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 and...it 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!