Simple Story Structure, Pokemon Oreos and Do You Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching You?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Simple Story Structure, Pokemon Oreos and Do You Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching You?
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There are lots of fancy and complicated ways to figure out story structure.

There’s Save the Cat, the Snowflake Method, the Five-Act, the Four-Act, the Six-Act.

But sometimes all of those complicated methods bog some of our writer brains down.

So today we’re going to give you a super quick guide to story structure for your novel. You ready?

Step One:

Name it. This does not have to be its forever name, just a way for you to find the computer file. It can be THE EVIL NOVEL THAT HAS NO NAME RIGHT NOW. That’s fine.

Step Two:

Find a hero. Name them. Put them in a jam or a bad place. Maybe they suck at making commitments? Maybe they need a promotion. Maybe they live under the stairs. Give them a problem.

Step Three:

Think about what has to occur in order for them to ovary up enough to try to deal with that problem.

Step Four:

Now decide what is going to change once that hero gets proactive and tries to deal with that problem or once they take action.

Step Five:

Are things different for our little hero now? How?

Step Six

Okay. Something else needs to happen so that the story takes a turn or a veer to the right or left. What makes it go in another direction?

Step Seven

Make things worse for our poor hero. How are they worse?

Step Eight

Okay. If this is a positive change arc where the hero ends up in a better place, what is it that inspires them to make a big effort and go for that win?

Step Nine

What is the big win (positive change arc) or the big loss (negative change arc)

There you go, how to figure out your novel’s basic structure in nine easy steps? Do you feel heroic, writer? You should.

Writing Tip of the Pod

It’s okay to make it simple when it comes to story structure. It really is.

Dog Tip for Life

When your people turn your head and look at you and you realize you’ve been caught, it’s time to stop because then they just think you’re a creeper.

Resources

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/26/1040779728/pokemon-oreo-cookies-ebay-pikachu-mew

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

The man in my driveway and yes, I’ve lost two best friends

Recently one of my friends asked about the past best friends in my life and I told her how two of my last closest friends had died. She had a hard time with that.

One of those friends grew old enough for his big, ancient wool sweaters to hang off his scarecrow shoulders when I took him to doctor’s appointments. One died cooking breakfast for visitors at an inn, his gorgeous heart taking him away.

And this past Friday, another friend fell to the floor and never regained consciousness. She had done so much for me when we were Rotary International zone coordinators together and it still seems impossible that she’s gone.

I miss my friends all the time, but I always feel so lucky that I had them in my life. My friend cried about this. I didn’t. When I told my daughter about it she just said, “You’re resilient, Mommy. That’s okay.”

“I am?”

I’m not sure if she’s right, but I know those men, Grady and Don, are stories that I’ve pulled into my own heart, stories that I can pull out when I need them, remember, and bask in the warmth. Karen will be like that, too. But not all stories are quite like that. Not all of them have known endings.

About ten years ago for about a month, every night when I walked my dogs, there was this guy standing in front of my driveway. 

This would be okay, but he never spoke.

Seriously.

Like Scotty the dog would run right towards him and the guy just stood there….

And I would say, “Oh! Sorry! My dog likes people. Too much.”

The man? He just still stood there….

Then I’d say, “Yeah … Sorry! Have a good night.”

The man? He just kept standing there.

I tried to figure out if he was doing normal standing there outside man things such as:

1. Talking on his cell phone.
2. Smoking a cigarette.
3. Mumbling to himself about the zombie apocalypse.
4. Debating whether or not Dancing With The Stars or The Voice is fixed. 

But he wasn’t.

At all.

He was just standing there. He always turned and faced me too when I came out, but because it was so dark where I lived, I could never actually make out much of his face.

And then I blogged about him (on LiveJournal, it was awhile ago) and he never came back.

He became an unsolved mystery, a constant presence that just–poof!–disappeared.

There is more than logic at work at times like this. Our brains know the possibilities, the complexity of reasons why a man might be randomly standing at the end of a stranger’s driveway, might shirk away when she tries to communicate–how big, how far apart–realities can be. But there is also a beautiful kind of magic in the possibilities–the whispers of potential communication, the stages of a life, the stories of it.

I’ll never know. For some reason, a man stood at the end of my driveway every night, always when I walked my dogs, even when I varied the times. For some reason, my two best friends are not here, breathing, on this earth anymore. For some reason, I am resilient.

Night in rural Maine is dark and it’s hard to see people’s faces, but when tourists visit and they remember to look up, they see skies full of beauty, stars shining out, tiny bits of past lights, so many potential stories. You remember how little you can be and also how big, how the world can make you feel so isolated and also so connected. All at once.

Maybe everyone has a random man at the end of the driveway. If we notice him, maybe he notices us, too. If we see the outline of him and he doesn’t wave back, it doesn’t matter because he was there before he was gone. Just like we are. A story we might not never know the end of, but still a story that we can try to make big and beautiful.


The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones (That’s me. If you click the image, it will bring you to the Amazon page!)

The third book in Rosie and Seamus’s story of adventure, mystery, and death is here!

I hope you’ll support me, have a good read, and check it out!

great new mystery
romantic suspense set in Bar Harbor Maine

Sometimes the treasure is not worth the hunt . . . .

When a little boy goes missing on a large Maine island, the community is horrified especially almost-lovers Rosie Jones and Sergeant Seamus Kelley. The duo’s dealt with two gruesome serial killers during their short time together and are finally ready to focus on their romance despite their past history of murders and torment.

Things seem like they’ve gone terribly wrong. Again. Rosie wakes up in the middle of the woods. Is she sleepwalking or is something more sinister going on?

What at first seems like a fun treasure hunt soon turns into something much more terrifying . . . and they learn that things are not yet safe on their island or in their world. If they want to keep more people from going missing, Rosie and Seamus have to crack the puzzle before it’s too late.

To buy it, click here, and let me know! I might send you something!

WHY WON’T ANYONE BUY MY BOOK ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

WHY WON’T ANYONE BUY MY BOOK ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

Recipe by CarrieCourse: Uncategorized
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Calories

300

kcal

Stuff That Goes In It

  • 2–3 lbs cherry tomatoes, stems removed just like how traditional publishing has removed your heart through their constant rejections.

  • 1/4 cup best-quality olive oil you can afford, and a bit more for roasting, so basically whatever brand is cheapest at WalMart because YOU HAVE NOT SOLD YOUR BOOK YET!

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced up. Be careful with the knife, okay?

  • 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced. Seriously. Be careful. Knives and round things don’t always go together, much like your book and Harper Collins apparently.

  • Fancy herbs! A small bunch of fresh basil leaves;
    3–4 sprigs, fresh thyme, stems removed;
    kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste;
    steak seasoning if you can’t find any herbs–you can improvise here just like you improvised the use of a semicolon 7,777 times in you 50,000-word novel. Just kidding! Just kidding!

How to Make It

  • Find the oven and turn it on. No not that way! Power it on and set the temperature to 400 Fahrenheit or 204 Celsius.

    Feel good about that positive action step towards your goal.

    Think of other positive action steps towards your goal of traditional publishing.

    Possibly cry by the sink as you clean your cherry tomatoes. Wash your tears down the sink. Add this to your novel and then come back to the kitchen.
  • Take your beautiful little baby tomatoes and use just enough of that expensive olive oil to lightly coat them. You might want to toss them around.

    Do not take out your frustrations on the tomatoes. Realize you and your books are the tomatoes, totally at the whim of a subjective industry.

  • Spread your tomatoes out on a baking pan or sheet. Something rimmed. You don’t want them to tumble off into the abyss of the stove.

    Realize that thought/image really makes your heart hurt. Definitely get a rimmed sheet.

  • Cook for about 25-30 minutes. Roast until they’ve bursted or started to shrivel.

    Oh, salty unicorns! This metaphor hurts!


  • Take them out of the oven.

    Put all that olive oil into a sauce pan or pot that has a heavy bottom. Ponder your own heavy bottom because you followed the experts’ advice and kept your butt in chair to write your novel. AND FOR WHAT? A heavy bottom.
  • Cry into the sink again as you heat that oil on medium and wait for it to shimmer in a way that your writing career isn’t, damn it.
  • Put onions into the pot so you have an excuse to cry. Stir them a bit for around 4-5 minutes.
  • Add garlic. Realize you should have put freaking vampires in your book to get it to sell. Vow to do that.
  • Put those shriveled tomatoes and their cooking liquid (aka tears) and herbs in with the garlic and onion. Add salt and pepper. Add a handful of sugar if you’re feeling naughty.

    Put the heat on low. Put a lid on the pot, but turn the heat down to low.

    Make it so the cover isn’t on tightly, but has a one-inch gap.
  • You can simmer it for 25 minutes to one hour.

    Use that time to add a vampire to your novel.
  • Take the pot off the stovetop. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes.

    Use that time to add a love triangle to your novel. And maybe a zombie?

  • Being super careful, transfer the cooled mixture into a blender. Blend.


Notes

Haunted Bunkbeds and Other Spooky Objects

Loving the Strange
Loving the Strange
Haunted Bunkbeds and Other Spooky Objects
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On this week’s LOVING THE STRANGE, we’re talking about the spookiest objects to start of a month of spooky.

Possessed bunkbeds? We’ve got them.

Possessed dolls? Yawn. Obviously.

Plantation mirrors. Check.

RESOURCES

https://the-line-up.com/haunted-objects

https://www.ranker.com/list/tallman-house-haunting/erin-wisti

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/10/07/metro/maine-citys-series-strange-events-are-giving-off-some-serious-stephen-king-vibes/

And dummies.com, which refuses to connect.

What Does It Mean to Be Brave

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
What Does It Mean to Be Brave
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No video today! Sorry!

This week things got a bit hectic. Apologies. But we wanted to quickly talk about what it means to be brave and of course, ask you to send in your Be Brave stories. Because we are still on a mission to share these stories and sing your praises with the world.

The Oxford Dictionary defines bravery as:

Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

And that’s pretty interesting because there are three components going on there:

You’re ready.

You’re going to endure something.

You’re showing courage.

The ability to endure is really about the ability to persevere, to face our fears and/or our circumstances and still be ready.

Ready for what?

Ready for whatever is heading towards us, the good, the terrifying, the empowering, all of it.

A lot of us spend a lot of our lives worried about worst case scenarios, rejections, falling down, and all of that energy we spend worrying? We can spend it actively moving towards our own moral and/or creative evolution and our goals.

Imagine: How cool would it be if you spent all the time you currently spend worrying about failing and instead use that time towards actively going after the things you want, the life you want to have, the person you want to be.

That’s what enduring is about. It’s about overcoming. And sometimes it’s about persisting. And almost all the time it’s about dealing with the fear that’s holding us back.

So much of the time the fear that’s holding us back? It comes from us.

Being brave means living in the moment, speaking with compassion.

Being brave means standing up for what you believe is right even when nobody else thinks the same thing.

Sometimes being brave is something as simple as responding to a Facebook post, or being compassionate, or reacting with empathy instead of anger.

Sometimes being brave is reaching out to someone else and saying, “This guy is a creep.”

Sometimes being brave is looking at yourself and know when you’re holding yourself back.

Being brave is truly defined by you and what you think it takes to persevere, to endure, to be ready and to shine.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

How one ex-cop has mellowed out

On Thursday, my co-podcaster, Shaun, and husband guy, takes over the blog.

He’s adorable. I hope you’ll read what he says even if he does occasionally sound like a surfer dude from the 1990s or Captain Pontification. And no, we don’t always agree. 🙂

Shaun squinting.

I recently read a Facebook post by someone who lives in my community about not letting love and kindness die in today’s confrontational world. This post struck me as important and also something that I have recently adopted. Actually, reinvigorated may be a better word for how I am approaching the “random acts of kindness” way of thinking.

Let me just say that I am not writing this as any type of ego-boosting or self-congratulatory dribble!

Every decent thought or act that passes through my brain and body is solely due to other people who have influenced my life. Most recently, and perhaps most greatly, that person would be my amazing wife, Carrie Jones. Before her there were others, my mother, my grandmother, and especially my grandfather, but all of the credit belongs to them, not really me.

So, here is the thing.

All of us, or at least most of us, seem to always be in a rush. Rushing here, rushing there, thinking only of ourselves and our own perceived priorities. I am almost always that person. I am the human who hates waiting in traffic or getting stuck talking to someone who wasn’t a previously planned contact.

These kind of events make get me perturbed, angry even, and it happens quickly, or at least it used to.

You can ask Carrie and she will tell you how I act when I am driving and other drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists don’t act or react in the way that I think is most efficient. It isn’t pretty!

We must take a quick commercial break for some backstory.

When I was in my early twenties, somebody once said that I was the most calm person they ever met. I was.

I was like a stoner who didn’t smoke weed. I rarely showed anger. I rarely cussed. I rarely ever let anyone see an emotional reaction that wasn’t calm.

Then I became a cop. Then I had a dysfunctional marriage (not with Carrie!). Then I became a high context person who didn’t even try to contain any negative emotion or reaction. If I was not in a good mood, everyone in the room would know it when I walked in without me even saying a word.

What a waste of a lot years that was!

Now we return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

It has taken me five years to shed that shell. But, I am super glad that I have.

Now Carrie may argue this point a bit … but there is a difference between public persona and intimate knowledge of a person . I will readily admit that I am still high context at home but hopefully, as I like to believe, it is not such a negative high context.

I am definitely enjoying being more mellow about life and all of the things that make us humans feel rushed all of the time. I don’t get mind-blowing, swear-word-inducing mad when traffic isn’t flowing at a constant ten miles per hour over the speed limit. I  am happy to stop and let someone pull out in front of me or cross the road in front of me. Even if they didn’t bother to walk the extra ten feet to actually get into the crosswalk!

I am trying not to mumble under my breath or dance in place with anger because the person at the self-checkout kiosk doesn’t have their crap together.

I am holding the door open for people again, even though we are still basically in a COVID crisis and half of the people I hold doors from have apparently not heard of masking.

And most importantly I am enjoying the reactions that I get from people who I stop for or hold a door for or even just say hello to in a nice voice. I like to believe that a “thank you” or a smile means that I have made someone’s life a little bit better. I don’t care if it makes them more happy for the rest of the day or for two minutes until they have to face their next crisis.

I did my part.

Just think what would happen, what a better place the world would be if we ALL did our part! Amazing!

So, give it a try. Mellow out and throw out some kindness and love, randomly! See how you feel after and pretend that the recipient feels one miniscule amount better because of it.

Remember to always Love Your Way Through It!

Peace,

Shaun

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones (That’s me. If you click the image, it will bring you to the Amazon page!)

The third book in Rosie and Seamus’s story of adventure, mystery, and death is here!

I hope you’ll support me, have a good read, and check it out!

great new mystery
romantic suspense set in Bar Harbor Maine

Sometimes the treasure is not worth the hunt . . . .

When a little boy goes missing on a large Maine island, the community is horrified especially almost-lovers Rosie Jones and Sergeant Seamus Kelley. The duo’s dealt with two gruesome serial killers during their short time together and are finally ready to focus on their romance despite their past history of murders and torment.

Things seem like they’ve gone terribly wrong. Again. Rosie wakes up in the middle of the woods. Is she sleepwalking or is something more sinister going on?

What at first seems like a fun treasure hunt soon turns into something much more terrifying . . . and they learn that things are not yet safe on their island or in their world. If they want to keep more people from going missing, Rosie and Seamus have to crack the puzzle before it’s too late.

To buy it, click here, and let me know! I might send you something!

WORD! AWARD-WINNING ELLEN BOORAEM TALKS WRITING TIPS AND HOW SHAME KEEPS HER FROM GIVING IN TO PROCRASTINATION

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
WORD! AWARD-WINNING ELLEN BOORAEM TALKS WRITING TIPS AND HOW SHAME KEEPS HER FROM GIVING IN TO PROCRASTINATION
/

The amazing writer and human, Ellen Booraem, spent nineteen years as a small-town journalist before quitting her day job to write four award-winning fantasies for readers ten and older (The Unnameables, Small Persons with Wings, Texting the Underworld and River Magic.

In this bonus podcast, we talked about Ellen’s writing tips to deal with writing blocks, the big leaps she took to start a fiction career at 52, and the incredibly cool WORD festival (the annual Blue Hill Maine literary arts festival) that’s coming up this October (which you should all check out).

We also touch on how working at a newspaper made us visual writers and trained us for fiction.  

Ellen volunteers as a writing coach for students in her local middle school and is a founding organizer for Word, the annual Blue Hill (Maine) literary arts festival. Having ventured from her early time as Alton Hall Blackington’s next door neighbor in coastal Massachusetts, she now lives in coastal Maine with her partner, painter Robert Shillady.

Publisher’s Weekly called Ellen’s latest novel, “A dense emotional core, resonant voice, and themes of grief, shifting friendships, and family enliven Booraem’s contemporary fantasy, reminding readers that ‘hope is everywhere.’

To find out more about Ellen and her books, check out Ellen’s website:

https://www.ellenbooraem.com/

To find out more about WORD (which is online this year), check out its website:

https://www.wordfestival.org/

And Word’s full schedule including workshops, art, and readings is here:

https://www.wordfestival.org/word-2021-full-schedule

I Don’t Remember The Devil’s Church

The other week on our podcast, one of my high school friends mentioned in the chat that we had once gone to the Devil’s Church in Manchester, New Hampshire when we were teens.

I absolutely didn’t remember it.

They were stunned.

And I was stunned that I went to this great allegedly haunted, urban legend place of my childhood and couldn’t remember it.

“It was deep in the woods. It was terrifying,” she explained.

Still nothing.

Other people had made sacrifices there. Bones are found in the woods of animals. Symbols of hate were painted onto the hard walls; gaping holes made floors treacherous.

Still nothing.

And a lot of my high school was like that. And kind of a lot of my life. I have chosen apparently to move on and forget those bits of my life.

Anne Lamont said, “I am all the ages I have ever been,” which is probably true even if you can’t remember those ages.

There’s a layer inside all of us that is the sum of all our actions and interactions, experiences and thoughts, but there’s also a thing called living in the moment. And to live in the moment, we have to acknowledge who we were in the past, but also exult in who we are in the now. We have to take the power of our choices.

We have to seek for what is gorgeous and powerful and good in ourselves and our society. We have to evolve both upwards and outwards and keep creating who we are and what we want our world to be.

We write our own stories of our lives and we star in them. The other stories people write about us where they make us the villain or the hero or the sidekick or the bystander? They don’t matter as much as the awareness that we write our own stories. We get to decide what experiences we remember and matter, and we get to choose who we want to be in our own story.

Kind?

Ambitious?

Quirky as all get out?

Aesthetics believe that who we are can change and change quickly. The activist and political theorist Michael Foucault, it can be argued, believed that your actions create your character. Your character creates your lifestyle.  If you are aware, you can self-create who you want to be.

How do you want to shape your life? Your art? Who do you want to be?

Foucault said, “From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think there is only one practical consequence: we have to create ourselves as a work of art.”

Let’s create ourselves into something amazing, okay?


Want to support my writer self and keep the dogs in bacon? Please think about buying a book or being a Patron or even just listening to our free podcast.

The books are great, I promise!

And thank you for being so lovely!

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones (That’s me. If you click the image, it will bring you to the Amazon page!)

The third book in Rosie and Seamus’s story of adventure, mystery, and death is here!

I hope you’ll support me, have a good read, and check it out!

great new mystery
romantic suspense set in Bar Harbor Maine

Sometimes the treasure is not worth the hunt . . . .

When a little boy goes missing on a large Maine island, the community is horrified especially almost-lovers Rosie Jones and Sergeant Seamus Kelley. The duo’s dealt with two gruesome serial killers during their short time together and are finally ready to focus on their romance despite their past history of murders and torment.

Things seem like they’ve gone terribly wrong. Again. Rosie wakes up in the middle of the woods. Is she sleepwalking or is something more sinister going on?

What at first seems like a fun treasure hunt soon turns into something much more terrifying . . . and they learn that things are not yet safe on their island or in their world. If they want to keep more people from going missing, Rosie and Seamus have to crack the puzzle before it’s too late.

To buy it, click here, and let me know! I might send you something!

Big Foot Fights and Trailer Sauce and No Flat Writing

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Big Foot Fights and Trailer Sauce and No Flat Writing
/

A lot of writers will worry that their stories seem flat. There’s a reason that they are worrying about that and it’s one of the core elements of good writing.

Ready?

You want to vary your sentence structure.

Take a bit of writing that you’ve done that feels flat—or maybe even one that doesn’t. Count the words in your sentences for two or three paragraphs.

Are they all five words? Twelve? Twenty-seven?

That robotic sameness in sentence length is one of the main reasons that writing can feel flat.

It’s like those ancient Dick and Jane books.

See Dick run.

See Jane skip.

See Dick wave.

The other big bugger is when all of your sentences are simple and declarative.

I walk to the forest. The trees are gracious, tall. I inhale the pine scent.

There is actually a whole, entire world of different sentence styles that writers can use and when you use them? That’s when you make your writing shiny and sexy and all the good things.

The names for these structures are pretty boring, honestly, but we’ll try to look beyond that, right?

Simple – You have one main clause.

Carrie is the best wife.

Compound – You have more than one independent clause. You probably use a conjunction.

            Carrie wants to get another dog, but Shaun keeps saying no.

Complex – Oh, the sentence that probably has to pay for a therapist or is reading Foucault obviously in the park. This sentence has an independent clause and a subordinate clause. It’st the BDSM of sentences.

            When hell freezes over, we will allegedly get another dog.

Compound-Complex – It sounds like a place with a cult, right? But it’s just a sentence with at least two independent clauses and one subordinate clause.

Carrie really needs a new dog to love, so Shaun said that they would get one when hell freezes over, so Carrie immediately got some dry ice and sent some down to Lucifer.

Refresher moments:

What’s a clause? A bunch of words chilling out together and one of those words in the group is a verb and another is a noun. Fancy people call the verb, the predicate, but we aren’t fancy here.

What’s an independent clause? It is a bunch of words that has a subject and a predicate. It is grammatically complete all by itself and doesn’t need anyone. Not any other words to stand alone! Darn it.

What’s a subordinate or dependent clause? A bunch of words that needs other words to be a sentence. This poor beautiful baby cannot stand alone and be complete, kind of like a  protagonist in a Hallmark romance.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Vary your sentence structures and don’t be flat.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Variety is good. Don’t eat the same Milkbones all the time. Mix it up.

Be fluffy.

Resources Mentioned in the podcast:

https://nypost.com/2021/09/17/teen-gets-usb-cable-stuck-in-penis-in-attempt-to-measure-length/

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/weird/article251950768.html#storylink=mainstage_card

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

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Play Projects for Writers – Find Joy in 30 Days

The process feels completely counter-intuitive at first because it requires that you stop fretting about your ideal work or how you could ever get paid – and start doing something.

Last month I decided that I was going to write a poem a day and post them on Medium.

This was a big deal for me because:

  1. My first published writing was poems even before I went into the newspaper world.
  2. I really wanted to be a poet when I grew up.
  3. I am super vulnerable when it comes to sharing my poems (even more than my art, actually).
  4. I have a lot of hang-ups about being a poet. Poets have a voice. I didn’t think I had one for a long time. I was too poor, too raw, too lacking in a million ways.

But I called it a play project and I did it. And it was so much fun. It was fun to take a break from novels and editing and coaching and just play at something totally different, something with no expectations.

A lot of writers I work with forget to play with their writing. They spend a lot of time fixated on one project or one purpose/goal—to get published, to get to 80,000 words, to get an agent.

That’s all lovely.

Until it isn’t.

Sometimes, our hyper-fixation on goals (when it comes to art or writing) and our desire to make a living at it, keeps us from playing and exploring and growing.

Some of us don’t want to grow or play and that’s fine, too! There’s no one way to be a writer and no one reason to and a lot of us only do it to make a living.

This post is probably not for those writers though. Sorry!

So what is this play project thing?

I first saw the idea in Marianne Catwell’s book, but it emerged at least a decade ago.

According to John Williams (from his website, Screw Work, Let’s Play):

The core of the programme is getting the participants to launch a play project – a 4 week project that will be fun to do and explores an area of work or creativity they feel drawn to. 

He continues by saying:

The process feels completely counter-intuitive at first because it requires that you stop fretting about your ideal work or how you could ever get paid – and start doing something. If you are stuck on that very first question “What would I enjoy?” you will benefit hugely from this. At a later stage, you can create further play projects to move you towards getting paid.

Here’s why Play Projects are the bomb-diggity:

You get into action at last so you don’t feel powerless over your life any more

You find out what you enjoy, what you don’t, what you’re good at, what you’re not so good at – all extremely useful information for your future work direction

It’s fun – you get your creative juices going again – and this is a much better state in which to make career decisions and make them happen. As one participant on our programme said “This has affected every area of my life – people are commenting that I haven’t looked this good in ages!”

Once you’re out in the world on the move, you meet a lot more interesting people and opportunities – sometimes you even land some paid work without really trying to!

What are the rules?

According to Marianne Cantwell and Williams:

  1. Pick a project that gets you excited.
  2. Make it something you can complete in 30 days.
  3. Have a tangible product at the end — Like three blog posts, 20 poems, 3 picture books.
  4. Make time for it. Put in 30 minutes a day or just three days a week. Be all Nike ad and “just do it.”
  5. Start

The key is to give yourself the freedom of thinking of these as mini projects, as play, but focused play. And then as you do it, it’s cool to ask yourself questions like:

Is this fun?

Why am I avoiding doing this?

Holy crud, do I hate this?

And for me? I found out that I loved writing poems every day.

Actually, I love it so much that I am still doing it (with weekends off) and I’m having the best time making new friends on MEDIUM (where I’m posting those poems) and exploring new groups of writers and poets and myself.

So, how about you? What’s your play project going to be?