Saturday, April 30, 2011

Writing Lessons from Sam

FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.

SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here, but we are. 

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.

FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?

SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

[The actual speech from the movie can be found here.  It's a lot more emotional, so I'd encourage you to watch it first before reading the post.]


I love Sam's Speech.  It's one of my favorite scenes in Lord of the Rings (save for the Battle of Pelennor Fields).  Something about darkness, light, stories—they meld together and create something utterly compelling to me.  And Sam's speech—in the middle of the destruction of Osgiliath—expresses this perfectly.

Amidst this speech are some great points.  The speech is chock full of meaning, and it is especially  meaningful for writers.  I agree with Sam wholeheartedly: the best stories (like Lord of the Rings) are full of darkness. Danger.  The characters had a choice to go back, but they didn't.  And they held on to something.

But since I don't have time to write a full-blown post about the wonders of this speech (and believe me, I could write one), I thought I'd ask you a question, dear reader.  What do you see in this speech?  What moves you?  What do you think you can take from these words and apply in your writing?  What kind of stuff do you see regarding great stories?

Take a few lessons from Sam.  He knows what he's talking about.

By the way, if you haven't already, stop by my giveaway.  Good stuff happening over there. :)  It ends in less than a week, so hurry and enter!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interview with Jill Williamson & A Giveaway

Greetings, blog readers!

(This picture is on my desktop.  *grin*)

If you remember, I have been raving about a book (one that I have yet to read) and an author for a while now.  From Darkness Won, by Jill Williamson, the last in "The Blood of Kings epicness", as one person put it.

You've read my review (here), so I have no need to rave about it on this post. And raving (good as it is) is not what I came here to do.  In actuality, I have conducted my first interview--with Jill Williamson!  And I get to share it with you.  Buckle in, folks.

Please welcome Jill Williamson, all!  *widespread applause*


Why do you write? And why do you specifically write speculative fiction?

"I want to tell exciting stories to teens that inspire them to grow into men and women of integrity. I want to put my love for God within the pages of my stories and show the readers that life is fulfilling when you know your maker.

"I’ve always loved reading fantasy novels. But when I first started writing, I wrote nonfiction articles for teens. Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness really opened my imagination to the possibility of writing something Christian. I had never read Christian fiction before that book. When I did start writing, I didn’t set out to write something speculative. I just wanted to write something entertaining for teens. I wrote a teen spy story first. Then I wrote a story about a cloning lab. Then I wrote my first fantasy novel. I remember being so frustrated because I kept hearing that new writers needed to figure out what genre they wrote, and I didn’t have a clue what my genre was. Was it fantasy? Science Fiction? Urban fantasy? Contemporary? Adventure? At Mount Hermon in 2007, I went to Jeff Gerke’s class on speculative fiction and was pleased to discover that I was writing in the same genre. It was called speculative fiction. What a relief!"

When was the first time you were infected with the writer's virus and felt the symptoms?

"I wanted to speak to teens. I discovered that sometimes, people hire speakers based on articles written by the speaker. So I looked into writing articles. Then the new Harry Potter book came out, and a new barrage of debates within the church community flared up as to whether or not the books were bad for Christians to read. The debate inspired me to write my own blockbuster-style novel for teens that glorified God. Once I started that spy kid story, I was hooked and didn’t want to go back to writing articles aver again!"

Who's your favorite wordsmith?

"I have too many favorites to single one out. In no particular order, I love Jane Austen, Ted Dekker, Lisa Samson, Robert Liparulo, Caroline Keene, C.S. Lewis, Frank Peretti, Jenny B. Jones, Rick Riordan, Brandilyn Collins, J.R.R. Tolkien, Suzanne Collins, Michael Crichton, Cathy Gohlke, Anthony Horowitz, Caroline Cooney, John Grisham, Megan Whalen Turner, Melody Carlson, Nicolas Sparks, J.K. Rowling, Francine Rivers, Randy Ingermanson. The list goes on and on. I enjoy stories that make me laugh, cry, or stay up all night because I can’t put the thing down."

If you were to become proficient in the use of a certain weapon from your novel, what weapon would you pick? And who would you choose to train you?

"I’d want to use a bow, and I’d want Kates to train me (I don’t know if I could stomach Inko! Lol). I think a bow would be a good weapon for me. It would keep me far enough away from my enemy—or dinner—that I’d be able to run away if need be. LOL"

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

"World Class Chocolate from Baskin Robbins. It’s a swirl of chocolate and white chocolate ice cream."

What is the best tip on writing you would give to an aspiring writer? (Aside from "read a lot", which seems to be a common one.)

"Write, write, write. Get into a critique group where you feel you are learning. And finish that first book. Many new writers tend to get stuck writing that first book for years. Then they get so close to it they can’t let go. Train yourself to be a writer by doing the hard work of completing a full manuscript. Then go back and rewrite it. And rewrite. And when you are done, put it down and write another book. Then write another. Then another.

"One of my favorite writing quotes is from Michael Crichton. He said, “Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.” It’s so true."

How much do you write in a typical day?

"It depends. If I’m not in the middle of a book, sometimes I don’t write at all. I might be promoting instead or blogging. I try never to write on Sundays. If I’m working on a book, I try to write for three-four hours a day. Sometimes more. If a deadline is close, I might write all day long for weeks straight."

What is the strangest experience you've had as a writer?

"Winning the Christy Award. I wanted to win it, but I didn’t really think I would. When I saw my name scroll by on my TV screen, it was so strange. It felt like it was happening to someone else."

How did the epic saga we now know as The Blood of Kings Trilogy get published?

"I wasn’t trying to get published when I submitted my first chapter of my fantasy novel to Jeff Gerke at the 2008 Oregon Christian Writers’ Summer Coaching Conference. Marcher Lord Press’ submission guidelines were clear: no young adult novels.

I’d met Jeff at the 2007 Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s conference and used his editorial services on a different novel. When I saw he was at OCW, I submitted my manuscript to him hoping to glean wisdom. I was surprised when he wanted to meet with me. I was even more surprised when he wanted to read the full.

“Why does it have to be YA?” he asked.

As soon as I got home, I looked over the book and sent it off. A few months later I got an email from Jeff that said: “Do you happen to be by a phone right now so that I can call you?”

And that was the beginning of a new adventure."


Mrs. Williamson has been gracious enough to also provide a book to give away on Teenage Writer!  But this giveaway is unique: the winner gets a choice between any one of her three books.  If you haven't heard or read The Blood of Kings trilogy, then (should you win), you can choose to receive By Darkness Hid, book one.  If you've read the first two, then, by all means, ask for From Darkness Won!  Only one book is being given away, however; but that book is a choice of the three Blood of Kings books.

To enter, all you need to do is post a comment and answer one of the three questions below.  If that is done, you are automatically entered in the giveaway!  **NOTE** You will not be entered in the giveaway if you do not comment or you do not answer one of the questions.

1) Who's your favorite author?
2) Where's your favorite place?
3) Who's your favorite fictional character?

Fire away, readers!  Make this the biggest giveaway yet!  This giveaway ends May 6.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: From Darkness Won

Achan steps into his role as Crown Prince and prepares for war. But war against whom? Could Esek still be alive? Has Lord Nathak taken Esek’s place? Or is the mysterious Hadad the true enemy Achan must confront?

Vrell has her own agenda of serving Prince Oren as a healer, but when she is stormed and lost to the Veil, Achan does all he can to bring her back. His conversations with her are strange, though, as if she has no memory of who he is.

In a land consumed by Darkness, the fate of Er’Rets hangs in the balance as Achan endeavors to take the throne and end the reign of Darkness. (From the back cover.)

This is it.

The end.  Or, the end of the beginning.  All of what happened before has been leading up to this—a final battle for the heart and for the land of Er'Rets.

As I began reading this book, (I was reading the print version, a whopping 661 pages) I couldn't help but wonder how things would turn out.  How everything would work itself to a satisfying ending.  It had been a long journey, and there was much ground left to cover, and a few strands of plot to tie up yet.  I wondered, could this book measure up to the other two?

It certainly could.

From Darkness Won takes you on an adventure and if I would describe the word adventure, I would include in that definition a mention of this series.  You don't read this book—you live it.  The characters are real, in your imagination.  Alive.  I read this book and felt like everything that happened happened to me.  Such is the power of Jill Williamson's writing.  Adventure has become a common word, thrown around to describe various books.  But when I say adventure, I mean this: a saga.  An epic.  A story so real you can touch the grass and fly into the Veil yourself.  And From Darkness Won is undoubtedly an adventure.

In matters of plot, From Darkness Won excels.  If you thought Williamson was done with the plot twists, you were sorely mistaken.  The entire book is a wild ride (except for the ending, that is).  From murders to storming to underground passages and battles; you will find such within these pages.

And rarely have I seen such characters.  They practically live and breathe.  They become beloved to the reader, three-dimensional men and women (and the odd kid) with their own faults and weaknesses.  The point of view of the characters was excellently written as well.  Each POV has an original voice.

As always, the dialogue in From Darkness Won is superb and realistic, and some of the dialogues between Vrell and Achan made me laugh.

The spiritual matters were well-done as well—the dangers and consequences of temptation, lying, and many others were addressed in this novel, as an integral part of the characters' development.

After the climax, the book had fifty pages or so that I nicknamed the Epilogue (though the real epilogue is only at the very end).  It wrapped up loose ends and showed the scenes that the reader had been waiting for in the entire trilogy, which gave me some time to wind down and absorb what had just happened.  It might have been a slightly boring section, had it not been for Vrell and Achan's constant banter, which had me smiling the entire way through.

There were a few cons, however.  First, in the middle of the book, Vrell's name (in her POV) was changed to Averella, which rather annoyed me (though I could see it was necessary).  I expected her POV to change back to 'Vrell' sometime in the book, but it never did.  It made me feel as if I had lost the familiar Vrell I was accustomed to, replaced with a similar character with more refined mannerisms.  Several other characters acted out of sorts with their personalities as well.  However, other than this minor detail, the book was excellent.

All in all, From Darkness Won is a fantastic final installment to the Blood of Kings trilogy.  Highly (and more so!) recommended to older ages.  Rated 9.3 out of 10.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ineffective Writer's Syndrome

This week, literologists in Kansas City, Kansas, made a breakthrough in a devastating virus strain known to them only as IWS: Ineffective Writer's Syndrome.  They believe they might have found the internal causes.  Uniquely, the IWS manifests itself in different symptoms, and each symptom must be treated differently.

I found this list of symptoms and cures on the IWS site and thought it may help for those of you who may have a temporary case of the IWS.  Please see your literary doctor before making a decision to use IWS cures or any decisions regarding IWS.  IWS is a serious disease that may end up crippling you for life, so act now to stop it, before it is too late.

Some Common Symptoms:
-Bad quality writing
-Stubborn characters
-Stubborn plot
-Lack of time
-Frustration issues
-Lack of writing
-Lack of originality

Some Suggested Cures:
(These recommendations have been tested by the IWS Committee of Writers.  While they are reasonably accurate, we cannot guarantee full recovery or effectiveness.)
-More sleep
-Read more
-Write more often
-Make time to write each day

IWSCW Cures may produce side effects, such as sleepless nights, unproductive schooldays, lack of desire for social activity, literary madness, abandon, and dreaminess.  IWSCW Cures contain such ingredients such as Imagination, so it is not for those with VGAS (Video Game Addiction Syndrome) or similar illnesses.  or IWSCW is not liable for such side effects and cannot be held responsible.

(Note: Normal post coming soon. ;)  Hang in there!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest

A knight left for dead.
A country on the verge of ruin.
And an evil lord rising to conquer.

Sir Rowan is the most decorated tournament knight in Cameria, but when he is attacked and left for dead, his world collapses. Betrayed and lingering at death’s door, only a bizarre vision of his Prince and the help of a woman dedicated to the King keeps him alive. As Rowan heals, he finds new purpose in life through service to his King.

But his beloved land of Cameria has fallen victim to the tyranny of the Dark Knight.

Rowan’s countrymen need his help taking their cities back from the enemy, but all is not as it appears. The mysterious Sir Lijah insists Rowan’s purpose lies elsewhere—far away from Cameria, in an ancient city and for an ancient cause.

Rowan’s destiny is greater than he ever imagined. The final battle with the Dark Knight approaches, and he must choose where he will fight. Will he discover his true identity and purpose as a Knight of the Prince, or will the Dark Knight claim victory for eternity?

Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest is the last book in the Knights of Arrethtrae Series; and I couldn't help but wonder if this book would measure up to the other books in the series.

However, Chuck Black finishes the series well with another short novel that packs a punch. He manages (yet again) to write a tale with the right measures of allegory, plot, character, and worldbuilding to complete a compelling novel and still reveal a lesson behind the story. A winning formula.

As the last book in a series, this one held up well and finished in a spectacular manner. Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest touches on the speculated fate of Cameria and the prophecy of the two mysterious witnesses from Revelation, and also packs in a couple plot twists I never thought to expect.

The writing was concise and descriptive--Chuck Black's wordsmithing skills have been steadily rising. The book was an easy read, with some thoughtful questions at the end. It's more than enough to keep you up reading at night.

All in all, the last book in the Knights of Arrethtrae series is my favorite of all of Black's books and a thought-provoking book. Highly recommended.

Rated 9 out of 10.

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.)

See my review on Amazon here. :)

Also, please take a moment to rate my review on the Blogging for Books site. :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Battle Fought at Midday, Part II

No idea what's going on?  See here for the original post.  

All right, folks, it's time for the next installment of this series.  Hope you like it.  Give me some feedback in the comments below, and I'd be much obliged.  Enjoy (I hope)!


Part II: In Which I Quote Cyrano

The rumbling grew, and the floor began to shake. I watched it with mild interest, propping my feet on a shivering stool nearby.

In a burst of wood, carpet, fuzzy stuff, and concrete, the floor burst, and a shadowed figure sprang from the cavity. He drew a long, wicked sword as he saw me.

"Jake of the Sadaar!" he bellowed. "You have ignored my cohort's demands, and now you must pay the price!"

I leaned back and took a look at the back of my hand, appearing uninterested. "Procrastination, good to see you. Your cohort was a blundering fool who didn't know a phone from his own face." I looked up at him, and I blinked in surprise. "You had a wardrobe update, I see. Much more sinister, I must say."

Beneath his shadowy hood (the new one: the other one was blue plastic), I could see Procrastination roll his eyes. "My wardrobe choices are minor. What really matters here is your direct insult to my character...."

"Or lack thereof," I muttered under my breath.

"...and prestige. You actually hung up on my representative, Sadaar! What do you have to say about this, writer?"

I stood up slowly, carefully keeping away from the hole in the floor. "Well, first off," I replied, "You haven't brushed your teeth today."

I could see him doing mental facepalms as I spoke. "Sadaar," he said at length, "You are a writer of the worst and most incorrigible sort."

"Oh?" I said. "Is that all? Why, there is a great much more you might have said, had you some wit to color your discourse--"

"Blast it, Sadaar, stop with the Cyrano de Bergerac quotes!" He ground his teeth, his lips a thin, angry line. "I cannot stand that man."

I said nothing for a moment. "Well, 'tis true," I said, after I had let him boil in his on anger for a bit (and his face looked definitely red enough for such a fact). "Of wit you have not an atom."

"Writer! Blimp! You curd!" Procrastination fumed. "Buttonhead!"

"How do you do," I replied smoothly. "Now, if you excuse me, I was having a conversation with Inspiration a moment before you most rudely poked your red little head into my business."

He grinned maliciously. "He's gone, Sadaar, now that I'm here."

I sighed. "Yeah, that's the way it often works. Procrastination comes, inspiration flees." I cast a glare his way. "If I were blogging this, I'd quote myself."

"Actually," Procrastination started, but I cut him off.

"But I neglect hospitality. Tell me why you have come, and then I'll kick you out of my house." I looked at the hole in the floor. "Besides, how am I supposed to explain this hole to Mom?"

Procrastination shrugged. "I came for the turkular weapons. I was going to threaten a war if you didn't hand them over, or find some sort of biological weapon to use on you and your little dog."

"Come on," I said. "We all know you have an ulterior motive, Procrastination. And besides, my dog isn't that little. He's--"

"Remind me, again, what 'ulterior' means?" he said, avoiding the question.

"It means, you have to answer me now, or I'll pull the Pen of Doom on you." I pulled it out of my pocket and waved it threateningly in his face.

He stared at the Pen for a moment. "Very well, then," he said, his eyes gleaming in mischief, "You leave me no choice." He snapped his fingers, and a sword fell from the ceiling, slapping into his hand. He grinned.

I sighed. "Here we go again." I opened the Pen of Doom. Instantly, it sparked and gleamed itself into a sword; cross-hilted, double handed, and very, very sharp. In more than one way.

He looked at me quizzically. "I thought you writers hated copying others. That Pen of Doom of yours is a carbon copy of that one Jackson dude's pen."

"For the record," I said, "The Pen of Doom came first." Keeping the Pen in front of me, I advanced on Procrastination. "Fight to the Write, I assume?"

"You bet," Procrastination said, and then he attacked.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Personification Challenge

Take a long look at the title and the picture above.  Do you now what this means?  That means I'm about to do a writing challenge.  And I challenge YOU.  It's not much--I think it would be doable, even for those of you with only a short amount of time to write.  But you've been challenged.  Dared.  Only under extreme circumstances can you refuse. :|  Such as being brutally attacked by schoolwork. o_O

So what is the Personification Challenge?

It's a writing challenge where I dare you to write a personification story (or even a series of stories) and post it on your blog [or, if you don't have a blog, on a forum or Facebook], spreading the word of this challenge and challenging other writers.  I'll be doing the same thing, here: a series of personification stories.

What's personification writing?  It's basically the writing in which you personify certain things.  For instance, in my section of my personification story, I personify my math and Inspiration, portraying them as real things and people.  And it's really, really fun.  Believe me.  So what I'm doing for my personification story is taking real life events over the course of the day and turning them into a fictionalized, personified, and (much more) interesting story.

So here's how it works:

Rule #1
The story you write (and post on your blog) must be more than five hundred words.

Rule #2
You must personify something: an emotion [i.e. "Anger smacked me. And it hurt."], a character trait [Courage liked to tell me to punch Fear in the face.] or an action [Procrastination was my worst enemy.]. Etc. If you can think of things to personify outside of those categories, awesome! Go for it. :D

Rule #3
You must write in any genre you choose. It's more like a recommendation, but feel free to personify in any genre you want, and write in any POV you want. I find it easy to write in first person for this challenge. It makes my story more colorful. ;)

Keep in mind, this is extremely easy to do.  In fact, this challenge started out when I, rather tired of math, took a break and wrote a page or so of personified nonsense (the edited version of which you will see below).

All right: you have been challenged!  Take up the sword below and fight the good fight against Procrastination!  Feel the handle in your hand, and with this, go and hack away at your word count!  Below, you shall find the beginning of my own Personification Challenge.



So I was sitting on the couch, using my mental powers to battle with the twisty beast known only as Allegebra Mathe. He was being tricky today, and he seemed a bit bigger than usual. Blasted Mathe. He always liked to bite me on Wednesdays.

The phone rang. My phone. The Verizon wireless tone blared over and over, somewhere deep in my pockets. I dug through my pockets to find it.  I almost blew my hand off with the Pen of Doom (rummaging through one's pockets can be dangerous), but I managed to find it and answer it in time.

"Greetings," I said.

"Jake of the Sadaar," someone hissed into the phone. "How--"

"Dude," I said, "Don't put your mouth so close to the receiver. Your breathing is interfering with my hearing. I can barely make out your words."

"I haven't quite managed to master these yet," Breath-Guy said. I heard some noises through the receiver--he was apparently maneuvering the phone a little further away from his mouth.

"That's somewhat better," I told him. "So what do you want?"

"World dominion," Breath-Guy said nonchalantly. "Surrender your turkey spies now and I'll let you live. And your little dog, too."

"He's not that little," I said. "Have you seen him lately? He's a walking sausage."

"That's not the point," Breath-Guy said. "The point is, all turkular weapons must be handed over at midnight tomorrow--"

I interrupted him. "Midnight, meaning--midnight tonight (which is technically tomorrow) or twenty-four hours from now?"

"Stop interrupting, you dunce! Midnight....tomorrow," The breathing was getting in the way of my hearing again.

"Could you repeat that?" I asked. "And quit the breathy voice--it's not really that impressive." I heard a sigh through the receiver.

"This better?" Breath-Guy's voice was louder now.  

"Yup, just fine. Proceed, if you will," I said dryly, "with your threats of world domination."

"You are to hand over all turkeys," Breath-Guy said, trying to sound important, "all weapons regarding turkeys, weapons used by turkeys, missiles directed by turkeys, kamikaze turkey planes, anything pertaining to turkey warfare and all weapons that look remotely like and are affiliated with turkeys to me at midnight tomorrow. Twenty four hours." I heard him take deep breath, but I cut him off.

"No can do. And besides, I ran out of kamikazes last fall. Sorry, man." I hung up on him and turned off my phone so I would have no further interruptions.


Well, Friday rolled around, and I was contemplating the fact that I should probably be fighting Allegebra Mathe again.

I had just taken a shower, and during that shower, Inspiration hit me over the head with my shampoo.   He got shampoo everywhere, of course, but after I had brushed my teeth (and subsequently washed out all the shampoo) he told me what the plan was. "You know how Sadai was supposed to have a bow?" he said. "Well, when did he get that? When was he trained?" Inspiration is one of my best editors. His hair was sticky from the shampoo, though, and all I could do was stare at his head.

"Jake!" He waved his hand in front of my face.

"Sorry," I muttered. "Your shampoo is distracting."

He sighed, and snapped his fingers. Instantly his hair cleaned until it was dry and shampoo free.

"Thanks," I told him.

"Yeah, whatever." He rolled his eyes repeated his questions.

I thought about this for a moment. "Well," I said cautiously, "I suppose I must write a scene with the archers training."

Inspiration drummed his fingers on my desk. "And?" He hit me again, this time with a book.

The light dawned on me as my head throbbed again. "Oh! I see. I can write a battle scene with the archers!"  Battle scenes were amazing to write.  It was absolutely my favorite thing to write.

He nodded. "You have--"  Inspiration stopped talking for a moment. He stared past my head, then at my shoes, and then up at the ceiling. He exhaled. "I'm out of here. He's coming."

Before I could ask "Who?" Inspiration was gone.  And a rumbling noise was left in his wake.


See ya next time, folks.  I'll be back with another installment in the 'series'.  In the mean time, tell me what you think of what I have so far.  Like it?  Hate it?  For what reason?  Are you looking forward to the next one, or are you just amiable? ;)

If you do manage to do this challenge, post a comment below with the link!  I'd love to read it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Rewriting Dilemma (Among Other Things)

*yawn*  What?  What do you mean I'm tired?  It's not like I slept a couple hours last night.   No way I'm tired, right?

Yeah, who am I kidding.

Anyway, down to business!  My mind tends to wander when I'm tired.  Probably does it to you too, I warrant--it seems fairly widespread.  And keep in mind, if you can read this entire post without falling asleep yourself, you have a keen mind and a good night's sleep under your belt.  I'll get to the voting button in a moment.

Now, I have had a rewriting dilemma of late.  For a long time, I have been considering the ending of my novel.  Such posts as these have been marked with my concern for it: and the question, "How shall I end my novel?"  It's already finished, you might say--so why would I ask that question?  Well, the ending of the novel feels somewhat incomplete.  Unsatisfying, you might say.  And it ended with total despair--not really all that great for the ending of a novel.  Basically, the reader's worst fears came true: the end.

So the consideration in question is this: should I rewrite the end of my novel to a more satisfying end?  If so, how far should I go?

Let me explain a bit.  I have three options here.  Option One: I leave the ending as it is, and rewrite a bit of the 'despair' part out of it and still leave it on a despairing note.  Option Two:  I 'briefly' rewrite the ending and extend it for a couple more pages to get to a more satisfying end.  Option Three: I totally rewrite and add to the ending with several more chapters and an extension of the plot.

I'm leaning toward option two right now for several reasons.  One, it seems to be the best way to let up on the despairing and incomplete end.  And second, it doesn't let up on the tension of the last chapters (as I had several POVs and threads of stories woven into the last few chapters).

So what do you think?  What should I do?  Shoot me a comment or take a look at the poll on the right sidebar.  And if you have a totally different perspective, awesome!  I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The League

Greetings, all!  No, this isn't a full blown post (unless you count the sheer epicness factor), but it IS a post.  Be grateful for what you get. ;)  I'll be getting some posts up soon.

So anyway, the purpose of this post is this: I am happy to announce the commencement of an epic blog for the League of Extraordinary Scribes!

*takes a look at the blank faces*  It's a League of writers. ;)  That's a basic summary for ya.  It's a Facebook group composed of about sixty plus members (and growing!) of Scribes who do writing challenges and many other things (most of which I do not have the time to recount).  Be rest assured, it is a fantastic blog!  You can find it here: the first post is an awesome interview of Amanda Bradburn, author of the Keepers of Elenath (which I reviewed).  It's a great interview.   :)

If you have a couple minutes, stop by and follow it, and read the interview.  If you don't, put it on to the-to-do-list. :)  You won't regret following.

Au revoir!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tip: Cutting


It's a word that strikes fear into the heart of writers.  A nameless fear, named cutting.

Cutting is probably our least favorite thing to do, as writers. After all, we write--which basically implies an increase of words.  Not a decrease.

Most of us really, really don't like cutting.  I sure don't.  A writer's pride is his or her word count: I say, "How's the novel coming?" You say, "Good, I wrote a couple thousand words yesterday."  And yet, to take away words from a novel is almost a horrific thing.  The whole goal of writing a novel seems to be in danger.

Instinctively, I suspect most of us shy away from cutting.  "It's for long-winded writers," we say.  Most beginning writers start out with humble words counts, right?  Why would we decrease these already meager amounts? (No offense to anyone.)

And yet, sometimes it's needed.

"What, Jake?" you say.  "I can barely keep my word count up.  I need to expand, not cut!"

That may be true, but nonetheless there are times where it is needed.  Generally, writers cut for one of three reasons (if not a combination of any of them).

First, because the scene is useless.  Why would you write a scene about little purple butterflies doing a interpretive dance around a blossoming tree when your character is drowning in an underground pool?  This example is a little extreme, but you see what I mean.  Some scenes are simply not needed.  Sometimes they are there to increase your word count, and they don't actually add anything to the novel.

For instance (a slightly more relevant example), you may write a scene about your character talking to a man about the protests going on in a different city.  While the information may be interesting, and world-building, unless it is relevant to the plot and affects it in some way, the scene isn't needed.  If it introduces some information, however, that is needed later in the novel (or even in a sequel), the scene is fine.  If the scene in which the character is told/shown the information is lengthy, you may want to consider introducing it in a shorter scene.

The second reason writers usually cut is because the scene isn't relevant to the situation, for whatever reason.
 In my novel Revolution, I wrote half of chapter three in a word war on Facebook.  However, since I didn't have much time to think about it, I wrote it in Tevas' POV.  [Tevas is one of my important characters].  However, this character is meant to have the "mysterious and seemingly all-knowing" feel.  Writing in his POV makes creating this aura much harder.  And besides, the writing in this case wasn't that good, either. ;)

So I cut it.  Instead of describing all that the character did, I implied that he did it, and then moved on to another POV.  The scene wasn't relevant to what I wanted to do--the situation and the characters made it necessary to cut that scene and find a different way to do it.  Another example may be certain scenes' placement.  Does this scene increase or decrease the tension from the last one?  Is it really needed to increase the tension, or should I cut it to keep the scene sharp?  Usually, writing an intense battle scene with high stakes and then heading off to a peaceful scene in a green field (with lots of fluffy sheep!) is not a good way to write.

And sometimes writers cut for the third reason: bad writing.

Sometimes the only thing to do when a scene is dragging and your hands are heavy is to push the delete button and start over.  Make the plot go a different way.  In Sadaar, I had a large chunk I was supposed to write where the characters travel.  Traveling scenes are usually a writer's graveyard.  And the writing was not going well--due to the content I was writing, the quality of my writing took a fell swoop downward.  So I cut a bit and added in a string of plot that wasn't there before to lighten it up.  Not only did this cutting result in an increase of word count, I added a more interesting element to an otherwise boring scene.

So remember: uselessness, irrelevance, and dragging writing are the three main reasons a writer may cut.

Do you have any other reasons you usually cut?  Shoot me a comment. :)