The “What ifs” Of Imagination

Imagination. Without it we would never go beyond what we can see, touch, smell and hear. Creativity and imagination go hand in hand.

I’ve talked about the joys of pretend world. Fantasize and imagining things and then acting or writing them down for entertainment value. I love visualizing and then recreating what I’ve imagined.

Having an overactive imagination is a challenge. I can look down a set of stairs and envision all the terrible things that could happen if I fell. Fear, paranoia and negative thinking right? Well sure I can come up with some pretty gruesome ideas. Yet, there is a flip-side to that too. Me looking down the stairs about to fall and say… someone slips an arm around my waist to prevent me from falling… It takes a whole other spin.

While it’s easier to go dark and see the potential for sensational terror, it can be rewarding to not shake off the imagination process and instead guide myself to see more than the negative. Such as crossing the street. On average one simply gets to the other side – hum drum nothing fun. What if something happened along the way? What if the destination was not what I intended, what if I set out in the morning to go to work and by the time I got across the street and set my foot down on the cracked concrete it’s suddenly night? What if the puddle I’m about to step into is reflecting something different than the actual world around me?

In any given situation my vivid imagination can break off and follow quite a few possibilities. Some will work for a story some wont. I don’t dismiss any of them because what doesn’t work with one story line may be a Cinderella’s slipper fit for another.

Amber straightened her blouse. “I can do this.”  She said to herself and envisioned beyond the door, the friendly greetings she would give and the casual conversation that followed. She took the five steps and went into the staff-room. Conversation hushed to near none existence. John and Burt got up from the table and left brushing past her. Alice, Preeta and Li muttered lame excuses and shuffled out leaving only Rachael behind. Rachel dumped out her unfinished coffee and headed toward the door before Amber could start in on her. 
“I’ve become the social pariah.” Amber said quietly to herself.
Rachel stopped in the doorway smacking her hand on the metal door jamb and turned. “You haven’t become anything. That would imply you were ever liked by any of us.” 
Amber swallowed her bile at the harsh comment. “I’ve been nice lately.”
Rachel rolled her eyes. “No Amber you’ve been quiet, living in your teeny-tiny, itty-bitty little bubble of self-importance. Not being mean is not the same as being nice.” 
Amber closed her mouth, clenched her fists and watched Rachel leave.
“Oooh she’s such a bi-” Amber snapped her mouth shut, relaxed her fists and rubbed her face. Rachel isn’t a bitch, she’s honest and if Amber wanted to be different, she had to make the world see her that way too. 

That was not the only idea I had for relaying that particular life lesson to Amber, but it was the one that fit the best. Amber’s used that staff-room as a bullying platform more than once, therefore it seemed fitting that she get gobsmacked there too.

My advice about vivid imagination.
Let it roll, play it out in your mind, but don’t forget to imagine from multiple angles good, bad and every possibility between.

-Sheryl

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Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Vivid

Time to flip the switch

Everyone has that point, that moment when they’ve reached maximum capacity and put their foot down.  If they don’t then nobody will care or respect them that’s for sure. I monitor my protagonist’s progress carefully. Toss them a bunch of crap, show them slowly finding fault in their situation and then let them see reality. The moment when enough is enough and they finally stand up and square off to fight back.

This is where I like to have some fun. As with everything else people react differently to everything. So there are no hard set rules on how to make someone react to anything. The only thing I keep in mind is how they have been up to this point. Who have I made them? And where do I want them to go.  I try not to make it crazy unrealistic within their personality. A person that has never shot a gun before can’t just pick one up and take out the bad guys no problem. A person that is terrified of heights isn’t going to magically not be, they will still struggle and it should be a challenge. Nobody’s perfect after all.

Sasha was calm for someone with a gun pressed hard in her back. She’d almost laughed when Baylor skulked in with a gun pointed at her. His face said he meant business even more than the gun symbolized.

She couldn’t let him win; she would not be a martyr. Ben won. Cal was right about that. Ben wasn’t the only one either. Her dad subtly bullied her, Scott and Dale were picking on her in different ways and Amber was in full on war mode. Her stupid boss was playing some asinine game. No. No more losing for her. There was no way to know how long she had, before Baylor did whatever he planned to do. Baylor limped badly. It was more of a hobble since both legs were hurt. He rubbed his broken nose with his bandaged left hand and glared at her with his two blackened eyes. He hissed at her to stay quiet or else. Sasha was over being in danger and almost laughed again at his over the top grotesqueness.

The only thing that stood in the way of her fantasized bravery was a gun. It was obvious he didn’t want to shoot her. Probably because it would be loud and draw attention. The other probably was likely that he wanted to draw out his revenge. That thought made her angry. How is any of this her fault? She was polite and turned him down gently. She hadn’t been so gentle with Cal. But then again Cal was charming and started to wear down her defenses; setting alarms off in her head and she shut him down.

Baylor stopped at the end of the hall by the stairwell and opened a room. It was an occupied room. There were belongings everywhere, not in a messy way, but in the way that suggested the occupants had been there for more than a couple days. Baylor shoved her to the couch. This suite was the same as hers and Cal’s. Only in blues not white and tan.

“Stupid bitch. You’re ruining my life.” Baylor’s fury showed in his face and posture. He smelled as if he’d been living at the bottom of a dumpster or worse. “I’m a dead man because of you.”

Again, she thought of how is it her fault. Clenching her fists at her side, she stared angrily at the gun. She wasn’t afraid of him specifically. He’d scared her too much and she hurt him too badly. Her eyes darted to his legs and widened in realization; Baylor took it for fear and grinned. He’s hurt and his Achilles heel was up for grabs. She gave herself a tiny curt nod. No more victim for her.

“Why? Why are you doing this?” She said the words cringing inwardly at the pathetic cliché of them.

“Why?” His maniacal laugh sent shivers over her skin. “I had to pass up the easy mark. I was okay with it because you were so pretty and different. I don’t normally bother with blondes and now you’ve ruined everything.”

“Why not leave me alone? Go hide until they stop looking for you and start over somewhere else?”

“Oh I will, I’ll disappear right after I ruin you. I’m going to leave you so destroyed no man will look at you again.”

He meant his words and she yelped as he advanced. Then everything slowed. She turned her head and pushed off the couch to the right. Scrambling to the table, she grabbed a chair and swung it at him. Gun or not her instincts took over. No more cowering for Sasha. She swung low and with force. It wasn’t as hard as she imagined, but it was enough when it connected with his bruised legs. She let go of the chair, remembering in that fraction of a second, that in movies the idiot who held onto the swung object lost. The attacked would grab it and game over. More or less.

Her hyper-slowed momentum didn’t falter. She grabbed and threw everything she could at him. She didn’t know when she started screaming. Not the high-pitched one of terror, but the guttural one of ‘I’ve had enough of your shit’ scream. She tipped the table and bolted for the bedroom kicking the doorstop out. The door would close slowly so she kept going for the bathroom. That door had a lock and was metal, she had locked one just like it several times.

Sasha isn’t exactly a knock-em down and fight it out person. She is just a normal person, untrained in any combat or defense skills. That doesn’t mean she’s defenseless or useless. While strong-willed and smart, her strength is in her resourcefulness. She has no idea why Baylor is after her, or why her life is so suddenly messed up. She knows one thing, he means to hurt her and she isn’t interested in his brand of hurt.

It is important to me to keep her the victim while allowing her to break free at the same time. There is however no going back, once she gets her footing and starts to climb back up from rock bottom, she’s not going to revert. I think she’s had enough of being a doormat it’s time to flip the switch and let her find a way out of her misery.

My advice about flipping the switch.
This is necessary in any story, the poor protagonist must eventually learn from their past and press forward to gain ground. However, by this point the reader should really want them to, and cheer that they do.

-Sheryl

Other posts

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Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Martyr

It’s a love hate sort of thing

I spend a lot of time talking about feelings. How to show them instead of just tell them. That’s because the books I’ve loved the most suck me in and make me feel. However, there are times when showing an emotion can get lost if the context is missing. If I forget to set up or keep up the scenario it can be misread or taken, well a whole other way. Ideally, this would be part of a bigger picture, but what if it’s not?

 Balor put his hand on Sasha’s shoulder as she backed up into the counter.
“You need to leave.” She squeezed her eyes shut. She barely knew him, this can’t be .
His fingers brushed the side of her neck and she whimpered.  “I’ll teach you a thing or two.” Balor’s deep voice made her lips tremble. “Teasing me at the bar.”
“I didn’t mean to.” Sasha had barely looked at this man.
She spent most of the night trying to ditch Valery and Anne. She gasped for air as Balor gripped her Stylish“>stylish pink shirt in his left hand and brought his other hand up to her clammy neck. She moved her trembling fingers behind her reaching for the counter.

The door flew open and Balor let her go.
“What’s going on here!” Cal advanced on Balor fists clenched, he swung hard and fast at Balor, the sickening smack of fist to jaw made her flinch as Balor hit the floor.
“Did you follow me too?” Sasha’s legs wobbled.
“Dammed right I did. I saw this scum follow you out of the bar.” 

That’s not much to go on, so what did you take from it? What emotion was being shown through Sasha? I put in all the correct emotional responses in, I didn’t cheat. Yet it wasn’t clearly showing what I wanted. Still even in that scrap, the reader should know what’s going on.

What was really happening.

Balor put his hand on Sasha’s shoulder as she backed up into the counter.
Screaming was pointless nobody would hear.
“You need to leave.” She squeezed her eyes shut, she barely knew him.

His fingers brushed the side of her neck and she whimpered.  “I’ll teach you a thing or two.” Balor’s deep voice making her lips tremble. “Teasing me at the bar.”
“I didn’t mean to.” She had barely looked at this man, she spent most of the night trying to ditch Valery.
Cal was the one that made her laugh; he made her feel alive again.
She gasped for air as Balor gripped her stylish pink shirt in his left hand and  brought his other hand up to her clammy neck. She moved her trembling fingers behind her reaching for the counter as he raised his fist to strike her. If she could reach the knives, she might survive this.

The door flew open and Balor let her go.
“What’s going on here!” Cal advanced on Balor fists clenched, he swung fast and hard at Balor, the sickening smack of fist to jaw made her flinch as Balor hit the floor.
“Did you follow me too?” Sasha’s legs wobbled.
“Dammed right I did. I saw this scum follow you out of the bar.” Cal pulled out a badge and a pair of handcuffs. “Detective Cal Thorne.”

Taken out of context or not shown properly you might think that the first attempt was a romantic interlude and a jealous lover. However, her emotional responses belonged to Terror. The reason I brought this up was that I was reading a book this summer and set it down. I didn’t get back to it for a while and when I picked it up, what I read didn’t make sense. It was a large block of a chapter missing specific content. Sure, it was there but not right away. I had to go back a couple of pages to get the right feel and read it again.

In the grand picture the creepiness of Balor following her is clear as is his initial and violent contact when she gets home. But what if you had set the book down and couldn’t get back to it for a while and tried to pick up at that point?

My advice about showing feeling without context.
Put it in even if it’s subtle and just a little. For example, love and hate can be similar in select action tags.  You don’t want someone’s intense fevered stare of hate to be read as an intense fevered stare of love just before a fist fight, that might be awkward.

-Sheryl

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Stylish
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