Dry Writing by Janice Seagraves

 

Dry Writing

By Janice Seagraves

 

Has anyone ever told you that your writing though well written was kind of dry?

Did it sound like the smooch of death?

It doesn’t have to be.

The first time I heard this about my own work, I was struck dumb. What is dry writing and how do I fix it?

I discovered that dry writing means that I was lacking emotions in my scenes.

If there are no emotions in your scene then your reader can’t connect with your hero or heroine. In other words, your reader isn’t going to care about your characters.

And that my friends, is the smooch of death.

How do you fix that?

By adding emotions.

An early (dry) excerpt of my book, Windswept Shores:

Megan rolled 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.

Last night’s violent storm had made a mess of her meager campsite, which had taken all morning to fix, and had demolished her seaweed SOS sign. She’ll have to recreate her SOS. Sighing, Megan trudged toward a pile of kelp. As she got closer, she saw a figure wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt.

      Oh, God, it’s another body washed up from the plane wreck. That would be number twelve. As always, she couldn’t help but wonder if the next one would be Jonathan. He hadn’t been wearing jeans on the plane, so she knew she’d been spared seeing his corpse this time. Thank God. She approached the body with dread. Suddenly the “dead body” coughed and rolled over. With a scream, Megan jumped back.

He’s alive!
***

There isn’t anything technically wrong with the scene, but it lacks an emotional punch.

You don’t really care what happens to the heroine, because in this scene you can’t connect with her on an emotional level.

Windswept Shores except 2: After adding in emotions:

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.

She’d felt like a tiny speck of sand last night when a violent storm had swept across the island. It had made a mess of her meager campsite, which had taken all morning to fix, and had demolished her seaweed SOS sign. She’ll have to recreate her SOS. Sighing, Megan trudged toward a pile of kelp. As she got closer, she saw a figure wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. Her stomach lurched.
      Oh, God, it’s another body washed up from the plane wreck. That would be number twelve. As always, she couldn’t help but wonder if the next one would be Jonathan. He hadn’t been wearing jeans on the plane, so she knew she’d been spared seeing his corpse this time. Thank God. She approached the body with dread. Tightening her resolve, she knelt. Suddenly the “dead body” coughed and rolled over. With a scream, Megan jumped back. She clutched her chest and pressed a shaking hand to her mouth.

He’s alive!

***

As you can see adding emotions makes the scene come alive.


Windswept Shores Two Book Series

Windswept Shores part oneWindswept Shores is back, and better than ever with a replaced missing scene. It’s something warm to read while it’s frosty outside. And better yet, there a sequel too.

Blurb: The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas. Then she finds a nearly-drowned man. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck.

With only meager survival skill between them, will they survive these windswept shores and can they find love?

For the first time available as a trade paperback: https://www.createspace.com/4084680
And for the Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AS9NDNO

Excerpt:

His hand lingered on her shoulder. Her trembling vibrated up his arm. Blimey, she’s all shaken up.

“S’kay, she’ll be right.” He grabbed her sleeping pallet, pulled it over, slipping an arm around her waist.

Her body went rigid. “What are you doing?”

“Relax, mate, I’m not trying to get a leg over. You need a bit of comfort so you can go back to sleep. My mum would cuddle me when I’d have a howler of a nightmare. It’s nice to know you’re not alone.”

“So, I’m supposed to think of you like my mom or dad?”

“Or like yer husband if that’ll help?” He grinned in the dark, wondering what kind of reaction he was going to get.

“I think not.”

“I noticed you weren’t wearing a wedding ring. Is it because yer husband drowned?” His heart beat a little faster when he asked the question. He really wanted to know if he had a chance with her.

“No, he’s not drowned,” she snapped. “I lost my ring in the ocean, but I’m not sure when. I just looked down one day, it was gone.”

She’s in denial about her husband’s death. I reckon it’s too soon. A little disappointed, he decided to change subjects. “So, you got any ankle biters at home?”

“Two boys.”

“How old?” he asked. They must be missing their mum, poor little nippers.

“Joshua is twenty. He’s in college. Eli is eighteen and just graduated from high school.”

“Blimey, how long have you been married to your bloke?”

“Twenty-three years this January,” she said.

“How old are you?” He positioned his head where he could breathe in the scent of her hair, and inhaled a floral fragrance. How does she manage to smell fresh in a place like this?

Megan moved a bit forward. “Do you know that it’s considered very rude to inquire after a woman’s age?”

“Not where I’m from, so spill.” He scooted up some, placing his knees behind hers.

She pulled away. “Humph, well, okay I’m forty-two.”

“You’re still spunky.” He wondered how far she’d move until she ran out of room in her tiny shelter.

“Uh, spunky, thanks.” Megan rolled onto her back.

Blimey, she out maneuvered me. Seth was forced to move back, but kept his hand on her tummy.

“You got hitched when you were a young ‘un?” He quickly did the math. She’s a bit older than me. More of a challenge.

“Yeah, I got married at nineteen, but I knew what I wanted, or thought I did. Have you ever been married?”

“Got hitched once.”

“What happened?” she asked. Her bed rustled as she shifted position.

“We got into a blue, she told me to shove off, so I left. So that was the end of that.” His hand drifted to her rib cage.

“Any kids?” she asked, pushing his hand down.

“A son named Nick. He just turned six.”

“Okay, now you have to tell me how old you are.”

“I’m an old prawn. I just had my thirtieth birthday.”

“That’s not old, especially not for a man.”

“I’m starting to feel it when I surf,” he admitted, smoothing a wrinkle on her shirt.

“Oh, you’re a surfer?”

“Back in Uni I got caught up chasing the good breakers on Spring Break. I headed out from Cali to Baja, then from there to Florida. I became a Surfie. That’s what you’d call someone who surfs more than they work. Then I met this old bloke, Bill, in a pub. He’s from Oz too, or so I thought, but it turns out he’s an apple.”

“An apple?” she asked.

“He hails from Tasmania. I was broke doing odd jobs. Bill hired me to help on his fishing boat.”

“Wait a minute, Oz?”

“Oz, short for Australia,” he explained, moving his mouth toward where he thought her ear was, saying softly, “It’s in the sound Au`z-tralia—Oz.”
———————————
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/


Windswept Shores Two

WindsweptShores2_432

Blurb: Megan and Seth are finally rescued off their little island, but things are far from idyllic. Seth is arrested for murder, and Megan is order to return home to her philandering husband who is somehow still alive. Will they ever get back together again or see the life they envisioned?

Except:

“Megz, I thought you were going home?” Seth chided as she took the seat across from him at the old beat up wooden table.

“I have a flight in two hours. Time enough to see you before I leave.” She blinked back tears.

This is so unfair. This can’t be the last time I see him.

Megan folded her hands on the table. “We already checked out of the hotel, but I brought your luggage. The commissioner gave me the okay, so now you have a change of clothes for when you go in front of the judge. I also bought you a few necessities. Since soap and such are not provided, I was told it’s customary for family members to buy those items for the inmates.” She sat a white plastic bag on the table. “These have already been cleared for your use.”

He eyed the bag. “Did your boys pay for it?”

This is the last thing I can do for him, and he doesn’t want it? “Don’t you argue with me, Seth Dawson. You need these.” She fisted her hands. “I also put some money into an account here at the jail for anything else you might need.”

“Ta fer that, love. I’ll pay your sons back somehow.” Seth took one of her hands and uncurled her fingers. “I did want to see you one last time. I didn’t reckon with us parting this way. You to yer rotten bloke, and me here on charges.” He smiled. “Cuddling up on one of your siblings’ sofas sounded nice.”

“Crowded maybe, but we would’ve been together.”

“I heard you made a statement.”

“I did.” She sighed and looked down. I’m not sure what good it’ll do, Seth.

“Thanks for trying, love,” Seth murmured. “I don’t reckon on it being much since you didn’t know Bill before he died.”

“The commissioner said most of my statement is hearsay.” She shrugged. “The only thing I could really tell them was: Bill was dead when we found him and looked the same as the other drowning victims. Also, you never said a bad word about him and showed genuine grief at seeing his body.”

“Not much to go by.” Seth rubbed his thumb across her knuckles.

The slight touch sent a tingle through her, and she wanted to throw herself across the table at him. “The commissioner said he was going to contact the harbormaster where the Dinki-Di had been birthed to see if you two had gotten into any fights.”

“We didn’t.” Seth shook his head. “We got along.”

“Maybe he’ll make a statement too.”

“Gawd, I hope so,” Seth said. “I don’t have enough character references, being from out of town.”

“No, just me.” She tried to smile.

“And old Bill who’s gone.” He lifted her hand to kiss her fingers.

“Times up,” said a guard.

Megan stood and stared at Seth wanting to remember him. Not like this in the black and white jail clothes, but the way he was on the island, happily rumpled in his threadbare outfits.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/637092https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/637092

Buy Link: Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Windswept-Shores-Two-survivors-story-ebook/dp/B01BPLNHTI/

Buy Link: Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.com/Windswept-Shores-Two-survivors-story-ebook/dp/B01BPLNHTI/

 

Scene Structure: a vlog by Janice Seagraves

Scenes structure: A Goal, obstacle, and Change.

It can be read like this:

Goal—And

Obstacle—But

Change—Therefore

Or like this:

Your character wants to: And_______________, But_____________, Therefore_____________.

You can plot a scene this way or the overall arch of your story.

Something like: in Matrix Crystal Hunters.

And Maya’s GOAL is to find matrix crystals, so she and the rest of the crew can go home, BUT no one has mined the bigger crystals in a thousand years, THEREFORE she has to trust Vach a native of the planet to find them.

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.

———————————
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.