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 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 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 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.


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.


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*)


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)


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.)


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.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

The Get to Know Me Tag | Writers' Addition

Yep. You read the title right. Today I am completing a tag. And it could be worth doing seeing that I like getting to know people! Thank you muchly Savannah for making this tag, and thanks Jane for ‘tagging’ me in it. So, without any further blathering from me, onwards with the questions!

Vital Stats And Appearance

Name: Jessica Penrose

Nicknames: Not all that many these days. I mean, my pen name is J.A.Penrose, most people call me Jess, a fair few call me The Jess, and some call me Legolas. Nicknames don’t tend to stick to me.

Birthday: A well guarded secret. But sure, whatever. 16th of November

Hair colour and length: Brown, and 4-5 inches past my shoulders.

Eye colour: Brown

Braces/piercings/tattoos: None.

Righty or lefty: Righty. But my handwriting is equally appalling with either hand, so, take your pick! (typically right though)

Ethnicity: I am an Aussie. Somewhere back in the family tree there’s some Scottish and Cornish, but I can tell you the entire history of the Penrose family in relation to the properties in the area and at what point we owned what and which great great ancestors sold to who.


First novel written: Ashes. No, that was not the book’s name, but that’s what it is now. Twas actually a collaborative thing, but it kept on deteriorating and blegh. Then again, it never reached 50K, but I suppose it was the first one I tried.

First novel completed: Uhm… *goes to check* Ahhh, yes. Sweep, the first book of the now being fixed and replanned Survivor Trilogy. Gotta love some nice sci-fi time travel stuff.

Award for writing: I have a habit of winning the writing section in the local Gunnedah Show, and getting good marks in class? :P I’ve made a profit of around $50 all up of my winnings. *nods wisely* Very good at this. But I haven’t really entered that many writing competitions, so, no.

First publication: Erm, I’ve had musical compositions published in anthologies before, and I’ve published some things online, but not actually fully published, no.

Conference: I live in Australia. We are very short on these. But I really want to go to one! *sobs dramatically* Particularly when all of the writerly people I know in U.S are going to Realm Makers.

Query/Pitch: Hoooopefully once I get out of school I’ll be more available to get around to doing this. Or at least once the workload has dropped a bit.


Novel (that you wrote): Favourite?? That’s just mean. I love them all. Ugh. Sorry. Pick between Chosen by Fire (fantasy with some really fun world building and magic and ideas) or Flightless. (fantasy that was amazing to write) (and I plan to edit and tear apart this year. Ack!) Chosen by Fire needs to be re-written, cos it didn’t turn out too well, but I love it all the same.

Genre: Speculative Fiction. Mainly sitting in Fantasy and Dystopian. (or both)

Author: But…I LOVE ALL OF YOU GUYS. Agh. Nadine Brandes is amaaaaazing, but so is Jill Williamson, Jaye.L.Knight, Brandon Sanderson… UGH.

The one that I can say I ‘know’ the best would be Nadine Brandes though. *flails*

Writing Music: Sooooo, every story I write has a different playlist, but they are mostly made up of songs by Antti Martikainen, or are from the Kaladin soundtrack. Pandora’s music is epic too.

Time To Write: Heh. Whenever I get the chance. Typically though, due to school, I write whenever the sun isn’t around. Either early in the morning, or in the evening. On Saturdays I tend to churn out words fairly consistently.

Writing Snack/Drink: *sips chai tea* Chai, everyday. NaNo months tend to result in the boxes running out…

Movie: Soooo, I have a little thing: I don’t actually watch many movies? Most quoted one would most likely be Prince Caspian though. *nods* We’ll go with that.

Writing Memory: Hmmm…I think probably back when I was around five, my siblings and I built this huge tree fort. We dragged dead trees to make walls and generally make it really good. Like, walls that were 3 meters high, areas to shoot our bows from, traps, working doors, a sparring area, etc. Only issue was that I was five. And my brother was about twelve, and my sister fourteen. Soooo, I had a major disadvantage. Thankfully though, I became the scribe. I wrote down all of our adventures in a little notebook, including misspelling some crazy words that turned up. Gotta love it when you, ‘Were thron in the dunjeons.’ (Thrown in the dungeons.) But yes. That was fun to write. Many adventures of our crazy family.

Childhood Book: Adventure books were my thing. Famous Five by Enid Blyton and Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome were some big time favorites. But also, there were fun fantasy adventures like the Gorgie Tanner books by Justyn Walker. All of those were good.


Reading: Sacred Rhythms, by Ruth Hayley Barton, and The Enclave by Karen Hancock.

Writing: At the moment, I’m kinda rewriting parts of Flightless to make them more consistent and fill in the worst of the plot holes and fix as many spelling errors as I can before moving into properly editing it. Mostly, I’m actually plotting for my next NaNo Novel, Stormwielder, which I plan to say some more about at a later date.

Listening to: My playlist for Stormwielder. (Yes, I have made a playlist and haven’t finished plotting yet. Go me!)

Watching: Nothing. Although, when I’m distracted, I tend to watch birds fly past. Very dramatic little things. *happily stares out of the window*

Learning: A lot. I mean, mostly about people, and how stubbornly they can stick to beliefs that they know are wrong. (Amazing how many straight-A students get to exam week and are certain that they are going to fail. But there is no logical reason… *taps chin thoughtfully*)


Want To Be Published: Yessss. Very muchly so. One day. Ideally before I’m in my 50s. Or 40s. Or 30s…

Indie or Traditional: Traditional. Most of my audience is overseas, and Indie Publishing is a pain when it comes to that.

Wildest Goal: Oh my word. Uhm… Probably to hear from someone that my writing has changed their lives. I know that so many books have helped me, and I really want to be able to do the same for others.

Tag over?? What? Hopefully I answered those questions sufficiently. Anyone who want to do this tag who hasn't already, feel free to! It was lots of fun.

What's your favourite writing memory? Do nicknames stick to you?

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Inspiration's Origin

I’ve decided that today calls for a prompt. After all, prompts are useful, fun, and can result in entire stories born.

Or more often, (in my case at least) hours wasted getting distracted by interesting writing prompts that have nothing to do with me needing inspiration, and everything to do with being highly distracted on Pinterest…Oh well. :D

Despite what I was just saying about getting highly distracted by prompts, they have been good to me in the past. Here are a couple that ended up sparking ideas…

This one resulted in the actual plot for what will hopefully be my next NaNo Novel… (Shall tell you more closer to the time)

I haven’t talked much about the story for this one, but Immortal Hero came directly from this little prompt, and it was lots of fun to write. Hoooopefully I’ll get around to rewriting it someday.

Last, but not least, is the one for my rather morally grey character, who is yet to be put in a definite story. Really want to include him somewhere, but we shall see. *pats him sadly*

Sadly, for every one of that I use, there are proooobably a good 15 that are just distractions. :P But hey, keeps the imagination going.

Now for the prompt of my own creation that I wish to give to you today…

Have you come across any decent prompts lately? How do you get your story ideas?

Thursday, 6 September 2018

The Art of Show Don't Tell

There are a few different things that people seem to struggle with in writing. One of these things is Show Don’t Tell

I reckon that everyone has heard this term before, and I’m pretty certain that everyone struggles with it at times. It’s a trap that everyone slips into. I’ve been helping out some school friends and other writerly people with managing to identify telling and replace it with showing. I also felt that it could be a worthwhile thing to write a blog post about so that other people can look at it a bit more. 

There’s a lot of articles out there on Show Don’t Tell, and hopefully I’ve drawn off the best of them to present what I think is the most widely accepted view by a variety of writers and readers. 

I’ll also be including a list of these different websites and resources that have super duper helpful articles on this at the end of this summary. 

Now onwards to delve into the art of Show Don’t Tell!

“In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, "Please will you do my job for me."
~ C.S.Lewis

What C.S.Lewis wrote in 1956 still applies to us today, as many people will note. Writers are regularly talking about, ‘Show Don’t Tell’ and how invaluable it is to writing, but it is kinda hard to actually know what that means, and how we can do it. 

The Difference Between Telling and Showing

Telling is giving the bare basics of the information to allow the reader to know what’s going on.

Showing is bringing to life those bare basics to allow the reader to experience what’s going on. 

There are four main types of telling that I see commonly in writing, and they are: emotion telling, action telling, description telling, and information telling.

‘John was sad.’ -emotion telling. 

‘John ran away.’ -action telling.

‘John had blond hair.’ -description telling. 

‘John had been a fighter in the third war of the twelfth sector of the ANL Corporation in 2032.’ -information telling.

To turn these into showing, you need to do a few different things:

Emotion Showing

When you’re trying to show a character’s emotion, you need to try and write about the symptoms of the emotion. Think about a person's posture when they’re dealing with an emotion. Their thoughts. Their internal sensations. What they’re doing at the time. Their voice. How they view the world around them. If you say some of these things instead of the emotion, the readers will know what the emotion is, and will be able to visualise it better. 

Let’s look at John being sad again.

John hunched over his desk, sniffing slightly and trying to stop his lip from trembling. Why did they go? We’re meant to stick together…friends. A dull ache pressed against his chest and his heart lodged itself firmly in his throat. Get a grip. It's not that big of a deal. A hand landed on his shoulder, but he kept staring down at the scratched surface of the desk. 

“Something wrong?”

He forced himself to swallow the lump and look up through a film of tears at his teacher’s face. He blinked a few times, sucking in a shuddering breath. “No,” he gave him a wavering smile, “It’s…it’s fine.” He bit his lip, mentally willing the tremor in his voice to go away. “Fine. Honestly.” There. That sounds more confident.

That is considerably more interesting than just saying that, ‘John sat at his desk and felt sad about his friends abandoning him.’ Why? Because it was elaborated and removed the telling word of the emotion’s name, ‘sad.’ 

A good way to see if you’re emotion telling is to see if you’ve used the name of the emotion somewhere in the section. If you have, that’s a fair sign of emotion telling. 

Action Showing

Main way you can look at this one is elaboration. It’s actually somewhat difficult to define just as is. Rather, it’s complicated and involves many different details to create the effect of showing action instead of just telling it. More about elaborating and allowing the readers to see, to be honest. 

Again to John.

John’s feet pounded against the ground and he spared a glance over his shoulder—his heart in his throat. They were catching up. Jerking his head back around to face forward, he skidded across the ground a few meters as the traffic lights turned green. His heart thudded an irregular beat in his chest and he sucked in a deep breath, running across the road, starting and stopping as the cars continued roaring past.

Again with this being far more interesting that the told version of, ‘John ran away because he was being chased. He got away because he ran across a road while the cars were moving.’ Suddenly, we can see the detail. Not in such an extent that it clogs down the story, but enough that it allows us—the readers—to visualise it fully. 

Using words and phrases such as, ‘was,’ ‘had been,’ ‘had,’ ‘because,’ ‘since,’ and ‘when,’ are all defining red lights that should warn you that your excerpt probably has action telling. (Same goes for their relatives in the present and future tenses.)

Description Showing

Also called ‘woven description,’ this is something that people tend to find difficult. How can you describe your character or place when you can’t specifically say everything? Basically, your readers don’t need to know all of that…at least, not in one hit. 

For characters: 

Weave in those descriptions naturally. You want the readers to know that John has blond hair? Feel free to have him shove blond hair out of his face, or look through a haze of blond strands.

John fell to his hands and knees and looked up through a blur of blond. His gaze met the pair of eyes as vividly blue as his own and he swallowed. Not here. Not now. He tore his gaze away, panting. The grandeur of the palace loomed over him, trying to swallow him. Always second best. Never good enough. He blinked, and the eyes were gone again.

This way it seems natural and isn’t just randomly mentioning that he has blond hair. As is, John has been described in a bit more detail, and it seems somewhat natural. 

Let’s move onto the place that John was in…

For places:

Also, weave in those descriptions. You want the readers to know that the room was large and well furnished? Seeming to be well looked after by years of care? Cold and unfriendly? Let them know casually, don’t have John stand there for a solid ten minutes mentally describing every little detail. Just mention what matters. 

John looked up to glare back at the room, trying to force away the oppressive air enveloping him. Polished bronze glinted at him from the banisters and portraits stared down at him, their gazes disapproving. He shook his head and pushed himself up from the carpet, casting his gaze over the ebony and glass. Where did he go? He kicked a cabinet and a resounding, thunk, broke the silence of the room.

This way, we can see what it looks like as well as seeing what’s going on in the plot side of things. Plus, it is far more interesting to see John interacting with the room, rather than just observing it. He point of view on the situation allows for the entire room to be more of a manifestation of what’s happening to him. Had he been happy and there of his own will, we would have described it differently. 

Just by weaving your description into the story, it instantly makes it more reader friendly then great slabs of description that no one really knows what to do with…aside from possibly skip over. 

Information Showing

Information telling, is often called an ‘information dump.’ As it is, we want to try and weave that information into the story itself. To be honest, this is one of the types of telling that I come across the most. It seems to like to turn up in most stories, and is really painful to get rid of. Why? Because it seems very important and necessary. 

Hello John! Let’s look at some info dumps in your life. 

John stopped outside the Museum, tingles running up and down his skin. The simple, box-like building was said to be one of the most secure places in the world. It had a regularly rotating guard, over a thousand security cameras, a laser maze, voice recognition security, DNA scans…the works. It had been erected in 2022 in order to protect the only remaining plant that was left on earth. Over five hundred million dollars were spent on building it, and all of those who made it were killed a few weeks after its completions. No one could get in or out without being registered. 

John had spent years studying it and wondering if he could get in. After all, it isn’t all that hard when you know what you’re doing to break into a high security building, at least not for him. He actually knew what he was doing, not an amature like the rest.

As you can see, that was a lot of words just telling us about what the building was. Did we need to know all of that? No, not really. 

Had we not been told much about the Museum for half a novel, but kept getting hints and desperately wanting to know, you maaaay be able to get away with it. As it is, we want to avoid this sort of information telling. 

Quick ways of spotting it are basically when you explain something. If you’re explaining much more than basics, then it is most likely info-dumping. Instead, try to show events. Instead of having John thinking about all of the protective layers, maybe have him watch a recording of someone trying to break in, and him experiencing all of the security layers. 

Again, showing is all about experiencing. You want the readers to experience, so you show it to them. 

There you have it. Those are what I can find as the four most common—and deadly—cases of telling in people’s writing, how to recognise it, and how to avoid it. 

A quick recap: 

Emotion telling is identifiable by locating the emotion names (sad, happy, scared), and able to be fixed by instead describing the emotion’s physical, mental, and internal effects. 

Action telling is identifiable by explanatory words and phrases (‘was,’ ‘had been,’ ‘had,’ ‘because,’ ‘since,’ and ‘when’), and can be fixed by elaborating on exactly what is happening instead of just stating it happening. 

Description telling is identifiable through chunks of description that are not woven in to make sense (John had blond hair), and can be fixed by instead weaving it into the text and having the character interact with the item of description or have a reason to focus on it aside from just for the sake of description.

Information telling is identifiable by a dump of information that is explaining something to the reader (purpose and function of the Museum), and can be fixed by allowing the reader to experience it for themselves. 

Finally, here are some helpful sites and resources to look at that help with it:

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression - Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Now you’re all ready to go out and tackle Show Don’t Tell for yourselves! 

Any other thoughts about Show Don’t Tell? Ideas? Tips? Feel free to share below! 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Writing the Climax

Lately in school, we’re having to study maaaaany texts. Some, are awesome. Others…well…I can’t say that I am a huge fan. However, something seems to run in common with these texts: They lack a decent climax.

What is a climax exactly? Well, according to a quick internet search, it is: “The most intense, exciting, or important point of something; the culmination.”

K.M.Weiland said in one of her articles, that, “it’s the moment when the two speeding trains finally collide into a single unforgettable scene.”

Both seem to carry the same message. (Unusual for that to happen to be honest.) That probably means we should be paying attention to it. We clearly are needing to be including a climax that somewhat follows this concept. But how? What is it in a climax that makes it so good?

Now, the books we’ve studied at school do still have value for what they appear to have been designed for. They were more written as ‘art’ in which authors specifically break rules in order to make the reader question the purpose of a novel.

As a Christian writer, I feel that the purpose of my writing is to bring glory to God through the words He gives us, and to convey messages and themes in a way that makes it more relatable to the reader than simply stating them. Therefore, I do not go along with the beliefs of authors who chose to write purely to break expectations, but I am not saying that they aren’t valuable works in their own rights.

But how can one write a good climax? What is it that sets an amazing one aside from one that’s just, ‘meh’? Hopefully, I’ll be able to cover that in this post with two main points.

1. Internal Is Important

A lot of people assume that the climax is just when the plot reaches its peak. The point when the hero and the villain face each other on the rooftop of the tallest building in a city as the war goes on down below them—probably with the hero’s side losing.

But there is more.

This should be the point in which the hero has to officially take on their new way of living. This is where they have to have changed on the inside in order to make a difference and win the battle at its climax. They need to be at the height of their emotions and internal conflict at this point. Most of what makes a climax really intense is that the character is seriously undergoing this crazy change inside of them, and they are having to fight within themselves in order to win the fight externally.

A lot of writers—particularly newer ones—struggle with this. They get so caught up in the moment that they skip the internal entirely…possibly for the entire book. Now, this tends to mean that the battle wasn’t actually as epic as it should have been.

“We're our own worst enemy. You doubt yourself more than anybody else ever will. If you can get past that, you can be successful.” ~ Michael Strahan

This is fundamentally why books where the character has to overcome that internal struggle are so powerful. If you can convince yourself to go against everything you’ve always believed because you’ve finally come to terms through a lot of pain that the other way is right, you will really struggle if at the matter it matters most, you get given an option to go back to how you were before.

Let’s imagine a girl called Katie now. Katie has always run away from her problems because she didn’t want to get involved. She’s never been caught, but once she ran away and her friend was. She felt bad, and since has been stewing over her decision.

After a lot of thinking, she decided that she was going to go and face the villain and get her friend back. So she left.

Upon arriving, the villain was standing there, in front of her friend. Katie could see how dangerous this was. She was terrified. The villain then gives her the choice: Stay and die, or run away and be safe. Katie stands there for a few agonizing minutes, thinking. Her friend meets her eyes. Katie looks toward the escape. It would be so easy for her to back down.

Resolve sets in her and she chooses to stay.

Now, to be perfectly honest, those are the moments that seem to be the most powerful in books. When the character could easily give up, but they overcome that fear. Even if Katie did die at that point, it still feels right. She changed. The climax occured, and she chose the right path. In a way, that is both the climax and the resolution.

So in short, do not skip the internal.

2. Real Readers Read Realistic Writing

Explosions. Massive magic battles. The duel to the death on a tightrope. Flames cover the entire world. He drops to his knee and proposes in spite of the tragedy they’ve just been through. The court case where all that can be heard after the main character finished their speech is the soft breathing and the stilled silence of shock.

Pure epicness. And it belongs in the climax. They are all different forms of epicness, and all belong in different genres. But you want it to be there. After all, it is meant to be the intense part, ‘where the two speeding trains finally collide.’ You don’t want another part to overshadow it. It has to stand out as the most major part of the story.

However, you don’t want it to go too far.

C’mon Jess. How could you make epicness go too far? Isn’t epicness meant to be the epitome of grandness? You can’t really go too far—or too wrong—surely?

Trust me. You can.

Simple way to tell: If the climax is unrealistic, it has gone too far. Has the last living dragon in the world swooped down out of nowhere and decimated the entire enemy lines while the hero cheers and uses the chaos to defeat the villain? Not likely to happen.

What about the hero managing to shoot down the alien ship just as it was descending…blindfolded, in the middle of a chaotic battlefield, with only one point being likely to knock the ship out of the sky? Nuh uh. Still not happening.

Did the car manage to jump the span of a kilometer, only just scraping through at the last minute despite the jump being virtually impossible? The readers are going to sit back and sigh.

No one likes it when a book does this. You can see how epic it is going to be, and something huge happens! But then you sit back and frown at it because you know it can’t have happened.

This makes it look like that writer was being lazy. Don’t know how they can win? Let’s make this magical explosion work really well and be so huge that it wipes them out.

Really, it is heaps more interesting if the hero can win in a realistic way that is still epic. Think about you climax and make sure that it is realistic according to the laws of your book. If it is, go ahead!

There you go. Those are the two main things I think need to be kept in mind when writing a climax. If you use both of these points, it should seriously help strengthen your climax and make it more interesting, as well as meaningful.

Climaxes are one of the most memorable parts of any book, so you want to make sure that your readers are satisfied with yours. If they aren’t, chances are, they won’t like the book. So be sure to put effort into that climax, and don’t let it get lost in the rest of your novel!

What do you think are the most important parts of a climax? What are some of your favorites?

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Finding the Time to Write

Life is busy. Crazily so. And us writers tend to want to find time to write, but never manage to because time is just so hard to find. If you attend school, your teachers are giving you tons of work, your friends are giving you tons of drama, and location is giving you tons of travelling. If you're an adult and are out of school, then you've got work, friends, family, and scary adult stuff that's drinking up your time like that thirsty writing dragon that comes along and slurps your chai when you're not looking.

So how can you find enough time to write?

It's definitely something that I've been struggling with over the past year. Teachers are loading me up with school work, friends are throwing drama at me, and life in general seems to have very little concept of the fact that it takes time to write words. Don't get me wrong, I love school, friends, family and life in general, it just does make it quite challenging to manage to write among all of that. So I figured I'd give you a few ideas and tips that have been helping me out lately.

1. You can write small amounts.

This is one of the things that took me a while to work out. I'm used to being able to sit down and churn out over 1000 words in a day, but when you need to churn out two essays in a day as well, it just can't happen.

As it is, I find that it is helpful to remember that even if you just write a few hundred words in ten or so minutes, that is still writing, and it is still getting you somewhere. If you have a teacher who is late for class, you can just write a few more lines and enjoy that bit of freedom to write.

Sure, it doesn't produce much when you do this, but it helps you feel more like you're getting a chance to write.

2. Make the things stopping you from writing, start you writing.

I managed to put my novel that I wrote in July under the banner of my Extension English project that was taking up tons of precious time. I've also written two short stories for other English things, given my friend a novel for her birthday, given another friend a collection of poetry, worked out the statistical variety in newspaper articles for Maths, interviewed Jackie French (an Aussie author) for Geography, and gotten to research about the Phoenicians for Ancient History who may well end up scoring a story from me later on... *taps chin thoughtfully*

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to do any creative writing or writing related things in Biology. So note to treat this one with caution. :P

3. Write on the way.

I spend approximately three hours a day on a bus. Those three hours are pretty darn boring unless I'm writing. Mostly, laptops are able to work offline on word, scrivener, or even docs, and that means that you can use this boring bus trip, or train trip, to write. Yes, screaming kids can be a pain, but if you put earphones in and block out everything but you and your characters, you'll manage! (Hopefully)

WARNING: Do not tune out so much that you can't get out if there is an emergency. Also don't do this if you're the one driving. *nods wisely*

4. Get the other things done ASAP.

I'm horrible at following this one, but I'll say it any way.

If you've been given an assignment that isn't due for another three weeks, don't leave it until the last minute. Get it done early. Otherwise, you'll spend the entire last week stressing over it, and won't actually get it done until the night before, but will have spent the entire week leading up to it procrastinating furiously, all the while being freaked out cos there is no way you can finish this thing on time.

Basically, if you finish it early, then you can say bye-bye to stress, and sit down and write when you would have been freaking out over a project.

5. If none of these are working, wake up half an hour earlier.

Unless you are so frantically busy that you aren't even getting enough sleep, waking up a bit earlier to get some writing in at the start of the day is a good option. I have a tendency to wake up a bit earlier some mornings if I really want to get some writing done, and it actually doesn't work too badly. Don't wake up an extra two hours before you normally would, but a little bit doesn't hurt.

I hope that helps you guys out for being able to write!

Have you got any ideas on how to make time to write? Ever used any of these ones?