Friday, October 21, 2016

Showing a Character's Optimism

What is optimism?

According to,


[op-tuh-miz-uh m] 
a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
the belief that goodness pervades reality.
the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.

So how do you show optimism in writing about a character?

Optimistic people have hope that good always will happen.  So, if your character is in a bad place, they have to see the light at the end of the tunnel, thinking happy thoughts all the time.

Other characters will probably be cynical toward the optimist, who always wears 'rose colored glasses' and only sees good in everything.  That will increase conflict in the story, which is a good thing for every plot.

Even so, highly effective leaders are optimistic.  It increases creativity and innovation.  Also, sales people who are optimistic sell more of their product.

Optimists do the following, according to Optimism: The Hidden Asset:

  • avoid negative environments
  • celebrate strengths
  • take care of spiritual and emotional well being
  • manage or ignore what can't be changed
  • learning to reframe (shift in perspective by looking for hidden positive in a negative situation)
  • adapt language and outlook
  • focus outside themselves
  • nurture a culture of optimism in others
  • cultivate spontaneity
  • consider the health benefits (optimism is linked to greater health)

For a character to be optimistic, they have to believe in themselves, be hopeful in every negative situation, and stay motivated.  It's all a mental attitude.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Optimism: Strengths of Will
How to Be Optimistic
Optimism: The Hidden Asset

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Writing help: Active versus Passive Voice

My mother was a teacher.  She was also really into psychology, to get her kids to perform.  One of her favorite methods was to use passive voice, because it didn't sound as bossy to the intended  She'd also use this method at home.  So instead of telling us to 'take out the trash,' she'd say, 'the trash needs to be taken out.'  It sounded the same to us because if we didn't do what she wanted, she'd get angry.  I didn't want to be on the punishment end of her anger, even if she was trying to sound less bossy.

So what is passive voice?  When I was younger, the high school was selling old books from their library.  I bought one that's entitled 'English Grammar and Composition' by John Warriner, Mary Whitten, and Francis Griffith.  Even though Harcourt Brace Jovanovich published the thing in 1973, there's a wealth of information in this little book.  Here's some of the information, partially paraphrased.

When the sentence is in active voice, the structure is the subject performing the action.

When the sentence is in passive voice, the subject receives the action.

Here's an example:

She shot him.  Active.  She is the subject, shot is the verb, and him is the object.

He was shot by her.  Passive.  He is now the subject.  The verb is a verb phrase that includes a form of 'be' and the past participle of the verb.  In this case, it's 'was shot'.  'By her' can now be omitted and the sentence still makes sense.

If other helping verbs appear in the active sentence, they must also be included in the passive.  So, for example, 'Someone has yelled my name' is active.  The passive version would be 'My name has been yelled.'  'Has' is in both sentences.

The passive voice puts the emphasis on the person or thing receiving the action rather than the one performing it.  It is often used when the speaker doesn't want to say who did the action.  Even so, it can be overused.  A succession of passive sentences is considered weak and awkward and should be avoided.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Reference: 'English Grammar and Composition' by John Warriner, Mary Whitten, and Francis Griffith.  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1973.  Passive voice--pages 142-144

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

20 Ways to Make Your Character: Intimidated

We all love a good villain, but what makes a great villain?  I honestly think it's someone who doesn't have to raise their voice, doesn't pull out a gun, and just makes you believe they're going to do you harm by psychological intimidation.  I used some of these in my book, 'Voo Doo Love Me,' by Andie Alexander.  However, Kes got them all back...eventually.

What are some ways to psychologically intimidate someone?  Well I thought of 20...but I'm sure there are more.  Enjoy!

  1. Meet with the victim but bring along thugs
  2. Silence with an unfocused stare--it makes people uncomfortable
  3. Move into their personal space
  4. Stand over them
  5. Hands on hips makes the character look larger than they are
  6. Puff out chest and set jaw.
  7. Appear to be calm yet fearless
  8. Show power and confidence
  9. Start nice but turn on ferocity fast to throw them off balance.
  10. Hold personal information and silently threaten them with going to authorities
  11. Make the victim think the intimidator has unpredictable mental issues
  12. Make eye contact, and threaten with a smile
  13. Hurting or threatening an innocent to force an action from the victim
  14. Surprise attack
  15. Terrorism
  16. Stockholm syndrome
  17. Bullying and Humiliation
  18. Psychological projection (attributing bad behavior by attributing it to others)
  19. Never apologize for bad behavior
  20. Gaslighting (Ambient Abuse: Gaslight Effect and the Diabolical Personality--false information is deliberately presented to the victim to make them doubt themselves)

Here's something else that's very helpful, from Bullying

Bullies couldn't exist without victims, and they don't pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear long before they ever encounter a bully. No one likes a bully, but no one likes a victim either. Grown-up bullies wreak havoc in their relationships and in the workplace.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Psychological manipulation
How to Intimidate People
What are some silent psychological intimidation tactics people use?
Throwing Others on the Defensive: Manipulation via Overt or Covert Intimidation
Psychological warfare
Ambient Abuse: Gaslight Effect and the Diabolical Personality
Psychological projection

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Meet the Boss

If you've ever had a job, you've probably had a boss (unless you're self-employed).  The boss character has a few universal characteristics.  Here are a few that come to mind right away:

  • leader
  • confident
  • can be pushy
  • judges their workers
  • demands production
  • can be intimidating

But the boss can also be fun to write.  Since they're in a leadership position, if you make your boss unconventional, they can come across as quirky yet effective.  Just realize that no matter what the boss in your story is like, they're in control and the leader, with those attributes, or they probably wouldn't have gotten the job to begin with (unless they know someone).

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Monday, October 17, 2016

Writing about City Life

"You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl."  I'm not sure who originally wrote it, but it's been used a lot.  I just can't find the quoter.

Anyway, I grew up in the country.  My parents had about three acres of land in a very small town.  I decided to get a job in Washington, D.C., because 'I was tough' and could handle it.  Let me tell's not easy being a small town girl in a big city.

Here are a few things I found:

  • the city is dirty
  • people aren't as moral as in the country
  • the homeless can be intimidating
  • everything's more expensive
  • people aren't friendly
  • traffic is awful
  • public transportation
  • more amenities and shopping areas
  • hospitals and schools more abundant
  • higher crime
  • more people and strangers to worry about
  • no ownership for taking care of local problems
  • more jobs

I'm sure there are more.  Care to add some?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

City Life: Essay on advantages and disadvantage of City Life

Friday, October 14, 2016

Showing a Character's Joy

When writing, how do you show joy?  The goal for every author is to make the reader feel a connection to the story, to make them feel like it's happening to them.  So the main point is to SHOW the emotion, instead of telling them how the character feels.  When we feel utter joy, certain things happen, and are easy to describe in a story.

Here are a few ideas of how to show this wonderful emotion:

  • smile
  • giggle/titter
  • suck in a deep breath
  • voice goes up
  • hugging themselves or others
  • eyes smiling
  • might cry
  • cheeks go up
  • heart feels full of love
  • weight off shoulders
  • cover mouth with hand to hide extreme happiness
  • lightheadedness
  • endorphins give head a rush
  • sit back and sigh
  • feel loved
  • might be at peace/calm
  • might be excited/ecstatic

Can you think of any other things that might happen?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Creating Emotion in the Reader

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Writing help: plural versus possessive nouns

Don't you just hate it when people put apostrophes in words that are just plural (and not plural possessive)?  When I see signs like the one above, I want to stop the car, get out, and give the writer a piece of my mind.  Some days, I feel like a grammar policewoman.

In order to save yourself from the wrath of people like me, here are a few things you can learn about simple plural versus possessive nouns.  I'm even going to include references so you can see for yourself how they're different.

Plural:  More than one -- doesn't include the apostrophe

  • Example:  Puppies for Sale
  • Example:  Kids in the street

Possessive:  The word is describing the next word -- needs the apostrophe

  • Example:  Kid's coat
  • Example:  Jane's purse

See how the first one means MORE than one.  

In the second one, the coat belongs to the kid.  'Kid's' describes the coat.  Same with the purse.  The purse is owned by Jane.  Jane describes the purse.

In the sign above, it means that the puppies describe the word 'for.'  It makes no sense!

Go look it up for yourself, if you don't believe me:

Here's a video, that might help, too:  Grammar: Plural or Possessive?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books