Diaries be Damned. There’s No One Way To Be a Writer

I don’t do diaries or journals and this gives me a lot of strange looks from people who DO do diaries or journals.

They usually gasp. “But you’re a writer!”

I am.

I am a writer.

I am a person that has to write just like I have to exercise and be outside. I am a miserable, horrible beast if I don’t get to do those two things for at least a half hour a day.

But you don’t have to fit into other people’s ideas of ‘what a writer is’ or labels in order to be a writer.

Almost all my teachers told me to write in a diary. All the good kids in grade school, the Kathy Albertsons (I love her) of the world, had these beautiful diaries where they’d write about their day and their feelings in perfect looping handwriting.

I was no Kathy Albertson, but I wanted to be.

So, I tried to write in my diary. There’d be two entries for a year.

My sibling looked at it, scoffed and said, “Carrie, you have no follow-through.”

Spoiler: I have a lot of follow-through. I just didn’t like writing in a diary about the most boring subject in the world–me.

This is the kind of quality entries, I had. Obviously, meant to be both an artist and author, right?

When I was little, I hated writing in my diary because I was positive that my life wasn’t interesting the way books were interesting. Plus, it took so long to write those words on the page and I was impatient for adventure. I wanted to be a spy, find Big Foot, save the world from bad guys and apparently constantly take the Lord’s name in vain and go straight to hell.

I also had big plans that never made it into my diary.

One teacher told me, “All writers write diaries, journals of their feelings. If you want to be a writer, you must journal!”

And I said, “Guess, I’m not a writer then.”

Spoiler #2: I’m a writer.

Spoiler #3 : I still don’t journal unless you count blog posts.

I ended up volunteering for so many groups once I was in middle school and through to adulthood. They were mostly social justice groups, human rights groups, politicians. I still didn’t write a diary more than twice a year. I joined a singing group and got paid. I canvassed neighborhoods by myself before high school. I did things and lived. Still, none of it got put in my diary.

As a reporter, I wrote columns that ended up being about the things I saw in my community. I’ve often been an accidental witness. I loved writing columns actually. They were probably my favorite things to write (other than features) in the newspaper world.

I still, however, didn’t write a diary.

And now, when I see the world that can be so angry, so full of hate and hurt, I still don’t write a diary even though I’m absolutely wowed by other people’s journals.

But even though I don’t write a diary or a journal, I write. I write novels. I write editorial assessments, poems, podcast, blog posts.

And that’s the thing.

There’s no one way to be a writer. There’s no one way to be a human.

And once we start putting those constraints on others and especially on ourselves, we lose our way and what was once a joy? It becomes a struggle. When we try to be someone wonderful–say Kathy Albertson–then we lose the person we are.

If you can and it works for you, try to write for a tiny amount of time every day if you want to be a writer. Make it a practice.

Write about yourself if you want, manatees falling in love with hamsters in the Joshua Tree park, vampires who are not apocalyptic. Write whatever you feel or want to. Poems. Journals. Parables. Jokes. Books. Write for the practice and write for the joy. Write because you don’t understand things. Write because you do. Write because you’re powerful. Write because you’re powerless. Write for control. Write for a lack of control. But write. Write if it’s what you want to do.

And if you hate writing every day? That’s okay, too. Remember. There is no one way to be anything but especially there is no one way to write, to art, to human, to sing, to shine.

And if you’re having troubles with writing, check out below.

Ask Yourself:

What makes you stop writing?

Why do you sometimes think you aren’t a writer?

What keeps you from writing?

What stops the words from flowing?

Sometimes just these questions can open up layers of your soul. Give them a try, okay?

Continue reading “Diaries be Damned. There’s No One Way To Be a Writer”

The Best Kind of People (especially writers) Notice Things

There is a fantastic blog post on Tim Ferriss’s blog about the work and thoughts of professor/writer Sam Apple. I have a link at the end of this post because you should probably read it in its entirety if the act of noticing as a writer resonates with you. Or maybe even if it doesn’t

When I mentor people and edit them, I often tell them to go specific in their details (but don’t overload those details), and in order to go specific, you have to become adept at noticing things.

Apple speaks of what it means to ‘notice as a writer.’

I like to define it as “the combination of close observation and insightfulness.” 

Sam Apple

He then explains ‘close observation.’

Close observation is easy enough to grasp. Let’s take an example: As I’m typing this sentence, I might look down and notice my hands moving over my keyboard. That’s “noticing” in the ordinary sense of the word—what you might think of as “first-order noticing.” To notice my typing hands in the way of a writer, I have to be far more specific. I might notice the rhythmic rise and fall of my knuckles or how the tendons on the back of my hand bulge and twitch with each keystroke. I might notice how some keys are almost silent while others respond to my fingertips with a pronounced—and somehow satisfying—clack.

Sam Apple

So, then we have that second aspect — insight.

Great writing typically involves more than description or a simple narration of events. Writing is also a search for meaning. Sometimes an observation or image speaks for itself. But often writers need to be able to say something about what they’ve noticed. 

Sam Apple

And that’s where I think being a great writer and a great human overlap. If we can notice the worlds and details, the feeling and aspects of other people, animals, landscapes big and small? And then if we took that extra step to let insight bubble and sprout from what we’ve noticed?

How big a deal would that be?

How deep? How growing?

Apple teaches a class on noticing at John Hopkins and in the blog writes:

For my class, I ask students to keep a “noticing journal” throughout the semester. Sometimes I ask them to notice objects or actions, as in the typing examples above. Other times, we apply the same observational and imaginative powers to our own lives and emotions. When we turn to the noticing of others, it can lead to remarkably empathetic writing. It is hard to truly hate people if you’ve spent enough time observing them and wondering about them. The celebrated fiction writer George Saunders captures this notion perfectly in this essay on “what writers really do when they write.”

Sam Apple

You don’t need to be a writer to train your noticing skills or your empathy, but both writers and those of us who don’t write, can really learn from this.

We can learn from noticing, observing and wondering. And maybe that’s one of those steps we can take to make ourselves better people and this a better world?

RESOURCES

https://sam-apple.squarespace.com/

Continue reading “The Best Kind of People (especially writers) Notice Things”

Being Swallowed by a Whale is So Bad Ass – Fear Setting and the Big Lie in Your Novel and Your Life

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Being Swallowed by a Whale is So Bad Ass - Fear Setting and the Big Lie in Your Novel and Your Life
/

A lot of writers get blocks. Sometimes those blocks have to do with story ideas, with the fear that their idea sucks, that they don’t have the writing chops to pull off a novel.

Sometimes those blocks have to do with worry that trolls will ridicule their story, nobody will read it, everyone will hate it.

Sometimes those blocks have to do with the fear of typos, of not being perfect.

But they all have to do with fear.

As a writing coach, I have to talk to a lot of writers about their blocks and their fears. And recently, I realized that adopting Tim Ferriss’s ‘fear setting’ approach could help a ton of the writers-students that I love so much.

Goals are brilliant, Ferris says. Resolutions? Fantastic.

But nothing happens with those goals and resolutions if you are too afraid to make the steps.

So he delves into those fears and explores them and determines the potential and the risk.

That’s what you need to do with your writing (and your life).

Ferris’s process is quite refined and quite simple. We have links in the podcast notes on carriejonesbooks.blog so that you can find them in Ferris’s own extended version. He also has a TedTalk about them.

But it begins like this:“Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering. What doubt, fears, and “what-ifs” pop up as you consider the big changes you can—or need—to make? Envision them in painstaking detail. Would it be the end of your life? What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1–10? Are these things really permanent? How likely do you think it is that they would actually happen?

Next, think about what you could do to fix it if that worst-case scenario happens. Write it down. Was it not quite as hard as your fear made you think it would be?

Next what are the benefits, the potential, the outcomes in forever ways and transient ways of all those scenarios and possibilities? Would you be more confident? Happier? Would you have more money? Make a scale of 1-10 and rate those outcomes.

He asks,

What are you putting off out of fear? Usually, what we most fear doing is what we most need to do. That phone call, that conversation, whatever the action might be—it is fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do. Define the worst case, accept it, and do it. I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear. I got into this habit by attempting to contact celebrities and famous business people for advice.

And how is this hurting you? By not doing something because of your fear how are you hurting yourself? Inaction also has a cost. It’s just a cost that seems easier because it doesn’t seem to rely on as much choice.

Ferris has some fantastic slides from his TedTalk that relate to this, too.

A lot of us who write novels, talk about the big lie that dominates our main character’s life, the wrong belief that dictates and holds the character back.

Fear is our big lie in the story of our lives.

All of us have our own big lie or lies. We worry so much about what might go wrong that we are afraid to embrace what might go right. We live so much in our heads that we fail to live in our world. We allow the fear, the lie, to hold us down. Our fear is also a symptom of our lie.

It’s good to see how that’s holding you back. Just like we want the characters in our novels to have transition arcs and evolve, so should we, right?

Dog Tip for Life

Don’t let your fear control your life.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Use the big lie and your characters’ fears to show their transition throughout the story.

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 strange things people do for luck.

RESOURCES AND LINKS NOT LINKED ABOVE.

https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Mysterious-black-substance-on-Wells-Beach-is-many-16235442.php

https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Dog-ejected-from-vehicle-in-Idaho-crash-found-16237347.php

https://www.capecodtimes.com/story/news/2021/06/11/humpback-whale-catches-michael-packard-lobster-driver-mouth-proviencetown-cape-cod/7653838002/

Self-Doubt is an Evil Demon, Banish It, Now, Writer Babies!

Failing one time? It doesn’t make you a failure.
Failing 1,000 times? Still doesn’t make you a failure. You’re only a failure if you decide to be.

That evil inner voice? The butt-face that says you aren’t good enough, that you don’t deserve good things, that you can’t do it?

That little monster is Self-doubt. It hangs out a lot with its big sister, Anxiety. And you don’t have to have them over to play in your head anymore.

Just this week, we posted our podcast and a guy (editor/writer) on Twitter didn’t like it but posted a link to his own blog and said, “COUNTER POINT.”

His blog was all about not wanting to give out writing advice or talking about his own life/anxiety/whatever issues.

All of that is so fine and good for him for telling the world why he is the way his beautiful self is, but this little bit of me was like:

What? Counterpoint? Counterpoint to saying life is deeper than write what you know?

Counterpoint to what?

And why the hell did you post under my tweet your own link without even having the grace to like mine?

If my blog post (if you even read it) inspired you enough to ‘counterpoint’ why not like it?

And then I had a lot of work to do helping writers and writing my own stories and I let it go.

It was a bit of a win for me, honestly. Because all I want to do is be a better human and one step towards that? For me? It’s banishing Self-doubt.

It’s almost like the universe gave me a present right there.

But this isn’t just about me. It’s also about you and how you can do that too, right?

Here’s how to kick Self-Doubt and Anxiety out of your house.

  1. Tell them to get out. Seriously, once they start whispering their disparaging believes about your worth, tell them, “Get out. I hear you. I don’t need you. Bugger off. You’re ruining the party.”
  2. Remember good things. If Self-doubt is a bully who won’t leave, you sometimes have to call in the reinforcements. Those reinforcements are the good time, the good memories. The times you were proactive and kicked butt.
  3. Phone a friend or text or Facetime. Sometimes your own memories aren’t strong enough and you have to talk to someone about your self-doubt. Telling another person about your doubts sometimes helps you realize how dorky they are and how they are like the OOPS page on a Rotten Tomatoes movie listing. The congnative dissonance because obvious when you say things aloud.
  4. Make a Journal of Awesome. At one point in my life, I had to print out people’s positive emails and reviews so that I could remember that I had helped people, that my stories connected to people before. I even put in fan mail and fan art and blog posts about positive interactions. Yes, I really was that depressed. Self-doubt had set up home.
  5. Failing one time? It doesn’t make you a failure.
  6. Failing 1,000 times? Still doesn’t make you a failure. You’re only a failure if you decide to be.
  7. Remember you aren’t the center of the universe. I know! I know! You ARE the center of your own universe probably, but we all have to push away our inner narcissist and remember that most people aren’t noticing what you’re doing. Yes, there are trolls out there, but they most likely won’t find you. And if they do? They’re trolls and you’re awesome and you will deal with it. Don’t let your fear of ridicule keep you from living your dreams.

That one is a big one for me, really, which was why ‘counterpoint’ was a bit of a setback.

I’m still working on it and it’s the main reason I still blog, do podcasts, and YouTube. All those things force me out of my comfort zone and into past trauma places about my voice and weirdness. The more I do it? The stronger I get about it.

Oh! And the last one is so important that it’s getting pulled from the list.

What other people think about you doesn’t get to determine who you are.

That’s right. I have a sibling who thinks I’m lying about my DNA. His belief that I’m a liar? It doesn’t make me a liar. I have DNA tests to back me up. Yes, I’ve got the receipts.

But even if you don’t have the receipts, don’t let anyone else make you the villain or the victim of your own story. Only YOU get to decide that. No matter what other people do to you, think of you, say about you, only YOU get to determine if you love yourself and if you have worth.

Here’s the final secret: You do.

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 a new book 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.

“When the ceiling caves in on you, you no longer assume structural stability. You have to learn to live along fault lines.”

— Suleika Jaouad (@suleikajaouad) author of memoir Between Two Kingdoms.

Are You Brave Enough To Battle 15,000 Bees or Just Write a Book?

Be the master blaster. You’ve got to put yourself out there. Don’t let the humans tell you that you’re no good.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Are You Brave Enough To Battle 15,000 Bees or Just Write a Book?
/

Writing is a way of understanding stuff, not just yourself or the story in your book, but the way you look at the world.

And that takes being brave.

We are all brave and fearful in big and small ways in our own lives every damn day.

For me, Carrie just putting my voice out here on the podcast is terrifying because I had a teacher who made me stay in from recess once to tell me that I needed to fix my sloshy s’s because nobody would ever love a girl who sounded like me, no employer would hire me and no college would take me.

“Nobody will listen to a girl that sounds like you. Nobody will take you seriously. Nobody will ever marry you.”

So, doing a podcast might be super easy for some people? For me? Not so much because my brain hits back to those negative mental scripts of the past.

For Shaun…?

Here’s the thing. Life isn’t always awesome. And when it’s crappy, we have to keep writing and being brave. Sometimes it’s hard to focus. Sometimes it’s hard to believe there is a point. You think, “how is my story about a manatee and a sasquatch falling in love relevant?”

We get scared.

So, you have to say to hell with fear, to hell with doubt. Damn it, everyone wants a love story with a manatee and a sasquatch.

Ridicule is a big fear for writers and for humans. We’re afraid of being persecuted, trolled, laughed at, of having someone say we and our life and our story is worthless.

Nobody will ever listen to … nobody will ever read … nobody will ever care…

That fear? It’s super real.

So we have to kick it’s ass and/or live with it and write and live anyway. We have to be brave.

We have to remember to be brave enough to believe in positive things about our selves and our lives and our worth.

Sometimes it can help to remember:

A LOT OF PEOPLE SUFFER FROM THIS

Reach out to other writers or humans. Encourage each other. Share your worries and stories. Lift each other up.

WRITE LIKE THE WORLD IS ON PAUSE

Do whatever you have to do to ignore the rest of the world during your writer time. Turn off notifications and your phone. Put on headphones. Shut the door. Do the work alone. The world can wait for those 2,000 words to get out.

REMEMBER YOU KICK ASS

Seriously, look at you, living another day, surviving, thinking, doing. You kick ass. You have value. Your story has value. When you are compelled to write something, that is for a reason. Nobody gets to tell you that your work doesn’t matter. If you make it? It matters.

Don’t Give Up

Traditional publishing doesn’t take your story? So what. Don’t throw it away. Revise it. Think about independent publishing. Think about turning it into a podcast. Serialize it. The whole point of a story is to communicate it to readers. Go out there whatever way you can.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

When you’re down, find out how to bring yourself back up. Walking outside? Motivational talks? Action steps? A Netflix binge? Clubbing? Do what you need to do to keep yourself brave, sane, and whole.

REMEMBER YOU ARE A STAR

Seriously. Look at you living on this earth, thinking big things, writing a whole book. You are shiny. You are creating words on a page. And even if you aren’t doing that exactly, you are doing good and being brave all the time in big ways and small. Let yourself remember how amazing you are.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Be brave. Take your power. Write your story. Get it out there. Don’t let anyone hold you back.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Be the master blaster. You’ve got to put yourself out there. Don’t let the humans tell you that you’re no good.

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 a new book 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. This week’s podcast is all about strange things people do for luck.

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 strange things people do for luck.

Step Five of Revision – Read Your Book Again

We’ve been going over how to revise your novel, which is really important if you want to be a writer who doesn’t suck.

No! No! Sorry!

It’s really important if you want to be a writer who wants to write the best stories possible for their reader.

If you don’t care about that? Don’t worry about revising.

For summary:

The first step was taking a breather.

The second step was doing the read-through.

The third step is really making decisions.

Step Four – Deciding if your changes are huge or tiny? Start with the huge ones that impact the whole book. Fix those things.

And here we are at step five! Whew! Look at us go, right?

Step Five is reading through it all again after you’ve made the changes. What? I know! I know! What a beast!

Yes, strap on your caffeine IV, writer friends, you have to read this whole baby again and do that second step all over.

What?

Yep.

Read it and look for things that aren’t working. Look for things that need to be there.

  1. Conflict – Is it there on the first page.
  2. Plot – Does Act Two (1/4 way in usually) put your protagonist in a completely different world than Act One?
  3. Character – Once you hit Act Two (and you can indeed do this in Act One) is your hero main character going after her goals?
  4. Character – Is there an antagonist fighting against her?
  5. Character – Do you need all 896 of them? Hack away if you don’t.
  6. Plot – Is the tension increasing as she goes after those goals?
  7. Character- Are they believable? Does their dialogue make sense? Do they all sound the same? Do they all want the same things? If yes, you need to make that answer a no.
  8. Character – Do they have emotions? Emotions are good. No Vulcans in your novel unless you’re writing Star Trek fanfiction.
  9. Plot – Is everything logical? Is there a cause and effect?
  10. Character – Are their wants and motives right there for the reader to see?
  11. Character – Do they all have names that start with E or K or any other letter? FIX THAT NOW! Do they all have the same name as your besties and evil ex? FIX THAT NOW!
  12. Structure – Is there an emotionally resonating climax? Will your reader weep or pump their fist and scream, “YES! YES! YES!”? Yes? Good!

And that, my friends, is step five.

Ready for step six in my revision series of awesome?

Spoiler: I’m not sure how awesome it truly is. I kind of just made up that name.

For summary or recap. Imagine a montage like they do before an episode of your fave series. Imagine really big crescendos and music too, okay?

The first step was taking a breather.

The second step was doing the read-through.

The third step is really making decisions.

Step FourDeciding if your changes are huge or tiny? Start with the huge ones that impact the whole book. Fix those things.

And here we are at step five!

Whew! Look at us go, right?

Step Five is reading through it all again after you’ve made the changes.

What? I know! I know! What a beast!

Read it and look for things that aren’t working.

Look for things that need to be there.

  1. Conflict – Is it there on the first page.
  2. Plot – Does Act Two (1/4 way in usually) put your protagonist in a completely different world than Act One?
  3. Character – Once you hit Act Two (and you can indeed do this in Act One) is your hero main character going after her goals?
  4. Character – Is there an antagonist fighting against her?
  5. Character – Do you need all 896 of them? Hack away if you don’t.
  6. Plot – Is the tension increasing as she goes after those goals?
  7. Character– Are they believable? Does their dialogue make sense? Do they all sound the same? Do they all want the same things? If yes, you need to make that answer a no.
  8. Character – Do they have emotions? Emotions are good. No Vulcans in your novel unless you’re writing Star Trek fanfiction.
  9. Plot – Is everything logical? Is there a cause and effect?
  10. Character – Are their wants and motives right there for the reader to see?
  11. Character – Do they all have names that start with E or K or any other letter? FIX THAT NOW! Do they all have the same name as your besties and evil exes? FIX THAT NOW!
  12. Structure – Is there an emotionally resonating climax? Will your reader weep or pump their fist and scream, “YES! YES! YES!”? Yes? Good!

And that, my friends, is step five.


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 a new book 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.


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 a new book 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.

DON’T STEAL ADULT TOYS THREE BIG TIPS FOR WRITING AND LIFE

The earlier you put the conflict, the more invested your reader gets

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
DON'T STEAL ADULT TOYS THREE BIG TIPS FOR WRITING AND LIFE
/

We’re keeping it simple this week, my friends, with three big tips to write better novels and being a better human.

Make your stories sexy and accurate.

You can’t write a book that takes place in the south and not write ‘y’all’ or ‘bless your heart.’

You can’t write a book that takes place in the south and not have sugar in iced tea.

Similarly, you can’t write a book in New England in the winter and not have the character’s breath puff out into the cold air.

Your stories lose impact if you fail to be concise and sharp.

Your stories lose impact if your readers think, “WTF is this? There are no kangaroos in Maine.”

So, know your people. Know your setting.

And this goes for life too. If you keep buying your wife red roses and she’s told you a bunch of times that she doesn’t like roses, she likes tulips and bright flowers because roses remind her of death?

Yeah, that’s not good.

If you’re handing out flyers in a high school to promote your Gram and you don’t look like you’re in high school? Not going to go well.

If you leave your halloween prop out in May? Not going to go well.

Listen. Learn the details. Be appropriate, my friends.

Have a f-ing point.

A story should have a damn theme. It’s what you want to say in the story. It reflects your personal beliefs, your experiences.

What’s a theme? According to MasterClass,

“A literary theme is the main idea or underlying meaning a writer explores in a novel, short story, or other literary work. The theme of a story can be conveyed using characters, setting, dialogue, plot, or a combination of all of these elements.”

So, your life should have a theme, too.  What is your life’s theme?

Redemption? Love? Courage? Revenge? Good vs evil? Perseverance?

Pick one and give your life some meaning.

If it gives your life meaning to steal someone else’s adult toys for years and years (See the link) just know that this is illegal and stuff.

Don’t jump from one head to another.

Readers want to get attached to your narrator. You don’t want to jump around from one character to another. That’s how the reader gets confused and detached and doesn’t want to follow the story any longer.

So, life is like that, too. Yeah, sometimes it’s frustrating hanging with one person, but you hop around too much? You might get a disease. Make your hopping purposeful.

BONUS TIP FOR WRITING NOT FOR LIFE.

Put the damn conflict in there early.

In real life, it’s pretty nice to not have drama or conflict all the time. It allows us to blossom and to grow. And it’s easy to get addicted to the energy of drama and try to incite it for attention.

But peeps, that’s not the kind of attention you want. Negative attention kind of sucks. You want the positive kind.

However, in stories, the earlier you put the conflict, the more invested your reader gets. They want to know what happens. Readers (and people) are a bit addicted to conflict and drama and you want to put that on the page.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Care enough to make your settings accurate, put in the conflict early, have a point and don’t hop around from character to character.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sometimes things don’t make sense. Figure them out. Investigate the stuff that doesn’t make sense because that’s how you learn and grow and understand things beyond you and your bubble of experience.

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 strange things people do for luck.

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 a new book 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.

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

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 a new book 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.

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.

I’m Farting Carrots. Oh, the Mondegreen

Always take a piece of meat with you.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
I'm Farting Carrots. Oh, the Mondegreen
/

We’ve all done it. We’ve misheard song lyrics or actual words. We’ve argued about whether someone was saying Laurel or Yanni.

But there is an actual term for that.

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a mondegreen is “a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung.”

I had a whole character in my first book that did this all the time.

Sylvia Wright made up the word in 1954 when she wrote an article about it for The Atlantic or possibly Harpers (these are the two most common citings), “The Death of Lady Mondegreen.”

She’d loved this Scottish song or poem that went

They hae slain the Earl Amurray
And laid him on the green.

That last line sounded like Lady Mondegreen to her.

According to an article in the New Yorker by Maria Konnikova,

Hearing is a two-step process. First, there is the auditory perception itself: the physics of sound waves making their way through your ear and into the auditory cortex of your brain. And then there is the meaning-making: the part where your brain takes the noise and imbues it with significance. That was a car alarm. That’s a bird. Mondegreens occur when, somewhere between the sound and the meaning, communication breaks down. You hear the same acoustic information as everyone else, but your brain doesn’t interpret it the same way. What’s less immediately clear is why, precisely, that happens.

The article goes on to say,

A common cause of mondegreens, in particular, is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O’Neill won a Pullet Surprise. 

Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In their absence, one sound can be mistaken for the other. For instance, in a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. “There’s a bathroom on the right” standing in for “there’s a bad moon on the rise” is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives. 

NME’s site has an article on the top forty misheard song lyrics and it’s hysterical.

It’s a British site and you should check it out, but their top three are:

Number One – Dire Straits’s “Money For Nothing.”

Wrong lyric: “Money for nothin’ and chips for free.”

Correct lyric: “Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free”

Number 2 Wrong Lyric – Paul Young’s “Everytime You Go Away.”

Wrong Lyric: “Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you.”

Correct lyric: “Every time you go away take a piece of me with you.”

Number 4 Wrong Lyric (Yes, we skipped three) – Starship’s ‘We Built This City.’

Wrong lyric: “We built this city on sausage rolls.”

Correct lyric: “We built this city on rock ‘n’ roll.”

Writing Tip of the Pod

It’s fun to play with words, to think about sounds.

Dog Tip for Life

Always take a piece of meat with you.

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 strange things people do for luck.

LINKS OF STRANGE NEWS MENTIONED

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/05/06/britain-Leaf-cafe-Liverpool-England-1913-menu-ceiling/6881620329800/

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/05/04/Guinness-World-Records-marshamallow-mouth-catch-distance-Dallas-Anderson-Jon-Paleka/7501620145182/