Hone Story-Telling Skills Without Writing

I’m going to start this post with a short personal note.

Over the past week I put a house on the market that I designed and built. I had my first surgery outside of wisdom teeth removal and have been stuck in bed. And while bed-ridden, moved from the house I built into a basement where the few clothes I can wear sit in a laundry bin. We’re preparing for a move out of state.

Between big life changes and pain-killers, my brain is not in a good place for writing.

This makes me panic on two levels:

ONE – I define myself (probably far too much) as a writer.

TWO – I’m working on a few projects that are very different for me and require a lot of brainpower. I feel a NEED to turn something over to my agent.

So, instead of writing, I’m reading and watching TV. And not just reading, but reading books that have sold well, that are similar to what I want to write. I’m studying the characters, informational reveals, and pacing.

I’m watching TV (Netflix) for the same things – Character study, subtext, pacing, what makes one show compelling and a similar show boring. Teen shows, mystery-suspense, paranormal… Even a few documentaries (let’s face it, a lot of us love mysteries that read like documentaries – just look at Silence of the Lambs).

I could totally take time off. I could shut down my brain and watch bad TV for bad TV’s sake. And maybe I should do that more often. But right now, I feel as if I’m both taking a break and doing research that will make my stories stronger in the end.

On another note – my edit brain seems to be working quite well, and since I have all this free time on my hands, I can turn around a story edit pretty dang fast. See HERE for details.


Happy writing!

~ Jo


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Published by Jolene Perry

Hiker. Occasional Yogi. Equestrian. Couch potato. Music lover. Mediocre guitar player. Sailor. Tailor. Home body. Traveler. Enjoys suffering from being interested in everything. Co-founder and instructor at Waypoint Author Academy. Rep'd by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

4 thoughts on “Hone Story-Telling Skills Without Writing

  1. I’m hugging you from Utah!!! Surgery, moving states, and clothes in laundry baskets… not fun. At all.

    And GUYS. Jolene is FANTASTIC at all things story, marketability, and queries. All of it. She knows her stuff and is upfront and honest.

  2. When you’re studying the characters/pacing… etc, do you take notes and highlight and all that? What exactly is it that you look at with pacing?

    I’ve analyzed writing style before, but I’ve never taken a book and looked at plot stuff and characters. It sounds like a good idea but it seems overwhelming, like where do you start?

    1. So, I do a few things.
      ONE: I made a list of all the shows and books I love and recommend over and over, and then I wrote a list of traits of those stories that resonated with me. Before I map out a project, I try to peek down that list. This gives me a solid place to move forward from.
      TWO: If I’m watching or reading within the genre I’m currently writing, I do the same thing, but try to look at my current project and ask myself – AM I MAKING MY READER FEEL THE WAY I FELT WHEN XXX HAPPENED? And this is a matter of language and story-telling.
      THREE: Example – I just finished watching Riverdale – I can write up that series as a list of plot points, pinch points (things that push the story forward) and twists (when the totally unexpected happens). Very little is revealed in episode one. Things are introduced that later disappear, and things that don’t seem important at all, become crucial later on. If I were writing a hate to love trope in a love story, I’d watch Pride and Prejudice and maybe read a few books that were re-tellings. What parts made me swoon? Which broke my heart? What essence of that kind of story do I want to capture in my own?
      I hope this helps?

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