Releasing your inner dragon

Live Edit: Great premise, but keep the focus on the character

May 16, 2024 Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake Season 4 Episode 18
Live Edit: Great premise, but keep the focus on the character
Releasing your inner dragon
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Releasing your inner dragon
Live Edit: Great premise, but keep the focus on the character
May 16, 2024 Season 4 Episode 18
Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake

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Join Drake and Marie in a live critique where they tear apart a willing victim's work.

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Membership for Just In Time Worlds:

Give us feedback at releasingyourinnerdragon(at)gmail(dot)com


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Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Join Drake and Marie in a live critique where they tear apart a willing victim's work.

Writer's room (50% off for lifetime membership):

Membership for Just In Time Worlds:

Give us feedback at releasingyourinnerdragon(at)gmail(dot)com


Drake's Contact Details:
Starving Writer Studio:
Drake-U:  - Use RYID25 for 25% off!
Writer's Room:

Marie's contact details:
Just In Time Worlds:

The only thing I would say is this Yeah, I highly encourage people to avoid using directions. And this is different from stage directions, but setting directions unless it's absolutely necessary. Necessary because it causes a couple of problems. If I was just to write, you know, on one side and again there's that was so instead of doing it this way we might do an old rustic cauldron sat to one side and a glass display with a wolf's skull to the other.

Yeah, if it does not matter that one is to the right and one is to the left, I'm going to allow the reader to put that wherever they want. Because one of the things about the readers imagination is as they have inconsistencies in where things are, they can adjust it if they're the ones that created it. Yes.

Releasing your inner dragon.

All right, Marie, So we have another victim here on the chopping block. So let's just dive right into it, as we have been doing this season and tell us a little bit about it.

What kind of expect? And then let's share it. If you guys are not on YouTube, if you're just listening, we will do our best because we are going to read and critique this piece. But if you want to see it head on over to YouTube, then you can see it and you know, for your troubles, go ahead and like and subscribe and all of that stuff.

So, all right, so what do we got?

All right. So we were sent by one of our listeners a 700 piece, which is the introduction to their novel. And that is what we are going to go through today, or as much of it as we get through. Sometimes we get through the whole piece, sometimes we get through a couple of paragraphs. So it just it just depends on how much we find to talk about.

And this is this, this is the opening, like the very first page.

Opening 700 words.

With so many other things to think about and talk about and why these are so important, and also brings up a good point. We wanted to do another episode of the first page reads. So if you don't know what that is. It's it's something that a lot of they do in a lot of writers conferences they used to. I haven't seen them in a in a while.

They still do. Do they? Okay cool because they should and basically what it is is it's usually agents and publishers I get put on every time. I'm like the only writer that's up there and I have no skin in the game because I'm not an agent or a publisher, but they will from the conference, they will get people to submit the first page of their manuscript and somebody will read it, and the people on the panel will raise their hand when they would stop reading it and reject it.

And then you can kind of see where things are now. And those I'm always the first to raise my hand and I always lean over to the others. I'm like, you know your line? I go, yeah, I know. We would have rejected that a long time ago, but they're in front of people. They're trying to be nice.

Yeah. So we have we have done one of these publishing games and they it was pretty popular. We'd love to do another one. So if you're interested in submitting your first page, not for a critique, but for the publishing game, go ahead and send it to us. But this is a critique. So just to tell you what the difference is, if you want us to critique your work in detail, send us a thousand words.

Tell us where in your story it fits in roughly so we know what we're looking for and we will critique it like this live on air. Obviously, keeping your name secret. And yeah, so that's what we're doing today. So without further ado, I am going to share my screen.

it's releasing your inner dragon at


the link will be down below.

The link down below releasing your inner dragon at gmail dot com. All one word. Yeah.

Okay. So I will start reading and then we'll, we'll read a couple of paragraphs and see how it goes. Nor still, as the shadow of the closing curtains swept across the back wall, only when she heard the footsteps of her captor moving away did she dare to stir, pulling back the rags piled in the corner of the birdcage, she revealed the chicken bone.

She had stashed the previous night, weaving the bone between the copper bars. She managed to insert one end into the lock. When the cad began to speak. When the cad began to speak, You join me on a most auspicious day, madam. The stars are aligned and the Romeo beyond grows near ideal conditions for a sale. This was excellent news.

All of the cat scams. All of the cat scams, the sounds took the longest of the cat scams. There was my best. I've missed all of all of the cat scams. The sounds took the longest. With any luck, she could pick the lock, shimmy down the pull string and be out the backdoor before he finished through the blue curtain separating the shells from the rest of the room.

The voice of an elderly woman spoke. Now, you're sure you've got my Don Burr? It's a common enough name, and I don't want to be asking my question of the wrong spirit. The cat was quick to soothe her. Madame, my mystery, my mastery of mysticism is without peer. You may rest assured that I abbado the magnificent shall see to it that your message reaches the dearly departed and no one else.

But first there is the little matter of the offering. yes, I remember, responded the woman. These here are the earrings Don Burke gave me for our 40th. Will they do for a proper spirit offering? There was a sound of something being slid across the table and then a border asked, Are these real sapphires? I'm asking on behalf of the spirits, of course.

The woman choked back tears as she answered. There ought to be cost, Don, but two months of salary. The dear old fool, the dear fool.

All right. Yeah. Wanna stop there and talk about.

Yeah, this okay. it's a it's a very interesting opening.

Good hook, rising action. No backstory to weigh us down or anything like that we're in the moment.

Yeah, I like that. We're in the moment. I like the opening. I like the way that we're given enough information to get going with. We understand that her captor is some kind of con artist. We we get that he's busy with a client. His his personality is very well shown in this one. Right. In his taking. I mean, I really feel for the for the client here handing over, you know, her her 40th anniversary present from her husband.

So those are all good parts.


What I am missing is some of Nara's emotions.

Yeah. Well, not just some. Yeah, there's none. Yeah, there's no connection to Nara, which we're supposed to be connected to. She's the P.O.V. character, so I don't think any of this needs to go. I think it needs to be expanded upon adding in Nara's, because she's doing something. She's trying to pick this lock during this whole time. So I want to be that.

I want to and I want something to happen. You know that is going to make is going to add because there's no tension, There's no conflict between Nara and the story.

Yes. And also. So so this is something that I've had to master because one of my characters and Sang wheel will as a child. Right. So she overhears a lot of conversations that she's not part of and not because she necessarily she's listening for it, but because she's around adults and they're not talking to her.

Right. Right.

And so when you have a situation like that, which is also the situation here, because the the character is not part of the unfolding scene Right. But you still have to find a way to bring the events of the unfolding scene back to why it matters to the character.


You need the character to experience the emotions that you want the reader to have because of the conversation.

Yeah. every few.

Lines of the unfolding events. It needs to come back to the character.

yeah? Yeah. I mean, right now, Nara is a disembodied camera. We're watching a movie screen and we're sitting in the audience and Nara is just sitting in the audience with us like, you know, we don't even hear Nara munching on her popcorn next to us. Like, she's literally just sitting in the theater. She has nothing to do with the story, and therefore, we feel disconnected from it.

Yeah. You know, that's the beauty of today's limited prose, is that we're going to be a part of it now. And and I do want to say there's many ways to do it. Your way is 100%, you know. Exactly right. As far as, you know, allow Nora to, even though she's not a part of the conversation, to be affected by the conversation, to have emotions over the conversation.

Another way to do that is just to have the conversation happening. And Nora's struggles have literally nothing to do with the conversation. But we still, you know, we're trying to unpick this like we're trying to worry about, you know, escape. We're trying to worry about not being overheard. We're trying to I just made a squeak. And they looked my way and I'm looking all innocent and you know, that conflict.

So it really doesn't matter where the tension comes from. But we need that tension and we need that connection to Nara. That just doesn't exist as it stands in the opening pages. So for the most part, well-written. There's a few little stupid typos and some things like that. Yeah, punctuation. This writer, for whatever reason, at the beginning, before every single piece of dialog, has no punctuation.

Yeah. Most of the time it needed a period like the one you added there. So the first time that the person speaks the sentences weaving the bone between the copy bars, she managed to insert one end into the lock when the cad began to speak. And then she just has no punctuation other than the opening quote. Going on an almost auspicious day.

I mean, it needs a sentence. Needs to be a sentence and needs a period there. There's another one further down.

Not that she was quick to soothe her. Madame. My mastery of mystery and my mastery of mysticism is without peer. Now, there you could either put the period as I did, or you could actually put a comma there in theory. It's kind of shaky ground, though, because it's not really a speech that.

So the one in the paragraph above, it is also the same way. A voice, the voice of an elderly woman spoke. I think that's a period because I think it's a sentence. But technically there's an argument just like you did for the next one. There's an argument for a comma because you know, what is a speech tag, A speech tag means to a speech text only a speech tag if it shows or really tells, because most of each section just tells if it tells how the dialog is spoken, not who said it, but how it was set.

And so and that's why I even, like said Drake is a speech tag, because I'm saying it. I'm saying it out loud. So you're telling me how I'm saying it as opposed to thought Drake or whatever? If it doesn't, which both of these, like I said, me and Marie would, period. Both of these because they don't really tell how the dialog is being told, but there's another one further down.

So the odd.

Thing is that when when the when this author splits the dialog, they do actually punctuate correctly. Look at.

This. Right Right at the

Yes I remembered comma.


The woman period. That is 100% correct perfectly punctuated.

If this speech that comes after the dialog this this author has done that correctly. But like this one that you're on there now, Albador asked that would be a comma. Yeah. Because that's the speech tag he's how are we saying this dialog We're saying it as a question. So Albador asked. Yeah, but again, it becomes before and so for whatever reason and then yeah, yeah.

So so to to the author if you're watching this punctuate the before speech tags exactly like you do the after speech tags and they're perfect.

Well, except for like that one I think it needs a period.

On set is shaky because it is kind of a speech tag. But yeah, you could make an argument either way.

Well, because it's but in this case. So just to split hairs, because again, you're right, this is 100% that there's an argument for it. Yeah, but it's an action. The woman choked back tears as she answered. It doesn't say how she's answering. It literally is just she the action of answering. She's choking back tears. Yeah. So that's why to me, I would put a period there.

And of course, you know, English grammar is so consistent and there's absolutely no body. Who ever argues about that at all?

Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, I mean that there's that, but that was the only real grammatical. I mean.

There's a typo here. It's a double L, but it's just. That's just a typo, I'm pretty sure.

Yeah, exactly. I don't usually pick on typos. So much punctuation when it's consistent means the author doesn't realize that they're making the error. So I will usually go through that. But. But yeah, the big thing is that there is no conflict between the P.O.V. character and the story. Yes. So well-written. Great hook as far as I'm interested. Like, why am I in a cage?

Yeah, why am I small enough to be in a bird cage? And it doesn't sound like the rest of the world around me isn't, because I'm going to go through a cat door. Cat doors are not notoriously big unless you know your cat is a lion. And then it's weird in a different way. But so obviously, whatever I am as Nora, I'm smaller than the surrounding that now.

Maybe these people are giants and I'm normal size. Or maybe I'm something tiny and they're normal humans. Whatever. I don't know yet. And that's great. I really like that. That mystery of Let me figure it out. But because we introduced Nora in the beginning and then never mention her again and she's just a passive camera from then on out, that's the big hit for me.

But I agree that for me is the big drawback. I will say that I am really intrigued to find out what Nara is, so I'm actually quite tempted to read on because yeah, it's a good question.

Yeah. Yeah.

But, but I do want to nit pick a few things before we move on.


Okay, so on

line three, pulling back the rags piled in the corner of the birdcage. Perfect. She revealed. But she's taking the action. No one else can be taking it. Action. Why revealed? Why has revealed the verb there? It feels like it weakens the sense, right?

As opposed to she uncovered. She pulled out? Yeah, she retrieved.

Yeah. Pulling back the rags. But in the corner, she uncovered her stash of chicken bones. We don't even know. We don't even need to know that she stashed it the previous night and I feel like that she had stashed also makes it a little bit more clumsy. Right? It doesn't need to be that level of detail. It can just be she.

She some she I don't like the she revealed there.

yeah. No it's definitely I don't like the reveal because it's too that becomes omniscient because now it's third person narrator talking about her as opposed to because I don't say and then I reveal this now I just grabbed I uncovered I did. So I 100% agree with that I will push back because so one of the things about editing and memory know this but it's we need to say this.

This is more for you guys than for us when outside of the more factual stuff, like the first two things we talked about the punctuation and the lack of tension. When you start getting to know a lot of this stuff, it is a lot subjective. So when you hear something like, this is too wordy, I would cut this down.

It means that that person is that's what that's their feeling on it, which is 100% valid. They are 1% right. But it doesn't mean that you that that it's right for you. And so that's one of the reasons why I like when my writers group, when somebody critiques something, even if I don't agree necessarily with my pushback, I still like to do a pushback just to give the author other ways of thinking about the same thing.

So but in this one, I kind of like the had stashed the previous night because it it builds a it's sort of like to have to kind of co-opt your stealing tension from the future. It almost steals tension from the past because it's like like we've been here for a night. We've already been planning this without having to do backstory.



But not saying it can't be written differently. But I'm just saying, I guess I.


Ask the previous night because of the fact that it does bring in something that that build something really quickly that's much.

Like it is part of the sentence.

I can see that.

Because the sentence already has a longer run. Then it's these the chicken bones.


Then it's the little bit of tension of she had stashed it like this plan has been a night in the building. It feels like it's too much. For one sentence. it is.

And if I was writing it, you're right. I might write something like pulling back the rags piled in the corner of the birdcage. She withdrew the chicken bones, you know, hidden there, period. Yeah. She had stashed them after last night's, you know, dinner or whatever, I'd bring in something that would


How would they gotten here?

Right, Exactly. Well, you know, the plan I would bring in the fact that I've been scheming this for a while. This is a planned event. And there is a way to bring in a little bit of that because that lets you know that this character is actively and has been actively working on this. Yeah. And also the plan being in its own separate sentence is going to be stronger to be consumed as opposed to here on the end.

So I wasn't pushing back on the fact of I don't necessarily agree with how it's written. Yes, but I do like the information.

Fair enough. That's fair enough. I think it just it does for me need to be not part of that.

sentence. yeah, yeah, yeah and I 1% agree with that I'm this longer run on sentence.

Then the next sentence weaving the bone between the copper ball. She managed to insert one end into the lock when the cat began to speak on line four and five. So my problem here is, okay, so she's weaving the bone in.

she weaves it in and then she managed.

I managed to such a weak verb.

It is.

She inserted one end into the lock. It's managed. Doesn't add anything.

There. No.

It really doesn't. It's just weak. And my other problem is that, okay, she inserted one end into the lock when the cat began to speak. That when the cat began to speak makes all of this one paragraph. And the problem is you now have somebody in a completely different location doing a completely different action, not related to Nara and her lock picking abilities that is embedded in the same paragraph.


So ideally you want weaving the bone into the copper bars. She inserted one end into the lock and then period. And from outside the curtain, the CAD spot. That is my other problem with it. We all know how I feel about stage direction. Words like began. Then you don't need them. They basically just weaken the sentence. It is very rare that you need those words.


Especially here since nothing interrupts. He just spoke. The cat spoke.

Right. And then also that means that we can divide out her actions. We can put another paragraph in the middle of eight. This was excellent news.

Yeah. And then this was excellent news. All of the cats cam with the scenes took the longest, so. and then. Okay, so I know what the author is doing. With any luck, she could pick the locked semi down. I, I get that.

That was the one that I was going to pull out.

Yes. Why don't you take it?

And I and you see this in so many stories. This is a very common use thing. And I get why people are just like you were saying, you're like, I'm showing you what their plan is. I literally just talked about this on Tuesday in the writers room because they now it was more than just this one sentence.

It was the character literally went, okay, so here's my plan. I'm going to go here, I'm going to do this. I'm going to get that. I'm going to then kill this guy. I'm going to then go here and then I'm going to do this. And it was like this huge two or three paragraph long dissertation of their plan.

And I'm like, okay, here's the problem that I had with that. More than likely, none of this is going to go right. And so therefore, I just wasted my time reading this plan when I could have just said, you know, a plan formed his mind and he, you know, he felt confident, matter, whatever. It's a terrible thing, but whatever or it is going to happen exactly like this.

And I've just read it like like neither one of those is a good solution. Now, this obviously isn't paragraphs and paragraphs, but it's so much more active, in my opinion, to have done something like

as she frantically work with the lock, her eyes strayed to

cat door on the far side of the room.

And then if we wanted to bring in a little bit of internal tension, you know, we could have her in her monologue.

Even if I get down, can make it across before he steps on me or whatever.

So there's just a more active way to do it as opposed to with any luck, like because again, that becomes very omniscient narration as opposed to I'm the narrator.

Yeah, and it becomes a lot closer to the character and you start building that internal tension. If you make her feel nervous about the execution of her plan.

Yes. And then it still gives the information to the reader that you're trying to give to the reader, but stays in close.

Yes. So so yeah, I this this I would change pretty much something like Drake said.

And then there's a real weird, petty one that we can fight over.


And I can't believe I'm saying this because I'm normally on the other side of this, but to me it kind of screams for it. It was toward the end of the where you were reading

Basically, there was a sentence in there that I went, my goodness, I can't believe I'm going to recommend that it needs a semicolon.

there it is.

Line nine. This was not news. This was excellent news. Semicolon. Of all the card scams, comma, the sentence the science took the longest. You can also put a period, obviously, because what is a semicolon do It separates two complete sentences.

Yeah, but one it would eliminate you

stumbling over the of because now it becomes its own sentence. So but they are the other thing about a semicolon is they need to be intimately linked. And so the reason why I like the semicolon here is then there's no way the reader can confuse what the excellent news is. The excellent news is the science being the scam that takes the longest.

So I don’t use semicolons very often.

But hear me out.

an m dash could work as well. Yeah, and a period could work as well. Like, like I said, there's definitely more ways to do it. Yeah, but this is the this is the quintessential definition of why you would use a semicolon. you know, like for what a semicolon exists. This sentence is the.

This sentence is a semicolon sentence. You're right.

Yes. There's. We mean new especially are not fans of the semicolon. Probably you more less than me. But because I use it occasionally, I do. But they have to be exactly like this. They have to be complete sentences. They have to be so intimately linked that I want to put that semicolon in there so you so that you connect the two because you read it more as one sentence and as two separate senses.

m dash worked here as well. Yeah.

Yeah. I know that grammatically the semicolon is probably the correct punctuation to use here. I just have an unnatural hatred of them.

Right? No, no, I get it. That's why I said we're going to be on. It's going to be a contentious point this. But technically, by definition and yeah, the actual grammatical definition. And if I was writing that, I would use the semicolon because I, you know, I tend to use m dashes. And so any time I can not use one.

I guess I would use the the semicolon. I mean the m dash.


Or I would just leave it as a comma and be like, yes, it's a splice fight me.

Yeah. That's the problem that I have with. I definitely wouldn't leave it as a comma. It hundred percent can be. Yeah, but you can have exactly like what you did where you were. You might stumble over the line or whatever. So, yeah, I can't believe I'm on the side of fighting for the microphone.

But let's let's move on to line 24. So we've just a woman just handed over her earrings. Magnificent. A perfect offering, indeed. We may now dare to peer past the veil of life and death and commune with the role of spirits. I warn you, my good Mrs. Beard, and this is a venture into danger. Take heed and follow all my instructions.

And we may yet live to see another dawn. The lights from behind the curtain began to flicker and change. Smoke of many colors filled the room and clatter of shifting furniture was heard not nearer, but her lip. This was there was normally more buildup before the light show. The cat was skipping steps. She had to hurry a slight shift in the metal was felt through the bone, perhaps the tumbler of the lock.

Only a little more force was needed. Then surely the cage would open. She put her weight against the bone to gain a bit more leverage when the tip snapped near a mouth. Every obscenity she knew as she tossed the broken pick a side, but no sound escaped her lips. None had since the silver collar had been placed around her neck.

Noisy merchandise was bad for business, but I'm going to stop because I have nits to pick.

But before you do, I got to pick on you. Yeah, you. You read Nara as Nara, your character.

Na na na na na.

You said nara's mouth open and it just made me giggle.

okay. So the lights from behind the curtain began. Does not.

It just.

Just be flickered?

Yeah. Flickered and changed like a bunch of wishy washy words. There's no reason for them. They don't end anything. They actually just slow down the action and distance the reader from them.

Exactly. There is no reason to put them in you. You think that they're sketching a certain image, but all they're actually doing is weakening the sentence.

It's literal and really four words like began, begin started all of those. The thing I try to impart on people is the only time you want to use those is if the action is actually interrupted. Yeah, you know, then then I'm going to talk. But Drake cut her off.


Just like that. Because then I want to paint the picture of you actually starting and being interrupted. But if you aren't interrupted, if it's just and then, you know, Marie began to talk and then have three paragraphs. If you saying words like, well, she didn't begin to talk. She just talks like there's no beginning in there. Yeah.

Exactly. Now, the other thing on online 27, a sentence thought that goes as follows Smoke of many colors fold the room and clutter of shifting furniture was heard by who?


That is a passive. It is the definition of a passive sentence. And it really doesn't need to be that. It's very simple to fix and and ship and shifting furniture cluttered.

That's that's one way to do it. You could also bring it in to make it personal. Smoke of many colors fill the room and the clatter of shifting furniture you know bit into NARA or heighten nara's concern made her fingers work faster, like whatever. Like we can bring it into the pov character as well. Yeah. You know, even like if you if you combine that that next bit and shifting furniture clattered comma causing Nara to bite her lip or whatever.


And then we get Nara biting her lip, which is good. There was normally more buildup before the show. Good. The cat slipping, skipping steps. I would make this its own sentence.


It has. It has sufficient strength, especially followed by she had to hurry like well, because they're short they give you. That's the quarter feeling.

Yeah I have a problem with. She had to hurry. Yeah well not only do you not need it because you're, you're, you're just telling me what was already shown, you're showing me that she has to hurry and then you're going to tell me she has to. And that's a sentence that is just the writer not trusting their own abilities as a storyteller.

All of the rest of this is going to show me, and especially if you add a little bit more than just Nora bit her lip. If you give me that, like everything starts going and then she gets nervous and she starts fumbling because like, my goodness, he's skipping steps. There's never going to be enough time. Now, those are all things that are showing me her panic as opposed to just telling me she has to do that.

Then on line 31 here, we're passive again. A slight shift in the metal was felt through the bone, perhaps the thunder of the lock. But clearly this is Nara feeling that. So why is this passive? What are you trying to hide from me? Like.

Yeah, the. The shift reverberated through the bone or whatever.

Yeah, a slight shift.

The level reverberated through the bone. Yeah. Also, and I say this all the time, you should never write the word, feel or felt in narrative because it's always a tell.


And you're was, is, are always also a huge red flag. Now I always got to be very, very, very cautious of this because for some reason every time I say that some somebody out there goes, I need to write a manuscript. No, was this Now we're not saying that. We're saying is is that was is our red flags like in these last two times they were both passive voice, red flags and they don't need to be there.

They need to be cut. But sometimes the sky was blue. I mean, it's just a linking verb. The sky was blue sky. It was blue. It's fine. Yeah.

And and sometimes you use them. If you were, I think, continuous, like.

Well, like the next sentence. Although I was.

Louis was running. Yeah. I mean, yeah.

I had problems with that sense, but. But exactly the was in there is fine. Yeah. Only a little more force was needed and then again there's so much wrong with it but, but the was isn't wrong I guess the one word in there that isn't wrong.

Yeah but, but you, but you should check every was in the manuscript to make sure that it's correct.


And that you mean to use it there and all the rest.

Was is are great ways to find your tells your passive voice. Yeah. You're wishy washy as so many people right so it's the same thing is what you have up on line 27 with was is so instead of began to flicker they'll say the lights from behind the curtain was flickering and changing again it's the same thing as began to so that was is a great example of yeah just make it stronger.

Just don't don't be wishy washy with your prose. It flickers, it changes it, It's in your face. It's it's still, you know, that's what we're looking for with these verbs as opposed to kind of began and, you know, flickering and it was changing and it started to get dark. Know, we might feel a little scared like now. Yeah.

Like we want to be strong and active and in our readers faces.

Yeah. Then only a little more force was needed and surely the cage would open. I think the author is going for internal monologue here. Or some sort of internal monologue.

I don't feel that because if I mean, if I was doing this inner monologue, I might. I might do something like that. A more, just a little more. And then that brings me to the character and it's and voice and and all of that. But I mean, they're not using their monologue at all here. I think this is more like that other line where you're telling me the future, you're trying to sort of almost like what you what you like to say.

You're almost borrowing tension from the future.

No, because they setting it up the also setting it up so that you you're like, okay, just push, push, push, push, push. And then the thing breaks off and slaps right? Right. Like they're not borrowing tension from the future, that they're pushing it forward and. Well, but.

It's the it's the surely the cage would open that's.

100%. I'm not saying that they've done it. Well. I'm saying I think that's what they were going.

yeah, yeah, yeah. No, you're right. I'm just saying yeah, this falls into that. You're kind of almost borrowing that tension for the future because you're saying surely the cage is going to open in the future if I just do this a little bit more and it's like, yeah, so the only I have a problem with the surely I have a problem with.

There's so many more choices. Surely. Don’t call me Sherley. Yeah. So there's just, there's just more active ways. Again I it's one of the, my reasons why I love inner monologue so much and I get not everybody uses inner monologue I'm not saying everyone needs to use inner monologue but I'm just showing this as an example. When we get into this and we're like, you know, if the character, if narrow was to say just a little bit more, just a little bit more please like we start to hear her internal desperation and struggle and then we can give the emotion of

instead of she put her weight against the bone, then also, in my opinion,


it. You know,

the tumbler tumbler press, the locks shifted and then the tip snapped. Yeah. Then I want to get Nora's heart sank, you know, whatever. I want to get that emotion

as opposed to Nara mouth every obscenity she knew as she tossed the broken pick. A side that's.

The tap snapped should certainly be its own sentence, because this is the whole plan unraveling.

Yes, 100%.

It deserves its own sentence. It might even deserve its own paragraph. It deserves its own sentence. And then I agree. Nora Mouth. Every obscenity she knew is a weak way of showing the emotion. You either actually tell me what she's saying or trying to say, or like, take me inside her and have her heart sink. Have, you know, have her have the emotion, have some physical effect, something.

Yeah. Now.

What is interesting here is her caller.


Get this is very interesting. I'm I'm seriously despite all my nit picking, I am intrigued by the story.

yeah, yeah, yeah.

But a better way to do this at this point, a way to really do it is to to have her try and speak, you know, and inhabit in dialog tags and then say no sound came from her throat.

Right. So I don't disagree with that. Yeah. For me it's always about the drama.

and always about the showing and the emotions and everything like that. So,

you know, I might do something like

the tip snapped

and just go into the, the, the trauma of what she's feeling as far as like, you know the world. And with it the world slammed down upon her.

There would be no escape. There would be no whatever. She fell to her knees and screamed at the top of her lungs. And then that no sound

escaped, you know? No, no sound. She made no sound, of course,

because of the silver collar. And she wasn't 100% sure she was upset by that this time or whatever, because then it would have given her away and all this other stuff.

So I can just there's just a huge opportunity to go into much more drama here. Much more because because that's the thing. This is this is the perfect example of when I talk about people are editing and they say, look at what they've written and they go, okay, what word can I change or whatever to fix this? And it's like, Stop doing that.

So we have normalized every obscenity she knew as she touched the broken pick a side, but no sound escaped her lips. Okay, so what are we trying to show? We're trying to set up the silver collar, the magic that's around her neck. We're trying to show that no matter what she says, no, no sound escapes and so on and so forth.

So since we now know what we're trying to accomplish, instead of looking at the sentencing going on in our mouth, every obscenity she knew. Okay, so that's a little weak. What word can I change to make that stronger? No. What am I trying to accomplish with the sentence? Okay, I'm trying to accomplish this now. Is there ten other ways to write that same thing?

Yes. You said she could actually voice the. You know, the words. I went with the emotional cramming down on her and her dropping to her knees and screaming like there's a million ways to do it. It's unlimited. When you stop looking at the sentence you wrote and trying to fix the sentence. And instead just think of what the sentence is delivering to the audience.

And just show that.


Then The other thing that I actually want to highlight here is something that I like is I like this line on line 35. Noisy merchandise was bad for business. It is a good was in my opinion. It's a it's a tell, sure, but it's a good tell.

I agree.

It immediately tells me that Nora is considered merchandise.


That makes her a slave. She's sentient. She's a slave.

Yes. Now, you're not going to like this because it's a little bit of a flashback, but another way to do it just popped into my head. The cads, the cads words came back to her as he clapped the metal, the silver medal around her neck, or the silver necklace around her neck. Quote, noisy merchandise is bad for business, end quote.

So a little bit of a flashback, but it's a memory and it's right in there and it's in the moment and she's experiencing it, all of that. So I like the line, too. I agree. I just it just popped into my head.

Yeah. The it doesn't bother me that much. It's because it's a very short flashback. But I feel like this line all by itself communicates all of that without even needing the flashback.

Yeah, because.

It's clearly not a line that she did sort of. It's, it's clearly a line that's been told to her. Right.

I mean I'm just with that. If you did go into that you could bring in personality to the Kerr. She remembered the wicked grin painted across the curves mouth as he clamped the silver necklace around her throat, noisy merchandise. Bad is bad for business. Like you can get. You can build the scene. Yeah.


Yeah. Nothing wrong with this line. I like this line. I'm agree with you on represent. I'm just giving other points of it, other just ways of thinking.

Get then on line 36 I do not like meanwhile Albers Obrador's performance continuing his fine, Alberto's performance continued except that it's a full stop period. But you don't need that.

Meanwhile on a.

Side parking.

Lot of stage direction in here.

Yeah, Alberto's performance continued. I can see it now, Mrs. Bearden. The land beyond. I see the faces of all the deceased around us now, Madam what is your question? What would you ask of those of the Rome beyond? please. Kind spirits. I don't mean to bother, but I just need to know Don Burris there. I just need to know.

He settled on the other side listening to Mrs. Let's.

Let's stop for just a second. Yeah. Because both of these paragraphs are talking heads Now, not saying this is bad. This actually is not a talking head thing that offends me, makes me want to whatever. However, I just want to talk about the fact that one of the reasons why rage so much against Talking Heads is every one of them is missed opportunities.

So, you know, and and again, are Salvador's performance continued is absolutely just a tell. So instead you know we could write what our door does. Salvador raised his hands in the air, fingers out like claws.

I don't think we can see him because there's a curtain.

can we not see him at all?

I don't think we can see him. We can maybe see a silhouette that best. But you could.

Describe the.

You could describe the voice the way that I've been.


The way that I read.

If we can't see him, then. Then we can hear. You know, we could definitely go more descriptive in other avenues. I missed that part. Sorry. So if we can't see them, then yeah, obviously you couldn't do what I just said. We'd say consistent with it. But it's still all missed, you know. please. Kind spirits, period. Close quote.

A quiver entered the woman's voice. Whatever. I mean, there's again, if we can see her as tears welled in her eyes or whatever, we can't see. We can't see that. But every time you're talking heads and what I mean by talking heads is just lines of dialog with nothing attached except for a sweet stag, just because it all speaks accurately.

So if it said, you know, Salvador said, I can see it now, it's the same thing as saying outdoors performance continued. It's just a tale. You're just telling me what's happening instead of showing what's happening. So when I talk about speaks talking heads, it doesn't matter if there's a speech tag, there could be tags. Don't do anything. Yeah, they're just they're just tells of who said it.

They're always missed opportunities for ability to expand the scene, expand the character of the characters, expand. There's just so much you can do with talking heads that goes unused when you just have dialog, dialog, dialog, dialog. And I will fix it.

I will push back one tiny, tiny little bit just to just to say once again, for the people out there who, you know, listening, going like, but sometimes a piece of like a dialog. Yes, sometimes a piece of naked dialog. Standing by itself is more powerful than adding descriptors and tags. But then the piece of dialog by itself must stand.

Is the show. Yeah, yeah. The piece of dialog is the show. Yes. And while I'll agree with that, the pushback that I will give on what I said was it's just missed opportunities. It doesn't mean you have to take advantage by the opportunity because if you do, you'll bloat your manuscript. But all of them are missed opportunities. All of them can be utilized.

It's but I'm not saying take advantage of all of them. Yes. You're always going to have, you know, as you said, naked dialog. I call it talking heads, but you're always going to have a piece of dialog by itself. Every once in a while. I do probably every three or four pages there's going to be one line of dialog that's by itself occasionally.

Shockingly, I might even do it twice on one page with it, because For me, there's two requirements to have a naked piece of dialog. One, the dialog by itself has to be stronger on its own then, and it's when I add stuff to it and to no one will ever confuse who said it like it is. So I mean, like the example I always use when I'm teaching this, you know, the drill instructor got into the private space, spit flying from his mouth.

Do I make myself clear? Next paragraph, sir. Yes, sir. Like you're not going to know. There's no confusion of who said sir. Yes, sir. Like you're so grounded. The scene is so well set. It's obviously the pilot private who is answering the drill instructor who is screaming at him like it's just. And so those are the two requirements.

Now, is it better by itself than with something else? And is there no possible way that the reader will misunderstand who said that piece of dialog? And as long as I check both those boxes, I have naked dialog. It's fine. Yeah.

Yeah. So. So I agree with that. Yes. Let's.

All right. So just to put a nail on that before we move on, if we look at these two piece of dialog, both them, check the first box. Well, the second piece definitely checks the first box because it doesn't have I mean, the first one is you have Albert Salvador, but the second piece checks the second textbox. We 100% know that it's the woman.

There's we're never going to get lost on that. Yeah. However, with adding more detail to this line, weaken it? No. It would only enhance it, so therefore it wouldn't be a piece of naked dialog to me. So even though there's no way the reader can not know who said it, that's only half of the equation. It would be improved and strengthened if I gave a little bit more information about the woman, how she was saying it, what her emotions that she's feeling.

And I don't mean internally because we're not in her head. That's why I said. Her voice quivered or tears welled in her eyes. It has to be an external thing because you can only see her and hear her. We can't. We're not inside her. We're inside of Nora. So but any of that would increase the immersion of this scene.

So therefore, this would never be a piece of dialog by itself to me, because it doesn't check that second checkbox or the first checkbox in this case. Yeah.

Okay, then line 41 Listening to Mrs. Biden's desperate plea, put a stone in Nora stomach. If the cad had his way, he would see to it. She would be returning again and again, each time paying a bit more for nothing. But then the promise of hope. For the moment, Nora set aside her own plans to escape and look to either side of the cage.

The right was an old rusted cauldron, and to the left a glass display with a wolf skull. Both oddities, all but all tried to pass off as valuable artifacts. She measured the broken bone against her arm. It may just be long enough. Okay, so I'm just going to stop right there on this paragraph because I do want to talk about it.

I like this paragraph for the little bit of personality we glimpsed from Nara, despite her plans being upset, despite this being her opportunity, she's willing to help somebody else, which speaks a lot about character and, you know, it does help the reader get more into it.

But I don't like the listening to this. It's very plain. Like, I would rather have some kind of connection to it. Like the desperate plea. Put us put a stone in Naras stomach rather than listening to it.

Yeah, you can literally just. You don't have to change anything other than putting a period after Mrs.. I notice that she doesn't pick periods after her her Mrs. on any of these. But anyway, you can literally cut listening to Mrs. Burden's desperate pleas. Put a stone in our stomach. Yeah, that's it. You don't even you don't need. So the listening to is a filter.

Yeah. Everything that is listened to if you're going to show it in narration Nara is listening to it. Yeah, she has to listen to it because she's the only narrator. After that, I've got a lot of problems with everything. But go ahead.

Well, do you want to take the next sentence?

So, yeah, like this sentence to me reads like, Hey, Mr. Reader, because you're a three year old and have no idea about the reality of the world, let me spell out in excruciating detail everything that's going on here, because I know you're too stupid to realize it. From everything that we just read and saw. I know you're never going to get that he is milking her for everything she has and that he's using hope against her and and he's going to do everything he can to bring her back again and again and again because, you know, you're an idiot.

So let me spell that out to you. It's just and again, this goes back to what I said earlier. This is that part of trusting the reader and trusting yourself. She did like literally in the second line of dialog, we knew all we needed to know about Albador and that he's a charlatan and a con man and a crook and a piece of garbage.

And you showed us that?

Yeah, absolutely.

And then down here you go. I don't think I'm good enough. STORYTELLER So let me just spell it out because, you know, so either so one of two things. Either you're insulting the reader or you're insulting yourself. Yeah, but that's what this line is to me. It is a complete tell of what you just showed and that that is both.

You genuinely do not need that sentence. No. You have plenty sufficiently done a great job of painting the cat's personality.


There is no need for it.

And it just comes with confidence as a storyteller. Yeah, yeah. Now that confidence comes from testing. So and it's testing every time because you never when you actually succeed or when you failed until other people tell you. So if I wrote this and reread it and I didn't have that line, I'd be thinking, Yep, I am pretty sure I did my job.

But then I'd give it to my readers and then they would read it. And one of the questions are that I would ask them and it would be an open ended question is, So how do you feel about Albador and what do you think his motivation is? And then they would probably write if he has his way, he would see her returning again and again and each time paying a bit more for nothing but the promise of it.

And I would be like, bing bing bing bing bing. I've succeeded. If they go. So I think he's a seriously helpful guy that is really trying to, you know, then I have failed. I failed miserably if I wanted, you know, this dude, Salvador, to be a cad, Yeah, I would seriously fail that. My audience is like, I think he's a really genuine dude who's to help this woman out.

He obviously has magical powers and he can talk to the spirits and and, you know, this is all legit and well, then I have failed. And then maybe I do need to come back and write a really crappy telly line because I didn't do my job. I wouldn't do that. I would just rewrite and show it more. But yeah, the only way to know.

So you do it, you read it, you decide if you've succeeded and then you test it. And if you've succeeded, the audience will tell you. Just make sure you ask those open ended questions. How do you feel about this? Do you think their motivation is? What do you think is happening here? Let them tell you, don't bite them, don't go.

So I'm trying to make out the door to be on, you know, a thieving con artist. Do you think I succeeded? Because you're obviously going to go. Yeah, because even if they don't feel you succeeded, if they say no, I don't feel succeeded, they're going to think that they missed it. Yeah, you're not good enough. They're always going to feel that way.

So, you know, you don't want to beat the witness, so you just say, Hey, so you just read the scene about Albert, or what do you think his motivations are? What type of person do you think he is? And then let them tell you what they think and then you reconcile that on Is that what I wanted the reader to feel great?

If it's not, then I have failed as a writer. They didn't feel it was great. So I just that's what they feel. That's 100% what they feel. They're right on that. So yeah, so that's that line and it's just you just you have to have more trust in yourself as a storyteller. And, you know, literally one of the biggest bonuses for me, that first novel of mine that was ever published, even though it won awards, is that was probably my biggest weakness in that book.

I would show and then tell or I would tell and then show. And it's because I wasn't as confident of a storyteller back then. I didn't know if I was really hitting that mark. So I would then have to overcompensate because the reality is that she's not actually insulting her audience. She's insulting herself. Yeah, like she is. It's I don't know if I did it or not.

So let me spell this out. Not that you're an idiot, so let me spell it out to you. I was being a little tongue in cheek with that one. Yeah.

Then for the moment. And just by the way, for anybody listening, neither Drake nor I am certain what the gender is of the person writing this. So.

that is. Yeah.

Just a guess. Somebody was wondering, I guess for the moment is stage direction.

Not relevant.

So we haven't gone into this. And just to kind of we said it a few times when you use words like next and then for the moment, all of this stuff, of course it is like and then next this happened. Yeah. It's the next sentence I'm about to read. Why would I think it came before this? Like. Like, that's insane.

So most of these stage directions just they weaken the writing. They slow the writing down. You know, we are here like we know that. So just cutting that, like what Marie just did. Na said her plans of escape are set aside. Her own plans of escape and look to either side of the cage like we don't need. For the moment.

It doesn't do anything. It just makes gives us three words we have to read and then try to paint in our head. And now we're just muddying the waters as opposed to just letting. Nora Of course it's happening right now. Yeah. Although the only pushback that I would give and both of us feel the way I just said, and then it just popped to me that she the and I say she the author could be doing that.

As temporarily, Nora decided to temporarily set her plans aside. And I just read it that way. And that's actually probably what she means as opposed to stage, stage direction.

And I get it.

I still don't think.

Though, doesn't it? Doesn't do.

Anything. Yeah, I still agree.

Yeah. Like I also I realized that when I deleted it, I was like that probably just mean like temporarily. But really it's not important because eventually Nora will either get back to her plan, start showing the reader, or she will not, in which case she has set aside her plan. It's like.

Right, Exactly.

Nora sets out her own plans to escape looking the other side of the cage. Okay, you can leave that. It's fine. I guess. But why did she look on either side of the cage? What is she looking for? They forget the description of the cage, which is fine. She measured the broken arm. It may just be long enough.

So clearly she has a plan. But that I would prefer to have something here as to why she's looking in the cage. What is she looking for? Looking for inspiration. I looked around her for inspiration. Anything like that.

Right? Yeah. Look for something to help the poor old woman or, you know, whatever the motivation, not the plan. Yeah, I actually don't mind the. She measured the broken bone against her arm. It may just be long enough. Like, long enough for what? I don't know. But that's a that's an open ended question that I'm going to use to pull the reader through.

Yeah, but I would like to know her motivation. And there is an argument to be said, well, with well, she set her plans aside of escape. So obviously her motivation is to help this, but I don't know if it's not that obvious.

Yeah. So I would just like a little bit there in that to bring motivation that.

Even if it was something like Determined to thwart Salvador's plans, Nora set her own plans aside and looked around the room. You know, anything that brings in the motivation, anything that brings in, you know that again, you don't have to give us her plan. She can come up with a plan and go, it might just be long enough as opposed to no motivation.

So it's the motivation that I'm looking for.

So the description is fine, but they're oddities fine. Brooke.


the only thing I would say is this Yeah, I highly encourage people to avoid using directions. And this is different from stage directions, but setting directions unless it's absolutely necessary. Necessary because it causes a couple of problems. If I was just to write, you know, on one side and again there's that was so instead of doing it this way we might do an old rustic cauldron sat to one side and a glass display with a wolf's skull to the other.

Yeah, if it does not matter that one is to the right and one is to the left, I'm going to allow the reader to put that wherever they want. Because one of the things about the readers imagination is as they have inconsistencies in where things are, they can adjust it if they're the ones that created it. Yes.

If you go to the right is this and to the left is that.

And then and again, when I said the reader has inconsistencies, understand what I'm saying? You may have written it perfectly. You may have placed everything. You understand exactly where it is, and the reader should have able to follow it. But some readers don't. Some readers get confused and they're, you know, painting things quickly and all of this other stuff.

And so you said to the right, we're left with this. But they took the.

I'm facing it off to the right as I'm looking at it.

Right, right, exactly. Yeah. But like when we were talking about the last time we edited, there was the twins, and then there were the two other kids, and then there's now five kids that he's talking about later. And now later we find out that he has an older child that wasn't among those four. But since just those four kids were mentioned, there was an inconsistency that we created.

And so therefore, it it hurt our reading. So if it doesn't matter that it's to the right into the now, if in the story it has to be this thing to the right because that's going to affect this thing or whatever, then of course we're going to paint that picture. But if it does not matter which side of the room things are on or or where things are at by omitting it, what you allow is let's say I paint, I do it this way.

I paint the rustic cauldron on to my right and I paint the glass display to my left. But then I get down and in my movie, my head movie, it couldn't be that way. It must be the other way around. My brain will just shift it because I'm the one who created that anyway, as opposed to now. Now you told me it was to the right and to the left, and now it doesn't feel right.

And so now I'm stuck trying to reconcile that in my brain and there's just a disconnect with it. So just I highly encourage people to and a lot of this stems from how much violence I write and how much fighting I write. And so I do sometimes need to use that right and left and everything to to to show where everything is at and how things are going.

But even in a fight scene, I will just try to do, you know, he kicked him. He punched him as opposed to he punched him with his right fist and kicked him with his left. You know, whatever. So I just highly encourage to to watch that. And if you don't 100% need it to absolutely use it. I don't mean needed to paint the picture because obviously you're painting the picture if you use it.

Yeah, but you need it for the story. Leave it vague, allow the reader to do it because then they can auto adjust as they go through. Yeah.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think it may just be long enough is in the correct


No I think it would be. It might yeah. I think may is I.

Think this should be it might just be. It might just.

It needs to be just I agree be long enough. The just long enough. Yeah I think it's might Yeah it would be might just be I think I think that's getting really nit picky and some grammar and so we definitely could be wrong on that. Yeah. You can let us know in the comments. It also may just be completely subjective.

But I'm pretty sure it's in the wrong. It's like I think it's in.

Yeah, right. Yeah. May is, is definitely a tense shift. Yeah.

And then the last few paragraphs of it all began to climax. He used with every new customer. I see the face of a man, a man who looks content filled with light and peace. But the connection is fading. I am doing all I can, but the door to the other side is closing. No, don't burn, Mrs. Beard and cried out.

Don't go. Just let me know what you Let me know you are all right. There was a crash glass scattered across the floor. The car broke character and yelled What in blazes a crying Mrs. Bearden was heard rushing out of the front door as Albert all rolled after a No wait, madam. A wolf skull is a good omen, I assure you.


A lot. Yeah.

I don't like began again Stage direction.

I mean, we could write outdoor. Salvador's climax reached a crescendo he used with every new customer period. Because, again, we have that weird I don't punctuate before dialog.

Or dialog.

Lowered in climax clash with me. But I mean it's it's fine. I mean, there's a million ways to write that. Yeah it's to bring it into more.

To me a scam guy doesn't go up into a crescendo he goes like, I can see, you know, that it's a, it's a downward tilt because they want to convince you pay more.

You know.

Not leave you on a happy note.

I would. I would rewrite a lot of that, then. Yeah, if that's what I was going for. But she has the climax so I was going up the clock to work, make me go up as opposed to.

Say, note into the climax.

Yeah. I mean, there's a bunch of ways to write it.

Doesn't like me turning crescendo into a verb, but.

Consulting is a verb.

I know it's not.

You can.

You can make anything. A verb, an English. It's great.


The most adaptable language in the world.

I'm. I created Michael Bay as a verb.


You, Michael Bayed that.

I've created. Shelob was a verb. I went, We're going to Shelob of and and then layron gets Shelobed.

little token reference there. Yep.

So the dialogs fine Mrs. it and cried out. I would like to know how she cried out.

Well it's just a speech tag so she tags are always tells Yep and said Mrs. Bearden and cried out Yeah.

Punctuation gets weird there.

But that's fine.

Then there was a crash, glass scattered across the floor. Except okay, sure. So. But we were. Nora was instrumental in the crash. What did she do to cause it?

Yeah, I would like to. We get the weird thing about this piece is there's just enter it. It goes into limited a little bit, and then it goes in an omniscient and then limited and omniscient and limited and almost. And this is that omniscient that we also have the there was a crash which is just passive so that was is a bad was but also you're right I'm Nara however you want to say it I'm doing something that is causing this to go left in Albuquerque.

I want to do that I want I'm this character. Let me be the hero. I don't need this esoteric. this thing happens. I Have no idea where it came from. Yes, I do. I did it. Yeah, that was me.

Show me what I did.

Show me, right. No, exactly. So that was a huge missed opportunity there. Yeah. And then you can move or comma after yelled because it's a speech tag. Yeah, but for whatever reason, this author doesn't punctuate 52 and a 52. And yes, that needs to be a tone in the 52 yelled, comma. What, what else? What in blazes.

And this doesn't need to be was heard rushed rushed out of the front door you can even right the front.

Door by that. What if that's exactly what I said earlier which was the using the was and the ing as opposed to an ed.

At the front door as Albador pulled after her? No, wait, Madama will score. Okay, so overall, like I will give the author this I would probably read on. Yes spotty because I am very interested in Nora and her very thing like. It was a it is a really, really solid hook. It's a solid character. The idea's great.

Yeah, it.

Does need you need pick your voice here. Like if you are going to go omniscient. I mean, I don't agree with your choice, but go. But then go omniscient.


But if you're going to go limited, go limited.


Right. If you're omniscient, we should be able to see into the room. Yes, we should see the room as well as the cage.


Since we're not. Since you're limited to the cage, we're in limited be in limited.


Show me what the character make me do what the character is doing. Take me through the character.

Make me feel like I'm the character. Connect me to that character. It's going to, you know, just make me enjoy the story so much more. So I want to go down this path. I mean, talking about this a lot in the writers room, I know for a fact that most readers have no idea of the effort that I put in to make them feel what they feel.

I know they don't see the writing. I know they don't understand the difference between was heard or yeah, was heard rushing versus, you know, she just rushed. I know they have no idea that I'm doing this. And so it may sound really nit picky when me and marie talk about this stuff like this where it's like, I mean, does it really make that big of a difference?

It does. The reader doesn't know it, but the reader can read something and go, okay, I really enjoyed that story. Then they can read something else that had all of these attention to details and pushing them above outside of the pack and and outside of the white noise that's out there and go, I really like this story a lot.

Yeah, They don't know why they liked one a lot versus the the one that that they like. It's just the way it is. Yes. Can readers enjoy a story that is poorly written? There's proof of I mean, Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray. The list goes on of stories that are just horribly written, what they deserve to be successful because the story does, what it's supposed to do and it impacts the reader.

My point is, if you wrote it better, then not only would more people have liked it, you wouldn't have to, you know, idiots on a podcast talking about how crappy written it was. Like it's just and it really comes down to and I talk about this a lot. I talk about this about the hook rate, which is how many people read if they read one of your books, How, how likely are they read the next one?

Right now, the average on Amazon and there's a lot of garbage on Amazon, but right now the average on Amazon is only about 20%. So the hardest thing to do is get a reader. That's the hardest thing to do, which means right now the average author on on Amazon has to get five readers to read their first book to, Earn a fan that will read their next book.

Yeah, five times the market. The average in the industry is about 35%. New York Times bestsellers. Who get 60? 70%?


You know, and again, I ran even higher than that. I can say what it is. It's pretentious, but why? Why is why do I run such a high hook rate? Not because I'm a brilliant genius. God gives to storytelling that has nothing do with that. It has the it's solely the effort and attention to detail that I put into there for whatever reason, whatever little things that I'm doing all over the place.

The readers feel it. They read my stuff and they go, Wow, okay, I'm definitely reading everything this guy puts out, and I will probably read what this guy puts out. And maybe, maybe not. I'll read what this guy puts out. It's the same story. The difference is it's just they even though they don't know, you know, all these things that we just talked about on this podcast that me and Marie push and we push in the writers room and we we talk about and other aspects, it all just adds up.

That's that's really the what it comes down to. And almost a million books are published every year right now. You're not competing against them from a like me and marie don't compete. Every fan that I get Marie will get every fan Marie gets I will get like and it not just because we're doing a podcast together, but we're in the same we're looking at the same fans.

We both push ourselves to write well. So you know, it's not a pie, as in I get this piece and I get to eat it and you don't get that fan. Like, that's not how this works. Yeah, but what you are competing with is the white noise created by that many stories. And so pushing yourself to make these small changes, you know, that attention to detail, the the getting rid of the wishy washy words began the started the punctuating correctly the the not slipping an omniscient, the making sure we connect to the character and the conflict and all this stuff we just talked about in this one little podcast.

Yeah, all of those things will go a long way to making more of the people who read the first book, buy your next book, and that's how careers are built. Careers are not built off of selling one book. Careers are built off of having a career of books, and you get fan that go, I love you and what else do you got?

What else are you going to put out? Now? It does get wishy washy when like a lot of mine memories, fans do not buy magic Fall because they're like, We love both of you. it's sci fi. And and that is the danger when you step outside of your dream. Yeah, they people. I'm an epic fantasy fan. That's what I want to read.

Why are you writing this sci fi thing? Not that it isn't well written. It's just not my thing is what the fan would say. So that is different. I'm not talking about that, but I'm talking about, you know, if I'm putting out consistent stuff and it's always good and you always can build that trust in me, that I'm always going to take care of you.

As you know, somebody who has given me money and I'm going to take care of you and you know this, then you're just going to keep buying. It's the reason why I stress so hard about the authors that, you know, their first book comes on. You're like, Wow, that's a really good book. And you get their next book and it's like, you know, it's okay.

And then the third book comes out and you're just like, Yeah, I'm done. I don't want to read this person anymore. And more than likely they got the big head. They were just like, I am awesome. I am the best I can put words on the page and everybody will buy it. No They won't know. They won't. They will leave you because you earn their trust in the beginning and then you lost their trust.

So I push myself. Every story thats why Marie does the same thing. So I just wanted to go down that path because, you know, here it is critiquing this stuff and it's like, wow, these guys are just so nitpicky that, you know, okay, so they got rid of one began that. Does it change the story? No, it doesn't.

If you give her one big change, the way it changes literally nothing if you do all of.

These quotes a lot about the one again, it's not about the one mistake we fix. It's about looking at what we did to. That amount of words that you sent us and changing your story to match.


And when you're doing your editing, cutting out those stage direction words, those weak words, the verbs that add nothing like what we're doing here is we're showing you what we believe weakens the overall story. And then you take that and you go apply it to your own writing. Whether this piece that we just critiqued was your own writing or not.

Look at your own writing and see if you're doing the same thing that we critique here.

Because that's the thing. It's all about for me as a business man, because that's what an author is. You are a small business owner. You sell a product, your brain like that's what you're selling, you're selling your ability to tell stories. The better you take care of your customers, the more they want to continue to patronizing. Patronizing? No, not picture patch and patch.

No, no. Patronizing is the wrong word. Patronizing? It is.

Right. Patronizing.

That’s the dyslexia kicking in the way they want to shop here. Let's just bring it down to blue collar words. And so I just sometimes we get into these nit picking things. I just. I'm always afraid that people are like, Wow, these guys are just they're so nitpicky and and what does it matter? And on any of those individual things, any individual one, none of it matters.

It's as a group, it's it's that attention to detail that really does shine through. And even though readers don't know, I mean, I was talking to I had a friend come in to town last night. I haven't seen him in 15 years. No closer to 20 years. And the funny thing is, is he was a new friend that I had met just as I was starting to become a writer.

But I was still working. As a matter of fact, I met him through my day job. He was a customer through my day job. And so we haven't seen each other in, you know, 20 years or whatever. And so now I'm like, right, I forgot because I've been a writer for so long now, it's like, right.

You don't really know me as an as a writer. Interesting. And it was an interesting conversation. But one of the things we talked about was why the way I teach in the, you know, and how I push everything and everything like that, and I'm just like, yeah, you don't understand how different of a language this is. So, you know, there's just so many things that you don't know.

And that's why listening to a podcast like this is, is so helpful for joining the writers room or joining any critique group or whatever. So that's, that's really it. I just want to make sure that you understand why we nitpicked so much. It's just the nit picking. It's that when you add it all up, it makes a huge difference.

And it makes your book more engaging. If you take the reader deeper in. And I think that that is a good note on which to end this podcast and we will see you for another one by.

Good day to our esteemed listeners. I'm Marie Melanie and it has been a pleasure guiding you through the nuances of writing and worldbuilding.

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