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)

 

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!

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.

WordSmith Musings, writing

Looking for an affordable and experienced editor for your novel?

Writing is a long and difficult process. So when you make it to the end and finally have a finished draft of your novel, there will be a huge sense of relief…and confusion. What does the next step look like? Now that you’ve got this done, how do you keep going?

Most likely, you want to get that novel published, whether through a traditional publishing company or using the various self-publication methods available. Either way, the next step needs to be finding an editor.

Before your work of art can go on to publishing, you will need someone to go through your manuscript to spot any inconsistencies in plot, character, and themes. You need someone willing to work with you to polish your novel and help it become a finished product ready to head on towards the world of publishing!

As an editor, I have a simple but effective process. I always believe you should begin with an initial read-through. Get a sense of the entire novel before you start in with a red pen. Once that’s been completed, I open the manuscript in GoogleDocs or some other similar platform to be able to leave clear comments in the margins that the author can actually read. I also create a document outside of the manuscript that categorizes my comments for the ease of the author. After that, I like to sit down one-on-one (in person or over video chat) to discuss my recommendations. I never want to tell you what you must do and any point should be a conversation. By the end, I want you to feel that you understand my critiques and feel confident moving forward.

If you are interested in having your book edited, please reach out below. I want to make sure everyone is able to create their masterpiece so I am able to work with each author individually on pricing.

I look forward to reading some fabulous manuscripts!

WordSmith Musings, writing

10 Classic Novels to Read in 2020

1.Pride and Prejudice

For anyone who has ever felt awkward in love, there is character you will relate to. This witty, charming, and flirty book will have you laughing from the first chapter! This is maybe my favorite classic of all time!

 

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee weaves a harrowing tale of racial discrimination and the law set from the eyes of a spunky child. Scout’s adventures are as entertaining as they are poignant. 

 

3. 1984

This novel is not for the faint of heart. This book was written in 1949 predicting what a terrifying 1984 could look like if we weren’t careful. Big Brother is always watching and they decide everything, even down to what you think. This book will make you think about censorship, control, and liberty in a whole new light. 

 

  1. White Fang

Follow the tale of a lonely wolfdog, we see the harsh life of the North, cruel people who only know how to mistreat, and kindness that can win the darkest heart. I highly recommend. 

 

5. Jane Eyre

Looking for a mystery wrapped up in a romance? Or maybe a heroine every girl can relate to? Jane is a very plain woman and, despite the harshness of those around her, grows into a kind woman. She begins to work for Mr. Rochester and the mystery of his past and their future will keep you on your toes!

 

  1. Frankenstein

Dr. Frankenstein heads down a dark path as he begins to explore the darker sides of science. His monster thread of the story will have you questioning what the term ‘monster’ really means. Intriguing and gothic, this novel will have you up for hours to finish. 

 

7. Great Expectations

Pip’s struggle from poverty to riches and the complications from pretty girls, criminals, and old, creepy women make for a rich tale. Dickens certainly know how to create vibrant characters and this novel is littered with them.

 

 

  1. The Horse and His Boy

A powerful tale of a young impoverished boy and a Talking Horse escaping dreary lives of slavery to reach Narnia and freedom. This epic within the Chronicles of Narnia is a great read whether you’ve read the rest or not!

 

9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Join Huck on his adventures doing the Mississippi River with Jim, a slave seeking freedom. From ridiculous boyhood adventures to moving moments, this book is a great American classic. 

 

 

  1. Midsummer’s Night Dream

Shakespeare of course makes the list. Midsummer’s Night Dream is a fanciful and entertaining tale of two worlds colliding; the human and the fey. With love stories all amiss and shenanigans ensuing, no one will be the same after this night!

 

 

 

All links associated with the images and list are affiliate links. I may make a small portion of the proceeds. If you have any questions regarding this, please reach out to me via my contacts page. 

Tips and Tricks, writing

Quick Tip #7

Worried your characters might sound too much alike? Each character should have a way of speaking, phrases or words they use specific to them. They need to be distinctive because in a novel, their words are one of the main things readers have to understand their personality. You don’t want five of the same characters running around just with different hair color. That’s a boring story.

Try this:

Copy five or so phrases from each character into a separate word document. 

Don’t use any names and jumble the order of the phrases.

See if you can tell who the speaker is each time. 

Ask a friend or fellow writer to do the same.

If no one can tell the difference, they probably are too similar. Edit!

 

Check out more Tips and Tricks for your story!

Tips and Tricks, writing

Quick Tip #6

If you’re suffering from writer’s block, try this tactic.

Take a break for a few days (3-5) from your specific story.

Each day write for 10-30 minutes about anything but be descriptive. No distractions, no phones, nothing but you and your keyboard or journal. Write about the way the light is coming through the window, the sound of your neighbor’s dog, the scratch on your desk. Don’t write a story, just write.

By the time three days has passed, your brain will have gathered a lot of imagery that will hopefully kick start your story.

Check out more Tips and Tricks for your story!