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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On My Shelf: “Forever…” By Jude Devaurux

I really loved reading the book “Forever…” by Jude Devaurux. The two main characters are great together, I enjoyed the light romance, and the bonus was the humor that was nearly on every page. This book was so good that I read it in just two days. The only downside was the ending.
TIP: The end of a book is as crucial as the beginning of a book. You use a hook to capture the reader’s attention and to keep them reading. For the end of a book, you want to do the same thing. You never want the story to fall flat because it will leave a very bad impression on the reader. A disappointing ending may cause them not to pick up the next book, or not to pick up another book by you ever again.
When I got to the end of this book I was, in a word, angry. During the entire book, the story was leading up to a climax that promised to be exciting, but when that time came the readers were left out of the main event. In one moment, we are in the thick of suspense and in the next moment, we are kicked out of it into another room where the characters, who were not a part of the climax either, are trapped. Literally. Then when one escapes we think we will finally get to read the ending we’ve been expecting.

No such luck! The chapter ends right when we think the good stuff is going to start and all of a sudden it is a year later. So not only are we robbed of the climax, we are given a secondhand (and not even thorough) retelling of what happened.
TIP: When you’re writing a book, I must advise you never to skip the climax. If you build up to it, don’t just take the easy road by giving a secondhand telling of what happened. Go there! Bring the reader there! Write it all out from beginning to end.
For the second book in the trilogy, I was thrown off when one of the crucial characters was gone (with the snap of a finger). Plus, the tone changed from third person to first person. However, I loved the story! It was exciting, funny, and cute. Ultimately, it had a great ending.
Photo by Chrys Fey
TIP: If you’re writing a series, it’s supposed to flow to appear as though the story is continuing. Changing the point of view may throw the reader off. Also, don’t begin a book in the middle of a story. If something happened before the beginning of your story that readers should know about, write it! Don’t drop it on them like: “Oh, by the way…”
As for the third book in the trilogy, I loved it too. I loved it up until the ending. Once again I felt jipped. I was left with the impression that the book (and the trilogy for that matter) hadn’t been thought out completely and that the ending was pulled out of thin air. I expected a different ending because the whole book, as well as the book before it, hinted at what would need to happen for the trilogy to an end. But it seemed as though the author backed out of it at the last minute, or just forgot.

Don’t get me wrong... it’s good to trick your readers every now and then, especially with the climax, but not so much that they are bummed.
TIP: Read and reread what you have written to make sure that you didn’t forget anything you might have told your readers. Forgetting something you mentioned in your book is normal, and it does happen during the course of writing a novel.
In Conclusion: If you tell your readers one thing, you shouldn’t do something else. When this happens to me I feel as though the writer had lied. It’s important for the sake of your work, and for your relationship with your readers, to end your story how you hinted you would. Doing anything else will cause disappointment, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t provide a few twists or shock them with the identity of the killer.

With that said I still greatly enjoyed reading the trilogy and may even read them again. If you like light romance with heavy humor and psychics then give this trilogy a look!


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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Writing About: A Kidnapping


The prologue of my fourth book is only 259 words long and in those few paragraphs one of my characters is kidnapped.

The key to writing a kidnapping is to make it a surprise to both the character and your reader. Have your character be doing something normal such as feeding their cat, taking a nap, or making a cup of hot chocolate. It can be anything that distracts them. Describe them in the act of what they are doing. Their attention is focused on their task and they aren’t aware of anything else but the cat bowl.

Then in the next sentence or paragraph mention to your reader that someone is coming up behind them. Now describe the attack. Is there a struggle? Does the kidnapper hit their victim in the back of the head, use drugs, a taser, tape and rope, or a gun and a threat?

Definitely make sure to tell your reader what the victim is feeling, thinking, and everything he/she does during the course of the kidnapping. A kidnapping isn’t a kidnapping unless there is fear, because nothing is more terrifying than being attacked, over powered, and forcefully taken to God-only-knows-where by a stranger. Make your reader afraid for your character.

Photo by Chrys Fey
Chapter One of my book continues the terror from the prologue with my character coming out of unconsciousness. I describe her surroundings, the fact that she is bound tightly by rope, and her fear when she learns who her kidnapper is.

A kidnapper is extremely dangerous because they are in control and they have a plan. They will use any weapon and any threat to instill fear in their victim until they get what they want, which may (or may not) involve the victim’s death.

To write an authentic kidnapping in your book, you need to create an antagonist that can make your readers cringe in disgust, fright, hate, or all three at the same time. Give details to their appearance and their mannerism. Make everything they do and say terrifying.


                         HOW TO CREATE AN ANTAGONIST


A few pages into my Chapter One, my character’s husband finds out what happened to her. He becomes desperate with fear and anger to find his wife. The rest of the chapter, which is about the husband’s frantic search and my characters violent kidnapping situation, is the most heartbreaking thing even that I’ve written so far in my series. To help me get the emotions I needed I listened to the song “Somewhere” by Within Temptation.



                         This video was created by Frozenmusic6.



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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Your Publishing Expectations


All writers have expectations about getting published, whether it’s a poem or a novel. We can’t help it! And we should never feel guilty that we have expectations. After all, these are our hopes and dreams. But very often our expectations are not met. Sometimes, they are squashed.

In publishing, you can have many different expectations from small to enormous, and it doesn’t always have to be about publishing your book, but a short story or article.

Photo by Chrys Fey
When I got an acceptance for one of my short stories I was ecstatic! I had been waiting for this day for a long time. The publication wasn’t a magazine, but an e-zine and when my short story was published I immediately went to the website to check it out. Seeing my story featured on an e-zine was amazing! I scrolled down the page, reading tidbits here and there, and then my face dropped. During the process of getting my story from document to website the formatting had gotten a little messed up. My expectations immediately plummeted a fraction. It wasn’t terribly bad, but a few paragraphs were spaced awkwardly. I just hoped that it wouldn’t cause anyone reading it to stumble or think less of my story. Despite that slight mishap, I am still very proud of it.

Another time when my expectations received a hit was just recently after I found out that an article I submitted as a member of a writer’s association was published in their semi-annual magazine. I had no idea that my article was even chosen because unlike other publications, they don’t notify you of acceptance or denial. When I got the magazine in the mail, I was thrilled to see my article listed in the index. Two days after, I was still riding the wave of happiness. But then I found a major typo. One of the sentences reads, "I felt as though I was going through postmortem depression." Instantly, I went into panic mode.

“It’s supposed to read postpartum depression,” I thought. “Postmortem isn’t even a depression; it means after death!”

After seeing that, I felt embarrassed. I could only hope that not many people who received that publication actually read my article, or if they did that they didn’t catch the mistake, or knew what I meant and wouldn’t call me an idiot. I still have no idea how that typo even made it into my article.

Photo by Chrys Fey

Other than editing mistakes or formatting blunders, you may also experience the biggest (and worse) expectation of all; the expectation that when you get published, you’ll get a massive advance, your book will be number one on all the book/publishers lists, and will be turned into a blockbuster. The thing with this expectation is that it’s common and we can’t help but have the highest hopes for our books. But when these expectations aren’t met, as the odds of them happening is slim (sorry to say), it is crushing and hard to come to terms with. I even have the grandeur expectation although I know the chances of them actually happening are unrealistic. I can’t stop myself from hoping for the kind of success that J.K. Rowling and Nora Roberts have been blessed with. 

Now I am going to leave you with this: when your dreams fall short of your expectations, let yourself grieve for a short while (an hour or a day at the most), but then it is pivotal that you brush it off and continue to do what you’re meant to do regardless of the amount of success or money you get.


Happy Writing! And Happy Expectations!


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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How To Write A Short Story



Supernatural means anything above and beyond what is natural, something we will never be able to understand. Supernatural characters include demons, spirits and angels. This genre has become pretty popular. Whenever I can, I love to write a supernatural story, so I’m giving you 6 tips if you’d like to do the same.

1. Have characters that are supernatural beings, like angels. Something fun would be to mix different creatures that wouldn’t normally go together, like vampires and fairies. That could lead to quite a funny story.

2. Give your characters power, such as the ability to fly, Telepathy, healing touch, or storm manipulation. There are many supernatural powers from talking to animals to super strength. Try to match up the power (or powers) you pick for your characters with their personalities. Or give your characters a power that wouldn’t be expected. A seemingly weak teenager can have an extraordinary power that involves a lot of strength. You can find lists of superpowers on Google.

3. Set your story in a place unlike our world, such as the underworld. Or you can create a whole new world, a new planet, a new universe. You can also keep our world as the setting but change it beyond our understanding of Earth by revealing something our world doesn't have, such an underground fortress beneath a major city full of fallen angels.

4. Include extraordinary plot events that can’t be explained by science or nature, such as a character coming back to life or the use of a godly power. A supernatural story, with supernatural characters, tend to be full of strange events, both big and small, but it can also have events that are typical. For example: your young adult character going to college.

5. Keep up the supernatural element throughout the story. This can be done with apparitions of spirits, the use of powers on a daily basis for mundane chores, or simply the continuous presence of different supernatural beings.

6. Use a good vs evil story line. Let angels battle demons, or humans battle vampires. As a matter of fact, you can spin a new good vs evil battle. Remember the vampires and fairies I mentioned? That could actually be a dark story. Imagine vampires and fairies fighting to the death.

Whatever you do, stay true to the story you're telling. If you have vampires in your story, research vampire lore so you won't have your vampires out in the sun, frolicking on a beach somewhere.

There’s a lot of debate between what makes a story supernatural and what makes it paranormal, since the two have very close definitions. 

If you look at the publishing world, a novel can have supernatural beings in it, but if it has a strong romance theme, it is described as paranormal-romance. Confusing? Yes. But I guess the publishing world can make its own rules.

My advice is to write the story you want to write, with the characters you want. You can ask your beta readers for their opinion on the genre later.


Photo by Chrys Fey

For a short story, there is still a beginning, middle, and end. Just because it’s short doesn’t mean you have the excuse to avoid the middle of the story and jump right to the climax. Actually, there is no excuse for it ever. But instead of a list of events that make up the plot, all you really need is a single event. Or a couple.

The beginning of a short story introduces the characters, reveals the setting, and immediately gets into what is supposed to happen. A small event in the beginning can lead to the one big event and the climax.


For example: A romance story can begin with the main character meeting someone. They go out on a date, have a good time, and then get in a car accident. The car accident can be the big event and climax can be tragic or happy. It’s your story, short or otherwise, so you get to decide what happens.
Photo by Chrys Fey



If you’re still not sure, the best thing to do is read (and study) short stories by different authors. The next best thing is just to write. Give it a shot, even if you’re unsure. It may not be perfect the first time around, and that is normal. Writers write, and they rewrite more than they care to admit. Go beyond the third draft until you have a short story you are proud of. No one is counting. Only you will know how many tries it took.

But it will get easier. After I wrote my first short story, I started to get ideas for other short stories. Now I have a small collection, and so could you.

All you have to do is try.


All you have to do is WRITE!


 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How To Rewrite A Book


There is nothing more devastating than realizing the book you slaved over for months or even years needs to be rewritten. I am not talking about editing a book from beginning to end. I am talking about starting all over again with a blank page and completely rewriting it from the very first word.
You will feel overwhelmed! You will feel impatient! You may want to burst into tears, but you will do it because you can! Yes, it is dreadful, painful, and hard to take apart a book that you’ve already written to rewrite it, but it can be done and in the end you may end up with a gem that you can be proud of.
I had to do this. I had been writing a series for five years when I suddenly felt disconnected from it. How could this happen, I asked myself. How could I possibly lose interest in writing a series that I’ve spent a good part of my life writing?

On the left is the original first page of my book that I wrote when I was twelve. On the right is the rewrite that I wrote a few years later.
Photo by Chrys Fey


The answer to that question was the fact that I grew up, matured, and the book didn’t reflect who I was as an adult. There may be other reasons why a writer may all of a sudden feel disconnected from their work. Maybe it’s because of writers block, maybe they are not cut out to be a writer, or maybe a part of their subconscious realized that the story they’ve been working on isn’t so good after all.
Whatever the reason is, when you find yourself in this position and you have a passion to write, do not fret! If the story is no good, well, you may have to toss it. If you love the story idea, then try visualizing new players. If you love your characters then perhaps you have to rethink the storyline. When I rewrote the first book in my series, I only kept a few characters and the supernatural concept behind the story, but I had to search for a drastically different story idea. It took a long time. I got and dismissed many different ideas before I settled on an idea that I loved.
These are the notebooks that I've written in for the series I am working on now.
Photo by Chrys Fey

Sitting back and looking at the whole piece before you dive into rewriting it is the best thing to do. Pull up that file, open that notebook and begin to read it with fresh eyes. As you are reading it you can figure out what you have to do (what needs changing, what characters need to be improved, what direction the story needs to take, etc.), and make a list to keep track of all of your ideas. When you do this, it gives you a clear path to take. Then start recreating a different plot with your new ideas. A detailed plot will reveal whether you have a complete, well thought out book or not.
The key is to have an idea in mind of what you want the book to become before you do reconstructive surgery on it. Otherwise, you’ll get overwhelmed and be left with a shredded piece of work that you may never want to fix.
Taking it one step at a time is always best.

If you have editing questions about your book you can contact me on Facebook. 

 

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