Sunday, May 22, 2022

Writing Challenge: Sit Outside...

 I went out to my side yard today. The temperature is warm, mild. A slight breeze caressed my cheek and ruffled my hair.

I stood next to the two cherry trees, both in full bloom. Their flowers were white, their buds were pink like the rosy cheek of a baby. Bees buzzed around the blossoms, paying me no mind as they worked to collect the pollen to bring back to the hive.

The grass has grown tall in my yard; tall and green. The tops waved in the gentle breeze, making a soothing shush sound as the wind passed over and through.

Across the street, cows graze lazily. The grass short and green. Thick and lush. The sun shines down on them, their black hides glistening in the golden brilliance.

Past the cows, a structure can be seen. It's old and dilapidated, leaning to one side as if a good sneeze might knock it over. But it's been there for a while now, strong and sturdy against the elements. Just like I want to be.

The mountains finish off the landscape, their tops still dusted with snow. Each day the line gets higher and higher. At the base, the foothills of the mountains, the area is covered with brush and trees, creating a mosaic of different hues from grey to green and black.

As I live near a highway, I hear the rush of cars speeding by, the thrump-thrump-thrump of their wheels when they hit the rumble strips on the side or middle of the road. Small vehicles, large trucks; they all speed by with purpose. Even above that random noise, I can hear birds chirping in the distance, cows lowing to their calves.

I close my eyes and breathe in the clean, fresh air. The sun is warm on my face and light dapples behind my lids. I need the sunshine. I've been stuck inside for far too long, going outside only to head to another location where I'm stuck inside.

I miss the burbling of my little creek from the old house. I loved hearing the water rushing over the rocks and splashing as it raced past. I still get to hear peepers at night. I love the sound of their little chirps.

**I was given a challenge to go outside and listen, look, smell my surroundings and then write it out. I know I went into other details, but I'll be doing this again in different areas of my town.**

Monday, May 9, 2022

The Great Semi-Colon Debate...

 Semicolons. You love them or hate them? In between? Don't understand them? Think they're over-rated?

Well, let's take a look at the semicolon and figure out why some people think it's a big, bad scary.

Semicolon definition: a punctuation mark (;) indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.

The proper use of a semicolon, is to help sentence structure. It is literally the opportunity to end your sentence, but choosing to go on. If you think your sentence could potentially become a run-on, the semicolon could swoop in and save the day.

I use them, more often than not. Some people think it is an outdated punctuation, that it doesn't need to be used at all. But think about it. There are a lot of great authors, even now, who use semicolons. Next time you pick up a book, keep an eye out for them.

So why are they scary? Most writers don't know how to use them properly. And yes, there is that chance that you could screw up one of the best written sentences of your life; but I doubt it.

See what I did there? Gotcha. That pause where the semicolon is, it could have been a period. It could have been a comma. It broke up the really long sentence I was aiming for and it worked.

When you have a sentence structure that can be stopped with a period, done, over, no more words, but you have just a little more to say, drop in the semicolon and impress your editor. Just remember, the words that follow your semicolon should be able to stand alone as its own sentence. Yes, it is a bit of an afterthought, but it should be just as concrete as a normal sentence.

I hope this little bit of information is helpful. If you still have an adversity about using semicolons, that's okay. They're not for everyone. It is part of a writing style, you do have to get used to them. And like everything else, don't overuse them and frustrate your editor and readers.

Leave me your thoughts on this underrated, often misunderstood, little punctuation mark. I'd love to hear what you think.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Relatable Characters...

 Hey everyone! Dropping back in here to say hi, how's it going and whatcha working on?

My title today is relatable characters. I had written a blog post about it back in the day, but when I look at it now, yeah, lots of ramblings going on there. What can I say. I'm a pantser in everything I write!

So let's talk about relatable characters and how they get into and out of trouble in your stories.

People read to escape. They watch TV, play video games, watch movies, all to escape their problems in the real world. Yet, they still want to be able to relate to what they're watching or listening to at the moment.

I'm going to take a moment here to talk about the new Reacher series on Amazon Prime. No, I'm not getting paid for this promotion.

That show kicks ass. In a LOT of different ways. First of all, Alan Ritchson plays a much better Reacher character than Tom Cruise ever could. 

First of all, Tom is kinda short, he's not as muscular. Tom's portrayal of Reacher is more of an intellectual, than physical.

Alan, on the other hand, seems more believable to me as Reacher. He's got the build, the expression, the attitude all down pat. If I had never watched either actor's portrayal before, and then watched them side by side, I would connect more with Alan's portrayal. Hands down.

Why? Because I can see him having more strength than "boys his age", as the character's mother put it. I believe his military skills more than I would Tom's portrayal. I can relate to Alan's portrayal easier than Tom's.

People want that connection. They look for it in all their escapes.

How do you make your characters relatable? What troubles do they get into that they have to get out of in a way that would be relatable to your readers? And no cheating, because your readers will know. A lot of the time, they're looking for solutions as well, and it makes them think; if your character can get out of trouble in a logical way, so can they.

You have to connect your characters with readers on multiple levels. Emotional, physical, intellectual. Your reader wants to believe that this fictional character, the one that's entertaining them, could also teach them a few things about life. How to look at it, how to solve some of the problems. Even if it's a Sci-Fi or Fantasy story, people get through tough times in a lot of different ways.

So I ask again, how do you make your characters relatable? What tips and tricks can you offer up to help other authors to create these soon-to-be memorable characters?

Watch people. See how they act, react, and interact.

Think about how you would get yourself out of a fictional jam.

How open minded are your characters? Why?

Introverted vs extroverted; how do your characters cope?

Finally, don't be gun-shy over the stigma of mental illness. As much as is happening in this world today, stop making it more of a hush topic and get messages out there to your readers that it's okay to get help.

These are all just my thoughts and suggestions. Leave me a comment below and tell me how you make relatable characters!