A lot of writing coaches talk about story structure and plots and inciting incidents, which is all well and good but Carrie is burnt-out this week.
Carrie: I have worked too hard and my brain is broken.
So, instead we are going to tell you what NOT to do. We are going to be the story police and harsh out the rules.
Carrie: I don’t like rules or broken brains, but let’s do this.
This used to be super popular, but MySpace also used to be super popular. Things go out of style and it is not super popular anymore.
“I like elephants.”
“Awesome. Me too.”
“Actually, I am lying.”EXAMPLE OF AWESOME
You’ve no clue who is talking, where they are or why they do or don’t like elephants and you probably don’t care. We want readers to care from the very beginning of the story.
Who even has an alarm clock anymore, actually? But no alarm clocks or cell phone alarms or whatever. Waking up is dull.
My alarm buzzed and I groaned.
“Another day, another dollar,” I said to my cat, Muffin.
Muffin hit me in the nose with her paw. She’s tired of my clichés.Another Example of Awesome
Unless this is a paranormal or fantasy where the dream is a key part of the power or the threat? Then it’s okay even if people say ‘never ever.’
Cough. You don’t want to be super invested in a story and then find out that it was all crap and not real even to the character.
Amazing thing happens. More amazing things happen. More amazing things happen for five pages. Oops. It’s all a dream.Example of dreamy
This is when you accidentally make a super silly mistake or state something obvious in the very beginning of your story. Gasp! I know! You would never do that, right?
Spoiler alert: We all do this.
She knew she had to wear a mask in a pubic place.Try to avoid the typos.
“I love to love you,” I think to myself.This is an example. We all think to ourselves. Cut the 'to myself.'
There is no dialogue anywhere in the first ten pages of this story and instead everything is just a solid block of text in which I, the author, tells you exciting things – well at least they are exciting to me – about the story, but honestly it’s just a lot of navel gazing. Did you know that people get lint in their navels? Did you know that a lot of that lint is actually random fibers from your clothes, if you wear clothes, and dead skin, and then it gets stuck there and mixes all up together. I wonder if you care. I wonder if you care that I care. And so on.Agh. Did you even read this example? It ruined our SEO readability score.
Don’t start off on the wrong writer foot.
It’s okay to start over.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.
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Link to Jose’s bonus interview. Jokes, Stuffies, And Using Your Weirdness for Good, An Interview with Jose De La Roca
Link to Caitlyn’s bonus episode. Books, Law School during Covid-19 and just being Kick Butt – Using Law to Create Lasting Change – Interview with Caitlyn Vanover
Link to last week’s episode of awesome.
I coach, have a class, and edit things.
I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should.
And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter!
And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.
My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!
It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
This past weekend was sort of scary. Carrie's worst case scenario of presenting happened. She was scheduled to give a four-hour seminar on public image, but when she arrived the place wasn't unlocked, there was no water, but worse- there was no A/V. It was not pretty. And then... We went to a party, a SNL-themed party, and because our friends are good at peer pressure and we were dressed as Spartan cheerleaders, we stunted and Carrie had to jump on Shaun's back in a short skirt (with modesty shorts!) and she was so nervous that she actually got sweaty. So, it turns out that Carrie was totally afraid to do a cheering stunt. Carrie: This is because I am old and have broken knees. And Shaun had to face his fear by actually performing the cheer. Writing (like living) can be full of fear. Over on The Write Practice, Jeff Elkins tells of "Three Tricks to Overcome Your Fear of Writing." How does he deal with the fear? His three tips for overcoming that fear of writing are: He names it. He leans into it. Meditates through it. And he also has this awesome idea for desensitizing yourself from fear, which is our ..... WRITING TIP OF THE POD! Take fifteen minutes to write something that scares you. Maybe it’s a scene you’ve been avoiding in your work in progress, maybe it’s a story you’ve been nervous to start, or maybe it’s a letter you’re scared to write. As you work, if fear raises its head, try one of the techniques above to work through it. - Jeff Elkins ...
Lately, Carrie has been talking to a lot of writers that she coaches and edits about settings. That’s because a lot of writers are blowing them off. So, she’ll read a lot of passages like this: “Hey,” I sit at my desk, “you coming over later?”“Yep,” Shaun says.“Cool.”“I thought maybe we could have some hanky-panky.”“Okay?” So, we know that Shaun wants to have some hanky-panky and the “I” of the story is sitting at their desk. But we don’t know what kind of desk, where that desk is, if there are other people around, or even how she or he or they are reacting to Shaun’s request for hanky-panky, right? Setting is obviously the place where things happen, but it’s more than that, right? Setting makes your characters real. It grounds them. It shows the reader what’s going on without saying, “Yo, reader. This is what’s going on.” What do we mean? Well, here, let’s play with the setting of that excerpt above. “Hey,” I sit at my desk, flipping through some tentacle porn, “you coming over later?”The dirt-streaked wall of my cubby gives a bit with the pressure of his hand, holding him up as he leans over my shoulder. “Yep.”Betty is just on the other side of that cubby wall and beyond her is my boss, the other workers, everyone typing on their computers, pretending to be busy reading emails, analyzing data, reading contract clauses. Liars all. The air smells of old coffee and pot, broken things, broken people.It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.“Cool.” That’s all I say.Shaun clears his throat, moves lower, closer to me, my hard metal desk, standard issue. His giant elbow brushing against the wall again. His voice ...
It's a lot like life honestly. Here's the number one hint. Wait forever to start writing. Don't wait to start. Don't expect lightening to strike or a muse to come down from the heavens. Just write. Call it practice if 'writing a novel' seems too big a task. Trick your mind into being chill about it. If you want to do something, you have to do it. Don't wait for permission. Just do it. As long as it's legal and doesn't hurt other people. Obviously that sentence up there about not waiting for permission doesn't apply to all things. But it does freaking apply to art and writing and joy and fun. Again, as long as your fun doesn't hurt other creatures. Back to the point. We wait all our lives for inspiration, for a prince or warrior-queen to come sweep us off our feet, for the muse to bless us with the perfect novel or poem or family or painting or child. But we have to put in the work. We have to be brave and actively go after what it is we want. We might write a ton of sucky sentences. We might forget how to use a comma. We might fail and get rejected a million times. That's what makes the quest good though. That's what makes the goal worth it. So if you want to write a ...