We like to think that our lives have a point and that they matter. I think they do, but we’re not here to get all esoteric on you. We’re here to help you be better writers and humans and one of the biggest things we need to tell you is this.
If you want your life to have a point then you need to give it a point.
If you want your story to have a point? Same thing.
Your life and your story should never be about ‘whatever.’
In life, you fix things when they break. You create goals. You move forward to solve things. In your story? Well it needs to happen that way too. We have to lean into the guiding force that creates every moment and scene in our stories.
We focus so much on our feelings and our emotions, but here’s the thing – emotions change, feelings are flighty. What matters is our point or our purpose and that matters both overall and in the moment.
Remembering your point or purpose works really well when you’re arguing with your partner because they failed to hear you when you said, “Can you put the onions in the pot, right now?” Instead of being super cranky and resentful that they didn’t put the onions in the pot for two minutes, you can think, “Wait. What is my purpose of being with this person?”
Chances are your purpose isn’t about getting onions quickly into a pot or having someone to boss around. Usually your purpose about being someone is something like, “To build a happy, safe, collaborative life together.”
So, how do you find your life’s purpose? That’s a bit question that Carrie’s always struggling with.
Ask yourself these questions over and over again and if you’re blocked on them, if you think you don’t make a difference in anyone’s life? Ask again. Keep asking. Wonder for a second if it’s easier to believe that you don’t matter than accept that you do.
Because you do.
You have a point.
Just like our lives, our characters in stories need to have a point and a purpose and so do our stories. Ask yourself what each characters’ points are. Ask yourself what the story’s point is? Is it a treatise about government corrupt? A call to love?
Dog’s don’t ask what they should be doing. They ask, what their purpose is? A protector dog protects. A hunter hunts. A lap dog laps. A lab eats. Their purpose propels their choices and gives them a point to existence.
So, think about it. What is your purpose right now in this second?
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.
I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up?
Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.
But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor.
As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.
You can preorder it here. Please, please, preorder it.
So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.
The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here!
“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”
“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”
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!
Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.
There are lots of fancy and complicated ways to figure out story structure. There’s Save the Cat, the Snowflake Method, the Five-Act, the Four-Act, the Six-Act. But sometimes all of those complicated methods bog some of our writer brains down. So today we’re going to give you a super quick guide to story structure for your novel. You ready? Step One: Name it. This does not have to be its forever name, just a way for you to find the computer file. It can be THE EVIL NOVEL THAT HAS NO NAME RIGHT NOW. That’s fine. Step Two: Find a hero. Name them. Put them in a jam or a bad place. Maybe they suck at making commitments? Maybe they need a promotion. Maybe they live under the stairs. Give them a problem. Step Three: Think about what has to occur in order for them to ovary up enough to try to deal with that problem. Step Four: Now decide what is going to change once that hero gets proactive and tries to deal with that problem or once they take action. Step Five: Are things different for our little hero now? How? Step Six Okay. Something else needs to happen so that the story takes a turn or a veer to the right or left. What makes it go in another direction? Step Seven Make things worse for our poor hero. How are they worse? Step Eight Okay. If this is a positive change arc where the hero ends up in a better place, what is it that inspires them to make a big effort and go for that win? Step Nine What is the big win (positive change arc) or the big loss (negative change arc) There you go, how to figure out your novel’s basic structure in ...
On BE BRAVE FRIDAYS, we share other people’s stories (unedited) to build a community of bravery and inspiration. Please let us know if you want to share your story with us and we’ll read it here and post it on our social media and website. This life is too short to not be brave. We can do this together. This week’s Be Brave Story is from the wonderful Sheri Boggs! Sheri, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You are so brave and so wonderful. xo Shaun and Carrie I have a story of bravery to share. It isn’t big, bold physical bravery but rather small, mild bravery in which my foe WAS MY OWN MIND. I took violin for a few years as a kid and started taking adult violin lessons in my late 40s. I was not great and probably would have given up a long time ago if not for my teacher, (let’s call her Ms.X), who is hilarious and reminds me of Candace Bergen. Half the time my lessons consisted of us ranting about politics or her telling me some marvelously gossipy story about when she played with our local symphony. A few months before the pandemic we decided I was ready to join the New Horizons Orchestra. New Horizons is an international organization with orchestras in cities all over the United States. Anyone is welcome, regardless of experience or skill, and their motto is “Your Best Is Good Enough.” My first time there, however, I realized I would need significantly more than my best. Everyone seemed to be a music teacher, a retired symphony member, or someone who practices for three hours a day. ...
So, over at the Good Men Project, they have a story called “Five Traits Men Want in a Partner That We Never Say Out Loud.” As a woman, I (Carrie) find this pretty frustrating. Why do men not say these things aloud? Paul Marsh of the Good Men Project writes: Most of us are just terrified of vocalizing what we want and 1) being laughed at or ridiculed in some capacity, 2) not having our desires taken seriously, or 3) not getting whatever it is we’re seeking. Marsh’s article which is anecdotal and not data-sourced is saying similar things as an earlier article in 2015 by Anthony D’Ambrosio that was in Elite Daily. D’Ambrosio had seven traits/characteristics to Marsh’s five. Marsh writes: The world is realizing that, while we’re deeply flawed, men also have a sensitive side, one chock-full of rich emotions that extend beyond those usually associated with us — like anger. Even companies like Old Spice are rolling out scented bodywashes with lavender and other naturally-derived ingredients that have long been associated with femininity. Here is what Marsh says that men want: TendernessGlobal listening skillsA kind talkerRespect which he defines as “being considerate about the desires, feelings, and traits of another personSomeone who ‘fights for you.’ D’Ambrosio’s article has reliability and being a best friend on the list as well as being self-aware and a communicator (kind talker and listener). He writes: Remember: You don’t need a “life partner,” ...