Did You Smell That? – 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. 

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

The second post I’m going to revisit is, Did You Smell That? Originally posted on Aug 26, 2016, 8:04 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that this was one of my favorite posts and it’s still relevant.

Did you smell that 2

My one weakness when setting a scene is that I forget to write in the smell. Or if I do, it’s hasty and obvious. Like. ‘He smelled pie.’  or  ‘She smelled wet dog.’

(This is still a weakness, I still have to stop and remind myself to add the smells into a scene. This is especially important in first perspective writing.)

That’s what revision’s for.

However, when I read a book, and the described smells appear too often, overdone or frankly unimaginable, I squint at the pages and no longer can I smell them in my mind. 

(Describing is a fine line. It is helpful to read the paragraph aloud or have someone read it aloud to you or just to themselves. It will help identify superfluous descriptives.)

Without:
Sasha made her way through the busy open-air market to buy the ingredients needed for dinner and dessert. She wanted to impress. She stopped in her tracks on the busy sidewalk upon seeing the ripe peaches. She planned to make chocolate cake. She couldn’t resist the fresh peaches and bought the basket of them. The cobbler would be better than cake.

With:
The aroma of fresh baked bread, pies, herbs, and meats of various types being cooked wafted up to greet her. Sasha loved the open-air market in the morning. She made her way through the bustling sidewalk purchasing the ingredients she needed for dinner and dessert. She stopped in her tracks on beside a busy stall as the sweet scent of sun-warmed ripe peaches hit her nose. She planned to make chocolate cake, that idea faded as she picked up the fuzzy red and orange fruit and held it to her nose. With her mouth-watering, she bought a basket. Her grandma’s cobbler would impress better than cake.

I do this all the time, write a scene and forget to make it appeal to the imaginary senses. It usually means I was hasty and to make it right it will add words. 

(I’m getting better at this, but I still forget or neglect descriptions. It is easier to add too much in at first and edit it down to a reasonable amount than it is to search and add descriptions later. If my brain doesn’t have time, I’ll leave an editing mark in the spot. [xxx add descriptions] then later I can use the find feature to go back or I’ll notices that block and fix as I revise.)

Without:
Tanya walked across the lawn in her bare feet. The feeling of the long cool grass soothing her tired, battered soul. It had been a long day of nothing going right. She stepped to the sidewalk, reached into the mailbox and took out the stack of junk mail and bills. With a sigh, she turned and set her foot down in the still warm dog poo.
“You have got to be fu-” She bit her tongue as a mother and toddler in a stroller went by.

With:
Tanya walked barefoot across the lawn. The long cool grass soothed her tired, battered soul. It had been a long day of nothing going right. She stepped across the sun-warm sidewalk, reached into the mailbox and removed the junk mail and bills. With a sigh, she turned to go back and set her foot down in a pile of still warm dog poo hidden in the grass. The pungent odor hit her nostrils as it squished up between her toes.
“You have got to be fu-” She bit her tongue as a mother and toddler in a stroller went by.

It’s not much, but it’s enough to engage my memory of the smell. Everyone knows what things smell like so there is no point dragging out the description of the scent, a vague or short direct reference is enough.

(The only time vague is good, is if it is a common smell like dog poo or orange juice. If it’s something less common, a good description or comparison is best. Such as when describing a perfume, room or food. Not all foods are common and the more complex the food, the better the description should be. However, if the item is not critical to the chapter or plot don’t dwell too much. You want to set the entire scene not focus on the one thing.)

My advice about sniffing out smells.
People don’t smell things constantly every moment of every day and remark on them mentally or verbally. The unpleasant smell of rotting fish will cause a nose to wrinkle, fresh cut onions may bring tears to the eye. Make the character experiences it and therefore the reader. Smell is a great way to set the scene, evoke an emotion or liven up a dull paragraph/scene. 

-Sheryl

Other related posts

Oops! What did I just say?

That sounds complicated

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Nominalization – Style #5

Nominalization

Last but not least for the category of STYLE. I’m wordy so this one is important to me. I tend to add unnecessary words where they’re unneeded. I find them where I could easily be restructured to become a simpler sentence. I had a count of 127 errors in writing Style. If you missed a previous blog, you can click on the purple link here that is crossed out to see that blog post.

Within STYLE are the following issues I had in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent .
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence .
3. Incorrect Spacing .
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation .
5. Incorrect verb form .
6. Inflated Phrase .
7. Wordiness .
8. Nominalization

 

In the last blog, I talked about Inflated Phrase and Wordiness. Nominalization is similar to them.  I only had one incident of Nominalization show up.

I’m going to defer to Grammarly’s explanation for Normalization:

Usually, we use verbs to talk about actions. But many verbs have noun counterparts that refer to actions. These noun counterparts are called nominalizations. Using nominalizations often results in long phrases like make a decision instead of decide or put forward a suggestion instead of suggest. These phrases can weigh down your writing and make it harder for your readers to understand what you’re saying. A single verb is usually more expressive than a phrase.

nomilization1

The character is actually speaking to a group of people so I would need to keep that in mind when correcting this.

“So you state that you saw nothing.”

This would actually work for a group or just one person. This is very similar to wordiness and inflated phrase.

Since I only have one of my own examples to use I’ll give a couple more.

Wordy This instruction may cause confusion for our students.
Concise This instruction may confuse our students.

Wordy Tony gave his lover a glance.
Concise Tony glanced at his lover.

My advice about nominalization:

Simplify your writing to make it more clear. While it may ‘feel’ like you’re being professional or intelligent it’s unnecessary to complicate things. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

What I’m Up To – Update

What I'm Up To Update

I have finished my collaboration with my editor, and I’ve begun the process of querying again. I will be posting more about editors and what made me decide to go that route and how I chose one.

At the moment I’ve started wading through the Literary Agents, and I forgot just how much work that is. I’ll also be talking about finding agents and what to look for in an agent. I’ve talked about this before, but with all good things, a reminder is a good idea.

I’ve learned a lot this time around, more about query letters and writing a Synopsis. Needless to say, it’s been a long and involved process, and I’m both tired and excited. Oh and very, very, very, very nervous.

This time I have my act together, I’ve had my first 50 pages polished, my synopsis perfected and my query letter hammered out and ready to go. I have my handy dandy spreadsheet ready to keep track, and I’m using Query Tracker as well. I’ve already composed a few queries and bravely hit the send button, so I can now wait. 1 to 8 weeks is the standard.

Well, I have some blogs to write about all the things I’ve done and learned through this process. There are still a few details I need to work on in the manuscript. Exciting times are here for me.

Thank you to all who are following my journey.

-Sheryl

Tulips In July – Writing Advice, 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. 

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I’m not going to just repost an old post, I’m going to revise it and edit it as well. Make it fresher and add some new perspective as I’ve come a long way since. It’s fitting that today’s daily word prompt (Sadly the last) is Retrospective. I’ve started looking back to old posts to see how they compare now with all I’ve learned since. I found it interesting and thought that I might share that part of my journey too. Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The first post I’m going to revisit is Tulips In July. Originally posted on Aug 22, 2016, 9:52 AM.

Tulips in July

The story I wrote takes place in “real time” by that I mean an imagined year of the current year. (I have since learned this is a genre called Urban Fantasy) I was about halfway through when I realized to interact with the world around them I needed to know exactly what day of the year it is. It would be silly to have them looking at tulips in July. It became apparent that I needed to keep track of time as well as the characters.

(The same is true for my new book Prophecy, it is also an Urban Fantasy and relies on the realism of the setting.)

So I printed out a generic calendar from about ten years from now. It isn’t important that I say it’s April 17th, but it is important to stay on track.

(My newest story doesn’t have a calendar, I used a spreadsheet with the days of the week since it takes place in a three-week span.)

As I went back to the beginning, I wrote down any significant plot events on the calendar. As I moved forward, I discovered that by the end of the book, the story was off by two weeks. In the beginning, I eluded how long they would be working for. Instead of changing the conversation that outlined the length of the summer job, I wrote the difference in. It gave me the opportunity to add a little more dynamic to the mystery that I hadn’t thought about before. (Adding in foreshadows as an afterthought is easy to do as long as it fits into the story and doesn’t look like it was just tossed in randomly.) Fifty days in, someone in charge slips up and gives the protagonist has a very large clue. This is an important event. That clue leads her quickly to solve the grand mystery just in time. I actually planned it to be that day, so if I refer back, it’s an easy number to remember.

(With the new story, I kept track of the timeline from the start. This made it easier to keep on schedule. However, I realized quickly that I had one character working seven days a week and had to go back to fix that. Oops.)

Having a timeline or calendar of events made things much easier. I can refer back to it or even have the characters refer back. At one point, the number of days is actually mentioned. If a reader were to follow along that carefully, they would find it accurate. Even though it is a fantasy, some reality is required.

Since I wrote this, I have learned that keeping track of time and the day of the week is very important. Aside from smelling Tulips in July, it’s important for clothing descriptions, weather interactions, and things like bar nights or weddings on a Sunday. 

My advice about timelines

Use them even if it’s not important it’s a fantastic way to keep track of events or interactions that drive the story. Did Joe make the ominous phone call before or after he got the internship? If I need to check, I can refer to a calendar and not have to flip back chapters to find it if I forget. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

So there it is, the subject is as relevant today as it was the first day I wrote this almost two years ago. (Seriously? two years? Holy Moly.) Calendar style timelines are helpful, whether they are an actual calendar, a giant chart on a wall, a day by day list or a crayon drawing on a paper placemat. It’s a good idea. Thanks for reading, I hope you found some of this information useful, if not new, then I hope you didn’t mind the reminder.

Retrospective

That’s A Lot Of Extra Unnecessary Words – Style #4

That's A Lot Of Extra Unnecessary WordsI had a count of 127 errors in writing Style. If you missed a previous blog, you can click on the purple link here that is crossed out to see that blog post.

Within STYLE are the following issues I had in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent .
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence .
3. Incorrect Spacing .
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation .
5. Incorrect verb form .
6. Inflated Phrase
7. Wordiness
8. Nominalization

I’m going to talk about Inflated Phrase and Wordiness. Let’s start with Inflated Phrase.

I only had one of these come up, yay!verb4

If I’m concerned about word count finding these little beauties will help. From three words down to two “By means of” can easily be replaced with “using.”

How is Inflated Phrase different from wordiness? An inflated Phrase is a group of words often used together that could easily be replaced by one more efficient words.  “a number of” can be replaced with “Many” or “some” or an actual number like “six.” Wordiness is the overuse of superfluous words. A wordy sentence may be grammatically correct, but they are too full and can be annoying to read. Simplify.

Let’s look at my Wordiness examples.

wordiness1

The correction offered is okay.

Two women were checking him out as he walked away oblivious.

Except for one thing. I personally like to avoid “ing.” So I would change it further.

Two women checked him out as he walked away oblivious.

This simplified the sentence greatly. It reduced word count too. Let’s look at another.

11 words
wordiness2

The suggestion is okay, and it brings the sentence down to 9 words.

Getting too close to someone like Jim was dangerous.

Once again it is an “ing” issue for me. Sometimes an “ing” word is necessary, but I rely on them too much, and they become a “Filter Word” of sorts. For this sentence, I would keep the “ing” word. It works, and I like how it reads. I would, however, change one more word. “Was”

Getting too close to someone like Jim is dangerous.

It’s a small thing but keeping flow is important. I often swap was and is, it’s okay but for this sentence ‘is’ works better since it’s not a ‘past’ issue it’s a current or potential issue.

My advice about inflated phrases or wordiness:

Cutting unnecessary words out or replacing them with more efficient words will strengthen your writing and tighten up the sentence. It will give the reader a more pleasant experience. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

Incorrect Verb Form – Style #3

Incorrect Verb Form

I had a count of 127 errors in Style. If you missed a previous blog, you can click on the purple link here that is crossed out to see that blog post.

Within STYLE are the following issues I had in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent .
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence .
3. Incorrect Spacing .
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation .
5. Incorrect verb form
6. Inflated Phrase
7. Wordiness
8. Nominalization

Incorrect verb form.

I’m not going to explain this clearly on my own, this is directly from Grammarly’s explanation:

“The subjunctive mood is the verb form used when expressing a wish, demand, suggestion, or making a statement that is contrary to fact. Certain verbs (such as advise, ask, command, desire, insist, propose, recommend, suggest, and urge) and certain adjectives (such as crucial, desirable, essential, important, and vital) signal the subjunctive mood.
In most cases, the subjunctive form is the bare (root) form of the verb. Is and are become be. Runs will become run. In the past tense, was becomes were.”

This is one small mistake I make that is most often found in the dialogue. If my character has poor grammar or uses a lot of jargon or slang I might leave it in. However, this character is educated so the assumption is that she would use proper grammar. Why did I make this mistake? Probably because it’s common for people to say was instead of were.

verb1Grammarly was kind enough to tell me what the correction is with the was → were option. All I have to do is click on the green and it changes it automatically for me. Easy peasy.

“If I were going to ruin your laptop doing this I wouldn’t have used it.”

This next one is in the narrative so I would fix it for certain. The narrative is not the place for slang, jargon, or local grammar quirks.
verb2

It was unnerving, even if he weren’t a cop it would make me nervous.

In this situation, I missed these two on my own proofreading. They were the only two incorrect verb forms in my book. Errors like these are easy to pass over because I wrote them and they don’t stand out to me. Have I mentioned I’m not a professional editor?

My advice about incorrect verb form:

Have someone else proofread or use a program specific for grammar. I’m not paid by Grammarly to talk about the program, it’s the one I researched, and I tried and loved the free version before paying for it. Whatever program you use or if you hire a professional, it or they should catch these camouflaged errors.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved
Assumption

Capitalization Space Case – Style #2

Capitalization Space Case

I had a count of 127 errors in Style. Most of them were Unclear Antecedent’s which I covered in the last blog. If you missed a previous blog, you can click on the purple link here that is crossed out to see that blog post. I’m not sure how I can fit the word prompt in for today’s post. I don’t own a dog of any pedigree nor do I buy pedigree dog food. Oh well, I’ll just continue with today’s post about my editing and revising fun.

Within STYLE are the following issues I had in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent .
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence
3. Incorrect Spacing
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation
5. Incorrect verb form
6. Inflated Phrase
7. Wordiness
8. Nominalization

I’m going to cover three STYLE issues on this blog since they are simple and most likely typo’s. These are easy to spot and easy to fix.

Capitalization at the start of a sentence
Incorrect Spacing
Incorrect Spacing with punctuation

All the examples are real and from my new book Prophecy (Names may be changed for example purposes). I took one sentence an put all three errors in it. The error notice from Grammarly is condensed on the right and can each be expanded, which I will show before the corrections.

111aFirst is Capitalization at the start of a sentence a simple grammar rule, but easily done by a typo. All spell check programs even word processors should catch this one. Heck, even I caught them when I proofread.

111b

Ray had to get back to work. There was an angry man  in a hardhat and safety vest was calling him .

Next is Incorrect Spacing. Another easy one to spot unless it’s at the beginning of a sentence or after punctuation. They might not show them as an error but are easily spotted by a proofread.
111c

Ray had to get back to work. There was an angry man  in a hardhat and safety vest was calling him .

The last is Incorrect Spacing with punctuation. This will be caught if it’s before or in the middle of punctuation. Extra spaces after a period are not always caught by programs because some people still write with double spaces. Single space at the end of a sentence is industry standard.

111d

Ray had to get back to work. There was an angry man in a hardhat and safety vest was calling him.

There the sentence is now correct. I know these are rookie mistakes and I know I make them because I’m not an accurate typer and my brain goes faster than I can type. That’s okay, it’s foolish to think I’m perfect, I don’t.

My advice about capitalization at the start of a sentence, incorrect spacing and incorrect spacing with punctuation:

Simple errors to make and simple to fix. No big deal. They are however important, if they show up in a manuscript that is submitted to a literary agent, it will very likely get your query tossed into the NO pile.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved
Pedigree

His Unclear Antecedent – Style #1

His Unclear Antecedent

Coming in at an error rate of 127 in my draft, next up for discussion is Style. To be fair the book is over 79000 words so it’s not like I have that many errors in comparison to say, 30000 words. Most of my errors are typo’s or me just getting ahead of my rapid fingers when writing. I tend to get the story down with the intention of going back and fixing things later. If I focus on writing perfectly as I write, I get frustrated or lose my thought. Grammerly 1Contextual Spelling: 349
Grammer: 212
Punctuation: 999+ (Um that’s embarrassing)
Sentence Structure: 19
Style: 127
Vocabulary Enhancement: 267

Within STYLE are the following issues I found in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence
3. Incorrect Spacing
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation
5. Incorrect verb form
6. Inflated Phrase
7. Wordiness
8. Nominalization

An unclear antecedent in writing is a word that refers to a  clause, phrase, sentence or another word.

In my case, it’s the referral of him, he, his, her, hers etc.

With Grammarly, it provides a box to the right with the ‘issue’ often with a suggestion on how to correct the error. Once the error is corrected this box will disappear. At the bottom there are two options, ignore (Because sometimes what I’ve written is what I want despite the ‘error’)

antecedent6

In case I need more information there is a handy ‘more’ tab that will explain what the problem is. It’s also good to have some examples if you’re not sure.

antecedent7

Now for some examples of my writing that needed some TLC in the style department.

Just ignore the fact that the next example is just horrible all around. This one has three unclear antecedent’s. They and they’re. In context, it is clear who I’m referring to, but I would make it more clear and fix this entirely since it sucks.
antecedent2“I don’t need the second one. The company isn’t locking the system because they want me to snoop, and now they’re on the way.”

by replacing the first ‘they’ it became clear who I was referring to.

antecedent1This was going to be hilarious. The pigeon pecked the man’s hand hard and he

By changing ‘his’ to ‘the man’s’ it gave a better referral to whose hand it is. In that example, I cant use a name since he is a stranger being observed from afar. His name will come up later.

The following is out of context. In this conversation, they are explicitly talking about the main character’s sister.
antecedent4
I actually ignored this since I don’t need to change it. This is why it’s important to think about what changes are being suggested and why there is an ‘ignore’ option to the Grammarly check.

If I were going to change it, this one is simple.

“No, I do not. I’m sorry, but this is hard. Close or not Anne was my sister.”

It’s easy to fix an unclear antecedent. This was the most common mistake I made in Style. A lot of them I ‘ignored’ because within dialogue it was clear who I was referring to, however by grammar standards it wasn’t clear on a sentence by sentence basis. Something horrible would happen if I corrected all of them for the sake of ‘rules’ I would have characters saying peoples names in every single sentence. I would have names in every sentence of narrative. That is annoying especially if within the conversation or paragraph I was already clear.

My advice about Unclear Antecedent:

Not easy to spot without a proofreader or program to find them. They are not all necessarily bad or actually unclear. Read and reread out loud before making these changes and always read the entire paragraph, conversation block or the sentence before and after to determine just how unclear it actually is.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

Rapid