Beautiful People | Couples Edition

Well, hello there writer friends! This is my first Beautiful People link-up and I’m looking forward to getting to know my characters a little better, especially with the romantical undertones this month.

In January, I took part in my first Beautiful Books link-up, which you can check out here.

The link-ups are hosted by Cait of Paper Fury and Sky of Further Up and Further In, and involve answering ten questions about your current WIP. Beautiful Books covers your writing goals and progress, and Beautiful People is a chance to get up close and personal with your characters.

Let’s dive straight into the questions then! I’m answering these for my MCs Aria and Xander (you can find out more about my current WIP and my characters first if you like.)


  • How and why did they meet?

    Well, she saw him in her dreams, and then they bumped into each other at the circus, but they didn’t meet properly until he kidnapped her…so not the best first meeting.

  • What were their first impressions of each other?

    She thought he was just a figment of her subconscious until he knocked her unconscious, dragged her into the woods, and tried to convince her she was actually part of a fairy race. So obviously, she thought he was a crazed killer. He thought she was just some silly, useless girl he had been tasked with finding and bringing home. But, after a few weeks of surveillance he realised there was more to her than that, and maybe the prophecy wasn’t a fairy tale invented by the villagers to give them hope.

  • How would they prove their love for each other?

    That’s an interesting question. Xander isn’t the best at expressing himself, and Aria isn’t sure she sees any redeeming qualities in him anyway. Being the noble, self-sacrificing type that he is, Xander would probably die for her. Aria, on the other hand, would probably pretend she liked his terrible taste in music or eat his bad cooking to show how she felt about him. Basically, they’re both awful at relationships.

  • What would be an ideal date?

    They would go to a circus like the one where they first saw each other. Xander would show off his strength at the strongman game and Aria would play at giving the trained animals funny commands, trying to make him laugh. They’d eat candy floss and Xander would win Aria an enormous cuddly toy, and pretend he didn’t notice when she slipped her hand in his.

  • Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

    Almost everything. Aria doesn’t believe Xander when he says she’s the Salamander King’s daughter, she doesn’t think the prophecy refers to her, she doesn’t even think she’s really Fair – she’s just a normal girl and she wants to go home. Xander doesn’t want her to discover her abilities or learn to use them, he doesn’t want her getting involved in battling the Solitary at all, in case she gets hurt or killed. And their opinions of what is acceptable in the pursuit of justice for their people couldn’t be any more different.

  • List 5 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)

    Xander knows Aria loves doughnuts, and she doesn’t like eating rabbit or pheasant cooked over a campfire, but sometimes needs must. He knows she likes coffee, but not the super strong, black coffee Quade makes. Aria knows that Xander hardly eats when food is scarce, letting his brothers and her take his share. She also knows he can’t handle his drink…

  • What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?

    Hmm. How to answer without getting too spoilerific… Aria knows how much the pressure of being the eldest son and crown prince weighs on Xander’s shoulders. The responsibility of one day being king. Xander knows how powerful Aria truly is, even more powerful than she realises herself.

  • What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?

    Again with the spoilers! Aria doesn’t admit to Xander that she’s actually in love with her best friend, Jasper. Xander has so many secrets I don’t even know where to start. Let’s just say he knows a lot more about Aria and the truth of her situation than he reveals.

  • How would their lives be different without each other?

    Aria would still be living in peace and blissful ignorance in the Human Realm, but she would never discover the truth about who she really is, or learn about her Fair abilities. Xander would still be watching his people suffer as a result of the war and the oppression of the Celeste King. He’d probably still believe that the end justified any means, and be willing to sacrifice or betray anyone and anything to bring peace to his kingdom.

  • Where do they each see this relationship going?

    I think their opinions on this are probably mutually exclusive. Xander hopes that Aria will take her rightful place as the heir to the Salamander throne, making her a suitable bride for him as Gnome Crown Prince. However, if she chose to stay on and become Salamander Queen it would make the relationship complicated. Perhaps he hopes they could bring the two kingdoms together under both of them, creating a lasting peace. Aria, on the other hand, wants to help bring peace to the Fair Realm in whatever way she can, and then go back home to her parents and best friend in the Human Realm.

 

Wasn’t that fun? I love seeing how my characters react to different situations and how they feel about things I’ve never considered. Now it’s your turn, answer the ten questions on your blog and share the link on Paper Fury and Further In and Further Out. While you’re at it, check out some of the other answers from writers taking part in the link-up.

 

Until next time!

 

Lyndsey

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Currently reading:

Paperback

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

 

Audiobook

The Muse by Jessie Burton

 

Word count: 69,323

(About to start my second draft, wish me luck!)

Plotter vs. Pantser

First things first, I finished my first draft this week!! *does a little dance*

It’s around 70k words right now, and I’ve got plenty of notes about scenes I want to add, remove and rewrite, so who knows how long it will be in the end!

On that note, I thought I’d look at the pros and cons of being a plotter vs. a pantser today.

 

plotter-vs-pantser

 

New to the terms? A plotter is someone who plots their novel out before writing it. A pantser is someone who “flies by the seat of their pants”.

I’ll be honest, I’m a card-carrying plotter, so this blog may be slightly biased, but I can definitely appreciate the creativity and freedom afforded by pantsing. It’s just not for me.

And that’s OK!

Both methods have pros and cons, not least because everyone is different. What works for one may not work for another.

That’s the beauty of art, it’s completely subjective.

So, whether you spend longer outlining your novels than you do writing them, or you sit down with a pen and notepad and just start scribbling, you might learn something from your creative counterparts that could help you improve your craft.

Let’s look at plotters…

 

plotter-vs-pantser-1

 

There are as many different kinds of plotter as there are writers in the world, so don’t worry if you don’t identify with every word here.

Plotters tend to have an idea of what they are going to write before they start. Whether that’s just a broad concept of theme, a few character traits and maybe a general idea of setting, or a Filofax full of notes, character profiles and a scene by scene outline.

I only started writing seriously last year, and I read a lot of blogs and articles about novel writing before I sat down at my laptop to start chapter one. Mainly by Kristen Kieffer of She’s Novel, Faye Kirwin of Writerology and Christine Frazier of Better Novel Project. I learned a lot about writing in general, and picked up some brilliant tips for crafting a novel that readers will love.

I had an idea of what I wanted to write – I love YA fantasy and knew that was going to be the genre for my first novel (I’ve toyed with making it Middle Grade while writing, but decided against it). I also had a setting in mind – Sherwood Forest, or a fictionalised version, as I live nearby – and a vague idea of plot. I wanted my protagonist to be a teenage girl who discovers a hidden, magical world and learns about her true self over the course of the book.

So, with these things in mind, and a Word doc full of notes and snippets of potential scenes, I sat down to write.

I wrote about 15,000 words in September and October, and then I discovered NaNoWriMo. I stumbled upon the term on Twitter and Googled it, and I’m so glad I did. I decided to join in, knowing that I wasn’t exactly speeding through my first draft at this rate.

In preparation for my first NaNo, I read a bunch of blogs on how to get the most out of it. The one that helped me the most was from Better Novel Project – Day-by-day NaNoWriMo outline: your 30 day cheatsheet. Essentially, this is a list of thirty scenes that you need for your novel, a sort of skeleton framework that you then complete with your own ideas and plot points.

This is the single most helpful idea that I have come across since starting writing. I didn’t follow the framework religiously, but creating a list of thirty scenes I knew I needed to write meant that I always had something to write about during November. I never struggled with where to take the story next, and when I wasn’t feeling inspired I could skip ahead to a different scene.

This level of structure and discipline really worked for me. It’s not for everyone, but I intend to do something similar every time I plot a novel, NaNoWriMo or not. Having a spreadsheet of scenes worked better for me than having a list of events for each chapter or act. I need a more detailed plan with key plot points laid out in order – I can always insert subplots and rearrange the order at a later date.


So, what are the pros for plotters?

  • You know where your story is ultimately headed and are less likely to veer off track
  • Your characters are unlikely to behave in unexpected, contradictory ways
  • You won’t struggle for something to write (goodbye, writer’s block!)
  • You know what your next scene/plot point is and you just need to figure out how to get there
  • You’re left with a framework that will allow you to go back and add scenes and subplots with ease
  • You’ll probably finish the book before your pantser friends (not including the time you spent outlining!)

Cons?

  • You’re not as free to make major changes whilst writing, or risk making your whole outline irrelevant
  • When the muse strikes, you might fight it rather than let it flow through you
  • If a new scene or character presents themselves you need to figure out where they fit into your plan
  • Lots of writers start writing without any idea of how the story will conclude, they like the freedom and excitement of seeing where the story takes them – plotting sort of ruins that
  • Plotting can make it difficult to be creative, many writers feel too restricted by a rigid outline

Any other pros or cons for being a plotter? Leave them in the comments!

Now, let’s take a look at pantsers…

plotter-vs-pantser-2

Ah, pantsers. You’re much braver than I!

Pantsers range from those with a vague idea of where they want the story to go, to those who start with only a blank page and an open mind.

The main risk with pantsing is writer’s block. Without an outline, it can be easy to lose momentum and struggle with where to take your characters and their stories.

On the other hand, the freedom to write whatever you want must be fantastic for many creatives. With no rules and no restrictions, some incredible and individual works of art can be created.


What are the pros of being a pantser?

  • Freedom to write whatever, whenever, and wherever you like (within the story that is, please don’t write while driving!)
  • Flexibility – don’t like a character? Kill them. Don’t like where you plot is going? Change it.
  • Some of the best ideas have come out of the random scribblings of a writer just playing around, trying something new or breaking the rules
  • If freewriting or writing sprints help you to get into the right mindset for writing, pantsing may just be for you!

And cons?

  • Writer’s block is every writer’s worst nightmare, and pantsers are more likely to be struck down by it as they don’t have a plan to follow
  • Without an outline, it can be easy to get off track and wind up with a long and rambling middle section that will need a lot of editing to tighten up
  • Your characters may start acting ‘out of character’ if you don’t decide beforehand on their personalities, backgrounds and motivations
  • Writing about ancient Egyptian Gods? Corruption in local flower competitions? You’re going to have a lot of research to do when you get to draft number two! Make one too many mistakes in your assumptions and your entire plot could wind up on the cutting room floor.

 

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or a ‘plantser’? What are the pros and cons of your method? Dish the dirt in the comments!

 

Lyndsey

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Read my prologue

Hi fellow readers and writers!

Today, I thought I would share some of my writing with you. (I’m genuinely having palpitations right now.)

As I’m almost finished with my first draft-seriously, THE END is so close I can hardly breathe-I thought it would be fun to let you read my prologue.

I know, I know, prologues are a controversial topic. I’ve even read that some agents and publishers won’t even read a submission if it includes a prologue (I’m hoping this is just an exaggeration, if only because they would miss out on so many amazing novels.)

Some of the most famous and popular books by some of the world’s best authors have prologues. Several of the Harry Potter books have prologues, and if it’s good enough for JK it’s good enough for me.

From what I’ve read, there seem to be a few accepted rules for prologues, for example where there is a large time gap between the prologue and chapter one, and the information from the past is important to the story.

That’s the kind of prologue I have written for The Fair Queen.

OK. Let’s bite the bullet. Here’s my prologue (if you want to check out a brief synopsis for my novel first then here you go):

 


 

PROLOGUE

 

The harsh, fluorescent lights blinked audibly overhead as he slipped unseen into the hospital room. Row upon row of cots stood before him, occupied by pink mewling creatures, the air thick with the heady scent of new life.

The tightly wrapped bundle in his arms squirmed, and a face peered up at him from deep within the folds. He looked down at the child, his heart breaking inside his chest.

This was the only way.

The only way to keep his new born daughter safe. The only way to protect his people and ensure the future of his kingdom.

Footsteps in the corridor brought him out of his reverie and he tore his eyes away from the face of his child, scanning the cots until his eyes fell on a bundle wrapped in a pink blanket.

Holding his precious cargo in the crook of one arm, he lifted the small human out of the cot with his other hand. He carefully removed the hospital-issue cellular blanket, wrapping it lovingly around his own daughter before placing her in the empty cot.

He bowed to bestow one last kiss on her forehead, and watched as the shimmering lights in her bronze eyes faded, leaving them an unremarkable shade of brown.

“Be safe,” he whispered, “I’ll be watching over you, my child.”

Another sound in the corridor made him take a step back, thrusting the spare human child inside his cloak and stepping behind the door just as it opened and a plump woman in nurse’s scrubs bustled in. She cooed as she picked up the King’s daughter from the cot, chattering about feeding time.

With one last look over his shoulder, the King slipped soundlessly from the room.

 


 

What did you think? Leave me your thoughts and suggestions in the comments, I’d love to hear what you liked and disliked.

Do you love or hate prologues in books? Are you one of those readers who (heaven forbid) skips the prologue? Let me know!

 

Lyndsey

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