Why We Don’t Use Real Life Dialogue in Our Books

This is from when Em was super young and I wrote it all out and saved it because that’s what I do.

There is a Halloween Sleep Over at my house. There are six 14-year-olds. They are making cheesy ghosts with olive faces. This is the dialogue. It is verbatim. 

This is the reason why we don’t have perfectly accurate dialogue in our stories.

DIRECT CONVERSATION BEGINS NOW

Didn’t H — make show choir?

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

Oh no … Big words

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

No offense, but she does

Abby keeps singing.

Guys do not be mean.

I don’t want to be mean.

Did you hear her solo?

It was good, but she got mad after awhile.

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

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

No, he does the drama.

I’m so mad.

Can we do it?

Guys we would be amazing.

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

The three of us. No, the four of us.

What about me. You guys hate me!

No… You don’t do musical stuff.

No! All of us can do it.

Oh! I’m so foolish…

I don’t know how to shape the ghost.

You have a hard butt.

Look! It has a belly button.

I got bored, so I put more olives on it.

All of my cheese fell-off.

Abby keeps singing.

Abby will you shut up!

Mallory joins Abby in singing.

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

It is a Pac-Man.

Oh.

I decided to announce my geekiness to the world via a Pac-Man cheesy ghost.

Why This DIALOGUE WOULDn’t Work In A Story

It’s pretty simple.

  1. It’s all talking heads. We don’t know who is talking or responding until the end.
  2. It’s a lot of filler. Would the real point be Emily announcing her geekiness to the world of her friends or would it be someone being excluded and then included or would it be about X not making show choir?
  3. Dialogue needs to keep up the pace, move the story forward and reveal something about the characters.

Don’t get me wrong. We can tweak this dialogue and make it work. We can add in some tags, physical reactions and actions, setting, backstory and it could be pretty snazzy. But right now? Right now, it’s a bit of a talking-heads mess.

More Posts About Dialogue Are Here

Camper Wisdom and Dialogue Hints.

Mushy Dialogue Sucks

Talk to Me Baby! Dialogue Help

WRITING NEWS

THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 


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Grover and John, Writers’ Inner Cheerleaders and Inner Critics

For those of you who don’t know me, or know that I’m crazy, let me explain about Grover and John.

Sometimes when you are a writer you become paralyzed by fear. 

Come on my dear. Write! Just 1,000 words. You can do it. 

No! No! I couldn’t possibly!

You think you suck. You worry about tiny two-word phrases in reviews that could possibly be negative. You wonder if you are totally unoriginal, if you have anything to say, and even if you do have something to say, why say it?

I CAN’T DO THIS!! is often our writing mantra.

This attitude basically leads to sitting in front of the computer staring, or sometimes throwing yourself on the couch and having a good cry.

To combat this, I’ve enlisted Grover and John Wayne.

Grover is the nice one. He disco celebrates with me. 

Let’s dance, Cawwie!

He occasionally deposits raunchy sexual hints.

Oh, Cawwie. You can do it. Do you want to pet my kitty? 

He makes me feel better and when all else fails we just get totally tanked together and talk about the good times.

I am trying to find a source for this image. If it is yours, please let me know.

Do you remember when your books were on the New York Times bestsellers’ list, Cawwie? That can happen again.

God love you for a liar, Grover.

And then there is John, the Inner Critic.


John is the task masker, the enforcer. He gets out that big gun (Do not say anything sexual, Grover) and gets me to work. 

I mean it kid, I am sick to death of all this whining. 

He tells me not to feel sorry for myself or wimp out. 

Do you really want to deal with this, little woman, huh? You want to have a piece of this? 


Today is a John day. Blah.

Take a look at this, Carrie. It’ll make you feel better. I’m a cookie jar.


Yeah, great John.

But anyway, we all have inner cheerleaders and inner critics, but we tend to pay much more attention to those inner critics, those storylines telling us we suck, we’ll fail, that there’s no point. Those critics? They need to be banished. We need to cultivate and listen to our inner cheerleaders instead.

Why?

Because there is enough negative forces out there in this world that we navigate bashing against us. We don’t need to join them. We don’t need to bash ourselves, too. Often the first step to success in our lives and the first to making lasting positive change in this world, is to embrace the good, the positive, to cultivate it, to grow it in ourselves and others. Spread that. Be your own damn cheerleader and cheer on others, too.

WRITING NEWS

THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Risking being bruised and misunderstood. Audre Lord and writing

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.

Audre Lord wrote that in a paper she delivered at Modern Language Association’s “Lesbian and Literature Panel,” Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 1977. It was first published in Sinister Wisdom 6 (1978) and The Cancer Journals (Spinsters, Ink, San Francisco, 1980). It also appeared in Lord’s book, Sister Outsider (  Freedom, California: Crossing Press, 1984 ).  


I wonder how often writers self-censor for fear of being ‘bruised or misunderstood.’ I’m thinking not just of books and thinking of how scary it is for me to read random reviews. Even though they are almost all great reviews, there’s still that wound that comes sometimes.

But I’m also thinking about how the best books resonate with an author’s truths. The best books have something underneath the surface and that something is what an author believes.

So, basically, this has also made me think about what is most important to me.


There’s so many things that are important to me, but I think one of them is what Lord calls “barriers to loving.” She calls racism, sexism, heterosexism and homophobia types of human blindness. Human blindness is the “inability to recognize the notion of difference as a dynamic human force, one which is enriching rather than threatening to the defined self.” **

I love that quote. I mean, I really, really love it. 

I’m sure she’d include classism in that mix as well. But how about the differences in political thought? In abstinence education? In forgiveness theories? There are so many kinds of differences. There are so many different belief systems, not just within our country or in the world, but just in our county, just in our town. I’m not sure if I’m always as upfront as I could be about what I believe, and it’s got to be fear that holds me back sometimes. 


What about you? 

What do you believe?

Do you write your truths? If you aren’t a writer, do you live your truths? Speak them? Or are you afraid?

** First published in The Black Scholar, vol. 9, no. 7 (1978) and later in Sister Outsider

WRITING NEWS

THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Let’s Write a Best Seller

There are a lot of different ways to write a best seller, but the three of the most common features are these:

THREE MAIN HINTS TO MAKE A BEST SELLER

  1. You have to engage the reader.
  2. You have to keep them hooked.
  3. Make them loyal.

Easier said than done, right?

Maybe not.

Think of what your story is about. Can you pitch the idea in less than fifty words? Less than twenty-five? Can you gel its essence down into a quick pitch? That’s the high concept.

High Concept is a Really a big Question

What’s your big dramatic question?

Will the kid survive the evil wizard?

Will the young reporter fall in love with Mr. Bondage?

Will a resourceful young adult survive a pixie apocalypse?

Let the reader know from the very beginning what your story is about. Will Harry Potter survive the dark wizard Voldemort? Will Eleanor and Park fall in love? Who will die in this John Green novel?

Keeping the reader hooked

This is where the obstacles and complications come in.

How do we keep our heroine challenged? What is in his or her way? Will her big dramatic question change into a new dramatic question.

MAKING EMOTION

The other element is that we have to have a character who responds to things emotionally. That’s what makes the story resonate. Our character already has a want. There are complications to the want. But more than that, the hero has to have intense emotions and reactions to those complications.

When Harry Potter has to dig deep and be brave, when he has to look in the Mirror of Desire and confront his deepest longings, when he has to face the wizard, know his friends might die (and on and on), he reacts emotionally and intensely and the stakes of his decisions have emotional consequences that elevate the reader and incite empathy.

Because we feel so connected to that character, we become loyal to that character. When we have that connection and loyalty? That book? It becomes something magical.

Writing Tip of the Pod

The best books hook the readers early, elevate the stakes, and make us connected to the character.

Dog Tip for Life.

Do not stay still. Go after your dreams.

Random Thought Rundown

If you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear:

  • Carrie scream in the car and take the Lord’s name in vain as she sees bear cubs run across the road.
  • Shaun cranky about border patrol agents
  • Big foot talk
  • More beautiful weirdness.

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.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Let’s Write a Best Seller

 
 
00:00 / 00:27:35
 
1X
 

There is a Hole in My Mouth and It’s Not My Esophagus.

All week long, I share posts of my dogs and now cats on Twitter and Facebook and occasionally Instagram.

Those thoughts are about being positive, being vulnerable, being strong, making it through the week and trying to make your story the best it can be.

Here’s today’s.

Your spirit can stir the world.

Your love can create so many chapters in so many people’s (& dogs’) stories.

Let’s fill this world with stories, disperse them like treats, reward the good behaviors.

Let’s train.

You deserve goodness & love. We’ve got this.

xo Gabby Dog

I do this because it’s important to me to share love and to be kind in big and little ways. And it’s important for me to be vulnerable and remind myself about strength and motivation.

So I’m about to share something I TOTALLY DO NOT WANT TO SHARE.

I’m about to have super costly medical expenses this year thanks to a tooth that was once hurt by someone doing evil.

Yep.

I just went there. There is the place I swore I would never go. But being a writer doesn’t provide dental insurance and I’m freaking out about this because I’m pretty sure that this afternoon I’m going to learn that I need to spend about $4,000 to get the hole that has reappeared in my face fixed.

Yep.

I have a hole in my face! AGHK! I thought I’d never go there either. 🙂 Because that hole is not the one that’s supposed to be there. And it makes me feel like I’m the most repulsive human on the earth.

But more than that? It’s like this reminder of bad things, bad times that I thought I was done being reminded of. It’s like those ripples and memories are some evil monster in a 1980s horror movie that keeps coming back to life to stab the hero again. The undead just won’t stay dead.

And I’m a bit tired of that.

So, I’m psyched to hopefully get this new hole fixed, but none too happy about having to spend the money to do it. 🙂

And here’s to the bad times and bad memories staying dead.

WRITING NEWS

The Netherlands is AwesomE

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman.

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best.

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Never Give Up Hope. How I Got Published Even When I Did Everything Wrong

I was trying to think of something cool and pithy to write here today, but I can’t think of anything.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a reporter who is writing an article about me for our paper and she reminded me of how I did absolutely everything wrong when I was submitting my first book. So, I thought that maybe if I shared that story with you all, it would ease up some of the pressure you put on yourselves and your writing to be perfect. 

how did carrie get published?

It begins as all good things do with an email announcing the creation of Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn. Flux was accepting YA novels. Hhm? I thought to myself. I just wrote a YA novel. Sure, I hadn’t shown it to my advisor at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. Sure, I hadn’t let ANYONE read it. Sure, I only just wrote it in the last month and it was rough, rough, rough. But I sent it in. I chugged out a cover letter. I found some stamps. I mailed it.

Here is what followed, taken from my Livejournal entries.

Sweet Editor Man called me within a week of me mailing the manuscript. Seriously. It was wild.

the 30th, 2006

Okay. Here’s the big question of the day: Why am I so stupid?

I will work on the self esteem exercises tomorrow… but today! Today! Today I am allowed to realize the full extent of my idiotness.

Here’s why.

I sent out some manuscript queries on Thursday.

I get a phone call this morning, from a real live editor who says, “Um, is this C.C. Jones?”

“Yes,” I say while pouring out cat food on the table.

He then proceeds to tell me he got my query, wants to see more of my manuscript, but his email requesting it bounced back.

“Really?” I say. “That’s weird.”

“Let me tell you the address,” he says. “cjonese at…”

“Oh,” I say. “Oh. Oh. Oh.”

“What?” he says.

“There’s no e on the end of Jones.”

“I didn’t think so,” he says.

I then apologize and berate myself for not even being able to spell my own last name! What an idiot. He gives me an email address. I send him the rest of the manuscript.

Yeah, that baby’s going somewhere. Not.

Although, he was kind and he did say, “It’s the manuscript I care about, not your inability to spell your own name.”

What a nice man. Even when he rejects the manuscript. He’s still a darn nice guy.

This means now that MY BOOK has been requested. The JOHN WAYNE LETTERS has been requested (by agent and house). And another book, which was crucified at workshop, has been requested. Will anyone actually buy anything? No…. And if they did, will they be able to contact me? Not unless I can remember to get my email address right. Geesh.

the 31st, 2006

So, despite the fact that I can’t spell, the nice editor man called me back yesterday and talked to me for 40 minutes and told me all the good stuff about my book and what he thinks could get better. It was like talking to a Vermont College mentor. It was really cool. He was brilliant and really, really nice.

And he’s starting the book through the acquisitions process at his imprint, which is really cool… But, I’m not getting my hopes up about it, until papers are signed.

Still, he had the best insight on the piece and I am so excited about working on it. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go work on it. He only wants another 10,000 words. Geesh. Piece of cake. Ha.

the 4th, 2006

Well, here’s a quick update on the sweet editor man. He sent me an email, which I can not quote verbatim, because it’s somehow infringing on copyright. HOWEVER, he said that he wanted to let me know what’s going on, that the piece is heading to the acquisitions committee on Thursday and he’ll call me when they’re done.

That is so sweet of him.

But now I’m going to be a nervous wreck until Friday and I’m already hyper and neurotic enough as it is. I think everyone in my family will soon disown me.

On a positive note, I wrote 15,000 more words on it this week and I’m really happy with it. It’s done the Sarah A. rubbing thing, where the characters work off each other. I’ve put more setting in, which is good because I’m weak with setting. I’ve also changed the ending and added a couple of conflict scenes. Oh, and sweet editor man said he hopes I’d have a great weekend. Is he crazy? As I told Emily Wing Smith, no matter what happens I’ve made the piece better already, so I can’t complain when he dumps my butt. So, yeah… Now, back to revising my critical thesis.

the 9th, 2006

Um, okay… Sweet Editor man called and he continues to be Sweet Editor Man.

He talked to the acquisitions committee today and wanted to call me about it before he battled the snowstorm and drove home. He said they were all “very enthusiastic about it.” They liked the writing, especially the details and he said even the people who don’t like YA were hooked.

YIPPPEEEE!!!!

So, he’s calling me in the morning to give me contract details, etc… which is great except I know absolutely nothing about contracts because I never thought I’d get offered one. Oh, the stupidity of me continues….

the 3rd, 2006

Well, today was a happy fine day because today the JOHN WAYNE LETTERS (title soon to be changed I am sure) passed an acquisitions committee and is now officially wanted with an offer on the table.

Yippee!!!

What karma gods did I appease? Was it when I helped the little old lady at the grocery store heft her 20-lb bag of kitty litter on to the checkout thing? Was it when I agreed to help run the middle school civil rights team or the drama club?

Was it simply when I refused to succumb to road rage when the guy in the Subaru refused to yield and almost t-boned me? Instead of succumbing to road rage, I thought, ‘Oh, perhaps I’ll get a new car out of this. I hope there’s no major injuries involved.’

I don’t know why. I’m just happy. That’s two YA books now. Now I need to find someone who’ll like my middle grade.

AND my birthday was good despite the fact that I am now old, old, old because I am the same age my mother was when she had me. That is just horrifying. Sigh.

No, wait. I am happy, happy, happy. So happy, in fact, that I’ll even spell check this.

I am not an officially published author yet, because no contracts have been signed but I AM SO CLOSE!

Now in 2019

That book was published here and in Canada (French and English). Some bookstores did not carry it because it had the word ‘gay’ in the title. It won a Maine Literary award. It won an Independent Book Publishers award, but it also made me a writer and started me off on the weird journey that I’m on. 

All that happened despite the absolute lack of perfection.

So have hope. No matter what your dreams. You can do this even if you can’t spell your own last name.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Don’t Dabble Writers, Commit. We Know What a Hyphen Is and That’s Sexy.

Jared Leto is a somewhat polarizing guy for who-knows-what reason. He’s model-pretty, a vegan, an award-winning actor and a musician. And there’s this quote I (Carrie) read that struck a chord. 

“When you commit to something that’s seemingly impossible,” he says, referring to ascents both metaphorical and literal, “and you’re pushing through things that are seemingly hostile, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, we did that,’ that’s a great feeling. And a little bit of pain isn’t a bad thing.”

Jared Leto to Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt

A lot of us writers whine a lot about writing. I’m not sure why that is. Is it because we’re plumbing the deep emotional recesses in our brain? Is it because we are creating an entire pretend world? 

I used to get super cranky about this because compared to being a firefighter or an emergency dispatcher or juggling eighteen jobs as a single parent, it felt to me like everyone was a little bit whiny. 

Then I realized that It’s because being committed to something, to a craft, to something when you are never going to be perfect, where you’ll always have room to grow? It can play a bit of havoc on your emotional wellbeing. But that’s okay. It’s like Leto says, you want to commit to that impossible thing to get the payoff. You want to be all in. Not a dabbler in writing or in life. 

How to Commit

Emalie Jacobs has some nice hints on her blog about how to do that, to be committed. They are basically: 

  • Plan to write every day.
  • Stay committed. 
  • Aim for a word count.
  • Plan early. 
  • Find your people.

And all of this is so much of what the Write! Submit! Support! class that I teach at the Writing Barn is all about. 

Back to Leto. Leto doesn’t dabble. He’s a method actor, a method singer, method artist and probably a method human. He commits wholeheartedly or he doesn’t commit at all. That’s true when he’s on stage singing or when he’s on the screen acting. He becomes. 

Becomes. 

Dabbling is the opposite of commitment. It’s an exploration. That can be good. But you don’t want to get so caught up in the explorations that you never focus. 

“I don’t dabble,” he said in that Rolling Stone interview. “I dive in. 1,000 percent.” 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t dabble. Commit fully to living the writing life. Don’t let other things take priority over your dreams.

Dog Tip for Life

Proofread your poop. 

Random ThoughtS

In our random thought portion of the podcast this week, we talk about:

  1. Carrie giving up dabbling
  2. Emcee duties at the MDI YWCA’s Women of Distinction event
  3. Hyphens. Semicolons. Politicians of all sides failing to have copyeditors.
  4. How do we trust reporters and politicians with big decisions when they can’t proofread things.

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.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Don’t Dabble Writers, Commit. We Know What a Hyphen Is and That’s Sexy.

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:54
 
1X
 

“Lovely but creepy” is me in the campground bathroom apparently

So, yeah, today I was singing in the shower at the campground and I didn’t realize that I was singing. It was some sort of unconscious thing. 

And I heard someone gasp. 

And then I realized that I was singing quietly, “Pretty women, fascinating, sipping coffee, dancing. Pretty women, are a wonder.”

And I gasped. 

The person outside the showers said, “I heard you. It was lovely. Just kind of creepy, Carrie.”

“Like me?” I yelled out. 

She laughed and left. The door slammed shut behind her. 

I still do not know who this person was. I would totally put this in a story, but it feels like an editor would be all, “Carrie. Dude. This is unbelievable. Nobody would be that dorky.” And then I’d have to admit the truth that it really happened and that it happened to me and be embarrassed all over again. 

So, instead I’m just blogging it here.

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Hey Baby, What’s Your Back Story and why we are running around so much

Hey baby, what’s your back story? 

It should be a pick-up line at a bar, yet it somehow is not a pick-up line at any bar that I know of except maybe in a New Yorker cartoon or a bar in a town where there’s one of those MFA programs in writing literature for literary people doing literary things. 

Anyway, it’s a term writers throw around all the time and it is basically just how we imagine our characters’ lives went before they are in the actual story that we’re writing. 

I know! How can you imagine that your character had a life before your story? It’s like imagining your spouse had a life before you that wasn’t totally centered around you. Us narcissists have a hard time with that. 

Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important…

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

According to a post on Now Novel there are three uses of back story.

  1. Developing the understanding of the characters. Like if your dad died of a heart attack in front of you and you couldn’t save him, then your character might have a savior complex. It helps the reader understand your characters’ motivations. 
  2. It can heighten the stakes and the suspense. You were once addicted to dating cops. Cops were always bad for you. Will you date this one? NO! YOU MUST NOT. 
  3. It makes it real damn it. By the time, you make it into a book, you’re not going to be a blank slate, born out of Zeus’ head or a clamshell fully formed on page 1. We all have prologues. 

Standout asks how much back story does a story need and answers its own question pretty simply:

If judged solely on complexity, the answer to ‘how much back story should I include?’ would be ‘enough to pay for the reader’s efforts,’ however you also need to consider immersion.

Standout

Ah. Okay?

Here is our advice: 

  • Don’t be fake. Don’t be pretend. We all know people who show up at a party, engage in small talk about absolutely nothing other than the weather, the traffic, where they work. There is no underlayment. It’s like they are a rug thrown on the floor, but if you touch that rug it will just slip away because there’s nothing holding it there. 
  • Do not let your characters be rugs. 
  • Ground those suckers with nails and staples if you have to. ModPodge them to the floor, give them a life before you. 
  • Don’t tell us everything about them. We do not know that they prefer Aquafina to Poland Spring water or that they had an ingrown toenail when they were twenty-four any more than you want to know about the guy at the party’s hemorrhoid treatment unless it’s really good. Be sparing. 

The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.

Stephen King

Writing Tip of the Pod 

Find the balance in your backstory and your life. 

Dog Tip for Life

Run through adversity. Don’t give up. 

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.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 



Hey Baby, What’s Your Back Story and why we are running around so much

 
 
00:00 / 00:26:18
 
1X
 

“Carrie Has Potential, but . . . ” Dealing with rejection

Every writer hears that rejection is part of the process. You learn that you are supposed to roll with it, put them on the wall like Stephen King, collect them as badges of honor, signs that you’re getting your work out there. 

But sometimes they just suck. 

Who knows why, but one of those rejections will feel like an absolute indictment on you, your abilities, your soul. 

That happened to me this summer. 

The rejection was for something stupid, an app that runs stories like SnapChat. The rejection wasn’t even for a book, but when I read through the editor’s quick and kind-ish words, it broke me. 

“Carrie has potential, but …” 

There’s always a but, isn’t there? My 1,000-word horror story written in text form didn’t lay it out enough for the reader. This kind of writing wasn’t meant to have space to think. It was supposed to be all right there, one brief line after another. I can’t do that. I want people to have space and moments, to make their own inferences between the lines. Even when I write horror, I want it to be poem. 

“Carrie has potential, but …” 

But I didn’t achieve it? But my story didn’t have potential? But the world doesn’t need quick simple stories with gaps and holes and white space to explore? 

I sat and cried. The dogs watched. 

I sent out a text that said, “I’m depressed.”

“Gotta be happy,” came the text that came back. 

That didn’t help. Maybe my text had potential but didn’t explain the horrible hole that was stuck right in the middle of my chest where my heart was supposed to be. 

“Carrie has potential, but …” 

But I didn’t reach it? 

But I don’t write right? 

But I don’t fit with this app place? 

But I don’t fit anywhere? 

“Carrie has potential, but …”

But I don’t.

“I need a different job,” I text. 

And, yes, I texted that the same week that my last book debuted. And, yes, I texted that even though I’ve actually been successful at writing by ‘industry standards,’ whatever that means. 

I spend a lot of time wondering how I will continue to survive financially. I’m not a writer who has a wealthy significant other who supports her. I came from a long line of poor and I’m probably heading back there unless I can figure out how to reach my damn potential. And I spend a lot of time helping and hoping that other people reach theirs. 

But it’s not enough. 

There’s always a ‘but,’ isn’t there? 

Carrie has potential, but she doesn’t reach it. 

Actually, I do. I do reach it. I reach it on a million things, but maybe not for that project that time, maybe not for that genre.

Grab your potential, everyone. Move past the moments of rejection, feel them, but try not to let them crush your soul.

I know a lot of writers act like they are all joy-joy and bliss-bliss all the time. I know other writers act like writing is not as fun as snacking, or like it’s wresting demons from their souls. Some act like all they do is get rejected. Some act like all they do is be loved.

It’s both. It’s always a bunch of emotions and reactions swirling around.

On our podcast (Dogs are Smarter than People) this week (tomorrow’s), we talk about a lot of things, but we also talk about running and how it sucks so much sometimes and things hurt and how we try to run through them and not give up. 

That’s what writing and life is about, too. It’s about not giving up, going after your goals, going after your story. It is so freaking hard sometimes, but it’s worth it. 

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you.