Gabby Dog Squinty Wisdom

When you realize that you can be loved and that you can love others

even when you’re goofy,

even though you have flaws,

even though you drool or bark a lot or make squinty faces?

That’s when the universe blossoms inside of you. 

Let it blossom!

xo

Gabby Dog

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Santa, What are Your Eyebrows doing? Telling Details and Taco Bell Smells.

Santa, What are Your Eyebrows doing? Telling Details and Taco Bell Smells.

 
 
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The Magic of The Eyebrow and Telling Details

What is this thing? This telling detail? 

It’s a phrase or an image or a word that illustrates something about a character. It’s pretty exact. It’s a magical moment of showing rather than telling. 

It’s usually pretty short. 

And it’s the opposite of a telling description. 

Here’s a bad description: 

He was nervous and scared and sad all at once. 

Here’s a telling-detail description: 

He soothed himself, rubbing the tips of his own ears over and over. 

Telling details make the characters and settings feel real. If we say, “Shaun lifted his eyebrows?” Well, that’s a cliché, but also it’s not quite enough to be a telling detail no matter how much people communicate with their eyebrows. 

Here’s a bad description: 

They walked into an almost empty bar. 

We don’t really see the bar, do we? 

Here’s something a bit better: 

The bar smelled of beer and lilac bushes somehow. The Sonos speaker tottering on the edge of the reclaimed wood bar blared “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story. A man leaning between ferns used a pencil to smash a hole into the bottom of a Bud Lite can and chugged it all down. He crushed the empty can between his hands and belched out the alphabet to cheers. 

“Wow. This place is weird,” I said and grabbed the door handle, ready to bolt. 

It’s all about detail and detail choice. Your reader and you don’t have the exact same image of what the inside of a bar is going to look like. It’s your job to show them your character’s world. You do that with a few telling details. This goes about setting, but it’s also true about people.

If I wrote,

Santa had straight eyebrows, far apart on his face, thin, red and with scars running through the center. They crept towards his receding hairline.

You’ll have a different image than,

Santa’s eyebrows raised.


Writing Tip of the Pod

When you’re revising think, “Can I make this shorter? Tighter? Quirkier? More authentic?” 

Dog Tip for Life


Notice the eyebrows. The difference. The details. And use them in your stories.


This week’s podcast

Last week’s podcast


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 “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


Where to Find Us

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.


WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

Continue reading “Santa, What are Your Eyebrows doing? Telling Details and Taco Bell Smells.”

Gabby Dog Motivation and Big Thoughts for Tuesday

You don’t need to wear disinterest like a badge of honor. Celebrate the things you love. Let others celebrate their loves, too. Don’t ruin other’s joy by announcing your disdain.

Cough.


Squirrels.

Anti-Star-Wars peeps.

I’m looking at you. 

Revising Doesn’t Always Have to Be Scary

Yesterday, I shared this with my class at Write! Submit! Support! at the Writing Barn and I thought I should share it with you all too. It’s about revising and one of the writers asked me about my process for revising.

Those are examples of how I name my files. So many files! Each file represents 1-3 revision passes.

Continue reading “Revising Doesn’t Always Have to Be Scary”

Gabby Dog Inspiration

Hey!


It’s you!

On a Monday.

And you know what? You’ve got this day.


Nothing about you is lacking.


Breathe. Let go of all those judging thoughts.


You are so beautiful and full of stars. Can you feel them?

They shine.

You shine. You’ve got this.
xo

Gabby the Dog

Gabby Friday Thoughts

Dog Inspiration
Dog Inspiration by Gabby the Great Pyrennes

Sometimes the only thing breaking through the darkness is you.


Stare out of it. Be the brave you want everyone else to be.


Wag your tail. Be the love you want everyone else to be.


Bark. Breathe in. Bark again.

Love. Fight for others. Love through it all.


xo

Gabby Dog

Sparty Dog Inspiration

Look at all the stories you’re seeing, the dreams you’re doing, the lives you’re living.

Breathe out. In. Out.

You are making moments and they all make you. Not one moment. ALL the moments.

Go make more.

Breathe out. Breathe in. Look up. See stars.

xo

Sparty the Dog

Women Are Allowed To Laugh, Aren’t We?

When I was growing up in Bedford, New Hampshire, humor was something that was somehow cultivated in our school system and in my family. To put it into context, Bedford is where Sarah and Laura Silverman, Josh and Seth Myers all grew up. Adam Sandler spent a few formative years in Manchester, the big city next door. New Hampshire, the state where the motto is “Live free or die” was somehow a funny place. 

Who knew? 

Maybe it has to be funny with a motto like that? Where hard granite peeks out beneath the soil almost anywhere you go? 

I grew up thinking women laughing and women making jokes was absolutely normal. In my family, we laughed at anything and everything even when we were desperately poor, even when one of us is dying in the ICU. We laugh. 

Glamorous Moments Gone Wrong

One of my favorite stories that I tell about myself is when I got a prestigious award for my first young adult novel. I received the award, preening, went back to my seat thinking “I have finally made it! I’m not a goofball anymore. I got an award! Look at me! I’m a serious writer now.”

Two seconds into my glorious preening, the emcee for the event (the governor’s wife) yelled into the microphone, “Carrie! Carrie! I forgot to ask you. What high school do you go to?”

There were titters in the crowd. Someone gasped. Someone other than me actually. My heart stopped. Did this woman who just gave me an award think that I was actually in high school? 

I blurted, “What? Me? I don’t go to high school. I’m old!” 

Apparently, she thought the genre of young adult could only be written by young adults? Or maybe she was drunk. I don’t know. I do know that I turned bright red and people laughed really hard. 

Things People Say

Recently someone said to me, “You laugh a lot during your podcast.”

And I said (brilliantly), “Yeah?”

“You laugh really loud.” 

“I always laugh loud,” I said. “I commit.”

“Oh,” she said. “It’s just really loud for a woman.” 

For a woman?

According to an article by Jennifer Crusie, “Happily Ever Laughter: Writing Romantic Comedy for Women,” there’s a political element to comments like that one. 

“The biggest barrier to writing women’s humor is the intrinsic belief that Good Girls don’t laugh. Ever hear a woman laugh out loud – really loud – in public? Chances are your first reaction was, ‘She’s no lady.’” 

She’s No Lady

Oops. Apparently every single time I find things funny or joyous or ridiculous I’m losing my lady status. Judging by the amount of times that I laugh, I probably lost that when I was five. I’m cool with that. 

Crusie continues, writing, “A woman’s laugher not only tells the world she knows, it also communicates strength and confidence. A woman must be very sure of herself to make the joke, to tell the story and to laugh out loud knowing people will stare. She must be proud, strong and confident.” 

To laugh is to defy the norm, the social constructs that tell us in this culture how ladies are meant to behave. 


Crusie extols writers to write funny women, women who make the readers laugh with them, women who laugh with rather than laughing down. 

So how do you do that? 

Crusie suggests the following: 

  1. Base your humor on common experiences, things other women can relate to.
  2. Laugh with not at
  3. Let your protagonist use humor when she feels scared. Let her use it like a shield
  4. Give your protagonist friends to be funny with. 

People who write humor are like poets. I know! I know? What am I talking about. Funny writers and poets only succeed because they are truth seekers and truth-sayers. They take the mundane, the detailed, the ridiculous and turn it into something universal. They notice things and then they stop to reflect on it. 

So be funny. Be brave enough to laugh out loud in your books and in your life. Let the people stare. 


WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

Continue reading “Women Are Allowed To Laugh, Aren’t We?”

Gabby the Dog’s Wednesday Inspiration

Holding onto love is like hearing the universe sing.

Believing in yourself is adding the melody to the tune.

Open the sliding glass door. Let’s go love and sing today. No matter what happens. Let’s embrace the love, share it, make change with it.


Love,

Gabby the dog

Are You Drama or Melodrama, Baby?

Are You Drama or Melodrama, Baby?

 
 
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At its most basic a story’s components are these – a beginning, a middle, an end. 

The beginning is the situation or set up.

The middle are the complications.

The end is the resolution.

Our lives are like this too. We begin in certain circumstances. We live and encounter complications and then we end. 

But even within that simplified construction there are divisions. There are vertical stories and linear stories, which is a fancier way of saying stories that are character driven or plot driven. 

Linear – plot driven

Vertical – character driven.

But the key word is up there twice and that’s – driven. We drive the stories we write and we also have to drive the stories that we live, controlling our own destiny so that we can handle the murky middles and complications and so that by the time we get to the resolution, we can feel satisfied by who we are and what we’ve done. 

We tend to think of stories as either or. They are plot driven or they are character driven, but the truth is that most stories are intertwined. 

And then there’s drama and melodrama. I think people can be roughly categorized as these types, too, but we can oscillate between the two. 

A drama is usually more realistic. People will ponder things. The set might be a bit depressing or quirky or dull because – well, because real life involves these things, too. 

A melodrama usually involves a chase sequence.  The scenery rushes by quickly. There are things – all the things – happening. 

What kind of story you’re writing is an important first step to think about even if you’re a writer who doesn’t outline ahead of time. What kind of life you’re living? That’s an even more important thing to think about honestly. 

So what are you? Are you drama? Or are you melodrama? Are you linear or vertical? Do you oscillate between them all? 


Writing Tip of the Pod: 

Think about stuff.

Dog Tip for Life:

Be the drama or melodrama or middle-drama that you want to be? Also, it’s okay to be a drug cocktail.

The New York Post article we reference in the podcast is by Lindsay Putnam. 

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 “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Continue reading “Are You Drama or Melodrama, Baby?”