I’ve managed to write more in one day than I have for the majority of last year. My mental health has improved so much since then, and I am so excited to finally finish this book! I actually like a lot of aspects about my story, which is rare.
camp nano update #3
- project: cosmopolitan
- status: 3rd draft, writing
- word count: 8.6k/50k
They’re finally there! They have entered the Cosmopolitan Café! This took longer than i expected, especially since i needed some time to design this palace of sin to my satisfaction, but it worked! Also I haven’t really been able to write the last couple days bc of school, but it should be better from now on! I really have to hurry if i want to come somewhere close to my goal haha
Meanwhile, Alex introduced them. "Clarence Deshmukh, the Honourable Alistair Hillingham-Forbes and, um-" he broke off. Every time he had to say his name, he found it terribly difficult to add his title.
Alistair answered in his place. "Lord Alexander Arthur Edward Harris," he said with a mild, superior tone in his voice.
The girl blushed at the collection of distinguished young lords in front of her and cleared her throat sheepishly.
"Did you have to do that?" Alex hissed furiously. "I hate that all people think they are dealing with some kind of god when they hear that I am a lord. My name without a title is quite enough for me. In fact, even just Alex will do."
"Believe me," Alistair replied in a patronising tone," I've done you a favour. In places like this, a noble origin can be very useful."
They were assigned a table and led down the grand staircase by their new friend, who turned out to be "Clementine".
It's like being in a zoo, Alex thought as he noticed the eyes of almost everyone present following them. Admittedly, there were not very many guests present because it was quite early in the evening and most people were probably still working, but he was quite glad when they finally arrived at their table.
Clementine now left them, but it was only a short time before another girl, also wearing chequered stockings, appeared and handed them a wine list with exaggerated care.
Alex didn't give it a glance. Instead he said, "We'd like the most expensive and best you have, and a bottle of champagne anyway."
"I'm relatively sure you can't afford that," Clarence said.
"I can afford anything, haven't you noticed?"
"Nonsense, you can't even afford a taxi to Piccadilly."
"That's another matter. So, as I said, the most expensive wine you've got along with a bottle of champagne and by the way, it's on me!"
Satisfied, Alex nodded to the round.
"I don't know how you intend to pay for it, but of course I won't say no to that," Alistair said, leaning back in satisfaction. "Well, what do you say now? Did I promise you too much?"
Alex shook his head. He had sensed immediately that he loved this place.
The three large chandeliers hanging high up from the ceiling spread a pleasant light, at once golden and subdued, which combined with the low murmur of the still few guests and the delicate piano tinkling that emanated from a corner where a lonely pianist was playing melancholy love songs. He was certainly not well paid.
taglist under the cut (ask to be +/-)
How to Kick a Reader in the Gut
Disrupt the reader’s sense of justice.
- This generally means setting a character up to deserve one thing and then giving them the exact opposite.
- Kill a character off before they can achieve their goal.
- Let the bad guy get an extremely important win.
- Set up a coup against a tyrannical king. The coup fails miserably.
Don’t always give characters closure.
- (Excluding the end of the book, obviously)
- A beloved friend dies in battle and there’s no time to mourn him.
- A random tryst between two main characters is not (or cannot be) brought up again.
- A character suddenly loses their job or can otherwise no longer keep up their old routine
Make it the main character’s fault sometimes.
- And not in an “imposter syndrome” way. Make your MC do something bad, and make the blame they shoulder for it heavy and tangible.
- MC must choose the lesser of two evils.
- MC kills someone they believe to be a bad guy, only to later discover the bad guy was a different person altogether.
Rejection is a powerful tool.
- People generally want to be understood, and if you can make a character think they are Known, and then rip that away from them with a rejection (romantic or platonic) people will empathize with it.
- MC is finally accepting the Thing They Must Do/Become, and their love interest decides that that’s not a path they want to be on and breaks up with them
- MC makes a decision they believe is right, everyone around them thinks they chose wrong.
- MC finds kinship with someone Like Them, at long last, but that person later discovers that there is some inherent aspect of MC that they wholly reject. (Perhaps it was MC’s fault that their family member died, they have important religious differences, or WERE THE BAD GUY ALL ALONG!)
On the flipside, make your main character keep going.
- Push them beyond what they are capable of, and then push them farther. Make them want something so deeply that they are willing to do literally anything to get it. Give them passion and drive and grit and more of that than they have fear.
- “But what if my MC is quiet and meek?” Even better. They want something so deeply that every single moment they push themselves toward it is a moment spent outside their comfort zone. What must that do to a person?
Obviously, don’t do all of these things, or the story can begin to feel tedious or overly dramatic, and make sure that every decision you make is informed by your plot first and foremost.
Also remember that the things that make us sad, angry, or otherwise emotional as readers are the same things that make us feel that way in our day-to-day lives. Creating an empathetic main character is the foundation for all of the above tips.
Read the YWP Novel Excerpt Contest Grand Prize Winner (13 and Under Age Group)!
Last month, we challenged our Young Writers to submit a 400 word excerpt from their NaNoWriMo novels. From over 500 fabulous entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!
"A Well-Worn Window Seat" by Julia B. — Grand Prize Winner (13 and under age group)
Many people mistakenly believe that the record for the 50-meter dash was set by Irina Privalova in 1995, however the real time was set by Eleanor Franks as she slid down the hallway and into the principal’s office.
Ellie had never been to the principal’s office. It wasn’t like she got into trouble (not that she had time for trouble), and she wasn’t one of the girl-scout types who carried a clipboard wherever they went and guilt-tripped your mom into buying cookie dough she didn’t need, but didn’t not need. She knew plenty of those. She used to be one of those.
She spun around the doorway. The PA system had said, in the grainiest voice possible, that her mother was here, and that could only mean one thing: Grandpa.
writing?? more like self-led therapy
Flash Fiction Friday: In Your Arms
For @flashfictionfridayofficial ‘s prompt this week, I’ll be digging in to some LORE.
Context: Light & Death, book 1-- A dream Aria has in which she is a child, escaping... something.
CW/TW: Pain, implication of blood/gore, death
She was running. Faster than she thought her little legs could carry her, faster than she thought possible, and for longer than she thought a human being could run. Green, all around. Branches cutting her face, nettles biting her bare feet. Her robes were spilling out behind her, hindering her run, but she knew if she dropped them it would only create an easier trail to follow, so she kept them on, holding them closed in the front with one hand while her other arm pumped in time with her legs. The forest around her was growing denser and darker, the air cooling as the sky above waned navy.
Her lungs were burning, tongue souring. Every gasping breath sent new needles through her mouth and throat, down her spine, through her calves and ankles, but she didn’t have enough air to cough. She heard twigs snapping behind her, leaves crunching.
They were getting closer.
The girl had no idea where she was running, only that she was running away, away, away.
And then one bare foot landed on bare wet leaves and flew out from under her, and she fell. And once her momentum was gone, she thought she would never have the strength to get up again, and wouldn’t it be better if she died?
She would no longer live in constant fear. No more nightmares, no more attacks, no more hiding and running and swallowing screams. She lay there in the detritus of the forest floor for minutes, before someone finally approached. And the voice that spoke was gentle, soft, speaking to her like she was a cornered animal. A smile twisted her lips. She supposed she was a cornered animal.
“Lea?” The footsteps grew closer. “It’s me.”
The girl lying on the ground twisted her head to get a better look at the speaker. She was beautiful. Billowing red hair with beaded plaits framing her face. A dusting of freckles on her pale skin. She wore boiled leather all over, and her thick arms were exposed. She was barely out of breath, and her eyes looked upon the girl with as much concern as a mother for a newborn babe.
“I’m not-- I don’t know,” she whispered, almost surprised by the Lorvali accent she spoke with.
“It’s okay. I’m here to help you, okay? I know you’re scared,” The other girl said gently, kneeling close, pulling the young girl into her arms. “Do you know me? It’s Marla,” She muttered.
And somehow, the girl did. She didn’t know how, but the name, the voice, even the embrace, felt familiar. Like she was home, like she was safe. But the feeling passed almost as quickly as it hit her, and she frowned, wrenching herself away.
“What do you want?” She asked, shivering as the fog crept in, bolstered by the night.
“I just want to help you,” the other replied, not moving.
“Why? Who is it that’s chasing us?” She whispered, her voice now tinged with frantic desperation. “What happened to my mom?” She felt her eyes glass over with tears, and Marla’s face softened.
She was silent for a moment, closing her eyes as though she were thinking very deeply. And then she spoke. “We’re going to go see your parents right now, honey,” She smiled softly and held out her hand. The other girl took it, relieved.
“We are?” She asked, almost not believing that it would finally be okay.
“No,” An icy voice, familiar like Marla but in a way that made the girl want to wrap herself up into a ball and disappear into nothingness, spoke from the shadows. Had she heard it in her dreams before? She felt like a rabbit being cornered by a fox, and the dread made her whole body go cold.
Before either of the girls on the ground had time to react, they both heard the loosed arrow thwump, and then Lea was blind in one eye, and she felt warmth trailing down her face below it, and then she was blind in both eyes, and then she felt nothing at all. She heard Marla wail, a frenzied sound, digging into her like a wound, and, strangely, that was familiar too,
And then Aria awoke with a gasp, tears in her eyes. The guards were dragging her up before she could even fully return to consciousness, and a part of her was still panicking.
“My absolute, hands down, one hundred percent favorite thing about finishing a novel's first draft? Knowing that the time and practice and effort of finishing has made me a better writer, and knowing that I will use my improved skills to improve the novel with the next draft. Your brilliant, awful, amazing, frustrating, funny, serious, unwieldy, messy, marvelous novel is making you a better writer. Don’t forget to say thank you.”
Born and raised in rural Australia, Jen Breach lives and writes in Philadelphia. They are the author of female-led adventure middle-grade graphic novel CLEM HETHERINGTON AND THE IRONWOOD RACE and funny-punny picture book SOMETHING’S AMISS AT THE ZOO. Own voices chapter book series RILEY REYNOLDS is forthcoming from Capstone in 2022, and nonfiction picture book SOLSTICE from What on Earth Books in 2023. Jen is queer and nonbinary and believes that truth telling is the least child readers deserve. Along with a dash of mischief.
Your Camp Care Package is brought to you by Camp NaNoWriMo. Sign up to receive more Camp Care Packages at nanowrimo.org!
Image graphic created by NaNoWriMo Editorial Intern Jordan Leigh.
Image description: An illustrated graphic on a blue background with the blue and white “Camp NaNoWriMo” logo in the bottom left-hand corner. The graphic has a pastel blue and peach background featuring a rainbow and a lightning bolt. The text in front features every word in different colors and fonts, and reads, “Your brilliant, awful, amazing, frustrating, funny, serious, unwieldy, messy, marvelous novel is making you a better writer.” —Jen Breach”