Character Study: Ophelia

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While writing my upcoming novel Ghoul, I created a character designed to serve the function of a ‘talking head’ aka someone for Mya, the protagonist, to bounce ideas off. However, I understand talking heads are bad, they result in clunky dialogue that’s obviously just exposition in the form of dialogue. So, with that in mind I tried to turn my talking head into a semi-developed character with her own goals and motivations.

I made this character a Sphinx. I’ve always been fond of a bit of Egyptian mythology, as those who read Amenti will have noticed, and it didn’t take me long to decide where in London my Sphinx would live. She promptly moved into the Egyptian walk of Highgate Cemetery.

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Four Habits of Successful Writers

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All great writers have habits.

Good habits and bad ones. I am by nature a creature of habit, usually, if I can do something for about a month (maybe 2) then I will do it forever unless someone stops me. So naturally I became very interested in writing habits, and how to form good ones. I’ve spent a lot of time researching to emulate the best practices and make myself a better writer.

Today I am going to list my top 5 for you.

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Mythbusting! 5 Writing Myths.

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I’ve been writing since I was in college, well earlier really but college was when I started writing regularly and sending out my writing for others to read.

In the time since I was 16 up to today, I have learned a lot about writing, I’m still learning now and I am excited to look back on myself in the future to see how far I have come since today. There is always more to learn, always more practice to be done and it makes me very happy to know that I will never stop improving. I feel very optimistic when I think about writing in this way.

We are all learning and that learning is very objective. What works for me may not work for you, a ‘writing myth’ to you may be true for me. Today I would like to discuss some of the more common myths that when I read them as a teenager I believed but have now learned are not true, at least not for me.

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Writing habits and how to form them.

Writing is a fickle beast.
Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes it does not. We can go for significant stretches of time with little or nothing to show for it. The blank page mocks us cruelly. Then there are periods of great abundance where sleep becomes something other people do because the ideas won’t leave us alone. Rarely is there a happy middle ground.

computer-on-desk-5But that doesn’t stop us from trying, and you can create that fabled middle ground. You can train yourself to do almost anything.
Human beings are (generally) creatures of habit so why not make ourselves creatures of writing habit. Creating a habit helps you squeeze into the headspace for any particular task more easily. Setting yourself a nighttime routine will help you fall asleep sooner (usually), setting a morning routine will help you get to work on time, setting a writing habit will help you write each and every day.

Creating a daily writing practice really helps, it took a while to settle in (apparently it takes at least 21 days to form a habit that will stick), but now that it’s there I find it easier and simpler to write at certain times of the day. Once I trigger my brain through the little rituals I’ve built up, it automatically shifts into writing mode.

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Non Fiction in Fiction: What am I allowed to write?

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I was pretty nervous when I sat down to write this blog, I still kind of am.

Why?

Because I am a 30-year-old, straight, white English woman, who is about to talk about the touchy subject of cultural appropriation in writing. This has made me nervous because I am not coming from the viewpoint of one of the cultures being appropriated, but rather from the race doing the appropriation. Thus, a part of me is expecting to get shouted down and told I cannot understand the issue because of my race, etc.

But, I am not going to let my own nervousness stop me from having a conversation I think needs to happen.

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Secrets of Hidden Places Snippet

 

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Secrets of Hidden Places

Melanie took a deep breath, inhaling the soft smell of wood smoke and the sour, sharp smell of old beer. The bar was large, and crowded tables filled the space. She edged forwards, her tights snagging on the splinters in the floor. She glanced down; the wood of the floor was marked with furrows as though a pack of sharp-clawed wolves had dwelt here. Feeling eyes on her, Melanie looked at the bar. Sharp black eyes glared fiercely at her, making her flinch. The woman was bone thin; her greying hair pulled harshly back, making her skeletal appearance much more prominent. Melanie almost fled under the glare, but a hand on her back pushed her forwards.

“Pretty girl.” The boy smiled at her and steered her into the bar. “Raywin you frighten our Secretsfirst new face this Festival. How are we to live if you behave so?”

“Fool Una, Nit has already served her.” The woman, Raywin, said ‘served’ in such a way that Melanie shivered. Una clicked his tongue.

“Nit.” He looked to Melanie, smirked and jumped over the bar. “Her drinks are sticky sweet.” He leant closer till he was almost nose to nose with Melanie. “I can give you something much nicer.” Melanie swallowed the lump in her throat and felt the heat in her belly claw its way up her neck and over her face. Una’s eyes wandered down her body and slowly back to her face, his smile widened.

“What do you recommend?” Melanie said triumphantly that her voice remained steady. Una’s self-satisfied smile became a smirk.

“Many things.” He turned and opened a cupboard filled with bottles. Melanie still felt the burn of Raywin’s glare and risked a look at her out of the corner of her eye. Raywin was watching her, but her look was no longer a glare, it was desperate. Melanie felt her throat clench; she couldn’t breathe. The thump of a shot glass landing in front of her snapped her eyes away from Raywin. Una took her hand and wrapped it around the glass.

Read the whole story HERE for £0.99!

Top Tips: 3 ways to immerse your readers in a location.

 

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When you write you want your reader to become absorbed in the world, you create, whether that world is a real place or somewhere you’ve created for your story. Here are my top three tips to make your locations immersive.

Tip One: Rely on your reader’s senses

It might be tempting to describe the location based solely on sight, on what your character can see. But don’t forget they have other sense as well. Talk about how a place smells, how the ground feels under a character’s feet, is it cold, hot, raining? All these things can help draw your reader in and immerse them in your world.

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4 Things I wish I’d known when I started writing

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I’ve been writing now for over a decade, and between college magazines, novellas, and novels I’ve picked up a few things.  There are, however, some lessons that were hard to learn. Things I wish I’d known when I started out, I decided to share them with you.

All it takes for you to be a writer is for you to write.

When I started, I was obsessed with the idea that I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer until I got something published. I wasted so much time being upset that I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer. It actually makes me angry to think of this now, I spent days and days of my time being unhappy that I hadn’t ‘made it’ as a writer when I could have used that time to enjoy writing.

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Top three tips on writing short stories

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In this blog, I want to talk about stories, short stories to be exact.

Writing a short story is a particular skill, and while some of the skills gained when writing longer stories can be transferred to short ones,  some skills can only be honed and developed by writing short stories.

I know writers who can pen novels long enough to hold open fire doors and keep you gripped from page one right through to page one thousand and one, who then struggle to write a story three thousand five hundred words long.

With that in mind, I want to share my top three tips for writing good short stories.

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Snippet Stories: Fools Hope

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Fool’s Hope

Halvar second guessed himself for the first time in centuries.

A short few decades ago one of the children, Lorens, had convinced him that a show of force to the humans would make them back off. A show of force would protect the clan and improve moral, no one enjoys the feeling of helplessness that comes from being persecuted. Fighting back would make them feel as if they had some control over their fate. So he had agreed, he had pledged his children to the fight, and they had been victorious. Lorens had been right, the humans had retreated, moral had improved now that they no longer felt helpless. The battles were easily won, and their losses were minimal.

Until the Inquisition reappeared.

Things had become harder after that, battles were becoming fiercer. The losses began to mount up, and some began to lose faith. But those who lost their faith were easily outnumbered by those who had faith. They held hope not because of Halvar but because of Lorens. They had no belief that Lorens cared for them, or that he even really knew what he was doing. But they all saw him fight; they saw him do things alone in minutes that no one army could do in a lifetime.  That he was capable of such things gave them faith, that and his contagious determination.

But determination was not protection from a well-aimed blade.

Now Lorens lay broken before him, blood stained the grass, and his weapon was gone. The Inquisition had done its work. It was over.

But as he turned to walk away he stopped and listened. Over the sound of the flames he could hear Loren breathing, Halvar felt himself smile.

Perhaps they weren’t defeated yet.

Katie Marie wrote a Book. A big one and a couple of little ones. Check them out!