Blood

It is inevitable when I’m writing that my characters are going to get into sticky situations. It is very likely that they will encounter or give up some of their own blood, sweat and tears to entertain my readers. I write a lot about emotions, feelings and the senses, because they are a major part of being human and alive.

I’m not a writer of the undead, be that zombies, mummies or vampires. I don’t write about lycanthropy in any form or paranormal nor the preternatural. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of such fantasy, but I struggle with realism and can’t seem to venture very far outside of it… yet. Maybe someday, I do have some ideas rattling their cages in my brain.

So when I research or ‘people watch’ aka observe I try to compare every experience/action/movement/reaction etc. to how I have felt or reacted in the self and same situations(or near to) Then I think about how incredibly fascinating it is that people are so universally unique.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about blood. Yes, blood. Specifically how people react to it. In conversation, in movies, in real life, coming out of others and coming out of themselves.

Common reactions to blood on TV/movies
Grimace
Eye roll (Too campy)
Close eyes
Turn head away
Cover eyes/face
Turn off the TV or walk away

 These reactions are based on the knowledge that its not real. It also helps that if you’ve ever seen real blood in copious amounts Hollywood rarely gets it right.

Common reactions to seeing someone bleeding for real
Rush to help/Provide help
Turn away
Gag/vomit
Faint
Fear of disease/contamination
Panic
Crying
Grimace
Waving hands in front of self and shaking head
Fear of hurting the injured
Shaking from adrenaline
Calm in order to keep injured calm

Seeing blood is different from bleeding. From a little to a crimson mask from a tiny face wound to a bullet in the chest, bleeding can be tricky to write without overdoing it.

Common reactions to bleeding (Pain is not always a factor with blood)
Disbelief
Shock
Panic
Faint/Fainting
Shaking
Crying
Anger
Vomiting
Calmness (odd but true, some people just mellow out)
Disorientation

The idea is clear, either way blood = bad and blood = good.  Whenever tragedy strikes the heroes step up. They run toward the danger, the blood and those in need. However if there is blood, something bad happened. Duh right?

Like pain, a bloody experience is tempting for me to internalize, to shift POV and slip into my characters mind. Let’s find out what happened to Amber and why her head is bandaged.

 Amber laughed and spilled her drink on the floor as she retold the shrew in Sasha’s desk drawer story. She thought it was even better given Scott’s unscripted shrew comment moments before the discovery.
“It was magic, her screaming and blithering like an idiot.”
Amber’s audience held their martini glasses up in congratulatory cheers.
“I need to visit the loo.” Amber gulped the last of her martini and hopped off the tall chair.

Her foot slipped on her spilled drink and she hit the floor hard. She felt pain instantly as her head hit on the base of a chair at the table beside theirs. She cried out, the sharpness of the impact felt hot. Someone helped her sit up and she touched her forehead gingerly. She could feel the warm thick fluid streaming down her face dripping onto her light pink sweater. Like a suffocating fish, her mouth opened and closed in surprise. Amber pulled her hand away as others called for help. She was afraid and screamed, her shiny red fingers were covered in blood and she felt faint as her eyes fluttered.

That POV went all over the place. In her head, out, and back in again. Let me try a re-do, maintaining and external POV.

Amber wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes and sloshed her drink, spilling it as she retold the shrew in Sasha’s desk drawer story. It was even better after Scott’s unscripted shrew comment moments before the discovery.
“It was magic, her screaming and blithering like an idiot.”
Amber’s audience held their martini glasses up in congratulatory cheers.
“I need to visit the loo.” Amber gulped the last of her candy apple martini and hopped off the tall chair.

Her foot slipped on her spilled drink and she hit the floor hard. Her forehead connected with the chair-base at the table beside theirs, and she cried out.
Someone helped her to sit up on the sticky bar floor. Like a suffocating fish, Amber’s mouth opened and closed as she gingerly touched her forehead. Her fingers slid in the warm thick fluid as it streamed down her face and dripped onto her light pink sweater. Amber pulled her hand away while someone called out for help. She screamed as her shiny red fingers shook before her fluttering eyes.

Oh boy I definitely had to take the ‘feels’ and “ing’s” out of that first attempt, that was for sure. I also had to give Amber a little something for her nasty behavior, right?  I don’t care for the term “pumping” to me that implies gore. So I don’t use it, totally a personal preference.

My advice about bloody writing.
Don’t over describe blood with as many alternate words for red that you can find. Pick one or two and keep it simple. The word red works, and I only used it once.

-Sheryl

Here’s an older post or two

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Are you inging too?

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 Fish

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What happened yesterday?

There are times when I’m writing a scene and it becomes tedious. The moments are either repetitive or drawn out and might lose the reader. However, the story part needs to be represented so what do I do? Summarize. I try to stay outside my characters heads so this can become tricky, as it is easier to write a summarized day or whatever without jumping into introspective writing. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that POV, It’s just not what I’m going for.  I had a long chapter of events that occurred after the bad date and run in with Cal the following morning. However, it started to become filler drama. The over written paragraphs were irksome and needed to change. They were not quite enough to move the story forward in an interesting way and too much mediocrity to pass off as entertaining. So I’ll give a summary chapter a try and see how I feel about it. Ready? Set? Go.

Sasha jolted awake as her body hit the floor beside her bed. Scrambling to her feet, she examined her elbow.
“Weird.”
Falling out of bed was odd enough, but the bruise on her elbow from giving Amber the elbow drop from the top rope was a little funny. She didn’t even watch wrestling but the dream had a sweet satisfactory after-glow to it.

She turned on the hot water, running her hand in the shower spray until it was warm enough to step in. Holding her face under the sharp water the day before was slowly coming back. Scott sulked in his office all morning. Amber had snickered too loudly when Sasha screamed after finding a live mouse in her desk drawer. It turned out to be a shrew. There was no doubt in Sasha’s mind who put that there. Heads were down and hushed tones seemed to emanate from every corner of the office all morning.
“How am I the bad guy all of a sudden?” Sasha let her tears fall with the water as she washed her hair. “I’ve given them everything and I’m always nice to everyone.” The anger didn’t wash away with the soap as she slammed the conditioner bottle down.
Valery did her best to buffer and keep Scott and Amber busy for Sasha’s sake. Even after Sasha told her she shouldn’t have to.
“I need a vacation.” She muttered, shut the water off and dried off rubbing harder than normal. “Or a new job.” That vocalization brought fresh tears to her eyes. “Jerks. I love the job. I’m really good at it.” She wiped her eyes with the damp towel before they fell and then hung it on the towel rack. “Maybe too good.”

She opened her armoire. The thing she loved about this house was the abundance of details. Someone put a lot of time and effort into making it feel old and antique. Carved banisters with little ivy and flowers, real hardwood floors with contrasting wood inlays. The lack of storage wasn’t an issue. The previous owner left the cabinets, buffets and armoires that matched the mouldings.

When Scott had begged via email to go for lunch to talk, she gave in, if only to curb some of the tension in the office. Oddly enough, lunch was the nicest part of the day. He had apologized and asked to try again. When she said no, he pleaded if only to save their friendship. She managed to stifle her laugh then but at that thought laughed aloud while buttoning her blouse.
“Pft. Friendship.”
Still, she acquiesced and agreed to go out on a non-date to see if they can mend their so-called friendship. His motives were easy to see. What Sasha didn’t understand was why. He didn’t seem to genuinely like her as a person.
“I’m just the stupid shrew, the conquest.” She looked at her vanity mirror reaching for her brush. “I’m not ugly.” She tilted her face back and forth. “Just broken.” With a heavy sigh, she raised the brush stopping at a loud knock sound from downstairs. Someone was at the door banging again. Quickly she glanced at the alarm clock. “Who? It’s so early.” Scrunching her face, brush in hand she hurried down the stairs.

 Huh. A very long chapter summarized. With the characters behaviors and personalities already established, I didn’t need to spend another drawn out chapter of shenanigans. Amber is a childish bully who doesn’t seem to think her juvenile actions will have consequences. Valery is struggling with keeping the peace, Scott is up to no good and trying to lure Sasha back in and Sasha is fully awake and finally seeing what has always been there.

This was a fantastic way to cut back on word count and stop a somewhat repetitive and potentially tedious chapter from souring the reader’s experience. I think I’ll save that space for some real drama, the kind that will progress the story in a more exciting way.

My advice about summarizing.
I wouldn’t personally do this too often, but when I was stuck on that chapter and it felt as if it were dragging its feet like an unhappy toddler at the grocery store, I knew I had to do something about it.  If word count is an issue or tediousness, then I recommend giving it a try.

-Sheryl

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