Misunderstanding miscommunication

People are separate beings. They think and act independently. Often communication can be misinterpreted and it can cause some issues. I love this human flaw. When a person thinks and says one thing that is misunderstood by someone else thinking their own thing. 

They got their wires crossed.  I try to include things that make people more human. So why not misunderstanding miscommunication?  In a tense or heated moment it is easy for someone to say something that can be taken the wrong way by another. That’s what makes it fun.  I am however careful to make sure that the misunderstood communication is relevant to both sides. Side A must have a clear reason for saying what they do and why and side B must have a clear reason for understanding it the way they do and a solid reason for doing so.  It can’t be random and must be valid for both sides of the situation. These are scenes I often spend a little extra time on to make sure both are right and both are wrong. 

The outcome of such misunderstandings can be small or great. It can impact the story not at all or be the tipping point for a serious fall out or drama. From misinterpreting a simple direction that may cause catastrophic results to having one’s feelings hurt from a poorly placed comment, the options are endless and bountiful.

Tony and Anne left Starches without saying a word or looking at each other. Ann zipped up her coat in time for Tony to pull her out to the street. The second the cool air hit them he spoke. “How could you?” Tony shot the words at her like bullets.

Anne kept up with his fast pace, she didn’t have a choice as he dragged her by the upper arm. Instead of answering, she looked away. Neil wasn’t entirely wrong about her and now Tony knew.
“I asked you a question.” He said as they rounded the corner. Her apartment was just up the quiet street.
“I don’t know.” She didn’t, not the answer he wanted nor what he was really asking. He didn’t ask again as they walked in tormented silence.
He stopped outside her apartment. “You’re not an insipid woman Anne, you just stood there and let him say…” Tony let her arm go, looked up to the dark cloudy sky and then back to her. “How could you?”
Anne opened her mouth to answer then closed it. Blinking rapidly she dug her keys out and unlocked the door. If he followed or not she didn’t know as she jogged up the four flights of stairs. She opened her apartment door, threw her keys and coat on the floor, kicked off her shoes and ran to her bedroom.

Tony picked up her coat and hung it, and his, in the closet before taking his shoes off and following her. Her response was extreme, too extreme. She was face down on her bed sobbing, her entire body shaking. He climbed on the bed beside her and rubbed her back.
“Why are you still here?” Her face in the comforter muffled her words.
“Because I’m confused.”
She shifted and looked at his honestly calm and confused face. She sat up wiping her face with the palms of her hand. Her makeup nicely smeared.
“I don’t understand. Some loser calls you names, you stand there letting him and instead of defending yourself you explained your actions to him.”
She chewed her lip as he spoke.
“How could you?”
Her eyes widened. “Oh, you meant how could I let him insult me?”
Tony’s head tilted to the side.
Anne covered her mouth with her hand. “I thought you were mad because I ah…”
“Had a one night stand?” Tony chuckled. “Maybe fifty years ago I would be. Who hasn’t? So?”
She looked at her make-up smeared hands and he got off the bed to get a damp cloth. She was chewing her lips again. “Thanks.” She took the cloth and started wiping her face.
“Anne, I feel like I’m on repeat tonight. So?”
“Oh. Right.” She averted her eyes avoiding his. “Um I was embarrassed and…” She scrunched her face. “I was for the first time ashamed of myself.”
“Here, you’re missing it all.” He took the cloth and started wiping her face for her. “Go on.”
“I’ve never.” She swallowed hard. “Cared before.”
“Cared?” He finished and set the cloth on the nightstand.
“Of what others think of me. I do what I want, when and how I want. I don’t live by anyone’s rules but my own.” Anne sniffled and wiped a tear away.
“Why now?”
“You.” She looked at his face. His days beard growth dark and shadowing his jaw. “I cared what you thought.”
His grin made her furrow her brow. “Oh you care do you?” He shifted toward her forcing her to fall back on her hands. He moved over her smiling down at her scrubbed face. “So all this upset was because you cared what I thought? You were worried I would reject you?”
She nodded as he put his hand on her cheek and made her lay back.
“For having lovers before me?”
She nodded again. “I’ve never kept a guy around long.” She pressed her face into his palm. “I’ve never wanted to.” She swallowed hard again. “Before.”
“Well.” Tony lowered his face closer to hers. “That makes me feel special.” His lips found hers parted and responsive. His hand lowered from her cheek to the back of her head and neck. He would not rush this with her.

Anne stared into Tony’s steel-blue eyes mere inches from hers as her lips parted her breath shallow and warm.
“That’s how I know.” He brushed his thumb over her rapid pulse and smiled.
Anne swallowed and whispered. “Know what?”
“That you’re worth the effort.” Tony’s soft smile reflected hers. “From the first moment I touched your ankle you’ve responded to me like no other has. I knew I didn’t want to just be another guy you dated.”
“You didn’t?”
“Oh no Anne, I wanted to be the last guy you dated.” He gently lowered his lips over hers as their eyes closed.

Aww, sometimes a misunderstanding can have wonderful results. Tony and Anne have very little strife in their relationship, it’s also very new. They don’t know each other too well so it’s bound to happen that their communication doesn’t always connect. 

My advice about having misunderstandings.
They are awesome to include, just take the time to set them up right, and make sure both sides have reasoning. 

-Sheryl

Other posts I wrote

But I hate that

I swear! Or do I?

The FAB pencil

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Calm

Who are you again?

Reintroducing characters that haven’t e been mentioned in  a while. It happens, someone fell to the wayside either unintentionally or by design. It’s been a while old friend, perhaps the reader might want a re-introduction.

It doesn’t have to be a full-blown head to toe and detailed recount of who they are and how they fit into things. I also try to keep the reunion casual and not a slap to the readers face. If I set a character on the shelf on purpose I have already decided to bring them back at some point. If I just sort of left them out and need to bring them back I do so carefully.

I have talked about this before, forgetting to include someone present in conversation. It’s awkward but it happens. The story gets going and they just don’t keep up.  This time I’m talking about the ones that I set aside on purpose. Minor players that can come back to cause… mischief.

Valery grabbed Anne’s arm and dragged her off to the side near the bar, but away from the crowd. “Tony’s adorable and hot.”
Anne rolled her eyes in response.
“Still?”
“Not in love enough I guess.”
“Anyway.” Valery grinned. “Jackson and I are heading out. They got along fine.” She looked at the two men head to head scheming most likely. “I’m glad we did this.”
“Me too.” Anne’s smile faltered. It wasn’t the same without Sasha. “So is Jackson a keeper?”
“Yeah.” Valery laughed. “Now I’m taking him home and keeping him up late.” She sauntered over with enthusiasm to an appreciative Jackson, they said goodbye and left with hands roaming each other.
“I like your friends.” Tony kissed her hand and smiled. “We should-“
“Anne.” A man said too loudly with an unhappy frown.
Her eyes widened at the unexpected sight of Valerie’s accountant. “Neil.”
Neil looked from Anne to Tony and sneered. “Dude, she’s just using you. She’ll let you take her home and be gone before the sheets settle.” He laughed. “Unless you’re a schmuck who wants to be used by a whore that will sleep with a guy she just met,” he glared at Anne.
Tony looked from the furious Neil to Anne who looked ready to puke or punch or both.
Neil shook his head. “She’s a no good one night stand slut, run now while you can friend.”
Anne closed her eyes, took a deep breath then opened them and looked at Neil. “You’re insane. I wont apologize for not returning the hundred calls you left in one damned day. It was a mistake, get over it.”
“You could have called to tell me that.”
“I told you before I left.”
Neil looked at Tony. “Like I said man, a no good slut who doesn’t return calls.”
Tony had heard enough. He clenched his fists below the table and met Neil’s eyes. “Well, that is interesting. We’ve been dating for a while now.” Tony smirked. “So it stands to reason that if Anne couldn’t be bothered to call you, I don’t think she was the problem.” Tony held up his hand to stop both Anne and Neil from speaking. “Furthermore if you’re going to accuse a woman of being a slut for sleeping with someone they just met, don’t forget to call yourself one, friend.” He grabbed Anne’s arm and dragged her to the coat-check.

It’s all fun and games until the one night stand from Starches comes back to ruin things. I introduced Neil as a potential love interest for Anne, but he just wasn’t right so I dropped him like a hot potato with no explanation. Yes I did that on purpose. I also didn’t bother to go into great detail about who he was or describe him thoroughly, I didn’t the first time either, that’s because he’s relatively unimportant. Things were going a little too well for Anne, so as the mean writer I felt it necessary to put a frown on her face. Nobodies perfect after all. I wonder if her skeletons will play well with Tony’s? Hmmm….

My advice about bringing a minor or extremely minor character back to stir things up.
Do it. As long as it fits and they can help make the story more interesting that is. The thing is if they are minor and not likely to come back, they can cause all kinds of trouble at no cost to the love for them, because they are… minor.

-Sheryl

The post where Neil appeared for the first of two times. Crazy things

Another fun post I particularly like: That is disgusting

The original post about dropping characters: What happened to that guy?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Enthusiasm

A bit of the opposite

Sometimes I find myself wanting to soften up harsh characters by making them somewhat likable… somewhat. That doesn’t mean they have to stay that way, or turn good, but a fun side story needs ups and downs too.  Like Yin and Yang everyone has a bit of the opposite in them. This should be true of those who are inherently bad. Perhaps they have a reason that will tug the heartstrings, or a soft spot, maybe they volunteer at homeless shelters or cuddle abandoned puppies at the pound. Whatever the deed may be they can’t be pure evil. Or at least I don’t like everyone being purely rotten to the core.

This can be tricky, if constructed callously they might come across as smug or the action is unbelievable. If I want to make an antagonist have a slight soft side or a reason for the reader to either identify or sympathize with them, I need to assure I write their situation  realistically so it can fall within the story.

I started off using Cal and Sasha primarily as my blog examples, but Amber, Dale and Scott stepped in to be mighty fine side-story antagonists. Just how bad are they?

Lunch couldn’t come fast enough and it came too fast at the same time. Amber solemnly walked to the restaurant with Dale. He prattled on the entire way even as they were seated in a booth. Like a robot, she ordered what she always did. Penne Primavera with chicken.

“Earth to Amber. What’s gotten into you today?”
“Nothing.” She stuffed her mouth with the savory pasta.
“BS. Either you’re in love or you’ve gotten some seriously rotten news.”
She sneered at him. “Really?”
“Ooh did Scott finally give in to your shameless advances and take a dip in the muddied waters?”
She kicked him hard under the table.
“Ow.” He lowered his voice and leaned closer. “What the hell is your problem?”
“You Dale. God I hate you, what the hell was I thinking.”
Dale scowled. “Shut up you love me and it’s just lunch.”
“I’m not talking about lunch Dale.” She stared hard at him.
“What that drunk one-night stand a month or so ago?” He laughed. “Oh I see you’re hung up on me. Got a little taste and you want more?” He grimaced at the second, much harder kick. “Knock it off Amber or you’re stuck with my bill.”
“I’m stuck with more than just your bill Dale.”
He shook his head. “You’re crazy, what the hell are you on about?”
“I’m pregnant.”
“So who’s the chump?” His laugh died as her eyes widened and lips pursed. “No. No way. You hop from bed to bed like a rabbit in heat.”
“I act like a slut Dale, I’m not actually one. You’re the only possibility.”

He threw his napkin down. “Like hell I am. You’ll have to prove it. Wait.” He frowned. “What are you going to do?”

She looked at her plate. “I don’t know.”

He stared in silence a moment then inhaled loudly. “Do I get a say?”
She looked up with her chin lowered. “Do you want a say?”
“You’re sure it’s mine?”
She nodded maintaining eye contact.
“Shit.” He rubbed his chin. “I don’t…” He sighed and tears filled her eyes. “I don’t want you to get rid of it.”
“What?” She wiped her eyes.
“We get along mostly. I’m sure we can figure this out. Why tell me now? Why here?”
“I didn’t plan to. I just.” Amber sniffled. “I have no one else to talk to.”

Dale sat back and looked at her. She looked tired and terrified. She set herself up for the lack of real friends. The ones she has are just as shallow and mean as she is. Or is she? Her raw honesty and willingness to play spiteful games was why he liked her. Did she play along because she was deep down rotten or because she just wanted to play with the cool kids?
“How far?”
She rolled her eyes. “A month and a half duh.”
“You found out today?” Dale picked up his fork and continued eating.
“Yes.”
“Um.” He swallowed his bite. “How does that work exactly? Why not sooner?”
She sighed and closed her eyes. “I missed my last. I didn’t think anything about it sometimes I skip, but.”
“But?” He filled his mouth again.
“I forgot to count and I-” She shrugged.
“You’ve been drinking a lot lately.”
“Not as much as I let on. Just the night I fell and hit my head and the two with Scott after that.” She looked down at her full plate.“I haven’t been feeling well.”
He huffed. “Great. Our kid will be mathematically challenged as well as a compulsive liar.” He reached over and touched her cold hand. “Let’s go for a walk before we head back and after work we can sit and figure this out.”
“I thought you’d be a total jerk about this.”
“Me too.” He dropped enough cash to cover both tabs and tip and led her from the restaurant.

Hmm. Well I guess people aren’t always as we expect. Since none of these people are main characters I don’t need them to shine too brightly one way or another. They have parts in the story, they are the garnish or side dish that makes the rest even better. I wanted Dale who is a nasty, rude all around jerk to have a surprising reaction. Originally I thought to keep him on path and be a jerk to Amber, but this I think was better.

On a smaller scale perhaps I would have them do something kind and random.

My advice about putting a little good in the bad.
I personally think it needs to be there. All good bad guys have a reason, something that drives them to be bad. A good bad guy has a small tender spot for something. If you humanize them, it makes it all that much more conflicting for the readers emotions. They love to hate what they hate to love.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Eyes that carry worlds

Hahaha oops.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
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