- Hate and love are two sides of the same coin
- Why is there a dragon in the living room?
- First day of “try not to die, and definitely try not to kill anyone” training
- They aren’t white lies, they’re just grey truths
- Becoming the Devil’s bride
- Calling in the cavalry
- The stars are singing tonight, no literally
- Try not to set anything on fire this time
- Anyone want to take bets on how long before they kill each other
- When the door is locked find a window, if there’s no window make one
- Living in a glass cage
- Everything falls apart
- A sword, a horrible plan, and a bag of peanuts (in case we get hungry)
- This is a terrible idea
- Better to be the one doing the stabbing than the one who gets stabbed in the back
- This is not a joke, seriously
- For the love of Captain Crunch
- There are worse ways to go, right?
- Stupid, idiotic, brainless vampires
- Captured by a chicken, I’ll never live this down
- Lord of the Froot Loops
- School for the lost and peculiar
- Magical mangoes should not be eaten, under any circumstances, ever.
- I hate this plan, this is a terrible plan
- Who thought it was a good idea to put Larry in charge?
- Death is coming…I am Death
- Truth or dare
- Through the looking glass
- It’s me not you
- Falling for the idiot with half a brain cell
- If I have to listen to you two bickering one more time I’m going to set someone’s hair on fire
- So this is the girl who is going to save the world, I thought she’d be taller…
- Love is a dangerous game in a kingdom full of liars
- Never play drinking games with a troll
- Look who it is, the eternal optimist
- Just so you know, we are all going to die
- Future me is somewhere laughing her ass off
- Playing with knives
- A demon, a pixy, and a werewolf all locked in a tower…I wish it were the beginning of a joke
- Guides who don’t know where they’re going
- I like you, as in I would like to strangle you and throw you out a window
- Destiny fights fate
- This is probably going to get us expelled
- I have officially drunk the Kool-aid
- Investigating my own murder
- The blind leading the deaf
- Perfect, I may as well go jump off that cliff now
- I looked into the darkness and the darkness looked back
- “Will you stop that”, a ten page essay by yours truly
- Keeping up with the Card King
The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time Book 1) → Robert Jordan
Click Image to Buy Now
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs–a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts–five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.
If you are a fan of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings then you will probably enjoy this series. This is one of those high fantasy, super detailed world-building, types of books. When high fantasy titles are thrown out, I almost always hear this one mentioned. I’ve read the first two books in the series and I thoroughly enjoyed them. If you are someone who enjoys very LONG books then this series is definitely for you.
Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad Book 1) → David Eddings
Click Image to Buy Now
A fierce dispute among the Gods and the theft of a powerful Orb leaves the World divided into five kingdoms. Young Garion, with his “Aunt Pol” and an elderly man calling himself Wolf –a father and daughter granted near-immortality by one of the Gods — set out on a complex mission. In the process, as Garion grows into his early teens, he learns to defend himself, grapples with a wild boar, uncovers spies at a king’s palace, learns about sorcery and starts to gain a sense of what his own destiny may be.
I loved reading this series when I was in high school! For me these books were perfect as they got across the feeling of high fantasy without being overly long or drawn out. This series is a seriously fun and easy read. While the plot is great, I fell in love with the characters first and foremost. For anyone who likes high fantasy stories but can’t sit through a thousand page book, this series is for you!
Sandry’s Book (Circle of Magic Book 1) → Tamora Pierce
Click Image to Buy Now
In Book 1 of the Circle of Magic Quartet, gifted young weaver Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief with a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. The four misfits are taught how to use their magic, but when disaster strikes, it’s up to Sandry to weave together four different kinds of power to save herself, her friends, and Winding Circle.
Okay, so I had to sneak a Tamora Pierce novel in here somewhere. She is amazing and I cannot recommend her books enough. In this series she puts aside the medieval knights and instead focuses more on magical systems. Equally as exciting and action-packed as her other series, this series was one of my favorites when I was in middle school. Despite the fact that the book is written from four different perspectives (yes, you saw that right, FOUR!), each and every character is well-rounded and truly comes to life off the page. While these books are meant for a younger audience, they are timeless stories that can be enjoyed by all ages.
Poison Study (The Chronicles of Ixia Book 1) → Maria V. Snyder
Click Image to Buy Now
Locked deep in the palace dungeon for killing her abuser, Yelena knows she’ll never be free again. The laws in Ixia are strict, and murderers must be executed, no matter the reason. But just as she’s resigned herself to her fate, she’s offered an extraordinary reprieve.
As the food taster, Yelena will eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace — and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. To make matters worse, the chief of security deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust, and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again, and in order to survive, she must unravel the secrets behind the past she’s been running from.
Another repeat author on this blog, because I cannot help myself. Maria V. Snyder is a must read author. Her books are well crafted and her characters and plots keep the reader saying “just one more chapter” until it’s 3am and somehow you’ve finished the entire book. Based in a medieval type world with a mixture of magic and medieval fighting, this series is an action-packed adventure.
The Burning Sky (Elemental Trilogy Book 1) → Sherry Thomas
Click Image to Buy Now
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of the Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.
Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.
This book satisfies all my fantasy cravings. The story is intriguing and the characters well-developed. If you are someone who is super nit-picky about grammar and loves a well-crafted novel then this is definitely for you. This book is seriously well written. As a writer myself, I always admire authors who can write so flawlessly.
The Way of the Kings (Book One of The Stormlight Archive) → Brandon Sanderson
Click Image to Buy Now
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
Okay…so I haven’t actually read this series (I know what you’re thinking, how can you possibly recommend a book you haven’t read?!), but I have a very close friend who swears by this series. Seriously, every time I talk to her about books she recommends this series without fail. Brandon Sanderson is a well known fantasy author and this series has been on my TBR list forever. This is a must read book and one that I really “must read”.
Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Series Book 1) → Danielle L. Jensen
Click Image to Buy Now
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain–time enough for their magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophecy has spoken of a union that will set the trolls free, and when Cécile is stolen away to fulfill it, she enters a world that is both magical and deadly.
Cécile has only one goal after being bonded to the prince of the trolls: escape. Except while awaiting the perfect opportunity, she discovers there is more to the mysterious crown prince than anyone realizes.
As rebellion brews and the political games escalate, Cécile becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes the hope of a people–someone who has the power to change Trollus forever.
This is a very unique book and one that I enjoyed immensely. With the abundance of werewolf, vampire, and fae books nowadays (and don’t get me wrong I love all those too), this book felt like a breath of fresh air. With the focus on trolls and witches this book created an interesting world that I was instantly in love with. With strong romantic elements and complex characters, this book was definitely a page turner.
Bound (Bound Trilogy Book 1) → Kate Sparkes
Click Image to Buy Now
Welcome to Darmid, where magic is a sin and fairy tales are contraband.
Taking an interest in magic is dangerous for any Darmish citizen, but doubly so for the daughter of a magistrate responsible for sending magic-users to the gallows. Rowan Greenwood knows her curiosity can only get her into trouble, but it’s an itch she can’t stop scratching—even when a potentially life-changing proposal arrives from a wealthy and powerful magic hunter.
Rowan believes she has no choice but to follow the path laid out for her, until the day she accidentally saves the life of one of her people’s most feared enemies—a Sorcerer prince from the magical land of Tyrea who’s convinced Rowan is far more than she seems. Her act of compassion rips her from the sheltered life she’s known and draws her into a world of magic that’s more seductive and more dangerous than she ever could have imagined… and that leads her to question everything she thought she knew about her home, her family, and herself.
I love when authors can create new, yet somewhat familiar, magical worlds for the reader to explore. Kate Sparkes definitely knows how to spin a tale and she had my attention from the very first page until the last. This was another one of those books that had a good plot, but where it really caught the reader’s attention was through its characters and their relationships. I love a strong, complex, female lead and Rowan definitely ticked that box.
A Court of Thorns and Roses → Sarah J. Maas
Click Image to Buy Now
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.
At least, he’s not a beast all the time.
As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.
This is somewhat of a controversial series. A lot of people either love or hate these books. Seeing as I’m recommending it I was clearly on the side of, “I loved it!”. While the first book is a little slow, it is a necessary setup of the world and characters. The second book is where I truly fell in love with this series. While this doesn’t carry into the actual quality of the book, I have to say I truly love Sarah J. Maas’ ability to find unique and interesting names for her characters. Feyre, Rhysand, and Azriel are such interesting names and I may just steal them for my own writing!
Robin: Lady of Legend → R.M. ArceJaeger
Click Image to Buy Now
Bold archer. Popular defender. Heroic scoundrel. Cunning outlaw. The daughter of a nobleman, Robin of Locksley never imagines these terms will apply to her. She still can’t imagine it, even after she flees her home to escape a cruel fate. With only her archery skills to sustain her, Robin resigns herself to a life of exile. But she is not the only fugitive hiding in Sherwood Forest. When the other outlaws begin robbing from the local poor after a cruel winter, Robin knows she has to find a way to make it stop. After all, these are her people, even if they don’t know it. Even if she doesn’t realize herself just what claiming them will mean.
For the people of Nottinghamshire, honor and purpose are something that belongs to nobles, not to the commoners who till their lands. But Robin teaches them a different lesson, and as wrongs are righted and lives are reclaimed, a new legend is born in the process.
But the Sheriff of Nottingham will stop at nothing to halt the valiant young outlaw harassing his domain. As traps close in around her and assassins seek to bring her down, Robin must risk losing love, leadership, and life if she is to save her people and fulfill her destiny as one of history’s greatest heroes.
I always love when authors retell a classic story in new and interesting ways. This book takes the classic Robin Hood story and brings the story into modern times with a female Robin! The book is well written and has a soft romance that I absolutely loved. R.M. ArceJaeger did a really great job of taking select pieces from the old story and combining it with new elements to make a story that felt both familiar and entirely new. While this book isn’t necessarily fantasy, it meshed so well with the other books on this list that I just had to include it.
I’ve been a bit m.i.a. this past month for several reasons, but one of which is that I was working on completing the first draft of my novel. Having finally finished the dreaded first draft, I’ve realized several things that I did well and several more which I could have done better. Here are some of the biggest things that I wish someone had told me before starting. I hope these little pieces of advice are helpful!
DO outline, outline outline!
I’ve attempted to write novels in the past and one thing I did differently this time was create an in depth outline before starting to write, and let me tell you, it was so incredibly helpful!
I would say that anyone who is writing a novel should have a general idea of beginning, middle, and end before writing, however, if you want to take it a step further, a chapter by chapter outline can be extremely helpful. Knowing the key things that needed to happen in each chapter focused my writing and kept me on track. Creating an in-depth outline also helped me to get to know my characters better. I was able to focus less on figuring out nit picky plot elements and more on getting my characters to come to life on the page.
Even if you know you hate outlining, I highly recommend giving it a try. Not only does it make the writing process ten times easier, but it’s also a fun way to play around with different ideas for your story!
DON’T let that outline become law
While I’m all for outlines, remember to allow for deviation. Your outline shouldn’t be set in stone.
Sometimes your characters just have a mind of their own and that’s perfectly okay. Plots can change. Characters can change. Think of your outline as a helpful but highly flexible set of rules. As Emma Swan once said, “they’re more like guidelines anyways”.
DO keep pushing forward
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming! Seriously though, just keep writing.
Moving forward instead of looking back can be one of the most difficult parts about writing a first draft. I can’t count the number of times I had to tell myself to just keep writing.
There’s only one way to get to the finish line and that’s moving forwards, no matter how slowly. Even if you only write a single page, thats one more page of writing in your story that wasn’t there yesterday. Just keep pushing forward!
DON’T go back and edit
Resist the urge to go back and edit!
This was a huge thing for me. If you are anything like me then it is a near irresistible temptation to go back and edit previous chapters. While editing is great, the problem with this is that editing is moving you in the wrong direction, backwards instead of forwards. If I succumbed to the urge to edit I would have never finished my first draft.
If you have a problem with editing (like me), I recommend making this a hard rule. Do not go back and edit until you have finished writing the first draft.
DO set goals
Set goals. Personally I made it a goal to finish my first draft by the end of this summer, which I did!
Whether it is a daily, weekly, or monthly word count goal, let those goals motivate your writing. Goals don’t just have to be about word counts either. They can be something as simple as trying to get more varied vocabulary into your writing, or improving dialogue, or perhaps fleshing out a certain character more.
Goals can be a great way to maintain motivation in the long process that is writing a first draft.
DON’T kill yourself if you don’t reach every goal
Goals can be great and hitting those milestones can feel like the greatest thing in the world, but conversely failing to meet those goals can be crushing. Don’t kill yourself if you don’t reach a certain goal. We are all only human. Set another goal. Get back at it. Don’t let a failure be the end of your writing.
Failing is a hard but necessary part of life. Let yourself be disappointed then pick yourself up and get back to work.
DO stay accountable
I’m very private about my writing. I simultaneously hate and love having other people read my work. But even if you’re shy like me, I recommend telling at least one person your writing goals.
Telling people that you are trying to finish writing a novel by a certain point in time adds a sense of accountability that can help keep you motivated. If someone else knows about your goals then not completing them feels more monumental.
Plus, think how good it will feel to tell that person that you did it!
DON’T let outside pressures stress you out, writing shouldn’t be (too) stressful
While a certain level of accountability is helpful, at some point it becomes less productive and more inhibiting. Too much stress can lead to writer’s block and an inability to get words out on the page.
Fear of failure can be one of the most difficult things to overcome when writing that first draft. Don’t let that fear control you. Believing that you can do it is half the battle.
Writing shouldn’t be stressful. Okay sometimes it will be stressful no matter what, but writing shouldn’t be TOO stressful. Remember to have fun!
DO accept that this is a “first” draft and it will probably be bad, that is 100% okay
One of the things that you are going to have to accept when writing a first draft is that it won’t be perfect. If you are a perfectionist like me, this can be a difficult but necessary pill to swallow.
First drafts aren’t supposed to be brilliantly crafted complete manuscripts. That’s why they are “first” drafts, and not final products. As Jodi Picoult said, “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”.
DON’T give up because you are at an “I hate this, it’s awful” stage of writing
During the process of writing my first draft I had numerous moments of “I hate this” and “this is awful”. When you get hit by these feelings just keep pushing through. Nine out of ten times, I ended up liking what I thought was so horrible.
If you let these feelings overwhelm you, you’ll never finish that draft. Even if you really do end up hating a part of your novel, you can always go back and edit once the first draft is written. Keep in mind that this is not (yet) a polished product. Don’t give up!
DO use the idea of an amazing finished manuscript as motivation
A big motivator for me when writing my first draft was thinking of how amazing it would feel to have actually finished writing a novel. When I felt like writing another page was the hardest thing in the world I would remind myself of why I was doing it and what I was working towards.
If your novel is just for you, make a list of all the reasons why you want to write it. When you’re feeling unmotivated read through that list and remind yourself of all the reasons why you are doing this.
If publishing is your goal, which it is for me, keep that goal in mind. Thinking of your novel on a bookstore shelf can be an amazing motivator. While the road to publishing is a hard and uphill battle, just imagine the feeling when you finally reach the top of that mountain.
DON’T be so focused on the finish line you forget to enjoy the writing process
One of the best pieces of writing advice that I ever received was in my college fiction writing class. Our professor told us that the best thing we could do was “learn to enjoy the writing process”.
While having an end goal is great, if that is the only reason you write, you will find it extremely hard to be a productive author. You should enjoy writing. Seriously, writing is supposed to be FUN first and foremost. If it’s a chore then you are doing it wrong.
This summer I really tried to change my mindset when writing, working on enjoying the process of putting words onto a page and bringing characters, settings, and plots to life. My productivity was so much better for it and my attitude towards writing is no longer, “I should write this”, but, “I want to write this”. Enjoy the process!
I hope this was helpful for anyone who is thinking about writing or is in the midst of writing that first draft of a novel. Of course, these are things that worked for me and may not work for everyone else. Good luck to those brave individuals who take on the daunting task of writing a first draft. It’s an amazing accomplishment and I promise it will feel amazing when you finally get to that last sentence! Happy writing!
Setting: Modern day Earth & a separate dimension
Character: A group of three high school friends, two girls and one boy
Prompt: One day three friends stumble upon a portal to a separate dimension and are swept into another world…one stranded on a viking ship where she must prove her worth or be killed, she finds protection through a young viking warrior…another lost in a city where she catches the eye of the eldest prince who after gaining her trust and learning all agrees to help her find her lost friends…the last thrust into a seaside village that is being attacked by a dark force from the west, befriending a young prophetess who teaches him how to control his newfound magic in this world and tells him of a destiny he isn’t ready to face…when the three friends finally reunite they find that their journey to this world may not have been entirely accidental and they have a very important destiny to fulfill that will either save this new world or doom it for all eternity…
Setting: Post-apocalyptic world
Character: Brother and sister duo whose parents were killed by animals when they were young
Prompt: Brother and sister are separated, one thrown into the wilderness where she must survive attacks from wild animals and a seemingly friendly group of human mutants who will not let her leave…the other stumbling into a city overrun by corrupt politicians where he joins a resistance group with the goal of freeing the citizens from the brutal thumb of their rulers, will brother and sister make it back to one another…
Setting: Lost city in the clouds
Character: A princess who longs to visit the world below
Prompt: Her wish comes true in a strange way when one day a grounder finds his way up to her city in the clouds, the princess must work to hide the grounder from the prying eyes of her people while learning all she can from the mysterious visitor, but the grounder may not be telling her everything and the princess must discover his true motives before it is too late…
Setting: England Regency Era 1812
Character: A girl with the ability to time travel
Prompt: Accidentally trapped in regency era England, she discovers a plot to assassinate a young lord and must play a careful game of politics in order to uncover the true extent of the plot before it is too late, will she be able to save the man she has come to see as maybe more than just a friend…and when it is finally time to return to her own time will she be able to leave…
Setting: Steampunk world
Character: A trained assassin who is part girl part machine
Prompt: Stolen from her family at birth she has been raised to be the perfect assassin, when her next target is the young prince whom she knows has done no wrong she finally gathers the courage to disobey her masters in order to spare the innocent prince’s life, using the very skills her masters taught her she protects the prince while piecing together a sinister plot against the ruling family designed by the very masters who sent her to assassinate the prince, will she be able take down the people who stole her life away from her before it is too late or will they force her back into submission, taking more than just her own freedom this time…
Setting: A medieval world in which dragon riders are the Guardians of the realm
Character: A village girl
Prompt: Everyone is shocked when a girl is chosen to become one of the famed dragon riders, she is the first woman rider in a hundred years and her fellow male apprentices are not as welcoming as she had hoped, she must fight against prejudice, bullying, and the intense training regiment to prove that she is meant to be one of the dragon riders, having a psychic link to her very own dragon and a bond that no amount of bullying or slander could ever break makes up for some of the hardship, when a dark threat spreads over the land the young dragon rider apprentices are called out to battle before their training is complete and they must learn to work together in order to survive and triumph over the evil…
Setting: Modern day small-town America
Character: A fallen angel
Prompt: With her memory fuzzy and unsure about this new world that she has fallen into she is taken in by a loving family who hides her from the prying government eyes, but soon unexplainable things begin to happen and they all seem to point back to her, will she learn the true reason for why she was sent to this world before things grow too far out of her control, will she be able to complete her task and burn out the evil that has escaped into this world before the human she has come to love and the family she never thought she would have are taken from her…
Setting: A fantasy medieval world
Character: A circus freak born with wings
Prompt: Sold to the circus when she was just a baby, she finds a tentative family with the circus freaks who claim her as one of their own, when a group of Purists begin to attack the circuses, killing the unnatural freaks whom they see as abominations that must be eradicated from this world she must decide whether to fight with her family or run from this terrifying danger, will she find her courage before the end…
Setting: A magical library whose books hold real magical worlds within their pages
Character: Apprentice to the Keeper of the library
Prompt: When a book goes missing from the library, the apprentice must search for the thief and reclaim the world that has been taken for if a book leaves the library that world will be lost forever, following the thief into the stolen book he finds himself in a magical realm where he finds unlikely friends and allies in his search for the thief, will he capture the taker of worlds before it is too late and if he does succeed will he be able to leave this new world in which he’s found a people and place where he finally feels at home…
Setting: Fae Unseelie Court
Character: A lesser shapeshifting faerie
Prompt: It is unusual for a lesser fae to be noticed by the Lords and Ladies of the Unseelie Court but a young she-fox shifter catches their notice, protected by some and wanted dead by others she must dance carefully around the politics of the high fae court to discover why these powerful fae have taken such an interest in a lesser fae such as herself, unsure of her allies and enemies she is lost in this new and dangerous world and when she begins to fall for the younger fae prince her world becomes all the more complicated, but is the fae prince an enemy or a friend, will she learn how to play the fae court games, and will she discover what it is about her that have the high fae so worried before one of those who want her dead succeeds…
If you would like to see more of these kinds of writing prompts give this post a like or let me know in the comments below. I thoroughly enjoyed writing these so I would be happy to do another prompt based post like this one. I love seeing other peoples writing so if you do end up using one or more of these prompts feel free to send it my way and perhaps I will do a post featuring what you’ve come up with. Happy writing!
First Test: Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Click Image to Buy Now
Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl who dares to take advantage of a new rule in Tortall—one that allows females to train for knighthood. After years in the Yamani Islands, she knows that women can be warriors, and now that she’s returned home, Kel is determined to achieve her goal. She believes she is ready for the traditional hazing and grueling schedule of a page. But standing in Kel’s way is Lord Wyldon. The training master is dead set against girls becoming knights. He says she must pass a one-year trial that no male page has ever had to endure. It’s just one more way to separate Kel from her fellow trainees. But she is not to be underestimated. She will fight to succeed, even when the test is unfair.
If you have read my other book posts you will know that Tamora Pierce is a particularly special author to me. Her books were what sparked my interest in reading and simultaneously made me want to be a writer. Her unique writing style and amazing ability to spin a tale never fail to inspire me.
Protector of the Small Quartet is the third of three series’ set in the medieval and magical realm of Tortall. Although the third installment, this series can be read entirely on its own. With a mixture of knights and magic this tale is filled with intrigue and adventure while also impressing on the reader important life lessons about bullying and fighting for one’s dreams.
The story follows main character Kel as she attempts to become the second lady knight in the past hundred years of Tortall’s history. Kel must fight against the other page’s and even the instructor’s prejudices as well as nasty bullying to prove that she has what it takes to become a knight. This story provides a strong example of female empowerment to any reader, young or old. When the world is fighting to push her down, Kel refuses to lie down and give up and instead fights back with all that she has. Kel is a main character that any reader can love and admire.
A fast paced adventure, this book draws you in from the very first page. While the plot could keep your attention in and of itself, the characters and their relationships will keep you emotionally invested till the very end. Tamora Pierce’s unique storytelling abilities shine through in this tale of bravery and friendship.
I highly recommend this book, as well as all of Tamora Pierce’s books, to anyone and everyone. First Test is an amazing story and a perfect book to get lost in this summer. The best part, when you finish reading First Test you get to look forward to three more books following Keladry as she grows up to become the knight we readers always knew she would be.
I’m by no means a funny person, but I’ve found my inner comedian comes out in my writing. Writing humor can be stressful at first but don’t let that stop you. Humor can be as fun to write as it is to read. Like anything else in writing, it takes a bit of practice. Here are some tips and tricks for writing humor that I’ve learned along my writing journey…
1. Let It Sit
Let the joke sit for a few days. Re-read! Is it still as funny as you thought it was when you wrote it? Hindsight is a great tool when you’re unsure of a certain line or scene in your writing. In the moment a line can seem like the best thing you’ve ever written, but looking back on it a week later may paint it in a different light. Going back and reworking a moment of humor can make that scene richer and better for it.
2. Subtlety Is Your Best Friend
Seriously, be subtle. I’ve seen jokes ruined in writing because the author over explains and lingers in the moment. Your reader is often smarter than you think, and overdoing a joke can make it less effective or just downright cringy. Trust your reader to get the joke.
3. Reader Feedback
Send humor scenes or lines to friends that will give you an honest opinion (i.e. not your family or that friend who always says your writing is amazing). Pick the critical friend. Or better yet, ask a friend to send it to one of their friends so that the opinion is unbiased. If you’re shy, try saying something like this: “I found this in a book I’m reading and thought it was really funny. What do you think?”. Reader feedback is going to be key in the editing stage of your writing. Try to gather as many opinions as you can, as people will have different views on whether or not something is funny or not.
4. Don’t Get Overly Attached
This goes hand in hand with reader feedback. Learn to let go of your writing. You may think something you’ve written is the funniest thing in the world but every reader you’ve given it to doesn’t agree. Take that advice and let that piece of humor go. Being able to let things go in your writing is an important skill to learn if you want to be a good writer. Accepting feedback from others is something that any writer should get good at. I still struggle with being overly attached to my writing so I sympathize with how hard this one can be, but I promise your writing will be better off for it.
5. Study Others & Take Notes
Make note of what you find funny in other writer’s work. This doesn’t just have to be in writing. Life is filled with humor and studying when and how it comes about is a great way to improve your own inner comedian. Movies and TV shows are another great source of comedic moments. Take notes on what you find works well and what doesn’t. Just like anything else, studying others can be a great tool in learning and improving your own writing.
6. Don’t Force It
If the humor comes naturally let it flow. If not, don’t force it. Forced humor can come off as jarring and cringy to the reader. If a scene doesn’t need humor, don’t force it in just because you think every scene has to have at least one funny moment. Not every scene calls for humor. Forcing yourself to write humor into a scene when it isn’t needed can make for disjointed writing. Don’t force it.
7. Timing Is Key
Unless your writing is entirely humor based, there’s a time and place to sprinkle humorous scenes into your writing. Putting a laugh out loud joke in the middle of a serious, grief-stricken moment probably won’t go over well with the reader. Finding the right timing to introduce humor into your writing takes practice. Humor can have a huge affect on the tone of a piece so pay attention to how you want a piece to feel and adjust the humor accordingly.
8. Just Do It
The popular Nike phrase is overused and cliche, but in this case it really does apply. Just do it. Throw some humor into your writing. Even if you think you are the least funny person on the planet, just try it. Practice makes perfect. If you never practice, you’ll never get better at it. Don’t be afraid of sounding stupid. That’s what editing is for. Jodi Picoult once said…
“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
These are all books that I thoroughly enjoyed when I was younger and would recommend to anyone now, young or old…
The Sister’s Grimm by Michael Buckley
Click Image to Buy Now
In this first book in the series, orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their recently discovered grandmother, Relda Grimm. The girls learn that they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous tome of fairy tales is actually a history book. The girls are pitted against a giant, who has been rampaging through town. But who set the giant loose in the first place? Was it Mayor Charming (formerly Prince Charming), who has plans to get his kingdom back? The Three Not-So-Little Pigs, now working as police officers? Or a giant-killer named Jack, currently working at a Big & Tall store?
This was one of the series that originally got me into reading. I was absolutely obsessed with these books when I was in middle school. The fun spin on the original Grimm Brothers fairy tales is the initial hook for this series but the good writing and captivating characters are what keep you reading. Although these books are meant for a younger audience, I think the story resonates with all ages.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Click Image to Buy Now
“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.
This is such a fun series and is totally underrated. The characters in these books are amazing. I could never decide which one was my favorite, which is a good dilemma to have. The books were written with an attention to the little details and the reader is encouraged to try to solve the mysteries right alongside the characters.
The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
Click Image to Buy Now
In a city that runs on a dwindling supply of magic, a young boy is drawn into a life of wizardry and adventure. Conn should have dropped dead the day he picked Nevery’s pocket and touched the wizard’s locus magicalicus, a stone used to focus magic and work spells. But for some reason he did not. Nevery finds that interesting, and he takes Conn as his apprentice on the provision that the boy find a locus stone of his own. But Conn has little time to search for his stone between wizard lessons and helping Nevery discover who—or what—is stealing the city of Wellmet’s magic.
I loved this series when I was in middle school. The familiar trope of the underdog rising from nothing to become something, while cliche, just worked so well for this story. The magic in this world was handled in an interesting way that made it feel unique in a sea of other magical stories.
Spellfall by Katherine Roberts
Click Image to Buy Now
Natalie thinks she is an ordinary girl until she sees a spell in the supermarket car park. She soon discovers her mother came from Earthaven, a place of breathtaking wonder where unicorns roam and giant trees talk. Her father is a Thrall who sells spells across the boundary between worlds. And Natalie has inherited powers the exiled spellmage Lord Hawk needs if he is to take his revenge on the Spell Lords who banished him.
Snatched from her family and forced to choose sides in a magical battle between two worlds, Natalie’s only hope is to join forces with her captor’s son, the young spell-caster Merlin. Can they discover Hawk’s evil plans in time to save Earthaven and its magic?
I loved this book when I was younger. There was just something about the main characters that drew me in and had me hooked from page one. With magical creatures aplenty and a dangerous enemy this book was an adventure.
The Familiars by Adam J Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Click Image to Buy Now
When Aldwyn, a young alley cat on the run, ducks into a mysterious pet shop, he doesn’t expect his life to change. But that’s exactly what happens when Jack, a young wizard in training, picks Aldwyn to be his magical familiar.
Finally off the tough streets, Aldwyn thinks he’s got it made. He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he’s the telekinetic cat he claims to be. But when Jack and two other wizards in training are captured by the evil queen, Aldwyn will have to use all of his street smarts, a few good friends, and a nose for adventure to save the day!
This popular series focuses on three familiars, animal companions of wizards. The plot is a fast paced rollercoaster that takes you on a wild ride. The inner conflict between the main characters creates tension and makes the book all the more interesting. Not only is this a fun read but it also teaches important lessons about friendship and loyalty.
Warriors by Erin Hunter
Click Image to Buy Now
For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their ancestors. But the warrior code has been threatened, and the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger. The sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying—and some deaths are more mysterious than others.
In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary housecat named Rusty… who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.
If you haven’t heard of the Warriors series then you are totally missing out. As a kid I thought these books were the coolest things in the world. Warrior cats in the forest! I mean who could ask for anything better. The premise of the story was just plain fun but it was the characters and the lessons learned throughout their journeys that made this book truly captivating.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Click Image to Buy Now
At her birth, Ella of Frell receives a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order, whether it’s to hop on one foot for a day and a half, or to chop off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not accept her fate…
Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse forever.
If you like fairytales you will most likely enjoy this book. From the very first page the book is full of intrigue and we follow the main character Ella on several exciting adventures. The story plays with multiple well known fairy tales, including Cinderella. Of course you can’t have a fairytale without a prince charming, and the prince in this book is certainly charming. The story also teaches the reader some very important lessons along the way.
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Click Image to Buy Now
Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey through time to dangerous and secret corners of the world . . . a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is true—what they do can change history, and it’s up to them to set things right.
I remember reading this book in middle school and thinking I’d never find another book quite like it. This book manages to be both a fun and easy read as well as an intense, edge of your seat, thrilling ride. While the plot is interesting it is the characters and their relationships that truly keep you reading.
Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan
Click Image to Buy Now
The blue jays and cardinals of Stone-Run Forest have turned against each other. According to legend, only Swordbird, son of the Great Spirit, has the power to conquer evil and restore peace to the land. But is he real or just a myth? Can Swordbird arrive in time to save the forest . . . or will it be too late?
Twelve-year-old author Nancy Yi Fan has woven a captivating tale about the birds of Stone-Run Forest and the heroism, courage, and resourcefulness in their quest for peace.
The characters in Swordbird are all, as the title suggests, birds. Making characters animals seems to be a recurring theme in this post but that’s because it really works. There is something about this trope that just resonates with a younger audience. Books with animals were some of my favorites growing up and this one is no exception. Filled with bravery, sacrifice, and battles, this book kept me emotionally invested from the first to the very last page.
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Click Image to Buy Now
Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.
Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret–behind the mirage of the “death farm” there is instead a place called Artime.
In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.
But it’s a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.
This was a very popular series a few years past and for very good reason. The books blended magic with modernity. While magic in and of itself is not a new concept in books, the way this world handled magic was new and inspiring. The cool magic would have been enough to keep me reading but this book managed to hook me on the characters as well. Their relationships and conflicts were compelling and kept me on the edge of my seat to the very last page.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post and maybe have a few more books to add to that to be read pile. Go give these authors some love and buy their books. They totally deserve it!
- “What are we going to do with all of these? It’s not like we can just go to the local animal shelter and drop off a bunch of baby dragons.”
- “Don’t drink that!”
- “What’s up with all the lights? Please tell me this isn’t some kind of wizard version of a rave.”
- “That’s some really powerful-” “Don’t you dare finish that sentence!” “What, the gift of stink is nothing to be ashamed of.”
- “Tell me again why we are making a deal with the enemy.”
- “We have to get her back to her family. This is important.” “So is senior prom! Ugh fine. Why do you always drag me into stuff like this?”
- “Can you feel anything yet?” “Yeah I can feel you hovering.” “Right sorry. I mean, it’s not like the fate of the world is at stake or anything.”
- “Fire is the breath of life. To control it is to control life itself.”
- “Put that down before you get us all killed!” “But it’s just a dusty old book.”
- “You’re late. Again.” “I swear this time it wasn’t my fault. The novices set a pair of sabertooth badgers loose in the cafeteria.”
- “First time flying? Don’t worry, it gets easier with practice.” “You guys are all insane. Completely and utterly insane.” “Well what’d you expect from a bunch of dragon riders?”
- “You betrayed us. How could you?” “Can’t betray someone if you were never on their side in the first place sweetheart.”
- “Hold up. What do you mean you were born in 1865? You can’t be more than thirty.”
- “It’s not polite to stare, little girl.” “Well excuse me for wondering at the anatomical oddity of you having a pair of freaking wings!”
- “Is that what I think it is?” “Yep.” “What the hell were you thinking bringing that thing in here? You know the rules, no pets inside. Now get that wyvern back outside.”
- “That…that is a hellhound.” “Yeah, and? They’re just like big puppies really. Horribly misunderstood creatures.”
- “What’s the big deal? It’s not like we’re on a mission to save the universe or anything.” “Maybe instead of being sarcastic you could actually try helping for once.”
- “We have an elemental, a werewolf, and a demon on our side. What could possibly go wrong?”
- “So what was that spell you were going to teach me?”
- “Why did I ever trust you?” “Because you know I would never hurt you.” “But you did. You hurt me more than anyone else.”
- “I can help. Please, just let me through.” “What are you going to do? Miraculously heal him?” “Yes!”
- “Stop fighting! We have far more important things to deal with than you two bickering about who can do the better fire spell.”
- “What’s up with him?” “He’s just upset cause that tiny new girl kicked him on his ass this morning.” “Damn, I would have paid to see that. The big bad warrior bested by a little girl.”
- “Are you ready?” “Ouch! What the hell?” “Sorry, I thought you were ready.”
- “That tiny little creature can’t possibly be the one we’ve been searching for. She couldn’t defeat a flea let alone a monster.”
I hope you guys liked these fun little dialogue prompts! Writing from prompts can be a great way to get out of a writing rut. If none of these are sparking your imagination then try writing your own prompts. Writing prompts can be a great way to brainstorm new ideas. Plus, its just plain fun!
The tapping of pens on paper became the rhythmic beating of beetle wings as they transcribed (as best they could) word for word what the teacher was saying. It was the unspoken point system. Two points if you got most of the words correct, three points if the words actually made sense, and five points if you got it down verbatim. The five pointers were always the overachievers, and counterintuitively were usually the low scorers when it came to exams. I guess those verbatim notes didn’t help all that much if your brain was occupied by a nonsensical jabberwocky in the midst of a screeching voice lesson. At least that’s what I liked to imagine. In reality, their minds were probably just blank, like someone clicked ‘delete all files’ and was searching around helplessly, unable to locate the undo button.
An off key screech drew my attention to the left, and I watched transfixed as a pen moved in jerking scrawl across paper. They weren’t even looking down at their paper. Instead, their eyes were focused frontward in a dazed squint. If I waved my hand in front of their nose, would they even notice? My nose twitched, feeling phantom wind. Their scribbles didn’t even look like words and I wondered if they could actually read their own handwriting or if they just looked at it with that same dazed squint expecting it to somehow make sense. I watched as they got to the end of their page and their hand fell off onto the desk. They kept writing for a moment before their body froze and they shook their head in mindless confusion. I tried not to laugh, but a snorting sound, somewhat resembling a wailing walrus, escaped my throat.
I smelled mint coming from the guy to my right and thought about asking him for a piece of gum, then realized I had a pack of gum sitting somewhere in the bottom of my backpack under piles of crinkled paper and old Kind granola bar wrappers. Too lazy, I sighed and went back to aimlessly staring at the board, on which a powerpoint was showing a map of the US during the Civil War. How I knew that, I had no idea. I could barely remember what class this was.
The teacher was speaking gibberish and my page remained blank in front of me. I wondered if she was even speaking at all. Her lips were moving, sound was escaping. Was that even english or some alien language? I watched as her mouth opened and closed, like an amatuer puppeteer was trying to keep up with the words coming out of her mouth. My eyes glazed over and all I could see now was one of those muppets, the crazy drummer with the red hair. What was his name again? I think it started with a k, no maybe an r.
A person two rows in front of me dropped their pen onto the floor and I watched, amused, as they flailed around like a wriggling trout out of water, frantically trying to pick it up only to drop it again. I held back another snorting chuckle. They were hopeless. Everyone in this class was.
Pens were still frantically scribbling, flicking over paper like their lives depended on squeezing in just one extra word. My pen sat dormant in my fingers, as asleep as my brain wanted to be. I realized that I was one of them. A blank brained idiot who couldn’t find the undo button. Or worse yet, a mindless jabberwocky. Oh well. At least I wasn’t an overachiever.
* * *
Flash fiction is an intriguing form to write in. Usually being under 1000 words, it is an exercise in concise language control. I like to use this form to study a singular moment in time, in this case, a moment in a classroom. If you are looking for a quick writing exercise, try your hand at flash fiction. I hope you guys enjoyed this little piece that I wrote for one of my classes this past year. Like this post if you want to see more of my own writing!
Click Image to Buy Now
Jesse James is a normal eighteen-year-old, even if her parents are the best faerie bounty hunters in New York. Jesse’s only concern is how to pay for college, but that changes the night her parents disappear.
Equipped with her parents’ weapons and her own smarts, Jesse enters the dangerous world of bounty hunting in search of her mother and father. In her quest, she encounters all manner of Fae, but the scariest is Lukas, the mysterious, imposing faerie who offers to help her find her parents.
But there are powerful forces at work, and Jesse is about to become a player in a dangerous game that could decide the fate of everyone she loves. In this world of magic and deception, it’s hard to tell her allies from her enemies in the race to find her parents before their time runs out.
Okay, first things first. This was, by far, my favorite book of 2020 thus far. And that is saying something because I read A LOT of books.
Karen Lynch writes young adult supernatural books, her most famous series being the Relentless trilogy. This new book, which came out recently this May, bumped Karen Lynch from one of my top authors to possibly my favorite author of all time. I am in love with her other series but this book was honestly even better.
I am not kidding when I say I read this book in one sitting early into the a.m. because I just couldn’t put it down. As soon as I finished the book all I wanted to do was read it again! It was 3a.m. and instead of sleeping I was re-reading a book that I’d literally just read five minutes ago. I’m an avid re-reader of my favorite books and some I’ve even read up to fifteen times, but I have never done this before. I was simply that captivated by the story and the characters.
Speaking of the characters, this book was filled with interesting and complex characters who were developed seamlessly throughout the book. The world of Fae and magic met modern day New York in this book and the combination was full of excitement and intrigue. The mixture of familiar and unfamiliar was tackled so well by the author and made the book all the more interesting.
Jesse is a protagonist that anyone can love and respect. She is by no means fearless but her action in spite of her fears is inspiring. Despite being worried out of her mind, inexperienced, and out of her element, she doesn’t give up. She is determined to find her parents and bring them home, even if that means putting her life in danger.
Jesse’s little brother although only playing a minor role was one of my favorite characters in the whole book. Their relationship said so much about who Jesse was as a person and really brought her character to life. I could honestly read this book just for their little interactions with one another.
For some people (including myself), it is all about the romance. The slow burn romance in this book had me falling in love right alongside the characters. Their relationship was so well done. The slower pace made it feel all the more real. I’m a sucker for a protective alpha male type love interest and this book had that in spades. I can’t wait to see their relationship developed further throughout the rest of the series.
While there was plenty of conflict, it was clear to me that this was the first book in a series by how the antagonist was set up. We never truly figure out who is behind everything and while I have my theories, I will just have to wait for the rest of the series to find out. This was not a bad thing by any means. The lack of this knowledge only enhanced the plot and made me all the more interested to read the sequel.
The only serious con that I can think of for this book is the fact that it only just released in May which means that we won’t be seeing a sequel for a long (endless) time. This is doubly frustrating because the book ends on an emotional cliffhanger. While the major plot of the book is resolved there is an event at the end of the book (which I won’t reveal because no spoilers) that leaves the reader in emotional turmoil right alongside the main character.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone!
Writing this review has made me want to go re-read Pawn all over again…
If you are interested in purchasing this book, the image at the top of the page will take you straight to amazon. Go show this author some love. She totally deserves it!
1. While Exercising
Stick with me here. Exercise can be a boring mindless task. Why not brainstorm a scene or run dialogue through your head while doing it? I’ve never truly enjoyed running or really any form of cardio exercise so brainstorming in my head while I do it can be a great distraction and make the exercise far more fun. This is doubly productive because it can motivate you to get more exercise, which is never a bad thing.
After you get back home write down your ideas, or if you can’t wait that long, jot them down in your phone. Or if you’re like me, keep them in your head and hope extra hard that you don’t forget them (though I don’t recommend this method).
2. While Sleeping
Okay, so I don’t literally mean brainstorm while you are asleep. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has gotten story ideas from dreams. I once brainstormed an entire novel purely based off of dreams I had when I was younger.
This can be tricky because most people (including me) often don’t remember their dreams. Keeping a journal by your bedside or just something to quickly jot down dream ideas when you wake up is a great way to snatch up those interesting dreams before they are forgotten.
Daydreaming can also be a great way to brainstorm and can help you picture scenes and characters more fully. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Let your mind wander. Sometimes the weirdest ideas make for the best stories.
3. Talking With Friends & Family
Oftentimes I will come up with a new idea as I’m explaining a new project to a friend or family member. This is something I learned in school. Explaining or teaching a concept to someone else can help you personally gain a greater understanding of the material.
Verbalizing the plot, characters, relationships, etc. can allow you as the writer to gain a better picture of the story as a whole and can be a great way to catch and fix plot holes. Saying your ideas out loud can also prompt new ideas and can be a form of brainstorming in and of itself.
If you’re too shy to share, or you’re just not ready for others to hear your ideas yet, I find that pets are great listeners too!
4. In the Shower
Musically inclined people sing in the shower, whereas I run through dialogue ideas, plot twists, and character development. Similar to exercise, showering can be a mindless task. Brainstorming that new book idea can be a way to make it more fun.
Try talking out a dialogue scene. This may feel weird at first, but trust me, hearing dialogue out loud is a great way to make sure your dialogue sounds natural. In writing dialogue can often come across as too formal. Hearing the dialogue out loud can help you see where you can make it sound more natural. Try playing around with voice. Is there a certain word or phrase that a character is always saying.
I hope I’m not the only writerly weirdo who brainstorms in the shower. If I am then, oh well, you all are missing out.
5. While Out and About
Finding new places, like a coffee shop, an antique store, a park, etc. can be a good way to brainstorm settings.
There is something about seeing a new place for the first time that just makes you notice the little things, like the light fixtures, or an old tree, or the smell that hits you when you first open the doors to a coffee shop or an old bookstore. Really taking in the little things around you can be a great way to brainstorm settings.
Familiar places are great too! Re-examining a favorite spot can make for some interesting new ideas. Try looking at a familiar place from a new perspective. Pay attention. Take notes.
6. At a Library or Bookstore
Writing or brainstorming a book while surrounded by hundreds of other books…sounds perfect to me. Whether you decide to go to a local library or a quaint little bookstore in your town/city, find a comfortable spot amongst all those books and start writing.
If you get stuck, pull a book from one of those shelves and start reading. Half of the writing process is reading other books and stories.
Let the environment fuel you. All around you are the results of other authors’ hard work and perseverance. Let that thought motivate you. Your book could be on one of those shelves some day. How cool is that!
7. At a Cafe
There is something quintessentially perfect about writing at a cafe. And yes, I know this is very cliche, but sometimes cliche can be a good thing. Order a drink, find a corner seat, take out that notebook or laptop and just start brainstorming.
Listen to the conversations around you. Get inspired! Study people, their quirks, what they choose to wear, how they act when ordering. I’m convinced that all writers have an inherent interest in people watching. I love listening to and watching the people around me and trying to figure out how they think. This can be a great exercise in brainstorming characters.
Just remember, be polite. Observation is great! Just try not to make the people around you uncomfortable.
8. While Reading or Watching TV/Movies
This may feel wrong but…like how a character is developed in a favorite book, like a plot point or big reveal in a tv show, like how a relationship is formed in a movie, write these things down. Later on, brainstorm using these base ideas and make them your own. Think in terms of, how would I go about making this even better. Try putting your own fun twist into the idea.
Of course you have to be careful to not just copy, but from my personal experience once I’ve fully developed an idea, character, plot point, etc. it barely resembles the original inspiration. As a child I was often told that copying was the greatest form of flattery. While I don’t condone copying outright, good storytelling is something to admire and try to emulate.
Learning from stories that have already been told, and told well, is a great way to become a better writer.
9. During a Break
This is a method I learned early on in middle school. Whenever I had a free period I would get out my laptop and just write. This carried into high school and later into college. My schedule at college is often all over the place and last semester I found myself with large chunks of time between classes. I would often use this time to grab a drink, head to the library, sit down, and write or brainstorm ideas.
This really worked for me. Oftentimes, I would find myself occupied with studying and unmotivated to write in the evenings. Using my free hours during the day allowed me to get in some quality writing time despite my busy schedule. If you work, try brainstorming or writing during your breaks. Brainstorming in your head is a fun way to keep your mind occupied while on a lunch break.
10. Late at Night or Early in the Morning
That is to say, when there are no distractions. Have you ever been up early in the am hours and just sat down and realized how quiet it is. The silence is incredibly calming.
There’s no pressure to rush, no distracting work to finish, no worrying about being productive. It’s just you and the night and whatever you want to do with that time.
This is one of my favorite times to brainstorm and write. If you’re a night owl like me, that means occasionally staying up until 2am. For the early birds, this could mean getting up at 5am, grabbing a drink, and watching the sunrise as you write. Whether it’s morning or night, these times are simply magical. Take advantage of them!
I’m personally in the middle of writing a novel and many of these have been go to times and places for me to brainstorm, outline, and write. I hope this little list of times to brainstorm was helpful and inspiring.
“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
I thought it was about time I shared some of my own writing on this blog, so here are a few poems I have been working on this year
* * *
Part I: Sugar Rush I’ve fallen asleep awake, eyes popping like popcorn Lazy bee, I be buzzed on strawberry Hi-Chews… Concussed by beating my brain with a pillow, Self-inflicted suffocation of the mind… Thinking like pandas, dumb but the “cute” saves them from extinction… Minty-stale breath breathes words like puffed concrete… Why aren’t you listening to me? Shouting quietly important nonsense, misunderstood misinformation Capitalism is convincing, pay fifteen dollars for this trash! It’s a deal, like paying smiles for a child's cartwheels… What’s the deal with this sugar free sugar? Popping cough drops like candy, the school nurse is my dealer “Put a bandaid on it”, as I gush gushers up from my guts… You accomplish nothing by being sick, so don’t be… Killing a cactus is hard work but I have accomplished it…
* * *
Part II: Don’t! well…maybe do… Chasing circles because that’s what dogs do Who are you? Hi, my name is maybe, sorta, kinda… This poem is a penny per word on a page… You just paid ten cents for that line, this too… Dollars are paper made valuable through imagination… This is a line of poetry, but it is really just wasting Read this line five times out loud then read it backwards… No don’t! That’s ridiculous… Or maybe not, you may as well… Read this line five times too…
* * *
Insomniatic there’s a cat that hangs from your ceiling at night clings to the plastered off white why a cat claws carelessly little pin pushed punctures in plaster that you fill hollow refill repeat cycling through cycles of cat like washing machines cat hair all static and bones electrified why a cat cat counting countless mice pounce dead why a cat not dead the mice scurry away just out of reach until they are thoughts on tips of tongues tapping incessantly relentlessly endlessly awake why a cat does it matter awake
* * *
Breathe What’s with work. Capitalism convincing childs cartwheels, but we aren’t children, so end up cracked backs, tangled toes, ridiculous. Then the thinking. Falling fast from fifteen to five on thoughts given. Eyes eating extinction in the media, reading ridiculous. Really rather read non-existent non-fiction. Boomers label you you you Gen Z. Who is really you, but a mirror reflected me. You is me Vice-versa. Where are the Millennials? They tell me be backwards because forwards takes trying too many years. Trying. So just be
* * *
Charlatan She dug through your skull, a three legged lioness who claims she has four, limped into your head, lazy and languid she slept on her pride rock, high up, touching clear blue brain pushing at wisps of thought, shoving empty air, heavy-wet, but her paw went straight through nothing. At scrutiny she shrinks, scrambling she whines, falling higher like tipping a jar of liquid and watching rising air bubbles flimsily float. Boastful she grows, double, triple. Too big. Memory foam inside a cardboard box, sides bulging, stretching, thinned. But then, pin popped air slowly whistling away, until your brain has shrunk to fill the empty. Folded inwards like sun-dried plums, shriveled. And she remembers, three legs. Claims four. Limps onward.
* * *
L-o-v-e Found text from The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Coming from the old english lufu, loofah, a pinched ball of tulle used to scrub the body with soap. Love like liubi, Luigi; therefore love is green and has a red brother Mario. German liebe; leave, leave me alone already. Or leaf (again proving that love is green). Love like lob, throwing aspirin at the headache that is heartthrob. Love lost; love is lost somewhere between money and abstraction. Love bug, having nothing to do with love and everything to do with a tiny black insect belonging to the fly family; love as in insect. Love handles handled; handling the word love by attributing it to the fat attached to one’s hips. To make love, throw a few bottles of human philosophy into a mixing bowl, a couple tongues to speak the words, add attraction, stir until well incorporated. To be in love; to be a green loofah scrubbing love handled hips with the heart of an insect. “And I add my own love to the history of people who have loved…”
* * *
Hope you guys enjoyed these little musings. Give this a like if you want to see more of my writing on here.
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Click Image to Buy Now
Maria V. Snyder is a young adult fantasy author who has written several amazing book series. Her books are filled with unique and interesting magic systems and the historical worlds that she sets them in would make for a beautiful film setting. With interesting characters, action filled plot, and character relationships that you can fall in love with, any of Marie V. Snyder’s books would no doubt be popular as films.
If you haven’t read Maria V. Snyder’s books yet, what are you doing, go read them!
Relentless by Karen Lynch
Click Image to Buy Now
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I am in love with this author’s books! While the supernatural world has become a common trope of modern young adult fiction, Karen Lynch manages to make this trope seem new and unique.
With a new species to play with, plenty of action to keep people entertained, and good character developments, her series Relentless would make for an amazing movie series and could easily be adapted into a tv show. Her new book that just recently released has just as much if not more potential for the big screen.
I will be rooting for these books to be turned into films until the day it happens.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Click Image to Buy Now
We’ve seen a movie and a tv show of the Immortal Instruments series but nothing of the Clockwork Angel, which in my opinion is the far better book series. With the already established fan base for both the books and the tv series, this seems like an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.
The historical time period of this book trilogy would give the film a beautiful setting to work with and with the fandom already in place these movies/tv show would be a definite hit.
Sanctum by Sarah Fine
Click Image to Buy Now
Sarah Fine’s Guards of the Shadowlands series is a very unique young adult book and, while it deals with some heavier topics, the action packed trilogy would make for an intense and fun tv series. The main character is a strong, take no names, woman and I for one would love to see her on screen.
With a yummy love interest and suspenseful plot lines, this series could easily keep an audience on the edge of their seats waiting for the next episode.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Click Image to Buy Now
With Sarah J Mass’ popularity I’m honestly surprised her books haven’t already been made into films. Her Throne of Glass series in particular seems like a great movie opportunity. With a female assassin and mysterious magical elements this would make for a seriously good movie or tv series.
Female assassin movies seem to be growing in popularity in recent years. Why not add this one to the list!
The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley
Click Image to Buy Now
This younger-young adult series was one that I read and loved all through middle school. It presents a twist on the original Grimm Brother’s fairy tales, placing their stories and characters into a modern world.
With the familiarity of the premise and the fun characters that any person can fall in love with, this series reminds me of a mix between the tv shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm. As the title suggests the series follows a pair of sisters who are descended from the original Grimm brothers. With two sisters, a kick ass grandma, and a whole host of fairy tale characters, these books would make for amazing tv!
Born at Midnight by CC Hunter
Click Image to Buy Now
These books are popular for a reason and I think their popularity would only increase if they were to be put into film. The world that is built within this series and the interesting twist on a modern day supernatural world would translate amazingly into a tv series.
With the common trope of summer camp and a cast of interesting characters, this has the potential to be a seriously popular show.
The Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
Click Image to Buy Now
With the recent popularity of Katniss and her archery skills, I could see this series taking off. These action packed books are filled with interesting characters and even more interesting plot lines. With the popularity of this book series and an already established fan base, these books could make for a movie series that could become one of the classics.
I for one am tired of all the guns and modern warfare and would love to see some old fashioned archery and sword fighting.
Vampire Academy & Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Click Image to Buy Now
We have already seen an attempt at a movie for this book series. And while this movie wasn’t terrible it didn’t do the books justice in the slightest.
These two series would make for an absolutely kick ass tv series. There is so much amazing material to work with here and an interesting new world that puts a unique twist on the vampire trope. With the popularity of this book series I’m honestly surprised they haven’t tried to make this into a tv show yet.
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Click Image to Buy Now
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been waiting years on a supposed Selection movie/tv series. I can remember a few years ago when people were excited thinking that it was finally going to happen. That excitement has waned to disappointment. I say give the fans what they have been wanting!
This trilogy would make for an amazing tv series. I hope that people realize this series full potential and make it happen before fans get overly annoyed with the delay.
If you haven’t already read these books I highly recommend checking them out. For those who have read them, do you agree with my picks? What books would you like to see on the big screen?
Start with the five minute rule. That’s all it takes. Set aside five minutes of your day to devote yourself to your writing. Most of the time that five minutes will turn into fifteen or perhaps even an hour. If it doesn’t and you really only write for five minutes, no harm done. That’s still five minutes of writing that you wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Writing everyday or even every other day can be an intimidating task. This five minute rule can make it feel doable. Five minutes is about the time you dedicate to brushing your teeth each day. In other words, it’s a very manageable length of time. Making writing a habit is all about not overwhelming yourself. If you set an hour long daily writing goal, I know personally, I would never be able to accomplish it purely for the fact that an hour is an intimidating length of time.
The five minute rule allows for a base from which to build off of and a guilt free writing environment. If you write for two hours, great, if you write for five minutes, also great! Either way you have fulfilled your five minute daily quota and are one step closer to making writing a habit.
Write Without Stopping
If you are ever feeling extremely stuck or unmotivated to write (which is a regular occurrence for me), try setting yourself down in front of your computer or a piece of paper and just start putting words onto the page.
It doesn’t matter what the words are. It could be complete gibberish. The important thing is to keep writing. Don’t stop. Even if you end up writing lalalalalala for minutes on end don’t let your pen stop moving or your fingers stop typing. While this may seem dumb at times, it will get you into the habit of writing even when you are feeling unmotivated or blocked.
This can be a helpful habit to have in your arsenal when you are struggling with your writing and this exercise has personally helped me push past writer’s block many times.
Set a Daily Word Count
Setting a word count is NOT the same thing as setting a word limit. If your daily word count is 100 words and you end up writing 2,000 that’s fantastic!
I find the danger with setting a word count to be that once you’ve reached that count for the day you feel an unintentional pressure to stop writing. Word counts should not be limiting.
Start small. Set a word count of 50 or a 100. Similar to the five minute rule, this is just a base from which to build off of. If you write more than this, great! If you write exactly 50 words, that’s 50 more words of whatever short story, poem, chapter, etc.
While word counts can be helpful, I do not set them as a strict rule but rather a guideline. If a daily word count is too intimidating try setting a weekly or a monthly word count. If you do set a daily word count, do NOT kill yourself over missing one day. It’s okay. Make it up by writing more tomorrow. Or better yet, just let it go. Life happens.
Create an Associated Habit
I’ve developed several habits over my lifetime that help me get into a writing mood, whether it is having a cup of iced coffee while I write, sitting next to my dog, having certain writerly locations, or listening to music… Attaching a habit to your writing can be a simple shortcut into making writing a habit. For example, if you write regularly in one location then writing can become a habit when in that location.
While this is a great way to get into the habit of writing regularly, you have to be careful. Don’t have only one writing habit. This can lead to a reliance on this habit.
Say you get into the habit of having a cup of tea while you write. After a while you find that you absolutely MUST have a cup of tea or you can’t write. Or say you have a habit of writing in a certain location but find that you can’t seem to write anywhere else. Having a reliance on a habit in order to write isn’t productive in the long run.
But don’t worry, this is easily avoidable. Try having several writing habits instead of just one. Switch up your routine now and again. Introduce new writing habits on occasion and let go of old ones. This way, you still get the benefits of habits to help you write more regularly but you aren’t reliant on them.
Start small! I cannot stress this enough. It can be tempting to try to jump all in, giving yourself a word limit of 2,000 words a day, setting aside a large chunk of time to devote to writing, and obsessing over getting that daily quota of writing completed. This will not work. Or at least it won’t work for a normal flawed human being. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to write huge daily amounts. Making writing a habit is all about making it a small and manageable task.
I hope these little bits of advice helped!
60 Fun Chapter Titles to Inspire Your Creativity…
- You’re late…again
- Is anyone going to save the world?
- I just really really like seashells
- Is it even possible to be jealous of a frog?
- Obsession with a magic mirror
- Talking nonsense to someone with no sense
- His name is Tiny and he’s very sensitive about it
- I’m not losing I just really like the taste of dirt
- Blood is a very nutritious diet
- But it’s not even a full moon
- Keeping up with the Keepers
- You can’t see that?
- Okay, who farted!
- This might actually work…if we don’t kill each other first
- The grand opening is cut short by a…
- Late night confessions
- Diary of a dead girl walking
- Why does everyone always think this is like Harry Potter?
- You look like an idiot
- Learning to say no
- Oops, I set a girl’s hair on fire
- Put that down before you kill us!
- I didn’t think dying would be this exciting
- Trying to find the center
- You’re going to get yourself killed
- Geometry has never been more confusing
- Where am I? The more appropriate question would be when am I?
- Is this heaven?
- Don’t EVER challenge a troll to a wasabi eating contest
- Getting down and dirty…just kill me now, I’m surrounded by immature idiots
- The obligatory battle scene
- Who knew a talking chicken could be so damn annoying…
- Saying goodbye is always the easiest part
- What dimension are we in?
- Whoa, I didn’t know you could turn invisible, wicked!
- Counting dead stars
- Sweet morning texts of murder
- Bystanders are equally guilty
- My first dragon riding lesson…what could go wrong?
- What wass ins thoose dthrinks?
- Living is like being thrust into a fiery pit
- Sacrificing my soul for an idiot
- Killing is never the answer except for when it is
- When did my sister become Queen B?
- Failing at everything except the unimportant
- Sleeping with my best friend…get your head out of the gutter
- Signing over my freedom to an asshole
- Why is it always me?
- Death falling out of the sky
- Saving the dragon
- We. Are. Not. Mates.
- I refuse to give you the satisfaction
- Deconstructing and rebuilding a pen is qualification enough to dismantle a bomb
- I got this…okay maybe not
- The ground is falling
- Need some help over there
- Falling in hate
- How to strangle someone with your eyes, a step by step guide
- The first kill is always the hardest
- Don’t open your eyes
Chapter titles can be an important factor in grabbing your reader’s attention. An unexpected or creative chapter title can give that extra bit of intrigue to your story that will keep your reader flipping pages with eager curiosity. I hope these titles inspire your writing!
Writing your own chapter titles can be a fun exercise in and of itself. If you are feeling stuck, try punching out a few chapter titles. Let those titles inspire new and unexpected ideas for your story. Have fun!