Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly... (Part II)

Yesterday I made a list of the common types of antagonists that appear in stories. Well, today is going to the other spectrum and looking at the common antagonists/villains that our heroes might encounter on their journey.

1. The Big Bad
Ooh, don't you like the big and scary monsters? This is what vampires used to be like. These are monsters/villains that are purely evil. They don't have any reasons or motivations apart from being evil (most motivations stems around the need to feed or being more animalistic monsters).

These types of villains are okay to watch and follow if it's in a horror movie. These days though, villains need more motivation than simply "because I'm evil".

2. The "too stupid to live" villain... a.k.a the bumbler
These are characters that if they existed in real life they would probably be long dead by now. Some reason they always seem to screw up their plans, and it's definitely a shock whenever they catch the hero or temporarily defeat the hero.

This type of villain definitely does vie for the sympathy vote, but it's always funny watching what these types of villains will do next. Don't try to use them in anything but for humour, because they won't be respected as villains otherwise.

3. The chess master
These types of characters use something called the Xanatos Roulette, they set up elaborate plans that, if one thing doesn't align in perfect place, the whole master plan could fall to bits. Never taking the easy way out, they would prefer to set up five moves ahead and usually (for some surprising reason) their plans never fail.

Joker is a fantastic example, even though he mainly does his plans through chaos, he never physically carries out anything, he rather sets things up so that they'll eventually cascade into the ending that he wants... just think of his plan in the Dark Knight, I won't go through it just in case it spoils the ending for some.

4. The "I do have a heart" villain... a.k.a the anti-villain
These are the villains you are meant to feel sorry for. Sympathetic villains that has an elaborate and deep back story that allows you to feel sorry for them. They are not purely evil even though they still are the ones going around committing the crimes and killing people... they have a reason for it.

Japanese horror is great with this. All of the movies I've seen has the main villain someone who the viewer can definitely feel sorry for. Take Samara out of the Ring, all she ever wanted was to be loved... so you end up feeling sorry for them (seriously, I've nearly cried at the end of some because of such a sad ending for the vicious monster that's spent most of the movie killing people).

5. The "is it bad to want the bad guy to win" villain 
These villains are fun to watch, and even more fun to write about. Sometimes they can also be combined with the anti-villain, because these are the ones that you hate to love. These characters can be sympathetic or have characteristics that the reader/viewer can relate to.

I love Anime and one of my favourites is Death Note, in it there's the main character who eventually becomes the villain as he goes around killing people, but his plan is just as elaborate as the chess master and he is humourous to watch. Plus he also had morals, he was attacking those who were committing crimes because the police system wasn't working fast enough. He was just all around fun to watch... it nearly had me wanting him to win, but I liked the hero much better.

6. The "all the world hates me" villain
This type of character is the exact opposite of the Unlikely Hero. He has had a poor and rough life. Most probably abandoned or orphaned at a young age, or abused by his parents or carers, but instead of remaining sympathetic, they chose to get revenge on those that have hurt them and thus becoming villains.

Voldemort is a great example. His childhood could pretty much be identical to Harry's, with being orphaned/abandoned and raised by people that don't want them. The one difference is the choices they make, Voldemort chose to go the evil path, so he became the villain in the story.

7. The designated evil
Okay, so this character is just like the "Designated Driver", they only exist because the story requires them. Sometimes they can be minor/petty crooks that the hero foils at the beginning or they can be a school rival who has not done anything wrong, but the story does need a villain and they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time sort of thing.

For all those that don't know, the character to the left is Vayne from Final Fantasy Xii (video game), his only crime was wanting to stop the gods for the way they treated humans like puppets.

I definitely love reading or watching the Chess Master, the anti-villain or stories that gets me to root for the villain. In my writing I like to work around the anti-villain, I love sympathetic villains. I would love to work on a whole chess master move (actually I've got something planned for my Heroes novel... hopefully it can come together).

So, what sort of villains do you like to read about? What do you write about?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly... (Part I)

There are many sorts of heroes/protagonists out there, some I love, some I totally despise reading about. Nearly all characters out there fall into one personality trait. So, this is some of the categories I've seen heroes fit into:

1. The "nothing can stop me"... a.k.a the Superman
This is the hero who seems to be able to do anything, and their powers seems to be growing (especially if it's a series). Their strengths outweigh their weakness. Believe it or not, I've actually seen a lot of these characters around, and the one problem I find with them (don't get me wrong, being oh-so-perfect can sometimes be a good thing) is that most of the time they miss the one thing that makes a character "human". They don't have flaws, so how can the reader be expected to relate to characters like that?

2. The damsel in distress 
This character is very common in romances. She needs to wait around for her prince charming to come and rescue her. The one good thing about this character is that they end up with multiple guys vying for their attention in modern stories, and they usually find their "true love" with the guy who is rescuing them. I actually despise this sort of character (no offense), I would rather have a kick butt, take no crap from anyone heroine than

3. The "I don't wait for no one" damsel
 This damsel will solve her own problems (usually making more along the way). She will take crap from no one and do her share of butt kicking. Strong and determined, she often spends most of the story arguing with the guy and not following a word he says... and for some reason, she usually ends up with the guy at the end. I absolutely adore these sorts of protagonists. Most of the time they definitely have a lot of spunk, and a little bit of a rebellious spirit.

4. The "I'm not all evil" hero... a.k.a the anti-hero
 These can be one of the most interesting heroes to follow. The Antihero is someone with some of the qualities of a villain, up to and including brutality, cynicism, and ruthlessness, but with the soul or motivations of a more conventional Hero.

5. The "all the world's against me" hero
Who doesn't love an angst-filled hero? This type of hero are usually outsiders and don't fit in with anyone (or don't want to fit in). This type of hero often appears in paranormal stories where the main character has some kind of power that labels them as "freaks" among their peers. Sometimes they just don't want to fit in with everyone else, and they can be labeled as goth or emo.

6. The "life has never been kind" hero... a.k.a. the unlikely hero
Probably the most seen hero archetype in YA. This type of character has usually suffered a great loss in life and they haven't been treated well. Most of the time they are orphans who have to live with mean relatives who do not want them, other times they are shipped away to distant relatives/boarding school because the parents either don't want them or can't handle them.

There is something about this type of character that allows the reader to sympathize with them. Oh, don't I just love underdogs.

7. The "what the heck, it's only an adventure" hero
 These heroes just stumble into the action. They have no special power or involvement with the events prior to the start of their journey. Most of the time they are just looking to have an adventure, sometimes treasure hunting can be involved to get the hero involved.

When it comes to deciding my protagonists I love using the kick-butt heroines or the unlikely hero. I love adding flaws to my characters, the more the better. This is probably why I absolutely abhor the damsel in distress and the Superman, I don't like weak characters and ones that have absolutely no weaknesses (they don't make for interesting story lines).

So, what sort of characters do you use with your stories? Which characters don't you like reading about?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Review: Gone

Gone by Michael Grant

Synopsis (From Goodreads): In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.
Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened. 

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. 

It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else...

Michael Grant puts a new spin on what could possibly be called an overused topic. What if all the adults just disappeared? Sam and his friends are about to find out when he and the other town kids are thrown into a new world, the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone). Nothing is as it was. Some kids have changed, developed strange powers, and now the kids have to fight to establish a new world order and find a way to beat the worst enemy of all... turning 15, in which they will 'poof' just like everyone else.

Everyone looks up to Sam and want him to take control and assure them that he will get them out of the FAYZ, but Sam doesn't see himself as a leader, he doesn't want to grow up that fast. It's only after the kids from the local boarding school, Coates comes in and takes over the town and he sees they have to be stopped. Now, Sam has to find a way to defeat the one in control, Caine while at the same time try and find a way to survive past his 15th birthday which is only in a few days time.

Grant has delivered a great, thrilling adventure. He throws his teenage heroes into turmoil that no kids want (even though most would love it) to face, a world without parents. There is none stop action from the moment everything starts until the end. All the characters are well developed and the story is told from different perspectives so that all the story is revealed. Even though it's a long story at over 550 pages it really kept me reading from beginning to end, hoping that there'll be more, now I'll just have to wait until I read the next in the series (Hunger).

Cover: I sometimes like the minimalist approach, but I really didn't know much about this story, espcially from the cover. When I initially heard about this story I thought it was 'another one of those' parents disappearing novels. Some of the other covers I found would have definitely told me more about the story, urging me to read it sooner.


Plot: 4/5 stars
Ending: 4.5/5 stars
Cover: 3/5 stars
Overall: 4/5 stars
recommend:  For those that love Heroes (the tv show), Lord of the Flies, Tomorrow When the War Began

Writing Sympathetic Villains

In my current story I do have good guys versus bad guys, but it's not as clear as it should be. My main characters are twins and one becomes the hero and one becomes the villain, but that's no reason to totally hate him. I'm actually a fan of the sympathetic villain. You know, the one where you know you should hate but end up hoping that - somehow - he will succeed (even if you know that's never going to happen).

So, my dillema is that I've got to figure out how to make my villain sympathetic (especially since half the stories going to be told from his POV).

What makes a villain sympathetic?
It could be his backstory? The goal that he's aiming for is relatively good (in his own mind or morals) but the way he's going about achieving them is not the best?

I actually prefer sympathetic villains than 100% evil any day. I absolutely love japanese horror movies for this reason. Just look at any of those movies and by the end you'll end up pitying the ghosts that are doing all the killing.

What do you like in villains? Do you prefer 100% evil doers or ones you can feel sorry for? How do you tackle writing sympathetic villains?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Does real life ignite ideas?

Well, this is a quick note because at the moment I'm sitting in a train waiting for the train to start going again - praying that it won't take off before I finish typing this blog or else I'll probably lose my internet connection. I'm going to be on this train until 6:30 tomorrow morning, then I have to get off just to catch another train for a couple of hours, and not to mention the 4 hour car ride after that (it's all worth it, I get to see my baby sis... YAY).

This is my first time I've caught the train over long distances (and by myself, not helping). I really wish I could turn my writer mind off. The train's not busy, and yet I've still got a very talkative and inquisitive person sitting beside me (he's gone for a walk now or else he would be reading this) and it's sparking a lot of ideas for horror stories... hey, I've spent time in the city and don't trust overly friendly people, especially people that want to know where I'm going, what I'm reading (and stating that he saw me reading it when he wasn't even on the train yet).

I just want to know whether you get a lot of ideas from little adventures that take place in real life? How much of your characters or stories are inspired by real life?

Okay, well I'm off now, going back to reading (hey, I've read over 100 pages of Michael Grant's Gone... searched high and low for it :D... 450 to go... wonder if I can finish it by the time I get home). Hope everyone's having a great day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review: The Rise of Renegade X

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M Campbell

Synopsis (From Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she's been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father's too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he's not a hero in any way, or else he's stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.

To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad's "flying lessons" that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city--despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights--thwarting the eccentric teen scientist who insists she's his sidekick, and keeping his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.

Chelsea Campbell has delivered a cute and action-packed debut novel with THE RISE OF RENEGADE X. All Damien Locke ever wanted was to be a villain, and when he turned 16 he would have the proof with the V on his thumb, but when he gets an X instead he discovers that his mother hooked up with a superhero and he's the result, now he's forced to stay at his father's and learn to be a hero.

Damien's voice is hilarious as he struggles to come to grips with what he's grown up doing and that nagging conscience that villains don't have. This novel is more than just good versus evil, it deals with his own inner turmoil and regular adolescent struggles as Damien tries to figure out who he is, and you can't go wrong with any love triangle that involves a villainous ex-girlfriend who he never stopped loving and the quirky sidekick who believes he is a hero. This will definitely keep the reader entertained as they follow along with Damien's adventures.

Cover: I love how the cover has the feel of a graphic novel, it's artwork is superb. The comic appeal grabs the readers attention and gives you the gist about what the novel's about.

Plot: 4.5/5 stars
Ending: 4.5/5 stars
US Cover: 4.5/5 stars
Overall: 4.5/5 stars
Recommend:  For anyone who loves comics and heroes

Debut Author Challenge: #5 of 12

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wind-down Wednesday

Well, a lot has hasn't happened this week. I have no uni, pretty much no work and I'm going to visit my sister and father next Monday/Tuesday (yay, 12 hours on a train... sounds like fun) to temperatures that don't even reach double digits (that's celcius).

Apart from doing a bit of very late spring cleaning, I did promise myself I'll get stuck into my writing... unfortunately I rediscovered my love of books (and since I've got over 10 unread books on my shelves) and I've been reading constantly... oh well, let's hope I can start writing a bit before the week ends.

So, here's what's been happening in the blogosphere this week:
  1. The Querytracker blog had a great post on "how to grab an agent's attention in a query letter."
  2. Also at the Querytracker blog they also addressed how long manuscripts should be.

The Blogfests happening this week are:
  1. Breaking the rules Blogfest on the 18th June, hosted by Elizabeth Mueller.
  2. Bad Boy Blogfest on the 20th June, hosted by Tina Lynn over at Sweet Nibblets.
And, lucky last, there was a great announcement this week about an online writers convention, WriteOnCon, taking place on August 10-12. The wonderful people setting it up are (and they also have contests that they're running in conjunction with it as well):
  1. Elana Johnson
  2. Lisa & Laura Roecker
  3. Casey McCormick
  4. Jamie Harington
  5. Shannon Messenger
 Well, I hope you all have a great day. To leave you all, here's the trailer for the book that's got me so enthralled that I simply can't put it down. It's The Rise of Renegade X from debut YA author, Chelsea M. Campbell.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Clearing the clutter

I've finally managed to unpack everything from my last house move (it's probably a year late, but at least it's done) and my room is now clean and organised. With being off and everything I'm having a lot of time to tidy the house, and finally (and I do say finally) get a place where I can write.

I'm finding having an organised area to write is helping me productively, I'm actually getting through more of my story and feel more inspired (who'd have thunk that... a clean place is actually good).

So, do you have an area in your house that you write in? Or, do you write anywhere?

Monday, June 14, 2010

When to let others see...

When I first started out writing I would never even dream about letting anyone read my work until I had finished writing it, now, I don't think I'd get anywhere without the great feedback I get from my critique group.

I admit, I get nervous when I submit a newly written chapter, knowing that it's more probably going to be torn to shreds (over and over and over again), but isn't that how you learn and grow? By receiving honest criticism about what's wrong with the story or what I'm doing right, it helps me decide what parts of the story needs to be changed, and it helps to identify which parts are confusing (I'm experiencing that with my new story at the moment. I think something is straightforward and clear, but I've received a couple of reviews that questions the actions... now I'm stuck with trying to figure out how to describe it properly).

So, what do you look for when trying to find a critique group?
  1. Honest feedback even if it's negative - yeah, you might like someone who always loves what you're writing, but if they won't tell you which parts are not working, then you will never know what might need to be changed.
  2. Commitment - both you and your review partners need to be committed to reading and reviewing chapters on a regular basis.
  3. Understands/likes your genre - Someone that only reads romance might not be the best one to review a YA or Fantasy story (me, I'm a part of a YA crit group, so we all love what we all write).
  4. Supporting - well, this isn't necessary, but it can sure help. My crit group is always there when feeling down or there's a success. It's always good to find a group that supports your goals.

So, do you have a critique group or beta reader for your wriitng? And, when do you let someone read your writing?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Terror Tuesday Blogfest

Today's blogfest is hosted by Mary McDonald and as the name suggests, it's a challenge to post a scene that gets the heart racing.

So, here's my scene (I hope it incorporates the feeling of terror). My character has just been kidnapped and she wakes up in a little hut. My MC has no idea what's happening to her, but the other character, the doctor, thinks this is just a normal routine.

  • I jolt awake. Sitting up, I feel the rough wooden floor beneath me, and rub my aching temple. My eyes dart around my new surroundings. I try to focus but all I get is a blurry vision of an empty room. And, I mean empty. There’s not even a chair or bed or any furniture. There’s only one door and no windows

    I push myself off the ground and stumble towards the door. Gripping the handle to keep myself up, I try turning it, but it won’t budge.

    Footsteps sound outside, coming to a stop in front of the door. I watch as the handle turns and the door open. I rush from the door and push myself into the furthest corner of my cell.

    A woman enters the room, her hazel eyes fixing on me. Her long brown hair falls in curls over her thin olive face. Her long white lab coat swirls as she moves into the room, revealing the light blue v-neck tee shirt and faded jeans she has on beneath it. “So, you’re finally awake.” She moves towards me beaming a big friendly smile. Her entire presences projects warm and cuddly medical expert. Except, that is, for the gleaming syringe clutched in her right hand.

    I press my way further into the corner, striving to melt through the tough wooden wall and escape. Doesn’t seem to be working.

    “Don’t worry, this won’t hurt a bit.” She reaches and grabs my flailing arm. “Honestly, why are you all such babies when it comes to a little pin prick?”

    Struggling against her iron grip, I watch helplessly as the needle sinks into my arm and the small vial on its end fill with blood.

    “Relax, it’s just a few routine tests, then you’re on your way.” She removes the sample cartridge from the needle and, placing it in a small plastic bag, stows it in her lab coat. Leaning in close to me, she places her fingers either side of my chin and gingerly turns my head from one side to the other. “They really should have brought you to me sooner.”

    “What do you want with me?” I manage to spit out.

    Still clutching my chin she stares me in the eyes. “You’re different from the others. Something’s off.”

    “Please, I don’t want to die,” I whisper. Tears blurs my vision.

    She lets go of me and takes a step backward. She removes a mobile phone from her pocket and starts dialling a number. After a few moments of silence she finally says, “We have a situation here.”

    'Just take care of it like you would any other. I hear the other side of the conversation clearly as if they’re both standing in front of me.'

    “Don’t you know what you’re asking?” The woman gives me a quick look before turning around to face the door. The ‘still’ open door.

    'It wouldn’t be in your best interest to report this.'

    Without waiting for the woman to pay any more attention to me, I push off the wall and charge toward the open door. I knock her to the ground as I bolt outside. A vast wilderness greets me. Aged trees with flaking bark towers over me.

    I’m not going to stop to find out where I am. I keep heading in the only direction that makes sense, away from the deranged psychopath with the needle. Rain buckets down, but that’s not going to stop me. Branches claw me as I push through the foliage.

    A twig snaps behind me. Whoever was at the door must be up and chasing after me.

    A low inhuman growl wafts across the field. There's something else out here. The mud squelches as it approaches. They left me, and now there's something out here. I hate my life.

    I force myself to my feet and run in the direction that makes the most sense, away from that thing. There's only one thought in my head, and that's to get the hell out of here. The creature's roar echoes around me.

    I turn my head. My feet catch on a twisted tree root and send me crashing to the muddy earth.

    I strain my eyes trying to see whatever's out here stalking me. The rain obscures my vision. Briefly, I catch a glimpse of it between the trees. A warped, misshaped creature caught somewhere between a man and a wolf. Jagged silver quills protrude all over its body like a ball of spikes ready to burst at any moment. Its glowing yellow eyes are smouldering beacons in the darkness.

    It takes half a second for the terror to hit. I bolt.

    Its warm breath brushes the back of my neck. I run faster, trying not to slip in the mud. No matter how quick I move, it's right there behind me. It's toying with me. This is how the poor girl in those horror movies must feel.

    Every muscle aches. The icy air rushes painfully into my lungs. What's the worst that can happen if I just stop and play dead right here? The creature utters another bowel-shaking roar. I take that back, it would be very, very bad. I don't want to die here.

    A building comes into view. Out here among this wilderness I would have expected a small hut, but it looks like a decaying house, and the closer I get more buildings come into view. I skid to a stop and look around, my breathing is erratic and I can’t even hear the wind above my heartbeat.

    Every place looks ancient and withered. Nature creeps slowly, strangling some places with foliage. Others have collapsed under the pressure of disuse.

    The disturbing graveyard of a town pales in comparison to the massive stone edifice crouched behind it. A gothic structure constructed out of dark grey bricks. Vines claw their way up its sides as if trying to drag the towering megalith down into the very earth on which it rests. Tall spires erupt from the rooftop at bizarre angles seemingly without reason. Even in the growing daylight, the building remains darkly ominous. The spattering of crows circling above doesn’t do much to lessen the air of menace.

    A tall gate constructed of the same dark bricks surrounds the massive structure, with iron spikes on top that stretches towards the heavens.

    “Welcome to Haven,” a voice whispers in my ear before I’m hit from behind and darkness takes over me once again.

Hope you liked it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Time is only a Figment of One's Imagination

Wow, today was the first day I've had off in roughly two months... seriously. And, surprise, surprise, I spent most of the day catching up on overdue writing (& music) obligations.

Today's Stats:
Haven: 16 chapters edited (yep... lots of work done... yay)
Heroes: 1 chapter written
Critique: 1 review given for my critique group
Music: over 1 hour of guitar practice (wow, my guitar teacher is going to be S.H.O.C.K.E.D...)

Boy, when you don't have much else to do, you can definitely get through a lot...

Over the past couple of months with my very busy schedule, it got me thinking about setting up a specific time to do my writing (at the moment organisation isn't in my dictionary). I know that my day changes and on normal days I would not be able to get my writing done during the day (actually I have trouble finding time to write during the hours that most normal people are actually awake).

One thing I know for sure is that I've got to get in a habit of finding that one bit of time where I won't be disturbed (I need lots of luck with that) and try to block out all forms of distractions... yeah, procrastination is actually bad for getting any work done, who'd have thought it?

So, do you set aside a time that you write or do you write whenever you find any time.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dream Sequence Blogfest

Woohoo, who doesn't love a blogfest? And, this one is brought to you by Amelia over at Good to Begin Well. As the title suggests, it requires a sequence of a dream from a novel. The scene I've chosen takes place at the beginning of my novel, Haven (no, it's not the first word of the novel).


The scene plays out as if I’m watching a movie. You know that point in a dream where you suddenly realise it’s a dream. Well, since I’ve had it every night – for at least a week – I’m certain this isn’t real.

It’s always the same. I stand in a church. Don’t ask me why a church – I’m not religious, I’m not even sure if I’ve ever set foot inside one. Thin streamers of light drift down through the dirt-encrusted stained glass, making spider webs glisten high up in the rafters. The few pews that remain standing sag. The rest are kindling strewn across the floor.

I move down the aisle. The floorboards creak beneath my feet. Each step launches swooning billows of dust flying through the air. I can see it. A single mirror stands isolated at the far end. Believe me, I don’t want to be anywhere near it, but my feet have a mind of their own.

The mirror is not normal. Its surface casts no reflection. All I can see beneath the glass is a vast sea of jet-black nothingness, and yet, I know something is hiding there within the shadows. Something that waits for me, watching me. That’s what scares me most.

It’s silly to be scared. I know it’s only a dream, but there is something eerily familiar about all this. And a deep longing. I can’t resist its thrall.

A growl from within the darkness rattles the glass. It could be my stomach, but I doubt it. Then, those eyes appear. Blood red, with a gaze that tears straight through my soul. I’m frozen.

‘No escape.’ A voice that doesn’t resemble anything even remotely human growls.

A smell drifts past my nose and makes my mouth water. It smells something like cinnamon and honey, but I know it isn’t. My gaze dances around the room, coming to rest on a delicate golden chalice resting on an altar beside the mirror.

Reaching out, every nerve screams I must have it. Using my other hand, I try to stop myself. I don’t want it, I just have to tell my mutinous hand that. It won’t stop. I grip the smooth stem. It pulsates with warmth. The thick crimson liquid swirls within the bowl. Raising the cup to my mouth, my heart races as the warm liquid touches my lips.

‘No escape,’ the voice sneers in a low growl.

So, that's my sequence. Stay tuned for more fun blogfests heading your way.

Now is then, then was now

There is so many arguments out there at the moment about what tense you should write in. Almost all of the critiques I get back from the group give me the same comment "not many agents are willing to take on a present tense novel". But, that's not going to change how I write my novel. I find present tense so much easier to write in because I can hear the character's voice so clearly (and more often they're little smart alecs and their internal monologue needs to speak in the now).

So, why is there so much hate on present tense? You hear so many people say that they will not read anything that's written in present tense, but pick up a novel in the YA section and 1, it's probably going to be 1st person, and 2, there's going to be a chance that it's present tense.

So, what's the difference between this (taken from the start of Heroes):
  • Flying monkey robots, how original.

    The distinctive smell of burning wood and paper sweeps through the room. One of the shelves gives way under the heat, sending smouldering books scattering across the floor. The romance section, I think. Bodice rippers. Kindling's 'bout the only thing they're good for anyway. Something tells me I'm going to be the one who has to clean that up.

    I turn my attention back to the shelf of mp3 players I am supposed to be restocking. What's the point? Other stores let their employees go to lunch during a fire fight, but no, I have to stay and put the merch on the shelves. I think they want me to suffer.

And, this:
  • Flying monkey robots, how original.

    The distinctive smell of burning wood and paper swept through the room. One of the shelves collapsed under the heat, sending smouldering books scattering across the floor. The romance section. Bodice rippers. Kindling was 'bout the only thing they were good for anyway. Something told me I was going to be the one who has to cleaned that up.

    I turned my attention back to the shelf of mp3 players I was supposed to be restocking. What was the point? Other stores let their employees go to lunch during a fire fight, but no, I had to stay and put the merch on the shelves.
I thought since there's so much argument about which tense or POV is used in stories it would be good to look at the stories that people are reading today. Okay then, what sort of YA books are making it into the current best sellers on

For 3rd person there's:
  •  Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
  • Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Rangers Apprentice by John Flanagan
For 1st person past tense there's:
  • the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
  • Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine
  • Twilight Saga by Stephenie Myers
  • Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
  • House of Night series by P.C & Kristin Cast
For 1st person present tense there's:
  • The Immortal series by Alyson Noel
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (followed by Catching Fire and Mocking Jay)
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
  • Wake series by Lisa McMann
  • The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
Wow, I didn't even expect that result. So, I still don't understand why people say that one POV or one tense is better than the other. If the writing's good, then that should be enough no matter how it's written.

So, what's your opinions? Do you like reading a particular style (tense or POV) or do you read whatever sounds good?

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Wind-down Wednesday

    What a wonderful Wednesday it is. It was gloomy and rainy and still we had to go to sports, so I ended up standing (shivering) under the little shelter while watching crazy kids slip and slide while trying to play touch football.

    But, on the bright side, I've only got two more days left at school and I think I'm winning... the kids are FINALLY starting to listen to me.

    To start off such a wonderful day I would like to thank Slushpile Slut for awarding me with the Beautiful Blogger Award

    And, I would love to pass it on to:
    Now for the fun. Every day it seems like the amount of contests and blogfests just keep expanding. This week some of the new contests that have appeared are:
    • Nathan Bransford is holding a contest in honour of Rock Paper Tiger. He's holding a chase/action scene contest. All you have to do is post your most exciting chase or action scene in the comments of the contest post. Here's a chance to win a critique from the man himself or even a 10 minute phone conversation with him.
    • Ink in All Forms is giving away a fab YA giveaway full of all the things you'll need to kill some hours reading.
    • Writer's Alley is holding a fantastic giveaway of books and critiques. All you have to do is create a caption or flash story to the picture shown in the post.

    I also can't forget about the fantastic blogfests that are taking place this week:
     Wow, there seems to be so much happening at the moment, so make sure you all jump in and have some fun. Hope everyone has a great Wednesday.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Ooh is that the time?

    And here I am, trying to keep my eyes open and realising I haven't posted. Here's a confession, I have absolutely no idea of what to write either. Life has definitely been busy lately (I've also realised that working over a month straight is not good for one's health).

    I've got a week left of school placement, and I've learnt a lot while I've been teaching the darlings...
    1. Students don't like to behave for subs (my mentor was sick for two days so I had someone else sitting in the class with me... boy that was a chaotic nightmare).
    2. Guilt does wonder... watching the masters at work with putting guilt on the children for misbehaving was like watching a brilliant performance... I wonder if I'll ever be able to do that.
    3. A lot of planning goes into figuring out not only what to teach, but how... especially when teenagers DON'T like reading (*gasp* yes, I wouldn't believe it too if I didn't see it with my own eyes).
    So, instead of planning my lessons or catching up on writing (which my beta reader demands me too) I've been procrastinating, but in a good way. Let me offer you up the proof. Exhibit A is the blog. Instead of doing the work I really "should" be doing, I've been re-designing it.

    Oh well, it was time worth wasted. And, before I knew it, it was way late (11pm here) and I have to get up 5am... whoops.

    Has anyone else ever done this? Been so involved in something that the time has just slipped away? Also, how does the blog look?
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