Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation

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November 30, 2021 00:16:48
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Weird Hitchhiking Stories and How to Punctuate Dialogue

In last week’s podcast we started to talk about how to punctuate dialogue because we’re sexy like that. And we’re continuing that discussion this week. A great source of how to to punctuate dialogue is from theeditorsblog.net They are calm and lovely and explain things really well. And for a reminder: A dialogue tag is just the bits like “they said,” “she whispered,” “he yelled.” Single line of dialogue with dialogue tag and action So, for this, you’ve got quotation marks around your dialogue with the dialogue tag following what was said. But before that, right before the end quotation mark, you have a comma. There’s no capital letter for that dialogue tag. Why? Because it’s the same damn sentence, that’s why, and you can’t just randomly capitalize things in there. A period goes at the very end of the action or beat. “Shaunie is a cutie face,” she said, hoping Shaunie would look her way and smile. Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + Comma + End Quotation Marks + Lowercase First Word in the Dialogue Tag + Comma (usually) + Action/Beat + Period. You can switch that around and start off with the action/beat and the dialogue tag. Hoping Shaunie would look her way and smile, she said, “Shaunie is a cutie face.” Action/Beat + Comma + Dialogue Tag + Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + Period + End Quote So, then you have the interrupting dialogue stuff that writers love. This is when the dialogue is all the same sentence, but it’s interrupted by the dialogue tag. When that happens, you want a comma before the last quotation marks in the first part of the sentence and then again after the dialogue tag. “Shaunie is a ...

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November 23, 2021 00:16:48
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How to Punctuate Dialogue and Astronauts in Diapers

A great source of how to to punctuate dialogue is from theeditorsblog.net They are calm and lovely and explain things really well. But if you’re a little weird, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started for this two-part podcast that we’ll finish next week. And for a reminder: A dialogue tag is just the bits like “they said,” “she whispered,” “he yelled.” Single line of dialogue, no dialogue tag. You put the whole sentence inside those quotation marks. “Shaunie is a cutie face.” Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + Period/Question Mark/Exclamation Point+ End Quote Single line with dialogue tag (attribution) coming after it. This time you put the dialogue inside the quotation marks and also a COMMA of MAGIC right before the last quotation marks. Then after the dialogue tag you put a period like this: “Shaunie is a cutie face,” she said. Why is this? It’s pretty simple, the whole thing is a sentence, but it’s a sentence in two parts. Part one is the stuff someone is saying aloud. Part two is telling the reader who is saying it. It’s all one big thing and that’s why you don’t have a period inside the last quotation marks before the dialogue tag. Whoa. Mind blow, right? And that’s the same reason we don’t capitalize SHE in the dialogue tag of SHE SAID. Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + Comma + End Quote + Lowercase First Word in the Dialogue Tag + Period. We’re going to do just one more and continue on next week. Single line, but you’re putting the dialogue tag first So, it’s totally the same concept. It’s all one sentence, but this time the capitalization gets a bit wonky. You want to capitalize the first spoken word inside ...

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November 16, 2021 00:20:23
DO NOT HISS

DO NOT HISS "I LOVE YOU" - How to deal with dialogue tags

These next few podcasts, we thought we should get all nitty-gritty with some quick grammar tips or style tips for people writing fiction. It can help you nonfiction writers, too, we swear. When you’re writing dialogue (people talking to each other), you’re going to want to follow these punctuation rules. Use quotes. Have the dialogue tag (who the speaker is, the he said/she asked) in the actual same paragraph as the dialogue. Punctuate it all correctly. (That’s a lot of knowledge right there.) But here’s the big one: Don’t go screwing around with those dialogue tags, also known as speaker tags. You want to keep it simple when it’s a dialogue tag. “Said” and “asked” are your besties here. If you do anything else? You look like a crappy writer who is trying too hard and the tag becomes more attention-grabbing than the very important words your character said. “I love you,” she said reads a lot differently than “I love you,” she murmured and bellowed and hissed. That can be your intention, but you don’t want to keep doing it all the time. Here look at it. “I love you,” she murmured. “I love you,” he cat-called. “I know,” she bellowed. He screamed, “Of course you do.” “And what do you mean by that?” she enthused. So, the other big thing to remember is this: You can’t sigh out or smile out words, so don’t use them for speaker tags. You can use them for dialogue beats, but that means you have to punctuate them differently. “I love you,” she said. – Requires a comma after the word ‘you,’ and a lower-case S for ‘she.’ “I love you.” She sighed. – Requires a period after the word ‘you,’ and an upper-case S for ‘she.’ Oh, and ...

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November 09, 2021 00:20:08
Our New Names are Cocoa Puff and Snack Train, Plus Swearing Ducks and Raising Stakes

Our New Names are Cocoa Puff and Snack Train, Plus Swearing Ducks and Raising Stakes

Everyone tells you to raise the stakes in your writing. And that’s a lovely, easy thing to say when you are the editor and not the writer. But what does it actually mean? You hear this and think, “Yeah. Yeah. High stakes equal important. Cool. Cool.” But then you start thinking about dinner or something. But it’s important. Carrie’s first breakout novel was NEED and it was a series about pixies trying to cause an apocalypse. Those are high stakes, right? Agent Donald Maas says it pretty well, “High stakes yield high success.” He suggests knowing exactly where the stakes increase. What page does this happen? Can those stakes be higher? Do those stakes make it harder for your main character to get what he/she/they want to get?  A really, beautiful way he puts this stakes question out there is by asking authors to ask themselves, “So what?” What’s the so what question? It’s this: IF YOUR MAIN CHARACTER DOESN’T GET THEIR GOAL THEN SO WHAT? Does it matter? How much does it matter? And that brings me to what I think of I think is Maas’s most important point about stakes: The stakes in your story don’t matter unless you’ve built in human worth about your main character. If your character’s life doesn’t matter to the reader, than the stakes don’t matter, and this is even true for life-and-death stakes.Maas HUMAN WORTH So, that brings us to the question of what is human worth and how do you make it happen in your story. That’s obviously a big cultural question, right? And this isn’t meant to be about philosophy, but about writing, and yes it’s all intertwined. You have to ask questions about your character. Who is she? Why do we need ...

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November 02, 2021 00:24:24
Pooping in Public. Don’t Be A Static Character, Baby.

Pooping in Public. Don’t Be A Static Character, Baby.

Carrie’s teaching a class at the Writing Barn for the next six weeks about . . . character! That means we’re talking a lot about character in our house. Of course, we’re also being characters because being characters is more fun than talking about them. It’s like the difference between telling in your writing and showing. And in the writing world one of the big annoying things writers hear about their characters is that the character is “too static, man.” What’s it mean to be too static? It means that the character isn’t growing or changing. The opposite of a static character is a dynamic character. That’s a character that grows and evolves. In most stories (but not all) our protagonists grow and change and are dynamic dynamos. They are characters we root for or follow, right? The evil miser who hates Christmas becomes a generous benefactor. A little boy wizard who hides under the stairs becomes a wizard leader in the fight against darkness. But if you think about the James Patterson series’s protagonists, most of them are like Sherlock Holmes and they don’t really grow and change. They are pretty consistent a lot of times. And then there is the bad guy/antagonist. Some editors will want your bad guy to grow and be dynamic too, but a lot of times those baddies and a lot of your side/secondary characters will be pretty consistent and static. Think Hannibal Lecter. Think Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. What can you use static characters for? To be foils to the main character. To make fun of tropes and stereotypes or shallow people in society. To get pulled along in the main character’s fun. To sometimes have contradictory goals that create ...

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October 26, 2021 00:23:17
BE SEXY IN THE BEGINNING

BE SEXY IN THE BEGINNING

You’re writing a book. And that book has to start somewhere. Where it starts? That’s called the opening scene and this little baby has a lot of work that it has to do. It’s like the first moments of a blind date, but instead of a blind date between two people, it’s a blind date between the book and the reader. Will they like each other? Will they want to spend time together? Are they meant for each other? Only … it’s really will the reader like the book. Nobody cares if the book likes the reader. The reader has all the power. According to Les Edgerton, who wrote the craft book, HOOKED, that opener has ten important components to grab that reader’s attention and make them want to chill on the couch with your book. Those are: The Inciting Incident – Les believes that this needs to happen in the first scene. Other people do not agree with this. The Story-Worthy Problem – That incident makes a problem that is going to propel the plot of the whole damn book. The Initial Shallow Problem – This problem happens because of the inciting incident and makes the protagonist do something (take action), but it’s not the real problem of the story. The Set-Up – Kind of makes the reader know what’s going to happen next and also helps the reader know what the heck is going on. Backstory – You do not want a lot of this, which is the events that have happened before the story starts. Opening Lines – Because duh. The story has to start, but you want them to be snazzy and make an impression. Language – Because again, duh. Books are made of words. The words you ...

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