THREE BIG PIECES TO BUILDING BETTER STORY VIA SCENE AND SEQUEL

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
THREE BIG PIECES TO BUILDING BETTER STORY VIA SCENE AND SEQUEL
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.


Story is basically a sequence of events, right? And to create a story you have to put that sequence of events together in a way that’s going to jive to the reader or for the reader.

To do that you need scenes, which make up that sequence of events.

A scene is the basic unit of a story, and there are two main types of scenes:

  • The scene
  • The sequel

Dwight Swain wrote a book called the Techniques of a Selling Story, and he basically defined them this way,

“A scene is a unit of conflict lived through by the character and reader.”

There are three big pieces there:

  • A conflict
  • Lived through
  • Character and reader

In a scene there needs to be conflict, immersion so your reader can relate to what’s happening to the character and LIVE THROUGH that character.

To have a conflict, you need to have a goal for your character so that something can obstruct it and your reader can worry.

It all makes sense, right?

Swain goes on to say that a scene must:

  • Be interesting
  • Move that story forward

He then writes that in order for a scene to make the story progress,

“it changes your character’s situation; and while change doesn’t always constitute progress, progress always involves change.”

And in each scene you need to have:

  1. Goal- what the character wants (to own something, to be free of something, revenge)
  2. Conflict (something keeping your character from that goal)
  3. Disaster (Swain calls this the “logical yet unanticipated development that throws your focal character for a loss.”

Cool, right?

The sequel is what happens after that scene. It connects one scene to the next, Swain says. It’s a transition.

And its goals are to (in his words):

Translate the disaster into goal

Telescope reality

Control the tempo

It’s here that decisions are made. It’s here that the protagonist reorients themselves. It’s here where the protagonist has to find answers and possibilities and deal with what just happens and turn it into a new goal. And it often involves a bit of summary or exposition.

And these sequel/transitional places control the tempo of a story because they give the reader a tiny bit of a pause, slowing down the pacing. I’ll have more about scenes in my substack. The link is below and also here.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better.

Holes and Vettes

Carrie Does Poems
Carrie Does Poems
Holes and Vettes
/

Hi! This year (2022), I’ve decided to share a poem on my blog and podcast and read it aloud. It’s all a part of my quest to be brave and apparently the things that I’m scared about still include:

  1. My spoken voice
  2. My raw poems.

Thanks for being here with me and cheering me on, and I hope that you can become braver this year, too!


Holes and Vettes

Bar Harbor. Maine. 2022. A baseball field. 
Corvettes line up in rows, engines still
For once and owners preening 
From their folding chairs, legs poking 
Into the same grass that supports Life 
Flight helicopters in emergencies
And soccer cleats. This earth withstands so much.

It’s a yearly gathering that’s paused two years
Thanks to global disease, but now the drivers 
Are all maskless and showing off 
Their cars to locals who wander 
Between the lines, marveling. 

“I will never be rich enough
To own one,” says a man 
in a black t-shirt to a guy 
with a firebird red model. 

“I thought that too,” 
The guy says. “Work hard. 
You’ll get there.” 

The first man moves to run
A finger across the car’s hood. 
The owner flinches like it’s some kind of assault. 
“Try hard,” he repeats. “You’ll get there." 

We all try hard 
To get there,
Inventing monologues
Of worth based on materialism, 
Who owns what, how shiny
Our skins are, our hair, our cars,
Houses. We pretend like any of this
Fills up the holes we dig inside ourselves,
Inside the ozone, inside the earth. 

Darkening faces,
Double visions. Horror. 
The Vettes represent adventure 
And freedom. Not being beholden
Despite the car loans required,
The interest rates. The American Debt. 

“There are eight 
Generations of car here,” 
Says an organizer
With a yellow sunhat 
Perched on her head. 
“This is the car of dreams.”
 
American Dreams.
And that’s the thing.
Have you ever hit your head
On a poem or a wall
Or something else hard
And realized that your dreams
Aren’t actually yours? 

Have you ever felt like you’re falling
Though you are standing still on a field
Surrounded by excess and shiny paint
Jobs and pride, merciless, assaulting, 
And begged for stable ground
Before realizing you’re just making holes, too.
Maybe the holes are in a ball field, 
Or in the Earth or the ozone
Or maybe—just maybe—in your own damn heart. 


Hey, thanks for listening to Carrie Does Poems. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in Carrie, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Eric Van der Westen and the track is called “A Feather” and off the album The Crown Lobster Trilogy.

While Carrie only posts poems weekly here, she has them (in written form) almost every other weekday over on Medium. You should check it out!

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/eric-van-der-westen/the-crown-lobster-trilogy-selection

Strange Prom Stuff

Loving the Strange
Loving the Strange
Strange Prom Stuff
/

This week’s LOVING THE STRANGE is all about . . . prom.

LINKS WE MENTION

https://www.seventeen.com/prom/a39446/weird-prom-traditions/

https://jezebel.com/the-ten-worst-prom-stories-weve-ever-heard-5809569

https://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a19876321/funniest-prom-hookup-stories/

https://cafemom.com/parenting/185283-11_prom_night_confessions_that

https://mashable.com/article/prom-horror-stories

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jamedjackson/prom-horror-stories-thatll-make-you-literally-cringe

A Quick Overview About Point of View

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
A Quick Overview About Point of View
/

First, we should define point of view just in case you need a refresher. Truth is, we all often need a refresher even when we don’t want to admit it.

Point of view is all about who is talking and/or telling the story.

YOUR NEXT QUESTION IS:

Is There One Narrator Or Many? And who the heck is it?

That’s really one of the first questions you want to think about. You have to decide if you’re going to have just one point of view in your story or a lot.

A lot of our stories follow one character scene after scene after scene. Things that happen to the story happen to this character. We are invested in that character pretty heavily.

But sometimes, the story is about a person one but not told by that same person. This makes us a little more  worried that Person One might not make it through the story because our subconscious brain thinks, “Um, why isn’t Person One telling the story? DO THEY DIE?!?!”

Or sometimes the events of the story happen to a ton of people. Think of that zombie story that became a movie. We have a lot of different narrators because there we want to show all their stories.

Then, you have to decide which of the main point of views you want to use. They all have good points and bad points, but let’s just set you up with the big three. Each can be determined by the personal pronouns that the narrator uses.

First-Person Point of View.

This is the land of I. It’s all about me. It’s all about my story.

Here’s an example.

I went to the hospital and brought pizza.

Second-Person Point of View.

This is all about you, you, you. Yes, you.

You went to the hospital and brought pizza.

Or to some cooler

You went to the hospital, bringing pizza with you.

Third-Person Point of View

This is all about them and her and him. It can be omniscient or limited omniscient.

Here’s third person limited

Sadie went to the hospital. “I’m bringing pizza,” she thought. I hope they like it.

Or third person omniscient where you aren’t directly in the characters’ heads with internal monologue but know everything about everyone.

Sadie went to the hospital, a pizza box carried in her steady arms, the smell of pepperoni whisking around each person she passed, the orderly, the struggling father, the mother with the heroin-track arms, the gunman. He would kill for that pizza, but how could she know that? To be fair, right now he’d kill for anything and nothing.

There you go! There is also a Fourth Person Point of View, but that one would require its own podcast. So we’ll try to get there next week.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better.

Take a Nap Like Alexander the Great and Fight Burnout

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Take a Nap Like Alexander the Great and Fight Burnout
/

So, sometimes we burnout.

We work and work and strive and strive and juggle multiple obligations and opportunities and we just stop being fully there because we’re so tired.

Before I go on, let’s define burnout. I’m going to go with this definition because it’s not a Medium or blogger guru, but from the National Institute of Health.

“The term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He used it to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals in “helping” professions. Doctors and nurses, for example, who sacrifice themselves for others, would often end up being “burned out” – exhausted, listless, and unable to cope. Nowadays, the term is not only used for these helping professions, or for the dark side of self-sacrifice. It can affect anyone, from stressed-out career-driven people and celebrities to overworked employees and homemakers.”

That NIH article also has some nice rundown of symptoms:

  • Exhaustion: People affected feel drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, and don’t have enough energy. Physical symptoms include things like pain and gastrointestinal (stomach or bowel) problems.
  • Alienation from (work-related) activities: People who have burnout find their jobs increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may start being cynical about their working conditions and their colleagues. At the same time, they may increasingly distance themselves emotionally, and start feeling numb about their work.
  • Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work, at home or when caring for family members. People with burnout are very negative about their tasks, find it hard to concentrate, are listless and lack creativity.”

It’s a lot like depression, right? But it’s not the same. Typically, people with burnout don’t’ feel hopeless, suicidal or have low self-esteem.

So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, how do you get some down time when you’re working so hard that you’re either burnt out or in great danger of getting there?

GETTING A GRIP AND GRATIFY YOURSELF

First you want to look at the patterns of us overachievers who tend to burn out. We often were the ‘good kids’ in school who learned that in order to get praise (and not get in trouble) you had to get all your assignments done and on time. We’re all about the goals and completing those goals.

Chilling out? Resting? That doesn’t feel goal-oriented.

We think that we can delay our gratification and keep delaying it and keep delaying it so that we can get all our goals done. Delayed gratification, we all learn in our beginner psychology classes, means we will have better success in our life. They test children about this. It’s a thing. But when we’re super focused on achieving, we burn out because that delayed gratification equates to us not realizing that we are breaking down physically and mentally.

BE CHILL AND LET GO OF THAT DAMN GUILT

And it’s not just that. We want to get a lot done and to do it well. If our work isn’t awesome, we feel like we aren’t awesome. Resting, we foolishly think, keeps us from getting all our awesome things done. It keeps us from writing, running three miles, finishing the project for work, making the perfect lunch for our kids.

It’s worse than that though. We feel guilty. If we rest, we feel guilty.

We should be working, doing, creating. We should be better than this. We don’t need naps.

TAKE A NAP, DAMN IT

Here’s a secret: Alexander the Great took naps. He still got to be called ‘great.’ Ben Franklin? Took naps.

So, the first step is to realize that.

People who have changed history actually rested. That means you can, too. If you don’t, your performance starts to get kind of crappy. You don’t want that, do you, super goal-oriented one? No, of course not.

Then you have to remember that everything doesn’t have to be a goal and everything doesn’t have to be your job and responsibility.

Make a to-do list, sure. But in that make a top priority list and focus on those.

And remember, it’s okay to not be amazing all the time, to not be reliable all the time, to not do everything for everyone all the time. It’s so hard especially when you’re struggling to survive, but you have to remember it’s okay to suck sometimes. We all do. And it’s okay to nap.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Take naps! Only get off the couch for food. No, not really. But do take a nap if you need one.

LINK WE REFERENCE

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/mystery-terrifying-big-grey-man-26996822

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 writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a 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.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

King Kong Trolls

Carrie Does Poems
Carrie Does Poems
King Kong Trolls
/

Hi! This year (2022), I’ve decided to share a poem on my blog and podcast and read it aloud. It’s all a part of my quest to be brave and apparently the things that I’m scared about still include:

  1. My spoken voice
  2. My raw poems.

Thanks for being here with me and cheering me on, and I hope that you can become braver this year, too!

King Kong Trolls

The self-appointed 
writer-guru 
on Substack
with four-
thousand 
devotees
to his biweekly 
missives
has decided 
there are 
no 
more 
geniuses,
really,
not any
more.

Someone
needs 
to tell him
that he 
just doesn’t 
know

where to look.

The geniuses
aren’t banging 
their chests,
King-Kong like
in their glory
despite being
ground dwellers,
telling the world,
“Look at me! Look
at me as I roar
and pontificate.”

They are the 
discarded, 
dreaming,
creating, 
thinking
outside 
the main

streams
of 
plagiarized
discourse, 
unnoticed 
beneath
the giant
feet of 
oversized
apes 
capturing
all the attention 
as our culture
dangles 
from 
their
plump, 
hairy 
digits. 


Hey, thanks for listening to Carrie Does Poems. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in Carrie, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Eric Van der Westen and the track is called “A Feather” and off the album The Crown Lobster Trilogy.

While Carrie only posts poems weekly here, she has them (in written form) almost every other weekday over on Medium. You should check it out!

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/eric-van-der-westen/the-crown-lobster-trilogy-selection

Strange Stuff You Can Buy on Amazon

Loving the Strange
Loving the Strange
Strange Stuff You Can Buy on Amazon
/

Seriously, peeps.

There’s a lot of weird stuff out there.

LINKS WE REFERENCE

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/money/g28649116/weirdest-products-on-amazon/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/weird-amazon-products

https://www.amazon.com/ideas/amzn1.account.AFCU73MYXIUKLVDR2AAMONYJDMFA/KRF3G0YN1V8L

https://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/weird-amazon-products/

https://blog.cheapism.com/weird-things-on-amazon/#slide=9

Writers Get Addicted to Things Not Just Drugs and Booze and Coffee

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Writers Get Addicted to Things Not Just Drugs and Booze and Coffee
/

Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.


Sometimes us writers become a little stylistic. We get addictions. We might fall in love with the ellipses or certain words. Or, we might forget things like what a comma splice is or—gasp—what a sentence is.

Yes, I said it.

Sometimes writers forget what it is to make an awesome sentence. So we’re here to quickly tell you.

LET ME SET THE MOOD.

A good sentence brings the reader into the story and grounds them or gives them information or makes them feel. It doesn’t confuse them. It shows emotion and makes the reader feel sometimes. It creates an image for your reader to imagine via detail.

YOU COMPLETE ME.

A good sentence is complete. What does that mean? It means it isn’t a fragment, but it has a subject and a verb in it and that subject and verb combine to make a thought. In grammarian fancy language we call that complete thought an indepenendent clause.

It’s independent because it can stand all by itself like a mighty sentence. It’s not broken with its leg in a cast and has to have crutches and lean onto other thoughts.

A good sentence doesn’t need other sentences to complete it like an annoying character in a rom-com.  

So a sentence fragment is an addictive little poop and it is broken or fragmented because it doesn’t have a subject (what the sentence is about), a verb (what the subject of the sentence is doing) or a complete thought.

Here is an example of a fragment that isn’t a complete thought:

            Although Big Foot sits.

Wait. What?  We don’t know what happens although Big Foot is sitting, right?

Here is a sentence:

Although Big Foots sits on top of the garbage disposal, nobody can get a good photo of him.

Here is an example of a fragment with no verb

            Smelly Big Foot, sexy Big Foot.

Here’s an example of a fragment with no noun

            Running through the YMCA like he was human and not 8 feet tall and naked.

Fragments can be fun to throw in your story once in a while for impact, but too many and you just stop making sense.

IT MAKES SENSE.

We are not all James Joyce. We do not need to replicate Ulysses, his novel of massive sentences that are all contortionists. A good sentence makes sense and doesn’t make our readers’ brains hitch up.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better.

Flirts, Take Charge of Your Biological Clock.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Flirts, Take Charge of Your Biological Clock.
/

There’s this thing called a biological clock and it’s basically the timer of a bunch of things that your body does. It controls when you go to sleep, when you shoot out an egg, when your energy is high and when it crashes.

People who work third shift or whose shifts change have biological clocks that get all scattered. This happens to people who travel big distances too, right? We call it jet lag.

But even in a normal day we sometimes are more energetic and sometimes we are dragging and just want to find a couch and flop on it.

That clock though? It controls a lot. It also controls how alert you are, when you’re hungry or more easily stressed. It can even impact your immunity and hormones and temperature.

When you understand how it works? That’s when you can figure out how to optimize your life.

According to JE Driskell and B Mullen who co-authored “The efficacy of naps as a fatigue countermeasure: a meta-analytic integration” for Hum Factors, our energy levels decrease a bit when early afternoon hits. So, if you want a nap? And you can take one? That’s the time to do it.

Or, it’s an okay time to text your crush or sigfig if you know they aren’t super busy. Never text when you know someone is super busy.

And if you can’t take a real nap, if you can change up your work for a bit or take a break? It can really help your energy levels and focus and mood for the rest of the day. Cool, right?

That is the same time of day (noon to four) when concentration becomes a long lost friend. Thinking and focusing right after meals is also a bit hard. Most of us are able to think best during the late morning. But those times when focusing is hard are actually times when creativity is kick-butt. Wild, right?

Again, a good time to flirt text.

Not a good time? When you know someone is starting work, hanging out with their friends, running a marathon.

Understanding your own clock is a lot like understanding the clock and schedule of people you want to text. You’ll notice that there are times when you have long flirty conversations and times when it takes an hour for a response. Our bodies are like that, too.

Very Well Mind suggests that you can make your schedule more productive by not just knowing these facts, but also using them to establish a new daily pattern and also creating a steady sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at set times.

Gasp!

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Be smart. Text your fave in a way that doesn’t make you annoying.

LINKS WE MENTION

Johnny Cash’s Water Tower Peeing Incident

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 writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a 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.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Loneliness

Carrie Does Poems
Carrie Does Poems
Loneliness
/

Hi! This year (2022), I’ve decided to share a poem on my blog and podcast and read it aloud. It’s all a part of my quest to be brave and apparently the things that I’m scared about still include:

  1. My spoken voice
  2. My raw poems.

Thanks for being here with me and cheering me on, and I hope that you can become braver this year, too!


Loneliness

He is known as he enters the emergency room, jeans sagging off his waist as an orderly ambles

To meet him. He is hunching at the precipice between lobby and hall, intake and bathroom, and

Ready to be seen. It is hard to be seen these days in a little Maine town full of tourists

If you are Old. It is only easy right here, right now, in the liminal space before becoming

A patient. We watch him totter, trying to decide. Go in? Stay out? Become

Or remain. Before we arrived here ourselves for broken bones; children who gulped down

Their own therapies in too many numbers; corneas scratched by tree limbs; we had to make

Those decisions, too. Did we want to save ourselves or should we just embrace

That all we are is pain and numbness and pain? We came, but others didn’t.

We sought help. And waited and waited for it, looking at our origins in heart beats

And blood levels, skeletons pinned and set straight again, stomachs pumped,

Eyes numbed with drops we are told not to get addicted to. In his room now, just curtains

For walls, the hunched man yells, Hello. No answer to his polite entreaty. Hello. Hello.

There is no easy cure for him. Hello. He gives up, changes tactics, and bellows. I have to pee.


WordPress won’t really allow me to format this the way I’d like so I’ll show you a screenshot of how it is meant to be.


Hey, thanks for listening to Carrie Does Poems. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in Carrie, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Eric Van der Westen and the track is called “A Feather” and off the album The Crown Lobster Trilogy.

While Carrie only posts poems weekly here, she has them (in written form) almost every other weekday over on Medium. You should check it out!

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/eric-van-der-westen/the-crown-lobster-trilogy-selection

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