Happy Holidays!


I've decided to go the route many others have and unplug this week of Christmas. But before I do, I promised I'd play along with a meme going around that I've been tagged with three or four times over now!

I don't usually do the memes, only because I try to keep the blog more resource-ish, but this one's more writing focused and shares some insight into what I write. It also gives me a chance to thank all the wonderful bloggers out there who have nominated this blog for awards over the year. You bring sunshine into my day each and every time you do this, so thank you!

So, here's a few things about the weird zombie-loving person behind The Bookshelf Muse.

1.) A-What's the last thing you wrote? B-What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

A--A MG book called Wrath of a God. Sound bite: Osiris, God of the Dead attempts to take over a small town by gifting scarab tokens that hold the souls of Egyptian followers.

B-A story I wrote when I was four. It goes like this: I have a cat. It lives in a dish. I wish I lived in a dish. I know, brilliant, isn't it?

2) Write poetry?

I believe the world is a better place with Zombie Haikus in it.

3)Angsty poetry?


Yeah, sometimes Zombies feel angsty when they don't get their morning bowl of brain-ios.

4)Favorite genre of writing?

MG, something dark or twisty

5)Most annoying character you've ever created?

A Sasquatch named Saski. I shouldn't have gone there.

6) Best plot you've ever created?


Tough call. Maybe my CB where a monster kidnaps the MC's enemy from a bookstore and uses the Horror Room Door to take him to Frankenstein's office building in the Land of the Undead. The MC must follow and get him back, even though there's a bit of temptation to leave him there of course.

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?


A girl survives a drowning against Fate's wishes and the result is her brother's life will be forfeited to balance death's scales.

8) How often do you get writer's block?

When I revise for too long without writing a new project

9) Write fan fiction?


Ugh, no.

10) Do you type or write by hand?

Hunt and peck, baby.

11) Do you save everything you write?

I save every draft, every revision.

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

Sometimes.

13)What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

Orbmaster

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?

So many! The Thief of Always, The Lightning Thief, The Hunger Games, Before I Die, The Wheel of Time series, The Dark Tower Series, Swan Song, Imagica...

15)Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Semi angsty Teen Suspense...does that count?

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?


A graveyard. Somewhere dark among the trees. A crypt. Somewhere non-typical for the type of story it is.

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?


Editing three, one after the other.

18)Have you ever won an award for your writing?

When I was a kid, nothing fancy.

19) What are your five favorite words?

hemmed, scree, crackle, treble, clotted

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?


Sabrina Milo. Her thoughts are unfiltered and 100% Mua-ha-haa. Just like me.

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

A flash image, a sound, the way the light slants across the ground...it can be anything.

22)Do you ever write based on your dreams?

The world isn't ready for that.

23) Do you favor happy endings?


I favor endings where the character is a stronger person as a result of the trials they faced--these are the most satisfying.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?


Once I edit. But I do break rules occasionally to fit a character or style if needed. If I do break em, it's knowingly, not ignorance.

25) Does music help you write?

Sometimes

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.


Okay, but it's first draft. It may mush your brain a bit.

Ma’at lifted her dark gaze, staring straight ahead. As she stepped backwards into the landscape, her curves flattened and the shimmering pleats of her dress dulled to a lifeless white. The scales hanging from her palms lost their dimensions and the feather at her temple returned to a mere brown plume wrought from an artist’s brush. Once again she was a painting, an ancient rendering of the Goddess Ma’at, and nothing more.

Well, there's a peek at what makes me tick. If you feel like adding your own answers, consider yourself tagged!

I hope everyone takes the time to enjoy family and friends and do all the seasonal things that make this such a special time of year. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and see you in the New Year!

~Angela
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Seven Deadly Sins of Novel Writing, Part II


Sin # 2: Counterfeit Characters

The most brilliant plot is nothing without the right characters. The writer's job is to create unique, emotionally charged characters that are strong enough to drive the story. The characters we choose can make or break a novel, and a single misstep can turn a credible hero into a counterfeit that the reader has no patience for.

Common missteps in characterization:

--Pushing 'Natural Character Quirks' Too Far

An example of this would be Stephanie Meyer's Bella Swan. Not to pick on SM or Twilight, but I don't know anyone who's read this book and doesn't feel that Bella comes across as too clumsy. There's clumsy, then falling/bumping/dropping something on every page clumsy. If you overdo it, the reader notices, and it unfortunately interferes with their connection to the character.

--Unmotivated Characters

If the character is more passive than active, why should the reader care about them? Chances are, Sin # 1 has been committed and the stakes are too low. Create a stronger emotional investment to the events taking place.

--They Don't Come Across as Real People (cliched, too perfect, too flawed)

I've posted a series on common character cliches, so I won't reinvent the wheel here. Yes, it can be tough to spin a character in a new way, but it's something every writer MUST do. If we don't, the character ceases to be an individual and instead becomes a stereotype. The Jock. The Good Girl. The Hard Ass. 9.9 times out of 10, a character cliche crutch means the writer needs to delve deeper to really understand who their character is.

Sometimes a character is noticeably too perfect or too flawed. Either way, the reader will not embrace them as they should because they don't feel 'authentic.' Real people have both flaws and strengths, and so should characters.

Even if there is an unbalanced set of circumstances to contend with, NEVER make the sole focus on what a character has or doesn't have. Instead emphasize what they DO with what they have. A boy can live a perfect, privileged life and still make bad choices. Or a girl can have the odds stacked against her and still succeed through perseverance and the support of those around her. Humanize the character by showing them overcoming weakness and honing strengths to get what they desire.

--Emotions Runneth Over

One word: melodrama. Absolutely a character should show his or her emotions, but not to the point where the reader gags at the levels being displayed. The portrayal of emotion must be equal to the circumstance and too much can create an instant dislike of the character. High drama all the time does not allow the reader a break to absorb and enjoy other aspects of the novel.

--The Character is Above the Law

Conflict is all about choices and consequences. Is there a better way to alienate a reader than to write a character who never has to face the music for his or her decisions? If character is never held accountable and everything always works out nice and neat for them, the reader feels cheated and angry at not just the character, but the writer.

--Logic Faux Pas/Forcing Agendas

This happens when the writer characterizes a main or secondary character one way but their actions do not line up with who they are. The reader is pulled out of the scene because the character is not acting logically. Their behavior rings false or worse, reeks of the writer's agenda. NEVER, EVER BREAK THE SPELL.

What are some other ways a character can come across as a counterfeit? What books can you think of where this sin has been committed and it affected your connection to the character?

(Picture Via Freaking News)

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Setting Thesaurus Entry: Lab

Generously compiled by Liana Brooks

Sight

microscope, scalpel, red stain, blue stain, gel, counter top, bunson burner, blue flame, beaker, vial, specimen rack, dissection table, skeleton, anatomical model, cabinets, computer, rolling screen, window, eye-wash station, drain, incubator, fridge, sneakers, lab coat, face masks, goggles, text book, reference book, light, pick, test tube, petri dish, culture, boiling liquid, specimen, animal tanks (fish or mice), paperwork, blood, rubber stoppers, dissection kit, posters, warning signs, chair, surgical gloves, soap, sink, notice board, rust, glass, metal, iodine, purple dye, freezer, dust, printer, scanner, wires, tubes, cables, soldering iron, lasers, face mask, hair ties, mugs, stethoscope, lamp, candle, test tube rack, pH test strips, samples, organic chemistry model sets, pull down screen, projector, chalkboard, whiteboard, swabs, plastic bags, rubber stoppers, first aid kit, speakers, intercom, sink, hazard signs on equipment, tweezers, bio hazard waste receptacle, syringes, heavy gloves, lab tecs, security badges, key cards, buckets, clear sealed specimen bags, glass walls

Sounds

glass clinking, water draining, liquid boiling, hum of electronics, muted music from an IPOD, people talking, keyboard clicking, tools tapping counter top, fish tank bubbling, mice squeaking, computer whining, air filter humming or coughing or vibrating, music from radio or IPOD, whoosh of an air exchanger or air conditioner, the buzz/crackle of an intercom, chair wheels sliding across the floor, the release of a pressurized seal, the snap when you pull off a latex glove, coughing, muttering, swearing under one's breath, flipping through paperwork, drawers opening/closing, the scritch of pen against paper

Smells

sulfur, iodine, burning, tang, bleach, orange, lemon (citrus cleansers remove some smells from your hands), latex, mildew, chicken soup, body odor, the smell after rain (caused by some bacteria blooms), salty, dead fish, burnt popcorn, alcohol/ethanol, disinfectant, formaldehyde, vinegar, acid tinge, the smell of things rotting because the freezer broke, mold, mildew, recycled air, fecal matter, body odors, bile

Tastes

tang, acidic, salt, citrus, chlorine, tin, tears, coffee

Touch

hard surface, squishy dissection trays, rubbery latex, cold, sharp knives, bumpy handle grip, smooth counter, cold air, hot equipment, chemicals stinging skin, eyes burning, cold air from fridge, chair seat (hard or soft), sliding a wheeled chair, rough paper or smooth, goggles squeezing face, mask tickling nose, clicking mouse, keyboard, opening/closing cupboards, tapping an envelope to shake out a granular sample, squeezing tweezers, pressing the bulb of an eye dropper, flipping through paperwork, sorting through samples in plastic marked bags or containers, running an exacto knife along a seal to get to the contents, the weight of a specimen jar in the hand, waving off steam, wiping at spills, pulling off latex gloves, securing an apron, clipping on a name tag, pulling out a pen, wrinkling your nose at an acrid scent, washing hands, adjusting the dials on a microscope, slipping a slide into place, stacking trays, sealing contents in jars, writing on labels, sweat beading on the brow

Helpful hints:


--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:


Marcus hated working in the tiny, glassed in lab. Sure, he had a job while lots of other lab assistants had fallen under the knife, but cuts to the budget meant another year trying to keep the refrigeration units going with little more than duct tape and raw will, another year of bumping into counters and chairs and kicking wastebaskets. Even better, it meant three hundred and sixty five blessed days of his boss' soup breath and playing hide and seek with the slide deck because the man couldn't be bothered to put anything back where it belonged.

Example 2:

Ben let his gaze drift over to the other side of the table, past the steamy haze rising up from fluid warming on a Bunsen burner. Jenna's attention was fixed on her task, the small crease between her eyebrows somehow making her appear even more beautiful than already was. The thought of talking to her filled with Ben's mouth with excess saliva and he had to gulp it down before it choked him. He could just imagine attempting chit-chat with her--even if his nerves let him form a coherent sentence, he'd probably end up drench her immaculate white lab coat in spittle.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)


Under the microscope, bacteria swarmed the healthy cell like a pretty girl at a drunken barn dance.

Example 2: (Metaphor)


Every time Rena needed to retrieve a tissue sample from the refrigeration unit, the blast of cold make her shiver and remember her brief stint as an intern morgue technician.

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Shape Thesaurus Entry: Tube


Natural:

Grass stems
Straw
Reeds
Burrows
Intestines
Valves (heart, etc)
Veins
Esophagus
Nostrils
Bamboo
Lava tubes
Chives
Green onion stems
Dust devils
Tornadoes
Coral
Porcupine quills
Sea urchin spines

Man-made:

Straw
Culverts
Pipes (copper, metal, PVC)
A pencil with no lead
A pen with no ink chamber
Flashlight
Tunnel (subway, mine shafts, etc)
Underpass
Tube slides/Water slides
IV tube
Dental Suction tool
Pop can
Thermos
Test tube
Florescent lights
Rigatoni, macaroni shells
Candy straws
Exhaust muffler
Chinese finger trap
Doctor's needle
Blow gun
Pistol Barrel
Garden hose
Eye dropper
Sewers

Synonyms:

cylinder, column, pipe, hollow, duct, pipeline

Describing a shape is best done in as few words as possible. Think of the shape as a camera snap shot--you want to capture the gist of what you mean as soon as possible so you can get on with other related (and more important) detail, and the action happening in the scene

A weak example:

Rot had eaten the core of the giant oak stump, turning it into a test tube to hold the rain fall.

What's wrong with this example?

In a natural setting, the visual should not only be apt, but also complementary. Creating a comparison to a scientific implement in this case sanitizes the descriptive imagery.

A strong example:

Rot had eaten the core of the giant oak stump, leaving a circular hollow set in its heart--a perfect home for forest creatures to nest in.

Why does this work?

This description is balanced in keeping with the natural setting.


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The Seven Deadly Sins of Novel Writing


In my mind, there are seven big things that can undermine a novel. I want to address them all, but to avoid having a post 8 miles long, I'll break them up so they each have their own real estate. Today let's look at the first sin on the list!

Sin#1: Low Stakes

Stakes are paramount in a novel--they force your character to act. High personal stakes create strong conflict because each choice or action will carry a hefty price. Low stakes lead to mediocre conflict and a risk that the reader will not care about the outcome.

Often low stakes can be attributed to two things:

--the storyline lacks adequate conflict

Conflict is the key to holding the reader's attention and the driving force behind forward story movement and character investment. Pushing your character to clash with the forces against him or her is what gets the blood pumping--this is conflict! By infusing your story with scenes where characters experience heightened emotion and face powerful obstacles you not only create high stakes in your novel, you also raise them for the reader. Pages turn because your audience is drawn into the action, compelled to find out what happens next.

--The writer doesn't push the characters hard enough

Sometimes the stakes are high, the consequences dire, the action bursting off the page...and the character does not rise to the challenge. While indecision is often a large part of any thought process when facing difficult choices, it cannot overrun the character's actions. At some point, the character MUST COMMIT to a chosen course and put their all into it.

Other times, the writer sabotages the story because they care too much about a character to shove them in harm's way or force them to do the dirty work. If circumstances or another character always swoop in and save the day, the stakes flatline. CHARACTERS ARE NOT OUR CHILDREN. Never hesitate to throw them into the path of a bus. Only then can we really see what they are made of.

Can you think of other ways low stakes ruin a novel? Have you ever cared about a character so much you struggled to force them to face their fears?


Setting Thesaurus Entry: City Park

Sight

tall trees, well-tended bright green grass, park benches, water fountain, drink fountain, fields, joggers, dog-walkers, strollers, women with strollers, holding toddlers by the hand, a pond with ducks/swans/geese, garbage cans, dedication plaques, stone benches, picnic tables, paved pathways, cyclists, birds pecking at the grass, pigeons clustering at the feet of children or the elderly as they toss seed or breadcrumbs, bird poop, litter, flowers, manicured flowerbeds with perennials (lilies, rosebushes, daisies, tulips, cone flower. etc), teenagers tossing around a football or Frisbee, picnickers, hot dog carts, ice cream carts, poles covered in fliers and ads for events, light poles, a child's spray park, iron fences separating park from street, dead leaves, pine cones, butterflies, flies, bees, beetles, worms, spiders, chipmunks, squirrels, gophers. cattails at the edge of a man-made pond, bird's nests, buskers playing guitars, trumpets, violins, etc, decorative rocks (in flowerbeds, along pathways, etc), homeless people or signs of homelessness (sleeping on benches, pan handlers, a ragged backpack or tarp beneath some bushes out of the way), kids flying kites in an open field, people using colorful poop bags to collect their dog's waste, smokers, cigarette butts crushed against the ground, shadows among the trees

Sounds

Music (live buskers, radios, mashed hard rock notes leaking out a jogger's iPod), birds tweeting, squawking, chirping, squirrels or gophers darting through dried leaves and undergrowth, dogs barking, kids crying, squealing, shouting, laughing, whining, people talking, heavy quick breaths of joggers, mothers calling out to their children, the splash of water at the fountain or spray park, the rustle of a hot dog wrapper being thrown in the trash, wind through the leaves, pigeons cooing, the bounce and scatter of birdseed hitting the pavement, the crackle of an umbrella opening in bad weather, shoes on the pathway, the drone of bees/flies, the squeak of a bike wheel or tight brake, the patter of water hitting the edges of a stone fountain, nearby street traffic, airplanes going overhead, the snap and flutter of a kite fighting the wind,

Smells

Food from vendor carts (hot dogs, pretzels, onions, etc), fresh mowed grass, blooming flowers, dead, dusty leaves, warmed earth, perfume/body spray/aftershave, sweat, algae if there's a pond, dog fur, a pungent whiff of skunk (if they live in the area and one's gone off), smoke, pine needles, cigarette smoke

Tastes

A hot dog bought from the cart, a picnic sandwich, water, pop, slushes, ice cream, gum, mints, cough drops, crackers, sunflower seeds, hot nuts, cigarette (if smoking or passing a smoker)

Touch

The stiff boards of a park bench digging at your back, hard cement underfoot, the soft, spiky grass prickling at your butt and calves as you sit, water spray carried on the wind from a fountain, dipping feet or fingers in the fountain, wiping sweat from the brow with the back of the hand, kite cord digging into palms as you struggle to hold the kite, pulling a coat/sweater tighter around self during cooler weather, shoving hands in pockets, draping an arm across the back of a bench, crumpling garbage up to put into a trash barrel, digging a hand into a paper bag for seed, the smooth pellets of bird seed against the fingers and palm, leaning forward to scatter seed, gripping tight to a purse or backpack as you walk among strangers, a tight grip on a toddler's hand, wiping at the face with a napkin, tipping a water bottle back against the mouth, fiddling with the iPod/MP3 to change the song, waving at a friend across the way, motioning them over, kicking at pine cones/loose gravel with foot, stepping to avoid bird poop, stepping off the path to allow a wide stroller or cyclist to pass, the rough bark of a tree digging into the back as you lean against the trunk, running fingers over a smooth flat stone as you prepare to skip it across the water, plucking a flower and feeling the silky petals, the sting of a football slapping the palm in a rough catch, the rub and jerk of a dog leash against the palm as your dog lunges for another dog, to chase a squirrel or try to run up to someone for affection

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Jenna's gaze bounced between from her husband Mark, who side stepped across the grass, his hands waving in the air and their seven-year-old son Ben, who stood not far away with the football, his tongue dipping out to lick the corner of his mouth as his arm bent back to throw. As she leaned back on one elbow on their picnic blanket, the sun came out from behind a cloud and warmed her brow. She closed her eyes and smiled up at the sky, enjoying the perfect moment.

Example 2:

Torin crouched behind the thick brambles, willing his feet not to shift on the gluey wet leaves. He gulped at the cold air, straining to hear his pursuers as he attempted to get his breathing under control. The silty moonlight didn't penetrate the shadows, but if his raspy breath gave him away to Brett and his crew, he was as good as dead anyway.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

The old man hunched at the end of the bench like a crooked branch, tossing seed down to the greedy pigeons at his feet.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The pathway circled a fat, man-made pond and had two lanes. Watching the wheezing joggers stumble their way around, Sam couldn't help but think of a track he'd once visited on the outskirts of New Haven where the nags were lame, too old to run, or both.

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Texture Thesaurus Entry: Smooth


Natural:

Skin of an apple/eggplant/watermelon
Leaves
River-tumbled pebbles
Pearls
Rose petals
Shark fin
Driftwood
Grapes, cherries, plums
Snake skin
Horse hide
A grain of wheat
Lamb's ear
Pineapple stem
Bell pepper
Bird's beak
Claws
Fingernails
Tomato
Peeled garlic
Hazelnut shell
Beetle shell

Man-made:

Paper
Freshly shaved skin
Metal
Plastic
Sterling silver
Gold wedding band
Top of a drum
Cardboard (cereal box, pizza box, etc)
Dry nail polish
Dry paint, varnish
Glass
Silverware
Polished Marble/alabaster, Granite
White board
Chalkboard
Knife blade
Bowling lane
Glazed tile
Silk
Hard Boiled egg
Candle wax
China
Hardwood floors
Basketball court
Bowling ball
Gun Barrel
Cake fondant
Silk

Synonyms:

Polished, flowing, sleek, flat, flush, lustrous, refined

Describing texture in a story creates intimacy between reader and character, and can even cause an emotional trigger for both. To anchor the reader in the scene, make sure comparisons and contrasts are clear and relatable, and within the scope of the narrator's life knowledge and experience.

A weak example:

Uncle Cletis fired off a gap-toothed grin as he ran his hand over the bib of his secondhand overalls. "See, all broke in and smooth as a shark's fin to boot!"

What's wrong with this example?

No offense to dear Uncle Cletis and his charming country twang, but I'm thinking he's probably never seen, smelled or touched a shark's fin in his life. Comparing texture should ALWAYS be in the context of the characters and their experience.

A strong example:

Uncle Cletis fired off a gap-toothed grin as he ran his hand over the bib of his secondhand overalls. "See, all broke in and smooth as a sack of oats to boot!"

Why does this example work?

This comparison is more attuned to a life on the farm, which we can reasonably assume from his overalls and dialect.


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Coming Soon: Sci-fi Settings!


My intent with the Setting Thesaurus has always been to create a resource for sensory description that can span all genres.

Up until now, Science Fiction locations like space ships, space ports, laboratories etc have not been featured because the knowledge needed to write them is specific. I can admit it--I am out of my element in this area. However, I didn't want to ignore these imaginative places, so I sent out a call for help.

I am pleased to announce that we will be adding several Sci-fi settings to the setting Thesaurus thanks to the brainpower of Liana Brooks!

I know that for many of my followers, Liana is no stranger. For those who have yet to discover the awesomeness that is Liana, she has a strong gift for Sci-fi and is dedicated to providing strong blog content to help fellow writers. Her blog is a not-to-be missed resource!

So in the coming weeks, look for these SF related settings! And if you have a specific location you would like Liana to consider, please post it in the comments.

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Old Abandoned Mine

Sight

Rough rock walls, thick cracked support beams (along sides & roof) every few metres down the shaft, dust, rick crumbles, dirt, debris blown in from outside (twigs, leaves, paper garbage/fliers), old broken pick handles, bits of chain, rusted nails/screws, old rails for carts, a rusted out/broken handcart, a forgotten hazard cone, broken or smashed in lunch box, pools of standing water, flooded areas, water seeping from walls, break off rooms in case of a cave in, low ceilings, drill marks in the walls, bits of blasting wire, bats, insects, blocked off shafts, rotted wood & plywood, uneven ground, narrow walkways, water dripping from roof, candle wax drippings off of stakes placed in drill holes to hold candles, smashed-in lantern, bits of hose, cave ins and rock falls, your flashlight beam or headlamp picking up its reflection off of puddles of water or slick walls, bones from small creatures (mice, lizard, bat) near the entrance that came in and died.

Sounds

Echos, boots on rock, accidentally kicking loose stone, creaking, shifting timber, dripping water, amplified sounds from outside through the rock (trucks driving by, construction, etc), heavier breathing at being in a confined space, wind blowing down a shaft from a breach or exit, the rumble of a cave in, voices

Smells

Stale, moist air, cold stone, must, mildew, scummy standing water, sweat, dust (noxious gases: many mines have stores of gasses like Carbon monoxide or radon gas which do not have a smell making them very dangerous--some are also flammable)

Tastes

The tang of cold rock, saliva, sweat, grit in teeth

Touch

Cold, slippery rock, dry, rough work gloves rubbing against fingers, back pain from bent back to maneuver through the tight spaces, smacking head on a low ceiling, bashing/scraping knees as you crawl through low tunnels, the slip of perspiration down the back of the neck, skinning knuckles on rock, banging a hip or elbow in the tight spaces, brushing up against other people in close quarters, walking on a backward slant as you descend, slipping/sliding on loose debris on the walkway, dusty silt drifting through a crack and landing on your face/neck, a flashlight gripped in the hand tightly, smacking flashlight against palm if it starts to flicker, pulling collar up as the air grows frigid, flexing fingers for warmth, aches flare up in knees and other joints as the cool settles deeper in your body, chalky fingers from dust

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Janet handed me her flashlight as she pulled back the rotting plywood covering the shaft. The wood splintered as she chucked it into the dead scrub nearby, leaving a yawning black hole. I swung the beam toward it but the light barely pierced the gloom. This had been my idea, but suddenly my brain was filled with thoughts of homework and tests to study for. I glanced at Janet, who crossed her arms and gave me a knowing smirk. "You going first, or am I?"

Example 2:

When the flashlight flickered, Adam froze. The rough rock walls crept closer each time the beam threatened to leave. His heart pounded faster as he jerked the backpack off his shoulder. When he crouched to root through the bag for his spare batteries, his knee grated against the rough gravel chips covering the floor. The pain was distant compared to the part of his mind that had started up a what if game...what if he had forgotten to bring them? Or what if they had fallen out?

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

The tour guide called for us to hold up a minute because he wanted to show us something. Then with a sadistic grin, he flicked the switch that killed the lights all along the shaft. My breath tucked itself away in my chest, refusing to come out. The darkness was beyond imagining, like a night sky with no hope for reaching dawn.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

I secured the straps on the heavy, over sized miner's hat for the tour but it was no use...I'd have an easier time juggling a brick on my head.

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Color Thesaurus Entry: Stripe


Real World Comparisons:

Nature:

Rainbows
Zebras
Tigers
Raccoon Tail
Skunk
Stripe ball python
Sunflower seeds
Clown fish, Silver sides, etc
Bumble bees
Tarantula legs
Florida bark scorpion
Butterfly/moth wings
Penguins
Leaves
Garter snake
Chipmunks
Worms
Scratches
Cuts
Stretch Marks
Flowers (Iris varieties, Bitter Root, Crocuses, Variegated Tulips, etc)

Man Made:

Layer cake
Candy Cane
Barber Pole
Hazard signs
Hair highlights
Racing stripe on cars
Hardwood flooring
Ribbon Candy
BBQ Grill marks
Window Blinds
Referee shirt
Highway center line
Cultivated farmer's fields
Lined paper
US Flag
Bar code
Bulls eye
Neck ties
Mohawk
Piano keys

Synonyms of Stripe:

Variegated, two-toned, pin stripe, lined, banded, striation, streak, belted, slash

Make every detail count

Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. Make sure that if you use a comparison or contrast to highlight a color, you choose the right one. Look at the setting and atmosphere you are working to create, then draw from the viewpoint character or narrator's history, education and past experiences to find the right fit.

A poor example:

Megan's tight white dress with its strange pattern of uneven black slashes made her look like a zebra.

What's wrong with this example?

It's overused. Black and white dress, zebra...meh. Think outside the box.

A strong example:

Megan's tight white dress with its strange pattern of uneven black slashes made her look like a walking, talking bar code.

Why is this example better?

Our goal is to show her poor taste in an outfit and so the unusual comparison here works.


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Massive Followers Contest WINNERS!!



The bad news: my hands are practically claws after tallying up all the entries on paper.

The good news: Winners, winners, winners!

So, after a few turns with my handy-dandy online number generator...*drum roll*

The full macro critique of a polished manuscript goes to: Shannon O'Donnell!
The Writer's gift box goes to: Lisa!
A copy of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins goes to:Arlene C. Harris!
A 1st chapter inline critique goes to: LJ Boldyrev!
A 1st chapter inline critique goes to: Kathleen A. Ryan!

Winners should use the email in my profile to contact me in regards to their prizes! Huge thanks to everyone who entered, and everyone who visits The Bookshelf Muse!

There's some irony in me handing out all these prizes--I also won a full MS critique (which I SOOOO need!) today from Rie's blog! Please stop by and say howdy to her!

Massive Followers Contest Now Closed


Thanks everyone for entering! I should have the winners up later today, if my brain doesn't explode first from calculating and adding up all these entries!

Good luck, Musers!

And the picture? Well, it just makes me smile cause I'm weird like that. :)

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