Don’t Snip the Onomatopoeia

Words are fun and can be even more so when they sound like what they are. These words can brighten a sentence and give the reader a clear image of what they are hearing or would be hearing if they were in fact part of the story.

I’m talking about onomatopoeia. An odd sounding word on it’s own that’s for sure.

Onomatopoeia is defined as the formation of a word such as Woof, Bang, Buzz, Hiss or Pop that are written as they sound. Or, the word itself sounds like the action or sound it is associated with.

We use these words everyday and they are easily found if you do a simple google search(opinions can somewhat vary). Words such as Pow, bang, thunk and pop became popular with comics and are still used for them. Words like moo, baa, ding, honk, chirp ect are often found in childrens stories, rhymes, songs etc.

Let’s see if I can put some in a bit of my story.

Amber who stood outside the office lost in thought, in memory of Friday. So far today she’d managed to avoid Scott.
Ahem.”

Amber looked up, frowned and reached out connecting her hand to Scott’s face with a smack.
His hand flew to his cheek as she took a step back. “I suppose I deserve that.”
“To say the least.” 
“I’m an ass, I’m sorry Amber please talk to me. Don’t run.”
She crossed arms and let out a huff. “Why should I?”
Scott jerked his head. “Look I know I crossed the line. It was wrong; I was wrong.”
“You scared the crap out of me Scott! You do realize I’m an emotional basket case right now. I don’t need you tearing me down or freaking me out.”
Scott scratched at his throat. “I know, I know, again I’m sorry. Look I’ll make it up to you. I was wrong. You know we’re friends and I got a bit messed up about some stuff.”
“Dale explained. Still…Why? Why did you attack me? It was like you wanted to…”
“I wouldn’t have actually forced you. I was upset and drunk and I’m sorry.” 
 Amber stepped forward glancing down and grimacing at the crunch of a snail beneath her shoe. She looked back up and narrowed her eyes at him. “Swear to me you’ll stop being weird, that you’ll never, ever again accuse me of lying about the baby. Swear you’ll never threaten or try to touch me that way again.”
“I won’t.” Scott ran his hand over his mouth choosing his words carefully. “It was a mistake I swear.” 
With a short sniff Amber nodded curtly. “Okay.” She gave him a pat on the arm and turned to go back inside missing the smirk on Scott’s face. 

I don’t know if I’d normally use so many since they would likely end up as more of an action word like smacked or crunched or whatever. But for this they worked okay. onomatopoeic words seem to appear more commonly in comic books, children’s stories, songs, rhymes or poetry. I think I’ll take a closer look at my action/violent scenes and see if any made their way in. If not i might add one or two.

What’s your favorite onomatopoeia word?

My advice about onomatopoeia.
They are fun and can be fun to use. I recommend giving them a try. If you have them leave them don’t snip them out or whoosh them away.

-Sheryl

Other posts I wrote sort of like this one

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Baby

Becoming Bad

There comes a time in my story when I need to bring a character over to the dark-side. Generally if its someone who has been dabbling or leaning over the line for a while I’ll have something give them a nudge. Or I’ll reveal their true nature that was there all along just being hidden.

I like to carefully foreshadow a characters corruption with influential words or actions that betray their true nature or intentions. If I don’t do this it can leave the reader confused as to why they became bad or acted out aggressively.

This I find can be complicated or even hard to do if I become attached to a character or decide to lead them down the dark path even though they started on the light side as the character in my example did.

I personally like to give these flippers a rich story, something to get the reader interested in them but leery at the same time.

Amber wrenched open the door to stop Scott’s incessant pounding before it upset her neighbors.
“Stop it.” Amber scowled. “Come in already.”
Scott dripping from the rain wiped his face and teetered on his feet.
Amber closed the door. “Ugh. You’re drunk. Why are you here?”
Scott grabbed her by the shoulders “First Sasha now you. Why?”
“What?” Amber tried to pull away wincing at his sour breath.
“She turned me down now you are, are you playing some game?”
“Oh my God Scott. I’m with Dale, I’m having his freaking baby. Sasha just didn’t like you. I’m beginning to wonder if she saw something I didn’t.” Amber tried to pull away again. “Until recently that is. Let me go.”
“No! This isn’t how its supposed to be. I get the girl! Me, not Dale, me! If not Sasha then you at least.”
“Charming.” Amber shoved his chest and managed to get out of his grip. “Get out of my apartment. I. Don’t. Want. You.”
“Liar, yes you do. You want to have sex with me.” Scott said with a slur and grabbed for her again forcing his mouth over hers. Amber brought up her knee, wedged her foot against his thigh and pushed Scott away.
“You don’t know squat abou twhat I want. Get the fuck out of my apartment now.” She ran for her cellphone, her hands shaking.
“It’s not too late Amber. Dump Dale, you can get rid of the problem and be with me. You know that’s what you really want.”
Shaking and fighting back tears she eyed the door he now blocked. “I’m calling 911.” She held the phone up to her ear backing up toward the kitchen. Scott advanced too fast,  the phone from her hand and ended the call.
“Don’t be a bitch Amber, I’m just offering you what you want. I know that parasite isn’t Dale’s, I wont let you hurt him. Dale and I’ve been friends since university. Admit that you’re a slut, and I’m all yours.”
Amber turned and ran to the kitchen, grabbed a chef’s knife from the block and spun to face the wild-eyed drunk Scott. “Get out, get out, get out you bastard, get out!”
Scott held up his hands and backed up back down the hall as she advanced. The image of his ex fiancée with a knife in her hand calling him a bastard slammed into his mind hard. The impact, though mental, was like a physical blow. He stopped her then, he would stop her now… His face darkened, he lowered his chin and glared.
“You’re threatening me? First you tease me, then trick my best friend to have unprotected sex with you, fake your pregnancy to trap him and now you’re threatening me?” A crooked smile distorted his face. “I’ll make you pay for this Linda, you’ll regret crossing me again. Dale will see the truth in you just like Andrew did; you slutty little whore!” Scott hurled Amber’s cellphone at her face forcing her to duck as Scott left, slamming the door behind him.
Amber stumbled against the door sliding the dead-bolt in place and scrambled for her phone to call Dale. “Please, please pick up, please.” She wiped her tears as she collapsed to her knees on the floor.
Scott spat on the door and stumbled in his blind fury out to his car. He would take care of her just like he did Linda. “Treacherous bitches. Sleeping with my friends.” He slammed his palms against the steering wheel. “Nobody cheats on me.”

Sooo… Yeah Scott’s gone off the deep end, no surprise there really. Dangerous people become desperate and desperate people are dangerous. When I write someone loosing control I give it back to them quickly. An irrational bad guy isn’t as fun as someone who can regroup, plan  and carry out a dastardly plan. For Scott to tip the scale I gave him alcohol to lower his defenses and mess up big time.

My advice about exposing the bad guy.
Make it sudden, startling and abrupt. However make sure there is enough foreshadow that the reader isn’t scowling at the pages wondering WTF?

-Sheryl

Some other posts you might like

The jerk-face warrior

Two-faced phony-baloney

I swear! Or do I?

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Squat

Don’t plague me

I adore reading. I read a lot and enjoy various formats. There is one thing I don’t enjoy reading no matter what or who writes it. Plague. Widespread illness out of control unfurling upon the masses to bring about misery and death. This is totally a personal thing, maybe it’s my inner hypochondriac coming out to play or whatever. I just don’t enjoy reading about pustules, open oozing sores, swollen lymph nodes, the last gabbled breath of the many, over and over… yuck.

I was reading a super awesome book series and they went plague quite a few books in. I haven’t finished it and haven’t moved on in the series either. That was about two years ago. I probably won’t. Everybody has that something, that taboo subject they won’t read or write about. For me, its sex implied or explicit. Some it’s disease, illness or plagues. For others, it’s racial repression. For others, it’s violence against women or children, especially sexual.  It could be how graphically someone writes about the tattered pungent rotting green hued skin, falling off the corpse in chunks as it lands in thick wet plops on the cold hard ground. Like I said, everyone has the one thing they won’t write or read. That’s totally okay, I can’t please everyone. I should, however, be pleasing someone. Boring writing is right up there with plagues for me. If the story is going nowhere for too long I get bored. I don’t want to read a chapter describing the grass in detail either.

I find it’s a fine balance. Toss in a little of everything and keep it interesting. All good recipes require an assortment of ingredients. The more you put in the better it tastes, right? In moderation. If a plague must happen for story development or it is part of that era then fine, but less is more IMO.  I read a book that had the black plague happen smack dab in the middle. Sure the author described the misery and filth, but he did something far more amazing. He showed the good, the silver-lining and what the survivors with vigor were doing to help. He focused on the emotional and surrounding and fascinating factoids that let me get through a subject I’m uncomfortable with. That stuck with me. If it has to be there, and it must be horrifying. Why not temper it with the bright side too?

I don’t have an example of this because I don’t want to. I can be super gross, and write violence and gore. I just don’t like plagues or uncontrollable diseases.

I cannot take credit for the following since I’m not a great joke teller. *Sources unknown.

Two bacteria walk into a bar and the bartender says, “Leave! We don’t serve any bacteria in this bar.”
The two bacteria reply, “Hey, but we work here. We’re staph.”

Why did all the bacteria fail the math test?
They thought division is the same as multiplication.

A parasite walks into Jim’s party. Jim says, “Get out! No parasite are welcome at my party.”
The parasite says, “Well, you’re not a very good host.”

I need to go wash my hands a few times now.

My advice about Plagues.
When you write about something uncomfortable, there will be some who love it, and those that hate it. How you write it will make all the difference.

-Sheryl

Other gross posts

That is disgusting

Blood

Spit it out!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Vigor
Unfurl

That escalated quickly

Arguments are fun to write, but need a little TLC. It’s easy to argue your my point of view but when writing it’s important to write with both sides in mind (or more if there are more opinions involved.) This daily prompt is similar to one on Sept 28th when I talked about disagree:  Make it blue.” –  “No. it stays green.” 

When I think argument, I don’t always think fight. Arguments are IMO a verbal banter of opposing opinions or desired results. Generally when I write an argument it’s either resolved or it is not and the subject will definitely come up again. Today I’m going to talk about the escalated argument. The one that does lead to a fight.

Arguing early in a story is tricky because the reader doesn’t know the characters yet and don’t have a loyalty to any particular side. I will use an early argument to establish personality, strengths or flaws in a character. An argument later in the story is fun because I can pull on emotions and the characters personalities in the conversation.

When I start an argument, I treat it like a mini story itself. It has these components.

Beginningthe opening to the argument, the discovery of the conflicting opinion/ideas Middleboth sides argue their points intelligently. This is not the time for the writer to prove a point.
End or Fight – Conclusion, either one side concedes or the subject is dropped and neither are satisfied. This is where a physical or emotional fight happens. This can lead to fantastic friction and drama.

Pen smirked at Cal as he came back from the bar, rejected and shrugging.
“She wasn’t interested.” Cal set his new drink down.
“Cal you just need to be more aggressive if you want to get laid. You’re too considerate of their feelings.”

“Pen, it’s not always about getting laid.” Cal set his drink down on the tall table he was leaning on.
“Suit yourself Convent Cal. I bet I can talk that little hot blonde into a restroom quickie.”
Cal lowered his tone. “Leave her alone. She’s not your type.”
Pen glanced at Cal’s clenched fists then sneered. “You don’t know her. What do you care if I bang a chick that turned you down?”
“Pick on someone more your speed. Her friend is amiable.”
“Amiable?” Pen laughed then leaned closer to Cal. “No I think I’ll take your blonde and show you how it’s done.”
Cal grabbed Pen’s arm. “Leave her alone.”
Pen jerked his arm free. “Or what? You’ll hit me? You’d risk our friendship over a useless piece of-”
“Leave her alone.” Cal warned lowering his chin. “She deserves better than your prowling, in fact no woman deserves how you treat them. You make me sick.”
Pen swung his fist barely clipping Cal’s chin. Cal’s counter punch connected with Pen’s jaw in a thick thud knocking him to the dirty sticky floor.
“Bastard.” Pen rubbed his jaw as he stood. He swung again at Cal and missed. His face went red from the laughter around him. “What’s your problem?”
“You treat women like trash Pen. You treat your friends like crap and I’ve had enough.”
“Fine have her, oh wait, you can’t because she snubbed your pathetic do-gooder ass. I’m outta here. Don’t call.” Pen staggered away and out of the bar, it was busy enough not too many people noticed the altercation.

That escalated quickly. If I have arguments they usually have a bigger purpose, I try to avoid controversy or topics that can alienate a reader unless I know that I can argue both sides and not start preaching my point of view.

My advice about Arguments.
Play around with them and use them to create tension or showcase your characters strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve written conflict and removed it if it throws off the story flow. Usually it helps.

-Sheryl

These posts are very related to arguments: 

“Make it blue.” “No. It stays green.”

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Argument
Controversy

Over used and oft abused.

Ah, the word shiver. Over used and oft abused. This is on my personal list of filter words. One that is injected into a sentence to replace showing an emotion. I find it in plethora among the words of a romance, horror or mystery. Or just dumped in to lazy writing, like I’m guilty of. 😉

At first I used this word freely, it’s a great way to express an obvious feeling right? Well yes and no. People shiver for different reasons, it’s those reasons that suggest this blanket word can be stretched out or removed altogether.

Example 1.

Billy’s fingers gently brushed the back of her arm sending pleasant shivers across her body. (15)

Not a bad sentence really. A few unnecessary words. If I’m also worried about (word count) I would remove gently and pleasant, they are implied anyway. Three words doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly.

Her skin tingled as Billy’s fingers brushed the back of her arm. (12)

Example 2.

Elouise shivered suddenly for no reason whatsoever. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” She muttered to herself. (18)

Meh, it could use a little trimming and rewording.

Elouise frowned and rubbed her arms. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” (13)

Example 3. (I still write like this.)

Tod had never felt so bone achingly cold in his life. He was shivering so hard his teeth chattered loudly. (20)

Now I know enough to rewrite it to this. FYI the word felt is a super filter word.

Tod wrapped his arms around his aching body, unable to stop his chattering teeth. (14)

Do I never use the word shiver? No, it’s a fun word that evokes a personal response. I do use it sparingly or try to anyway. Sometimes a plain ole shiver is just what the story needs, especially if there is no established reason for it.

My advice about overuse.
Overuse can happen with any word, shiver is just an example. Make a list of ‘important’ words you see too often in your writing and then see how often you actually use them. Then see if you can switch it up or swap it out, but don’t jeopardize the story or the flow if you can’t think of a way to change it.

-Sheryl

 

Other related Posts.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Shiver

Obvious

Jeopardize

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

There is a part of my writing that makes me actually sit up and enter typo land as their unchallenged champion.

Violence and action. I LOVE a good action scene in a book, especially when it’s fun, interesting and Fierce. When I’m preparing to write my own, I sit and envision the scene over and over. Each persons’ actions and reactions and what’s going on around them. It’s a lot to take in let alone get out into written word.

My first action fight scene is a long one, several chapters in fact. It had to be, a lot happens. The entire story is pulled in, the whole point of it all is laid out and the villains for the next book are introduced and humanized.

That isn’t the first violent action scene in the book, but the first one I wrote. After I finished the first draft it was evident something was missing. So I wrote an intriguing and dangerous introduction for a character who is basically the reason the whole story takes place. I honed and revised that chapter so many times until I knew it flowed well and was pleasing to the imagination.

Writing violence is fun, but risky. The temptation to become melodramatic, cheesy or start telling vs showing is strong. I had oodles of tag lines, filter words and typos in the action scenes. Some of the reactions were over the top and they needed to be toned down to more realistic responses. Sure the science fiction allows for a certain amount of embellishment in the action department, but even fantastic it needed to be believable within the parameters I set throughout the story.

My advice about action and violence.
Get it out of your mind and onto paper or the screen. Once there, whip it into shape and draw the reader in by showing not telling the events. Action is exciting and violence is thrilling, it’s a great way to jolt a timid story or give a character reason to progress, regress or become someone altogether different.

-Sheryl

 

Related posts:

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved