Realistic Dialogue and Halloween Parties for Fourteen Year Olds

One of my favorite criticisms is when people say to writers, “Your dialogue is not realistic.”

The reason this cracks me up is because have you ever really listened to most people’s realistic dialogue? It’s pretty funny and makes a pretty bizarre book.

I took this verbatim from a Halloween sleep over at my house in pre-COVID-19 times.

Here’s the scene:

There are six 14-year-olds. They are making cheesy ghosts with olive faces. This is the dialogue. It is verbatim.

And this, my friends, is why us writers don’t have perfectly accurate dialogue in our stories. Are you ready?

The Words They Said:

Didn’t H– make show choir?

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

Oh no… Big words

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

No offense but she does

(Abby keeps singing.)

Guys do not be mean.

I don’t want to be mean.

Did you hear her solo?

It was good but she got mad after awhile.

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

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

No he does the drama.

I’m so mad.

Can we do it?

Guys we would be amazing.

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

The three of us. No the four of us.

What about me. You guys hate me!

No… You don’t do musical stuff.

No! All of us can do it.

Oh! I’m so foolish…

I don’t know how to shape the ghost.

You have a hard butt.

Look! It has a belly button.

I got bored so I put more olives on it.

All of my cheese fell-off.Abby keeps singing.

Abby will you shut up!

(Mallory joins Abby in singing.)

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

It is a Pac-Man.

Oh.

I decided to announce my geekiness to the world.

This is the dialogue, I swear.


 As a former reporter, I know how messy it is listening to people talk.

Realistic dialogue isn’t always the point. The point is that you want the dialogue to make sense, to advance your plot, to show character, to make your story sing. People will always ding writers on dialogue because they’ll expect the dialogue to reflect the people in their own world.

But the thing is that we all don’t talk the same. Donald Trump doesn’t sound like Barack Obama who doesn’t sound like Joe Biden who doesn’t sound like Mike Pence who doesn’t sound like Kamala Harris.

That’s okay. Just try to hear your own characters’ voices, but more than that, listen to the voices that don’t sound like you and don’t think that they don’t sound ‘realistic,’ instead rejoice in that difference. It’s pretty beautiful.


Let’s Hang Out!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com


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.

THE END OF TENSION TALKS! How to Increase the Tension in Your Story

In my earlier posts these past couple of weeks, both Steve Wedel and Mark Del Franco had some interesting things to say about point-of-view and tension.

So, in this final blog, I’m going to talk about that a tiny bit more and then give some quick hints about creating suspenseful stories.

Because like Jeff Deaver said it’s our responsibilities as writers to: Give my readers the most exciting roller coaster ride of a suspense story I can possibly think of.


Although, to be fair I agree with Fawn Brodie’s sentence: Show me a character whose life arouses my curiosity, and my flesh begins crawling with suspense.

Character is really intertwined with point-of-view.

There are two main point of views I’m talking about here, first person and third person.

Every day you live in your own point-of-view. Every day you are the main character of your story living out the suspense of your life. That’s the first person.

If you expand beyond yourself, use empathy and imagination to jump back into other people’s lives as well, creating a web that connects both, that’s more third person.

Or, you might end up in this book turned movie, I’m not sure:

Anyway, there are special problems with both point of views.

Issues with I Stories:

1.      You know the narrator is probably not going to die, so there isn’t that mortal danger worry.

2.      In first-person past tense it’s hard to keep it fresh, because the I of the story already knows what’s going to happen.

Good Things About I Stories:

1.      You can use the ‘peril detector.’

2.      The narrator’s fear moves the scene forward, increasing tension.

Issues with Third-Person Stories:

1.      Sometimes it’s harder to get you to care about the character. There. Sorry. I said it. Haters get at it.

2.      Sometimes, if you don’t do it well, switching around can actually ruin the tension and frustrate the reader.

Good Things about Third-Person Stories:

1.      You can set up what’s going to happen, the crisis, the conflict, the scary by switching back and forth between the good guy and bad guy.

2.      It’s very freeing.

I asked Editor Andrew Karre (currently executive editor at Dutton about first vs. third person.

Andrew said, “I think suspense is often important, but adding it to a manuscript tends to involve removing stuff and rearranging stuff. I think a clear, sequential, third-person story is rarely maximally suspenseful, so if suspense is in order, I think a meandering, unreliable first person is the way to go.”

Okay. Here are some take-away tips about adding suspense to your story.

They are summarized from an article by Vivian Gilbert Zabel, which is sourced below.

1. Make the main character someone you like but someone who can screw up. The reader has to care. If the reader doesn’t care about the character, the reader closes the book. If the character is perfect and can’t screw up? Then there’s no tension.

2. Make the plot a question and then “Make a list of all the possible reasons why the answer could be “no.” Those “no” answers become the focus of problems and obstacles – suspense,” Zabel says.

3. Make the hero have a really good reason for what she wants. Make her need.

4. Do that for the bad guy, too.  Stories like Harry Potter wouldn’t be nearly so fun if there wasn’t the possibility that the evil wizard Voldemort might kick everyone’s butts.

5. Make things harder and harder for the hero. Make it get worse.

6.  Pick the right POV for you and your story.

7.  Try to make the story urgent. Imagine a bomb ticking down before the explosion. Make the story a race against that.

And there you go! I hope all these blog posts on tension help you out a bit instead of making you more tense.

SOURCES:

Luce, Carol. “Writing Suspense That’ll “Kill” Your Readers.” The Complete Book of Novel Writing. Ed 2002. Med Leder and Jack Heffrom. Cincinatti: Writers’ Digest Books, 2002.

Reynolds, William. “Keeping Them In Suspense.” The Complete Book of Novel Writing. Ed 2002. Med Leder and Jack Heffrom. Cincinatti: Writers’ Digest Books, 2002.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Vivian_Gilbert_Zabel 

Personal Interviews with Mark Del Franco, Andrew Karre, and Steven Wedel, Sept. 2008.

Want More of Me?

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

My Patreon site I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT. I also share some writing tips that are also going to be on Teachable as the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME and send people art.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Thrill Me, Baby. Thrill Me. Let’s Talk About Story Tension.

My first three books are hardly suspenseful in that Marvel movie way. There are no car chases. There are no end-of-the-world scenarios. They’re stories about identity and love with a little angst thrown in the side. They aren’t even in the typical story’s narrative arc.

So, you’re probably wondering why I’m blogging about suspense.

Because I like it.

I’m one of those writers who likes to try new things… ALL THE TIME. I am very easily bored, so back in 2008, I thought about what one of the hardest things for me to do would be. The answer was easy: WRITE SOMETHING SUSPENSEFUL.

And because of that? It’s why my NEED series was created.

It was hard. It was SO hard. But worth it. My first attempt (while not up at the suspense level of Stephen King or that guy who writes those books that become Tom Cruise movies) came out with Bloomsbury. It’s called NEED.

So when I was trying to figure out to do, I found a great article by Carol Davis Luce called WRITING SUSPENSE THAT’LL KILL YOUR READERS. For a couple of weeks, I’m going to talk about Carol’s points and hopefully expand on them.

And I’m inserting some old photos of my daughter, Em, and our old dog Tala to make it fun.

So, how do we write something suspenseful? 



The first part is tension.


Tension is what keeps us reading.

Tension is what keeps us reading at 3 a.m. when we have to get up at 6 a.m. and go to school or work.

Tension is what makes us read a book while walking between classes. It makes us ignore the hottie across the cafeteria or even in our own bedroom. It makes us ignore the cute doggy next to us, the one who really wants to get walked.

Tala the Big, White Dog says, “I am the cute dog she’s talking about.”

Poor Tala.

Tension.

Without it, a book gets put back on the shelf, abandoned on the kitchen counter, forgotten in a locker, or possibly flushed down the toilet. Without it, dogs get walked.

According to Luce, “Tension is the act of building or prolonging a crisis. It’s the bump in the night, the ticking bomb; it’s making readers aware of peril.”

Or it’s what William J Reynolds calls, “I gotta know!”

Why Do Readers Keep Reading?

Your readers keep reading because the need to know what happens next is there. The tension is there. He calls a story without suspense “like coffee without caffeine – no kick and not very addicting.”

So, that’s what we’re going to be talking about for a couple of blog posts: Tension. Suspense. How to turn nice, normal readers into addicts who will open that door in your book (I mean turn the page) no matter what horrors might be there or what dogs might resent it.

The next few entries will be about techniques to put the tension back into your love life… Oops, I mean your stories. Your written down stories! Geesh. I’m sorry I couldn’t find anything to read last night and I had to read some book about love and relationships by the guy who started Eharmony. I have no idea how it got in my house, but it’s obviously impacted me.

Anyway, stay with me, and we’ll interview horror novelist Steven Wedel and some others. It should be a fun, tension-filled couple of posts.


Carrie: So tell me Tala, what do you think about suspense?
Tala: Woof.

Carrie: You think it’s over-rated?
Tala: Woof. Woof! Snort. Kashow. Yip. Woof!

Carrie: You think that a dog’s life is hard enough and that the suspense of when we are going to actually take a walk… that suspense… that suspense is killing you and therefore I should stop blogging about how to put suspense in stories? 
Tala: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..

Carrie: Okay. Um, where’s your leash?

Tala: Good human. Good. Finally you get it.

*One of the biggest tensions may be whether or not I get all these posts up and posted.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

OCTOBER FIRST IS TOMORROW! IT IS ALMOST TODAY!

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Writing Talk Wednesday: The Scene

The Scene

It’s this element of structure for the story. We all write them, but sometimes it seems like this overlooked aspect of our stories. I’m not sure why this is. It’s not as elemental as the word or punctuation. It’s not as long and sexy as a chapter. It’s not as easily diagramed as a sentence, right?

But it’s so important.

There’s an old book by Raymond Obstfeld called Crafting Scenes and in its first pages he has a chapter called “What a Scene Is and Isn’t.” In it, he quotes the actress Rosalind Russell who was asked what made a movie great.

She answered, “Moments.”

And Obstfeld compared that thought about movies to our thoughts about scenes. He wrote, “The more ‘moments’ a work has, the more powerful it is. Think of each memorable scene as an inner tube designed to keep the larger work afloat.”

And then there is the corollary, “The fewer memorable scenes there are, the quicker that work sinks to the depths of mediocrity.”

So What’s A Scene and How Do You Make It Memorable?

That’s the obvious question, right? A scene is usually action that happens in one setting. But it’s not always. It’s about focus. It can be ten pages or one.

Obstfeld says that a scene does the following:

            Gives reader plot-forwarding information

            Reveals character conflict

            Highlights a character by showing action or a trait

            Creates suspense.

And a memorable scene? What is that?

It’s unexpected.

What does a scene have to have?

A beginning, a middle, and an end.

And the beginning? It’s like a blind date, he says. You have to tell the reader what’s going on and not just expect her to know. It has to hook the reader in, pulling her into its clutches so she wants to keep reading.

So, authors, look at those scenes. Are you hooking people in? Do they want to keep on that journey with you?

And people, look at the scene you’re at in your life. Are you into it? Is it at a beginning place? Are you still hooked into what you’re doing, who you are? Do you want to stay this way? Are you good?

I hope you’re good, but if you aren’t? Be brave. Make changes. Think about who you want to be and what you want the scenes in your life to be like. You can do this.

Brave Thing I’m Doing

Pretty soon, I’m going to have a Teachable class all about the scene. It’s going to be pretty cheap and hopefully you’ll sign up and like it.

Continue reading “Writing Talk Wednesday: The Scene”

What Are These Terrifying Beasts Called Pass Proofs?

So, when you publish traditionally you get this thing called First Pass Proofs.

What are these diabolical little things? Well, to understand that we have to take a tiny jaunt into the copyediting and proofreading world. Grab some snacks!


A Pass

This is when you go through your story and look for all the typos and mistakes and consistency errors. and redundancies.

The Proof

It’s a verb and it’s a noun. You can say “I’m proofing this” when you are proofreading.

But also, when you get your beautiful story manuscript after the copyeditor, proofreader, regular editor, editorial assistant and King Kong have all gone through it, you have pages called a pass proof. This is what your story looks like before it goes to publication. You are to read it all and see if anyone missed anything.


The Fear

I am afraid of pass proofs. 

But they are still super cool.

Why am I afraid of them?


Well, they come after the copy edits, so even if you suddenly realize that having your main character fall in love with a bottle of ALL NATURAL SNAPPLE ICED TEA was important to the plot of the book, you can not magically make this happen now. It is too late!!!!

SnappleIs it ever really too late to make SNAPPLE an important plot choice/love interest? I doubt it. 

Yes, Snapple! It is too late. 

Why is it too late?

Well, the first pass proofs are really what the book is going to look like on the page. It’s sort of all set and ready to go. 

And that’s scary. Your book baby is ready to go off into the world of anonymous reviews and bookstore shelves, and there is nothing you can do now to toughen her up, make her street smart. She is out there on her own very very soon and you just have to pray she won’t be a train wreck and become the kind of book that the paparazzi take pictures of because she’s always forgetting to wear her underwear when she gets out of cars. 

Continue reading “What Are These Terrifying Beasts Called Pass Proofs?”

To Outline or Not To Outline? That Might Be The Question

If you spend any time with me, you’ll notice that I’m super annoying because I don’t think there is one right way to do things and this is especially true about writing stories. 

Authors, however, like to think there’s a right way, a guide that is perfect for everyone that has all the happy little writing, revising and marketing steps. The hope is that if you follow those steps you become the next writing superstar or at least get a full request from an agent. 

The rules that we love, the guidelines and the steps? They don’t work for everyone or even one person all the time. And this is true about outlining too. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. Some of us are apathetic. Some of us love it for one book and hate it for the next. 

That’s all okay.

But here are some things about outlining. 

  1. It doesn’t need to be all formal with bullet points.
  2. It can actually be fun for some people. 
  3. It can force inspiration sometimes. 
  4. It is usually big picture and is the big details and allows you to be creative in the execution and focus more (sometimes) on sentence structure and word choice.
  5. It helps keep you from writing 120,000 words before you realize you have no plot. 
  6. You can get a good idea of your plot structure and you can fix that before you write 123,000 words. 
  7. Helps with that big-picture pacing.
  8. Let’s you know where you’re at when you’re writing that first draft and can help you not pull out your hair when you’re freaking out that you’re nowhere near done when you’re actually pretty close.

If you all are into this, I can post about how to start an outline. Just let me know, okay?

Continue reading “To Outline or Not To Outline? That Might Be The Question”

Don’t Force that Rhyme. What exactly even is a forced rhyme?

Forced Rhyme Moments

I was recently helping a poet/author who was worried about forced rhyme moments and then she realized she wasn’t absolutely sure what ‘forced rhyme’ even met.

So, here’s a bit of rundown on ways we can all force our rhymes. 

Weird Phrasing.

The most common way picture book editors balk at forced rhymes is when the author rearranges the phrase or sentence so that the rhyme comes at the end but the whole thing sounds unnatural. Like this: 

            Whenever we go out for a run, 

            With you, I like the sun. 

Look at me! I’m unnatural.

Normally, it would be in natural conversational U.S. English: 

            Whenever we go out for a run, 

            I like the sun.

The ‘with you’ wouldn’t even be there because of the ‘we.’ We just shove that on to make it rhyme, which is why we call it forced. J I love imagining all of us poet-people brandishing our mugs of tea and pens and screaming, “Rhyme, damn it! I force you!” 

Random bits

The other big thing that happens in picture books is we stick random information into the story just to make a rhyme. 

I like manatees. I think they’re great. 

My aunt got sick from a tomato she ate. 

This is pretty cute, actually.

So, if the rest of the book was about manatees, then that line about the aunt wouldn’t make sense, right? That’s another example of a forced rhyme. 

Making a Big Long Line

I did this so much when I was young and I still have to hold my typing hands back because it’s what I ALWAYS WANT TO DO. I would make a really big line to get a rhyme in. 

            I was working over at the Dairy Joy,

            Just minding my own business, scooping the scoops, when I finally scoped out this boy. 

Most of my grade-school poems were about being in love with random imaginary humans

Anyway, if the rest of the couplets are short, then this looks silly and forced. 

Almost But Not Quite

Another big thing people do is the almost but not quite there rhyme. They call this a slant rhyme or a half rhyme. Poets actually use this on purpose all the time. Here’s an example that I pasted from the web. It’s a poem called “To My Wife” by George Wolff 

If love is like a bridge
or maybe like a grudge,
and time is like a river
that kills us with a shiver,
then what have all these mornings meant
but aging into love?
What now is straight must have been bent;
what now is whole must have been rent.
My hand is now your glove.”

George Wolff

Wrenched rhymes

This happens when the words rhyme, but different syllables are stressed like here where the stress goes on the first syllable of laughing so on the laugh and not on the ing: 

I was laughing

            On the swing.

Random pretend poem

So, there you go. A tiny little lesson (Lesson? It sounds so formal!) about forced rhymes. Remember force is not cool. Talk to your poems, chill with them, let them decide to hang out with you.

Continue reading “Don’t Force that Rhyme. What exactly even is a forced rhyme?”

So You Want to Be Part of a Writing Community?

So, starting in August, I’m teaching another six-month Write! Submit! Support class at the fantastic Writing Barn.

If you click on the link, you get to the direct info about the program.

Write. Submit. Support. for Novelists with Carrie Jones ONLINE

This six-month course offers structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions. We offer support whether you’re submitting to agents or, if agented, you’re weathering submissions to editors. We discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, the feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more.

Write. Submit. Support. Mission: To empower writers,  pre-published or published, as well as the instructor, to embrace the many joys and challenges of leading a literary life. Scholarship opportunities available! Read more about the history and philosophy of Write. Submit. Support!

Success Stories come out of the connections made in WSS.

“I understand that not everyone has buckets of money to put toward workshops and courses, but when I think about my times in WSS I always consider the results: the fact that I received a book deal, with an actual advance, less than a year later…WOW! I understand that not everyone cares about that kind of result, but I did and I achieved it. Carrie, my WSS instructor, understood my goal and gave me a lot of practical help and advice, right down to how to format the manuscript for submission.” -Cathy Carr, now agented with Rachel Orr and 365 Days to Alaska forthcoming with Abrams  

I promise, I did not pay her to say that.

Find out if WSS is right for you at this FREE WEBINAR on Thursday July 23rd, from 7-8:30pm CDT.Founder Bethany Hegedus will share an inspiring talk on the literary life and will be joined by WSS instructors/TA’s, plus past and present WSS writers who will answer all your burning questions!

This is a great opportunity to meet this session’s faculty, talk with previous students about their growth throughout the program and participate in some inspirational activities led by Bethany Hegedus. *If you cannot attend live, no need to worry! All registrants will receive a video playback of the event!
Register Now!

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 244,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Last week’s episode link! It’s about dirty feet and archetypes. Sexy! 

Last week’s bonus podcast with writer Holly Schindler!

This week’s link to our podcast about fatal errors, scenes, and ghost reaper sauce

This week’s link to Ronni’s interview.


COME WRITE WITH ME! 

I coach, have a class, and edit things outside of the Writing Barn. Find out more here. 

Writing Tip Wednesday: Finding Your Big Wonder

The Big Wonder

So, stories tend to need that internal motivator/quest/motivation to keep their plot chugging forward and to keep the reader engaged. As you know, I talk about desire lines way too much, which are all about the emotional through-line for the characters in our stories, but another way to think about the internal motivation is to think of it as the Big Wonder or Big Question. 

Tom French calls this the engine of the story. And it’s these questions that make the readers keep reading.

In a mystery, it’s obvious: Who did it?

In a thriller, it’s usually: Will they survive?

In a romance, it’s often: Will they bang and will they bang forever?

Or it can be a how question. How will Captain America stop Hydra because you know he will.

How will the people in those 50 Shades books hook up now because you know they will. 

Those essential plot questions keep us reading and going because humans like answers. We like winners and losers and to know things in definite ways. That’s why sports are so popular. Almost always, one team loses or one person wins. 

But back to stories. 

When you are writing, not only do you have the big plot, you oftten have subplots and their questions, which are like the baby engines that keep the story edging forward. They are like back-up generators, I guess. I’m not the best with mechanical allusions, honestly. Sorry! 

In each subplot, there has to be something important at stake. If you have a book, divided by two narrators of equal importance, they each need to have a question that happens in their story and a stake. 

So, a good thing to do is to look at your story that you’re working on and ask yourself: 

Is there a big question going on right here? 

Is the answer super obvious? 

If the answer is super obvious, will the how of what happens be a wee bit less super obvious? 

If you have subplots, do those have questions, too? 

Good luck writing, writers! 

And if you think about your life, does it have those big wonders? Are you moving towards the things that motivate you? Do you already hold them in your hands? Do they shine through everything you do? You’re the hero of your own story so make sure that you’re going towards those big wonders, too.


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 233,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Last week’s episode.

Last week’s bonus episode with Anne Marie Pace, author of Vampirina Ballerina.

COME WRITE WITH ME! 

I coach, have a class, and edit things. 


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.

Finding Strength in Words: How to Write Strong Sentences

Finding Strength in Words: How to Write Strong Sentences

 
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As we do this podcast, the United States is full of protests and pain, Covid-19 is still happening, people are being hurt, people are dying. So, it’s a lot to take in and a lot to process and worry about so for this podcast we’re going to focus on a simple writing tip. 

Ready?

Story is made up of sentences. You want your sentences to be strong. Strong sentences stem from their beginnings. When the beginning sucks, the whole foundation can suck. 

It sounds like a metaphor for a government, doesn’t it? 

Anyways, in English, you want the strongest words on the left-hand side of the sentence. 

Strength comes from the beginning of the sentences and the rest of the words branch out from there. So what are the strongest words you want to put on the left side? 

Nouns and verbs. They are our friends, our battle weapons. Nouns and verbs ignite the fires of imagination. 

Here’s an example of a sentence that’s pretty long, but strong because it begins with solid words: 

Reporters collapsed after cops in riot gear shot rubber pellets directly at their cameraman and on-scene correspondent last night in Louisville, making them understand a little bit more the systemic violence and dehumanization that can happen when power is in the hands of few elements of society. White people weren’t used to that especially not reporters used to watching as others lose their rights, are crushed beneath knees and vehicle wheels and arrested without cause. 

Random nonpolitical sentence.

Sentences don’t always have to branch. Sentences pack powerful punches even when shortened if they begin with a subject-verb one-two punch.

When we put a lot of distance between the subject and verb, we can confuse the reader. 

When we hide the subject underneath layers of clauses? We show the reader how unimportant the subject is to us. The subject of the sentence is important and should matter. 

I feel like that’s a not too heavily cloaked way of saying people matter. Rage happens when injustices never stop. Rage happens when the punishments don’t fit the crime and when nobody hears your voice. 

We hope your voice is heard. We hope you get to be the subject of a lot of sentences and not buried under purple prose and wordage. Make your sentences strong, but make other people’s sentences strong too.   

Writing Tip of the Pod

Look at your writing. Where are your verbs? Where are your nouns/subjects? Are they in powerful places together? Put them there, damn it. 

Dog Tip for Life

Remember the structures that make your life, your community, your family. Are your subjects next to the verbs? How can you make them stronger?


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SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.