• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Ideaifying Pt 3: The Expandening

Last week we explored a few ideas around a word that we picked in Pt 1. That word is Evanesce. This week I’m going to take an idea and expand upon it, starting to coalesce (another fantastic word, btw) into a story idea.

Last week, two things stuck in my mind. Fade away, and Angels. I’d like to use these two words to come up with a story idea.

What is is about angels that fade away? My first thought is they just got killed. This has a double bonus of giving us some conflict right off the bat. Why did they get killed? What killed them? Can angels really be killed or just sent back to the heavens? So many questions flooding my mind from this and I do like where it’s going, but let’s stop and go back to the other phrase: Fade away.

Angels fading away doesn’t seem as violent, at least compared to what we were just thinking about, instead it has more of a “It’s a Wonderful Life” quality to it. Angels can fade away for a couple reasons, one being they are killed, or forced. Another is that they are no longer needed here and are fading away to head back to their home.

My next thought is…Okay, how do we know that angels fade away? Are they visible by all humans, or only some? If the latter, then why? Also, what are angels doing here on earth? Are they good or bad angels? I say let’s stick with good angels. And maybe they do normal angel things, like help people out, nudge people out of dangerous situations, and overall protect the population.

So what if we have a main character that can see angels? Let’s say that he is the only one that can see them. Why? Maybe he’s half angel, product of an angel and a human copulating. I don’t write romance, so I will leave that up to other writers on this blog to flesh that story out. I’m the Dreary Dwarf for a reason, so let’s take a sadder storyline.

I feel like my protagonist should have a bit of a biblical name in keeping with the angels theme, let’s call him Peter. Peter is sixteen years old and has been able to see angels wandering around the Earth his whole life. One day he wakes up and they are gone…no…no…they Evanesce. Peter is waiting on the subway one dreary morning when all the angels around him suddenly evanesce into mist. They all disappear.

This is when Peter realizes something has gone terribly wrong. Maybe someone gets hit by the subway train since an angel wasn’t there anymore to save him. (I am Dreary Dwarf btw, so yes. I can/will go there.)

So what do we have so far?

We have a protagonist, Peter. He’s 16 and he can see angels.

One morning while waiting for the subway, all the angels world-wide suddenly fade away.

Peter is the only one that notices this happening. Suddenly, bad things are happening all around the world and no one knows why. Death and accident rates skyrockets, as does crime, plunging the world into a gritty, grim-dark world.

Wait, pause! These ideas, while cool, could fill a book. We could explore Peter going on an epic journey to make his way to the land of angels to find out where they all went, and somehow bring them back. We could have this as simply backstory to a world plunged into death and depravity—a world without angels to protect us anymore. We would find out where they went, and, more importantly, why. Was it God that pulled them back, if so, why? More importantly, can Peter do anything about it? Perhaps the devil came in, or some other cosmic entity or event. Like I said, these ideas could fill a book, or more, depending on how grand you want your story.

I’m not really interested, at least with this exercise, to write a book. I was shooting for more of a short story (and content for the blog). Next week we will take these expanded ideas and solidify them into a core conflict that needs to be addressed in the confines of a short story. Spoiler: I’m leaning toward angels disappearing being part of the backstory to Peter’s life and this opens up a whole host of things that could be smaller conflicts in Peter’s life.

Ideaifying Pt 1: The Ideaifying

In this mini-series, I plan on taking a word through the world-building and idea phase, and flesh it out into a short story to be published on this site. Hang on, it will be a bumpy ride!

 

Story ideas.

 

I love listening to them when other authors tell me them. I love reading about new ones I hadn’t thought of while I’m reading, and I love coming up with them.

I especially love how easy ideas are to come up with.

What’s that? Easy?

Yes, I did say easy. I truly think ideas are free. Not open and willing to try things in college free, I mean truly free from an economic sense. Ideas are literally a dime a dozen, if not cheaper than that.

Ideas are everywhere. They are there when you walk down the road in your neighborhood. They are there when you overhear someone’s conversation while you stand in line at the checkout. They come from the frustrated looks of the cashier as she checks stretches her back from soreness while simultaneously smiling at the next one, all the while worrying about the look she’s getting from her boss behind her. Why does her back hurt? Why is the manager giving her the evil-eye? Is that smile sincere or half-hearted? Is she secretly a sleeper-agent from the ninja assassin guild of Greater Boise waiting to be activated and fulfill her mission to bring flowers to the cancer ward at the children’s center?

Ideas are beautiful, they are fleeting, and they are simple. You forget them if you don’t write them down. They come at the most inopportune moments. When you are driving, showering, bored in a meeting at work, or bowling with your family on a Friday night.

I have a document filled with hundreds of ideas for stories, characters, background, religions, and settings. I could spend the rest of my life writing book about just the stories I have already and never finish them, let alone all the ones I would come up with while I wrote those.

Ideas are magical, but it takes still to implement them, and this is the crux of the matter. Ideas are easy, the execution of the idea is the tough part to accomplish.

Today I will leave you with a single word, which I will discuss next week as an example of how to take a nugget of an idea and turn it into something you can work with.

Evanesce (as taken from the front page of Dictionary.com).

Digging for Gold? Idea dumping can help.

At a recent write-in, a couple of us needed to work on world building. In my case, I was working on names for magic ceremonies, events in the past, that sort of thing. One technique that worked well for us was what I call idea dumping (aka brainstorming).

I’m not talking about the old style of brainstorming: grabbing a pen and staring at a blank page for an hour until the perfect idea comes. I’m talking about dumping all the ideas out of your mind−good, bad and ugly—until you find what fits. We pulled up a thesaurus, and I wrote down everything that was said. My paper was a mess, cramped full of notes.

I can’t lie and say magic poured out of our mouths, but as we batted around ideas they morphed into something great. So when you’re searching for that perfect name for your next goblin or handsome hunk remember a couple of things:

*Write every idea that comes to mind, even the crappy ones.

*Write at least ten if not twenty. I find my first three ideas are generic, and middle five to ten suck. Yesterday, it was not until at least twenty or more names had floated around until I found one I loved.

*Keep the list for a little bit, percolation helps sometimes. One dwarf thought she had a name, but it wasn’t until we moved on and were talking about something else did she realize the perfect one hit.

 Idea Dumping can be used for book names, magic systems, upcoming plot twists, and more. Sometimes our creativity is laying on the service and other times we have to dig a little for that golden nugget.

Writer Driven Writing

Last night I stayed up ridiculously late writing a short story. When I was finished, I felt a huge sense of relief. Sometimes when I get an idea, it takes months to finish, which can be stressful. I’m left with a constant sense of a story still waiting to be told.

This morning, however, someone asked me what the purpose of the story was and what point it was trying to make. I froze. There wasn’t really a purpose. Just an idea. A character. A world.

I re-read the story and still enjoyed it, but started wondering what a reader is looking for when they pick up a short story. Do they have the same expectations as when they read a novel? Are they just hoping to be entertained for a shorter period of time?

Honestly, I have no idea. Some short stories definitely send a message. They leave you wondering for days. While others keep you on the edge of your seat. And when you’re finished, you put it down feeling strangely satisfied.

But after a morning of reflection, I came to a startling revelation. I didn’t really care. When I started out writing the story, it wasn’t with any other purpose than wanting to get my idea on paper. And, I think, sometimes when I focus too much on my readers, the story I want to tell gets lost in what I believe others want to read.

So, my new plan is:
• To make sure everything I write is for me first
• To try to drowned out the voices of others, so my voice isn’t lost
• To write with no other purpose than to write

I hope that by keeping these goals in mind, my writing will be stronger, but also I’ll keep enjoying writing. No one wants their dream job to start feeling like a nightmare.

Urban Fantasy vs. Fantasy or Girls vs. Boys Phoenix Comicon panels part duex #writingtips #rogues

Welcome to part deux of my ventures into Phoenix Comicon writing panels. I saved the best for last. The panel was titled “Writing Rogues” and man, the panelists fit that description to a ‘T’.  Recognize these names: Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), Patrick Rothfuss (Kingkiller Chronicles), Pierce Brown aka Pretty Boy (Red Rising Trilogy), Sam Sykes (The Aeons’ Gate series), and Scott Lynch (Gentleman Bastards series). If you read fantasy, you know at least one of these. And yes, it did not escape my notice there were no females present (but more of that later).

This workshop focused on the role of the rogue in fantasy series.  You know the ones: Han Solo from Star Wars, Lynch’s Locke, Harry of Jim Butcher fame, Atticus from Kevin’s series, these male characters know how to work that line between bad boy attitude and hero.

They started off with what makes a rogue–flaws, moral grayness (morally transgressive), never sure if they’ll side with you or leave you hanging in the wind, ambivalent, never committed to any cause, unless it’s themselves. They’re the characters you aren’t sure will show up, and when they do, you still aren’t sure what they’re going to do. They break the boundaries of their worlds, have to fight themselves before they fight their antagonist.  Want more examples? Think Snake Eyes from GI Joe, Stryder from LoTR, Cpt. Kirk of USS Enterprise–each one of these is what is described as a “chaotic neutral”.

The panel was an hour long and these guys are high caliber smart asses, witty without trying, and awesome to listen to. Then one of the audience members got up and asked a question.

“Why aren’t there any female rogues in fantasy?”

Silence descends for a moment, then Patrick dares to address the 15 minute rambling that I managed to get down to 8 words.  Because part of that rambling question were comments, such as “why does a female rogue have to be attractive, but a male one doesn’t?”, and “why are female rogues considered $itches”, and “how come its an all male panel?”, and so forth.

It was a big room with lots of people. My heart went out to the panelists. This is a minefield question. The questioner was on the younger side (no offense meant, but it may give insight into the whys behind the questions).

I won’t go into the debate that broke out, but I will boil some of it down:

1. In Fantasy, the world settings tend to model on medieval, which then extends to your world’s attitudes on genders. Patrick posed an interesting question, “If a fantasy author wrote a book where the lead was a mother, who decided to leave her hubby and kiddos, to undertake a heroine’s journey, would the readers be sympathetic?”  My answer as a reader–not me. First, I’m a mom and a wife, and somehow leaving behind the important peeps in my life to undertake some journey to find a magical object, would require serious incentive. Patrick pushed it further. “So say this mom does leave it all behind to do this journey, and say the sexual mores of this world were less puritan than ours, so she can now hook up with males through out her journey without worry of negatively impacting her family behind, would it still work for you?”  Again, me as a reader–um, yuck.

My take away from this one:  Fantasy is based on historical mores/values/cultures, and women, unfortunately did not play dominant roles in those, which is then reflected in high fantasy.

2. Many, many, MANY (did I say many?) times, each of the authors on the panel brought up woman writers who have kick-ass female rogues: Carrie Vaughan, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Laurell Hamilton, Elizabeth Hand, etc.

After much back and forth, guess what I wanted to yell at the minor demon of debate castigating the panel: Yo, honey, you want rogue females? Then PICK UP A DAMN URBAN FANTASY BOOK!  Rogue female characters work in UF because it’s fantasy set in contemporary times, where moral trangsgressiveness is gender blind. You want to know what happen to rogue female leads, yeah they’re kicking ass a few hundred of years after the bad boys of fantasy.

Besides, you tell me, don’t Granuaile from Hearne’s novels, or Karen in Jim’s novels, nail the female rogues roles?

So I refrained from violence, barely, but I still had to vent a bit on this.

Tell me, as I haven’t read the newer High Fantasy lately, are there women rogues in lead roles? Ones that aren’t portrayed as hardened $itches?

Soldiers vs. Aliens…it’s Phoenix Comicon panels! #milspecfic #writingtips

The wild and strange phenomena whipped through Phoenix a few weeks back under the guise of the Phoenix Comicon. The Knight managed to snag a family photo op with the legendary Nathan Fillion, which we have since decided to use for our next Christmas Card. Seriously, we have NEVER taken such a great family pic. I’m going to have to insist Nathan be in EVERY family photo from here on out.

But I digress.  The Prankster Duo, the Knight and I did not don our costume apparel, but did wander the wild paths of comicon for hours marveling at other’s apparel. It’s a visual feast, one I firmly believe every individual should indulge in at least once. While we were there, I snuck into some writing panels, because, yes, that’s what I do. I haunt/stalk other writers hoping their genius shall some how drift along the winds of creation and flutter down upon me so I may enjoy the wonders of their creative minds.

I sat in two panels: Writing Rogues and Military in Spec Fic.

I’m going to hit the Military panel in this post. Check in next week, because I have a huge discussion point for Writing Rogues for next week. I just didn’t want to keep you here for hours. Again, we’re going off my notes, which were jotted down so they may be a bit scattered.

I picked the Military in Spec Fic because I’m getting ready to start the second PSY-IV Teams book and no matter how many times I grill…errr..ask politely, of my military friends, I’m always seeking more information. The panelists were: Daniel Abraham, John Scalzi, Myke Cole, Ty Franck, Weston Ochse.  Just so you know, until this panel I had read Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series, had heard of John Scalzi (who hasn’t? Old Man’s War, Hugo winner for Redshirts…overall smart ass, in a good way), Ty and Daniel write as a team, and my note taking sucks because I don’t have their titles down, and Weston, well, he does SEAL Team 666 and his latest is Grunt Life.

I knew going into a series revolving around military I’d be taking on certain story elements I was going to screw up. After listening to these guys, I’m even more certain of it. But I’ll figure it out as I go along.

Myke is active Coast Guard reserve, Weston actively served, just recently got out to write full-time, Daniel and Ty have immediate family (lots of) who are active military, and so does John. It’s not like they’re unfamiliar with the world, and it’s filled with rules that have their own rules.  That being said, research is key if you’re going to write any story with military ties. It’s vital.

But more than research, you need to listen. Listen to those who’ve walked the walk, take the time to really listen to the stories they tell. Read between the lines at what is not said or how something is said.  Serve as a witness.

All of these writers weave the military with speculation on what happens when we run into an alien force more disciplined, more powerful, more massive than ours? How do the lowly humans survive?

They spoke to characterization, specifically what drives an individual to serve their country. How character decides their loyalty–to the authority, to their team, to those they protect. In actuality most soldiers are loyal to the man/woman fighting next to him, not for the country that sent them out unprepared, or the lofty ideals that won’t save an innocent, not the money or power. If you do a stereotype, you’re doing your writing a disservice because soldiers are just individuals who chose to serve.

The one thing that sung deep for me–there are no right answers to moral dilemmas. There is an entire universe in gray. What’s considered the right thing in an extreme situation varies on the point of view of the person making that choice–the Allied solider, the alien invaders, the officer, the lowly grunt. Each one will face the same situation differently.What you think is the “good” guys, may actually be the “bad” guys. Can a character be a traitor and hero at the same time–yes. Making a moral choice comes down to the individual and what they are willing to do/sacrifice for that choice.

These men were great, and I can’t express how much I appreciated hearing their take on this, because one of my biggest challenges is making sure each member of the PSY-IV comes across as an individual. As much I’d like them all to resemble GI Joe, it ain’t happening, and it would make a damn boring story if it did.

If you love Speculative Fiction with your military suspense, I would recommend any of these authors.

Do you have any others to add to the list?

Perfect Characters

Recently, I’ve realized that some of my favorite characters are ones who are far from perfect, and some of my favorite books have the most flawed characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love a book with a kick-butt female who loves to wear leather that hugs her perfect body, but there is also something appealing about a very different kind of character.

One book I read had a female lead who settled in life, held back her feelings, and feared even the smallest changes. As the book progresses, she changes and grows as a character. It isn’t necessarily that she wants to change, or that at the end of the book she is a completely different person, but the plot forces her into situations where she has a chance to be something greater than she was. And as much as she doubts herself, she rises to those challenges. This character appealed to me on so many levels. There is something amazing about watching an ordinarily-seeming person in a fantastical world.

One of my current books has a character whose father makes a bad choice that ultimately impacts her in a very negative way. As the book progresses, we see she is angry and confused by her father’s decision, but ultimately still loves him. Someone asked me why she still valued his opinion when he’d treated her so badly. I wanted to say, “haven’t you ever cared about someone’s opinion when you really shouldn’t?”

To me, it was easier to have a character who just writes off her father, someone who sees the world in black and white. But that isn’t how real life is. There are so many shades of gray, so many complications, and facets to every relationship. I wanted this character’s relationship to reflect real life, because to me, my characters feel real. (Just a side note: The feedback I received can also tell me something from a writing standpoint. If that didn’t come across, then I knew I needed to develop the relationship more. This is why feedback is so important. I may feel justified in how my character feels, but my readers should feel this way too.)

So even though I love to write my prefect characters, the ones with great bodies, all the confidence in the world, and some major “flaw” like too much pride, I also like to create characters that are as complicated as real people. What are some of your favorite imperfect characters?

Free Range Organic Zombies Abound

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Greetings and Salutations most reputable readers of the blog,

(deep, intimidating voice of announcer) Eerie’s message has been preempted for this important announcement from Dave Benneman.

If you are a returning visitor to The 7 Evil Dwarves blog site you are accustomed to the chaos the reigns supreme here. We are a critique group from various backgrounds and experiences. We started our joint blog several years ago on a whim. The idea is to keep fresh content up 7 days a week. The fly in the soup is of course that we have no rules. So on any given week you find discussions about honing the craft, or someone sharing a recent experience at a conference, or it may not be related to writing at all. Our content is as diverse as our group. I say this here to encourage you to keep coming back because I’m certain you will find something for you.

My day is Friday. On Fridays you will join Eerie Dwarf and his ragtag band of misfits on a variety of adventures. This is always written off the cuff with much tongue in cheek, strictly for entertainment. Friday is about getting in touch with the my creative brain and your inner child. I hope you get a an opportunity to laugh out loud at Eerie’s antics. It is all in fun.

Sunday is the day we update Swamp Tales, which is a round robin style story where each writer picks up where the last writer left off. It is total chaos with 7 different styles and voices all steering the story for a few paragraphs. Sometimes we will feature guests who want to toss in their two cents. To check it out, click on the Swamp Tales tab.

Because we are writers and insecure by nature please click like if something tickles you. If you’re really moved leave a comment. When you find yourself dumbstruck, tell your friends. If any of these things happens regularly you might want to become a follower. This is the only way we can learn what you like.

(Announcer, a little less intimidating this time) Now returning to the regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

“I’m coming as fast as I can Mischievous, not all of us were born with wings you know.”

“Not only do you not have wings, you were short-changed in the leg department too. If I were you I’d hire C.Rock Adile to sue for Legligence.” Mischievous flies into a tree he’s laughing so hard. “Ouch, that smarts.”

“It serves you right for making fun of my stature.” Eerie looks up to see his guests have finally arrived. “Oh hello folks. Give us a few minutes there seems to problem with our herd of zombies.”

“Hurry, you can see the corral from here.” Mischievous hops up and down pointing.

Eerie stops in his tracks. “What happened here? Where are the Zombies?”

“I don’t know. They were here last night. This morning I found the gate unlocked.”

“This is terrible.”

“I know I have an order to ship tomorrow for The Walking Dead. Where am I going to get 25 Free Range Organic Zombies (registered Trademark) in time to ship tomorrow.”

“I think your missing the bigger picture. When did you feed them last?”

“Yesterday, why?”

“So we have how many hungry Zombies wandering around.”

“There were 97  yesterday.”

RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED

RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED

“This is bad. This really bad. Go check that new Zombie restaurant that opened last week. If they’re hungry, maybe we’ll catch them there.”

“And what do you propose I do if I find them. Now that they’ve tasted freedom, so to speak, I don’t think they’ll come back because I ask them nicely.”

“You keep an eye on them. I’ll gather the muses. If anyone can get them back in the cages it’s them. Now go. What are you waiting for.”

“Your not getting HER too, are you?” Mischievous’ voice shakes.

“Of course, if Wicked can spare her. Don’t worry, she was kidding about needing a new feather pillow.”

“Maybe the zombies will get the best of her, then I won’t have worry at all. Although I bet she’s too tough for our Free Range Organic Zombies taste.”

“Stop stalling, the sooner we get them back where they belong the better.” Mischievous alights in a rustle of ebony. “As you can see folks we’re kind of busy today. I’ll issue you all free passes to return next week. In the mean time, be careful on your way home. Zombies abound.”

As is our custom on Friday, I leave you with a quote. (some weeks it may be the only thing worth showing up for).

“Let’s do what you fear most
. That from which you recoil
, but which still makes your eyes moist”  Lou Reed

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf AKA Dave Benneman

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to The Swamp

Greetings and Salutations Discerning Readers of the blog,

My sidekick Mischievous Raven said he would join today , but alas, he is either late or not coming. Not unlike his moniker, which he comes by honestly, I’m sure he’s up to no good wherever he is. I thought we’d take a moment and meet some of the other colorful residents of The Swamp. On the right where all the packing boxes are stacked up is the shack of Wicked Dwarf, (whispers conspiratorially) she moves often. I wouldn’t mention it to her though she’s sensitive about her gypsy blood. When she’s not packing or unpacking, she’s chasing down the Prankster Duo, keeping the Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor in check, or writing.

As Jami Gray her Kyn Chronicles will take you behind the curtain where you will discover your sharing the planet with some pretty foreboding creatures. And you thought it was all fairy tales. Shifters, Witches, Fey, and yes, even Demons are walking amongst us. (Even Demons, that’s kind of catchy. But I digress.) Not all of them are good sharers, and that’s where the trouble begins. Within this unsavory group there is an elite squad of Wraiths who police the Kyn community and keep us barely drooling humans safe. When her muse comes calling we generally clear out of the neighborhood. Mischievous is especially frightened of her.

A sudden rustle of wind and a flash of ebony. “Did I hear my name mentioned.”

Ahh, Mischievous, good of you to join us. We’re just doing a little tour.

“Is Her Deadliness here?” He points one quaking wing at Wicked’s door.

No, I don’t think so. Wicked is taking a short break. I’m sure her muse is off sharpening her knives and swords.

“Oh yes, one must keep the tools of the trade sharp, even if that trade is killing things.”

I’m sure you exaggerate.

“I think not, do you remember when she commented on what a lovely black feather boa I would make. Or that time on Troll mountain when she suggested raven stew for dinner.”

She’s probably teasing.

“Uh huh. and the pope wears a spinner beanie. When she teases you about making you less of a man, with that gleam in her eye, while she slides her finger along a shiny blade and then licks blood from the cut, (Mischievous takes a deep breath) Call me. I want to be there.”

Okay I get it. Relax. Say hi to our visitors.

“Hi, have any of you seen a cranky crocodile moping around?” Turning his head 180 degrees he looks back.

What have you done to C.Rock Adile, now?

“Someone had to shut him up. I was at the Slice your own Deli for breakfast and he was going on about how important he is, having worked for the crown and all that. You know what a blowhard he is.”

Yes, but you can’t expect the whole world to be quiet because you were hung over.

“It wasn’t even noon yet. Something had to done, so I slipped a laxative in his Swamp Juice. He suddenly had to go, and go, and go. Hahaha.”

I hope he doesn’t figure out what happened, for your sake.

“He’s always grouching at someone. Speaking of the Deli, today’s dinner special is Toad Tacos.”

We best go then you know how crowded it gets. I guess we’ll continue the tour nest week. Your welcome to join us at the deli for dinner. The Toad Tacos are one of their specialties.

If you’re looking for something to read this summer Check out www.Jami Gray.com

Shadows Edge Cover Shadows Moon CoverShadows Soul Cover

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If you have slogged through all this, may I direct your attention to the SWAMP TALES tab above. Each of the Evil 7 writes a piece of a story picking up where someone else left off.

This weeks quote comes from Jungleland, By Bruce Sringsteen

“And the poets down here
Don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be”

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf AKA Dave Benneman

Writing a Good Book

I recently finished the last book written by one of my favorite authors, so I tried picking up a few new books that were highly rated. Whenever I pick up a new book, I hold my breath and wait to be drawn into its world and to fall in love with its characters. Neither of the new books I read did this for me. They were both well written, but something was missing.

This led me to wondering why one books pulls me in and another doesn’t. I’ve given up thinking that only new ideas really hold my interest, because the truth is, everything seems to have been “done before”. I’ve even given up thinking it’s the inclusion of a new and intriguing character, because some of the books I’ve loved have pretty stereotypical characters.

Looking at the first book I read, it was a young adult novel with a character that is thrown into a fantastical world and realizes she has potential beyond what she ever imagined. It sounds like pretty much every other young adult novel, but many books with this plot have been incredible. But for this book, I just felt like I never connected with the character, and I never felt enough tension to be pulled in by the plot.

I am in the middle of the second book, and I have to really force myself to keep reading it. I swear I’ve read this exact book ten times already. It’s a standard plot with a standard character, but it’s also a very popular book. So I’ve come to realize, for every book, there is likely going to be someone who likes it and someone that doesn’t. But as writers, all we can do is to try our best to write something with characters that feel real, tension sizzling plots, and worlds that come alive.

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