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.
Screenwriter Blake Snyder and his Save the Cat method really made the term/lingo “B” story and “A” story super popular. And I think sometimes that damn “B” story gets us all confused a bit, right?
So, basically let’s just go over the terms first.
What the heck is an A story and a B story?
The A story is the book or movie’s big essence. People call it the “dramatic” core. It is the big plotline that the hero of the story follows on her journey.
The B story is the subplot basically. It supports the “A” story. It sometimes feels absolutely unrelated.
The FlyingWrestler blog defines it.
“It’s a secondary story that has its own beginning, middle and end, and is focused on its own problem, separate from but intertwined with the A Story.”
The scriptmag writes ,
“The B Story is your character’s secondary motivation or mission – the OTHER thing they have to accomplish. Your B Story may be a second problem or issue that your main character has to fix. And while your A-Story presents itself at the inciting incident and is solidified at the end of the first act with the acceptance of the adventure, your B-Story often can’t be identified UNTIL the second act begins, because it’s what is illuminated by the adventure beginning.
The FlyingWrestler blog again says,
“Just like the main A Story, the B Story’s main character should have a problem involving something external, which has its own significant life stakes. That means the problem isn’t only an internal issue, involving their need to grow and change in some way.”
So, the question becomes: Does my story have a B story? Or is it all A?
You don’t have to have a B story, but it can be helpful.
“The classic use of B Story in a movie is a romantic relationship that is secondary to a non-romantic A Story. The potential romantic partner often pressures the main character, intentionally or not, to deal with their “stuff,” and consider changing. But as with most such internal growth, the character doesn’t engage in it willingly, with “growth” as the goal. No, characters (like real people) tend to avoid change, until really significant external problems force them into it. Typically the pressures of both the A and B Story problems combine to do that. But even then, the hero usually doesn’t really change until some key moment in the final act where they (usually) snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
“But first, both A and B Story usually reach a rock bottom “All is Lost” moment. So if the B Story is about a relationship, it’s usually broken and over at that point, as are the main character’s hopes for their A Story goal. They will have one last chance to try to solve both in the final act.
If the B Story is a romantic relationship, something has to be in the way of it. It has to be focused on a conflict, and not going well. If two people fall for each other and get together and have a lot of sex, etc., without some looming threat to the relationship, that’s not a story. That’s a positive development for the main character. And we audiences get bored by positive developments. We thrive on problems and conflicts.
Scriptmag gives a great example:
The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy’s A-Story is to find the Wizard and get home, but the B-Story becomes helping Oz and her new friends. She had no idea she was going to have to do that until the adventure began.
Usually when a crisis happens the B story acts like John Wayne in a movie and comes in and saves the A story. They merge and the reader goes, “Ah! They were connected the whole damn time. Doh!”
This is true about life, too, right? We all want to become writers, but then we have this B story of another career or self-sabotage and we might resist it, and then it’s like? Will our B story come save our A story?
But that’s about us as writers, not our actual books. So let’s get back to that.
The B story or subplot changes how your reader sees the main plot, right?
What does the B story actually do for you? Because it’s all about you, right? Of course it is!
It allows you to bulk out your story, but it can sometimes add too much bulk to your story.
It can help with pacing and structure. It’s especially helpful if you make things really dangerous for those minor characters early on while things are kind of still in the set-up for the main characters. This is a bit of a variant from Snyder’s plot form, which tends to insert that B Story at the end of act one.
It allows you to skip boring scenes in the A story sometimes. How does it do that? By creating a jump to another character or another moment/interest.
If you do use other characters to carry that B story, then you have to make sure the reader is interested enough in those other characters. Like in Lord of the Rings. Tolkein puts everyone into smaller units. They each get their own goals. Each group gets their own plotlines. And in the finale every one of those groups matter.
WRITING TIP OF THE POD
Don’t be afraid to be complicated. A good novel isn’t a picture book and you want there to be a subplot.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Don’t be a one-trick wonder. Have multiple goals and live life to the fullest. Don’t just be an A story.
You will find a lot of popular content all about how to make money. There are a lot of random blog articles about HOW I MADE 8 TRILLION DOLLARS IN PASSIVE INCOME A MONTH or 22 AWESOME PASSIVE INCOME IDEAS.
Which is lovely. But a lot of us writers are thinking, “What are these even talking about?”
What Is Passive Income?
Passive income is money that happens and builds from things that already exist. They can be from investments (like you rent a room in your house or an entire house or you open a savings account or CDs). It can also come from the investment of effort and time in something you build. This could be a YouTube channel or your eBook once it’s up and running. It could be affiliate marketing or selling prints of your art.
What is Active Income?
Active income is money that someone pays you when you do something for them that’s a service. It can be your salary at the grocery store. It could be an hourly wage at a bookstore. It could be a commission. It could be a tip.
So what’s all this have to do with writing?
According to a study by the Authors Guild, the average full-time writer’s median pay was $20,300 in 2017. That’s full-time. For most of us that’s not a big ton of money. There’s no real standardization of pay and that number doesn’t account for pay discrepencies for sex and race.
“For the 63 percent of authors who reported receiving book related income in 2017, the average total income was $43,247, which paints a very different picture . Over 2,000 authors had average publisher royalties of almost $32,000; close to 1,700 self-published authors reported royalties of just over $31,000, and a smaller group of about 700 authors also had average ebook subscription service earnings of over $13,000.”
But that’s only the writers who actually survived and didn’t give up. About a quarter of the authors that the guild surveyed received no money at all from book activity that year.
So, yes, most of us writers have to have other sources of income outside of writing. And that my friends, is why we’re writing this blog.
Being constantly terrified of not making money makes me, Carrie, a stressed-out writer who sometimes worries more about money and profitability than the actual craft. And a stressed-out Carrie equals a cranky Carrie. Nobody wants a cranky author.
So here are some examples of passive income investments when you have money to spend
Buy an investment property and rent it.
Invest in a high-yield savings account.
Check out crowdfunded real estate with REITs. Sites like Fundrise are a great place to start.
Peer-to-peer lending like on the Lending Club where you can loan money to others and get a return.
Examples of passive income investments that are more initial work than initial money.
Affiliate marketing on your blog. When people click through an ad that’s on your blog, you get a commission when they buy something that’s affiliated with that link.
YouTube – if you get a big enough following you can monetize your YouTube channel and have ads during your content.
Create an Online Course – Teachable and Udemy are great places to show off your skills.
Sell your art prints or your photos. Shutterstock Is a great resource for photographers.
Make an eBook – Seriously, especially if it’s nonfiction.
Rent out some storage space or your car or a room in your house.
Sell your clothes. Thredup and Poshmark will often give you cash or credit on their site. And it’s good for the environment, or at least better for the environment.
OTHER WAYS TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MONEY SITUATION.
Those are ways to make extra income, but it’s also about not spending too much money and saving, right?
Live Like A Student
Mark Cuban (the guy from Shark Tank) is a big cheerleader for living beneath your means. Don’t buy all the things. Pretend you have less money than you have.
His yacht is anchored outside our town a lot and his yacht is HUGE so I’m not sure that Mr. Cuban is doing this? But I guess maybe he could have an even bigger yacht? It’s good advice for the rest of us though.
Step Away From the Credit Card
My dad was always murmur-screaming, DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS! THEY ARE EVIL DEMONS FROM HELL! And he was right. Don’t use them if you don’t have to. Use your debit card.
The interest rates on these babies are horrific. You end up owing these companies so much money. Try to pay off or pay down your bill every single month. And then step away. Lock them in a gun safe or something. Seriously. Try not to use them.
Reading blogs and books (much more in depth usually) can give you the information you need and generate the ideas necessary to move your life or your business or your writing to the next level. A $25 investment with a potentially thousand-dollar return? That’s kind of a no-brainer.
Be as informed as you can be so you can make the best possible decisions.
Don’t Be Afraid
Because I grew up poor and because I heard a TON of stories about the depression and the stock market crash of the 1920s (my grandfather was a stockbroker allegedly and watched one of his friends die), I became a bit terrified about stocks and things.
There are three rules that help me deal with this and invest my money.
I ignore everything that’s happening in the stock market when it comes to my portfolio. I pretend that once that money is invested, it’s just gone. This lowers my anxiety even as I plug in $25 a week automatically to a random Edward Jones account.
If you want to invest in something scary, only invest 5-10 percent of your total investments in that scary possibility.
Standard & Poor’s mutual funds are good places to put a bit of money into. But go for the cheapest ones possible.
WRITING TIP OF THE POD
It’s okay to talk about money and to be smart about it.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Do not gobble all your box of dog treats (or writing advance) in one big gulp.
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.
I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.
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