All that glitters…

I really do love writing the antagonists. The canvas is blank and they are delightfully unpredictable. However in that unpredictability must lay a facade of control. Writing bad is too much fun. But too much bad at once can become unbelievable. A person that does bad things or is inherently bad is generally manipulative, conniving, smart and willing to play a larger game. I look at the bad ones as multifaceted, fascinating and possibly the most complicated. They get the dark and damaging back stories, they are greedy and they are there to cause damage, wreak havoc and torment.

I like to progress my bad guys, give the reader a chance to learn to hate them, pity them and secretly cheer for them. To do that I make the situation frustrating. Ups and downs.

Dale pounded on Scott’s door, he answered scowling with gold glitter smeared on his left cheek.
“I”m not alone.”
“I don’t give a shit Scott. What the hell were you thinking attacking Amber? Have you lost your mind?”
“Come in, but keep it down man.” Scott stepped aside and closed the door behind Dale.
“Keep it down? You called her Linda? Amber is not Linda.” Dale poked Scott in the chest. “Amber is not and never was yours. You had your chance, shit you had many, many chances and you brushed her off. Explain!”
“I had some whisky shots and got a little frazzled.” Scott tilted his head cracking his neck. “She’s playing you.”
“Lucky for you Scott I calmed her down explained who Linda is and she pities you instead of hates you.”
Scott raked his hands over his face smearing the transferred makeup as Dale continued.
“She was terrified and for good reason. You do realize you could be charged right?”
Scott and Dale stared at each other. Dale’s fury grew and Scott’s slipped away in an instant. The gleam of his eyes shifted startling Dale.
“Ah man you know I’m sorry as hell. I am an ass. I’ll make it up to her tomorrow. I’ll apologize and I will make it right.”
“See that you do.” Dale turned, opened the door, paused and looked over his shoulder. “If you ever, ever so much as touch her or threaten her again there will be hell to pay.”
Contrite expression gone, Scott narrowed his at the door Dale slammed in his face. “Threaten me will you?” Scott raised a fist to the door. “That slut has you duped buddy. Don’t worry I’ll make it right alright.” He turned with a crooked smile to go back to the doe-eyed 19-year-old in his bed. She’s drunk and more than excited to lose her virginity to a hot and sexy total stranger on her birthday.

Down the rabbit hole we go. Now that Scott has it in his head that Amber is Linda there’s no telling what he’ll do. For me it’s important to coat my bad guy in disguise, to let their true natures shine slowly from behind their glittery masks. After all a bad person like Scott just wants justice and to be loved. Scot is not my stories main antagonist. Scott is what I like to call a story born bad guy. The one that evolves and causes problems. These are the kind that I sometimes pull into the next book and giving them a more prominent role. Sometimes I go with it and let them become a major player. It all depends on how the story rolls.

My advice about creating interesting antagonists.
Personally I say make them like-able and give them layers. Don’t out them right away, give them moments to shine before they do what they were written to do.

-Sheryl

Other bad guy posts

The jerk-face warrior

Yes… no… maybe?

But I hate that

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Glitter

Word swap

I recently was reminded of a word that I totally forgot about. Malapropism. Sounds like a dreadful disease right?  It is a sort of disease of writing if you want to get fanciful. It means to use an incorrect word in place of a word that sounds similar resulting in nonsense. These words that sound similar and often look similar. It’s like swapping words that sound right but are definitely not. They can really gum up the works if spell check or grammar check don’t see a problem because the word is technically spelled correctly.

The funny thing about these word swaps are that we can easily scoot over them not realizing they are wrong. (unless you’re an editor or English major, which I am neither) Part of this is the easy mispronunciation of some of them. No one is perfect and those that think they are perfect are flawed for that belief. So what does a bit of Malapropism look like? Let me show you an extreme example:

Jackson ran his course hand over the bear skin of Valery’s arm. His intent was to illicit shivers from her and the move, like now, was always successful.
“This is tortuous Jackson.” Valery sighed.
“Your game not mine.” He kissed the back of her hand.
“You excepted the challenge.” She wanted romantic and she would get it. “Did I ever tell you about the first time I saw you?”
“No.”
“Hmm. It is a lovely storey. Well I was late for work, rushing to get my coffee and was about to leave when I saw you. I stopped in my tracks, stationery and unable to breathe. Loathe to approach such a stunning beauty. You stood there ordering coffee in that clingy red dress flouting your sexy figure.” Jackson ran his fingers over the palm of her hand. “It was a site I couldn’t tear my eyes from.”
“What a lovely complement.” Valery snuggled closer.
“I came up with a plan to insure you would say yes and a few plausible excuses for being late.”
“You were so bazaar.” Valery covered her mouth and giggled.
“Once I bumbled my way through and asked you out. I waited with baited breath as you smiled slowly, took a pen from your briefcase and scribbled your number on my cup.”
She smiled as his lips traveled in small kisses up her arm.
“Then?”
“I took you out and voila; now you’re all mine.”
“Jackson, that was romantically anti-climatic.”
“I still have the cup.”
Valery flung her arms around his neck peppering him with kisses.

I’d like to think I wouldn’t make those mistakes, but I would never claim to be perfect. There is one in there that I know I’ve mixed up. So how many were there? 15. Here are the corrections highlighted.

Jackson ran his coarse hand over the bare skin of Valery’s arm. His intent was to elicit shivers from her and the move, like now, was always successful.
“This is torturous Jackson.” Valery sighed.
“Your game not mine.” He kissed the back of her hand.
“You accepted the challenge.” She wanted romantic and she would get it. “Did I ever tell you about the first time I saw you?”
“No.”
“Hmm. It is a lovely story. Well I was late for work, rushing to get my coffee and was about to leave when I saw you. I stopped in my tracks, stationary and unable to breathe. Loath to approach such a stunning beauty. You stood there ordering coffee in that clingy red dress flaunting your sexy figure.” Jackson ran his fingers over the palm of her hand. “It was a sight I couldn’t tear my eyes from.”
“What a lovely compliment.” Valery snuggled closer.
“I came up with a plan to ensure you would say yes and a few plausible excuses for being late.”
“You were so bizarre.” Valery covered her mouth and giggled.
“Once I bumbled my way through and asked you out. I waited with bated breath as you smiled slowly, took a pen from your briefcase and scribbled your number on my cup.”
She smiled as his lips traveled in small kisses up her arm.
“Then?”
“I took you out and voila; now you’re all mine.”
“Jackson, that was romantically anti-climactic.”
“I still have the cup.”
Valery flung her arms around his neck peppering him with kisses.

It’s easy to miss one or two from time to time. I don’t beat myself up over it, I resist that temptation. Editing and revision are key to solving this hiccup. Having others revise your work is a good idea too. Sometimes as the one who wedged the offensive word in place, I cant see it as clearly.

Here are the words used in order with their meanings:

Course (A class) – Coarse (Rough)
Bare (Naked) – Bear (An animal)
Illicit (Illegal) – Elicit (To draw out)
Tortuous (Full of twists) – Torturous (Cause suffering)
Except (Not including) – Accept (To agree to)
Storey (Floors in buildings) – Story (A tale)
Stationery (Writing supplies) – Stationary (To be still)
Loathe (Hate) – Loath (reluctant)
Flout (Disregard rules) – Flaunt (Show off)
Site (a place) – Sight (See)
Complement (Goes well with) – Compliment (Praise)
Insure (Compensation life insurance) – Ensure (make certain)
Bazaar (Middle Eastern market) – Bizarre (Weird)
Baited (Fish hook) – Bated (On baited breath)
Climatic (Environment/climate) – Climactic (Climax)

There are many more out there, these are the ones I picked on for the example. Some that might show up may simply be typo’s.

My advice about Malapropisms.
It might be a good idea to make a list of these words(My list above is not complete) and use the “find” feature to see if any got mixed up.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Blood

Sweat

+ Tears

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Resist

Drunken secrets

Getting drunk is a common occurrence. Like everything else, it is a uniquely unique thing. Some people can drink for hours and maintain a semblance of control; others can go wild with one drink. Some people pass out some puke. Others get giddy, while some cry. The mood swing of the alcohol ride can also vary. Some start off as happy go luck and end up bawling, while confident careful people end up doing crazy things they would never normally do.

Like with all good interactive situations I keep in mind who will react how. Nobody reacts the same to alcohol in varied amounts and often nobody reacts the same way over and over.  Ones pre-drink emotional state can greatly affect the outcome of the scene. The good thing is, there are no rules. Opportunity for confessions, Drunken secrets to come out, game changing moments, or complete blind sides are up for grabs. If the story is floundering and you know where it needs to go but just can’t quite get it there, how about a bit o booze? Even if the story isn’t floundering it is such a great way to change any dynamic.

Cal set the six mini bottles down on the table, Sasha picked up a rum as he went to get coke and glasses.

“Why didn’t you peg me as a cop when you met me?” Cal handed her a can of Sprite. “Sorry no coke in the fridge.”

“You’re too pretty and too nice. It’s weird until you burst into my house I had no idea. I thought I had good Cop radar.” She took a swig of the pungent rum before adding the rest to the lemon-lime sprite and took a large sip of the mixed drink. “Oooh that’s really yummy.”

When she looked at him sharply for dumping a second shot into her glass, he shrugged.

“It’s either that or Valium.”

“Rum. It tastes better. Thanks. As I said, I’m not normally a basket case. This is even better as a double. I love the taste.”

“I can tell.” He sipped his Sprite sans alcohol. “So before I busted my cover did you at all like me?”

“Fishing are we? I just said you were pretty and nice. That’s all you’re getting, and don’t get your hopes up booze doesn’t loosen my tongue.”

“From what I remember it makes it sharper.” He smirked at her open mouth as if she wanted to say something, but anything said would prove his point.

“Clever little copper aren’t you?” She laughed before he could respond. “It’s your job. I know, I know.”

“Do I know your ex?”

“Ben Huberson.”

Cal thought a moment. “I’m sort of new to this area. It doesn’t ring a bell.”

“He doesn’t ring a lot of things or when he does he can’t stick to it.” She laughed again. “Gonna stick a pin in that? What happened didn’t make it into any papers or news so don’t bother looking it up and if you find him, and you wont, he wouldn’t tell you what he did. If he did I’d be surprised if he told you the truth.”

“That bad huh?” Cal took that as a challenge. He found things and found things out. He was dammed good at it and if she kept up this way he wouldn’t have to search very hard.

She finished her drink and he filled her glass from the cans on the table. She looked at the bottles.

“There’s more rum.” He got up and fished them from the fridge and handed her two.

“I don’t need that much.”

“Do you cry when you drink?”

“No. Silly Detective. I only cry after nearly being killed and running people over with my car. Rum makes me happy.” She giggled at his serious face.

“You’re a strange woman.”

“Says the guy, wait, I had something for that. Damn.”

He laughed at her perplexed expression. “Why did you go out with Val and Anne that night? You didn’t seem to want to be there.”

“Anniversary. Suck-y stupid anniversary.” She was drinking too fast, and knew it so slowed down, not that it mattered she was nearly done the second. “They think I should move on. The think is.” She giggled. “The thing is.” She nodded. “I am happy. I just don’t want to go down that road again. I’m happy alone. Stick a pin in that PoPo.” She snickered into her hand. He watched her amused with her silly behavior. They sat in silence a while Sasha sipped her drink. 

Cal broke the silence first. “What about Ben?”

“Ben can rot in.” She finished the second double drink and set the glass down too hard. “He can go rot in hell. Ben in hell roasting his balls on the flames wouldn’t be punishment enough.”

“You have issues with genitalia.”

She giggled again and couldn’t stop. “Oh I do. I’m so mean. I stab them, kick them and I’ve even punched them. Selfie defense. I mean Selfie… self-defiance. Shelf defense.”

Cal waited patiently for her giggle fit to finish. It took a while and it took concentration not to laugh along with her. Not because groin injuries were funny, but her laugh was contagious.

“Sorry.” Sasha wiped laugh tears from her heavy eyes. She pointed at the empty mini bottles. “One, two… three and four. Why my drunk?”

“Because you barely slept last night, refused to eat supper and drank four shots in.” He looked at his watch. “Less than one hour.”

“So? I kin do that any time.” She blinked slowly. “Maybe not on an empty tum-tum.”

“What happened that day two years ago?”

“Nice try copper-roo. Not gonna get that story. No sir. Not even Val would blabber-blab. It would be funnier if you.” She giggled. “If you were named Bob. I could call you bob the bobby. With your stupid pins. Bobby pin.” She laughed so hard Cal bit his lip to keep from joining. “I’m gonna be pissed when I’m sober ya know.”

“Will you?”

She leaned her heavy head back on the couch. “You bet’cha gadget. I’m gonna be mad tha, that you tried to drink me, drunk, get me to drunk talk.” She looked up at the ceiling. “Was worst day ever and he wants me to talk about it. Can you bel-believe it? The sexy cop wants me to spill the beans.” She giggled again and pointed at him. “Naughty cop. You’re a naughty cop you know that?” She smiled at his amused face. “You should stripper, be a strip dancer thing, guy. You know what I mean. Bet you’re better taking your shirt off than playing cops and robbers.” She closed her eyes and they stayed closed.

“Some days I wonder.” He sighed hoping she wouldn’t remember.

He honestly didn’t mean to pry, he couldn’t help it. She had a huge mystery begging to be solved.  He wondered just how tight-lipped Valery would be. Would Anne? There has to be someone willing to snap her out of her glass box of self-pity. Ben probably cheated, it has to be big for her to be so upset. That it was such a secret meant it might be huge. At least for her anyway. Enough to scare her off men for at least two years.

She started to fall over so Cal picked her up and put her in her bed, tucked her in as she snuggled on her side. He took her unpacked clothes off the bed and put them away in the drawers. The file folder was neatly tucked under her laptop. He saw what was in it, strange pictures that were probably some company’s idea of advertising. The only one that didn’t fit was the hand. Maybe it was a multi-purpose hand moisturizer. He didn’t know and didn’t really care.

“You are interesting.” Cal turned the light out and went to his own bed.

I don’t like reading that someone’s words are slurred or garbled so I’ll write it slurred or garbled. That’s a personal choice. Show don’t tell after all.  Everyone has seen various degrees of drinking to drunk to pass out drunk. I’m not talking about alcoholism or substance abuse, that is a whole other subject.

My advice about getting your characters drunk.
Whether it’s in or out of character it can really work to liven things up, good or bad, drunk is interesting.

-Sheryl

Other posts

The prelude to this one Stick a pin in it!

Bacon, Banter and Coffee

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Pungent

The good…

The good…

Good habits are generally part of a routine or a conscious decision to do something good until it becomes habit. They can be simple like brushing your teeth and flossing daily, or turning lights off as you leave a room to save on hydro. Actions that are done without thought that influence the world around in a positive way.

These actions are important in my opinion as they can round out a character giving them a more human appeal. I’m not talking about blatantly writing in a good habit over and over in an overly obvious way, but a subtle action that fits within the scenario and is maybe repeated with little to no attention. Unless I want the habit to be endearing I might draw attention to it, but not outright.

Good habits can also be seen as kind gestures or acts of kindness because they often are.

Good habit ideas

  • Never talking with mouth full
  • Using please and thank you consistently
  • Sneezing into crook of elbow
  • Wiping crumbs from table(any table) so not to leave a mess
  • Tipping servers
  • Consistently early or on time
  • Double checks locks
  • Lets others go first
  • Holds doors open for others
  • Gets or brings someone coffee or tea when they need it
  • Tidies up after others without being asked
  • Donates to charities
  • Touching someone’s arm or shoulder in affirmation that they are acknowledged or appreciated
  • Puts the seat down. (that’s for the men 😉 )

I can go on but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Sasha finished the last review assuring the presentation was perfect. She glanced at her monitor clock, eleven-eleven. She looked down the hall. Scott approached with his cocky swagger assuring everyone that he was confident and aware they were watching. “Right on time.” Sasha smiled as he knocked on her doorframe and leaned casually against it. “Come in.”
He sauntered into her office, leaned on her desk. “Nobody likes tardy, naughty maybe.” He winked. “But not tardy.” His grin split his handsome face when she blushed and looked down at the file she had ready for him on her desk.
“The presentation is at two. The clients will be arriving, probably by quarter after.” She rolled her eyes. “Will you be ready by quarter to?”
“Absolutely chief.”
“I’m not your boss Scott.”
“No, but you’ve been here longer.”

 …

Sasha double-checked the PowerPoint set up; satisfied it was working perfectly she checked her watch. One forty five. The light rap on the doorframe of the meeting room door made her stand and turn.
“Scott. Come on in.” She smiled as he entered. “Would you do me a favor and set out the pens?”
“Absolutely.” He retrieved the pens with the company logo from the cupboard as she covered the board mock ups. “I was surprised you asked me to do the layout for this one.”
“Honestly I don’t have time to do them all myself. And the Hollander account was more urgent.” She sighed. “Besides you’re the sexy one. I mean you have a knack for sexy.” They both stopped and looked at each other, her face bright red. “I mean sexy layouts.” She put the palm of her hand to her forehead. “What I mean Scott is you made the leather cuffs look sexy.” She stopped as he chuckled deep in his throat.
“I know what you mean Sasha.”
“Those leather cuffs are tacky I don’t know how you managed it.”
“It was a challenge. Thanks. I took a note from your book, they wanted trendy I gave them…” He tilted his head. “Sexy.”
She nodded. “They’ll love it. Sex sells better than cool.”

Scott
Always knocks
Waits to be invited in
Always punctual

Sasha
Thorough
Makes sure things are perfect so they don’t inconvenience others
Asks instead of demands

 I would carry these traits(good habits) into other aspects as well. Sasha would always ask for help or time from her friends or family. It’s who she is. She would also clean and prepare food for company for casual or formal visits. If she had to do something for someone else, she would take care to make it right the first time and double check her accuracy.  Scott may not be a major player but he influences Sasha’s development and even for a casual character, I would be careful to keep him consistent. Flirty, considerate and polite to a fault. His “good” habits might be self-serving in the long-run. Who knows? Well I do, but that’s another side-story.

My advice about good habits.
Developing good habits as a writer is definitely a benefit. Developing your characters good habits is totally worth it. Even if it’s more subtle than what I wrote, the small details will be what endears a reader to the story whether they notice or not.

Sheryl

Some old posts

Tag! You’re it.

Look at the source

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Urgent

Negative or positive

Words are interesting as are their meanings. Yesterday out of the blue someone I’m familiar with but not friends with paid me a sincere compliment. I was flattered and it made me feel good about myself. It wasn’t flattery it was a complement. What’s the difference? I’m confused. That’s because flatter, flattered and flattery can be interpreted or used for both negative or positive.

Flatter / Flattered – (Verb) (Source: Thesaurus.com)

  1. to try to please by complimentary remarks or attention.

Stuck in her routine Sasha entered the common office. Scott, the office heartthrob, was leaning casually against his desk as usual and chatting with an amiable group. As he did every day, he glanced at Sasha, looked her over from head to toe and back. The slight curl to his lips as he made eye contact then turned back to his conversation, made her insides flutter from the flattering appraisal.

Karl entered Sasha’s office and she nodded a greeting. “I brought you a coffee.” He held the paper takeout cup to her. “Just the way you like it. I was there and thought after the late presentation last night you might want one.”
“Thanks Karl.” She took the offered beverage. He always meant well, the new guy who quickly learned who was important and who acted important, and flattered appropriately.
“I was in awe yesterday, you really know how to work a room. And that layout, it wasn’t like anything I’ve seen. So edgy and unique. How did you do it?”
Sasha smiled, Karl was keen and honest about it. Had it been Jada she would have shooed her from her office and shut the door.

  1. to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively:

“Sasha that layout was the best thing I’ve seen in months. And your presentation yesterday, wow you really knocked it out of the park.”
She narrowed her eyes at Jada, she only applied flattery when she wanted something.

  1. to represent favorably; gratify by falsification:

“Sasha I want this to showcase the lead actor as the best thing since sliced bread.”
“Even though he’s not and everyone in the world knows it?”
“Your job is to make him new again by design, flatter him and force the people want to believe he’s amazing. Whether he is or not doesn’t matter.”

  1. to show to advantage:

Sasha spent her weekend revamping her style, a flattering haircut and new suits and blouses that fit perfectly.

  1. to play upon the vanity or susceptibilities of; cajole, wheedle, or beguile:

“It was too easy.” Jada smirked. “I simply plied them with constant insincere compliments, favors and gifts and they signed the contract in under a week.”
“Or you could present good work and earn the contract like Sasha does.” Valery mumbled under her breath.

  1. to please or gratify by compliments or attentions:

“Oh Sash, I’m so jealous you look hot today.” Anne hugged her friend firmly. “Flattery will get you everywhere.” Sasha grinned.
“Seriously you look awesome, your new Yoga class is paying off and your hair, that cut is sexy on you.”
“Thanks Anne that means a lot coming from you.” Sasha meant it and her friend smiled.

  1. to feel satisfaction with (oneself), especially with reference to an accomplishment, act, or occasion:

Sasha smiled at the message in her email. She had done very well yesterday and was pleased with the outcome. “I so deserve this praise.”

Sometimes its good for banter between friends to illustrate their comfort with one another.

“You look like crap Sash.” Valery chuckled.
“Flatterer. I couldn’t sleep last night and coffee isn’t casting its magic strong enough.”

It is often assumed Flattery is negative, but it’s not always. Some people will misread this word as negative unless it is clearly supported by effective writing.

My advice about Flattery.
It’s a common practice to flatter or be flattered, negative or positive. Work flattery it in once and a while it’s fun. Just make sure the reader understands how you meant it.

-Sheryl

An older but fun post: What happened to that guy?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Flattery