Posts Tagged With: teen writer

NaNoWriMo?

Since I’m (sort of) trying the aforementioned self-inflicted torture this month, I’m letting you guys write this post. Have any of you done NaNo, and won? Done Nano and lost? What did you think of it? What kind of novel did you write? Did you try to do anything with it after the first draft? Any advice for someone doing Nano for the first time? Comment below!

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Somebody Order A Villain?:Part Two

~ Firstly, I apologize for the absence. I started my senior year, so between course work, college prep, working, trying to find a better job, and non-school-related life…I got a little distracted. ~

As I’ve already made abundantly clear, I’m quite fond of villains. In many cases, they’re more interesting than their hero counterparts(and usually better dressed). They’re unpredictable, appearing in all shapes, sizes, and emotional states. They’re troubled, by anything from guilt to greed to the continued existence of the human race. And everything that makes them fun to hate and a joy to read also makes them terrors to write properly.

 

 

1. Sauron – A good villain is driven.

 

 

Whatever it is that your villain wants, he has to want it with every fiber of his soul. Heroes can occasionally be apathetic about what they’re trying to accomplish since they’re often dragged into quests and adventures against their will, but the bad guys cannot.  If your villain is lackadaisical about getting what he/she wants, then the rest of your story is going to lag, as well.

 

 

The Eye of Sauron as portrayed in Peter Jackso...

The Eye of Sauron as portrayed in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy as Sauron’s form in the Third Age. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron stopped at nothing to retrieve the One Ring. He sent all kinds of nasty beasties and recruited unsavory characters to help see that little piece of power returned. A fact that helped keep the action going through three books and as many movies.

 

 

2. A good villain believes in what he’s doing.

 

 

Considering the things that villains do? They better believe in it!  Without believing that his actions will bring him to his goal, a villain won’t be driven(see above) to do much of anything and you won’t have a story.

 

 

Granted, there may be doubts. Every human on the face of the planet has doubts from time to time, and letting your baddie have some from time to time can go a long way toward making her more human. However, unless your tale is a tale of redemption, make sure she pushes through them.

 

 

3. Professor Moriarty – A good villain is the kind of person your protagonist would have as a BFF.

 

 

If he wasn’t, you know, evil. In a lot of great fiction, the protagonist and the antagonist are two sides of the same coin. Good and evil versions of the same person, if you simplify things.

 

 

Take Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, for example. They’re both brilliant. They both invented professions to suit their talents. They both possess a penchant for great schemes, and neither has ever found anyone to keep up with them until they crossed swords with each other.

English: Sidney Paget's drawing of Holmes and ...

English: Sidney Paget’s drawing of Holmes and Moriarty in Mortal Combat at the Edge of the Reichenbach Falls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

4.Queen Levana – A good villain is not good.

 

 

 

 

First, allow me to qualify that statement: a good villain is not doing bad things for good reasons. If that’s the case, your character may be more of an anti-hero than an antagonist.

*spoiler alert*  In Cinder by Marissa Meyer, the antagonist, Queen Levana, embodies this concept pretty well. She tries to murder a three-year-old princess in order to steal the throne for herself, tries again when the princess is in her teens, routinely brainwashes her own subjects, and orders certain disabled infants to be murdered at birth. Not a nice woman.

 

 

A villain does what they do for reasons that they consider good, but that likely sound insane/diabolical/repulsive to the average person. Typically, their motivations revolve solely around themselves. Granted, there are exceptions to this, as with almost all aspects of writing.

 

 

5. The Weeping Angels – A good villain is frightening.

 

 

Human or monster, psychopath or sociopath, explosive or calculating, a good villain should be scary in some way, shape, or form. The worse your protagonist’s opponent is and the more your readers hate him/her, the more emotionally invested they become in seeing him/her vanquished.

The Weeping Angels are living statues from Doctor Who. In the series, they move faster than the human eye can blink and if they reach you will either send you back in time to feed off your potential energy or snap your neck, just because…well…they can. Either way, they can be terrifying. As such, when an episode features them, you’re totally invested in the plot and seeing them lose because you’d really like to be able to sleep that night. Not that you will.

And I’m not posting a picture. If you’re a Whovian, you will know why.

 

 

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Quirky Names: Yes or No?

A while back , during my blog challenge, I did a post on some of the names I’ve used for my characters. Reading through the list, the first names are innocuous enough–if a bit on the unusual side–but the tenth is…well…undeniably odd. If you’ve read the post, you’ll know that one of my characters is called Squeaky. That isn’t his real name; he was dubbed that by my protagonist because of a certain falsetto quality of his voice and the fact that she was cranky over him trying to kidnap her. However, he’s known as Squeaky throughout most of the book, with his legal name only being mentioned once in passing. Why? Because…

1. The quirkier the name, the clearer the picture.

For minor characters especially, you want to be able to devote only one or two sentences to characterization before moving on with the main characters’ story. Picking a name that says something about the character–whether it points out a physical trait(as with Squeaky), an ethnic heritage, or just plays on name connotations–is one of fastest ways of getting your point across without going into too much detail.

2. Remember me?

Some of the most famous fictional characters in the world have quirky names. Sherlock Holmes, Professor Xavier, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Xena, Spock–all quite unusual. It’s a part of what makes them memorable, and can serve to help your character stand out from the rest (not that you should rely solely on that, but still).

Conversely, if you have a crowd of oddly named characters and leave your main character with the only normal name of the bunch, that works, too. It certainly seems to have worked for Rowling.

3. Tonal Quality

The names you choose can help set the tone of your entire piece. Quirky ones, in particular. A ridiculously pretentious moniker adds to a period piece. An obscure(but not too obscure) ethnic name enhances an exotic setting. A giggle-worthy nick-name can pull together the elements of a comedy beautifully. And so on.

                                                                     However…

                                                 On the other side of the matter:

1. If your name is Kanjjdighw, you may be trying too hard.

There are limits to everything, and this is one area where the line between okay and not-okay is paper-thin. A name that’s so unusual it becomes unbelievable is definitely in the not-okay zone. It’ll annoy your editors, alienate your readers, and drive your spellcheck berserk.  As writers, we tend to get a bit obsessed with being unique, but it has to stop somewhere. It’s better to have a dull name in a great story than a name so odd no one pays attention to the story.

2. One thing is not like the others in this picture.

Sometimes a quirky name just does not fit. Trying to shoehorn one into a drama or a serious piece of historical fiction is seriously wrong, and your readers will know it.  You don’t have to go completely the other way and name everyone John Smith, but throwing fistfuls of fun, irreverent names at a sombre novella won’t do it any favors.

3. All things in moderation.

If used sparingly, quirky names can be lovely. If used too much too often, they can lose their punch and make your work sound like you were spending a bit too much time thumbing through baby name books. Realistically, not everyone in an average group of friends/acquaintances/enemies is going to have an intriguing name. A variety of names–from the outrageous to the everyday is typically your best bet–that all fit your particular story is your best bet. Besides, the personalities are the important bit, anyway.

So, where do you guys stand on quirky names? Discuss in the comments!

 

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Worlds Away Writing Challenge: Day 7

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                                           Worlds Away Writing Challenge:

Seven days of questions, prompts, and ideas to keep you writing. The rules?

 

  • Answer each question/prompt as completely as possible.
  • Add the link-icon to your posts.
  • If you are so inclined, challenge other writing bloggers(or just any blogger in general) to challenge the challenge by completing the…um…challenge.

Day 7: As an easy out for the last day, pick seven fictional worlds you would want to visit or live in. Explain which one and why.

  •  Narnia: I would quite happily live there. Talking animals, mythical beings, nobles who are actually noble–what’s not to like? (Provided you arrive during the Golden Age.)
  •   The Marvel Universe: Visit. Definitely visit. Visiting decreases your chances of being skewered by Loki, eaten by Venom, or dying in some other equally horrid manner. Still, it would be an interesting place to see. Seeing what a world where the forces of good and evil are so present(and colorful) would be infinitely interesting.
  •  The Doctor Who Universe: Visit. As amazing as it would be to live in a world where essentially anything is possible, your chances of surviving an alien coup(which happen every Christmas, apparently) are slim to nil.
  •  The River of Time Series: …Undecided. Visiting would lower your chances of Black Plague, while living there might result in meeting the love of your life. Your very short life, should you contract the plague…
  •  Middle Earth: Live there. I want to be a Hobbit. Life would be ever so much simpler. And it would be socially acceptable to eat in excess of three meals per day.
  •   The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Universe: A world in which all of the classic literary characters not only exist, but converge? Let me at it. For a day or two, anyway.
  •  The Agatha Christie Universe: Visit. I love her books(all of them), her characters(again, all of them), and it would be lovely to meet some of them.

…             Provided I wasn’t the victim.

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Worlds Away Writing Challenge: Day 6

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                                           Worlds Away Writing Challenge:

Seven days of questions, prompts, and ideas to keep you writing. The rules?

  • Answer each question/prompt as completely as possible.
  • Add the link-icon to your posts.
  • If you are so inclined, challenge other writing bloggers(or just any blogger in general) to challenge the challenge by completing the…um…challenge.

Day 6: Do you have plans to continue writing the world you’ve used in the challenge?

Definitely. I have partial outlines of several new projects set in the Victorian Vagabond universe.

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Worlds Away Writing Challenge: Day 5

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                                         Worlds Away Writing Challenge:

Seven days of questions, prompts, and ideas to keep you writing. The rules?

  • Answer each question/prompt as completely as possible.
  • Add the link-icon to your posts.
  • If you are so inclined, challenge other writing bloggers(or just any blogger in general) to challenge the challenge by completing the…um…challenge.

Day 5: Most novels (and story worlds) tend to have more characters than they actually need. List all the characters from one of your worlds, then try parring them down to three characters plus antagonist. Could you still tell the story?

No…not my babies…

As far as listing them all goes, that could take pages, so I’ll only go with the ones from book one.

  •  Zissa Churchill
  • Alec Griffin
  • Prilla Rossi
  • Alistair Sterling
  • Warren Churchill
  • Benedict Churchill
  • Enola Graves
  • Theo Baker
  • Inigo Migez
  • Squeaky

In parring them down, I would still need-

  •    Zissa Churchill
  •    Alec Griffin

-as main characters, and-

  • Prilla Rossi
  • Warren Churchill

-as a minor character and an antagonist. I think I could still tell the story, but the novel would be cut by at least a hundred pages. Still, it’s something to think about.

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Worlds Away Writing Challenge: Day 4

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                                    Worlds Away Writing Challenge:

Seven days of questions, prompts, and ideas to keep you writing. The rules?

  • Answer each question/prompt as completely as possible.
  • Add the link-icon to your posts.
  • If you are so inclined, challenge other writing bloggers(or just any blogger in general) to challenge the challenge by completing the…um…challenge.

Day 4: What is the imagery of your world like? Is it sweeping, descriptive, and epic? Humorous and snappy? Dark? Gritty? Explain, then share a small example of your imagery.

Typically, I try to aim for somewhere in between. I want to sketch an idea in the reader’s head, but let him fill in the gaps with their own imagination. I want a mix of fun and serious with a healthy dose of camp thrown in–though it can take quite a few rewrites to get it the way I want it (if I ever do).

Example:

The house, as usual, was totally different than when I had left it. The walk was still trimmed and the garden well-kept, but Mayhap Manor itself…It was never well-kept.

Of course, that was mostly my fault, as having an inventor’s lab on the main floor doesn’t lend itself to keeping a house intact, free of odd chemical odors, and smoke-free.

However, the full-size mural of Venice that now unfurled across the east wall had nothing to do with me, and–while a splash of color was nice–there are certain limits. And I think Prilla just may have reached them.

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Worlds Away Writing Challenge: Day 2

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                                       Worlds Away Writing Challenge:

Seven days of questions, prompts, and ideas to keep you writing. The rules?

  • Answer each question/prompt as completely as possible.
  • Add the link-icon to your posts.
  • If you are so inclined, challenge other writing bloggers(or just any blogger in general) to challenge the challenge by completing the…um…challenge.

Day 2: Pick a story world(one of your own, obviously). Push the setting either fifty years forward or fifty years back. How does it affect the world? The characters? Write a short scene describing the new world.

As I currently have just one world(I’m fiddling with another, but it’s nowhere near ready), I’ll stick with the one from last time. The Victorian Vagabond universe. As it is set in approximately 1870, fifty years could make a significant change either direction. Going back, you have the 1820s. Missouri became a state during that period, and since that’s the setting, it could make for some interesting plot points. Now, going forward, it gets really interesting. The 1920s. The Roaring Twenties. Fun, fun…

Of the two, I would probably go with the 1920s, simply because of the great disparity between the 1870s and the 1920s. You have cars, telephones, new fashions, new taboos–it would change everything. And as far as change goes, the characters wouldn’t escape it, either. New careers would be in order for some, not to mention new backstories. Simply put–nothing would ever be the same.

Scene:

I don’t like heels. Or lipstick. Or complicated hair. Or any of the incredibly uncomfortable things that undercover work was forcing me to deal with. It was so much easier to simply sit in the auto and wait for interesting things to happen, and then get in on the action.  That was where I was comfortable. Actually, I was comfortable anywhere, but where I actually was. Sitting in a speakeasy, far too dolled up for comfort, and expecting more trouble than I’d ever wanted.

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Worlds Away Writing Challenge Day 1

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                                            Worlds Away Writing Challenge:

Seven days of questions, prompts, and ideas to keep you writing. The rules?

  • Answer each question/prompt as completely as possible.
  • Add the link-icon to your posts.
  • If you are so inclined, challenge other writing bloggers(or just any blogger in general) to challenge the challenge by completing the…um…challenge.

Day 1: Given the chance, would you spend a day in the world of one of your short stories/novels/whatever? Which one? Why or why not? How would you spend the day? Would you survive? If yes, write a short scene from your day with your characters.

It’s…hard to say. In a way, I would love to. Most of my worlds are dripping with adventurous journeys, nefarious plots, and a general sense of mayhem and fun, all of which I like to think I would enjoy. However, I have my doubts that I would last ten minutes in any adventure executed sans safety equipment.

Secondly, my own characters would hate me. Period.  Adventurers, inventors, scientists, thieves, the occasional pirate–nowhere in that group does a writer fit. Though, it might be amusing to see one try…*plot bunny*…Moving on.

That being said, were I foolhardy enough to venture into one of my own creations…it would be the one from my Victorian Vagabond storyline. That’s the one with the adventurers, thieves, pirates,etc. Fun, right?

I imagine we would spend the day in Mayhap Manor with me pestering Alec to teach me how to shoot and trying to break into Zissa’s lab to play with the chemicals. Mayhem would likely ensue, thanks to some pesky villain or another deciding it was the perfect day to strike. And then I would probably die tragically, as I have no idea what to do in an imbroglio.

Scene:

“No.”

“Please?”

“No!”

“Pretty please?”

“For your own safety, it’s out of the question.”

“Por favor? Per favore? S’il vous plait?”

“Absolutely not!”

“C’mon…what harm could it possibly do?”

“Look, you nearly get us killed every time you so much as write about doing something dangerous. I shudder to think of what would happen were  you to try it yourself. Let alone something as potentially fatal as covert surveillance.”

“Well…if I can’t do that…can I play with your rifle while you’re gone? Or perhaps the explosives?”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake…”

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Writing Prompt Monday – Entry #12

WordPress is snowing. But it is currently 70 degrees outside. In December. *sobs* My life is ruined.

And now back to our regularly scheduled writing drivel, this week’s post relates to editing and polishing up your work. One thing I’ve noticed as I frantically try to finish the revisions on my novel before Christmas (just an abstract goal, I’m not going to curse anyone with it as a gift) is that you can lose a lot in editing. If you are–as I am–trying to work mainly on the plot, the prose itself can get lost in the scuffle and as such, sink your work just as quickly as a bad plot. Ergo, this week’s…assignment(it’s not technically a prompt, I suppose).

Q. Take 1-2 paragraphs of your current work. Give it a good spit-polish keeping these points in mind.

-Passive is bad.

Appropriate, gripping adjectives are good in small doses.

Awkward phrases are bad.

 Unnecessary words are also bad.

Run-on sentences are an evil spawned in the darkest pits of the dark side of the moon and should be killed on sight.

A.

I’m starting with the first paragraphs of my novel. They really, really need help at the moment. Here is the unedited version…

“Before you’re sucked into the chaos that makes up my life, allow me to point out one thing. This was in no way my fault. Well…the stairwell incident sort of was, but that’s beside the point. All in all, I was just a perfect innocent (not a word I get to use often) who happened to get sucked into the blasted mess.

Then again, it isn’t unusual for me to be in trouble. But usually, it’s of my own making rather than something someone else planned for me to stumble into. A gadget gone wrong, a trip gone weird, or simply my own blasted curiosity typically catapults me into trouble—and I don’t mind. It can be one of the most amusing past-times for a peculiar person to get oneself in and out of trouble. This time, I wasn’t given the choice.”

And here is the edited version.

“Before you’re sucked into my three-ring circus of a life, allow to point out one very important little fact. The events of this tale were not my fault. Well…outside of the stairwell incident. That was probably me. But, either way, it’s beside the point. 

For once in my life, I can honestly say that I was an innocent bystander, sucked into trouble by a certain n’erdowell and forced to cause a bit of chaos of my own in the process of getting out.  Granted, it isn’t unusual for me to be embroiled in one mess or another, but I generally make it myself rather than letting someone else do it for me. One of my gizmos gone wrong, a trip gone wrong, or simply my own blasted curiosity–and I don’t mind. It can be vastly amusing for someone with a good sense of adventure and significant amounts of explosives. But someone else setting a trap for me to fall into? This was a first.”

Your answers?

 

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