Something To Write About

I’ve been taking some family time off this summer and posting a little less frequently.  My newest book is taking almost all my free time and it’s amazing how much fun I’m having writing it.

When I look back over my year since I started blogging I have to admit I’ve learned a lot. Things that I didn’t know and might never have discovered if it wasn’t for starting a blog.

Grammar is something that can always be improved upon (IMO) since I know I’m not a grammar genius I take all the advice I can get. I have also done a lot of research to find out the little things I had no idea about.

I’ve blogged about dashes, commas, tenses, filter words (A huge issue for me), Interjection, dangling modifiers, exposition, hyperboles, clauses, fragment sentences and so much more.

I’ve also learned that inspiration can come from anywhere. Honestly anywhere!  My new book was inspired by an insignificant everyday thing. I’ve blogged about people watching, seeing the world and not just what’s in front of me, I’ve talked about sources of inspiration such as vacations, the beach, amusement parks, the bar, barbeques, and anything that involves people, places, and things. Being more aware and seeing the world around me has become a great source of inspiration.

I’ve met a great number of writers since I started this journey, both online and off. Each and every one of them a unique talent that brought my attention to various styles of writing. I’ve since dabbled in first person perspective writing and it’s a lot of fun.  I’ve also found that reading others works’ and appreciating

I’ve also found that reading others works’ and appreciating their style is a wonderful way to understand my own. Whether it is books, poems, short stories or songs everyone has a voice. I may absolutely love how someone else writes, and they may influence me but I have my own voice and copying someone else’s style or voice is a waste of time. It won’t read as well as my own.

Distractions and writer’s block are a writer’s worst enemy. Through other bloggers and writers and research, I’ve learned what can be done to minimize both issues. Breaks and living life are necessary for both getting the creative juices flowing and for keeping the mind active and able to focus.

Story structure or the arc of a story is important and I have spent a good amount of time researching the various styles and methods used to write a story. Some people plan it all out before they start writing. While others go with the flow. Myself I’ve discovered I’m a little of both. I think and think and plan it out but I go with the flow and if things change along the way then so be it. I do know having an end in mind is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, the story becomes either too long or pointless.

Keeping the reader engaged and delivering an entertaining story is the most important part of writing. I know if I like what I write, then others will too.  Therefore I don’t worry about what others think and I never let it influence my writing. I write for me and then I share it.

I’ll continue to touch on these key aspects of writing and since I’ve learned so much and still have plenty more to learn I’ll be revisiting some of them with more information.

I don’t think anyone can know everything about writing and there is always room for improvement and expansion.

My advice about writing 
Never be afraid to try something new, or visit something old. Looking back momentarily is a great way to move forward monumentally.

-Sheryl

My Posts From The Start

Independent Clauses depend on nobody.

Influential Words

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Delivery

Static Vs. Dynamic

There are many facets to writing characters in a story. I like to make mine as layered and real as possible and use charts and lists to ensure I know who they are from their quirks right up to major character flaws that define them.

A dynamic character is one that changes over time. They start off one way then learn and grow as the story or stories progress. Sometimes this happens by design and sometimes it happens out of creative circumstance. This doesn’t always mean for the better. A character can rise up from the ashes or descend blindly to the depths of hell. There is a caution here, having a character spontaneously change is frustrating and weird. There must be foreshadowing, cause and effect put into play. If Scott went crazy for no reason and just snapped it would be weird for the reader. Unless I’m going for shock value. Even then I would have foreshadowed it a little.

On the flip side of a dynamic character are static ones. The static character remains steady. They don’t grow and develop or crash and burn. They simply are there and stay that way.  Most often a static character is on the side or comes around infrequently. I’ve noticed the “advice givers” or wisest of characters are often static. they don’t have a journey to make they’ve already been there and done that.

Examples of typical stationary characters:
Boss’s
Parents/relatives
Best friends with no strife in their life
Teachers
Co-workers not tied to the story
The guy selling hot-dogs on the corner
The advice giving barista
Doctors and or nurses
The doorman/server/maid/concierge

Basically, anyone in a dynamic character’s life that are not directly a part of it. There have been times when a static character is pulled into the story and becomes dynamic, but I choose them carefully and try to replace them with another static character.  I’ve also had characters that are constantly around the most dynamic and still stay the same. Not everyone needs to grow and evolve or fail and de-evolve.

A static or background character runs the danger of becoming inert. They can easily have an impact on the story, good or bad. They can easily help the dynamic’s of the story move along their path. A static character isn’t a one-off appearance. They are there more than once, often a support system of sorts. They should not always be dull or invisible. I call this the cardboard cutout character. The one that is there but not.  The easiest way to give them some color is to give them humor or make them the ‘middle-man’.

Confusing growth with change is easy to do. Circumstances can change for a static character, they can react/act within that change and still remain static.  Dale is a character that hasn’t grown, rather his circumstances have changed and he adapts within his set parameters that I created. He is still the same and hasn’t become more or less of a hero, nor has he become or more or less of a villain. Scott has changed for the bad. He is slipping into an old dark shoe that has nothing to do with this story but affects his personality. This is known as back-story. His change was foreshadowed with actions, expression, and words.

My advice about Static vs. Dynamic characters
We spend a lot of time focused on the Dynamic characters. I think it’s important to give Static one’s depth too. Give them a history, purpose, range of emotion and response. They don’t need to learn, but they shouldn’t be cardboard cut-outs either.

-Sheryl

Character related Posts

I don’t know how to do that.

Becoming Bad

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 Blindly

Individual Arcs

I’ve recently explained the main story arc and it’s components. I touched on the smaller arcs within the main story. I thought I’d go a bit further into the little bits that make a story juicy, that make the characters real and seemingly come to life.

The individual story arc.

Each character with purpose in a story should have their own story. The closer to the protagonist or antagonist the characters are; the better the story they should have. Or they should have more influence at least.

This doesn’t mean every character in a story needs a full on arc of their own, that would be dreadful to write (IMO) let alone read.

This can feel daunting to think about but I’ll try to explain how I go about keeping it from becoming overwhelming.

The Main:  Sasha
The Secondary Main : Cal
Sub Characters:
Valery
Anne
Scott
Amber
Dale
Mr. Clifton (Boss)
Baylor (Antagonist)
Mystery character yet to be revealed (Main antagonist)

Sasha and Cal will have the interactive story arc. They are the main characters. Side characters with major influence will get bigger parts to teh story and a much richer story arc. Others will likely just fall within other story arcs as influential but not instrumental.

Sasha

Beginning: Pushover/victim – Gets attacked at work by bully, gets attacked by Baylor
Middle: Baylor pursues her as does another antagonist – she learns to stand up and save herself
End: (This part is not up for discussion yet)

Sub Beginning: Resistant to romantic relationships due to bad experience
Sub Middle: Slowly gives into Cal’s advances 
Sub End: (Cant let you in on that just yet)

Cal 

Beginning: Homicide detective moved to new precinct in search of Baylor
Middle: Keeps Baylor’s recent interest(Sasha) from him, then loses her
End: (A secret)

Sub Beginning: Is interested in Sasha romantically
Sub Middle: pushes her to face her past and move on
Sub End: (Hmm… a secret)

Valery

Beginning: Sasha’s pushy best friend/ boss that nudges her into the dangerous situation
Middle: Provides nervous and worrisome reactions to illustrate the seriousness of Sasha’s situation
End: Helps give big clue to help Cal… (The rest is a secret)

Sub Beginning: party girl with no desire for steady relationship
Sub Middle: Finds a man that keeps her interest and listens to her rant about Sasha being in trouble.
Sub End: (Still a secret)

Scott 

Beginning: Tries to get Sasha to have sex with him constantly
Middle: Gives Sasha a weird vibe. Also picks up on the fact she’s in trouble and helps Valery. Goes off the deep end over Dale and Amber and also Sasha’s rejection.
End:  Causes trouble.

Sub Beginning: He’s up to something
Sub Middle: Jealousy eats him alive. He’s definitely up to something
Sub End: (A secret too)

Baylor

Beginning: Attacks Sasha
Middle: Keeps attacking until he gets her – but is kept from harming her and is forced to hand her over to his boss (who is worse)
End: (This is a secret for now) 

Sub Beginning: na
Sub Middle: na
Sub End: na

I didn’t go through them all, and I didn’t actually give much away.  For my own notes its all filled in but with A LOT more detail. with interactions listed, what they specifically do to influence the story etc.

Now Sometimes I don’t have a sub-plot for a character or they don’t have much impact so they don’t get a lot of face time. Or I haven’t figured out how or if they will impact the story. I have gone back and added situations and scenarios after the story is written. This list is a guideline and not set in stone for me. Sometimes an arc falls flat and needs to be removed or changed to make it work again. For me keeping this stuff straight is just cautionary, I already know what’s going to happen, and sometimes even that can change if I’m inspired. There are times when I have a character that has a purpose but I still need to work them in… if they can fit.  I like to think of my stories as malleable so my mind is always open to possibilities. I often sit and ruminate, playing out what will and will not work.

My advice about individual story arcs.
Super necessary, it is so much more fun to read a story that has the supporting and sub characters actually influencing and interacting in the main arc than for them to be the ‘cheer’ section or the background noise.

-Sheryl

Other posts I wrote

(Insert description here)

Sound and selfish advice

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Ruminate

The Art Of The Arc

Every story has a beginning a middle and an end. They have lots of fun bits in between but essentially they need to follow what is called a story arc.  We’ve been taught story arc in basic form from the first story ever read to us.

There are many ideas on how a story arc should be presented, the most famous and reliable being the hero’s journey. Any quick google search will turn up oodles of examples of what we basically already know.

The arc of a story is to bring purpose and dramatic structure to the story. The guidelines for the reader who need them badly.

Two prominent types exist; the fall from grace and get back up again to succeed or the successful protagonists fall from grace to rediscover what they lost etc. The art of the Arc is in how it is created.

The beginning of the story should be the exact opposite from the end. The beginning or opening scene should establish the protagonists position and toss them into their first crisis or conflict to start the chain of events.

Each following conflict or crisis should be more dramatic, build the tension and progress the story-line without hesitating or going backwards.

As the story reaches climax all pieces should be in place for the final conflict or crisis to make sense and be exciting.

The resolution can be exciting or a slow come down from the high of excitement. It should make sense and fit in with the ultimate goal set out within the first few conflicts.

The end should conclude the story. That doesn’t mean there can’t be hints or set up for following stories, but the main arc of this one should be done. The reader should close the last page feeling satisfied with the conclusion. If a following story was foreshadowed, the reader should be excited for it knowing that the next one will be different yet just as fabulous.

story Arc.jpg

There can be as many crisis/conflicts as I want so long as I keep them pushing the story forward and tension up. There are more than one mini story arc or arc-within-arc going on at any given time. These are the side stories. These can be simple or complicated but are best served if they tie into the main story arc in some way.

Types of side arc’s:

Inter character relationships developing such as romance, friendship, animosity and hate to name a few.

The growth and development of a secondary or tertiary character

The story of the antagonist (I call these the anti-arc since they seem to go backwards-ish)

Soul searching of any kind – re-finding ones faith in whatever they have lost it in

Any form of personal growth or overcoming a tragedy or even overcoming a weakness

I’m sure the idea is clear. When I write side or sub characters I love to give them their own little story to go through. They can be helpful to the protagonist or hinder them. On purpose or by accident.  The options are only bound by the limits of imagination.

There are moments when I think about it too much and it all seems so daunting. Especially when I look at the technical aspects of it all. Then I remind myself I already know how to use an arc I just need to stick to it and make sure the tension goes up in a steady incline.

My advice about story arcs.
Whether the main or sub story, keep them on track so your readers get excited. Regarding the crisis or conflicts, make sure they have purpose to the end. Pointless action will annoy a reader if there is too much of what boils down to nothing of importance. 

-Sheryl

Interesting posts;

De-dangling modifiers

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.\

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 Hesitate