Tips and Tricks, WordSmith Musings, writing

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Tips and Tricks, writing

Quick Tip #11

Writing a villain?

Within the first meeting, include these three things to make them terrifying but utterly compelling to readers.

  1. A dangerous or “evil” conviction they hold and why
  2. Something they have lost as a result
  3. Something/someone they love (not obsessed, that’s different) or care about deeply (people are generally best but it still works with objects)

 

Original Work, writing

Diamonds: A Flash Fiction Romance Story

They slipped out. Those simple words that were never meant to see daylight, let alone parade out in to it. Like a wet glass in a soapy hand, they slipped and shattered into a million pieces. There was no way to ever undo it and there was no way I could ever piece it back together the same as before. 

Those words had been hidden inside, locked and under key for years.  ‘I love you’ was not words you could say to your best friend. Maybe it was just the heat of this warm spring day that made me unaware of what I was saying. The lulling of the whirring fan, the disillusioned words of years gone past spilling from our history books, or how turquoise blue his eyes were as they smiled at me over our now disregarded school books must have put me at such an ease that words came with no accord to what I actually wanted to say. Now, those bright blue eyes had widened in shock.

He stared at me with an expression I couldn’t read. I had never been good at reading his facial expressions, even though I had known his face my whole life. I didn’t even avert my eyes as he stared in amazement, something that was profoundly unlike me.  I was the shy girl that had always blended into the background. Steady and reliable, but never bold. Not the kind of girl who would tell a boy that they loved them like that. Or at all.

We had played in the sandbox between our yards together and he was in every way the boy next door. He was the person I could always talk to and was never hesitant around like I was with others. Though our lives had diverged along different paths, we had always stayed close friends. He went on to be the star quarterback and class president. I was the straight A girl who hung out in the library and quoted corny movies. 

He slowly opened his mouth to say something. My courage failed and I took to the door with a speed that would have made an Olympian proud. I stopped on the front porch and took a deep breath.

I turned back around and opened the door.

Standing in the doorway with his hand out to grab the knob was my blue eyed boy. He was wearing an expression that even I could read clearly. Did you ever notice that shattered glass looks a million diamonds? 

prompts, writing

Story Prompt #17

Long ago, two kingdoms reigned. One was full of snow and ice, the other full of flowers and sunlight. The people were distant from one another. But, on the border of the two kingdoms, things were just a little bit different…

landscape nature night relaxation

Please use this story prompt and photo to inspire your own creative short story. Submit a copy of your story by emailing me at rachelsmithwriting@gmail.com for a chance to be published!

Tips and Tricks, writing

5 Tips for Making and Maintaining a Writing Schedule

Writing isn’t easy. I think most writers will agree with me. Some days, words seem to fly from your fingers and other times, you stare at the screen blankly. I get it. One of the best ways to combat that is to have some sort of writing schedule. Now, this should be extremely customizable to your lifestyle and schedule, but it needs to exist. Or else, you may find next week that you haven’t looked at your writing once in the past seven days.

Here are my five tips for making and then maintaining your schedule.

 

1. Put it on the calendar

This one may seem simple, but it can have a great impact. Sit down with your planner, google calendar, phone, whatever it is and find the times where you have free time. Whether it is for a half hour or three hours, put it in as an event. By making it something physically scheduled, you’ll be less likely to forget or ignore it.

 2. Tell others about it

One of the leading causes of distraction can be other people. And it may just be that they don’t realize what is going on. Make sure the people around you know what you’re doing and that it’s important to you. If they know that from 9-10 am, you’re writing, they won’t bother you (hopefully). But if you don’t tell them, they won’t know! Plus, it’ll create some great accountability on top of being distraction-free.

3. Be realistic

If you haven’t written in a long time, planning to write for five hours straight is probably not feasible. Know your limits. Schedule an hour or two and gauge from that. If you set your goals unrealistically in the beginning, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment which can lead to completely forgoing any schedule. Instead, set your goals conservatively and then you can expand from there as you see your capacity.

4. Outline your time

There should always be flexibility in your writing schedule, but it can be extremely helpful to have a general outline of what you want to do. Every week, I try to write a to-do list of things I want to accomplish. “Write four chapters of The Lightbringer”, “write a short story about Asena“, “journal twice”, “write a story from a prompt“. Things like that can help me have focus and allow me to check things off, which can be extremely motivational!

5. Don’t edit

This can be one of the most detrimental things to a writing schedule. If you are not to the editing stage (completely finished your first draft), editing simply is a rabbit trail that you can get lost down. You’ll spend hours fixing this one thing, that leads to the next and suddenly its been a month since you’ve written anything. Finish writing your first draft before you edit. Editing will be necessary then, but if you don’t have the bones to work with, you’re just rearranging things and not writing! Often times, editing prematurely can end with a half finished book that never sees the light of day or a final chapter.

 

I hope these helped. If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments below. If you’re looking for more Tips and Tricks, check out some of my other articles!

Tips and Tricks, WordSmith Musings, writing

5 Tips for Writing About Covid-19

It seems like everywhere I turn this past week, someone is writing about Covid-19. And I get it, there’s a lot to figure out and understand in this unprecedented time. People’s lives are being changed, whether they now have children at home for the next few weeks or they are working remote or their college classes are suddenly online or they are in quarantine or worse, they’re sick. It is a lot of change and everyone is trying to figure out and write about what comes next.

As bloggers and writers, we have a few things we should keep in mind. Below are my five steps to writing about Covid-19.

1. Fact Check

One of the most important things to do right now is fact-check your posts. If you are writing about statistics, accounts, cases, reactions, or ways to prevent, make sure you are using reliable sources. Right now is not the time to be using questionable resources to try and drive followers. (There is never a good time, let’s be real) Your followers will be implementing the ideas you write about, or telling these stories to friends, relatives, and acquaintances. You want them to be spreading true and helpful information, not something that could get someone sick or worse. Bonus points for linking all of your sources!

2. Keep your audience in mind

This is not the time to be dumping loads of information on your readers that is not relevant to their lives. Trust me, they are being overloaded right now. Make sure your articles are targeted specifically to your niche and audience. If you write about parenting, talk about things parents can do with their kids during this three week break. If you write about food, talk about meals that can be made with your regular staple ingredients. If you write about travel, talk about what travel looks like right now. Stay in your niche, as tempting as it is to post about anything and everything.

3. Share your story

Don’t be afraid to tell people that this is affecting you as well. People want authenticity and ideas. In blogging, it tends to be helpful if your audience relates to you, but especially now. Covid-19 is affecting you somehow. Don’t whine, but be factual. It can be a single post or it can be small tidbits to sprinkle in a bunch of posts, whatever feels natural.

4. Don’t try to break news

A blog or website is not the place for breaking news updates. People are receiving this through news sources and the posts will time out. There is little re-read value for these type of posts so you will see little traffic on them after the first few hours. Instead, write articles for your readers about what they can do in regards to the news being brought. If you’ve just been informed that K-12 schools are closing, talk about what parents can do. Don’t try to be the one to inform people that schools are closing.

5. Don’t make every article about Covid-19

Yes, Covid-19 is impacting many areas of life, but if the only thing your blog is talking about is Covid-19, people may stop listening. We are being inundated with information right now and that can be overwhelming. Try instead to have it be a single piece or something mentioned within your articles, rather than a focal point of your stories.

 

I hope these tips help as you write and continue to think about writing about Covid-19. If you have any other tips or thoughts, please share below in the comments!

Original Work, WordSmith Musings, writing

Twisted Tales: Writing a Fairy Tale

The classic fairy tales we grew up with have a place inside my heart. I love them and I’ve really come to love the new renditions of them in twisted tales. Some of my favorites include The Lunar Chronicles, Beastly, Spinning Silver, and Ella Enchanted.

They each tell tales we have heard before, but they continue to surprise and delight despite us knowing a vague outline of the plot. That feels even more masterful to me sometimes than normal writing.

In light of this, I’ve recently begun to create my own twisted tale based off from the classic tale of Rapunzel and the less classic version, Tangled. I have a propensity for strong female leads in my stories and Flora, a sweet young girl with hair that grows as she wills, has a strong heart and will have to learn to be more than she ever dreamed possible if she wants to escape the palace holding her prisoner. Caught in an epic battle between two countries, a prophecy, and two cocky princes, Flora and that magical hair of hers will turn the tides of war.

I haven’t gotten too far into the story, just an outline and a few chapters, but already I’m loving Flora. She loves feeling beautiful and yet hates being stared at by the thuggish men of court. She is strong enough to stand up for herself but needs help to learn that she’s strong enough to believe in herself too.

I’m currently still working out who our handsome prince will be. Besides a few quick lines, he’s mostly a vague imprint right now as Flora has yet to meet him. I want him to be fitting for a young, overly-confident prince who rides into danger and wants to rescue the damsel. But he has no idea what rescuing actually entails and that the damsel is a strong woman who isn’t swooning at the thought of his help. I’m sure that will have many great character building moments for me to choose from.

So begins my very own twisted tale. I’ll post excerpts once I have a bit more and I’ll let you know my progress.

Are there any twisted fairy-tales you really love? Or are you writing one of your own? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review, Tips and Tricks, WordSmith Musings, writing

Five Great YA Book Series To Get Lost In

I love a great written series of books where I get to follow the characters, fall in love with them, and see a much larger journey than any stand alone book can give.

BUT, I hesitate to start series I don’t know much about because they can be some big time commitments and, by the end, it might just not be that good. Well dear reader, I am here to help you with that! Here are five of my favorite series that you can’t go wrong with!

 

1. Heroes of Olympus

Now, Rick Riordan has a large amount of series that I would recommend. His original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is great, but the tone is for a slightly younger audience. His second series, still featuring Percy, but bringing in a slew of other characters and perspectives, is The Heroes of Olympus. This follows the Greek god Poseidon’s son and the Roman god Jupiter’s son in intertwining tales as they fall into each other’s world and must reconcile the two. With a phenomenal cast of characters that are diverse, fun, and courageous, this series weaves stories together to create a plot that is magical, fun, engaging, and will keep you on your toes!

 

2. The Inheritance Cycle

For fans of Lord of the Rings and DnD, I give you the Inheritance Cycle. Set in a medieval world filled with elves, shades, dragons, and men, we embark on one young farm boys adventure. Eragon discovers a dragon egg, which hatches to become the beautiful and fearsome Sapphira. As the evil king hunts for him, he learns he is one of the only dragon riders left. The four books build a fantastical world that is full of intricate politics and breathtaking magic. We get perspectives from other characters as well, two of my favorite. A young farmer fighting to save his love from evil beasts, who becomes a fearsome leader and warrior. We also get to see a young woman who becomes one of the rebel leaders and is forced to be tough but the perspective allows us to see the soft side as well. It’s masterfully done.  (Please feel free to ignore the movie Eragon, which doesn’t do the first book justice)

 

3. The Pendragon Series

Bobby is a normal high school kid until one day his adventurous uncle comes into town and whisks him away down a flume. Discovering that the world is much bigger than his one planet, Bobby travels to worlds all around Halla, attempting to stop the evil member of their order who is attempting to destroy each world. We read much of the story as letters/journals he is writing to his two friends back on Earth. This series is really interesting because each book sends us to a new and different world. We get to learn what makes this place interesting and different at the same time Bobby is. This has a few interesting and well developed relationships and will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is ten books so if you’re just interested in checking it out, you can find the first book here.

 

4. The Lunar Chronicles

For anyone who loves sci-fi and classic fairy-tales, this is the series for you. Each book tells the twisted fairy tale, beginning with the classic Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg with the evil step-mother figure, the dreadful daughters, and a charming prince to boot. But, this is a technologically advanced world, with a colony on the moon full of people able to influence the mind. Each book follows a different heroine, but weaves together their stories. We will meet Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White). There’s also two short stories diving into our villians’ past. While each story has many of the key components from the classic fairy tale, the Lunar Chronicles will keep you guessing at the twists and turns. With four classic love stories to root for, this is a fun series to read.

 

5. Graceling Series

This series features strong woman learning to become more of who they are. Katsa is a fierce warrior, blessed as a Garceling, a person with an extreme talent. Katsa has been Graced with killing, which has led her to become the thug of her uncle, the King. But when strange things begin happening in her kingdom and those around, she meets people she never expected and uncovers a deadly secret. The second book travels over to a kingdom across the mountains, hidden from the Graceling Realm. There we follow Fire, an unbelievably beautiful woman with the ability to control the minds of people. We see her struggle with her power and the fiercely negative view everyone has of her in the kingdom. We’ll meet a familiar face from Graceling and root for Fire time and again. The third and final book brings us back to Graceling, following the young Queen from the first book. She’s smart and strong, but young and the pressures of the crown and her advisers is unrelenting in her kingdom being rebuilt. Disguising herself, she meets the rougher side of her city and learns that all is not what she thought. Each of these three women are strong in their own different ways and you’ll heart will relate to the struggles they go through.

 

There are probably dozens of other phenomenal series. What are some of your favorites? Add them in the comments below!

 

The above includes affiliate links. If you purchase something from them, I may receive a small part of the profit. My affiliation does not affect my recommendations tho. If you have any questions on this, please let me know. 

Book Review, WordSmith Musings, writing

Whatcha Reading? The Fellowship of the Ring: LOTR

I love a good adventure as much as the next gal but The Lord of the Rings series has to be one of the most well-known ones of all-time. Somehow, despite having watched the movies a dozen times, I’ve never actually read the books. My husband and some close friends have and finally I decided to pick up the large red book sitting on my bookshelf.

It has been a great decision.

The Fellowship of the Ring is an intriguing tale and the extended depth (or existence) of characters has been my favorite part. I am only halfway through (we’re about to head to Moria) so I can only speak to that part.

In the movies, two of my favorites were, of course, the silly, quirky, but ultimately brave Merry and Pippin. Tolkien has fleshed them out and given them much more in-depth personalities than I ever realized.

Merry, while still a fun hobbit, is actually quite the responsible fellow. Frodo doesn’t flee quite as quickly as I thought and instead “moves” to Buckland to throw off suspicion before he leaves for good. And who does he have help him buy and set up his home? That would be Merry. And when Frodo begins acting strange months before, who helps form the group of four hobbits who will keep him safe and look out for him? Again, Merry was integral in that. When he goes to the Prancing Pony, he doesn’t join in the revelry and it was actually Frodo who ends up dancing on the table tops. Merry stays in because it sounds like quite the ruckus and he actually discovers the Black Riders in Bree while on a quiet walk.

I wouldn’t have guessed that I would enjoy such a responsible version of Merry, but it has given him a depth I love. He is courageous and still light-hearted, but he isn’t foolish.

Pippin, on the other hand, is still the silly hobbit that we know and love. But, we get to see his big heart, his courage, and his loyalty to his friends so often that I couldn’t help but become even fonder of the fool of a Took.

As is often common (almost always), these books are proving to be even better than the phenomenal movies. I’ll let you know when I finish, but I hope you get a chance to read it yourself!

I’m reading the whole collection, which you can find here. If you just want to check out the Fellowship of the Ring, you can find that here.