Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Word Wednesday Sept. 27/11

Since I know that many of teen writer's write fantasy and adventure novels I thought I would share some nautical terms that may be of aid to you.

Act of Pardon, Act of Grace – A letter from a state or power authorising action by a privateer. Also see Letter of Marque

Absentee pennant – Special pennant flown to indicate absence of commanding officer, admiral, his chief of staff, or officer whose flag is flying

Advance note – A note for one month's wages issued to sailors on their signing a ship's articles.

Aground – Resting on or touching the ground or bottom (usually involuntarily).

Avast – Stop, cease or desist from whatever is being done

Belay –
1. To make fast a line around a fitting, usually a cleat or belaying pin.
2. To secure a climbing person in a similar manner.
3. An order to halt a current activity or countermand an order prior to execution

Bilge– The compartment at the bottom of the hull of a ship or boat where water collects and must be pumped out of the vessel.

Bonnet – A strip of canvas secured to the foot of the course (square sail) to increase sail area in light airs.

Bulkhead – An upright wall within the hull of a ship. Particularly a watertight, load-bearing wall.

Cut and run — When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Spark

Recently, I've lost my spark. I think about my story and don't feel that familiar urge to drop everything and write. I don't get excited. In a way, I feel like I've lost a dear friend. Call me melodramatic, but when something that has been dancing around the murky recesses of my mind for so long, always present and growing, slowly gets hurts. It hurts like when you see a friend travel blindly down a road that leads to destruction, with each step growing farther and farther apart until all you can see is their faded silhouette.

I blame it on school (particularly Co-op), band, music lessons, and a whole host of other things. But all along I've known in the back of my mind that my spark has dimmed due to me. It's me who decided not to write, and drop the normal routine. Not school or anything else.

Oddly, I'm coming to terms with it. All writers go through a time when they lose their spark, that intangible thing that pushes them into late nights clacking away at a keyboard or hours of pen smeared writing. It's normal. I've gotten over the initial guilt of not even opening my story document as I've written this post, and now I am looking towards the future (in true motivational speaker fashion).

After all, it doesn't matter so much if you fall, so long as you get back up.

So, I'm pushing myself off the hard ground of defeat with a still fighting spirit. It sounds so much prettier in the written word, but in real life getting back on my feet means a plan to change what isn't working. My plan is this:

Step 1
Figure out the reason that you don't care to write. I'm willing to bet that 90% of the time it's boredom. In my predicament, my story doesn't hold my interest currently. Characters are sitting around passing time waiting for something that makes no sense to happen.

Step 2
Address the reason. For me it's boredom. The solution? Flesh out the plot. Add a subplot, take another look at reasoning behind character's actions, make the plot flow better, make it exciting! I've said it before and I'm probably say it again, if the writer doesn't find it interesting then the reader won't either.

There you have it. My brilliant plan for success. Dare I say my spark has begun to burn ever so slightly once again? I believe it has. What about you, do you find yourself losing your spark? If so what do you do to remedy it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Word Wednesday Sept. 21/11

Today, I thought I'd share with you a word game that I am addicted to currently. Check it out here.

Have a good rest of the week!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Good Premise, Bad Plot

This is something that has be bothering me over the past few weeks, and I was finally pushed off the edge by reading Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink. Now what could be the cause of my annoyance? Something that I like to call:

Good premise, bad plot.

Allow me to explain. I'm going to use the book I have just finished, as previously mentioned, as an example. Anyways, this book is about two sisters who are part of a prophecy where one sister is the gate, and one sister is the guardian. The gate sister has the potential to allow the evil souls from the Other Worlds (there's seven of them) to come into our world, and the other sister, the guardian, is supposed to make sure that doesn't happen. However if the gate sister so wishes she can find the 'keys' that will enable her to stop the prophecy forever.

Sounds good, right? It did to me, then I started reading it. It is quite boring, as for the first half of the book the gate sister is finding out all the info I just shared with you up there. The plot consists of Lia, the gate sister, going to town learning something, going home, having some "Now-we're-enemies-I'm-going-to-try-to-intimidate-you-first" conversation with her guardian sister, then she talks with two of her friends who share the same mysterious mark, wash rinse repeat. Basically, the whole book is the reader learning about the prophecy, and Lia figuring out who the keys are. Not to mention that as soon as the plot begins to pick up, the book is done. This book has a case of Good Premise, Bad Plot.

GPBP (Good Premise, Bad Plot) is basically when the writer has a good idea, but the execution fails. Personally, I think the idea for Prophecy of the Sisters is brilliant, but like I said the execution is bad. Now, what would I do to make it better?

Tip #1

Don't stretch out your story longer then it needs to go. Sometimes less is more. If you are going to write a trilogy/series, then make sure that each book has a separate goal (eg. Harry Potter, each book has a different "mission", but he doesn't have the final showdown with the antagonist until the final book). The book I'm reading is the first in the trilogy, and, according to a friend of mine, it is a set up book for the rest of the series. Now, this isn't necessarily wrong, but it's important to remember that if the first book is boring, then the reader probably won't even want to read the book that you've set up for.

Tip #2

Don't overload the reader with information. It's great if you know the history of the protagonists family or the history of the world they're in, in fact I recommend it, but you should only tell the reader if it's important to the story. When I first started writing I struggled with explaining the layout of the world my characters were in to the reader, but when it really came down to wire, it didn't matter if the reader knew that almost everyone one in Melodea was a goat farmer. It's good for the writer to know in order to write with greater understanding of the world/character, but somethings are better left unsaid.

Tip #3

The third idea that I had in order to ward off GPBP is to add subplots. In the book Prophecy of the Sisters there are hardly any subplots. The one subplot (a love interest) that is included is poorly developed, so when *SPOILER* Lia dumped him I didn't even feel the slightest bit sad. Adding subplots is an excellent way to add layers to your story, which in turn will make it a more interesting read. Let me give you an example:

The knight searching for the princess.
He brings along his fellow knight friend to help him.
They battle many fearsome monsters, and eventually reach the princess.

The knight searching for the princess.
He brings along his fellow knight friend to help him.
His knight friend really turns out to be working for the evil guy who's imprisoning the princess.
The knight and the friend have a falling out, so the knight decides to leave his friend behind.
The knight stays at a tavern where he meets a servant girl and falls madly in love.
The servant girl turns out to be a slave, so the knight has to buy her freedom.
The knight doesn't forget his original mission so brings the servant along with him to rescue the princess.
The servant girl finds out his true mission, and leaves him, but eventually comes back.
They rescue the princess, and the knight must choose between the two girls.

Now, that plot is really quite cliche, but for the purpose of this, it'll do. Do you see the subplots I put in the good example? In case you're reading this at an unreasonable hour of the morning (like I tend to find myself doing sometimes) I'll list them.
Main plot: knight tries to find princess
Subplots: knight-friend, knight-servant girl, friend-evil guy

I don't want to say too much about subplots, as that is a post for another time, so here is a link if you wish to read more on the topic.

Now, back to our original example of the Prophecy of the Sisters, it had all the ingredients for a good novel (good characters, good premise, good setting), but the execution fell short. We don't want this to happen in our stories, so we must employ some of these tips that I've shared with you. Of course, there are more ways to make sure the execution goes well, but for my time and yours I didn't list them above. If you have any other ideas feel free to share in the comments section!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Word Wednesday Sept. 7/11

I'm taking it back to the way I first started Word Wednesdays, so here a three words that have sent me to my dictionary.


a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization.

verb (used with object)

to abstain or keep away from; shun; avoid: to eschew evil.

of or pertaining to horseback riding or horseback riders: equestrian skill.
mounted on horseback: equestrian knights.
representing a person mounted on a horse: an equestrian statue.
pertaining to or composed of knights or mounted warriors: an equestrian code of honor.
of or pertaining to the ancient Roman equites.

Haha, equestrian, Heartland anyone? Season Premiere Sept. 18! Woot!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Can You Guess the Genre?

I came across this video on another blog, and couldn't resist sharing. So, it may be a little corny, but it made me laugh. Let me know what you think!
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