Listening to Butt Faces and Writing Dialogue

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Listening to Butt Faces and Writing Dialogue
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This podcast we quickly (so quickly) talk about writing evil people’s dialogue.

And a great link that we reference is right here. There are a ton of resources as Matt Bird’s site that you can check out.

Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Writing Isn’t About Being Clever; It’s About Story

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Writing Isn't About Being Clever; It's About Story
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This week’s podcast focuses on some advice from Roy Peter Clark. I hope you’ll join me for one of our short weekly writing tips!

Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

The Power of Personal Narrative

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
The Power of Personal Narrative
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Hi, I’m breaking format this week, for once. Our high school had a credible and serious threat yesterday, staff and teachers and kids were locked down for hours and I want to talk about how people telling their stories makes things much more real than cut-up newspaper reports.

And that’s important.

Don’t forget how powerful writing is, okay? Don’t forget how powerful you are either.

Making a Scene Memorable

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Making a Scene Memorable
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This week’s podcast is some quick tips about how to make your scene memorable. I hope you’ll check it out.

QUICK EDIT! There was a glitch with the podcasting host, but it should be the right podcast now. Apologies!


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
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Super Important Writing Tip For When You Think Your Story Is a Little Boring

This podcast we super quickly talk about something you can do when it feels like your novel got a little boring.

Come hang out!


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

I Don’t Know How To Fangirl Even About Writers and Some Advice

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
I Don't Know How To Fangirl Even About Writers and Some Advice
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Here’s a big truth. I don’t know how to fangirl, and one time I was taking photos in Maine for the Maine Democratic Party at a house rented by famous writers and all my writer friends got excited.

They squeed.

They were super thrilled.

My own book had just made the NYT bestseller’s list, but it was kids fiction and really really far from literary fiction. For the circles of intellectuals, it didn’t give me a lot of cred.


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Not So Wild and Crazy Writing Advice

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Write Better Now
Not So Wild and Crazy Writing Advice
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Steve Martin had a catch phrase from his time on SNL and standup that he was a wild and crazy guy. He had an entirely different persona in the skit but you could feel it and tell he’d been inspired by something in real life and turned it into comedy through exaggeration.

Now, decades after that Wild and Crazy Guy skit, Martin has this masterclass and in it he says, “Everything you see, hear, experience is usable.”

He’s mostly talking about comedy, screenplays and skits, but it works for the other arts and writing other genres, too.

How people go about scratching their nose, trying not to pick at their wedgie, argue with their kids; how they greet someone at a school board meeting, or even your own observations like the feel of bad indoor-outdoor carpet under your butt, the way this particular headache throbs like an almost perceptible bass beat coming from a car down the street, right at your left temple and the base of your neck—all of it can be used in your story.

Martin suggests being “an active observer in life” which to him means always being “on the lookout.” And he says you should grab a notebook that fits in your back pocket to write down what you observe. He forgets apparently that women’s pants often don’t have pockets? And also about the notes app on your phone. But it’s still good advice. Write what you see and taste and fear and feel.

This advice isn’t new. Richard Powers, who wrote The Overstory, which won a Pulitzer has said this. Powers says, “Be present, practice attention, and the story you are working on will feed on everything in front of you.”

Writers need to be mindful not in the power of positive psychology sort of way, but just in a way of being fully present so that we can notice what’s going on around us and within us.

Maya Angelou says:

“I try to pull the language in to such a sharpness that it jumps off the page. It must look easy, but it takes me forever to get it to look so easy. Of course, there are those critics – New York critics as a rule – who say, Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer. Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.”

Angelou

To understand language that sings, you have to understand the sounds of language, observe and pay attention to the details of conversations around you, how people choose different words for arguments than they do when talking about their day or asking for some water. Paying attention to the language on the page means paying attention to the sound of language in the air and using it.

Martin. Powers. Angelou. They all have and had it together. They know that writing is observing and translating, being present and recreating sharpness on the page and on the tongue.


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

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

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
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.


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are 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?

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
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.


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Writing Exceptional Characters Part One Backstory

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
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.


Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

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 my 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 other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

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