Fiction

Please Your Readers – 3 Trope Tactics

tropesI’m a genre whore. 70% of what I read is Young Adult fantasy or dystopian fiction. I’d make it 100% but I actually want to read my friends books and occasionally I like dipping my toes in other stuff like (thrillers, crime, literary fiction) and then there’s non-fiction business, marketing and mindset books and of course, my other love, conspiracies.

But the point is, I’m a big slutty slut slut when it comes to YA fantasy/dystopian. I gobble it up like a starving orphan. Why?

Because I love that shit. I love it so much I’d motorboat them books all night long and carry a caffeine drip to work because I stayed up so late reading (happens a LOT).

But, having read a lot of books in the same genre I can confidently say, they are ALL the same story. No really, they are. But its the familiarity that drags me back.

And it’s the familiarity that drags other readers back too. We actually want to be told the same story, over and over and over. It’s just that we want to be told it in a different way, so it doesn’t feel like the same story.

That’s where tropes come in. Tropes give your readers the familiarity they crave, which is why they are so important to you if you’re a genre writer. (more…)

How To Give Your Readers A Book Hangover in 3 Easy Steps

Book HangoverWriting a book is a form of torture, I swear. Between the paralysing self-doubt, the voices constantly screaming in your head and the genuine addiction to playing God late into the night, it is without doubt, a form of torture.

But despite all that, when you see the results or hear of a reader sobbing at 3am because you killed bunnikins the third and all his fluffy bunnywabbit babies, it makes it all worth while.

We’ve all been there: unable to see the page for the hysterical tears, or laughing so hard you drop the book and lose your page. Or the ultimate – been given a book hangover by the latest series you binge read.

As authors, that’s exactly what we want to do our readers: hook em’, shake em, change em’, and set them free again.

The key to a hangover, is being able to change a reader, but in order to achieve that change, we need to drag them into the heart of our story. Which means, we need to know what the heart of our story is in the first place. (more…)

Lies – 5 Tips to Master The Perfect Character Arc

character arcI confess… Instead of reading the half dozen books I already have on the go, I accidentally (ok, on purpose) opened a guilty pleasure novel. And no, that’s not a sexual reference, you filth-bag, I meant my fave genre – YA fantasy).

Because it’s my genre I took the opportunity to research. I never read a book without taking a lesson from it.

This time I learnt all about the character arc and one awesome method for achieving the perfect curve! The book I read: Frostbite by Richelle Mead (part of the Vampire Academy series), used an awesome technique in which to perfect that arc – Lies(more…)

Writespiration #90 Burnt Edges

burnt edges

This week I’ve been thinking about the past and how things have affected my life. I often joke about having a cold lump of coal for a heart, or about the fact I am dead inside. It’s a joke. Sort of. I like the humour of it.

But actually there’s some truth to it. We go through life, and the tiniest of things affect us. A moment, a fleeting comment, ill chosen words or a look of love you’ll never see again.

Sometimes these moments hurt us, others they heal us. Whether positive or negative, all of them deeply affect us. They leave us with burnt edges. Tiny scars that paint our souls with memories.

That’s what I want you to write about this week. Burnt edges. Maybe it’s the edges of paper, or burnt memories. Whatever you choose, include burnt edges somewhere in your piece. Write no more than 200 words.

If you want to join in, post your flash in the comments or in a post on your blog and link back here. You have until 12th June. Please note I am extremely slow at responding to comments at the moment. I moderate everything and I do read everything, but expect a delay. (more…)

7 Lessons I Wish Someone Had Taught Me Before I Started Writing

lessons learntWhen I first started writing, I was worse than a kid in a toy store. I wanted it ALL…NOW. I was desperate to be ‘good’ at writing. I didn’t want to just ‘be’ a writer, I wanted to Stephen King that shit.

I was deluded. Not because of my dream, but because I was unconsciously incompetent!

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Which frankly, at that point, was less than fuck all. So I set about rampaging my way through everything that had even the faintest whiff of ‘writing tips’ attached to it.

The problem was, I got overwhelmed, saturated with conflicting advice and utterly bewildered as to which direction to go in. I didn’t know what to learn or how to learn it.

I realised there was no avoiding the fact it really does just take time to develop your writing muscle. However… along the way, I also picked up some pretty nifty tricks that helped me speed up the process. Tricks I wish I’d known earlier.

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Writespiration #88 It’s a Dolls Life

doll islandAnyone who knows me, knows I am more than a little obsessed by dystopia. I’m like the uber geek fan girl constantly waving her burnt, shredded dystopia flag from the centre of whatever destroyed city I’m reading or writing about that day.

Diana wrote this post, and popped an image in I found a little spooky. Then Allie, told me about Doll Island. The myth goes that a guy found a drowned girl in the river, then her doll drifted up after her. He hung the doll up in respect for her lost soul. Then kept hanging dolls for 50 years after claiming he was haunted by the spirit of her and a bunch of other kids. Mysteriously he was found dead, drowned in exactly the same spot as her… *shudder*

The challenge:

Write a story about Doll Island, maybe its doll island in Mexico, or perhaps another kind of dystopian doll island, maybe they are all robots. Is it scary or a little girls heaven? Whatever you do include an island of dolls in your story. Less than 200 words please.

If you want to join in, leave your story in the comments below, or in a blog post using a ping back so I know you have participated. I am on a bit of a blog hiatus at the moment and because I read every entry it does take me up to a week to respond to your entry, I also moderate all comments so if you don’t see your story right away, it is there, I just haven’t got to it yet. (more…)

Don’t Let Writers’ Self-Doubt Beat You – 4 Steps to Conquer it

self doubtI’m getting increasingly frustrated. The kind of frustrated that leads to drastic, probably stupid, but definitely life changing behaviours.

I’m frustrated because I have shit to do, books to write, stories to tell. Yet two things are standing in my way. Life bullshit and self-doubt.

What do I mean by life bullshit? Oh you know… The crap, the stuff and the things… Shit that incessantly fills my day like, work. Fuck work, I should be writing. Having to pay bills. Tut. Such an inconvenience. Chores, cleaning, cooking. ALWAYS cooking. Then there’s life admin, you know, keeping myself clean enough I don’t get lice, my eyebrows neat enough I don’t poke someone’s eye out with a stray hair, emails, meter readings, food sho….sorry I fell asleep writing the list.

If that bore list isn’t enough to prevent me writing, I have to wage a daily war against the smarmy king of mind fucking himself: self-doubt. I hate it.

So here I am. Standing Sitting in front of you sharing my battle plan to nuke my self-doubt into the next mass extinction. (more…)

The Great Horror Hoax – How to REALLY Harness A Readers Fear

horror hoaxI’m terrified of spiders. I know. So cliched. If it helps, I am also terrified of boats – although the reasoning behind that is a little foggier given I swim like a fish – I must have drowned in a past life.

I had a date night recently and we happened to watch a film: London has Fallen. It gave me somewhat of an epiphany watching it. Horror in its most basic ‘blood and gore’ sense, is changing.

As a kid, I thought sword fights and giant spiders were terrifying. Granted kids find a lot of things scary but it wasn’t that long ago that adults cowered behind the sofa over the Blob, which barely caused me to raise an eyebrow recently, and only because it was that bad!

So why then, did I find this cheesy American action film only rated 15, so horrifying?

It’s because, horror, like society, is evolving. It’s thrown off its red paint blood shackles and picked up terrorism and child napping instead. We can learn a few lessons from it that can be woven into ANY type of genre. (more…)

Understanding YA, NA and MG – A Writers Bible

YA NA MGOne of the most salient memories I have from childhood, was the desire to grow up. I was like the opposite of Peter Pan. I couldn’t get old fast enough.

Sixteen was this magical creature where suddenly I would be grown up and allowed to do lots of things. I’d be a ‘real’ teenager. Sixteen came and went, and then eighteen arrived and before I blinked I was twenty-one. By the time I was twenty-five, I realised I’d made a heinous fucking mistake.

Adulthood is the equivalent of being slapped daily with a decomposing Kipper infested with rabies. My life was filled with a suburban nightmare, bills, a work monotony that could make paint drying seem like the Oscars and a side order of fuck my life.

Peter Pan syndrome rapidly kicked in. I wanted to be a child forever. I rebelled against the rules, had a bit of a break down, got very fucking drunk, had my skin inked and then bitch slapped the sense back in. I had to tell myself:

That magical envelope was not going to fly down my chimney and whisk me off to wizarding school, neither would Edward Cullen fall in love with me and make me immortal, and sadly, I had neither angel nor demon blood, so I wasn’t a shadow hunter either.

I spiralled into an intensely primal binge fest of YA fiction and TV series and then I had an epiphany. If I wrote it, I could live it.

But understanding the differences between Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) fiction is easier said than done. (more…)

Writespiration #80 Utopia

Write About UtopiaI have an obsession with the concept of dystopia. Always have. I like the cloud darkness that comes from chaos and disorder. I like it in an almost sick kind of way. It pushes people to their utmost limits, and I want to know what happens when they get there. I’m practically voyeuristic about it.

Do they break, crumble and fail? Or do they rise up from the ashes of society and become a hero? (more…)