Alligator Romance with Darth Gator and the grammar behind the words in to vs into

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Alligator Romance with Darth Gator and the grammar behind the words in to vs into
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So, now that we’re into the helpful part of the podcast and no longer talking about women in love with the alligators that attacked them or dogs and cats breaking records together, we thought we’d take a quick look at a big grammar mistake.

And that’s when INTO is one word or two.

Is it . . .

Dude, I am so into you.

Or is it . . .

Dude, I am so in to you.

Here’s how it works.

INTO all as one word is a preposition, which means it’s showing MOVEMENT of one thing to another thing.

But IN TO (two words) has two grammatical bits going on right there. The IN is an adverb and the TO is the preposition. And they aren’t like snuggled up in bed like a cohabitating couple, they just tend to show up in the sentence next to each other.

Here are some examples:

INTO as one word:

Baby, I made it into the office today, but only just barely because… cough… you know.

Lordie, look what Santa put into your stocking.

That alligator went into that woman’s head, man, like took total control.

INTO usually tells you WHERE something is happening.

IN TO as two words

Look, I am standing in to make a statement to our senator.

Santa came in to say a hearty hello.

The dog and cat rode in to break that record on that damn scooter.

IN TO usually can be substituted with IN ORDER TO.

Easy, right? Consider yourself grammatical.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Two words are different than one.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sometimes taking chances pays off (like when you jump on a scooter with a cat) and sometimes it doesn’t (like when you bite your handler’s hand). Choose your risks wisely. And that goes for copyediting too. Unless you’re super sure you know all the grammar, don’t copyedit your own 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.

LINKS WE MENTION IN THE RANDOM THOUGHTS PORTION OF THE PODCAST

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/09/16/canada-Guinness-World-Records-dog-cat-scooter-Lollipop-Sashimi-Melissa-Millett/5691631809102/

https://news.sky.com/story/woman-attacked-by-alligator-says-i-love-him-and-it-shouldnt-face-any-consequences-12385890

Throwing Poop on Your Landlord, Demon Texts, and Making Happy Endings

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Throwing Poop on Your Landlord, Demon Texts, and Making Happy Endings
/

Carrie reads a lot of novels in progress and helps writers make those novels better and one of the big things that happen that keep a book from being super star status is an unsatisfying ending.

Yes. Yes, that is about books, not sex, Shaun. But some of the same principles apply to both.

You want your ending to be satisfying even if it’s an unhappy ending.

So, how do you make your ending satisfying?

Ah, just like the copulation, it’s all about fulfilling your promises to the reader in the lead-up to that ending, right?

Your reader has been hanging out with you for 50,000 words at least (usually) and that means that you owe them what you’ve promised them–a complete story with a damn fine ending.

Here are the things to know:

The character at the end of the book should have changed enough to react to the events in a way that they wouldn’t have reacted on page 10.

Most books that are satisfying have a main character that changes. They evolve (positive change arc) or devolve (negative change arc). Their situation is different at the end of the book and you, the author, want to recognize that and show us readers — WOW! Look at how Sparty the Dog is so much stronger now. He’s dealing with that squirrel in a way he never would have on page 10.

All the events that have happened prior to the climax and the ending have made Sparty the dog that’s able to handle his arch nemesis like a boss.

There needs to be emotional growth (or regression) in your main character at the end of this story.

And this growth at the ending has to be shown in the gorgeous story in between the beginning and the ending.

If we imagine the story as three acts, then the ending is where we see how Act One (the set-up, who the character used to be, their original want) and Act Two (where the character’s world changes and they proactively go after their wants, messing up, succeeding, learning and evolving) makes the character who they are now.

Do they get the girl? Save the world? Defeat the evil demon? Throw poop on their landlord?

Do they come to terms with grief?

The ending matters because of everything in the story that the hero has gone through to get there.

They have to earn that ending and when they do? Oh, boy, is it satisfying.

The Ending Doesn’t Matter Much if You Don’t Make It Matter

You want to give your readers the answers to the questions that exist in your story. No loose ends. No mysteries that just end with a ‘to be continued’ because you’ve hit 70,000 words.

It is all about satisfying the reader. If you promise the reader a sexy romance and there’s no sex and the significant other slinks off on the last page to go wrestle guinea pigs in Ireland with someone else? You’re breaking that promise to the reader and totally not satisfying. You are being a bad lover. I mean writer.

Nobody wants that.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Think about what your reader wants. Aim to please your lover/reader.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sparty says it’s more satisfying to earn your treat rather than just be given the treat. The journey makes the ending more satisfying.

LINKS MENTIONED

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/priest-demons-figured-text-messages-24898111

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2020/12/28/23-of-the-strangest-things-that-happened-in-florida-in-2020/

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.

Writing With Dogs Who Slobber: The Three Secrets to Awesome Characters

So, you’re probably looking at the blog post title up there and thinking, “What?”

Stay with me a second; I’ll explain, I swear. I’m going to boil down the basic elements of crafting a good story by using my rescue dog, Gabby.

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Gabby is the sort of dog who people love or hate.

Gabby is the sort of dog that lets children climb all over her and hug her and kiss her nose.

Gabby is also the sort of dog who judges people by smell.  

If you have alcohol on your breath, she will sneeze and then bark at you. If you are male and have ever had a serious time taking cocaine and you are in my house? She’ll bark incessantly at you and never stop even if your cocaine use was over a decade ago.

So, why am I mentioning this?

Gabby is a conflicted character. You want a character like Gabby in your story.

IMG-1613

A conflicted character is a dog or person with a goal. There is a motivation for that goal and a conflict.

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Gabby’s goal is to keep me safe. She is super focused on making sure nothing happens to me or her dog brother Sparty or her cat sisters, Marsie, Cloud and Koko.

Her motivation? Probably because I feed her or because she’s a Great Pyrenees, and that breed’s instinct and training is to keep her charges happy and safe. We are basically her sheep.

IMG_9899Marsie insists she is nobody’s sheep, but I have seen Gabby carry her around the house. She is totally a sheep. 

And it might be because Gabby was abused as a puppy and spent her first year chained to a tree, always chained to a tree, never off a tree. She came to us small, terrified, malformed and malnourished. This is her backstory. All characters have backstories, the what happened before we meet them, the what happened that made them who they are when the story begins.

When Em and I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, Gabby was beyond terrified.

Every car was about to run her down. Every person was about to hit her. I sunk to her level and she pushed herself against me. Her ears were infected and full of pain. Everything about her was pain. But there was something else there. It was fear and want and need. She wanted to be loved so badly. She wanted to love back.1930658_10154095751489073_788625899982421964_n

The entire time we were in Cambridge she didn’t bark once.

The entire car ride back and the whole first week? She never barked.

“I have a miracle dog. It is a silent Great Pyrenees,” I told everyone.

The vet laughed.

The rescue organization people laughed.

I was so wrong.

Gabby started being able to sleep with both eyes closed. Gabby’s ears got better. We got her surgery on her knee. She took walks without being afraid that trees were going to fall on her, without thinking that every car held a monster inside of it that would hurt her.

She ate, but she would never fill out.

And she barked.

She barked at everyone who reminded her of where she used to be. She barked at dogs she didn’t know. She barked and jumped and tried to be as threatening looking as possible when she is easily the dog least likely to ever bite a human and most likely to snuggle. You know when experts say dogs hate hugs? Gabby would let you hug her all day.

Actually, Gabby’s dream day would just to be constantly hugged. 

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So, she’s got a lot of back story there?

What’s the conflict for Gabby or for your characters?

The conflict is the struggle. The conflict is how the reader engages with the character. It’s why the reader keeps reading. It’s how empathy is built. It’s how story is built.

So every character has this trifecta of things: 

Goal

Motivation

Conflict

As a writer, if you muck this up? You’re story will be flat.

As a dog friend/owner, if you don’t realize that your dog’s goal might conflict with a happy silence that comes with a life without barking? You’re going to have an unhappy dog.

So, Gabby’s trifecta of character is:

Wants to stop threats by barking (goal) because she wants to keep her happy home and the creatures within it safe (motivation we all understand), but everyone gets a headache when she thinks squirrels are threats and barks too much at them (conflict).

Meg’s in A Wrinkle in Time is:

Wants to get her dad back (goal) because who doesn’t want to get someone awesome back (motivation that is pretty understandable if your dad rocks), but dude, she has to travel through time and deal with this great darkness, basically like all the evil in the universe because why not (conflict).

But what makes a character conflicted?

Basically anything that stands in the way of her goal.

This can be herself (Gabby wonders if barking is her true calling and doubts herself – an internal conflict).

This can be others (The neighbors call the police because of Gabby’s barking – an external conflict).

This can be the environment (Gabby is in space and cannot bark because there is no sound. Horror! – a conflict caused by setting).

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Writing Tip

Make sure your  main character has that trifecta of conflict, motivation, goal.

Writing Prompts- 

Write about wanting to sing when you have to be quiet.

Write about wanting to tell a secret.

Write about being a zombie who is allergic to meat.

Do Good MONday – 

So, I wrote a lot about Gabby being a rescue dog. All my dogs have been. If you have the money, consider donating to a dog rescue. If you have the time and space and need and love, consider adopting. If you have the time, find a rescue near you and be a volunteer. I’ve done home visits and photos for rescues. If you don’t have any of these things, but have social media, share a rescue’s site or a post about a dog (or cat or gecko). You could be the step that helps bring a dog like Gabby to her forever home. Even the smallest things help.

Here are the rescues where I got Sparty the Dog and Gabby the Dog.

New England Lab Rescue

National Great Pyrenees Rescue

And this rescue is possibly my favorite one.

Big Fluffy Dog

 

Random Marketing Things

 

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Interplanetary Love, Massive Bathtub Ducks, and Sexy Subtext

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Interplanetary Love, Massive Bathtub Ducks, and Sexy Subtext
/

Let’s talk about subtext. And to talk about it, we’ve got to define that baby. So here goes.

Masterclass defines subtext as:

“In day-to-day life, there are often wide gaps between what people say and what they are thinking. These gaps can collectively be referred to as subtext—and they are valuable territory for fiction writers. Ernest Hemingway, who relied on subtext in his minimalistic approach to writing, even coined a term for it: the Iceberg Theory. He believed deeper meanings of character and plot should live below the surface of the text, just as the bulk of an iceberg floats beneath the surface of the water.”

And Merriam-Webster says:

A literary text often has more than one meaning: the literal meaning of the words on the page, and their hidden meaning, what exists “between the lines”—the subtext. Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, for example, is about the Salem witchcraft trials of the 17th century, but its subtext is the comparison of those trials with the “witch hunts” of the 1950s, when many people were unfairly accused of being communists. Even a social conversation between a man and a woman may have a subtext, but you may have to listen very closely to figure out what it is. Don’t confuse subtext with subplot, a less important plot that moves along in parallel with the main plot.

And there are different types as defined by literary.net

Privilege Subtext

Privilege subtext is subtext in which the audience has certain privileges over the characters in a narrative. In other words, the audience is aware of something the characters are not aware of. For example, imagine a character who has three missed calls from her mother. We as readers cringe as we know she is about to find out her sister has been in a car crash which we have seen but she is not yet aware of.

Revelation Subtext

Revelation subtext is subtext that reveals a certain truth over time throughout a story, leading up to a revelation. For example, imagine a boy who has been trying to figure out what he wants to do when he grows up. He considers firefighting, being a policeman, or even being an actor. Throughout his childhood, though, he enjoys drawing, painting, and sculpting for fun. The revelation subtext here is that his hobby has been his calling all along: he will become an artist.

Subtext through Promise

Subtext through Promise is subtext in which an audience expects certain promises to be kept by the author. In other words, the audience expects the story to run as stories usually do: the audience expects a plot that makes sense and is weaved together, characters who have revelations and change meaningfully, and symbols and motifs which make sense and suit the story. When an author fails to please the audience in this way, the story is considered poorly written or disappointing due to the subtext.

Subtext through Questions

Subtext through Questions is subtext created when readers and audiences have questions about a story, such as how a plot is developing or what a character will do. Naturally, such questions arise in a well-written story as a form of unwritten subtext.

Wow. Right? And of course, we do this all the time in real life too. We argue with our spouses about the proper way to put dishes in the dishwasher, but what we’re really arguing about is how one of us called the other one a dork or something. In a lot of our lives, we have to infer the meaning of things underneath the words that people say or the actions that they do.

Why do we want subtext in our stories?

It’s a bit like showing versus telling. Subtext allows the reader to make connections and learn about the characters and their yearnings and motivations and wants without yelling, “HEY! MY NAME IS SHAUN AND WHAT I WANT IS THE SEX.”

Cough.

Subtext is actually very sexy. It’s the driving force behind some parts of your story, the blank space where readers get to have an a-ha moment! It’s the epiphany your reader gets to have rather than you saying, “DOH! READER, HE IS LONGING HERE!”

It’s almost like a continuum.

Show is better than tell.

And subtext might be greater than showing.

Subtext is invisible, but real, kind of like the air. You need it to survive. Why? Because it makes the reader participate in the scene rather than just read it. Their brains are turned on. How cool is that? They get to interpret things.

You can build it into your story by:

  1. Understanding their characters and what they really want and are motivated by.
  2. Thinking about ways that characters can talk around what it is they want. If Shaun wants sex and says, “I want sex,” then there is no subtext. If he never mentions sex while trying to get it? Then you’ve got subtext.
  3. Show the characters’ wants and the subtext through emotion rather than explicit dialogue. If Shaun stares longingly at two people canoodling in a car? That shows his want in the subtext.
  4. Double meanings and evasions. When people are talking and there’s more one way to interpret something? That can be subtext. When they refuse to talk about something? Or when they turn away every time a certain someone comes in a room? That can be subtext.

In order to have subtext you need to:

  1. Give your characters things they want. They might not even realize they want whatever it is they want, but you, the all-knowing writer, do.

Thinking about that means that:

  • Give your character something they don’t want other people to know right then (if they know themselves that they have a want).

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Subtext is sexy

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

It’s okay to be subtle sometimes.

LINKS

https://allthatsinteresting.com/abbie-bela

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.

Sea Snakes Humping and Three Principles of Good Writing

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Sea Snakes Humping and Three Principles of Good Writing
/

When I started being a reporter, one of my editors took me aside and gave me some candy and two books. One was the AP Style Guide, which is the manual for all the punctuation rules our newspaper followed.

The other was a book by E.B. White and William Strunk Jr., called The Elements of Style. My editor had met E.B. White who had a farm on the same peninsula that he did.

“This,” he told me, “is all you need to know.”

In that small book was a section called “The Elementary Principles of Composition,” and I’m not sure if it was all I needed to know as a writer, but I am positive that it was a pretty big deal.

So we thought we’d share three of those principles during this podcast. The first one is:

Make the paragraph the unit of composition: one paragraph to each topic.”

Writers blow this off all the time, but we shouldn’t. We especially blow it off with dialogue and that’s a big no-no.

Why is it a no-no?

Our brains are wired to think of paragraphs as a single idea or an action or a bit of dialogue. You don’t want to clump it all together because it gets confusing.

Sally smiled. “I love her,” Jane said. They each took a bite of calzone and gazed upon the manatee. Sally said, “Dogs are fun.”

You’ve got no idea what’s going on here really.

Sally smiled.

“I love her,” Jane said.

They each took a bite of calzone and gazed upon the manatee.

Sally said, “Dogs are fun.”

Now you do. Each new speaker always gets a new paragraph for dialogue.

Here’s another principle.

“As a rule, begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; end it in conformity with the beginning.”

They go a bit on and on about this actually.

And our third one for today is once again back to the passive voice.

“Use the active voice. The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive:”

They then give these examples.

“I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.”

This is much better than

“My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.

The latter sentence is less direct, less bold, and less concise. If the writer tries to make it more concise by omitting “by me,”

“My first visit to Boston will always be remembered,”

it becomes indefinite: is it the writer, or some person undisclosed, or the world at large, that will always remember this visit?”

S and W

We talk about passive and active voice a lot in another podcast episode. And we’ll be sharing more of these tips in our three week series, Strunk and Whiting It. No, that’s not really the name.  We have no name for it.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Allow yourself to take advice from the masters.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE.

Don’t be a schmuck.

RESOURCES AND ARTICLES MENTIONED

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/sexually-frustrated-sea-snakes-mistaking-24811140

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/man-claims-hotel-needs-ghost-24809705

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.

WRITING EVIL

In a couple of weeks, INCHWORMS, my next book in the Dude Goodfeather series will come out–or maybe it’s just one week? I’m not sure.

Bad author! Bad.

Anyway, recently a woman in a message on a social media platform said, “Carrie. You are such a nice person. Why do you write about scary things?”

And I said, “I don’t always write about scary things.”

And she basically harrumphed via messenger.

It’s true though that lately the books I’ve been putting out do have scary things that happen in them. They are serial killers and reporters in small Maine towns (in the Bar Harbor Rose series), there are killers and teens in Maine and the south (Dude Goodfeather series), there are demonic influences in Maine (Saint, Maine paranormal series).

So why?

A long time ago, I wrote in an essay for Hunger Mountain, what I still think is true right now.

“Our world is full of responsibilities. We pay bills. We do homework. We get sick. We argue with our relatives. We worry about war and the economy and finding someone to love. Fantasy offers hope. It shows us there are other potential Big-footed ways of living. There are possibilities of lives and worlds greater than our own and if those possibilities can be imagined, maybe our own lives can become grander things. Maybe we can be a boy wizard who defeats the ultimate evil. Maybe we can find an entire new world by leaping through a cupboard. Or even if we can’t be those characters, we can be our own heroes, pushing ourselves to our greatest limits by following their examples.

“When I write fantasy I am stunned by my characters’ abilities to deal with their massive problems and it gives me hope that I can deal with my own. Compared to fighting off a pixie invasion, dealing with the fact that I forgot to pay my cell phone bill is a breeze. I like that. I like the fact that characters don’t give up even when their mentors die; even when they are facing the ultimate evil and they only have a .02% chance of succeeding. I want to be more like that. So I write it.

“If you suck away the every-day complicating details like homework and parents, and make the dramas big you can really hit on those universal truths. You can build stories for kids that are about good and triumph and hope. Kids deserve those kinds of stories. They deserve characters who fight the trolls, who find Bigfoot. They deserve heroes like themselves. They deserve to believe in magic, in their dreams and in themselves.

I don’t know about you, but I get so sad about the world and mad and horrified and I do what I can to help, but I also write scary things, I think, to help me feel like there is hope and possibility, to give me a pathway towards understanding both my own inner failings and society’s.

Anyway, I hope you’ll check out my next book (or any other ones) so I can keep being an author for a living and not have to leave the house. Just kidding! Sort of!

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.

Being True to Your Authorial Voice

This week we’ve been talking about dialogue and voice, but we haven’t really talked about the most important part–being true to your own voice.When I edit other writers’ works, I always get worried about editing out their voice, their style, who they are in the world and on the page.

You must promise me that you won’t ever let an editor do that to you.


When my first book came out in 2007, one reviewer talked about how authentic the voice was because I was such a young writer straight out of high school.

Spoiler: I wasn’t. I had a twelve-year-old.

When I got an award for that same book, the governor’s wife presented it and said, “Carrie! How lovely! What high school do you go to?”

Do I go to? Present tense go to?

That was—um—an awkward ceremony where I’m pretty sure what I blurted, “What—um—no? I’m old. I’m old!”

But my voice? It isn’t. And my characters’ voices? They usually aren’t either.

They often come from my New England poor (with fancy relatives) background. I grab things from my Portuguese family and my widowed mother who was brilliant and one of my dad’s Staten Island Jewish background. That’s all part of what formed me and what formed my writing style and my speaking style, too.

That isn’t always cool—especially in the world of poetry in the 1990s and early 2000s. It works great for sports reporting though.

Sometimes though, I heard that my voice wasn’t quite sophisticated enough. That’s usually code for classism or some other kind of -ism.

It’s hard to talk about writing about dialogue and character voice and authorial voice without talking about hostility.

If you are from a “disadvantaged” class or systematically oppressed group, and you write in your own language and your own way there are always going to be people who either:

  1. Won’t read you.
  2. Be scathing about how your voice is not rich enough or lyrical enough or something enough.

You have to make some choices. You can either care. Or not. You can either push down that authentic voice and conform or not.

I hope you’ll choose the not even though that’s harder and tougher.

But your voice, your sentence structure, your word choice and your style don’t need to be fancy or one ethnic/racial/class/religion/sexuality/gender to deserve to be heard.

You deserve to be heard. And your characters do, too.

There is great strength in diverse stories and diversity in voice and experience. It’s something that enriches all of us, pulls us closer to empathy and heart, resonates with its truth. I’m betting that’s the kind of writer you want to be and those are the stories that you want to write. And I’m absolutely rooting for you.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

The Lactating Armpit and How To Make Your Characters Have Different Voices

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
The Lactating Armpit and How To Make Your Characters Have Different Voices
/

Voice is such a big deal for making memorable and believable characters in your story, but it’s one of the harder things to understand sometimes.

As writer Rita Mae Brown said,

“People are funny. No doubt you’ve noticed that others are not nearly as reasonable as yourself. Shocking, isn’t it? This difference between you and other people comes out in speech. Obviously, difference displays itself in the subject matter people speak about, but on a deeper, more subtle level, it displays itself in the way in which they frame those very ideas.”

The voice of your character is truly the heart and mind of your character and their background expressed on the page.

Or as Brown says, “Speech is a literary biopsy.”

There are a lot of different ways to think about the voice of your characters, that thing that makes them believable and sets them apart from the other characters even when they all have similar demographics (college sophomores, white women, middle class background, from Missouri).

But first we have to think about the two different ways voice is represented for characters.

There is

Internal voice

            What they think. (Use only in first and limited-third person POVs)

External voice

            Word choice

            Dialect

To make that character’s voice stand out, writers tend to do one of three things or a combination:

  1. Write your way through it until your characters sound different.
  2. Listen to people who are like your character and copy their cadence and word choice, sentence length, etc.
  3. Watch a tv show/movie with people who remind you of your character.

There are other factors that come into play too. How we talk is often influenced by

  1. Where we’re from.
  2. Socio-economic demographics.
  3. Education.
  4. Age. Gender. Ethnicity. Race. The cultural norms for any group we belong to.
  5. Our emotions at that moment – I don’t sound the same now as I do when I’m yelling or terrified or when I’m trying to take command of a volatile situation.
  6. What we’re really into – If you’re into dogs, you’ll probably use words like “alpha.” If you’re into military culture, you might sprinkle in words like “got your six” or “command.” If you’re into poetry, you might use words like “cadence,” “litany.” And you might use those words even when you aren’t talking about those things.

How we put words together makes a big difference, too. I’m sure in Shaun’s times in the military or the police force he heard choppy sentence people.

            Get here. Now.

And managerial types.

            I’d like you to come here immediately.

And those afraid of conflict.

            If you have a moment, would you mind coming over here as soon as you possibly can?

Some people love the drama of speech. Some people don’t like to talk at all. It’s all a bit of info that you can use to show their character, too.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Think beyond your experience, write beyond it too.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Not everyone sounds the same. Listen for the nuance.


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.

Resources Mentioned

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/dad-catches-son-sneaking-out-24763972

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/dad-catches-son-sneaking-out-24763972

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Make Dialogue Your BFF

Dialogue and voice both do some really important things in your story.

Provide context

You can provide some pretty awesome information via dialogue and idiosyncratic character voice.

Show the subtext

Subtext is basically the hidden motivation/emotion/wants of your character that aren’t right there out on the surface.

So if I wrote: 

“Look at you in that onesie! What a brave person you are.” Shaun said with a grimace.

You’d know that Shaun is really thinking that the other character is more unconventional than brave.

Make things more exciting –

When you have two characters bickering, it tends to be more interesting on the page than saying, “They bickered.”

Dialogue and voice helps provide context, drama, and interest. It pulls the reader in. It’s a big part of showing rather than telling.

“I can’t believe you don’t like my onesie,” she said, spinning around in front of the couch, arms out.

He smirked. “Didn’t say that.”

“Manatees are frolicking on this.” She stopped spinning and pulled out the fabric a bit. “Look! Look at the print. It is imported.”

“You look like you’re two. A two year old with boobs.”

“Boobs! Call them breasts. Oh my word . . .”

“That makes you sound like a chicken.”

“You are the chicken, mister, a negative, judgmental and derogatory chicken and I am incensed that you don’t understand the value of this outfit or me.”

“WTF, baby.” 

Shows character difference.

Good dialogue and good voice show us how the characters aren’t the same. Even in my horrible example up there, the two characters don’t sound the same. One has longer sentences and more Latinate word choices. The other is a bit more blunt. One uses conjunctions and the other doesn’t.

Dialogue and voice go hand in hand to really make a huge impact on your story. Get cozy with them. Learn their rules. Buy them a coffee. Make them your friends. You won’t regret it.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

We are TOO Angry to Podcast Plus So Many Ways to Plot Your Story

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
We are TOO Angry to Podcast Plus So Many Ways to Plot Your Story
/

I (Carrie) was at a conference one time and hanging out with a bunch of celebrity young adult authors. One author said he wrote everything down in an outline form first.

Another author said that she wrote expressly to the Save the Cat beatsheet.

And I said, “I just kind of write.”

They gasped. I ordered a drink with actual alcohol in it and another writer saved me by saying, “I, like Carrie, just write after doing decades of research in a dark and lonely hole in my basement drinking only Post-um mixed with grape Fanta and crying the tears of salty mirth while trying to contact Dickens on my Ouija board.”

I kid! I kid! Nobody tried to save me. They just gasped.

So, here’s the thing: some writers just write. They don’t plot first. They just write and hope for the best.

I, Carrie, am oft. en one of those writers. We vomit it all out on the page and watch the structure form. And sometimes? Sometimes we have to revise a lot because of this.

And some writers can’t start until they’ve got the whole story nicely plotted out in intricate details.

And some writers are somewhere in between.

You might not even write the same way every time. Some books you might plot out completely. Some books you might not plot at all. Some books you might get to 40,000 words and scream and yank out the beat sheet from Save the Cat and drink whiskey straight and roll around on your floor amongst the tumbleweeds of dog fur and cry.

Cough.

No personal experience there or anything. But when you do get stuck, it’s good think of how to work out your plot. Here are a couple ways.

OLD SCHOOL BABY.

You make an outline. You use Roman numerals. You write it all down. Act 1, 2, 3. Chapters. Scenes. You feel proud that you remember things from when you were in grade school. You are proud of your beautiful ability to be linear.

OLD SCHOOL BACKWARDS

You do the outline but you do it backwards because you know the ending but you just don’t know how to get there.

THE GENERALIST

You write the beginning, the middle, the end. Maybe you write down the big horrifying moment where everything sucks for your character. There. You’re good.

BEATING IT

This is intricate man. This is the way you tell each beat in each scene. It’s going to be a lot of pages. You’re basically writing the book without the dialogue or a lot of setting.

CHARACTER ARCING IT

You’re just writing about your characters and what happens to them. How do they evolve and transform.

IT IS ALL IN THE MIND.

You make adorable bubbles and connect words to ideas. It’s adorable like you.

IT IS ALL TALK

You say to your character, “Hey, tell me what happens.” Then you write the dialogue of the characters telling you what happens.

PINTEREST IT

Some of us like images and pictures to help us plot. We might cut things out of magazines if we actually still have magazines or we might use Pinterest.

WHITE BOARDS AND INDEX CARDS AND SPREADSHEETS

These sexy beast are like binders. They organize your thoughts and then allow you to reorganize your thoughts again and again.

I HAVE A TEMPLATE AND I KNOW HOW TO USE IT!

Some writers find these super restrictive and some writers want to give them a massive smooch and cuddle with them on the couch in front of a warm fire. Save the Cat, Joseph Campell, the Six-Act Structure are all adorable and sexy templates you can use when you want to get your story to work.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Usually we plot so that we have a way to go, a roadmap. Some of us just like to drive. It doesn’t matter. There’s no one damn way to write your novel.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

You get to live your life according to your rules, your wants and thoughts and needs.

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.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.