YOUR BIG LIE OR CHARACTER’S MISBELIEF

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
YOUR BIG LIE OR CHARACTER’S MISBELIEF
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We’re doing a hybrid writing tip and podcast this week.

All the important stuff is written down here. All the fun stuff and Shaun aka The Talent is in the podcast where we talk about this important writing stuff and other things.

So, let’s get started.

The big lie or the character’s misbelief in your story is a major key to your character’s story arc, which is basically the emotional change and development of who you character is.

The lie drives the stupid or wonderful things that they do in the story.

It’s what motivates them in a way.

Sometimes the protagonist or main character or hero of your story doesn’t believe THE BIG LIE, but everyone else does. That’s super cool, too.

The lie can be a small deal—I am going to win the Little Miss New Hampshire Song and Dance Contest though I can’t move my hips and I am ancient and the contest is for 8 year olds and under. (I now want to write this story)

The lie can be a big deal on a societal and personal level—Might always makes right, so I’ll beat everyone up to get my way.

On Writers Helping Writers they say that the big thing is this: Your lie has to move the plot forward and it has to relate to your story’s theme.

They also break it down to inner and outer lies (which are a bit like character-driven lie and plot-driven lie, right?).

They write:

“Plot-driven stories often focus primarily on an outer-world Lie such as Hunger Games‘ Lie that “oppressive government is necessary” or Jurassic Park‘s Lie that “science should always be advanced.” Character-driven stories usually focus on an inner Lie, such as “men and women can’t be friends” in When Harry Met Sally or “money is the measure of worth” in A Christmas Carol.

“An inner-world Lie will affect the character’s outer world, sometimes even to the point of becoming the outer world’s Lie. And vice versa, an outer-world Lie will likely become crucial to the character’s inner conflict and self-estimation.

“The distinction is important not so much because of how the Lie manifests in the story as it is because of where the Lie originated. Where did this Lie come from? Who (or what) gave this Lie to the character? And what do the answers mean for the character’s motivations and ultimate arc within this story?”

Carrie is going to be talking more about this in the upcoming weeks, but we want for you to think about those questions for your own life too.

Is there something you believe that might not be quite right? Sometimes it might be that you’re bad at art or sports or school. Sometimes it might be that you can only be loved if you are perfect. Sometimes it might be that if you just work hard enough you can be Bill Gates rich.

Just like for your characters, your lie can be destructive to your own life.

On Writers Helping Writers, Angela Ackerman writes,

“We are often our own biggest critics, aren’t we? Whenever something goes wrong, we feel disappointed, frustrated, upset, or hurt. The fallout might cause others around us to suffer too, causing further anguish and guilt. When this happens, unless the situation was in no way tied to us, we tend to blame ourselves:

“When the character’s thoughts circle disempowering beliefs (that they are incompetent, naïve, defective, or they lack value) as a reason for their failure, it eats away at their self-worth. This, combined with a need to identify the pain’s cause will lead to a specific effect: an internal lie will form. This Lie (also called a False Belief or Misbelief) is a conclusion reached through flawed logic. Caught in a vulnerable state, the character tries to understand or rationalize his painful experience, only to falsely conclude that fault somehow lies within.”


DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Pogie’s big lie is that she’s a super toughie. She is not. Do you have this lie?


WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Think about your character’s lie. What is it that they wrongly believe?

LINKS WE TALK ABOUT

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!

Repurpose Spider Hairs, Licking Rocks, and Counting Dead People’s Nose Hairs: Logic Matters and so do the Ig Nobles

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Repurpose Spider Hairs, Licking Rocks, and Counting Dead People's Nose Hairs: Logic Matters and so do the Ig Nobles
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In our random thought we talk all about the Ig Nobles. We don’t transcribe that, so you’ll have to listen. Sorry!

But now, let’s talk about logic.

When you are writing a novel and something doesn’t make sense—let’s say someone has brown eyes on page 2 and blue eyes on page 1—your editor if you have one is going to call you on that. If they don’t call you on that, the readers’ brain will hitch when they are reading.

Editors are awesome.

And what I’m saying is that we need editors for real life. That’s because a lot of time people don’t seem to listen to facts. Reason is what helps us justify our beliefs. But someties that means that we aren’t awesome at seeing the truth. We like to cherry pick facts that support our own ideas and then we get biased. We start looking and seeing information that holds with what we already believe rather than information that goes counter to how we believe.

These two cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber believe that reasoning is to help us function as a social group rather than as people who seek truth.

A Psychology Today article by Jessica Schrader writes:

“A number of studies document the many ways in which our political party distorts our reasoning. One study found that people who had strong math skills were only good at solving a math problem if the solution to the problem conformed to their political beliefs. Liberals were only good at solving a math problem, for instance, if the answer to that problem showed that gun control reduced crime. Conservatives were only good at solving this problem if the solution showed that gun control increased crime. Another study found that the higher an individual’s IQ, the better they are at coming up with reasons to support a position—but only a position that they agree with.

“Belonging to a particular political party can also shape our perception. In one study, researchers were asked to watch a video of protestors. Half of the participants were told the people in the video were protesting the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The other half were told that the people were protesting an abortion clinic. Liberals reported saying the protestors were more violent and disruptive if they were told they were watching abortion clinic protestors, and the opposite was true for conservatives—even though everyone was watching the same video.”

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Hoarding all your toys on the couch isn’t the best idea.

LINKS TO LEARN MORE

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/words-matter/201810/why-people-ignore-facts

https://apnews.com/article/ig-nobels-prize-2023-3f34e020cfb9154c240dfef7c076f177

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!

Young Woman at the Cocktail Party

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Young Woman at the Cocktail Party
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A poem for Monday!

GHOSTED

It’s a poem!

                GHOSTED

It was like one of those self-help blogs
That only talk in abstractions
About the power of self-love

Or how to end a toxic relationship.
That’s when I realized 
That the person not showing up

Was me. All that bemoaning
About not putting in the effort,
Not taking the time to make sure

Sentences weren’t orders
And feelings were considered,
To temper my tone with kindness, 

It was just me being the bully to myself
Before ghosting off to do other things
For people, with people, to people
without even saying goodbye.

Be Brave Friday–Finding Awe in a Tomato

I tell the story about one of my grandmother’s a lot. She was born in 1896, which means she’d be 127 now if she was still alive, which is kind of staggering. She died in 2001, which if my math is right, means she made it to 104, which is pretty staggering, too. My dad was her youngest child and I was his youngest child by a lot, which is why I’m not 80 right now.

Anyway, my grandmother was about 4-foot-10 and she loved art and books and music and deep thought. She wasn’t a positive person. This was not a woman who would give you a pep talk. Ever. I mean, if you think about it, she’d lived through two world wars and a depression.

She painted. She was embarrassed by her creations and would hide if her sons bragged about them.

She wrote poems. She said they were swill.

But she had this appreciation—this state of awe—for so many things.

She’d see a perfectly formed tomato and tears would come to her eyes. She’d touch her grandchild’s (or great grandchild’s) arm or cheek and marvel at the softness, the texture, the youth of their skin, the clarity of their eyes. She greatly appreciated things—small things and refined things.

A painting by me.

Because she fed a family during the Great Depression in Staten Island, she would wax poetic, in total awe, over butchering a piece of meat and bemoan the state of meat in grocery stores in the 1990s (and probably before that).

According to the Greater Good Magazine, “Awe is the feeling we get in the presence of something vast that challenges our understanding of the world, like looking up at millions of stars in the night sky or marveling at the birth of a child. When people feel awe, they may use other words to describe the experience, such as wonder, amazement, surprise, or transcendence.”

Every time I put something out (art, a news story, a blog post, a book, even something as simple as a Facebook post), I think of my grammy and how cool it would have been if she could have been okay with not being perfect and with sharing things she might want to share. I remember my little kid self looking at her paintings with awe and reading her poems and trying to understand the mystery in the enjambments and in the lines. I had fierce grandmothers, too. But Grammy Barnard? She was the one who fell in love with the world, one skin touch, one tomato, at a time.

May you feel awe today. May you be brave enough and open enough to let a tomato’s perfection bring you to tears. May you marvel in beauty of skin. May you inhale the world around you and embrace those things that make your understanding a tiny bit bigger.

Tourist Love–A poem

I wrote a poem.

                         TOURIST LOVE

At dusk as I tiptoed along the Shore Path,
Between tourists grumbling about fog and the price of lobster,
Listening to the sound of whaler motors humming 
out existence, I fell in love with a rose bush.

Not the cultivated kind, but the stubborn ones that cling to sea walls,
Bees fluttering about, wild and limby, stabbing at passersby, 
Bright pink and white blooms, calling you in 
Without asking for anything back. Just existing. No worries.

It knows it has survived drought and hurricane winds.
It knows it will survive those things again.
It knows it might be noticed or not. 
It doesn’t matter.

In the bright morning light, the fog eventually cleared,
And I feel in love with two kids who wandered off the path
To push at a precociously balanced rock, thinking somehow
They’d knock that giant boulder into the sea

Even though a zillion others had tried before, hands flat
Against granite, legs braced, putting all their weight into it. 
This is the sweetest kind of belief, of love, that love of self,
Not worried about what others think as you push and push and push. 

Would You Quit If Your Employer Made You Exercise? Plus, a Mile-Long Cloud of Flying Ants

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Would You Quit If Your Employer Made You Exercise? Plus, a Mile-Long Cloud of Flying Ants
/

There’s a company in Sweden who is now run by a super fitness guy. He’s all in on the exercise. And when he took the company over, some people in the company quit. They were not all in, right? It was just an hour at 9 a.m. on Friday, but they were like hell to the now.

And it’s funny because in school and for a lot of us in college, exercise or sport was something that we had to do. It was play, right? We moved our body and cooperated (sometimes) and had fun.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Exercise is a good idea. Sparty even loves it despite his massive girth and arthritic hips.

LINKS WE TALK ABOUT

https://news.sky.com/story/radars-detect-mile-long-swarm-of-flying-ants-near-uks-south-coast-12917527

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!

Living in the Present Tense

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Living in the Present Tense
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This episode we’re riffing on living in the present tense and also a bit about using it in your writing.

As Peter Selgin says

“Apart from its ubiquity, there are good reasons to be wary of the present tense. Unlike the past tense, which allows narrators unrestricted movement between the past and the present, the present tense locks us into each moment, allowing for little if any reflection. And while the past tense lets us expand, compress, or bypass events according to their dramatic import, since in the present tense everything is happening here and now, it tends to treat all moments equally, however important or not, so a headache gets as much attention as an earthquake.”

So, it’s harder to write in the present tense because we are confined a bit more. And hoity-toity writers tend to think of it as a fad though Dickens did it (and others going back to the Ancient Greeks, but whatever . . .

So here are some advantages of the present tense:

  1. It’s way more immediate because it is indeed in the moment. We are there as things happen.
  2. The immediacy raises the stakes.
  3. It can reflect the type of protagonist you have. Is your main character someone who lives in the moment and doesn’t spend a lot of time with their brain in the past or the future? Are they a bit rush-in as a human? This can reflect that character trait.
  4. It can also show the theme of the work. So, if you are writing a ground-hog-day style story, using the present tense can reflect that there is only this one present at the moment while all the other ones were experienced before and can be changed.
  5. It makes life easier when it comes to grammar. There are 12 tenses in our language. Present tense stories only have four usually.
  6. It’s easier to make unreliable narrators.
  7. It feels more cinematic.

Things that suck about present tense:

  1. That restriction, compression of time and our ability as authors to use more than four tenses and hop around.
  2. Sometimes it’s hard to show the complexity of the main character because they are indeed in the moment most of the times. The characters often feel more simple.
  3. It’s harder to foreshadow the things that are going to happen because the character doesn’t know that they are going to happen yet.
  4. It sometimes makes us writers meander into tangent and too much internal thought.
  5. Sometimes adult readers get snobby about it.

HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO OUR LIVES?

According to PositivePsychology.com,

“It’s vital to live in the present moment.

In our current twenty-first century lives, it’s not easy. There’s always something coming up that we need to prepare for or anticipate, and our lives are so well-documented that it’s never been easier to get lost in the past.

Given the fast pace and hectic schedules most of us keep, a base level of anxiety, stress, and unhappiness is the new norm. You may not even realize it, but this tendency to get sucked into the past and the future can leave you perpetually worn out and feeling out of touch with yourself.

The cure for this condition is what so many people have been saying all along: conscious awareness and a commitment to staying in the “now.” Living in the present moment is the solution to a problem you may not have known you had.”

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sparty says to live for today. Scratch on the door when you want to get out. Poop when you need to. Don’t think about the pounds of your doggy past. Enjoy your now.

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!

Shaun Ran For Office And Going After Your Dreams

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Shaun Ran For Office And Going After Your Dreams
/

This week’s podcast is about Shaun running for office and going after you dreams. These aren’t actually related. 🙂

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sparty would like you all to know that you can readjust your dream to be the only dog in the house and yes, it is horrifying, but dream tweaking has to happen because of outside circumstances sometimes.

LINKS WE MENTION

https://www.npr.org/2023/05/27/1178478110/service-dog-college-diploma

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!

The Two Main Keys to Hooking Your Readers: Curiosity and Care

Write Better Now Roundup

Have you ever been at a party and someone tells a story and you just don’t care?

Have you ever been that person telling the story and realized mid-story that everyone’s eyes have dulled over?

You feel trapped. You want the story to be over (especially if you’re the one telling it). You know something has gone wrong because you can feel it. The communication of failure is instant.

The problem with writing a novel is that you can’t see when that happens: when (Shakespeare help us all) the reader stops being hooked by the story, no longer cares about what happens.

That’s terrifying, right?

There are two major elements that keep a reader turning that page or scrolling down:

  1. Curiosity—the need to know what happens next
  2. Care—the connection and concern and emotion for the characters.

In Characters & Viewpoint, Orson Scott Card writes, “The intensity of the characters’ feeling, as long as it remains believable and bearable, will greatly intensify the reader’s feelings—whatever they are.”

So, be intense if you want your readers to care about what’s happening, but don’t be so intense that they can’t handle it.

To do that you want to give your character:

  1. A goal that the reader knows—something that matters to the character
  2. Choices that might hinder the character getting to that goal or help them
  3. Sacrifices that happen so that the reader sees that the character has an internal struggle getting to that goal.

When it comes to curiosity, that’s the hook that keeps us moving forward and wondering what will happen to the character in the story. The choices, the emotions that arrive with those choices, are what makes the reader curious about what will happen.

A MasterClass post says,


“Most techniques to hook a reader have one thing in common: They force the reader to ask questions. A good hook—whether it uses action, emotion, a strong statement, or another technique—will have your reader guessing about your characters’ motivations, backstories, and more. Maybe in high school, you learned to start an essay with a rhetorical question. Try that same technique now, but leave the actual question out of the finished piece. Instead, set up a scene that leads your reader to come up with the question on their own.”


WRITING EXERCISE

Think of a scenario for your story (or just a scenario if you don’t have a story):

  • Zombie hamsters are coming down the street.
  • The tea mug your uncle gave you has a secret message on the bottom.
  • Your mom just told you she’s part oak tree.

Now, think of a question and write the scenario and scene toward that question.


PLACE TO SUBMIT

Call for Submissions: Jewish Fiction.net

Deadline: Year-round

Jewish Fiction .net, a prestigious literary journal, invites submissions for its December 2023 issue. We are the only English-language journal devoted exclusively to publishing Jewish fiction, and we showcase the finest contemporary Jewish-themed writing (either written in, or translated into, English) from around the world. In our first 12 years we have published over 500 stories or novel excerpts, originally written in twenty languages and on five continents, and we have readers in 140 countries. We’ve published such eminent authors as Elie Wiesel, Savyon Liebrecht, and Aharon Appelfeld, alongside many excellent, lesser-known writers. For submission details, please visit our Submissions page at www.jewishfiction.net/index.php/contactus/submission/


Blink-Ink #53: Secrets

Deadline: July 15, 2023

State secrets, family secrets, trade secrets, secret sins and secret loves, entrusted secrets, cosmic secrets, childhood secrets, dark secrets taken to the grave—any sort of secret at all. Can’t keep a secret? Closely guarded treasure, or a bargaining chip. We are more interested in tales of mystery than everyday gossip. Send us your best unpublished stories of approximately 50 words about a Secret, or Secrets. Submissions are open June 1, 2023 through July 15, 2023. No attachments, poetry, bios, or AI generated content please. Send submissions in the body of an email to blinkinkinfo@gmail.com.

STORIES FROM LAST WEEK

SIX QUICK HINTS ABOUT HOW TO KEEP YOUR READERS READING

Hooking Your Readers


So, this post, and way more writing tips are over on, Write Better Now! is a mostly self-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

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