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Six of Crows | Book Review

Have you ever been skeptical about a book? It could have been due to hype and rumors, online discussion, or maybe just the classic “judging a book by its cover.” I can’t say I’m not guilty of judging books based on hearsay, because I have to admit I was very skeptical about the book Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Part of the issue is that I read Shadow and Bone, the first book she ever wrote about the Grishaverse. I wasn’t a fan of the plot of that book or the characters, so… in all honesty… I carried that judgement over to her duology Six of Crows and Crowned Kingdom. The other issue is entirely my own: there was so much hype around these two books that I just subconsciously averted myself from them. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get past the idea that maybe this book was just as gritty and enticing as it was being advertised. I mean… a popular YA book can’t possibly be gritty and hard and cold, right? …

What is a Scene?

This week, let’s chat about scenes. In the last installment, we discussed the over-arching set up of the novel through acts, but this week, we’ll break it down further so that we see the actual usefulness of scenes. Scenes are different for each medium (TV, movie, book, screenplay, etc.), but they embody this one thing: action. A scene is a section of writing in which your reader is a part of the story and there is more attention and focus on what’s happening; it is not description, or exposition (for the most part), or conclusion, but it happens around these pieces in chapters. You know when you’re reading a novel and a chapter typically starts off with a sort of “introduction” and then moves into the meat of the chapter. Chapters are broken into scenes- you can see writers break these up by using little “page break” symbols. Sometimes, the writer just uses white space to create an illusion of switching attention between scenes. So, don’t get confused by thinking a chapter and a scene …

Should Novelists Also Write Short Stories?

There is this age-old idea that in order to be better at writing novels, a writer should either begin with or practice writing short stories. It’s fallen out of fashion because there are even less markets now-a-days that publish short stories, and even fewer that actually pay the writer for them. It used to be true that authors could find a good way into the industry through being published by short stories, but it is way less likely now. So, is this actually worth doing? I say YES, but of course there are caveats. In my experience, writing short stories are perfect as practice. They’re “short,” to-the-point, and you can usually get an idea out onto paper within a day. It won’t be polished, but it helps you develop your voice and style and also flexes your vocabulary muscle. It’s also less emotionally devastating to write a short story using a new technique and do poorly at it, than it is to write a full-length novel and find out you need more practice. Plus, short …

WIP and Muses: Darlings Come-to-Life, Dragons, and Aliens

Right now, I can hear the rain falling. The only light on in our little apartment is the Lavender & Sage candle on my desk, and, despite the darkness outside, I can still hear birds singing. It’s been an interesting week. I took almost an entire week off from writing because lo and behold, I completed my third novel. And you know, I really think this is it. I learned so much from my first two stories that I think I finally, finally, got something worth reading into a story format. It’s still rough, it’s not great, but it’s got that certain something that’s been missing from my last few stories. Sentinel Crooke is a fully formed human (at least, in my mind), and I want to share him and his universe with the world. My goal was to write it in two months. Everyday, 1,500 words, and I damn near came close. I wrote for 62 days, from June 12th to August 14th, and finished the last Monday by churning out almost 8,000 words in …

What is an Act?

You may think Acts are only used for Screenplays, but I’d like to tell you: we’re writers! We break all the rules! Actually, that’s not the only reason why writers use Acts. The three-Act plot structure is one of the oldest writing techniques to date. It’s famous for being used by playwrights like Shakespeare. But, as novelists, we can use it to structure our story into the most cohesive story we can. Acts revolve around the biggest turning points in your story. This means Acts drive the plot. For the sake of ease, we’ll use the three-act structure as an example (even though you can do two-acts, 9-acts, and even 12-acts). Your first Act is the set up. It tells the reader who they’re reading about, why they should care, and what’s the “problem.” The second Act is what Writer’s Write like to call “The Complication.” It sets up the “problem” in a way to make it more important and more of a hurdle. Typically, the protagonist is faced with more difficulty in addressing the …

Traditional Novel Structure: 3 Parts

The fun of reading is getting lost in a novel, isn’t it? You forget about character arcs, sentence structure, and subplots. Instead, you’re invested in the characters and you root for a satisfying resolution, whatever that may be. A well-structured novel allows readers to get lost in the story, because it has a strong foundation upon which the story was built. Sometimes authors tackle the structure during the outline and some tackle it during their editing. Either way, there are specific parts of structure that are usually included that can help a writer make the best of their story. We can break down structure into three main parts: Acts Scenes Beats I will go into these in detail in posts to come over the next couple weeks, but now I really want to break down the importance of structure. Novel structure can change from genre to genre, but for the most part it begins as a whole with Acts. Acts are the largest parts of your novel and revolve around the major turning points. This …

WIP And Muses: Mindfulness and the Arcana

The weekend is finally here. Let’s just take a second to breathe, because if you made it through this week without anything crazy happening, I applaud you. My family, friends, coworkers… it seemed like everyone was having a really hard time this week. I know I was. I like to consider myself a calm person, someone who is in tune with their inner self, but this week I’ve been a bundle of panicky nerves. A lot is going on and I feel a huge change coming towards me like a wave. It’s that feeling you get where you know something is coming, but you have no idea what or when… kind of like being hunted down by Jason in the Friday the 13th movies. It’s coming… you can’t see it… but you can’t escape. And I don’t want to. Its change I’ve brought upon myself through positive thinking, but it’s still nerve-wracking. I’ve turned a lot towards writing, and also Mindfulness and Meditation. I also rediscovered my love for Tarot. Before you disregard this post, …