Or: A Retrospective on My Writing Journey
Nearly a decade after starting my first “real” story (i.e. the first one I realized I wanted to finish, no matter what), I am still not finished with a complete draft. That might be depressing to some who aspire to finish their newest tale in under a year, but I knew when I started that I was undertaking a large task in attempting it: the story includes an enormous cast of characters, creating their world from the ground up, setting up a history of at least two hundred years, putting political systems in place (and the different monarchs use very different systems of ruling!!), learning about military campaigns…. The list never really ends, and the stories of minor characters have moved beyond my control, so that now when I mention it to friends in-the-know, I lovingly call it “The Epic.”
I didn’t set out to spend ten years trying to write the thing ( I probably would have balked at even starting if I’d known!) At the time, I wrote to keep myself awake through long midnight shifts at my job. The story grew out of an idea for fanfiction that quickly passed the bounds of those characters, and as I begin coming up with their names and feeling out their story, I realized that I had something unique, and for the first time started to consider myself a writer, and not just someone who liked to write. Continue reading
How many times have you heard “write what you know”? It’s good advice – to a point. Because if everyone only wrote what they knew, we’d have no space odysseys, no dragons, no magical words, no elves or dwarves or krakens… and we’d be poorer for it.
So where does one draw the line between what you “should” write and what you can write? I’d say there isn’t a line, and if you’ve been limiting yourself, STOP! If you can make your readers want to enter the world you’ve written, no matter how unrealistic or crazy, then you’ve still succeeded in writing something good (i.e. interesting). You don’t need to be an expert in fighting to write a fight scene, or on trains to write about your characters taking a train ride. Same goes for flying on the back of a dinosaur, or piloting a ship through outer space – if you can make it interesting and immersive for your readers, only a few are going to nitpick the details. ♦ Continue reading
I know, I know; The Lunar Chronicles should probably be talked about first when it comes to Marissa Meyer’s books, but that series would need a whole set of posts to cover (which I am tempted to do!) But I got to attend an author event for Archenemies last month while she was on tour promoting it, so we’re taking tips from that talk instead!
First off, I must mention Archenemies, the 2nd book of the Renegades trilogy. How does her second series hold up to the first (The Lunar Chronicles)? Continue reading
It’s Conference Season, Pen Friends! If you’ve ever been to a writer’s conference, you know the wonder and the crazy exhaustion and overwhelm that come as a result of being immersed in a gathering of a couple hundred (or more) writer friends.
I just got back from Realm Makers in St. Louis, and as I myself am feeling the end-of-conference feels, I thought I’d share this #throwback post for you in case anyone else is going to be conferencing soon (or if any of my fellow Realmies need a boost as they readjust to real life).
“We often find the hero and villain have the same goal, but are using different methods to reach it.”
That quote was used in a panel of writers talking about anti-heroes and villains at the annual North Texas Teen Book Festival. All the authors had one thing in common: they’d written tales with the villain – an anti-hero – as the protagonist. They explored the reasons why they had chosen to write stories from the “bad guy’s” point of view, and went over their favorite villains and anti-heroes.
I have two favorite “villains” about whom the above quote happens to be true. One is from a book series, and one is from an anime. *spoilers ahead!* Not every villain has to share a goal or vision with the hero, but oftentimes adding comedic (or tragic) irony to the conflict in your story causes it to have greater depth and complexity.
*by a beginner
As a kid, did you watch Cinderella and Prince Charming get married, and wish that your adult life would turn out just the same? I will personally admit that being pulled out of a hum-drum life by a handsome, perfect man who would give me a crown, beautiful dresses and dance with me at balls sounded like the best of all possible futures – when I was 9. Continue reading
Pen Friends, welcome Jessica Jade, a fabulous addition to the Spinning Pen. She’ll be joining us for a few months, sharing her journey on becoming an author — tips on writing, querying, YA fantasy, rejection, success, book reviews, and more! You’ll want to connect with her on twitter (link below) and see her beautiful novel aesthetics on her YA fantasy that she’s querying at the moment!
When I first started querying over two years ago, I thought I was ready—the manuscript, the query letter, everything.
Oh, I was wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.
Right before that unfortunate round of querying, I applied for PitchWars 2015. Didn’t get a single request. Perhaps I’d picked the wrong mentors to submit to, or perhaps my story just really wasn’t their cup of tea. But I couldn’t let that get me down. Nope! I had to persevere.
So I queried 16 agents, and not surprisingly, received 16 rejections (there was one request for a partial, but that ultimately turned into a pass).
Ouch. Continue reading
If you’ve hung around here at The Spinning Pen at all, you’ll know a fun fact about us that isn’t very surprising: we all LOVE to read.
Last week, Caleb talked about the Reading Only Challenge he’s embarking on, and I thought I would add a little writing tip to go along with his fantastic idea. Missed his post? Check it out at the link above. Continue reading
“She gets on my nerves…”
A reviewer wrote this about the protagonist of my first novel, Occidis. Nice, huh?
I’ve also received feedback from many readers who appreciate the very characteristics of the protagonist, Sophia, that seem to annoy others.
Several writers that I know have experienced this same situation. It’s hard to create a main character that everyone in your audience will fully appreciate. For every person who goes for the classic supernaturally athletic and brave protagonist with the aesthetic of an undiscovered model, there’s going to be a person wishing for someone who wasn’t quite so athletic or brave or ridiculously attractive.
But does every protagonist need to be likable? Continue reading
Writing is a balancing act of complements and contrast. When you’re strategic in your placement of flat and round characters, you can create a focused, textured story that feels grounded in reality no matter how many dragons crawl through its pages. Let’s begin with looking at what flat and round characters are.