Don’t Insult My Intelligence: The Cardinal Sin That Writer’s Inflict Upon Readers

Writing. Word weaving. Storytelling. It is an art form, one that is not easily mastered nor is it for the faint of heart. Words hold power that is far greater than any other creating medium in all creation. If you are a fellow Believer in Christ then you know all creation was born from Words and words alone.argument-238529_960_720

So when we as creative beings take up the mantle of weaving words like a glassblower before a fiery furnace we must act with the same depth of care that said artisan takes when handling the molten medium. One wrong move and not only is the piece they are working on ruined but they just might burn a hole through themselves in the process…neither are good outcomes.

It only makes me wonder, as an aspiring author myself, why so many published authors act so carelessly when handling the wordy flames as if we, the reader, are just not going to notice.

News flash…WE DO! And it’s infuriating!

And yet, even with this knowledge, some authors still choose to insult our intelligence with sloppy character behaviors and plot “twist”. Truth is they twist something far beyond their plots, they twist our last nerve!

Here are a few examples of this sinful, insulting behavior:

  • Example 1: A young woman with a wounded past, one that involves the abuse of men and a fear of being abused again would not, and I mean NOT, seek to use the toilet in a seedy strip club filled to the brim with drunk men. She’s just not going to do it.
  • Example 2: A knight who is the lead of a large regiment of men, who knows that there is a price on his head and a handful of his men have gone missing while out on their own, is not, I repeat, NOT GOING TO GO OUT ALONE JUST BECAUSE HE IS ‘THE GUY!!!’ Thinking that he, by himself can capture his foe. He knows better.
  • Example 3: A seasoned detective who is known for having an uncanny sixth sense will not ignore the nagging itch that something might be wrong at home but because he needs eggs for breakfast in the morning he heads to the corner store for a quick stop.

What happens with this scenarios?

  • Example 1: Girl gets attacked and just barely gets away, but her boyfriend whose trust she is trying to win sees her and becomes suspicious of her secretive life and ways.
  • Example 2: The knight is attacked but though wounded he manages to get away but not before grabbing a clue of who his enemy is.
  • Example 3: While waiting in the line at Walgreens (or Boots if you are in Europe…I love me some Boots) our discerning detective’s wife is being attacked by the very person he is tracking.

Someone PLEASE insert eye-roll!!!! All three of these “tension building plot twist” have not done the story any favors. In fact its made us either chuck the book across the room while we rant about the ridiculousness that just took place; made us erase the offensive tome from our tablet while we rant about the ridiculousness that just took place, or makes us write blogs ranting about the ridiculousness that just took place. Or maybe we just cry about the betrayal to our friends…all of them…on Facebook and WordPress and beyond.

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Hey, I get it. You need to create a scene. You need to get from plot point A to plot point C, but don’t do so at  your readers expense by creating a rickety bridge called  B, and then think we are going to be okay with it. If we’ve dedicated time to your written piece then you, the writer, should dedicate thrice as much in making sure that we won’t feel betrayed 100 or so pages in.

We’ve gotten to know the characters. We are invested. If we recognize that what you are making this person do is just not believable to the point we are grinding our teeth, then the odds are that you felt that itch of shame while you were writing it, because you knew better!

Just as the glassblower has a final vision for his work, so too do writers, but it seems to me that writers tend to lack the same level of patience to work through their creative piece insuring that it is indeed at the pinnacle of quality it deserves.

Some works are so carelessly thrown together that it leaves the reader with a throbbing headache and a poor attitude. Almost as if they’d gone on a date with someone who held promise who only turned out to be a complete turd in the end. And this, only because they simple didn’t care.

All stories need tension. There is always the pause that takes place when a writer must figure out how to carry their plot from point A to point C while B remains a mystery.

What happens when B is a mystery and the writer refuses to take their time? We the reader find the characters doing things that not only DON’T make any logical sense, but is so incredibly ridiculous that the story-even a great one- becomes infuriating.

Why? Because we the reader are left as witness of a writer’s crime scene that never should have happened.

It’s tough bridging one’s story into literary perfection. There are always going to be issues with word count, rambling, in excess of unnecessary scenes, grammar issues and so on. (Gosh, I am sure there are several in this blog post alone.) These things are expected and mostly forgivable. But ludicrous, inexplicable behaviors that are beyond out of character with your characters is absolutely not.

What it is is insulting to your readers. It breaks down our trust and willingness to give you another chance in the future.

Moral of the story? If you are an aspiring author, take time with your stories, don’t insult your reader’s intelligence by making a joke of once respectable characters. It just ain’t right, ya hear.

Til we meet again…

Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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Man of Grace Part 2 “The Roots of Orchids”: A Short Story # Blogbattle Week 28 Orchid

Blog Battle Tuesday! And the Story of Mog and Grace continues. If you did not catch part 1 please take a read by clicking HERE. I continue with my beloved SCIENCE FICTION as the genre, though this tale is definitely dramatic. This week's keyword is ORCHID. To read more tales by other blog battlers, please visit the hosting blog of Rachael Ritchey.

the roots of orchids

“Dig.” She ordered him. She had to tilt her head back in order to look down her nose at him. Even in the thick darkness he could see her. Her mouth was tight but her chin trembled as it battled between anger and tears.

Mog had hurt her, wounded her in a way he never thought possible, but he was so certain about what she had done, so certain of Walter’s convincing words. Now crouching at her feet, thick fingers brushing the grass of their back lawn, just beneath the Orchids of her garden, he wasn’t so sure. Shoulder’s slouching he said, “Can’t we go inside? We can-”

“I said, dig, Mog! You have accused me. Now I shall be vindicated. You listened to him now you will hear me. Now dig.” Her eyes shone like obsidian in the dim moonlight, shined and polished with her tears. Letting out a breath he pushed his massive fingers into the earth and pulled out a plug of the lawn.

Grace moaned with the first scoop of soil that came forth, uprooting the beloved Orchids she had all but worshiped ever since he could remember. She moaned as if he had ripped them out of her, and hadn’t he? And it was all because he’d heeded Walter.

But what Walter’d said made such undeniable sense, even now it did, but the way Mog’s mother shuttered as he plowed his giant hands deeper into the earth he couldn’t help but regret his own words, he wanted to leave the elephant sit in the room and feed it rather than make her cry so.

He’d been uncertain about what he’d do once he was sure she had used him, now with each thrust of his scooping hand and each tear that dropped from her chin, each shiver that shook her tiny shoulders, he knew he’d rather have left things lie.

Despite the motives that had been told him, he could not deny how she had loved him. Sure she had been rough at times, but she had to be. His blood, his natural inclinations for violence and rage was something that could not be tempered with soft words. Often it took a strong hand, the attitude of an alpha to force peace, and Grace had been a veritable alpha driven by nothing but the strength and determination of a mother.

Why hadn’t that truth shown itself before resentment had grown like a wall of weeds? Despite what Grace’s initial motives had been for keeping him, she’d done nothing short of love him as if she had bore him herself.

Mog’s breath caught in his chest, his fingers stabbing bluntly against the stiff fabric of a canvas sack. Hesitating to draw it up from its earthen grave, Grace shoved him.

“Pull it free. Carefully!” She stepped forward biting her lip. Mog considered her and the scent of fear that seeped from her pours. He had never smelled it on her before, not like this.

“Are you certain you want me to pull it up?” He didn’t meet her gaze this time. Her trembling made him want to run from her. He also didn’t need to unearth the sad package. He could smell the bones of man the moment he uprooted the Orchids.

Grace was silent, still apart from the folds of her dress that tugged at her with the night wind. Mog looked at her legs through his periphery but he didn’t speak. The erratic beat of Grace’s heart sounded loudly in his ears. It frightened him. He wanted to not hear the pained drumming just as fiercely as he wanted to un-hear what Walter had said.

Finally she spoke, “Yes, Mog. I am certain. Pull them up.”

“Them?” His finger’s stilled again, his nostrils flared. He could only smell the man’s bones but no one else’s. His brow knotted and his gaze skirted across the lawn, the thought of his mother’s backyard being a graveyard jumped in his mind. He didn’t want to know if it were true.

Grace gave a quick nod before wrapping her arms around herself and turning abruptly away from him. Obediently Mog pulled the canvas bag upward and gently laid it aside before he began to dig again.

“Why are you still digging?”

“You said pull them up.”

Grace frowned and hesitantly approached the dirty sack. “They are both inside here.” Her words were strangled. She quickly attacked the laces that held the bag closed but her fingers could catch no purchase on the knots.

Sensing more than ever the pain she was rushing through, Mog stilled her hands and tore the bag open as if through paper. The exposed rib cage of a headless man peaked beyond the torn fabric of the bag as tiny bones fell within it with the sound of a hollow wind chime.

“An infant,” Mog whispered.

Grace choked down another whimper before painting on a stern face of feigned strength. How often had Mog seen that face? So often as a child that now as a man he could look back on their past with a different understanding. Grace had pushed through fear most of his life, standing as a fearless lioness in his childhood mind. She wore that face whenever anyone sought to harm him. It was with that face she fiercely defended and protected him.

“MacRae. We were naming him MacRae; Son of Grace.”

“We?”

Grace still hadn’t looked back at the bag. “My husband and I. Your kind pulled his head from his shoulders. I screamed until I gave birth prematurely. I lost them both. I wasn’t supposed to ever be able to bare a child. MacRae was my son conceived of God’s grace.”

She turned and met his gaze. “And when I had lost all, my mind included, then came you.”

“You stole me out of revenge?” His question was timid, not so accusing as he looked at his mother’s loss.

Grace frowned, touching Mog’s face. “About that…”

TO BE CONTINUED

Looks like Mog and Grace will be getting another week! I still haven’t explained nor have I revealed Grace’s motives or Walter’s. I hope you stick around for next week. I finished with 998 words, right in the 1000 word limit. Nevertheless, I hope you were entertained!

Cheers!

Caleb: Opening To A Potential Novel

Water poured from her eyes like the gentle rains from the heavens above. She stared at him, her face frozen in a mask of unbelief, her eyes wanting to blink away his false image, but ceasing to close least the vision of him be proved a lie.

He took a step forward, dropping his sack down at his feet, gingerly touching her fingertips that had all but pressed their way into the solid framing of the door, she gripped it so tightly.

The thick lashes of her eyes spiked with the fluttering dip of her lids, soaking up some of the moisture from her tears. “Caleb?” She whispered his name and begin to tremble.

Caleb’s own eyes stung with the threat to of his own want for crying. He had never thought to see this day, only held on to the hope of home, and her, by the tiniest cord that daily threatened to break and blow away like old cobwebs caught in the wind.

“Men don’t cry! Only sissy do!” His father’s harsh words ripped through his thoughts like a searing arrow, almost completely licking up the liquid of joy that so desired to spring forth.

The muscle in Caleb’s eye twitched, the smile that had sprouted upon his lips almost shocked into a frown. If his father were alive he would have cursed him dead for the hardness he had planted in Caleb’s heart.

Struggling with the taste of bitterness that slowly eased upon his tongue, not wanting her to see it upon him, Caleb pulled her hand from the door and drew her into an embrace. His arms wrapped around her with such fierceness that he felt her stiffen. Loosening his hold he cupped her head, weaving the fingers that so longed to feel the touch of her, through her hair. Kissing her temple he whispered. “It’s me, Emaleen. I’ve come home,”

The trembling that he had fought himself overpowered him and the tears that his father’s words had tried to burn away with its hateful fire, slipped from his pressed eyes and into the waves of Emaleen’s hair. He felt her fingers grip and claw the stiff fabric of his shirt, each thread so saturated with sweat that the garment could have stood up all on its own.

Caleb’s heart swelled, filling with the warmth and touch of her, and the sweet scent of the honeysuckle fragrance that danced within her pores. He kissed her head again.

Emaleen stiffened even more, this time pulling away from him just enough to gaze into his eyes, her fingers still holding a fistful of his shirt. Caleb’s brow drew together as his eyes probed hers.

Something was wrong. The shock in her he had anticipated, joy he had longed for, but fear? Fear he had not thought to see staring back at him.

“Whose at the door, sweetheart?” A familiar voice called from the back of the house, its tenor making the hairs on Caleb’s back bristle. His eyes looked forward and then back down upon Emaleen’s face. More fear and tears pooled within her eyes and slid down their corners. Her full lip, a lip he had matched several time with his own, drew inward and hid itself between white teeth that all but chattered.

Knowing liked to have scooped Caleb’s insides out and dumped them right at his feet. Still holding Emaleen’s gaze, he pried her hands from around him, and took hold of her hands, not in promise but to confirm what the familiar voice beyond them had announced without even having said.

With the pads of his calloused thumbs, Caleb found the wedding rings, rings he had not placed on the delicate hands he now held. And why had he not? Because “Real men don’t leave widows, boy, and you are sure as shootin’ gonna find yourself dead. Ain’t now coming home for you. Leave that Hicks girl be.” His father’s words again.

Pain like knives of glass cut through his mind and made Caleb stumble backward. Emaleen said his name and reached for him but he managed to stay out of her reach. Her beautiful eyes, pleaded with him, pleaded with apology, one he couldn’t even fathom receiving.

Why had he listened to his father?

Yule finally made himself visible, him and the child he carried in his arms. “Whose at the door?” He asked again, only to stumble in his stride knocked back by the same invisible force that had knocked into Caleb.

Caleb didn’t know how he found his bag or how he managed to make his legs run, but he ran, ran hard, back into the darkness he had slipped out of and towards the graveyard where he meant to curse his father and himself for ever listening to him.

THE END FOR NOW

Poor Caleb. Don’t worry though. I have every intention of figuring out where he has been, how long he has been gone…obviously long enough for the woman he loves to have gotten married and had a child, and how to bring his darkness to a place of light. I will admit that even though I have been moved to write romance, science fictional aspects are constantly asking for a play date with these tales. It wants part of the action. My thought, is to create a world not unlike earth, where this story (stories) take place. 

What do you think? Do you think that would take away from the heart of the tales? I would sure like to know your thoughts if you are willing to give them. 

Cheers!

Love & Joy: A Short Story

“You ruined me.” She whispered, here elvish eyes drawn into a scowl that matched the grim curve of her frowning lips. She knew he had not heard her. Abigail had spoken the words in a tiny hiss, more so her heart said them, the same as his heart had mentioned the name of the other as they moved as one, skin to skin during that night.

Alexander had not even noticed the sin he had committed, worse he could not repent of it nor make restitution.

Abigail watched as his chest rose and fell beneath the gentle folds of the sheet that covered him. The quilt lay crumpled at his knees. Abigail would rather freeze the rest of the night away than be clothed in his warmth again.

The golden band upon her finger seemed as a choke hold, now strangling the foolish hope that had intoxicated her heart with the wine of deceit. And how she had resisted its drink for so long…

All she had needed was a few more days, a few more days keeping her heart as stone, and then she could have slipped away in the darkness, sent Alexander her papers of annulment via a mail handler and been rid of him…She thought she could send them that way. She still wasn’t quite sure of how the law worked.

But she was certain she couldn’t be rid of him without a full divorce, a thing she couldn’t afford. Now, now she was spoiled, a fruit tasted and tossed to the side in favor of something of another flavor.

Darla.

Sweet Darla Jennings. If Abigail had wished the young woman harm before, she now wished to roast her hide on spit with a kerosene fed flame. Every thing always seemed to be competition, one that Abigail didn’t even know she was competing in with Darla until it was too late.

And now, just like her marriage, Abigail had let a moment of weakness seal her fate and cause her to lose another battle with rosy cheeked Darla.

If Alexander had wanted Darla for a bride then he shouldn’t have come calling on her! Abigail knew something was wrong when he kept addressing her folks when he asked her for her hand. He met their gazes straight on but anytime his eyes would come close to her, he would roll them right over her as if she weren’t even there.

She wasn’t. All Alexander Lovejoy could see was Darla.

Abigail had heard rumors about them secretly courting a little while back, but she hadn’t given any thought to them. She couldn’t anyhow. There were too many mouths to feed and the proposal seemed like an answer to a pray to Ma and Daddy. Dash the hopes and dreams Abigail had for her future.

A hot tear rolled from the corner of her eye and drew out of her a painful moan. Alexander stirred next to her but didn’t wake. His head rolled indecisively on his shoulders as if torn between which way it would lean; left or right, left or right, until finally, with his brow creased and jaw set, he turned his face towards her.

And such a handsome face it was. “Perfect in form just like the apple that nearly done Snow White in!” She whispered again. But Abigail would not wait around for a rescuer. No, she was going to hightail it out of town as soon as Alexander’s back was turned.

A painful longing wrapped its harsh fingers around her heart and gave it such a violent squeeze that Abigail pulled her arms around her breast, drawing her bare legs up towards her middle. It was either the pain of pining or the cold that made her do it. She figured it was the cold by the way her icy toes sought out the warmth of Alexander’s side, digging into the hard muscles beneath his smooth flesh in favor of kicking the living daylights out of him.

“Why did you have to give in, Abigail?” She whispered again, allowing her fingers to weave within the soft, silken threads of his hair. Cool air fanned through the wispy fabric of the drapes. Abigail shivered pulling her hand away and her chin down to her chest. She pressed her eyes cold against the hands of Fall, and tried to guard what little warmth she had.

Her breath caught in her lungs at the shock of Alexander’s touch. His eyes stared into hers with question, before a smile shaped them anew. He shifted his body closer to hers, pulling her against his solid chest, folding her into his warmth and arms.

Tugging the sheet and quilt up over them and tucking them around Abigail’s shoulders, he kissed her forehead before teasing her lips with a feathery kiss. Then he drifted back into sleep, his chin resting against the crown of her head.

More tears burned the back of her eyes. The tantalizing scent of his salty skin and bath soap made her take gentle hold of him. She might as well savor the warmth now, she urged herself, for come Friday, Abigail Lovejoy was going to fly like the wind where no one would ever find her, and no one would ever ask her to play second fiddle to Darla Jennings again.

THE END FOR NOW

Pining, the fragrance of unrequited love. The topic is one I believe we all can relate to. I also recognize a common thread with some of my recent stories; unintended marriages, with mountains of misunderstanding to climb up and around. I hope you enjoyed Love & Joy. Clearly by the end of this tale and the contradiction of its title, there will be more to come. But for now…

Cheers!