How To Make Your Characters Flawed As F And Why You Should

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How To Make Your Characters Flawed As F And Why You Should
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The character in your story is the heart of your story.

It does not matter if that character is a person or a troll or a manatee. That character is the soul of your story. Setting, theme, plot are important, but the most important aspect is creating a character that the reader can connect with.

That connection can be emotional.

That connection can be intellectual.

But there has to be a connection.

How readers connect to the character isn’t always for the same reason. They might seem like a friend. They might seem like us. They might be who we want to be. They might be who we are afraid to be. And as authors, we have to find ways to make our readers care about the characters we put on the page.

That’s what we talk about this podcast! So listen in and like and subscribe and all those things.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

Oh Baby, Look at that Backstory and Goals

Without knowing the backstory, we wouldn’t know the emotional goals of the character, the why for their tangible goals. Instead we’d be reading and thinking, yeah, he wants this. So what?

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Oh Baby, Look at that Backstory and Goals
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Last week on the podcast and over on our substack, we talked about creating amazing characters and the role of backstory.

I’m going to talk a little bit more about that today.


Again, backstory is the events that happened to your character before the actual main story starts.

So backstory, once you have it, allows you to give your character goals in the beginning of the novel and throughout the novel because it allows you the writer (and reader) to know what forces and history make that character who they are today and drive them.

The Two Goals (Thanks to Backstory) Which Gives Your Character Dimension

One goal is usually physical or tangible. They want something. Let’s say they want to drive a car. They are 15 and want to learn how to drive. That’s a tangible goal. The author wants to get her novel done. The puppy wants a bacon treat.

The other goal is usually emotional. This goal has to do with yearning. This goal is the reason for the tangible goal.

They want to learn how to drive (tangible) because they yearn to get out of their claustrophobic home (emotional).

She wants to get her novel done (tangible) because her brother always said she couldn’t get anything done because she’s lazy and she yearns to prove him wrong (emotional).

The puppy wants a bacon treat (tangible) because he yearns for bacon because that’s what he used to get in his first house before he got lost (emotional).

Without knowing the backstory, we wouldn’t know the emotional goals of the character, the why for their tangible goals. Instead we’d be reading and thinking, yeah, he wants to finish the novel. So what?

Tomorrow over on LIVING HAPPY, I’ll dive in a tiny bit more into this.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

Writing Exceptional Characters Part One Backstory

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Writing Exceptional Characters Part One Backstory
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Hey! Join us this week as we talk about writing exceptional characters starting with backstory! It’s quick. It’ll make you a better author. It’s free. 🙂

My poor rescue dogs have pretty rough backstories.

In between starting a new business, a new true-crime podcast, and local news blog, and editing other people’s stories, I’ve actually started my own new book that I’m pretty excited about, but when I was rereading my first chapter, I realized that so far I’d been failing terribly when it came to making my main character.

I-the -writer loved her, but the me that’s an editor? Yeah. I knew we had some work to do.

Thankfully there is a lot of good ideas and advice out there about how to make a character that’s a rock star, a character that people remember and want to hang out with for 50,000 to 100,000 words.

And my character’s big issue?

She had no past. I was so focused on the adventures she was about to have that I didn’t mention that she’d ever existed beyond that first paragraph of the story.

Backstory is a tricky thing because we don’t want it to weigh down the forward motion of the present narrative, right? But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t sprinkle it in and give readers (and ourselves) an understanding of how the character is the way they are now in the book.

The best kind of backstory is one that allows readers to worry or care about them. Think about Harry Potter. He’s abused, unloved, neglected, but still pretty kind. A good majority of the horrors that have happened to him at the hands of his relative happened before the main thrust of the story.

It doesn’t need to be that drastic or dramatic. You do not have to put your characters in cupboards.

In my story’s first pages, the dad and daughter are about to head to Iceland for her senior year because he allegedly has a new job there. The character wants to be a cook. She has a boyfriend. It’s her senior year. That’s all quickly established in my revision as she’s packing their car and sees something nefarious lurking at the edge of the woods. Then her dad gives a little bit of a kicker when he says to her, “You’ve never liked change.”

It hints at the backstory. Obviously there has been a time before where something changed and it didn’t go well.

It also hints at the theme: Change happens. Nothing is forever.

And it also hints at her big lie that she believes about the world: Change is bad.

All those things happen in one tiny bit of dialogue, but also, that one tiny bit of dialogue lets us know that the characters have a shared past. Pretty cool, right?

There’ll be more on my LIVING HAPPY blog tomorrow about this, but if you don’t go check that out, please just remember that you don’t want EVERY SINGLE THING THAT EVER HAPPENED EVER to be revealed in the first ten pages. That bogs the story down. Sprinkle it in like your story is stew that needs just a touch of salt. You’ve got this.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

Desire vs danger, it’s what your story is about

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Desire vs danger, it's what your story is about
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Dwight Swain has a book, The Techniques of a Selling Writer, and there’s a chapter (well many) that talk about story structure, but one specifically begins like this:

“All stories are ‘about’ the same thing: desire versus danger.”

Swain

So that’s a really good place to start.

What does your character desire (or as we usually say-want)?

Our characters are either trying to get or keep something and the story happens because there is danger that might keep our little heroes from getting their goals. That danger can be huge (like being called home to an oppressive space) or small (losing peace of mind), but the reader must always feel it there.

Swain says there are five basic elements to all commercially successful stories (and some of them want me to say, ‘Duh, obviously.’ Still, it’s good to look at them) and I’m going to lay those out here.

  • Character
  • Situation
  • Objective
  • Opponent
  • Disaster

Let’s go a tiny bit more in depth, okay?

Character – This is the protagonist. The protagonist must want things. Things have to affect her. She must react to things outside herself. She must oppose the dangers that go against her wants/desires.

Situation – So this is world around the character or as Swain says, “No focal character exists in a vacuum. He operates against a backdrop of trouble that forces him to act. That backdrop, that external state of affairs, is your story situation.”

Objective—So this is what your main character wants. If she doesn’t want anything, there is no story. If she doesn’t want anything, there is nothing for her to fight for and fight against.

Opponent—This is what fights against your character’s wants. The better the opponent, the better the story. Swain writes, “Obstacles personified in a person—who not only resists but fights back—make for more exciting reading.”

Disaster – This is the climax right, the SCARIEST MOST HORRIBLE THING HAS HAPPENED. Your protagonists is in a cage, damn it, starving, cold, on display. It’s always near the end of the story.

Swain suggests writing two sentences to collate all that for your story.

“Sentence 1 is a statement. It establishes character, situation, and objective.

Sentence 2 is a question. It nails down opponent and disaster.”

Swain

Here’s a try.

A local fire fighter in a conservative and sexist department wants a promotion. Will she be able to snag the captain spot that the chief doesn’t want to give her because she’s already too “weird” when she’s suddenly confronted by the magical nature of her family and the monsters they attract.

So, the reader will wonder:

Will they defeat the bad guy, deal with their inner issues and danger, and be happy/succeed in getting their want?

So, will she deal with the chief and the monsters, allow her inner weirdness to shine and get the damn promotion?

A positive character arc the answer is a yes.

A negative character arc the answer is a no.

Most static arcs are also yeses, the character just doesn’t grow.

You want the conflict in there because the conflict tells the reader that there is emotion going on in the story. And that, my friends, is what the story needs.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

MAKING THINGS SIZZLE – HOW DO YOU MAKE CHEMISTRY HAPPEN BETWEEN CHARACTERS

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MAKING THINGS SIZZLE – HOW DO YOU MAKE CHEMISTRY HAPPEN BETWEEN CHARACTERS
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K.M. Weiland writes, “Character chemistry can make all the difference in creating a superior story.”

So, how do you put the chemistry sizzle between characters in your story? That’s a big question for a lot of us writers because a lot of readers want romance and fire and good swoony things between characters even when the book isn’t actually a romance.

Well-storied.com is a great site with a ton of sources and information and it was my first stop when I was trying to figure out what exactly is romantic chemistry. Though I write it a lot, truth is I’m not someone who thinks of my own real-life self as very romantic or even very romanceable.

I am, however, someone who has no qualms about making up a word like romanceable.

So, the wonderful Kristen Kieffler wrote,

“Like all relational chemistry, a key ingredient in romantic chemistry is attraction, the pull that interests one person in another. But the types of attraction that create romantic interest will vary from person to person. In fact, there are four main types of attraction that you can use to craft a romantic profile for your characters. Let’s take a look:

Physical Attraction: a desire to touch and be touched by another person, often in a sexual manner.

Intellectual Attraction: a desire to engage with someone due to their intellect and/or interests.

Social Attraction: a desire to interact with someone because of their social aptitude; their confidence, humor, ambition, likability, and/or particular social personality traits.

Emotional Attraction: a desire to connect with someone on a spiritual level, an attraction often prompted by a person’s emotional capacity, attitude, beliefs, or shared experiences.”

Over on K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors, she has a piece about the five steps to write great chemistry between characters and says,

“When we have great chemistry with someone, we discover an almost instinctive synchronization that allows us to rest into our peak energy while easily batting back and forth the ball of interaction.”

And that happens between all the characters in your story, just in different ways.

So then the question becomes how to do it?

First think of these things:

  1. You have to make it believable. Your reader has to get why these two or three or whatever are falling for each other. So that means you have to have well developed characters.
  2. You want to add dimension to your characters even if they are stereotypes like cop and reporter or um, secretary and his CEO, or teacher and the hot mom.  It isn’t just about the demographics/stereotypes, but the psychographics and what makes them tick.
  3. Think about the kinds of attraction Kieffler talks about and make sure that you have a couple of them going on. Show it, don’t tell it. Nobody wants to read, “Carrie thought Shaun was hot.” They want to read, “Shaun stretched out, climbing onto the extra stove in the garage to get the hummingbird out between the windowpanes. ‘Come on, little guy,’ he whispered. ‘You’ve got this.’ Carrie tried not to stare at Shaun’s biceps flexing and relaxing as he tried to coax the hummingbird into his hand. Carrie failed.”

Pretty good stuff, right? I’m going to be going much more in depth on this on my substack, which you can find here.

Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

Astonishers. Gaspers. Screamers. What your exclamation point addiction or avoidance says about you.

Astonishers. Gaspers. Screamers. What your exclamation point addiction or avoidance says about you.

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Astonishers. Gaspers. Screamers. What your exclamation point addiction or avoidance says about you.
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.


Lately, I’ve been working with a lot of writers who are sending in their stories and they seem to have a great fear of the mighty exclamation point.

And I get it. I get their concerns, the exclamation point has a pretty bad rap. We’ve all seen stories where every bit of dialogue ends in an exclamation point. Or our boss sends us an email and everything is a sentence fragment ending with that exclamation point.

The BBC even has an article about what overusing the exclamation point says about you, writing:

“Bill Bryson – writes, the exclamation mark is classically used ‘to show strong emotion (“Get out!”) or urgency (“Help me!”).’ If part of the point of punctuation is to change the timbre of the voice – another part is to get you out of a hole. Punctuation saves lives: there’s a meaningful difference between ‘Duck’ and ‘Duck!’ Both of Bryson’s examples are notable for the underlying sense of emergency, need for security, and atmosphere of fear. No wonder, then, that newspapers have historically referred to exclamation marks as ‘astonishers’, ‘gaspers’ and ‘screamers’; no wonder newspapers have been their most voracious advocates.”

They consider it the selfie of the internet. I think it’s sort of the selfie of the punctuation club, too. It’s like “Yo. Exclamation mark is in the house. Everyone give it some attention!”  

And the BBC article goes on to say,

“Overuse of any punctuation mark tells us something about ourselves, in the same way overuse of any object does. How you punctuate your sentences might have something to do with how you punctuate your life.”

Here’s the thing: the exclamation point is not your enemy and it’s okay to use it in moderation.

Even the god-like purveyor of all things grammatical in U.S. novels, the Chicago Manual of Style says that the exclamation point can be used, just do it sparingly or it loses its effectiveness.

This is really true about everything from em-dashes to semicolons to the sexy and addictive ellipses….

Cough. See what I did there?

When you avoid the exclamation point in dialogue obsessively, it isn’t helpful and you end up with something like

She shouted, “I can’t believe you.”

Or

He yelled, “I’m going to kill you, so you betta run.”

Or

They hollered, “Help me.”

It looks dumb. The reader thinks, “Um, are they really shouting if there is no exclamation point?”

As the writer, you want to be in control of your world and part of that control is making sure that you don’t give the reader conflicting signals through verb and punctuation because a conflicted reader is a reader who won’t keep reading, who won’t keep trusting you the writer to take them on a journey into another world.

So, if you make someone shout or yell or holler in dialogue, really make them do it. Pretend they are a politician making a tweet or someone being ironic and throw them all in there. No, just kidding. Only use one at a time.

Seriously!


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

The Demon Named White Room Syndrome and How to Exorcise It From Your Story

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The Demon Named White Room Syndrome and How to Exorcise It From Your Story
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There’s a demon that infiltrates a lot of our fiction and memoirs and that demon has a name. Learn about White Room Syndrome with us on this week’s episode of Write Better Now!


Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.


So, white rooms are all the rage right now in 2020 thanks to the Swedish Cozy Minimalist design movement, but what might be perfect in your actual house isn’t anywhere near perfect for your story.

You want to avoid white room syndrome at all costs.

So what is this again? This white room syndrome?

According to inventingrealityeditingservice.com:

Rather than fully imagine such a world, some writers instead create a quick, unformed facsimile of their own. For example, they start the story with the line, “She awoke in a white room.” The white room is the white piece of paper facing the author. This is known as white room syndrome, a term coined a few year ago at the Turkey City Workshop in Austin (a group that has included authors William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Lewis Shiner, Rudy Rucker and Walter Jon Williams).


They officially define white room syndrome as “an authorial imagination inadequate to the situation at end, most common at the beginning of a story.” In short, because the world wasn’t fully imagined, it can’t support the story that unfolds from it.

Or as Lauren Mullen says:

The scene is coming together just as planned. Your dialogue is snappy, witty, and poignant. The action is electric, carrying your characters from one spot to the next. You can see it all unfolding to you as if it were happening on a screen…but the setting details are absent. As a result, all your character’s amazing dialogue and action happen in a blank space.

But what I really like that she says is here:

Think of when you go over to someone’s house for the first time, how they decorate and treat their home says a lot about them. Are they the type of person who cleans up when expecting guests or not? Do they keep a lot of books? Collect art? Fan memorabilia? Are there any pets? What are they? A dog owner says something different about a person than a hamster owner. You learn a lot about a person by how they decorate and treat their home, likewise this is why description and setting are so vital to good storytelling. 

When done properly, the world in which your characters inhabit can take on a life of its own. It is important to spend as much time fleshing out your setting as you would a persona. This helps the space in which your characters exist feel grounded and real. 

How do you keep white room syndrome from happening? Or how do you fix it?

There are some good ways!

  1. First make the decision about how you want the reader to feel about the space where the scene is happening.
  2. Add details that make that happen. Is it a crowded space? A quiet café? A darkly lit jazz club? Are the tables sticky? Does the office smell like onions? Do you hear the fast clickety-clack of coworkers keyboards? Do smells come from another cubicle? From the coffee shop’s kitchen?
  3. Think about how you learn about people from the first time you walk into their homes? Give that feeling to the reader. Is it well lit? Shadowy? Are the salt and pepper shakers shaped like manatees or plastic? That sort of thing.
  4. Allow yourself to set the scene as a stage where the details you choose reflect the emotional struggle of the character and/or the plot.
  5. Use the five senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) and try to use three of them in each scene. Oh! And don’t have the three you use be the same for every single scene.
  6. Don’t overdo those senses, but do use them a bit.

Why is this important again?

  1. It allows your reader to be fully in the experience of the character of the book.
  2. It’s a tool. The setting can be a metaphor for your character’s internal struggle. If your character is having an anxiety attack and stuck in her job and life, making her hide in a bathroom stall is perfect as metaphor.
  3. It can be a character in your story. The city of Chicago or New Orleans can influence the plot and character a lot. The city can grow too as the character grows.
  4. It helps create tone and conflict. If you’re writing a novel about an apocalypse, the details you choose in your scene’s setting help show that.
  5. It shows class and divisions in society, too.

There you go! A quick and super important writing tip to help you write better now.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

Fill Your Setting With Farts

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Fill Your Setting With Farts
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.


A quick ramble about setting.

Writers, you need it. You might not want it. You might not be good at it, but setting is like a good fart. Sometimes you have to expel a little gas out of your rectum in order to be your best.

Similarly, you want to have some setting in your story to make that story be its best.

If you are a pretentious writer, you might want to say, “I want readers to be able to imagine the story is in their town or city or part of the world,” but that’s not going to work at all.

Just by defining a tree you are telling the reader something about the setting.

Like if you write:

She stared up at the palm tree.

You’re giving the reader clues. A palm tree will not be in Iceland. They are somewhere comparatively warm.

If you write:

She got out of bed.

You’re giving the reader a clue that she is wealthy enough to have a bed and in a culture or world where people sleep in beds.

And the thing is that clues are needed. Specific clues. Real clues. Without a setting, without a place where the story happens and a time where the story happens, the reader floats there in the sky, ungrounded, unanchored.

And you know what happens when a reader floats in the sky? The reader drifts away. So you want to fart in some specific setting to help the reader sniff out and remember where they are.

Being specific anchors the reader. It ties them to your story and its characters. You will remember a fart that smells like eggs mixed with tuna mixed with a McDonald’s french-fry. So be specific.

More than that though? Setting anchors your characters and your plot. Place makes us (and our characters) who they are. It gives a story atmosphere. It gives the character a world to interact with.

Think of a creepy Stephen King novel. It’s creepy because he takes certain aspects of Maine and creepifies them. Think of Crazy Rich Asians or The Bridgerton novels. They are luxurious because of the places where they take place AND the places where they take place help inform the novels.

A rabid dog cornering you in a car isn’t as scary when you are in Boston. That’s because there are a ton of cops there and animal control officers, unlike a small town in Maine. 

Meeting a super-wealthy potential mother-in-law in her mansion isn’t as scary when she’s just the mom next door in her split-level.

You want to anchor your readers in that setting every time it changes. So, yes, you’ll want to fart out that setting multiple times in your story. You can have a big city for your story—Bar Harbor, Maine—and a smaller setting—Carrie’s office. And once you show us readers where we are, you want to make sure to slowly reveal aspects of setting rather than shoving it all down our throats at once in the first paragraph. Too much gas at once often pushes the modern reader far, far away, holding their noses and writing reviews that say, “THIS STINKS!”

There is a balance here.

To recap:

Setting is like a fart. Even if you don’t like to write it, it has to happen.

Without setting, your readers float away or are just in the dark, confused, lost, untethered.

Setting is important for the characters in your story. It gives them something to play off of, interact with, it informs who they are, it shows who they are, it creates who they are (I am currently a woman of the comma splice), and it gives your story atmosphere.

Ground your characters whenever the setting changes.

Reveal that setting slowly.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

Show More Details, Writers

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Show More Details, Writers
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Showing details in your writing isn’t just some annoying comment that agents, editors, and writing coaches and teachers paste into every student’s work.

You can see it now, right?

Big red letters. Loopy script. Maybe an exclamation point:

SHOW MORE DETAILS!

Every writing person ever

We do this not to be annoying (well, most of us), but because it’s important.

The thoughtco article by Richard Nordquist says it well.

Specific details create word pictures that can make your writing easier to understand and more interesting to read.”

And we want readers to understand the world that we’re building on the page and be interested in it.

As Stephen Wilbers says,

“You are more likely to make a definite impression on your reader if you use specific, rather than abstract, words. Rather than ‘We were affected by the news,’ write ‘We were relieved by the news’ or ‘We were devastated by the news.’ Use words that convey precisely and vividly what you are thinking or feeling. Compare ‘Cutting down all those beautiful old trees really changed the appearance of the landscape’ with ‘In two weeks, the loggers transformed a ten thousand-acre forest of old growth red and white pine into a field of ruts and stubble.’

Here, take this example:

The man’s face was happy.

Can you think of ways to make that more specific?

A smile slowly formed on Shaun’s ruddy face, lifting the corners of his eyes with the movement.

There’s a difference there, right?

There’s a great quick MasterClass blog post that tells writers four ways to add those concrete details to our narratives.

They include:

  1. Making the initial sentence abstract and the remainder of the sentences in a paragraph concrete. I’m not into this really.
  2. Use the senses—hearing, sight, touch, smell, taste. Let the reader smell diesel if the scene is on the side of the highway, taste the bitter coffee in the coffee shop, etc.
  3. Be super specific and concrete like I just mentioned.
  4. Remember to describe people and setting and action in a way that your reader can imagine. Don’t just say, “He sat under a tree.” Say, “He folded his legs beneath him, leaning on the gnarled trunk of the willow, its bark rough against the skin of his back, the tendrils flitting down—a perfect place to rest or maybe to hide.”

SOME LINKS

Nordquist, Richard. “Specificity in Writing.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/specificity-words-1691983.

Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 28). Exercise in Writing With Specific Details. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/exercise-in-writing-with-specific-details-1692404

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-use-concrete-details-to-enhance-your-writing#quiz-0


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

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A Quick Overview About Point of View

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
A Quick Overview About Point of View
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First, we should define point of view just in case you need a refresher. Truth is, we all often need a refresher even when we don’t want to admit it.

Point of view is all about who is talking and/or telling the story.

YOUR NEXT QUESTION IS:

Is There One Narrator Or Many? And who the heck is it?

That’s really one of the first questions you want to think about. You have to decide if you’re going to have just one point of view in your story or a lot.

A lot of our stories follow one character scene after scene after scene. Things that happen to the story happen to this character. We are invested in that character pretty heavily.

But sometimes, the story is about a person one but not told by that same person. This makes us a little more  worried that Person One might not make it through the story because our subconscious brain thinks, “Um, why isn’t Person One telling the story? DO THEY DIE?!?!”

Or sometimes the events of the story happen to a ton of people. Think of that zombie story that became a movie. We have a lot of different narrators because there we want to show all their stories.

Then, you have to decide which of the main point of views you want to use. They all have good points and bad points, but let’s just set you up with the big three. Each can be determined by the personal pronouns that the narrator uses.

First-Person Point of View.

This is the land of I. It’s all about me. It’s all about my story.

Here’s an example.

I went to the hospital and brought pizza.

Second-Person Point of View.

This is all about you, you, you. Yes, you.

You went to the hospital and brought pizza.

Or to some cooler

You went to the hospital, bringing pizza with you.

Third-Person Point of View

This is all about them and her and him. It can be omniscient or limited omniscient.

Here’s third person limited

Sadie went to the hospital. “I’m bringing pizza,” she thought. I hope they like it.

Or third person omniscient where you aren’t directly in the characters’ heads with internal monologue but know everything about everyone.

Sadie went to the hospital, a pizza box carried in her steady arms, the smell of pepperoni whisking around each person she passed, the orderly, the struggling father, the mother with the heroin-track arms, the gunman. He would kill for that pizza, but how could she know that? To be fair, right now he’d kill for anything and nothing.

There you go! There is also a Fourth Person Point of View, but that one would require its own podcast. So we’ll try to get there next week.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

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