Episode 62: I Knew I Had It In Me, I Just Had To Lay It Down

In this episode:

How are writers like Olympic athletes? They make great stories! They make great comebacks!

When we recorded this episode, the winter olympics were on TV, and both Jennie and Mel were obsessed. (Abby, eh, not so much.) But this week Mel relates to Shaun White, the American Olympic snowboarder. Not because she dazzled us with some sweet moves on her board, but because she recovered from illness and poor performance by making a comeback. Shaun White almost QUIT after a horrific accident months earlier (his poor face), but he stuck it out and kept training after his recovery. 

I knew I had it in me, I just had to lay it down.
— Shaun White


In this episode, Mel fixes the issues with her last submission. She says that she was disconnected with her story and her characters. We always talk about how stupid mistakes are surface stuff - you don't get into their heads and it's like puppets on a string. She also admits that she wrote a lot of stuff down, but nothing really happened. She credits taking another crack at those chapters (and night walks with rap music) for her fresh take on the pages that needed some serious help a couple episodes back.

A couple tips, if you find yourself stuck with a boring chapter (or two):

  • Don't leave your audience out of the action - show it!

  • We want to see your characters under pressure, to see what they're going to do - it's okay to make things hard for them!

  • Get us in your character's heads - what are they thinking? If they're struggling, how are they coping (or not?)

  • Remember: dialogue is about reactions - if done well, it's a great way to disseminate information without falling into an info dump.

Jennie also wrote about what writers can learn from athletes here, on her Medium blog, No Blank Pages.

And for those of you who are interested, here is Shaun White's epic win, as mentioned by Jennie and Melanie.