Monthly Archives: January 2014

I Need Help!

Hey, guys, Tess here.

I finished editing my story and am starting to fix it on the computer.

But I have a problem. (Of course)

In the very beginning of the story, I have my main character, Yaviel, traveling to our world to get Rhiannon and bring her back. I have the prologue down (see my first-ever post.), and then there was a weird jump when I forgot my novel notebook somewhere and had to start from what I thought was next.

So what I need help with: How can I write Yaviel’s “kidnapping” of Rhiannon? Should I start from where Yaviel appears in our world and has to find Rhiannon? So I start from where she’s about to find Rhiannon? Or when she finds Rhiannon?

If I start with her in our world, how long should it take for Yaviel to find her? It’s gonna be the easy part (unless you think it should be the hard part, but I want to keep Yaviel’s experiences in our world to a minimum.), so what should happen?

All replies are appreciated, and if you have another idea, please comment! I’d REALLY appreciate it!

All Caught Up!

…At least blog-wise.

I went through my emails and caught up with everyones who liked or followed my blog. If you follow my blog and I didn’t comment on anything and/or follow you, just give me a gentle reminder on my “About” page.

I’m a little behind where homework’s concerned. I had a whole breakdown where I thought I lost a really important piece of paper that had some of my notes for that giant paper I mentioned in my Good news/Bad news post. Then I realized that the day I planned to do it, I was swamped with school and other homework.

But I lost a good hour swearing like a sailor (which is highly unusual for me. I’m a freaking goody-two shoes!), and crying my eyes out. (I am a youngest child, so I still haven’t grown out of crying, though I’m proud to say that I don’t use it to my advantage. I just can’t stop it…)

Thus tomorrow’s plans of only editing have been shattered. But it will only be a few hours after church, and then I can edit away.

And I still have Monday.

Well, thanks to everyone who follows me, and I look forward to posting parts of my (edited) story up in the not-so-distant future!

Thank You! and Future Plans

Everyone!

You guys rock. In the first half an hour after I posted my good news/bad news post, I got 8 people either following my blog or liking the post.

..Now that I put it in writing it seems infinitesimal, but let me tell you, every single like or follow I get, I thank you soooo much. I have to get around to thanking all of you personally, and maybe following a few of you as well. But that will probably come later, sorry.

I have figured out a plan so I can edit about a page a day or my story without losing sleep.

Lunch time.

Now, I go to a private school, and our lunch period lasts all of twenty minutes, so there’s not a lot of time, but I usually finish pretty early anyway. My friends have realized that I’m not in their world when the folder and red pen come out. They tend to leave me alone after that.

As for future plans. This weekend is Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, go America! So I have a three day weekend. On Friday (today) I plan to take it easy: watch Star Trek, draw, go to bed early.

On Saturday, I am going to get up a bit early and spend the whole day doing homework. I have about 9 hours’ worth of homework to do over the weekend, but I should be able to get at least most of it done.

On Sunday I plan to finish editing my story, type it out, and reprint it so my friend can read it over, as she has been begging to do so for the last few months. She has even taken to trying to steal my folder during study hall.

So with that said, I’ll get going. But first!!!!

 

Book alert!

After reading Linked, I read a book called Merlin’s Blade. It’s by Robert Treskillard, and it’s a really interesting take on the Arthurian Legend.

The inside flap:

A strange meteorite.
A deadly enchantment.
And only Merlin can destroy it.

A meteorite brings a mysterious black stone whose sinister power ensnares everyone except Merlin, the blind son of a swordsmith. Soon, all of Britain will be under its power, and he must destroy the stone—or die trying.

Dun dun duuuuuunnn!

 

I thought it was… okay. The beginning was pretty good, and the ending was fantastic, but for about 250 pages in the middle, it was kinda…meh…

The main problem I have with this writer is that there are a lot of characters that are called by different names. (Merlin’s dad is called: “Merlin’s Father”, “Merlin’s tas” “Tas” (By Merlin) and “Oswain”). I’m not necessarily against this, but I just couldn’t place characters in the right setting.

For instance, there’s this one monk who’s kinda important to the plot. All I remember about him is that his name began with a “D” and a character named Garth hid his (Garth’s) bagpipe in the bottom of D’s chest.

He also helped destroy this meteorite, but I don’t remember him name.

And that bugs me as a reader. If you can deal with not knowing a lot about characters, great. You’ll love this book. If you love Tolkein, you might like this book.

If you hate Tolkein, you might still like this book. The plot is still very good, and the origins of popular Merlin myths (sword in the stone, Lady of the Lake) are explained really well and very cleverly.

I like how the main character has such a big impediment that turns out to save him. Though I couldn’t think of Merlin as anyone other than Colin Morgan. I just couldn’t. Nothing anyone could have done would have stopped that. But still, it wasn’t really that distracting.

Another problem? The ending is a little “Deus ex machina” (The ending of The Avengers.). There is one problem (slightly major, depending on your viewpoint) that gets solved by an angel for crissakes. And it’s not even Castiel!

Sorry. Supernatural reference was 100% necessary.

Which leads me to another point.

This book is very Christian. Talk of God giving people strength, people having religious conversions, and giving their lives to God. If you don’t like this, don’t read it.

 

Well, that’s it. I need to return to my regular scheduling of Star Trek. I’m in the middle of the episode with the telekinetic aliens! (“Plato’s Stepchildren”)

See ya, chaps!

On Editing, Tardiness and the Pressures of School

Hey everyone (emphasis on one)!

I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news? I’m pretty far along with editing my story. I gave up on the unrealistic schedule I had set for myself and have been pacing myself quite nicely. (I’m even a little bit ahead!)

The bad news?

School exists. Unfortunately.

And I have one teacher in particular that seems to take it upon himself to make sure every child he teaches has no free time. We have a rather large paper due in March, and I am ever so slightly behind, since I have been in denial that I am in school.

So I will have to put editing my story on hold for a bit while I sort out my priorities.

That being said, I am not giving up on editing my story. Every spare second I have between school, homework, Star Trek, band, bass, soccer, and whatever the hell else I have going on will be dedicated to editing my story. I might even cut back on Star Trek (le gasp!)

That also being said, the in-depth reviews I was planning on doing (Alanna: The First Adventure, Frozen, Merlin’s Blade, and Linked) will be on hiatus until further notice.

But never fear, I will try to post short weekly recommendations for good (And bad) books and movies, as well as a (very) short review. The first few will more likely than not revolve around China, since that’s what the big paper is on.

So to everyone who’s following this, I thank you kindly and hope that you will support me in this stressful time. No doubt in a few weeks I will hit my scholastic stride and be able to take more on. But until then, please hang tight!

 

Good Book Alert!

I recently read the book Linked by Imogen Howson. It’s a fairly new book set in a (in my opinion) Star Trek- inspired futuristic world.

Here’s the inside flap:

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere. 

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. 

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed. 

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

I personally loved it. The characters are well written and organic, and I love the fantasy elements, and how it ties into the plot twist towards the end of the book. Maybe this is just my inner nerd talking, but the futuristic world Elissa inhabits is very well-explained without ever seeming too expositional. It also seems a realistic jump in technology.

I found it hard to put the book down once it started, so beware!

So, that’s it for this post. Please keep this blog in mind, and don’t give up on me!

Book Review: The Writer’s Book of Wisdom (Part 5)

The final review! In this review we go from Rule 79 all the way to 101 and the overall commentary

Rule 79: Avoid commentary: Let readers make their own deductions.

In less frivolous terms, Show, don’t tell.

Ah, showing versus telling. The bane of all writers everywhere. People want so much to shove their ideas into other people’s faces that they get too eager and go overboard.

This can go hand in hand with over describing something, but it can be hard to tell, especially by yourself.

There are whole lessons on showing versus telling, but the one I used (not sure if it’s the best or anything, but who knows?) is in The First Five Pages. You can choose your own, if you want.

Rule 80: Tell stories to keep them reading.

At this point, the author seems to be repeating ideas. When you strip this idea to its bare bones, it’s simply telling your story quickly (Rule 54) and entertaining the reader (Rule 53). SO I’m going to skip this section.

Rule 81: Reveal past events through exposition or flashback.

I went through this early in Rule 68. Not much else to say about it.

Rule 82: Shift focus often.

Don’t focus one thing too long, Steven Goldbury says.

That’s easy for action shots. Clashing noises, swords, words, it can get easy to shift focus in the middle of a battle, whether physical or verbal, but what about in everyday life?

That can be a bit harder, but life is always changing. Did you learn nothing from “Just Around the Riverbend”?

If your character is walking through a forest, have him notice a bug that lands on a flower, or have her kick a rock and follow it as it bounces off a tree root and follow its progress from there.

You might wonder, “What’s the point, if it doesn’t further the plot?” But as I have said before, sometimes, a quick break from the plot is good.

Rule 83: Know your theme.

I literally made up my theme in rule 61. No joke. It’s usually pretty obvious from your writing, and is based on your plot. If you want to do a Horatio Alger thing, then have a poor orphan gain riches. It’s that easy.

Again, the book goes on for two pages. But this is what it’s really saying: Know your theme. It’s that simple

Rule 84: Go with God, but write with the devil.

Or, just go with the devil. You know, whatever works.

Because seriously, Hell and evil is just so COOL. You know how Tess – I mean I – said that conflict makes a story more interesting? Well, a lot of conflict makes for a lot of interest. And guess where a lot of conflict comes from?

If you guessed evil, you’re correct!

Now as the father of evil, – I mean as a writer who writes about a lot of evil – I know that violence is so much fun to read. Because it’s so outside our normal circle.

Seriously. Find the depravities of humanity and use it to your advantage.

And no, this is not Lucifer again. Please stop asking, or I will send you to Hell. I do have that power.

Rule 85: Resolve all conflicts by the end of the story.

…By the end of the story arc. I’m ending my novel at a cliffhanger. If Rick Riordan can end Mark of Athena with Percy and Anabeth falling into the Pit of Tartarus, I think I’m at least slightly entitled to end my novel at a slight cliffhanger.

But do resolve all conflicts. It might not be happily ever after, (The manga Devilman is a good example of one that does not) but there must be some resolution.

Rule 86: Writing is the vehicle for writing the truth.

…Wut?

If you’re writing fantasy, it’s hard to be honest. If the book is talking about being true to yourself, I could understand, but it’s not. It goes from talking about the power of the story to honesty to making stories out of “hate and love”.

…Okay.

Rule 87: Maintain the trance of verisimilitude.

Verisimilitude is simply truthfulness. Basically, you want to keep your story in the right time period, with the right phrases.

Then Steven goes on to say that your vocab should be sixth to eighth grade level.

…excuse me? I have a rather advanced vocabulary for my age, and it gets boring to read books with the same words over and over and over and over and over again.

In general, I believe people should read books that are a level beyond them.

Unfortunately, all the books in the genre I like (YA fantasy) I like are rather simple, so I don’t learn much vocab. But he television shows I like are much different. Just listening to Data from Star Trek Next Generation gave me three different words (aphorism, oraface, jocular) in a span of about ten minutes.

Reading all of Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness” series taught me about the same amount (petulant, rampant… and that’s all I can remember.) in four books.

Readers sometimes like to be challenged. If they don’t, they can read another book. But most people will read a book, even (And sometimes especially) if they don’t know a few words.

Caveat Emptor: Don’t use too many fancy words just for the sake of using them. If they fit, use them. If they don’t, don’t.

Rule 88: Writing offers hope.

Okay. We have officially reached “artsy fart” status. In plain, concrete English (oh, lordie, my English teacher finally got to me…. crap….) They say that while there should be a lot of conflict, there should be a small hope for the main characters.

You might actually have to read this rule. It’s really pretentious and actually kinda funny. But maybe I’m just being mean. Ah well.

Rule 89: Think about your readers.

This draws back connections to Rule 53, the need to entertain. But this goes further: The readers are the people who support you. Treat them really well. Want a great example of a person who’s really good with his fans?

Vic Mignogna.

Besides being a total sweetie, he takes time out of his own day to write back to every bit of fan mail he gets. He says that he’s up until 1 or 2 in the morning, writing back fan mail so everyone knows how grateful he is to them.

Now, especially if you’re a teenager/young adult, I wouldn’t suggest doing this, since that would mean you only get about four or five hours a sleep a night (assuming you get up at around 6:30 for school), which is not advisable. But take the time to make your story easy for your writers.

Rule 90: Revise with a critical eye and outside help.

Remember aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way in Rule 56 when I said that I would go more into outside editors?

Well, guess what?

Critical readers, outside editor, crap detector, call them what you want, they all have one purpose: To make you look as intelligent and novel-esque as possible.

As to where to find a good critical reader, the book says not to go to a friend or teacher. But sometimes those are the best people to go to.

People who aren’t overly critical (like my one friend who won’t stop asking me to let her read my stories(though she tends not to be a blind praiser)) are great, because they give you an idea for what the general populace will think of your book.

But picky readers are even better.

My English teacher is outstanding with prose and novels, as well as great at grammar. Once I finish editing my novel and have my friend read it through, I’m gonna and him the first ten or fifteen pages, and ask him if he would be willing to look them over and tell me what he thinks.

He doesn’t read a lot of YA fantasy (that I know of), so he won’t be too pulled in by the gimmicks, but he is good at picking apart a story, which is really good.

But if your editor’s desires conflict with your own, take a sabbatical and come back later. If you’re still unwilling to change, then don’t. It’s your story, after all.

Rule 91: Art shows up in the rewriting.

So, rule 19? Yeah. Rule 19.

Rule 92: Get distance from your work.

Which is very important. If possible, take about a month’s break from your story. At least two weeks. This will help you get over your illusion that your story is the best piece of literature ever.

Rule 93: Revise for speed.

Or, Rule 54. Tell your story quickly. (Advice which this author should be taking…)

Rule 94:Trust the Muse of Revision

She will lead you to possible serendipity. But the rules are starting to repeat themselves and get really boring.

Rule 95: If you can be misread, you will be.

And in this case, Steve is talking about innuendos.

…really? I mean, really? EVERYTHING can be misread. I don’t even want to know what goes on in some people’s dirty little heads. I don’t have time to be worried if they see every little thing I write as an innuendo. Sorry.

Rule 96: Ultimately, content matters more than crafts.

…which contradicts Rule 61, which claims that writing quality is more important than plot or characters. My head hurts. :/

Rule 97: Know how to sell it.

Be current in the publishing industry. Know how to craft a good pitch (No, not Rise of the Guardians Pitch. Writing-pitch.), who to write a good query letter, ect.

Here are some good suggestions for books to figure out what’s what.

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. This one is mainly for revision purposes. It’s really good for learning the mistakes in your novel.

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published – By Arielle Eekstut and David Henry Sterry. (This is really good for before and after publication. Not so much actual publication.)

How to Publish Your Novel – By Ken Atchity – This is pretty much your guide to the ins and outs of publication. Read it. Live it. Just don’t bathe in it.

Please.

Rule 98: Study the board.

Make sure you know the market. If you’re publishing in adult comedy, know the publishers that mainly deal with adult comedy. If you’re writing a children’s mystery book, make sure you know the publishers involved in the production of such books.

Then the book stops, leaving many people screaming at the sky, “But HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww?”

Well, my dear Watson, the answer is elementary: Go to your bookstore and/or library. Find books that fit your genre. Look at all the publishers. Notice if there are books from the same publication house and see if you can figure out what kind of books they publish.

Even if they don’t publish your kind of novel, if/when another publication house interviews you for a chance to get your book published and they ask why you chose their house, it would be impressive if you could say, “House A publishes more of a modern fantasy, while House B publishes more of a paranormal romance genre. I found your house’s typical genre of Medieval/other worldly fantasy to fit my novel well.”

This tells publishers that you’re not just an average Joe off the street, and that you’re willing to work hard.

Plus, it’s just nice to know someone took the time.

Rule 99: Submit a professional manuscript.

Don’t do anything fancy. Don’t make the writing too big or (definitely) too small. Make it a conventional font. (No, Wingdings is not okay.) Make it look professional, even if you’re not.

But aside from that, the book has no other concrete advice to offer.

I personally have only one thing to add: When you’re re-submitting a manuscript to another publisher, whether you’re shopping around or have been rejected, (heck, even if this is your first time submitting it) make sure it looks like it hasn’t seen the light of day.

I copped this straight from The First Five Pages, but apparently, editors deliberately look for signs of use: ruffled or creased pages, smudges of coffee stains, a small ink stain someone had on their hand that smudged onto the paper, anything.

They will take it as a sign that another editor read it and thus, rejected it.

Then they will reject it, no questions asked, nothing further read. All because you couldn’t bother to print out another manuscript.

Rule 100: Aspire to reach a universal audience.

I respectfully disagree. While I’m not saying that writing for a universal audience is bad, it makes the book less personable to your intended audience.

I don’t think Avatar aspired to be as great a cartoon as it is. DiMartino and Konietzko simply wanted to tell a great story for their kids. They wanted to keep it free of the stupidity that unfortunately plagues most children’s cartoons.

And they created a gem.

The lesson? By aspiring to be the best in your category (say, children’s, or young adults), you reach other audiences.

Rule 101: Embrace the wisdom of opposing views.

Pick and choose how these rules affect you. Too what extent will you “trust your own voice” and to what extent will you “imitate others”?

Writing is a very… loosy-goosy art. There’s no rules for how to hold your hands, how to read music, how to paint. You type up a story you want to type up and go on from there!

So that was the review. Yeah, it was a little long, it’s REALLY late, and I’m positively exhausted. You can probably tell that from the fact that the length of the reviews started shortening little by little…

But: My thoughts.

It’s full of interesting information, and the book itself is very pretty. Its sentences are concise and well written.

But….

I personally feel the writer is a bit pretentious. He means well, but he can come off arrogant and self-important at times. Maybe you might appreciate the way he builds up the writing profession, since so many people bring it down, but I just find it a bit… unpleasant.

The rules can be taken a few ways. The descriptions , especially near the end of the book, often didn’t correspond with the rules, which was confusing. And the writer repeated the same rules once or twice, instead of just shortening the number of rules and lengthening the number of pages devoted to each rule.

And I didn’t like how they were called “rules”. Nothing in writing needs to be followed. But that’s just a personal complaint.

Overall:

It’s twenty bucks. Unless you can get it for about 5 or under, I’d suggest getting it from the library or reading it at your local bookstore. It’s definitely not a bad book, and does deserve at least one look through.

It just doesn’t deserve twenty bucks.

Has anyone else read this book? What were your thoughts?

Book Review: The Writer’s Book of Wisdom (Part 4)

Happy day after New Year’s! I just got back from a sleepover at the house of a great great great friend I haven’t seen since the end of summer/beginning of school, and soon I’m going to go to the wake of the mother of the friend I told you about.

So before I go, I figured I’d use the break to finish the review. Without any further ado…

Rule 55: Write like you talk.

…Unless the way you talk sucks. Then find a new way to talk.

I’m joking.

…ish.

But sometimes your voice doesn’t suit your content. Say an old, stereotypical history professor wanted to write a thriller scifi novel. If he uses the frivolous voice he probably talks in, no one would want to read him.

If you use stringent grammar at the cost of the prose sounding awkward, you have failed.

Here’s a good test: Read through the material. Out loud. If you stumble at any points (other than the obvious, “that was a comma, not a period. DOH!), circle that part. Because the part of your brain that comprehends reading (angular gyrus) is closely connected to the part of your brain that comprehends speaking (Broca’s area).

(Which is basically the reason it’s so easy to go from reading to speaking. Understanding language (Weirnick’s area) isn’t well connected, so that’s why it’s hard to understand a different language. Fun fact of the day.)

If you take anything away from this book, take away this rule. In my opinion, this should be number one. Way too many people take on a false voice for their writing, and it sounds awful.

Rule 56: Trust the power of your own voice.

This is an extension of Rule 55. The way you talk is usually fine. Unless someone tells you that your voice is a bad fit for your story.

Remember that friend whose story was grammar and spelling- challenged? He has a very frivolous manner of speaking. I told him that, but he doesn’t seem too interested in changing it. And that’s his choice.

Don’t feel forced to change your novel because an editor tells you. If any editor demands changes made to your story that you don’t want to do, don’t. It’s your story. Not his or hers. (More on this all the way in Rule 90!)

Rule 57: Command attention immediately.

John Doe is walking down the aisles of his local library. He looks at a section of the shelf, and your book catches his eye with a clever or interesting title. He reads the blurb on the inside cover and decides that he might like it.

But John Doe is pretty critical. So he opens to the first page, breathing in the new-book smell.

His eyes fall on to the first sentence, and he is bored out of his skull. He snaps the book shut, rolls his eyes, and puts it back on the shelf, never to touch it again.

If this happens, you have failed. With the first sentence, you want the reader to be entranced, hypnotized. And you want to be the hypnotist.

Here’s a good test. Ask a likeminded friend or relative (For me, it’s my older sister): “I’ve got a story called “____________” (For me: The Heir). It opens with ____________________ (For me: “No.” The girl tugged on her low hanging pigtail with a scowl.) What do you think?”

What do you think of mine?

Rule 58: Design your opening page for maximum impact.

There seem to be 5 important elements of a good first page of a manuscript:
• Title (On the first page? Really? Okay….)
• White space
• Hook
• Sense of conflict
• Cliffhanger

The title is supposed to remind the reader/editor what they’re reading, even if there’s a title page. But this book doesn’t. The book closest to me (Ranger’s Apprentice Book 6) doesn’t. So I don’t think this is important for a final draft. But for a manuscript, I don’t think this could be a bad idea.

White space is great. If you have a tasteful amount, it will make people think they’re reading less, since most if not all, people are lazy readers. I know I am. Read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy in one book? No thank you.

The hook was covered in the last rule, commanding attention.

Conflict is what makes books interesting. You don’t want to hear about the exploits of Jane Doe as she slogs through her daily routine with no troubles except for that one time, last Thursday that she lost her glove on the subway. No. Harry Potter wasn’t exciting because they talked about magic. It was exciting because there was a lot of conflict. Try to have it on your first page. In my novel, you get the impression (I hope) that there’s a war going on, and it’s pretty desperate.

Cilffhanger. If you end in a happy spot, why should the reader read on? It’s pointless. If Veronica Roth hadn’t ended Divergent with Tris unsure of her role, Dauntless in shreds, and Erudite looming closer, would we have wanted Insurgent as much? I don’t think so.

Even minor cliffhangers are better than none. In my story, I ended the first chapter with the possibility of a way to turn the tide of the war, but we don’t hear about it until a while afterward.

Build up the tension.

Rule 59: Start where the story gets interesting.

Also called “In Medias Res” (In the middle of things)

If you’ve ever written anything, whether it be an essay, a poem, or a full blown novel, we all know the beginning is next to impossible. But after a page or two, we settle into the rhythm of writing, and the story or essay or poem flows more easily. Not necessarily very easy. But easier.

Don’t worry about your beginning when you start. Otherwise you’ll get
overwhelmed and won’t. Instead, just write what you think sounds good, and in the editing stage, condense the story as much as possible.

For example, in my story, I had one of the main girls, Yaviel, going to the modern world to get Rhiannon, and Yaviel watches her (Rhiannon) for a while.

But I couldn’t get that to sound right, so I skipped most of it and went right to the good stuff.

It might be hard getting rid of part of your story. It might feel like killing your firstborn child then flaying yourself. But it WILL make your story better. Just be sure that you are careful to give enough information, or the readers might get confused and just leave.

Rule 60: Never save your best for last.

The book says that you should use that best part first. But the best part of my story is that a main character dies, another gets amnesia, and the castle is being attacked. If I put that first, then I would have no story. I would just have a climax out of place with no backstory, character development, or plot.

Plus, the climax should NEVER be outshone by the exposition. Otherwise the climax isn’t the climax. It’s just a mildly exciting part of the story.

Rule 61: Master the basics of literature.

The book claims there are seven things you should pay attention to while writing, in this order.
• Quality of writing. This should speak for itself. If you write poorly, people won’t want to read you. Not even your mother or grandma. …Okay, MAYBE your grandma. Mine probably would.
• Conflict. We’ve talked about this, haven’t we? Conflict is exciting. Would Supernatural be as exciting if people didn’t die? If hunting things and killing things (you know, the family business!) were really easy. NO. It’s because these things are so hard that it’s exciting.
• Point of View. Most English students know about point of view. The book goes into a whole doozy of different kinds of point of views. Just so you know: Second person is pretty much off limits. They make everything sound like those Choose Your Own Adventure books. If you want a whole discourse on point of view, google it. Because there’s too much to cover here.
• Character. Personally, I think this should be number two, but what do I know? All I do know is that the reason I stop watching most T.V. shows or reading most books is because I don’t like the main character. But that’s just me.
• Setting. Especially if you created a fantasy world, be sure to describe it. That’s one of the main things that I have trouble doing. I’m just not good at describing setting.
• Plot. Plot is not very complicated. It’s just the actions of the characters in the story. As long as there’s exposition, a twist or two, a climax, and a good resolution, you’ve got a good plot. But even if you just had someone walk from one corner of the street to the other and back, that would be a plot. Not a good one, but a plot nevertheless.
• Theme. This is basically like the morals at the end of Aesop’s fables. If you have the idea of showing a certain idea (in my story, things are not always what they appear), just think of that while writing. You don’t need to put too much conscious effort into this, since it’ll just happen.

Rule 62: Mix description, narration, exposition, and dialogue.

Description gives images, narration creates action, and exposition gives reasons.

But other than that, the book just throws examples of authors using all of one kind. There is no example of a good mixture of the four. This could confuse readers of this book.

Here’s my own example. It’s kinda crappy, but it’s off the top of my head.

“The tall green grass bent in the wind and into the glassy, ice-blue lake. I walked towards the shore, humming a familiar tune sadly. Where had I heard it? I cast my memories back and remembered the face of a childhood friend, her giant grin missing a single canine tooth on the left side. She had danced around me, singing her favorite song.

Then I saw her face again: older, broken, bloodied, dead. And I sobbed.

When the tears wouldn’t come anymore, I opened my mouth and sang.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me……””

See how I mixed description (about the tall grasses, the glassy lake) narration (walking to the shore, crying) exposition (thinking about her dead friend, remembering the song) and dialogue (wondering where she heard the song, the song itself).

If it was all description:

There was tall green grass that bent into the lake. I walked towards the shore and hummed sadly. I didn’t remember where I heard it. So I cast my mind back. I remembered my friend’s face as she sang the song, and I remembered her dead face.

I sobbed.

When I stopped crying, I started to sing. “la di da”

See how boring it is? Some parts sound right, but a lot of parts do not. Just realize this, and you should be good. If you’re a natural English speaker, then this should come naturally. If not, then you have a good deal to learn. I wish you luck.

Rule 63: For structure, remember the golden triangle.

Okaaaaaay. Never heard of this one. And the book doesn’t explain it very well. And it only gives examples pertinent to essay writers. Remember that basic structure of an essay your teachers taught you? Introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, concluding paragraph? This is the what they talk about.

In my mind, the golden triangle for novelists is “Beginning, Climax, Ending”

As long as you have all of those, you should be good.

Rule 64: Use the classical plot outline.

Remember how I talked about the witch hat? Well, in this book it’s more like two fish hooks that meet at the climax. So for all intents and purposes, it’s a witch hat. Beginning, climax, end.

In the book, the author talks about how if you apply this into your novel, you’ll “tap into emotional wells as deep and ancient as the human race”. Technically, we’re not ancient at all. In fact, if the timeline of the world were a football field, the beginning of the human race would only start about one inch from the goal line.

But I’m being nitpicky and overly critical. It’s just that he says that you shouldn’t be superfluous, and here he is being superfluous. Oh well…

Rule 65: A more detailed plot outline provides your template.

The witch hat can only do so much. Sometimes, you want minor conflicts and resolutions .

In Alanna: The First Adventure (review coming soon!), you think that the Sweating Sickness is the big climax, and everything else is just resolution, but then we introduce Roger of Conté, and Alanna and Jon battle the Ysandir. Then everything after that is resolution.

If used properly, it can make the great big climax that much more OH SNAP!

But be careful of having too many, or the big climax won’t be that big of a payoff.

Rule 666: Allow the process of discover to happen naturally.

Where there’s conflict, there’s drama. So if you have a good conflict and a good style of story and good characters, the story should be good as well. Trust yourself.

And no, this is not Lucifer temporarily possessing Tess to make her do my bidding. Definitely not. She’s writing- I mean I’m writing this of my own free will.

Rule 67: Dialogue heightens drama.

…Sometimes. As with most things, if you use dialogue too much, it becomes annoying and pointless, and you’re probably using it wrong.

And don’t be afraid to use short sentences. Or none at all. Having one character stare at another instead of answering is arguably more powerful than having the character roll his or her eyes and huff, “that’s stupid.”

Remember, actions are more powerful than words. But words are okay, too!

Rule 68: Dialogue speeds the process of discovery.

…just don’t take it too far. If you use dialogue to explain everything (“Hey I just drank a glass of water. It was refreshing and it filled the glass halfway. Little bits of water speckled the edges.” “That’s neat! I just ate a spicy enchilada! A bit of hot sauce got into a cut on the corner of my mouth and it stung!”)

That’s boring and people see right through it.

So use dialogue sparingly, and it will really help your story.

Granted, some short stories can be made from dialogue only. Here’s an example I wrote for a fanfiction. If you don’t know Yu-Gi-Oh, it probably won’t make much sense, but you’ll get an idea for how dialogue can tell a story.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9525445/33/A-Story-for-a-Word

Rule 69: Dialogue creates tension.

Make your characters hate each other. It’s so much more fun to watch people verbally sparring than telling each other how neat and awesome the other is.

But again, use dialogue sparingly. Even tense dialogue. Because everything except excruciating boredom gets old.

Rule 70: Use dialogue tags correctly.

Don’t worry. When we read, the words “said” “asked” “yelled” and a few others just disappear as we unconsciously process them. But when you use “odd” tags, such as “queried” “orated”, ect, our brains stop at the unknown word and try to puzzle it out. By the time we figure it out (if we do), we have forgotten the dialogue and must reread it.

One could argue that using words such as “announced” “mentioned” “disclosed” are necessary. They give a feeling for how the words are said. Just don’t over use them. (Are you seeing a pattern?)

Rule 71: Establish PoV early.

This section basically says that if your PoV is going to be able to shift, make that apparent as early as possible. And they go on about this for two pages. That’s me, Writer’s Guide, ‘Bridged.

You’re welcome.

Rule 72: Keep your characters real.

Unless your character needs to be unreal in some aspect. Then make them unreal. But while you’re making characters, give them quirks and characteristics, and you can make them very realistic.

To work on characterization, I suggest the book “The Plot Thickens” by Noah Lukeman.

Rule 73: Give the opposition quality attention.

Everyone loves a good villain. I personally love the character Thief King Bakura from Yu-Gi-Oh. He has a tragic back story (his whole village was killed by the pharaoh’s men) and is probably insane, so he commits atrocious crimes as vengeance. At times, you almost want to cheer him on. (I was actually sad when he died.

That’s the best kind of villain.

Another good example that most people know is Judge Frollo (Frodo?) from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He wants to get rid of his lustful feelings for Esmerelda, and tries to do that by killing her. In his twisted, rectitudinous (LOVE that word) brain, he’s the good guy, saving everyone else.

Another great villain.

Though just plain cold and cruel villains are fun to read about. The ones that don’t give a rat’s skinny little butt about “morals” (Loki, from Thor). But try to make them slightly realistic

Rule 74: Tell a dream, and you risk boring a reader.

Now, let’s get this in context. In my story, the dreams of one character in particular (Nari) is very important. Vital, even.

But if you have all of these bad things about to happen to your character and he wakes up to find out it’s all a dream, that’s a (pardon my language) dick move.

It’s way too Deus ex Machina, and it’s just an insult. Like you played with out heartstrings and made us care for characters (a great thing) and then just said, “eeeeh, I can’t think of a good way to resolve this. I’ll just make it a dream. That’s an easy out.”

Inception can get away with it. You can’t.

Rule 75: Setting matters.

Because it does. I have particular troubles with this. I don’t know why, I just do. I can’t translate what I see in my head to the paper well enough.

But setting is important. As the book points out, it establishes mood.

The book also says to spare no detail, but if I spared no detail, I could go on for pages about the leaves on a tree branch. So to revise: don’t spare any necessary details. While the leaves may not be important, the shape might be.

Rule 76: Allow for descriptive passages.

Realize that description can further the plot. By describing the area around the action, we can better understand the action itself. Use unusual adjectives. (In one part of my story, I wrote the phrase (about a sunrise) “coloring the sky with timid rays of pink and orange.”

I could have used “faint”, but I thought, how about timid? Because, why not? Because why not moments are the best kinds of moments, since they lend to so much serendipity.

Rule 77: Practice the elements of description.

There are two kinds of description, according to this book: Catalogues and Sketches.

Catalogues are generally considered lists. Not in a bad way. Just in a … listy … way.

Sketches are basically sketching something with words. There’s no other way to describe it.

Personally, I don’t see much use in knowing the difference. Just use good descriptions ,and your story will prosper.

Rule 78: Use images to deliver ideas.

…I…don’t understand where the book’s going with this. It says to use some abstractions, then uses an excerpt of Ursula K. Le Guin’s book, The Farthest Shore. But there seems to be no connection…

Okaaaaay…. This one’s a dud.

At this point, we go to the next (and final) part!

Book Review: The Writer’s Book of Wisdom (Part 3)

Hey! I actually did it this time! Huzzah!

Without any further ado, here’s part 3.

Rule 37: The “as” clause is for amateurs.

Hey folks, guess what? I’m an amateur.

I believe that the “as” clause creates a sort of… unity. Not unity in the essay sense, but the sentences flow better. The book suggests that you separate them into different sentences. But if they’re both two small phrases, having two short sentences could stop the reader short in confusion.

They do concede that there are cases where the “as” clause is necessary, and even make a point of using “and”. But personally, I kinda like the sound of the “as” clause.

Rule 38: Avoid clichés and stock phrases.

… But these things create a simplicity that the reader needs. A few well placed stock phrases (Big as a house, Sweet dreams are made of this, Who am I to disagree? ) can strengthen your story. It’s like a metaphor, taking your work and giving a sort of lifeline for your reader to latch onto and understand in the sea of information you’re throwing at them.

Rule 39: Trust the precision of your nouns and verbs.

Do not, for the love of all that is holy or not, DO NOT think that more adjectives make your writing better and stronger.

It doesn’t. It creates a feeling of wordiness and it actually weakens your noun or adjective. Instead of saying “She said angrily”, say, “She snapped.”

This is why you need a good grasp of uncommon words.

Rule 40: Don’t overuse negatives.

This is an interesting concept, one that I’ve never heard before. But it seems very true. The idea is that using “negative” phrases (She didn’t like people, he didn’t want to lose) create a dark mood. So if this is what you’re going for, then now you know how to make one.

To create a positive mood, get rid of no can’t, won’t, hate, don’t. ect. Instead of “She didn’t like people”, try “She liked being alone”. Instead of “He didn’t want to lose”, try (of course) “He wanted to win.”

Even if you’re creating a dark mood, realize that you might need a bright point to keep your readers reading.

Rule 41: Be mindful of your diction.

Diction is simply a fancy word for your choice of words and how they get your point across. The book says that action verbs are better than linking verbs (they are. And yes, “are” is a linking verb. So is “is”).

The right word in the right place can make a book better. In the words of Mark Twain, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between “lightning” and “lightning bug” (And he uses a metaphor, to boot!)

If you want one character to look at another character closely, you could say stare, but that really means to look at for a long time. Peer would be a better word.

Again, a grasp of words is all but necessary.

Rule 42: Avoid repeating words that sound or look similar.

In a single word, homonyms and homographs. “The soldier threatened to desert in the desert.”

Your brain is trying to figure out which is de-SERT (to leave) and which is DE-sert (The place) that you don’t really understand what the sentence is saying, thus the sentence is lost.

So you will need to know a lot of words.

Are you sensing a pattern here? I know I am.

Rule 43: Play with words.

Because words are our playground (another metaphor!), and we should have fun with them. The book suggests doing crossword puzzles, making up spoonerisms, riddles, and jokes.

Collect oddities in language (Like why singular verbs end in “s”. Seriously. Why?) and write them down.

Do word games. I personally enjoy the word game “Jumble Crossword” in my local newspaper

Rule 44: Collect good titles and practice writing your own.

The title is the first thing a person sees. Keep it cool.

The book has a few basic categories for good titles, but I don’t think you have to be limited to these.
• Oxymoronic – Use words that are oxymorons. Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Little Big Man
• Poetic – Make poetic titles using the rhythm of words. Robota, The Soldier Who Fell from Grace With the Sea – Note: I don’t understand how Robota is very poetic, but Steven Goldsberry knows better than me… The Soldier one is written in iamb, anapest, iamb, and anapest, which are all fancy terms that say what syllables in a poem are stressed. (We had a whole poetry unit in English last year, and I still haven’t forgotten its terrors…
• Clichés – Twist around or use clichés. And the Thought Plickens, Pay it Forward (sob ☹…)
• Thematic – Give an example of the basic trait (violence, money, sex, ect) The War of the Worlds, (violence) The Battling Bibles (Violence and religion)
• Phrases – Just normal, everyday phrases. Drive, He Said. Dude, Where’s my Car?
• Classics – Phrases from previous works (this is when that favorite literature scrapbook can be a big help.) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings comes from the poem “Sympathy”. Brave New World comes from The Tempest. Look around!

The book advises against abstract titles. The title “Hate” can be used by pretty much any novel. But “The Hateful Angel” or “The Hateful Assassin” is more concrete. You want your title to tell a story in and of itself. And in this dawn of single-word titles (Tangled, Brave, Frozen, Furious, Ink, Page, ect) You want to make sure the title describes your story.

Page by Tamora Pierce is an good one. It is a book about Keladry of Mindelan’s page years. Very descriptive title, pertains to pretty much only her story, so that’s a pass.

Furious by Jill Wolfson is… okay. It pertains to her story since its about the Greek Furies, and “Furies” was already taken. I give her a grudging half-pass.

I won’t go through the whole list, but go to your closest bookstore or library and look at all the newer books. Notice how short their titles are. Keep your titles short but let them tell about your story (Page), and you should be good.

Rule 45: Be brief

The book says to use short sentences, and I agree. If you have ever read Hemmingway (I am sooooo sorry for you), then you know his sentences can go on for a whole paragraph. He is undoubtedly the worst school novel I ever read. Even worse than The Founding Brothers. And that was bad.

Don’t always write short. Long sentences aren’t the devil. They can help you. After all, a long sentence after a few short ones is a nice breath of air. Just don’t go TOO overboard.

The thing the book advertises is to be brief and cut away the extra fluff.

Eeeeeeehhhhh…. Kinda. I’ll get more into this in Rule 54.

Rule 46: For speed in communication, write clearly.

Make your plots simpler. One of the reasons The Last Airbender was better than Legend of Korra (Mainly season 2) was because the plot of The Last Airbender was very simple: Aang needs to learn all the elements to defeat the Fire Lord. That’s it.

Legend of Korra was complicated. Korra needs to open the Spirit Portals, but she really doesn’t but she should, but Unalaq wants her to but he wants to do it himself, and then Varrik is thrown in there (GREAT plot twist, btw), then she needs to close them, and it’s just needlessly complicated.

Just like keeping a plot simple, write relatively simply. You need to entertain.

Rule 47: Accelerate the pace with “invisible writing”.

Basically, strip your story down to the bones and peel off a bit of the bone covering. Then you should be good.

Sometimes, I agree.

When it’s used to further the plot it can be good. But you know what? A brief pause from the plot can further it. Don’t go on for whole paragraphs about the sunset unless the sunset is going to be important. But spend a few sentences talking about its beauty, because, why not?

Don’t take this as a freebie to write about every detail. Write about action, not description. Best of both worlds, use both. “The hazy sun set over the low hills that rolled towards the north.” You know that the day is probably foggy or misty, that there are low hills a ways away, and that they run towards the north. Not bad.

Rule 48: Vary sentence structure and type.

Using too many long sentences in a row can get really annoying and will make people want to put the book down, which is not something you want, since they are the people who are going to buy the book. You want the people reading your story to be entertained by the way you vary your sentence lengths, since doing so makes your story much easier to read and will make people want to buy it.

Too many short sentences is also bad. For the same reason as above. It sounds choppy. It’s too easy to put down. Heck, you’ll want to put it down. You’ll beg.

Get my drift? By varying sentence length, you make the book more interesting. You give it life. So when you’re editing or rewriting, keep in mind the length of each of your sentences so you don’t put too many long and short ones in a row. If you do that, you should be great!

Rule 49: Be interesting with every sentence.

Basically, don’t use transitions.

…which… doesn’t work well, leaving too much room for awkward (and poor) transitions from sentence to sentence.

Now, (see? Transition. Do I write like crap? Yes? Well, screw you, buddy. 😉 But I hope I don’t write like crap. If I do, I know why!) don’t fill your novel with phrases like, “Next” “then” “finally”. Because then it gets an academic feel. And especially if you’re writing in the increasingly popular category of YA fiction, academic tone will send readers flying. Teens read to escape school, not embrace it.

Rule 50: The discipline of poetry will sharpen your sentences.

Ah, poetry. When I first started writing, I thought poetry was needlessly frivolous and stupid. But there is some good poetry out there. I personally like Emily Dickinson and Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Read a bunch of poems, find your favorite poets. Follow rule 22 and copy them word for word. Get a feel for how they compose poems.

If you go to high school, find them in your literature book (if you have one of those giant tomes. I don’t think everyone has them.) or ask an English teacher. Most decent ones should have a few ones they enjoy. If you know what kind of poem you like, tell them and ask them if there are any similar ones.

If you go to/live near a college, there might be a poetry class. If you’re going to that college, take the course. If you’re not, ask or email the professor if he has suggestions.

It might seem awkward asking a random stranger for advice on poems, but if you let them know what you’re using it for (to learn to write better), then most would be happy to help.

The reason you should write poetry? (Maybe I should have put this first…) To learn how to write a sentence. “But Teeeeeeeess, I know how to write a sentence!” You whine.

But poetry is short, and you have to learn how to put as much info in a short burst. It also teaches showing rather than telling. If you put
The tiger was hungry.
It stalked closer.
The bunny saw and ran away.
The tiger caught up and ate it

Most two year olds will tell you it sucks.

Rumbling from deep within
The tiger pads cautiously closer
A rabbit’s nose sniffs the air and its body quivers
Too late
Blood and sinew stuck between the tiger’s teeth

…I’m gonna stop before I hurt myself. Yeah. I have a ways to go before I write what I consider good poetry. But everything takes time, and while this might not greatly improve your writing if you’re already pretty good, it definitely doesn’t hurt, so let’s give it a try!

Rule 51: Sentences are written like jokes: the punch line is at the end.

This is an okay rule. It’s hard, especially if you are trying to write as quickly as possible (AKA, during NaNoWriMo), and its tedious to fix in editing. But especially for the end of chapters, it’s practically necessary. It creates a bit of suspense until the very end. You NEVER want to let go of suspense until it’s run to the ground and then a bit more.

An example? I’m gonna rip directly from the book, since it’s late, I’m tired, and I’m barely halfway through the book.

The pirate found eight perfectly cut deep red rubies at the bottom of a treasure chest.

Ignoring the overuse of adjectives (Deep red could really be burgundy, but whatevs.), the most “exciting” part of the sentence is rubies, wouldn’t you agree?

So we want that word at the end. How to word it?

At the bottom of a treasure chest, the pirate found eight perfectly cut burgundy rubies.

But you want to start the sentence with a bang. So…

The pirate found, at the bottom of a treasure chest, eight perfectly cut burgundy rubies.

But if the new sentence doesn’t sound right, don’t write it that way. Above all, you want the story to sound natural. (More on that in Rule 55)

Rule 52: Write towards a climax.

With every sentence, paragraph, chapter, and novel, you want to write towards a climax. If you’ve passed eighth grade English, you probably remember the witch’s hat or whatever that showed the basic arc of every story. Exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, most of us know this by heart.

But it takes careful perusing and a lot of time to make the right things climaxes. If you make too many things climaxes, the climaxes lose their salience. It’s just not special anymore.

It takes time, practice, and a very discerning outside editor to help with this.

Rule 53: The first duty of the writer is to entertain.

Who wants to write a book no one will read? Not me.

I mentioned The Founding Brothers? Yeah. Snoozefest. I was surprised that the book was published relatively lately. Like, 2000s. It sounded like the 1800s. So I will not read it. He’s very informative, but doesn’t entertain me.

Rule 54: Tell your story as fast as you can.

You shouldn’t spend time on frivolousness, but speeding through a story at the cost of the narrative isn’t advisable.

Take Tangled as an example (can’t you tell I’m a teenage girl?). The moment Rapunzel and Flynn (He’s always Flynn Ryder in my mind!) really get the feeling that they like each other is after they’re trapped in the cave, and Rapunzel uses her glowing hair to help them find the way out. They camp at a campfire, and you get the feeling that they now trust each other.

A lesser storywriter would have that be all the love development the couple gets. After all, they escaped death together. What else do they need?

Well, not much more. But whether unconsciously or purposefully, Dan Fogelman knew that the story needed to take a break while the two got to know each other.

That’s why the village scene was so powerful. Not only the gorgeous music, but the fact that they were doing normal things (buying food, eating ice cream, going to the library), not furthering the plot.

One could argue that this furthered the plot, since it was characterization. But what did we really learn? They like each other? We already know that. But it’s a breather of sorts, the calm before the storm.

So the moral is to take the time to fully tell your story, but don’t take too long. Readers can be impatient buggers.

Sorry this is a bit longer than most of my others. I just want to get back up to speed.

I wish you a Happy New Year! Parts 4 and 5 up tomorrow, if nothing goes wrong!

Book Review: The Writer’s Book of Wisdom (Part 2)

Hey everyone. Sorry this is a day late. I was dragged kicking and screaming to our neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party. WHich is possibly the most boring thing that can happen to me. There’s no one my age there, and no one bothers to talk to me, so I end up watching T.V with the six and seven year olds.

Which I can do at home.

But it is over, and I won’t have to do that again until next year, thank heavens.

Welcome 2014, and Good bye 2013.

And now on to the review. We ended with Rule 17: Just write. So gues what rule we start with? If you guessed Rule 19, you need to go back to kindergarden!!

Rule 18: Resist distractions.

My mortal enemy.

My brain jumps all over the place, and it takes all my willpower to straighten it up.

STORY TIME!!!

So, a day or two before I started NaNoWriMo, my friend mentioned that Supernatural was a really good show. I had started watching it about six months ago, but gave up when one episode started out really hokey (The one where Dean was gonna die from the electrical shock. I thought there as just gonna be this miraculous cure. There was, but it wasn’t the climax, which was refreshing. Plus the miracle cure made sense… ish…).

I tried it again, and to quote Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale, “I fell in love *instantly*”

So throughout NaNoWriMo, I had to battle schoolwork, novel writing, and Supernatural. Somehow, I didn’t fall (too) behind on homework, finished, like, six and a half seasons of Supernatural, and finished my novel in one month.

Is that even possible? Because, it happened, but it sounds impossible. Huh.

But the book says that writing groups can bad for your novel, since they take away your writing time. While I agree they do, they also connect you to other people in the business, and you can make good, likeminded friends. And maybe your group will have a free-write time, or you can start one, where everyone just writes. Who knows? It could be fun!

Rule 19: Produce multiple drafts.

Please please *please* revise your drafts before you let people see them. Especially editors.

A writer friend of mine gave me his thirty two page story and asked me to edit it. I was appalled by the sheer number of grammatical and spelling mistakes. When I asked him about it, he said that he hadn’t looked it over before giving it to me. Well, then.

The plot of the story was really good, and the culture he created was really interesting. I just couldn’t get through the mistakes and the superfluousness.

So learn to love editing. Or, at least learn to not despise it.

Rule 20: Think of your first draft as a blue-book essay exam.

For those of you not familiar, a blue book exam is kinda like standardized testing in college. And there is an essay, much like any given essay your teacher makes you write for a test. You basically come up with a few general ideas and start scribbling frantically.

This is the whole idea of NaNoWriMo, where you try to write 50,000 words in just one month. Just write as quickly as possible. Don’t think, don’t blink (wait, what?), and just write. If you’ve taken the writing portion of the ACT, channel that energy: Just get the frigging thing over with so you can sleep and ignore the fact that you probably just failed it.

Rule 21: Ignore the length of your first draft.

This is a good thing to keep in mind. While we are frantically typing like chickens with our heads cut off (can chickens with their heads cut off type? Dear google, I have a question for you…), we don’t write very well. No one does.

You may not write terribly, but you don’t write the best that you can. Our brains don’t naturally work in the most concise, interesting way. They just don’t. You will put extra words, sentences, paragraphs, whatever. Don’t be afraid to take a little off the top.

Remember the friend I told you about? The one whose grammar and spelling was all over the place? He handed me this stack of papers. 32 pages. “So when will you finish?” I asked. He looked at me.

“It’s done.” Seeing my… disconcerted.. look, he quickly assured me, “Don’t worry. This is only the rough draft of a rough draft of a rough draft of a rough draft of a rough draft.” “Of a rough draft of a rough draft.” I added. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I kinda have this sharp sense of humor.

He gives me this look but can’t contain a small grin, nodding. “Don’t worry. It will get a lot longer.”

Needless to say, he built up the wrong places (explaining stuff I didn’t care about) and let the right places fall to the wayside (his main character spent three years in a mental asylum and had a mental breakdown.)

Wouldn’t that be an exciting thing to read? His gradual degredation of sanity until he has a moment of clarity and escapes? I thought so too, but my friend didn’t seem to. He just said it in the prologue. It took up less space than letting us know his name and that he lived with his mother.

But I’m getting off topic. Since he built up the wrong places, most of my corrections (even more than spelling and grammar combined) were crossing out superfluous sentences and in more than one case, whole pages. When I was done, I probably crossed out ten pages worth of his writing.

Granted, he has more than enough material, since his story covers a lot of time. But still, just realize that just because you write a really really long book, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Same with a really really short book. You likely skipped over a lot of parts or built too many places up.

Rule number 22: Practice mechanical learning.

Basically, copy the first 1000 words of your favorite story longhand, then type them up. The book says that it will help you find your style.

I can’t attest to it that much. I know the benefit of leaning heavily on a source before finding your sea legs. I did the same thing with my next series. (You know, the one that started out pretty much as a word for word rewrite of “The Poisoned Chalice” from Merlin?)

And the story that I just finished was pretty much just an Medieval England InuYasha the first time I wrote it. Now (IMHO) it has a life of its own. So who knows? This might work.

Rule 23: Seek the wisdom of others.

Writing the verb might be a solitary action, but writing the job requires some kind of ability to be in the public. Not only that, but you are never ever the best person to edit your story. EVER. Not to brag, but (I’m bragging) I’m the best editor my friends know. They have said so.

In middle school, one of my friends would always give me her essays to look them over. And she thanked me when it came back covered in red marks. She doesn’t know what she did wrong. If she did, it wouldn’t *be* wrong.

An outsiders view is essential for seeing where your story is confusing (your brain has at least a rough mental map of events, but if you don’t explain the events well enough, the reader won’t, which creates frustration and rolled eyes and sighs of, “I’m not reading this. It’s stupid.”).

(Constructive) Critism is the best thing a person can get. Better even than blind praise. Learn to love it. Or at the very least, learn to accept it and learn from it. Your story will thank you, and maybe even reward you with chocolate. Or you can just reward your*self* with chocolate. Either way.

Rule 24: Keep yourself open to serendipity.

Serendipity, so you don’t have to google it, is a crazy, random happenstance (if you know what I’m quoting here, again, you are awesome). These are “subtle gifts from the muses”. Because nothing, I repeat *nothing*, I repeat NOTHING is random in writing. So go with the flow, and if you start to go down a random tangent while writing, don’t forget to pack your toothbrush!

I was writing during NaNoWriMo, and one of my characters who got amnesia met a guy who she becomes her friend. (Nothing more, all you romantics!) I went to bed a little after I first introduced them, at about midnight (Luckily during the Thanksgiving Break).

I was staring up at my ceiling going over my story when I accidentally thought of the two of them as siblings. And they became siblings (though they don’t know it yet!)

Rule 25: Borrow (and steal) from your favorite writers.

I think I’ve said that I copied “The Poisoned Chalice” enough. But let’s talk Shakespeare (all high school level English students just fled in terror. I don’t blame you.) I don’t think he created a single original work. He just took the idea and the characters, and made an interesting twist.

And we still read him to this day, much to high schoolers’ dismay. We read *plagiarism* in *school*. So the lessons, kids, is PLAGIARIZE! You’l be famous.

But I didn’t tell you anything. Nope. Not a thing. You shouldn’t plagiarize, and you must come up with completely original writing.

*crosses fingers*

Rule 26: Always have a notebook and pen on hand.

At least at school, I do. I usually have two: one for my class, and one for writing. When I get inspired by something, whether it’s my English teacher saying ginger gets rid of seasickness or my psychology teacher talking about regaining sight, I always write it down in the margins. If you do not, you will forget. We have all had that brilliant plot flash only to forget it later.

If you haven’t, you are part of the lucky few.

I have said it before and will say it again: write.

Rule 27: Keep a read-in-progress nearby.

The book says that you should mark up your book with underlines of ideas you get. But most of my books come from the library, so I can’t do that. But they do say “read”. And you should. A lot.

Rule 28: Create an anthology of your favorite literature.

I haven’t done this, but it seems like a good idea.
I know that I’m gonna take interesting/funny lines from Tamora Pierce and James Patterson. Another is going to be the poem “Sympathy”, and I have quite a few more ideas. And make it ongoing. That’ll make it fresh and interesting.

And make it pretty! Like a scrapbook.

Rule 29: Feed on words.

The thesaurus will be your best friend. Every time you hear a word that you don’t know, ask the person how to spell it and roughly what it means. My mom once used the word “chauvanist” about a year ago. I asked her what it meant (basically, a negative connotation of a patriot), and it turned out to be pertinent to my novel.

Merriam Webster has a word-of-the day email. So does dictionary.com. No doubt there are others. They’re free, so take advantage of them. Write down the ones you don’t know down. You are a wordsmith. You wouldn’t want an architect in your house who doesn’t know how to use a level or crown molding or whatever.

You don’t want to read a writer who writes at an eighth grade level. It’s just not interesting. The best books teach you a few interesting words.

And be sure to use words properly. Peruse doesn’t mean to skim over, like most people think. It means to look through carefully.

Rule 30: Subscribe to magazines.

The books gives a whole list of magazines you need to subscribe to. I don’t subscribe to many magazines, and the book gives about a billion magazines you need to read, but as long as you get one or two, you shouldn’t be too bad off. (Personally, I have no desire to get any, so I won’t. But if you like reading magazines, have fun!)

Rule 31: Carry a camera.

In the technological world we live in, most phones have cameras that rival cameras that were just cameras from only a few years ago. So I don’t think this will be too difficult. Whenever you see a pretty or inspiring scene, snap a picture.

Rule 32: Write as therapy.

It helps. If you publish a novel, walk up to your enemy (if possible) reading your novel. Don’t talk to them, just make sure the title and your name are clearly visible to them. Heck, write them into your story as cruel villager one and two, who die painful and agonizing deaths at the hands of a soldier who just happens to be based on you.

Just don’t take it too far. When I was young, I was bullied by a couple of girls, so I wrote them as main villains. And they were horrible villains. You could kinda tell they were based on people I hated. On the plus side, a character I based on myself killed them. So I have that going for me.

But be careful.

Rule 33: Think of writing as a hobby.

Think about it. You’re (if you’re writing fiction) creating a whole world. It might basically be our world, but the events in your story didn’t happen exactly the way you write them.

You are also creating people with personalities and quirks that, to your knowledge, don’t actually exist. So you’re playing make-believe for a job. How cool is that?

Rule 34: Buy and study a grammar book.

Or, if you’re still in school, pay attention to your English teacher (I know, I know. It’s nearly impossible. But at least try). Grammar can be uninteresting, but the proper grammar makes you appear smarter. But never let proper grammar get in the way of a good-sounding sentence.

Because the rules of grammar say that the answer to “Is this Mary?” is “This is she.” But that should only be reserved for prim and proper characters. Most people *do* say “This is her” (or him!)

Rule 35: Master the metaphor.

I’m sure the term “metaphor” was drilled into our heads since, like third grade. “A comparison between two unlike objects that doesn’t use like or as”.

But what does that mean? “The spires of the castle speared into the sky, scraping its surface with their jagged black points.” Spires don’t spear. Spears and swords and other weapons spear. They cannot actually scrape the surface of the sky. But they give you a picture of tall, pointy black spires that I was trying to convey.

So… learn metaphors. How to do that? Just read. You don’t need to read for metaphors, like your fourth grade teacher believed. Just read, and the metaphors will come to you unconsciously.

Rule 36: But try not to overdo it.

Too many metaphors are confusing and weird and just stupid. The way to avoid them? Try not to force them.

If the metaphor doesn’t come to you when you’re writing, and you add one in just to add one in, that’s too much. It’s not *terribly* common, but it’s definitely common enough to warrant a position in this book.

I’ll post the next twenty or so in a few minutes!