What Do You Want To Learn?

It’s been a long day. I woke up sick and I feel like I haven’t been sick like this in a while.

Then I realized I never wrote a blog post for today because I was lazy yesterday. No problem, I’d be feeling better within a few hours. Nope. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and I’m still on the couch.

Since I can’t do a typical post, I thought I’d ask something I was going to ask within the next week.

What do you want to see more of?

I’ve talked about editing, character development, short stories, themes, and more. There’s a lot more to be said about the writing world including reading. Or maybe you want to learn more about blogging and marketing or social media.

February will be all about world building and I have a few ideas for upcoming months, but not for the whole year. So, please tell me what you want to learn more about.

Let me know in the comments below. I’d appreciate it!

Tomorrow should be back to regular blog posts providing I can stare at my laptop screen long enough.

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Short Story Sunday 196: Babysit

Short Story: "Babysit" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

            “Are you sure you can handle this?”

Elliot rolled his eyes. “For the last time, Isabel, I got this. You have nothing to worry about.”

Isabel stood in the middle of the kitchen. She stared down her older brother like he had carried the plague into her home. She was dressed up in a knee-length red dress with silver sparkling heels. She held onto her black clutch in front of her, her knuckles turning white.

Elliot walked up to her and took one of her hands in his. He kissed it and smiled as sweetly as he could even though she was beginning to annoy him with her constant worry.

“This isn’t my first rodeo, you know. I have three kids, remember?” Elliot said.

Isabel nodded her head. “Yes, I know… But this is your first time with my kid.”

“She’s a year old and she’s asleep.”

“What if she wakes up?”

“I’ll change her diaper.”

“What if she’s crying?”

“I’ll soothe her.”

“What if–”

“Isabel, don’t make me pick you up and throw you out the front door…” Elliot wagged his index finger in her face. He was smiling, but she didn’t seem amused one bit.

“Where would I go? My date is picking me up.” Isabel said. Then her bottom lip began to quiver. She turned away and walked into the living room.

Elliot opened his mouth to say something before she had turned her back but decided against saying anything at all. He followed her into the next room and watched her as she placed her handbag down on the coffee table and sat on the couch with her head between her knees.

“Okay…” Elliot cleared his throat. He walked over and sat down on the couch beside her. He put a hand on her back rubbing in small circles. “Listen, I know this is going to be a tough night for you, but you really like this guy, don’t you?”

Isabel nodded, but it was hard to tell considering that her head was still buried in her dress.

“So don’t worry about that… guy.” Elliot coughed. He wasn’t too sure what to call his almost brother-in-law. As soon as Isabel’s fiancé had found out she was pregnant, he broke off the wedding and got back together with his ex-girlfriend.

Elliot was the one who was there when his niece was born. He had thrown the best baby shower there ever could have been, he gave her a part of his house before she was able to rent her own apartment. He stayed with her when her due date approached. He drove her to the hospital, stayed in the delivery room with her, and he was even the one to cut the cord.

A year had passed since then and while Elliot had helped her a lot, especially since both of their parents had already passed on, Isabel was eventually able to get back on her own feet and take responsibility for being a single mother. Elliot now had become back-up when his sister was in a pinch.

Isabel met Gary about a month ago at the coffee shop she worked at. He had become a regular costumer and it was recent that Isabel realized it was because he wanted to see her every day. They were finally going on their first date. Isabel really liked him and while Elliot had never met him, he was impressed by Isabel’s stories about him.

This was the first date Isabel was going on since her fiancé of two years and boyfriend of three years. Elliot knew it was going to be hard, but date or no date, Isabel hadn’t had a night out since the baby was born.

“Go out and have fun. And don’t think of this as a date.” Elliot said.

“But it is a date.” Isabel sniffled lifting her head. She looked at him with blood-shot eyes.

Elliot grunted. He pushed himself off the couch mumbling, “You’re smudging your make-up…”

Isabel chuckled. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.

“No, don’t do that.” Elliot grabbed a box of tissues on the other side of the room. He handed her the box and sat down beside her again. “Here,”

Isabel took a couple of tissues. She stood up, taking her bag, and walked over to the mirror above the mantel. After wiping her face, she began to reapply the make-up from her handbag.

“Just have a good time with Gary as friends. I know he asked you out, but don’t let a label like ‘date’ put any pressure on you.” Elliot explained.

Isabel took a deep breath still staring at herself in the mirror. “You’re right.”

“I know, I always am,”

She turned around and rolled her eyes at him, but she was smiling.

“You look beautiful; you’ll have a fun time.” Elliot stood up and walked over to the window. “And right on cue,” he said peeking through the curtains, “is your ride.”

“Crap…”

Elliot opened his arms. “Give me a hug and then go open the door for him.”

Isabel did just that. She gave her brother a tight squeeze and then opened the front door before Gary even had a moment to get all the way up the front steps.

After greeting and complimenting how beautiful Isabel looked, he introduced himself to Elliot and shook his hand. The three of them made small talk for a few minutes before Gary checked the time and realized they didn’t want to be late for the show. They said their goodbyes and Elliot closed the door.

He side stepped to the window and carefully peeked around the curtain watching Gary back out of the driveway with Isabel in the front seat.

Once they were out of sight, Elliot made his way into the kitchen. He made up a few snacks for himself, grabbed the baby monitor, and made his way back into the living room. His niece was sound asleep. He kicked his feet up on the coffee table, cracked open a soda, and turned on the TV.

Maybe after tonight Isabel would be able to get her happy ending.

Words: 1,027

 I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

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Character Basics: Physical Appearance [Character Development]

We’re all unique from one another, we all look and appear differently. Yes, people have identical twins or doppelgangers hanging around in other parts of the world, but we’re all made up differently.

Our appearance ranges from different hairstyles, body size and shape, the clothes we wear, and much more. There’s a lot to think about when you’re trying to paint a picture of multiple people in your stories for your readers.

How to describe your characters' physical appearance | Character development | Creating fictional characters | RachelPoli.com

Features To Think About

  • Height and weight
  • Body type
  • Eyes/eyebrows (shape, color)
  • Hair (style, length, color)
  • Skin (looks, feels, color)
  • Face (shape, facial hair)
  • Nose/ears
  • Mouth/teeth
  • Arms/hands
  • Legs/feet
  • Distinguishing features (makeup, scars, freckles, etc.)
  • Clothing style

When creating your character, it’s good for you to know most, if not all, of these features. Of course, your readers don’t need every nitty-gritty detail. I mean, you don’t typically describe your characters’ eyebrows, do you?

No, but if you want to get the whole picture for you, then it’s something to think about when you’re sketching out your characters.

How To Describe Your Characters

1. Use figurative language

You don’t need to straight up tell your readers, “Rachel had brown hair and blue eyes.” You want your readers to be able to picture Rachel and infer for themselves what she looks like. Yes, there will be some things you can blurt out, but for the most part, you want to show, not tell.

2. Describe facial expressions

A big way to show off facial features is to describe their expressions. Did someone tell a funny joke? How do they laugh? Do they show their teeth? When they cry, does makeup run down their face? Are they an ugly crier?

3. Describe throughout the story

I’ve read books where a new character is introduced and then there’s a paragraph or two all about them. It can work, but I always found it better to show how the character looks and acts the deeper you get into the story. First impressions are fine, but we don’t need to know their looks top to bottom right away.

4. Show description through actions

It’s easy to visualize what your characters look like when they show off how they act. For example, maybe a character plays with their hair when they’re nervous. Or maybe they’re reapplying lipstick while gossiping with a friend.

5. Allow characters to comment on each other

We all have an opinion on something and so do your characters. Your main character, especially in the first person, can comment on the other characters. Maybe your protagonist likes or dislikes them, but why? Do they smell? Is their hair greasy or does it look better than theirs?

6. Show the way they move

You can tell a lot by a person and their mood at how they move. Do they slouch? Do they move slow? Do they take big steps when walking?

7. Make it important to know

You don’t need to describe every inch of your characters. Like I said before, your characters’ eyebrows aren’t really important. Unless they dye them or shave them off or something… the point is, not everything is important. You can always leave room for your readers’ imagination.

8. Less is more

Going along with the point above, you don’t need to describe everything. Not just because it may not be important, but so that your readers can infer themselves.

9. Check yourself out

A fun exercise can be to look at yourself in the mirror. Describe what you see, make different facial expressions and describe those. Look at photographs, old and new, and describe the people you see. Make up some new features if you want.

What other tips do you have for describing your characters? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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WIP Wednesday: January 2018

It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through January when I feel like New Year’s was just yesterday. The month has been going by in a blur and 2018 is kicking into high gear. While it’s been kind to me (so far), it hasn’t been kind to others I know. So, it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the month plays out!

In the meanwhile, I’m still working hard on my writing and blogging. I can only hope I can meet my deadlines in the next two weeks.

Work In Progress Wednesday: January 2018 | Writing | Creative Writing | Goals | RachelPoli.com

What am I currently working on?

THE SCRIBE

I published The Scribe on Wattpad a week and a half ago. I upload a new chapter once a day Monday through Friday. If you haven’t read it already, feel free to check it out!

GEORGE FLORENCE

It’s high time I get back into this one. I’ve gone through the whole timeline and planned each mystery and case for each book in the series. Now all I have to do is draft up a basic outline of each book. I’d like to have outlines for books one and two done soon. I’ll be editing the first book next month.

PERPLEXED

This is my collection of mystery short stories. It’s actually been harder than I thought. I have a ton of mystery ideas, but those ideas are actually plot points for my George Florence series. I do have other ideas, but I feel like I’m back at square one. Needless to say, I’ve made little progress on this project this month.

What are you currently working on? How is your progress going? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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Short Story Sunday 195: Anticipation

Short Story Sunday: "Anticipation" | Short Story | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

            Brenda paced her gaze focused on the ground. The white tiled flooring was shiny and clear, clear enough that she could see her reflection. Her worried expression seemed to be plastered in every clean tile on the floor. A couple of times, as people passed by, she wondered if they would see it too. She wondered if they knew.

There was nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to freak out over. Still, being in a hospital waiting room made her nervous.

Brenda’s legs were growing tired. They were beginning to ache. The bottoms of her feet were stinging and she was pretty sure blisters were forming on the heels from the straps of her sandals.

Every once in a while, she’d hear a beeping sound. She’d freeze in her pacing and listen. Her mouth gaped open, her eyes wide. People would walk this way and that way passed her, but no one seemed to pay her any attention.

Didn’t they see her standing out there? Didn’t they sense she was worried? Didn’t they want to help her?

No, she didn’t need help. There was nothing wrong. Everything was going to be fine.

Brenda began to pace again.

One, two, three, four… She found herself counting the tiles on the floor. Before she knew it, she was at the end of the hall. She turned around and started counting all over again.

Brenda had done this more times than she could count. What was taking so long?

Yet, no matter how hard her feet hurt, how dizzy her head got from staring down at the ground, or how heavy her eyelids become, she kept pacing. She kept counting the tiles. She kept staring at her reflection in the floor. Her heart raced, her breathing had become jagged. If someone didn’t come and tell her something soon, she was going to have to be admitted to the hospital herself.

“Brenda?”

She paused. Her eyes grew wide upon hearing her name. She slowly turned around and came face to face with a nurse. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed between her getting that phone call up until now. Her throat suddenly felt dry, probably from the continuous counting.

“Y-Yes…?” she answered quietly.

The nurse smiled sweetly. “Your sister and brother-in-law are doing just fine. They’re the proud parents of a healthy baby boy.”

Brenda put a hand over her heart, her vision becoming blurry as tears sat in her eyelids. “You mean…” she breathed heavily, “I’m an aunt?”

The nurse chuckled. “Yes, Brenda. You’re an aunt.”

“For real…?”

The nurse let out another chuckle. “Everyone is doing well, but we just need to give them another few minutes. I’ll come back in a bit to bring you to the room, okay?”

Brenda nodded.

The nurse walked away.

Brenda pressed her back against the wall. She bent her knees, sliding down to the floor. She looked over at her purse, which had been sitting in the middle of the hall the entire time. As she wiped some tears away, she wondered why no one had taken it. She had forgotten she even had it with her.

Opening her purse, Brenda reached her hand in. Once she felt something soft she smiled and pulled it out.

She placed a small teddy bear with a blue bowtie in her lap. She couldn’t wait to meet her nephew.

Words: 563

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

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Supporting Characters In Novels Need Love Too

When it comes to writing novels everyone always talks about two major characters: the main character and the bad guy. However, there are so many other characters to consider when writing a novel.

There are side characters, major or minor characters, secondary characters, however, you want to explain it.

If you think about it, your protagonist wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for the help of their supporting characters.

Give your supporting characters some love | Supporting characters | Character Development | RachelPoli.com

What is a supporting character?

It’s a character in a novel who supports the main character through the plot. They’re not the main focus of the story, but they aid the story in various ways. This can be shown through major or minor characters or secondary characters. Or, maybe a passerby kind of character.

3 examples of supporting characters

The Best Friend

Your main character’s friend may have nothing to do with the plot, but they may get roped into a few things here and there. They’re the perfect opportunity to add a little friction as well. Everyone argues with their best friend and it’ll add one more annoying thing to your main character’s list.

The Mentor

The mentor or teacher is the character who, of course, guides or advises the main character. It may or may not have anything to do with the plot, but most often than not, the main character finds a way to use their teachings to push the plot forward.

The Love Interest

Everyone has a little love in their life and that includes your main character. Sometimes this goes with the plot and other times it doesn’t. Sometimes it even distracts the main character from the plot. Either way, it keeps things interesting.

How to spread the love to your supporting characters | Character development | RachelPoli.com

Treat your supporting cast like any other character.

Supporting characters are just like any other character. The plot just isn’t about them. That’s okay though, they’re still characters who are important to the story.

With that said, be sure to:

  • Give them a backstory – This doesn’t have to be too in-depth depending on how often they’ll appear in the story, but it helps.
  • Give them good traits – They must be helping the main character for some reason, right?
  • Give them bad traits – Everyone makes mistakes. Or, maybe they’re helping for the wrong reasons.

Supporting characters are characters too and they need a lot of attention as well.

What are some of your favorite types of supporting characters? How else do you develop them? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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9 Types Of Characters In Fiction

Did you know there are different types of characters? I mean, in addition to the typical “protagonist” and “antagonist.”

Each and every character you create is important. It doesn’t matter if they’re a minor character, a main character, or secondary. Each and every one of them has a job to do and they need to do it well.

The 9 Types of Characters in Fiction | Character Development | RachelPoli.com

1. Confidante Character

A confidante is someone or something the main character confides in. Readers can learn a lot about the main character’s personality and thoughts through this. The confidante can be another character or it can be the inside pages of the main character’s diary.

2. Dynamic or Developing Character

A dynamic character is someone who changes throughout the story. This may be a good change or a bad one, but their motivations, desires, or even their personality changes due to something in the story. This is usually a permanent change and shows how the character has learned and developed over time in the story.

3. Flat or Static Character

A flat character is the opposite of a dynamic character. A flat character doesn’t change much or at all throughout the story. Their personality and/or background isn’t revealed well and we only know a handful of traits about them.

4. Foil Character

A foil character is someone who is the opposite of another character. They reflect the opposite traits, hence a foil character. Your main character can be sweet and caring and the foil character will bring out that side by being nasty. It contrasts two characters.

5. Round Character

A round character is similar to a dynamic character. They change throughout the story gaining new traits, some traits opposite to who they used to be.

9 Types of characters in fiction | Character development | RachelPoli.com

6. Stock Character

A stock character is just stock photos you can get off the internet. They are not a big deal to the story, they don’t change at all, they’re pretty much cliche characters such as the “dumb jock” or “popular cheerleader.”

7. Protagonist or Main Character

Main characters are the root of the story. They will develop over time and will ultimately be part of the driving force of the plot. This is the character your readers will care most about.

8. Antagonist

An antagonist is the opposite of your protagonist. They will oppose your main character. They will, along with the main character, be the driving force behind the plot.

9. Villain

A villain is similar to the antagonist, but they are evil. As described in Sacha Black’s 13 Steps To Evil: How To Craft Superbad Villains, they have evil actions and motives that drive the plot.

What kinds of characters have you created? Are there any other character types you know about? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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