Shaun is so tall and formidable that he doesn’t have much choice in being memorable or not. Carrie? She can fade into walls if she wants to.
In writing, there are some pretty simple things you should do to make sure people remember your character.
MENTION THE ACTUAL CHARACTER A LOT
Talk about that character every 30-40 pages. People forget the characters they don’t see. This is true in real life too. Remind people you are out there.
Give them a cool name. Carrie Jones? Not a cool name.
Just give. In real life and in writing, giving matters. People remember kindness.
GIVE THEM SOMETHING THAT MAKES THEM STAND OUTPHYSICALLY AND INTRINSICALLY.
What do I mean by that? Give them something like a tattoo, a way of bending their foot to the side when they talk. Give them a strong personality trait. Do the work to make them memorable.
In real life, it’s the people who focus on one goal, strategy, process who tend to make a big bang.
EMBRACE YOUR QUIRKINESS.
This is linked to that memorable trait. Being quirky might make you a bullied kid, which is basically hell, but when you’ve embraced that difference, your originality, your authenticity? That’s when people remember you.
If you’re in a room full of a dozen white guys in suits, none of them are going to pop out. It’s the woman in the flowing skirt that you’re going to end up remembering.
DOG TIP OF THE POD:
Barking is a good way to remind people that you exist even if you’re stuck in the house during a blizzard. They will still hear you if you bark!
Remind people that you’re out there. Silence isn’t memorable. It’s oppressive. Your voice deserves to be heard.
WRITING TIP OF THE CAST:
What makes your book characters memorable also makes you memorable. Don’t be afraid to be your authentic, original quirky self.
PLEA FOR HELP
Hey, um… if you enjoyed this podcast and post, we’d be so super grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or subscribing to it on iTunes or Stitcher or rating it there or somewhere. Thank you! We know it’s a super small thing, but it means so much to us.
WRITING NEWS AND STUFF
I (Carrie) will be in Ontario Canada presenting this weekend and at Book Expo America, June 1, at 11:30 in the Lerner booth. Come visit!
THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN
The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money. There are more details at the link.
The best kind of work is the kind that makes you messy (even if you’re a Virgo) inside and out.
And for a lot of writers, especially writers for kids, our job isn’t just about making story; it’s about making a difference somehow in at least one kid’s life. That is a messy business because in order to make a difference, you have to dig deep, to go through a lot of dirt and mud and rock to get to what it is that matters to you and to your story and to your reader and/or life partners.
When I go to schools, I always tell the kids that one of the important steps to becoming the best writers you can be is to live the biggest life you can live. To not risk life or jail time, but to have adventures, to do things that you would never expect yourself doing.
YOUR LIFE IS YOUR STORY. MAKE IT A BIG ONE.
Big stories have conflict, and none of us are really into conflict in our lives, but it’s the conflict that allows our stories to have meaning and resonance.
Big stories have awkward moments and worries. Our characters and our selves feel overwhelmed. We feel like we can’t make it sometimes. That’s part of what makes surviving such a sweet triumph.
Being a writer is about more than craft. It’s about the story of how to be a writer, your story. It’s part of the bigger story of your life.
EVERY LESSON ABOUT WRITING CRAFT IS ACTUALLY A LESSON ABOUT LIFE.
Talking about paying attention to detail in your scene? It’s the same as paying attention to the details in your real life.
Talking about traits of your character and how to make them heroes (or not)? It’s the same as talking about the traits that make you the you that you so beautifully are.
Talking about resolution to your story is the same as talking about resolution to your relationships, to your current conflict, to your own life and death.
I know, right? Mind blown.
In every story we write there needs to be some logic and there needs to be some spirit or resonance.
What makes the logic of the story?
That comes from plot, pacing, character, and theme. You start your story with a vision and then the other elements are honed and refined to express that vision.
The logic is the structure of the story, how it all works together. It’s how your plot isn’t just action, but a movement forward towards an end point – and how that movement forward makes sense and works together with the character, the theme, the pacing.
Events that happen must make the character react and act.
AND RESONANCE? WHAT’S RESONANCE?
It’s the story’s value. It’s the universal nature of the story. It’s what makes the reader’s heart and mind go, “A-ha!”
It’s what makes you remember the story. We’ve all met people, read books, watched movies or shows or heard songs and forgotten them, but the ones that resonate? Those are the ones we remember.
Think Hamilton. Hamilton resonates across so many demographics partially because it’s the story about immigration and triumph and death, about idealism and it’s then set to something that feels more new in musical theater – the style of music, which is juxtaposed to the historical setting. It resonates.
Think about the Nas song War (Birth of a Nation). This song connects Nat Turner to the protests of today and about fighting to make a better U.S. It resonates.
It’s about theme and heart. It’s about authenticity and humanity. That’s what resonates.
SO HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR STORY RESONATE?
Think about what your story is really about on the deepest level.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR LIFE RESONATE?
Same thing. Think about what your life is really about on the deepest level.
Dog Tip for Life
Get dirty as much as you can. Dirt means you’re living. Dirt is real. Dirt is life.
Writing Tip of the Pod – When you’re writing, don’t be afraid to have messy, uncomfortable things happen to your characters. A story with no conflict is not a story.
Random Bonus Picture from Random Thought Time
This is Bob. Or maybe Yuri? He is in our house. Shaun mentions him in the podcast. Bob/Yuri frightens me even though he has no arms.
Carrie will be signing copies of The Spy Who Played Baseball at Book Expo America on June 1 at 11:30 a.m.
THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN
The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.
PRAISE FOR CARRIE JONES AND WRITE. SUBMIT. SUPPORT:
“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”
“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”
“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”
People are saying super nice things about me, which is so kind of them because helping people on their writing journeys and their craft and supporting them? That’s pretty boss, honestly.
FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES
Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.
This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking action–School Library Journal
Sparty knows all about that. More info about that series and all of Carrie’s books is here.
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