A Note on the Sunday Sample

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No Sunday Sample this week, I’m afraid – got a visit from a nasty virus that’s now making its merry way through my family one by one. Missed a couple days of work last week due to either my kids or myself being laid up in bed. And spent my Sunday sleeping through a sore throat that’s now shifted into full-blown tonsillitis.

Fun! =D

I’ll get back on track this next week though. Promise! =)

 

Beka <3

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Heinlein’s Rules of Writing

Though they’ve been around for some time, I’ve only recently discovered this set of writing rules suggested by author Robert Heinlein. When I found them, it was a game-changing moment for me. I had already been beyond excited about the prospects of taking my publishing into my own hands, and then I found these “rules.” Though I would be more inclined to call them guidelines, as I don’t really feel that any form of art or creativity should have a steadfast list of rules. In any case, my motivation and determination after familiarizing myself with the rules were sky high. Now that I’ve been able to take a little time to reflect on the rules and what they mean to me personally, I can better apply them to my writing habits.

And so, here are the rules (guidelines!) that further changed the way I approach my writing, and the way I view them.

*    *    *

Heinlein’s Rules of Writing

1. You must write.

Well, now. That seems simple enough, doesn’t it? It should have been obvious to me that the only way to write and publish novels would be to… you know… write. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realized that what I was doing was avoiding writing. I would sit down during my allotted writing time and plan, or plot, or world build, or brainstorm on characters, or read over what I had written in the past, or read about writing. Sure, that’s all good, but unless I actually wrote something – produced an actual word count toward my story – none of that extra stuff was going to do me any good.

Luckily, deciding to go full indie had destroyed the anxiety and fear that had been blocking me from actually creating anything. This to me is the only real rule that every writer must follow. How can a writer expect to succeed without writing?

I’ve always had issues with allowing myself to worry about what others are going to think of my stories, and I end up dwelling on it so much that my creative process shuts down completely. The way I have to make this rule work for me is by always keeping in mind a quote from author Hugh Howey:  “Write as if nobody will read it; publish as if everyone will read it.”

2. You must finish what you write.

This is another important one that has always been rough for me. I firmly believe that seeing a project through to the end (unless said project is making you absolutely miserable) is an essential part of learning to be a successful writer. Now, this is not to say that every single story you attempt must be drafted, edited, polished, and published. Some stories just aren’t meant to be. Some need more time to percolate in your mind. Some are better used as a practice story. And some are written just for us, a private story or world where we can go to play anytime we want without having to share it.

What I believe is imperative for every story a writer starts, however, is completing the first draft from beginning to end. If all you write is beginnings, never practicing middles and ends, then your craft will never be as well rounded as it needs to be. Same goes for only writing endings or random scenes and never bothering with the rest of it.

To truly get a feel for an entire story, a writer must write the entire story. That is really the only way you’ll be able to figure out what needs to be changed or rewritten, and what needs to be added or removed. Having the entire idea out there on paper (or screen!) lets your mind see the entire scope of your story, and the writer’s mind will automatically begin piecing it together properly. It’s something I think all writers can do – I truly believe we all develop this natural ability to see exactly how a story must go to be the exciting journey we want it to be. But without that completed first draft, the initial outburst of ideas for our story, I believe this ability becomes hindered and is never allowed to really bloom.

3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.

I’ve done a lot of reading on Heinlein’s rules, and this is by far the Point that receives the most attention. There’s a lot of debate revolving around this one little statement, and I have to say that I can clearly understand the opposing opinions.

Some writers believe that the first draft is where the creative magic happens, particularly if you have learned to shut off your inner editor while writing it. They believe that the initial spark of imagination, the words that flow while writing something as raw as a rough draft, is where the story should stay. Rewriting and fiddling around with your story after this point, other than to repair glaring errors or contradictions, is only going to hurt your creativity.

Now, that is not to say that the writers on this side of the fence refrain from editing their work. In fact, I don’t recall once seeing a writer that mentioned they submitted or published immediately after the first draft. Most go on to proofread and lightly edit for spelling, grammatical, and continuity errors.

I tend toward the other side of things. While I can see the magic of the above viewpoint, I can say that for me personally this would never work. And that’s exactly why I disagree with this rule.

All the other guidelines are something that every writer must do in order to gain success. Except, perhaps, for rule #5, which I’ll mention later on. These are simple, concrete goals. “You must write. You must finish what you write. You must put the work on the market.”

But rule #3 seems out of place almost, going so far as to tell writers how to attain their goals. Every writer out there is different, and every writer has to develop their own way of doing things. Anyone can tell you that writers write and sell their work. It’s what they do. But a writer’s process is a very personal thing. Refraining from rewriting, “except to editorial order” … now, that’s a “how.” Though some writers might love this, not everyone will be successful by following this advice. Not only do some writers do the opposite, but others might even change up their process from story to story. It’s an intimate thing, a writer’s process.

I’m a firm believer that we must develop our own path through our own stories.

4. You must put the work on the market.

Yes, get it out there! Do it in the way you are most comfortable, the way that brings you the most excitement. Want to go the traditional publishing route? Send the manuscript out. If it’s rejected, send it out again immediately. Rinse, repeat, until you land the sale or an editor makes rewriting suggestions you agree with. But don’t stop writing while the manuscript is out there – get to work on the next one.

Self-publishing? Then get to work on your cover and your formatting, and publish that sucker! Forget about the fear. Just do it.

If you’re anything like me, you’re dying to find readers who love your characters and stories as much as you do. So, get those stories circulating.

5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

This I agree with to a certain extent. By all means, if you’ve polished a story up all nice and shiny and you love it, make sure you get it out there. And keep it out there. If you’ve ever attempted to sell a story, you know that this part’s not easy. It’s discouraging to get continuous rejections or bad reviews, and it can shake your confidence in the story itself.

But think about it this way – if you absolutely love your story and characters, then there’s bound to be someone else out there who loves them too, right? Keep trying, and keep searching. Give your creative masterpiece a fighting chance out there in the world!

Now, here’s that “certain extent” I mentioned above. Some stories may not be ready for the world yet. It’s difficult to see what’s wrong in a novel you’ve worked so hard on. Sometimes the story should be seen by a fresh pair of eyes, whether that be an agent, editor, or reader who bought your story on Amazon. And some of those readers might just deliver the missing piece to your story’s puzzle in the form of a review or a letter of constructive criticism from an editor. When you receive the right advice, the suggestions that make sense and that resonate with you, then you’ll know what to fix.

Once you’ve fixed it, send that manuscript out again!

Sunday Sample – Randomness

I totally had my Sunday Sample prepared last night, then realized this morning I’d only saved it as a draft. >.<  So, here’s my Sunday Sample… on Monday!

I poke around my old writing quite a bit – sometimes to remind myself that I’m not as terrible as I think I am, and sometimes to look for inspiration or a new project to work on. While I was reading through some older stuff, I found this scene that made me smile. It is meant to be part of a young adult novel about a 17-year-old homeless boy who’d been booted from his home after he told his dad he was gay. 

Got another post I’m working on for this evening, but for now this will have to do! =)

*****

I leaned up against a wall across from a convenience store and pressed on my aching stomach. I’d been standing here so long, pretty soon someone would chase me away for loitering. Every time someone passed me, I wondered if they could read my thoughts, or see my life written on my face. But I never got a second glance. 

For the last half hour I’d been eyeballing the corner store and the Subway next to it. My stomach felt like it was trying to eat itself. Never thought I’d contemplate theft, but the option became very real when I ran out of money three days ago.

The pounding in my head made it hard to think straight. My stomach roared, and I pushed my fist into my gut. I shut my eyes against a flash of dizziness. When I opened them again, I watched in envy as two more customers went into Subway – a girl wearing a pink bikini top and shorts, and a kid who actually reminded me of myself, wearing a dark beanie and tucking a skateboard under his arm.

Maybe it was the hunger, but at that moment I had an odd sensation come over me. I witnessed all these people going about their daily lives – people with jobs, money, friends, homes – and I felt a sort of detachment. They had no idea how lucky they were. Too many people went through life without appreciation, always grasping for more, never satisfied. They didn’t even look twice at those of us who yearned for just the tiniest fraction of what they had.

A shout from across the street pulled my attention. The kid with the skateboard came flying across the street, Subway bag in hand. He brushed past me and skidded around the corner.

An employee in a green polo shirt ran outside and stopped on the sidewalking to search my side of the street. His face darkened and he ran straight toward me. Well, lumbered, really. He pointed and shouted, “Stop that kid!”

A shirtless guy who looked a lot like Thor in swim trunks and sandals dashed across the street to play the good citizen. It was then that I realized how I looked to them: Exactly like the kid that had just pilfered his sandwich.

“Shit,” I hissed. I spun and hauled ass around the corner.

I thought maybe the sandals would slow Thor down, but a glance back showed me he was closing the gap between us. Maybe they were some kind of crazy Odin-issued super sandals.

Or maybe I was delirious.

Either way, I booked it. I turned another corner and slipped between a Wings and a pizzeria, shouting apologies behind me whenever I bumped into someone.

This guy was serious. He pumped his arms in a tireless rhythm. It was just a sandwich. He didn’t even work there. Just some random do-gooder surfer guy.

Part of me wondered why I ran. Why the hell didn’t I just tell them it wasn’t me? But another part of me rooted for the kid to get away with his sandwich. His delicious, freshly-made Subway sandwich. My gut screamed at me.

I didn’t have much energy left – I started to feel dizzy again, and a surge of bile ran up my throat.

Please don’t barf, I pleaded with myself. Not that anything would come up. But it would slow me down.

In front of me, a hand shot out from behind a wall and grabbed a fistful of my jacket. I lurched into an alcove as I was yanked around the corner. The Subway thief shoved me up against the wall behind a decorative pillar. I grunted with the impact. My mouth opened to yell at him – or throw up all over his shoes, whichever – but he lifted his index finger to his lips.

For some reason, I obeyed. I could hear Thor’s sandals slapping on the asphalt as he ran past. The noise slowed to a stop. The kid pinning me to the wall risked a peek around the pillar. He stood motionless like that and I just concentrated on controlling my breathing.

As my heartbeat calmed down, he flashed a triumphant grin at me. His eyes – the bluest eyes I’d ever seen in my life – gleamed with excitement.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” he said. He let me go and straightened my jacket. “Didn’t mean for them to go after you.”

“Don’t worry about it.” My vision blurred and I sagged, sliding to the ground on weakened legs. I rested my head on my knees, and vomiting became a probability.

“You okay?” The kid crouched down in front of me. God damn, his eyes were blue.

“Y-yeah,” I said. “Gimme a minute.” An angry growl filled our little alcove, and he looked down at my stomach.

“Here,” he said. He untucked the half-smashed Subway bag from under his arm, unwrapped it, and held out half of the sandwich.

I stared, first at him, then at the offering. I didn’t know if I should take it.

“Turkey,” the boy said. He waved the food in front of my face with a smile that said, “Come on, you know you want it.”

My hand trembled as I took it. I murmured my thanks and took a small bite, leaning back up against the wall.

“No prob,” he said. “You look like you ain’t eaten in a while.” He took a bite and leaned up next to me. “And you worked for that shit as much as I did.”

I had to laugh.

“I’m Liam,” he said.

I took his outstretched hand and shook it. “Eric.”

We ate in silence for a while. I tried to take my time to savor the sandwich, but before long I shoved the last bit into my mouth and stared at my empty hand. Who knew turkey, lettuce, and tomato on wheat bread could be so heavenly. I could only hope it would stay down in my stomach, where it belonged.

I glanced over at my companion and chuckled when he picked at the tiny bits of shredded lettuce stuck to the paper wrapper.

After a moment, he sighed and rolled his head to the side to look at me. “Wanna split the paper?”

My laughter echoed in the small space. It had been a while since I laughed like that.

“So, Eric,” he said. “How long you been on the street?”

I blinked. How did he know that?

“Seen you around lately,” he said in answer to my unspoken question. “You’re new at this, huh?”

Looking myself over, I wondered if it was that obvious to everyone that I was homeless. “Yeah,” I said. “Maybe two months.”

“First few weeks are easy,” he said. “Then you wake up one day under a bush in a parking lot and think, ‘Fuck. This is real.’”

That revelation had hit me this morning – my third day with no more than a few crackers I unearthed from the bottom of my backpack that must have slipped out of the package a while ago.

Curiosity got the better of me. “How long for you?”

Liam took a deep breath and crossed his legs on top of his skateboard like it was a footstool. “Two years?”

“Holy shit,” I said. Was I going to be out here for two years? Five? Forever?

“Yeah,” Liam said. “Thinkin’ about workin’ on my bum beard.” He stroked his face, and I laughed again.

“How old are you?” I asked. He couldn’t be much older than me.

“Nineteen,” he said. He jerked his chin in my direction, batting the question back to me.

“Seventeen.”

Liam nodded. He shrugged his backpack off and opened it, producing a plastic water bottle. He opened it and offered it to me.

I took it with thanks, trying not to drink too much of it. At least I’d never go thirsty; if I had to be homeless, I was glad it could be here, by the beach. Had a bathroom and a free shower with all the ice-cold water I could ever want.

A sense of camaraderie came over me. Having company might make my life a little less shitty, especially if it was someone who knew what I was going through. I sent a silent prayer up into the cosmos that Liam wouldn’t bail on me after our shared lunch. No one ever talked to me – their eyes just slid over me like I was furniture. It felt good to be treated as a normal person.

Even though I’d only known Liam for all of thirty minutes, a tiny tendril of fear crept up my spine at the thought of facing the world alone again.

Liam backhanded me on the shoulder, jolting me out of my thoughts. “Come on,” he said.

I staggered to my feet, legs feeling a little sore. “Where?”

He only shrugged. “Wherever,” he said.

I poked my head around the pillar. “Think Thor’s gone?”

“Thor…? Oh!” An amused light filled his eyes and he doubled over laughing with a hand on his stomach. He patted my shoulder as he stepped out of the alcove, still chuckling.

“Hey, thanks again for the sandwich.” I felt a million times better than I had an hour ago, though I thought I could have eaten about ten more sandwiches and still have been hungry.

“Welcome.”

We wandered toward the boardwalk closer to the beach, boards tucked under our arms. We made a wide circle around Subway and kept an eye out for Thor.

Sunday Sample – Darkened Soul

I’ve decided to do a weekly post that will get me used to the idea of putting my writing out in the open – a “Sunday Sample” of whatever it is I’m working on at the time. I need to get some regularity back into my writing and blogging. I hope you enjoy reading the excerpts as much as I enjoy writing them =)

This week, I had a stroke of inspiration and unearthed an old Nano novel. After reading through the rough draft (and I do mean rough… O.O), I saw the entire story with sudden clarity. I knew exactly what I wanted it to be, and it excited me. So, in the spirit of writing what’s fun, here’s a small draft excerpt of my urban fantasy, Darkened Soul.

*****

Danny gathered his papers from the copy machine, stifling a yawn. He tipped his head to one side, then the other; his neck still ached. He couldn’t complain though, as once again he’d gotten out of the hospital after only a brief stay. The docs suggested he take a few days off of work, but sitting around at home would make him crazy.

Crazy. Yep. He chuckled, getting the usual nervous glances from his co-workers.

He’d become something of a wonder, well known by the emergency room staff. Before he left, they’d made him appointment with some kind of specialist, though Danny had no clue what they thought they were going to find. He might even go to the appointment; it would be nice if they did find something, some explanation for his death-dodging ways.

He saluted his friend Gail in her cubicle on the way back to his office. When he walked in, he gasped and jumped, putting a hand on the door jamb to steady himself. He narrowed his eyes.

Nathan lounged in his chair with one leg dangling over the armrest. He spun back and forth, hands clasped in his lap.

Danny shook his head, standing in front of his desk to sort his papers. “You gotta stop doing that.”

Nathan’s lips twitched in amusement, his one eye fixed on Danny’s face.

The man had shown up several times during the days after Danny was discharged from the hospital, scaring the daylights out of him every time. The boss wasn’t too happy about Nathan’s presence – he made the workers antsy – but after “the detective” had flashed his badge, there was nothing to do but go along with it.

Danny didn’t know why Nathan hung around. The only information that he offered was that his job involved discovering and sorting out “oddities.” Whatever that meant. But he supposed he fit the bill well enough.

Danny felt his cheeks warm up. He tried to ignore the staring, shifting his weight several times before he finally huffed out a breath. He slammed the stapler down onto his desk and made frantic gestures. “Okay, get up. Go… sit over there or something.”

Nathan did as instructed, slithering from Danny’s chair to another in front of the desk. And he immediately resumed his shameless scrutiny.

“Do you really gotta stare like that?” Danny muttered under his breath. “You’re kinda freakin’ me out.”

Without a word, Nathan picked up the chair by the arms and turned it around, plopping it back down again to face the door.

Oh my God.” Danny shot out of his seat and shut the door. He stood in front of Nathan and gripped the armrests. “If you’re gonna stalk me like this, I gotta have some answers.”

“No questions,” Nathan said with an arched eyebrow. “Remember?”

“Fuck that,” Danny said. “Why are you watching me? You investigating me or something? I thought you were after Jose.”

Nathan sat forward, the tip of his nose an inch away from Danny’s. His soft voice filled the air with authority, and his breath warmed Danny’s lips. “I’m not at liberty to discuss that.”

Danny would never say it out loud, nor would he back down, but this man intimidated the hell out of him. Danny didn’t think Nathan would hurt him – his intuition would have kicked in by now, surely – but he had no doubt that there was something dangerous about him.

“You weren’t there for Jose, were you?” Danny squinted at him.

Nathan blinked his eye. “Not. At liberty. To discuss it.” To Danny’s utter annoyance, he curled one corner of his mouth into a taunting smile.

“Son of a bitch,” Danny muttered and paced the office, running his hands through his hair. He turned away to hide the flush in his cheeks. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to kiss the man or throw him out the window. “I’ll be back.”

Danny locked up his computer and grabbed his jacket. He opened the door and stalked through the maze of cubicles toward the elevator.

It wasn’t until he got to the elevator and poked the button for the lobby floor that he realized Nathan had slipped in behind him. Danny glared at him.

Nathan tilted his head as he looked down at Danny. “You’re angry,” he said.

“Ya fuckin’ think?” Danny scrubbed his face and groaned.

“Why?”

Danny barked a laugh. “Why am I pissed off? You’re stalking me. And you refuse to tell me why I’m under observation. That’s not fair.”

The elevator pinged, doors opening to reveal the ground floor lobby. Nathan spread his arm wide, allowing Danny to exit first. He was right on Danny’s heels though, falling back into step beside him on the sidewalk outside.

“Where are you going?” Nathan asked.

“I’m hungry,” Danny said. He cooled off a little now that the autumn air breezed across his skin. He watched Nathan out of the corner of his eye. Even just walking down the street, the man resembled a cat stalking its prey.

“You’re right,” Nathan said.

“About what? Being hungry?”

“No. It’s not fair of me to keep you in the dark.” Nathan’s expression never changed.

Danny heard the unspoken apology in his tone. He stopped in his tracks and turned. “So does that mean you’ll answer my questions?”

After a few heartbeats of silence, Danny threw up his hands and continued walking, leading them into a small cafe. The moment they entered the restaurant and got in line, there was a palpable pause in the conversation, the action in the room coming to a momentary halt. Every pair of eyes absorbed Nathan in their own way, some of them only glancing, others outright staring.

Nathan, however, seemed unconcerned. He looked straight ahead with his thumbs tucked behind his belt.

When they got to the counter, the girl – Tanya – greeted Danny familiarly, sparing a concerned glance for Nathan before returning her attention to Danny.

Danny ordered, then turned toward Nathan. “You hungry?”

“No,” Nathan said. He pulled out his wallet and paid Tanya before Danny could stop him.

Danny shrugged when Tanya gave him a questioning look. He thanked her and retrieved his sandwich. For comfort’s sake, he decided to sit outside; he was getting tired of the attention. “Thanks for lunch,” he said.

Nathan nodded.

“So,” Danny mumbled around his first bite. “Why are you watching me?”

“No questions.” Nathan leaned his arms up on the metal table, his leather jacket rustling with the movement.

“Thought you said I was right?”

“You are,” Nathan said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t reveal any information on why I’m here.”

“If I told you to go away, would you have to comply?” Danny chewed on his straw.

To Danny’s surprise, Nathan smiled. Not one of his barely-there half smiles, but an honest, amused smile.

Nathan shook his head. “You don’t want me to go away.”

“Oh? What makes you so sure?”

“You’re bored,” Nathan said. “My presence is new. It denotes something different in your life.” He tilted his head. “Not knowing what that is makes it more intriguing.”

Damn it. He’s right. “Fucker.” Danny crumpled up his straw wrapper and threw it at Nathan’s face. His mouth twisted in annoyance when Nathan snatched it out of the air and squished it between his fingers. “Can I ask about your eye?” He gestured to the man’s eyepatch.

“No.”

Danny sighed and took a few more bites of his sandwich. “You gotta stop showing up at my work,” he said. “Freakin’ out my co-workers.”

Nathan dipped his head. “I can do that, at least.”

Danny lifted his drink in a mock toast. He propped his feet up in an empty chair and watched the people on the other side of the street.

Then, something caught his attention. At first glance, it was just a young man making his way down the sidewalk with his hands stuffed in his pockets. He kept his head down, gaze on his feet as he walked. The man himself wasn’t special. It was what surrounded him that made Danny sit forward in his seat.

Hanging above the man was a… cloud? A red fog swirled and flashed around his head. Bolts of lightning struck through the cloud at regular intervals.

For some reason, Danny knew exactly what that cloud meant. He knew he should be afraid at what he was seeing, but somehow he couldn’t muster any fear. Instead, he worried for the shop the man ducked into.

“He’s gonna pull a gun…” Danny let his feet fall to the ground with a thud.

“What do you see, Daniel?” Nathan asked. His tone reminded Danny of the shrinks he was forced to talk to as a child, always asking him, “Now how does that make you feel, Daniel?”

Danny looked over at him. There was nothing telling in Nathan’s expression. He simply watched. Waited. Do I tell him? Maybe he can do something. He’s some kinda cop, right?

“That man,” Danny said. “In the blue collared shirt. He’s pissed. He’s gonna shoot up the place.”

“Are you sure?” Nathan gripped Danny’s wrist, pulling his attention back to him.

“Yeah,” Danny said. “I don’t know how, but… Yeah. I’m positive.” He stood, watching the door as it swung shut behind the angry man.

Nathan got to his feet. “Go back to work.”

“But, what are-”

“Do as I say.” Nathan loomed over him, using that authoritative tone of command that made Danny squirm. Nathan checked for oncoming traffic, then sprinted across the street toward the shop.

What the hell? Danny threw his trash away and grabbed his coffee. You’re just gonna let him order you around? He glanced back only once, but there was no sign of Nathan or the man.

Danny sighed. He would let Nathan order him around. Though he knew there was something dangerous about Nathan, there was also something… official. Something protective. He had to admit he felt completely safe when Nathan was around. He had no clue what could be done about that man, but Danny was sure that Nathan could take care of it. The fact that he simply took Danny’s word for it both troubled and comforted him.

What was that cloud? It was so clear. I knew exactly what he intended to do. Red with lightning. So violent.

Fuck, I hope I’m not hallucinating again. But Nathan had gone with it. Almost as if…

That’s what he was waiting for. Danny halted outside his office building. He was watching me. Did he know I would see something?

Danny went inside, straight back to his office, and shut the door.

What the hell is going on?

Personal Magna Cartas

I’ve read Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! several times. (If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend it – the book is fun to read, concise, and offers some great advice for stripping the stress from your writing process.)

In the book, one of his suggestions is to create two separate Magna Cartas for us, as writers, to refer back to time and again – reminders of what we love and hate in novels. Things to remember to add or steer away from in our own writing:

“What, to you, makes a good novel?

It’s an excruciatingly broad question, but give it a shot. And feel free to be as vague or as nerdily detailed as you like; this list can include anything from ultra-short chapters to ribald sex scenes to massive infusions of ill-tempered elves. Anything that floats your fictional boat should go on the list.” ~ Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem!

“For the second list, write down those things that bore or depress you in novels. Again, feel free to be as specific or wide-ranging as you like. And be honest. If you don’t like books where the words-to-pictures ratio favors the text too heavily, write that down. We just want to understand you better.” ~Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem!

I came across my own Magna Cartas just now, and thought they would be fun to share. I read “No Plot? No Problem!” in October 2012, just before Nano, and it helped me immensely. That was one of the most exciting stories I’ve written, and with Chris’ advice I was able to pump out the 50k without getting bored once during the entire month of November.

These are word-for-word, just as I wrote them back then. My apologies in advance for the language… my personal writing tends to lack a filter. So, here we go – my own personal Magna Cartas of writing!

What makes a good novel to me?

  • Suspense
  • Gritty themes
  • Strong romance (not the lovey-dovey kind)
  • Bad-ass male protagonists
  • Dark fantasy/urban fantasy
  • Protagonists breaking free and finding themselves
  • Balance between internal and external conflict
  • Villains I’d like to have a beer with
  • Gray-area stuff – no clear-cut black vs. white/good vs. evil
  • Archers, rogues, scoundrels, and swashbucklers
  • Tons of page-turning action and conflict
  • Amazing, heavy descriptions packed into just a few words
  • Concise, clear-cut, fast-paced writing style
  • Outcasts doing awesome things and becoming heroes

What bores or depresses me in novels?

  • Prophecy and destiny
  • Chicks who are around just to fawn over the guys (or vice versa)
  • Long, boring description (a la Robert Jordan)
  • Too much politics or logics shit I can’t follow without busting a brain vessel
  • Limp, floppy characters I wanna smack (read: pussies)
  • Deus ex machina
  • Flowery language just for the sake of flowery language

I find that these still hold true over a year after writing them. I’m sure I could have embellished on these lists a bit more, but these were the absolute core things that excited or bored me. Interesting that I came across them in my notes right when I needed them =)

What are your own personal Magna Cartas of writing? I’d love to hear them!

~Beka