TMI dude!

I was reading a story the other day and had a good chuckle. Not at the clever dialogue or humorous narration, but at what shouldn’t have been there.

It struck me that there is over usage of descriptions and there is over usage of action descriptions. They aren’t the same but they can both become overpowering to the point of ridiculous. The temptation to write a characters’ every movement is one of them. However, the unseen movements are sometimes the best because they are left to the readers’ imagination.

What I’m talking about is something I myself am mindful of. The urge to explain everything. Especially if a character is doing something specific like drinking, smoking, putting on makeup, grooming or eating. This is where the gist, is plenty. All that is needed is a good set up, maybe one more action and an end action. Like all scenarios within a story, they also need a beginning a middle and an end.
Let me show an example:

Scott leaned his back against the cool brick wall as Dale cracked open his ice cold can of Coke and took a large swig.
“So you’re okay with the whole Amber thing?” Scott asked eyeing the red and white logo with jealous eyes.
Dale looked at the can appreciatively then at his friend. “Yeah, I am.” He lifted the can to his lips again.
“Man, I don’t know if I would be. She’s a slut, she can’t all of a sudden be the good girl”
Dale sucked the residual liquid that was stuck in the lip of the can after chugging most of the soda. “I told you she was faking it to get your dammed attention.” He shrugged and tipped the can up draining the last of the drink. “Besides you know I’ve liked her forever.” Dale let out a long quiet burp muffled by the fist against his lips while staring at the empty can.
“So you two are a couple now?”
Dale grinned, crumpled the empty can in his hand and nodded. “Yup. The sex is amazing and she’s way better than you ever speculated.”
Scott grimaced. “TMI dude.”
“You’re just jealous that she doesn’t have a crush on you anymore, that she’s hot for me and that you missed your chance.” Dale tossed the crumpled aluminum into the recycling bin beside the garbage can as he walked toward the entrance.
Scott glared at the back of Dales head. There was too much truth to that statement.
(250)

Not only did the gratuitous descriptions of Dale’s actions bog down the flow, they were somewhat insulting. I think the reader understands the process of drinking a can of Coke. The drink wasn’t necessarily important to the story so if I’m honest it was descriptive filler. Sure, I found different ways to describe the actions but let’s see what happens if I treat the can of Coke like a mini story line and only mention it three times.

Scott leaned his back against the cool brick wall as Dale cracked open his ice cold can of Coke and took a large swig.
“So you’re okay with the whole Amber thing?” Scott asked glancing at Dale without turning his head toward him.
“Yeah, I am.”
“Man, I don’t know if I would be. She’s a slut, she can’t all of a sudden be the good girl”
Dale inhaled slowly. “I told you she was faking it to get your dammed attention.” He shrugged. “Besides you know I’ve liked her forever.” He let out a long quiet burp muffled by his fist against his lips.
“So you two are a couple now?”
Dale grinned, sucked the residual liquid stuck in the lip of the can and crumpled it in his hand and tossed it overhand into the recycling bin. “Nothing but net and yes we are. The sex is amazing and she’s way better at Bj’s than you ever speculated.”
Scott grimaced. “TMI dude.”
“You’re just jealous that she doesn’t have a crush on you anymore, that she’s hot for me and that you missed your chance.” Dale turned on his heel and walked toward the entrance.
Scott glared at the back of Dales head. There was too much truth to that statement.
(213)

I fall prey to showing redundant actions because I want the reader to be immersed in the scene, but I think confusing the need for scene descriptions with character actions causes this TMI (Too much information) problem. It also increases my word count and as a wordy person I need to watch that.

My advice about excessive action descriptions. 
The cliche, less is more, is so apt for this problem. Let the reader fill in the gaps; that’s half the fun of reading.

-Sheryl

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Inviting innuendo

Squeaky clean

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Unseen
Immerse

The secret’s out

There is always someone who sees through lies and secrets. Someone that pays enough attention to those around them that they can pick apart a mystery, get to the center of it like a school of piranhas on a dead cow.  Right along with those that can see secrets, are those that can and can’t keep them. Those that can keep secrets are able to say no and mean it. Their word is their bond and their honor keeps them tight-lipped. They are not to be confused with liars who will look you in the face and tell you they are not eating sugar as they chew on a candy cane. Of those that can’t keep a secret, they are the blabbermouths the ones that you know will spill the proverbial beans the second someone asks a remotely related question. People that can’t keep a secret to save their lives can also be used, drop a good rumor their way and they do all the work.

A good secret in a story is foreshadowed, set up or at least alluded to at some point before the reveal. Otherwise, the secret is actually just a surprise. It can be fun to have secrets. Sometimes the secret is deep and kept by one. These are usually darker secrets or ones that would bring shame. Secrets between friends can be fun to play with.

They can also be dangerous, feelings can be hurt, people can feel left out or ostracized. They can damage reputations and even bring someone to self-loathing or possibly self-harm.

It’s simple the bigger the secret the bigger the reaction. Small secrets can evolve and grow if they are nurtured properly.  I love secrets; they lend an air of mystery and mischief that can bring out the best and worst in people.

“I swear time is going backwards.” Anne muttered under her breath and narrowed her eyes at her screen. She and Dale had a lot to talk about later and her nerves were shot.
“Bar tonight?” Scott leaned over her shoulder. “I could use a wingman.”
“I’m not a man Scott.” Amber pushed him away.
“Wingwoman, whatever. Forget it. Let’s get drunk and fool around.”
Amber stopped typing and stared at him. “What did Dale tell you earlier?” She glanced at his empty cubicle. He was avoiding her completely since the gift giving earlier.
“That he has no taste in women.”
Amber huffed through her nose. “You are a jerk Scott. I don’t know why I held a torch for so long.”
“Ah you still want me, I’m yours and tonight’s your chance.”
“No I don’t. You’re not mine and no it’s not my chance.” She stood and glared up at him. “You’re playing a game, I’m not an idiot.” She pushed past him and headed for the ladies’ room. He stopped her outside the door, grabbed her arm and pushed her against the wall.

“Now Amber, what secret are you keeping from me? What am I missing?” His nose nearly touched hers. “Where were you for our morning air today?”
“I’m not smoking anymore, I quit.”
His nose touched hers and she pressed against the wall. “No smoking, no bar, and no sex with the man you’ve wanted for years.” He backed up suddenly and she let out her pent-up breath. “Holy shit Dale knocked you up.”  
Amber’s eyes widened. “Shut up Scott, that’s how rumors start you moron. I quit because my favorite aunt was just diagnosed with lung cancer. I have plans tonight and I’m sorry if your ego is bruised, but lately you’ve shown me your true colours. I’m not interested anymore.” She shrugged. Perhaps you’re losing your mojo Scott. Two women turning you down in as many weeks. Maybe hell can freeze over.” She laughed and ducked into the ladies’ room. She didn’t see Rachael and Francine as she sped past them into a stall to get rid of her lunch. The women looked at one another then the closed stall. Both heard Amber and Scott’s conversation just outside the door.

Oops. Well that might not go so well for Amber. Amber is a bully and she shows off for Scott and Dale. Lately she has been stunned by a personal issue that two people she picked on have just found out. Rachael put Dale in his place not so long ago; will she take the chance on some revenge?

My advice about Secrets.
Secrets can be bad in real life, but fantabulous in the world of writing. Secrets have infinite possibilities, play with them, and let them wreak havoc or cause drama.

-Sheryl
It’s a love hate sort of thing

Hey! Its’ Interjection

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Missing

Spit it out!

A good story will elicit a plethora of emotions from the reader by showing a vivid selection in the story. I enjoy reading a book with juicy little details, the ones that make you smile as your eyes travel across the page taking the words and building a world in side my mind. It’s the little things, the things that many pass over or forget to add. I know I do. These little things are not something I like to see more than once or twice in a story. I don’t personally like when I find them too often or a book is over riddled with them. People don’t generally have every quirk, behavior or habit. They have some, but are generally consistent with what they do have.

While it’s funny to have someone busted for picking their nose or a wedgie when they rarely do or generally never do, once I’ve gone there with that character I don’t usually go back. Unless it’s a well-timed/placed tease later on.
The little things are not what I think of as personality flaws or plot developers, they are just a peek at a character.
Some bad behaviors or bad habits are also actions that can be natural occurrences or results of a situation.
Spitting is one of them. I’ve talked about bodily fluids and functions, spitting is both a bodily fluid and function. It is also an action with many reasons and consequences. I’m not talking about spitting a drink out in surprise or drooling, but the act of expectorating.
Reasons for spitting
Show of disgust/contempt
bad taste in mouth
habit  (I’ve noticed some smokers often spit frequently)
medical condition evolved into habit
something bad in mouth like bug or bad food
Act of aggression
To clean or polish something (yuck)
Hands off assault or insult (spitting in ones face)
It’s “Manly”  (I’m rolling my eyes)
Contaminate food
lubrication
Being silly 
Types of spitting
Precise and functional
Hawk a loogie (This includes the act of snorking snot into the throat, and adding it to the spit)
In someones face
Spray spit
Globular
The cling-on. (Yup it didn’t part ways with the mouth and is now glopping down the chin)
The long shot. (going for distance impressively disgusting)
Examples of how to use it
Amber ducked outside to the back of the building.She took out a cigarette and lit it; careful to stand with her back to the wind. Taking a long drag she closed her eyes as the familiar rush of calm washed over her. 
“That’s a filthy habit.” Scott smiled and held out his hand. “Valery’s biting my head off today.” He inhaled and handed it back.
“I noticed. Where’s your ice princess?”
“She’s not mine and apparently she’s taking some time off. Stress or something lame.”
“What a baby. You can do better.”
Scott laughed as she handed the cigarette back. “What like you?”
Her eyes narrowed and he stopped laughing. 
“Sorry Amber, but you’re not girlfriend material.”
It was Amber’s turn to laugh, she held her side as he snuffed the embers of the cigarette beneath his foot. “And you think you’re boyfriend material? Please. You can’t keep a woman interested for more than three weeks, and you only wanted Little miss frosty tits because she said no and we all bet you couldn’t bag her.”
“It’s her loss.” Scott spat on the sidewalk. 
Amber grimaced staring at the glob sticking and shining in the late morning sun. “You’re disgusting.”
“Says the cannibal who eats her hangnails.”
“I do not!”
Scott laughed as they headed back inside. “You totally do.”
Rachel frowned as Dale entered the lunchroom and started to pack up her lunch.
“Stay Rachel.” His sly smile spread as he sat adjacent to her at the end of the rectangle table. “We should talk.”
She glanced at the other end of the table at the two others and saw Amber and Scott heading toward the door. “I don’t think so.” 
“Hey guys.” Dale waved at Amber and Scott. “Rachel here is above eating lunch with me.”
“Oh are you now?” Amber opened the fridge as Scott sat on the other side of Rachel. 
“No. I have work to do.”
Dale cocked his head to the side and set his finger on her barely eaten sandwich. “Liar liar, pants on fire. Careful there Rachel your tattle tail might get burnt.” 
The five others snickered and tittered behind hands and drinks. Amber lowered her chin and swallowed hard. “Leave me alone, I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Scott picked up one of her carrot sticks. “Is that why Sasha came running to your desk yesterday and why Valery has been chewing everyone out?”
Amber’s brow knit and she glared at Dale. “I don’t know anything about that. Get your hand off my food.”
“Ooh. Someones feeling brave.” Amber crooned the words as Scott ate another carrot stick. “Rumor is you told Valery I put the shrew in Sasha’s desk.” Amber sat across from Rachel and looked at the other two. “We have rules around here, running to the superiors or bosses or the boss’s best friend is super taboo.” The other two nodded in agreement. 
“I never did. I’m sick of you all accusing me.” Rachel stood as Dale peeled back the top of her sandwich. “I slipped up that’s all and that was months ago.” She stared in horror as Dale let a string of saliva fall on her sandwich, he spat the last and laid the bread back over it. Amber and Scott both laughed. The other two fell silent. That was too far.
“I’m sick of this.” Rachel clenched her fists as Dale stood. 
“What are you going to do about it rat?” 
Rachel pulled her arm back and punched his smirking mouth hard enough to knock him on his ass. The laughter from the other end of the room was not reciprocated by Amber or Scott who stared wide-eyed. Rachel was unhurt and that hit looked practiced.
“Bitch that’s assault.” He held his bleeding lip.
“Whatever Dale, I’ve had enough of your constant abuse. Back off, leave me alone. Oh and do try not to be a hypocrite and run to the boss man to tattle that a woman half your size laid you out.” Rachel turned to Scott and Amber as the other two clapped their hands. “The same goes for you two.” Rachel stormed out.
“Ooh she got you Dale.” The man at the end of the table howled with laughter. “At your own dammed game too.”
“Shut up Terrance.” Dale got up and went to get a paper towel.
Spitting is gross(Again I don’t mean spitting out food or drink), there is no way around it. It is however a great method of showing ones character if you want to make them unappealing. There are circumstances when a well-behaved person might spit, and I might even use them if the situation calls for it. For me I will use spitting on the rare occasion and only if I need that character to be disgusting or less likable.I’ve grossed myself out enough for today.
My advice about spitting.
If you can use it and well, then go for it. Otherwise I would skip it. 
-Sheryl
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Elicit