Fiction Fix

Fiction Fix Friday: Vindicated

September 25th: You toss your phone into a public garbage can.  


Victoria casually tossed her cell phone into a passing dumpster.

The resounding clatter echoed off the brick walls on either side of the alley.

She paused, turned around, and strode the few steps back to the dumpster. She carefully popped out her blue-colored contact lenses and flicked them into the garbage as well. She impatiently wiped an errant tear off her cheek left behind by the irritant lens. She wiped the reddish-brown lipstick off her lips with disgust as she continued to walk toward the street.

She stepped into the circle of light cast by a street lamp when a car came to a screeching halt in front of her.

She smirked and grabbed the handle.

“You’re late,” she spat as she slammed the door closed.

“So, it’s done?” Her driver asked.

Victoria reached up and carefully peeled off the auburn wig. She paused a moment to comb her fingers through her short, black, spiky hair.

“It’s done.” she replied, her voice emotionless.

“How do you feel?”

“Vindicated,” she barked. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”


Three hours earlier …..

“Allison! Hey Allison!”

She twisted around to see who was stupid enough to call her by her real name here, of all places.

The person swept past her and gathered a middle-aged woman with bleach-blonde hair into a hug.

“Who was that?” her fiance asked beside her.

She turned back to give Jacob a sweet smile. “I have no idea.”

“You turned around like you knew him.”

She swallowed and lifted her head confidently. “We’re at our engagement party. Don’t we pretty much know everyone?”

She wanted to smash his cocky grin with her knuckles.

Jacob laughed and slipped an arm around her waist. “Of course. Though I’ll be honest. I don’t know half of these people.”

“It’s because half of these people come from my world,” she said while trying to keep her voice from betraying how annoyed she was with him.

Just one more hour, she thought to herself.

“So. When is this thing over with? I’m anxious to get you to myself,” he said while nuzzling her neck.

“Hey now. You two will have the rest of your lives to do that. I want to dance with my future daughter-in-law!”

“Dad,” Jacob ground out between clenched teeth. “You’ve had too much to drink. The band is not even …”

The band picked that precise moment to start their next set.

Jacob’s father laughed while tugging on Victoria’s hand. “Let’s go, kiddo. Let’s show them how it’s done.”

Victoria allowed herself to be pulled out onto the dance floor while shooting Jacob an apologetic smile over her shoulder.

She didn’t exactly like Jacob’s father, but she could have hugged him at that moment for getting her out of that public display of nauseating affection.

“You know, Jacob can be a dick sometimes.”

She sputtered a laugh in surprise, though she definitely wasn’t planning on disputing him on that fact.

“But he means well. He really does have a heart of gold. And I can tell he’s hopelessly in love with you. You’re good for him, Victoria.”

She squashed the white hot thread of anger that wrapped itself around her throat and forced a smile. “Thanks Ralph. We all have our moments.”

“Not you,” he said with a smile while twirling her around the dance floor and grinning like a fool to those they passed. “You are smart, beautiful, even tempered and the perfect complement to Jacob’s hot temper.”

“Well thank you, Ralph. I appreciate you saying that.”

“Call me dad. After all, we’ll be family in one more week!”

“Okay dad, you’ve hogged my future wife long enough, my turn!” Jacob cut in and virtually yanked her out of his father’s grasp.

She slammed into Jacob’s chest and let out a puff of air. She felt a headache coming on and she suddenly wanted to be any where but there. She just wanted it to be over.

“Jacob,” she forced a soft tone of voice, “I need to sit down for a bit. Why don’t you mingle?”

He nuzzled her neck and she had to swallow a lump of disgust at the smell of his sour sweat.

“Sure. We have the rest of our lives to dance,” he chuckled before slapping her ass and strutting over to his group of friends.

She fought the urge to roll her eyes and walked over to the open bar. “Whiskey sour,” she said. She checked her watch. Twenty minutes. She turned to look over the room at the pretentious assholes she had no intention of ever seeing again. She watched Jacob punch one of his friends in the chest, hard, and laugh at his buddy’s red face. So infantile. She watched Jacob’s parents hobnob with their snobby friends. She watched a group of stuck up teenagers try and act cool. And she watched the elders gesture and turn up their noses while spewing heated opinions about current events.

“What a bunch of losers.”

She heard laughter behind her and stiffened.

“Here’s your drink, miss.” The bartender handed over her drink. “That’s sort of harsh to say about your future family, isn’t it?”

She studied him over her glass. “Where does it say I have to like the family I’m marrying into?”

He laughed again and shrugged. “I guess you have a point there. I can’t stand my girlfriend’s parents. Is your family here tonight?”

She shook her head. “No. They couldn’t make it. But they will be here for the wedding next week.” She took a large swallow of liquor, effectively swallowing the huge lie. “Excuse me,” she said. He nodded and turned to help a young girl who couldn’t have been more than seventeen.

“Open bar, right?” The girl giggled while twisting a curl around a finger.

“Uh,” the bartender looked across the room hoping for an adult to intervene.

Victoria walked off with a smirk.

She reached their table and sat down, She kicked off her high heels, pulled her purse over to her then reached inside and tugged out her phone.

I’m in hell. Shoot me.” She text. She took another large swallow of liquor and welcomed the sting as it traveled down her esophagus. She watched Jacob grab one of his buddies, put him in a headlock and give him a noogie. “Idiot,” she muttered under her breath.

Her phone dinged. Continue reading “Fiction Fix Friday: Vindicated”

Writing Mechanics

How To Solve Writing a Mystery

A bug bit me.

And I’m not mad about it.

Have you noticed I’ve been blogging more? I think I’ve blogged more this past month than I have in the past two years.

I’m blogging more because I’m exercising my writing muscles. I want to start writing more fiction and to do that, I need to write SOMETHING.

I’ve been wanting to write a mystery. I love mysteries and have been really enjoying the mysteries I’ve been reading lately. (Pst – follow me on Goodreads). But the question is, how the HECK do I write a mystery?

I mean, I can WRITE the story, but how do I structure it? How do I write a story that the reader doesn’t see through in the first ten pages?

I’ve been watching a lot of writing vlogs lately. This one from Alexa Donne caught my eye.

Video summary:

1. What is a (bonkers) reason for someone to kill someone?
A. Motivation / Reason

2. Come up with alternates / additional reasons for someone to kill your victim
A. Red herrings / Misdirects

3. Third-Act / Climax (about 70/80% into the story)

4. Brainstorm of good victims – archetypes – list characters around the archetype

5. Who is the killer?

6. Who is the main character?
A. Outsider or an Expert

7. Construct the setting

8. How to approach law enforcement involvement
A. Local cops vs. FBI
B. How does legal authority play in your story?

9. How is the body discovered?

10. How does your main character get involved / find the body?

I have to say, this is helpful information. I’m a pantser, meaning, I write by the seat of my pants. I don’t outline. However, I’m working on changing that because though I can furiously write a story and it’s thrilling to see where it takes me, I inevitably get stuck, then frustrated, then disgusted and I end up tossing my story. I want a more hybrid approach. Where I’m outlining to a point, but then giving myself the freedom to see where it takes me. I think they call it the headlight method.

“Writing by your headlights simply means that you plan the first part of your story then write it. When you get that section written, you’ll be able to see what happens next and can plot out the next few scenes or chapters.”

Learning about the art of writing motivates me!

Writing Stuff

Catching Creative Ideas

Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty. – William Archer

I’ve read 99 of 100 books so far this year. I’m almost to my goal. And the more I read, the more I’m convinced my own story ideas suck rocks.

Because the last few books I have read have been spectacular when it comes to surprising the reader with a twisted premise.

I’m currently working on trying to come up with a story idea that will do the same thing. These are the types of stories I like to read and I want to write a story like this.

I like to pride myself on being able to write from any prompt, but I’d like to come up with my own idea and truly write something organic.

The only problem is, I SUCK at ideas.

So what do I do? I turn to trusty YouTube and search for “coming up with plot ideas.”

And I watched this video. Mr. Herzog offers some great insights on how to generate ideas:

1. conceiving
2. developing
3. conveying

I need to train myself to be more observant and ask more questions. What if needs to be my mantra.

I’m not giving up on this writing gig, but I do need to learn patience.

Which I’m pretty sure is a trait I was NOT born with.

Writing Stuff

Dear Authors, What Do Readers Want?

Here’s another gal that has been helpful, lately. I really enjoy her videos. She’s approaching stories more from a reader’s perspective and I really think that a lot of what she talks about is super helpful to aspiring writers. It’s certainly helpful to me.

One of the most interesting comments from this video is the general agreement that not every interaction has to end in a romantic relationship, that a lot of readers just want the relationship to be platonic, to showcase more friendships. Actually, I would be down with that as I think that’s closer to real life. Though to be honest, can men and women JUST be friends? I know that’s an age-old question but truly, is it possible? Can a straight female and a straight male only be friends? Isn’t there always sexual tension? Actually, this reminds of a book I read recently that I gave five stars to: The Guy on the Right that started as friends and they ended up learning to love each other as the story went along. I LOVED that approach and I truly ended up caring about the characters largely because of this approach. (I highly recommend that book, by the way). This is a reader suggestion I can definitely support.

The comments about strong female characters also struck a chord. Just because a female is little and physically weak doesn’t make her a weak character as a whole. I tend to write about strong, sassy Amazon females who don’t take shit from anyone. (Gee, I wonder where I get my inspiration from). I also LOSE PATIENCE with female characters that consistently make stupid choices and yet “they are a strong female.” I guess you can have a strong female who is an idiot but that contradicts the strength of the character for me and I don’t care about her anymore. I want a physically and mentally strong female character who makes bad decisions and learns from them. And what is up with these “strong” females who act like total dweebs when they’re around their love interest? Gads …

I disagree with the comment about leaving clues for readers to figure out the plot twists. I mean …. okay … there should be some clues that point a certain direction but nothing turns me off more than knowing a 1/3 of the way through the book “who dun it.” I like Red Herrings, but don’t make them over the top cheesy, stupid or unrealistic. I want to be surprised, give me a twist ending.

I actually love enemies-to-lovers types of stories but I absolutely agree when the “hate” between the characters is not strong enough to warrant their interactions. I find myself often saying to myself, “you hate him for that reason? Geez, get a backbone.” I feel like these types of stories are harder to carry off because the reason they hate each other needs to be realistic enough to warrant the hate but also not so big they can’t get past it and develop feelings for each other. Challenging.

Anyway, Merphy has a lot of interesting points and I certainly learned a lot by watching her video. (Also, how CUTE IS SHE?? And I LOVE her hair!)

 

Writing Stuff

Write What You Want to Read

I’m embarrassed to say, I don’t have any ideas of what to write. I am one of those writers that fall into the first category that Jenna mentions in her video.

I get ideas at the weirdest times, usually when I’m driving or reading. But what I need to do and haven’t been doing, is writing these ideas down somewhere.

Never mind that I’m constantly carrying a pocket computer with me at all times that clearly has the ability to input something into it and then gives me the ability to read it later. (I.E. my phone). I am going to start getting in the habit of writing these thoughts down and stop being so lazy and thinking, “Pfft, I’ll remember it later.” This coming from the woman who doesn’t remember what happened last week, hell, the last hour. (How sad is it that I haven’t been already been doing this? I clearly have a few light bulbs burned out in my attic).

Jenna mentions music is her muse. Actually, that’s a very good point. I DO get ideas whenever I listen to music as well. Good suggestion. (My ideas when I listen to music? Sexy, dirty dance scenes. But it’s something at least, I guess!)

“Write what you want to read” is the line that really spoke to me in Jenna’s video. She is SO right. I think that’s way better advice than “write what you know.”

What do I know? Nothing much. I’m an idiot. But write what I want to read? Now I have some thoughts on that one …

What I enjoy reading the most is a hybrid of character-driven and plot driven stories. I want to get to know the characters, a relationship rich in back-and-forth struggles while simultaneously running from rabid bulls intent on impaling them on their sharp horns.

Thanks once again, Jenna, for the wonderful advice.

(Warning: salty language)

 

NaNoWriMo

Giving Up on NaNoWriMo (forever?)

So. I’m a loser.

I have given up on my NaNoWriMo project.

As usual, what happens always happens – I simply ran out of steam.

Here’s the thing. Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. I’ve always prided myself on being a pantser – I don’t outline – it’s more fun to have my characters tell me where to go.

But clearly, this is the wrong approach for me because I get to the point in my writing, I’m like: “Wow, This really sucks. What’s the point? Where am I going with this?

And so and so on.

Please don’t think I’m bragging but I KNOW I can write. That’s never the problem. My problem is, I don’t have any idea where the story is going or how it should end.

And that’s a HUGE problem, ladies and gentleman.

I’m stressing myself out and life is too short for (more) stress. (Work is really stressing me out right. Granted, it’s self imposed, I care TOO much but that’s another blog post).

So. I give up. I’m a quitter. A loser. And I think I’m done with NaNoWriMo.

It’s like Jenna says in her video, every month should be WriMo, not just November, and she’s right. I’m one of those people who put so much emphasis on November and completing this damn challenge that I completely neglect the other eleven months of the year as far as writing. (Warning: Spicy language)

How stupid is that? (Don’t answer that question).

I’m giving up on NaNoWriMo. It was fun while it lasted but I think it has served its purpose for me. I learned a lot about myself doing the challenge and now I’m ready to get serious and actually WRITE. I can’t learn if I don’t WRITE.

And Jenna’s videos have really inspired me. I tell people all the time at work that I hate talking about something to death. Well, I’m doing that with my writing. It’s time to put some work behind my claims that I love to write.

Am I write? (see what I did there?)

I need to be patient with myself and keep searching for a story idea that I’m passionate about. And then I need to teach myself to outline. And then write something. All of this takes time, weeks, months, even, not 30 days.

I’m disappointed in myself, but certainly not surprised. This is a common habit of mine and you know what? It’s time to break that cycle and try something different because the way I’m approaching this writing business is CLEARLY NOT working for me.

So what’s next? I plan on continuing to post Jenna’s vlogs here. I’ve also found a few more writing vlogs that really ignite my flame as well as reader vlogs that I plan on posting here. I’d like to really get into book reviews this upcoming year, maybe do something with the reading group I started on Goodreads but never did anything with. I’m doing this for a few reasons:

  1. Reading never fails to spark the writer in me. I always get ideas when I read other people’s work.
  2. Writing book reviews is writing. It’s also teaching me what I like and don’t like about stories so I can incorporate this into my own writing.
  3. It will help me understand what readers like, don’t like, about a story and again, keep that in mind when I write my own stuff.
  4. I’m PASSIONATE about reading. If I can find a way to make money reading I’d be on that in a HEARTBEAT. Maybe someone will pay me to review books? (I really should look into that possibility).
  5. I LOVE talking about books. I’ve participated in a few online book clubs and I had so much fun with them. That’s why I would really like to start my own online book club so we can actually TALK about not only the stories, but the writing methods as well.
  6. Perhaps organizing a group of readers will eventually turn into beta readers for my own writing. I’ve learned from Jenna how important beta readers are and that is something I need to look into when my own writing reaches that stage.

Honestly, I’ve learned so much from just watching Jenna’s videos. I’m thinking seriously of becoming a member of SkillShare just so I can take some of her classes. She’s sassy, smart and calls it like it is. I respond to that type of personality.

Anyway, I have a lot to chew on and some new things to try for the upcoming year. I’m excited. To me, this excitement I feel is way more rewarding than writing 50,000 of utter crap.

To the rest of you doing NaNoWriMo, may your muse not abandon you. Good luck!

NaNoWriMo

Writing Process Sucks

The part where she’s laying on the bed, her knees drawn up to her chest and she’s screaming in frustration? Yeah, that’s me RIGHT NOW.

NaNoWriMo update: I’m at 14,432 words. I finished my prologue though it’s now so long that I’m pretty sure I could get two chapters out of it. I wrote nearly 1500 words tonight and that was PAINFUL. Not really because of the content, I knew where I was going with it, but because I’m having a hard time finding the mental energy I mentioned early on in this challenge that I knew I would struggle with at some point and that point is now.

I would take a night off but I really want the “update word count seven days in a row” badge. It’s all about the badges, screw the writing. This post is going to publish in the afternoon and by the time it go lives I’ll be at work and counting down the hours until I can go home but writing this right now? I’m completely brain dead and my eyes are slowly clos… ZzzZzZ

NaNoWriMo

Minor Characters Have Lives Too

I definitely need to work on subplots. I’m so focused on the main story that I forget the minor characters have things that are happening to them while the heroine is doing her thing.

Writing minor characters is never really an issue for me, but breathing life into them is.

And I totally agree, having interesting subplots really adds a richness to the story that wouldn’t be there without them.

Note to self: don’t neglect the little people (the minor characters).

NaNoWriMo

Have You Ever Written a Fight Scene?

I don’t think I’ve ever written a fight scene.

I’ve thrown a few fictional punches in my day, but … I don’t think I’ve written, or even imagined, a full-fledged fight scene.

So, Jenna’s advice is intriguing to me and now I want to write a fight scene. It sounds fun. And disturbing. And fun!

There are few people in my life I’d like to punch in the face. Maybe I’ll write a fight scene between me and these people. (Spoiler alert – I’m gonna win).

If you’re writing a story and need to insert a fight scene, here are some tips from Jenna.

NaNoWriMo update: Up to 10,969 words. I thought long and hard on my way home from work today. I’m now working on the project I was going to work on to begin with. I even have the first seven chapters “outlined” and I use that word SO loosely. I’m not even done with the prologue yet and I’m having so much fun with it. I don’t regret the writing I’ve done thus far; I’m looking at it like a warm up, if you will. And I think, in a way, that sort of works for me. I warm up my writing chops so when I get serious about something I’m primed and ready to go. This is another reason I really like NaNoWriMo, I learn so much about my writing self every time I participate and it reinforces, yet again, how much I LOVE writing. I’m not trying to brag (okay, maybe a little) but it’s such a high when my characters just sort of take over and I’m simply trying to keep up with them. If I could just teach myself to harness that creative energy into something organized and cohesive, I think I could actually do something with this hobby.

Baby steps.

NaNoWriMo

You’re a Writer, Own It

What makes you a writer?

I used to see this question around the Internet a lot “back in the day” (like when the Internet was first made available to the public) and the popular opinion back then was, “you’re not a writer if you haven’t had anything published.”

I used to get SO ANGRY when I read this because I desperately wanted to be a writer but aside from having an imagination, I’m also a realist. The odds of actually being published are slim to none. So I thought, why try? What’s the point? It’s never going to happen and I guess I’ll never be a writer.

WOW. What an idiot.

I now champion people who call themselves writers. If you have an imagination and you write stuff down, you’re a writer.

Period.

But for kicks and grins, I looked up what being a writer “meant”, and here’s what I found:

  1. You read, a lot. (ME!)
  2. You talk to yourself (no comment – okay, yes, I do this occasionally)
  3. You go into bookstores just ‘because’ (yep – though I haven’t read a “real” book in years – it’s all Kindle, baby)
  4. You write down your ideas (yes, and then promptly forget where I wrote them down)
  5. Every story you tell is ‘slightly embellished’ (maybe sometimes)
  6. You have a stack of unused notebooks and yet, you continue to buy more (yes!)
  7. You read everything (YESYESYES)
  8. People call you a Grammar Nazi (YESYESYESYES!!!)
  9. You’re a word nerd (YES!)
  10. Your phone is always on silent (I ABHOR talking on the phone)
  11. You’re constantly searching for ‘why’ (you mean you don’t?)
  12. You write in your sleep (actually – I nap on an idea and I wake up with a direction – it’s super weird – and helpful!)
  13. You prefer to be alone (YESYESYESYESYESYESYES)

These are just some fun things that writers may, or may not, have in common. The bottom line, if you write, you’re a writer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

NaNoWriMo update: I”m now at 8,895 and I HATE my story. The prompt I’m working from is dark, too dark, and I can’t bring myself to do what the prompt suggests, so I’m trying to dance around it and now my story has veered off like a golf ball that sliced to the right. I don’t think I’ll post it because it sucks. Royally. But who knows, I’m just allowing my characters to take charge of the mess that I’m writing now and we’ll see where it takes me.

This is precisely WHY I should outline my stories. I can write anything, truly, quantity has never been my problem. I can write circles around a laptop but it never goes anywhere. And then I get stuck, and then the story takes a breath on it’s own and before long, it’s jumping off the page and chasing ME around in circles. It’s the quality that I have a problem with. There is no direction.

I’ll learn, one of these years.

Super hard to force myself to write after work today. But I forced myself and trudged through. I can’t decide if I’m going to continue with this story, see where it goes, or just chuck it and start something new. Think I’ll sleep on it and see how I feel tomorrow.