Setting Thesaurus Entry: Kitchen

Sight

Tile floor, stainless steel/black/white appliances (dishwasher, fridge, stove, microwave, dishwasher), blender, toaster, pots, pans, jar with cooking implements (wooden spoons, spatulas, whisks, flippers) knife block with knives, banana tree, fruit bowl, place mats on table, wooden chair/table, fresh flowers, herb pots, plants, calendar (filled with appointments, events, days off school, holidays, etc), salt and pepper shakers, spice rack, shelves with knickknack and pictures, cookie jar, set of canisters for flour sugar and coffee, a coffee maker, kettle, teapot, a teabag left out on a spoon, spilled sugar or juice on a counter top, granite counters, chipped/scratched counters, tile counters, cupboards, lazy Susan's, a pantry, pull-out cupboards, drawers, cutlery tray, curtains, greasy range hood, fogged-up windows, old juice splatters on the walls/floorboards, garbage can, dog dishes, fire extinguisher, a back door or door leading to the deck, an island, sink, faucets, gunk and grime around the faucets, spider webs, flies buzzing around, fruit flies, dishes left out on the counter or piled in the sink, milk left out on the counter, cereal floating in a dish from breakfast, toast crumbs, pet hair on the floor, paw prints, boot marks, napkin holder, telephone/answering machine, a small floor rug over by the sink and back door, garbage disposal, recycling tray or bin, can opener, slow cooker

Sounds

Butter/oil sizzling in the pan, toast popping up, whirr of the range hood fan, the grinding of the microwave turntable & ding as it finishes, cooking timers, oven temperature readiness beep, the slosh and clank of a dishwasher, the grinding of a garburetor, the gurgle of the coffee pot, whistle of steam from the kettle, conversation, laughter, chopping against a cutting board, eggs dropping into hot grease, the hiss of a pot boiling over, radio/TV playing in the background, coffee/spice grinder, food processors mixing, cutlery clattering against the table, the clink of glasses, scrape of cutlery against a plate, bowls banging to the counter, the rumble of a can opener, the rattle of plastic wrap/tin foil, The glug of milk being poured, oh's and ahs of appreciation, the tap of a spoon against a pot, the fridge door opening and closing, the rustling of a bag of chips being opened, the squeak of a pantry door or dishwasher, chairs scraping the floor, pot lids banging, the rustle of cereal being poured into a bowl

Smells

Foods of all kinds: sauces, cakes, cookies, bacon, onions, spaghetti, stir fry, eggs, pancakes, fresh bread, stews, casseroles, pies, turkey etc), spices, steam, coffee brewing, cleaners, soap, hot oil, burnt toast/grease/meats, rotten food/leftovers in the fridge, decomposing root vegetables in the pantry (potatoes, onions, turnips, etc), excessive sweetness from rotting fruit in fruit bowls, garbage smells, bleachy smell or algae smell from tap water, mildew on windows by sink, air freshener candle, 'wet soil smell' from watered plants in kitchen area, the char smell of an extinguished candle

Tastes

Food, fruity/dry/sweet/robust wines, beer, fizzy pop, water, steam from a mug, coffee, tea, inhalation of spices mingling in the air, desserts, baking, ice cream, a cold metallic taste of a spoon in the mouth, cold, crisp fruit from the fridge, snacking on buttery crackers from the box, cookies, etc, Milkshakes, smoothies, meats that have been broiled, barbecued, roasted, fried, boiled, slow cooked, steamy & fragrant rice

Touch

warm water, rubber gloves, sudsy water, gritty floors, sticky counters, scraping food from plates into the trash, a smooth broom handle as you sweep up, food textures: Silky butter, spicy or peppery heat, crumbly bread, soggy vegetables in sauce, crunchy fresh veggies or fruit, flavorful meats, smooth sauces, the crunch of nuts in a salad, bitter or sour lemons, etc, a cold glass of water or milk, putting warm dishes from the dishwasher away, wet cloths/tea towels, steam, hot coffee mugs, an accidental cut of the knife, pain, stinging burns or scaldings, sweeping crumbs from the counter into your hand, scrubbing at dried on food with a sponge, holding metal cutlery, a wine glass, patting a napkin to the lips, drying hands on a tea towel, washing hands, kneading dough with the hands, floury hands, gritty or sticky hands, the ginger handling of cold, raw meat, reaching out to touch another's hand at the diner table, warm dinner rolls in the hand, ice cubes against the lips, a burnt tongue from a too-hot food or beverage

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

"Sorry I'm late," Paul said, setting his briefcase on the floor next to the kitchen island. A plate waited for him on the spotless counter: green beans, mashed potatoes and perfectly roasted beef lay in a ruin of congealed gravy. Amy faced the sink, silent, her stiff neck and the force of her scrubbing clearly conveying her mood.


Example 2:

"So nice to finally have you over," my neighbor Donna said, leading me down the hallway. My steps faltered as we reached the kitchen. Plates crusted with last night's dinner rose up in a stack next to a sink brimming with dirty dishes. A loaf of bread, open, sprawled across the sticky counter next to unlidded jars of peanut butter and jam and a half-full jug of orange juice. I winced with each crunching step on the way to the table, resisting to look down at the floor. Instead I smiled, sweeping crumbs off a chair as Donna pour coffee into what I prayed were clean mugs.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

The tray of just-baked cookies waiting for me after school was like a warm hug after a bad day.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

As Mom swapped gossip with Auntie Marie on the phone, Gina and I watched Mount KD inch closer to eruption on the stove, waiting for the frothing pot of magma to spew noodles everywhere.

Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Loneliness

  • People watching, craving contact (visiting a park to feed birds, sitting on the porch)
  • Wearing comfort clothes
  • Using books, the Internet, or TV to generate a feeling of interaction
  • An expression that crumples when people show affection for one another
  • A pain in the chest
  • A downcast gaze
  • Tears, sadness, depression
  • Giving an abnormal amount of love and attention to someone or something (daily visits to a neighbor, treating a pet like a baby)
  • Bingeing (overeating, hoarding, buying unnecessary items)
  • Frequently calling family or friends
  • A willingness to talk to strangers just to interact--at the grocery, in the library, etc.
  • A disinterest in one's appearance or an abnormal interest in one's appearance
  • Slumped shoulders, limp posture

Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into book form! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF is also downloadable via the Paypal button in the sidebar. 

Show Us Your Prowess...

Hélène is bravely posting her revised query for shredification. Please take a moment to add your thoughts in the comment section. This sounds like a fab novel, one we'd love to see in a bookstore!

Dear Dream Agent,

Fourteen year-old Jade’s quest for the perfect bathing suit is cringe-worthy, especially when played out in front of the three-way mirror of truth at her local Jay-Mart. Who ever thought big girls could pull off green metallic sequins, anyway? Besides, the very thought of swimming makes Jade’s heart ache with the painful memory of her mom’s drowning accident. Add a way overdue first visit from Aunt Flo (late bloomer = freak of nature) and the reasons for skipping her BFF’s pool party pile up faster than the discarded tankinis on the dressing room floor.

It’s times like these when Jade misses Mom the most. But, Dad’s theory is right (he Googled it, after all). A relaxing bath in Epsom salt really does take the edge off the growing pains of puberty and the angst of missing Mom—at least for a while. Until those raging hormones coupled with the bath salts trip off another metamorphosis—complete with flippers and scales. Talk about freak of nature! How’s Jade going to explain THIS at the pool party?

It’s then that Dad is forced to reveal the shocking truth; Jade’s mom was once a mermaid and apparently, the gene is not recessive.

Which raises the question… how does a mermaid drown, exactly?

BIG SPLASH (upper middle-grade) is complete at 40,000 words and available at your request. My writing received an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition (Writing for Children) and I was also recently awarded a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council. I have four published middle-grade books to my credit (bio attached).

Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Hopeful Author

Angela's Query Crit Notes: Big Splash

Want to comment on the original query? You can find it here.

Overall 2 cents: Sounds like a great book! The query's a bit long, so my focus is tightening it up and sticking to the most important stuff.

Dear Dream Agent,

[I am seeking representation for my upper middle-grade novel, BIG SPLASH, written for 12-15 year-olds.] ANGELA: THIS CAN COME LATER. START WITH YOUR HOOK.

Jade would rather [crawl under a rock] ANGELA:I THINK YOU NEED SOMETHING A BIT PEPPIER HERE, THIS PHRASE FEELS A BIT OVERUSED than squeeze into one more bathing suit [in the ‘three-way-mirrored cone of truth’] at the local Jay-Mart. ANGELA: LOVE THE VOICE, BUT THIS SENDS ME A CONFLICTED IMAGE AS CHANGE ROOMS ARE SQUARE, SO I GET CAUGHT UP THINKING ABOUT HOW THIS CAN BE A CONE—SHAPE...MAKE SENSE? IN SHORT, LOVE THE IDEA OF THE 3 WAY CONE OF TRUTH (HAVEN’T WE ALL FELT THAT, LOL?) BUT IT PULLS ME OUT OF THE STORY TRYING TO PICTURE IT

[Ugh.] ANGELA: YOU COULD CUT THIS. IN THE BOOK, GO FOR IT, BUT IN THE QUERY, TIGHTEN WHEREVER YOU CAN.

[Besides, losing your mom in a drowning accident doesn’t inspire much confidence in the swimming department. Plus, who said big girls looked good in green metallic sequins, anyway? And worst of all, when Jade’s first period shows up (late bloomer = freak of nature), the reasons for skipping her BFF’s pool party pile up faster than the discarded tankinis on the dressing room floor. It’s times like these when a girl could really use her momma.] ANGELA: I THINK THIS CAN BE CONDENSED. THE PERIOD IS THE TRIGGER SO IT NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED, BUT THAT'S IT. TOO, I NOTICE YOU USE FREAK OF NATURE LATER ON AS WELL--I'D CUT THE ONE HERE AND LEAVE THE OTHER IN SO IT HAS A STRONGER IMPACT THERE

[But, her dad’s theory is right (he Googled it, after all)]. ANGELA: AGAIN, LIKE THE VOICE, BUT TIGHTEN A BIT relaxing soak in Epsom salts really does make her feel better. That is, until the salty soak reveals that puberty isn’t the only change brewing in Jade. Those raging hormones coupled with the bath salts seem to trip off another metamorphosis—complete with flippers and scales. Talk about freak of nature! [How’s Jade going to explain THIS at the pool party?] ANGELA: GREAT LINE, GREAT VOICE, GREAT PROBLEM! THIS IS QUERY CENTRAL HERE, THE MEAT OF THE STORY.

Finally, the truth about Jade’s mom comes to light. A mermaid? You’d think dear old dad could have mentioned that little factoid! Especially since the mermaid gene doesn’t seem to be recessive.

Which begs the question; [how does a mermaid drown, exactly?] ANGELA:THIS LINE IS BRILLIANT, BECAUSE OF COURSE RIGHT NOW WE’RE ALL FOCUSED ON THE FACT THAT SHE’S TURNED INTO A MERMAID, COMPLETELY FORGETTING HER MOM DROWNED AND THIS SHOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE. THIS LINE WILL GET YOU REQUESTS, GUARANTEED.

My debut middle-grade novel, ACADIAN STAR, was published this fall by Nimbus Publishing. My writing won an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition and I was also recently awarded a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council. [ A FULL list of my writing credits is attached.] ANGELA: BIT CONFUSED HERE—YOU ALREADY STATE 3 SIGNIFICANT WRITING CREDITS, BUT YOU HAVE A LIST IN ADDITION AS WELL?

[BIG SPLASH is complete at 40,000 words and is available at your request.] ANGELA: YOU’RE CURRENT OPENING LINE SHOULD BE MOVED DOWN HERE SOMEWHERE.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Hopeful Author

A possible tweaker rewrite:

Dear Dream Agent,

On the wrong side of size 9, Jade would rather eat fire ants than squeeze into a swimsuit and face the Jay-Mart's three-way-mirror of truth. Besides, losing a mom to an accidental drowning doesn't inspire confidence in the water department. Add a way overdue first visit from Aunt Flo and a sudden cramp marathon, and the reasons to skip her BFF’s pool party add up faster than the discarded tankinis on Jade’s dressing room floor.

Times like these, a girl could really use her momma, but Jade must rely on her dad and Google. Soon she's resting pain-free in a bath of Epsom salts, but the soak reveals puberty isn’t the only change brewing. Raging hormones coupled with the bath salts trip off another metamorphosis—complete with flippers and scales. Talk about a freak of nature! How’s Jade going to explain THIS at the pool party?

The truth about Jade’s mom comes to light. A mermaid? You’d think Dad could have shared that little factoid, not to mention how the mermaid gene is anything but recessive. Of course this begs the question…how does a mermaid drown, exactly?

I am seeking representation for my upper middle-grade novel, BIG SPLASH, complete at 40,000 words. My debut middle-grade novel, ACADIAN STAR, was published this fall by Nimbus Publishing. In addition to winning an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition, I also recently became the recipient of a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council. BIG SPLASH is available at your request. Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Hopeful Author

Becca's Query Crit Notes: Big Splash

(continued...)

Overall 2 cents: Sounds like a great premise, just needs a bit of tightening.

Dear Dream Agent,

I am seeking representation for my upper middle-grade novel, BIG SPLASH, written for 12-15 year-olds. BECCA: This sounds redundant, what with the upper-middle-grade distinction that was already mentioned. I wonder if you could instead just cut it and launch into your summary

Jade would rather crawl under a rock than squeeze into one more bathing suit in the ‘three-way-mirrored cone of truth’ at the local Jay-Mart.

Ugh.

Besides, losing your mom in a drowning accident doesn’t inspire much confidence in the swimming department. Plus, who said big girls looked good in green metallic sequins, anyway? And worst of all, BECCA: I'd cut this because the worst part is yet to come [being a mermaid] rather than getting her period. when Jade’s first period shows up (late bloomer = freak of nature), the reasons for skipping her BFF’s pool party pile up faster than the discarded tankinis on the dressing room floor. It’s times like these when a girl could really use her momma.

But, her dad’s theory is right (he Googled it, after all). A relaxing soak in Epsom salts really does make her feel better. That is, until the salty soak reveals that puberty isn’t the only change brewing in Jade. Those raging hormones coupled with the bath salts seem to trip off another metamorphosis—complete with flippers and scales. Talk about freak of nature! How’s Jade going to explain THIS at the pool party? BECCA: Great line!

Finally, the truth about Jade’s mom comes to light. BECCA: This tripped me up, since there's been no mention about a mystery surrounding her mom (other than her death). You could cut this para and the line that follows to tighten things up. But I do like the bit about mom; it adds a mysterious aspect to the story. If you want to keep it, it needs to be hinted at earlier, so this flows better. A mermaid? You’d think dear old dad BECCA: Capital D on Dad, since it's being used as a common noun. could have mentioned that little factoid! Especially since the mermaid gene doesn’t seem to be recessive.

Which begs the question; how does a mermaid drown, exactly? BECCA: Another great line. But the semi-colon should be a colon, since the phrase before it isn't independent.

My debut middle-grade novel, ACADIAN STAR, was published this fall by Nimbus Publishing. BECCA: This is an abrupt move into the writing credit section; I got confused, thinking you were still talking about your current project. To fix, I'd move the BIG SPLASH is complete at 40,000 words and is available at your request line to the start of the para, then rephrase the rest to show your starting the writing credits section of the query. My writing won an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition and I was also recently awarded a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council. A list of my writing credits is attached.

BIG SPLASH is complete at 40,000 words and is available at your request.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Hopeful Author


Some mild tweakage:

Dear Dream Agent,

I am seeking representation for my upper middle-grade novel, BIG SPLASH.

Jade would rather crawl under a rock than squeeze into one more bathing suit in the ‘three-way-mirrored cone of truth’ at the local Jay-Mart. Who said big girls looked good in green metallic sequins? Besides, losing your mom in a drowning accident doesn’t exactly make you want to perfect your swan dive. When Jade’s first period shows up (late bloomer = freak of nature), the reasons for skipping her BFF’s pool party pile up faster than the discarded tankinis on the dressing room floor. It’s times like these when a girl could really use her momma.

But later, during a supposedly-relaxing soak in an Epsom salts bath, Jade discovers the biggest change. Those raging hormones coupled with the bath salts seem to trip off another metamorphosis—complete with flippers and scales. Talk about a freak of nature! How’s she going to explain THIS at the pool party?

Finally, the truth about Jade’s mom comes to light . A mermaid? You’d think dear old Dad could have mentioned that little factoid! Especially since the mermaid gene doesn’t seem to be recessive.

Which begs the question; how does a mermaid drown, exactly?

BIG SPLASH is complete at 40,000 words and is available at your request. My debut middle-grade novel, ACADIAN STAR, was published this fall by Nimbus Publishing. I also recently won an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition and have been awarded with a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Hopeful Author

Query Workshop: Big Splash

Hi folks! As the winner of our 30,000 hit give-a-way contest, Hélène won a query workshop and has offered to have it done here on the blog so that all of us can work on it together.

I'll post Helene's original query in one post, followed by Becca and my own independent comments as well as a tweaked version to correct any flow, content or editing nits. Then you guys can hack away, offering your own suggestions for improvement on any of our versions, and we all learn together! Sound good?

So, without further ado...

Original Query: Big Splash

Dear Dream Agent,

I am seeking representation for my upper middle-grade novel, BIG SPLASH, written for 12-15 year-olds.

Jade would rather crawl under a rock than squeeze into one more bathing suit in the ‘three-way-mirrored cone of truth’ at the local Jay-Mart.

Ugh.

Besides, losing your mom in a drowning accident doesn’t inspire much confidence in the swimming department. Plus, who said big girls looked good in green metallic sequins, anyway? And worst of all, when Jade’s first period shows up (late bloomer = freak of nature), the reasons for skipping her BFF’s pool party pile up faster than the discarded tankinis on the dressing room floor. It’s times like these when a girl could really use her momma.

But, her dad’s theory is right (he Googled it, after all). A relaxing soak in Epsom salts really does make her feel better. That is, until the salty soak reveals that puberty isn’t the only change brewing in Jade. Those raging hormones coupled with the bath salts seem to trip off another metamorphosis—complete with flippers and scales. Talk about freak of nature! How’s Jade going to explain THIS at the pool party?

Finally, the truth about Jade’s mom comes to light. A mermaid? You’d think dear old dad could have mentioned that little factoid! Especially since the mermaid gene doesn’t seem to be recessive.

Which begs the question; how does a mermaid drown, exactly?

My debut middle-grade novel, ACADIAN STAR, was published this fall by Nimbus Publishing. My writing won an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition and I was also recently awarded a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council. A list of my writing credits is attached.

BIG SPLASH is complete at 40,000 words and is available at your request.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Hopeful Author

30,000 Hits...and a Give-a-way!!

The Bookshelf has received 30,000 hits! It's hard to believe that our little blog is chugging along like this, and that it's helping so many dedicated writers. 30,000 hits is nothing to sneeze at, so we feel the need to rejoice. Coming as this milestone does so close to Thanksgiving (the 27th, for us Americans), what better way to celebrate than with a contest we like to call...

HOW BIG IS THE TURKEY?


In the comments section, post your guess as to the exact weight (pounds and ounces) of the turkey Becca will be cooking for the fam. Angela will keep an eye on things, since she's not the one roasting a--ack! Almost gave away the answer there. Anyway, she'll let you know if the correct weight is higher or lower than the previous guesses, after which point everyone is free to guess again. When the exact weight is given, the winner will be crowned (have to do something with the leftover bones, after all).

The prize? The winner will get a Critique Workshop on the query letter of your choice, which will be critiqued via email by Angela and Becca. In our experience, it takes a bit of back-and-forth to perfect the dreaded query; we're dedicated to doing what it takes to get that letter just right. We'll keep at it until you're happy with the results!

Gobble, gobble, everyone!

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Playground

Sights

swing sets, slides, jungle gym, sandbox, tube maze, see-saw, merry-go-round, sand, mulch, wood chips, small trees, bushes, benches, black rubber mat flooring, grass, shining metal, rusty metal, torn swing seats, hollowed-out sand or dead grass where see-saw seats hit the ground, bugs/grass/specks of dirt in sandbox, sun glinting off of metal pieces, kids, babies in strollers, dogs on leashes, moms/dads sitting on benches, juice boxes, baggies with snacks in them, groups of teenagers, squirrels, dragonflies, ants, ladybugs, birds, trash barrel, litter, Popsicle sticks, tire swings, monkey bars, bikes on kickstands, scooters, bike helmets hanging from handle bars on lying on the ground, flying fox, small rock climbing wall, gravel, seagulls, half-buried toy cars, broken pails, shovels, people walking their dogs or pushing strollers

Sounds

kids shrieking/laughing/crying, parents talking, swings creaking, rhythmic whoosh of swings going back and forth, seesaws thumping into the dirt, merry-go-round squeaking, rubber shoes on the slide, swish of sand pouring back and forth in the box, wind blowing, feet scraping the wood chips, crying after a fall, lawn mowers, kids calling "Mom" or "Look at me!", pounding footsteps

Smells

Fresh mown grass, sticky-sweet spilled juice baking on asphalt, a garbage that needs changing, diaper smell, pine trees, tree blossoms, wild flowers, dandelion or other weeds (stink weed, skunk cabbage, etc), mud, wet dirt, dusty/chalky gravel, cigarette smoke, perfume, sweat, warm rubber

Tastes

Grass, dirt, juice boxes, water, coffee brought from a local coffee house, Popsicles, snacks (crackers, grapes, cheese, fruit gummies), chalky taste of stirred-up gravel or dust, mints, gum, sneaking a cigarette, pop, ice tea, sand in the mouth

Touch

The poke of gravel in the shoe or against the hands, paint-chipped cold metal, sun-warmed rubber tires, smooth seats, stiff uneven picnic tables/park benches, cool grass underfoot, the jab of a pine cone or pine needle, smooth chain links of a swing, sticky or gritty hands, sweaty hands/face, smooth plastic seats, gritty sand, balling up a granola bar wrapper and tossing it in the trash, leaning back against the slats of a park bench, cedar chips sliding underfoot

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.


Example 1:

Ronald stared down from his perch at the top of the yellow ladder, smirking as he smashed a fist into his palm, daring any of us to climb his slide.

Example 2:

On the swing set, Beth and Rita pumped their legs, straining for height. Their giggles floated on the air, riding along their streaming hair, bouncing off chalky knees, glinting from bright smiles--school was out, and the summer loomed with endless potential.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Benson waddled toward me, almost unrecognizable beneath the dirt, mud and grass. Drool seeped from his gapped-toothed grin, his mouth rimmed with dirt that had journeyed to his inquisitive mouth. Sand clung to his curls like dew and his pocket bulged with treasure from the communal sandbox. As he rubbed a fist crusted with melted ice cream against his eye, I knew I had about fifteen minutes to get him home, cleaned up and ready for naptime.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

My steps slowed as we approached the playground. Bright, rusty scabs crawled up the slide's ladder, held together with cracked, plastic steps. The slide itself looked like it'd gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson, dented and scuffed and warped by the elements. The see-saw only had one painted seat, the blue color washed out by the sun. It's mate lay a few feet away, half-digested by gravel.

When the wind caused the empty, sagging swings to wake into a shrieking quartet of banshees, Amy's hand tightened in mine, and I quickly suggested we spend the afternoon at the YMCA instead.

Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Hopefulness

  • A flutter in the belly
  • A brightened countenance
  • A jolt through the body
  • Waving/flapping the hands
  • Bouncing on the balls of one's feet
  • Quivering breaths
  • A trembling voice
  • Refusing to consider, speak of, or listen to any negative possibilities
  • Rapid swallowing and nodding
  • Talking under the breath to oneself about the best outcome
  • Rapt, positive attention on a task or person involved
  • Hands clasped in prayer, pressed to the lips, eyes closed
  • Arms clutching one's sides while moving about, showing cautious hope
  • Glancing upward and exhaling
  • The gaze darting to a person or object that symbolizes hope (a friend in the know, the phone)
Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into book form! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF is also downloadable via the Paypal button in the sidebar. 

Dealing with Rejection


I’ll never make it.
I should just quit.
I am a total loser.

Bleak words, aren't they? Still, a familiar echo to anyone receiving the soul-consuming rejection letter.

A perfectly good day can go sour at seeing, 'Dear Author'. Our breath cuts off, our chest tightens, the shoulders sag and despair slams us down. We ask ourselves why we put ourselves through this, why we can't just catch a break.

Unfortunately being rejected (or e-jected) is just another part of the writing gig, like metaphors and modifiers. Rejection is out there, it will come for us at some point. Some letters hurt, others can devastate. All of them challenge our self belief.

Staying positive in the face of rejection is tough. Each time our confidence is scraped, the rejection a message that our writing isn't good enough to take on, which we translate into meaning WE are not good enough.

Sometimes moving past rejection is as simple as firing out a few more queries, tightening a synopsis or revising that first chapter for the 900th time. Other times, rejection can cause our foundation of determination and self-belief to quake. We feel like we're letting everyone around us down, including ourselves. Maybe we should face facts and pack it in.

During these black moments, it's important to find a way to shift our thoughts out of the self-critical mode. This is difficult, but it can be done if we look at the rejection in a different light: as opportunity.

I know what you’re thinking—rejections are closed doors. What opportunity could their possibly be from a ‘sorry, not for me’ type rejection?

There are always things to learn, even from form rejections to queries. The trick is shifting the way you think from the negative to the positive. When a rejection pulls you down, consider these questions:

What does the agent/editor need?
What is my responsibility to them?
What can I learn from this?
How can I see this rejection differently?


Let's look at each one of these for a sec.

What does the agent/editor need?

The sarcastic answer to this is, ‘Not my work, obviously.’ But if you can set aside the hurt and place yourself in their shoes, there's insight to be had on their side of the desk. Pretend you are the agent or editor opening this query—what do they need from you? What will make them successful?

They need to see a compelling query, well written with a character and voice that calls to them. They want to find something different, something that peaks their interest & makes it a no-brainer to scribble a note telling you to please forward the book. At the end of the day, this person wants to sign great writers, and they'd like nothing better for this query to make them tingle in anticipation! They need a strong story and polished writing. They want to see a query from someone who has targeted them specifically because of who they represent/publish.

What is my responsibility to them?

It is the writer’s responsibility to write a strong, inviting query that offers enough information to make the agent/editor NEED to know what happens next--not too little, not too much. Give them the shape of it, a strong sense of the character, voice and style. Your best work shows them you are dedicated to this story being published. You do this by slaving over the query, polishing it until it shines as brightly as your belief in the book itself. You also show that you chose them specifically because they are a great fit, not that you spammed them with your query, hoping for the best.

What can I learn from this?

Once again, turn an honest eye to the query. Evaluate whether you satisfied the editor/agent's needs and fulfilled your responsibilities. Is there something you can do better, or did this query simply hit your 'good enough' meter at the time you sent it out? Have you done all the research on the market that you can, do you feel a niggle of guilt over a corner you may have cut somewhere? Did you edit enough, critique enough, tweak enough? Have you done all you can to make this query a success, as well as any materials you sent with it (synopsis, bio, first chapter, etc?)

How can I see this rejection differently?

Of all the questions above, this one is the most important. When depression hits over a rejection, asking yourself this will lead you to a balanced perspective again. Because a rejection is in essence a negative, this question challenges you to find the positive.

Think of the positive things this rejection symbolizes for you, or write them down if you like. First, it shows you had the courage to send out your work. It proves you believed in your story enough to get it published. This leads you to think about how far your writing has come, how your talent has grown, how many stories you’ve written or how long you’ve worked to perfect this one.

Seeing the rejection differently sets you on a path that allows you to re-appreciate your own growth as a writer and your determination to reach your publication goal. How many writers have you helped along the way? How many writers believe in you, cheer you on and know you can succeed? Focus on your strengths and your accomplishments.

Finding the positive in any circumstance can revive confidence, lighten mood and bolster determination. Too, your body responds to positive thinking, helping to slough off despair and doubt. Breathing is easier, tension leaks from the muscles. Posture straightens as thoughts return to moving forward, and what can be done to ensure success. Suddenly the rejection is put back into perspective--one person's opinion, not a career-ender.

Try this for yourself the next time a rejection hits you hard--it really does work!

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Mountains

Sight

Stone, crags, cliffs, shale, scree, granite, moss, treeline, clouds, mist, jagged, crooked, uneven, slope, face, ravines, waterfall, snow, snow melt, tracks, hawks, eagles, ravens, falcons, owls, mice, deer, foxes, bighorn sheep, rock slides, avalanche paths, scat, pine cones, pine needles, twigs, downed trees, streams, wild flowers, witch grass, frost, boulders, outcroppings, cracks, fissures, slate, pebbles, clay, tufts of grass, bird nests on top of trees, beetles, mice, spiders, shale, bedrock, crags, ledge, wild berry bushes (cranberry, Saskatoons, raspberry, gooseberry, etc), alps, peak, pinnacle, sunsets/sunrises, range, foothills, gaps, crown, pass, brook, trickles of water, rock humps, wind-worn rock faces, wild onions, wolves, bears, summit, rabbits

Sounds

wind whistling along the slopes, animal howls, rustling leaves, frothing waterfalls, water trickling into snow melt, scree shifting underfoot, rockfalls, birds calling/hooting, animals pattering through the underbrush, branches snapping, the crunch of pine needles underfoot, labored breathing from those climbing

Smells

Pine needles, fresh/crisp air, clean water, earthy moss, rotting logs/trees, vegetation, an ozone-like tang of cold or wet rock, sunshine, wildflower blossoms

Tastes

Wild plants (berry bushes, wild onions, tubers, nuts, seeds) tea made from edible leaves, bark, dandelions; captured animals or birds (gamy, strong flavors, tough meat), spring waters

Touch

Cold unyielding stone, sharp finger holds, dust, grit, spongy moss, prickling pine needles caught in the boot, slippery shale underfoot, gripping a rock face, wedging boots into toeholds, rope burns while climbing, wet sleeves from plunging hands into a freshwater stream, sweat tricking down neck and on face, chapped skin and lips from the cold, dry air, raw throat from the thin air, exposed to the winds and weather (shivering, numbness, icy fingers, frozen cheeks, disorientation, hunger, strength depletion), cuts & bruises from slips, falls or misjudged body placements while climbing

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Wind sawed at my clothes and froze my sweat, battering at me on the rock face. I jammed a foot almost past feeling into a crack, praying it would hold me. Another few minutes and my fingers would be too numb to grip the rock, much less contain the strength to fight the bitter crosswinds. I had to find a rock ledge, an indented shelf--something, and quick.

Example 2:

I planted my foot carefully on the mossy boulder and leaned forward, very aware of the deep crevasse below me. Despite the danger, I couldn't help but stop and take in the wonder of the plunging waterfall, crashing against the bedrock as it fought its way down the mountain.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

In the distance, jagged mountain peaks rose above the early morning cloud cover like headstones in a mist-clotted graveyard.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The rumbling wall of snow barrelled down the mountain, uprooting decades-old pine trees with the ease of a broom sweeping leaves off a stoop.

Emotion Thesaurus: Worry

  • Bouncing or tapping feet
  • Pulling at one's hair
  • Second-guessing oneself
  • Unwillingness to leave a certain place (telephone, house, car)
  • Sleeplessness
  • Circles under the eyes
  • A need for control
  • Illogical fears
  • Panic attacks
  • Repeatedly rubbing at the face
  • Reading into things, over-analyzing
  • Stooped posture
  • A strained or faked smile
  • Chewing on a knuckle
  • A gaze that flits around the room, never settling on a person or object for long


Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into book form! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF is also downloadable via the Paypal button in the sidebar. 

Last Call for the Emotion Thesaurus!!!

It's been over 10 months and 56 emotions since beginning the Emotion Thesaurus, can you believe it?

Becca and I are working on the last few emotions on our list, so before we reach the end we wanted to turn things over to all our wonderful blog supporters to see if you have any emotion choices you'd like to see covered.

Currently we have Worry, Hopeful and Lonliness left, and we will also be doing a final post on how characters exhibit pain, simply because many emotions can manifest as such, and pain is something that we writers tend to get 'stuck' on when trying to show actions for it.

So please, take a look through the list in the toolbar. If you have an emotion that you would like us to cover that isn't similar to one already posted, please name it in the comment box and we'll see what we can do. :-)

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Classroom

For each entry, the first section applies to the generic items found in most classrooms, plus items specific to an elementary classroom. The second section will contain items found in a secondary room.

Sight:

white board, markers, eraser, door with little window in it, bulletin boards, displayed art/school work, posters, window, bookshelves with books, teacher's desk, computer, printer, garbage can, pencil sharpener, grade/attendance book, coffee mug, flowers, calendar, stapler, stool for teacher to sit on, student desks and chairs, textbooks, paper, notebooks, folders, pens/pencils, backpacks, jackets, soft chair/sofa/pillows, sink, art center with easel/art supplies/table, toys, puzzles, manipulatives, colorful carpet, pencil boxes with school supplies, hooks to hang jackets on, lunch boxes, cabinets for storage, file cabinet, wall clock, fish tank, cursive alphabet on wall, clock, plant, magnets on white board, agendas

JR/SR classroom: maps on wall, atlas, dictionaries, threasurus, computer stations, plastic trays for class work/homework, garbage bin, pencil sharpener, desks with graffitti or carvings, battered chairs, sparce 'personal to teacher' decor, themed rooms: Long metal tables, slides, microscopes, jars, vials, Bunsen Burners, standing skeleton, periodic table of elements, etc for chemistry/biology class; rulers, geometry sets, calculators, charts, graphs, graph paper etc for Math/Calculus; costumes, props, sets, stage design materials, audio equiptment, stage, etc for Drama; easels, art history books, good lighting, paints, pots, clay, posters, sketch pads, graphite pencils, charcoal, for Art; etc.

Sounds: students talking/laughing/whispering/shouting, singing, music being played, teachers talking/yelling/teaching, fire alarm going off, intercoms buzzing on, doors slamming, sneakers squeaking, voices echoing in the hallway, chairs scraping, backpacks unzipping, pencils being sharpened, pens being uncapped or clicked, clang of things dropping in metal garbage cans, papers shuffling, rip of papers being torn from notebooks, riffle of turning book pages, murmur of students reading aloud, toy bins sliding off of shelves, clack of computer keyboard, staplers stapling, soft sound of erasers being used, snick of scissors, click of the clock's second hand, timers ringing, wind blowing outside, rain pattering on windows, voices drifting in from playground, a/c /heat clicking on

JR/SR classroom: A lockers slamming shut out in the hall, swearing, back talk, conversation, rude noises, belching, catty chatter, voiced threats or detentions being handed out, droning teacher

Smells: food from the cafeteria, coffee, candy, scent from flowers, sweaty bodies, glue, paint, crayons, markers, warm smell of heat turning on, seasonal smells from art projects (peppermint, pumpkin, jelly beans, apple, etc), disinfectant, hand sanitizer, warm smell of newly-photocopied papers, smells from science projects (chemicals, soil, water, vinegar, metal, rubber, heat lamps), snack foods (crackers, cookies, apples, carrots, grapes, chips, juice), rain

JR/SR classroom: Cologne, purfume, hairspray, body spray, too-sweet lip gloss, body odor, cigarette smoke/skunky pot smell clinging to clothes and hair, smelly shoes, food mouldering in backpacks brought to class

Tastes: wooden pencil, rubbery eraser, chewing gum, candy, water, acidic marker, cupcakes, snacks

JR/SR classroom: after-cigarrette/pot taste, other drugs, breath mints/sprays, pop, coffee, energy drinks

Touch:

smooth desktops, angular pencils, scratch of pens/pencils over paper, hard floor, fuzzy carpet, rubbery eraser, vibration of pencil sharpener, hard seat, cold/warm air, crumple of jacket where it hangs over the back of your chair, heavy backpack strap, your foot on the chair of the person in front of you, textures of different kinds of paper (notebook, construction, cardstock), slide of markers on white board, bristly paintbrush, slick paint, papery feel of crayons, teeter of chair as you lean back, gobs of dried glue stuck to tabletop, weight of book held in your hand, slats of chair pressing into your back

JR/SR classroom: Same, but no crayons, lol

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: The door slammed shut as my last student escaped, and I surveyed the damage. Glitter twinkled in the air. The white board had turned to an odoriferous rainbow of jelly, apple juice, and strawberry yogurt. Water dripped from the overflowing sink. My shoes squished in the carpet as I made my way to the faucet. Not bad for my first day.


Example 2:


I slid onto my stool and stashed my backpack beneath the table as Mr Rosen handed out our exams. The room was silent, except for the solid thump of an exam booklet landing in front of each student. To my left, Rina scanned some notes on her hand beneath the table we shared, her brow furrowing as she tried to decypher the sweat-smudged formulas. Up in the front row, Mark was already bent over his paper, one hand snaking up to rub the back of his neck--not a good sign. As the teacher reached my row, I picked up my pencil with cold fingers, wishing I'd spent the evening studying instead of watching My New Best Friend.


--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.


Example 1: (Simile) The classroom sounded like a frenzied mob in a gladiator's arena.

Example 2: (Metaphor) The timer blared, a death knell ending both the test and the hopes of every student in the room.

Emotion Thesarus Entry: Hurt (Emotional)

  • A jerking walk or run (fleeing a person or situation)
  • Replaying the hurtful event over and over
  • Nausea
  • Self-loathing
  • Hurt that turns to violence (throwing items, damaging property, breaking things)
  • Avoiding others
  • Seeking out the comfort of a loved one
  • Heavy limbs and numbness
  • Splotchy skin from crying, red nose, puffy eyes and lips
  • A trembling lip
  • Shaking the head in denial
  • Hyperventilating
  • Sudden weakness (leaning against a locker, wall, or doorway)
  • Flawed judgement
For more ideas, check out Embarrassment


Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into book form! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF is also downloadable via the Paypal button in the sidebar. 

Grammbo Speaks: The Manuscripts Editors Don't Want to See

Angela and Becca have asked me to comment on the most common “mistakes” I see in the manuscripts I assess and edit. I’ve tried to used more of a big picture view here, rather than a list of nags about missing or excessive apostrophes or dangling participles or misplaced modifiers (very common, by the way). All of the following mini-rants are subjective because I’m giving you my opinion as an editor of fiction. And personal preferences in crafting, usage, plotting, genre are inevitable in fiction. Editors rarely agree on anything, whether it is comma placement or drifting POV in a manuscript. But they do all agree on one thing: they love good fiction and great writers. Here is my personal shortlist of things that get in the way of both:

The “too new” manuscript: Fresh out of the writer’s brain and onto paper. This is very common and really doesn’t say anything bad about the writer; it only points to inexperience and a bittersweet innocence. You write a novel, you get it published. That’s how it works, right?

Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works, but hundreds of manuscripts are submitted every year in a first-draft state.

The work should start when you write “The End”. Revise , rewrite, revise, rewrite. Identify what the novel is saying (the theme, who the characters truly are, what is important to the novel as a whole, what you want the reader to experience) and then examine every word (yes, every single one) to ensure that it deserves to be in your manuscript and serves the novel as a whole. When you can’t stand to look at it anymore, then submit.

If you need help, take some post-grad creative writing courses, find a local or internet writers’ group, examine the work of writers you admire and practice identifying the craft they use to capture and keep a reader within the fictional “dream.”

The “white porcelain” manuscript: This is “extreme” writing, where the writer has scrupulously followed the so-called rules. All suspected use of passive language, any use of present tense, first person POV, adverbs or descriptive narrative have been ruthlessly scrubbed from the manuscript. The novel opens with a “gripping hook” that may or may not deliver in the following three hundred pages. It never opens with dialogue, a description of landscape, or the protagonist waking up. All verbs are aggressively active. The storyline is strictly sequential. The “to be” verb has been vigorously expunged (much to the detriment of the clarity of the prose). Everything is shown, not told. Sentences are short and declarative. Modifiers don’t exist.

This kind of manuscript can be difficult to read at times as the reader is bruised, buffeted and shoved around by “good, strong verbs,” occasionally intimidated by the fierce conflict raging on every page, numbed by the unvarying sentence structure and confused by an awkward use of past tense that avoids the “to be” verb.

There are no questions for the reader to ponder, no eloquently rendered settings for the reader to imagine, no innovative word choices to envy.

These manuscripts often feel sterile, lifeless and predictable, even though the writer has included lots of action, conflict and storyline twists and turns. The flatness and rigidity of the presentation work against the content.

If these rules were truly the standard by which acquisition editors judge manuscripts, then none of the books in print today would have been published. Read the books that made you want to be a writer. Go over them carefully for “rule-breaking.” Take a deep breath. Then write and let your creativity dictate the presentation.

The “celebrity” manuscript: This one is tough, but there is a big difference between a manuscript that uses subtle details of music selection, TV or movie viewing or current events, and the one that uses these references to replace substantial areas of character building. Manuscripts that are flooded with current cultural references, celebrity names, brand names and trendy innuendoes are difficult to assess in terms of their publishing potential. They might work for a year or two, or they might be dated before they hit press.

Using celebrity names to evoke a reader response is tricky. The writer who uses a lot of pop cultural references places some high expectations on readers. The writer assumes that the reader is familiar with the name or product or current event and further assumes that the reader’s reaction to the reference will be exactly what the writer intended. Those two assumptions are often wrong and the writer has lost the opportunity to character build or scene set or whatever the shortcut of inserting a celebrity reference was intended to provide in the manuscript.

Use your characters’ love of music, art, literature, TV, movies, politics as subtle but cumulative character building. Don’t depend on celebrity namedropping to create a character. It doesn’t always work. The innuendo you’re trying to achieve will likely backfire or leave readers perplexed. Build your novel with your own words and use the cultural references judiciously, as details.

The “timid” manuscript: The writer uses language to its fullest, no fear of breaking rules or disrupting convention. The writer is competent, willing to experiment in usage, imagery, characterization, slick in prose style, careful not to offend or raise blood pressure. The manuscript is accessible, clean, and oddly, faceless. The writer didn’t cry writing the sad bits, sweat in the tense bits, yell at the unfair bits, blush at the intimate bits, and neither will the reader.

This is a very obscure thing to define. But the absence of “risk taking” by the author is palpable, just as its presence is. The writer who holds back, writes from a distance, orchestrates and arranges the manuscript, never quite elicits any real emotional response from the reader.

These and the “white porcelain” manuscripts are the ones I grieve over the most because often the most promising innate talent lies in these novels. No amount of technical brilliance can fill the void of a rigid, antiseptic or soulless manuscript. It is difficult to convince a writer to break rules they sincerely believe are correct, nor can you force a writer to have the courage to put their very soul on the page.

Final advice for writers: Read the best of the best in your chosen genre. Read what inspires you. Try to best them. Write what you want to read and what you believe in. Write “up” from where you think you are. Reach for that one step higher on the literary ladder. Chances are very, very good you’ll reach it and beyond. Forget the “rules”; you can always go back and tidy things up. Make the reader’s heart stall, re-start, purr and accelerate. Be true to you and you alone. The reader will recognize honesty. And editors want to read fiction that takes risks, breaks rules knowingly, and creates a compelling, real world that the writer (and reader) believe in, experience and are reluctant to leave.

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Coffee House

Sight

High counters, chrome espresso/frothing machines, blenders, metal thermometers, jugs of fresh foam, jugs of milk, coffee grinders sacks of coffee beans, coffee pots, mugs, paper cups, stir sticks, shakers of cinnamon & cocoa, chocolate shavings, bottles of coffee flavorings, sugar packets, tea bags, fake sweeteners, brown sugar, napkins, garbage bins, spilled sugar on the condiment trolley, bistro tables, wrought iron trendy chairs with padded seats, booths, newspapers, magazines, tip jar, cash registers, people with laptops & books, shopping bags/purses hanging from chairs, a snack case (filled with cookies, brownies, pastries, biscotti, yogurt and cakes, quiches, wraps), merchandise available to purchase (decorative mugs, tinned cookies, mints, gum chocolates, coffee grinders, bags of coffee or tea, coffee machines), big glass windows, high counters to sit at, long lines, travel mugs, a chalkboard with specials written on it, smoothies, teas, frozen coffees, caramel or chocolate drizzle, pillowy whipped cream, plates, cutlery, sandwiches and wraps, garbage left on tables, fake plants

Sounds

coffee in a grinder, employees calling out orders, the murmur of voices, laughter, dishes clattering, spoons clinking against the side of a mug, the thick whirr of a frothing machine, the scrape of metal on metal, the ding of a cash register, the jerking sound of the till tape being printed, the clink of coins in a tip jar, the slurp of coffee and foam, an 'mmm' noise in the throats of those taking their first sip, the crinkle of paper, foil bags of coffee being ripped open, ice grating in the blender, the hum of machines, a radio music station playing in the background, the jingle of a door being opened or closed, the flap and flutter of newspapers, the click of keys being typed, the swish of a mop against the floor, the thump of unfinished coffees being thrown in the trash

Smells

Fresh brewed coffee and ground beans, the acrid scent of espresso or burnt coffee, sweet warm caramel and chocolate, the tingle of spice (cinnamon, chai teas, mulled ciders), fresh-baked cookies and muffins and quiches, strong tea or fruity tea, mingling perfume scents, warm cookie dough or muffins baking, vanilla

Tastes

Sweet/bitter/rich/hearty/scalding/acrid/smooth/flavorful/chicory coffee, thick & sweet cafe au laits, melted chocolate, soft & warm cookies, hearty sandwiches with the zing of mustard or mayo, spicy soups, cold water, blended pulpy fruit and ice, tart unsweetened lemon tea or ice tea, cool minty tea, thick unsweetened foam, over-sweetened coffees, flavor shot syrup (vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, raspberry, chocolate, mint, etc)

Touch

A warm mug in the hands, scalding coffee or tea, warmth cascading down the throat, a gritty sweet cookie, licking crumbs or foam from the lips, gritty or sticky counters from spilled food and coffee, a sticky or slippery floor, steam misting the face and glasses, blowing on a hot drink, the icy relief of a smoothie in the throat/mouth, slopping coffee on the hand & pain on the skin, losing a 'chilled' feeling' at the first sip, cleaning hands or brushing lips with a paper napkin, burning the lips or tongue, crumbly bread or muffins, turning pages in a book or magazine, ink on the fingers from newsprint, smooth keyboard keys on the fingertips, leaning back in a cozy reading chair, the cold touch of porcelain or metal as you browse the store's merchandise, the hard metal back of a bistro chair, palm burn/tingling from holding heavy plastic store bags for to long, an icy water bottle or plastic iced coffee cup


Helpful hints:


--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Swapping all my heavy store bags to one hand, I plodded up to the door and pulled. The rich, stimulating rush of brewing coffee drew me in, brushing off the stress of a mall swarming with Christmas shoppers.

Example 2:

I gulped down the last of my black coffee and signalled for more. My gaze bounced from couples leaning towards each other at the chic bistro tables to the laughing groups of teenagers crowding the booths. My own table partner, an empty chair, silently encouraged me to get a life and leave so others could fill the table with conversation.


--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

After my seventh espresso, my hands jittered on the table like an unbalanced washing machine.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

I groaned at the first sip of my chocolate-drizzled whipped mocha--ambrosia gifted from the hand of God Starbucks.

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