Writing goals for June 2017

Monthly Goals: June 2017

June is always a very difficult month when it comes to writing and the things I actually want to do. As I struggle to finish university, I have to find time in between the studying and the exams of June to arrange my writing monthly goals and see what and how I can get everything done.

What’s the plan for June?

June is full of exams.

This is something I need to keep in mind. It’s very easy for me to get lost in writing and other creative endeavours. That means my university life suffers. For this month I need to prioritize studying to writing.

Finish edits for “Fool’s Errand”.

At 16k, this shortish story is very close to the end. It’s going through the last bits of editing, I’m getting some feedback for it that will hopefully help me get this story where it needs to be.

Polish “Fool’s Errand”.

At this point, the story will have seen an editor, Beta Readers, and Critique partners. I will just need to fine-tune the last details. Then read it again, and correct anything I might have missed the first 45 times.

And then comes the second short story, “The Duchess”

Sitting at 17k right now, by the time I am done with it, it’s going to have seen some growth for sure. I’m an underwriter people. My stories grow before they shrink.

Edit “The Duchess”. 

I am already going through the manuscript and making notes of all the things I need to fix. And I’m cursing myself for not making a proper outline for this. I’m an outliner. I know the merits of a good outline. And yet I thought I would experiment. Well, that means more work for me now.

Send “The Duchess” to Critique Partners and Betas.

After my round of edits, I need to see if what I fixed and changed makes sense. “The Duchess” will go off to my Critique partners first, then my Betas. And I will have to be patient and wait for their wonderful feedback to come back my way.

Prep “The Duchess” for my Editor.

The feedback is in. Now, I’ll have to go through it and fix the story more. I need to get it as clean and polished as I can before it goes off to my Editor, and she can rip through it.

I know that I have set up more goals than I can handle, than I can do. Maybe I won’t get it all done, but since my priorities are different this month, I’ll be satisfied with a 45% on this list.

What are your goals for the month? Are you going to be writing? Do you also have exams?

~ Harris

11 Pet Peeves about Male Characters

In case you were wondering there for a second, that I only had to complain about the women, let me put your minds at ease.

No.

I have so many things I can complain about.

So here are:

“11 Pet Peeves about Male Characters”,

or “I’m here to complain about MORE things”.

1. The Sexy Asshole ~
Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone likes confidence. But, when that confidence turns to arrogance and general asshatery, nobody likes it. Especially when it comes from the protagonist/love interest. Most wouldn’t even date this guy, but here is his co-protagonist, falling madly in love with him. Now, I’m not against some sass in my protagonist. But it’s sass. Not ass.

2. The Love-at-First-Sight Guy ~
He doesn’t know her name, he doesn’t even know her astrological sign, and yet, he is in love. He has seen something​ in her eyes, in her aloof loneliness, that he has never seen anywhere else. This is the one for him. Why bother with pesky things like “personalities”, and “opinions”? Why get to know her? He has learned all he needs to know from her silence. From a distance.

3. The Tantrum guy ~
He is a man. Not only is he a man, but he’s a manly man. How do we know this? Because every room he is in is a western saloon. A fight is always about to happen, disaster is just around the corner, and for what? His drink had an ice cube too many. He can only show he’s manly by punching things and killing things. He has no other characteristics than a flaring temper and his manly manliness.

4. The Spoiled Brat ~
He has had a tough life, everything is just so difficult for him, so very tough. Nothing goes his way.
Or does it?
This guy has everything. Does he need to complain about the minor setbacks in his life? No. But he does anyway. He’s not an underdog. He’s just a bitch. He complains about the smallest of things that don’t even matter.
He’s being whiny. And annoying.

5. The Perfect Guy ~
He’s the most beautiful guy around, he’s the tallest man. You can hear angels sing whenever he walks in a room, and the clouds part to rain sunshine on him.
He’s the perfect guy. Charming, romantic, smart.
Maybe he’s a little too perfect. Unrealistically so. There is no other guy like him in the whole book and the reader is constantly reminded of his perfection.

6. The Womaniser ~
This guy has slept with everything that he can sleep with. Everyone is a potential lover. Until he meets the one. The one who will tie him down and show him a different life. She’s unlike any other girl he’s ever met, and he wants to settle down with and forget his promiscuous ways. Because that’s how people work, that’s how people change. Overnight. Just cause.

7. The Statue ~
This is another example of the manly man, but instead of being angry and punching things, the statue feels nothing. He’s just there to be stoic, understanding, and a pillar of support. Men don’t feel anyway, that is known. Real men don’t bother themselves with feelings, or tears.
Without feelings though, there is no character growth, no conflict, no fun. If he’s not gonna feel anything, what’s the point of hurting him? I mean writing him.
Damn autocorrect.

8. The Walking Hard-on ~
Unlike the womaniser, this character has no luck with the other sex (or the same sex), and yet, sex is the only thing he can think about, the only topic he’s willing to talk about. We all know men only think of sex as it is, right? It’s not like they have other worries and problems. Just sex. 24/7. Nothing else.

9. The Comic Relief Bestie ~
He’s there to throw jokes at the reader, to ease the tension, but that’s the only thing he’s there for. To crack jokes. He has no life outside being funny, no other purpose in the story, unless he dies half way through. But he can’t even do that, because then all the humour would be gone from the story. Because all of it rests on his shoulders.

10. The Gay Bestie~
Girls can only hang out with guys if they are gay, or else the writer is obligated to make them a love interest. They just gotta. But if the bestie plays for a different team, the female protagonist is safe to swoon over her counterpart.
And usually, these characters aren’t even fleshed out properly. Their single characteristic is that they are gay, and they follow a whole list of stereotypes. Why break the mould? Why make him an actual character?

11. The Friendzoned guy~
This guy somehow fell through the cracks and didn’t become the gay bestie. So now he is a love interest. But not THE love interest. He’s a bitter shell of a man, that’s going to make some questionable decisions and cause problems, just because he’s in love with the female protagonist. He can’t really help it. She’s there, he’s there. He needs a role in the story.
Why not just throw years of friendship out of the window, just because now he’s realised she’s a girl? The story needs conflict, damnit, and a love triangle is the only way to get it!

Fantasy has truth in it.

Fantasy is not easy to write. There are so many things that can go wrong, so few things that can go right.

Fantasy isn’t just epic quests, an adventure to save the world, or kingdoms at war. Fantasy comes alive in the little details that the writer weaves into the story, the fine threads that make up the world and the people.

It’s that kid who goes on a quest because he wants to make something of himself, because he wants to grow and explore the world around him. It’s that mother who lost her children in the war, it’s the burden that weighs down on the hero’s shoulders every time they have to make an important decision.

Because they can save the world, or they can be the reason why it crumbles and burns.

Things are not black and white in fantasy. At least they are not for me. Magic isn’t bad, the same way a gun doesn’t kill people. But the abuse of power, the misuse of a tool, that’s what’s bad. It’s a king that can be good and benevolent to his people, or turn into a tyrant after the loss of someone he loved. It’s the grief, the pain, but also the joy and happiness that people experience.

Does it matter that they experience those things in a land with dragons and sword-fights? Does it make any real difference if the protagonist is not human, but an elf?

For me, fantasy gets to explore every day things like friendships, discrimination, racism, but in a bigger, larger, and more magical environment. It gets to present things that people don’t usually want to talk about, things they want to hide away, because people expect things in a fantasy story to go crazy.

But it’s not going crazy.

It’s being honest.

WordBound: Wed, Jan 18

( I’m going to use the two protagonists of my current manuscript to write this prompt.)

“There is a door,” Teresa said. “It is closed.”
Kalith peeked around the corner before he turned to her. “And?”
“That’s it. That’s all,” she said with a shrug of her shoulders that sent his blood boiling.
“Did you try the door?” he asked her. He got nothing but a blank stare. “You didn’t.”
“I didn’t.”
Their eyes locked, neither of them moved.
“Are you going to?” he asked with a wild gesture of his hand.
Teresa huffed and turned around. “Fine. It’s not gonna lead anywhere, even if it’s not locked.”
How or why he was helping her, he still wasn’t sure. The attitude wasn’t helping for one. Nor did her need to defy him every step of the way.
“It won’t budge,” Teresa said right behind him, and Kalith jumped in his skin.
“Can you not creep up behind me?” he said through gritted teeth.
“No.”
He could leave his post to check the door, but he did not trust her enough to watch their back. Running away was hard. Running away with an annoying teenager was twice as hard.
With his options limited, he had no other choice. “Stay here. Make sure no one jumps us,” he said. He got a curt nod as an answer.
The door was at the end of the hallway. It was carved out of a dark, almost black wood, the surface smooth and unblemished. Kalith twisted the handle, but nothing happened. Even trying to force it open didn’t work.
But there was something else that could.
Patterns glowed with a light blue colour on his arms, the air sizzled around him with energy, with magic.
The lock clicked, the handle turned, and the door opened.

 

 

Book Review: Countdown to killing Kurtis

“Countdown to killing Kurtis” by Lauren Rowe is – simply put – a phenomenal book. I loved it from the beginning to the very end. This is also a book you don’t want spoiled, so I will try and refrain from as many spoilers as I can.

I do love my husband. To death. I love him so much that I’ve waited a whole year (minus one day) for Killing Kurtis Day to arrive. Tomorrow it will finally be here and I’m giddy with anticipation.

Don’t judge me, you don’t know the whole story. I reckon if you were in my shoes, you’d kill your husband, too.

The blurb of the book alone got me intrigued from the get go, though usually I do no like books that start off with a prologue chapter. A prologue chapter that ends up being a just regular chapter at some point in the book. But for this one, it works. It keeps the questions and the whys bouncing around in the readers head as the mystery unfolds and as the reader is trying to figure out why Buttercup wants to kill her poor husband so much.

The writing style is animated, engaging and buzzes with Buttercups personality, something that works perfectly with the 1st person writing.

One of the most important things for me was that I could understand where Buttercup was coming from, why she acted the way she did, why she was as she was. She felt real to me, as did the rest of the characters. She made sense even when I did not agree with the things she did or how she was thinking.

There is a big plot twist at the end. A plot twist that makes sense. Now, I pride myself in the fact that I see plot twists coming a mile away. As a writer and as a reader, after a while, you just know stories. It’s always nice when a book comes along with a twist that still manages to surprise you. Something you didn’t see coming.
It’s also better if that twist has been foreshadowed from the beginning of the book, and when it happens, all the pieces fall in place, everything makes sense.

I will stop here, because I really don’t want to step into spoiler territory with this one. Read it. It’s a very good book, entertaining throughout. I couldn’t put it down.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

~ Harris

Book Review Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night

“Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s night” is the third book in the “Immortals After Dark” series by Kresley Cole. This series gets better and better with each book.

This story picks up exactly where “No rest for the wicked” ended, and it follows Bowen MacRieve and Mariketa the Awaited after the Hie, an immortal treasure hunt that takes place every 250 years.

Bowe wanted the trophy more than anyone else. The Key that could take him to the past, meant that he could return and saved the love of his life. But he lost the Hie to Kaderin and Sebastian.

Mariketa the Awaited joined the Hie before even freezing in her immortality. She has always been told that she has had great power and it is true. But it is power that she can’t control or summon at will. And a volatile power is no good. At the end of the Hie, she finds herself trapped in a temple alongside some other participants, because of Bowen.

The story starts when Bowen is made to go back and free her, or face the wrath of the witches he so loathes. The Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood are strong, especially in the beginning, when Mari has her cape. Their story is more balanced thant he two before it, between the action and the romance. The story has good pacing that keeps the reader engaged and interested.

The expanded universe and the reappearing characters give the story a familiarity, and we get glimpses of what characters we’ve already met are up to, like Lachlain.

Bowen is an old werewolf, set in his ways and in his hatred for witches. Mariketa is a young, passionate witch. A very well-rounded character as well, especially when compared to Emma and Kaderin. She’s sassy, smart, with insecurities that do not make her a push-over in any kind of way.
I was glad at the end of the story to see that Bowen didn’t demand that she change and be less than she is, but instead he accepted her with everything she was. As he should.

Now, on to the things that I didn’t like. Also spoilery stuff.

The ending. I didn’t like it. Let’s put it as simply as that. The resolution was out of the blue. Suddenly Bowen’s dead girlfriend wasn’t really the girl he was meant to be with, suddenly there is an all-powerful Goddess after Mariketa and she’s going to use Bowen to get to her.
It was all so very sudden. I would have accepted it better if there was some kind of foreshadowing or hint. But the only thing we got was that Bowen’s friends didn’t like Maria. The end.
I didn’t feel the last battle either. It was just a few pages long, and Mariketa had somehow learned everything she needed to know in a couple of days. I didn’t fear for her life at the end. Neither hers, nor Bowen’s. Everything was wrapped up in a nice bow, very quickly for my liking.

Also, Nyx. She is getting tiring after a little while. One would think that by now, the other characters would know not to trust her. They would know to be more careful of the riddles she gives them. But no. Everyone takes her words to heart and they don’t think more on them.

Overall, it was a very interesting story, ending aside. But it was also a story that I enjoyed more the second time I read it. The first time, I wasn’t that impressed.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

~ Harris

A hunger like no other | No rest for the wicked | Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night |

Writing is hard. It takes dedication. You only do this if you love it.

The only way you really do this, is if you love it. It takes dedication. ~ Andrew Smith

Writing is hard.

Writing is something we do alone. Most of it happens in our minds, and it takes so long to see concrete results, that it is easy to lose sight of what we want and where we are going.

Writing is hard.

It’s not something you do for the money, it’s not something you do to get popular and famous. Most authors aren’t. It’s something you do because you love it. Because you have a story buzzing inside your skull and you can’t catch a break unless you put that story out in the world. Because you have characters in your head fighting for your attention, demanding they be heard.

Authors love their worlds, their characters, and their stories. They have spent hours agonising over fictional problems and conflicts. You can’t do that unless you love storytelling. Unless this is what you want to do. You don’t spend hours upon hours crafting every detail of a world, unless writing is ingrained in your soul.

It takes dedication.

It takes love for the craft, patience, courage. It takes learning to ignore that nagging sensation that everything you’ve been doing is wrong and there is no fixing it. You should just quit and let the real authors do the writing.

It takes a lot of dedication.

Not only to write, but to be yourself. You need to believe in yourself more than anyone else does, you need to see and recognise your mistakes and learn from them. You need hours in front of a screen or a notebook, writing.

And at the end of the day, you can’t put in the hours, unless you are doing something you love.

~Harris

Narration: Time

or When a Story is Told

PAST:

The Past Tense is the most common in storytelling. It describes the story and the events from a point in the past.

The past tense is simple yet complicated. It can cause problems with writers that can’t use all the past tenses.

On the other hand, it is something the reader expects to see in a story, which makes it invisible. Sometimes when a story has a format that is too weird, it can take the reader out of it. So Past Tense Narration is a safe bet, because it is what readers are used to, what they have seen time and time again.

Great with character backstories and building tension and conflict, the past tense is an easy go-to for most writers, no matter the Point of View or the Voice.

PRESENT:

The second most common tense in storytelling, the Present Tense is simple and uncomplicated. Everything that happens, happens now, in the moment and the Narrator is the vessel through which the reader experiences everything. It is spontaneous, and most times it’s used with the First Person PoV. It is intimate and can be fast-paced.

But the Present Tense can be tricky because it doesn’t fall back on other tenses, so sometimes it can be difficult to convey conflict and tension. Many writers fall into the trap of adding trivial little details and happenings in their story, just because the Present Tense allows it.

FUTURE:

The least used tenses for Narration, are the Future Tenses. The events are happening at some point in the future and the story takes an almost prophetic tone.

~Harris

Intro | View | Voice | Time

Nanowrimo

What to do when the month of Nanowrimo comes around.

Nanowrimo is almost here!

It’s that time of the month again when everything is painted in the colours of the Autumn and everyone is getting cosy in their sweaters and their fuzzy shocks with a mug of hot chocolate or tea.

And then there are the crazy people who get their laptops out, lock the doors, forsake any kind of social life and buckle down for a whole month of writerly abandon.

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is a yearly worldwide event where people commit to writing fifty thousand words in a month, or just 1.666 words per day. It doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? It doesn’t sound so difficult for one thing. And it’s not. What is difficult is setting yourself a daily habit that you have to follow through.

Why should you do Nanowrimo?

Why not? Everyone has a story to tell, then why not tell it? That aside, Nanowrimo is a great way to connect with people who are also writers, that also love stories and characters and maybe they are just a bit too invested on fictional situations.

But remember, Nanowrimo is not for everyone and that is alright. Different strokes for different folks. It’s okay if Nanowrimo isn’t for you. Maybe you can only write every few days, or you have work or school or university. Maybe your life just decided to flip upside down or the crazy pace of Nanowrimo just doesn’t float your boat. Or as I like to say, it doesn’t float your goat**.

What to do to succeed in Nanowrimo:

a. Don’t lose your sanity: You have multiple people in your head. Just make sure to safeguard whatever is left of your brain.

b. Put together a writer’s survival kit: this is the time to buy that notebook and those fancy pens you wanted. Nanowrimo gives you the perfect excuse! You need all these things just so you can survive the month. Whether it is snacks, or coffee or a USB to back up your work, everything is essential.
For more ideas, just follow the link above.

c. Warm your pet humans about November: You are invested, you’ve decided you ARE doing this. The only thing that is getting between you and your goal are all those normal people who just don’t get it. Just warn them in advance. Make sure they know what you want to do and how important this is for you.

d. Join a writing community: Nanowrimo is all about that community and the internet is full of groups that can help you and keep you motivated throughout the month. Whether that is on the official Nanowrimo site, or it’s in a facebook writing group, find people who are like you and watch your imagination grow.

e. Have fun: Last but not least, remember that this is something that had you all excited, something that should warm your insides like a sip from your favourite hot coffee. This is you expressing your creativity and giving your ideas form, this your making a story out of nothing. Having characters that hardly ever listen to you is tough enough, so do not forget to have fun!

~ Harris

**( Disclaimer: no actual goats were harmed in the writing of this sentence)

Narration: Voice

Or How The Story Is Told.

It is really no surprise that View and Voice and intertwined a lot, since voice is how the story itself is told. Apart from the similarities though, there are some different formats.

A STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS:

In contrast with the other narrative formats, SoC doesn’t follow the typical style and instead it has a unique way of telling events and actions as they happen. SoC is filled with inner monologues in an attempt to replicate the thought process. SoC is full of personal desires and motivations and the occasional, inconvenient incomplete thoughts.
SoC is best expressed in First Person and it is an easy way to show the audience thoughts and motivations that the rest of characters in the story don’t hear or get to know.

A CHARACTER’S VOICE:

One of the most common formats, when the voice of the Narrator and the Voice of a character are one and the same. Either in first person or third, it creates a nice atmosphere for a relatable, realistic character/narrator that the reader can follow around.
But it can also be a biased, unreliable narrator that can lead the reader astray. Or it can be a detached narrator that is just retelling the events taking place.

AN UNRELIABLE NARRATOR:

An untrustworthy narrator aims to give a sense of mystery and suspicion to every bit of information given. There are many reasons why a narrator can be untrustworthy. Mental disorders, drugs, naivete and simple innocence.
Usually done in First Person, for that something extra.

A 3RD PERSON OMNISCIENT NARRATOR:

A narrator that is good for epics and big cast of characters, the Omniscient Narrator knows all, sees all, hears all. It is the most reliable of the Voices because of the knowledge he holds and sometimes he can offer judgement and his opinion on matters, or even foreshadow events that are to happen in a more outspoken manner.

A 3RD PERSON OBJECTIVE NARRATOR:

The Objective Narrator is very good with Drama. He is unbiased and objective and conveys only the events and the actions, while he leaves out the thoughts, the opinions and the feelings of the characters,
He is the perfect Narrator to display all sides in any story in a way that allows the audience to decide who is the good and who is the bad guy, what is right and wrong. It also gives the characters the chance to act out their feelings, instead of just keeping them in their thoughts, where the audience can’t know about them.

A 3RD PERSON SUBJECTIVE NARRATOR:

Unlike the Objective Narrator, the Subjective Narrator is all about the feelings and the thoughts and the personal, inner opinions of the characters. The Narrator can jump between characters and present all different sides in a matter. Most commonly, it is used with main characters, or the Narrator can even jump between characters.

What is your favourite Voice to use? What are you most comfortable with? What would you like to experiment with?

~Harris

Intro | View | Voice | Time