#tuesdayuseitinasentence – Abandon

“What do you mean there’s no one up there? The crowd’s ready to riot! I don’t care what you have to do, just get a band on the stage!!”


This post is part of Tuesday Use It In A Sentence, brought to you by MLW at A Word Adventure. This week’s word is “abandon.” Click here to find out how you can participate!

W is for Watered-Down

Even as a child I was appalled when I watched a movie in which the language was watered-down. I don’t know that they still do it to the same extent, but I remember hearing “darn” dubbed over the word “damn,” and “heck” over “hell.” I’ve never been able to understand it. One would have to be completely isolated from society not to hear these words used between people in normal conversation. What’s the big deal about hearing them in natural conversations on the screen?

And now they’re apparently talking about removing swear words from ebooks in school libraries by installing a “Clean Reader” app. The app blanks out profanities in a way that imitates the “beep” in a talk show brawl a la Jerry Springer. As though we can’t fill in the blanks ourselves.

What purpose do these things serve? Is a cleaned-up book going to protect our children from the world? Seriously? Have the people who came up with this idea ever been out in public?

Next thing you know they’ll be banning lawn darts! Oh, wait…

T is for Transparency, U is for Unbelievable

I have little patience for a novel or movie that I can see through right from the start. Even a romance, which you know is either going to end up happily ever after or the dog’s gonna die, it’s possible to have such a conflict in the story that there is no way for the reader/viewer to deduce how the resolution will come about.

Even worse is an unbelievable resolution that causes me to throw the book across the room in a fit of frustration. I don’t like it and the cat really hates it.

But you know what’s the worse thing of all? That I’m having such a hard time getting through this challenge. Anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t give up. But honestly, I may not make it through “V,” even though I already have “X” scheduled to go for Tuesday.


That is all for today.


R is for Romance and S is for Sucks – The Longest Ride Movie Review

Okay, so not all romance sucks. There are some Good romantic movies out there, and then there are the Bad and the Ugly. I don’t usually do movie reviews but I really can’t let this one go without at least a mention… which somehow ended up being a long tirade. Go figure.

I don’t know if the novel, The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks is any better than the movie – it may be since it seemed to me the directing and the acting was at least as much if not more responsible for the horrific viewing experience I put myself through as the writing… but ugh!

Let’s start with the annoying tittering laugh that came from the lead actress. Actually, that’s not really fair; this should be about the writing, right? Because my A-Z is about writing. So I didn’t mention anything at all about the giggle from hell that made my ears feel like they were being attacked by a cheese grater at the least appropriate times in the movie.

(spoilers ahead)

How about instead I talk about Sparks using every single romantic cliché  known to mankind in one story? And misogynist? Oh boy. The story consists of two separate story lines – one taking place in the present (between Luke and Sophia) and one being told by the character played by Alan Alda (who incidentally saved me from chucking my popcorn and walking out). Both relationships can go nowhere but both couples enter it anyway.  The present day romance is between a professional bullrider and an art student who plans to move to New York for the best job evar. At the same time (but not really because it’s happening in the 1940s,) the other couple, Ira and Ruth (Ira is the young Alda) get married despite the fact that she wants a big family but he’s sterile because of an infection he caught in the war. Basically it’s the same story told twice only we’re supposed to believe Alda is teaching the present-day couple something about their own relationship.

Eventually both couples break up (as they do) and Alda states in the movie something like with love must come sacrifice. So both couples have to have their sacrifice and here’s where the misogyny comes in. Ruth can’t stand being childless anymore so she leaves Ira… with two small suitcases. He gets everything else – the house, the dishes, the heat, the roof etc. Meanwhile Luke, who has been slowly trying to kill himself with the bullriding because OMG it’s all I know how to do! gets hurt and Sophia gives up her job in New York.

We switch back to the past to find out Ruth went back to Ira with her two little suitcases – she probably got tired of squeezing herself into them every night to sleep – and then years later she dies... oooh, what could possibly happen with the other story?

Well surprise! Luke goes on to win the biggest bullriding prize there is! Amid flying bull snot and an eight second ride that lasts, by virtue of slo-mo, about three hours, he becomes The Best in the World!! (It didn’t go unnoticed by the way that there was no one in the competition who didn’t have a Texan accent… but Texas is the world, right?) He flies off the bull and stands in the middle of the bullriding area and looks around at the crowd… she’s not there!!! Oh noes! I’ve done this all for nothing!

Meanwhile, after a visit between Sophia and Ira during which she says to him something to the effect of, I’ve really enjoyed meeting you and talking to you, which actually means, I know you’re going to die now but I’m glad I got to know you before you bit the biscuit, he dies!! Holy shit, did I call that one!

So there’s an auction. Ruth had a priceless collection of art because she was an art student too (duh, same story) and Ira conveniently invited (by way of his lawyer) both Sophia and Luke to attend. To get them back together. Because duh.

There’s a portrait of Ruth being auctioned off first and no one seems to want it. The price goes down and down and then Luke, who has just presumably won a kagillion dollars for being The Best Bullrider in the World buys the portrait for $600, thus cementing the relationship between himself and Sophia for all eternity. The end.

Okay no, there’s one little twist I didn’t mention. So if you too would like to go and see this horribly cliché movie and roll your eyes, giggle in all the wrong spots, and resist the temptation to climb over all the other people in the packed theatre for the final ten minutes of the film, you’ll have something left that I haven’t told you about.

Knock yourself out.

I’m probably going to catch a lot of shit for this review but what the hell. If I can save just one person the money they could otherwise have spent on a bottle of wine or a delicious Big Mac, it’s worth it.

Edit: I suppose since the main character, Luke, lived his entire life in North Carolina, that he has a North Carolinian accent – all sounds Texan to me. But what do I know? I’m Canadian, eh?

Q is for Quality

Wanna be an author? Well lucky you! In this day and age all you have to do is throw a bunch of clichés together, mix in a few proverbs for good measure and lo and behold you have a novel! And then you have a choice – to e-publish it for free or, even better, go to a vanity press where they’ll gladly slap your drivel between the covers of a paperback and charge you thousands of dollars for your masterpiece!

A friend of a friend did just that. According to her author page on Amazon, she had never enjoyed reading for pleasure until one day she borrowed (not bought) two romance novels, read them, decided telling a story wasn’t rocket science and wrote a book of her own. Her work of art is available for the low low cost of $8.04 for the e-book or $23.49 for the paperback. Surprisingly, it hasn’t sold much.

While fools and their money are indeed easily separated, I find it scary to know that there are even more determined writers publishing their crappy wares for free. How does one sift through the chaff?  How many first chapters must one read before finding something worth paying $2.99 for?

I remember spending hours scanning the shelves at the book store as a teenager, looking for a cover or a title that sparked my interest. I could leave the store with my purchase reasonably sure there was something of quality in that molded plastic bag with the store’s logo printed on it. Now even the fact that a book has a publisher isn’t a guarantee that it might be worth buying, unless it’s from one of the big five.

Is there a trick to finding quality in published works that I’m not seeing? Or is it really like searching a needle-stack for a piece of hay?

O is for Opinions

Any piece of fiction, any work of art for that matter, is subject to people’s opinions and is therefore subjective. In other words, you can’t please everyone, because everyone has their own point of view and the experience from whence it came. This can be difficult for writers – some appreciate differing opinions from readers and some hate them. I, myself, often find that I’ll try to stay politically correct, at least when blogging, so as not to piss anyone off. I actually dislike that about myself, but it is what it is.

This issue I have sometimes bleeds over into my works of fiction, making me question whether or not to leave in what I’ve written or take it out. I’ll give you an example.

Without spoiling the story, J.K. Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy ends with a completely heartbreaking scene. In reading it, I felt that she could have changed the end of the story, but that would have been a lie. Staying true to a story, no matter the consequences, is of utmost importance. What Rowling wrote was true.

At the end of my own novel I have a similar scenario. I CAN leave something out which could potentially cause an uproar, but it’s really what happens. It’s true. To change it would be a lie.

You see, stories like mine aren’t told. They’re found. I believe every one of my stories exists somewhere in the universe – I’m just lucky enough to be the one to find them. They have a beginning, a middle and an end, and for me to oppress the end for the sake of possibly half the population who might hate me, would make the entire works meaningless.

It takes a lot of guts to release a story to the world. Especially if it’s told right. I wonder if that’s why I’ve delayed my novel for so long.

Would you rather read or watch a story that is true to itself even though it’s painful, or do you prefer a happy, albeit false ending?


N is for Neurosis and Noonan’s Syndrome

A creative writing teacher once told me to be careful about diagnosing my characters. Be sure, she said, that you know exactly what you’re talking about before you do. In that particular case I was writing about a woman with OCD – something I strongly suspect my son to be afflicted with, though he has never been diagnosed.

I can say with every bit of authority that my professor’s advice is valid, having seen an episode of Law and Order: SVU entitled Bullseye, in which they included a character who had “Noonan’s Syndrome.”  I was enraged. The show went about explaining the character’s mental retardation by passing it off with a diagnosis the writers quite obviously didn’t research. Yes, some of the people with Noonan’s Syndrome are mentally delayed. My youngest son is one of them. But through the extensive research I did when my son was a baby, in order to find out what his life might be like, I met some fantastic people with university degrees who were inflicted with the same genetic disease, which is most often characterized by its physical symptoms. Not its mental ones.

There are many ways to piss off a reader by not thoroughly researching an element in a work of fiction. The more emotionally driven the subject, the more it will affect the audience.

Have you ever been enraged over an author’s lack of research? I doubt there are many of us who haven’t, at some point or another.


EM is for Menstruation

My A-Z Challenge this year contains posts about writing adult content in fiction – you will not find any adult fiction within the parameters of the challenge, except for illustration purposes.

People are going to hate me for this, but I gotta say it. The “controversy” all started with the “iconic” scene in 50 Shades of Grey where *gasp* Christian Grey removed a tampon from Ana’s down there before he mounted her. And women all over the world tittered or threw up. What. The. Fuck.

Oh but it’s so sickening! they cry. To remove a foreign object from the place a man is going to stick his dick -so what?! Is your blood diseased? Are you not clean down there? If not you might want to reconsider those tampons in the first place, ‘coz it ain’t getting any better! And guys – feeling uneasy about the idea of fucking her during her period? Consider this: get her pregnant and your kid’s comin’ outta that same hole with even MORE blood — head-first! Is that sick or what? If you can’t handle the anatomy, get the hell out of the twat!

And grow the fuck up already!


F is for Four Letter Words in Fiction

My A-Z Challenge this year contains posts about writing adult content in fiction – you will not find any adult fiction within the parameters of the challenge, except for illustration purposes.

I’m a huge believer of truth in fiction. Which doesn’t mean to say I don’t like a completely made-up story but rather that what’s important is the world and the characters within the world of a fictional tale need to stay true to themselves.

For example, a story I’m currently writing takes place within the confines of a city bus, in a real city in the real world in which we all live. Any and every conceivable character could ride on that bus; all shapes, ages, levels of intelligence, all with various degrees of respect. In order to stay true to my setting, I feel I must include characters whom I find distasteful – characters who swear, tell fart jokes, and are generally abrasive and disrespectful.

The same often occurs within the setting of a novel. Especially in dialogue, this can be a challenge when, for example, it becomes necessary to include a character who habitually uses a certain word. Like “fuck.” Everyone has come across someone whose speech regularly includes, “fuck this, fuckin’ fuck that, fuckin’ whatever fuck” throughout every conversation they have. I actually have someone living in my basement like this, so I’m intimately familiar with this behaviour. (No, I can’t just get rid of him. I gave birth to him.)  When writing such a character into a novel which you hope will come out as a literary masterpiece, how do you balance such a character’s dialogue? It’s a toughie. Same as with what I call “ummers”–people who say “um” after every third word. There ARE people who do this, it’s true. But try reading it – it’s annoying!

Have you ever come across characters in stories where this sort of dialogue was handled well… or not?



D is for Details

Details. They’re where the devil resides. For to know where to start and where to stop is a devilish conundrum indeed. I once read a sex scene in a self-published romance ebook during which the heroine, hot under the collar, drags the object of her desire up the stairs to her room… and you know where it’s going from there.

Except I didn’t. You see, the scene was from the perspective of the man. He wanted her, badly, but he was a little confused as to why. I think the author was too, since she stopped the steamy scene in the doorway of the bedroom while he took note of every … single … little … detail … of the furniture before getting on with the sex.

It doesn’t really matter what the action is, does it? You don’t slow down a car chase to describe the buildings, you don’t watch the bullet fly through the air unless you’re in the Matrix, and you don’t worry if the drapes match the rug unless you think maybe she lied about dying her hair.

The really great details are the ones that give a story atmosphere. The buildings that the hero drives past are a blur in his periphery; the thunk of the axe as it’s driven into the wall right beside the good guy’s left shoulder; the musty smell of the sleeping bag when they finally fall drunkenly on top of one another in the tent.

There are some really great authors out there who are famous for the richness of their prose. Do you have a favourite?