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/

 

Vlog: Writing Matters

Here’s my Youtube Vlog: Writing Matters

 

Writing Matters

By Janice Seagraves

 

When we write, everything matters. From sentence structure to what our characters are eating and drinking.

It has to happen in the proper order or it won’t make sense. And if it doesn’t make sense then it won’t make sense to your readers.

I was watching Malibu Country with Reba McEntire (I love anything Reba is in). In a scene where she talked to her Mamma, I started watching what Reba was doing. Reba picked up a mug and added a tea bag. I could see that little square that hung over the edge of her mug. She added hot water. Walked around. Took a sip, then another. Talked some more and drank more tea. Half her cup seemed to be empty, before she walked back to the counter and added sugar.

Do you see what was wrong here? Reba did something out of order. She’s such a pro that this struck me as odd.

One of the things I check for in the final read through of my writing, is what my characters are doing. Is it logical? Does it make sense? Is it in the right order? Are they adding the milk to the cereal, or cereal to the milk?

One of my daughter’s old PBS cartoons she used to watch had been really bad about doing things that defied logic. Characters would talk with a fork still in their mouths. Really? Wouldn’t that break their teeth?

Have you ever noticed something that happened in a book, movie or your child’s cartoon that didn’t make sense?


 

aliencover333x500

Alien Heart, the first of a whole new SF series.

https://www.amazon.com/Alien-Heart-Chronicles-Arcon-Book-ebook/dp/B01N0N73OF/

Blurb: Divorcee and single mom, hardworking Audrey Westberry is the host of a cable TV show called Miz Fixit.
Romance was the last thing on Audrey’s mind when two handsome extraterrestrials join the audience of her show.
Soon Audrey finds out a single word “mated” has different meaning when you are born a galaxy away. After a wonderful night of passion, Audrey finds herself far from home, impregnated and her life turned upside down.
Will she ever be able to leave the alien compound, see her son again, or get home in time to film the fall season of her Miz Fixit show?
But what’s a girl to do with two aliens that smell like candy, and their kisses taste like it, too?

Excerpt: “Good show, everyone.” Derek, the director, walked through the dressing room. “So Audrey, how are you going to spend your summer hiatus?” Tall, dark-haired, with hazel eyes, and oh so married. He leaned on her chair and looked into the mirror at Audrey.“Oh hi, Derek.” Kendra made eyes at him again.Audrey frowned at her. If his wife ever saw her do that, she’d go ballistic.

To Audrey he was just a dear friend and director, who’d guided her through the complexity of cable television. “I was going to spend it with my son, but I got a call from my ex. Tony is going away to camp for eight weeks.”

“Camp?” He blinked in surprise. “Whose idea was that?”

“Tony and his best friend decided they wanted to go. My ex put him on the phone, so he could tell me.”

“Ouch.” Derek pulled down the corners of his mouth. “Best friend one, mom zero.”

“Yeah,” Audrey sighed, still feeling the sting of rejection. “He’s at an age now when friends are more important than mommy.”

“And, this is the dressing room where our star puts on her makeup for the camera.” Fox Watanabe, Audrey’s agent, was nattily dressed.  His straight midnight hair and dark eyes marked him as pure Native American. He seemed to be acting as a tour guide to the aliens.

A cameraman entered the dressing room ahead of the aliens, walking backward as he snapped pictures.

Audrey grimaced. God, what’s Fox doing now?

“The aliens look like elves,” Derek muttered under his breath.

“Yeah, they do.” Audrey noticed their pointed ears and long faces. “They could’ve played extras on the Lord of the Ring movies.”

“Got to go, things to do.” Derek headed toward the exit, but he slowed, and his back stiffened as he got near her agent.

Audrey tensed. Please don’t let them get into another argument over me.

“Fox.”

“This is our little show’s director, Derek Alcorn.” Fox gestured toward him.

“Nice to meet you.” Derek gave a nod to the aliens. “I’ve got to button up the set.”

He hurried out of the room.

Fox turned back to the aliens. “He’s a busy man, lots of responsibilities.”

Audrey let out a breath. Fox had once again ignored the subtle dig Derek’s quick exit meant. The show’s director didn’t like chitchat, but he hated her agent even more.

“They have three penises each,” Kendra whispered in Audrey’s ear. She used a soaked cotton ball and ran it over the side of Audrey’s face to clean off the makeup.

Audrey turned to stare at her. “What?”

Kendra pinched Audrey’s chin, moving her head over to clean the other side.

“I saw a picture on the internet.” She whispered, “Two long ones and a little one. It makes you wonder what their women look like down there.”

Audrey licked her lips, trying to imagine the male aliens naked. Would their equipment look like my favorite toy?

Kendra moved back and smiled. “All done.”

Fox walked over to her, with the aliens in tow. “Here’s our Miz Fixit, Audrey Westberry.”

God, what a thing to tell me, just before I’m introduced to them. “How do you do?” Standing, Audrey held out her hand and tried not to glance at their crotches.

————————————————

https://www.amazon.com/Alien-Heart-Chronicles-Arcon-Book-ebook/dp/B01N0N73OF/

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.