What happened yesterday?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Sheryl

Related posts

The good…

The bad…

And the ugly

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Irksome
Jolt

And the ugly

Ugly habits. I generally think of these as social habits, quirks and ticks. The kind that make someone ugly inside and out. Not like putting the empty milk container back or leaving the toilet roll empty for the next person to deal with. I mean the things that make someone seem just a little more rotten than the next. When I talk about ugly people I am not talking about physical looks but what’s inside. The hottest person can be hideous on the inside. (We all are if you take that literally, blood guts and organs. Blech)

Like good habits and bad, Ugly ones can give characters one more valuable layer to the complex network of attributes that make a person human. Everyone has an ugly habit to some degree. Whether they instigate, perpetuate or stand by and do or say nothing. Ugly habits can start simple and evolve quickly to a subconscious action.

Ugly habits

  • Gossip/spreading rumors
  • Snide looks of disapproval (Generally scoffing the quality/value of someones attire)
  • Selfishness
  • Self-serving behavior
  • Blaming others or setting others up
  • Sabotage
  • Put downs, insults and barbed comments
  • Grandstanding
  • Over-talking others (Speaking over someone stealing their moment or putting them in the background)
  • Talking down to others
  • Hiding or stealing small items to cause inconvenience
  • Eavesdropping

Creating ugly people is fun, they cause trouble, but in the background. They can inspire others to be like them and teach them the habits of tearing others down. Ugly people can spur change for the good two. One step too far and the protagonist will push back or beat the ugly at their own game. There always seems to be the one, the ringleader that inspires the others to be nasty or maybe they fly solo and make everyone miserable.

Holding her laptop bag in one hand and briefcase in the other Sasha approached the trio around Scott’s desk. They stopped talking, the guilty ‘we were just talking about you’ looks unmistakable. Scott gave her his customary once over and smiled in his cocky flirty manner. She didn’t blush, not this time.
“Good morning Scott, Dale, Amber.” Sasha nodded as she approached.
Dale bit his lips as if stifling a laugh. She never noticed the derision before, she had only noticed Scott’s flattering and distracting leer. She was too focused on the presentation this afternoon to be affected by it.
Amber smiled too brightly. “Don’t you have a meeting with Getty Shoes today?”
“I do and I need to go prepare.” Sasha furrowed her brow when Amber smirked and raised her eyebrow.
Shaking her head Sasha continued on to her office Sasha had to prepare and didn’t have time for Amber’s games today. The Getty account was potentially a big one and she was nervous. Amber had wanted this one and had been snippy that she didn’t put her on the team. Amber was the office easy and jumped into bed with anyone that could benefit her position. Or so the rumors went. Sasha hated rumors so ignored them, even if Ambers flirting was over the top more often than not.
With everything ready, Sasha double-checked everything as the department head, Alexander Mozar, entered.
“Mr. Mozar.” Sasha was surprised to see him. “How may I help you?”
He looked her over and lingered on her feet. “I don’t think you should present today.”
“What? Why not?” Sasha set her notes down absent-mindedly.
“An alternate design was brought to my attention, as was the suspicion that you were not taking this account seriously.”
Her mouth fell open. Alternate design? The pieces were moving into place.
“I don’t understand sir.”
“Do you own a pair of Getty shoes Sasha?”
“I… Ah…” She looked down at her feet. What did it matter? She thought back to earlier that week as she prepped the layouts. Amber had gushed over her Dahlia shoes she wore. They cost a mint even on sale and she rarely wore them. ‘Oh Sasha you should wear those next time you present, they make you look strong, powerful and sexy. A sure fire winning combo if you ask me.’ Then yesterday. ‘If I were you, I’d dress to impress tomorrow.’ All week had been small comments from her and from Scott. Small comments, subtle moves.
Without even thinking, she wore the Dahlia shoes. She was a pawn.
“Sasha, Dahlia is owned by Banes & Co. who are Getty’s biggest competitor. Do you have a change?” Checkmate. “No sir.” He shook his head slowly. “Scott and Amber will take over the presentation. Give them your notes and fill them in. They will present your idea and Scott’s. The client can decide. Waste not want not.” He opened the door and waived them in. “Next time Sasha do your research.”
Both Scott and Amber sported Getty brand shoes and smarmy little grins. Scott was too impressionable to be so sneaky. She underestimated Amber’s determination. A costly oversight. Sasha handed over the notes, gave them the rundown and left with her feelings hurt, fury bubbling and her head held high. The snickers behind her nearly shattered her fractured pride. She wanted nothing more than to stick her head underground like a cartoon ostrich.

Small or large the impact of devious ugly behavior can really muddle things up. I love adding the type of people that frustrate the reader just a little. “Ugh that person needs to go down!” so eventually when Sasha does indeed rise above, get her bearing and her backbone in place she can indeed take Amber Down. The “Yay!” moment will come eventually. Sasha’s a mess and has a long way to go yet.

The ugly’s make for great side stories and interactions. They are the impactful ones and the ones you want to strangle, but they usually aren’t the main villains of the story. Ugly not pure evil.

My advice about ugly people.
Write them like you want to punch the living daylights out of them. As if they are the most frustrating people on the planet because they always get their way. Until the eventually don’t. Give them lots of rope to hang themselves and have fun bringing them down. *Insert evil laugh of triumph*

-Sheryl

Related posts

The good…

The bad…

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Underground