Naughty Transitions are A Writer’s Best Friend

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Naughty Transitions are A Writer's Best Friend
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There are certain traps us writers fall into.

  • We generalize.
  • We are too abstract.
  • We summarize.
  • We fail at transitions.

And a lot of those negative tendencies can quite easily be fixed when you think about them a bit more and learn to recognize them.

Scenes are a bit like connected shots in a movie. I think everyone from Blake Snyder to Robert Olen Butler has said this, but they’re right.

The scene is the basic element of your story. You want to stay in one point of view. Think of it like the camera lens zooming in.

In film, the shot is similar, right? You stay in one uninterrupted image for a shot. Right? Then you hook those shots together. A lot of filmmakers, like novelists, use transitions. They move us from one place to the other.

Butler defines a scene as “unified actions occurring in a single time or place.” Shots becomes scenes become sequences. There is a beginning, middle, and end to all of these. And then you can have long-shots, close-ups, super close-ups, etc.

What we want to do as writers is to use those tools as well (even in first person). We want the extreme close-up of deep POV, but then also to pull back sometimes and see the world and big-picture setting, and then to see that middle distance scene where the character is interacting.

When I write YA and adult genre, my first drafts are almost all deep POV and I have to go back in and add those wider shots, sensory details, setting.

When I write middle grade, my first drafts are almost all middle shots and long shots, and I have to go back and do those extreme close-ups and close ups and that’s okay.

What you want to do as a writer is to know where you tend to lean. Are you a big-picture, abstract, distancer? Are you she-who-is-only-into-close-ups? He who does no transitions and only black-out cuts?

And you want to layer in those elements that you don’t have for effect.

When you don’t do this, you risk one of two things. If you’re a big picture writer with that long-distance point of view, you risk never showing intimacy or immediacy.

If you’re an extreme close-up writer, you risk never showing the reader that bigger world or big picture and sometimes your story can lack setting so it’s all just talking heads and interior monologue.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up.

And don’t be afraid to mix up those transitions, those movements between scenes. Sometimes they can be big cuts and scene breaks and chapter breaks, but sometimes they can be softer and gentler transitional words like –

A week later (or whenever)

At the same time

Afterwards

For two weeks/days/minutes

Meanwhile

At night

The next day

The next night

For a month, I cried into the phone

In the morning

When the sun rose

When the sun set

The following Monday/night/morning

Months passed

Weeks passed

When we got back to the office

When they got back home

As the neared the date site

Then there are the phrases that show us a change in location:

They boarded the train

Down the street

Up on the third floor of the office

Over by the water cooler

Back in my living room

The motorcycle was situated

She ran fast through the dark alley

In the hall of the hospital

Outside on my front lawn

And so on.

Sometimes though, us writers tell our readers TOO much and it ends up sounding like script or stage directions. Those are things that slow the narrative down and just read a bit awkward or stilted.

It would be a sentence like:

When I arrived at the elevator to go up to the office on the fourth floor, I pushed the button to close the door and rode it to the floor.

Or:

            They drove to the restaurant and waited in line for their table and she hummed a little bit.

Instead you just want the transition to get us there into the juicy part of the scene:

Twenty minutes later, they were sitting at their table, playing footsie under the fancy white linen tablecloth when the giant hedgehog with a man bun stormed through the wooden doors.

Places like the bad examples are not really needed because:

  1. It doesn’t really add to the story.
  2. It doesn’t really add to the character.
  3. It’s unnecessary information.

You really only want things in your story that:

  1. Show your character’s inner state/characterization/choices
  2. Move the plot forward.
  3. Set the reader in the moment

The key here is this: Don’t use the same transition every time. Don’t even use the same transition technique every time.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Mix it up. Good story is about variety. Do long shots. Close-ups. Location transitions, big cuts, fade-outs, scene transitions.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be boring in life either.

Carrie had the epiphany that she’s tried to fit in with other writers for far too long, clinging to the idea that she can’t be as weird and dorky as she is. No more, my friends. Her witch cackle is coming out.

LINKS WE MENTION IN OUR RANDOM THOUGHTS

Angel shots.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/bartender-explains-what-angel-shot-24605557

Nudist cruise.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/couples-anniversary-dinner-interrupted-nudist-24612029

Weird image on the CCTV.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/mum-calls-priest-bless-home-24611677

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

The Magic of Numbers – How Novelists and Writers Can Use Them For Impact

I know! I know! We’re writers not accountants or mathematicians, but there is a great lovely magic to using numbers in our sentences and paragraphs.

What a lot of people don’t know about my writing life is that I started out intensely focused on newspaper stories and poetry.

What the what?

Yep. It’s true. I was actually a sports reporter and a poet for awhile. And it’s weird, but also lucky, because it allowed me to get some training that not all novelists get. And this post calls back to that training.

Here’s the thing: Numbers, repetition, lack of repetition? They all have their place in our writing arsenal. We can use them to make impact.

Poets repeat elements purposefully and us writers can use that tool in our own writing, too.

What exactly am I talking about?

I’m talking about the elements of a sentence and how we can vary them or not to stress things or to make them lyrical.

A lot of us writers have favorite kinds of sentences. We might be fans of simplicity or of multiple clauses. We might be all about starting every sentence with “he” or be addicted to beginning with a subordinate clause. You’ll write a paragraph like this:

He walked outside. He went up to a tree. He hugged the tree. The tree didn’t hug him back.

Or . . .

As he walked outside, he went up to a tree and hugged it. While he hugged the tree, a bird fluttered by and chirruped.

We get in these ruts of style and structure and we are lulling the reader a bit, right? It gets boring.

No writer wants to be boring!

Now, I want you to imagine that you are a writer supervillain and your job is to manipulate your reader into feeling what you want them to feel. You’ve taken away their agency and through the sheer power of your storytelling tool box, you are making them cry and worry and imagine and feel.

But to manipulate our sweet readers to the best of our abilities, we have to be able to access all our tools and this is one of them.

One – The Simple Sentence.

This is the kind of sentence that tells us one thing. It’s probably an important thing.

Jesus wept.

Hug me.

The boy was dumb.

Trust them.

These are the sentences where we don’t give the reader any room to doubt. They are simple. They are declarations. There is nothing fancy going on.

Two – Things Get Deeper

When we add another element, the reader suddenly has a slightly different feeling about the sentence and the character. Traits are thrown out there. Do those traits make sense together? Are they odd together? There is power in both of those decisions.

Jesus wept and snored.

Hug me and the manatee

The boy was dumb and enthusiastic.

Trust them and the dogs.

Things are different now, aren’t they?

Here’s a great example.

“The past is a life sentence, a blunt instrument aimed at tomorrow.” – Claudia Rankine, Citizen

When we put two things together, life and story aren’t quite so simple anymore. We’re making the reader think.

Three – Making Magic

In the Western writing world, the power of three is a thing in both narrative structure and paragraph/sentence structure. Editors look for it in picture books where the main character has to try three times before succeeding in their goals.

The most common type of book structure thanks to Aristotle? Beginning. Middle. End. Three acts.

Even Christianity gets in on it with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—the holy trinity, right?

Jesus wept and snored and wept.

Jesus wept and snored and washed his feet.

Hug me and the manatees and rejoice.

The boy was dumb and enthusiastic and dead.

Trust them and the dogs and maybe not the gerbils.

With three we have that resonating power, but we also have the chance for humor and a twist. Things aren’t so simple any more, not so declarative. But they feel done—complete—resonating.

It’s also kind of fun to look at it without the AND in there connecting things.

Jesus wept, snored, and wept.

Jesus wept, snored, and washed his feet.

Hug me, the manatees,  rejoice.

The boy was dumb, enthusiastic, and dead.

Trust them, the dogs, and maybe not the gerbils.

It’s interesting how much difference a tiny AND can make, isn’t it?

Here’s an excerpt that shows the power of three followed by the power of two.

“I wonder if I would tell him what I became, what I made of myself, what I made of myself despite him. I wonder if he would care, if it would matter.” – Roxane Gay, Hunger

So good, right?

Four And Up

The simplicity of one? Gone.

The duality and occasional divisiveness of two? Gone.

The magical completeness of three? Gone.

We are into the land of over four. And four and more? That’s a lyrical place.

Jesus wept, snored, and wept, smiling.

Jesus wept, snored, and washed his feet without water.

Hug me, the manatees, and rejoice and sigh.

The boy was dumb, enthusiastic, dead, and full of yearnings. 

Trust them, the dogs, and maybe not the gerbils and maybe not the crickets either since they never stopped running in circles (gerbils) and running their mouths (crickets).

Okay, maybe my super villain writing examples weren’t so lyrical, but here are some better examples. Look at what Jacqueline Woodson does here:

“Our words had become a song we seemed to sing over and over again. When I grow up. When we go home. When we go outside. When we. When we. When we.” – Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn

One of the most famous practitioners of this is Tim O’Brien.

They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity.” – Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Roy Peter Clark talks about this concept a lot, but he also makes a lovely primer that really shows what each element can do.

“Use one for power.

Use two for comparison, contrast.

Use three for completeness, wholeness, roundness.

Use four or more to list, inventory, compile, expand.”

Yes, Carrie, that’s all well and good, you’re probably thinking, but how do I apply this to MY story.

Well, you can apply it to make special moments snazzier or more powerful.

When you go over a scene, look for places where you want to be powerful. Use the one. Look for places where you want a litany, create that O’Brien list. Think about how your dastardly writer supervillain self wants to make the reader feel. Where would it help the reader to add on things/images/examples? Where would it help the reader to subtract those same things?

It really is a skill that I’m positive you can do and use to make your writing even more brilliant than it already is.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

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

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Drug your readers. Five ways to get readers to want to lick your character like they’re the Bowling Ball Guy

You don’t want to flood your stories with flashbacks. You don’t want to be Captain Info-dump, but you do want the reader to know that there is something that has made your character the angsty mess that they are and that something haunting stems from the past.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Drug your readers. Five ways to get readers to want to lick your character like they're the Bowling Ball Guy
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You’re writing a book. Yay! You send it out to people to read. That’s so brave! Look at you, you rockstar.

It feels awesome, right?

And then you hear from those readers: I don’t like your character. I don’t—I don’t know—connect with them?

When this happens, you are not allowed to:

  1. Yell at those readers.
  2. Threaten those readers.
  3. Give up on that story.

Well, you could but you might go to jail and all your work on that novel will be for nothing.

So, it’s totally okay to:

  1. Whine/cry for a second.
  2. Be a little depressed about it.
  3. Not give up on that story.

And what you want to do is figure out how to make readers like and connect with your main character super quickly.

So here goes. Five quick ways.

  1. Gossip – Your readers want to know what makes your character tick, what makes them vulnerable. They want the deets, the gossip, right? They want to know something about your character that nobody else knows.
  2. Goodness – Even if your character sucks a bit, you want to show the reader that they are someone that the reader wants to spend time with. Show that human worth, the fundamental goodness that’s somewhere in there. Make them actively do something good even if they are the devil.
  3. Going all Angsty – The reason stories work is that the characters want something but they are conflicted about things inside. There’s got to be a bit of inner struggle. There has to be an outer struggle too. That struggle creates tension. Will they be okay? Will they get what they are searching for? What is holding them back?
  4. Going into the Reasons – You don’t want to flood your stories with flashbacks. You don’t want to be Captain Info-dump, but you do want the reader to know that there is something that has made your character the angsty mess that they are and that something haunting stems from the past. The time before the story.
  5. Goal!!! – I’ve already hinted at this, but your poor little character needs a goal, something they are striving for. The push towards that goal creates the tension.

Writer Chuck Wendig has said,

“You are the dealer; the character is the drug. The audience will do anything to spend time with a great character. We’re junkies for it. We’ll gnaw our own arms off to read just one more page with a killer character. It’s why sequels and series are so popular—we want to see where the character’s going. If you give us a great character, it becomes our only desire to lick him like he’s a hallucinogenic toad and take a crazy trip-ass ride where he has to go.”  

Writing Tip of the Pod

Make your characters irresistible any way possible. Memorable characters are addictive.

Dog Tip for Life

Vulnerability is okay. It connects us. If nobody was vulnerable then nobody could be brave.

Links We Talk About In Random Thoughts

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/15/1016300636/new-jersey-man-mistakenly-cleans-the-wrong-house

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/man-finds-160-bowling-balls-under-michigan-home

https://www.facebook.com/groups/242562694098557/

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

Writers are Like Dust Mites Five Important Things Writers Need To Know

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Writers are Like Dust Mites Five Important Things Writers Need To Know
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So, here on the podcast we try to be helpful sometimes.

I know! I know! It’s hard to believe, but we thought this week, we’d give you a little insight about the writing life and writers. And lay down some truths.

WE WRITERS ARE EVERYWHERE LIKE DUST MITES

There are a butt ton of posts on what writers need to know. And you know why that is? Because there are a lot of us.

Chuck Wendig wrote, “The internet is 55 percent porn and 45 percent writers.”

And that means we aren’t alone.

But it also means that we should freaking support each other. Don’t have your whole Twitter feed be “buy my book, buy my book, sweet mother of all things holy buy my book.” Writing is communication that’s actually two-way. We write. Others read. Sometimes they write back.

It’s good to remember that writing isn’t a solo gig.

NO TWO WRITERS MAKE IT THE SAME WAY

Well, they might. But everyone’s journey is different.

I got a publishing contract one year after entering my MFA program at Vermont College and 18 months after quitting my newspaper editor job. I was lucky. But I was also working on my skills.

I have clients and friends who worked for ten years before breaking into traditional publishing. They are great authors. It just took them a bit longer to get there. But they might stay publishing longer than I do. Or not. Who knows?

That’s the thing. We all take different times and routes to get our books out there and get readers.

Similarly, in the world of independent publishing, there are people whose books are absolutely awful making $10,000 a month and some whose amazing and brilliant books are making $5 a month if that.

The takeaway here? The writing world is weird as hell.

PEOPLE CAN BE MEAN TO YOU

Writers (much like superstars like Chris Evans or Beyonce) have lovers and haters. Sadly, we don’t have quite the support team to boost up our egos after someone has trashed us or our book or rejected it before we’re published.

You’ve got to believe in yourself enough to put on your own Band-aids. You don’t want to be a hardened butt face and lose the beautiful empathy that makes you a good writer and person, but you do want to be able to survive.

IT’S A FREE-RANGE LIFE

As a full-time writer, you often don’t get a steady paycheck.

If you self-publish, your earnings depend on finding readers. In a traditionally published world, you get paid an advance on your royalties and then after, you get checks (usually twice a year) if you earn out that advance.

That’s a little harrowing for some of us who grow up thinking that steady paychecks and 401k investment plans are the thing.

YOU HONESTLY SHOULD LOVE WHAT YOU DO

I see so many writers complaining about writing and I want to hug them up and give them some ramen or maybe an ice cream sundae. Look. If you hate writing, don’t write. Your life is too short to shove yourself in front of a computer and pound keys. You want your life to be happy. Do things that make you happy. And it’s okay if writing isn’t one of those things right now, you know? You can find a different way to connect, to tell stories, and influence the world, okay?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

All combined, what we’re saying is this: Support the other dust mites, don’t be a dust mite unless you love it and be okay with being in charge of your life despite the harrowing finances of being a dust mite and that insecurity. Do what you love.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Your journey is your own. You might be a dog who walks a straight line or you might be a dog who meanders around telephone poles and trees. Don’t worry about how the other dogs live. Just be you.

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

Resources From This Episode

https://news.sky.com/story/fathers-day-thousands-of-funny-fathers-submitted-their-best-dad-joke-this-was-the-winner-12336765

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/07/08/serval-captured-Atlanta-Georgia-Kristine-Frank/5981625770896/

Don’t Write Like the Undead

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Don't Write Like the Undead
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Sometimes you’ll read a book and you’ll think—um, did a vampire write this?

That’s not because it’s sexy and sparkling like the Twilight vampires or sexy and bloody with a rocking 1980s soundtrack like the Lost Boys vampires or sexy and in New Orleans like the Anne Rice vampires, but because the language in the story is so flowerly, so overwrought, so full of clauses that you think, “Only someone over two-hundred years old could have written this.”

Yes, you could argue that M.T. Anderson successfully did this with Octavian Nothing, which won a butt-ton of rewards, but you are not Tobin Anderson.

And that’s part of the point. A lot of us authors look to the classics, to the past and think, “Yo, Charles Dickens, man. Peeps are still talking about him. I should copy his style.”

No.

Also, don’t try to sound hip when you aren’t hip like we just did up there.

If you’re writing historical fiction and like Tobin or Paul Kingsnorth or Dorothy Dunnett, and you think you have a really good handle on the syntax and speech patterns of the time, go for it.

But if you’re writing a contemporary novel about a woman in Maine living with a tall man and two dogs and three cats and one kid and figuring out if writing is worth it? No.

Honestly, even most historical fiction is written in modern language and style.

Why?

Well, that’s because the novel is a communication. It’s you writing for the reader. It’s not just you writing. And you usually want the reader to feel comfortable in that novel, all snuggled in for a cool journey into the character’s world aka your book.

Write like you’re communicating with an audience that’s living right now if you want most readers to enjoy it and keep turning the page.

Here’s an example or what we’re talking about.

While, she stood, one foot upon the ancient sleeping device, and then seemed askance at what stance she had partaken, inhaled a breath so great that it moved her bosom in a terrifying rapturous way, pivoting and climactically inhaling without any scant emotion.

Rather than:

She stood with her foot on the bed. Her face flushed and some sort of scandalous thought crossed her mind. She turned away, sighing so deeply her whole body moved with it.

Okay. Neither are awesome. But one’s a lot easier to understand, right? That’s because it is in the style that’s today’s speaking/writing style, not the style of undead cats and vampires.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Remember that writing is communication. Make it understandable for the people who are alive now.

Dog Tip for Life

Be obvious about your wants. If you want to hang out with the undead, let them know.

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

LINKS FROM RANDOM THOUGHTS

Dude, don’t nod. Four major writing mistakes that are easy to avoid

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dude, don't nod. Four major writing mistakes that are easy to avoid
/

Here in the Land of Writing Advice, we try not to lay down too many edicts because edicts are prickly things, but we’re going to put out four quick bits of writing advice that make you look a little more cool.

Let’s get started.

Nodding in acknowledgement.

If you’re a writer and you write:

Carrie nodded in acknowledgement. “Yes,” she said. “I do want to someday ride a manatee.”

The reader/editor is going to think, “What the what?”

A lot of writers worry that the reader isn’t going to get it. They want to be helpful. But in that example up there, we have three ways the writer is telling us that Carrie is agreeing.

Carrie nodded.

In acknowledgement.

“Yes,” she said. “I do want …”

Trust your writing. Trust yourself, okay? And trust your reader.

HE THOUGHT TO HIMSELF

The same kind of thing is happening here.

Shaun thought to himself, “Self, I am a pretty sweet man.”

Unless your book is about telepathy or has telepathic characters (hopefully manatees), you’re always going to be thinking to yourself.

So just write:

Shaun thought, “I am a pretty sweet man.”

It’s versus its

Okay, whenever you have an apostrophe in the middle of a word it means one of two things:

There’s a letter missing and you’re smooshing two words together.

It’s showing possession.

It’s with the apostrophe means it is. It always means it is.

Its without the apostrophe means belonging to it.

So:

The werewolf ripped its tank top during the change and cried.

That one? No apostrophe in its.

The werewolf said it’s going down to J Crew to get a new tank.

That one? Apostrophe.

We’re versus were

Continuing on the apostrophe train, we’re and were.

We’re has an apostrophe that’s showing you that it really means we are. The apostrophe is standing in for the a in are. Oh, that sounds weird.

The were (w-e-r-e) is second person past tense singular, past tense plural, and past subjunctive of the verb “be”

So we wouldn’t say:

Hey. The werewolves we’re changing in J.Crew because they were raging out over the lack of pink tanks with tassels.

We’d say.

Hey. The werewolves were changing in J.Crew because they were raging out over the lack of pink tanks with tassels.

Similarly, we’d say:

We’re werewolves, man, and we demand tanks with tassels. Got it?

Not

Were werewolves, man, and we demand tanks with tassels. Got it?

Writing Tip of the Pod

Um. Everything we just said.

Dog Tip for Life

Live in your current paragraph.

Resources -Links we talk about!

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/06/28/australia-Nude-Aussie-sunbathers-who-fled-deer-fined-after-rescue-from-woods/1071624916281/

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/06/24/britain-RSPCA-king-cobra-plastic-toy-Workington-England/1231624552603/

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

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

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

The First Step of Revising is Stepping Away

That’s right. The first step of revising is stepping away from that novel with your hands up and eyes focused on something else.

It should be easy.

It is often not easy.

The brilliant novelist, Tracey Baptiste, writes:

[Think] of the time you take away from a manuscript as an investment in your craft, rather than a delay in seeing your title in print. If you wait to do your best work, you will faster get an agent or editor. If you don’t, you’ll be wasting time in a slush pile anyway.”

Over on the Creative Penn, they write:

“In the immediate aftermath of typing those magical words THE END, you’re not likely to be in a good place to objectively evaluate your work. You might be fired up and ready to charge ahead, but you’re too close to what you’ve just written.

“You’re still in love with your fine word flourishes, your lovable but unnecessary characters, your plot device that bogs everything down but just makes you so happy. But in the revision process, it’s critical to look at your novel from the perspective of a reader who knows nothing about you, your story, or how hard you’ve worked to bring your characters to life.

“By tucking the manuscript away and returning to it after a few weeks or even a few months, you’ll give yourself the time and space to withdraw emotionally from what you’ve just written. This will make you a more objective reader, and will put you in a better place to critically evaluate your work.”

Stepping away from the novel allows your brain to chill out and not be too intensely emotional. The distance allows you to use your logical, puzzle-figuring out brain to take over when you go back. It’s like sleeping on a problem, but for a couple of weeks, not just nights.

Steven Handel wrote an article called “The Art of Taking a Step Back” and he wasn’t writing it about authors, but it absolutely applies.

“Metaphorically, taking a “step back” can help us re-direct the paths we choose in life as well, whether it’s in our career, relationships, health, habits, or personal goals.

“The ability to take a “step back” actually gives us freedom. It means we aren’t chained to our current choices in life, and we have the power to reevaluate and make a change.”

And stepping back also lets you enjoy the process. In our rush-rush-rush to completion, we tend to miss the joy of the act of writing, the creative flow, of problem solving.

Life is fast. Enjoy the parts of it that you enjoy and writing should be a part that you enjoy.

This week I’ll be talking a bit about revising, which is what we’re talking about in my online classes too. I hope it helps! Remember to have fun, okay?

Resources:

https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/10/05/9-steps-revising-your-novel/

https://www.theemotionmachine.com/the-art-of-taking-a-step-back/#:~:text=A%20%E2%80%9Cstep%20back%E2%80%9D%20allows%20you,can%20override%20our%20better%20judgment

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

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

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? 🙂

Bear in the Outhouse. Chapter Titles and You

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Bear in the Outhouse. Chapter Titles and You
/

This week on Carrie’s blog, carriejonesbooks.blog, she’s talking all about chapters and so we’re talking about them on the podcast, too, because Carrie’s controlling like that.

And what we’re talking about specifically is chapter titles.

You can divide your books into chapters and just label them numerically, 1, 2, 3… But you can also give them a title like:

Chapter One

Surviving the Podcast

Here’s the thing.

Chapter Titles Help Your Readers

How do they help your readers? In a lot of ways.

Grab attention.

You put these bad boys at the top of the chapter. And the reader thinks, “Ah! Look at that! I am paying attention.”

Tell readers who they are focusing on now.

If you have a story with multiple point of views, you can put who this chapter is focused on here.

Show location or time changes.

You can give the reader some help. If you have a time jumping, place jumping novel. You can use this space to say, “Hey, we are in sexy Scotland in 2021.” Or you can say, “Look, we’re in Zambia in August.”

Show theme or the future.

It’s like a happy little spoiler where the reader goes, “Oh, that’s what this chapter is about.” This can be about theme, too.

Show Echoes.

A chapter title can be a first sentence.

Summing it up: And there you go. A quick bit about chapter titles and what they can do for you.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Chapter titles are good tools. Use them.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Use whatever you can to communicate things to your human. Wag. Growl. Bark. Spin in circles. Hit them with your paw. They are stupid and need a lot of help understanding what you’re putting down.

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

In our Random Thoughts We Talked About

Bears in the outhouse

Snake in an Inhaler

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

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.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link. This week’s podcast is all about spontaneous combustion and poop styles.

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 out and it’s just $1,99. 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