Sometimes in life we want to be memorable, right?
And other times? Not so much.
Shaun is so tall and formidable that he doesn’t have much choice in being memorable or not. Carrie? She can fade into walls if she wants to.
In writing, there are some pretty simple things you should do to make sure people remember your character.
Talk about that character every 30-40 pages. People forget the characters they don’t see. This is true in real life too. Remind people you are out there.
Give them a cool name. Carrie Jones? Not a cool name.
Just give. In real life and in writing, giving matters. People remember kindness.
What do I mean by that? Give them something like a tattoo, a way of bending their foot to the side when they talk. Give them a strong personality trait. Do the work to make them memorable.
In real life, it’s the people who focus on one goal, strategy, process who tend to make a big bang.
This is linked to that memorable trait. Being quirky might make you a bullied kid, which is basically hell, but when you’ve embraced that difference, your originality, your authenticity? That’s when people remember you.
If you’re in a room full of a dozen white guys in suits, none of them are going to pop out. It’s the woman in the flowing skirt that you’re going to end up remembering.
Barking is a good way to remind people that you exist even if you’re stuck in the house during a blizzard. They will still hear you if you bark!
Remind people that you’re out there. Silence isn’t memorable. It’s oppressive. Your voice deserves to be heard.
What makes your book characters memorable also makes you memorable. Don’t be afraid to be your authentic, original quirky self.
Hey, um… if you enjoyed this podcast and post, we’d be so super grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or subscribing to it on iTunes or Stitcher or rating it there or somewhere. Thank you! We know it’s a super small thing, but it means so much to us.
I (Carrie) will be in Ontario Canada presenting this weekend and at Book Expo America, June 1, at 11:30 in the Lerner booth. Come visit!
The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money. There are more details at the link
“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”
I swear, I did not pay anyone to say that. I didn’t even ask them to say it. The Writing Barn just told me that the feedback had intensely kind things like that. People are nice.
These books are out there in the world thanks to Tor.
What books? Well, cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.
This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking action–School Library Journal
Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.
And finally, I’ve added a contact form in case you’d like to be on my email list. If you subscribe to my posts via WordPress then those come to your email whenever I post. To do that click on SUBSCRIBE, but this is to sign up for my random newsletter, which I basically only do when something big happens like a book is coming out or I’m going on tour or something or I’m giving away a story for free – so basically two to three times a year.
Seriously. The best books are like wedgies. You can’t ignore them. They get right up inside you and into places they aren’t supposed to go. And sometimes it’s hard to get them out. This week Carrie talked to a lot of her writers about how if you don’t long to write your scenes, your readers probably aren’t going to long to read those scenes either. And recently the New York Times talked to Steve Martin (actor, writer, comedian) about books. He’s allegedly addicted to audiobooks, which is cool. He said, “I’m also a sucker for the magic of opening paragraphs. I’ll never understand what the sorcery is in literature and movies that engages you immediately and makes it impossible to look away.” A wedgie engages you immediately. And a book can do that too, sometimes. But sometimes it’s not like a wedgie; it’s more like a bad 8-hour Zoom meeting about land use ordinances and setback requirements in a town you’ll never visit. So how do you keep your book from being boring? You wedgify it. Yes, we made up that word. HOW DO YOU WEDGIFY A BOOK? You go all in. Make the conflict as big as possible.You have dynamic scenes where things happen. Not just the character’s meandering thoughts about Zoom meetings.You make us care. Wedgies matter because your bum matters. WRITING TIP OF THE POD Go all in with your stories. ...
Science isn't always right. I know! Shocker. Once, some scientists had this theory about the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary. They truly believed that the lamb grew on a tree. To be fair, it was the Middle Ages in Europe and things were kind of like America right now. People had no clue about stuff, but they pretended to. Anyway, according to Ripley's Believe it Or Not, There were believed to be two distinct varieties of Vegetable Lamb: a bizarre plant that produced tiny lambs inside pods, and an equally-bizarre hybrid creature that consisted of a whole, full-sized lamb, which lived suspended from the ground by a small stem! Chris Littlechild, Ripley's Believe it Or Not People believed this for centuries, right? Centuries. What does this have to do with writing? When we write, we bring our pasts, our systems of belief and it ends up on our pages. Our work reflects our society and it reflects our own morality and beliefs. To be a good writer, we have to know what our truths are but also be willing to be challenged about them. Writing is a communication, a social contract between the writer and the reader. We're asking our readers to share our story, but also more subconsciously, to hear about our world views and thoughts. We're inviting them in. Writing Tip of the Pod ...
Carrie has been working on the Write Submit Support Class that she's doing with the Writing Barn and the whole class is about creating a writing community and supporting each other, right? One of the first classes talks about "Living the Literary Life," which is a phrase that she's honestly not super into because she spends a lot of her time just trying to convince people to live their own life let alone a life with a qualifier in it like 'literary.' Some people think living the literary life is about relationships. Carrie thinks it's about that, but it's also about intention. It's about giving yourself the space to notice things, people, conversations, poems, beer. It doesn't matter what you're noticing, but it's also about then making those connections into story. It's about reading and noticing and writing. It's about valuing yourself enough to live the life you want to live. That means it's about the yearning that exists in you to live a life where you find meaning, and about the yearning that exists in stories where characters yearn, too. So what does that have to do with boxers or briefs or the p-word, which was the original title of our post until Carrie realized that the p-word stood for words that aren't 'panties,' which was the p-word she was talking about. Spoiler Tangent: Carrie hates the p-word, the panties one. It means that there's no one way to live the literary life just like there's no one type of ...