Friday, May 6, 2011

Beyond the Predictable

Audra here. Isn’t May just a beautiful month? Spring is finally pushing winter aside letting the sun warm our old house. Now if I can just find the time to sit out on the deck and get a skim of tan on my flashin’ white legs...

Sorry. I digress. It’s just hard to sit inside and write while outside our turkey gobbles at his reflection through the winter grunge of our bedroom window and our faithful coonhound bays at a plastic bag snagged on a remnant stalk of weed poking out of the bright green clump of emerging grasses. Ha! You thought I was going to say something corny like a light breeze ruffling the tree leaves or the scent of newly mown grass, right?

Fooled you. Just like spring brings new life onto the land, so too must we breathe new life into overused, overrated descriptions.

This is not as easy as it sounds which is why we will always read about tires squealing down a road and the moisture laden fog of the morning dawn. I’m not inferring that writers are lazy; I’m just saying re’s a lot of mental gymnastics go into the hewing of a new phrase (no mere turning allowed today).

Unique phrases and description can become an author’s trademark.

It’s one more method to help your work stand out among the legion of competition out there. Think creative, think dynamic.

Think everyday experiences.

Know your setting and characters so well you can bring in description seamlessly to your character’s train of thought. The reader doesn’t even realize they are absorbing the sights and sounds of the setting through your character’s eyes.

Unique dialogue sets a character apart also.

You’ve gotta love Ziva David of NCIS fame. Here’s a character the men can adore and women admire. Besides being just cute, Ziva offers a very logical example of breathing new life into our old clichés as a foreigner speaking English well, but not perfectly.

Ziva: I did not know you were a pool dolphin, Tony.

Tony: Pool shark. And yes, I was.

What did Ziva’s innocent turn of the English language do? It tipped Tony off -balance. It made him stumble to correct her and his execution of whatever great line he’d planned to say falls flat. It woke the audience up.

Same in books.

We all get into a rhythm when we write, a rhythm that becomes comfortable for the author and reader alike. When an unexpected exchange of words puddles on the pavement of literary progress, the reader becomes alert and maybe gives up a snicker or two. They’ve found something fresh and the hunt begins to find more gems hidden in the prose. Caution: do not use this technique unless you have the proper character vehicle to carry it through the book. Nothing worse than building anticipation in a reader and there are no more colored eggs for the reader to hunt and find.

How about characters with unique talents that make them live on in a reader’s mind?

Combine conflicting traits giving the H/H something intriguing to discover. A prim school teacher who lives for karaoke; a rough and tumble cowboy with an affinity for math; a woman with Celiac disease who owns a gourmet bakery. A dichotomy of talents.
I have to confess, I learned this technique from reading tons of Laura Kinsale novels. The woman is a master of creating characters with multiple unique attributes. Oh my goodness, who would’ve ever thought of giving a hero, once a dashing highwayman, severe vertigo that scraps his heroic presence but not his inner ego. Talk about taking a lump of human coal and picking at him through jabs at his pride until his inner strength as no choice but to break through. S.T. Maitland in The Prince of Midnight embodies the most unique combination of traits – horseman, highwayman, artist; arrogant heel and complete sap for a woman’s tears. What a multi-layered, multi-talented hero.

I may not remember the entire plot of that book, but I’ll never forget that hero.
So, what have you done to press your stamp of uniqueness into your writing? Let me tempt you to play. Leave a comment and there’s a box of lovely assorted chocolates and a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card in one lucky commenter’s future. Chocolate is always a good pick-me-up when the words slug along. Gotta send chocolates before it gets too hot to mail!


KC Frantzen said...

Great title today Audra and excellent commentary. Especially adored The reader doesn’t even realize they are absorbing the sights and sounds of the setting through your character’s eyes.


I'd just add sniffs since my heroine is a little K9 spy! (War dogs are in the news today for sure. May is PANTING to have some of their equipment. Wawzah!)

Since May on the Way is completely written in first dog, it's made me look at things in an entirely new way: from about 15" off the floor, smell being the dominant sense... That sort of thing. We'll see (SOON!) if it was done successfully. :)

Thanks to all the Seekers for encouragement. Y'all are grrreat!

may at maythek9spy dot com

(If we win, I won't share the chocolates with May... Might be bad for her... ha!)

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Audra, you've given me so many fun ideas! Thanks for jarring my tired brain tonight. :) What a fun post!

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, KC. I love that: "first dog." hehe

Vince said...

Hi Audra:

One thing I do is collect cliché descriptions and sayings. Then when I have a few minutes I try to think up creative alternatives to these clichés. I save this list of brand new future ‘clichés, to insert when needed in any WIPs I’m working on.

I also like to keep a file of all the dialogue a character speaks in the entire book. Once I have this, I try to individualize each speaker. For example, I might use an unusual word order for one character. I will have another character use ‘sound’ words like, “I hear what your saying,” “sounds good to me”, “If it squeaks, give it grease,” Another character will often speak in sport metaphors. Still another will use a graduate level vocabulary. Minor characters can have favorite sayings like, “that’s just the way things happen, I guess”. Lot’s of ‘I guesses”.

The thing is you don’t have to do this when you are writing the first draft. This can be layered in all at once at the end. It is easy to do this because of the search feature in the word processor.

BTW: I really like the way you had the heroine in your book see the beauty of the mountains for the first time while having the hero see it that way again through her eyes. That is totally memorable. (Really, the passage is about 20% into the book at the top of the left hand page. I could go right to it.)


vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Virginia said...

Such a great post! Those little unpredictables that make us pause are the same things I like about my friends. ("You know Jane, the lady who knits with dog hair", etc.)
This makes me want to go back and tweak my characters more!

Nancy Kimball said...

Audra, great post!
I'm now kicking around ideas with this... so fun!
Like making my battle hardened hero afraid of the dark. Or cats.
Or give my heinous villain some random redeeming normalcy, like he won't kill bugs. Which is funny because he has people killed like moms wished their sons changed socks. (I said WISHED hehe).
Of course I can't just throw it in just to throw it in... but the gears are turning. Thank you!

Please enter me for the chocolate. If I win it or the coconut from earlier this week I'm off to a good start for a pretty good smoothie :-p

Camy Tang said...

Great post, Audra! Good reminder, too, that we need to continue to stretch ourselves as writers.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, Audra, thank you for the shake up! I NEEDED THIS!

I am the Queen of the Repeat Phrase and Word, President of the Why-Not-Say-The-Same-Thing-Over-and-Over Club.

And I've never read Laura Kinsale, so I'm going to check this out. Immerse myself and my brain in new words and phrases.

Up the ante.

Hey, coffee's on and hot, creamers are multiple and off to the side, I heard that Jack's sleeping in today... You guys tuckered him out yesterday, LOL!

Breakfast is easy because I'm working: I called Bruegger's and they're setting us up with lovely bagels, spreads and juices.

THANK YOU, BRUEGGERS! I'm grabbing an Italian Parmesan bagel and I will not breathe on any of you.


Cara Lynn James said...

Audra, I find it so easy to fall into cliches! If I had more time to revise it would help a lot. My brain cells need time to work.

Kirsten Arnold said...


Like previous commentors, you've challenged me to dig deep and try out some new phrases or descriptions. Also, to rake my characters over the coals and see what fascinating quirks or characteristics they may be hiding.

Thanks for the challenge this morning!


Audra Harders said...

KC, what a hoot! First dog. Do you get the grrrr and whoofs in the right places?

I can't imagine trying to relate to all the senses a dog uses...I haven't really mastered the human ones yet!

Audra Harders said...

Missy, honey, you need to go to bed, wake up and live by the light of day! After midnight and you're writing??

I couldn't begin to tell you the garbled nonsense I'd be putting on paper!!!!

Lisa Jordan said...

I just finished the copy edits for my November release, Lakeside Reunion, so the story is fresh in my head again. As I reviewed the pages, I realized I used many of the same phrases in my next book. Sigh.

During the revision process, I need to find a new way to say the same thing. Thanks for a great reminder.

Patsy said...

I love the way Ziva talks. It's so funny for her to get her words mixed up.

And who doesn't love chocolate!


Audra Harders said...

Thanks for remembering special spots in Rocky Mountain Hero, Vince! You made me grin : )

Great method for attacking individucal characters' dialogue. Making speech context and patterns unique is a talent every writer needs to develope and polish. With a strong identification of dialogue, tags are unnessary and the book flows naturally.

You are a wise man, Vince. Thanks for sharing!

Audra Harders said...

"You know Jane, the lady who knits with dog hair", etc.


Virginia, what a hoot. Do it girlfriend. I'd call that a memorable moment : )

Audra Harders said...

Nancy, isn't thinking outside the box, fun? I cringe at the cliche, but really, we do tend to box ourselves and our characters into a plot box of sorts, completely missing the opportunity to make them truly unique.

Mmmm, a coconut/chocolate smoothie. See what great ideas you have!!

Audra Harders said...

Speaking of smoothies and coconut and chocolate, where are my manners??

Breakfast this morning is variety of fresh berries and melons with the option of whipped topping. I think Fridays deserve something special, so crepes are sizzling, waiting to be filled with cream chese or chocolate.


Audra Harders said...

Thanks, Camy. Hmmmm I could use some stretching and toning for my physical good, too. LOL! I'll have to make time to take the dog for a walk today : )

Audra Harders said...

Ruthy, thanks for the food! What a toss up...gorgeous spring day...I have to squeeze into my shorts...bagels and toppings are sounding mighty good right now.

Life's not fair.

Ruthy you may be the queen of repetition while your mind is cooking up all your wonderful stories, but the end product carries with it none of your fears.

Your men think like men and your women are focused, but retain that little bit of scatter that make them so likeable and endearing. I love every one of them!!!!!!

I think I smell a new pot of coffee brewing. Gotta go get a refill!

Audra Harders said...

Cara, for your time period, I thought your descriptions and dialgue were great!

I love reading historical romance. They tweak my brain and give me a perspective on contemporary settings.

Audra Harders said...

Ooo, ouch! Kirsten! Is it really necessary to "rake" on this fine spring day?

Perhaps a invitation for a stroll around the neighborhood filled with pleasant chit chat instead?

But if you're bent on raking, well, do it well, girlfriend!

Audra Harders said...

Lisa, copy edits! Good for you! When can we expect the finished product on the shelves?? So proud of you!!

Second books are so difficult to give that unique feel to, especially when they continue along the vein of the first one.

Don't you just love this writing business, LOL!!

Audra Harders said...

I love Ziva, Patsy. I love Tony.

Heck, I could watch NCIS marathons for days on end and not get bored!!

My parents immigrated to the US from Lithuania and even though I was born here, English is not my first language. I can so totally relate to Ziva and have to snicker whenever I hear a phrase from her that I'm certain some relative of mine has uttered at one point or another.


KC Frantzen said...

May notes the covey of K9 references this morning! She writes her own Facebook page too. PAWSOME!!!

And you're right... "On a short leash." "Working your fingers to the bone." "Dog tired."

I'm working on these to add to book 2.

And I'm with Vince. That was a stellar passage in RMH. Love CO. You did a grrreat job with it as a setting.

Audra Harders said...

Sorry to say, but I have to get ready for work. I'll pop in when I can!!

Between my crepe chef and Ruthy's Bruegger's deliveries, we should be set for the morning!!

Have fun!

Jan Drexler said...

Loved this post, Audra. Seekerville never fails to give me something new to think about in my writing!

I love the image of jarring the rhythm a bit when writing - keep the reader awake, make them look for the unexpected. What a challenge!

And I also loved Vince's comment:

"One thing I do is collect cliché descriptions and sayings. Then when I have a few minutes I try to think up creative alternatives to these clichés."

I always think something is more noticeable when it's a shade off of the familiar - just like a cliche that's been reworked. Another great idea.

Now - if I can just put my own slant to these great thoughts to work in my own writing...

I'd love to win the chocolate - what can be better than chocolate in the spring? (other than chocolate in the summer, fall or winter?)


Karen Lange said...

I like to save interesting words and phrases to use as a word bank. I can often draw inspiration and conversation ideas from there. Thanks for all this info, much appreciated!
Happy weekend,

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Audra, what a FUN post for a Friday!!!

And, oh, NCIS!!! Keith and I have put our JAG DVDs away and are now buried deep into NCIS, so whenever I see or hear reference to any of those characters, my pulse jumps, which is a true indication of great characterization!! It took me a while to get into it since I am not a blood and guts gal, but right around season 2, Gibbs reeled me in. :)

KC, you little tease ... and what exactly does "SOON" mean????

VINCE -- "Great minds" because I like to take a cliche and play with it till I get it fresh and unique, although your mind is OBVIOUSLY "greater" as I do not collect them or have a list of clever alterations. BUT ... what a GREAT exercise in stretching the brain and creativity!! I'd love to hear one or two you came up with. The only one I can remember now is from A Passion Redeemed when my brain kept going to the expression "the pot calling the kettle black." I was so frustrated that I finally came up with "the lush calling the sot tipsy," which isn't great, but it has the same ring and rhythm I was looking for.

LISA ... Repeat words are the bane of every writer, so don't feel so bad. Like a favorite pair of sneakers, a favorite word just seems to be more comfortable and easy to slide in to, but if the reader notices, it can definitely stink. I seem to have a different favorite word or phrase for every book. Book 1 was "malaise," Book 2 was "prostrate," and so on. But the up side is that our copy editors catch those things when we don't ... hopefully!


Christine said...

I love the example of Ziva. She cracks me up. My favorite times are when she gets it right and Tony corrects her just to mix her up. Too funny!

I don't think I've made my detective unique enough. I'm going to need to ruminate this weekend.

Chocolate AND a gift card?? Count me in please!

teaching by writing at yahoo dot com

Audra Harders said...

"I always think something is more noticeable when it's a shade off of the familiar - just like a cliche that's been reworked."

Jan, you are so right. Taking the most commonest cliche and twisting it just a tad still snags the reader's eye.

Wonderful thinking!

Audra Harders said...

Karen, I try to snag interesting words all the time.

Anyone out there remember the TV series Perry Mason? I loved that show! Each step took you closer to figuring out who-done-it, which was enthralling by itself, but at the end of the show when the criminals were brought to trial, you couldn't pull me away from the screen. In trying to figure out how they "done it", I absorbed a lot of legalize vocabulary.

The writers were geniuses at portraying the crime in very simple and common language and then prosecuting the trial in a realistic fashion. Perry Mason vocabulary still pops out of my mouth at the oddest times and conversations.

Wow, what a trip down memory lane!

Pepper said...

Oh Audra, what a great reminder. Need it desperately.
I loved Cathy Marie Hake's book, Forevermore, because of the very reason that she takes 'expected' phrases (or cliches) and pretzels them into something unique. It certainly keeps the reader engaged.

I don't know about you, but I start 'skimming' when things become too expected - and I don't want people SKIMMING my writing. Takes too much hard work and sweat to have people skimming it?!?

And I love the way you talked about pairing two different characteristics together into one character. A rainbow braid of personality! What fun!! My mind started bungeed into all sorts of ways to give depth to my current characters! Thanks so much, Audra. And did you say chocolate? Just the idea of winning chocolate distracted me from completing the graduation speech I have to make tonight - so... please place me in the drawing for the chocolate. And now I'll get back to writing that speech. Poor, sweet, grad students, asking me to speak at their reception? This could be embarrassing - for them, of course, not me ;-) I love stories...

KC - love the thought of changing things up from a canines perspective. What fun!

Audra Harders said...

"the lush calling the sot tipsy"

LOL!! Love it, Julie! There is absolutely nothing wrong with cliches as long as you dress them up to period time.

I used to LOVE JAG. NCIS and JAG are both written by Donald Bellisario. Talk about a creative mind that mixes it up with his characters!

I love your words and phrases, Julie. Keep 'em coming!

Audra Harders said...

I love the word "ruminate," very descriptive. Have your detective work that into a conversation. Christine!

Audra Harders said...

Pepper, you're giving a speech? Oooo, you've got me shaking in my flip flops. I absolutely hate public speaking. Talk about stumbling and fumbling my way around a topic.

You go, girlfriend. You are my hero!

No skimming allowed! We work hard to create deep and powerful - or light and happy books - and I don't want anyone skimming!

Make sure you twist and turn a phrase or two for those grad students, ya hear?!

Janet Dean said...

Wonderful post, Audra! To come up with unique descriptions, dialogue and character talents is hard work and takes time. Thanks for the reminder to set the bar high! Off to write, to move beyond predictable. I hope!


Vince said...

Hi Julie:

Give me some of your favorite clichés and I’ll provide new phrases.

When I try to come up with something new to replace an old phrase, I don’t try to substitute word for word but rather just try to keep the same spirit of the original phrase. I also like to tie it to the time period or personally of the speaker.

”Like the pot calling the kettle black.”


”Like the preacher complaining that the bootlegger’s prices were too high.”

Here I make it a little humorous and time period specific as well as conveying the same spirit.

The key here is to try and create these new clichés in off periods. Like when waiting on lines and not waiting until you’re under pressure to get something written.

Just think them up and put them in the ‘bank’. (With daily advertising deadlines, doing things like this was the only way to survive.)

Talk about great minds, if your books were Olympic skating routines, they’d get a 10 for difficulty. I think what you need to do is write a Christmas novella. Something with a difficulty of 3.

BTW: in book four the word is ‘bob’. : )


Pepper said...

As long as I'm not the one physically twisting and turning in my awkward heels, I'll make sure to do that ;-)
Besides, there are way too many great stories to use when you work with kids and adults with speech-language disorders.
One slip of the phoneme, and you have a totally different (and perhaps inappropriate) word ;-)

Vince said...

Hi KC:

Don’t you think writing in first dog POV is somewhat restrictive? I prefer third dog POV, active bark and limited omniscient, with a smattering of caniepomorphizing.

I’d also like to see an old dog woofing the story ala “The Great Gatsby”.

Do you realize the young May could easily run into her great, great, great, great, great, grandfather? How many dog stories factor that in? Imagine a K9 family reunion where there are nine generations chasing the Frisbee!

I think you might be having too much fun!

Former USAF K9 Trainer

Jan Drexler said...

Former USAF K9 trainer? Vince, you never fail to amaze me with what you pull out of your autobiographical hat!

karenk said...

a wonderful posting today (as always)...thanks for the chance to nibble on a chocolate (or two)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

a wonderful posting today (as always)...thanks for the chance to nibble on a chocolate (or two)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Joanne Sher said...

Yanno - my kids (and my kids' friends) sometimes come up with some of the craziest (and most unique!) cliches. Might have to pay closer attention.

GREAT post, Audra. Please enter me.

Audra Harders said...

Karen, I love how chocolate means that much to you, LOL!!!

travelingstacey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Audra Harders said...

Joanne, is Yanno and expression or a name : )

My mom used to slap her hand on her forehead and shake her head when I did something really stupid. All she could say was "yanno, yanno."

Been a loooooooong time since I've thought of that, LOL!!

travelingstacey said...

Chocolate and Barnes and Noble?! I'm definitely tempted! I feel more like a student than anything else when I read this's quite an education! Your post definity prompted me to think. To make a character unique you definitely have to think outside the box. In our day and age, we've seen and read just about everything you can think of. I don't know if I have enough "uniqueness" to my writing yet...I'm still working on it! One thing I've loved recently in a few contemporary novels is their use of perspective--I really like seeing into the mind of the character. I also enjoy good use of humor. One book referenced the show "Hell's Kitchen"...I thought it was hilarious...and unexpected! Now back to editing..I'm going to try and make my story a little more unique! : )

Audra Harders said...

Hi Stacy!

Glad you find Seekerville educational -- along with our usual good humor and food : )

You're right. In this day and age it's tough to come up with stuff that hasn't been used into the ground.

Sometimes I think we need to stop thinking so literary and instead just be ourselves in our books. Sure we have to dress a character in the proper identity attire, but don't lose yourself when you write.

That's what makes your voice unique.

Jackie S. said...

Interesting post, Audra. I'm a reader and will enjoy the B&N card...and family will love the chocolates! Thanks!!!

Audra Harders said...

Books and there a better combination??

Thanks for stopping by, Jackie!

Renee Ann said...

Thanks for this post, Audra! Giving each character a unique voice is important for pulling a reader into the story world, and some of you author types seem to do it so easily. I appreciate all the tips and reminders you can give to keep the rest of us on our toes!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Have I mentioned how much I love Ziva?


And that I now have a grand-niece (from my Goddaughter Becky) named...



(sorry, couldn't resist!)

Perfect little girl. Adorable. Just love that show. Those characters.


Anybody heard any amazing good news lately? Anybody who writes amazingly good YA?

I'm just wondering out loud.

Just in case.

Mary Connealy said...

You mean I can't have all my characters be cowboys and feisty lady ranchers?????


Mary Connealy said...

I think I get into the cliches too much.

I need to snap out of it. thanks Audra.....enjoy your turkeys and coonhounds.

Audra Harders said...

Thanks Renee Ann : ) Just trying to do my job, LOL!

Audra Harders said...

Turkeys and Coonhounds.

Our Coonhound is loud all the time.

The turkey is especially fiesty this spring. My husband was painting a door out on our driveway with Turkey watching him.

Then inching closer.

Then lunging at him; with hubby smacking sense into the silly bird.

Finally, Turkey, yes that is his name, stealths up and snatches the paint brush out of hubby's hand and flings it across the driveway and into the garden.

Stupid bird was spitting out paint all the rest of the afternoon.

Audra Harders said...

Ruthy, having a grand-niece named is Ziva is so perfect. Every family needs a Ziva. Have her watch lots of NCIS.

Never know when the traits and talents of your namesake will come in handy.

Audra Harders said...

Of course you can, Mary!! Far be it from me to mess with perfection.

You just keep writing the words the good Lord feeds you and we'll all be happy, LOL!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

My rooster is a character in and of himself.

And one hen disappeared, either eaten by dingoes OR on a nest...

What's worse, eaten by wild dogs or motherhood????

You pick.

(Okay, kidding, don't get your knickers in a bunch).

Nancy Kimball said...

Hi Ruthy. Other than Public Enemy #1 being dispatched, which is lately, but old news now, I've got nothing.

The last good YA read for me was "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. I only read book 1 of the series though. I enjoyed it, even though I found it a bit Romeo & Juliet meets Lord of the Flies.
Heard the others in the series are good, and they might be making a movie. I don't read much YA since my Twilight days.

Dianna said...

Awesome reminders today, Audra. Thanks. I do try to work on that seamless slide with my characters, but I'm sure I still have much to learn.

I love NCIS too. Ziva cracks me up with the unbelievable numbers of ways the English language can be misinterpreted. That character's language difficulties also brings to mind the realization that as writers we must make sure we are using language clearly as well.

Would love to be included in your drawing.

Dianna Shuford said...

Oops, I commented using the wrong email account so nobody knew who I was! Boy, it's been a long day...LOL. Here it goes again:

Awesome reminders today, Audra. Thanks. I do try to work on that seamless slide with my characters, but I'm sure I still have much to learn.

I love NCIS too. Ziva cracks me up with the unbelievable numbers of ways the English language can be misinterpreted. That character's language difficulties also brings to mind the realization that as writers we must make sure we are using language clearly as well.

Would love to be included in your drawing.

Linnette R Mullin said...

One line I came up with in my current wip is : "It all came back, crashing through her mind like an elephant stampede

Great post, Audra!!!

Audra Harders said...

Good point, Dianna. Be concise in your direction...something I have great difficulty doing. But I can't worry about it first draft. usually somewhere between third and fourth read through I look at passages and think, "huh?"

Pretty bad when you "huh" your own stuff, LOL!

Audra Harders said...

Roosters welcome any time.

Dingos? Bad.

Clutch of eggs? Good.

We once had a BB Red sit on a nest buried under our pfitzer bush. She disappeared one day, we all lamented, she reappeared one day...with 12 chicks!

Cutest thing watching all these little puffs of down follow mama around.

Chicks and puppies, Ruthy. It's spring.

Audra Harders said...

Linnette? I'd call that more demolition and catastrophe!!

Linnette R Mullin said...


How about, "She wrinkled her brow in confusion."

A friend doing a read through got tickled at this one, but said she actually liked it better than "crinkled her brow." :D

Ausjenny said...

Im late here but the last comment on sending chocolate before its to hot made me remember a penpal who sent me chocolate. The parcle was to come airmail but somehow it went by ship. Well it arrived I dont know how many times it set and unset and reset. came here in not to good a condition. of course it was sent her winter my summer.
Hey dingos can be good sometimes

Walt Mussell said...


There's chocolate?

I love chocolate!

I've never watched NCIS.

I feel like I have to do a lot if this because of my Japan setting in my WIPs. However, I wonder if I'm actually coming up with something that is truly original or just a new but un original cliche. Think about the example below.

Judge in typical TV coutroom:

"I sentence the prisoner to five years of hard labor."

Judge in Hawaii 5-0 courtroom:

"I sentence the prisoner to five years of picking mangoes."

And, if I forgot to ask earlier, there's chocolate?


Debby Giusti said...

You've got me thinking! And digging deeper. Thanks, sweet thing.

Very nice!

Julie Lessman said...

AUDRA ... I just KNEW you'd be a JAG and NCIS girl -- great minds like Vince, you and me!!

VINCE ... LOL!!! You're right -- "bob" was one of my favs, I just wasn't sure which book. I actually have a Word doc with synonyms for some of my favorite words. Gosh, that would make a GREAT Seeker blog, wouldn't it???

And, what are you psychic or something??? I pitched a Christmas novella to my publisher which is basically a prequel of Marcy & Patrick's story (and Sam!!) before the O'Connor siblings were even a gleam in their parents' eyes, and I hope to start it down the road a bit.

And rest assured that my next series is going to be WAY less complicated and shorter (350 to 400 pages max) or my name will be "mud" with my husband. :)


Whitney said...

I’m late! Sorry!

Audra, you have blinding white legs, too?! We ought to compare because I know that yours can’t be as flashy as mine!

I love the kind of uniqueness you’re talking about. In one of my stories, there is the classic “cozy” with the hero being a wealthy nobleman whose servants are more family than staff, and who has an infinity for antiquities, especially of the medieval weaponry kind, and who also collects, and loves to drive, fast cars (set around 1933). He’s a brilliant amateur detective, of course, but does not, however, handle women well, as their tears make him highly uncomfortable. His counterpart is an American reporter who loves baseball, and wears men’s pajamas (explained in the story). She’s sassy and cute, and of course, wins him, tears and all, in the end. ; )

Please enter me in this chocolaty contest!



Linnette R Mullin said...

Julie! Keep us posted on that Novella!

Pam Hillman said...

Wow, great post. I just wolfed down a home-cooked cheeseburger....

Now I think I'll have some CHOCOLATE!


Nia for Jesus said...

Amazing talent,no doubt!

Keep the good work!

KC Frantzen said...

Vince and Julie - HA! Don’t you think writing in first dog POV is somewhat restrictive?

We'll find out probably sometime end of next month... YIKES I'm excited! You should see May!!!

Oh my - a reunion of the K9 family - that would be something!!

Thanks Pepper - it's been one of the hardest things I've ever done, writing in first dog, but really fun too.

You know - I simply must share... Tonite I was able to meet and chat for a few minutes with Joni Eareckson Tada. The woman positively glows.

Later in the evening, she gave a 30 minute speech in front of probably 6-700, and never used notes - not even once. She is the real deal.

Vince said...

Hi Julie, Janet, Cara:

Actually I had three novellas in mind when I wrote that this morning. They all happed around 1900. The first is your Patrick and Marcy. The second has two of Janet Dean’s people from Iowa. The third has two of Cara’s characters from Newport.

These six characters are all traveling to have Christmas away form their homes. They just happen to all get caught in a snow storm in a railroad station. Something magical happens to change all their lives at that stop. Then they all go on to their intended destinations. This might only take five or six pages.

The only thing the three novellas have in common is that one meeting at the station. Each story can have a different take on what happened. This way a reader who was in the know and who has read all three authors would get three different stories while luxuriating in the knowledge that they were familiar with all the strangers.

This would require very little collaboration and the publishers just might go for it. Call it synergy.


Leanne109 said...

Great post and your right we often read the same description in alot of books. I like how u pointed that out.


Cindy W. said...

I loved the post today Audra. Ah shucks, I always enjoy my time spent here in's always a learning experience. I am new in my attempts of novel writing but I find that my characters tend to take on personifications of some of my favorite TV/Movie characters. I've really got to work on this area as I would hate for all my male leads to talk, walk and act like Leroy Jethro Gibbs (ah...just his name makes my heart flutter).

Chocolate is always good too.... :)

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Anonymous said...

I like turns out that my TX cowhand was in an orphanage for much of his childhood. When the orphanage burned down (because of some drunken desperadoes), the priest took him in. So he is versed in St. John of the Cross, but has no direction for his future when the priest dies. He's also VERY shy w/women, and when he stumbles (literally) across my heroine, who also loves to play with words and theological questions . . .

Thank you for the exposition this morning, gives me hope that my story may one day make it to the big time. And I love the SMELL of chocolates and gift cards. Happy Mom's day.

Gail Kittleson

Audra Harders said...

Jenny, even melted chocolates have their place! Funny how you have to consider season change in other parts of the world!

Walt? I'm all over the Hawaii 5-0, but really? Nothing touches NCIS, LOL!

And I think it's safe to say you Japan setting is unique because Shogun is so yesterday.

Whitney? My legs are slowly absorbing color as I try to find time to sit out on the deck during lunch. At the moment though, yes, they're pretty blinding!

Audra Harders said...

Pam, that cheeseburger sounds sooo good. Gotta get propone for the bbq this weekend.

Julie, JAG and NCIS! I have no problems studying the male perspective from this point of view!!

Debby, digging is good. Let's pull out those shovels : )

Audra Harders said...

Hi Nia! Glad you stopped by!

Cindy? Anything Leroy Jethro Gibbs makes my heart flutter. I'm so pathetic, LOL!

Leanne, it's so easy to get lazy. Then your characters get cliche and then they start doing boring things and then you're in a whole lot of trouble!

Gail, sounds like you hit unique right on the head! I love the turn of circumstances that almost makes your characters reflect each other.

Good going!

Faye said...

Hi, Audra!
Great post, the tips on rhythm were great, I didn't think too much about that before.

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