this. FYI the word felt is a super filter word.

Tod wrapped his arms around his aching body, unable to stop his chattering teeth. (14)

Do I never use the word shiver? No, it’s a fun word that evokes a personal response. I do use it sparingly or try to anyway. Sometimes a plain ole shiver is just what the story needs, especially if there is no established reason for it.

My advice about overuse.
Overuse can happen with any word, shiver is just an example. Make a list of ‘important’ words you see too often in your writing and then see how often you actually use them. Then see if you can switch it up or swap it out, but don’t jeopardize the story or the flow if you can’t think of a way to change it.

-Sheryl

 

Other related Posts.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Shiver

Obvious

Jeopardize

The ‘been there, done that’ people

I have no illusions to the fact that I need sometimes need an expert’s advice and help.  Why? Because I am not a professional writer nor editor and there are always going to be someone that knows more or has more experience than I do. I would be a fool to pass it up for ego’s sake.

That advice and information that I’ve found has been instrumental to me getting where I am today with my book. I have seen some people shun the advice of experts for a few reasons. Ego, laziness, and even fear. Yes fear. Taking advice from someone ‘better’ than I am, can be intimidating. What if they say my work is crap? But, what if they don’t? Even if they did, I would hope that they would advise me on what is needed to un-crappify it.

Without advice I would never have turned this:

The seats were all full at the coffee shop. Abigale liked routine and needed to sit. Even though the other occupant at the table was that annoying guy she approached him.
“May I sit here?” She asked.
“I don’t think so.” He replied and put his foot on the chair.
“Jerk.” She said and walked away.

Into this:

The café was unusually busy with the patrons from the busker’s carnival outside. Abigale needed her routine, sit, drink her coffee and read blogs before work. There was only one seat at a small table; and that unpleasant lowlife was seated at it.

She hastily glanced around and swallowed her pride. “Excuse me. May I sit?”
Billy looked up from his book. “I don’t think so.” He put his sneaker-clad foot on the vacant seat.
Her mouth fell open and she furrowed her brow with a hard exhale.

A young couple nearby surveyed the area and made eye contact with Billy.
He smiled at them. “I’m done here if you two want these seats.”
“Oh thank you so much.” The young woman sat when Billy moved his foot and stood.
“You’re a first class jerk.” Abigale lowered her chin with a sneer.
Billy dunked his finger in her coffee. “You have no idea.” He stuck his finger in his mouth and left her staring after him in shock.

With some simple rules from those that have ‘been there and done that’, I was able to learn to turn a simple encounter into an annoying one.

My advice about experts.
Seek them out, take what advice you need and learn from them. You don’t have to do every single thing they say, but be open minded. Don’t forget some ‘experts’ are merely know-it-all’s with nothing constructive to say. I don’t pay them much attention.

-Sheryl

 

Related posts:

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

Tag! You’re it.

Copyediting. Why I didn’t pay someone to destroy my fragile confidence.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Expert

“How could you?”

Me and my first.
“Are you cheating on me?” That question was a long time coming.
I cast my eyes away. “Yes, yes I am.”
“How long has this been going on?”
I swallowed hard. “Half way through revision I took a break.”
“A break!”
I need to be honest, to come clean. “Yeah, I started another book.”
“How could you? I thought I was your one and only!”
“You are my first, and I love you, but I need to move on. I need more.”
“So it’s over?”
I smiled and tilted my head. “Oh no, it’s far from over. You and I have a big future ahead of us. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but I’m not a one book kinda gal.”

Moving on from working on one book to another is strangely emotional experience. I’ve spent so much time with my first book, reading, revising, and editing that it feels as if I’m being unfaithful. Which is funny because it’s a continuation of the story and characters. Even so, as I sit and read through my very, very rough draft of my second book, I feel as if I should be working on the first one.

I shake my head in amusement at all the typo’s, taglines, grammar errors, filter words and so on. I have a lot of work to do and it’s not at all daunting for me. I love editing my own work, because its mine. The satisfaction of seeing it go from simple raw ingredients to a beautifully decorated cake, is unbelievably rewarding. Unless it turns out to be a nut filled fruitcake, then something went horribly wrong.

With first book is finished and in sort of limbo. I have an appointment in a week and a half with a consultant to work on my first 50 pages, synopsis and query letter. Once they are perfected, I will begin the hunt for a Literary Agent. I’m so excited.

My advice (that has nothing to do with this post).
Go ahead and let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Then prove them wrong in a spectacular way.

-Sheryl

 

Other posts related to editing.

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

Show and tell

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Cheat

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 words 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.

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. 

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.

“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.

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

 

Other Posts relating to mistakes.

Spell check doesn’t catch them all.

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

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

 

 
Mistake

It’s funny you said that…

Originally, this blog was going to be about trapdoors, but that fell through.

Humor in writing is difficult. Not everybody has the same taste or sense of humor. Chances are if it’s funny to you, it will be funny to someone else too.

I found it’s all about set up. A well-timed joke or funny comment or moment requires foreshadow. Not the, hit your reader over the head with an Obvious set up, but something subtle.

The thing about humor is it’s personal. Not just to me the writer, or to you the reader, but mostly to the character in the story. If they don’t have personality or a pre-designed history the humor might fall flat. A sarcastic person is not likely to be droll but may use self-depreciating humor. A person prone to dry humor is likely witty and might lean on morbid humor. This is where its important that I know my characters.

Similes, metaphors, satire or irony are great methods of humor. A funny moment doesn’t have to be directly in the conversation either, it can be in the narrative or environment around the characters.

There are of course books galore and articles explaining how to be funny. They have some examples, but ironically are not funny in themselves. Or at least the few I attempted to read.

I found as I developed my characters funny moments just happened naturally. Conflicting or contrasting personalities helps.

Puns are easy, lazy and often work:

They were exhausted and ready to drop. As usual Carl was pushing them hard and receiving death glares from more than one in his unit.

“Come on boys bend like you actually give a squat!”

Larry leaned his head toward Cam. “Yells the guy doing diddly-squats.”

Cam snickered nearly losing his balance.

Maybe that’s funny, maybe not. I liked it.

My advice about humor.
Don’t sweat it, nothing slays the dragon of humor like overthinking it. If you’re stuck I suggest thinking about things that make you laugh. Next time someone says something funny write it down and think about why it made you laugh.

“It’s difficult to explain humor to kleptomaniacs, because they take things literally.” -unknown

– Sheryl

Other blogs you might find funny.

Silliness and seriousness

What happened to that guy?

 

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Copyright © Copyleft

I am Canadian. The moment I started typing, my work was protected by copyright law. I did not know this at the time.

I was a smidge paranoid about letting anyone read, see or hold any part of or all of my manuscript. Why? Because it is a scary world of pirates out there. Waiting to pillage and plunder my work and call it their own. Over the top? Maybe, but it happens, so there is no harm in protecting myself.

Even though my work, as per my countries law my work is protected, I still registered it anyway. I got a lovely certificate in the mail three weeks later. It’s awesome and makes me feel super official.

-not my bit- “Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. This is usually only for a limited time. The exclusive rights are not absolute but limited by limitations and exceptions to copyright law, including fair use. A major limitation on copyright is that copyright protects only the original expression of ideas, and not the underlying ideas themselves.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright)

This is why everyone under the sun is writing about vampires, werewolves, and zombies. The vampire, or concept of them, is an underlying idea. The story written about them is the expression of the idea. So ‘Billy the Zombie goes to the zoo.’ is copyrighted, but the idea of zombies, in general, is not.

Which is good for me because I write about superheroes. Not in a strictly traditional comic book sense, but essentially that is what they are. The story idea is mine; the concept of people being superhuman in some way is not. I LOVE stories that take something that is taken for granted like… um, oh I know! Necromancers, take the idea of necromancers and challenge the underlying idea. Why not? Who says they have to be dreary and dark-minded people? Or that vampires are all powerful and romantically dangerous? Maybe vampires are weak and like Miniature mosquitoes, easily squashed. Maybe one day you will read a story I wrote called, “The necromancers Miniature pet pirate vampire.” Who knows it, could happen.

My advice about Copyright law.
If you don’t know the copyright law or your countries copyright laws, I suggest you look them up. Mimicry is a form of flattery. However, if you are using someone else’s underlying idea, be careful/considerate that you are not taking their original expression.

-Sheryl

My Posts From The Start

The Art Of The Arc

What’s her name?

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Traditional