Awkwardly awkward

It is super hard to read awkward writing. The kind stuffed full of filler words, superfluous action tags, jargon, perspective swapping and a whole lot of tell. I’ve written about those issues, but what about writing an awkward scene?

This can be fun. I love awkward moments. Why because they happen all the time in real life. Only in a story I get to create the moment and shape it accordingly. I also get to make it so much worse than real life if I want to. I can add layer after layer of discomfort employing my super evil laugh as my protagonist squirms. 

“At least it’s just drinks.” Sasha got out of the taxi. She drove home earlier, showered, changed and put on makeup. Valery kept calling it a date. Sasha kept denying it even though it was clearly a date. She brushed her hands over her dark-blue jeans and soft sweater that matched her brown eyes. She risked the pending rain and wore her favorite three inch calf high suede boots.
“Sasha.” Scott approached quickly. “You look fantastic.”
She bit back her usual snarky remark, smiled and responded. “Thanks. You too.” His dark jeans and black t-shirt made her heart beat faster as he put his hand on her back to lead her inside.
The bar was not what she expected. No dance floor, modern with glass tables. Meant for mingling and conversation the music was background and not overpowering. She jumped up into the chair at the high table and picked up the menu as Scott moved his chair closer and prattled on about a new car he was thinking about purchasing.
With drinks in hand she sipped quickly until the familiar warmth cascaded through her. Casting glances in the direction of the exit. Twice she pulled her hand out from under his as he rambled.
“So what do you think?”
Sasha whipped her head back to Scott wide eyed. She wasn’t listening and had no idea what he was asking about.
“Um.” She stalled and took a long gulp of her third drink as his hand slid up her thigh.
“You keep looking at the door. My place is closer, we can go now or wait a bit.”
She choked on her drink.
“Later then.” He laughed and ordered another round as she recovered and removed his wayward hand.
“You’re confidence is astounding Scott.”
He leaned closer brushing the back of his fingers over her jaw. “For good reason.”
She sucked her breath in as she looked over his shoulder, he misread and moved in for a kiss. Dodging his lips she leaned away.
“What the hell Sasha?” Scott cleared his throat and regained his composure. “Sorry, you throw off mixed signals.”
She was about to reply when Cal strolled by and stopped. Head cocked to the side he smiled. “Good evening Sasha, how nice,” Cal’s eyes slipped to Scott then back, “to run into you here.”
The chair did not swallow her up and she silently cursed it. “Um.”
“Who are you?” Scott’s arm slid around her waist. “Who is he Sasha?”
“Ah, he’s Detective Thorn. This is Scott from work.” She peeled his arm from her waist ungracefully. Cal extended Scott his hand. “He was the one that saved me from that guy that attacked me last week.”
“Oh right.” Scott shook Cal’s hand. “You sort of mentioned that.”
Her eyes narrowed. She had mentioned it in great detail after Amber caught wind of her whoring it up bringing home a bad man for a one night stand. She only told them to set the story straight. Neither he nor Amber asked after her welfare then.
“What brings you here?” Scott asked edging his chair closer to Sasha’s.
“Meeting a friend and his new husband for drinks.”
Scott relaxed noticeably and muttered. “Oh good.”
“It was nice to meet you Scott.” Cal looked at Sasha once again as she pushed Scott’s hand away. “I won’t keep you from your,” he flicked his eyes at Scott, “date.”
“It’s not a date.” Sasha’s quick response made the corner of Cal’s mouth curl as he walked away.
“What the hell do you mean it’s not a date?” Scott spoke through clenched teeth and she slipped off the chair and dropped two twenty dollar bills on the table.
“Goodnight Scott.”
He started after her while muttering, “Stupid shrew.”
Once outside he caught up and grabbed her arm nearly causing her to drop her phone. “What some cop shows up and you bail on me? You owe me more than paying for drinks.”
“Owe you?” She shoved his hand from her arm goosebumps rose on it from his eerie comment. “I owe you nothing Scott.”
He put his hands on her shoulders. “If it’s the cop we can go somewhere else.” His hands slid down her arms. “Look let’s go back to my place, have a few drinks and watch a movie or something.” He lowered his face to hers and kissed her. Her mind went wild with all the little sly looks of malice he’d been tossing her way. The looks of frustration and anger that flashed in his eyes.
She pushed him away. “This is wrong. I’m going home.” She headed toward a waiting taxi.
“I’ve put too much effort into you to just give up.” He chased after her.
She stopped with one foot in the cab. “Effort? What’s my favourite color? Don’t know? Yours is Green, peacock green to be precise. What’s my favorite meal? Drink? Do I have pets? Favorite movie?”
Scott took a step back his mouth opening and closing slightly.
“You haven’t really heard a word I’ve said in three years. You love spaghetti, long island ice tea, your dog McClane died eight and a half months ago and you are a huge Die Hard fan.” She sat in the cab slamming the door.  

Forcing someone to be awkward can give them a momentary break, enough to see reality. I used it to give Sasha a moment to pause and regroup. Awkward can be as simple as waving at a someone you thought was waving at you, but wasn’t or walking into a meeting late. It can be complicated as the moment a character realizes a mistake or has a revelation about what they really want. It can be a devastatingly awkward, like standing for an award or recognition meant for someone else. Or running into your stodgy boss at the sex store while picking up phallic lollipops for a bachelorette party.

My advice about awkward.
If your character needs a laugh break make it funny awkward and have them drop a Freudian during a presentation. If they are stuck, make it eye opening awkward. If they need to see something in front of their nose, you can make it devastating or revealing. As always have fun with it.

-Sheryl

Other posts

What’s her name?

Carry

 Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Eerie

Yes… no… maybe?

Okay I will. No, wait, maybe I shouldn’t…

Something that I forget to do in simple situations is employ conflicting emotions. Inner conflict. It doesn’t have to be voiced aloud, though if not writing in first person a little muttering under ones breath goes a long way.

Giving someone, opportunity to make a decision is a fast way to show-case them as a person. Someone might feel excited to be getting married but not completely sure if he’s ‘the one’.  A student might be nervous to move away from home but excited for the opportunities that lay ahead.  It could be a life changing decision, or one that makes little difference.

Should I have the piece of cake? I love cake, but I need to shed some pounds. Although, it is a birthday, but it’s too much sugar. Everyone else is having some, maybe just a sliver.

Inner conflict can enrich a moment and lend it power especially if that decision seems harmless but comes back to bite the antagonist on the ass later on. Now the trick for me is that inner turmoil is… inner. It is generally a silent thought process. So to show it instead of telling it forces me to have to look closer at what physical cues a person gives off during a moment of indecision. Maybe their hand jets out toward the cake and is pulled back then they flinch toward it again and then turn away to glace longingly back at the sweet temptation. Talking to ones self is also a great way to externalize, although I’m cautious with this, not everyone talks to themselves or mutters under their breath. I have some characters that talk to themselves and some that don’t. I keep track of them so I don’t have someone behaving out of character.

Sasha sat in her Living room and stared at the two sentence email Scott sent. He was being persistent and that was a problem. He insisted on drinks, the social lubricant. Sasha wasn’t stupid, lower her inhibitions and maybe he’d get lucky.
‘Let me treat you to drinks tomorrow night. To say I’m sorry for being a jerk.’
“Maybe getting lucky is what I need too.” She typed the word yes and clenched her hands and deleted it replacing it with No. She stared at the word no and added, thank you. Cracking her neck and blowing air out of her mouth fast she deleted that and typed. That would be nice thank you.
“Ugh, but would it?” She deleted that and leaned her head back on the chair. “Okay Sash, why yes and why no?” The ceiling didn’t have any answers. Her friends would say go for it. “Okay, okay a list. To start, we work together.” She typed the pro’s and con’s and deleted the notepad file. Then emptied the recycling bin on her desktop when her cell phone rang.
She fumbled with the phone. “Hello?” Smiling she leaned over and grabbed a pen, writing yes on one hand and no on the other. “Perfect timing Val. Left or right?” She laughed. “No I won’t tell you. Just pick one.” Sasha opened her left hand and frowned, the excitement of the game dissipated with the reality. “Looks like I’m going out for drinks tomorrow. I hope it’s not a giant mistake.”

Both options would present me with opportunity to create conflict and move Sasha along with her problem. Sometimes when I write things like this I’m not even sure what she should do. So I think about it and what lies ahead for either choice and go with the more volatile one. Drinks with the shifty, super cute office crush could be fun, or a complete disaster.

My advice about inner conflict.
Don’t forget to use it. Make it fun and if you’re not sure flip a coin or something. That works too.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Rejecting the rejected

Crazy things

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Giant

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

Other posts

Covered up with paint and lies.

Doubt clouds out creativity

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Tiny

Splendidly Stupid

Writing and reading take up a large amount of my free/spare time. I love both and more so when a story is fun.

When smart people do stupid things, it can get fun. In scary movies, people watching yell at the screen “Don’t go down that hall!” Or something similar. The characters do stupid things that propel the story forward. A good person can commit a crime with the right motivation. A lonely person can be blind to offered love because they are stupidly looking elsewhere.

Stupidity is common and ranges from mild forgetfulness to voluntarily opening a closet door that has blood oozing out from beneath it. Here are some obviously stupid things people do that can jump-start a story.

Driving drunk / getting in a car with a drunk driver
Speeding
Jay walking
Shoplifting
Snooping
Forgoing safety for embarrassment
Not locking the door
Opening a door
Investigating a strange noise
Walking alone at night
Walking toward the danger
Trying drugs
Drinking too much and/or too fast
Having unprotected sex
Having sex
Volunteer for a shady organization
Going off alone with a virtual stranger
Talking to strangers

I know there are infinite things that can be added to the list. The point is if I need someone to get into trouble, the best thing to do is momentarily lower their IQ, and make them do something that everyone and anyone can see is dumb. Really dumb, the dumber the better. However if it’s too obvious you might get some eye rolls and lose the readers interest. I’ll get back to my usual style of blogs soon. For now I’ll share the next chapter. This is what happens after Sasha leaves the bar.

Sasha paid the taxi driver and went up the steps to the back door of her house. The dark yard empty and ominous. A grand waste of space that she didn’t need. Nobody understood why she bought the ‘dammed house’ as her father called it. She did, it was a beautiful house away from the city and cookie cutter suburban homes. It was quiet and lonely. Just what she wanted, or was it what she needed? She could never decide which.

The door swung open as she flicked the kitchen light on. Sasha dropped her purse on the counter and turned back to lock the door. The abrupt swing of it opening knocked her back and onto the floor. She yelped in surprise as the man from the bar pushed his way into the kitchen.

“Get out of my house Baylor!” Sasha scrambled to get up.

He smiled at her on the floor and let her get to her feet. “I think you owe me an apology and a conversation.”

“I owe you nothing. Get the hell out!” She glanced at her purse behind him on the counter. Her pepper spray and cellphone sat useless out of reach. She didn’t have a landline phone and her neighbours complained that she was too young to be living alone. The words witch and lesbian were overheard once or twice. Sasha didn’t care one way or the other, she saw no problem with either option. She half wished one or the other was true, maybe she’d be happier then.

Her body went cold with fear as she turned to run for the front door. It would be locked and dead bolted and would take too long to open. Her elderly neighbors too far to hear and would be long tucked in for the night. A rough hand grabbed her arm and shoved her toward the sink.

“Oh no you don’t.” He sneered. “Tell me Sasha are you a natural blonde? I just don’t see you as a pick. Although…” He squinted his dull-blue eyes. “You are close in face… really close.”

Baylor put his hand on Sasha’s shoulder as she backed up into the counter. She barely knew him.

He shrugged. “Either way I get what I want even if you were a mistake.”

Screaming was pointless, nobody would hear. “You should leave. The police…” She squeezed her eyes shut.

“Are nowhere to be found. Unless you have a psychic connection no one will hear you here.” His fingers brushed the side of her neck and she whimpered.  “I’ll teach you a thing or two.” Baylor’s deep voice made her lips tremble. “Teasing me at the bar.”

She could only gasp for air as he brought his other hand up to her clammy neck. She moved her trembling fingers behind her; reaching for the counter as he raised his fist to strike her. If she could reach the knives, might survive this.

The door flew open. “What’s going on here?” Cal advanced with fists clenched on Baylor.

Sasha’s legs wobbled as Baylor let her go and his eyes widened.

Cal swung hard at Baylor, the sickening smack of fist to jaw made Sasha gag and Baylor crumpled the floor.

Eyes wide Sasha’s hand flew to her throat. “Di-did you follow me too?”

“Dammed right I did. Right after I saw that piece of filth follow you.” He pulled out a badge and a pair of handcuffs. “Detective Cal Thorn.”

“You’re a cop?” Sasha sat hard on the creaky wooden chair, her shaking hands resting on the antique kitchen table.

Cal finished cuffing Baylor. “I am.” He stood and faced the pale shaken Sasha then called to confirm his backup who were already on the way. He opened a cupboard, after two tries, found a glass, and filled it from the water cooler in the corner. “Here drink some water.”

She reached a still shaking hand for the glass. “You never said, I wondered what kind of job you had you were awfully observant.”

“Kind?” Cal sat shooting Baylor a cursory glance. “Meaning?” His eyebrow went up as she sipped her water.

“I don’t know, I thought maybe, I don’t know.” Her shaking subsided as a flush crept to her ears.

“Go on, tell me, what did you think?” He moved to check her for injuries.

“I’m not hurt.” She turned her head avoiding his hands. “I thought model maybe. You knew what designer my shoes were.”

He narrowed his dark brown eyes as he sat in the adjacent chair. “Nice try. So what was your first conclusion jump?”

She looked up from her water. It was so thoughtful. Then again, he would know how to calm someone that just had a fright. She licked her lips and looked back at the glass. He’s a detective there was no point lying.

“Well you skipped over my gorgeous hot friends staring only at me and commented on my shoes. I was dressed more expensively so I figured player or gold digger?” She furrowed her brow looking into her glass. “Can men be gold diggers?” The question in her voice made him laugh deeply, the abrupt pleasant sound filled the small room.

“My sister is a designer and travels the world. She talks, I listen.” His smile went deep into his eyes. “I’m pleased that you wondered at all.” Cal watched her process his words, what happened and she tucked it all away quickly. She’s not used to confrontation or violence, but was or has been at some point. This wasn’t a new pair of shoes, she’s worn the victim footwear before.

“Thorn.” Sasha furrowed her brow again then widened her eyes. “Calanna Thorn?”

His chest puffed out as he nodded succinctly with a smile. “The very one.” He saw now that the bitchy somewhat shyness he mistook earlier was as he suspected, just discomfort for the situation. This woman was intelligent and confident, not for physical self but as a person. “What type of graphic design do you do?”

“Advertising.”

“That has a tone of compliance to it.”

Her mouth fell open, nobody knew, how did he guess so quickly?

“Let me guess Sasha, you went to college for art, your parents or whomever influences your choices, frowned severely at the wasteful choice. So you sidestepped into advertising, worked yourself to the bone to climb whatever ladder there is in that industry and are sitting pretty close to the top rung.”

Again, she gawked at him.

“It’s my job.” His knowing smile curled his lips as he reached for her hand. “You have paint on your index, a slight ink stain on your pinky and the callous of someone who sketches and or paints by hand.” His fingers ran over the rough skin on her middle finger knuckle. “Your clothes, while understated, were expensive. You have confidence in your abilities, but not in yourself.”

She pulled her hand away putting both in her lap as a loud rap on the kitchen door made her jump. He was too intuitive for her liking. She was so careful to hide herself and in one evening this virtual stranger has unravelled more than she let anyone know. Not even Valery or Anne.

Cal opened the door and slipped into all business super cop. He directed one of the two officers in uniform to take Baylor Crower into custody and read him his rights as he was now stirring. The other officer took out a notepad and asked Sasha the usual questions. Cal stopped him half way through and said he’d bring her to the station for an official statement.

The adrenaline was long gone and Sasha sat quietly as the surreal evening played again in her mind. Cal left her alone in the little cold room, she glanced at the observation mirror a few times feeling like the criminal not the victim. The statement was as clear as she could be and now she was waiting. What for, she had no idea. The door opened and Cal was framed in brighter backlight. Somehow it looked angelic and devilish all at the same time.

“Come on.” He smiled holding the door open. “I’ll drop you at home.”

She nodded and followed him. Yawning she glanced at her watch. 4:47 am. The combination of sugary drinks earlier, the late night, excitement, danger and stress took its toll and she nodded off in his car. Cal watched her a moment after parking the car. He honestly thought Baylor would go after Anne or Valery, they were more his type especially Valery. When Baylor showed up Cal nearly lost his control. He needed to catch him in action, probable cause to arrest him. Baylor’s prints were not on file and the last woman couldn’t identify him. His prints were however in evidence for ten crime scenes. Baylor Crower was going to prison for a very long time. That didn’t mean he wasn’t a threat to Sasha. He’s never left a victim untouched, not that Cal knew of and criminals such as he, are resourceful. Something about Baylor’s approach tonight didn’t sit right, he let her see his face as he attacked her. Cal would to look into that.

“Sasha.” Cal brushed her hair back from her cheek and she startled awake instantly.

“Oh!” She looked around and fumbled for the door. “Thanks for the ride Detective. Sorry I fell asleep.” She jumped out slamming the door before he could react. She ran inside and locked the doors behind her, leaning against it she worked to calm her panic. “Way to be cool Sash.” She rolled her eyes at herself. After a scalding hot shower to wash the memory of Baylor’s hands off and the terrible evening, she crashed into her bed unceremoniously.

Sasha did a few stupid things. One, she left the bar alone with someone following her after being a bitch. Two, she didn’t lock her door immediately complacent in her secluded neighbourhood. Three, she went in the back door, had she gone in the front she might have seen Baylor’s cab. And four, she left her only phone out of reach. Not huge errors in judgement, but enough to give the assailant opportunity.

My advice about stupid.
Everyone lapses in judgement so no matter how smart or wholesome a character may be let them make a bad decision. The conflict you can create may take your story to the next level.

-Sheryl

Related posts

It’s a love hate sort of thing This one is actually based off part of this chapter but used differently

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Volunteer

Uniform

Crazy things

Rejection part two.

Life and what seems like millions of crazy things have me a little hurried this week. I don’t want to give less than my best, so I’ll share the next part of Sasha’s bar encounter right after walking away from Cal. I like this story and the characters, they are not from BiaAtlas but from a side project inspired by my using them as examples in my blog posts.

“What happened?” Valery did a little excited dance as Sasha set the tequila shooters down. “Yum, thanks.”
“Not my type and you’re welcome.” Sasha salted her hand and downed a shot. She glanced at Cal talking with a friend and watching her with interest as she sucked on a lemon wedge.
“Bullshit. He was perfect.” Valery downed a shot after licking the salt from her hand and sucked a lemon wedge. “Mmmm and gorgeous. He could be a model or movie star. Too bad he won’t even look my way. I wouldn’t brush him off.”
Sasha rolled her eyes as Anne ran up.
“Yay.” Anne licked, salted her hand and proceeded to do both shots at once. “I’m thinking of going home with Neil, that’s his name.”
A commotion on the other side of the bar area blocked their view of Cal.
“Anne you shouldn’t, he could be dangerous.” Sasha furrowed at her drunk friend.
“Pfft. The über serious insurance accountant. He’s boring as hell, but he has huge hands and feet.” Anne giggled. “Valery knows him.”
Sasha glared at her friend as she finished her second shooter. “Do you?”
“Yeah he’s my tax guy. I thought you might like Neil, but he’s into Anne and you’re about as fun as sandpaper panties tonight.” Valery shrugged and eyed Cal who stood with clenched fists, scowling and watched his attractive friend storm off and out of the bar.
“You’re impossible Val. Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
“Because Sash, you need to get back in the game. It’s been two years.”
“No! Really? I hadn’t noticed.” Sasha rubbed her temples as another man looked their way.
Anne half hugged her friend with one arm.
“What-ev Sash don’t you miss sex, like real sex?” She slurred slightly.
“Neil is looking for you.” Sasha pointed toward the dance floor. Anne kissed her cheek and ran off to dance. Sasha downed her second shot, checked on Cal who was still looking her way as a wiry yet muscular dark blond man approached. Attractive, but not her taste.
“Heads up Val, a dull-blue eyed suitor approaches for you.”
“Finally.” Valery looked around and spotted the man approaching. “Damn, super cute. But he’s looking at you not me.” She giggled as the man closed the distance.
“Evening ladies.” He drawled and smiled broadly.
“Well, well aren’t you a lovely sight.” Valery licked her lips and sucked a lemon wedge provocatively in a way only she could. Sasha resisted the temptation to roll her eyes.
He smiled at Valery then looked at Sasha and back. “I’m Baylor.”
“Ooh that’s an unusual name, rolls right off the tongue.”
Sasha glanced hurriedly at the exit. Valery was drunk enough that she could ditch her on the dance floor. They didn’t agree to go home together and if she thought she snuck out with this guy or another she’d be happy.
“I’m Val, and this is my sex starved friend Sasha.” She put her arm around Sasha’s shoulders.
“What do you lovely ladies do?”
Sasha knit her brows. The second man get right to conversation skipping the pick-up lines.
“I’m manage a design team.” Val smiled and put her hand on Sasha’s chest. “She, she’s a graphic designer, the very tip toppy best of the bunch.”
“So you’re a graphic designer?” Baylor looked at Sasha then Val. “Not you?”
“No sir, I manage, Sash creates. I’m drunk and need to dance big man, wanna take me for a spin?”
He looked her over and smiled. “I’d like to talk to your friend Sasha if you don’t mind.”
“Ooh, handsome and polite.” Valery put her mouth to Sasha’s ear. “I’ll be clicking my heels on the dance floor, come find me if you don’t take him home, but take him home.”
Sasha got up to follow Valery to the dance floor.
“Can’t we talk a moment? She can wait.” Baylor’s charming smile made her uneasy.
“No we cant. I’m not interested, I’m going to dance with my friend. Go find some other mark… Ah Baylor was it?”
“Yes Baylor. So where do you work?” He stepped in her way.
She pursed her lips catching a severe frown from Cal.
“Just a little chat, it won’t kill you.” He brushed his hand down her bare arm and she stepped back. If she managed a conversation long enough, she could leave unnoticed, and text Valery that she left once she was safely in a cab.
“Fine I’ll talk for a bit. Clifton designs It’s an alright company.”
“Was that so hard beautiful?” Baylor leered at her cleavage.
She swallowed her bile. “What do you do?”
“I’m in acquisitions and re-facing.”
Sasha cocked her head to the side and crossed her arms. “What is re-facing?”
“I find specific beautiful things and give them a new look.”
“Why?” She had no idea what he was talking about. It sounded like a fake job.
“To make them better of course.” He shrugged. “I’ve yet to find the perfect one. I think my next job will be a new style to try.”
She looked over at Valery and Anne on the dance floor across the bar. They were being silly and slutty and she almost wanted to join them. She would have if it had been any other night.
“Let’s go dance.” He reached for her hand.
“No thank you.” She snatched it from him before he could kiss it.
“Come on, you look like you could be fun if you loosened up.”
“No.”
He reached for her again and she backed up. “Look Baylor, you seem like a… nice guy. I don’t date, I’m going home alone, and no I won’t give you my number nor will I take yours. It was interesting meeting you. Goodnight.” She turned to leave and he grabbed her arm.
“I’ll walk you out.”
She pulled her arm from his hand and saw her friends watching. Maybe they would back off if they thought she took him home. Why that was acceptable behavior to them, Sasha would never understand.
“Whatever.” She was overcome with the need to get away from the bar, the attractive man still watching her, this odd man grabbing at her and her pushy friends.
After giving her friends a double thumbs up, she walked out and Baylor followed. It didn’t matter, there were two bouncers and the street was well lit. Taxi’s were always waiting and she could scream if he tried anything. He was forward and too grabby.
She jumped in a taxi and looked to see Baylor standing on the sidewalk. He smiled and shrugged as she gave the driver directions and he pulled out from the curb. She didn’t see his face fall and eyes darken as he ground his teeth.

My advice today.
Sometimes life can get in the way of doing what you enjoy, don’t let it stop you. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not. Do what is most important. If it’s not important and just a really big drat then side step it and get back on track.(I will)

-Sheryl

The first part of this bar encounter

Rejecting the rejected

Other fun posts.

Setting the mood

KISS your writing

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Millions

Hahaha oops.

I may not have all the official or correct terminology when I talk about writing, but that’s just how it is. One word that I know I have correct is foreshadowing. I will never ever forget that one, it was burned into my brain by embarrassment. Grade nine English class – Some time ago, I wont say how long 😉  On an test I wrote down foreplay instead of foreshadow.  Hahaha oops. The teacher thought it was hilarious and told me it was a common mistake.  Uh huh of course it is I knew the right word, but wrote down the wrong one and was glad the teacher didn’t bring it up to the class.

Foreshadowing while less fun than my test error, is the simple art of showing or indicating beforehand.

There varying degrees/styles/types of foreshadows that I use.

The obvious set up foreshadow: The one that makes the reader go “hmmm” Then later, “I knew it.” These keep the story moving along toward the conclusion.

The tricky sneaky foreshadow: The one that once the reader gets to the conclusion they stop and think back to the set up and are impressed.

The subtle next story set up foreshadow: Drop a situation or conversation eluding to the next books theme or plot. This one is fun to do especially if it’s a random character that drops into play momentarily or if something happens somewhat out of place but possibly related.  Yup, I’ll have a bad guy or situation come up within the context of the main plot. I do this to elude to or direct the readers mind to wonder by the end of the book if that’s what’s going to happen in the next book. Sometimes this might not be subtle I might just make it an obvious set up.

The hidden Easter egg foreshadow.  Tricky and for the die-hard readers. Plunking in a hint or nudge into a story that may not come to fruition for many books to come. I’ll drop these into each book so that anyone who paid attention will be thrilled to have figured it out. This only works if you have written a series before perfecting the first or if you have the outlines clearly constructed for future books. I’ve done this with a couple things, I dropped a name in a random conversation that is not part of the story nor addressed again. It will be… And hey if I don’t end up using them it doesn’t matter.

Character change foreshadows:  The slight or not so slight indication that a shift in personality or persona is about to occur, maybe not immediately but the feeling is set for the reader.

The mystery statement foreshadow:  When a character states something that goes unresolved. Something potentially important, interesting or exciting.  He looked down at Tory’s lifeless body. “I cant figure out what Tory was after? Why bother with setting the fire then call it in herself?” ooh a secret or explanation someone else might divulge or explain later.

I’m sure there are more types, and I’m sure there are proper terms for them, but these are just the ones that come to mind for me now. I will be honest, I had most of the foreshadows for BiaAtlas planned out, but (and I totally do this) I’ve gone back and added some, changed others and boy oh boy is that fun to do. I know what’s going on but the reader doesn’t, not yet.

Every book has a beginning middle and end, somewhere along the way I introduce (indicate) the next book. Like prepping the reader for what’s to come, exciting them and making them want more.  Maybe foreplay and foreshadowing have something in common after all.  😉

My advice about Foreshadows.
While foreshadowing might not be as fun as foreplay, if done right you can tantalize the reader and keep them on the edge of their seat with anticipation. Plan them out and be flexible. If you’re writing a series, think ahead then go back to set it up.
 

 -Sheryl

Some funny posts

That is disgusting

It’s funny you said that…

Oops! What did I just say?

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Good or bad, they are driven by passion.

Passionate is a powerful word. It evokes an immediate strong emotional association with whatever it’s used with.

I wrote a passionate character, she runs high on whatever emotion she is experiencing and is so driven she is exhausting to write. Her passion for success is equal to her passion to be kind and fair. She is funny and frustrating and a wild ride of emotions. Her evolution is difficult and gradual. I try not to have people switch personality or suddenly become someone their not with no reason. (There is nothing worse than a complete mysterious out-of-place personality overhaul, unless it’s purposeful)

I enjoy researching personalities (An ongoing study). When it comes to passionate people there needs to be balance. Most everyone is passionate about something, but not everyone is passionate about the same things. This is important and can open up all kinds of opportunity for friction, argument or even violence. It can also aid in the growth and development of a character, and it is important, but it has to be believable.

I think of it this way, someone with a passion thinks about it often, and will bring it up whenever possible. Not just because they want to share, but also because they get a high from talking about something that riles them up. Someone with something to look forward to is likely the person to jump out of bed early – bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the world. I make sure my character that is overly passionate gets excited easily, because that’s real.

Passionate people are emotional people it goes hand in hand. Whether they are passionate about books, cooking, sex, drugs, fighting crime or committing it. Passion doesn’t always mean good, there are some people that are passionate about being racist and bigots or causing pain.

Often a person who feels so strongly about something will live it fully, devoting their lives to whatever has them up early and shouting it to the world. They are risk takers, when driven they might do anything to keep their passion alive or achieve a goal. Maybe Joe steps on Sasha to get his dream job. That would create all kinds of drama.

Someone who is strongly attached to a passion can shut down just as easily as they are revved up. Especially when they are denied or fall short of their goal. This can spark a downfall or renewed determination. I use this as a great way to allow the character to soul search and grow into who I want them to become or switch gears. This is key because a person who is or has experienced the power of passion is usually someone who thinks positively. The go-getter or the one that doesn’t let others wallow in defeat. They want them to feel the joy they get so they are motivating.

Taking someone from a train wreck to successful leader cannot happen overnight. It can’t happen without ups and downs and it can’t happen without passion and drive.

On the flipside taking someone from an unnoticed-high-achiever to betrayer and ultimately enemy, takes finesse and a more subtle approach to their brand of passion to destroy or take over.

My advice about passionate characters.
There is a fine line between passionate and obsessive. My passions seep into my life they don’t control it. Take a look at people that are passionate and driven, are they awe inspiring or so annoying? Don’t forget they need contrast, the apathetic counterpart that inspires frustration.

-Sheryl

Oops! What did I just say?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Passionate

Switch it up, and swap it out.

“If you don’t read it, you will never know how it all begins and how it ends. Not to mention all the good stuff in the middle.” -SLM

I have been talking a lot about emotions and making people feel them in my writing. People run on emotions so putting them in writing is important as long as it doesn’t become eye rolling melodramatic. I read a book recently that made me bawl my eyes out. The kicker is that the story that made me so upset wasn’t even about the main characters. It was a side story of characters not even active in the book. Awesome.

Recently a friend told me she became emotional and teary at a scene in my book she is proofing. I told her that was a huge complement. Am I sorry she cried? No, because eliciting emotions is what I strive for.

Sometimes the obvious isn’t, just as the subtle can be blatant. Even if I know what is coming, maybe I don’t. I have had moments when I’m writing when all of a sudden I look at the screen and I think, holy that would be crazier if… And then I change it up. Sometimes it’s a character swap, something designed for someone would be more impactful for another. Other times it’s a scene change. The library was the scenario but I swap it out for a dog treat bakery. If it can lead to better conversation or something funny, I tend to lean to the unusual.

This example is not from my book, but from a collection of bits and pieces for another.

Side by side, Yava and Theo lie facing each other, the melodious sound of Mary Lou Williams softly filling the small room. It has been a day since Yava last spoke; too weak for words.
“They say my love, that your entire life flashes before your eyes.” Theo brushed a stray wisp of white hair from her cheek. “The days of youth, the pesky teens, dancing the night away, your first kiss, your first love.”
The corner of Yava’s mouth curled and relaxed.
Theo sighed softly. “Ah the wedding, making love, all those crazy kids. The fights and make up sex. The cool nights and days in the sun. Our kids growing up, moving out and getting married. All the wee grandbabies now grown. Some with their own tots.”
Tears pooled in her eyes and her lips pressed tightly together.
“Oh my love, my Yava, we have lived, truly lived have we not?”
“Yes Theo darling.” She let her unchecked tears fall to the pillow. “No life has been filled as much as ours.” She rubbed her thumb over his fingers clasped in her hand.
A deep long exhale, the last blink of those sky-blue eyes etched in her mind as he slipped from his.

Originally, Yarva was the one to pass on. However, as I got to the end I thought, what if she doesn’t?

My advice about switching it up.
Don’t be afraid to try out a different angle or outcome. Write both or more and see what tugs at your emotions. Give it to someone else and see what they have to say.

-Sheryl

 

Other emotion evoking posts.

That is disgusting

It’s funny you said that…

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

 

Melody

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