Monday, August 30, 2010

A Quick Word

Hello, all! I'd just like to say that I'm going to be cutting the regularity of my posts to once every two days or less, due to schoolwork and a need to focus more on my novel. As you can see, it hasn't budged from that count in quite a while. :)

Also, I'd like to open up a question for you readers--what subject of writing would you like me to speak on? I'm having a hard time coming up with topics. Outlining? Suspense? The Plot? Fantasy worlds in general, or a specific part?

Feel free to suggest anything you wish, and I may pick a subject or two out of the center. :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review; Across the Face of the World

From a tiny snowbound village, five men and women are about to embark on a journey that will change their lives -and the destiny of their world. For two thousand years, since he was cast out from Dona Mihst, the fabled Undying Man has been plotting his revenge on the Most High. The Destroyer's plans of vengeance are nearing fruition-and he will allow nothing to stand in his way. But one man has escaped from the Destroyer's prison, and even though the Lords of Fear ride in pursuit, he will bring word to his people. It will be up to his sons, Hal and Leith, together with a small group of villagers, to warn their world of the coming war. (Description taken from

Until this book was recommended for me to review, I had never before heard of this author or this book--and I was glad I did.

Across the Face of the World had a Tolkienish feel to it in matters of plot, description and imagination, but all to a lesser degree. The characters were defined, but I felt that the author could have spent a little less time describing their often tedious journeys and a little more putting in more conflict and character development. I never completely cared for any of the characters--but then, I'm not an emotional person. :)

The surrounding lands that come into effect, however, were magnificent. Traditions, culture, countries, and lands were all imagined in great detail, which partially made up for the lack of character development.

The plot could've been more original as well (but then, there are few plots that are entirely original). I feel it was pulled off well, though, and it definitely picked up near the end. However, though I compared it to LOTR, it did not quite have the 'epic' feel that LOTR does. Hopefully that will improve with the next book.

All in all, it was a good book. I ended up buying the second, which I have yet to read as I just finished reading LOTR for the sixth time. However, the low price DID have something to do with that--and the fact that it wasn't available at the library. :)

Rated 8.1 out of 10. Good enough to look for at the library--you might even want to buy it. It's a cent plus shipping used on Amazon. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010


It is possible to speed-write. Really.

Warning; long post ahead. Hopefully it may enlighten you, but just beware of longness. :)

A few weeks ago, maybe less, I decided to sit and write in my third novel after putting it off for a month. Before long, the plot went shoom! and took off like a bullet. In three days, I wrote roughly ten thousand words... Some of you may have noticed that my word count above this post has jumped to 30,000 words--only six hundred words less than my first novel, which has been my longest work of my life...up until now.

So does this prove my point? What makes a writer speed-write? How can it be done? I'll attempt to answer this in my post.

So some of you may be skeptical. "Ten thousand words? You're pulling my leg." No, I'm not. I really did write ten thousand words in three days, and it wasn't because I was such a 'great writer'--because I am not. Not close to it.

Here's the combinations of events that caused this strange phenomenon.

This one doesn't exactly pop up when you need it, so it's a bit hard to find.

I needed to write, partially because I didn't have anything to read at the time.

I had time to do it; and I had to tell myself to do it as well--that's important

The plot had me excited. I was laying awake in bed (does anyone else do that?) and I find that my mind wandered to my novel. The plot was a little floppy, which made me wonder what was wrong with it. I flipped a few mental strands of the plot around, and pow!--I was struck dumb by an idea that enforced the plot of my other books and advanced that one.

Now, here's a few suggestions on how to best use these forces to 'speed-write'.

The Nudge [Inspiration]

Inspiration doesn't come at your beck and call--all writers (or most of them) know that. Inspiration comes and goes, and most of the experienced writers will tell you that you can't depend on inspiration. Well, guess what; you can't depend on inspiration. ;)

But, as I wrote in a post some time ago, inspiration can be nudged. Start writing. Immediately. You'll find that some degree, at least, of inspiration will come once you get going.

I Wanna! [Need]

Like inspiration, need isn't set in stone. Sometimes you feel like you need to write, and sometimes you think you need to watch a movie. But be warned! If you watch the movie, you won't write--and that's not always a good thing.

But just like inspiration, you have to get going and force yourself to say, "I wanna!" And then, as your creative tank takes off, you'll find that you'll be saying this more often; 'Five more minutes, Dad, please! I want to finish the chapter." But the context is writing, instead of reading. Inspiration can't be started out of nowhere, but it can be kick-started.

No Time! [Schedule]

This one is a little more up to you; you often decide what part of your schedule will be like, even if you have to do schoolwork before. Will you watch the movie, or will you write instead? Don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming movies. But if you have an opportunity to watch it later, and you know that you haven't written on your current project for a while, you are faced with a choice; watch the movie and miss out on writing (and starting that speedy writing engine), or watch it and put your writing off until later, when you'll feel even less inclined to write. Don't wait until you 'have nothing better to do' to write.

If your time is full, then MAKE time. How are you supposed to write with no time to do it? Surely, there's somewhere, something that you could do to give yourself even ten minutes to write. Give up blogging, if you must.

I was away from the Internet for two weeks, and did you see what happened? My word count jumped 10,000 words. A little thing to think about. :)

Swordfights and Dragons and...Plots? [Plot]

This is one of the most important things to use to speed-write. Generally, great plots gets faster writing; floppy plots get slow writing, if any at all.

If you aren't writing, or if you aren't writing fast, you may want to take a look at your plot. Find holes where there isn't any conflict (one of the most important elements of a fiction story, and not necessarily physical conflict), and cut them. If the scene you're writing has a low conflict level, either add some conflict or cut the scene.

Stay up in bed pondering your plot! Add an unexpected ambush! Play out a chapter in your book outside (preferably where no one will see or hear you).

I can safely say, from my own experience, that the better your plot gets, the faster the writing may flow. There are some exceptions, though, (one of which I will discuss in a moment) and your Need also has a key place in your speed.

Besides this, conflict is a hidden fifth; who here likes writing some kinds of conflict or a verbal fight? I do! I can write those fairly easily, and they're fun to write. Another thing that spurs on your speed.

I'm almost done, so hang in there. I've got one more thing to say; get some sleep, or you'll be useless as a writer. The amount of sleep you've had and how tired you are is, believe it or not, essential to how fast you can write. :)

All right, I'll leave off here. Feel free to comment!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tip; Suffering

Before you ask, "Why is Jake posting on such depressing subjects?", I must say two things. One, if you your book to be realistic, it has to have some sort of a depressing event. :) Second, because this is rather a continuation of my previous post, rather than a stand-alone--because disaster without suffering isn't a disaster at all. (Yes, that quote was completely original from me.)

Why should your Protagonist suffer? Because the reader can relate to suffering. And when the reader can relate to the character, that means you've done something right.

There are two kinds of suffering--that's easy enough to see. External (physical) and internal (mental).

Physical Suffering

This kind of suffering is the less effective of the two--you can only beat your Protagonist up so many times. But there are several ways to make this effective.

First; don't describe it in detail. Do you think a reader wants to read two pages about your Protagonist's bloody wound and how much it hurts? I, for one, would probably shut the book if that came up, or just grimace and hope that the rest of the book is better.

Second; don't be repetitive. Don't make your Protagonist be beat up every day. It gets boring.

Third; use it sparingly. Too much physical suffering will turn your reader off, and too little will give the Protagonist a feeling of invulnerability.

Fourth, and most important; it has to make sense. If your Protagonist has to get beat up, then make him get beaten up because of something he did (like inadvertently getting on the guy's bad side), or because of one of his qualities (because he didn't do something the guy told him to because it was wrong). The suffering event should be indirectly (at least) related to the plot and something it caused.

Mental Suffering

The subject of mental suffering is much more effective than physical suffering. Pretty much everyone experiences some degree of mental suffering (now I sound like a psychologist!), and if you pull the suffering off in a way that the reader can relate to, you create character development.

I must admit that I am not a very authoritative writer on the subject of mental suffering. I don't know how much I can show you about 'pulling the suffering off', but I'll do my best.

But first, let's define mental suffering. It's basically suffering from the mind, right? But what does that mean? It's when the Protagonist is struck with a mental blow; loss of a loved one, a thing important to the plot, hopelessness, etc.

Now, what are some things one can do to improve mental suffering?

First, don't have it dominate the plot for it's duration. Other stuff can happen too. Just like physical suffering (although this one DOES require more description), don't put too much description into the torment.

Second; use the Protagonist's thoughts to convey the suffering that s/he's feeling within, but use his/her actions, too. Show, don't tell, remember?

Third; It doesn't nescisarily have to be something huge, like the loss of a loved one. Something as simple as a cooling friendship can fill the Protagonist's thoughts at night.

Fourth; have the implications of that suffering stretch farther into the plot. For instance--the death of a Protagonist's mother may make him/her move to a different town, where s/he meets a mysterious stranger and gets embroiled in a... Well, you get the point. :)

As for the connections of Suffering with Disaster, I'll say again what I said above; disaster without suffering isn't disaster at all. Disaster and suffering alike have implications; disaster makes suffering (and more plot, probably), suffering makes the plot go in a different direction, which steadily causes an unstoppable chain of events which lead up to a smashing ending, each disaster and suffering driving it forward like a train on paper into the final chapter.

Oh, and as for that idea about writing a story with the sole subject of suffering--probably not a good idea. :) Writing intense suffering oftentimes means terrible misfortune, disasters, and a slew of characters to kill off. And that's depressing to read and depressing to write. :)

Seriously; I get the blues every time I kill off a character, good or bad. It makes me go and read a happier book. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tip; A Reflection on Disasters

Disaster may be one of the best things to use for a novel. Not necessarily deleting your entire novel (that WOULD be a disaster), but something in the novel. Fictional.

Disasters are basically where something goes wrong with what your protagonist is trying to do--and it should happen all the time; or else everything will seem far too easy. No disaster=terrible plot.

In my eyes, there can be three kinds of disasters.

The Annoying, Discomforting Disaster

This is one that often shows up early in the novel. And really quick, please note that disasters should get worse and worse as a novel wears on--there are few exceptions.

Here's a couple of examples, each affecting the next;

-The Protagonist scares the horse on accident, and the darn thing runs off with all of his supplies on its back.
-When the Protagonist goes and searches for the horse, he finds it--but without the supplies.
-The Protagonist searches for the supplies. It begins to rain.
-He finds the supplies, in the end--but they're soaked, and most of them are no longer edible.

Small disaster. It's not to hard to think up--but usually, it should have an effect on what happens next.

The key to many disasters is (to quote OYAN) to "give the Hero what he wants, but not the way he wants it." In this case, the Protagonist wanted to find the supplies--he found 'em all right, but not the way he wanted them.

The Disastrous Loss

This is the second disaster. It usually consists of some sort of loss, as small as a family heirloom essential to the plot or as large as the loss of a friend. It can start out with something small, like the loss of supplies mentioned earlier, and then grow into something large.

Usually, the loss affects the plot in a significant way. The Annoying Disaster does too, but to a lesser extent--like chasing the horse made the Protagonist lose precious time, or have an enemy catch up to him. But loss causes a significant setback that normally makes the Protagonist have to change his plan in some way.

The Ultimate Defeat

This one doesn't need to be described much, as it the title does it accurately; this disaster causes the Protagonist to be defeated. Most of the time this happens at the end of the book, the part where the Antagonist triumphs for a short while and has the upper hand. That, however, may or may not be in a novel, but if it isn't, consider if you should change that or not. If the Protagonist's goal is reached too easily, then you should probably make it a lot harder.

In some ways, I myself take a fiendish and rather strange delight in making up disasters for my protagonist. Really, it's fun! Dream up some scenes--and find out what it takes for everything that the Protagonist so carefully planned to go terribly wrong.

One more thing before I finish this; if you are having trouble with a part of the story that you know has conflict (which is one of the chief problems with failed novels; lack of conflict), it probably needs a disaster or two to make it harder for your Protagonist. :) Plot problems aside.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And the Winner is...

Right as we speak, my mouse is lingering on the 'Generate' button on In just a moment I will push the button...and the winner will be revealed. :)

But first I must build up the tension, the anticipation. Whoever wins will thank me for it later. ;)

So--what's at stake here?

According to Amazon, a The Lord of the Rings Boxed Set Ballantine Books (1977). Here's the picture again--to tantalize you. :D

I'm looking at it now--I love the color illustrations, which were actually painted by J. R. R. Tolkien.

It's rather shiny and golden, don't you think? :D

Okay, I'll do it...

Pushing the button...


Okay, I've got the winner. :) What do you mean I have to tell you? I do? Aw... ;)

So the winner is Nathan R. Petrie! Congrats! If you wish to claim your prize (why did you enter if you don't? :D), then you can email your address to me and I'll send it to ya ASAP. :D Again, congrats!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lord of the Rings Giveaway Trivia; Part Four

***Confused at what's happening at Teenage Writer or looking for the giveaway? Read about it here.

This is the last trivia question. Or is it? Actually, the last TWO. There's a bonus question. :)

As for the first one;

"What was the name of Frodo's mother?"

The next question is a bonus, and, like the others, cannot be answered if you have already answered a trivia question correctly.

"Where are the current locations of all seven of the palantiri at the end of LOTR?"

HINT; You can find most of the locations in the Appendixes of Return of the King, and the other locations are scattered throughout LOTR.

Once these questions are guessed, I'll announce the winner within the next couple of days. :)

Happy guessing! :D

*****UPDATE 6:19 P.M.********
The bonus question is still unanswered! Go ahead and guess! :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lord of the Rings Giveaway Trivia; Part Three

*****Looking for the Giveaway, or would like to find out more about it? Click here. Keep in mind, though, that the dates stated in that post no longer apply. :)

All right, it's time for part three of the LOTR Trivia! Here's the question;

"How many Orcs (and other enemies) did Gimli slay in comparison to Legolas during the Battle of Helm's Deep?" (i.e. How many did Gimli slay and how many did Legolas slay?)

Beware--unless my memory betrays me, the answer from the LOTR movies is different than the answer from the books.

Guess to your heart's delight, my friends! :D

We'll see if the next question is answered in a timely manner. I plan for it to be the hardest. :D