A Vigil for Justice: Episode 18

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A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all, but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

Melanie pulled her black hood up around her face. She shouldered through the picketing crowd of people around her best friend’s house. Hot anger burned in her cheeks. She clenched her fists. The crowd had surrounded Holly’s house for the past forty-eight hours, night and day. This was her mother’s doing, all because Holly’s dad wouldn’t sign that stupid no kill petition.

If Melanie was choosing teams, Holly’s dad would be her first pick. Melanie shook her head, this was getting out of hand, but she had known that it would. A law like the Justice Law doesn’t pass and cause ripples among the sea of people, oh no it’s a freaking tsunami.

Melanie kept her head down as she approached the door. Her mother was home with Sam, but she didn’t want home to be a war zone too.  She pulled her phone from the back pocket of her jeans and sent a text to Holly.

“I’m at the door.” She waited five seconds and then knocked. The deadbolt hammered back and the doorknob clicked. The handle turned in Melanie’s hand and she went inside, opening the door just enough to pass through.

She pushed her hood back, and Holly hugged her.

“Is your dad here?” Melanie hugged Holly back.

“Of course, it’s hard to go anywhere with all of them on our ass everywhere we go.” Holly took Melanie by the hand and led her up the stairs and down the hall to Richard Stein’s office.

Holly squeezed Melanie’s hand before she went into the office. “I’ll be in my room when you’re done. We can have lunch. Mom’s making club sandwiches.” Holly raised her eyebrows. She knew Melanie loved club sandwiches.

Melanie smiled and knocked on the dark walnut door to the office.

“Come on in,” called Richard Stein.

Melanie placed her flat hand on the door and pushed it open.

A huge mahogany desk occupied half of the room. The glassy eyed heads of an elk, deer, and mountain lion stared at Melanie from above the gun cabinet that stood against the wall loaded with various long guns.

Melanie had been in the office before, but now it felt different. Mr. Stein sat behind his desk typing at the computer. His black Stetson hat sat on the corner of his desk.

“Miss Craig, you are the last person I thought to see in my office.” He turned to her with a broad smile that lifted the corners of his blue eyes. “How can I help ya?”

“I’m here to sign up for the Watch Dog militia.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes sir. I’m proficient with both a shotgun and a 9 mm. I’m trained in hand to hand combat including various take down methods with armed persons.”

“Melanie, I’m aware of your training. Does your mamma know you’re here?”  He held up his hand and looked down at his desk shaking his head. “Don’t answer that.” He looked back up at her.

Melanie stood straight with her hands clasped behind her. Her 9 mm was concealed beneath her hoodie, but the shotgun was strapped over the hoodie on her back. She held his gaze. She had thought about this for a long time, since he had first put the militia together. The dead boy below the flagpole had solidified that decision. She would not stand around doing nothing.

“Truth is, I could use you. Most of the members are not well trained. I’d make ya a leader of about five others. You think you can handle that?”

Melanie stifled the grin of pride. “Yes sir. I would appreciate the opportunity.”

“I can’t believe, I’m letting you do this.” He shook his head and opened the top drawer of his desk. “This here is the oath all Watch Dogs must take.” He held it up to her. “Read it over. If you can uphold those rules and regulations, sign your name.” He slid a blue fountain pen across the desk.

Melanie read the document. She picked up the pen and signed her name along the black line at the bottom. She handed him the paper, and he slid it into an olive green file folder on his desk.

Richard pulled a roll of paper from another drawer. “I’ll need you here tonight to meet your team. You patrol the mile surrounding the church every other night. You’ll meet your co-team commander tonight as well. If you ever need coverage you’ll call him first.”

“Who is my co-team commander?”

“Peter McGraph, he leads the church choir.”

Richard stood and walked over to a square extendable table. Extension pieces stood in the corner. He spread the paper on the table. It was a street map of the area around the church.

“You’ll have hand held radios to communicate with your team. These red lines are the boundaries of your area.”

Melanie nodded her head. “Who has this area here?” She pointed to the section to the west of the church.

“Jake Simpson.”

Melanie nodded. It would be good to have Jake close in case she needed back up. She could bounce ideas off him. She trusted Jake with her life.

“And here?” Melanie pointed to the south of her area.

“That’s mine. And to the east of you is Sheriff Tom, and to north is Mitchel.”

Melanie’s head popped up. He hadn’t told her he joined the militia.

“He joined about a week ago. He didn’t tell you because he didn’t want you to join up and he knew if he did you definitely would. That boy cares a lot about you.”

“I know.” Melanie closed her eyes. Her most trusted friends surrounded her, at least that would make her mother happy once she found out. Jennifer would find out. Melanie was not naïve enough to believe that her mother would not know, eventually. She would try to keep it from her as long as she could, but she wouldn’t lie once her mother asked.

Richard walked over to a closet and opened the door. Melanie stayed at the table studying the map. She knew the area well. She ran there frequently with the high school cross-country team and on her own. Maybe that’s why he gave it to her, she knew all the side streets.

Richard came back to the table and set a tazer in front of Melanie. “We use non-lethal force first.”

Melanie picked up the tazer and holster and slid it into the front pocket of her hoodie. “Seven tonight?”

Richard nodded. “Your mamma is going to kill me.”

Melanie smiled. “She can’t. She signed the no kill petition.”

Creative Head Space

I am Writing

Many writers are able to schedule time to write at the same time each day of the week. Having a set time prepares your mind to be creative and to get into the mood.

Other’s create a space in their home or office where the magic happens. Their brain kicks into creative mode when they sit down.

Still other’s listen to a particular type of music and warm their fingers around a mug of coffee or tea, to stir the muse to life.

Is all of this necessary to get into that creative head space? No, but routines such as these can be helpful setting the stage. All these routines tell our body and mind, “Ok, it is time to focus on this creative thing we do.”

Even with all these preparations and cues to set us up to be creative, at times we sit there staring at the blank page with a dismally empty mind. Then what? Should you get up and walk away or sit there waiting patiently for something to come to you? I walk away. If the words won’t come and the movie isn’t playing on the screen of my mind, I find something else to do for a while.

There are three things I do that are helpful to me at times like this, first, I can go for a run. Running wakes me up and gets me to focus. My mind is free to wander and let go of any stressors that may be clogging the creative drain. The second thing that I find helpful is listening to podcasts on the writing craft. This spurs new ideas and new perspectives on old ideas. The third thing is similar to the second, I read books on the craft or blogs.

I never just sit there trying to come up with something because all I manage to do is become frustrated and produce total crap that will be deleted the next time I look over my work in progress. I always have more than one project going at a time, so if I’m just not in that creative zone needed to produce new scenes, then I turn to editing, researching or outlining.

 

A Vigil for Justice: Episode 17

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A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all, but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

Melanie slid out of Sheriff Tom’s car and stepped up onto the curb in front of her house. She set the blanket he had wrapped around her on the blue grey vinyl passenger’s seat.

“You sure you’re all right?”

Melanie nodded, but said nothing. She turned to go.

“Hold up one second, Ms. Craig. These belong to you.” He held out her 9 mm. “I unloaded it, of course.” She took the gun. He picked up a Ziploc bag holding her magazine from the floor between his scuffed up black boots.

She took the bag in the other hand, and turned toward the house.

Her feet moved along the walkway worn into the lawn toward the maroon door of her home. She opened the bag and pulled the magazine out. She slammed it into the gun and slid it into the holster under her arm.

A dense fog floated inside her head as she pushed through the front door. Her mother was pacing back and forth on the living room rug.

Her mom inhaled as their eyes met and she wrapped Melanie in her arms. Melanie let her mom hold her for a few minutes without saying a word then she pushed her away.

“I’m fine mom, really.”

“What the hell happened?”

“There was a dead guy lying at the base of the flag pole in front of the courthouse.”

“He was murdered?”

“Murder, Justice killing call it what you want, he was dead.”

“Does the Sheriff know who did it?”

“I didn’t ask mom. Does it matter?”

“This is exactly why the petition needed to be signed by everyone.” Jennifer walks over to the closet next to the front door and pulls her out her satchel. She puts it over her head and turns to Melanie. “Are you okay staying here with Sam? I need to go out for a while.”

Melanie waves her hand at her mom. “Yeah.”  Melanie knows the petition does not stop anyone from using their Justice Killings. There’s really no way to find out who killed that man. The sheriff can’t disclose that information.

Melanie looks at the clock hanging on the wall. Both black hands point straight up. Melanie shuffles into the kitchen. She watches out the window as her mother pulls her phone from her pocket and slides into the front seat of the van. Melanie cocks her head to the right, and pulls her cell phone out of her pocket.

She dials Holly’s number.  The van’s engine comes to life.

“Holly, it’s Melanie.”

“I know,” Holly says on the other line. “What’s up?” Jennifer backed the van out of the drive way and turned it toward the city.

“My mom is up to something. I found a Justice Killing this morning—”

“You what?”

“Never mind that, I think she is going to do something drastic.”

“Your mom? Are you kidding?” Holly laughed.

“I’m serious. I don’t know what she is doing, but she left in a hurry and she is angry about this killing and was talking about her petition.”

“Melanie, it’s your mom. She’s a peace loving hippy.”

“I know.”

Jennifer came home as Melanie was pulling garlic bread from the oven.

“Mommy!” Sam cried and ran to Jennifer and clamped her arms around her waist.

“Hi sweetheart.”

“I wasn’t sure what you wanted for dinner, so I just made spaghetti.”

Jennifer smiled. “That’s fine.”

Sam finished setting white plates on the placemats and started with the silverware.

The ringing of Melanie’s phone pulled her from sleep at four in the morning.

“Holly” flashed across the screen.

Melanie rubbed her face and picked up the phone.

“Holly?”

“You were right.”

“Huh?” Melanie sat up and swung her legs off the edge of her bed.

“Your mom and about thirty other people are surrounding my house with picket signs.”

Melanie put her head in her hand. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. My dad is trying to talk to her, but she is not listening. She just yells louder.”

Fantastic, thanks mom. Melanie thought.  She hadn’t even heard her mother leave the house.

Melanie heard a bang and Richard Stein yelling in the background. As if this whole situation was not bad enough, now her mother was trying to run her best friend out of town. She didn’t want Holly out there in the chaos and destruction outside of the Blue River Valley. If Holly left, Melanie would never forgive her mother.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode 16

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A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all, but the smallest towns. The government passed a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

The sun had not wrapped its fingers around the peaks of the mountains when Melanie threw back the blankets and rolled out of the comfort of her bed. The pile of running clothes on the floor were, exchanged for her pajamas. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and pulled bright yellow socks over her feet.

The sun’s glow had barely begun to paint the sky with honey and rose, as Melanie stared down at the shotgun and the 9 mm laid out on her lavender quilt folded at the foot of her bed. She pulled her hair up into a ponytail and pulled it through the back of her running hat.

The holster was going to chafe, but not taking one or the other on her morning run was not an option. The nine was going to be easier to carry while she ran. She may need to get something smaller just for running. Something to think about, she could go into town and look at the gun store later in the day.

She shook her head, another gun.

She ran her hands over the muscles that had developed in her arms and shoulders since she began boxing lessons with Jake.

She swung her underarm holster around her back and laced her arms through the suspenders. She ran the stick of anti-chafing cream along her ribs and stomach where the holster would rub. The chest strap clicked in her hands, she pulled it tight to limit bouncing, and slid the nine into its home. She bounced on her toes a few times to make sure it wasn’t too loose. Yep it was going to chafe.

Daisy wagged her tail as Melanie rummaged through her closet for her running shoes.

“You have to stay with mom and Sam today.” Melanie rubbed the furry head of the Rottweiler pup. Her cell phone fit perfectly into the stretchy pocket on the back of her shorts.

The house was quiet. She pushed Sam’s bedroom door open enough for Daisy to go in once she left.

Melanie shuffled into the kitchen and sat at the table to pull on her shoes. She scratched the words, “Went for a run be back at eight,” on a piece of paper and left it on the table for her mom.

Her fingers moved over the buttons of the alarm system, which had never been used before now. It beeped three times letting her know it was ready.

She stepped across the threshold and pulled the maroon door shut behind her. With her eyes closed, she pulled the heavy pine air in through her nose. She needed this run. Running was the only time she could let go of the rest of the world and just be Melanie.

She headed toward town, the familiar rhythm of one foot in front of the other taking over. The maple and oak trees that lined the streets were filled with emerald stars carefully rimmed with yellow. Melanie turned a corner. The pale aspen groves rustled in the breeze that drifted down the dark pine canyons and into the river valley. She took another deep breath filling her lungs and expanding her chest. Her pace increased as her heart rate reached a stead beat.

The streetlights winked out as she passed and the sun crested the jagged peaks to the east. She turned another corner and headed down the main street of downtown. Her mother had tried to get them to lower the flag to half-mast for the first week of the Justice Law’s enactment, but as Melanie closed in on the courthouse the red, white, and blue fluttered at the top of the silver pole.

Her eyes followed the pole back to the ground, where a black mass sat. Melanie slowed her pace. She glanced back the way she had come and then down the side streets. No one was in the streets. No cars. No stray cats. Nothing. She slowed to a walk and unclipped the strap securing her gun in the holster.

“Hello,” Melanie called.

It’s probably a bag of garbage or donations. Sometimes people would leave donations at the church in a black bag. She shook her head. Not at the courthouse. She stopped at the bottom of the steps. It was a person, a man. She could see his sneakers. He was wearing dark blue jeans and a black hoodie.

Melanie took her gun out of the holster, but kept it pointed at the ground. “Are you all right mister?”

He was on his side, his knees pulled up, and his arms around them. His face was toward the pole. As she passed, she turned so she was always facing him and was now walking backward to get a look at his face. She lifted her foot up one-step and then another.

The man’s face was tucked down against his knees. She took another step toward him.

“Are you all right?” She was five feet from him and stopped mid-step. Her foot hung in the air before she dropped it to the ground. White zip ties bound his hands and feet.

Melanie took a step back. Her heart began to smack the inside of her ribs. Her breath grabbed at her tonsils. She raised her gun and flashed her eyes all around her. She backed down the stairs. She lowered her gun, but didn’t holster it. With her left hand, she reached back and pulled out her cell phone.

She pressed a button and held the phone to her ear. She scanned the street again.

“Sheriff Tom,” said the male voice on the other end of the line.

Melanie choked. She cleared her throat. “Sheriff, this is Melanie Craig. There’s a body.”

“Where?”

“Courthouse flag pole.”

“You all right?”

Melanie nodded and then realized he couldn’t see her. “Um, yes. I’m fine.”

“I’ll be there in just a few minutes.”

Melanie nodded again. “Um, okay.”

She pushed the disconnect button and then dialed the house.

Jennifer picked up. Her voice was heavy with dreams.

“Mom, I’m going to be later than eight.”

“What, where?”

“I’m out on a run.”

“Why did you go out in the first place Melanie? It’s not safe for you to run anymore, not when there are people out there who won’t sign the petition.”

“I’m not giving up my life just because of this law mom.” Melanie paced back and forth on the step. She watched a black car round the corner. The engine roared as it straightened out.

“I gotta go mom.”

“Melanie—” Melanie hung up the phone and slid it back into her pocket. She gripped the gun with both hands and backed away from the approaching car. She kept it pointed at the ground. The car came to a stop. She held her breath.

Sheriff Tom stepped out of the driver side.

Melanie let out her breath and lowered the gun to her hip.

“Anyone with you?” he called.

“No and you’re the first person I’ve seen this morning. Alive.”

“You sure he’s dead?”

Melanie nodded.

She sank to the ground. Her grip slackened on the gun and it clattered to the ground next to her.

Sheriff Tom ran over to her. “Whoa, you’re all right. Take a deep breath.” He slid her gun into the back of his belt and kneeled beside her.

Melanie began to shake from head to toe.

Sheriff Tom scooped her up and took her to his car. He popped the door open with his boot and set her into the passenger seat. “Stay here.”

Melanie heard the trunk unlatch.

He walked to the back of the car. He came back with a blanket and wrapped it around her. “Deep slow breathes. I gotta go check on him. I’ll be right back.”

Melanie’s phone rang. She pulled it out of the pocket and stared at it.

Mom flashed in block white letters on the screen.

Melanie watched Sheriff Tom draw his gun and approach the man at the foot of the flagpole. He kicked the foot and got no response.

Melanie answered the phone.

“Are you all right?” Jennifer asked.

“There’s a body mom.”

The line was silent.

“Mom?”

“I’m here. Are you all right?”

“Yes. I’m with Sheriff Tom now.”

Point of View

I am Writing

When you craft a scene in a character’s POV, every line in that scene has to feel as though it is being processed, chewed, and spit out by that character. Everything that happens in that scene is witnessed, experienced, felt, and reacted to by that character. And so, even the narrative must have “voice.”

CS Lakin

When I first read the above, I had to sit with it for a minute and process it. I loved the way it was written and the knowledge behind it is worth really considering.

I found this in an article about voice, but it is equally important when thinking about which POV to choose for a book and to make sure that you have not head hopped during one scene.

POV, point of view, is one of the most important decisions an author will make about a novel. First person, third person limited, and third person omniscient are the most frequently used POV’s. There are costs and benefits to each one of them.

First person, allows the reader to get to know your character and bond with them. It can make the story come to life in a real way. First person POV typically, has one POV character and would be confusing if you changed characters. First person, can be difficult to write because you know what is going on in everyone else’s head and sometimes it slips in. You have to catch those slips in editing and find a way to give the same information from the first person perspective.

Third person limited can be as intimate as first person if you stick with one or two character throughout the novel. Third person can be difficult because you run the risk of head hopping during a scene because you do write from other characters points of view. Third person limited POV is the most popular choice for authors.

Third person omniscient allows you to write from every character’s POV. The reader can see inside anyone’s head. It gives you the option of having as many POV characters as you would like. You write from a god like perspective. You can tell the reader what is going on in anyone’s head at any time. This can be confusing to readers unless each character has a distinct voice. True Omniscient POV is not used very often.

As hard as we try as writers, some lines or whole paragraphs slip into our scenes that are from the wrong POV. That’s why I love the quote above. It reminds us that every aspect of the story must be told from the one POV.

Doing so increases the bond between character and reader and reduces the possibility of confusion.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode 15

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A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all, but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

A crowd of people was on the City building steps, another crowd was on the courthouse steps, and another on the church steps. Melanie jerked the car over to the curb to find out what was going on. She expected the streets to be filled with dust devils and tumble weeds on J-day, with people peeping through blinds and the barrels of shotguns poking their black eye through boarded up windows.

Melanie unbuckled her seatbelt. Her mom had put up a minimal protested against her leaving the house today. She hadn’t planned on going out, but Sam fell from the table while doing a pirouette and hit her forehead on the end table. She needed butterfly bandages and there weren’t any in the house.

“It’ll only be a small scar. It’ll be fine,” Jennifer said holding a wet washcloth spotted with blood to Sam’s head.

“She needs stitches mom. Butterflies are the next best thing. If you’re not going to let me take her to the doctor, then I’m going for the butterflies.”

Tears ran down from Sam’s red-rimmed eyes.

 

Melanie reached for the shotgun on the passenger seat of the car and slid it into the holster on her back as she got out of the car. The 9 mm was at her hip and she had throwing blades in her boots. The people at the back of the crowd turned toward her as she approached. One after another, they stepped aside, allowing her to move to the front of the crowd. As she made her way forward, she locked eyes with those who had a bulge or oddly gathered clothing from a possible concealed gun. Something Jake had taught her.

“It’s harder to kill someone who looks you straight in the face. Eye contact humanizes the person.” The book, The Gift of Fear, had said something similar.

Tacked to the doors of the church was a list of names, all the people who had not signed the No Kill Petition. Melanie clenched her jaw. This was her mother’s doing. Richard Stein’s name was there along with several other people she knew who had decided not to sign her mother’s wretched petition.

Her hand hit the door, flat fingers splayed wide. A few of the women around her jumped and stepped back another step. Melanie closed her fist, ripping the paper down. Her nostrils flared. She took a deep breath and continued to ball the page up in her hand until it was the size of a shooter marble.

No one said a word to her as she turned around and stalked back to her car. Her tires chirped as she flipped the car around and took off in the direction she had just come from. Was her mother trying to start a slaughter? No, she just wasn’t thinking outside of her pony and rainbow land.

She pulled the car over at the curb of the courthouse. She marched up the steps and again the crowd backed away allowing her to the front. She ripped the page down, turned, and marched right back to her car. She tossed the crumpled wad onto the floor. She made a stop at the City building next, with the same results.

“Are there more?” she asked the wide-eyed people. They looked to each other and then their eyes moved from her shotgun, to her 9 mm, to her face. Each one shook their head in the negative.

“Segregation has never helped make a bad situation better. Never.” Melanie got back into her car.

She tried to calm herself down, so she could speak with her mother in a rational way when she got home with the bandages for Sam. After her father died, her therapist taught her calming techniques. They had never really worked, but she went through them anyway. She took several deep breaths with her belly, she counted to ten, and took some more. She visualized a peaceful place. It did little to dampen the fire that had roared to life.

She stopped the car on the curb in front of her family’s home. The dark green ivy wrapped itself like a blanket around the side of the house. The home her father had made their sanctuary from the chaos after WWIII.

She slid the shotgun into the holster as she climbed out of the car. She scanned the yard and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

She knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” Jennifer’s voice came through the steel door.

“It’s me, mom.”

The deadbolt hammered back. Melanie pulled the door open and stepped inside. She pushed past her mom and kneeled before Sam who was sitting on the couch with ice on her head.

“Let me see.” Melanie reached up and took the ice from her sister. “The bleeding has stopped so we need to let it dry so the butterfly will stick.”

Sam nodded sending her braids bouncing. Melanie gave her a crooked smile.

Melanie set the ice on the table and pulled the plastic bag with gauze, medical tape, and the bandages toward her.

“How was it out there?” Jennifer asked. She sunk onto the couch next to Sam.

Melanie glared at her. “Your little notes have caused quiet the stir.”

“People need to know who is safe to be around and who is not.”

Melanie opened the box of Band-Aids. “No mom. You created an enemy. A target.”

“They made themselves targets.”

Melanie pulled the plastic off the back of the butterfly Band-Aid. “Relax your face Sam so I can put this on right.” Melanie placed two of the butterflies on her sister’s forehead. “I’m going to put gauze and tape over that just to protect it a little more, so hold still, ok?”

Sam nodded.

Jennifer sat in silence while Melanie finished with Sam’s head.

“There you go. No more dancing on the tables.” Melanie patted Sam on the knee.

Once Sam was out of the room, Melanie turned on her mother. “A piece of paper has never stopped anyone hell bent on killing another person. Women get protective orders against their abusive husbands all the time and the next day they’ve got a piece of lead buried in their brain.”

Jennifer stood up and put her index finger in Melanie’s face. “Don’t you talk to me like that young lady.”

“This world steals what you love most and leaves you an empty husk. All you can do is protect yourself and move on. There is no gold at the end of the rainbow. There never has been. It’s a graveyard of dead dreams.” Melanie snatched up the garbage from bandaging her sister. “You’ve started a war.” She turned away from her mother, but then stopped.

“I’m going to Holly’s to cool down.”

“No you’re not. You will not go to that house. Richard Stein is a killer.”

“What are you talking about? I would put my life in his hands before I would even consider yours!” Melanie pushed past her mother. “Don’t leave the house.” Melanie slammed the front door sending the pictures on the wall rattling.

Choose Words that Characterize

word rain

Trying to convey how we feel with words can be difficult. You sit with the feeling and think about the words that attempt to express it. Nothing really does though. They come close, but something is always missing.

I’ve spent hours trying to find the right words, construct the right sentence, and make other’s feel the way I do with my words. But that’s backwards. You can’t make other’s feel what you feel. You have to call out the proper emotion from within them.

Isn’t that the same as making others feel how we feel? It’s the reverse actually. Instead of trying to make you feel how I feel, I want to bring out a particular feeling in YOU. This is all very confusing, you say.

If I am trying to get you to feel a certain way at a particular spot in my story, I automatically go to every aspect of the story to get you there. I use the setting, the weather, the body language of my characters, and dialogue. The words I choose to describe all of this call out an emotion in you.

If I want you to feel joy, I’m going to find a detail of joy in the weather that I can bring forward. I’m going to have my character notice bright and beautiful things in the setting and not the cockroach lurking in the corner. The words I use to describe the actions in the scene are going to be bouncy and colorful.

By doing this, I don’t have to tell you that my character is happy or joyful. You already know because it is in everything that is going on around the character. Even if the setting is ugly and dark, if your character notices the one beautiful element it tells the reader how your character is feeling and that your character is more of the optimistic type than pessimistic.

Get your thesaurus and dictionary out and have them ready while you are editing your first draft. If they are easily accessible, you are more likely to use them. As you build your story, chose words that do more than define and describe, choose words that characterize and color.