How To Make Your Writing More Intense

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
How To Make Your Writing More Intense
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It’s Writing Tip Time and we’re going to give you three fast and dirty writing tips today that’s going to make your writing more intense. Ready?

Think about your tense

What’s that mean? It means don’t be writing like things are happening now and then shift over to writing like things were happening in the past. If you want the most immediate writing experience, write in the present tense.

Here’s a quick example:

I lost feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run on Friday. I thought I might be having a stroke.

That’s in the past tense, right? We read this, notice it’s in the first person and figure that the narrator has survived because she’s telling us about this after-the-fact.

Try it out in the present tense:

I lose feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run. I think I might be having a stroke.

It’s more intense, right?

Let’s make it more intense.

Take out the distancing words.

In first person especially, it’s really hard to get away from a lot of looking and knowing and words that pull us out of the moment and the immediacy of the character’s experience.

Distancing language tends to be the words like ‘seem,’ and ‘look,’ and ‘heard,’ and ‘know.’ When I revise, I think of these words as placeholders for where I can go back and dig in more deeply in certain places.

So, let’s take that sentence again and make it more immediate.

I lose feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run. I think I might be having a stroke.

Change that up and it looks like:

My entire left side of my body starts going numb during our long run. My left foot numbs first. Then my left hand and arm. When the left side of my mouth starts going numb, I gasp. I might be having a stroke.

You’re in there a bit more with that character now right. Is she having a stroke? What the heck is she running for? SHE IS BROKEN!

Try not to use the same word too many times too closely together.

In the example above I deliberately use the word ‘numb’ and ‘my left’ over and over again. I’m cool with the repetition of ‘my left,’ but not so much with the numb. There are better, cooler words to mix in there and grab the reader’s attention. Let’s try.

My entire left side of my body starts going numb during our long run. My left foot disappears first. Then my left hand and arm. When the left side of my mouth starts to tingle, I gasp. I might be having a stroke.

There you go!

We’ve learned three fast tips to making your writing more intense.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Be in the present (tense). Don’t be distant. Mix up your words, man.

Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support. 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.

The Biggest Thing Holding Back Your Writing

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
The Biggest Thing Holding Back Your Writing
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers

Carrie got really confused this week because she went on YouTube and looked up “Writing Advice” and there was a really popular vlogger who gives a ton of writing advice, but she’s not published things.

She is, however, really definite on her views on how to be a good writer, which is lovely. It’s lovely to be so confident.

But it made us think about what the worst writing advice ever is.

IT’S NOT:

Write every day.

IT’S NOT EVEN:

Write what you know.

IT’S NOT:

Write for you and if you like it, that’s all that matters.

IT’S NOT ANY OF THOSE ONE-SIZE FITS ALL TIDBITS.

HERE’S WHAT IT IS:

Don’t write. It’s a waste of time.

I don’t care who is giving you this advice. It might be your mom, teacher, bff, your life-partner, kid, an evil bastard who lives next door, a published writer. Or worse, it could be your own inner-critic, which lurks like a demon of self doubt in your frontal lobe.

That advice? It’s crap. It’s jealousy or stupidity or self-doubt. If you want to write? Write.

Don’t believe me that everyone deals with this? Or almost everyone? Here is a quote from the man, himself.

The problems of success can be harder because nobody warns you about them.


The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now, they will discover you. It’s Impostor Syndrome—something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.


In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t get to make things up anymore.


—Neil Gaiman, Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts Class of 2012

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Author Matthew Kesselhas some pretty cool advice about what he does when he’s overwhelmed by self doubt.

He writes through the doubt.

He reminds himself of all the good things he’s done as a writer.

Incorporates that doubt into more emotionally resonate characters.

Talks through it with other writer people who know how it is.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support. 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.

How to Use Foreshadowing in Your Story’s Opener Like a Boss

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
How to Use Foreshadowing in Your Story’s Opener Like a Boss
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.

One of the coolest things you can do when writing fiction or longer nonfiction is to foreshadow the ending of your story in the beginning of your story.

Foreshadowing according to litcharts.com is:

A literary device in which authors hint at plot developments that don’t actually occur until later in the story. Foreshadowing can be achieved directly or indirectly, by making explicit statements or leaving subtle clues about what will happen later in the text. The Russian author Anton Chekhov summarized foreshadowing when he wrote, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.” The description of the gun on the wall, in other words, should foreshadow its later use.

You want to tell the reader that something is going to happen, give them a clue about what it might be.

Foreshadowing can be subtle, mysterious, or direct.

Over on the Reedsy blog they shrink the types to two: direct and indirect. And explain them as follows:

Direct foreshadowing occurs when an outcome is directly hinted at or indicated. It gives readers a nugget of information, prompting them to want more.

Indirect foreshadowing occurs when an outcome is indirectly hinted at or indicated. It subtly nods at a future event but is typically only apparent to readers after that outcome or event has occurred.

Foreshadowing when it’s direct can be a fantastic way to hook the reader into wanting to gobble up the story. A great example they use is Lauren Oliver’s Before I Die, which opens with:

“They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.”

So the reader knows that the narrator is going to die and what they want to know is how. It’s damn direct, right?

An indirect style of foreshadowing can be something as simple as

   The air grew chill as I walked toward the beach. Winter is coming.

Now we know the air is chill and cold is coming and we indirectly think:

Oh, something is going to happen because it’s cold and winter is almost here and someone is probably going to die.

The symbols in our culture can carry a lot of metaphorical and foreshadowing weight in our stories.

So we want to use it like a boss and give the readers a little wink so that they are hooked into the story but also feel like they are figuring out the story as they go along. It’s pretty cool.

Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support. 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.

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/mrruiz/winter-haze-summer-daze

Be Brave Friday – The Year I Wrote Too Much

So, this Be Brave Friday is on the last Friday of 2021 and I’m starting a whole lot of scary stuff this year.

Scary Stuff I’m Starting

  1. I’m starting my own classes to teach people online about writing and they are super cheap because I want people to be able to learn even when they aren’t wealthy. Yes, this makes me worried about my own bank account. That’s why it’s being brave. 🙂
  2. We’re revisioning the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and starting a new one called WRITE BETTER NOW.
  3. I’m been writing poetry on Medium and I’m going to keep writing it, but also sharing it in a podcast. CARRIE DOES POETRY. I couldn’t think of a cool title.
  4. I’m going to keep writing and not give up. Sometimes, I think that’s the bravest thing of all.

But since it’s the end of 2021, it’s also a time where I should be brave and reflect for a hot second. This is the year I wrote too much.

I decided to have an experiment and try to put out one novel a month, every month, all year long. And I did it.

But at what cost?

Probably at the cost of my brain. No! No. Just kidding.

I learned that:

  1. The pressure to write does keep me writing, but I also learned that 50,000-75,000 words times 12 months? It’s a lot of words. Especially if you add in what I do on my patreon.
  2. I’m still not good with criticism.
  3. I’m terrible at marketing my own books.
  4. That I miss doing things like going outside.
  5. I miss painting.
  6. I should have used a pen name to not impact my traditional publishing career. Oops.
  7. I’m really good with deadlines and pressure. Thank you former newspaper career.
  8. I really really need to write sex scenes. And I really really haven’t.

And I also learned that:

  • I still love writing.
  • I miss writing things that are a bit less genre and I can’t do that in a fast turn-around. I have two, really complicated stories that I want to get done and I haven’t had time to do that.
  • Writing adult novels is fun. And I apparently need to put in sex scenes. Yes. I am repeating this. Who knew? Not this uptight human.

The Bad Things About Writing Too Much

But the big thing is that I maybe wrote too much. Because I didn’t just write and revise my own novels, I wrote blog posts and podcasts and editorial letters for the writers I edit, mentor, and coach, and that? It turned out to be a lot of writing.

My typing fingers ache a little bit.

And I’ve gotten in a bit of a rut from my self-imposed experiment and the pressure of doing one big novel a month and getting it out there.

And I started thinking, “Keep producing. Hurry. Make it good. It isn’t good enough. Oh my freaking word, Carrie. Earn money to support the family. HURRY! HURRY!”

Which has made me:

  1. More anxious
  2. More cranky
  3. Even more obsessed about making enough money.
  4. Very American, I think.

Sounds healthy, right?

And I’ve had some big fails.

  1. Our Be Brave Stories podcast (where we share other people’s stories about being brave) has floundered because I didn’t market it enough to get people to actually SHARE their stories.
  2. I’ve failed to solicit sponsorships for our other podcasts.
  3. As I’ve recently mentioned, I totally failed about marketing anything and everything.
  4. I haven’t done nearly enough author-to-author podcasts.
  5. I haven’t done nearly enough painting or poems.
  6. I haven’t magically owned a book store.
  7. I never say things like, “Hey! If you appreciate this podcast episode or blog post, send me a $1. I know it feels like nothing to you, but it means everything to me.” I think this is because one set of my grandparents lived in Canada and I somehow got the “DO NOT EVER ASK FOR MONEY GENE.”
  8. I am at my body’s maximum density (for me) because I sit in the chair way too much.
  9. I suddenly look old. And my knees hurt. And my hips hurt. And my ego hurts. Like it snuck up on me. Is this from squinting at the computer too much?
  10. I am still not any braver. I mean, I try so hard to do things that I am afraid to do and I do them all the time, but I haven’t become any less anxious about putting books out, talking on podcasts, or writing the books of my heart.

Here’s the thing though: If you love something, you need to do it. If you want to make a living at something, you need to find people who support you doing that. If you are making a living at it (like I am), you need to remember to be thankful and gasp in the moments where things are going well and allow yourself to be happy.

I am very bad at that.

It’s good to experiment, to push boundaries and to also take stock and say: Um. Maybe twelve novels in twelve months isn’t the best idea? And change it up to six. 🙂

How about you? Brave things going on? New leaps? New adventures? New worries? Am I alone?


My little, creepy book baby is out in the world because who doesn’t want sad, quirky, horror with some romantic bits for the holiday season?

It’s a young adult novel (upper) called WHEN YOU BRING THEM BACK, please buy it!

It’s super fun.

How We TOTALLY Screwed Up Our Branding

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
How We TOTALLY Screwed Up Our Branding
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So, here at the podcast we’re going to be making a big change this year and DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE isn’t going to be quite so much about writing tips and more about life tips.

Wait! What? Yep. We’re shifting.

First, we have fantastic content about writing, but um, we don’t have the word “WRITING” in our podcast.

If there is anything we’ve learned from our dogs is that you’ve got to be clear about communicating who you are.

Sparty communicates that he is a dog who is all about food and snuggles.

Gabby communicates that she is a dog who is all about keeping a watchful eye over her family and long hugs.

And “Dogs are Smarter Than People” while it’s gathered over 263,000 downloads (thank you all), is definitely not communicating anything about writing.

So, we’re shifting and adapting. We’re going to start another podcast called more appropriately “Write Better Now,” and we’re keeping this one and it’s going to be much more dedicated towards helping us all be as smart and wise as our dogs.

I hope you’ll chill out with us and join us in our journey. Maybe even like and subscribe.

Here’s our quote where we try to be wise:

“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

And here’s our writing tip of the pod:

Write the story you long to write, not the story you think everyone else wants to hear. Yes, you can make more money self-publishing if you blow off your own wishes/desires and write to market, and money is good, but you have to listen to your muse, too, take chances, and grow.

Dog Tip for Life

Life is about more than money as long as you have food, shelter, clean water, safety and heath care. Go after the life you want!

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 are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a 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.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

When my daughter scored a victory for short girls with curves

One week in grade school, Em scored victories for short girls everywhere.

Em (on left) with her friend Callie

First, her grade had been preparing for around two months for the Greek and Roman festival. They learned history stuff, made Greek gods trading cards, had an Olympics and finally a festival where they made costumes and everything.

So, Em had been stressed right before this about being a short, curvy girl.

Em in seventh grade hanging with Tala

“Everyone else has Paris Hilton bodies,” she said nightly. “And they are so tall, and so incredibly skinny, and, and, and … they wear thongs.”

Thongs?

I tried not to hyper-fixate on that part. I failed a bit.

“You have a Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce body. That’s cool,” I told her because it was true. She was skinny but fit with adorable muscles. “You have a strong, healthy, thin body. Plus, you are much more huggable. Plus, thongs are silly in seventh grade unless, you know . . . free will, let people have their choices, blah, blah, blah.”

And so on.

I had done all the good mommy things of applauding other achievements, saying she has a beautiful, strong, healthy body, a perfect Em body.

She still complained.

What Em looks like when she complains

So, she was really stressed about the Olympic events.

“I’m so short I’ll never win anything, especially not the standing long jump. I want the standing long jump.”

So, first on the day of the event, she trounced everyone at the knowledge bowl, which is set up like Jeopardy, but with Greek/Roman categories like:

He played his fiddle when Rome burned.

The working class of Rome was called this.

Em at Harvard where she majored in Classics. Obviously the Greek Bowl in grade school was a major inciting incident in her life.

Then came the Olympic events. The events she was worried about.

Em the Short came in second for the discus, and shot put and she WON the standing long jump with a massive leap of almost 80 inches, which is a big deal when you figure she was only 40-something inches and she was competing with tall, thong-wearing girls of 5-8 or 5-7.

Whoo-hoo, another short girl victory! Brains and jumping ability. Yay Em!

This was the look of the victor:

Em in seventh grade, victorious.

It pretty much still encapsulates her personality.

And yes, Em grew taller and wiser and ended up studying classics at Harvard and winning an award for her thesis on Alexander the Great, becoming a field artillery officer in the Army, and now is in graduate school at Dartmouth (Tuck Business) and Harvard (Kennedy School for Public Policy), and she is of average height, and I feel super lucky to be her mom.

Us. She is so patient with me.

Maybe because she was blonde everyone at Harvard thinks/thought she was a legacy, but she wasn’t/isn’t. She was/is just a smart kid from rural Maine who didn’t give up and tried hard, always.

I always want to be more like her.

Em doing krav maga like a bad a**

My little, creepy book baby is out in the world because who doesn’t want sad, quirky, horror with some romantic bits for the holiday season?

It’s a young adult novel (upper) called WHEN YOU BRING THEM BACK, please buy it!

It’s super fun.

Kissing Under the Dung Twig and The Glaring Woman at the Grocery Store

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Kissing Under the Dung Twig and The Glaring Woman at the Grocery Store
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This week in honor of the holiday season, we’re going to talk about a time Carrie did a very Carrie thing at a grocery store in Ellsworth, Maine. It will eventually relate to books, we promise.

One day in the grocery store line a lady behind me dropped her  bag of Cheetos. I picked them up.

She dropped her box of Wheat Thins.

I picked them up.

She dropped her onion. It rolled over to me, shed some purple skin, and hit my foot.

I smiled. I picked it up. I gave it to her.

“I must be missing the belt,” she said.

So, then, it was my turn with the clerk. I opened my bag and my wallet was not there. My check book? Check. But the wallet? MIA.

I told the cashier, terrified.

She said “If you’ve written a check here before, you don’t need an ID.”

???

So, I said, “I don’t know if I have.”

I spent the next three minutes alternately explaining that I had visions of my red cloth wallet hanging out by the 12-grain organic bread in the bread aisle, or in the post office where I’d just used it, or in the middle of the parking lot, or, gulp, in some evil wallet-snatcher’s hands. I looked for sympathetic glances from the food dropper behind me, but she no longer liked me.

I wrote out the check. The machine beeped. The cashier looked at me, apologetically. “You’ve never written a check here before.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll run out and check in the car.”

So, I raced outside despite the fact I was not wearing a sports bra, and unlocked the car, and… no wallet. I gasped. Really. I stepped back and there, beneath the tire, was a flash of red. I snatched it, clutched it to my chest (still without the sports bra) and raced back to the store.

“That was fast,” said the clerk.

“You found it!” said the nice guy who came to finish bagging.

Glare, said the dropping stuff lady who was behind me in line. Glare. Glare. Glare.

It’s like what I imagine happens to my books. I start off really well, everyone likes what I’m doing, and then — bang — I screw up. Drop the voice or something, make a character do something nobody wants her to do.

And then what?

Glares from one. Sympathy from others.

The Carrie Story

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Everything can help inform your story and make a scene to use later on.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Be kind when other people are struggling, not just when you are struggling.

LINKS WE MENTION

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 are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a 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.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

When Should You Add A POV Character to Your Novel?

Sometimes an author will get super in love with a character that isn’t their protagonist or main point-of-view character and they’ll think, “Maybe this sexy beast deserves their own point of view.”

Then they will second guess themselves.

Then they will go back to thinking yes.

Being an author is confusing sometimes.

When you have two protagonists (co-protagonists), you want to make sure that each get pretty close to the same amount of time in the story. They should be almost equally (if not equally) important.

So, let’s go back to that main question: When should you add a POV character or when does a character in your novel deserve to be promoted to POV.

The simplest answer is this: You need to have a good reason.

Reasons to have a story with more than one POV character include:

  1. There’s no way to tell the story from just one character’s POV because the story that’s being told NEEDS to be told from multiple perspectives. If all your characters don’t get the other characters and their motivations or they hate each other (think The Girl on the Train) then your story might be well served to have more than one POV.
  • Each POV shows us something different about the story. They have to show us something new, something the other POV can’t show us.
  • You are writing an epic beast where the story lasts for more than one lifetime.
  • You want the story to be super fast-paced. There’s a power in switching in and out of POVs when each POV ends on emotional or plot cliffhangers.
  • Each POV character has their own narrative arc, goals, big lie, and transformation.

Remember: If both your POV characters are in the same scene, you can still only show that scene from one of those characters’ POV not both.

My little, creepy book baby is out in the world because who doesn’t want sad, quirky, horror with some romantic bits for the holiday season?

It’s a young adult novel (upper) called WHEN YOU BRING THEM BACK, please buy it!

It’s super fun.

Atomic Wedgies, Power, Noogies and Does Your Character Need to Be In Your Novel

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Atomic Wedgies, Power, Noogies and Does Your Character Need to Be In Your Novel
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Yesterday on Carrie’s blog she talked about a writer worry that happens a lot, which is figuring out when your novel has too many characters.

You should check that out at carriejonesbooks.blog if it’s one of your worries, but here’s a bit more information about making that deadly decision (deadly for your character, not you).

ANOTHER WAY TO DETERMINE IF THE CHARACTER NEEDS TO BE THERE IS TO THINK ABOUT YOUR CHARACTERS’ ROLES IN THE STORY.

Protagonist – The main character. It’s the character that the reader likes, loves, roots for, worries about, the character that moves the plot forward and has emotional development.

Antagonist – The naughty one who keeps our protagonist from quickly achieving their goals.

Sidekick – The bestie. The support system for the protagonist.

Orbital – They tend to get the protagonist in trouble even if that’s not their intent. Think Hermione in Harry Potter. She’s the coolest, but her insistence on doing the right thing and being heroic sometimes pulls Harry into a path of uh-oh. The orbital is basically an instigator.

Love Interest – I don’t have to explain this one, right?

Confidante – This is the person the protagonist tells their secrets to. It can be a trusted friend, a mentor.

Foil – They aren’t the villain, but they are the protagonist’s opposite. Think Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter.

Red Shirts – These are the extras. They are hanging out in the background and encountered, but not super important. The Patils in Harry Potter

If you have a ton of one type of character, you can probably delete or combine one.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Diversify your characters’ roles and consolidate. Don’t have too many characters doing the same thing/serving the same role.



DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Keep your crew tight. Don’t think the red shirts are the sidekicks.

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 are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a 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.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

LINKS WE MENTION

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/142716/where-does-noogie-come-from

https://www.gotoquiz.com/what_killier_wedgie_do_you_deserve_girls_only

When To Delete Your Characters in Your Novel

Sometimes even though you love them with all your heart, you might have to get rid of a character in your novel. Or even—gasp—a few.

So how do you know when you have too many characters?

Part of it is a bit subjective. It depends on your story.

But a big clue is that if the readers are having a hard time keeping track of who the characters are or remembering them? It means that you have work to do.

It might mean that you’ve fragmented the narrative with such a super large crew.

It might mean that you just haven’t made each character memorable enough or distinctive.

It might mean that your story is a bit flabby in a time (2021) where a lot of readers lean toward the story that’s lean.

Your first step is to think:

  1. Who is this story really about? Don’t get rid of those characters or character.

Now that you have that covered, think about:

  1. What other characters are really needed to tell this story?
  2. Go through your non-main characters (the ones the story isn’t really about) and ask yourself if you can get rid of them without ruining the story.
  3. If not, can you combine a couple of those characters into one character?
  4. If your story has more than one point-of-view, can you get rid of one of those POVS if that’s the issue. If your story feels fragmented to you or the reader, that is often the problem.

Janice Hardy has a great old blog post back from 2013 where she tweaks an exercise of Robyn Hood Black in order to determine if her novel has too many characters in it.

She has a lovely four step process that I’m going to share here.

“Step One: Take a sheet of paper and draw two boxes in the middle, evenly spaced apart. Write your protagonist’s name in one box, your antagonist’s name in the other. Add boxes if you have more than one of either. If you find yourself adding a lot of boxes at this stage, you probably have too many main characters.

“Step Two: Add boxes with the other character’s names. Put them below the protagonist if they’re directly connected to her, above the antagonist if they’re connected to him. Put down:

1. Major secondary characters first (friends, sidekicks)

2. Then important characters (people the plot or story hinges on, but aren’t hanging out with the main characters)

3. Then minor characters (recurring people who play smaller roles and are seen multiple times)

4. Then walk-on characters (people in one or two scenes who don’t do much, but have names anyway)

5. Then any character who interacts with your protagonist or antagonist who isn’t already listed

“Step Three: Draw lines connecting the boxes. Use a solid line if the character directly interacts and affects the protagonist, or a dotted line if they are connected more to someone else connected to the protagonist. For example, when your hero is mugged by three thugs, and only one speaks to him and actually interacts in a meaningful way, he gets a solid connection line. The other two thugs would get dotted lines to the first thug, because they’re connected to him, but really don’t affect the protagonist much.

“Step Four: Draw wavy lines between any characters who are connected to each other so you can see the relationships.”

On the podcast Tuesday, we’ll talk about another way to determine if your novel’s character needs to be there. But, you should check out Janice’s full blog because it’s really a great resource!

RESOURCE

http://blog.janicehardy.com/2013/06/does-your-novel-have-too-many-characters.html

My little, creepy book baby is out in the world because who doesn’t want sad, quirky, horror with some romantic bits for the holiday season?

It’s a young adult novel (upper) called WHEN YOU BRING THEM BACK, please buy it!

It’s super fun.

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