How many types of scenes are there?

Stories aren’t always about hitting each prescribed beat. Stories are about characters making choices.

I’ve been talking about scenes a bit this week and I’m keeping up the scene theme today.

Mike Nichols had thoughts about scenes.

Mike Nichols (a famous movie guy) believes there are three main types of scenes and his scene types are all about what the conflict and choices are in the scene.

Fight – You have to use strength or endurance or willpower to get what you want.

Negotiation – You are being logical and everyone is working together to figure something out. It’s like Scooby Doo when the gang tries to figure something out.

Seduction – You are manipulating someone else to get what you want.

Rachel Poli among others says there are eight.

Hers read a bit more like plot points or story beats. And honestly, I worry about the idea of an ‘exposition’ scene because that usually slows down the plot and narrative, but here you go.

Introduction – Shows character/back ground

Exposition and preparation – Information is given to the character. She says this is where the conflict is scene, but I’d argue that you need your conflict to be seen in every scene.

Transition – “The character are on the move.”

Investigation – It’s an investigation.

Revelation – Things are revealed! Realizations are had.

Escape and Pursuit – Your characters rescue someone, they run away from someone, they run after someone.

Aftermath – This is usually after a big scene. It’s basically a reaction beat.

Resolution – The finale.

The Script Lab presents 17 types of scenes. We’re quoting them here.


1. Setting
 – Where are we?

2. Atmosphere/Mood – What is it like there?

3. Introduction – Who is it we are dealing with here?

4. Exposition – Necessary information. Quick and Clever.

5. Transition – getting from one place to another. Fast.

6. Preparation – What will it take to prepare for the task at hand?

7. Aftermath – How does the character feel about what just happened?

8. Investigation – Gathering information.

9. Revelation – The reader/audience finds out something important.

10. Recognition – The character finds out something important.

11. The Gift – Using a prop with emotional investment and turning it into a weapon, emotional or otherwise.

12. Escape – The character is trying to get away, avoid, or hide.

13. Pursuit – The character is trying to follow, capture, or secure.

14. Seduction – Someone must convince someone else.

15. Opposites – Two characters from seemingly opposite poles are forced together.

16. Reversal of Expectations – A character expects a certain, very clear outcome, but another character surprises him, influencing him to reverse his intention and do something else – practically the opposite of what he planned to do.

17. Unexpected Visitor – Someone unexpected shows up. Problems arise.

Why So Many Different Numbers? Three? Seventeen? That’s a big difference.

Well, people like to have original ideas and claim knowledge as exact. But also because they are looking at slightly different things.

You’ll notice that Nichols’s scenes descriptions really are different. They are about conflict and choice and not about story beats. And I like that.

Stories aren’t always about hitting each prescribed beat. Stories are about characters making choices. If you read those other scene lists they can be helpful in structuring your story and making sure you hit certain beats, but they aren’t about the core of your character’s transformation.

Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story, says,

“A story is about how the things that happen affect someone in pursuit of a difficult goal, and how that person changes internally as a result.”

Timothy Hallinan writes,

“For me, a scene is a unit of story in which something changes. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and at the end something is different than it was at the beginning. It may be a character or a situation, or just our understanding of a character or a situation, but whatever it is, it’s changed when the scene is over.”

What do you think? How do you describe a scene?

Resources

What’s a Scene (And What’s A Chapter?), Timothy Hallinanhttps://rachelpoli.com/2018/07/11/8-types-of-scenes/embed/#?secret=a6jGSYAmSm

https://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/structure/the-scene/16-types-of-scenes/https://www.ninetydegreesmedia.com/how-to-write-a-scene-in-a-novel/#:~:text=A%20scene%20is%20a%20piece,these%20categories%20it%20falls%20into

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

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

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

It’s my book! It’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!

It’s my book! It’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!

Be Brave Friday!

Being brave is about telling your truths and story despite trolls and ridicule.

It’s Be Brave Friday today and truth is that so many people are being brave every damn day.

Being brave is about continuing after massive loss.

Being brave is about living in a world that might be pressing you down.

Being brave is going after your dreams.

Being brave is about being who you are — open, vulnerable, flawed, and shiny.

Being brave is about telling your truths and story despite trolls and ridicule.

Being brave is sometimes dealing with just an annoying email that makes your heart sink.

I hope we can all hold each other up, grab each other’s hands and make something good.

If you’ve read my Be Brave Friday posts before, you know I have a hard time sharing my art because … parents. It always makes me feel so vulnerable.

Anyway, this is a painting that I’m making prints of and sending some out to my patrons who help me out and read my unpublished stories on Patreon. I hope you like it okay. I know it’s not a lot of color. 🙂

And I hope you might hang out with Shaun and I for a bit tonight (7 p.m. EST) on LOVING THE STRANGE (on Facebook/YouTube/Twitter).

I should really make it’s own reminder post, but I’m not feeling super brave about that. Put your brave on my friends. We’ve got this, right?

Daily Cuteness

Every weekday on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, I share insight/thoughts/inspiration from our two dogs and three cats. If you want to follow me on any of those places? It’d be great.

Here’s today’s, courtesy of Sparty Dog.

Whatever you used to be, used to think?

That doesn’t need to matter anymore.

Carve out who you want to be right now.

Create the story you want to live.

The future is still out there, ready for you to soar into it.

And choose love & treats. Always.

xo

Sparty Dog

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

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

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

It’s my book! It’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!

Don’t Be a Passive Punk

So, I’ve been talking to a lot of my writers about passive voice lately and I thought I’d share it here on the blog.

So is you are a writer, one thing you might want to touch up as you go through your revisions is the passive voice. That’s when the subject of your sentence is the recipient of the action of the verb, right?

Whenever I write that, I think it sounds like gobbley-gook.

What I mean is this:

Active voice is when the subject makes the action.

Carrie loves manatees.

The writing coach worried about making money.

Passive voice is where the verb acts on the subject.

So that would be:

            Manatees are loved by Carrie Jones.

            The money was worried about by the writing coach.

Do you see how the doer comes after the thing that they’ve done?

Do you see the difference? It’s wordier and the verb is dominating the subject somehow.

How Do You Find Passive Voice In Your Story?

Look at a sentence and look at what’s getting done.

If nobody is doing that thing? Probably passive voice.

            Manatees are loved.

If the doer comes after the doing? Probably Passive voice.

            Manatees are loved by Carrie.

Random Things About the Passive Voice

It’s okay to have it sometimes. Sometimes it’s even necessary. It’s like a colonoscopy. You know you have to occasionally do it, but you don’t want to be doing it every day.

News stories use passive voice a lot because sometimes the reporter doesn’t know who did the action. If you don’t know or don’t care who did the action? It’s okay to use passive voice.

            A person was shot.

            A fire was set.

            A manatee was stolen.

Sometimes when you say something it doesn’t matter who said it. It’s just truth.

            Laws were created about manatees.

Sometimes what is being acted on is more important that the person doing the act.

            The manatees were loved by the random women from Maine.

Final Hint: Grammar Checkers That Are Automated Don’t Always Find That Passive Voice

They aren’t perfect. I know! Gasp!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

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

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

It’s my book! It’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!

Make Your Setting Sexy

In my work as a writing coach and an editor, I read a lot of stories that don’t feel real. That might be because there are no senses involved. But the other big culprit is setting.

Every story takes place somewhere.

That’s right. Let me say it again.

Every story takes place somewhere.

And our job as a writer is to show the specific details of that setting, to give setting a presence in the story just as much as we give the plot and characters a presence in the story.

I’ve written before:

Setting has lovers and haters. It can be quite the polarizing part of the writer world.

The haters think of setting and the thing of description. Or they think of massive amounts of description that continues on forever and ever. The think setting equals boring.

The setting lovers think setting is the best thing in the whole universe. Their stories start with paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of mood and setting.

But no matter what camp you’re in, setting isn’t something that should be tacked onto a story. Setting is more than describing the living room. It creates the feeling of a story and its time, where it happens, its bit of the world. Poets and novelists of the past often make the landscape a character in their poem or their narrative. The claustrophobia of a small town like in Peyton Place or even Twilight’s moody darkness is part of the story and is an important aspect to the main characters’ moods and choices.

Writers who can visualize the setting and put that on the page are writers who transport their readers.

How do you make your settings amazing and sexy?

Make it surprising. Make how your characters interact with it matter.

We all expect someone to be moved at a sunrise or sunset’s beauty. What if your character is afraid of it?

Let your readers know what’s going on.

Keep them oriented in the scene. Don’t have the characters just floating out there in talking heads dialogue with no details or just all internal dialogue. Characters need to interact with the space.

Make your character interact with the setting on a big and small level.

Has your character been in their town their whole life and feels like it’s crushing her soul? Show that. That’s big-picture-interaction.

Does your character keep trying to scrub the dog drool off her wood floor? Show that. That’s small-picture-interaction.

Use All the Senses

I wrote about this earlier. It’s easy. Humans smell, feel, see, touch, hear and taste. Your characters should too. What they smell, feel, see, touch, hear and taste? That’s part of the setting.

Make it interesting

Every place is unique. Every setting has an aspect of difference. Bring those unique details out and have them matter to the story.

What Are The Three Types of Setting?

Wait what? Yep. You read that correctly. There are three types of setting.

Temporal – the era that the story is happening in.

Environmental – The geographical area

Individual – specific place in that area

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

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

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

It’s my book! It’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!

Book Updates and What I’m Up To.

So, um, I read on a marketing blog that you’re supposed to post monthly book updates to help your readers feel engaged while they are waiting for books.

So, um, here is my monthly book update? Can I call it monthly if I am probably forget to do this again next month?

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
  1. THE SEQUEL TO THE PLACES WE HIDE is going to be released super soon. Fingers crossed. It needs one final copyedit and a cover. I have no marketing plan. I know! I know! Poor little book. You can buy the adorable first book here. It’s an adult mystery/thriller hybrid. Here’s an excerpt.
In the Woods
In the Woods

2. THE SEQUEL TO IN THE WOODS will hopefully be coming out after that. It also needs a cover. And, um, a marketing plan. You can buy that here.

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

3. My patreon is rocking and I’m having the best time over there writing an adult paranormal about a campground full of super natural creatures. You can read a chapter for free here. It costs either $12 or $36 a year to support my patreon and read/hear stories and get occasional art from me in the mail. And stuff.

How I am currently imagining the book covers. But MAGIC is totally not right.

4. I’m drafting a couple of books right now. One is called MAGIC and it’s an adult paranormal and I am SO into it. So into it. Like all I was to do is write it. And the other is called THE HISTORY OF HATE and it is literary and not the most linear of narratives. I’ve been pulling some lines from both (and my Patreon) and posting them on my Instagram if you want to check them out.

Are You Burning Out?

For writers, that feeling of lack of achievement and incompetence is pretty easy to get. It’s a subjective business and other writers’ successes are often right in your face, right?

Ah. Burnout.

As a traditionally published novelist, I have always had a weird instability in my income and that got only worse during the COVID-19 pandemic when a bunch of factors happened:

  1. I didn’t have any traditionally published books coming out that year.
  2. Our main outside source of income (renting our houses) couldn’t happen because COVID.
  3. We became the only and primary residence of a super cool eleven-year-old with some deep anxiety, oppositional defiance disorder, and autism. And because of risk factors she was being remotely schooled for the pandemic and still is.

This meant I had to pivot and pivot hard. Suddenly, I was really the major and only wage owner. I created a couple of classes (You can check them out) on Patreon, self-published a book and a novella of my heart. And began editing and writing coaching a lot.

And when I say ‘a lot,’ I mean I work from 6 or 7 a.m. until 5 or 7 p.m. on other people’s amazing and beautiful and fun stories.

I love it.

But by dinner, I’m tired of being in front of my computer and I long to be outside. I’m an outside person.

And the schedule hasn’t given me as much time as I’m used to writing my own stories.

And I’m super lucky and I know myself pretty well and there’s a few things I have to do in order to not feel burnt out and those things are:

  1. Be outside and exercise.
  2. Write my own stories or paint something.
  3. Sing loudly.
  4. Dance around the kitchen like a total goofball.
  5. Help other people.
  6. Hug on dogs and cats and dream about manatees. I have a thing for manatees.

A long time ago, in the cold hills of Vermont, amazing author and human Rita Williams Garcia warned me about burnout. “It’s going to happen to you,” she said. “It happens to all of us.”

I gasped, horrified. “Not me!”

“Even you.” She smiled.

Back in 2016, the Harvard Business Review had an article by Monique Valcour about beating burnout.

In the summary of her article, she wrote:

Three symptoms characterize burnout: exhaustion; cynicism, or distancing oneself from work; and inefficacy, or feelings of incompetence and lack of achievement. Research has linked burnout to many health problems, including hypertension, sleep disturbances, depression, and substance abuse. Moreover, it can ruin relationships and jeopardize career prospects.

For writers, that feeling of lack of achievement and incompetence is pretty easy to get. It’s a subjective business and other writers’ successes are often right in your face, right? There’s a whole thing called Imposter Syndrome that even super famous and accomplished authors get.

She also writes:

… you can also take steps toward recovery and prevention on your own: Prioritize your health, shift your perspective to determine which aspects of your situation are fixed and which can be changed, reduce exposure to the most stressful activities and relationships, and seek out helpful interpersonal connections.

Bethany Hegedus, my friend and writer and founder of the Writing Barn sent out a newsletter this week where she bravely talked about how she felt burnt out with her self-care, creating checklists almost (or maybe really) of how to take care of herself. Did she exercise? Did she meditate? Did she hydrate?

The self-care list can go on and on, can’t it? It sure can for those of us who are lucky enough to have the time, financial stability and privilege to even have those moments.

Basically, you can burn out trying not to burn out. I know! Totally unfair, right?

Bethany turns to tiny moments of deep rest where she’s hanging out with her husband, resting in his arms, or when she’s reading (sometimes).

In Valcour’s article, she pulls out four things you can do to combat burnout.

  • Prioritize self-care.
  • Shift your perspective.
  • Reduce exposure to job stressors.
  • Seek out connections

Easier said than done, right? Tomorrow on the podcast, we’re going to talk about those three things

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

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

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

It’s my book! It’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

Three Quick Tips to Try to Show Instead of Tell

So all this week, I’ve been talking about how to show and not tell in your writing.

You can find those past post, by clicking on SHOW DON’T TELL in the tags.

We defined it.

Showing is what it sounds like. You are showing what’s happening in the scene or with the character.


Telling is also what it sounds like. You are blunt and direct and are just stating things. Sometimes you’re stating and summarizing.

WE GAVE A QUICK EXAMPLE:

Telling:

Shaun was cranky.

Showing:

Gabby the dog barked for hours at the dogs trotting by the house that morning and after a quick pause for a drink from her red water bowl in the kitchen, she’d pranced back to the living room sliding glass door and started again.

Shaun tensed. He slammed his fist against his desk and roared, “Will you just shut up already?”

And Now I’m Going To Give Three Quicks on How to Show Not Tell

  1. Use dialogue.

We learn a lot about people by how they talk to other people. Do they use big words? Little words? Dramatic words? Do they just grunt?

“I am terribly disappointed in your behavior.”

“You suck. I can’t believe you freaking did that.”

“Wow. Buttface.”

Those are all about the same thing, but three very different responses, right? Those responses tell us about the characters.

  • Describe the action rather than state the action.

Telling:

She loved Spring. It gave her joy.

Showing:

She spiraled around, arms out in the air as she waited for the light to change. The moment it did, she started across.

“You’re skipping,” the lady next to her said.

She smiled back at her, weaving around the school children crossing against them. A dog wagged his tail, sniffing some daffodils in the medium. “It’s Spring. Spring is the best.”

  • Use the setting and make your character actually interact with the setting.

Telling:

I stepped on the porch. It was hot.

Showing:

The rotting wooden boards of the porch popped under my weight as I sniffed my pits. Before I knocked on the red door with its peeling paint and bright orange STAY OUT sign, I pulled at my t-shirt fabric. The humidity made it cling.

HERE IS THE THING: SOMETIMES YOU CAN TELL.

You just want to not always tell. You can tell a little bit as a story begins. You just don’t want to only tell.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE TELLING TOO MUCH?

You’re using a lot of distancing words like “knew, look, saw, heard, supposed, watched, stared, told.”

      Shaun heard the bathroom door unlock and knew that someone was going to be entering the room.

You are using the word obviously, of course, clearly a lot.

      Shaun heard the bathroom door unlock, obviously someone had unlocked it and would be entering the room. Would they die from the smell, clearly it was horrifyingly bad, of course it was. It was the bathroom.

You are making a lot of fluffy language and filler language.

      A flurry of worry flooded his brain as Shaun heard the bathroom door unlock.

And there you go! I hope it helps! Have fun writing!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

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

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

It’s my book! It’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!

Three Quick Tips to Show Instead of Tell

As writers, showing allows us more control over what we’re trying to communicate to the reader. Pretty cool, right?

This week, I’m talking a bit about showing versus telling.

There will be more about this in our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

As I say there, a lot of writers get the note that they need to show more and tell less and then they are stuck thinking a lot of swear words and end up screaming into their pillow, “HOW DO I EVEN DO THAT?”

Showing is what it sounds like. You are showing what’s happening in the scene or with the character.


Telling is also what it sounds like. You are blunt and direct and are just stating things. Sometimes you’re stating and summarizing.

Showing Example:

Carrie was hungry.

Telling Example:

Her stomach grumbled as Carrie opened the refrigerator. Nothing. Just shelves of sourdough starter and orange-vanilla soda water and left-over crumbs of pizza crust. Pressing her face against the dirty shelf, she tried to lap them up with her tongue. The world wobbled.

“Food,” she whispered. “Please, just a little food.”

Those seem like two totally different stories, right? But they are both just about me being hungry.

When you tell people, they are left filling in the gaps. If you heard, “Carrie was hungry,” I bet you didn’t fill in those gaps quite the way I just did.

As writers, showing allows us more control over what we’re trying to communicate to the reader. Pretty cool, right?

Three Quick Tips to Try to Show Instead of Tell

Use dialogue.

We learn a lot about people by how they talk to other people. Do they use big words? Little words? Dramatic words? Do they just grunt?

“I am terribly disappointed in your behavior.”

“You suck. I can’t believe you freaking did that.”

“Wow. Buttface.”

Those are all about the same thing, but three very different responses, right? Those responses tell us about the characters.

Describe the action rather than state the action.

Telling:

She loved Spring. It gave her joy.

Showing:

She spiraled around, arms out in the air as she waited for the light to change. The moment it did, she started across.

“You’re skipping,” the lady next to her said.

She smiled back at her, weaving around the school children crossing against them. A dog wagged his tail, sniffing some daffodils in the medium. “It’s Spring. Spring is the best.”

Use the setting and make your character actually interact with the setting.

Telling:

I stepped on the porch. It was hot.

Showing:

The rotting wooden boards of the porch popped under my weight as I sniffed my pits. Before I knocked on the red door with its peeling paint and bright orange STAY OUT sign, I pulled at my t-shirt fabric. The humidity made it cling.

There you go! Like I said, I’ll be talking about this in this week’s podcast, but also in my Wednesday post. Just click on the tab for SHOWDON’T TELL to see all the posts about this topic.

Hm. That seemed a little telling, didn’t it? 🙂

Chapters Begin, Chapters End and There are Ways To Do That

This week we’ve been talking all about chapters. Check out the tag CHAPTER to navigate to the other posts and today we’re talking about…

How Do You Begin a Chapter?

There’s a few things you want to do here.

You want to start in a way that makes your reader want to read the story.

You want there to be continuity from the last chapter so it doesn’t feel jerky and episodic.

You want to have a good first line to pull the reader along for the whole length of the chapter. It is the Oreo cookie or potato chip of the writing world. You want to make it so delicious that the reader just can’t eat/read just one sentence, but send them on a gobbling frenzy.

Usually, you want to:

  1. Show where the characters are.
  2. Have some action.
  3. Actually have a character. That should have been #1.

You can start A CHAPTER BY oR WITH:

  1. With setting the scene.
  2. Dialogue, but this isn’t a big hot thing to do right now. If you do this, make it exciting and give us some physical grounding and characters pretty quickly.
  3. In the middle of the action. If you want to be fancy say, in medias res. That’s fancy.

You want to make sure THE CHAPTER Is:

  1. Not boring.
  2. Makes sense with the rest of the story.
  3. That we readers know where the characters are. You don’t want them just floating out in the ether (usually). That’s why you want to give us the who, what, when, where, why of the story, too.
  4. That the chapter has a point. If you took this chapter out, would you still have a story? If so, the chapter needs to go. (I made that rhyme.)

That’s really such an important question that I’m going to repeat it:

If you took the chapter out, would the story still make sense?

If it does, then you want to take that chapter out.

Or — If so, the chapter needs to go.

I really can’t resist a dorky rhyme.

Along those lines, your chapter should do a couple things:

  1. Help the character transform.
  2. Give the character a goal and show movement or loss towards that goal.
  3. Be part of the novel’s cause and effect that creates the novel’s plot.
  4. Have an ending that compels the reader to keep reading after the pause.

This is really part of what it means when I say that your chapter needs to have a point.

Chapter Endings.

These little babies are what worry a lot of writers. How do you end things? You’ve been in a relationship with this chapter for a long few pages, hammering out the words on the keyboard, spending time together.

It’s so hard to let go!

But seriously, when should your time together end?

Good times to end your chapter are:

  1. After a big turning point in your story. If you’re following a beat sheet or outline, those turning points are great places to pause.
  2. Right before a big turning point in your story.
  3. Right after something scary happened.
  4. Right before something scary happens.
  5. Right after something emotionally resonating happened.
  6. Right after something is figured out.

Look at your favorite books and the last three paragraphs of each chapter. What just happened? What’s about to happen? You can learn a lot about chapter breaks and structure this way.

A lot of times you’ll see that where The Chapters end are:

  1. Moments of suspense. Something big is about to happen.
  2. Moments of reflection. The character is thinking about something big that just happened.
  3. Moments of questioning. The what do I do or what did I do times.

There! I hoped this helped a bit!

LET’S HANG OUT!

Do you want to take a little online course, learn with me as your writing coach, buy some art or listen to our podcasts? Or give me a buck and read unpublished books on Patreon?

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And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about bears in outhouses and chapter titles, click here.

Spontaneous Combustion and Poop Styles

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Spontaneous Combustion and Poop Styles
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This week on our live podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, we talked about human spontaneous combustion and poop styles.

We hope you’ll check it out.

And get your strange on, my friends.

The video version is here, too.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

It’s my book! It’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!