Beautiful Books

I’m a little bit late to this particular writers link up, so if you don’t mind I’m going to jump back to the beginning. I’ll be brief and try to answer each question in one sentence (there are thirty of them, after all). Thanks to Cait of Paper Fury and Sky of Further Up and Further In for creating this linkup!

Here we go…

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Part One, October:

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea? 

I got the idea last summer, so about seven or eight months, and it’s inspired by Sherwood Forest where I live and walk my dog every day.

Describe what your novel is about!

It’s a YA Fantasy about 17 year old Aria who discovers she is the daughter of a king from another realm, a realm where magic and monsters are real.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I actually have a Pinterest board of inspiration for my WIP, you can check out my ideas for the setting and locations, character aesthetics etc.

Introduce us to each of your characters!

I wrote a post introducing all my characters, so you can read that here!

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

I am definitely a planner, I spent weeks just thinking and ruminating on the idea, and then at least a month outlining, creating my characters, plotting etc.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Just getting it down on the page and finally writing a novel, this will be my first so I’m really excited about the whole experience.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

It has two settings, the Human Realm, which is loosely based on the village where I live, bordered by Sherwood Forest. The Fair Realm is set deep within the forest and is similar to Idris in the Shadowhunter Chronicles – it’s there but mundanes can’t see it and don’t know it exists. It’s like an undetectable extension charm, there is way more inside than you would know from the outside.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Aria is scared she’s going to be left behind when all her school friends go off to University, she wants excitement and adventure, and she definitely finds it! She also wants to know who she really is, she wants to find her real father, the Salamander King, and learn the truth, but the evil Celeste King has other ideas…

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

She starts off bored and a little bit self-absorbed, as a result she’s reckless and impulsive, but by the end she knows and accepts that she’s got a destiny to fulfil and a responsibility to protect her people from the evil king.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

It’s a coming of age tale with a fantasy twist, so there’s a lot of ‘growing up’, ‘taking responsibility’ and ‘accepting who you are’ themes.

in-the-middle

Part Two, November:

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

Pretty good, I’m still chipping away at my first draft and almost at the end. I didn’t win NaNoWriMo but I am nearing 65k words now so I’m really proud of myself for sticking it out this far.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

The harsh, fluorescent lights blinked audibly overhead as he slipped unseen into the hospital room.”

That’s the first line of the prologue, which I love and want to keep, even though I know they’re unpopular.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

It’s so hard to choose! I love Kiefer, he’s a rebel with a heart, but I also really love Rainer, who is my mentor character and really helps Aria to understand her new world, as well as being a good friend.

What do you love about your novel so far?

I love the characters, they’re all so different and fun to write. I also love the magic system I’ve created and the various fantasy creatures. You can read more about them in my previous posts Magic, myth and mystery and Magical monsters and where you may discover them.

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

I’ve got a whole list of things I need to go back and change in the second draft, but I can’t think of any funny ones…

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

The middle! The end is coming and I’m still dragging out the middle because I’m worried about how to wrap it up neatly, whilst setting up the sequel. The beginning is definitely going to need the most work in draft two.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I always make a cup of Earl Grey before I start writing. I started listening to music recently, before that I actually had the TV on in the background, which can be equal parts distracting and inspiring. I definitely write best at night, I actually got up and came downstairs to write one night when I couldn’t sleep because ideas were swirling in my head.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I prefer to write alone, if only because my husband keeps trying to speak to me and it’s really distracting, but the dog is always here demanding my attention so I guess I’m never alone!

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

I know that the sense of achievement when it’s finished will be amazing, and I don’t tend to start things and not finish them so it’s not really a question of giving up. When it’s tough I just take it slow, and if I need to get away from the computer I take a break. I usually figure out my writing problems while walking the dog, so taking time out from writing is really important for me.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

I know a lot of people are pantsers, but I would say plot and outline the major scenes and events before starting, that way you’ll always have a vague road map of your book to follow when you start to get lost around the middle.

One thing I did in preparation for Nano was to bullet point thirty scenes I needed to write, so that I would never be struggling for something write about – that was an absolute lifesaver and I would recommend it whether or not you are taking part in Nano.

Lastly, I’ve gotten stuck a few times and lacked inspiration, but if I just persevered, even just for a few minutes a day, I eventually pushed through the block and got back into the swing of writing. Whatever you do, don’t give up, just keep writing. If it’s terrible, you can just fix it in the second draft.

pedal-push

Part Three, January:

What were your writing achievements last year?

2016 was the year I actually got an idea that wouldn’t go away, and decided to sit down and write my first novel. I took part in my first every NaNoWriMo, and even though I missed the mark by 15k words, I still see it as a major achievement. I also started this blog and took part in Raimey Gallant’s NaNo Blog Hop, so I’ve made lots of new writing friends online *waves*.

What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

To finish draft one, draft two, editing and revising, and hopefully have a finished manuscript by 2018, in time for querying!

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

The Fair Queen is my only writing project for this year, but I’ve already started to have ideas for other books, and there’s also the sequel to plot and write.

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

I’d love to be at the point of querying literary agents at the end of 2017. I also hope to get the timescales down for all of the stages of writing, I’m taking my time as it’s my first novel but I need to reduce the time it takes me.

Describe your general editing process.

I’m not sure yet, as I’ve never written a book before, but I intend to do a second draft and rewrite, and then give my book to a few trusted beta readers. Then I’ll take their feedback and do a third draft, before sending it to a professional editor probably.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

It’s not quite finished, but I am a bit of a perfectionist so I’m quite happy with how it’s going because I can’t help editing it as I go. I know, cardinal sin of first drafts. But, I feel like my second draft is going to be quite painless because I’ve got most of the scenes down how I want them, so it’s going to be more about adding necessary scenes and little details, and removing extraneous bits, rather than a full rewrite.

What aspect of your draft needs the most work?

Erm, I might need an independent adjudicator to tell me this because I can’t see the wood for the trees, to be honest. I think it needs more foreshadowing and little hints and details woven through, personally.

What do you like the most about your draft?

I think the friendships between my characters are probably my favourite thing, it’s got a much stronger emphasis on friendship than romance, which I think is important. A lot of YA is about falling in love, and whilst I love reading those types of books, I also like the ones that take a different tack and focus on friends instead of lovers, because not all teens are in love or meet the one at that age.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

All of the above! Definitely editing, beta readers, more editing and then querying, fingers crossed.

What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

I have no idea because I’ve never finished a first draft myself! I would say put it away for a few weeks, get some distance, read a couple of books or start on another writing project, and then come back to it with fresh eyes. That’s the advice I’ve absorbed from reading other people’s blogs on editing. I think you need to come back to it as though you are an editor or a reader, if you’re still in writer mode you’ll miss mistakes and you won’t be ruthless enough to polish your manuscript up for publishing.

Phew! Longest blog post ever. That was fun. I wish it was that easy to write 2k words for my novel!

Are you taking part in the Beautiful Books linkup? If so, pop your blog link in the comments and I’ll have a read!

 

Until next time,

 

Lyndsey

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Crafting a credible antagonist

I hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas with their nearest and dearest, and you’re all looking forward to a fresh start in 2017.

Let’s be honest, 2016 has been a bit rubbish. The EU referendum, no matter which side you were on, has left the country in a lot of uncertainty and turmoil. The American presidential election was just as tense, even for us Brits. And a lot of really awesome people have died so far this year. Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Victoria Wood, Liz Smith, Terry Wogan, to name but a handful of the incredibly talented individuals we lost in 2016.

One of the worst days of the year for me was the day Alan Rickman died. I cried for hours.

Moving forward, here’s hoping the next 12 months are 100% better than the last 12!

For me, 2017 is already looking up. I finally managed to snag tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for December next year, my husband bought us tickets to Aladdin in February as my Christmas present, I bought my Dad and I tickets to An Inspector Calls, and my best friend has bought us tickets for the tour of London film sets of Harry Potter! So the next year will be mostly spent in London living my best life.

Right then! Back to business.

 

Antagonist analysis.png

 

Let’s take a look at antagonists.

Here’s a bio of the antagonist of my current work in progress, The Fair Queen (serious spoiler warning!):-

Name: Auberon Crux

Species: Celeste (aether)

Occupation: Celeste King

Archetype: Ruler

History: Auberon and his sister, Neviah, were raised in isolation by cold and distant parents, the King and Queen of the Celeste Kingdom. They formed a very strong bond, spending every day together until they were teenagers.

When Neviah fell in love with a boy from another kingdom and ran away, Auberon was left distraught and alone. Neviah was a prophetess, and foresaw the coming of a child who would end the war and return the Fair Realm to peace. Being a gentle and romantic type, she was excited about this possibility. Auberon, being cruel and narcissistic, was not.

When Neviah fell pregnant and consequently died in childbirth, Auberon blamed the child. He had always disagreed with interbreeding between the different lines of Fair, believing each should keep to their own, and now he grew to despise all other Fair, especially half-breeds.

The child’s father, the crown prince of the Salamander Kingdom, had been warned by Neviah before her death that her brother would wish harm upon the child. In order to protect her, he hid the baby in the Human Realm, swapping her for a human baby girl.

Auberon spent years searching, but never managed to find the girl. Until weeks before her eighteenth birthday, when girls from Aria’s village start going missing…

 

That sounds like the premise for a whole book of its own, doesn’t it? Well, when I was doing research on writing convincing and engaging antagonists the advice that I came across said to make the character the protagonist of their own story. To me, that means putting as much thought and effort into creating the antagonist’s backstory, motivations and characteristics as you do the protagonist.

This article by Laura Di Silverio on Writer’s Digest is brilliant for anyone looking for help fleshing out their antagonist.

So, that’s a little introduction to the main antagonist of my duology. What do you think? Is there anything you’d like to know about my big baddie?

If you have any tips for creating credible and terrifying villains in fiction please pop them in the comments! I’d love to get your advice.

 

Lyndsey

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PS. Happy New Year!

 

Current word count: 61,925

Currently reading:

PaperbackThe Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury

This is the sequel to The Sin Eater’s Daughter, which I adored. It’s taking a while to get into the story because we have a whole new protagonist this time around, but I can’t wait to see how it fits into the world Salisbury created in book one.

Magical monsters and where you may discover them

The title of this post was my husband’s idea. We went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the other week – we’re both big Potterheads (well, he thinks he is, but he’s never read the books and in my book that doesn’t count). Afterwards, he said “I think you should write a book called Magical Monsters and Where You May Discover Them,” and then he had a good laugh at his own joke.

So, this week, we’re talking about mythical monsters and legendary creatures.

 

Magical monsters.png

 

My WIP, The Fair Queen, contains a fair few fantastic beasts. As with the names of many things in the novel (characters, places, etc.), the creatures are all based on British myths and legends.

I use this pin on Pinterest to help me come up with mythical creatures:

Let’s have a look at said beasties:

Banshee – a banshee is a kind of wraith, a female spirit dressed in white with a ruined face, whose scream kills by rupturing the victim’s blood vessels.

Barghest – an enormous black, dog-like beast with bone-white and razor-sharp teeth and claws. An omen of death.

Drac – a water demon, a cross between a mermaid and a sea dragon. Dracae drag victims down to the bottom of the lake, usually resulting in drowning.

Hag – a shape-shifter that appears to young men as a beautiful young woman, and to girls as a haggard old crone. They use visions to manipulate their victims into going with them, before killing them.

Nat – a twig-like creature in a symbiotic relationship with a tree. Usually harmless and peaceful, but will attack in droves to defend their territory.

Selkie – a water creature that appears as a seal-like animal under the water, but on land takes on human form. They are very seductive and manipulative, and are known to entice humans into joining them in their underwater kingdom forever.

Troll – a large, simple beast that usually keeps to itself, but when angered will attack. Not very intelligent, or skilled, but they have brute-strength on their side.

So, those are the magical creatures that appear in book one of the duology, we will probably (read: definitely) meet a few more in the sequel, The Solitary King. They all keep to the original myths quite closely, with a few small tweaks here and there. They may change slightly over the course of editing and revising, but that’s all part of the writing process!

Do you like your fantasy novels to tie into existing myths and legends, or do you prefer exciting new creations?

I hope you’re excited to see how these fantastic beasts fit into my novel and what kinds of trouble my characters get into!

What would you like to know about my WIP in my next blog? Let me know in the comments – I’m thinking ‘get to know my antagonist’, or if you have any questions you’d like answered based on what I’ve already shared.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

 

Lyndsey

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Current word count: 59,661