Saturday, 17 November 2018

Plans and Prompts

Time limits are always interesting. I’ve been noticing this lately with all of these crazy deadlines that are appearing everywhere for me to meet and yikes it makes things insane.

And yet, somehow, they help me get stuff done.

But I'm not here to talk about deadlines, as much as I feel tempted to. I plan to give an update, and then a prompt, so, here we go!


Quick Update on Writing Life:

At the start of October, I told a few mostly non-writer friends who would be reading Flightless and giving some feedback for me, that I would have the first lot of major rewrites done and the book would to them by November the first. Well. It happened. But not without a heck of a lot of work. :D

They’ve been reading through it, and I’m getting so much helpful feedback! I’ll most likely be going through and editing it over the course of December, and it looks like I’m rewriting half of it, and adding in a whole heap of things. :P Oh well. It’ll be fun, and definitely will improve it.

Storm Wielder is coming along nicely, and…well…is basically…done? I’ve written the whole first draft, and I’m going through it again to add in some scenes I’ve thought about now, so, that’s fun. I think I’m going to just keep working on other things for the rest of NaNo and see how it goes.


But now, it is time for me to help all of you poor people who went into NaNo without a plan and are now getting past that stage where you’re writing like crazy cos it is awesome, but not up to the point where you’re sprinting toward a deadline. (Aka, it is prompt time!)


DISCLAIMER: Those high heels are not mine. I am not that co-ordinated. :P


Well then. Does this fit for any stories? Any ideas sparking?

Can't wait to here how everyone else's projects are coming along! November is such an awesome month!

How’s NaNo going for you? Having much happening with writing plans?



 

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Crafting Villains

I love reading, and can comfortably say that I read fairly widely. I don't love everything I've read, but I can tick off a lot of genres. Even so, in lots of books that I've read lately, some characters fall flat in their role. So I figured that for the next few months, I'd occasionally do a post on crafting characters. I've been reading a bit into it, and experimenting with these ideas myself, so hopefully what I have to say is half decent. ;)

Let's kickstart this off with one of the biggest let-downs: villains. 



Villains written well should be terrifying. A lot of the time, people seem to think that making a tall man, dressed in black, who keeps to himself and takes pleasure in causing harm is how you generate this fear. Now, while I'd be creeped out if I ran into this person down the street, it isn't that character that leaves us shaken up and on edge. So how do you make the villain your story needs?

There are a few major things to keep in mind when crafting your villains:

1. Your villain has a human motivation. This character genuinely believes that what they are doing is right. They think that anything they've done can be justified. 

Maybe your villain is wanting to protect people, so they will force them into captivity, taking away their freedom as well as anything dangerous. Suddenly, they seem to have good reason, gone way wrong. 

2. Your villain also needs a personality. Developing your characters does not stop with your protagonist. The best villains are the ones that you get a personality for. 

Personalities just make characters that much more real. Perhaps your villain loves drama, and tries to go for the full, stereotypical-evil atmosphere. Maybe they're very chill and laid back. Both of these personalities will change our view of them, but still keep us on edge. 

3. Your villain should be relatable. One of the most petrifying things about a well written villain, is when you can see that if one detail in your life had been changed, you could be where your villain is. Had one choice been made differently, had one word not been spoken, had one day been changed, you would be an evil mastermind. 

Perhaps you were going to lose something very precious to you that could be saved if you did something evil. Suddenly, things seem murky. That one choice to go with the evil option is all it takes to turn a hero into a villain. 

4. The villain should directly shape the protagonist's journey. If your villain isn't a major part of the arc, then they probably don't need to be there. Your villain should turn up for more than just the climax. 

Hypothetically, if you only had the villain vaguely mentioned through the book, then have them stumble onto the stage last minute to monologue and battle the hero, then that's pretty boring. But if you can see them active through the whole story, they become way more real. Plus, that will be a major aspect of shaping the main character. They will have to deal with the villain, and avoid become like them. 

5. The villain's goal should raise the stakes. If the villain's goal isn't too high, then no one cares. We need those goal to be high, and to really cause fear. The main character should be terrified that the villain will reach their goal, and will want to fight with tooth and nail to stop them. 

Was you villain nearly undefeatable before? Make them hunt for something to give them more power. If you've built up the suspense over what the villain is up to, and shown how bad the situation is, make it clear what the villain's goal is. Then, you can watch as they get closer and closer. The stakes will rise, and the readers will be on the edge of their seats. 


There you are! Five tips on making villains worth writing, and reading. Hope something there is helpful! 

And remember: to make the readers relate to a protagonist is good; to make them relate to the antagonist as well, is powerful. 


What about you? What things do you think make a good villain?

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Storm Wielder for NaNo | A Project Update

Well. NaNoWriMo is nearly here. This time last year, I was getting ready to write my fantasy novel, Chosen by Fire. Since then, my writing style has changed (and improved) drastically. But now, a year has gone by, and I must plan for the next novel. And a while back, I mentioned that I had a novel planned, and even a playlist written.

Ironically, seeing that I spent pre-October plotting for NaNo, I have actually spent most of this month editing Flightless, which I’m sure I’ll talk more about in the upcoming months.

As it is, today’s post is about my new idea, Storm Wielder, and I really hope you guys like it as much as I do!


The book is a dystopian fantasy (new genre for me) and his going to be focusing on the major themes of family and sacrifice. These tie in nicely with my oversized cast of seven characters. (Two of which are ‘bad guys.’)

I did a mini post on Storm Wielder earlier, which you can check out right here.

Without any further ado, I shall let you meet the Storm Wielders.


Ty


Ty is my main character. He’s a twenty five year old man who has one sibling and whose parents died along with millions of others in the War of Storms. He’s fairly capable of looking after himself, and becomes very protective over anyone who he gets particularly attached to. He’s determined to save everyone, and this can sometimes be a bit of an issue.


Heather


Heather is a nineteen year old nature lover, and the one who invited Ty along to join the Storm Wielders. Her goal in the entire mess? To find a way to restore the world to how she’s been told it once was. Her version of rebellion against the censored world is to wear a flower crown, and to graffiti the streets with anything floral-based. She wants to be able to give younger people the opportunities she never had as a child.


Felix


Felix is the youngest Storm Wielder, and the most powerful. He was recruited when he was ten, and now four years have passed and his determination to be able to fix the world has made him by far the most dangerous of the lot. He spends his time either trying crazy new missions to bring the Storms back for good, or fooling about trying to make Kaman laugh…or at least smile. He lost both of his parents at a fairly young age, but tries to look at the positives of his life since.


Kaman


A man of an uncertain age who hides behind a painted mask is the leader of the Storm Wielders. When  someone first meets him, they’d probably be terrified by his outwardly rough nature, but really he spends most of his time trying to find others who have been hurt by the people who keep the world in drought. He doesn’t care what it takes, he will get his people—the Storm Wielders—the world he knew when he was a child.


Opia


A well-read twenty six year old hacker could be the most well grounded of the team. Opia enjoys reading, and trying to create beauty in the rather disgusting world she lives in. She encourages Heather in her pursuits by telling her stories that she has read of how the world used to look, and what people used to be like. She keeps the Storm Wielders out of a lot of danger with her hacking skills, and is desperate for the world to be back at peace again.



Well! There’s my characters. If you hadn’t guessed, I’m seriously looking forward to getting to write this and meet them for real!

What are your thoughts? Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Saturday, 20 October 2018

The Favourite Things Tag

Well, I have been tagged again, this time by Evelyn! Awesome gal, and apparently we share in some of the same interests. (Woot! Go us!) And this particular tag was started by Beth, so, thanks for that!

I must admit though, I’m a tad bit phobic when it comes to having to say something about ‘favourite things’ as…well, I don’t like picking! At least this tag looks fairly safe, so I shall proceed and break the rules with great consideration and caution. (Apologies for the poor quality of the photos!)


Let us begin by listing my favourite things!

Playing Music

I love to play music, and currently can sing, play clarinet, piano, guitar, and ukulele at varying degrees of skill.




Composing Music

Yeup. Love composing and tend to always be working on a piece, developing themes and playing about with extended techniques on instruments. (And dying of shock every time I accidentally get published. *squeals*)


Writing

If you hadn’t worked that one out by now…well…I guess you know! I generally am writing 6 days a week, and if I’m not writing, I’m editing, plotting, daydreaming, or doing one of these other things. (Or school. But y’know. Multitasking)


Reading

BOOKS. ALL OF THE PRECIOUS BOOKS. (Love them. So much.) I read as often as I can, even though that is sadly a lot less these days than it used to be.


Playing Board Games

Look, card games like Magic the Gathering and Yugioh are also up there, but I don’t have enough nerdy friends to play them. (Wouldn't think it seeing that I'm currently writing a DnD campaign.) As it is, our family is mad on board games so I tend to play them a whole heap. (And no. Those are not all of our board games, I just couldn’t fit the rest into the photo neatly.)


Walking/Daydreaming

These two go together seeming that when I go walking, I tend to daydream…


Hanging out with Friends and Fam

To deal with a dodgy myth, us introverts actually do like hanging out with people. We just do it in moderation. So yes. Hanging out with friends and family is a big one for me.



There we go! Seven things posted. I chose to do activities, seeing that otherwise I’d really be on for hours. (Bible, books, Jesus, rain, green grass, smell of paper, aesthetic stuff, etc)

Anyone who wants to do this tag, feel free! On that note, remember that:

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel, 
So bad.



The rules are as follows…

1. Link back to and thank the person who tagged you. (tick)
2. Link back to and thank the blogger who began the tag. (tick)
3. List and picture seven of your favorite things. (tick)
4. Tag at least seven people (Or as many as you can) (*…carefully breaks this rule*)
5. Use the picture from above (tick)
6. List the seven rules. (tick)
7. Have fun! (tick)

Anyone who wants, please enjoy doing this tag!

Friday, 12 October 2018

How Can Writing Serve God?

Bula! (that’s Fijian for ‘hello’)

If you hadn’t guessed, last week, I was on a mission trip in Fiji with my school.

Basic summary of the trip:


  1. We were a team of 18 kids and a handful of teachers who were all varied degrees of crazy for God. (And the normal type of crazy too.)
  2. My ukulele was played a LOT. And one dude over there learnt it in five minutes to the point that he was playing better than all of our team members could.
  3. Much singing was done, and by the end, we had mastered our repertoire of eight songs, plus a few other fun ones.
  4. No one died!
  5. We went to a whole heap of schools and hung out with the kids there.
  6. We regularly performed a skit explaining how ‘Jesus is the King Over Everything.’
  7. A long conversation in the middle of the night concluded that it was impossible to ‘wake up dead,’ but we’ll forever use that phrase anyways.
  8. God was (and is) at work in Fiji.


And most people will agree that what we were doing there was serving God, but more often than not, people ask me how my writing is bringing glory to Him if I’m not writing purely allegorical fiction. Hopefully, I’ll be able to quickly explain why writing for God is an actual thing.


Most of you who read this blog probably already know and believe that writing for God without writing allegories is possible, and very effective. This is seen through countless books that explore ideas that result in a ‘Christian’ (most refer to them as ‘morally correct’) message in order to sway the reader to a particular point of view.

But if the purpose of writing is to persuade, then why write fiction?

The main reason that I write fiction is because I find it more enjoyable, both to read and to write. But it also is far more inclined to persuade than non-fiction (not counting biographies) is.

As a student, I can comfortably say that I’ve written a lot of essays in my life thus far, and a lot of reports. I’ve argued for sides I’m passionate about and ones that I don’t believe in. But this remains: The most effective part of a report or essay is the fictitious aspect. The part where you give a hypothetical example of what the damage coal mining has on a family is far more dramatic and meaningful than just spouting off stats. Showing the journey of a Phoenician trading vessel and what the different people it would trade with is going to stick into people’s minds more than a list of items. Giving an example on why family is valuable is more important than just explaining the physiological effects of relationships.

As a reader (or viewer) we want to be able to relate to what is being placed before us. We want to be shown why the author wants us to believe something. We don’t want to just have the information thrown at us; we want to explore it in depth for ourselves. 

What better way is there to explore an idea than creating characters to undergo trials and explore it in front of the reader?

Ultimately, that is what I believe storytelling is about. We need to be the ones to paint hope where it can’t be reached otherwise, and to be able to do that through writing about journey. The journey of a character is written in order to make it possible for the readers to relate and feel as if they too, are on a quest and adventure. It invites the reader to take part in the pilgrimage to find out the answer of the question that the character is asking…and they’ll find the answer that you give them.

To add to all of this, Story Embers (a site I have a fair bit to do with) has just released a Christian Storytellers Manifesto. This is basically a document/vow/contract that says how we, as Christian writers, say we shall write and that all of the glory is to go to God.


Hopefully this is a decent explanation on why writers write, and why we say that we are writing for the glory of God.

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

~Romans 12:6-8

Why do you write? Do you feel that the deeper thematic message of a book makes a difference?

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Storm Wielder | A Project Update

Guys. September is gone. October is here. And guess what? NANOWRIMO IS NEXT MONTH. Thankfully, I decided to do a fair bit of planning over September as I have nooooo clue what October is going to look like, so I have a pretty rough idea of what I’m going to be doing with myself in November 2018.


After much freaking out and wondering what idea to go with, I settled on the story idea with the most pins on my Pinterest Board. (Shhhh, 252 pins is not an overkill.) And so, I shall present to you my dystopian fantasy, Storm Wielder.


The drought has lasted for thirty years now. Rain and storms alike have faded into being superstitious whispers that are spoken among those who lived through the War of Storms. But now, Ty Crace has heard rumours from one of his friends that there is still a way to break the drought. He must bring back the Storm Wielders…the ones who began the Wars with their dangerous magic that could control the Storms. A masked man by the name of Kaman had already begun the process of reforming the group, and in obtaining the magical element of the Storms that gave the people of the past their power. 

Not long after signing up, he finds out that something more personal to him is at stake. His brother is the leader of those keeping the Storm Wielders away, and according to his new Storm Wielder friends, is the reason that the world has fallen so far into ruin. 

But in the end, is the blood of family thick enough to override the water and electricity that runs in the veins of the Storm Wielders?




I’m going to have a fair bit of fun with this one, because it’s got magic, and action, and six major characters, as well as a lot of really nice family/friends sort of thing. I can’t wait to write it. In fact…there may or may not be a snippet to share already…



A flash illuminates the sleeping city roofs.  
I perch on the edge of the bridge, my toes curling around the handrail. Stars dot the sky in handfuls flung haphazardly over the sea of black. Street lights gleam with a sickly yellow that glints off the perfectly polished train tracks. My eyes follow the course—ever onward, ever straight. Ever stretching toward the mountains. The three pills dig into my palm as I clench my fist around them.  
Thunder growls from behind me. 
Now or never. I raise a trembling hand to my mouth and toss the pills into the back of my throat. They seem to get stuck there, burning in accusation. I force them down with a swallow. By drought, I hope you’re right Heather. I close my eyes and let myself fall as the storm hits. Wind slams against me and rain peppers my bare arms like the bullet showers of Zone Four. An unbearable heat burns in my chest and I gasp, my eyes flying open in time to see the flash of light around me, and to hear the crack of thunder that followed it within the second. 
Storm Wielders, here I come.


(from the POV of Ty)



What do you think, guys?? Is that a half decent premise for a story? (Closer to the date I'll go into more depth!)


Thursday, 27 September 2018

Romanov - Nadine Brandes | A Cover Reveal

In my last post, I answered a question about who my favourite author was, and I said Nadine Brandes. Her books have made their way into three of my school assignments and ahhhh, I love all of her writing!!! *flails* I really need to start using Goodreads properly so that I can officially rave about all of her books and give them all 5 stars… Every. Single. One. Of. Them. (And other books, but y’know, Nadine!)

I’ve also just finished all of my preliminary exams, so what better way to celebrate than to HAVE A COVER REVEAL OF HER NEXT YOUNG ADULT BOOK, ROMANOV? *flails and runs about crazily*


So, you know the story of Anastasia Romanov? She's written a standalone Historical Fantasy Retelling of it. And knowing Nadine Brandes, it will be stellar!

If you’re still doubting me and saying that is can’t be thaaaaaaat epic, well, you are wrong. Look at this!


The history books say I died. 
They don’t know the half of it. 
Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them…and he’s hunted Romanov before. 
Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her… 
That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad…and he’s on the other.


How is that not epic? Plus, once you know Nadine Brandes, you’ll want it without any further blathering from me. 



Nadine once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She's the author of FAWKES and of the award-winning The Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she's not busy writing novels about bold living, she's adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine and her Auror husband are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.





Plus, she’s such a lovely person, and she is sooooooo real. Even when she’s struggling with things, she is enthusiastic and is always out to make you feel better. (Or at least, that’s my experience!) You can check her out more on her: Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, Website, Youtube. (Stellar lady on all of these, guys!!!)


AND GUESS WHAT GUYS? You can preorder Romanov already! *flails forever* And Nadine has put all of the links together so that you can manage it easily! So, to preorder, just look HERE. Other than that, it will be released on the 7th of May, 2019. (Add it to your calendar guys!!!) But yesssss, the more I’m looking at details in how to publish and edit and different tips, the more I can see how much these preorders mean. Think about how amazing it makes release day for the authors and for the publishers!


Okay. Now to the cover. Let’s see if you can guess what it will look like.

I had assumed it would be something like her latest book, Fawkes. (Five stars from me.)


And her other books (ALSO five stars) had beeeeeautiful covers designed by Kirk Douponce:


What about you? What are you thinking?


*silent anticipation* (Just kidding. We’re all screaming.)


Let’s see what it actually looks like…


*deep breath*











AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *flails even more foreverly*

It’s so different to the other covers, but so pretty.

It just looks super fairytale esque and all of the magical swirls and little starry dots and the (soon to be) gold foil and the general colour and the picture of Anastasia and the way it’s all linked together and the really traditional Russian look and allllll of the prettiness. And, like, ‘Not even royal blood can stop bullets.’ I mean, how epic can you get??



So hopefully, after all of that, you are desperately wanting to preorder this beautiful book, and add it to your 'want to read' list on Goodreads and generally join me in flailing about this epic book!


What’s your favourite part about the cover? Is it what you were expecting? FLAIL WITH ME.