Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book clip -- Surric, prologue

           Surric is a very emotional book for me, that I've been working on for almost five years now. It is, to date, the only book I have that focuses mainly on a romantic relationship between two characters.
           By the way, if anyone tells you that writing good science fiction is easy, hit them over the head with a cheap Star Wars ripoff. Sci-fi is hard. But I love it anyways.

           Waiting was the worst part. Getting hit was almost better for a moment because then he didn’t have to wait anymore. Then it wasn’t better at all because he realized this was the reason waiting had been so hard in the first place – for once in his life, he didn’t want to die.     
            It was a stark realization, and one that he should have – he really did – know from the beginning, and yet … still didn’t. It was similar to the sensation of saying “I like that,” without looking at it, then looking at it and realizing you really do like it.
            The engines were burning, and he was burning. His ship must have looked beautiful, falling from the stars to the earth below. Things always are more beautiful in flames.
            Smoke poured into his face, and he couldn’t breathe. He clawed at his helmet, his fingers searching for the strap. A huge jolt shook the ship yet again, and this time without his hands braced on the wheel, his head was thrown full force against it.
            Blood seeped into his eyes. With one hand he held the wheel tightly, with the other he gently probed around his eyes. Good, the actual eye wasn’t bleeding. He felt upwards, and his hand hit the chip on his forehead. It had been crunched inward, and was oozing blood.
            Oh. He tried to think it quietly, as not to scare himself.
            He felt the plane spinning. For a moment when he was upside down, he watched his own blood pitter on the ceiling. As he turned, the blood drops floated in the air and spun with him before they fell. It was almost strangely poetic.
            Things had gone quiet from the outside. They were leaving it up to him now, how he wanted to die. One last act of kindness from his old friends.
            Thank you.
            And for a moment it was quiet. The fire was quiet, his blood was quiet. Even the air had a soothing sound, “Hushhhhhh, Hushhhhhhh,” as he dove.
            I do love the quiet. But no, not really. What he really loved was for a moment he could now hear his heart in his ears. It was beating. A beating heart, all his own. And he was thankful. He was thankful for that beating heart.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What doesn't kill you ...

I have become rather notorious amongst friends and family for being heartless and cruel to my characters. I give them a dream only to shatter it later. I let them feel love only to have the loved one taken away. I let them watch the foundations of their world crumble as I sit by drinking chocolate milk in my pajamas.

But heartless? I would have to protest to that statement. The same girl who does that to her characters is the one who cried for five minutes straight after having to write the death of a character who wasn't even important to the story. The girl who was depressed for weeks after figuring out that the only good thing for one of her stories would be to have her favorite character executed, in order to move the plot. 

I don't believe good writers are heartless. I believe that they are deep. That they know what makes a truly strong person is having them live through the lowest point in their life imaginable. That sometimes in order to make the readers care, we have to take someone from them that they have learned to identify with. That to make our heroes strong, we must shake their very foundations and see who they really are deep down inside.

What doesn't kill your characters makes them stronger, true. But killing them does as well. It allows them to leave with a BANG, with an impression, and with a message to the readers. That this matters. That the readers must care for the cause these characters died for.

That is what makes a strong story.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Niche of doom

Don't get me wrong, when you find your "thing" it's a wonderful feeling. A marvelous feeling. It's a joyous thing. The only problem is, if you just stick to what you're good at, you won't get better at anything else. "Well," you may ask, "if I've found my 'thing' why would I need to know how to write anything else?"

A brilliant question. Let me use an example. Say that you're an artist and you are very, very skilled at drawing profiles, but not backgrounds. If you just work on what you're good at you'll get better and better, it's true. However, if you forever ignore practicing background, you will lose the opportunity to polish yourself as an artist. Even if you never really love drawing backgrounds, the things you learn by drawing them could improve you as an artist overall.

The same thing goes with writing. If you know you struggle with writing a certain something, even if you don't use it often, learning it will help improve you and polish what you are good at. Goodness I hope I'm making sense XD

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adding a new twist to things

There is nothing new under the sun. This saying used to be really discouraging to me. What's the point of telling a story if it's already been told?

Although it's true there's no such thing as a completely new storyline, there are ways to add twists to it --  little bits of you that can never be found anywhere else. Maybe it's a turn of the tables, a different way to portray a character, a different ending. You can always find a way to make your book bear your unique fingerprint. Because no two fingerprints are exactly the same.

Recently I created a vampire character. There's really nothing new about vampires, especially now when they're so *hipster glasses* mainstream. However, how I added a twist to her character was to go way back to old mythology. I discovered some interesting facts.

1: That thing about vampires being pale? Yeah. That actually defeats the whole point. How villagers used to see if a person was a vampire was to dig up their grave and take a good look at them. First sign, they wouldn't be rotted. Second, they'd be plump and ruddy after a delicious meal. A stake through the heart quickly fixed that issue.

2: Oh, and about being plump. Yes, plump. Not a skinny supermodel, thank you.

3: Fangs? These are dead people. You don't grow fangs after you die.

4: Shapeshifting. Favorite forms? Wolf and bat.

So, fellow authors, how do you add a new twist to your stories? =D

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Setting part 2: scene setting

Alright, so last time we saw how setting can be used to its greatest advantage by showing things about the character through proper description and narration. Now, we're gonna see how setting can be used to set the mood of the entire scene.

Today we're going to focus on scary setting, but these hints can be used for any setting -- romantic, suspenseful, etc. I just decided to focus on one to try to rein in my thought process do I don't go hopping after every bunny trail my mind snags along the road of -- wait, where was I?

Setting in and of itself can do nothing. What is scary to one person is harmless, or even humerus (*cough* sorry, queen of puns here), I mean, humorous, to another. There are things that everyone, in general, would find a little unsettling, but you need to know your character and cater the setting to his needs.

Let's use myself as an illustration of this, as I enjoy using myself for illustrations of things. If I were a character, and my author knew how to write me to the greatest advantage of the scene, he or she would know exactly what flips me out. Seeing a face that's not my own in the mirror. Hearing the water turn on in the bathroom with no one in there. Hearing my name in an empty house. Those things would scare anyone, and rightly so, but I'm pretty sure I'd get an ulcer. Those things are my specific fears.

As formerly stated, this can also be used for romantic. What one person finds romantic can be silly or stupid to another. If you don't know this, you don't have a girlfriend or boyfriend yet. Just sayin'.

Now that we know what scares your character, all that's left is to paint the scene in their description. I'll give you a hint. Just like the best way to write romantic scenes is through long, flowy sentences that weave gently across the page, the best way to write scary scenes is through short. Choppy, I don't know what -- what's happening. Sentences. Or fast bursts of thought driven by pure adrenaline as the character races away from the darkness.

How your character reacts to fear is a good way to know how to write them. Not all characters mentally flip out, even when faced with their own personal demon. Everyone reacts differently -- some short-circuit. The more you know your character, the better you can write a scene that lets them shine.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Alpha, chapter one

Dear me, Wednesday always slips past me without me even getting that "Didn't I forget to do something?" feeling. I'll have to continue the setting ... thing ... later, and just chuck a piece of my book at your face.


Sorry 'bout that.

Chapter one
Ceol grew up watching his dad come home from work bruised, bloody, and grinning like an idiot. Sometimes he didn’t come home for weeks, then he would be asleep on the sofa in the morning. Ceol’s mom would be listening to the radio, shaking her head and frying up some eggs and bacon.
He remembered the smell of burning eggs as he and his mom stood in the doorway. He must have not reacted the way the officer expected, because he remembered being asked if he was okay.
“Are you okay, son?”
That night, sitting in front of the warm fire, with a plate of burnt eggs, he cried with his mother, but it felt forced. The eggs were soaked and ruined, and worse was the fact that he felt sick at himself. What was wrong with him, not being able to cry over his own dad? This was his dad, his Superman.
Ceol stared down into the cup of orange juice. He was alone in the house, but he felt like any second he would hear his dad knock on the door, or stumble in from the couch.
He shuddered and took a few good sips of his morning energy punch. It didn’t work. He took a bite of his poptart, and the sugary haven mingling with the orange juice in his mouth woke him up considerably. He choked a little as it traveled down his swollen throat.
The door knocked.
He knew it wasn’t his dad, but that didn’t stop him from jumping so violently that his glass of orange juice toppled and spilled its orange pulpy guts all over. Juice dripped over the table and onto the floor.
“Ceol?” The knocking paused. “Hey, Ceol, are you ready?”
“Perfectly,” Ceol wheezed. Be still, oh heart, why was it pounding like that?
Ceol began to wipe off the table.
“I, uh, think it might be time to go. You packed?”
“Packed.” Ceol crumbled the soggy napkin in his hand and tossed it toward the trash can. Score.
“You, uh, ready?”
“Ready.” Or not. But there he went. He grabbed his duffle bag on the way to the front door. He unlocked it, and opened it.
Jamie grinned a supporting grin. His teeth were starkly white against his dark skin. There were circles under his eyes. There were probably circles under Ceol’s eyes as well.
“Ready?” Jamie repeated.
“Mph,” Ceol said, because he had stuck the rest of the poptart into his mouth.
The door closed behind them.
Ceol leaned his head against the car window as they drove, and he watched what had been his world meld and smear together like an amateur watercolor painting turned sideways while still wet. Smeary.
“It’s a cool place.” Jamie tapped a headsong onto the steering wheel. “I’ve been there.”
“Have you now.”
“I have.”
Awkward silence.
“You’re gonna be great, you know.” Jamie’s voice was quieter this time. Ceol didn’t know if it was because he was less confident in this sentence, or if he was trying to be reassuring whilst not scaring Ceol out of his mind.
Ceol laughed and straightened. He placed his hand over his chest. “But of course.” It was only natural. Royalty is in the blood, it’s something one grew into. It wasn’t something just any old Joe could take on. No, not any old Joe. Just a Ceol. Forget Joe. Joe is nonexistent. Why was he thinking about this again?
Ceol tapped the side of his head and wondered if he had drank enough orange juice to thoroughly wake him.
He glanced over at his duffle bag and slipped his hand inside. Once he felt the leather, he was okay. It was still there. He withdrew his hand. He saw Jamie look over at him from the inner mirror of the car.
“Forget something?”
“No,” Ceol said. He leaned against the car window once more and stared at the world outside. “No, I haven’t.”