Writing Prompt 4/17

writing prompt

 

He always got the attention. She was the outcast because her powers were nothing like their parents, Poseidon and Amphitrite. There were days that they left her in her sea castle, alone, where she studied ancient arts of potion making. When her brother was showing off his new abilities, she was studying. One day, when she was about fifteen, she brought her parents a Love Potion that she had been working diligently to perfect.

“Why would anyone want that?” her mother asked. “Love isn’t something you just make. It’s something you feel.”

But Ursula wanted to use it on her mother and father because, maybe, it would make them love her, too. She spent most nights talking to her two best friends, Flotsam and Jetsam. They were young eels, but they were the only creatures in the entire ocean who liked her.

Maybe it was her beauty that her mother was jealous of. Triton was a handsome boy, but took after his father. However, Amphitrite was beautiful, but not as beautiful as her daughter. Urusula was known throughout the ocean as the Hidden Pearl. Other sea creatures would wait for days to see her beautiful white hair and skin, lightly touched with lavender. And while she was not a mermaid like Triton or Poseidon, but a Cecaelia, half human half octopus, her beauty radiated from all angles of her.

But the neglect from her parents would change all of that. Years passed, and the beautiful Ursula spent most of her time trying to impress her family, particularly her mother. To no avail, mind you. Every potion she brewed was tossed across the castle, broken, or completely ignored. Finally, when she was an adult, Ursula left her family behind and hid from the world in an ancient cave. With her, came Flotsam and Jetsam, the only friends that she had in the entire world.

They appreciated her work, but so did another. A Half-Hydra by the name of Calix. Merwomen and other female sea creatures fought desperately for his attention, but he had seen Ursula leaving Poseidon’s castle and followed. It was her beauty that enticed him to keep going, venturing for days to her secluded cave in the Bermuda Triangle.

It was silent. Calix had lost sight of her, but followed the trail left behind as she drifted through the eerily calm water. As he rounded the corner, he saw her entire beauty. He begged for her hand in marriage. She obliged. But she was shocked that anyone would want to show her affection.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “Why me?”

“You are an amazing person,” he replied with a smile. “And the most stunning creature I have ever seen.”

On the day of their wedding, Ursula was having Flotsam and Jetsam put the finishing touches on her make-up before she would make the long journey to her father’s castle. They reluctantly agreed to host the ceremony.

“At least my parents will be there,” she thought. “And my brother.”

The welcoming sight of the mile-high towers brought back memories for the young woman. Both good and bad images from the past arose in her mind. When she entered through the front gates, her parents were standing there with her soon-to-be husband. They had smiles on their faces, but they were not looking at her. She turned around, and Triton was there with his father’s trident. It was pointed in the direction of Calix.

“What’s going on?” Ursula cried as two guards grabbed her, holding her back.

“This man is evil,” her brother growled. “He would steal the crown from King Poseidon himself.”

Ursula was the next in line for the throne. When her father passed, Calix would be the heir. But Triton would never let that happen. The crown was HIS. In a blink of an eye, the only man who loved her was dead. Her brother stood there with an evil smile on his face. His sister was released and banished from the land in tears.

Since then, Ursula lived in a constant state of depression growing to become what Ariel, King Triton’s daughter, came to know. Her face became grotesque from lack of sunlight and her bitterness persisted. She would die in the same way she lived, alone and miserable.

 

I hope you enjoyed! Try this one and post yours down in the comments!

 

Writing Prompt 2

Writing Prompt 3/31

writing prompt

It was a rainy day when they came and took over. Nothing we could have done could have prepared us for this, because we… well SOME of us were so blind. The government, they made us hate each other. While we fought and argued, they planned. Some of us acted like petulant children and fought against equality for some ignorant reason.

But that doesn’t matter now.

Nothing matters anymore. Like a tsunami, it hit the entire country. But we were the fools. People were expecting them to come with guns, but they didn’t. They came with words and forced us to question everything, even our very existence. Who is our enemy? It could be the person with me, right next to me in bed. Anything to divert attention to what was about to happen.

Today, things are different. Those of us who did not fight back were housed in special compounds. They are guarded day and night by the ones who came from space. Since the government sold us to protect themselves, the other beings gave them power to run free and torture those who did fight back.

But in reality, those other beings own even the government.

Their next step was to enslave the entire world. They started with the country that was the most ignorant to the outside world. The one that no one would help because they really didn’t like us. Treaties that they had signed meant nothing if the enemy came from another galaxy.

Honestly, I can’t believe that no one thought of this before me.

Befriend them, I offered. The young ones, the young adults. They were more impressionable than the adults. I believed that, perhaps, they would help us in some why. What I didn’t plan on was a mutual feeling of attraction to one.

It was one who tended to our bunk. As far as I know, they have no sex or gender that humans could ever understand, but they looked humanoid. This one in particular, had a more male figure and his English name was Luther. He told us that we could not comprehend his people’s voice or language, but they used special devices to be able to talk to us.

Unlike many of the others, Luther was kind. We were given three meals a day, and sometimes, he even sneaked us some treats. A few times, he shared his own people’s delicacies.

Somehow, I could tell that he was saddened at how his people treated us. When everyone had fallen asleep for the night, I stayed up and watched him. Even though we were born in completely different universes, our emotions looked the same. He walked down the walkway separating our beds and tears, real tears, were streaming down his face. As he walked past me, he noticed I was awake and quickly wiped his eyes.

“What are you doing awake?” he said sternly. “You are supposed to be sleeping.”

My heart was racing. Would he turn on me for disobeying rules? “I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help to notice that you were sad. Is everything alright?”

“Why would a servant care about their master?” he asked, somewhat intrigued.

“Because,” I said. “Everyone deserves to be happy… no matter where they come from or what position they’re in.”

From then on, Luther would ask me to stay up at night to talk. We grew closer. He asked me questions about my life before and asked what I would do if I were free. I asked him what his planet was like and why his people came here. Over time, he started asking me questions about revolting.

“What?” I repeated. “A revolt? Your people would destroy us.”

“Not if you have my help?”

I was shocked. He seemed so sure of himself. Was this a trap? All this time, was he tricking me? Had I disclosed secret information about humans that his people did not know?

“I just want to be a part of life on Earth,” he seemed to read my mind. “I don’t want to rule it. I want to be a part of life, your life.”

“What are you asking me?” I leaned forward.

“Human Megan,” he said. “I love you. I want you and your people to be free. Let’s do this.”

And just then, Luther held out his hand and a flower formed in it. It was no flower that I have ever seen on Earth. At first, I thought he was giving it to me as a symbol of his affection, but he shook his head.

“This flower is the last of its kind,” he explained. “It is the only thing that can end this enslavement. Our single weakness as a people lies in this flower.”

***

“And that,” I said to my grandchildren. Luther was standing at the door, smiling at their children’s children. It had been almost 60 years since that fateful day. “That was how your grandfather and I got our freedom.”

Writing Prompt (1)

So You Finished your First Draft… Now What???

If it scares you,it might be agood thing to try.

Congrats! You finally finished that first draft. The mountain you thought you could never climb is finally conquered. Even though you cried about half the time, your tears were not in vain. And, most importantly, you didn’t quit! 🙂

As I mentioned in the previous “Let’s Write a Novel” post, your first draft isn’t going to be the best. It doesn’t have to be! That’s what this next phase is for, editing. And that is what I am covering today!

DISCLAIMER! You can get an editor to check over your work. They can be pricey, but I am fortunate that my cousin-in-law has an English degree. So she has been my editor.

This is the way I have been editing my novel Purpose, so feel free to adjust to what fits you the best! I feel that focusing on one aspect of the content with each edit makes it a higher quality than trying to do everything at once. So Enjoy! 😀

1st EDIT

BEFORE you get your hands dirty, give yourself a break. I took a 2 week break. Trust me, it may be difficult, but it gives you a pair of fresh eyes to look at your work. I spent that time outlining my next 2 books in the trilogy, working on questions for my Beta Readers, and the Blurb for Purpose. That took about 2 weeks or so.

Now that you’ve taken a break, it’s time to get going on the least fun part of writing. With the first edit, I read the entire book, chapter by chapter, searching for grammatical and spelling errors. These are difficult to find, especially when you know what you want to say. You may have doubled a word or forgot a comma. Perhaps you meant to say clothes and typed cloths… or he instead of the. Errors like this may completely miss your careful combing, but it will stick out to readers. And if you are a stickler for good grammar as a reader, then you may put a book down if it contains errors like these. Hold yourself to as high of a standard that you hold other authors.

The easiest way to edit for grammatical and spelling errors is by taking each paragraph separately. First, start with the last sentence of the paragraph and read it out loud. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there any words that are misspelled that Spell Check did not catch?
  • Does the grammar make sense? Are you consistently using the Oxford Comma or not?
  • Does the dialogue make sense and sound natural?

 

Why edit from the last sentence of each paragraph first? It makes it easier to catch mistakes when you aren’t reading the sentences how they are meant to sound. It also keeps you from doing content edits or prose edits which comes later.

 

2nd Edit

Once you’ve fixed up the grammar and spelling, time to move onto the content. Keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Flow (NOT to be confused with Prose – which is the 3rd edit) – Do any sentences end abruptly? Are there unintentional run-on sentences? Any unintentional fragments?
  • Do the paragraphs make sense in the order they are written?
  • Do the chapters make sense in the order they are written?
  • Do the chapters convey the outline well?
  • Are there any outlying chapters/paragraphs/sentences that need to be removed?
  • Are there chapters/paragraphs/sentences that need to be added?
  • How are your descriptions of settings, characters, etc? Do you need to add or remove any content there?

DON’T worry about having to delete things. I know that this novel is your baby and you have watched it grow up and graduate school, 🙂 but you want it to be the best novel that it can be. Sometimes, in order to reach it’s full potential, things have to be taken out.

3rd Edit

To me, this is the most important edit. The “Prose” edit. The definition of Prose is “written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure.” However, we are going to edit for metrical structure here as well. And yes, you can do both.

Now, you are going through each of the remaining chapters and checking for more than just flow. Metrical structure, or the tempo of the words/sentences/paragraphs, are used to convey the mood of the scene. Is the protagonist and antagonist fighting? Then you want short sentences to convey the quick blows from either side. Having a long, run-on, descriptive sentence here wouldn’t make sense. On the other hand, if the character is meditating in nature (for example), then you would want a more poetic, descriptive, feel to the paragraph.

As for prose, you want to focus on how the paragraph sounds as a whole. Are you using the best word placement for the sentence? Should any words be changed to something more or less descriptive. Is the structure correct?

 

Once you’ve done these 3 edits, feel free to read through again if you want to see how everything turns out. It’s really up to you how many times you want to go through it! Good luck with this step. It is arduous! It takes time! And it is not as glamorous as writing the draft, but it has to be done and it is a crucial part of the process.

**Another quick note. If you do decide to hire an editor, remember that you do not have to make every change that they suggest. They may not know why your character does a specific action or the purpose of a specific scene. You may be adding in bits of foreshadowing. Whatever the reason, don’t feel like you have to make every edit that they offer. They understand!** 🙂

And don’t forget. KEEP WRITING

Outlining Your Novel

Let's Write a Novel

I know, I know. My Writing Prompts have been getting me a TON of traffic, particularly the one from this past weekend. So thanks for clicking on something else 🙂

Don’t forget to follow my blog for new updates! (And that INCLUDES more Writing Prompts and updates on my Novel’s release) Woop Woop!

If you have been following this particular topic, you should have already come up with your novel’s Main Idea/Inspiration/Basic Story, Characters, and Setting(s). And now, it is time to get to the Meat of the Story, so to speak. Outlining.

Just the same with Character Creation, you can get as vague or descriptive as you’d like. I’m going to give a quick run-down, show you how I outline, and give some other examples that may strike your fancy. 😀

So, what is the purpose of an outline? Why even bother with one? Well, most writers use some format to keep their ideas succinct. It also helps view a small snip-it of your entire novel without typing out 70,000+ words. You can utilize it how you want, move things around, and change ideas before getting started on your first draft. Not only will it help keep you on track, it can be a great tool to start the best story that you can.

Like I mentioned before, an outline can be vague or detailed. A list of chapters with a sentence or two stating the general idea to one page detailing each scene in the chapter, anything will work!

I use Google Docs so I can retrieve it whenever I have access to Wi-Fi. And in my experience, I tend to work best with only a paragraph or two per chapter. With each one, I outline things by topic, namely, what I want to accomplish and what points I want to make. If there is anything specific that I want to add, I will put that under the note in a separate bullet point. Sometimes, that is a quote, an exchange, or a significant scene. I am an author that does not particularly care to detail everything out. When I sit down to write, I would rather let my present creativity take over my fingertips than what I wrote down days or months prior. And at times, my writing surprises even me.

Example

[TITLE]

Chapter (#)

  • Main idea
    • Minor idea (notes), any specifics

Chapter (#+1)

  • Main Idea
    • Minor Idea

Etc.

 

That is just one way to write an outline.

Image result for notecard outline

 

Another example is writing scenes on index cards. You can lay out in front of you and scramble them how you wish. This works really well if you have a ton of ideas and no clue how to organize them.

Image result for ways to outline your novel

Another way that is similar to how I outline is through a spreadsheet. You can use Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets for this. Writers who have a very exact way how they would like their novel to be would benefit most from this way.

Image result for ywriter

 

 

yWriter is a great software for anyone who is obsessive with organization. I used it for time, but my mind is a bit crazier than that. Best of all, IT’S FREE! 🙂

 

 

Image result for scrivenerProbably the best way, in my opinion, to outline your novel, is through Scrivener. With this software ($45), you can outline, write, and edit all in one place.

The way they describe it is, “See the forest or the trees.” Basically, you can be as specific or as vague as you’d like. You can organize your thoughts with color and outline. You can flag things with each edit, etc. For less than $50, it’s a great deal!

 

Once you have this done, you are ready to start your first draft! Stay tuned for the next installment of “Let’s Write a Novel: First Draft!”

Battling Writer’s Block

HELP! Writers Block

Writer’s Block. The time when your imaginary friends refuse to talk to you. We all go through it, even famous authors. No one is immune to it’s evil grasp! However, you can unsheathe your sword and fight against Writer’s Block once you know what you’re up against.

There are a few places that Writer’s Block comes from, but every reason is psychological and it stems from fear. Fear of being judged, fear of failure, fear of lack of originality… I could go on. It’s true, writing a novel (or other piece of literature) and publishing it is like standing in the middle of New York City naked. Your work of art has only seen your eyes up until that moment. And really, it is your baby. Every character, every scene is special and you love every word in it’s perfect place. But you, like every other author, knows that there will always be critics. Always. No matter what you write about, there will always be people who hate it.

But so what? Why should you care?

  1. Write for your future fans not future critics. Heck, you don’t even have to write for them. Write for yourself. As long as the story you write is something that you want to read, who cares what other people think? I promise, if you think like that, not only does writing become easier, but Writer’s Block will become almost nonexistent. Why? Well, if you’re only writing for yourself, you enjoy it. And when you enjoy what you write, the quality will naturally increase.
  2. Walk away for 10 minutes. Sometimes walking away for a few minutes will refresh your brain. Take your mind off the story for a moment. Eat a snack. Meditate. Dance. Sing. Something! Anything that makes you relax will tear down the walls your brain has built up. It will cause you to let your guard down and that’s a good thing.
  3. Don’t worry about what else is being written. News flash! You aren’t the only author writing their next story. There are thousands of other people around the globe who share the same hope and aspiration of becoming the next J.K. Rowling. Just like #1, you should focus on you. If it helps, write down the reason(s) why you are writing this work of art.
  4. What defines failure? Fear of failure is my biggest obstacle when crafting and writing a novel. What if no one wants to buy it when it’s published? What if no one likes it? All of these “What if…?” scenarios are realistic to think, but completely unproductive. When in doubt, I refer to #1. Remember who I’m writing for… ME! Even if no one likes it, I do! And I’m still going to write the entire trilogy. Yes, this mentality seems easier said than done… and it is. But what does failure mean to you? No fans? No money? Once you nail the reason, ponder whether or not these answers are helping or hurting you. I can take a good guess to say that it’s hurting you. Don’t think about failing, think about success!
  5. Perhaps your outline needs to be expanded. Maybe it’s not Writer’s Block at all! Maybe your idea is too vague or not vague enough. Take a look at your notes and outline. Are there plot holes that need to be addressed? Is there enough content to reach your word count goal? How about the characters, are they dynamic enough to write quality dialogue? Is there enough content in the story to create a well-rounded novel?

Don’t worry, future author, you can and you will get over Writer’s Block! Search for inspiration and you will find it. On the other hand, if you search for reasons to quit, you will find that as well. But please don’t! Me and the rest of the writing community want to read what you finished! Keep going and do what works for you!!! 🙂