Dashing Dashes

This will be the last re-post as my Vacation time winds down.  I picked this one at random, for no reason whatsoever.

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No, you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waved his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No, you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waved his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the Envelope. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take the Quill Company proofs.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case, she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption, not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Lifestyle

Quill

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the printout. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take it.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Lifestyle

Mood swings

I don’t find people to be even tempered. At rest, at work, at home or at play people tend to be who they are for the most part. But, what happens when tempers flair or stress overwhelms? Can a quiet person become loud? Does a calm person snap and start yelling? Sure, people can behave outside their norm, as long as it is infrequent and outside the norm.

When I work on bringing Sasha down, I have her steady personality of hard working, caring, strong minded and level-headed put to the test. Her snippy and mean responses start to peek through when she’s pushed. So when she falls over, her mood changes, and so it should. When someone looses a good job, they don’t just get mad, shrug and say “that sucked”. It affects them, it worms  into their day and alters their personality until they adjust and move on. Sasha was just attacked by Baylor again at her home. Can’t say for sure but a mood swing or two might be in order. Since she just came out of a traumatizing moment I have to bring the tone down and let her settle, then I can slowly build up the anticipation toward the next dramatic event. For now I’ll let her mood wander a bit.

Sasha leaned her head back and looked at the drop ceiling with frustration in her eyes. “Protective custody?” She grimaced. “Where?”

The officer that took her statement tapped his pen incessantly. “Until we have Crowan in custody you need to be fully protected Miss Parsons. We will take you to a day’s inn hotel and post officers outside to guard you.

“Splendid. Can I just book one myself? If I have to do this I’d rather be somewhere nicer.”

“It can be arranged if you wish.” He got up with a huff. She nearly asked why that was offensive as he left. She had no clothes and was banned from her house until they decided to put her there as bait.

“I’ll never be comfortable in my home again.” She muttered to the tabletop. The officer told her with damage to her car it wasn’t safe to drive. When she went off the road, she hit a rock and caused damage. She didn’t even remember or notice hitting a rock. Shock they said twice; she was still in shock. She didn’t think so but what did she know of being in shock.

Cal opened the door and gestured for her to follow him so she did. He had her things anyway. “Officer Cooper said you wanted to waive our hotel for one of your own choice.”

“I didn’t mean to offend but.” She stopped. But what? It was offensive.

“I booked the Linux for you, I figured you wouldn’t want the days inn that we usually use.” He chuckled. “I had a female officer gather some things for you and they will be in your room.” He led her to the parking lot.

“Oh. Um thanks. I’ll pay for the room.” The Linux was a star above what she would have chosen.

“It’s not an issue. The upgrade however means you have to have direct in-house protection.”

She breathed in the cool calming night air in before getting in the car. “Direct in house?”

“Officer in room. Well in the attached suite. Two plain-clothes officers will be stationed outside as well.

“Oh. Who will be in the room with me?”

“I will.”

“You.” She frowned and looked out the window. That was too close. He unnerved her and since she met him, her life has turned to hell. “Does it have to be you?”

“You sure know how to cut a man down.”

“Sorry it’s just.”

“Look Sasha I get it, you made yourself clear at Starches. You’re not interested, not on the market and if you asked me you’re not even remotely honest about why.”

Her head turned fast, her brow furrowed. “I don’t owe you an explanation.”

“No you don’t, we don’t know each other very well. I meant honest to yourself. You’re miserable for some reason and I’m betting it’s mostly your own doing. Regardless, it’s my job to keep you safe. End of story. If you want total strangers watching over you from a car parked obviously on the road, then go to the days inn.”

“No. You’re okay I guess.”

“Good to know.” The sarcasm rolled thick in his voice.

He pulled into the hotel, they got out and he opened the trunk so she could get her belongings. She followed him numbly as they checked in and went up to their room. She tried to look around and appreciate the décor but couldn’t focus.

The room was divided into three, a common room with a couch, table and two chairs flanked by bedrooms that each had their own bathroom.

“Do not leave this room without me, do not use the phone, you can call work in the morning.”

“Whatever Detective Dictator. I don’t need to call work, I was planning to take some time off to work on a project at home. I’ll have to let Val and Anne know that I lost my phone so they don’t freak out and call the… police.”

“Tomorrow. Stay off the internet and if you need anything let me know and I’ll order room service.”

She blinked her burning eyes at him and held her roiling stomach. She was precariously close to throwing up. Her mind heard his words but her body stopped processing. It all came crashing down, the surreal weight of the evening broke her defenses and she started crying.

Cal saw it coming, she was trying too hard to hold it in and be a tough girl. Save it for the movies, he always said. The real world was a whole lot more emotional. She ran for what she presumed was her bedroom and right through to the small bathroom.

Cal sat on the couch to make some calls. He could hear her, that would have to be enough.

A rough night and a rough reaction. Stress and strain can cause outbursts and behavior glitches that can sometimes be embarrassing or even hard to shake. Sasha probably thinks it couldn’t get worse, silly girl, she doesn’t know who controls her destiny. *insert evil laugh.

My advice about mood swings.
They can be serious, dramatic or even funny if you pace them well. Have fun and try having someone get snitty or even silly on the flip of a dime.

-Sheryl

other blog posts

It’s a love hate sort of thing

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Anticipation

Well, excuse me!

I really enjoy the little things in writing. The sometimes humorous or clever things that make a story or character believable and fun to read. I try my best to include the little nuances that make a human being human even if they only exist in my mind and on paper. These little tidbits are not for everyone or every character otherwise they wouldn’t be minor traits.

Our emotions define us has people and embarrassment is one of them. Our bodies betray us in ways that can be funny and or embarrassing. I talked about flatulence so how about the other gas expelled from our bodies?

Yup, burps and belches. Stifled or free to fly they can be a point of contention, compliment, embarrassment, humor, insult and offense. What is the difference between a burp and a belch? Volume mostly. A burp is a natural expulsion of stomach gas, while a belch is generally forced out to be louder and longer. Both can be voluntary and both can be created by swallowing air and or carbonated beverages.

Reasons People Burp
Consumed air or carbonation with drinking or eating
Indigestion
About to vomit
Making room for more food (Still from swallowing air)
To pay a chef a compliment
To be manly *eye roll
To be rude
To be silly
To show off or compete (Yes this happens)

Burps can be stifled or belted out. They can sound very different from one to the next. I’m not sure if I would use this much or at all perhaps to show someone’s lack of manners or to bring about embarrassment.

Dale wolfed down his second vendor-dog and chugged his coke as he and Amber swiftly walked back to work from lunch. Back at his desk, Dale hung up his jacket and turned as Rachel approached him apprehensively.
“I have the new printouts for the Toothpaste demo for you Dale.” She held a folder of pictures.
“Thanks snitch.” He snatched them from her hand belching loudly wafting his hand before his face. “Woo! I should have passed on the onions and banana peppers.” Dale laughed as Rachel gagged from his aromatic expulsion and hurried away.
Amber popped her head over the divide between their cubicles. “OMG Dale that was hilarious.”

Anne sat at the café table with Valery; her hand flew to her mouth as she burped wide-eyed. “Oh-my-gosh! Excuse me.”
“It’s all good, you tried to cover it.” Valery waved her hand in dismissal and told Ann about her post-taco encounter with Jackson the night before eliciting giggles and laughter.

Bodily functions are good for highlighting a characters level of manners or maturity. They can ease a tense moment or cause one.

My advice about burps.
While not necessary in a story, they can lighten a scenario or darken one. Variety is the spice of life and if a character needs a little something to set them apart a belch might do the trick.

-Sheryl

Other posts of interest

Oops! What did I just say?

Show and tell

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

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Aromatic
Nuance

Something stinks!

The human body is a complicated contraption. Writing about it can be just as complicated… or not. I find people tend to avoid the bits and pieces that make us uncomfortable in real life. But why? I don’t always think of it at the time, but when I’m revising/rewriting scenes I try to remind myself to make people more human, more relatable and therefore interesting.

There are some things our bodies do that may or may not be received well by anyone.  One in particular can be raunchy and unpleasant. I’m talking specifically about tooting, farting or flatulence. Whatever you want to call it or refer to it as. The expelled stinky gasses from the body are a common occurrence and everyone knows it.

Flatulence is necessary to the wellbeing of the body. It can be involuntary or manipulated to be voluntary.

There are cultural rules/taboos, social rules/taboos and even personal rules/taboos regarding letting one out of the gates.

Breaking wind can provide plenty of opportunity and fodder for storytelling. From the accidental squeaker to the purposefully silent and deadly, flatulence can and will always be a source for reaction/conversation/embarrassment. I’m not ever going to write this in every scene or even more than once maybe twice if it’s funny for character/relationship development or story advancement (Kudos to anyone that can make a fart plot development without being utterly silly).

I know this can easily fall under the ‘poo-poo humor’ category but if you think about it as I have, it happens in real life and the after effects can be dramatic.

Reasons for involuntary flatulence
Diet – long term and short term

Illness
Age – yes I went there, either the very young or very old don’t care, lack control it or don’t feel it.
Exercise 
Stress
Nervousness
Held in too long due to circumstance

Reasons for voluntary or forced flatulence
Being silly/joking around

Being gross
Being rude
Wanting to clear out an area
Wanting to annoy/gross out someone
Need to get it out before a big/long meeting 
Relief 

Now if I’m going to go to all this trouble to talk about why’s and how’s I suppose I should list a few types.

Types of flatulence
Trumpeter
– loud and proud

Squeaker – the pffft with a small itty-bitty noise
Silent and stealthy – nobody knows and nobody smells
Silent but deadly – I don’t think there is a human alive that hasn’t had this one happen to or around them
The forever – loud or not it is like a deflating balloon
The Popper – one or many, its little pop’s
The snap – uh… it sounds like a snap
The What?  The one that sounds like someone asking “What?”
The gust – sounds like the butt is just blowing air 
The what-the-hell-did-you-eat?  – Self explanatory
Sickly – When you know someone’s just not feeling up to snuff
Shart – when a little poo sneaks out with it. Yeah this is as gross as it sounds for everyone involved.

I’m sure there are more and other names for them, but I’ll move on. So how does one make this part of a story? Good question.

Dale and Amber snickered and whispered behind their hands.
“Go.” Amber nudged Dale off her desk. He sauntered over to Rachel’s desk. She frowned at Dale.
“Morning Rachel.”
“Oh good morning Dale. How are you?” She forced a smile and glanced down the isle of cubicles. Right on cue, Sharon was making her way toward her cubicle.
“Same as always.” He paused, the soft sound of air escaping his rear made her fist tighten on the scissors. 
“Must you? Every dammed time?” Rachel set the scissors down before they wound up in Dales offending cheek.
“Just a bit of payback for snitching to Sasha.”
“It was months ago and an accident you ass.”
He laughed as he walked away. Moments later Rachel’s crush stopped at her desk. 
“Good morning Rachel.” Sharon wrinkled her nose. “Are you feeling okay today?”
A cursory glance at Dale and Amber reminded her of her place. “Um sorry, I…” 
“I hope you feel better.” Sharon moved on quickly casting a giggling Amber and a tittering Dale a narrow eyed glance.

 Valery bit her bottom lip regretting the taco lunch with Anne earlier. Her gurgling stomach made her cringe as Jackson opened his door. He threw his arms around her and hugged tightly. Valery’s eyes flew open as she passed gas loudly.
“Oh my god.” She pushed away and covered her flushing face.
He laughed and pulled her hands away. “Now that you’ve popped the fart cherry and set the bar so high, I get a free pass or two when I rip one out.” He pulled her inside and closed the door.
Valery’s mouth fell open then she laughed. “Jackson you are one digit hotter for being so cool about that.”
He took her jacket and shrugged. “Meh, you’re one digit hotter for being so dammed cute and embarrassed about it.”

Flatulence doesn’t have to be immature poo-poo humor. Sometimes when a person is too perfect or seems to well put together like Valery a little embarrassment can go a long way to making her feel more human to the reader.

My advice about cutting the cheese.
I wouldn’t say to overdo it, but if you need something to break the ice or lessen the tension or even create some, there is nothing better than a little stink cloud to change things up.

-Sheryl

Other posts worth a toot

Did you smell that?

Eating emotions

Setting the mood

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Or
Control

Moving along…

Even I need a break from time to time, that doesn’t mean I’m not busy doing many other things while not writing a specific blog advice piece. The story of Sasha and Cal is progressing and evolving along with my blog post examples. So the following is another chapter from Cal and Sasha’s story. Following on the heels of the last few posts, I wanted to move the story along to get back to some more examples, advice and tidbits. Here is a brief recap. Sasha was attacked by Baylor in her home. Cal Saved her, he’s a cop. Work has been hell for Sasha, she’s being bullied by her co-worker Amber. Scott, another co-worker, has been attempting to date her while his true colours leak out.

While brushing her damp hair Sasha went to the back door in her kitchen after the third knock.
“Wait, the back?” She froze, her breath caught in her throat as the strangeness finally sunk in.
“Sasha I know your home, I can see you. It’s detective Thorn, I’m here on business.”
Shaking her head, she looked through the thin veil of a curtain covering the window. It was Cal and he had coffee. She could use a coffee after tossing and turning all night. She opened the door and stepped aside.
“Come in Detective. Leave your shoes on, the linoleum is old.”
“Do try to not look so miserable to see me.”
“I make no promises Detective. You said it was business. Why didn’t you just call?” She closed the door as he sat at the small kitchen table. Solid wood and seats four, a house-warming gift from Anne. The chairs creaked and the surface was weathered. It was a true antique, not a replica.
“I brought coffee.” He handed her a tall cup. “And some things should be done in person.”
“Thanks. I suppose it would be hard to text me a coffee.” Sasha opened the lid and frowned. The remnants of the previous day still clung, dampening her mood.
“Double cream, double sugar, the way you like it.”
Her light brown eyes met his dark grey ones. “You follow me everywhere I go and show up at my back door with coffee no less, I’m trying not to be creeped out.”
He chuckled. “You had a cup in your recycling bin with DD on it and your shade of lipstick, I saw it Saturday. I also saw what you added to your coffee yesterday. I came to the back door because I didn’t want to make a scene. A blue haired woman was too interested in me.”
“Phyllis my neighbour is out walking her unnaturally slow dog right?”
“She’s just nosy.” Cal sipped his own coffee looking around the soft yellow kitchen. The old marble countertops were well cared for as were the hand carved cabinets.
“I can see why they made you a detective. So to what do I owe this… coffee.”
“I got a call.” He ran his hand over the carvings on the table edge. “Baylor Crowen is up for bail this morning.”
She choked on her coffee and nearly spit it out on the table. “Bail? Isn’t he like super bad?”
“He’s been charged yes, but lawyers are tricky bastards, his lawyer pulled some strings and the judge will be in his favor, she even moved his case to the top of the pile. The evidence was compromised and he’s claiming you invited him home and changed your mind. Since he didn’t leave a mark on you.” He looked at his coffee cup and poked at the lid.
“My word against his. That sucks.”
“Yes it does. Also he’s claiming that I entrapped him and I sort of…” Cal cleared his throat. “Hit him.”
“I noticed, and thank you for that. Will you get in trouble?”
He half shrugged. “Maybe. Don’t worry about it.”
She tapped her finer on the side of her paper cup refusing to look at the large attractive man at her kitchen table. His piercing grey eyes staring and waiting for her to respond or react. “What is the point of having police if the criminals are just let go anyway?”
“The state of the system is not the police departments doing. I’d like you to come to the station to fill out a more specific restraining order before the hearing.”
“It takes over thirty minutes for police to show up for a domestic disturbance, two hours sometimes. How does a piece of paper protect me exactly?”
Cal smiled at her wit. “If he breaks the conditions he’ll go back to jail.”
“Back.” She sighed. “So assuming he wants to pay me a visit, who’s to say he won’t just bring a gun to a paper cut fight?”
He chuckled despite the seriousness of the situation. “At most it will make him hesitate or scare him off. He’ll be watched and more careful.”
“Ooh he’ll be more careful.” She rolled her eyes. “That’s a relief. So Mr. Bash, slash n dash will just be sneakier and plan instead of employing his usual spontaneity.”
Cal covered his laugh this time and she smirked at him. “I’m sorry detective, I make jokes when I’m nervous and I know they’re tasteless.”
“Nervous huh?” He smiled slyly. “And you can call me Cal.”
“Yes, I’m nervous, upset, whatever. There is a crazy man who goes around beating and cutting women’s faces to pulp who wants to finish what he started with me and he’s going to be free to do so.”
“Let’s go get some real breakfast, talk and head over to the station.”
She ran her fingers through her damp hair. “Okay. Let me call Va, ah my supervisor and.” She tilted her head. “Why are you here and not a normal officer?”
“I don’t live far and since I.” He stopped at her arm crossing and her lowered chin. “I’m invested.”
“Invested?”
He cleared his throat. “I’ve been chasing this guy for months, with no links to any evidence and him being careful…”
“You really did use me that night.”
“No. I was off duty at Starches with some non-force buddies. I spoke with  you before I saw Crowen there.”
She pursed her lips. “Why me? I saw the pictures of the other girls on the news, Valery is more his type.”
“My guess.” He said standing. “Is you snubbed him.”
“I didn’t snub him. I’m just not interested in dating anyone.”
“That was made painfully obvious. Even if it’s not true.”
“I go on dates if I have to, but I don’t date. There’s a difference.”
“A date is dating Sasha. Even that chump player thought so.”
“Look Detective, I don’t need.” She stopped. What could she say; he caught her on a date with Scott. “Give me ten minutes.” She set her empty paper cup in the vintage copper farmhouse sink and went upstairs to call work and put on some makeup.
She learned the five-minute makeup routine years ago and her complexion didn’t require more than a thin application of foundation. Today was already turning out worse than yesterday. The least she could do for herself was to primp and look good in her fear addled misery.
Cal looked at his watch when she came back nine minutes later. “Huh.”
“Don’t get all sexist Detective Thorn. I said ten and meant it. Nine is only because my supervisor was busy and didn’t have time to ask why.” She grabbed her purse and car keys.
“I’ll drive.” Cal opened the door.
“Yes you will. I have work to do this afternoon, Baylor Crowen or no, so I’ll follow in my own car. Unless I’m under arrest that is.”
“Not yet.” He smiled and went to his car as she locked up her house.

My advice today.
If you let the story take you on the journey the readers will gladly go too. I’ll get back to the usual post style next time.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

Setting the mood

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Primp