What exactly did cupid do?

Conversation is necessary, it moves the story along. In one little conversation, I try to expose a little back story, a bit of character/persona show, and some allusion to back story and of course a little foreshadowing. I pack in as much as I can to make it worth writing in the first place.

If the conversation doesn’t have a point the reader will know. It will also drag the story down.  Each conversation should have a purpose, a reason for existing. Stiff conversation usually tells me I’m missing the human factor or emotion people exhibit when talking. If I read it aloud and it sounds like they are sitting stiff like Barbie and Ken then it needs a little smoothing out, relaxing of the sentences if you will. It also means I’m probably using filter words and too many dialog tags.

Let’s take a peek at the rough draft:

“Are you serious?” Val asked shocked and set her cup down.
“I am serious it maddening.” Anne replied sadly, “I like him, he likes me but nothing happens beyond kissing and cuddling.” Anne pouted. “Nothing.” 
“What is wrong with him?” Val asked.
“When I asked him about it do you know what he said to me?”
“What did he say to you?” Val asked and leaned closer. 
“He said he wants me to fall in love with him first because I am worth more than just lusty sex.”
“Aww Anne, that is so romantic.”
“I know,” Anne replied with disgust.
“So?”
“Well, if he walked away or I found out he is married or something, I would be heartbroken.”
“Oh. I understand.”
“Val, I swore I would not fall in love. I like being single and free. But he is just so perfect.”
“Is he too perfect Anne?”
“We do argue. He works too much. He bites his hangnails, slurps soup.”
“So cupid shot you with his arrow. Why can’t Tony see that?”
“I think it is too soon and you know I cannot say I love you to him.”

Blech, gag, and yawn. Oh boy.  SO if that was a first or rough draft of a conversation I would definitely need to soften that up, relax it and take the starch out. Oh and oops I have too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show’ going on. This always happens in my first attempt.

Revise time…

“You’re serious?” Val covered her mouth and set down her now empty paper coffee cup.
“Deadly.” Anne shook her head. “Nothing. He’s so sweet and hot and he kisses like nobody I’ve ever kissed before. There is too much chemistry yet…” Anne shrugged. “Nothing.” 
“What’s wrong with him?” Val waved her hands dismissing her question. ” Sorry, I mean…” 
Anne chuckled. “When I posted about it do you know what he said?”
“What?” Val leaned closer. 
Anne mocked Tony’s voice. “I want you to fall in love with me first.” Anne rolled her eyes. “I swear word for word, then he said because you’re worth more than just lusty sex.”
Val stomped her feet and clapped her hands quickly and lightly. “That is stupid kinds of romantic.”
“Ugh, I know.” Anne feigned disgust.
“So?”
Anne looked at her hands. “If only he knew. If he walked away or I found out he’s married or something, I’d be devastated.”
“Oh.” Val patted Anne’s hand. “You’re in deep aren’t you?”
Sighing heavily Anne nodded. “I swore I wouldn’t ever. But he’s just so perfect.”
“Too perfect?” Val grimaced.
“We argue. he’s annoying and works too much. He has the worst habit of biting his hangnails and slurps his soup. Oh and he puts his feet on the coffee table.”
“Yup. So how doesn’t Tony know cupid shot the crap out of you?”
Anne shrugged. “It’s too soon and I can’t say the words, so if that’s what he’s waiting for we’re doomed.”

I may be tooting my own horn, but I think that revision went well and reads better. The moment was experienced, not shoved down the reader’s throat. I think it’s important to really take a look at conversation and make sure it does more than babble. Anne has trouble with the word love and is reluctantly romantic, Val is a full on romantic and Tony is likable and charming.  That was fun to write and then revise.

My advice about cupids actions in writing.
Awww… everyone loves a little love, so long as the scene or conversation allows the reader to feel the jab of the arrow and live the moment not want to skip over it because it missed the target completely.

-Sheryl

Other posts

It’s a love hate sort of thing

KISS your writing

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Maddening

Lust

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Spit it out!

A good story will elicit a plethora of emotions from the reader by showing a vivid selection in the story. I enjoy reading a book with juicy little details, the ones that make you smile as your eyes travel across the page taking the words and building a world in side my mind. It’s the little things, the things that many pass over or forget to add. I know I do. These little things are not something I like to see more than once or twice in a story. I don’t personally like when I find them too often or a book is over riddled with them. People don’t generally have every quirk, behavior or habit. They have some, but are generally consistent with what they do have.

While it’s funny to have someone busted for picking their nose or a wedgie when they rarely do or generally never do, once I’ve gone there with that character I don’t usually go back. Unless it’s a well-timed/placed tease later on.
The little things are not what I think of as personality flaws or plot developers, they are just a peek at a character.
Some bad behaviors or bad habits are also actions that can be natural occurrences or results of a situation.
Spitting is one of them. I’ve talked about bodily fluids and functions, spitting is both a bodily fluid and function. It is also an action with many reasons and consequences. I’m not talking about spitting a drink out in surprise or drooling, but the act of expectorating.
Reasons for spitting
Show of disgust/contempt
bad taste in mouth
habit  (I’ve noticed some smokers often spit frequently)
medical condition evolved into habit
something bad in mouth like bug or bad food
Act of aggression
To clean or polish something (yuck)
Hands off assault or insult (spitting in ones face)
It’s “Manly”  (I’m rolling my eyes)
Contaminate food
lubrication
Being silly 
Types of spitting
Precise and functional
Hawk a loogie (This includes the act of snorking snot into the throat, and adding it to the spit)
In someones face
Spray spit
Globular
The cling-on. (Yup it didn’t part ways with the mouth and is now glopping down the chin)
The long shot. (going for distance impressively disgusting)
Examples of how to use it
Amber ducked outside to the back of the building.She took out a cigarette and lit it; careful to stand with her back to the wind. Taking a long drag she closed her eyes as the familiar rush of calm washed over her. 
“That’s a filthy habit.” Scott smiled and held out his hand. “Valery’s biting my head off today.” He inhaled and handed it back.
“I noticed. Where’s your ice princess?”
“She’s not mine and apparently she’s taking some time off. Stress or something lame.”
“What a baby. You can do better.”
Scott laughed as she handed the cigarette back. “What like you?”
Her eyes narrowed and he stopped laughing. 
“Sorry Amber, but you’re not girlfriend material.”
It was Amber’s turn to laugh, she held her side as he snuffed the embers of the cigarette beneath his foot. “And you think you’re boyfriend material? Please. You can’t keep a woman interested for more than three weeks, and you only wanted Little miss frosty tits because she said no and we all bet you couldn’t bag her.”
“It’s her loss.” Scott spat on the sidewalk. 
Amber grimaced staring at the glob sticking and shining in the late morning sun. “You’re disgusting.”
“Says the cannibal who eats her hangnails.”
“I do not!”
Scott laughed as they headed back inside. “You totally do.”
Rachel frowned as Dale entered the lunchroom and started to pack up her lunch.
“Stay Rachel.” His sly smile spread as he sat adjacent to her at the end of the rectangle table. “We should talk.”
She glanced at the other end of the table at the two others and saw Amber and Scott heading toward the door. “I don’t think so.” 
“Hey guys.” Dale waved at Amber and Scott. “Rachel here is above eating lunch with me.”
“Oh are you now?” Amber opened the fridge as Scott sat on the other side of Rachel. 
“No. I have work to do.”
Dale cocked his head to the side and set his finger on her barely eaten sandwich. “Liar liar, pants on fire. Careful there Rachel your tattle tail might get burnt.” 
The five others snickered and tittered behind hands and drinks. Amber lowered her chin and swallowed hard. “Leave me alone, I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Scott picked up one of her carrot sticks. “Is that why Sasha came running to your desk yesterday and why Valery has been chewing everyone out?”
Amber’s brow knit and she glared at Dale. “I don’t know anything about that. Get your hand off my food.”
“Ooh. Someones feeling brave.” Amber crooned the words as Scott ate another carrot stick. “Rumor is you told Valery I put the shrew in Sasha’s desk.” Amber sat across from Rachel and looked at the other two. “We have rules around here, running to the superiors or bosses or the boss’s best friend is super taboo.” The other two nodded in agreement. 
“I never did. I’m sick of you all accusing me.” Rachel stood as Dale peeled back the top of her sandwich. “I slipped up that’s all and that was months ago.” She stared in horror as Dale let a string of saliva fall on her sandwich, he spat the last and laid the bread back over it. Amber and Scott both laughed. The other two fell silent. That was too far.
“I’m sick of this.” Rachel clenched her fists as Dale stood. 
“What are you going to do about it rat?” 
Rachel pulled her arm back and punched his smirking mouth hard enough to knock him on his ass. The laughter from the other end of the room was not reciprocated by Amber or Scott who stared wide-eyed. Rachel was unhurt and that hit looked practiced.
“Bitch that’s assault.” He held his bleeding lip.
“Whatever Dale, I’ve had enough of your constant abuse. Back off, leave me alone. Oh and do try not to be a hypocrite and run to the boss man to tattle that a woman half your size laid you out.” Rachel turned to Scott and Amber as the other two clapped their hands. “The same goes for you two.” Rachel stormed out.
“Ooh she got you Dale.” The man at the end of the table howled with laughter. “At your own dammed game too.”
“Shut up Terrance.” Dale got up and went to get a paper towel.
Spitting is gross(Again I don’t mean spitting out food or drink), there is no way around it. It is however a great method of showing ones character if you want to make them unappealing. There are circumstances when a well-behaved person might spit, and I might even use them if the situation calls for it. For me I will use spitting on the rare occasion and only if I need that character to be disgusting or less likable.I’ve grossed myself out enough for today.
My advice about spitting.
If you can use it and well, then go for it. Otherwise I would skip it. 
-Sheryl
Other gross posts
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Elicit

I swear! Or do I?

NOTE this one is sort of NSFW, I did sensor though.

I got a review recently suggesting to add a profanity to my book. I’m not a prude by any means, I can be foul-mouthed when appropriate. I didn’t think the scene necessarily needed one. The biggies are not in my book and I haven’t given much thought to adding them… yet.

When reviewed by a professional I was told my writing is borderline Young Adult and New Adult. That the writing style and content could swing either way. Not a bad thing I was assured. This means I am open to a wider market. Huh. Okay so what to do about swearing?  At this point I think I’ll leave it out. Now it’s been brought to my attention I will have to think more on this. What is acceptable? What isn’t? Does it even matter anymore? Given the content and settings of my story I wont be adding them anytime soon, perhaps in the second book when things get a little more dangerous and the antagonists step it up a few notches.

This doesn’t mean my characters don’t drop some colourful expletives, I had one drop a few but I eluded to it in a very humorous way instead of just putting it out there. I also had another cut someone off mid F-bomb to make a point on their behavior.

This has me pondering, should I stick a couple in? It’s totally possible, but is it necessary?

Now I know this is a touchy subject and for those that might be sensitive I’ll respect that and sensor this list that was partially derived from Ofcom.

Worst offenders

C*nt
F*ck
M%th#rf*ck#r

Offenders

B&st&rd
B#&ver
C%ck
D!ck
D!ckhe&d
Pr!ck
P*ssy
Sn&tch
Tw&t

Sort of bad, but common

Assh%le  (IMO this belongs a bit higher on the list)
B&lls (This might be a personal issue, I don’t see a problem with it)
B!nt
B!tch
B%llocks
B*llsh!t
P!ssed/p!ssed off  (Not sure this is so bad?)
Sh!t
S%n of a b!tch
T!ts

Meh, more of a personal or religious issue here. I personally don’t touch religious ones.

Arse/Ass
Bloody
Bugger
Cow
Crap
Damn
Ginger
Git
G%d
G%ddam
Jes*s Chr!st
Minger
Sod-off

Swearing can be tricky if you are writing young adult, too much and parents might object, too little and the teens will roll their eyes. That’s not to say it MUST be included. It doesn’t, unless realistically the scene would call for it.

Here is how I avoid them.

Partial omission:

Son of a…  You can add any word/descriptive or leave the dots. “Son of a blowfly.” Depending on the character it could be funny. essentially a blowflies son is a maggot. So its a win-win in the insult department.

Her body reacted instantly to his touch. “Oh Fu-” Her words lost in his mouth as he pulled her closer.

The casual reference:

Sasha slammed her food down, the screeching of the tires drowned out her colourful string of expletives. Less than an inch of space remained between the car that nearly hit hers and her bumper.

Sasha tripped on the threshold, smashing her elbow on the mahogany console table by the door.
“Watch your mouth young lady.”
“It freaking hurts mom!” She seethed and rubbed her injured arm.
“None the less a lady does not speak such words, especially not in my house.”
Sasha rolled her eyes and mouthed the words at her mothers back in spite.

The substitution:

“Oh Firetruck!”
“You’re twenty six Anne you can say the actual word you know.” Sasha giggled at her friend.

“No, I wouldn’t date him again he’s a total Duckhead.”
“Seriously Anne, you quack me up!” Sasha snickered into her hand.

The PG Sillies:

Sasha scrunched her face at Cal. “Ugh. You’ve got poop for brains.”
“Oh my dear goodness no! Not poop for brains.” He held his side as he laughed.

“Smarten up or I’ll kick you in the tenders.” Valery crossed her arms as Dale guffawed.
“Tenders…” He walked away wiping his eyes.

The aftereffect:

Cal handed Sasha a glass of water. “I had no idea you even knew those sorts of words.”
She sniffled. “Sorry, I was scared.”

Cal waited for Sasha to calm down and sit. “You curse like an unsupervised drunk tween at their first party.” Cal chuckled.
“Don’t piss me off then.” Sasha pouted with her arms crossed. “I’m on the verge of raising the PG rating of this conversation significantly.”
“I doubt you could take it any higher.” He sat beside her chuckling softly. “On second thought, I would love to hear you try.”
“You’re annoying you know that Detective?”
“I try.” He laughed at her poor attempt to stifle a laugh of her own.

The thesaurus translation:

“You don’t have to be such a Donkey-sphincter about it Val.” Anne pouted as Sasha spit her drink out.

Sasha clenched her fist. “This is pure bull feces!”

To include them or not, I guess I do to some extent, I avoid the worst offenders completely. I’ll use pissed off or damn or dammit. Bitch, shit and ass or asshole are likely to be used at some point, while bad, there are even eight year olds know them and use them. Heck I’ve heard toddlers spit them out. It’s really about perspective and I suppose if the publisher says, ‘yeah tone that down’ I have no problem acquiescing.

My advice about swearing.
Use your F@#ing judgement, know your D@mned audience and maybe test drive the sh!t by having some d!ckhe@d read it and hopefully they give you honest F@#ing feedback.

-Sheryl

Other not so sh!#tty posts

That is disgusting

Eating emotions

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