Saturday, 22 April 2017

Am Currently... #8

    It's the holidays!!! For a few more days, that is... But despite my quickly dwindling free time, I feel like I've accomplished a whole ton over the last two and a half weeks. Between family outings like attending the Royal Easter Show (the baby animals were so gorgeous) and exploring Circular Quay, where the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are, I've crammed in plenty of other activities.

    Let's get to it!

    Sadly, I prioritised writing over the Easter Holidays, and so I am still reading the Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine, but have also started Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder. I'm super excited about the later as I loved the first book, Poison Study, and I'm hoping I'll love the sequel just as much. 

   This doesn't technically count as reading, but I bought the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, which is a super cool reference guide when you're unsure of how to convey a character's emotion. It lists physical signs of the emotion, internal sensations, and mental reactions, to name a few. I definitely recommend it if you're interested in writing!

   Wow, do I have a lot to put down here. Though I'm not participating in Camp Nano, I might as well have been due to the amount of writing I've gotten through. At present I've written nearly 20,000 words of the first draft of Splintered Crown, a YA fantasy about Crim, who has trained his whole life to become Heir to the throne, only to have his sister chosen over him. You can read a more detailed description of it here.

   In addition to that, I finished the first draft of my piece for Project Canvas (which is an amazing opportunities for teenage writers, by the way) and am looking forward to hearing feedback from the editing team on it. 

   And in addition to that, I cracked straight into second draft edits of Golden Revenge. I've been working on the novel for over a year now (yay!), and yesterday was especially ecstatic about it. Why? Because I finally got inspiration on how to change one of the POVs so it flowed with the rest of the story, and made sense in context to the world. After having a mental block about it for several weeks, it was great to break through!

   Here's a little snippet from one of the novel's POVs, Mida, who is a gender retelling of King Midas with the golden touch:

Mida wrapped her gloved hand around the lord’s elbow, letting him take a minute to realize that the only thing between him and death was a thin layer of magical leather. She kept the smile on her face. Maybe if she freaked him out enough, he would leave. Or die in a hole. 

Whatever came first.

    I am OBSESSED with listening to the new Beauty and the Beast soundtrack, particularly Evermore (so powerful and raw) and Main Title: Prologue. If you're thinking 'what on earth' to the last one, it's an instrumental song on the soundtrack that is both magical and special. Check it out. :)

    Pretty good. I'm excited to get into the editing of Golden Revenge this morning and hopefully rewrite/edit yet another chapter. It will be interesting to see whether that distracts me from my homework yet again today...

Let's chat about you! How is your writing progress going? Are you participating in Camp Nano? What's on your TBR and what's your favourite song at the moment?
Let me know in the comments, and have a fantastic day! <3

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Who Are They?

    She's the one with a thousand journals. Some are filled, words and ink and inspiration tumbling over and running into each other in creativity's chaos. Others, not so much. Their pages start off in small bursts, but then the words are smudged. Sentences half-finished, ideas abandoned.

    He's the one with a warehouse for a mind. There doesn't seem to be an end to its horizon. Thoughts are produced, packaged, and presented to him by the tens of thousands each day. Most are tucked into the back storerooms or thrown out with trash, unoriginal and unloved. But a few are kept in its blooming greenhouse and cultivated with time.

    She's the one whose fingers know the keyboard better than human flesh. Every letter's place, every hidden trick and short-cut, she knows them all. Auto-correct is her sworn nemesis, 'add to dictionary' her favourite friend. She spends hours pushing buttons painted with symbols as she weaves them into heartache and joy.

    He's the one who hides his dreams behind expectations. In the late nights he closes his door, shutting out one world and entering another. The blinding glow of a white screen is not a midnight movie, but rather a fear bound secret. His mouth says he'll go to university for one thing, yet his heart pleads for another.

    She's the girl who's never been good at anything except this. She binds herself to it, defines herself by its success, builds her identity on the title it brings. So when the hate from those she trusts comes in comments, in critiques, in crucifying her story, she crumbles. Hugs her knees to her chest and cries. Thinks she'll never be good enough.

    He's the boy who could be successful in anything, but happy in nothing. His reports ooze As and teacher's praise, and he's his parents' pride at dinner parties. But someday he's going to tell them what truly makes him feel alive, and their dreams will shatter like fine china.

    She's the girl who seeks what could have gone so wrong. As tears carve permanent grooves into her cheeks, she scours the online abyss for answers. 'Common writing mistakes' 'how to improve bad writing' and 'why am I so horrible at this' plague her search bar. Eyes devour every article as her head bobs, and she realizes where she took a wrong turn.

    He's the boy who fears mouthing the truth. He paces back and forth, wears an anxious road into the grey carpet. Cars hum to a stop in the driveway and sparkle with a wealth he wants, but doesn't need. His hand jerks open the door, breath catches in his throat, and his feet lead him to the living room.

    She's the girl who pushes back her chair, and smiles. Wipes away the tears. Folds up the hate and leaves it in a closed drawer. Cracks open the journals, pours through ink and stories and people that swept her away the first time, and allows herself to love them once more. Tries again. And again. And again, until she knows the tears mean next time it'll be better.

    He's the boy who faces those who he fears, and speaks. Their faces fall, but he keeps talking, letting his gut and heart spill out for them to embrace, or step on. He finishes. Then even as one fights showing utter disappointment, the other smiles and pulls him into a hug. It's new for them, raw for him. But he'll keep going, because he knows that with the secret out the only thing he can fear is himself.

    She, he, the one, the girl, the boy. Who are they?


Hello everyone! Thanks for joining me today with this unusual post. I had a thought in my mind last night, and when I started typing, it turned into this small two-sided story. It's not overly edited, I haven't spent hours examining every word, because I wanted to share my real thoughts and ideas with all of you. I hope you enjoyed it!

What are your thoughts on 'Who Are They?' Can you connect with any of the characters or their struggles? How is your writing going?
Let me know in the comments, and have a wonderful day! <3

Monday, 10 April 2017

First Blogiversary and a Special Q & A!

      I've been blogging for a year. How is that even possible? I'm so confused yet so excited at the same time! I wasn't sure if I would make it this far, to be honest. I've gotten into quite a few mental ruts and times of no inspiration, so I'm super proud of myself for pushing through and making it to this day. 

     I'm also incredibly thankful for all of you! Without you guys, I don't know if I would have stuck with Quill Pen Writer. So thank you for following officially or unofficially, thank you for gorgeous comments that have beyond encouraged me, thank you for sharing my posts and so much love. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you all, truly. <3

    To give something back to you all I wanted to do something special, which is why a few days ago I posted a form where you could submit questions. Many of you asked several questions, and for organisation's sake I'll be answering each separately.

    Thank you to Grace West, Rachel, Hannah White, Jeneca, Shanti, Andrea, and Cait @ Paper Fury for submitting questions!

Do you know when you will try to go into publishing?

    Traditional publishing has always been my aim, though I suspect it's a while off. The first book I'll probably be submitting to agents is Golden Revenge, as it's a stand-alone and is in the best shape at this stage. I still need to do second draft edits and send it out to beta-readers, however, so perhaps my querying process will start next year? A little unknown at this time.

What are your favourite books, movies, and TV shows?

Books -- This is sooo hard, which is why I appreciate the plural form. Presently my favourite books are Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, and Left Behind - the Kids series by Jerry B Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

Movies -- It's a dead tie between Prince of Egypt, the Huntsman: Winter's War, and the new Beauty and the Beast.

TV Shows -- Major Crimes, Dance Academy, and the Australian Masterchef take top place, though I am becoming slightly obsessed with Lost. (No spoilers, please!)

I love love love the soundtrack and film
What was your first completed novel about? (completed first draft, that is) How old were you when you started and finished it?

    My first completed first draft was called Royal Academy, based on an imaginary world I created with my long-term school friends. The world was split into different realms, primarily the Shadow and Sun Realms, who were at odds. In the story, girls are kidnapped from their Earthen homes and brought to the Royal Academy, where they enter a life or death competition to become one of two queens that rules each realm. 

    I was 13 when I started writing it, and finished it four months later at a total word count of 74,735 words. When I went back to look at the word count I was actually really surprised, as I thought it was half of that. I really do love the story, even if it had cringe-worthy romance and a main character too much like me.

    Shadows rule! (If you understood that reference, I love you)

What was the first story you ever wrote?

    Well, in kindergarten I wrote the following story: "Once upon a time there was a magic rose. The rose turned into a bus. The end." The first 'proper' story I ever wrote outside of school was, if I remember correctly, Sharissa's Story, about the best girl thief ever. The best.

What is your favourite food? Favourite drink?

    I have so many favourite foods (like chocolate) including, near the top of my list, hibachi chicken and ravioli. As for favourite drink, water is my fave (I know, I'm weird) but if that doesn't count, ma naow bun is second. It's a Thai sour and salty lemon drink with crushed ice. Yum!

Have you ever been to the US before?

    Despite my accent and having several American friends, no. Maybe someday. :)

Cats or dogs?

    Dogs. Cats can be cute, but most aren't as affectionate in my experience.

What do you say when people ask you where you come from?

    Oh my, this is always a tricky situation. Most of the time people ask if I'm American, due to my accent, but I have to correct them. To be honest I don't consider myself from anywhere other than the world. I answer by saying: "I'm an Australian citizen who's lived in Thailand for fourteen years." I have a Thai heart, international blood, and Aussie heritage.

What's the best thing about attending high school?

    I will temporarily reserve my whining about assignments to say, high school is pretty cool. The best thing is being able to connect with people while still learning. I am grateful to have an education, unlike many others who are unable right now. But I'll still complain about homework, cause, that's what I do. XD

How do you find time to read?

    Sadly I don't read as much as I should right now. I usually try and read before I have my shower or before bed in short little bursts. They eventually add up so I can finish a book.

What inspires you or motivates you to continue blogging?

    Blogging, particularly thinking of post ideas or finding time to write them, has always challenged me. Most of the time I take inspiration from my current writing experiences or problems, as it makes it feel like I'm writing something real and not something put out there for the sake of it. Reading other blogs can also help spark different ideas too.

What is one of your favourite blog posts you wrote on this blog?

    This is so hard! There are so many I love, and ones that got amazing responses from you all. But I really think writing Therapy Session helped me explore a new and interesting part of my blogging style. I'm hoping to put out more posts like it in the future.

Are you first a reader or writer?

    I developed my love of writing from reading, and I adore books, but if I only have an hour to do something in a day, I will write. So I suppose I'm firstly a writer.

Is there a less popular fairy-tale or folklore or myth you'd love to retell as a novel?

    Writing a re-telling of several Lithuanian and Latvian folk tales interests me, like Twelve Brothers, Twelve Black Ravens, where their sister is the hero, and maybe elements of the Swan Queen. What's really interesting is both of these folk tales end with the narrator suddenly revealing himself in first person, and talking about how he was there. Exploring this narrator character would be fun!

    Again, thank you for the questions and for joining me on my writing journey here on Quill Pen Writer! Now to throw a few questions at you!

What was the first novel you ever wrote about? Favourite food and favourite movies? What's your favourite blog post you've written? (link me in the comments!) Any other questions for me?
Have a fantastic day! <3

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Any Questions?

     Hey everyone! This post is going to be a bit out of the ordinary, as my first blogiversary is coming up! On the 10th I'll be doing a special Q & A, answering all your questions. They can be on anything such as my current writing projects, past ones, writing habits, personal experiences, favourite food, current reads, anything!

   Unless I get thousands of questions, I'll try my very hardest to answer all of them. Please don't think that any are stupid! I'd love to hear from each and every one of you. <3

    Below is a google form where you can enter your questions. Thank you all for all your wonderful support!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Old Story Ideas - Yay or Nay?

     Old story ideas can be worth one of two things in my experience: gold or a "what was I even thinking?" mutter. So today I'll be sharing some of my oldest ideas, tucked away in the back of dusty notebooks and folders, waiting to see the light again. In other words, hidden in my drawer. Once I've shared them I'll decide: Yay! or Nay?

     Yay! means I'd consider writing it, or write a slightly altered version of it. Nay means no thanks, it's not worth my time.

     To the ideas!

From a little red notebook beside my bed...

1) There are two choices in the world: play...or be played. -- There's some promise to the statement, but it's kind of vague, so it could be interpreted as in either the romance or dystopian genre, or anything really. So, nay, because it's more like a statement than an idea.

2) A literal place called the Tear Mines where they make people cry and sell tears as a salty additive. -- O__O Okay then. For a fantasy novel this could be a super cool addition, if a bit of a gory one. What do they do to make people cry? Who are those who cry? Who's 'they'? Definitely a Yay! for this one.

3) Now her coffin's in the ground, and the fairies don't come anymore. -- I remember this one! It was supposed to be a poem, actually, about a grandmother who taught her granddaughter that fairies were real, and then the grandmother dies wasn't a very happy premise. But it could be an interesting short story idea so yay!

From an older notebook that used to lie beside my bed...

1) Butter Apples -- I don't know what I was thinking here. Apples made of apples? Butter shaped like apples? What is the premise here??? So, nay.

2) RAZOR BLADE FANS -- I must have been very passionate about this one because I actually wrote it in all caps. I believe this had something to do with fancy balls and silk gowns and fans made of razor blades that were used as weapons? Hey, sounds like a fun time. Yay!

3) "Sometimes I think she married me not for children, but for a debate partner." -- This sounds like an adult voice to me, and I don't think I would base a plot off this quote, so this is a nay for me.

From a more recent journal from which Golden Revenge was also born...

1) She gave birth to death. -- Intriguing, confusing, and somewhat dark. It would be interesting to explore the concept; perhaps a story of the mother of a murderer or villain? Yay!

2) What if people had a limit to how much love they could give? Like they had a thermometer type thing on their chest that only they can see, and whenever they show affection/love it goes down. -- This is similar to the premises of a few short stories I've written, so I could make it work as a dystopian short story. Am I super passionate about it at the moment though? Not really: nay.

From my binder full of sticky notes stuck to pages to keep them in one place...

1) "What are you waiting for?" He asked.
I crossed my arms at the sunset, staring at the sea. "Hope." -- I LOVE THIS. There are so many takes I can have on it, yet the dialogue gives me insight on their personalities and relationship.Why is she staring at the sea? Hope for what? There are tons of opportunities here. Yay!

2) A world where everyone has a biological twin. -- Family dynamics would be different and there are a lot of 'why' questions to be asked, but I'm not jumping up and down to write this. Nay.

3) Mulan Retelling -- Wow, that is so specific (not), but it sounds cool. Yay! It would need a lot more thought, but I'd be open to writing one.

4) The flesh is powerful, yes. But the seeds...ah they are something else entirely. -- Just to clarify, it doesn't mean human flesh, but rather of the fruit. I'm pretty sure this was an idea of a story loosely based around the Forbidden Fruit and the Garden of Eden. I'd be up to exploring this, totally: yay!

5) Night Blisters: In a world where there is a toxic waste in the air that the sun kills. Those who walk out in the night get these horrible blisters. -- Again, I'm getting a dystopian feel, but the idea could work really well in setting boundaries in a world and limiting character activity. Yay!

So that brings us to the end of my old story ideas; which one was your favourite? What are some of your old story ideas that made cringe or laugh? Any that inspire you?

Let me know in the comments below and have a wonderful day! 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Questions to Ask When Creating a Fantasy Religion

    When you think about it, religions have been shaping our world's societies since the beginning of time. Religious beliefs turn into values, which then turn into laws, ways of living, giving purpose in life, and so on. So why wouldn't they shape your fantasy world?

    I've always tried to create religions in my fantasy works, simply for this reason. Often I end up with more than one, as it's natural for people to have differing beliefs and theology, even if they're all focused on a central idea; take the different branches of Christianity, for instance. 

   So how do you create a religion from scratch? Listed below are some questions I ask myself in the creating process, and hopefully they can help you out! (Since there are so many I'll only provide examples for a few of them. I don't want this to turn into a textbook!)

1) Is there a god or higher deity? If so, how many and how are they characterized?

2) How do they believe the world was created?

3) What is the most important historical event to this religion?

    In one of the religions prominent in my story-world for Splintered Crown, called the Order of the Green Winged, the very base of their religion comes from an event. When a people group were fleeing slavery, they entered foreign and dangerous lands, and were lost in dense terrain for several months. Then one day five green birds landed in their camp and when the people followed them, they found prosperous land to live on. The Order of Green Winged use this event to prove how birds contain the souls of gods, as they cared enough for the people to lead them to safety.

4) Is there a place that people of this religion gather? What does it look like? Can everyone enter?

5) Do they worship? If so, how and how often?

6) Is there a core figure within their religious society; whether supernatural or in places of gathering?

7) What symbols are associated with this religion?

8) Do members of this religion try to convert others to it? If so, through which means?

9) Is the religion tolerant of other religions?
     Referring back to the same religion as before, the Order of the Green Winged are far from tolerant of other religions. Anyone who does not revere birds and wear feathers in their hair (to symbolize their commitment to serving birds under the Order's care) is viewed as the enemy. Sometimes the more radical go as far as burning down gathering places of other religions.

10) Are there certain foods members of the religion are not allowed to eat, or clothing they must wear?

11) Does the religion mark a difference between good and evil? What do they define as good or evil? 

12) Is there a hierarchy of members?

13) Can anyone be a member of this religion, or must they be born into a member's family?

14) Are there yearly events, celebrations, or traditions that take place?

15) Are certain animals protected by this religion? What is their view on the treatment of animals and plants?

    Back with the Order of the Green Winged, birds are holy animals to them. Therefore they see killing any bird, or anything with feathers, as a sin. They will not eat bird meat, and any member seen doing this will most likely be killed in return, and if they are outside the community, publicly condemned and threatened.

16) Is there some form of scripture that records the religion's teachings? Is it written in a language understandable by everyone?

17) If you had to boil down the religion down to a single belief, what would it be?

    Whew! That's quite a lot to answer, isn't it? If my list of questions is intimidating, you can pick and choose which questions you think will play into your characters' lives and world the most. Religions are such intricate and complex things to break down, and I often struggle making them myself, but I really hope this list can help you out!

How do you create religions for your fantasy worlds? What do you think about how religions are represented in books? Do you LOVE world-building like me? 
Good luck with your writing, and have an awesome day!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Am Currently... #7

     Somehow it is almost half-way through March already. How did that happen? I still feel like I'm in February (which was way too short, by the way). Anyway, welcome back to another Am Currently! This is where I share my latest life updates, reads, and writing projects.

    Let's get into it, shall we?

    I finished Dracula! It was a long road, but thankfully I met the end. I appreciate it being a classic, but the sexism deeply annoyed me, and I found it hard to sift through all the description and dry dialogue. Now I just have to write an essay on it...

    I kind of decided to read the Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine instead of Empire of Storms. Thank you for the lovely comments suggesting the later, but sadly it's so thick it couldn't fit in my bag. That will probably be a read for the holidays! As for the Shadow Queen, it's already showing signs of promise. I hope I love it as much as I did with other books by the author.

    School has sucked a lot of reading and writing time from me, however, I did manage to finish my read-through of Golden Revenge and begin to crack into the second draft edits. I nearly cried multiple times because I'm so cruel to my characters. Like ugh my heart broke over and over again. 

    I also wrote a short story for English tentatively titled Children of the Wind, based around ghostly people who travel with the wind, always moving, always searching for something. Plus, I'm dabbling into first drafting Splintered Crown and tossing around a few other ideas.

    Lindsey Stirling is soooo amazing. I adored her latest album, and she just released a medley of the songs from Beauty and the Beast and just, wow. It is now playing on repeat and repeat and repeat.

    Ed Sheeran's new album 'Divide' is also awesome. My favourite song from it is either Barcelona or Eraser. Same goes for Jess and Gabriel's EP: Under the Covers. Their voices are beautiful. <3

    Tired. (This is the aftermath of attempting to write an essay on themes in Dracula). It's coming near the end of the term, which means a lot of assessment tasks/exams and that means less free time. I'm really looking forward to the holidays so I can dig deeper into my writing.

Let's chat! How has your month been so far? What's on your TBR? Any new songs/albums that have dominated your playlists?
Let me know in the comments, and have an awesome day! <3

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Beautiful People: March Edition

     Hi everyone, and welcome back to another Beautiful People! This amazing link-up is hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, and is designed to help you get to know your characters better. Today I'll be delving deeper into Crim's character from Splintered Crown, and finding out more about him!

    First, a little background on Splintered Crown if you didn't catch my last Beautiful People: 

Recovering from a bitter civil war between two princes, the nation of Cynnica eagerly awaits the announcement of the next Heir to the throne. Three royal children were sent away at birth to grow up out of palace hands, and when the time is right, the best and most suited to rule will be chosen. The other two will never be the wiser of their parentage, and Cynnica will never be caught between siblings again.

Crim is as sure he'll be the chosen Heir as he's sure he's attractive. In other words, a hundred percent. Raised under the watchful eye of a noblewoman who took him from an orphanage in hopes he'd be a prince, his only focus has been preparing to rule--and his violin.

When the Heir is declared to be a sister he's never met, Crim's life spins into chaos. What will he do now? How could they not choose him? After all, he's perfect...right?

    And now to the questions!

1) What is their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?

    Crim is not the type to spend hours wandering a library in wonder, but he will drop by the music section to learn about the composers that have inspired him. Often their biographies are studded with sheets of music, and one Crim's fingers have smoothed many times is titled: Gold Heart, Black Tears. On the violin, the song sounds both grim and hopeful as the music swells and falls like the tide.

2) Is there anything they regret doing?

    He regrets practically everything he's ever done, except play his violin.

3) If they were sick and wounded, who would take care of them and how?

    At the point in the story I'm writing now, no one would take care of him. But later on, Mira would let him stay in her house; she'd go mad with guilt if she didn't help him when no one else would. Up until he was fine, she'd probably shower him with compassion and worry, but afterwards no doubt they would return to their usual distance.

4) Is there an object they can't bear to part with and why? 

    His violin; he 's not sure if he can breathe without it. It's the only time when he can shed all his lies and mounting issues, and connect to something that seems bigger than him.

5) What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?

     #1 - Obsess over violins or music in general
     #2 - Don't say that getting over his addictions should be easy, and he isn't trying hard enough
     #3 - Not constantly feel the need to fill silence with awkward small-talk
     #4 - Have an interest in him for something other than his money
     #5 - Have goals, passions, and dreams you'd fight for

6) Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.

    Every piece of cloth is ironed and devoid of any dust, tear, or stain. The white collar is stiff around Crim's neck. A deep blue vest rests over a plain white undershirt, and matches the pressed navy pants. Despite the simple palette, the fabric screams quality and bags of gold; even his black leather boots have the sheen of crisp perfection.

7) What's their favourite type of weather?

     Odd as it sounds, Crim likes thunderstorms. He'll watch them from his window for hours, feeling the windowpane shudder with thunder and the sky split with white lightning. It makes him feel powerful in a way, to be safe inside from something outside so dangerous and mighty.

8) What's the worst fight they've ever been in?

    Once Crim got really, really drunk (which happens quite a lot to be honest) and insulted someone. He can't remember who exactly, but they left him with a nearly broken jaw, two black eyes, and a bucket load of bruises. The only reason his pride somehow survived is because he figured the other guy got it worse.

9) What names or nicknames have been called throughout their life?

      Crim (his actual name is Crimson), Crimmy, Crim-Crim (*gag*), and this one bartender who didn't know what crimson was, and so when Crim said "it's like red" therefore called him Red.

10) What makes their heart feel alive?

    His ears full of a violin's song, or cuddling his tiny daughter. Or sometimes, though he won't admit it, catching Mira smile at him.

What do your characters regret doing? Would you like me to do the next Beautiful People on Mira? How's your WIP coming along? (If you did Beautiful People, feel free to link me to your post!)
Let me know in the comments, and good luck with your writing! <3

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

How to Come Up With Book Titles

       If you were to scroll through my folder of old stories (and by old, I mean 'no one can ever read these messes of stories or I shall surely die') all the titles were essentially the same. Take these: "Sharissa's Story" "Lila's Story" and let's not forget the most detailed yet, "Story." As you can tell, I put a lot of thought into naming my books.

     I'd like to say that now I spend lots of time on what to title my stories, so they don't revolve around the word 'story'. At present, my favourites are Draped in DeceptionWrecked in WarGolden Revenge, Upturned, Safe-House, and Splintered Crown.

    Not too bad, right? (I hope.)

    I know several writers who struggle to put together titles, so I've made a list of ideas of how you can come up with a title for your beautiful, magical book.

1) Find Sentences that Jump Out at You

     Draped in Deception had been going under a name so horrible I won't even mention it here, and I was determined to find another one. In search of inspiration, I quickly flipped through the manuscript, hunting for any phrases or words that jumped out at me. And sure enough, my eye caught on this sentence:

Why did the world have to be a woman draped in jewels of deceit, earrings of deception, and a necklace of lies?

     Not the best writing, sure, but the sentence sparked a title into my head by combining two of the words in there, and bam! I had my title. I've noted other books often have their titles in sentences within, like in Queen of Shadows. Give this method a try, but if you're still coming up dry, maybe move onto...

2) List Your Novel's Aesthetic

     This is the method I, almost unconsciously, used for Golden Revenge. When brainstorming my stories, I like to string together different words that I feel communicate the tone or mood of it. But while in the initial stages my list focused on plot, compiling a list of words that relate to your novel's aesthetic can give you lots of adjectives to play around with. Golden Revenge's looked something this:

Hands dripping gold + a mass of filthy bodies amidst glimmering gowns+ velvet wings + drawn daggers + an inferno clawing at darkness + a shy smile + bitter revenge = Golden Revenge.

3) Imagine Your Future Book Cover

    Honestly, we've all done this. Your novel is sitting in place of pride in a bookstore, with its glossy cover and brilliantly crafted words. Forget what the title is for a moment; imagine the cover art. What is on there? What are the colours? Is it stark and simple, or a haphazard of neon? 

    I took this method for thinking up Splintered Crown, and when I pictured a crown, snapped into tiny pieces and scattered around a shadowy room, the title clicked. After all, book cover art is made to fit the title in many respects, so why can't it work the other way round?

    Like with the other two, try this method out as well. Hopefully one (or more!) will work for you, and you'll have a book title to be proud of in no time!

How do you come up with your book titles? Any further tips (I'm always open to learning about new ways!) What is your favourite book title, of your own work or someone else's?
Let me know in the comments below, and good luck with your writing!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Therapy Session: Between a Writer and Their Story

     They sat on opposite ends of the velvet couch, staring at the empty armchair, never at each other. Silence choked the air. As the therapist entered, the writer offered a strained smile, fiddling with a tiny notebook jam-packed with snippets of ideas--none of them for the story sitting next to her. The story crossed arms covered in fine black ink.

    "I'm so glad you both could come today," the therapist said as she lowered her lithe frame into the armchair. The nameplate pinned to her crisp blue uniform sparkled a simple name: Victoria. "You've already made an important first step by coming to see me: admitting you have problems."

    The writer snorted. "Oh, do we have problems."

    The story gnashed its teeth. "We have problems? You're the one who--"

    "Hold on a minute." Victoria held up a hand. "Let's get your names first, yes? Then we can work through this issue from the beginning."

    "Melissa," the writer mumbled, eyes already drifting to something else. A hundred books crammed the two bookshelves claiming half the office, some bound with smooth brown leather, others with glossy paper covers. She'd give up her quill pen to explore their pages, soaking up the scents of a thousand paper worlds.

    "....Melissa?" Victoria lifted a perfectly arched eyebrow as Melissa tore her gaze off the books. "Is it fine with you if I refer to Draped in Deception as Draped?"

    "Um, sure." It didn't matter anyway; she was so done with Draped.

    "Wonderful." Keeping up a bright smile, Victoria jotted down a few words onto a notepad. "Let's start with you, Draped. What caused this discord in your relationship, in your opinion?"

    Draped huffed and shot Melissa a withering glare with eyes like ink wells. "Everything was going very smoothly with the third draft rewrites. I was co-operating, she was coming up with good plot points and scenes, and then suddenly, bam! She just stopped writing me. No reason given, no explanation, just 'bye-bye, I'm not going to open your document anymore'." It lifted an arm coated in a thick layer of dust. "See?"

    That was not how it happened, not at all. Melissa leaned forward, hands spread wide as if the more distance between them, the more Victoria would understand. "I admit, I did stop writing, but not because I hate Dra--" She paused. "Okay, maybe I did for awhile, but right now I'm just full of doubts, and worries, and potent thoughts. What if...what if Draped isn't worth my time?"

    "Woooow," Draped moaned. "Savage, much?"

    Victoria finished a line of her notes, and switched to her 'serious face'; pinched lips, drawn together eyebrows, a slight head tilt. "Is that your biggest doubt, Melissa?"

     "No." Melissa sucked in a deep breath, and closed her eyes. She swallowed back a lie; what was the point of coming to this session if she wasn't going to be honest? "It's that I'll never get Draped edited well enough. That I'll keep going on, and on, and on, and no matter how hard I try it'll never be perfect."

     "And what do you think about that, Draped?"

     The hard, punched out lines of Draped's face softened with those few words. It twisted its paper body to look at its writer. "People can never be perfect, so how can something created by them be?"

     Victoria and Melissa stared.

     "What? Us stories get all the epic one-liners."

     A smile crept onto Melissa's face as Victoria praised such wisdom from Draped, and blathered on about how to create a healthy writer/story relationship. But Melissa wasn't listening, not really. Her mind was still on Draped's one question, like a song stuck on loop.

     Was there such a thing as a perfect story? Or any kind of art? Or would there always be something to work on, to strive for, to push to be better? And, her mind whispered, does that make the story worth writing?

     Victoria's voice floated in. "...the most important thing is that you take your time..."

    By the end of the therapy session, Melissa and Draped sat a little closer, and for the second their eyes met, they smiled.

Hey everyone! I hope you enjoyed the post today; I know it's quite different from what I usually write, but hopefully that's okay with you! It's far from award winning writing, but I wanted to talk about my struggles with editing Draped in Deception in a post which wasn't just me ranting, so I wrote this instead.

Would you like me to do more posts like this? (Feedback's welcome!) Have you ever really, truly struggled with a story? I'd love to hear about your experiences. <3