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How Plot and Narrative Strengthen Stories

How Plot and Narrative Strengthen Stories

As a young writer, I didn’t know the difference between plot and narrative — or how to make both work for the most compelling hook, arc, and story. Lucy Christopher at Bath Spa University was the first to sit down with me and really explain it.

You need both plot and narrative hints to hook a reader. It’ll take a lot of revisions to get the balance of this right, but hooks that instantly immerse you in the story have this in common: Plot and narrative are working together.

In the opening of Hugo, for instance, the action (plot) that changes everything is when our protagonist tries to steal a mechanical mouse…Continue Reading

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A Novel Idea: Excerpts

A little bit ago, I participated in A Novel Idea’s prompt for story blurbs. It was a lot of fun and I got some great responses (shout out to my Tumblr folk and brambleberrycottage for chiming in!), so I’m doing it again: this time, with excerpts!

Here’s the Novel Idea prompt for this week:

This week, share a favorite quote from your novel: whether it’s one sentence long, a paragraph, or even a whole chapter. It can be from your current novel or one that you’re finished with. Writing can be filled with self-doubt, but this week, take the time to show off your hard work.

Like last time, I’ve included four responses to the prompt from my four most-active works-in-progress. And I made them graphics again because why not! Enjoy!

a novel idea: excerpts
My fingers tremble, but for once it’s not the hunger or the sadness that’s gnawing my insides. It’s a painful warmth. Hope. – The Eleventh Trade
a novel idea: excerpts
Melle’s father fell silent. Beyond the palace walls, the clatter of carts and shouts of vendors grew louder as the city woke. Everything was unreal, the scenes of a life that would go on whether or not her father lived, whether or not this was the last time he would tell her the story. Unbearable was not the word for the hollowness in Melle’s chest. She could bear it. She could feel it and still she breathed, still her heart beat. And that was worse.
a novel idea: excerpts
While he began to pour [the tea], she studied him on the sly. If she ever made a pigment for his eye color, she would mix black made from vine twigs with a touch of gold powder. That way his eyes on the page would flash, as they did now—dark and then, when he looked up and the light caught in them, bright and shining. Illuminated. – Illuminate
a novel idea: excerpts
The birds round me fall silent and air sharpens with evergreen scent. I drop the fletching, my hand already to my quiver when I turn. But it’s not another stranger come to shoot at me. It’s the child. The child from the tree. “Wheest!” I blurt, startled. No one sneaks up on me like this. Even the assassins gave themselves away by creaking in the tree boughs. “What are you doing here, little one?” She smiles, mouth full of sharp teeth, and steps from the tree shade onto the trail. Pointed ears stick out of wild black hair, and her skin gleams in the light—like gold brushed over with soil. “I smelled the blood,” she says, “and I came.” – Popinjay

I’m curious – which blurb intrigues you most?

Want to join in? Check out Sky’s original post.

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My SMART Goals: Mid-Year Assessment

My SMART Goals: Mid-Year Assessment

Back in January, I shared my SMART goals for 2016. These are basically poorly-disguised New Year’s resolutions. I wanted to take a moment mid-year to look back at what I said then, and see how I’m doing. And because Accountability, I’m sharing it with you!

A refresher: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

How I’m Doing with My SMART Goals:

Writing:

Hand Crafted

Illuminate

I wanted to finish two rounds of Illuminate revisions and have everything set to go by Fall 2016 at the very latest. Mid-year, I’m just about done with my “final” edits, and the book is scheduled to go…Continue Reading

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A Novel Idea: Blurbs

Click the pictures to see them full-size (and read the full blurbs).

I’m taking a quick break from the Q&A series to participate in A Novel Idea. Yes, I’m talking about my own projects quite a lot here lately – mostly because that’s what my life currently revolves around! The Eleventh Trade is back with my agent now, and I’m busily editing away at Illuminate (and having entirely too much fun rediscovering the story after a nine month break).

Here’s the Novel Idea prompt for this week:

What would the back cover of your novel say? Try to make it as intriguing as possible. Remember, this is all readers have when trying to decide if they’re going to read your book or not. Do the best you can to convince a hypothetical reader to pick up your book.

Since I had already written blurbs (it’s one of my favorite things to do early in a writing project, oddly), I got a bit ambitious and made them into fun graphics. Illuminate and The Eleventh Trade are currently my top priorities, but I threw in Blessings and Popinjay for funsies. I didn’t bother with Wake or Heiress Letters (title to be determined??) for now, as they are the farthest off my radar at the moment.

I’m curious – which blurb intrigues you most?

Want to join in? Check out Sky’s original post.

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My S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2016

My S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2016

New Year’s Resolutions! I still remember doing them for homework in the second grade, only to inevitably lose the piece of paper and forget what it was I meant to change. So this year, I’m writing down some S.M.A.R.T. goals.

If you haven’t heard of it before, S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. I admit I’ve been partially inspired by a fellow freelance hustler Raye Rice. Her goals are so shiny and beautiful, I wanted to make a few of my own.

My word for last year was joy. My word for this year…Continue Reading

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15 Things that Happened in 2015

15 Things that Happened in 2015

2015 has been full of change – most of it very good! Here’s my year in review.

1. I launched an anthology in London!

I finished out my role as co-editor for Bath Spa University’s Class of 2014 anthology, Beautiful Lies! It was amazing to see the book come together, and to watch my classmates connect with agents and publishers on the big night.

Iceland

2. Sarah and I drove the Ring Road in Iceland!

In five days, we rounded the majority of the island. With our trustworthy steed (aka car) Thorny the Bold, we traversed unpaved roads, braved mountainsides, and had…Continue Reading

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NaNoWriMo Goals + Two New Playlists

NaNoWriMo Goals + Two New Playlists

NaNoWriMo is around the corner! I’ve participated for the last several years, and I’m planning to have a go again.

Over the summer, I pounded out a (very) rough draft of Popinjay, reboot edition. My plan for NaNoWriMo this year is to retype the whole thing, fixing the biggest problems as I go. I’m looking forward to exploring Talvas’s dialect more, and emphasizing the Mongolian influences in his culture. But mostly, I’m just anticipating writing a character voice that is so jaded and dry and basically the opposite of most of my other guys. It’s fun to dabble in something unusual!

To commemorate the event, I’ve made a new playlist for this WIP. Archery songs! Adventure songs! Etc.

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