Friday, 30 December 2011

2011: A Year in Review

2011 has been a year of adventure for me. So many things have changed from the previous year, and it’s kinda weird to look back on 2010 and see how things used to be. In Real Life, I started university, learnt to drive (or rather, became able to drive by myself), and turned 18. Acquaintances became friends, while friends became acquaintances.

In the writing world, I started off the year revising my WIP, POSEIDON’S TRIDENT. I quickly realised that there was simply too much work to be done, and quite frankly, the entire novel needed to be rewritten from scratch.

I started my new project in late May, although I had been planning since March/April. Aided by the ‘100 Words for 100 Days’ challenge, I managed to get into a good habit of writing daily, something I had never been able to do. With this new skill, I was able to churn out EXCALIBUR in precisely six months, and record for me (my previous novels usually took at least a year to write a rough draft).

During the year, I’d been writing a short story, which soon became a not-so-short story of about 12,000 words. I started HIT AND RUN in February, and it helped me through my long breaks at university (my time table wasn’t the best). Sometime after the first few months, I forgot about the story, only to pick it up in September. I churned through the last half of the story, and am now trying to edit it over the Christmas period. My editing attempts haven’t been so successful.

Now, as the end of the year approaches is already here, I’m struggling through the edits of HIT AND RUN, which is supposed to be a practice run at editing for EXCALIBUR. In 2012, I want editing my novel to be the main focus, and, taking into account my increased procrastination when it comes to editing, this will probably spill over to 2013. After that, I’m planning on starting the rewrite for POSEIDON’S TRIDENT, but I also have a YA fantasy idea swirling around in my head, begging to be written. So, who knows.

Your turn now. How has 2011 been for you? Has it been exciting, or was it ‘just another year’? Anything exciting for 2012? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas!

Although my family might think of me as a bit of a Christmas Grinch (Christmas lights? Hard work. Christmas songs? Drive me insane. Buying presents? “Why must there be so many people shopping today?!”) I actually love Christmas.

I love see the expressions of joy on people’s faces when they unwrap the gift I gave them.

I love eating the delicious food: gingerbread men, chocolate truffles, the delicious turkey my mum buys… *drool*

And (because, let’s be honest, everybody loves it) I love receiving presents. I mean, who doesn’t love getting some really cool stuff?

But most of all, I love that Christmas Day is so perfect.

People may not think I enjoy the lead up to Christmas, but I do love Christmas Day. I appreciate that everyone puts so much work in, all through December, to make one day absolutely spectacular.

I got several new books this year for Christmas, and so my TBR pile has returned to its former glory. I got Inheritance, the final book in the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini, and so the first three books have also been added to the pile. *Excited*

I also got a Kindle! I haven’t bought any books on it yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I plan on doing a review on it once I’ve been able to finish off my TBR pile. On one hand, it’ll be great not to have a stack of books on my bedside table, but on the other hand, said bedside table will look so empty!

For the comments, how was your Christmas? Did you get any new books you’ve been looking forward to? And if you have a Kindle, do you like it? Let me know!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

The title says it all. Have an awesome Christmas, guys!

~ Matthew.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Handling Bad Critiques

This week, I’ve had an entry in the Are You Hooked? critique round over at the Write On! blog. To be honest, the critiques on my entry weren’t favourable. For the past few weeks, I’d been exploring a new idea (yes, I’m aware I’m supposed to be editing) in a different style to what I usually write. It’s an exciting new idea and I’ve been having fun with it. So, when I got several “I’m not hooked” critiques, I was initially a bit disappointed.

‘Oh. I guess no one likes my writing.’

I’ve posted on this topic about a month ago, but I think it’s worth revisiting. A bad critique does not mean you’re a bad writer. It’s not a personal attack. A bad critique simply means that the story is no good. I’m sure I’m not the only person who gets the odd dud idea.

When you open yourself up for critiques, it’s vital that you keep in mind that it’s subjective. What Person A likes may not be the same as what Person B likes. Each person favours different styles of writing, and enjoy different genres, and this shows in the critiquing. I found this while I was giving critiques: if I didn’t enjoy a particular genre, I was more likely to not be hooked.

When you get a bad critique, I think it’s best not to respond right away, or even respond at all. Give yourself some time to digest the critique and think about what the person said. After a while you’ll come to realise that what they said is actually true! Only once you realise this should you respond to any critique, if you like.  

For the comments: how do you handle bad critiques? Let me know!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Middles

Lately I’ve seen people blogging about writing beginnings and writing endings. What I haven’t seen are posts on writing middles. Sure, they’re not as important as the beginning or the end, but you still want to get the middle right, lest you end up with a sagging middle section.

When you’re writing the middle, it’s important to keep in mind that as the climax is the most dramatic point in your novel, and thus, the middle should be building up to that high level of tension. In school, my teachers used to use a bell curve to demonstrate the level of tension in a novel:



As you can see, the middle should be constantly rising in tension in the lead up to the climax at the end of the story. But how can we make sure that the middle is doing its job?

Twists: Having a couple of twists mid-way through the story will keep up the momentum, and more importantly, keep pages turning.

Cliff Hangers: They don’t have to be big cliff hangers, but you should try to have a cliff hanger at the end of every chapter. It could be something small, such as “Aunt Bessie’s famous chicken pie doesn’t actually have chicken in it… so what’s in the pie?”

Conflict: Having conflict raises tension, which is what we want in the middle. Perhaps two main characters have a massive argument and part ways, or there’s a big fight scene.

Of course, there are many other ways of raising tension during the middle of the book. How have you kept the middle exciting? Share your techniques in the comment section!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Snail's Pace

This was supposed to have been posted on Friday, but Blogger decided to save this as a draft and not post it. Just pretend you're reading this on Friday :)

I’ve still been really busy this week, but also too disorganised to pre-write any blog posts. I’ve had no time this week to edit, or even read! I’ve been trying to go to bed early each night, but I’m just so tired, I only read a chapter or two before going to sleep.

Editing is going at a snail’s pace. Embarrassingly, I’m going through the initial read through of the short story. It’s a big story, but not takes-several-weeks-to-read-it big. What I really need is a few solid hour-long periods to get stuck into it… but the few nights I’ve decided to edit, I spent wasting time on the internet.

It would seem I’m a Level 99 Procrastinator when it comes to editing. (Oh geez, did I just use a gaming reference?!)

Ahem. So, yeah, everything is still going slow. For the comments, how’s your writing going? Do you slow down over Christmas, or do you use the time off to surge through your writing or editing? Let me know!

Friday, 2 December 2011

My Week

Wow. It’s December.

DECEMBER.

I’m kind of in denial that the end of the year is already upon us. Like, wasn’t it only November a few days ago? (Haha. Ha. Ha…) This year has just gone by so fast, it’s ridiculous!

I’ve been so busy these last few weeks (especially this week in particular), and I don’t even know why. I feel like a have hardly any spare time, and what spare time I do have is spent lazing around doing nothing.

And I’m so tired too! All. The. Time. I don’t know why – I’m not going to bed late, and I’m getting up at the same time as usual. I think I need to hibernate.

My writing… well, editing has hit a brick wall this week. I’ve tried to edit a little bit each day, but so far I’ve only had one session. I think that, instead of waiting for some spare time, I need to make time. I have to tell myself that I may be busy, but I’m not too busy to spend at least half an hour a day with my short story.

That’s all I have to say today. I’m probably going to be busy right up to Christmas, but I’m going to make an effort to keep up with blogging and the online world (you may have noticed my absence this week). Have a great weekend!

For the comments, do you have any tips for editing? Let me know!