Don’t Look At Yourself Naked After You’ve Had a Burrito: Writer Insecurity Syndrome

Awhile ago, I had this nasty bad cold and when I was almost better, I tried to write and realized that everything I was writing was absolutely horrible and would always be awful and what was the point.

This is called Writer Insecurity Syndrome. It usually happens when you’re sick, when you feel like you’ll never get 50,000 readers, or when someone trolls you on Twitter.

“What am I doing?” I whined to S. who pulled the laptop off my lap and gave me tea.

He smiled at me and shook his head.

“You’re not suppose to look at your work when you’re sick,” he said. “No matter what you do or how good it is, when you’re sick it always looks hopeless and pointless and it seems like you stink.”

I said, quite intelligently like the woman of words that I am, “Oh.”

“It’s like eating a bean burrito,” he said.

“What?”

“You never want to go look at yourself naked in the mirror after you’ve eaten three or four bean burritos,” he said. “It’s like that with doing your job or thinking about your life when you’re sick.”

It makes sense.

Sort of.

“You can eat three or four bean burritos?” I asked.

“Yep,” he said, all proud.

“And you’ve actually looked at yourself naked afterwards?”

He quietly left the room.

When things are bad, it’s easy to spiral down. Try to lift out of it. Most of the time, our feelings and circumstances change. Hang onto that and believe in yourself even after you’ve eaten four bean burritos.

Hey! I hung out over at Dad Without a Dad’s podcast this week. Check it out here.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com


CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 252,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

Realistic Dialogue and Halloween Parties for Fourteen Year Olds

One of my favorite criticisms is when people say to writers, “Your dialogue is not realistic.”

The reason this cracks me up is because have you ever really listened to most people’s realistic dialogue? It’s pretty funny and makes a pretty bizarre book.

I took this verbatim from a Halloween sleep over at my house in pre-COVID-19 times.

Here’s the scene:

There are six 14-year-olds. They are making cheesy ghosts with olive faces. This is the dialogue. It is verbatim.

And this, my friends, is why us writers don’t have perfectly accurate dialogue in our stories. Are you ready?

The Words They Said:

Didn’t H– make show choir?

She didn’t make it. She tried it again in the spring and she emailed Mrs. Wright and asked her what to work on but she used all these big words so then H–  didn’t try out because she was mad.

Oh no… Big words

She told her she needed to work on her voice and stuff.

No offense but she does

(Abby keeps singing.)

Guys do not be mean.

I don’t want to be mean.

Did you hear her solo?

It was good but she got mad after awhile.

She got sick of it after awhile because Ben told her to do something on her solo.

Is Ben the guy who runs the band thing with the saxophones.

No he does the drama.

I’m so mad.

Can we do it?

Guys we would be amazing.

I would do the choreography. I’m so tough.

The three of us. No the four of us.

What about me. You guys hate me!

No… You don’t do musical stuff.

No! All of us can do it.

Oh! I’m so foolish…

I don’t know how to shape the ghost.

You have a hard butt.

Look! It has a belly button.

I got bored so I put more olives on it.

All of my cheese fell-off.Abby keeps singing.

Abby will you shut up!

(Mallory joins Abby in singing.)

Oh my God, you guys. Emily’s ghost looks like a Pac-Man.

It is a Pac-Man.

Oh.

I decided to announce my geekiness to the world.

This is the dialogue, I swear.


 As a former reporter, I know how messy it is listening to people talk.

Realistic dialogue isn’t always the point. The point is that you want the dialogue to make sense, to advance your plot, to show character, to make your story sing. People will always ding writers on dialogue because they’ll expect the dialogue to reflect the people in their own world.

But the thing is that we all don’t talk the same. Donald Trump doesn’t sound like Barack Obama who doesn’t sound like Joe Biden who doesn’t sound like Mike Pence who doesn’t sound like Kamala Harris.

That’s okay. Just try to hear your own characters’ voices, but more than that, listen to the voices that don’t sound like you and don’t think that they don’t sound ‘realistic,’ instead rejoice in that difference. It’s pretty beautiful.


Let’s Hang Out!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com


CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.

Rules for Writers and Money (and everyone else too)

Rules for Writers and Money (and everyone else too)

 
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You will find a lot of popular content all about how to make money. There are a lot of random blog articles about HOW I MADE 8 TRILLION DOLLARS IN PASSIVE INCOME A MONTH or 22 AWESOME PASSIVE INCOME IDEAS.

Which is lovely. But a lot of us writers are thinking, “What are these even talking about?”

What Is Passive Income?

Passive income is money that happens and builds from things that already exist. They can be from investments (like you rent a room in your house or an entire house or you open a savings account or CDs). It can also come from the investment of effort and time in something you build. This could be a YouTube channel or your eBook once it’s up and running. It could be affiliate marketing or selling prints of your art.

What is Active Income?

Active income is money that someone pays you when you do something for them that’s a service. It can be your salary at the grocery store. It could be an hourly wage at a bookstore. It could be a commission. It could be a tip.

So what’s all this have to do with writing?

According to a study by the Authors Guild, the average full-time writer’s median pay was $20,300 in 2017. That’s full-time. For most of us that’s not a big ton of money. There’s no real standardization of pay and that number doesn’t account for pay discrepencies for sex and race.

On Publishers Lunch, Erin Somers, looks at average earnings instead and wrote,

“For the 63 percent of authors who reported receiving book related income in 2017, the average total income was $43,247, which paints a very different picture . Over 2,000 authors had average publisher royalties of almost $32,000; close to 1,700 self-published authors reported royalties of just over $31,000, and a smaller group of about 700 authors also had average ebook subscription service earnings of over $13,000.”

Somers

But that’s only the writers who actually survived and didn’t give up. About a quarter of the authors that the guild surveyed received no money at all from book activity that year.

So, yes, most of us writers have to have other sources of income outside of writing. And that my friends, is why we’re writing this blog.

Being constantly terrified of not making money makes me, Carrie, a stressed-out writer who sometimes worries more about money and profitability than the actual craft. And a stressed-out Carrie equals a cranky Carrie. Nobody wants a cranky author.

So here are some examples of passive income investments when you have money to spend

  • Buy an investment property and rent it.
  • Invest in a high-yield savings account.
  • Check out crowdfunded real estate with REITs. Sites like Fundrise are a great place to start.
  • Peer-to-peer lending like on the Lending Club where you can loan money to others and get a return.

Examples of passive income investments that are more initial work than initial money.

  • Affiliate marketing on your blog. When people click through an ad that’s on your blog, you get a commission when they buy something that’s affiliated with that link.
  • YouTube – if you get a big enough following you can monetize your YouTube channel and have ads during your content.
  • Create an Online Course – Teachable and Udemy are great places to show off your skills.
  • Sell your art prints or your photos. Shutterstock Is a great resource for photographers.
  • Make an eBook – Seriously, especially if it’s nonfiction.
  • Rent out some storage space or your car or a room in your house.
  • Sell your clothes. Thredup and Poshmark will often give you cash or credit on their site. And it’s good for the environment, or at least better for the environment.

OTHER WAYS TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MONEY SITUATION.

Those are ways to make extra income, but it’s also about not spending too much money and saving, right?

Live Like A Student

Mark Cuban (the guy from Shark Tank) is a big cheerleader for living beneath your means. Don’t buy all the things. Pretend you have less money than you have.

His yacht is anchored outside our town a lot and his yacht is HUGE so I’m not sure that Mr. Cuban is doing this? But I guess maybe he could have an even bigger yacht? It’s good advice for the rest of us though.

Step Away From the Credit Card

My dad was always murmur-screaming, DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS! THEY ARE EVIL DEMONS FROM HELL! And he was right. Don’t use them if you don’t have to. Use your debit card.

The interest rates on these babies are horrific. You end up owing these companies so much money. Try to pay off or pay down your bill every single month. And then step away. Lock them in a gun safe or something. Seriously. Try not to use them.

Gather Information

Reading blogs and books (much more in depth usually) can give you the information you need and generate the ideas necessary to move your life or your business or your writing to the next level. A $25 investment with a potentially thousand-dollar return? That’s kind of a no-brainer.

Be as informed as you can be so you can make the best possible decisions.

Don’t Be Afraid

Because I grew up poor and because I heard a TON of stories about the depression and the stock market crash of the 1920s (my grandfather was a stockbroker allegedly and watched one of his friends die), I became a bit terrified about stocks and things.

There are three rules that help me deal with this and invest my money.

  1. I ignore everything that’s happening in the stock market when it comes to my portfolio. I pretend that once that money is invested, it’s just gone. This lowers my anxiety even as I plug in $25 a week automatically to a random Edward Jones account.
  2. If you want to invest in something scary, only invest 5-10 percent of your total investments in that scary possibility.
  3. Standard & Poor’s mutual funds are good places to put a bit of money into. But go for the cheapest ones possible.
WRITING TIP OF THE POD

It’s okay to talk about money and to be smart about it.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Do not gobble all your box of dog treats (or writing advance) in one big gulp.

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 252,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

HANG OUT WITH US!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.

THE END OF TENSION TALKS! How to Increase the Tension in Your Story

In my earlier posts these past couple of weeks, both Steve Wedel and Mark Del Franco had some interesting things to say about point-of-view and tension.

So, in this final blog, I’m going to talk about that a tiny bit more and then give some quick hints about creating suspenseful stories.

Because like Jeff Deaver said it’s our responsibilities as writers to: Give my readers the most exciting roller coaster ride of a suspense story I can possibly think of.


Although, to be fair I agree with Fawn Brodie’s sentence: Show me a character whose life arouses my curiosity, and my flesh begins crawling with suspense.

Character is really intertwined with point-of-view.

There are two main point of views I’m talking about here, first person and third person.

Every day you live in your own point-of-view. Every day you are the main character of your story living out the suspense of your life. That’s the first person.

If you expand beyond yourself, use empathy and imagination to jump back into other people’s lives as well, creating a web that connects both, that’s more third person.

Or, you might end up in this book turned movie, I’m not sure:

Anyway, there are special problems with both point of views.

Issues with I Stories:

1.      You know the narrator is probably not going to die, so there isn’t that mortal danger worry.

2.      In first-person past tense it’s hard to keep it fresh, because the I of the story already knows what’s going to happen.

Good Things About I Stories:

1.      You can use the ‘peril detector.’

2.      The narrator’s fear moves the scene forward, increasing tension.

Issues with Third-Person Stories:

1.      Sometimes it’s harder to get you to care about the character. There. Sorry. I said it. Haters get at it.

2.      Sometimes, if you don’t do it well, switching around can actually ruin the tension and frustrate the reader.

Good Things about Third-Person Stories:

1.      You can set up what’s going to happen, the crisis, the conflict, the scary by switching back and forth between the good guy and bad guy.

2.      It’s very freeing.

I asked Editor Andrew Karre (currently executive editor at Dutton about first vs. third person.

Andrew said, “I think suspense is often important, but adding it to a manuscript tends to involve removing stuff and rearranging stuff. I think a clear, sequential, third-person story is rarely maximally suspenseful, so if suspense is in order, I think a meandering, unreliable first person is the way to go.”

Okay. Here are some take-away tips about adding suspense to your story.

They are summarized from an article by Vivian Gilbert Zabel, which is sourced below.

1. Make the main character someone you like but someone who can screw up. The reader has to care. If the reader doesn’t care about the character, the reader closes the book. If the character is perfect and can’t screw up? Then there’s no tension.

2. Make the plot a question and then “Make a list of all the possible reasons why the answer could be “no.” Those “no” answers become the focus of problems and obstacles – suspense,” Zabel says.

3. Make the hero have a really good reason for what she wants. Make her need.

4. Do that for the bad guy, too.  Stories like Harry Potter wouldn’t be nearly so fun if there wasn’t the possibility that the evil wizard Voldemort might kick everyone’s butts.

5. Make things harder and harder for the hero. Make it get worse.

6.  Pick the right POV for you and your story.

7.  Try to make the story urgent. Imagine a bomb ticking down before the explosion. Make the story a race against that.

And there you go! I hope all these blog posts on tension help you out a bit instead of making you more tense.

SOURCES:

Luce, Carol. “Writing Suspense That’ll “Kill” Your Readers.” The Complete Book of Novel Writing. Ed 2002. Med Leder and Jack Heffrom. Cincinatti: Writers’ Digest Books, 2002.

Reynolds, William. “Keeping Them In Suspense.” The Complete Book of Novel Writing. Ed 2002. Med Leder and Jack Heffrom. Cincinatti: Writers’ Digest Books, 2002.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Vivian_Gilbert_Zabel 

Personal Interviews with Mark Del Franco, Andrew Karre, and Steven Wedel, Sept. 2008.

Want More of Me?

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

My Patreon site I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT. I also share some writing tips that are also going to be on Teachable as the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME and send people art.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Refried Beans of Revision Crockpot Style

Sometimes, you just have to refry things in a crockpot. Okay? Don’t judge. I’m from New England. We like our crockpots.

Also, please buy my baby novella.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Print Recipe
Refried Beans of Revision Crockpot Style
Course side dish
Cuisine vegetarian
Servings
Ingredients
Course side dish
Cuisine vegetarian
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. See all that stuff? It's what makes your book -- I mean beans -- awesome.
  2. Admire the beans. They are characters. Admire the water that holds it all together.
  3. Put all those ingredients in the crockpot.
  4. Try not to think about it.
  5. Cook it in the crockpot on high.
  6. Think about people who have InstaPots. Judge them. Feel old school.
  7. Realize you aren't old school. You're just too poor to buy an InstaPot.
  8. Try not to care.
  9. Keep cooking. Ignore it just like you ignore all deadlines, plot holes, bad dialogue and your excessive use of the word "then."
  10. Check it at five hours. It looks cool.
  11. Check it at eight hours. It's mooshy! YAY!
  12. Put it in a blender if you're an overachiever.
  13. Put some in a skillet and fry in oil if you're a human.
  14. Adjust for salt and stuff.
  15. SMASH IT ALL IN YOUR MOUTH AND REJOICE!
Recipe Notes

I have been making a version of these from the Moosewood Cookbook ever since I got the Moosewood Cookbook in high school. 

This specific version is adapted from Courageous Joy, which adapted it from Moosewood. Here's the link. 

Writing In The Tension Into Your Story Interview with Author Mark Del Franco

I talked to Mark Del Franco about how he builds tension and suspense.  According to his website, “Mark Del Franco spent several years in the publishing field in editorial and administrative roles and in the institutional finance field as a proposal writer. He currently is pursuing a freelance career in both these fields.”

SONY DSC

“Mark Del Franco lives with his partner, Jack, in Boston, Massachusetts, where the orchids tremble in fear since he killed Jack’s palm plants.”

What his website bio doesn’t say is that Mark is an amazing guy and masterful at first-person suspense.

So, Mark, what do you do to build tension in a scene?

I find tension one of the harder aspects of writing because I know what’s going to happen.  Sometimes the execution surprises me—the  scene I envision does not always result in the scene that gets written—but the bottom-line is that it’s not tense for me in the same way it is for a reader.  So what do I do?  I try and be a reader as I write.  The crucial point of tension is something has to be at stake that the reader cares about or at least believes the characters care about.  For me, that means setting a scene first–the visuals and why it’s important.  Then I layer in the idea of the success or failure being equally important—it’s not tension if the result is not in doubt.  Last, the pay-off has to work credibly–if something resolves successfully, the reader must feel that I haven’t cheated to get there (for example, “Poof! she waved her magic scepter”) and if something resolves tragically, the reader must not feel I stacked the odds to an impossible height to make a plot point (for example, “everyone died,  but now he had a reason for revenge”).  These three things overlap, but they do happen for me in roughly this order.

Is it a “big bang shock” sort of technique for you or you more fond of the “take the reader down the dark and sinister hallway” approach?

I like both!  Both techniques have their uses and achieve different goals.  I think the big bang is an after-effect technique.  The Bad Thing happens, and the tension derives from how characters have to deal with it.  The dark hallway is more front-loaded—we know something is coming, so the goal is to face it and the tension derives from whether
the characters can prevent the Bad Thing.  Both techniques, I think, are a test of character (in both senses of the word) that should make a reader care about what happens.

Do you think that it\’s easier to build tension in first or third person? And either way, as a reader (not as a writer) which do you prefer?

As a writer, I’ve been focusing on first person to date so I’m more comfortable with first (though a new novel I’m working on is in third). With first person, I have an easier time slipping behind my protagonists eyes and trying to imagine what would make things tense for me, then translating that to the page.  I think this gives the reader a certain
immediacy to the tension, too.  Third person is a broader kind of tension in that I’m trying to make things tense for the reader and the character in slightly different ways while telling one narrative.  Right now, as I learn my way through third person writing (and every novel is a new learning experience), I’m feeling that third person makes a higher
demand for ensuring the setting tension is strong because the viewpoint is broader.  As a reader, I respond more to first person tension.  With third person tension, for some reason I tend to notice more the way scenes are crafted to create tension, but that may be due to the fact that third person has not been my main writing point of view so far.

If you think of suspense coming in different sizes (small, medium, super-ultra large) do you think it\’s best to alternate these or are you into the steady diet of massive (or tiny) suspenses in your book.

In a way, this is a broader issue of pacing and making decisions as a writer as to the type of book you want to write.  My Connor Grey series tends to medium hits of tension that grow larger over the course of the novel until I hit the big one.  That’s the pay off for myself and the reader—laying out a series of events that become more and more
perilous until Connor must make the big decision on how to act.  With my new novel set in the Convergent World, I’m looking to create a faster pace–I want my main character, Laura, to be put through her paces and prove she’s as good as everyone thinks she is.  So, I end up throwing a lot at her.  That increases the pacing and the way to do that is those
steady hits of tension.

When you write do you think the nature of  your suspense comes from your characters or from the plot?

As an urban fantasy writer that has focused on mystery, I hope the tension is in the plot!  At the same time, I think (and hope) that there’s a level of character tension too since my main character learned he has feet of clay and is struggling to overcome that.  How he becomes a better person–making mistakes along the way.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


Want To Learn About Me, My Writing Coach Business, Editing or Just Hook Up on Social Media?

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Writing Pet Peeves

Writing Pet Peeves

 
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Carrie’s number one writing pet peeve is when authors write,

I thought to myself.

Seriously. You are always thinking to yourself, sweet writer, unless you’re telepathically communicating to a zombie hamster and then all bets are off.

But the thing is that I, Carrie, get why authors like myself do this. It’s because:

  1. We’re worried that the reader isn’t going to get what we’re saying.
  2. We’re padding our daily word count totals for NaNoWriMo, national novel writing month where you try to write a 50,000-word novel in November.

But here’s the thing. Your readers are smart or smart enough to know that when your characters are thinking, they are doing that to themselves and not anyone else.

Cut those words, sweeties. Trust the readers. Trust your writing.

If you say, “I think” or “I thought,” everyone knows it’s to yourself… unless, you know, telepathic zombie hamsters.

So how about you? What are your writing pet peeves?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Trust your readers. Don’t write down to them. Believe in your words.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

You don’t need to be insecure. Be proud of what you’re doing, who you are and what you’re putting down for the world to hear.

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 252,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!


CHILL WITH US

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

The Tension Interview with Steven Wedel, He Who Writes Erotic Werewolf Novels and So Much More.

I interviewed author Steven Wedel, and my cowriter for a couple of books, about where all his writing tension comes from. At first he said his daughter cell phone bills, but then he got all charming and agreed to the interview.

What Steve’s website says about him is : 

I was born in Stillwater, Okla., in 1966 and we moved to Enid, Okla. about a year later. Some of my earliest memories are of watching The Foreman Scotty Show on a black-and-white TV and winning a call-in contest on the show; the prize was a T.G.&Y. gift certificate. I played in the dirt a lot and had a fire engine peddle car I rode like hell on our back patio.

Somewhere back then, I recall my mom and aunt letting me watch Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” That scared me a lot.

Steve is the author of  a bunch of scary books, mostly about werewolves and people.

So, Steve, what do you do to build tension in a scene?

I always come at my writing from a character-first perspective. So, for me, tension comes from creating a character readers really care about. My stories typically start kind of slow because I’m developing the lead character(s). I also write from the POV of the antagonist (keeping in mind that he’s the hero of his own story). This way, the reader sees the goals of both the antagonist and protagonist and can watch as they come closer and closer to confrontation.

Is it a big bang shock sort of technique for you or you more fond of the taking the reader down the dark and sinister hallway?**

Always go down the dark and sinister hallway! Hopefully there’s a big bang shock at the end of it. When I teach my Writing Horror class at the local vo-tech we spend a lot of time comparing Friday the 13th to The Exorcist. In the Friday movies, all you get is the big bang shock. One after another, characters you don’t care about are killed in creative and gruesome ways. In The Exorcist, you see Regan, her mom, and Father Karras in their normal lives. You come to like them before the evil invades their lives. When it does, it starts slowly, with noises in the attic, a quiet conversation about the loss of faith, etc. By the time of the final showdown, you really know these people and are deeply emotionally invested in their well-being.

Do you think that it’s easier to build tension in first or third person? And either way, as a reader (not as a writer), which do you prefer?

Hmm. That’s a tough one. In many regards, I think it’s easier to build tension in third person simply because if it’s told in first person the reader assumes the character telling the story lives. Also, because you can jump heads and show the motivation of the antagonist. That’s something you can’t do so well in first person because the reader can only see what that one character sees, only know what that one character knows. As a reader, I love the intimacy of the first person narrative, though.

If you think of suspense coming in different sizes (small, medium, super-ultra large), do you think it’s best to alternate these or are you into the steady diet of massive (or tiny) suspenses in your book?

I think of it as dating. Let’s say the goal is, umm … the honeymoon night activity. There are stages you go through in getting there.

“If I try to hold her hand, will she pull away and tell me how gross I am and how she’ll kill me if I ever touch her again?”

He thinks about that, stews about it, starts to do it, but she suddenly has an itch and her hand is gone.

He waits, waits, waits, then tries again. Success! She looks at him and smiles. Later, he wants to kiss her. The stakes are higher, so he’ll have to think about that one longer. After all, his breath probably stinks, he’s never kissed anyone before, doesn’t know how to form his lips, when to use his tongue, how long to hold the kiss, all that. But then it simply happens and it’s fantastic and you release a little of that tension. There are smaller goals, medium goals and that super-ultra large goal waiting at the end of the story.

When you write do you think the nature of  your suspense comes from your characters or from the plot?

What? Are you my wife? You haven’t listened to a word I’ve said, have you? Well, I have that affect on women.* Ya’ll just tune me out. I’m like the checkbook trying to say, “Do you really need another pair of shoes?” when you’re already at Shoe Carnival.

Plot is important, of course. You have to have something going on. This is why I don’t get into much “mainstream” literature. Too often, nothing really happens. Interesting people become boring if all they do is veg in front of the TV. Something has to be going on in their lives, and they have to react, anticipate, and act to shape the course of those events.

Last night I finished this new book where nobody was killed, the foundation of the planet wasn’t threatened, and no ship capsized to kill hundreds, but a lot happened to this one fascinating young girl who was writing letters to John Wayne. In the grand scheme of things, what was going on with her was pretty small potatoes, but in her world the events were huge. That’s what’s important. It was completely believable that Lily became a “girl hero” in the context of her story, but she wasn’t going to be defusing atomic bombs in that story. The plot will grow out of the characters.****

I’ve tried developing stories where the plot is more important and I end up with cardboard cutout characters that are just moved across the board like the little plastic pegs in the little plastic cars in the Life game.

Steve, you are awesome! Thank you so much!

*Reader, he does NOT have this affect on women. It is the opposite. I swear to you.
** Reader, we talk about these techniques in an earlier post.
*** Reader, does it annoy you to be called reader? If I sent you strudel would it make it better

**** This is my book he’s referring to. Steve is nice like that.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Baked Bean Quesadillas of Raymond Carver Minimalism–Vegetarian Recipes


Print Recipe


Baked Bean Quesadillas of Raymond Carver Minimalism--Vegetarian Recipes

Course Main Dish

Servings


Ingredients

Course Main Dish

Servings


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Find a pan.

  2. "You probably need to eat something," you say to the pan. But no. The pan can't eat. You can though.

  3. Wonder if this is minimalism yet.

  4. Wonder if the act of wonder deletes the minimalism.

  5. Find a corn tortilla.

  6. Channel Raymond Carver. Offer it a drink.

  7. When it doesn't answer, put the tortilla in the pan.

  8. "How's that?" you say. "How do you feel being topped with beans?"

  9. Put the beans on top.

  10. Say, "Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this."

  11. Add, "So is mashing. But not too much."

  12. Find a spoon, flip it around and use it to mash the beans just a bit.

  13. "It’s good to eat something," you say to yourself, to the pan, to the beans mashed on the tortilla.

  14. Put on cheese.

  15. Put the heat on medium-high, and heat until the cheese begins to melt.

  16. While it melts, think of Carver, say "let's 'speak of loneliness, and of the sense of doubt and limitation that had come.'"

  17. Inhale.

  18. Put the other tortilla on top.

  19. Press down a bit like you are pushing down tears and loneliness and doubt and limitation.

  20. Flip that quesadilla over.

  21. Heat until cheese is totally melted.

  22. Put it on your plate.

  23. "Smell this," you say to your nose. "It's good to eat something."


Recipe Notes

This recipe is adapted from the NYT. It is much easier to follow there. 

Half the quotes are from Raymond Carver's "A Small Good Thing," which you can find an excerpt of and the whole PDF over on Pencake.  

And you can find out more about me here. 

Where Does All That Writing Tension Come From?

This week, I’ve been talking about story tension which basically comes down to this question:

Where does all that tension and all that suspense comes from?

That makes it sound like this is a blog post about dealing with rejection and deadlines and cranky editors. It isn’t.

All of us have tension in our lives. We worry about our loved ones, our jobs, our selves, our country. The tension comes from multiple sources.

That’s how it works in writing, too.

Suspense can come from:

  1. Plot
  2. Characters
  3. Place

Suspense from Plot

 In his Essay “Killing Them in Suspense” William Reynolds writes, “The most obvious source of suspense is plot – indeed, in genre fiction especially, it’s nearly impossible to separate the two.”

 He cites the movie North by Northwest (one of editor Andrew Karre’s favorites about ten years ago).

Poor Cary Grant is besieged by nasty guys who are 100 % positive that Dashing Cary is someone they’ve been trying to capture for a long, long time. Dashing Cary Grant dashes around so he doesn’t get caught. We root for him. We worry for him. We want to know what will happen and there’s a real danger that the bad guys will catch him and Dashing Cary will dash no more.

Suspense from Characters

 What your characters do also creates suspense. Their actions, their reactions will increase the tension. This is why your characters have to be flawed. Their flaws up the stakes. In the Harry Potter books, Harry’s stubborn streak makes him vulnerable. When he chooses to dash off — ala Cary Grant —  and save the world alone we worry for him, but that’s his character choice to do that.

 We don’t know if Harry will survive Voldemort, the evil wizard. We don’t know if Harry will even survive his Tri-Wizard Level tests and we care because we care about Harry. We worry about him.           

Suspense from Place

It’s the “unpredictable nature” of certain places, which also create suspense Reynolds believes.  In Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, Sunnydale is a Hellmouth and all sorts of demons can come on through. The demons play by different rules. The place creates suspense. Lots of science fiction and fantasy novels do this.

In many literary novels the unpredictable weather creates suspense.

Stephen King uses the rural landscape of Maine, the isolation of homes and people to create suspense. Stephenie Meyers does the same thing in her Twilight series.

Reynolds uses his own first line in his novel, Things Invisible, to show how it’s done. What’s the first line?

            “Days like this remind you that you’re going to die.”


HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com