Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said and did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.” This is true whether you write fiction or non-fiction, and in today's show, I talk about how to write emotion with Becca Puglisi.
In the introduction, I talk about KDP Print proof and author copies now available in the UK, Margaret Atwood not getting any profits from the Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale because of a contract she signed 30 years ago – a cautionary tale to be wary of what you sign; and the new Amazon Polly WordPress plug-in for text to speech.
I report back on the 20BooksLondon event and my reflections on the different business models available to indies these days, the split between KU and wide, and why you need to look carefully at what the various choices will mean for your business, your creativity and your health. What type of boat are you sailing?
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- How Email Marketing can Help You Reach Readers and Sell More Books – with Isa Adney from ConvertKit. Tues 20 Feb at 2pm US Eastern / 7pm UK
Today's show is sponsored by IngramSpark, who I use to print and distribute my print-on-demand books to 39,000 retailers including independent bookstores, schools and universities, libraries and more. It's your content – do more with it through IngramSpark.com.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach and bestselling author of the “Thesaurus Series for Writers,” Including the latest edition, “The Emotional Wound Thesaurus”. Becca also writes YA and historical fiction, and can be found at writershelpingwriters.net, along with her co-author Angela Ackerman.
- How Becca got into writing and whether her faith intersects with her story
- Why Becca and Angela wrote The Emotion Thesaurus after seeing a need in the author community
- How to “show, don't tell” when it comes to emotion
- The physical aspects of emotional writing
- How to write three-dimensional characters using positive and negative traits
- What writers get wrong in writing characters
- How emotional wounds can strengthen our writing through character arcs – and how to look after yourself while exploring difficult personal history
- What you can find in The Emotional Wound Thesaurus that will help you write more deeply
You can find Becca Puglisi at WritersHelpingWriters.net and on Twitter @beccapuglisi
Transcript of Interview with Becca Puglisi
Joanna: Hi everyone, I'm Joanna Penn from thecreativepenn.com. And today, I'm here with Becca Puglisi. Hi Becca.
Becca: Hi. So excited to be here, thank you.
Joanna: Oh no, it's great to have you on the show. Just a little introduction.
Becca is an international speaker, writing coach and bestselling author of the “Thesaurus Series for Writers,” which can be hard to say. Including the latest edition which I have right here if you're on the video, “The Emotional Wound Thesaurus,” I actually have a whole pile of them on my desk.
Becca also writes YA and historical fiction, and can also be found at writershelpingwriters.net, along with her co-author Angela Ackerman. Becca, we're going to talk about the Thesaurus, but start by telling us a bit more about you.
How did you get into writing and publishing?
Becca: 10, 15 years ago, my husband and I were not making a lot of money, there was something I really wanted to contribute to and I didn't have any money. So I was praying and I asked God, how can I make some money, and God said, “Write a book,” which it seemed like ridiculous advice because you know how long it takes to make money sometimes when you're trying to do it as an author.
I wasn't one of those people who wrote all the time as a kid. I wasn't constantly making up stories and everything. So I thought, oh, okay, well, I taught school and so I read a lot, and so that's how I got started.
Once I started it I loved it and I just fell in love with it, and realized I had a knack for it, and so I started on the journey that way.
And then Angela and I met at a critique site – Critique Circle Online. And we started as critique partners, and then we moved on to blogging partners, and then ended up eventually becoming co-authors and publishing our books. So that's how that all happened.
Joanna: Did you have a career before writing or what did you used to do?
Becca: I taught school, I was an elementary school teacher. So I started out writing picture books because I read those all day long, I taught first grade, but they're really, really hard.
Joanna: Yeah, they are definitely.
Becca: They're actually harder in some ways than trying to write a full novel, because it's so concise and you have to use such an economy of words. I've made that transition along the way.
Joanna: I'm interested in your faith aspect there. How has your faith become part of your writing journey? Because you've written a lot of books now, fiction and nonfiction.
How does your faith come into that?
Becca: Most of my books are fantasy books, and it's funny because my faith is integral to everything in my life, but when I'm writing, I don't write a lot of faith-based stuff. There's a lot of redemption and those kind of themes in the stories that I write, but it doesn't figure largely into my fiction writing.
When it comes to the nonfiction it does trickle in ironically a little bit more. Angela and I are in different places on our journeys. And I end up I think putting less faith stuff into our combined works, and she ends up putting more than she would typically use because of my influence. We kind of influence each other that way.
But it's interesting because I've looked into to writing Christian fiction, and I think there are a lot of struggles there. There's a lot of things that you have to master that you don't have to master in other genres.
That is something that I'm open to doing one day, it's just I have never taken that step.
Joanna: I find that so interesting, we might circle back to that on character because I think it's so important.
Let's just start with the question of why you and Angela decided to write Thesaurus type books? Now, the typical thesaurus, most of us would use thesaurus.com, and type in blue or whatever and try and come up with something, but these books have other chapters and helpful things on.
What need did you see in the writing community that you decided to write these books? And also tell people a bit more about them like what they are.
Becca: It totally came out of a personal need. We were critique partners at the time, and we were very early in our writing journey, and I was noticing my characters were always smiling and shuffling their feet and shrugging. There are so many ways that you can show those emotions, but I couldn't figure out any other way.
So I started just a list of emotions and just writing down different options of different things that were happening in the body. I started looking at TV and movies and seeing what the actors were doing to portray that emotion, just so I would have more options.
And then I thought, “You know, if this is something I'm struggling with maybe other writers are struggling too.” So I took it to the critique group and every single person was like, “Yes, this is a total problem I have, except mine is frowning or clenching the fist.” Everybody has their different thing that they get hung up on.
So we started adding to the list and adding more emotions, and we did that for a while, interest kind of flagged and it turned out just being me and Angela who were working on them.
And then when we started the blog she called me…oh gosh, that was like four years later. I was getting ready to take a break because I was pregnant with my first child, and she said, “I'm going to start a blog, and I think that it'll be easier if we did it together, so let's do it together.” And I was like, oh my gosh, the timing is terrible.
But she was absolutely right, that you want to build your presence before you start actively promoting your book. So even though the timing was crazy we started that.
She said, “I really want to build a blog where we're offering information that is really meaningful and practical, and that people are going to come back for, because it's so useful to them.” She said, “What about the emotion list that we were building, what if we take that and we do one each week, and we just keep building and adding more emotions.”
And that was where, “The Emotion Thesaurus” came from.
To talk about what exactly it is, it does sound like a thesaurus which is not totally your typical idea of a thesaurus. But it's got a two page spread for each emotion, and then it tells you what the physical signals are for that emotion, what the thoughts are that a person might be having when they're feeling that, what the typical reactions are, what's going on inside of their body.
Those immediate unavoidable things that happen when you start feeling that emotion, cues of acute or long term feeling of that emotion.
If you have been experiencing it for a long time you're going to have more aggressive responses to it, and it just gives you all these ideas, so that if you're writing an emotion, and you can't figure out a new way to do it you can look at it, and say, “That's something I hadn't thought of and I can adapt it to exactly match my character, and what he would do or the kind of ticks that he has.”
It's really a brainstorming option for writers that they can look through, and get ideas and make them really fit their character.
So that was where “The Emotion Thesaurus” came up, and like you said, it came exactly out of a need that personally we both had. And that's been the one that's been viral and that everybody it seems does have that problem at some point in their writing, they realize that that's an issue for them and there wasn't anything to address it, so it fit the need perfectly.
Joanna: Let's just give a specific example because it can be kind of easy to talk about when you know what you're talking about. But let's say anger. I'm writing, “I'm angry with you Becca,” said Joanna.
How would we use the thesaurus to write that in a better way?
Becca: The first problem…and this is a problem that I see very often with first page critiques, is that I think we lack our ability to convey that emotion.
We know it's really important because readers empathize with characters when they know what that character is feeling and they get kind of a hint of that feeling themselves. It's like an emotional echo that they feel, that makes this connection with them.
So being able to convey the characters' emotion is super important, and I think we get nervous that we're not able to do that, and so we end up telling it.
Whenever you see the emotion named that it's been told instead of shown, show don't tell. There's a lot of discussion about it, and there are places where telling obviously is preferred.
But when you're talking about emotion most of the time it's better to show it, because you are showing that emotion in a way that creates this experience for the reader to go along with. It's like they're walking with the character, they're going through these things with them, instead of just sitting back and passively listening to their emotion being told.
So when it comes to showing emotion instead of telling, I like to tell people to first of all, look at the body language; what is it? Ninety three percent of communication is nonverbal.
We're wired to read other people's signals, what's happening on their face, what's happening with the rest of their body, with their posture, with their bearing, and that tells us kind of where they stand.
If we can master that body language, readers are going to pick up on it, because they're just made to do that. So I always like to tell people to think about the whole body.
We always get hung up on whatever our crutch is but if you think about, well, what are the hands doing, what are the feet doing, what's the overall posture, how would it change when there's been a change of emotion.
And just trying to look at the whole body can give readers or writer's more options for how to show that emotion in a way that readers are gonna kind of clue into. And it's going to pull them more into the characters experience.
Joanna: So again, just trying to be more specific, what would we write about anger.
Becca: Instead of saying “I'm angry” show the change. Everything is great, people are talking and you're having a good time, and then the person says something and all of a sudden your character experiences a change of some kind.
Maybe they step back, maybe their brows come together, maybe they cross their arms, they might turn away from that person and they're still like kind of in the conversation, but they're not as involved as they were before. They might become confrontational and start pressing the other person's buttons.
These are all kind of steps toward that anger, because of course, another thing with emotion that we have to keep in mind is that it's progressive. We want to make sure that we're progressing naturally in that emotional range.
But those are some ways that you can show the anger is the eyebrows lowering, hands clenching into fists, or things like that are ways that you can show that a person's emotion has changed, and those specifically would indicate anger.
Joanna: I always like the example of kind of, I'm fine and slamming down a mug or something, which happens a lot in relationships.
Joanna: I'm actually interested in the emotion and the behavior side of the thesaurus.
I was interviewing someone else about cultural differences. Now, behavior by different cultures can show different things. For example, burping after food in Britain it's just not something you do, it's not polite, and it would be considered rude. Whereas burping after food in some cultures is considered a sign of appreciation, and if you don't do it you're not showing respect.
Joanna: Have you thought about those in “The Emotions Thesaurus” or the other ones, any kind of cultural differences, or is that something that might be a good idea for the future?
Becca: That's always something to consider because we're always looking for ways to expand “The Emotion Thesaurus” because it's been very popular.
We talked about that at one point in the process and it was so daunting because there are so many things that change from culture to culture. And we were afraid that if we included those it was gonna get contradictory or confusing for readers.
So we shelved that. What has happened that is good is that we have been picked up in a number of different foreign countries and languages, and the publisher there, they do have the freedom to kind of add or tweak to account for their particular culture.
So in that way it's good that this very westernized collection of emotional cues is when it goes to another country and they put it into that language, they tweak it a little bit so that it matches for them.
Joanna: Let's talk about some of the other thesauruses, so there's the positive and the negative trait thesaurus. It's funny because of course, when you're a new writer you don't necessarily know those phrases like positive traits, are things that you progress into as you learn about writing.
How can a writer flesh out a character with positive or negative attributes? And is that different for a hero and a villain?
Joanna: I think first of all that we have to have a combination. I know that in the very early stages of writing we only have the characters that have the really good attributes. The ones that we wish we had, or the ones that we know are really likable or you've got this character with this monster flaw that's like really obvious.
And the truth is that we are a mixture of both, so we need to make sure that our characters have both positive attributes and negative traits.
Because the positive traits are really the ones that help them succeed, they're the ones that are going to help them relationally, they're going to help them overcome problems and achieve that overall story goal.
And the flaws of course, are going to trip them up. They're going to create these scenarios in the story that set them back or that allow them to grow and overcome.
So they're both really, really important for us to build into our characters. And I say build in because that's the other thing that I think is crucial, is that the traits that our characters have they come from somewhere.
If you look at real people most of our defining traits whether good or bad they come from something in our past, whether it's an influential person that we really admired and we took on those traits that they embraced, or the caregivers in our life instilled certain values in us.
Likewise, negative traits come from bad experiences that we've had. Many times there are things that we have adopted as a way of protecting ourselves ironically, we think they're protecting us but they are actually causing us harm.
So they come from somewhere, they come from wounds, they come from positive and negative experiences that we've had, and from the people in our lives.
And when we can figure out where they come from so that we can make sure that we're creating this character that makes sense, they just ring true with readers. We don't have to worry about the kind of flat one-dimensional characters that many of us aren't drawn to.
So making sure that those traits come out of something and make sense for the character and the course of their life, I think is really important.
Joanna: I was just thinking about ambition because I'm very ambitious for example, I absolutely am.
I realize that that is both positive trait because I achieve things, but it can also be negative for me, because I overwork in order to achieve big goals.
But on Wall Street and things, ambition can mean stepping on other people on the way. You have two different books obviously positive and negative.
Do you cover the same traits in both the positive and negative way because that does happen, right?
Becca: Right. We spent so much time looking at our list and trying to figure out where things fit; do they go in the positive, do they go in the negative, some of them are neutral.
Because you're right, competitive is another one. Competitiveness can really help you in a lot of ways, but it can be taken to an extreme where it's not healthy. And for certain people it's just not healthy.
We really tried to keep them as separate as we could. We looked at the ones that we thought were more helpful and advantageous and we put them in the positive one, and we focused on the good and what they provide.
And then we took the ones that were more harmful and put them in the negative one and focused on that that way.
One of the things that I love about the character trait thesaurus is that for each trait we look at the positive and the negative side of that trait. You could have something that's really good like obedience, I mean, that's a good trait to have, and we talk about why this can help your character and how it's good.
But then we also talk about how it can become unhealthy, when obedience becomes blind obedience, or when it's taken to an extreme and it becomes subservience. There are good things, there are bad things, you can become really gullible and taken advantage of if you have that in a way that it's not again tempered with other traits.
That was one of the coolest things in writing those books was kind of that aha moment of it may be primarily good or primarily bad, but there are both good and bad things that can come out of that.
And that's something from real life that we can kind of instill into our characters and increase that sense of relateability for readers.
Joanna: It's so funny you mention obedience in the context of faith, because I actually did my thesis at college on obedience to God in religion, and how that can be a positive thing and a negative thing, when people do violent things in the name of God.
I wrote a novel “Crypt of Bone” about that idea. So it's so interesting we can take these sorts of big themes. Obedience is a theme, I mean it's much bigger, isn't it, really, and kind of construct whole stories around that. That's fascinating.
You mentioned about flat characters and how having these different traits can help us bring them alive.
I watched a movie the other day and my husband and I were like, I just don't care, I really don't care what's happening to this person, versus where we're just really involved.
What are the other things that writers get wrong in constructing or writing characters that just don't resonate with an audience?
Becca: I think that's the key; we have to make the reader care. There are so many books on the market and now especially with self-publishing taking off, there are just so many options for readers.
The key is that they have to care about the character, about the story, about what's happening.
And I had this epiphany a couple of years ago, I realized that I was starting a lot of books that I didn't finish reading. And so I wanted to kind of explore that and figure out why I was not finishing this book so that I wouldn't make those mistakes in my own writing. And almost in every case it was a problem with the character.
A lot of times I think there is an emotional void where you just don't see exactly what the character's feeling or you're confused about what they're feeling.
This isn't like a conscious thing, I think when we are reading, we automatically tune into those emotions. And when the author hasn't expressed clearly enough or expressed enough emotion, we don't know what they're feeling, so we don't know how we're supposed to feel. I think that is a common problem.
And I think also the telling of the emotion kind of pulls us out and makes us not really connect. The relateability issue I think is also really important, as a lot of times you have a character, there's a scenario.
The story's interesting and the scenario is interesting, and the character is just not someone that we can relate to. I think a lot of times in that case the stakes are not high enough, or they're not obvious enough, because we don't know what's threatening them, we don't know what we're supposed to be rooting for.
If the character is not aware of what's at stake then why should we care about what's at stake.
I think the stakes can be really key, and again, just the character that doesn't quite make sense.
I think there's not enough thought put into the backstory, so they seem kind of mechanical or like a bunch of things have just been thrown together for them.
But there's also the character whose goals sometimes are not relatable enough, which is a tough one, because we see the same goals in stories repeated throughout time. There are a finite set of story goals that tend to work.
If we can't connect to what the character is after, if we don't understand really the why behind that, I think that that creates a flat character. Because every character has a goal, and I think that as readers we don't really connect so much with the outer goal as with the inner reason for them pursuing that goal, the why are they after that, why is it so important for them to get this job or to find love with this person.
And that why really comes from a need that's missing in their life. I believe one of the five basic human needs going back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
When we haven't really fleshed that out as authors a lot of times we end up with a character who has this goal, and it makes sense for the story, but there's really not that underlying piece that readers connect with, which is that need, that desire that's driving them towards that.
That is what really draws readers in when it comes to goals. So that's another place where I think characters can sometimes come across as just someone that we can't really get on board with.
Joanna: I agree, but relatable can be a problem, like you said it's around the goals.
We just watched this documentary on weightlifting and I didn't want to watch it, my husband was like, “Well, I want to watch this, and you made me watch the other things.” Within minutes I was hooked, because they opened with the final weight that these men had to lift.
So you knew the stakes and you knew the open question which was who was going to win. And then each of the characters were like these 6′ 8″ men that I could not relate to.
But I related to their need to define themselves by winning something that they cared about, and that they basically staked their whole life on and what they gave up.
It's not like I need to relate to lifting heavy weights, it's that I can relate to wanting to achieve the pinnacle of my career before I get too old.
It's interesting because, like you said, the relatable is more the deep thing behind the actual thing.
Becca: Right, and I think that's why Katniss Everdeen, where the “Hunger Games” like kind of crossed all boundaries and everyone loved that story. It was because no one could relate to her circumstances.
Most of us are not fighting for our life on a daily basis. But her need was so great and we're talking about survival, we're talking about protecting the people that you love and keeping them safe and putting yourself in danger if need be.
So that need I think is crucial, I think it's really important, interestingly enough comes out of the wound, which doesn't seem like you would follow those breadcrumbs and be able to connect those pieces.
But that's another way that you can make your character really realistic is by building that backstory, and figuring out everything that happens because of what has happened to the character.
You end up in the current story with a character who has this need, and it's based on something real and they're going to have to come up with a story goal that's gonna fulfill that need.
It's fascinating because as we were writing that book in particular, we just had so many revelations of, oh my gosh, it all fits together, and you can really make these characters that feel really real because this is kind of what happens in real life with people.
Joanna: When you actually get deeper into character we're essentially talking about psychology.
Joanna: And if you're writing an alien civilization you still have to use aspects of human psychology so that people relate to the aliens or whatever.
Let's go into “The Emotional Wound Thesaurus,” because the phrase emotional wound is pretty deep and meaningful, and you have to kind of go, “Okay, I'm ready to have a look at this book.”
Becca: Do I wanna read this?
Joanna: Put it in more obvious reason why an author needs to look at emotional wounds and needs to almost go deeper into themselves.
What are some of the examples of emotional wounds that we can bring?
Becca: An emotional wound is an intensely negative experience that causes pain on a deep psychological level for the person, for the character.
These are things that we have experienced in our real life and they do mirror, again, things that happen in real life and the things that come out of it, you can apply to your characters and end up with these really real characters.
Let me explain just a little bit first about how it all works. You have this terrible thing that happens in the past, and what we always tend to do when something bad happens is that we want to examine it and figure out why it happened.
Like there has to be a reason, we have to be able to put it into context then is there something we could have done that I could have prevented what happened from happening, so it doesn't happen again.
Human nature is to look at that from every angle and try to figure it out. And what we very often unfortunately end up coming away with, is that we were somehow to blame, is that there was something we did or we didn't do. Had we reacted differently the outcome would have been different.
Very often this turns into a false belief or a lie that we now start to believe either about ourselves or about the world at large, and that lie, it takes root and it starts to dictate our behavior.
Because if we really believe something about ourselves it's going to determine what some of our traits are, what our values are, what choices we make, what habits we take on, what behaviors we do, the choices that we make. It really permeates everything.
And very often, as I mentioned before, we'll take on these habits and character traits that we think are going to protect us, they're going to keep us safe, but they actually cause even more problems.
And very often they end up creating a void in the area of one of those needs. And that's kind of the whole process of like what the wound is and what it does to the character, and it gets you to the current story.
Now this is my character as a person, this is their baggage, this is who they are, and then you can move forward with this really well-rounded character.
To take a concrete example, one of the wounds we have is cracking under pressure. It's very important that they do really well and they just totally fail, maybe in a business standpoint.
Somebody with this kind of wound in their past, is going to maybe possibly come out of it with this belief that they're not capable. That they're okay with the little stuff but, oh, please don't put me in charge of anything important because I'm totally gonna blow it.
The habits that come out of that are that they then start settling for mediocrity, they're not going to pursue big goals, they're not going to try new things, they're going to become risk averse, they're going to avoid responsibility, they might be part of a team but they're never gonna take charge.
These are all some of them behaviors, some of them traits that come right out of that wound.
And then as a result, it's going to impact a need, it might be esteem, because they realize that they're not living up to their full potential, that they are not succeeding in business because of the way that they're holding themselves back.
So now they're going to choose a story goal that is going to try to fill that need, but all of their habits, and their emotional shielding that they've put up is going to keep them from getting that goal.
Joanna: I do have the book here and it's got some pretty traumatic things in childhood; being raised by neglected parents or an addict. All kinds of dysfunctions, injustice, being attacked. It makes quite harrowing reading.
I don't really believe in this kind of trigger warning thing, but you do have a bit at the beginning don't you, which says, you need to be careful when reading this because it is a self-examination book.
And I found it very interesting because my ARKANE series has a character who is not an assassin but she does kill a lot of people in a lot of books; Morgan Sierra. In the first book within a couple of chapters she shot someone, and although I do hint and her husband had been killed in the military, and I do echo back to that.
But it's so interesting reading those chapters about what happens after the violent death of a loved one, and thinking about these in a much more deep and meaningful level, I think is very powerful.
You have to be careful reading this book and be prepared for it, but it is very powerful.
Did you tackle anything yourself when you were writing it that surprised you?
Becca: I think Angela and I both had like therapy moment epiphanies when we were writing, where we're like, oh my gosh, this is why I'm the way I am because this is what happened to me.
It really was very self-revelatory; we did not think that it was going to be an issue when we wrote it. And I like you, I think that sometimes the trigger warning think can get a little…
Joanna: Over the top.
Becca: You can go a little overboard with that. But as we were writing the book it took us longer than we anticipated because it was so draining.
We take the whole list of the entries that we want to write and we split them in half, and she writes one half and I write one half. And then we switch and edit and do all of that.
But we could only do like one or two entries a day. We were really planning on being done sooner, but we kept writing each other, saying, I just feel so heavy.
Because you're researching it and you realize there are people walking around with this like every day, it's happening right now to somebody in the world. There was this weight that came with this book that we were not anticipating of, yes, we're looking at this from a characterization perspective, and a writing perspective, and this can be super, super helpful for writers.
But we have to be very respectful of the real people who are writers, who are going to be reading this book and they're reading through it and all of a sudden they come across the entry that is their own wound from their own past. And maybe they've dealt with it, maybe they haven't.
That was an afterthought, taking care when you're writing a section, because we just realized that we were struggling with it ourselves, and just we knew that it was going to be very deep and weighty for people. So we wanted to make sure that we kind of warned people. Again, that was not something that we had anticipated but it was very real.
Joanna: To be fair, that happens with a lot of our own writing. I just recently published “The Healthy Writer,” and in there I have a lot of personal stuff that I went through in my own journey: physical pain, and mental health stuff, and addiction things.
And I think when we write it's our responsibility to go deep because other people can't necessarily do that.
But just to turn it into the positive, the character arc of a story is usually the character going from however they started to finishing in a different point. So if our character has an emotional wound say an abusive childhood that is impacting them now, the kind of the positive half of it is the overcoming their challenges and triumphing, if that's the type of book you're writing. Which is usually what I write which is like a good ending.
Becca: That's right, happy.
Joanna: I mean, yeah, I mean, a lot of people write literary fiction which can end negatively, but in genre fiction it's usually a happy ending.
Would that be how we would tie the emotional wound back to a character arc?
Becca: Yes, the story starts where that progression ended that I mentioned earlier from the wound up through the unmet need. Then when the story starts, the character has a story goal that they are hoping to achieve because they believe it's going to fill that void.
And then they go throughout the course of the story, and during the course of the story they encounter experiences that make them aware of what has happened to them, or how they are now hurting themselves when they didn't think that they were doing that, they thought that everything was great.
It makes them aware basically of the things they have to overcome, the things that are keeping them from happiness and fulfillment are the things that they have to look at realistically.
They specifically have to come to grips with that lie, because that's really at the root of everything. That false belief that they have and they have to basically refute it, and say, okay, that's not the case, that's actually not true.
Their behavior as a result, comes out of that change because again, our beliefs dictate our behavior, so once they're able to see that lie and overcome it, then their behavior starts to change. It's not obviously immediate.
And that's really where the whole backstory piece involving the wound ends up dictating the character arc or leading into the character arc. Like you said, in a change arc that's really the way it works.
You asked earlier about heroes and villains and the difference, and I think that very often the hero and the villain are on the same exact journey. They've had something that happened to them that was terrible, all of these offshoots came out of it and are impacting them today.
The real difference between the hero and the villain is that the villain, he's in a failed arc, he's in a tragic story. He's either tried to deal with it in the past it and was unsuccessful, and so is not going to deal with it anymore or he's just never faced it.
Or he may make an attempt in the story and ends up failing again, or in the rare cases of course, the Darth Vader where they try again and they end up being successful. I think that's really the main difference, is that the character arc has either been ignored, or it has already been addressed and they weren't successful at it. And that's why they end up being the villain in the story.
Joanna: If people who are listening are new writers I think this is quite advanced stuff. You don't have to read all these books in order to write a story, but I think once you start getting into trying to understand your own psychology, and what you write and what you like to read, then these are just super interesting.
I really highly recommend the book.
Where do people find you and the books and everything you do online?
Becca: We have a blog, it's writershelpingwriters.net, and that's where we offer just writing content in the form of blog post. We have abbreviated forms of our thesauruses there. We have a bookstore page on our blog that shows you all the different places where you can buy all of our books.
And we also have another website that is an enhanced version of Writers Helping Writers, it's a subscription site that contains all of our thesauruses, but they're all interlinked, and you can get to all of them, it's all much more accessible.
We also have a lot of tools for writers there, we have a role building tool, we have story mapping tools, timelines, we're in the process of building a comprehensive character building tool which is very much coming out of what we've learned in writing, “The Wound Thesaurus” book.
We wanted to make a place where writers had everything they needed. If they want to write a story you've got the setting pieces, you've got the character building pieces, you've got the story mapping piece.
It's got everything there so you're not having to pull from lots of different places, that is onestopforwriters.com.
Joanna: Fantastic, well, thanks so much for your time, Becca. That was great.
Becca: Thank you so much, I was very excited to be here. Thanks for asking me.