Give The Person You Love the Gift of a Deadly Weapon and Use Details

So, a man in Florida basically tried to kill his father with a Christmas Tree.

Yes, one of these:

Christmas tree!

 Watch out, Santa! I am a deadly weapon! It’s the tree stand, really. Or maybe just one of the pointy branches.

At first, in some weird way, I was kind of impressed, because seriously, how ironic and anti-Christmas is death by Christmas tree?

Like, if I wrote that in a book some reviewer would say, “Jones’ quirky writing style sometime stretches the boundaries of the imagination.”

But it really happened! In Florida! In 2008!

And I was also kind of impressed because he tried to throw the tree at his dad, which made me think: Wow. Superman Strong. Florida men are so strong!

I know this because I am married to one.

An adorable Florida man who moved to Maine
An adorable Florida man who moved to Maine

But I was unimpressed because let’s face it:

It’s never cool to try to kill your father unless your father is


Luke, Do not throw the tree at me. I am your father.

EDITED TO ADD: SORRY! SORRY! IT IS NEVER COOL TO KILL DARTH VADER.

VOLDEMORT? HE’S OKAY. RIGHT? DOES HE HAVE KIDS? Ugh. I hope not.

Anyway, it turns out that the tree was not a normal-sized Christmas tree that touches the ceiling.

It was a mini tree. A MINI CHRISTMAS TREE!

I am not so deadly or am I? 

Blech. No longer cool at all. That’s almost as exciting as throwing a wreath at him. Except I like the rainbow on the tree. Sadly, this happened before rainbow trees.


Here’s the thing: Using details like, “A man tried to kill his father with a Christmas tree” makes your writing so much better.

Choosing the right details can make or break your story but using no details? That’s a great way to make a bad story.

“A man tried to kill his father” tells us nothing.

“A man tried to kill his father with a Christmas tree” tells us a bit more.

“An enraged Florida man tried to kill his father when he threw a mini Christmas tree directly at him” is even better, right? I mean, it’s absurd, but amazing.

What do details do?

Details ground the reader in a scene or reality.

Details can show mood.

Details can show character.

Details make it juicy.

Make your stories juicy! And make your life juicy, too! Don’t make it go-to-jail juicy, but find the details in the everyday. Explore the tiny bit of your room, your dwelling, your food, your self. What shows your mood, your character? What grounds you? It’s all good. Share it with the world.


COOL MYSTERY I WROTE

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There’s a bit more about it here.

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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.

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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.

Santa, What are Your Eyebrows doing? Telling Details and Taco Bell Smells.

The Magic of The Eyebrow and Telling Details

What is this thing? This telling detail? 

It’s a phrase or an image or a word that illustrates something about a character. It’s pretty exact. It’s a magical moment of showing rather than telling. 

It’s usually pretty short. 

And it’s the opposite of a telling description. 

Here’s a bad description: 

He was nervous and scared and sad all at once. 

Here’s a telling-detail description: 

He soothed himself, rubbing the tips of his own ears over and over. 

Telling details make the characters and settings feel real. If we say, “Shaun lifted his eyebrows?” Well, that’s a cliché, but also it’s not quite enough to be a telling detail no matter how much people communicate with their eyebrows. 

Here’s a bad description: 

They walked into an almost empty bar. 

We don’t really see the bar, do we? 

Here’s something a bit better: 

The bar smelled of beer and lilac bushes somehow. The Sonos speaker tottering on the edge of the reclaimed wood bar blared “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story. A man leaning between ferns used a pencil to smash a hole into the bottom of a Bud Lite can and chugged it all down. He crushed the empty can between his hands and belched out the alphabet to cheers. 

“Wow. This place is weird,” I said and grabbed the door handle, ready to bolt. 

It’s all about detail and detail choice. Your reader and you don’t have the exact same image of what the inside of a bar is going to look like. It’s your job to show them your character’s world. You do that with a few telling details. This goes about setting, but it’s also true about people.

If I wrote,

Santa had straight eyebrows, far apart on his face, thin, red and with scars running through the center. They crept towards his receding hairline.

You’ll have a different image than,

Santa’s eyebrows raised.


Writing Tip of the Pod

When you’re revising think, “Can I make this shorter? Tighter? Quirkier? More authentic?” 

Dog Tip for Life


Notice the eyebrows. The difference. The details. And use them in your stories.


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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 “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


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