Friday, 30 November 2012

The Very Last Writer's Confession! : )

Wow, it's November 30th already? : ) Nano writers, how are your novels doing? Are you finished already? heehee

Well, it's time for the very last writer's confession!

Drumroll, please!

I am obsessed just as much with my handwriting as my story itself.
- Kaylin S. 

I must say, the confessor of this comment has completely amazing handwriting. When she writes letters, her handwriting looks like it was typed on a computer! So, I don't think she has anything to worry about. : ) But I know the feeling! I am annoyed when my handwriting doesn't look uniform...

Thanks for all the confessions, everyone! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

-- Klara C.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Writer's Confession #2

I was visiting the blogosphere once more when I realized I'd better hurry and put up the next confession before the month of November is - gasp - OVER!!!

This one's from Madeline!

Writer's confession: I have a hard time picking out names for the ''cute'' guys, because I know if I ever become famous and have my stories leaked out, there will be somebody I know with that name; and I don't want them to think I really like them or anything. 

Haha, I know what you mean, dear. Once I gave a, um, somewhat attractive guy character a name, and then met someone with that same name! It was kind of embarrassing, even though the person didn't know about my character (and the character didn't know about the person).

Finding the perfect name for a character can be tough anyway! One way I (attention! Warning! Bonus piece of advice coming up!) try to find names for characters - especially the guys (it can be so hard to find the perfect name for them!) is to use names I'm familiar with (or names that belong to someone I know...), but change the spellings (usually to a less-used version)... Andrea to Andria, Emily to Emaleigh (or Emalee...or Emali... there are so many ways of spelling Emily :)), Henry to Henri (would that be the French version? :)), etc. Anyway, you can figure out some cool names of your own, if you feel so inclined. :)

Thanks for sharing (well, confessing! :)), Madeline! :)

Klara C.
(I give up on the signature thing...for now...).

Monday, 12 November 2012

A Writer's Confession #1

Ok, so you don't get one for every day of November because I don't have 30 to share with you. : ) Maybe next year!

Here's the first one, from Addie O.!!!

I carry on conversations with my characters. I will have serious conversations about their goals, aspirations, pet peeves, etc. I also get into arguments with them when they are being rebellious.
Thanks, Addie! I totally know what you mean... I "talk" to my characters too! 

How's life and / or NanoWrimo going, everyone>

On the other hand, as an update to this post on my other blog... I have read a book!!!

I attempted to make a signature. Thoughts? 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Yo Necesito Writers' Confessions


As I was riding in the car the other day, I had the idea to post Writers' Confessions in here - one for every month of November! Once I looked up the phrase on the internet, I realized I hadn't come up with anything new and exciting... but, I thought I'd try it out all the same. That way, we all can celebrate National Novel Writing Month...even though I'm not doing NanoWriMo! :)

So, what's a Writer's Confession? (I can't decide where to put the I talking about writers plural, or writer singular? Guess it depends on how many people send in their submissions!) A confession might be something like, "I find myself in love with my main characters. Frequently." That one's awkward, but it was the first one I thought of. Sooo...comment below, or e-mail me, and your confession will most likely be posted sometime throughout November!

Also, if you're doing NanoWriMo and would like to guest post, let me know! :)

Happy writing!

-- Klara C.

Friday, 19 October 2012

More "Why I's"...

Hey, it's me!!! Posting in my little portion of the humongous writing world. Posting just for YOU, whoever you are!!! I'm feeling particularly creative (in the sense of wordiness...) after being inspired by reading blogs, so I thought I would post for you, the sweet person who chanced (or deliberately visited) my crazy portion of the blogosphere.

I'm glad you stopped by!

When I started blogging over at the other half of the blogosphere, I really didn't know what I was getting in to. But I did know that maybe I could finally type out all the articles I wrote in my head but never wrote down. And here's one of the main thoughts that runs through my head when I talk to writers. It's called, "Why I Decided Not to Go the Mainline Publishing Route" (Lordwilling).

So here you go. I'm typing this out from my head, through my body, to my fingers, onto the keys, onto the screen. And eventually, once I click "publish", and once you click into this blog, onto your screen.

So here we go.


I'm nervous now.

"Why I" #1: 
I've enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. For nearly as long as I can remember, I'd also dreamed about publishing a book...publishing a book, that is, someday. I always wrote fiction - crazy, fun, and possibly outlandish tales of alternate worlds that I produced in large, but for the most part unfinished, quantities. When I was nine years old, right before and after moving to England, I wrote mainly about my magical world called Cunburra.

I didn't know there were two ways to publish, but I know now. There's Mainline Publishing, and Self-Publishing. Let me explain.

Mainline Publishing is the one you generally hear about - the publishers that require you to send your beloved story far, far away, only to most likely receive a rejection slip. You tend to hear about writers being rejected over and over again before finally being picked up by a publisher, who agrees to publish their work. Their writing becomes a bestseller, and everyone (publisher, writer, reader) is happy. Yayyy!

Self-Publishing is where the writer pays the publisher to publish the work. The publisher doesn't have to necessarily like their work, or have any particular interest in it. The books are "print on demand", which means when someone orders a book, it's printed and shipped out (instead of, say, 5,000 copies being printed - copies which the author then has to try to sell). 

This is the short, un-complicated explanation which may be lacking information you might consider important...and for that I apologise (the British way... the "s" instead of the "z"...). If you care to find out more about the differences between these two publishing methods, feel free to research them out...and let me know what you discover, if you feel so inclined!!! :)

I'd never heard of self-publishing. I'd imagined myself, as an adult, one day publishing my books with one of those mainline publishers. This all changed when, while being treated for cancer in England, I was asked if I had a dream I would liked fulfilled. The charity, Dreams Come True, existed to make the wishes of terminally or seriously ill children, come true. Although many kids requested Disneyland Paris, or swimming with dolphins (both of which are super cool!), I knew I only had one dream, and that was to get my book published.

We'd heard about a self-publisher through a hospital teacher who had become a friend of our family and was using the said publisher to publish her father's book. The publisher agreed to publish my book and even offered to do it for free! : ) That's how my first book, Tales of Cunburra and Other Stories was published. I am sooo thankful for the opportunity! : )

A while after I finished treatment for cancer, and while we were still living in England, I had finished another book (unrelated to Cunburra) which I hoped to have published. Mom and I researched Christian publishers (not self-publishers) and actually sent my story in to one of them. It was not accepted, but it was a good experience for us. At this time I was still learning the process of editing, learning how to write in an active (instead of passive) tense, etc. I continued writing, but we started looking at self-publishing options instead.

I wasn't planning for this to the story of how I got my books published, but that is how it is turning out. :p Well, that's the life of a writer, right? We occasionally end up being surprised by ourselves. :p

The main point I was planning to write in this post were the reasons why I chose not to publish the mainline way. So I guess I'll say them now.

1) I don't write in hopes to become the next bestseller. Although I sometimes dream about my stories becoming famous, being made into movies, etc., many bestsellers tend to be fads that are not based on a Biblical worldview anyway. Also, I don't write to be famous; I write for a different reason...

2) I write to glorify God and hopefully point others to Him. I don't think it's His will for me to mainline publish. I have now found there are even FREE self-publishing options. Many mainline publishers want to know that the author's plan for publicizing their book is. When you're a student (even a homeschooled one! :)), running around the country to market a book generally isn't very synonymous with finishing school. I want to impact those around me with my book(s), and as soon as possible (or rather, as soon as God wants me to). I don't want to wait until I'm old enough to travel and publicize my books. I want to share my books and my passions with people right now, and free self-publishing options, such as can make that possible for writers like you and me.

I guess this is turning out to be one of my typical "all over the place" posts. The words are coming out of my brain nearly as fast as my fingers can type them out!

I suppose I simply wanted to share with you my reasons for choosing to go the self-publishing route (how I ended up finding out about it, and my hopes and plans, if God wills, for future projects) and encourage you, a writer, that you can share your story - whether it be fiction or non-fiction, outlandish or serious ;) - with the world. You don't even have to wait until you're an adult or even wait until you've finished with school! Though I have not personally used yet, I know people who have and I believe their experiences with that publisher have been for the most part positive. Although this is something to discuss with the Lord, and of course your parents, I just wanted to encourage you, I guess.

Well, I've done enough rambling for tonight (or how about for the next five months? :p) so I'll leave you to think about all the information I've just dumped on you... :D

-- Klara C.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Thoughts on NaNoWriMo, or, "Why I am Not Participating in NaNoWriMo This Year But Wishing All the Participants Happy Thoughts and Good Things"

No, it's not a foreign language! Some of you have probably heard of / participate in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month... And for those of you who haven't heard of it, or am thinking I am speaking gibberish with lots of "N's" in it, NaNoWriMo is where writers from all around the world try to write a 50,000 word (or more) novel in one month - the month of November. You can check out the website's pretty cool! I believe I first heard about it from my dear friend Talia.

Last year I kinda wanted to participate in this amazing month of crafting a novel, but I was busy with a homeschool concert at the time, so I told myself, "I'll do it next year." Well, "next year" is here...and it looks like I'll be waiting 'til "next year" again...for two (and a half) reasons.

          1. I'm a high-schooler. :p Sadly, I don't think my school schedule will allow me to take a vacation in NaNoWriMo style - "Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!" as the website explains. (By the way... isn't that such an inspiring description? It makes you wanna sign up! Right then and there!)
          2. I have worked the same series to pieces* (or perhaps, to eventual completion) for the past 4 and a half years(!?). And during those 4 1/2 years, with a few minor deviations, several cases of writer's block in varying degrees of severity and a couple major detours, I have focused on writing, editing, developing and giving quality time to that same series. So basically, this means: I have zero ideas for a new novel. No ideas whatsoever. Not even a whatchamacallit of the series (It's 10:27 PM...not that that's any excuse...but I can't remember the name of a book that is inspired by but deviates from the original book).
                    Subpoint 2.5 Q. Are you sure you don't have any ideas? A. At the moment, yes. Basically, when I get an idea for a book, I write it. I start the book. And since NaNoWriMo requires a novel that has not yet been born (although I believe the website says storylines, character sketches and stuff are fine), I have nada. Nothing.
* Oh no, it rhymes! But it's funny, so I'm not going to edit it out. :p
(You just read the fine print, didn't you?)

And yes, I do know that there is a set-your-own-goal version of NaNoWriMo... It looks neato too, and you can check it out, too! I guess it's something to consider, but at the moment I'm just ridiculously busy. This blog and my other one keep me busy. So do my {many} characters, accumulated over the course of 5 novels. They tell me I don't spend enough time with them anymore, and they tell me that if I start a new novel, they will feel cheated. :p

However, I think NaNoWriMo looks like a completely amazing opportunity and I want to wish all participants inspiration, passion, ideas and of course, time to get all that good stuff written down. :)

To you (yes, you!): Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What are you thoughts on the matter? :) Also, maybe one (or more) of you participants would be interested in guest posting about your experience once November rolls around?

-- Klara C.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sometimes I Wonder...

...if I shouldn't have made this blog.

There, I said it.

I mean, I'm not as eloquent or as interesting as others who write about writing...  I read other people's amazing style of writing, and wonder if my passive / conversational tone makes me sound as if I have little authority on the subjects I speak about (and maybe it's true!). And I think about how I mostly post about grammar on here, and who wants to read about grammar?

But, there's other times when I remind myself I wanted this blog. I already set it up, so I might as well use it. :p I occasionally do get random inspirations (about once a month) to post on here, and if I didn't have this blog, where else would I post them? On my other blog, I guess.

I dunno. I'm not exactly looking for you to give me love and hugs at this moment in time, I'm just musing. I may or may not publish said musings. But I probably will, since I haven't posted anything in a month or so...

-- Klara C.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Tenses...say what?

I just recently blog posted a story in the present tense. I can hardly believe I did that, since I don't enjoy reading or writing in the present tense. But as I always say, writing is the ONE (and I think ONLY) activity where I occasionally say it's okay to "do what you feel like doing"... because when a writer has the urge to write something, in some way, it generally has to happen.

Anywaywhoo, it was quite interesting and I actually recommend it! Most books are written in the past tense (i.e. "I walked") and a few are written in the present tense ("I walk"). I don't know if "I will walk" (future tense) is ever used repeatedly for the entire book.

Obviously you can mix tense a bit...

"I ran to the store, breathing hard. I arrived in the doorway, stopping to catch my breath. I decide that I will walk home later..."

(That's only two tenses, sorry. :))

Anyway, it's an interesting exercise to write in the present tense if you don't do so normally. You can take a paragraph you've already written and re-write it. As I proof-read my blog post, I found several instances where I'd switched back to past tense! :)

I just thought I'd post about this before I became sidetracked and never posted about it before.

I think (Lordwilling) I'll put a poll on the side about this...

In the mean time...

Happy writing (or editing!?)!

-- Klara C.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Hero's Not a Hero Unless...

I once read in a book about writing a novel that a hero's not a hero unless he's given a chance to turn back, or in other words, say, "No. I'm not going to do such-and-such. I'm not going to do to that place (fill in the blank)" etc.

Think about it.

I'll introduce you to some heroes from my favorite books / movies...

Frodo (Lord of the Rings) - chose to go take the ring to Mordor when he could've gone back to the Shire.

Peter Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia. Not my favorite guy, but the first one that worked really well for the analogy I'm making here) - chooses to help save Narnia at Aslan's request.

Can you think of one?

Okay, so those are pretty easy to figure out.  What about a book / movie like Pride and Prejudice? That's a little harder. It's not a fantasy or a book about a quest. It's a book where the characters build on themselves and you get to know Mr. Darcy's true character as Elizabeth discovers it, too.  Maybe the choice is when Elizabeth begins to realize that she has acted out of prejudice, and Mr. D realizes he has acted out or pride. Thoughts?

You see, if you force your character to do exactly what you want him to, and stick him (or her, but we'll stick with "him" so I don't have to keep saying "him or her") in circumstances where he has no choice in any matter or throw him in places where there's only one escape route, he won't exactly be a hero.

Sure, you can make it tough for him. You can make it seem like there's only a few choices.  You can make it seem like he's trapped and there's no way out.  But at some point in your novel, he has to choose to be a hero. He has to choose to do the right thing. Give him the choice: his answer determines whether or not he's a hero.

-- Klara C.

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Love of God

We sang this hymn in church yesterday...I just love verse 3!

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

It's so true - God's love is so measureless and amazing! We as mere authors cannot ever show the whole of God's wondrous love, but we can give our readers a glimpse of God's goodness and grace through our writing. 

-- Klara C.

"....I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
Therefore with lovingkindness I have dawn you." 
Jeremiah 31:3b, NKJV

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Editing Services Now Available!

Hey everyone!

1. I love writing!
2. I love reading!
3. I have gradually grown to, er, enjoy editing!
4. I love reading my friends' books!
5. I enjoy editing my friends' books, too!

Therefore, if you are interested in an editor, check out my new page about my Editing Services. :)

-- Klara C.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Character Study: Personality

What about your character's personality?  For me, it's hard to imagine a personality different than my own.  It's hard for me to imagine someone who is unemotional, extremely introverted and self-focused.  But for someone who is shy, it might be hard for them to write about an extroverted, one-hundred-miles-an-hour talker, someone who is the life of the party.  

I've heard it said that the main characters will reflect at least some of the author's personality.  I agree, although I think if one spends a lot of time with a main character, the author might begin to act like the character!  :)  

Occasionally you might decide to write about someone of the opposite gender than yourself.  This can be challenging but interesting.

I think it's helpful to know your character's personality type because it will help you figure out what kind of choice they might make when faced with a certain decision.  Their choice might be different from yours.

One way to help you think of other personalities is to think about your friends.  Although my friends and I have much in common, we also have different personality traits.  One of my friends is very intellectual and smart, she likes to talk about important issues but isn't really "into" hugs and feelings.  Another friend comes in the room and people gravitate towards her, and everyone knows who she is.  She's fun and sweet and make sure everyone is included.  

God made us all with different personalities, so there's no reason your characters should have various personalities too.  I think it's helpful to make sure you have multiple personalities presented in your book, because that's realistically the way it is in our world.  Plus, many reader will be able to pick out a character that reminds them of themselves! 

One thing I really love to do, I actually enjoy it, is to take personality quizzes pretending I am the character.  You might want to take the quiz first for yourself, and then take it for one of the characters you know the best.  The Big 5 Personality Test can be a huge help although I noticed that many of the tests are used for scientific research, so I would recommend not using those for your characters!  Similar Minds has a good test, check out either the Short Test, Big 30 Test or the Big 45 Test for an in-depth look at your characters. 

You can also check out some personality books, I'm reading one from a Christian perspective at the moment called Understanding Your Child's Personality by Dr. David Stoop.  Yes I know, your characters are not your children...but it's still quite helpful!

What's YOUR character's personality?

-- Klara C. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Unliked Words

A lot of times, it's can be quite challenging to find some good ol' criticism.

People are terrified of offending each other, so they refuse to offer any advice at all.  If you share your story with someone, usually, the response will be...

"It's good!"

So, you thank them, and prompt them to say more.

"Well, I don't know..."  *shrug*
"...but I really liked it."

You may be able to eek a small criticism out of someone - they might point out a minor grammar mistake or a spelling error, but honestly, when everyone responds to you with a, "It's good" or "I really liked it", you begin wondering if your book really is good.  You begin wondering if these opinions are honest, or simply shallow words instead of real criticism.

Of course, if you ever do find that one person who tears your manuscript apart and tells you that you will never be a writer...  that might not be particularly helpful either.

So, let's flip the situation around.  Your friend asks if you'll read a portion of their story.  You say you will, and they send it to you.  How do you respond?  Surely you, as a fellow writer, will not respond with the hated words, "It's good!"  So what do you say?

How do give good advice / criticism 
I used to have a Writing Group.  We would hang out, eat snacks, read a chapter of our stories, and then comment on each other's stories.  I had a format that went something like this:

two compliments
one criticism 

I think I got the idea from somewhere else, but I can't quite remember where, so please forgive me.

At my writing group, I would often take notes while the author read her story out loud.  I would make notes about grammar, I would write down if something confused me, and make comments about what I liked.  When my friends send me their stories, I generally try to respond in a positive manner.  Their stories are usually well-written (I have never received a horrendous story from anyone) and I can find many things to compliment.

My advice might end up sounding something like...

"Hey, that was really good!  [Yes, I begin with the hated words, so immersed are they in society that I can't help but use them]  I really liked how you described so-and-so.  You used very vivid adjectives and I can see him perfectly in my mind.  I also love how you left us on a cliffhanger, I can't wait to find out what's going to happen to him next week!  One thing though, I got a little confused on the scene where he falls off the cliff and climbs his way back up...  maybe you could make that scene a little longer and describe it in more detail.  Anyway, good job!"

Okay, so I don't think I've actually ever read a friend's story where someone falls off a cliff, but that's beside the point.  :)

Obviously there are many ways to critique a novel; another method I use is to send the story back to the author, with my comments in bold.  A lot of editors do this, and when I asked people to edit my books, they would do this as well.  This also works well if the story is being sent over the email.

If I have a hard copy of the story, I make notes in the margins or on the paper, then return it.  I actually do this when editing my own stories - I will write notes to myself on the hard copy and then make the changes to the computer.

So the next time someone asks you to look at their story, you could ask them if they would like to receive advice.  Then perhaps you could try out the 2 nice things, 1 bad thing (that's what we ended up calling it at our Writing Group :)).  But about that "1 bad thing" - it's really not so bad, is it?  I'm actually quite appreciative when I receive a critiquing comment.  :)

So, if any of you would like to send me your stories, I would be happy to read them...and critique them!

Klara C.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


In Fine Detail
If someone asked you to describe your main character - or any character really - how well would you be able to accomplish this?  There are, of course, the major details - hair and eye color, height, weight, etc.  But what if you go deeper?  What about the shape of their nose (if your character does not have a bulbous nose then you may not have thought much about this), the length of their fingers, or the complexion of their face?

I used to worry that my readers would not imagine my characters the same way I did, so I would try to describe them in a very detailed manner.  I realized however that my readers will probably imagine my characters' exact minor features however they want.  No matter how hard I try, transferring my exact image from my brain to theirs is near to impossible...but, that's okay.

What does he look like again?
There are pros to NOT describing your character in minute narratives - your reader will be able to imagine her / him the way they want.  For example, if you want them to think that a character is extremely beautiful, they might put in their mind their version of an extremely beautiful person, which would be stronger and more meaningful to them than your version of the word.  "Beauty" is relative and it's a word whose meaning varies from person to person.

You yourself
Although our outside appearances are only the covering for our real selves, our inner thoughts, desires and dreams, it still might be important to really know what your character looks like.  I think it's important that an author knows every detail about their main character, even though the outward shell called appearance might end up being the least of their worries.  (Characters can be huge problems sometimes...  sometimes they just aren't working out.  In that case, appearance is generally not the issue).

When it is important
Becoming skilled in describing people might be helpful in your fiction writing, or even nonfiction writing - say, if you were going to write about George Washington's appearance, you'd better get it right, because people can access photos of him on the internet!  

Assignment: A little practice
Next time you watch a movie, pick out a couple characters you would like to describe.  If your main character is a brunette with short, straight hair, next time you see one on a movie, pause the movie (or find a picture online) and try and describe her.  Or, just pick anyone - a guy with a funny beard, a handsome gentleman, a little girl, an elderly person, a young woman, etc.

How to use your description
If you're introducing a character in a book, the reader may or may not be interested in a lengthy paragraph concerning them.  If the character is a side character or it is an inopportune moment to spend in depiction, you can try and intertwine their physical appearance in with the action.  For example, you could describe the way their ____ (color) eyes dart around the room in fear, or how they sweep a piece of ____ hair from their face in a moment of battle (cliche!  Cliche alert!).  Do they stand on their tiptoes when in the presence of tall people, because they are short?  Are they self-conscious of a physical fault on their face, or a wart on their hand?  These things can be revealed as the story continues on, adding quirks to the characters that might make them seem endearing.

Occasionally, a long description is acceptable, especially when the book is narrated in the first person.  When you see someone, you take in most of their physical characteristics in a couple seconds.  If the first person narrator has just met someone, she will most likely look them over - and in doing so, will describe him / her to the reader.  But in general, you shouldn't make them too long, or your reader will fall asleep and start drooling on your novel.  (And you're shouting, "TMI!" at me now, aren't you?)

So, the next time someone says, "Hey, what about that character...uhhh...what'shisface?" you can surprise them by offering a long description of your character...  just kidding!

Klara C.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Character Study: Personality

If you could think of one word to describe your main character (or any character you want to "study"...) what would that word be?  "Brave"?  "Funny"?  "Modest"? "Serious"? "Virtuous"?

I adore describing my characters.  As I briefly discussed in "Characters or Besties"?, these people (or animals, or elves, or whatever) that you spend so much time with become your friends.  How much do you know about your best friend?  You know his / her physical characteristics and likes / dislikes.  You know their personality, (probably) worldview, and maybe even what flavor of ice cream they would order.

A really good Character Profile Worksheet can be found here.  It's fun to fill out and will probably make you think about your aspects of your character you may not have considered before.  The questions that I had trouble answering were the ones about shape face and embarrassment! :)

-- Klara C.

Friday, 11 May 2012

"Who knew he could be so deep?" & Banter

Today I was actually spending a profitable hour editing my book, when I randomly had the idea to browse  This is always a dangerous pastime for me, because although I've never bought anything off etsy, I find many things I would like to buy, and it only gives me either 1) craft ideas, which consume my thoughts and then, when I try them, fail 2) the seed of discontentment...  very dangerous little plant.  So, I shouldn't really have been on etsy, but I discovered a quote about fairytales.  I adore fairytales, so I Googled more fairytale quotes.

I found this beautiful quote - "Every man's life is a fairy tale, written by God's fingers."  Isn't that just awesome?  It's something I've believed for a long time, but to hear it voiced by such a wonderful and renowned author is pretty amazing!  Who is this wonderful and renowned author?  Let's have a guessing game!

Notes & Quotes
Who said...

The quote written above ^

"To travel is to live."

"Where words fail, music speaks."

"Enjoy life.  There is plenty of time to be dead."

"Everything you look at can become a fairy tale and you can get a story from everything you touch."

(Highlight for answer)
Hans Christian Andersen!

For some reason I was surprised to find such deep quotes, especially those about music, coming from the author of fairy tales.  And yet, Hans has always been deep.  "The Ugly Duckling"?  "The Steadfast Tin Soldier"? (Although I don't like that upsets me)  I would almost say it was a comforting reminder to me that even when writing children's stories or fairy tales, one can still be deep.  One can still write a message.  In fact, some of the best messages or allegories are in fairy tales or children's stories.  Aslan at the Stone Table?  Cinderella's humbleness and kindness in response to her sister's cruelty?  And from Cinderella, we can also learn just how much the perfect shoes can change one's life (author unknown).

The classic Grimm and Perault fairytales can be just plain weird.  Or creepy.  When I watched the Disney princess movies as a little kid, I had nightmares afterwards.  If I'm a wife and mom someday, I'm not sure how soon I'll be introducing my children to the princess fairy tales (I'll probably read them some of Hans Christian Andersen though!).  But that's okay, because these stories are for big kids, and adults too.  As C.S. Lewis said, "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."

Going back to Hans Christian Andersen again, I really need to finish reading his fairy tales.  Also, there's a really amazing movie called My Life as a Fairytale that's all about Hans Christian Andersen. It entwines his fairytales with his life.  It's 3 hours long (why are some of the best movies so long?) but it's a beautiful, fun movie for all ages, although it's kinda an unexpected tearjerker (but I warned you, so you can expect it!).  It's on Netflix, I believe, as well.  Although I'm not sure how factual the movie is, I'm trying to read Hans' biography, so I can let you know!

On a side note, I think Hans' quotes about God are pretty cool.  Some of his quotes have just been stuck on my Door of Epicness...and he's in good company.  Hans' quotes, written on neon index cards (I'm out of hot pink, what's up with that!?) hang alongside Dickens, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Josh Groban and musicals (not to mention quotes from the awesome, amazing Bible!!!).

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Characters or Besties?

Characters - they're the people that hold your book together.  Without them, your reader has no reason or interest in reading your story.  Without characters, I think readers are pretty helpless.

When I was younger, I based my characters off some of my toys - a plush dog, a flocked horse, a plastic figure.  Others simply popped into my mind and I developed them as I wrote.  Recently, I get to know my characters and flesh them out as I write.  Occasionally they are based off friends but some are inspired by other book or movie characters combined with my own ideas.

At first I had no idea how attached I could become to one of those characters.  I mean, they're just characters!  How could I possibly become so involved?  But when you really create a main character, and give them a personality, mannerisms, habits, speech, likes, dislikes, passions, as well as some of your own personality in too, you'll soon find yourself caring about the three-dimensional characters you've thought up.  They soon become your friends, if you spend a lot of time writing or thinking about them.

Recently I've learned a little more about aspects of writing.  I always thought of writing as something creative, not restricted by a set of rules.  I could use simile or personification without knowing what it's called - I learned about grammar and writing styles from reading various books.  Although I still believe writing is a creative process, it does help to learn about different writing tips and helps.

A couple months ago I became interested in studying people.  I would listen to voices and see how everyone's voices were unique - some people spoke in matter-of-fact tones; others enunciated and were interesting to listen to; others spoke in more of a monotone.  Although your reader doesn't need to know everything about your main character(s), you should know quite a bit about them.

I'm thinking about doing a series of articles about characters.  I might call it a "Character Study", although this usage of "character" will of course refer to, "a person portrayed in an artistic piece, such as a drama or a novel" (according to the Free Dictionary).

Although I adore hanging out with people in the "real" world, I enjoy hanging' with my characters too.  :)

-- Klara C. 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Why I Like to Write

Why do you like to write?

This question popped up on a mini-interview for a e-magazine for which I write articles or stories.  The question surprised me and I wondered, why do I like to write?

I have always loved to write.  I can't remember a time when I was not making up a story, whether I was dictating it to my mom, scrawling it out in childish handwriting or writing the first pages of a story in every notebook I could find.  Writing is more or less part of me.

So, why do I enjoy writing?  Well, few people do things that they do not enjoy.  (Although if God tells us to do something, even something we don't "enjoy" or "like"...we better do it! :))  I love writing because, through an article or a blog post, I can express my opinion, share advice, or write down a funny story that happened to me.  Through fiction, I can create worlds and invent characters, and make them real.

Through a story line I attempt to weave a Biblical truth into the story.  I want to make my books worthwhile.  I don't want my stories to be something you read and put down and learn nothing from.  I want my books to be the kind where you enjoy them, put them down, and realized you learned something or in some way were changed or touched by the story.  Whether I accomplish this or not is up to God and me but if writing is my gift that I submit to Him, I believe He will use my writing in the way that He wants.  Currently I still enjoy writing fiction so I believe, at the moment, that's what He wants me to write.

The other day I saw a little journal with a quote upon it reading, "We write to taste life twice." (by Anais Nin...not really someone I'd recommend looking to for advice, but this one quote seemed okay)  That's not exactly why write, but that quote encompasses some of my reason...  Through writing I can put myself - and the reader - in places I've visited, or places no one on earth has never been to, through imagination and words.  Honestly, I adore writing, but I know it is not a gift to be used lightly.  There is a saying that the pen is stronger than the sword (or in our modern day world...the keyboard is stronger than the gun?) and in many ways I agree.

Well, this blog post is kind of sporadic.

Question Time!
Why do you like to write?  How did you become interested in writing?
Do you believe the keyboard is stronger than a gun? :)

-- Klara C.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Writing Advice From C.S. Lewis

I am often asked, "What is your favorite book?"  I usually reply with, "That's a hard question - I have so many favorites!  But The Chronicles of Narnia and A Tale of Two Cities are certainly at the top of the list" (or something like that).  So naturally, I greatly admire C.S. Lewis' writing style, creativity and ideas, as well as the ability to express important truths in an exciting and wonderful children's series.

Several weeks ago I received an update from NarniaFans concerning a letter C.S. Lewis wrote to a girl named Joan.  I love to write my own favorite authors, so enjoy reading C.S. Lewis wrote in reply to his fans.  In this letter to Joan, he sent her writing advice!  I've pasted the letter here.

The Kilns,
Headington Quarry,
26 June 1956
Dear Joan–
Thanks for your letter of the 3rd. You describe your Wonderful Night v. well. That is, you describe the place and the people and the night and the feeling of it all, very well — but not the thing itself — the setting but not the jewel. And no wonder! Wordsworth often does just the same. His Prelude (you’re bound to read it about 10 years hence. Don’t try it now, or you’ll only spoil it for later reading) is full of moments in which everything except thething itself is described. If you become a writer you’ll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across.
About amn’t Iaren’t I and am I notof course there are no right or wrong answers about language in the sense in which there are right and wrong answers in Arithmetic. “Good English” is whatever educated people talk; so that what is good in one place or time would not be so in another. Amn’t I was good 50 years ago in the North of Ireland where I was brought up, but bad in Southern England. Aren’t I would have been hideously bad in Ireland but very good in England. And of course I just don’t know which (if either) is good in modern Florida. Don’t take any notice of teachers and textbooks in such matters. Nor of logic. It is good to say “more than one passenger was hurt,” although more than one equals at least two and therefore logically the verb ought to be plural were not singular was!
What really matters is:–
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”
5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
Thanks for the photos. You and Aslan both look v. well. I hope you’ll like your new home.
With love
C.S. Lewis

That's some great advice!  

-- Klara C. 

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Aftermath

There are millions of books in the world.  A percentage of those books are worth reading.  Sometimes, they are a relaxing or slow read and perhaps take months to finish.  But they are powerful, enjoyable and wonderful.  There are also exciting books - the kind you can't bear to put down.  The ones that you sacrifice sleep for...the books that force you to stay up until 3:00 in the morning so you can finish them before school the next day.  Both kinds of books can be epic.

I just finished reading a series that I've been following for several years.  I knew this book would be the last book, and was pleased that it matched the epicness (pardon the repetition) of the pervious books.  But when I finished the book around midnight last night, I could feel the aftermath.

For me, a myriad of feelings rush over me when I finish a good book.  They are usually thoughts and feelings like...

- It's over?  What?  Nooo!!!
- I love _______ (a character)
- Such-and-such a scene was wonderfully written.
- I hope there's a sequel!  

For some books, it's almost relief when the book is over.  I can stop wondering what will happen to the character because now, I know!  (unless the novel ends in a cliffhanger...)  Of course, the suspense of what will happen to so-and-so is part of what drives the book on and forces you to read.  I enjoy the suspense...  usually.

I usually reread my favorite scenes and try to relive the moment of when I first read them, not knowing what would happen next.

I usually end up jealous of whatever girl gets to have the handsome guy protagonist. 

If the book is, for example, a romance, then I want to change my book to be more romancey.  If the book is an action / adventure, then I'll want to add more action into my own book.

If the book is extremely good, I usually end up slightly depressed.  Simply because the book draws on all sorts of my emotions and when it's over, I can be a little letdown (especially if one of my favorite characters dies).  

That, for me, is the aftermath that occurs when I finish reading a good book.  It's rather hard to describe, so if you are staring at this blog completely clueless as to what I'm trying to say, please don't write me off as a crazy person.  I'm not, really (I don't think).  

Well, enough rambling.  I just wanted to write out the signs of aftermath for you.  :)  If you as a writer experience similar feeling when reading books, then try to figure out what parts and elements of those books cause you to become so drawn in and so connected to the story.  Then, try to make similar connections with your own readers.  You might end up doing some analyzing and studying, but hey, summer is on its way!  That means we have time to mess around with literature, right?

-- Klara C. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Be Interesting!

Hey, I'm back!  I've been busy with school and also, working on my latest novel.  As I was working on it just now, I decided to post an article!  :)

Writing should be interesting.

When I was 7 or so, a certain series of easy-read books enthralled me.  I loved the books, and made my mom read all my favorite ones.  She, however, wasn't so intrigued, considering they were written for young children and also lacking interesting words and varying sentence structure.  For seven-year-olds, that's somewhat acceptable.  But if you're writing for older children, teens or adults, then your writing needs to be interesting.  I'm not necessarily referring to the story line, although that should be captivating, too!

How can you make your writing interesting?

1. Vary sentence lengths 
Hannah walked to the store.  She looked at the purses.  She bought a red purse.  Hannah walked home.  Hannah was happy.  She liked the purse.

Boring, right?  How about...

Hannah walked into the store.  An hour passed as she looked at all the different purses - the store had all kinds, from leather, crochet, or fur!  She finally bought a plaid red purse.  Then, she walked home smiling - she'd found the perfect purse!

I read a book recently made up mostly of fragments, or short sentences.  This book happened to be an action / adventure book, so the quick fragments fit the style.  However, I still enjoy reading varying sentence lengths...

2. Be Specific
How did Hannah walk?  Did she stroll?  Waltz?  Skip?  Run?  Race?  The above paragraph could be improved by specifying how she walked.  Also, how did she look at the purses?  Did she rifle through them, examine each purse carefully, or simply scan over the selection with her eyes and immediately make a choice?

3. Use Interesting Words
Some people don't like to read older books (take Dickens or Austen for example) because "they don't understand what the authors are saying".  This could be simply because sentences were much longer in "those days"...  or because the words are now archaic, or the story line moves slowly.  (Honestly I don't believe any of these points are satisfactory reasons why not to read Dickens or Austen, but I'll devote that subject to another article.  :))  As writers, we want our readers to understand our book...  but I believe we should also challenge readers.  One way we can do this is to use interesting words.

Now, if you throw the word "sadistic" or "indefatigable" into a children's novel, your reader might be a little daunted.  If you inserted one of those words into a historical fiction novel, written in 1800's times, in the style of Jane Austen or another similar author, it might not seem so out of place.

But, you can still challenge your reader by using new words that fit the style of your story.  You can subtly explain the meaning of the word, like this:

The unstoppable, indefatigable man continued on his journey, despite the rain.

What do you think the word "indefatigable" means, judging from this sentence?

To find out the answer, use your mouse to highlight the following:

Indefatigable means "unwavering" or "unstoppable".

Can you figure out an interesting word to add into the story about Hannah and her purse?

When you are reading and come across a word you don't know, then write it down so you can look it up in the dictionary later.

Tip: Start collecting interesting words.  Here are a few that can "spice up" (pardon the pun) your writing...




Looks like my list is a little lacking...let me know if you can find some interesting words!!!

-- Klara C.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Write Way (pardon the pun)

Q. What is the right way to write?

Well, we can find the answer where all answers are God's word!

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31
(emphasis added)

You might be thinking, "Yes, I know that!  But I thought you were going to tell me some life-changing writing tip that will cause publishers to clamor for my books and give me a place in the literary hall of fame!"  Sorry, but I don't have any advice that guarantees that, because honestly, I don't know what God has in store for you.  He might plan for you to be a famous author, or maybe a doctor or a stay at home homeschooling mom, or a missionary overseas or a lawyer, or something not mentioned - I don't know!  I don't know what God has in store for my future, either, but I do know, that whatever it is, I should do it for God's glory.

When I was younger I promised that I would always mention God at least once in all my books, or, make the book an allegory.  That covered me, right?  I could check, "glorifying God" off the list, right?  Well, I don't think that's quite what God wants. He doesn't just want a checkmark on a list - He wants everything - after all, He created us and gave us our talents!  We should use them to honor and please Him!

It's true, I still do try and mention God in all my books, or have some allegorical theme.  I don't do it just to "check off the box" (or, as the British would say, "tick the box") but because I want the book to glorify God, not just by respectfully mentioning Him, but by having Him in the book, as part of the story.

Many of my books have the gospel written into them. Granted, it's can be hard to write every book with an evangelical message, but that's not necessarily what God is asking, either.  What does God want us to put in our books?  Well, that's not for me to answer - you'll have to talk to Him!

But going back to that "write" way to write...  the answer is:

A. For the glory of God

Sometimes I still struggle with this, knowing that God gave me the ability to write. This was not given to be my idol - certainly not!!! - but given so I can honor Him.  Writing should never be more important to you than God. It's important to spend time with Him and ask Him His advice concerning your novel.  For me personally, I don't write just to gift my readers enjoyment - I want to give them something along with the adventure, something they can learn or remember.

Occasionally I think we should step back and evaluate our writing.  I'm not saying it's a sin to work on your book five hours of the day, or to draw pictures of your characters and stick them up on your walls.  That's up to you and God to discuss. It's certainly not a sin to utilize the gifts God has given us, we just have to use them the right way. If you're obsessing over writing and characters, maybe it's just time to spend a few more minutes in God's Word.

I once wondered what I would do if God asked me never to write again.  Honestly, I really don't want God to ask me that!  It would be tough.  I love and enjoy writing, as well as sharing my work with others. I love to entwine important truths inside the words of the book, hoping and praying that my readers will be changed for the better, after reading my novel.  But ultimately our gifts and we ourselves belong to God, and if He asked me never to write again, the right thing to do would be to obey Him.

So the right way to write is...

1. Write for God's glory!
2. Never let your writing become more important than God is in your life

Don't forget to thank Him for His gifts, either!

-- Klara C.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Anatomy of a Novel

As I wondered what my first article about writing would cover, I decided upon the parts of a story.

When I first began writing, I learned nearly everything about novels, from reading novels.  I had never read a "How to Write Better" book, or studied the internet, or read essays on the subject.  I simply wrote.

However, whether unconsciously or consciously created, books have a plot line.  Generally, it contains the following parts:

The Freytag Plot (Apparently Freytag was a guy who divided story into five parts...)

1. "Exposition" (Introduction)
2. "Rising Action" (Conflict)
3. Climax
4. "Falling Action"
5. "Denouement" (Conclusion / Resolution)

This might sound weird and complicated.  The list looks kind of intimidating.  I hadn't fully researched these five parts at all, until today, when working on this article.

From my understanding, in the introduction, the characters are, of course, introduced.  You want to "set the stage" (pardon the cliche) for the rest of the novel.  You want to give the reader a chance to become acquainted with your peeps.  You might introduce some goals and personality traits of the character (although these can also appear through a result of circumstances, throughout the book).

Don't wait too long through - impatient readers (such as myself) will soon grow tired of meeting your characters and find something else to read, unless you throw in some conflict.  This is a significant part, since the conflict is what will cause your reader to become interested in reading the rest of the book.  They might even begin to worry about what will happen to the main character.  Through the rising action, the character battles the conflict.

Apparently the climax comes next.  I always thought the climax took place at the end of the book, but according to various websites, it takes place after the rising action.  The climax provides a turning point of the story, perhaps a character making a decision or an epic battle.

One website did not include falling action as part of the plot, but this is where evil seems like it will win and "all hope is lost" (again, pardon the cliche).

However, in the resolution, the last conflict takes place, and good triumphs over evil (I hope!).  The story concludes happily (or not so happily), and the author types (or hand-writes), "the end".

Although I personally don't think you should freak out if your story does not exactly follow these plot points, they certainly are something to consider!  As I researched for this article, I found the Freytag Plot structure very interesting!

Note there is also a Freytag Pyramid that diagrams this structure... I drew a copy of it for ya!

Well, that's that, my first blog post!  I think the next posts will be more of my personal thoughts on writing, but I found the pyramid thing intriguing!

-- Klara C.

Please note although I will often use the words, "novel", "book" or "story" interchangeably, although every part of the article should generally be applicable to short stories, novels, novellas, etc. 


You're probably contemplating my sanity.

I already have 4 blogs...  why would I desire to add another?

I attempted to warn you I might open a writing blog...and here it is!  These pages will be dedicated solely to the art of writing.  I've had so many ideas for writing articles waltzing around in my head that I decided it would be impolite to shove them all into my personal blog.  Instead, I'll insert them here!  

Writing advice, tips, or even writing randomness - read them here!
What's going on in my life / what I've been reading, watching or doing lately - check out

If you're interested in writing or learning more about writing a novel, please subscribe to this blog (that is, if you feel so inclined).  Thanks again for your support.  I hope my future articles will be beneficial to you!!!

Klara C.