Vlog: The Comma

Commas Lessons

By Janice Seagraves

 

 

Commas can be a bit tricky, especially for the novice writer. I’ve noticed some extra commas or none at all in some of the work I critique, so I thought this would be a good lesson.

Example:

Mary did the dishes and dumped the garbage.

Mary did both things, so there is no need of a comma here.

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But if you have two people doing different things in the same sentence, you will need a comma.

Not correct: Billy did the dishes and Mary dumped the garbage.

Correct: Billy did the dishes, and Mary dumped the garbage.

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When you use dialogue and address someone you’ll need a comma right before or right after the names.

Example: Mary, can you dump the garbage?

Or Isn’t it your turn to dump the garbage, Mary?

And if you insert the name in the middle of the sentence like: Isn’t your turn, Mary, to dump the garbage?

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Be careful where you put that comma. It can change the meaning of what you’re trying to say.

You might remember this meme:

Let’s eat grandma.

Let’s eat, grandma.

The comma causes a slight hesitation and can change the meaning of the sentence.

So, use the comma, and not eat grandma.

Vlog: The Black Moment

The Black Moment

by Janice Seagraves

 

The black moment is near the end of your story, right before the climax. It can also be the moment you’ve been foreshadowing during the entire story.

 

It’s the darkest part of your story, where everything looks the worst so you reader will keep turning pages just to find out if . . . your couple will get back together. The hero or heroine will survive the encounter with the bad guy.  Or in the Movies: is Luke’s Father going back to the evil Empire’s side. The Mercenaries are going to kill Tree of Souls, and neither Jake nor the Na’vi can stop them.

 

Where it looks like all is lost.

 

So why do we write the black moments?

 

Because it make for a more compelling read and it makes the climax even more interesting, because that’s when you hero or heroine saves the day.

In my book Windswept Shores, my black moment involves pirates. Not the sexy pirates of the Caribbean, but modern day, nasty, thieving pirates of the Bahamas.

 

Excerpt, Windswept Shores:

Closer to camp, she heard voices. Oh, the self-styled-natives must be visiting again. Megan looked forward to their infrequent visits, and her Spanish was improving with use. They had also taken a second letter to her sons, if it ever made its way to the states, anyway. Maybe I can talk them into selling me some fuel?

With a lighter heart, she walked out of the bush, only to see suitcases and clothes flying out of her tent. Her wicker door had been cut off and tossed to the side. The deflated raft lay near it.

“Hey, what are you doing? Stop that.”

A dark head popped out of her tent. “Bueno dias, senorita,” he said with a gap-toothed leer, making Megan self-conscious in the bikini and sarong she wore.

A thump from the boat made her glance from the ugly man to the Dinki-Di. Someone was digging through the built-in tool box and setting things to the side. “Get out of the boat. It doesn’t belong to you.”

“Who might you be, little lady?” asked a man with dirty blond hair and a slight southern accent. He seemed to be supervising the men. He sucked on a cigar, blowing out a cloud of vile-smelling smoke.

“None of your business, that’s who. Tell your men to get out of my stuff,” she snapped. “You’re trespassing.”

“Trespassing is a matter of opinion, especially since your boat’s a derelict. We claim salvage rights.”

“The Dinki-Di is my home. It’s not a derelict.”

The man from the tent snatched her basket and stepped over to the blond man, stuffing fruit into his mouth. Juice dripped down his chin.

Startled by his hyena laugh, she took a step back. “Jerk. You guys are no better than thieves, you’re pirates.”

The blond tossed his cigar, took out a fruit, and shined it on his shirt before he bit into it. “Pirate is such an out of date word. I prefer the term entrepreneur, and these men are my employees.” He frowned at the plundered plum. “Ugh, it’s overripe.”

Madre de Dios,” exclaimed the one in the boat, standing up as he dropped one of Seth’s huge sandals.

“Who else is here with you?” demanded the blond man, pitching his fruit to the side and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

Megan glanced around at the strangers’ hard expressions. All at once, she realized what they saw; a short, unarmed, scantily clad female all alone on a deserted island. They even took my basket away. I could have thrown my produce at them and ran. God, there are no police! No people. Just us. They can do whatever they want, and who would stop them? Feeling like she had just swallowed a lump of ice, Megan took a deep breath and yelled, “Seth, help. I need you.”

That’s all I have for now. Before I go can you please like and subscribe. Thank you for watching.

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Trade paperback: https://www.createspace.com/4084680
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AS9NDNO

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/446101
Janice Seagraves’s website: http://janiceseagraves.org/

Vlog: Conflict in Writing by Janice Seagraves

Conflict in writing

By Janice Seagraves

 

Most writers know that to have an interesting story which draws the reader in, you must have conflict.

Conflict = story.

One way to have conflict is to make your main character an underdog.

Why an underdog?

Because people love to root for an underdog.

Example: Remember Charlie Brown, trying every year to kick that football? Didn’t you root for him, even though you knew Lucy would pull that ball away each and every time, he tried to kick it?

That’s conflict.

Let’s face it, no one wants to root for Ken and Barbie who live an idyllic life in suburbia.

In my book Windswept Shores, I have my heroine, Megan have a really bad day:

Windswept Shores Excerpt:

If she had to spend one more day on this godforsaken island, she’d go stark raving mad. The thought spurred Megan into rolling a large log with one foot then the other, until it was near the bonfire. “God, this thing is heavy.” With a grunt, she lifted one end until it teetered upright then gave it a shove. It landed in the fire, embers swirling in the air.

Breathing hard, she flicked a glance at the teal-colored sea. She’d thought a vacation to the Bahamas would be the perfect getaway, would be a solution to the problems she and Jonathan had faced. She’d been wrong—dead wrong. Tears of grief filled her eyes. The never-ending crash of the waves on the beach and the cries of the seagulls seemed to mock her with the reminder she was utterly alone.

***

Another way to have conflict in a romance is to have newly divorced Ken, (Barbie ran off with G.I. Joe), have a miserable day—conflict.

Example: Say Ken’s Porsche breaks down on the way to work and he has to have it towed. As he waits impatiently for the tow truck driver, he’s mentally marking off all the things that went wrong that week (conflict). Just after he’s comes to the fact that he is alone and unloved the tow truck driver arrives. But a pretty woman steps out. It’s P.J. The baggy coveralls can’t hide her full (Mattel) figure and the grease smudges on her (plastic) face can’t cover up her lovely face or her Malibu tan.  Maybe P.J.’s father or uncle owns the business, or maybe she owns it herself.  Or maybe she’s not a tow truck driver, but a pick-up service for a car rental agency.

So Ken thanks his lucky star that he’s spotted this beauty, but when he asks P.J. out she turns him down—flat.

Why? Conflict.

No conflict—no story.

In my book Windswept Shores, I have Megan alone on a deserted island, until Seth washes up on shore. The first thing he does is sniff her hair.

Why? Conflict.

Windswept Shores excerpt:

“Are you from England?”

“Naw,” he rubbed his eyes, “I hail from Sidney, but my port of call these days is Fort Lauderdale.” He blinked up at her. “You?”

Ah, he’s an Aussie. “I’m Megan Lorry, from Anaheim, California,” she said, barely loud enough to be heard above the sounds of the surf and the roar from the fire. “Are you a survivor of Air Bahamas flight 227, too?”

“G’day, Megz,” he answered, struggling to sit-up. “Sorry, I’m not from your plane.”

Megan slipped an arm around him lifting his back off the sand. Turning his head to her hair, he took in a couple of short breaths. Megan pulled back staring at him. “What the—did you just sniff me?”

“Ya smell too good not to.” He grinned, causing his cheeks to dimple.  “Name’s Seth Dawson.”

***

Whatever your conflict is, you’ve got to either keep it going or bring in some new conflict. New conflict is great, especially if you overlay it with the old conflict.

Example: Charlie Brown gets depressed about not kicking the football and visit Lucy at her psychiatrist’s help booth to tell her all his troubles. Then she basically calls him a loser.

Why? For additional conflict.

Lucy is the antagonist; her job is to cause conflict.

Back to Ken. He’s finally got P.J. to go on a date with him. Everything is great in Ken’s life right?  But what if her business partner doesn’t like Ken and tells him so right to his face?

Why? For additional conflict. That partner is the antagonist for Ken’s story. He’ll keep poor Ken on his toes for the rest of the story.

In Windswept Shores, I have the wild pigs that inhabit their island for additional conflict. They are the antagonist and keep my characters down or at least running for their lives. I have them in place way before things getting hot and heavy between my couple.

Windswept Shores excerpt:

“You can’t charge boars barehanded. They have long, sharp tusks.” She frowned. “The last time I ran across a wild pig, I had to climb a tree.”

He slammed his fist on the boat’s railing. “I should have taken the offal out last night and buried them.” Opening a chest, Seth took out a spear gun. “You know how to use one of these?”

“No, I’ve only seen them on TV.” She set the eggs on the swivel chair.

“It’s just like on the box. You point and pull the trigger.” Seth demonstrated, loading it with a long spear with a wicked looking barb.

“What are you going to do?” She took the spear-gun.

Seth pushed the sharp end away from him. “I’m gonna make a bullroarer.” He brought out some heavy duty fishing line, tying a pointed weight to the end of it. “If I get charged, shoot. But try not to hit me.”

“I’ll try,” she said softly.

“Try a little harder than that, luv.” He grinned as he climbed down the ladder.