That Is Disgusting – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is That Is Disgusting . Originally posted on Aug 26, 2016 8:04 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I love how gross it is and it reminds me that people can be disgusting. Also, this is a good opportunity to show how I would now revise this story to remove the overly abundant filter words etc.

 That is disgusting

That Is Disgusting

People can be gross, I mean really gross. They do things that make me cringe. (People can still be super gross. That hasn’t changed)

When a character does something disgusting and it’s shown and not told, I will be disgusted too. And that is the entire point of reading a book. I want to be in the story. I want to feel it.

I will highlight filter words adverbs and words ending in ING.

For example:

Billy sat in the back corner of the coffee shop. In one hand, he held his book. With the other, he carefully dislodged a decent clump of moist mucus from his nose. After examining his generous prize, he rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as he continued to read. Without a thought, he flicked the carefully constructed ball. He happened to see it plunk into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.

He glanced around quickly, nobody was looking. Nobody Witnessed the once in a lifetime accidental shot. Feigning interest in his book, the devil in his head urged him to silence. He watched the snotty woman in a pale green sweater sip her coffee-surprise. Had she not been so incredibly rude to him earlier he might have spoken up. Then again, he might not have.

When the woman finished her present, Billy got up to leave, pausing at her table.

“Good coffee?”

She looked up from her tablet, her face morphed into a sneer and she tutted. “It’s a latte, and I’m still not interested in someone,” she looked him up and down, “like you.” She dismissed him completely giving her tablet her attention.

Billy walked away, a slow, satisfied smile creeping to his lips.

I loved writing this because Billy the bad-guy is as much a victim as the woman who is horrible in her own way.

Today, I would revise the sentences to remove the adverbs etc.

After examining his generous prize,
After he examined his generous prize,

Without a thought, he flicked the carefully constructed ball.

I might or might not change the second example with ‘carefully’ that one’s not too bad.

He happened to see it plunk into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.
The ball plunked into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.

This one was easy, I get wordy and the first four words were unnecessary. 

This entire next sentence would now be removed. It is unnecessary since I say the same thing worded differently in the next sentence. 

He glanced around quickly, nobody was looking.
He glanced around quickly, nobody was looking.

Feigning interest in his book,
Billy feigned interest in his book,

Sometimes a rewrite of a sentence is needed. 

Had she not been so incredibly rude to him earlier he might have spoken up.
Had she had chosen to be polite to him earlier he might have spoken up.

When the woman finished her present, Billy got up to leave, pausing at her table.
Once she finished her gooey gift, Billy stood to leave and paused at her table.

When I revise with the ING, adverbs, filter words and crutch words highlighted, I often find ways to improve a sentence beyond fixing just the immediate problem words.

She dismissed him completely giving her tablet her attention.
She dismissed him and gave her tablet her attention.

Sometimes removing words that are unnecessary such as “Completely” will strengthen a sentence. Now if I were to “Show” a bit more, I would write it like this:

She dismissed him with a flick of her hand then gave her tablet her attention.

The last example has “walking” in it. A double whammy. Walk and ING. I can do better.

Billy walked away, a slow satisfied smile creeping to his lips.
Billy sauntered away, as a slow, satisfied smile crept to his lips.

While a thesaurus is good to replace some “Walk” out, not all of them need to go and it is important to be careful what word you replace it with. Sashay or traipse would not work here. I don’t replace all incidences of Walk, walked or walking but I do check to see if there is a better alternative.

Billy has a habit. He likes to pick his nose. It’s called rhinotillexis. If he eats it, it’s called Mucophagy. Does the reader need to know the specific detail of what the act is called? Maybe. If it’s relevant to the story. Otherwise, leave it as a quirk or bad habit.

Cringe-worthy things happen all the time. Like when someone hands you money that was carefully tucked away in her abundant sweaty cleavage. What bothers you might not bother someone else.

Here is the newly revised story.

Billy sat in the back corner of the coffee shop. In one hand, he held his book. With the other, he carefully dislodged a decent clump of moist mucus from his nose. After he examined his generous prize, he rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as he continued to read. Without a thought, he flicked the carefully constructed ball. The ball plunked into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.

Nobody Witnessed the once in a lifetime accidental shot. Billy feigned interest in his book, the devil in his head urged him to silence. He watched the snotty woman in a pale green sweater sip her coffee-surprise. Had she had chosen to be polite to him earlier he might have spoken up. Then again, he might not have.

Once she finished her gooey gift, Billy stood to leave and paused at her table.

“Good coffee?”

She looked up from her tablet, her face morphed into a sneer and she tutted. “It’s a latte, and I’m still not interested in someone,” she looked him up and down, “like you.” She dismissed him with a flick of her hand then gave her tablet her attention.

Billy sauntered away, as a slow, satisfied smile crept to his lips.

My advice about grossing out your readers.
If it gives you the heebie-jeebies or turns your stomach, it’s safe to use. My example was a very long way to say, – He picked his nose, flicked it into the shrew’s drink and watched as she drank it. – Blech.

-Sheryl

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

Today’s word is Abundant. https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/your-daily-word-prompt-abundant-October-4-2018/

 

Sensible Sensation – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Sensible Sensation . Originally posted on Sep 17, 2016 3:06 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I’ve had to go back and add the five senses to my writing again when I revise. I wanted to remind myself to put it in in the first place.

 together

Sensible Sensation

Immersing the reader in the story is something I still strive to achieve. When writing it’s important to use all five senses. Smell, sight, taste, hear and touch. Now it’s not imperative every scenario have all five, but it can help plump up a drab sentence.

For fun, I’m going to highlight my crutch words and filters words in the examples using orange.

For example

Joe picked up the book from the desk. It was heavy and bound in black leather, it crackled when he opened it.

Yawn. I need to make this book more important, to focus on it and make Joe experience the book. To do this, I use a technique explained in The FAB pencil to describe the book better. This is not going to decrease word count by any means but is a great way to add words if that’s the goal. (While it is a yawn, the only reason I embellished is that the book is important. If the object has no value in the story, the above description is adequate.)

Now for fun, I’m going to add all five senses to this interaction and bring Joe and the book together like lovers on a moonlit night, instead of strangers on an awkward blind date. (This is a good exercise to do, one that I need to do more often.)

Hear

Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.

Touch

Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk and ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.

Smell

Joe picked up the heavy leather-bound book from the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the room as he opened the cover. He inhaled the musty scent of old paper and ink as it wafted to his nose.

Sight – this isn’t always necessary since he is clearly looking at the book. Depending on how important the book is, will depend on how much time I put into describing it and the interaction. This book is important, so it warrants a better description. At this point, I have decided that picking the book up doesn’t make sense. It’s unnecessary. (New note, sight is tricky, it often causes filter words to jump in and play. In these examples, I’ve already put Satisfying and crackling in and nowadays I’d take them out too. Peered can be a filter word. In most descriptions, if the other four senses are involved sight is implied. Look, looked, looking, see, saw, seen, peer, peered, peering, etc. are all filter words that can weaken a sentence. They also tend to be in sentences that TELL rather than SHOW the actions, emotions, etc.)

Joe peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.

Taste – I’m not likely to have him lick or eat the book, that would be weird. Maybe if this was a totally different scenario or he had a paper eating problem it would fit, however for this I’ll keep taste subtle.

Joe licked his salty lips as he peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.

If I were going to write this again now that I have more experience and know that there are more filter words and crutch words than I did at this point, it would look like this,

Joe’s tongue swept across his sweat salty lips. He traced the embossed letters in the smooth surface with his fingers before he opened the cover. As the nostalgic crackle of the black leather filled the small room, he wrinkled his nose at the musty scent of old paper and ink.

Removing the filter words and my crutch words(words I use too often) I was able to write a paragraph that I’m happy with.

Voila. Now Joe fully interacted with the book. Making him lick his lips also added emotion, depending on what came before this interaction it might be excitement, anticipation or nervousness maybe even fear.

My advice about senseless writing.
Take some time to make important objects blend into the story, make them become part of the experience and not a foreign object explained coldly. Basically, SHOW and don’t TELL. This is still good advice.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

Today’s word is Sonorous. https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/27/your-daily-word-prompt-sonorous-september-27th-2018/

 

What’s Her Name? – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is What’s Her Name? . Originally posted on Aug 3, 2016 8:42 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I’ve been naming a lot of people lately and wanted to talk about it.

Blog name

What’s her name?

I thought naming my baby was difficult. This is worse! (I actually find it fun now, a lot of fun.)

The characters we create are people, but with a twist. I formed every aspect of them, the history of their likes and dislikes. Personality and flaws. Physical appearance and even emotional state. I get to play with their development or regression in the storyline and yes, I can even play God and make them fall in love or snuff them out. *insert evil laugh here* (I still adore this aspect. Having complete control over a character is empowering.)

I found controlling a person in every way made me feel responsible for them and attached. Therefore, a fitting name is important and I needed to get it right.

The thing I discovered with a name is that it can be a well of opportunity for humor, banter and even ridicule between characters and in dialogue. To my surprise, I also found it could shape how a person develops or stays stagnant. People need to grow and change, good or bad it doesn’t matter as long as they learn something along the way.

How do I pick a name? It depends if I have a character already in mind (This is harder) or if I’m creating someone new that I just added because the story demanded it. Minor and sub-minor characters get the close your eyes and pick from a list method. (Baby name books work great for this. Also websites and movie credits.)I was joking the other day about using scrabble pieces or boggle to create names. (I’ve never done this, but it’s still an option.)

I sometimes go for cheesy and name people things like Rose Thourne or I just look around, pick an object, and go with it. I’ve struggled with names and often I’ve asked someone what their favorite name for a girl is, or a boy. Or what name they think is sexy or annoying. Catch my drift? Ooh. Catt Drift. Nice and convenient. Except I like the 1-2 or 2-1 syllable rule for names. That would make her, Catelyn Drift or Catt Drifter. If the first name is one syllable then the last should be two or more and vice versa. (I still like this rule that I happened upon years ago. I don’t always follow it, but I often prefer the sound fo a name that is 1-2 2-1 1-3 3-2, you get the idea, each name should be different syllables. Not always, but it’s what I prefer.)

I actually used a placeholder for two characters until I found the right names for them. One was AAA and the other was SSS for no reason other than they would be easy to search and find and replace. They were my two main characters. (I use this type of placeholder for a lot of things now. Only I keep track or use a standard *** or XXX to hold a place. I never use more than one or two types nowadays to keep things simple.)

I wrote six chapters, hated someone’s name so much I changed it. It’s my story I can do what I please. That’s the beauty of being the all-powerful creator behind the Curtin pulling the strings and blowing smoke. (This still happens. However, a word of caution to blindly using the search and replace features “replace all” if its a name like Art then all words containing art will be changed. For example Art –> Doug. fDougther will replace farther. Simple names can be tricky. In this case, go one by one using the search and replace feature.)

Naming characters can be tricky but it can also be fun or meaningful. I now put more thought into names. I’ll check to see if certain names have typical personalities or how they are perceived. Is it a strong name? Is it a villainous name? Does the name have special meaning or is it a direct translation from an another language that might have meaning or be part of the plot? If it is an ethnic name, I check to make sure it’s not offensive and that I am using it correctly. 

The thing about naming a character is that I tend to pull from experience and history. So if a name seems too familiar or too convenient, I sometimes google it to see if it pops up in something recent, such as a movie or book. I’ll also say the name out loud a few times to see if it sounds good or not. “Hello, my name is Catt Drifter.”

My advice about naming your beloved creations.
If you don’t like it or you’re having a hard time visualizing your character because of the name, change it. Baby name books, baby name websites and ‘popular’ name websites are great. But don’t forget the old outdated names, I have found they make for great nicknames, shortened names or fantastic humor. Ironic names are fun if you know where the character is going or if their past is significant work it in.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/13/your-daily-word-prompt-convenient-september-13th-2018/

 

Where Did It Go? – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Where Did It Go? . Originally posted on Sep 11, 2016 9:12 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that we all need to be reminded of items that disappear.

stumped

Where did it go?

I have found myself stumped more than once while on my writing journey. A stumper of a moment that stands out the most is the loss of a prominent object. Where did it go?

In chapter two, I introduce a characters vice, an object she carries with her always. Let’s say it’s a pocket knife, her security blanket, and foreshadow for other conversations. All of a sudden, I realized two chapters later that the knife disappeared without my authorization and was completely forgotten. Oops.

I need to write it back in, but now the story has progressed without it and I prefer that it’s gone. It was awkward and held her back.  What to do, what to do? Write it out? Change the story? I thought about it and realized it needs to stay, but clearly not for long. Then it struck me, kill the knife off like a beloved, but useless character. This could be fun.

I went back with a sly grin on my face, made a point to have another character to remove it from her presence subtly. Later he presents it to her in a humorous way, both embarrassing her and making her realize just how useless it is and that she needed to let it go. By doing this I killed off the object, that started with meaning, but it’s purpose petered out. An added bonus is that it was a great way to kick-start her character development. Her journey to be less dependent on others and things now out of the gates, her race has just begun. Thanks to the ‘security blanket’ knife being let go, it also symbolized her leaving her old self behind as she leaves it behind as well.

Objects can be as simple as a cup of coffee, or as complicated as a pet. Whatever the case may be the item must be interacted with or discarded tactfully. Here are some items I notice that often go missing by lack of writing the item consistently.

Purses
Wallets
Coffee cups
Cigarettes
Pens
Gum
Briefcase, book, papers or envelopes
Food
Jacket
Tickets
Cellphone
Car keys
Weapons

The point is to notice these magic act items have disappeared and evaluate their worth. Were they there to enhance the character or provide an unnecessary action tag? Do they show a flaw or quirk in character or is it mundane? What I mean is you can’t have someone nursing a cup of joe as if it’s a life-giving device then have them run off to chase something. Where did the coffee go? Make sure to tie it up and set it down or have it spill and the character curse about the hot coffee or the loss of the precious drink. Either way, if you add an interactive item don’t let it vanish.

If it’s a meal that they are participating in, it doesn’t need to be a play by play of every bite savored for its perfection or despised for it’s cheap lackluster. The easiest way to conclude a meal is to have them set their fork and knife down. How they do that can be indicative of the character and emotions. If there are no emotions, say to slam the fork down, toss it nonchalantly or stab the other person, then maybe check to see if that eating scene is important to the story or the character. The same goes for gum or cigarettes, do they dispose of the waste respectfully or do they stick the gum under a table or toss the cigarette butt in someone’s face? I try not to have an object interacted with, be of no use to the story. Use the item, I try not to have a character treat an item the way I would. It is a great way to show emotion or intention.

Opportunity can knock in the most unexpected ways. A forgotten object remembered, can shift the story or characters development in a tangible way. She didn’t ever need the knife, just some confidence and a dose of reality. That I was able to make it more important to her growth as a person, while removing it from the story, was an amazing and unexpected outcome.

My advice about being stumped.
Look at the problem from another point of view, perhaps your plan or direction isn’t the only possible outcome. Have some fun with objects that have no real purpose. Give them a purpose and let them show a characters emotional state, bad habits or intent.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Stump

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/your-daily-word-prompt-authorize-september-6th-2018/

 

Getting A Little Touchy Feely – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Getting A Little Touchy Feely . Originally posted on Sep 9, 2016 9:55 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that we all need to be reminded about using variations of feel in writing. I know I do. 

touchy-feely

Getting A Little Touchy Feely

Feel, feeling and felt. Three destructive little filter words. These words shift perspective from the story and into the character. It’s awkward to read and leaves a reader feeling disjointed even if they aren’t aware. I don’t write in first person perspective so these words in particular can cripple a sentence fast.

What to do about them. I use them a lot when I write, it’s how I get out what needs to be said, what I need to express. It’s lazy and I’m okay with that because it won’t stay that way. I searched my manuscript and found the following incidences:

Bia-Atlas:
Felt 67

Feel 112
Feeling/feelings 23

Prophecy Ink 1st draft:
Felt 89
Feel 97
Feeling/feelings 39

Not all of them are filter word incidences. Within conversation or dialogue, they are fine or as a verb unrelated to emotions. These three are often (At least in my case) plunked into wordy sentences or super lazy ones.

Since I wrote this I’ve done more editing and found better ways to highlight other errors and filter words. I’ll highlight the ones I missed in these examples in hot pink.

For example.

Joe put the sandwich together hastily. He felt the hunger pangs in his stomach. It had been ten hours since he remembered to eat last. He left the house with the printout to meet Sasha. He was excited to show her the new proof and felt certain she would believe him now. (52)

There’s a whole lot of telling going on. Let me try that again.

Finally, Joe found some undeniable proof after searching eight hours straight without even a snack. His stomach growled as he picked up the printout, his hastily made ham sandwich, and ran out the door to meet Sasha. (37)

 That was better, less wordy too. Here’s a mistake I make all the time.

Joe dragged his feet along the path, feeling the course gravel scuffed the soles of his shoes. (17)

There is no reason to feel through his shoes and yet I am guilty of having characters ‘feeling’ unnecessary things.

Joe dragged his feet, scuffing his shoes along the coarse gravel path. (12)

See now I would not have that ING in there. Scuffing. 

The coarse gravel scraped against Joe’s shoes as he dragged his feet along the path. (15)

Editing and revising is a learned skill. Over time I’ve learned to examine sentences closer, to take a good hard look at the value of each word. 

Joe is an emotional person so writing his feelings can be tricky.

Joe looked at Sasha then back to the path. He felt frustrated with her constant lack of interest in him lately. She just wouldn’t listen to reason, he was right this time and he knew it. He even had the proof in his hand to show her. He felt angry when she sighed dismissively and now he was ready to snap. (61)

In that one, I made a few oopsies. Filter words, wrong perspective, and wordiness. Instead of showing, I told his emotions.

Joe glanced at Sasha as he clenched his jaw. She was ignoring the hard evidence that he worked hard to find. She rolled her eyes when he tried to show her again. When she sighed dismissively, he clenched his fists, crumpling the precious printout. (44)

That’s a lot of clenching for one paragraph and still, there are some weak sentences. This is why I’ve started revisiting old posts. I wanted to show that as writers, we are constantly growing, learning and changing. This is how I might revise that revision now.

The muscles tightened in Joe’s jaw as Sasha ignored his hard found evidence. She dismissed the second attempt with an eye-roll, and when the third won him a heavy sigh, he crumpled the precious printout in his fist. (38)

Technically that brought that example down from the original 61 to 38. Not bad. Especially since this is a wordy manuscript that needs a lot of TLC.

Sometimes it’s not about word count and more about beefing up empty sentences. I’m going to highlight my filter words for these in pink as well. Let’s see how many make it through my “revisions.”

Feeling tired, Sasha crawled into the bath. The hot water felt divine. (12)

It’s like whiplash. In her mind, out and then back in. To fix this I would add words, it’s not always about keeping the word count down. That and it was a very boring sentence. The temptation to overdo it here is strong. Before I learned to make every word count, (Haha at least I try to) and to stop double describing things, it might have looked like this.

Stifling a yawn of exhaustion, Sasha eased herself into the hot jasmine scented bath. The heat from the hot water and the scent of flowers soothing her tired body. (28)

Gee, do you think the water is hot? Baths usually are duh, I’m not sure, and it’s not super clear, but she might possibly be tired. *Rolling my own eyes.

Yawning, Sasha eased into the jasmine-scented bath. The heat from the water soothing her tired muscles. (17)

There much better. Only five words added from the original and it’s not hurting my brain to read it. Except I have two ING’s in there. Now that I’ve had a lot more practice at this let’s see if I can fix it.

Sasha stifled a yawn as she eased into the jasmine-scented bath. Her sore body rejoiced as she relaxed from the heat. (21)

I could easily reduce it back down if I needed to, but sometimes more is better than less in a fugacious moment such as this one.

My advice about feelings.
Everyone has them, good or bad just make sure to keep them outside the character’s body or mind. Unless you are writing in first-person, show the feeling don’t tell it. he clenched his jaw (instead of) he felt frustrated.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/your-daily-word-prompt-fugacious-august-29th-2018/

Unidentified Fervent Outburst! – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Unidentified Fervent Outburst . Originally posted on Sep 15, 2016 10:40 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I saw someone with a published book who used what seemed like a billion exclamation points and I found it hard to connect with the story because I was distracted.. 

Unidentified Fervent Outburst!

When I wrote my first draft, everyone that raised their voice or yelled had one of these beauties ending their sentence, ! The exclamation point. I am also a narrative question junkie. I must confess, I used punctuation incorrectly. (By incorrectly I mostly mean too much.) I probably still do from time to time, especially the overused exclamation point.

Why use an exclamation point? What does exclamation mean? Exclaim means to shout out, blurt or say with force. The exclamation point is used to emphasize an outburst of vocal emotion.

So why is it overused? Some older writings popularized it by replacing emotional reactions with ! instead of showing the emotional reaction.  Now with social media, it is used as often as a vowel. When we write an email, post, text or whatever when emotionally charged the exclamations multiply like Mogwai in water.

!!! The triple threat !!! These triplets drag along a few more if someone is screaming or whatever. I don’t do this ever. One is more than enough and even then, is it necessary? I already knew about the three punctuation in a row rule from work. !!! ??? is spam material and a horrible way to express feeling in writing. Emails containing them can be flagged by spam filters and firewalls. Also, this type of expression can be viewed as aggressive, rude or as screaming. Also never ever use them on a resume or technical report.

Mixology 101.  Mixing the punctuation. Nope, nope and nope. Never !?!  ?!?  Again, one punctuation is enough!

Inappropriate tone. “I didn’t know!” – What tone of voice is that?
Angry? Snotty? Confused? Desperate? Sad? Remorseful?
I find these all the time in my rough drafts.
Unidentified fervent outbursts.
What do I do about them? Dress them up and show the emotion behind the exclamation point. It’s not always about yelling.

Sasha slammed her fist on the desktop. “I didn’t know!”

“I didn’t know!” Sasha hid her face with her hands.

Sasha covered her mouth with her hand. “I didn’t know!” She couldn’t look away.

The tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know!”

No matter what she is yelling. Does she need to be yelling? 

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know.”

Removing the ! changed the tone completely. Now if she wasn’t supposed to yell It’s still not clear.

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know.” She said from behind her hand.

Okay, so that’s a bit better. What if I wanted to show anger without yelling?

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch with a scowl. “I didn’t know.” 

Moving on. I will use the “Find” feature to see how many incidences of punctuation I have. !  ?   then I’ll highlight them using the “find & replace” feature if I need to weed some out. as I do in “Well colour me silly.”

Rhetorically speaking.  Ending rhetorical questions with an exclamation point is tempting and common. Also unnecessary. Rhetorical questions can be ended in periods or question marks. It’s not a real question and I’m not yelling or blurting it and it’s usually obvious enough that the exclamation point is redundant.

My conversations were littered with them.

From my first draft of BiaAtlas before I edited it at all there were:

! x 120 
? x 1260 (Yes seriously. I have an addiction to questions in the narrative. Gross.)
As it is right now I have them down to:
! x 86
? x 1073
Clearly, I still need to visit those and make sure they are necessary.

So when do I use them or leave them? Only when it’s important. I use the search/find feature and take a good hard look. Here are some examples of okay use.

Excitement – “Wow that’s amazing!”
Urgent – “You have to go, now!”
Astonished – “I can’t believe you just said that!”
Vehemence – “I hate this!”
Shock – “You didn’t!”
Warning – “Look out!”

And so on. It’s not rocket science.  I personally don’t enjoy seeing them in abundance in my writing if they can be avoided I take them out. I was told once that the reader isn’t likely an idiot and if you write well they will know the person is yelling without !!! or saying ‘he yelled’.  It is my job to bring the reader in and settle them into the story and let them experience it. Tossing “!” in every time someone talks is annoying. Imagine if we actually spoke that way, we’d be yelling and blurting things constantly and over dramatizing a simple conversation.

For fun in the following two examples, I’m going to highlight in green the things I would highlight during my edits.

Joe slogged down the hall his feet thumping loudly on the floor, but he couldn’t feel them. “I hate this!”
“I can’t believe you drank that much!” Sasha giggled holding him up.
“I know right!” Joe said. “I never do. What will my mother think!”
“Oh no! You had better not go home tonight! Crash at my place I’ll send her a text.”
“I’m gonna puke!!!” Joe said doubling over and vomiting the beer and pizza on the floor.

I feel anxious just reading that and not because it’s tense, I’m not so sure it should be. NOt to mention how awkward that was. Let me try again.

With numb feet, Joe slogged down the hall. “I hate this!”
“I can’t believe you chugged five beers.” Sasha shook her head and giggled at his slurred speech. She held him steady, moving toward the exit quickly.
“I know right! What will my mother think?”
Sasha’s eyes widened at the prospect of dropping him at home. “Crash at my place, I’ll text her to let her know.”
Joe burped and gagged. “I’m gonna puke.”
“Oh no.” Sasha pulled him along faster, outside would be better.
The fresh air did little to help him as he gave his pizza and beer to the sidewalk.

Much better, less ! made for a better conversation. In my opinion. I also showed my affinity for ING and LY. Ugh. At least in my second attempt, I had fewer occurrences. I was okay with Joe’s punctuation because he was actually blurting and raising his voice.

My advice about exclaiming everything with exclamation marks.
Don’t!

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/your-daily-word-prompt-connect-august-23rd-2018/

Expect The Unexpected… Or Not – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Expect the unexpected… or not . Originally posted on Sep 10, 2016 5:27 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is it’s easy to let a character peter out, and lose them in the story.

Expect The Unexpected… Or not

Sometimes a character or a side story’s direction can peter out. They will lose direction, interest or momentum. I like to make a side story/character impactful in some way. I generally have an idea where it will go and how it fits in and affects the main story.

What happens when it’s not meeting the mark? It’s time to recharge the story or character.

What do I do? First, I don’t let myself get discouraged. Then I take a break to come back with a fresh perspective and take a good look at the problem. Usually, for me, the issue is lack of action. Second, I think what I want to accomplish and can I spice it up. This can take seconds to days or even weeks to come up with a new direction, a game changer. They can be main or subplot twists. They don’t have to be dramatic or huge, subtle works too. That can be tedious to wait for an idea from the deep recesses of my brain. I make two lists to spark inspiration. One is random things that can happen and one of the random things that make no sense to the story. They can look like this.

Possible

  • Serious injury (be careful with this one. Know the injury, the pain response and how they would move, act and feel. If you’ve never been seriously injured, talk to someone who has.)
  • Car accident
  • Wins money or item
  • Break-in
  • Theft
  • Finds a big clue or evidence
  • Betrayal (Make sure there is a reason for this.)
  • Dissolve a friendship (People grow apart, things can tear friends or lovers apart. Make sure it fits in the personalities and break a heart.)
  • Falls for the wrong person
  • New adversary
  • Loss of funding
  • Inadvertently kills someone (maybe self-defense)
  • Breaks the law
  • Saves a life
  • Loss of power
  • Shift in management
  • New team member or co-worker
  • Failed plan
  • Abduction
  • Fire
  • Natural Disaster
  • meet someone new (Sometimes the introduction of a new character can spice things up if their personality clashes or drives the story forward.)

 

Impossible (Kind of possible but not great ideas that are book specific)

  • A company suddenly shuts down
  • Death of the main character (NEVER do this.)
  • Death of support character (While popular, this can be risky for a debut author to do.)
  • Become outlaws
  • Bad guys become in charge (Unless this is temporary or important to plot, I won’t do this as it doesn’t work for my story.)
  • Asked/told/commanded to do something unethical (Great for conflict creation)
  • Plans or commits murder
  • Spills information or secrets to the wrong guys (This can work, but it has to be written well and fit into the story.)
  • Takes up arms against allies (There better be a damned good reason. Since I wrote this, I do have a character that does this, it was foreshadowed, not a surprise and it was important to the plot.)

I make these lists primarily to put ideas in my head. (The lists are not always the same and are story specific. They are ideas that fit or won’t fit with the particular project I’m currently working on. For example in my new book, my MC off-hand thinks of murder. She’s given a good reason. That is a kind of planning. In my original MS, I wouldn’t have my MC even think about it.) Often they will lead my mind down a path to something that makes me gasp, sit up and feel the excitement. Determining what’s possible and impossible will depend on the base morals of the story and the characters within. For this, I’m not worried about foreshadowing, unless it’s really big and needs a little setup. I like a surprise, the random things that the reader doesn’t see coming (I still like this.) However, I use this in moderation, if it’s a constant storm of ‘what the hell just happened!’ it can distract from the story and turn the reader off. Plot twists are great. Plot turns are fantastic, blowing it to kingdom come… probably not a great way to endear readers to you. I say this because I’ve read books where nothing was foreshadowed, big things happened all the time for no apparent reason and it was frustrating beyond reason to read. (I still agree with this, too much is… too much. I have also recently read a book where the big random things happened and they had nothing to do with the story. It was weird and hard to care about the story because of it.)

It’s kind of fun to look at where you want it to go, and make a list of the exact opposite and think about what would happen if…

My advice about recharging a lifeless character or plot.
There are unlimited options to stir the pot and rejuvenate a character or story, my actual lists are much longer and really random.  Make some lists and keep an open mind. It’s okay to play devil’s advocate if it saves the story from becoming a Yawn-farm.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/your-daily-word-prompt-dissolve-august-16th-2018/

Desperately Procrastinating – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Desperately Procrastinating . Originally posted on Sep 12, 2016 8:12 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to procrastinate, heck I’m doing it right now. I have a book to re-write and I find myself doing a lot of other things, especially as I acclimatize to all the changes in my life right now.

desperately

Desperately Procrastinating

As I sit revising and proofing my book again, (Now I’m in the midst of a total book re-write which happens to be the same book I was proofing at the time I wrote this) I find myself constantly distracted. Granted there is a lot going on, it’s as if my mind is like rays of sun through a crystal, leaving little rainbows scattered about.

A slight desperation zings through me to work and get the word count down to a more reasonable number. (Too funny, I am still trying to bring the word count down. that reasonable number of 120k was still too high for industry standard.) As I read carefully, I remove wordiness and missed filter words, the thump of a bird hitting the window veers my attention off the road. As my concentration crashes, I catch a glimpse of my sprinkled light.

I get back on track. Wait, I need a drink. So I go to the kitchen to slake my thirst with some freshly brewed tea and stop to pet the cat. I see little rainbows of inspiration.

Every distraction leaps out and demands my attention. Is this a bad thing? Nope, not in the slightest. It’s the mundane everyday things that influence my creativity. Stepping on a piece of Lego hurts like nothing else, it reminds me to put pain and discomfort into my characters. Another aspect I try not to forget. (This is good advice. Random things can happen in life, why not in a book. Stub a toe or bang an elbow to releive scene tension or open dialogue in a funny way. Make sure to show the pain rather than tell it. for example. Moira crept into the unfamiliar kitchen and misjudged the distance to the counter. She held her elbow, pressed her lips together to stifle the noise. The lights flicked on. “You tiptoe like a tap dancer,” York said.)

Some days the distractions come easier and I willingly submit to the wonderfully regretful world of procrastination. Even as I peruse memes and click-bait online(Now it’s twitter I don’t click-bait anymore), the scattered shards of rainbow light glitter and motivate me. Suddenly it’s back, the drive and desire to focus and work. 

My body and mind need sleep to recuperate. I think that some days, my mind needs a mini vacation from concentrating and creating. Against my better judgement, my mind desperately procrastinates, fervently hoping my guilt stays in the shadows so it can have some free time. (I still do this.)

My advice about procrastination.
It’s not always a bad thing, in my opinion, it can be a sign to take a break or change venues for a moment. If I’m distracted or find myself procrastinating too easily I know it’s time to change it up and do something else for a while. Usually something fun.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

 

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/your-daily-word-prompt-acclimatization-august-2nd-2018/

 

The First 50 Pages – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is The First 50 Pages . Originally posted on Aug 13, 2016 12:34 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to forget how important it is to have them ready and perfected when you query Literary agents or even independent publishers.

the first 50 pages

“Drop and give me fifty!”
“Yes sir!”
“The first 50 Pages of your manuscript that is.”

Guess what? They are the most important. Who knew? I didn’t.  I did, but not in the context that the pages will make or break the deal. That’s why my first sentence ever written, isn’t the first sentence you will read, it’s not even the second sentence.

When they say put your best foot forward, they mean it. To apply to literary agents I need to submit a Synopsis, Query letter and the first 50 pages(Or less as I’ve discovered) of the manuscript. There are of course books written about how to make your first 50 stand out or to rise above the slush-pile.

(I have since learned that the most important part of the pages is the first sentence, followed by the first paragraph and first page. The first chapter must grab the readers attention above all else. If the Agent can’t get past the first page or isn’t “Sucked in” then the rest doesn’t matter. If the book is exciting on page five, then start on page five. This was a hard lesson learned the hard way.)

As odd as this is, it’s nerve-wracking(It’s still nerve-wracking.) To know I’m so close to putting it out there to be judged and hopefully loved(Loved by my beta readers, but not Literary Agents.) The trick is not to freak out about it despite the mini drill sergeant that lives in my brain yelling for me to check it again, and again. I like it, so someone else is bound to. (It’s good to know when to just go for it. I thought I was ready. I was not. I am now learning about critique partners and responsive Beta-readers. I’ll get into these another time.)

I have revised the first 50 pages more than any other part of my book. Not only for the Literary Agents but also for the readers. If it’s not interesting, exciting or fun nobody is going to read further. For the past couple of weeks(Years ago), my mind has strayed to chapter 2 and 3. They were originally chapter 1 and 2 until I added a much needed more exciting chapter 1. My problem was this. They were written first, my first ever two chapters and quickly after that, my style changed. Sure they fit in fine but there was something about 2 and 3 that seemed slow. They were almost the same scenario from two perspectives.

Two days ago(It’s now been years), I had the brilliant idea to meld them together. Pull out the repetitive crap and make one solid chapter. It came out longer than I liked, but still within a reasonable length for a single chapter. Once I put the two together, it made more sense. I knew something was wrong and now I’m glad I paid attention to my gut nagging to change them.

I will read it over again today(years ago) and probably once more tomorrow. I have a few people reviewing it for me for constructive opinions. Then I will start the process of working with a consultant. (I did work with a consultant. I found I paid money for some good advice, but I now know I was pandered to a little. I did not get the critique I was looking for. after 100% rejection I set it aside for some other projects to come back and revisit when I had some more experience.)

(Since I wrote this I’ve re-written the first 50 pages of BiaAtlas twice. I am now on a full novel re-write. This is a good thing. I have more experience and I know a heck of a lot more than I did when I wrote this post.)

My advice about the first 50 pages.

Make sure they are clean, edited, well written and interesting. It is a fine line between writing to please someone else and writing to please yourself. I have set down a book because I can’t get past the first few chapters, so I don’t want to be that writer, and yet I know others that rave it’s the best book they’ve ever read. You can’t please everyone so make sure it pleases yourself. It’s your book after all. (I would add that the first 50 is the bare minimum to have professionally edited. I did and I’m glad I invested. Those are the frontline of your story they must be perfect. I’m sorry to say to those that believe they can edit and perfect it after they get an agent. You can’t there are so many other writers pitching queries that you are on in a million and within that million, you’re just one. BiaAtlas got 100% rejection because it wasn’t ready to be queried. I am re-writing it now hoping to alter it enough and correct the errors that I can pitch it again.)

-Sheryl

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

 

Shut Your Cake Hole – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Shut Your Cake Hole . Originally posted on Sep 5, 2016 11:50 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to let a character run their mouth, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

Cake

Shut your cake hole

Blabbermouths are common in the real world. To your face or behind your back. So why not put them in the story? I love a good jerk, the one that makes you grip the book a little harder and hope they get their comeuppance or feel bad for what they’ve done. Whether they know they are loudmouth squealer or not, doesn’t matter. That they stir the pot does matter. A proper bigmouth can change the game and save a floundering storyline.

Here is a little tidbit of mine from a work in progress: (Unrevised version, but it still gets the point across.)

“Good morning Nell, Wendy.” Hank smiled and sat at the meeting room table.
“Oh good morning Hank.” Wendy gushed. She had no problem flirting with the unnaturally handsome Hank. “How was your weekend?”
As usual, Nell sat quietly since Wendy cut off any chance of casting Hank a greeting. Hank finished his tales of golf, beer and a spontaneous trip to the beach without a glance toward Nell. “How about yours, Wendy?”
“Ah same ole, same ole.” She waved her hand. “Now Nell had quite the adventure.” Her sly tone was devastating.
There was zero chance Hank would drop the subject. Nell shot her a what-the-hell look. She knew better than to confide in her friend but did it anyway.
“Oh really.” He slid his gaze to Nell. “Do tell, what could Nell possibly do that has her redder than your blouse Wendy?”
“She had a hot date.” Wendy ignored Nell’s kick to her leg. “Like really hot.” Wendy fanned herself.
Hank tilted his head staring at Nell. She was quiet, mousy and barely noticeable on a good day. All work and no play. Usually. “With whom?”
“Wendy.” Nell’s clenched teeth made her plea to shut up, louder than she meant. The last thing she wanted was Hank, of all people to laugh at her. “Please don’t.”
“Now I have to know.” Hank chuckled.
“She and Barry from accounting went to Point Garrison beach yesterday. Apparently, it has an amazing view.” Wendy waggled her eyebrows.
Nell’s cheeks drained of all color as he smiled broadly, understanding that he was the view.

(In this instance Nell is too shy to say much to the handsome Hank. Wendy’s plan wasn’t clear, did she do this to tease Nell? Did she play matchmaker on purpose or by accident? It all depends on Wendy’s character or who she will be. There was no reason to outline Wendy’s true intentions here, subtlety is key.)

My advice about Chatterboxes.
Use them. Make them make your story tantalizing or spice up a dull storyline. Someone spilling the proverbial beans can start a good conflict. I like to use it as an opportunity to let(or force) someone behave outside their comfort zone. (These types of characters don’t always have to say a lot, they can say little and still be blabbermouths.)

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click