Let’s set the mood, part two: getting atmosphere in your story

WRITING TIPS ARE GOOD THINGS!

Last week, we talked a bit about creating mood or atmosphere in your story, and this week, I’m going to share some cool ideas from other humans.

What? I do not know everything? Gasp!!!!

boy wearing gray vest and pink dress shirt holding book
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Sadly, I do not. For instance today I wrote that Acadia National Park has a million visitors. It has four million. Did I know this? Yes. Did I write it? No.

Did someone tell me immediately?

Yep.

Thanks to that person for letting me fix my mistake.

dog biting Thank You mail paper
Photo by Howie R on Unsplash

The thing is I am really human and that means I try to juggle a lot of things and sometimes I make errors. I try to tell myself that this is okay. That in a billion years (or 100) nobody will remember me or my errors. Usually that works. But not today.

But all of this just means:

1.     I don’t trust myself today.

2.     You get to read curated advice from cooler people instead. That’s a win!

Here, this first is from MasterClass. It’s kind of beautiful and pretty concise like art that you get off Ballard Designs.

white pillar candle on white table
Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash

3 Tips for Creating Mood for Your Story via MasterClass (these three tips are all a direct quote):

  1. Use a holistic approach to mood. Since mood is made up of a combination of setting, tone, word choice, and theme, it’s important that you as a writer think about all four while you work. If you try to use only one of these tools, you’re severely limiting your ability to create a believable and pervasive mood for your story. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for at least three of these tools to establish your mood.
  2. Brainstorm mood words. If you’re drawing a blank when it comes to how to create a particular mood, it can help to brainstorm a list of mood words. For instance, if you know you want your story to have a creepy mood, then try making a list of different words that feel creepy to you, like these: gloomy, creak, tiptoe, moonlight, skittering, shadow, rattling. Once you’ve got a good list, pick a few of your favorites and include them in the scene.
  3. Subvert expectations. While it’s easy to go with the “expected” mood for your stories (for instance, that a story about a wedding will have a lighthearted, celebratory mood), remember that it’s not always the best choice. When you push yourself to subvert readers’ expectations, you can come up with creative and exciting combinations—for example, a wedding story with a foreboding mood, or a ghost story with a funny mood. Innovating with mood can help you create memorable, lasting writing.”

Let’s dive a tiny bit deeper into that first tip. Do I trust myself enough for that? Um, not really. Here goes anyway.

Setting is where the story is located or “set.” Set = setting, so clever a language English is.

Tone isn’t about the reader. Mood is. Tone is about the narrator and the attitude they are putting down about the events.

Word choice is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the words that you the author put on the page. Short words can make things staccato. Long words can make things mellifluous. Swear words can make things tense, emphatic or even humorous.

Theme. That’s what the story is about and what it’s trying to convey. A story that true love exists and that it will save the world and all the cavorting hamsters within it? That’s going to be part of the mood and atmosphere of the story.

So, when MasterClass is talking about how these elements work (in tip #1), the MasterClass staff authors of that blog post is just saying to weave it all together and make it create that atmosphere.


LINK TO LEARN MORE:

Writing Isn’t About Being Clever; It’s About Story

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Writing Isn't About Being Clever; It's About Story
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This week’s podcast focuses on some advice from Roy Peter Clark. I hope you’ll join me for one of our short weekly writing tips!

Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Writing Tips Putting Scene and Sequel Together

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Writing Tips Putting Scene and Sequel Together
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It’s the last in our three-week series on scene and structure the Dwight Swain way. Let’s go.

Like we said in the first week, Swain makes us writers think of basic elemental structure and creating our novels in four steps:

  1. Making cool characters.
  2. Grouping your sentences and paragraphs into motivation reaction units.
  3. Grouping those motivation reaction units into scenes and sequels.
  4. Grouping those scenes and sequels into story patterns.

Last week we talked about scene and sequel and how it helps keep our novels not-episodic and logical because it’s all about cause and effect.

A quick recap.

Scenes have goals, conflicts and disasters. That is the sequence.

Sequels have the character’s reaction to the disaster, a dilemma where she figures out what to do next, and then a decision where they decide what the hell to do now.

So how do you make those scenes and sequels that we talked about in last week’s podcast work together?

You have to think of scene and sequel as a single unit, says The Manuscript Shredder.

They write, “One builds to the next, establishing a chain of causes that leads the reader through the character’s story. They are two sides of the same coin. Bring them together and make them both work for you.”

Or as Raven Oak writes.

“Scenes and sequels should continue to alternate the entire length of the novel, and in doing so, they’ll create a natural flow for both plot progression & character development. Many authors plan or outline the sequence of events using scene & sequel on index cards before writing.

“Just about any novel you read will follow this rhythm. It seems simple, but structure usually is.”

Tomorrow on the blog, I’ll be talking a tiny bit more about this and the types of disasters that can happen in scenes.

RESOURCES OF AWESOME

http://themanuscriptshredder.com/scene-and-sequel-making-them-work-together/


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Using the Tools of Actors to Be a Better Writer

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


I come from a theater background—a sort of. Basically, I spent a lot of my time singing and dancing and acting (badly) when I was growing up and then in college I spent a lot of my time directing and acting (badly) while I was getting my political science degree. 

I’ve always talked about how using the basics of improv helps writers get over things like writer’s block, etc., and at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I focused my graduation presentation on using those tools to help kids write. 

Lately though, I’ve been thinking more about how authors are really using all the roles of theater when they create novels. We have to be actors because we have to live inside the characters and make them three-dimensional representations of people. We have to be directors because we put the story together and tell the characters where to go, and determine the viewpoint that we’re seeing the character. We have to be set designers as we create setting. We’re stage crew bringing props in and out. We’re producers because we’re putting the whole production together. We’re writers because… Well, we’re writing. 

But right now, I just want to focus on how authors are really actors playing every single role in the story. That’s a lot of effort, honestly. 

HERE ARE A FEW TOOLS ACTORS USE THAT WRITERS CAN USE, TOO:

Method Actors and Research – Method acting is when you immerse yourself in the role; you become someone other than yourself. Do writers do this? Sometimes, but not often. Usually we spend a lot of time researching things our characters like but not becoming the characters and/or pretending to be them. I wonder why.

Living In Another World – Actors live in the world of the moment, of the world that they are acting in. Novelists need to do this too. We have to immerse ourselves in the world that we’ve created, to envision the details, see the events, feel the feels. The best novels use concrete details to show character and place. To find concrete details, we have to see concrete details. We have to build worlds on the page piece by piece and symbol by symbol until they are believable. 

Back Story – When I was training in theater with Paul Kuritz and Pope,L, and Marty Andrecki, they all focused on the back story of the roles we played. To understand the character in the moment, we had to understand the moments that came before, what brought our character to this place to react this specific way in the play. And we didn’t need to know just the history of the character, but the history of the world and the cultural implications that influenced that character. Authors sometimes do this, too, but I think some of us could do it more. 

Study Real People – To understand nuance and tics and behavior, actors often study real people and model a character on that person, or at least model a behavior of a character on that person. Writers often do that, too. 

Acting and writing require empathy. You have to move outside yourself and envision how someone else will react, feel, think, instigate. That’s important when trying to create a world of civility and positive change. 



Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Show More Details, Writers

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Show More Details, Writers
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Showing details in your writing isn’t just some annoying comment that agents, editors, and writing coaches and teachers paste into every student’s work.

You can see it now, right?

Big red letters. Loopy script. Maybe an exclamation point:

SHOW MORE DETAILS!

Every writing person ever

We do this not to be annoying (well, most of us), but because it’s important.

The thoughtco article by Richard Nordquist says it well.

Specific details create word pictures that can make your writing easier to understand and more interesting to read.”

And we want readers to understand the world that we’re building on the page and be interested in it.

As Stephen Wilbers says,

“You are more likely to make a definite impression on your reader if you use specific, rather than abstract, words. Rather than ‘We were affected by the news,’ write ‘We were relieved by the news’ or ‘We were devastated by the news.’ Use words that convey precisely and vividly what you are thinking or feeling. Compare ‘Cutting down all those beautiful old trees really changed the appearance of the landscape’ with ‘In two weeks, the loggers transformed a ten thousand-acre forest of old growth red and white pine into a field of ruts and stubble.’

Here, take this example:

The man’s face was happy.

Can you think of ways to make that more specific?

A smile slowly formed on Shaun’s ruddy face, lifting the corners of his eyes with the movement.

There’s a difference there, right?

There’s a great quick MasterClass blog post that tells writers four ways to add those concrete details to our narratives.

They include:

  1. Making the initial sentence abstract and the remainder of the sentences in a paragraph concrete. I’m not into this really.
  2. Use the senses—hearing, sight, touch, smell, taste. Let the reader smell diesel if the scene is on the side of the highway, taste the bitter coffee in the coffee shop, etc.
  3. Be super specific and concrete like I just mentioned.
  4. Remember to describe people and setting and action in a way that your reader can imagine. Don’t just say, “He sat under a tree.” Say, “He folded his legs beneath him, leaning on the gnarled trunk of the willow, its bark rough against the skin of his back, the tendrils flitting down—a perfect place to rest or maybe to hide.”

SOME LINKS

Nordquist, Richard. “Specificity in Writing.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/specificity-words-1691983.

Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 28). Exercise in Writing With Specific Details. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/exercise-in-writing-with-specific-details-1692404

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-use-concrete-details-to-enhance-your-writing#quiz-0


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Subordinate Clauses – a quick, sexy guide

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


SUBORDINATE ME, SANTA CLAUS

Subordinate clauses are baby clauses that can’t stand all by themselves as complete thoughts and they demand a certain kind of punctuation – or lack of punctuation.

HERE ARE EXAMPLES:

If I can find Santa, then we can go party. 

We can go party if Santa ever freaking shows up. 

So, in both of those sentences there is a clause can’t stand alone as a complete thought: 

If I can find Santa

If Santa ever freaking shows up.

A subordinate clause or supporting clause is basically a clause that’s supporting the show-stopping regular clause, right? These clauses do not get a comma before them if they are at the end of the sentence. 

HOW TO DEAL

There are words that always lead off these clauses. What I do is go back and do a find/replace in my work (or client’s work) when I’m copyediting. 

Helpful hint for writers: If you include the comma in the find/replace search, it makes it so much easier. 

Those words are…

THESE CONJUNCTIONS: 

After, although, as, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order that, once, provided that, rather than, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, whether, while, why, for, therefore, hence, consequently, and due to.

And these relative pronouns that make the world of the clause even trickier. They are part of relative clauses but then these overachievers? Well, they are part of a subculture called restrictive or nonrestrictive clauses.

THESE ARE THE RELATIVE PRONOUNS

that, which, who, whom, whichever, whoever, whomever, and whose

ARE YOU RESTRICTIVE OR NONRESTRICTIVE MR. CLAUSE? 

These pronouns start either restrictive clauses or nonrestrictive clauses. Restrictive clauses also like to be called essential clauses because they are alpha like that, but also because they are – you guessed it – essential to the sentence meaning and shouldn’t be separated by a comma 

Do you enjoy watching Santa Claus employ lots of elves that wear sexy sweaters?

No comma before that because the sentence needs to know the qualifier for its meaning.

But in a nonrestrictive clause? Well, you don’t have that happen. Here’s an example: 

Watching Santa, who employs a lot of elves wearing sexy sweaters, is pretty freaking awesome.  

Bonus material for paid subscribers (it’s super cheap) is over on my Substack or check out how I can be your editor or writing coach at carriejonesbooks.blog


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Never Shut Up: You Get To Write History

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Never Shut Up: You Get To Write History
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.


What is your story? Really? It’s more than you’re a writer. You’re a citizen of your community, your country, your world. You might be a certain race, religion, a sex (or not). You might have a faith, an economic status, a job. You might have hobbies, traits.

But you might not think you have a story especially when you see huge events unfolding in the world. You might think that your voice doesn’t matter, that your viewpoint doesn’t either. You might be used to people shouting you down when you say things they might not agree with or don’t want to hear.

This week we wanted to touch on how big events happen and we find them so harrowing and we think: Who am I to tell this story? I’m not in the Ukraine. I’m not on the frontlines of human rights struggles in Texas or Florida or China. I am not this or I am not that.

But here’s the thing. We are all witnesses or witnesses of witnesses. We all are a part of this world and the moments of this world. And we all get to tell our moments and our stories if we want to. Perspective and voice doesn’t just belong to people in power and it doesn’t not belong to people who see, who can testify, who can witness.

In Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction, Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola write, “Our role as writers can be that of witness. … Think of yourself as a witness and your writing will take on greater weight and urgency.”

Daisy Hernandez has a great essay where she comes to terms with her aversion to the term ‘witness’ when it comes to literature.

She writes (link below):

“While it may well be that no book has ever prevented genocide or fascism, we still have a necessity for literature to testify to the political conditions of our lives—not only so that we might have a record of those we have lost, but also that we might have a reason to gather with others to read and to continue resisting.”

She prefers the term ‘testimony.’

“In contrast to witness, I love the word testimonio, testimony. I love how it sounds: serious and engaged, aware of itself. Intentional. It says: I have made a decision, and I am here to testify.”

Intention is important. Connections are important. And so are authentic narratives. We learn by story, but we also learn how to be human via stories.

Connections happen because humanity happens. And even if you think that you’re not an important piece to the story that unfolds, you are. We all come through things through our own psychographics and demographics and bubbles and experiences. Each piece and understanding of the stories of our times matter.

George Sand wrote,

“Everyone has his own story, and everyone could arouse interest in the romance of his life if he could but comprehend it.”

Here’s the thing: There are enough buttheads out there in the world trying to prevent people from having a voice and trying to keep others from hearing that voice. It could be a company or government censoring tweets, political statements, books. It could be an ideological group banning books. It could be a sibling shouting at you to “Shut the hell up” when you talk about feminism.

But you can’t. You must not shut the hell up. As long as you can fight, fight. As long as you can write, write. As long as you can survive, survive.


Here are a couple of exercises adapted from Tell It Slant

What event (national or world) do you remember super well? How did you know about it? Were you there? Were you not there? Where were you when you heard about that event? What in your life resonated because of it? Write about it.

What part of you do people think is cool? When you meet people and they are socially aware enough to ask you questions, what do they want to know? Now, imagine your life the way someone two hundred in the years in the future would find interesting. What bits of history would they want to know about? Write about that.


American University has some great writer as witness texts, but there are so many more, but here are some to start you off.

Previous Writer as Witness Texts

  • Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, by Eli Saslow, winner of the 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction.
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction Category
  • Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, National Book Award finalist
  • We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, by Jeff Chang, the Northern California Nonfiction Book of the Year
  • Notes from No Man’s Land, by Eula Biss, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.
  • The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel, a “Best Book of the Year” for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, and others, and the winner of the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.
  • The Devil’s Highway: A True Story, by Luis Alberto Urrea, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist and winner of the Lannen Literary Award.
  • Savage Inequalities, by Jonathan Kozol, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

LINK WE MENTION

https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2021/01/11/literature-of-witness/ideas/essay/


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

How To Make Your Writing More Intense

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How To Make Your Writing More Intense
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It’s Writing Tip Time and we’re going to give you three fast and dirty writing tips today that’s going to make your writing more intense. Ready?

Think about your tense

What’s that mean? It means don’t be writing like things are happening now and then shift over to writing like things were happening in the past. If you want the most immediate writing experience, write in the present tense.

Here’s a quick example:

I lost feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run on Friday. I thought I might be having a stroke.

That’s in the past tense, right? We read this, notice it’s in the first person and figure that the narrator has survived because she’s telling us about this after-the-fact.

Try it out in the present tense:

I lose feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run. I think I might be having a stroke.

It’s more intense, right?

Let’s make it more intense.

Take out the distancing words.

In first person especially, it’s really hard to get away from a lot of looking and knowing and words that pull us out of the moment and the immediacy of the character’s experience.

Distancing language tends to be the words like ‘seem,’ and ‘look,’ and ‘heard,’ and ‘know.’ When I revise, I think of these words as placeholders for where I can go back and dig in more deeply in certain places.

So, let’s take that sentence again and make it more immediate.

I lose feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run. I think I might be having a stroke.

Change that up and it looks like:

My entire left side of my body starts going numb during our long run. My left foot numbs first. Then my left hand and arm. When the left side of my mouth starts going numb, I gasp. I might be having a stroke.

You’re in there a bit more with that character now right. Is she having a stroke? What the heck is she running for? SHE IS BROKEN!

Try not to use the same word too many times too closely together.

In the example above I deliberately use the word ‘numb’ and ‘my left’ over and over again. I’m cool with the repetition of ‘my left,’ but not so much with the numb. There are better, cooler words to mix in there and grab the reader’s attention. Let’s try.

My entire left side of my body starts going numb during our long run. My left foot disappears first. Then my left hand and arm. When the left side of my mouth starts to tingle, I gasp. I might be having a stroke.

There you go!

We’ve learned three fast tips to making your writing more intense.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Be in the present (tense). Don’t be distant. Mix up your words, man.

Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

How to Use Foreshadowing in Your Story’s Opener Like a Boss

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

One of the coolest things you can do when writing fiction or longer nonfiction is to foreshadow the ending of your story in the beginning of your story.

Foreshadowing according to litcharts.com is:

A literary device in which authors hint at plot developments that don’t actually occur until later in the story. Foreshadowing can be achieved directly or indirectly, by making explicit statements or leaving subtle clues about what will happen later in the text. The Russian author Anton Chekhov summarized foreshadowing when he wrote, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.” The description of the gun on the wall, in other words, should foreshadow its later use.

You want to tell the reader that something is going to happen, give them a clue about what it might be.

Foreshadowing can be subtle, mysterious, or direct.

Over on the Reedsy blog they shrink the types to two: direct and indirect. And explain them as follows:

Direct foreshadowing occurs when an outcome is directly hinted at or indicated. It gives readers a nugget of information, prompting them to want more.

Indirect foreshadowing occurs when an outcome is indirectly hinted at or indicated. It subtly nods at a future event but is typically only apparent to readers after that outcome or event has occurred.

Foreshadowing when it’s direct can be a fantastic way to hook the reader into wanting to gobble up the story. A great example they use is Lauren Oliver’s Before I Die, which opens with:

“They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.”

So the reader knows that the narrator is going to die and what they want to know is how. It’s damn direct, right?

An indirect style of foreshadowing can be something as simple as

   The air grew chill as I walked toward the beach. Winter is coming.

Now we know the air is chill and cold is coming and we indirectly think:

Oh, something is going to happen because it’s cold and winter is almost here and someone is probably going to die.

The symbols in our culture can carry a lot of metaphorical and foreshadowing weight in our stories.

So we want to use it like a boss and give the readers a little wink so that they are hooked into the story but also feel like they are figuring out the story as they go along. It’s pretty cool.

Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support. The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/mrruiz/winter-haze-summer-daze

Make Your Books Like Wedgies and Commitment is Not a Dirty Word or Is It?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Make Your Books Like Wedgies and Commitment is Not a Dirty Word or Is It?
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Seriously. The best books are like wedgies. You can’t ignore them. They get right up inside you and into places they aren’t supposed to go.

And sometimes it’s hard to get them out.

This week Carrie talked to a lot of her writers about how if you don’t long to write your scenes, your readers probably aren’t going to long to read those scenes either.

And recently the New York Times talked to Steve Martin (actor, writer, comedian) about books. He’s allegedly addicted to audiobooks, which is cool.

He said, “I’m also a sucker for the magic of opening paragraphs. I’ll never understand what the sorcery is in literature and movies that engages you immediately and makes it impossible to look away.”

A wedgie engages you immediately.

And a book can do that too, sometimes. But sometimes it’s not like a wedgie; it’s more like a bad 8-hour Zoom meeting about land use ordinances and setback requirements in a town you’ll never visit.

So how do you keep your book from being boring?

You wedgify it. Yes, we made up that word.

HOW DO YOU WEDGIFY A BOOK?

  1. You go all in. Make the conflict as big as possible.
  2. You have dynamic scenes where things happen. Not just the character’s meandering thoughts about Zoom meetings.
  3. You make us care. Wedgies matter because your bum matters.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Go all in with your stories. Make the conflict (internal or external) huge, presidential huge. But more than that, make us care about who the conflict is happening to.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Commitment is not a dirty word.

We talk about this in our random thought and how David Brooks (the writer) has some issues regarding privilege and class as we all do, but here is something interesting that he wrote in his book, which uses two mountains as a metaphor for our journey and aspirations in life.

Moral formation is not individual; it is relational. Character is not something you build sitting in a room thinking about the difference between right and wrong and about your own willpower. Character emerges from our commitments. If you want to inculcate character in someone else, teach them how to form commitments — temporary ones in childhood, provisional ones in youth, permanent ones in adulthood. Commitments are the school for moral formation. When your life is defined by fervent commitments, you are on the second mountain.

David Brooks

That second mountain? It’s not just happiness. It’s joy. It’s as David Schools paraphrases it, “a journey to a moral life.”

And what are those commitments? It’s not just marriage so do not panic! It’s also family, vocation, faith/philosophy, and community.

Schools says:

“Full exploration of material, experiential, and intellectual aims leave you hungry for more, restless from comparison, and lonely in your deepest substrate. It’s exhausting. The self is unable to remain in a state of permanent satisfaction.

“This is what Brooks came to find in his own journey. What then is left? You decide to “settle” for that dirty word. Commitment. Only commitments matter. Paradoxically, they are actually what make you feel most alive and here’s why:

“You love what you sacrifice for. When you give yourself away to someone or something, you find a sense of purpose that isn’t focused on the rat wheels of personal development or self-improvement. Instead, you find an exhilarating freedom that connects with other people on a deeper level.”

David Schools

That’s a pretty big dog tip for life right there. And for you writers listening out there, it is the commitments we have to our book and that our characters have to each other that make the meaningful wedgies.

SHOUT OUT!

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.

WE HAVE EXTRA CONTENT ALL ABOUT LIVING HAPPY OVER HERE! It’s pretty awesome.

AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

RESOURCES AND LINKS MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST EPISODE

https://entrepreneurshandbook.co/millennials-loathe-this-one-word-but-its-exactly-what-they-re-looking-for-6f7dee52f6b9

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