Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Avoiding Adverbs by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)


Writing without adverbs? Then how can we describe people, tone of voice? Some writers think adverbs are the only way to add description to a story.
Wrong – the use and over use of adverbs distracts from your story.  It puts YOU, the AUTHOR into the story.  And we never (one of the few nevers in writing) want the author in the story.
There are better ways to add description.  Let’s take this sentence for example:  Roy walked leisurely down the street.  – Okay. You, the author, just TOLD us how Roy walked – you interfered with the story.   How much better if you would have showed us how Roy walked.
Example: Roy strolled down the street. (Notice how just changing the verb and taking out the adverb shows us how Roy walked.
Roy is not in a hurry - strolled implies leisurely without the author saying so, but it’s still telling. So, let’s take it one step farther. The author can show more.
Roy breathed in the spring air. What a great time of year with the trees budding and the smell of fresh cut grass. Just looking at the sky put him in a good mood.
Now the author hasn’t even told us that Roy strolled. We know Roy’s not in a hurry because he notices everything around him.  People in a hurry don’t take the time to notice the buds on the trees. They wouldn’t stop to look at the sky.  The author has shown us something about Roy besides the fact that he’s not in a hurry.  He loves spring, and he loves nature. Other people wouldn't necessarily notice the buds on the trees, even when they’re not in a hurry. They react in different ways to show us they aren't in a hurry. Maybe they'd lollygag along watching the traffic or kids playing. That shows us something different about them.  People see different things and so should our characters.
Adverbs can never replace strong verbs. As in the above example, strolled is a much stronger verb then walked in showing us how someone went on his way, but showing him works so much better.
Adverbs combined with strong verbs – John ran quickly – are repetitive. We already know John ran, that tells us he’s moving fast, why repeat it?  The adverb has the same meaning as the verb.  By adding the adverb, we weaken the verb and the sentence, and it shows us nothing. 
Avoid the use of adverbs whenever possible.  When you feel tempted to add an adverb, stop and think about what you want the reader to know. Is there another way to say it?  Usually there is. 
Adverbs to describe how someone speaks are also interfering.
Example: “Stop, just stop,” John shouted angrily.
Well, I don’t know about you, but if someone is shouting that usually means he’s angry.
 Why not show us the anger? “Stop! Just stop.” John slammed the cupboard door.
Now that shows us he is angry much better than the adverb angrily? And, we didn’t have to use the tag line he shouted. We can say, he shouted and slammed the cupboard door, but does that reinforce the anger? Not really. The action works better alone.
Now don’t get me wrong – there are places to use adverbs, but the key is to use them sparingly.  Readers want detail, they want to see and hear the story. They don’t want someone to tell them what happened. They want to feel the anger, sadness, happiness, laughter, and tears.  Readers want to feel our character's emotion.  Characters who display emotion are strong characters. And readers remember them. They become real, believable. And if we have believable characters, readers will remember us.
So next time you write, she hurried quickly down the street, STOP!! Reread what you just wrote.  Do you really want to repeat that he was in a hurry?  Hurried already implies he was going quickly.
And next time you write – “I can’t do this anymore,” John said sadly.  Rethink it – is there a better way to show John sad?  “I can’t do this anymore.” John wiped the tears from his eyes. Notice I didn’t say John said as he wiped the tears. You can also eliminate the he said/she said tags and insert action tags that shows us more of what’s happening. By saying John said sadly, we know John is sad – but we don’t know he’s crying. 

We add so much more to the story by eliminating needless adverbs.  We all enjoy reading strong stories, why not write them

I Smell a Story by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)

Did you ever notice that unless something smells especially good or particularly offensive, we tend to ignore it?
Because our sense of sight and hearing are dominant we tend to ignore every day smells.  We see the trees, hear the traffic, and look into each other’s eyes as we speak.
But we take our other senses, touch, taste, and smell for granted. We often ignore them.  Oh sure, we feel, taste and smell, but not with a lot of awareness. While the smell of bacon makes our mouth water, and we may say it smells good, or that it’s making us hungry, we don’t elaborate on it. On the other hand if we smell something offensive, say a
skunk, we go on and on about the distasteful odor.  Same thing with taste.
 The bacon and egg tastes good, and we enjoy them, but we expect to enjoy them so we don’t say much about them. On the
other hand, the sour taste of vinegar or a lemon has us spitting and complaining about the acrid flavor.
The same applies to our sense of touch. We feel something soft or silky, it’s comforting, and we might make an off-handed remark. But, if we burn, cut, or hurt ourselves, we complain and make a big deal about the pain.
But in writing all of these senses are as important as sight and sound.  We describe the setting, the background. But by using all of our senses we bring our stories to life. We can go from the real world to a new world of make believe. But we also need to make our story realistic. In both fiction and nonfiction, a richly described setting will pull your readers out of the real world of pressure and tension and into your world of make believe. So we can’t ignore these senses in our descriptions?
We need to become more aware of these senses in our everyday world?  Go outside, look around you - listen to the sounds. Close your eyes.  Inhale deeply, breath in the odors. What do you smell? The flowers, exhausts from cars, it depends where you are. You can do the same wherever you go. Walk into a department store at a mall.  Inhale the scents. What do you smell, the lingering scent of someone’s perfume or the perfume counter, if a smoker walks past you, you detect the odor of cigarette smoke. At a movie it will probably be the smell of popcorn.  Restaurants have many smells, garlic, onions, rich sauces or maybe coffee. Remember these smells. Use them in your writing.
Next time you eat, savor the food. Hold it in your mouth, relish the experience and texture of bread and the slight aroma of yeast.  Feel the surface of the tabletop or tablecloth.  Ingrain them into your memory.
Use these senses in the story. Let your reader hear, see, feel, smell and taste the story. The story and characters will come alive through these senses. It’s not enough to tell us what something looks like. SHOW US!! We want to feel it, smell it, and maybe even taste it. Readers won’t notice that you included them, but they will notice if you omit them. Without them, your world will be flat, boring, and unrealistic.
 No, you don’t have to add them to every sentence or even every scene. Maybe your characters are in a situation where they don’t notice smells or textures and there’s nothing to taste. That’s often true of tense scenes. If someone is attacking you, you certainly aren’t going to notice the sweet smell of roses. On the other hand you might notice the offensive odor of his sweat. And you’ll certainly feel the beads of perspiration on your own forehead or the taste the nausea building up from your throat to your mouth.
Other times we might be deep in thought and won’t even notice our surroundings. That’s fine, but make sure to include them when they are needed. If your characters walk into a restaurant, we want to know what they smell as well as what they see and hear. Too often, as beginners these senses are ignored.
Remember also, that some odors will smell different to different people.  Some smells are “Universal”.  Dog poop and the smell of garbage are offensive to everyone. Flowers, freshly cut grass or fresh baked bread usually evoke memories.  We can all picture a garden, or remember the first spring mowing and of course Mom or Grandma in the kitchen baking. Use these scenes to help show us the scene or bring out an emotion of our characters.  Some smells scents are less universal. Cauliflower will smell differently to me than you. If the reader loves it and you hate it, the scene will be all wrong. What you want to make sound delicious might make your reader go yuck and you’ll have lost the realism. Stick to the universal smells.
Pick up your favorite novel. Go through it page by page. Highlight the senses with different colors. What an amazing array of colors on the pages. No, you might not see all the colors on every page, but enough to make it colorful.
So how do we use these senses in our scenes?
Imagine your character on a beach by the ocean. Put yourself there. Close your eyes. Picture it. What do you hear?  Are the seagulls squawking, children playing? Can you hear the swish of the waves? Let’s take it further. Inhale, take a deep breath. What do you
smell, the fresh air, salty water?  How does your skin feel? Can you feel the wet spray from the waves? Can you taste the salty ocean? Wiggle your toes in the gritty sand. Is it hot, does it burn your feet? Are the waves coming on shore and flowing over your feet? Can you squish your toes in the wet sand?
How much stronger your words will be describing these feelings and tastes as well as the sights and sounds through your characters. Your story and characters will become more alive.
The senses are as important to non-fiction, as they are critical to fiction.
If you’re writing a how to article about baking bread, the reader needs to know that they should knead the dough until it blisters for a better, lighter loaf, and that it should be smooth to the touch. No the smell of the yeast is not important.  Some things are not important in non-fiction, but if you are writing a nostalgic piece about the memory of Mom or Grandma baking in the kitchen, add those senses. They’re an integral part of the article.
Start today, right now - observe these senses in everyday life. Pay particular attention to the feel, smell, and taste. Sometimes you can taste something just from the odor. Have you ever experienced a particularly bad odor?  It smelled so bad you could almost taste it.

 Remember these senses. Concentrate on the feel of the smoothness of a baby’s skin or the texture of your sheets, vegetables, everything you touch. Make a mental note of these feelings. Use them in your stories. Make your characters real to the reader and enjoy the senses that we take so for granted.

Monday, September 25, 2017

"Classic Ginger" Snippets from Culture Shock Ginger Simpson

This week I'm sharing snippets from Culture Shock, my mystery romance that takes place in San Francisco.  Cynthia Freitas moves from the Midwest to the big city, expecting a different lifestyle.  Imagine her shock to find a serial killer loose in her own backyard, and he's killing women that look just like her...or her body when the old wiring in her run-down tenement causes her first kiss with her handsome neighbor to have a jolting outcome.


The sun was setting when they got back to the Cairns. Alex held the door open. “Here we are, back to reality.”

Cynthia stepped inside, but paused at the bottom of the stairwell. “Does reality have to smell so musty? I’d prefer something more pleasant.”

He smiled. “I agree, but the reality I referred to is we both have to work tomorrow, and that
sucks. I wish I’d been born rich instead of handsome.” He flashed a wink.

Did he know how attractive he was? His good looks had drawn the admiring stares of so many
women during their outing…and they all envied her, little ol’ Cynthia Freitas.

He followed as she climbed the stairs. She paused at the first landing and faced him. “Too bad
we can’t have everything we want, but I’d say today was a great ending to the weekend.” She smiled.
“Seriously, this was a great afternoon. I really enjoy looking in all the stores, although I can’t believe I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy. Maybe I should see a therapist.”

He shook his head and grinned. “Maybe, but push on, my dear. We have another flight to climb,
and dogs are barking.”

At her apartment, Alex took her key and unlocked the door. “I had a great time too. If it wasn’t
Sunday evening we could have made our time together last a little longer. Maybe we can do this again another time?”

Her excitement bubbled to the surface. “That would be wonderful. Hey, as a matter of fact, my
brother Kevin and his girlfriend, Sara, are coming to visit in a few weeks. They want me, of all people, to show them around the city. Would you be interested in joining us?”

She held her breath hoping he wouldn't decline. She'd like to show Kevin she did have some
confidence in herself. 

"I'd like that very much." He leaned down and brush his lips against hers.

Her heart skipped a beat then resumed its normal pace. She took a quick breath. "That was nice."
"Good. I was hoping I wouldn't offend you."

"No offense taken." And no defense either. Her knees turned to jelly. She opened her door, but
paused, hoping for maybe yet another, and longer, kiss.

Instead, he took her hand and held her knuckles to his lips. "Goodnight," he whispered, warming
her hand with his breath. He smiled and walked toward his apartment.

Cynthia went inside her place, closed the door and rested against it. She pondered the emotions
Alex stirred within her. She feared falling for him, too afraid of what might happen if he didn't
reciprocate the feelings. Could she handle rejection? She had no idea.

After making sure the door was locked, she went straight to the bedroom. Alex’s reminder about
the deadbolt flashed through her mind. She’d buy one tomorrow and ask him to install it. His offer of
help provided more opportunity to be with him, and she'd take him over the super any day.

*******************

This is where the excitement really begins.  You can get your copy at Books We Love, using my author's page and clicking the cover you like.  Please take advantage of the BOGO sale going on right now....buy one, get one free.  A great holiday special.

Now hop on over and visit my other Sunday Snippet Pals:


http://yesterrdayrevisitedhere.blogspot.com/ (Juliet Waldron)

http://triciamg.blogspot.com (Tricia McGill)


Don't forget to come back next week for more Sunday Snippets.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To Plot or Not by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)



At one of our chapter meetings of RWA, the speaker talked about plotting a novel and writing a synopsis before the book was written. She suggested if we had never done that to try it.
So I did.


I had an idea for a story that was taking shape in my mind. As usual, I knew how it would begin and how it would end. What happened in the middle? I didn’t have a clue. Oh, I had a few ideas. 







I knew there was a secret about my heroine’s birth, and she’d find a dead body But I had no idea who he was  (yes, I knew it was a male) or why he was killed. So I tried plotting. I came up with a few ideas about his identity and even about who murdered him and even why. 



I was totally blocked. The story sat for the better part of the year without me typing even one word. Every time I opened it, I read it, made a few changes and then I got to the part where I was stumped.
I stared at the computer, sometimes for hours, trying to come up with something, anything –even if it was garbage – just to get me past that hump. I couldn’t do it. So I’d move on to something else. I revised several other stories that I’d written a long time ago, then I’d go back to it. The problem was –I was locked into the outline, I didn’t know how to make the transition to the next thing. It didn’t feel right.                                                                                 
It wasn’t until one day; I was emailing my writing buddy about my dilemma. I needed help and any suggestions she could offer would be most welcome. I wrote what I had so far, and where I wanted the story to go. For some reason, in that email, I started to ask what if, which is how I usually wrote. I threw out a couple of ideas to her and answered them myself. Finally, I was unblocked. I even created a new character and another conflict. I ignored the plot outline and went a completely different way.
That was how I usually wrote, asking what if as I wrote, coming up with new ideas. For me, plotting and outlining doesn’t work. I’ll never do it again. For others, it works fine and good for them.  I understand it’s not necessary to stick to the outline, but for me, since I  outlined, I had trouble deviating from it.  It blocked my creativity. Yes, I should have ignored it long before, but it was too fresh in my mind. It took a year and then some to forget what was on that outline so I could move on.
I guess my whole point is – write the way it’s comfortable for you. There is no right or wrong way, there’s only your way. There are few hard and fast rules in writing. We all have to develop our own style, our own voice, and our own rules. Some authors get up in the morning and sit down to write. Some write later in the day, and still others write in the middle of the night. Again, whatever works best for you. The important thing is to write.

My current novels are available from Amazon at: http://amzn.to/tnqgR2  
Visit me at my website www.roseannedowell.com 


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Hobbies by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)



 I thought I'd talk a little about one of my hobbies instead of writing. That's right, you won't find anything about any of my books on this blog. It's all about my hobby.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing is embroidery. 
Another is quilting. I've found a way to combine the two. First, 
I made baby quilts for my nieces. White on white, I machine
 embroidered them with the darning stitch so I had control. They turned out really pretty, but I really love to hand embroider. 
That’s when I discovered red-work. During a quilting shop-hop, one of the stores highlighted red-work. For those who don’t know what red-work is – it’s embroidery done in all red floss. Just the outline of the picture, not filled in like other embroidery patterns. Anyway, I fell in love with it.



Every year I make something for Christmas (usually a Santa) for my children and give it to them on Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s ceramic, sometimes wood. I found a Santa pattern and did it all in red-work, framed it and gave it to them one year.


 That’s when I decided to make a baby quilt for each of my grandchildren – not for them, but for their first born, my great grandchildren. I'd already made lap quilts for each of my children and grandchildren. 
But where to find patterns? I started out with coloring books for designs. I traced the images onto 12x12 squares of muslin and embroidered them.  After I finished embroidering the squares, I cut sashing and sewed them together. For the backing I used
various fabrics, not nursery print. None of the quilts have nursery fabric in them at all.
I also used patterns from zoo animals to Winnie the Pooh.
Eventually, I found transfer books and used them for designs, much easier than tracing the. I just ironed them on. 
I looked everywhere for baby designs. It took several years, but they're all finished. I have 14 grandchildren, that’s a lot of baby quilts. Most of the quilts are done in red work, but several are done with various colors of embroidery floss, too. 


  I also made quilts for my niece’s twins. One of the patterns is kittens and the other is bunnies. She had a girl and boy, so I thought the bunnies would be good for him. Recently, she had another child. A boy–so I just finished q baby animals one for him. 


So far I've given quilts to two of my granddaughters. It looks like I'll be giving another one next year. I recently found out another great grandchild is due in June, so another quilt will be delivered at her shower in April. We don't know the sex yet, but the quilts aren't gender specific. 
I've marked each quilt with the name of the grandchild they’re supposed to go to in case I’m not around to give it to them. My youngest grandchild is only four. I'm already in my sixties, there's a pretty good chance I won't see him married, let alone his children.
My daughters have been instructed to pass them out. I hope I’m still around to give each child their quilt, but if I’m not they’ll each have a piece of me for their children. I hope they treasure them as much as I do. Below is a collage of a few of the ones I made.

 To store them, I put them in large store bought quilt bag. Yes, I bought a quilt for my bed. But I did make one too, I embroidered wild flowers in each square – and yes, I filled them in, not just outlined. I use it on my bed in the summer. It took over a year to embroider all the flowers, but it was worth it. Besides, I have nothing better to do in the evening while I’m watching TV. That’s the nice thing about embroidery, you can sit in front of the TV and still work on it. The hard part was quilting it.

One of my favorite quilts is a queen size I made for my bed. It took the better part of

a year, and several times I was sorry I started it. But I persevered and I'm glad I did. 

So now you know a little more about me. I'm not just an author, I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.  I enjoy writing, but my family is my first love. 



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