What Did You Mean? – Re-blog

Still in vacation mode and don’t want to be tethered to my computer. Therefore I’m sharing another blog that was posted a long time ago. Don’t worry my people watching opportunities have given me some ideas for new posts that I will write and post soon.

What Did You Mean?

I have read stories and books that miss one very important thing. Setting up an emotionally charged statement before it happens.  When I’m reading dialogue it can be frustrating to get to the end of a sentence only to discover my inner-voice was way off on the tone that the character was meant to be speaking in. I call this emotional tone delay. I read said dialogue, find out the tone I imagined was wrong then have to either read it or mentally replay it in the correct tone.  If it happens too often I like the book less and less and less.

How it sounds in my head as the writer isn’t necessarily the way it sounds in the readers. This is why it is so important to create a welcoming world for the reader to jump into. Show them tone and emotion instead of bludgeoning them with a tag.

“Really?” Amber said with excitement.

By putting the tag at the end, what ‘voice’ I read that in was voided. As a reader that can be annoying and then all voices sound out deadpan and the emotion is applied after the fact. It makes for some terrible visualization and fantasy.

Amber grinned and bounced on the balls of her feet. “Really?” 

Sarcasm is often lost in print if I want to convey a tone of voice shows the tone by posturing the character. My rule I’ve adopted from others: Don’t get lazy and tell the tone.

“Really?” Dale said sarcastically.  

Set it up properly so the reader knows it’s sarcasm or tags it with an appropriate action.

Dale inhaled slowly. “Really?” He rolled his eyes.

Creating the tone before the character speaks is important. This can be as long as a paragraph or as short as a few words. Setting the reader up for a smooth transition to the words lets them enjoy the story without having to “re-hear” it in their head before moving on.  So what happens if the set up is the wrong emotion conveying action?

Scott tilted his head to the side. “Really?” 

That could be humor, anger, annoyance, sarcasm or maybe tease. Normally in a story, there would be leading up to a statement like that. But I’ll pretend there isn’t and Scott’s statement is the start of the conversation or scenario. While tilting the head can convey emotion it is often a quirk or habit that without context could mean anything.

Scott crossed his arms, tilted his head to the side with his brow furrowed. “Really?”

Sure it get’s wordy, however, if I really want to show the reader how Scott feels then I will make it work. I might even take the head tilting out unless I have that as Scott’s quirk. I wouldn’t want everyone going around gesturing the same way.

Scott tilted his head to the side as a sly grin spread across his face. “Really?”

Scott’s head tilted to the side as he stifled a snicker. “Really?”

Scott’s fist slammed on the table then he tilted his head. “Really?”

If the tone isn’t foreshadowed by action before the statement, the reader will likely project their own emotion into it. That may or may not work out and may or may not put them off the story which in turn will mean devastation for the review and reader’s opinion of the story and author.  I can write words and have my own idea how they are supposed to sound, but if I don’t let the reader in on it, then I’ve let them down.

My advice about acting out emotion.
I do this to keep the reader engaged, I highly recommend it. Don’t let the reader decide what ‘vocal’ tone the characters are using, show them so the meaning behind the word isn’t lost. After all, you don’t want a character to move when you mean swoon. 

-Sheryl

A post or two from a while back.

Squirrelly concentration at best

Time to take out the trash

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Tether

Conver(Conversation)sation

I love dialogue, good dialogue that is. I try to keep it interesting and realistic. I like to avoid droning, dull, stiff and pointless conversations. But what if a wee bit of pointless is necessary? What if it could be a foreshadow or just fun?

After looking at trivial conversations and removing the repetitiveness of it, I look at the logic and make sure it’s not to dry. So the dialog is okay, but what if it’s still dull or not going anywhere? It’s time to pop a little extra something into the conversation.

I don’t do this often if at all. If I do, it’s for a foreshadow or to highlight the characters personality, history or inclinations. Sometimes to show a characters quirks. What I’m talking about is conversation within a conversation. We’ve all done it and all been witness to it. It happens more often than people realize.

For example:

“The workload seems double lately. Everyone’s on vacation all at once.” Dale wiped mustard from his chin with a paper napkin.
Scott shook his head. “I’m sick of covering for Sasha. Her vacation was over a week ago.”
Dale scowled. “It’s weird, frosty knickers didn’t mention to anyone she was planning a vacation.”
Amber looked up from her lunch. “You mean the impromptu vay-cay that just happened to be right after Clifton gave her the mystical pink-slip file?” She looked at Dales confused face. “Remember Troy?”
Dale nodded. “Yeah.”
“Mmm.” She swallowed the large sip; the straw flicked from her lips. “He got the file and a month later.” She slammed her palms on the diner table. “Gone.”
Scott shoved a french fry in his mouth. “Same happened to Gale and Peter too. Both fired after about a month.” He furrowed his brow while chewing. “Or quit. Not sure which.”
Dale tilted his head. “Huh. So where’s Clifton then? He’s M.I.A. too.”
Amber picked up her half eaten burger. “Ooh maybe they’ve run off together. A tropical tryst getaway.” She took a big bite, chewing while watching Scott think too hard.
“Valery says vacation.” Scott looked at his two friends. “But her behavior and tone say otherwise.”
Amber set her burger down, picked up a couple fries and dipped them in ketchup. “Probably because she know’s the ice princess and creepy Clifton are stooping it on the sly.”
“Frigid remember?” Dale stole a fry from Amber’s tray and she playfully swatted his hand. “She probably took time off for stress. Poor crybaby’s been wigged out and acting crazy lately. Miss glacier could use a good stiff one on hot sunny beach if you ask me.”
Scott thought back over the timeline as Amber and Dale laughed heartily. A vacation made sense. However something was niggling at his mind. Something wasn’t quite right.

Originally it was just a conversation about Sasha being gone too long on vacation and it coinciding with the boss Clifton’s disappearance. I added the side story about the file since at this point it hasn’t come up in a while.

It could be as simple as this:

Valery tapped her toe impatiently as Scott scanned his email. “No, sorry. I have no idea. It wasn’t sent to me. Clifton was the last to have the file.”
She huffed. “Great and he’s not reachable. I need that dammed file.”
Scott shrugged. “I know his passwords. I can unlock his computer for you.”
Valery narrowed her eyes at him.
“It’s no big deal, he asked me to log in about a month ago.” Scott nodded. “This HR guy came in for a meeting. Clifton was running late and wanted me to show him a list or something.” Scott shrugged again. “Guy was super creepy, kept looking at you and Alice and stroking his chin. Anyway he took a printout and left before Clifton showed up.”
Valery scrunched her eyes tight a moment. She was one to cling to rules and regulations as if they were law. “I really do need the file.” She gestured for Scott to go to Clifton office. “What if the password was changed?”
“Clifton is an idiot, ah…” He cleared his throat. “I mean, he never changes them.”

Subtle or not, a side conversation within a conversation can add a hint or foreshadow in a way that isn’t glaringly obvious. The side conversation can be pointless too, if that’s the case I’d make sure it’s humorous or showcases a characters personality.

My advice about conversation within conversation.
If you run into a conversation that needs a little something, like a small dash of salt in chocolate chip cookies. Without it they are too sweet. I forgot once and they weren’t horrible, but the cookies were definitely missing something. Stick a small side story or conversation in the middle of a conversation if it can help.

-Sheryl

Other Posts

Drunken secrets

One step forward and two steps back

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Cling
Fry

A chance moment

I blabber on about writing a lot. Probably because I can. There are moments in life when separate things slip together and all of a sudden bam! It all makes sense. The sudden realization of something either right before your eyes or close to it.

I like to lead a character up to the moment when they finally look up, wide-eyed and  realize something important. If I’m writing a scene but don’t know how to bridge the events properly I’ll use a chance moment. Something random but not unbelievable.

The options for purposefully random chance moments are infinite. Since they are random, you can choose anything or anyone to make it happen. Even a character never before used. So long as it all fits the story and is not truly random and unbelievable.

“Scott you look terrible.” Valery stopped him in the hall outside the lunchroom.
“Couldn’t sleep.” He ran his hands through his dark hair. 
“Do you need time-” Valery stopped abruptly when he looked her in the eyes.
“Sasha’s in trouble isn’t she?” He rubbed his face after her minute nod.
Valery leaned closer lowering her voice. “She was in protective custody.”
“Was?”
“I only found out most of this yesterday. She was told to keep it from us for her safety. Did she tell you about that guy attacking her?”
Scott nodded. “A little.”
Valery tapped away on her smart phone and held it up to him. “When this came out in the news last week I…” She swallowed hard as Scott stared at the image of Baylor Crowen.
“Shit, that’s the guy? The mangler attacked her?”
“Yes. They only got his picture because Sasha got him arrested. Apparently he tried again.”
Scott took her phone for a closer look. “That’s when she went on vacation?”
“Yes. The detective said.” Valery swallowed hard, her voice cracking from strain. “He found her while under protection.”
Scott’s mouth fell open, but he couldn’t speak.
“Something happened, the cops wont say what and I have no idea what’s going on.”
“He looks familiar.” Scott squinted at the screen.
“Well he’s been headline news twice since last week.”
“I know.” He tapped his chin. “But…” He saw Jenny approaching with her overly bubbly gait. She was Clifton’s unofficial assistant. The gossip about the two of them isn’t kind.
“I actually met him at the bar the night he attacked Sasha. I thought he was hot.” Valery shivered at the memory. 
“Who’s hot?” Jenny grinned and peeked a the phone. “That’s the weird HR guy.”
Valery and Scott looked at each other alarmed.
“HR?” Valery queried.
“Uh huh.” Jenny sat. “He comes in every few weeks to see Clifton.” She scrunched her face. “He’s sorta hot, but prefers brunettes. Too bad.” She twirled a lock of her dark blonde hair around her index. “It’s funny for HR, he’s never talked to anyone. Just oggles Alice, yells at Clifton and leaves.”
“He’s been here?” Valery glanced at Scott. If she had seen him, she’d remember.
“Sure has. Not lately though. So whats up with him?”
“Oh.” Valery licked her lips and grabbed her phone from Scott. “He’s not on our payroll anymore. Since Clifton’s away would you let me know if he comes by again? He left some things here.”
“Sure thing Valery.” Jenny held up a thumb drive. “Amber needs this. Later.”
Valery was already dialing the number detective Thorn gave her as she dragged Scott toward her office.

Since Valery and Scott are minor support characters I didn’t want them to figure too much out on their own. So in Comes Jenny to slip in the missing piece of the puzzle.  The only hitch to having someone provide random information is it needs to be believable. I’ve mentioned a mysterious HR guy before so I could work it in this way. It’s also a bit more exciting than a narrative or dual dialogue of Scott and Valery “working it out”.

My advice about a chance moment.
I love them if I’m stuck with a way to get to a point in an interesting or exciting way. Give it a try, and see what happens.

-Sheryl

An old post or two

Building chemistry

What exactly did cupid do?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Infinite

Desperately procrastinating

As I sit revising and proofing my book again, 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. 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 fresh 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.

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, 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 needs 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.

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

Recommended related Post by a fantastic fellow blogger Sascha Check out her blog as well as this one she asked me to link : No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Zing!