Writing Tip: “Sense” Your Scenes

melanievlogan:

I have to agree with this post in so many ways.  Just because colorful words are used, they may not be structured or written in a way that helps the reader get a good feel for the scene or even the character.  This can leave an otherwise great story, limp and lifeless – like Ben Stein’s character from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

What I appreciate from this post are the questions and insight provided to help writers create more sensory scenes – the type that engage reader’s 5 senses and can provoke thoughts.  I’ve always loved books and movies that could do this.

Image: Five Senses – Tomesia Ingram

Originally posted on Stephanie Huesler:

I try to read a book a week; it’s usually on a Saturday, when I have time to sit down and read a good chunk at a time.  This past weekend I read a book which prompted thoughts around this concept of “sensing” a scene, and reading it aloud to hear any howlers that might have crept into the writing.  The author of that book obviously did neither, though her editor might have told her to beef up descriptives – so they were clumped all together, staggering me as a reader to a halt while I tried to figure out the context of the pages of descriptives before remembering what the characters were doing there in the first place, and often the dialogue sounded very stilted (e.g. using “vocalized” instead of “shouted” – the latter of the two would have fit into the character’s time and place far better) – a…

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When the Time Comes

Image: Mr. Wallpaper

Image: Mr. Wallpaper

Settled into bed after the hustle and bustle of a long workday, Penelope’s eyes closed. Shoulders relaxed. Breaths long, but deep.   There was quietness, almost like peace – something she strived for.

Poomb, poomb…Thud!

Penelope was awakened by the loud noises. She sprang up in her bed – shaking like a leaf. She was scared. The house was silent, but her knees were knocking like a woodpecker on a tree.

Penelope slid from her bed onto the floor. She huddled upright in a fetal position, pulling her knees to her chest. She silently moaned as a rampage of thoughts went through her mind – was it an intruder or her father acting out?

She needed help. She felt around in the dark for her cell phone. It wasn’t there. Crap, where is it?

Crshhh!

Penelope shuttered at the new noise. It sounded like glass shattering. Was someone breaking in? Did her mother throw something?

Her heartbeat was racing. She feared being seen, so she didn’t turn on the light. She returned her knees to her chest, frantically waiting for another noise. When nothing happened, Penelope gradually stood up – trying to encourage herself to do something. She reached for the baseball bat next to her bed, then cautiously walked downstairs.

She used her memory and the moonlight shining through the windows to help maneuver the house. She slowly moved through each room – first the living room, then ending in the kitchen. With each step, the knot in her stomach twisted. Nervousness accompanied the fear she already had.

Then she heard something move – like someone walking lightly.   She stopped.   It was coming from outside near her front door. She slowly crept towards it, then took the bat to gently move part of the curtain. It was only the neighbor’s orange and white cat. Penelope sighed with relief – then she saw the mess.

“Damn cat! Did you have to break every flowerpot?”

She turned on the light in the living room and sat down, leaning the bat against the sofa. She recalled the night. It was understandable to think there was an intruder – she lived alone. But it was silly, somewhat crazy, to think her parents were there. They were gone.

Penelope felt sad. She missed them. Then she remembered their last day together. She smiled – then cried. Why?

***

Image: Active Family Mag

Image: Active Family Mag

On July 4, 1984, seven year old Penelope and her parents went to the county fair. She always enjoyed the fair – the taste of pink cotton candy, smell of smoky barbecue, and the excitement and thrill of the rides. She’d walk in-between her parents, holding each of their hands. Everyone was happy.

When the sun had faded and darkness filled the sky, the crowd chanted for the fireworks to begin. Then a loud boom with a burst of colorful, sparkly embers filled the sky. Penelope shuddered. She liked the glittery lights, but not the noise. It scared her. Her father knew this. He set Penelope on his lap.

“Ready for the next one baby girl?” he asked.

Penelope shook her head anxiously up and down. Then he covered her ears. She felt like a daddy’s girl. Her mother looked over at them with a smile on her face brighter than sunshine.

Somehow on the ride back home, things went left. Penelope heard her father yelling at her mother. She wondered what set him off this time.

“I saw you flirting with him MaryAnn! Don’t deny it!”

“What are you talking about David? I wasn’t flirting with anybody! Why do you have to ruin a good night?”

Penelope’s father was driving, but that didn’t stop him from giving her mother a backhand slap.   Penelope’s eyes grew wide.

“Don’t hit my mommy!” she yelled at her father.

He turned towards the backseat threatening to backhand her as well. He swerved almost making the car leave the road. He turned back around and chose to look at Penelope hard and sternly from the rearview mirror. Penelope was scared. She grew quiet.

“It’ll be alright,” her mother said soothingly.

Later that night, Penelope was being tucked into bed. “Mommy, why does Daddy act like that?”

“Honey, I’ll explain it to you when the time comes,” she answered.

Penelope wondered when that would be.

***

Image: Deborah Cruz

Image: Deborah Cruz

The next afternoon, chaos erupted. Penelope curled up in a ball on the living room floor – trying to make herself

invisible. She was crying, hoping someone would help or at least make it stop. No more she kept repeating in her head though the attacks continued. Thing was, the abuse wasn’t happening to her. It was happening to her mother nearby. She hated being afraid, and how her father treated her mother.

Crshhh!

Penelope’s mother got away momentarily. She tried to defend herself by throwing a picture frame. It missed him, but broke when it hit the living room wall.

Smack…puh-puh-puh!

“Pleeease David. Stop!” her mother pleaded. He ignored her and kept slapping and punching harder.

Then he walked over to a nearby cabinet. Penelope heard the door creak open, while her mother sobbed uncontrollably.

“You brought this on MaryAnn!”

“Run Penelope!” she warned.

Penelope couldn’t move. She could only manage to repeat, “No Daddy, no Daddy!”

Poomb, poomb…Thud!

A smell similar to exploded fireworks filled the room. Penelope screamed and covered her ears. She didn’t want to look, but she had to know. When she opened her eyes, she saw her mother on the floor looking back at her – with a blank stare.

“Mommy! Get up!” Penelope cried.   Her mother didn’t move. Next to her was a suitcase now covered with splatters of blood.

“Wh-what have I done?” Penelope’s father uttered with wide-eyed disbelief.

He ran from the house into the woods nearby. The next day, he was found dead from a single bullet wound. Penelope was now an orphan. It was hard to believe 24 hours earlier, they were happy – as a family.

***

Image: gurl

Image: gurl

Penelope came back to her current reality. Her sadness turned to anger. It’s been 30 years since “the incident” as her Aunt Mae and Uncle June called it. Why was she letting it get to her again?

After “the incident”, her aunt and uncle took her in, insisting on therapy. It helped Penelope cope with the hurt she felt. But it could never erase her parents, the desire to know why her father was abusive, or the reason her mother tolerated it.

Aunt Mae tried to explain once, “Your father had a hard childhood. MaryAnn did the best she could.”

Uncle June’s spin was, “He’s always been that way. Your mother should have left him long time ago.”

Penelope knew her aunt and uncle meant well – and she appreciated that. But the truth was she needed facts, not well-intentioned opinion.

She spent her youth and part of her adulthood trying to find answers. She finally found a neighbor, Clarice, who knew her parents when they first married. Clarice recalled Penelope’s mother confiding in her.

“MaryAnn, why do you let him go up side your head?”

“I love him…and, I feel sorry for him.”

“What for?”

“He was abused as a child. He doesn’t have anybody else to love him.”

Now Penelope understood. She even felt sorry for her parents. But why couldn’t they get it together for her sake?

Penelope felt her shoulders tense up. The vein in her forehead was pulsating. She was mad at her parents again, and at the cat for causing her to lose sleep. She huffed loudly then got up to make herself a cup of tea to calm her nerves. When she returned, she sat in the oversized chair and tucked her legs underneath her.

This is getting me nowhere. Gotta try something else. Penelope put her cup down and knelt in front of the chair. She clasped her hands in front of her face and said, “Heavenly Father, help me. I can’t seem to move on. Help me let it go.”

Silently, she opened her eyes and sat back on her feet, placing her hands in her lap.   She waited like something was supposed to happen. When nothing did, she got up and sat in the chair – leaning on her arm. She started to doze off.

Night faded into morning. The sun was shining through the living room window.   It woke Penelope up. Two robins appeared on the windowsill outside. They were looking at her, chirping as if speaking. Something about them seemed familiar – human-like. Was this her parents in animal form? Then they took flight. Penelope rose quickly to watch them soar high, out of sight.

In her heart she believed it was her parents making amends.   It was time to move on. She accepted that she couldn’t change history or how her parents were. What she could do was forgive, let go.

Finally, there was peace. She was free. She could live. And so she did.

Writers: Get The Right Kind Of Feedback! | Molly Greene: Writer

Another blog that is very insightful for bloggers and writers is that of Molly Greene.  What I can appreciate about her posts is that she often writes about things that either slip your mind or weren’t considered.  Definitely a great resource!

As I continue to work on my book, I run into thoughts about what to do after it’s done.  One of those thoughts is about beta readers and having my work critiqued.  I didn’t, however, think far enough into it to address what type of feedback I needed.  That’s where Molly’s post, Writers: Get The Right Kind Of Feedback! | Molly Greene: Writer ,  has been helpful.  I hope it can help you too.

Bullying – Why Does It Happen and What To Do About It

Image: andygoesrawr

Image: andygoesrawr

A few weeks ago, one of my high school classmates lost his son.  When I heard the news, my first thought was that the teen had died in a car crash or some similar incident.  What I would come to find out is that he had committed suicide.  He was only 15.

No sooner than I had offered condolences, I received an email from a group I’m subscribed to about one of the member’s daughter.  She had committed suicide as well.  She was 14.

In both cases, the suicides were not random events without precursors.   The sad thing is that both are results of bullying.  Comments were made on social media or said at school that lead up to these tragic events. It is heart-breaking to hear and know that acts of meanness could push someone to the edge, to want to end their lives – especially ones that have yet to fully begin.

Awhile back on a different blog (link below), I posted about bullying and some insight on how to handle these situations.  While, I’m not a professional in this arena and do not claim to be, my desire is to do something to help anyone that may feel bullied (and even the bully) to get help.  It is senseless to let these types of things continue to the point of death.

If you, or someone you now is contemplating suicide, please get help.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Their number is 1 (800) 273-8255.

Anne R. Allen’s Blog: 25 Must-Read Tips on Plotting from Top Authors and Editors

I love Anne R. Allen’s blog.  She provides a wealth of information helpful to writers and bloggers.  If you haven’t checked her out, stop what you’re doing and run right over. :-)

This week’s tip comes from Anne R. Allen’s Blog: 25 Must-Read Tips on Plotting from Top Authors and Editors. These tips and quotes have been helpful for me while I write my first book.  What may have made sense in my head about moving from one scene to another or situation to another, it may not translate to the reader.

Books versus Movies/TV – Who Did it Best?

Image: Organized Clutter

Image: My Clutter Box

I love to watch movies and television.  And sometimes I watch something and then find out later that it began as a book.  There have been occasions where the story was so good that it prompted me to go out and get the book.  One such storyline comes from the television show Resurrection It is based on the book The Returned by Jason Mott.

I won’t go into much detail to keep from spoiling the show or the book for others.  But I will say that the show’s storyline kept me wondering about all the bits and pieces that the book may have went into more detail.  What I found out was that the first few episodes of the show pretty much followed the book.  Where they differ is that the book gave more insight to a lot more characters and locations whereas the show focused on one area and a set of main characters that are interconnected in one way or another.  If I had to choose who did it best, I’d have to go for the show.

Another movie that I have seen and have yet to read the book is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  As the story unfolded, I felt a range of emotions like anticipation, sympathy, disgust, but the biggest was anger towards the main female character.  Because of how the movie drew me in and held my attention, like the paragraph before, it makes me want to read the book.  Once I do that, we’ll see who did it best – book or movie.

And for this year there are more movies coming down the pipeline that are adaptations of books. Here are 21 Books To Read Before They Hit The Big Screen In 2015.

How do you feel about books that are turned into movies or television shows?  Do they meet your expectations or dash them?  Will you go see something on the list for 2015, just read the book, or both?

Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts

melanievlogan:

Typos and errors can happen to the best of us. It’s understandable. The problem I have is when there are so many errors and typos that it’s hard to read. I’ve put down a couple of books for this very reason.

Originally posted on Nina Soden:

I originally published this article as a guest author at http://timothy-oullette.blogspot.com/ and http://www.timouellette.com on August 8, 2014, but I felt that the information was important enough that I wanted it in my blog feed as well. I hope you enjoy my take on Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts. You can let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

TBS_typosgraphic1

Are typos in a book a big deal?

Of course they are – to some extent! Typos happen. Typos happen in books that are self-published and traditionally published. Typos happen to new authors and seasoned authors. Typos happen in eBooks and print books. It doesn’t matter how many people you have edit, proof read, re-read, etc. there is always a chance a typo (or two – or three – or four) is going to slip through. Does that mean the world is over, the author should never write again, or that the…

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