The Best Kind of People (especially writers) Notice Things

There is a fantastic blog post on Tim Ferriss’s blog about the work and thoughts of professor/writer Sam Apple. I have a link at the end of this post because you should probably read it in its entirety if the act of noticing as a writer resonates with you. Or maybe even if it doesn’t

When I mentor people and edit them, I often tell them to go specific in their details (but don’t overload those details), and in order to go specific, you have to become adept at noticing things.

Apple speaks of what it means to ‘notice as a writer.’

I like to define it as “the combination of close observation and insightfulness.” 

Sam Apple

He then explains ‘close observation.’

Close observation is easy enough to grasp. Let’s take an example: As I’m typing this sentence, I might look down and notice my hands moving over my keyboard. That’s “noticing” in the ordinary sense of the word—what you might think of as “first-order noticing.” To notice my typing hands in the way of a writer, I have to be far more specific. I might notice the rhythmic rise and fall of my knuckles or how the tendons on the back of my hand bulge and twitch with each keystroke. I might notice how some keys are almost silent while others respond to my fingertips with a pronounced—and somehow satisfying—clack.

Sam Apple

So, then we have that second aspect — insight.

Great writing typically involves more than description or a simple narration of events. Writing is also a search for meaning. Sometimes an observation or image speaks for itself. But often writers need to be able to say something about what they’ve noticed. 

Sam Apple

And that’s where I think being a great writer and a great human overlap. If we can notice the worlds and details, the feeling and aspects of other people, animals, landscapes big and small? And then if we took that extra step to let insight bubble and sprout from what we’ve noticed?

How big a deal would that be?

How deep? How growing?

Apple teaches a class on noticing at John Hopkins and in the blog writes:

For my class, I ask students to keep a “noticing journal” throughout the semester. Sometimes I ask them to notice objects or actions, as in the typing examples above. Other times, we apply the same observational and imaginative powers to our own lives and emotions. When we turn to the noticing of others, it can lead to remarkably empathetic writing. It is hard to truly hate people if you’ve spent enough time observing them and wondering about them. The celebrated fiction writer George Saunders captures this notion perfectly in this essay on “what writers really do when they write.”

Sam Apple

You don’t need to be a writer to train your noticing skills or your empathy, but both writers and those of us who don’t write, can really learn from this.

We can learn from noticing, observing and wondering. And maybe that’s one of those steps we can take to make ourselves better people and this a better world?

RESOURCES

https://sam-apple.squarespace.com/

Continue reading “The Best Kind of People (especially writers) Notice Things”

Writing What You Know is B.S.

Nobody wants to read every single author’s autobiography masquerading as fiction.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Writing What You Know is B.S.
/

Don’t Fall for the Write What You Know BS

So, I just realized that we don’t have the word WRITING in our podcast, which makes us not niche enough and is a total branding f-up.

Oops.

A little too late now.

Anyway, our concept is that we’re just these random married people who give writing tips and life tips via the filter of our two adorable rescue dogs and our own quirky weirdness.

We figured if people found us? So be it.

But if we had done a tiny bit of research we would have probably named the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN WRITERS or something to get the damn writing word in here.

There’s a weird danger of not thinking quite enough about who your listeners are and this is true for your readers, too, right? But there’s also a weird danger in taking writing advice like WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW and think it’s an edict that Shaun can only write about tall, white, CIS, ex-cops from Florida who now live in Maine or that Carrie can only write about short, quirky authors from New Hampshire who have no clue who they really are.

So, we’re going to break down that phrase for you.

Write what you know doesn’t mean only write about someone exactly like yourself.

Write what you know means:

  1. Write about settings that you can accurately describe well so readers can feel them and experience them, too.
  2. Write dialogue that you can hear in your head coming from characters who have different speech patterns and mannerisms.
  3. Write about emotions that you feel or can understand.

If I only wrote what I knew, I’d never write a book about pixies almost causing an apocalypse or a cheerleader who has alien DNA or murder mysteries.

Nobody wants to read every single author’s autobiography masquerading as fiction.

And then there’s the more philosophical aspect going on. How do we write what we know when we aren’t sure what it is that we know? What is it to know? Maybe a lot of us writers write in order to know. Similarly, maybe a lot of us humans and dogs live in order to know.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Immerse yourself in the details, emotion, and setting of the story so that the reader can trust the world that you’ve created.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t limit what you know. Move beyond your local fire hydrant and smell the world.

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?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


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 261,000 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 a new book 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.

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. This week’s podcast is all about strange things people do for luck.

The Sixth Step of Revision? Writing Killer Scenes

Ready for step six in my Revision Series of Awesome?

Spoiler: I’m not sure how awesome it truly is. I kind of just made up that name.

For summary or recap. Imagine a montage like they do before an episode of your fave series. Imagine really big crescendos and music too, okay?

The first step was taking a breather.

The second step was doing the read-through.

The third step is really making decisions.

Step FourDeciding if your changes are huge or tiny? Start with the huge ones that impact the whole book. Fix those things.

Step Five is reading through it all again after you’ve made the changes and tweaking some thing. What? I know! I know! What a beast!

WE ARE ON STEP SIX!!! We’re so close, my friends!

Okay, now we’re onto my absolute favorite part – the scene. I love scenes SO MUCH that I’m actually teaching a course about them at the Writing Barn next fall!

So in this revision step, we look at the scene and we remember some really core and important things.

  1. Does the scene move the plot forward? No? You might have to cut that baby.
  2. Does the scene more the character forward? Are they evolving here? No? You might have to cut that baby.
  3. Does that scene have people who matter to your plot? No? Maybe cut the baby.
  4. Does it have the right point of view? No? Revise it so it does.
  5. Does it have silly, boring dialogue? Cut it.

What is silly dialogue?

It’s this.

Carrie: Hi.

Writer: Hi.

Carrie: The weather is nice.

Writer: Yep.

Carrie: I like manatees.

Writer: Yeah, okay.

Bad Dialogue by Carrie 🙂

Let’s go back to our list. Let’s make a new one!

  1. Does your scene use all the senses? Can you feel where they are? Make sure you can!
  2. Are there talking heads in the scene? Give your character tics, habits, things to do. Have them interact with the world?
  3. Is it a big info dump? Yes? Fix it! Any time that you see the word ‘dump,’ it’s usually not a good thing.
  4. Does everyone sound the same? Fix that!
  5. Does your scene have a beginning, middle, and end? It should!
  6. Does it seem like the characters only just start living the moment that you start the scene? It shouldn’t!

WHEW! I swear! I swear! You’ve got this! Your book is going to be so shiny!

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?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


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 261,000 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 a new book 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.

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?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


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 261,000 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 a new book 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.

A Book Is Almost Born! Thank you all so much.

So, tomorrow, my little book THE PEOPLE WHO KILL will be in the world.

I’m not sure why I’m so haunted by this group of characters and why I get so much more anxious about these books than my others, but I really do.

Thank you so much for reading it. Your reading allows me to keep writing. So thank you. Thank you a million trillion times over.

This year was quite a year for me to get out there. It started as a love story for my husband and my little girl and my town and became something beyond any of us and especially beyond me. Fiction is so much fun that way. I hope you check it out. And thank you so much for your support. Being a writer means everything to me.

Xo

Carrie

It’s the second book in the Bar Harbor Rose Mystery series is called THE PEOPLE WHO KILL.

You can read an excerpt here. I had the best time writing it. You can order it here.

Sometimes it seems like everyone wants someone to die . . . .

After dealing with a serial killer and a long Maine winter, Rosie Jones is ready for a little bit of calm in her adopted coastal Maine town. Then Ernie Emerson, a ladies man and newly married cop, is bludgeoned to death outside a summer estate in what many think was a robbery gone wrong.

But Rosie soon realizes that a lot of people, including the fired town manager, had some pretty powerful reasons to want Ernie dead.

The death of Ernie brings a whole lot of repercussions for Rosie. She might be losing her reporting job. There’s all kinds of tension with her still-not-divorced, sort-of-boyfriend, Seamus Kelley, and her snooping is potentially making her the killer’s next target.

Hoping to solve the crime before she gets hurt any more, Rosie starts to put the pieces together. But that’s not that easy when nobody, including Seamus, wants her to do law enforcement’s job and solve the murder of one of their own.

My next book? It’s in July and it’s called THOSE WHO SURVIVED and it’s a YA murder mystery.

best young adult mysteries
New Carrie Jones Young Adult Mystery

DON’T STEAL ADULT TOYS THREE BIG TIPS FOR WRITING AND LIFE

The earlier you put the conflict, the more invested your reader gets

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
DON'T STEAL ADULT TOYS THREE BIG TIPS FOR WRITING AND LIFE
/

We’re keeping it simple this week, my friends, with three big tips to write better novels and being a better human.

Make your stories sexy and accurate.

You can’t write a book that takes place in the south and not write ‘y’all’ or ‘bless your heart.’

You can’t write a book that takes place in the south and not have sugar in iced tea.

Similarly, you can’t write a book in New England in the winter and not have the character’s breath puff out into the cold air.

Your stories lose impact if you fail to be concise and sharp.

Your stories lose impact if your readers think, “WTF is this? There are no kangaroos in Maine.”

So, know your people. Know your setting.

And this goes for life too. If you keep buying your wife red roses and she’s told you a bunch of times that she doesn’t like roses, she likes tulips and bright flowers because roses remind her of death?

Yeah, that’s not good.

If you’re handing out flyers in a high school to promote your Gram and you don’t look like you’re in high school? Not going to go well.

If you leave your halloween prop out in May? Not going to go well.

Listen. Learn the details. Be appropriate, my friends.

Have a f-ing point.

A story should have a damn theme. It’s what you want to say in the story. It reflects your personal beliefs, your experiences.

What’s a theme? According to MasterClass,

“A literary theme is the main idea or underlying meaning a writer explores in a novel, short story, or other literary work. The theme of a story can be conveyed using characters, setting, dialogue, plot, or a combination of all of these elements.”

So, your life should have a theme, too.  What is your life’s theme?

Redemption? Love? Courage? Revenge? Good vs evil? Perseverance?

Pick one and give your life some meaning.

If it gives your life meaning to steal someone else’s adult toys for years and years (See the link) just know that this is illegal and stuff.

Don’t jump from one head to another.

Readers want to get attached to your narrator. You don’t want to jump around from one character to another. That’s how the reader gets confused and detached and doesn’t want to follow the story any longer.

So, life is like that, too. Yeah, sometimes it’s frustrating hanging with one person, but you hop around too much? You might get a disease. Make your hopping purposeful.

BONUS TIP FOR WRITING NOT FOR LIFE.

Put the damn conflict in there early.

In real life, it’s pretty nice to not have drama or conflict all the time. It allows us to blossom and to grow. And it’s easy to get addicted to the energy of drama and try to incite it for attention.

But peeps, that’s not the kind of attention you want. Negative attention kind of sucks. You want the positive kind.

However, in stories, the earlier you put the conflict, the more invested your reader gets. They want to know what happens. Readers (and people) are a bit addicted to conflict and drama and you want to put that on the page.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Care enough to make your settings accurate, put in the conflict early, have a point and don’t hop around from character to character.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sometimes things don’t make sense. Figure them out. Investigate the stuff that doesn’t make sense because that’s how you learn and grow and understand things beyond you and your bubble of experience.

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. This week’s podcast is all about strange things people do for luck.

What Makes A Sexy Beginning and Emergency Poop?

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
What Makes A Sexy Beginning and Emergency Poop?
/

Every writer and storyteller wants their beginning of their story to be enticing, sexy, something that someone can’t put down.

A story is like a hot fudge sundae. You want the reader to gobble the whole thing down and that’s not going to happen if the first few bites suck.

Luckily, there are a few components that absolutely help us writers make the beginnings of our stories sexy.

Hook – This is the first sentence or first paragraph. You want it to clutch the reader in its hands and never let go.

What makes a sexy hook? A mystery. A question. A strong voice. Urgency.

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop.

Disruption – This is the tension. This is the suspense. Will there be trouble in the beginning? Can you sense it like a good phone psychic in the quivering resonance of the sentences and word choice? Are there big stakes?

I was not going to make it.

Backstory – I know! I know! It’s a naughty beast and we must be wary of it before it takes over our entire lawn like some sort of invasive weed. But you do want to sprinkle a little bit of it here and there.

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop. It had almost happened before in first grade in the pool.

Emotion – There needs to be some emotion on the page and that emotion needs to be detailed and sexy and all about the showing and not the telling. Don’t say, “Shaun was sexy.” Say, “Shaun rubbed that ice cream sundae all over his bulging pecs and he didn’t fart at all. He was the perfect husband.”

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop. It had almost happened before in first grade in the pool. They called me Poop Pants Patty forever after that. My eyes watered as I grabbed the steering wheel.

A Want and a Must Have – Your character needs to want things. Those things need to be surface level (an ice cream sundae or a toilet) and a bigger yearning (to finally feel loved or not be made fun of). They need to be on the page throughout the whole book and inform the entire book.

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop. It had almost happened before in first grade in the pool. They called me Poop Pants Patty forever after that. And now? Right before my first interview with Santa Claus? Seriously?

Things that Suck – Similarly, most books involve the transformation of a character on their journey. To have a positive transformation, there needs to be things wrong in your character’s life. Those things need to be there in the beginning.

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop. It had almost happened before in first grade in the pool. They called me Poop Pants Patty forever after that. And now? Right before my first interview with Santa Claus? Seriously?

Some day I’d know not to eat Flaming Hot Doritos sprinkled with Da Bomb hot sauce. Some day I’d be able to control my anxiety and my colon. Some day I wouldn’t self monologue in the car on the way to my super-important interview with Santa. But today was not that day.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Make your beginning (and your ending) sexy.

Dog Tip for Life

Make everything sexy

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?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


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 261,000 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 a new book 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.

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. This week’s podcast is all about strange things people do for luck.

The First Step of Revising is Stepping Away

That’s right. The first step of revising is stepping away from that novel with your hands up and eyes focused on something else.

It should be easy.

It is often not easy.

The brilliant novelist, Tracey Baptiste, writes:

[Think] of the time you take away from a manuscript as an investment in your craft, rather than a delay in seeing your title in print. If you wait to do your best work, you will faster get an agent or editor. If you don’t, you’ll be wasting time in a slush pile anyway.”

Over on the Creative Penn, they write:

“In the immediate aftermath of typing those magical words THE END, you’re not likely to be in a good place to objectively evaluate your work. You might be fired up and ready to charge ahead, but you’re too close to what you’ve just written.

“You’re still in love with your fine word flourishes, your lovable but unnecessary characters, your plot device that bogs everything down but just makes you so happy. But in the revision process, it’s critical to look at your novel from the perspective of a reader who knows nothing about you, your story, or how hard you’ve worked to bring your characters to life.

“By tucking the manuscript away and returning to it after a few weeks or even a few months, you’ll give yourself the time and space to withdraw emotionally from what you’ve just written. This will make you a more objective reader, and will put you in a better place to critically evaluate your work.”

Stepping away from the novel allows your brain to chill out and not be too intensely emotional. The distance allows you to use your logical, puzzle-figuring out brain to take over when you go back. It’s like sleeping on a problem, but for a couple of weeks, not just nights.

Steven Handel wrote an article called “The Art of Taking a Step Back” and he wasn’t writing it about authors, but it absolutely applies.

“Metaphorically, taking a “step back” can help us re-direct the paths we choose in life as well, whether it’s in our career, relationships, health, habits, or personal goals.

“The ability to take a “step back” actually gives us freedom. It means we aren’t chained to our current choices in life, and we have the power to reevaluate and make a change.”

And stepping back also lets you enjoy the process. In our rush-rush-rush to completion, we tend to miss the joy of the act of writing, the creative flow, of problem solving.

Life is fast. Enjoy the parts of it that you enjoy and writing should be a part that you enjoy.

This week I’ll be talking a bit about revising, which is what we’re talking about in my online classes too. I hope it helps! Remember to have fun, okay?

Resources:

https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/10/05/9-steps-revising-your-novel/

https://www.theemotionmachine.com/the-art-of-taking-a-step-back/#:~:text=A%20%E2%80%9Cstep%20back%E2%80%9D%20allows%20you,can%20override%20our%20better%20judgment

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?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


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 261,000 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 a new book 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.

I’m Farting Carrots. Oh, the Mondegreen

Always take a piece of meat with you.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
I'm Farting Carrots. Oh, the Mondegreen
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We’ve all done it. We’ve misheard song lyrics or actual words. We’ve argued about whether someone was saying Laurel or Yanni.

But there is an actual term for that.

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a mondegreen is “a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung.”

I had a whole character in my first book that did this all the time.

Sylvia Wright made up the word in 1954 when she wrote an article about it for The Atlantic or possibly Harpers (these are the two most common citings), “The Death of Lady Mondegreen.”

She’d loved this Scottish song or poem that went

They hae slain the Earl Amurray
And laid him on the green.

That last line sounded like Lady Mondegreen to her.

According to an article in the New Yorker by Maria Konnikova,

Hearing is a two-step process. First, there is the auditory perception itself: the physics of sound waves making their way through your ear and into the auditory cortex of your brain. And then there is the meaning-making: the part where your brain takes the noise and imbues it with significance. That was a car alarm. That’s a bird. Mondegreens occur when, somewhere between the sound and the meaning, communication breaks down. You hear the same acoustic information as everyone else, but your brain doesn’t interpret it the same way. What’s less immediately clear is why, precisely, that happens.

The article goes on to say,

A common cause of mondegreens, in particular, is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O’Neill won a Pullet Surprise. 

Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In their absence, one sound can be mistaken for the other. For instance, in a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. “There’s a bathroom on the right” standing in for “there’s a bad moon on the rise” is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives. 

NME’s site has an article on the top forty misheard song lyrics and it’s hysterical.

It’s a British site and you should check it out, but their top three are:

Number One – Dire Straits’s “Money For Nothing.”

Wrong lyric: “Money for nothin’ and chips for free.”

Correct lyric: “Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free”

Number 2 Wrong Lyric – Paul Young’s “Everytime You Go Away.”

Wrong Lyric: “Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you.”

Correct lyric: “Every time you go away take a piece of me with you.”

Number 4 Wrong Lyric (Yes, we skipped three) – Starship’s ‘We Built This City.’

Wrong lyric: “We built this city on sausage rolls.”

Correct lyric: “We built this city on rock ‘n’ roll.”

Writing Tip of the Pod

It’s fun to play with words, to think about sounds.

Dog Tip for Life

Always take a piece of meat with you.

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.

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. This week’s podcast is all about strange things people do for luck.

LINKS OF STRANGE NEWS MENTIONED

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/05/06/britain-Leaf-cafe-Liverpool-England-1913-menu-ceiling/6881620329800/

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/05/04/Guinness-World-Records-marshamallow-mouth-catch-distance-Dallas-Anderson-Jon-Paleka/7501620145182/

Fight, Negotiate, Sex – The three main types of scenes.

So, a lot of people think that there are three main types of scenes:

  1. Fight scenes
  2. Negotiation scenes
  3. Sexy sexiness scenes

And the important part of every scene is conflict. That’s because when conflict happens, the character is forced to do something.

Readers want to watch characters do things, right?

Except for fans of Waiting for Godot, but to be fair the characters are waiting. That’s an action.

Sorry! Tangent.

What us writers have to do is make the conflict matter.

For the conflict to matter it has to be about your character wanting something so damn badly, but they aren’t getting it in a way that’s easy.

The biggest, strongest desire is when our character’s want makes them suffer.

Your character arguing about how to hard boil eggs wouldn’t be a meaningful conflict UNLESS it’s somehow connected to her biggest needs and wants and yearnings.

Your character arguing about how to hard boil eggs might be a meaningful conflict IF he has been on the perfect hardboiled egg quest because it’s the only thing he remembers about his dad – his perfect eggs. Or something.

What meaningful conflict does is that it forces the character to do something, to act, to make a choice.  The type of conflict relates to that choice in the scene.

FIGHT SCENE

This is usually about willpower or strength or determination. You will by beating up your opponent or by dealing with something for a long time, enduring it.

Think Atlas holding up the world.

Think about Captain America being beaten up by the Winter Soldier and he keeps getting up.

That’s a fight scene.

SEXY SCENES

I could probably call this a seduction scene, but I’m not terribly mature.

In these scenes you have one character (or multiple ones) manipulating another character’s desires. It might not always be about the sex.

Darth Vader’s big scene where he tries to get Luke to join him, be part of the dark side, stop fighting. He gives him the possibility to be important and a place to belong.

NEGOTIATE ME SCENES

These are scenes that are a push and pull between solutions. It’s about compromise. It’s about logic. It’s very Ravenclaw.

It’s whenever a gangster convinces people to do something.

Negotiation scenes are all about that logical outcome. And at the end of it, everyone goes, “Ah. That makes sense. Of course, we’ll do it that way.”

Each type of scene requires different responses about the character and tells us different things. I think you should lean into these earlier scenes with the men being either fight or manipulation.

Mike Nichols, this ancient director, really loved to talk about those three types of scenes. He was pretty adamant about them being the only types of scenes that there are and he would always say, “When in doubt, seduce.”

Actually, I think his partner, Elaine May might have said that.

But the truth is that you can have a scene be more than one thing at a time. That intricacy makes them pretty beautiful and so much more poignant. Whenever you can add the character enduring (Fight) to a negotiation, it’s a better scene. Because it’s layered.

Other screenwriters and playwrights (like Pete Peterson) have taken this from Nichols and talked about it on podcasts all over the place. One interesting and possibly helpful insight on this is by Jonathan Rogers of THE HABIT after an interview with Pete Peterson.

He wrote:

To frame every fictional conversation as a fight, a seduction, or a negotiation is to foreground desire. And desire is the engine of storytelling. What do your characters want? There may be other questions at stake in the stories you tell, but that question is ALWAYS in play. It is an unavoidable fact that writers always need to communicate information; sometimes they communicate that information in dialogue. But characters carry on conversations in order to get what they want. If we use dialogue merely to convey information and neglect the interplay of characters’ desires, that dialogue will almost surely be flat, uninteresting, and less than believable.

This may be another way of saying the same thing, but dialogue is something that characters DO to each other. Fighting, seducing, and negotiating are actions, not merely an exchange of information or opinions. And, by the way, in the process of fighting, seducing, and negotiating, your characters will provide information and express opinions that your reader will find most helpful. The point here is not that characters can only fight, seduce, or negotiate, but that whatever else is happening, one of those three things has to be happening.

In real life, not every conversation is a fight, a seduction, or a negotiation. Sometimes people really are just providing information or expressing an opinion. Or talking baby-talk to a baby or asking for directions or ordering French fries. But not everything in real life is raw material for a story. I’m reminded of Steve Martin’s exasperated reminder to John Candy in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: “Not everything is an anecdote, you know.” We spend a third of our lives sleeping. I don’t care how realistic your fiction purports to be; it would be a mistake to devote a third of your word-count to people sleeping.

LET’S HANG OUT!

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

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


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 261,000 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 a new book 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.

New Book Coming Out Super Soon

So, I’m releasing the second book in the Bar Harbor Rose Mystery Series on June 1 and I’m super excited about it because:

  • I love writing adult stories, too.
  • It takes place in Bar Harbor.
  • It’s full of thrilling fun stuff.
  • I’m really into.
  • Independent publishing is so much fun.

The first book in the series came out last year. It’s called THE PLACES WE HIDE. You can read the first chapter here.

The second book is called THE PEOPLE WHO KILL.

You can read an excerpt here.

Sometimes it seems like everyone wants someone to die . . . .

After dealing with a serial killer and a long Maine winter, Rosie Jones is ready for a little bit of calm in her adopted coastal Maine town. Then Ernie Emerson, a ladies man and newly married cop, is bludgeoned to death outside a summer estate in what many think was a robbery gone wrong.

But Rosie soon realizes that a lot of people, including the fired town manager, had some pretty powerful reasons to want Ernie dead.

The death of Ernie brings a whole lot of repercussions for Rosie. She might be losing her reporting job. There’s all kinds of tension with her still-not-divorced, sort-of-boyfriend, Seamus Kelley, and her snooping is potentially making her the killer’s next target.

Hoping to solve the crime before she gets hurt any more, Rosie starts to put the pieces together. But that’s not that easy when nobody, including Seamus, wants her to do lawn enforcement’s job and solve the murder of one of their own.

The third book will come out October 1 and it’s called THE THINGS WE SEEK.

Here’s what it’s about.

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

Reporter Rosie Jones and Sergeant Seamus Kelley have dealt with two gruesome murderers in their short time together and are finally ready to focus on their romance. When a few random people go missing on their large Maine island, things seem like they’ve gone terribly wrong. Again. What at first seems like a fun treasure hunt soon turns into something much more sinister . . . 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.

And between June and October, I’m going to be releasing a book a month (or so).

Most of them are YA, but they are all really fun. If you were a fan of my NEED books, I think you’ll really like these.

I’m really super excited about all of this!

If you’d like to know everything that’s happening and keep updated on all my book releases, you can subscribe to my blog on the button to the right (which would be super nice of you to do) and/or sign up for my newsletter.

Thank you all so much for your kindness and support! It means everything to me.

Upcoming Books:

July – THOSE WHO SURVIVED – YA murder mystery.

August – A YA paranormal

September – The sequel to July’s murder mystery! So YA/NA mystery.

October – THE TREASURES WE HIDE.

November – Adult paranormal

December – YA paranornal

Oh! And check out podcasts when you get a chance. There are writing tips and life tips on DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE and just a freer flow of weirdness on our very live LOVING THE STRANGE.