#TheWritersTag (Oh No Please Save Me)

BAD NEWS BEARS.  I've stopped writing Ethandune forever.  Ba ha, just kidding.  (you hate me now) THE ACTUAL BAD NEWS: what in the world is energy? or motivation?  Because I have neither.  Time?  Yes, technically I have time to write.  But when "have time to write," I really need to spend that time looking at Instagram resting so that I can make it through each day.  Why is energy so hard to find??  Why do other people have more stamina than me??  I REALLY HATE THIS, YOU GUYS.  I REALLY, REALLY DO.

What?  Oh.  Writers' tag.  I justify taking the time to do this with the following reasons:

a:: i actually did do a smidgeon of writing on ethandune
b:: i got my what-i've-written-of-ethandune-so-far manuscript back from my alpha reader + i need to think about what she said*
c:: i was proactive + wrote a list of questions that need answering in the plot
d:: i just want to be on my computer, okay??

*her comments were almost entirely positive + raving, which is really encouraging because that tells me my manuscript is not a dung-heap of which i am sole chanticleer, so hurray for me us!


what genres/styles/topics do you write

GENRES || "I recognize that the council has made a decision; but, seeing as it's a stupid-ass decision, I've elected to ignore it!" O_x  Okay, I get why we have to have genres, but I've always been in the habit of mixing my genres up into a confetti cake batter rather than dividing them off into separate sections.  Planetary science-fantasy?  Why not!  Mental illness, coming of age, psycho-thriller murder mystery?  Sign me up!

  • genres i don't like to write: contemporary, biography, anything requiring insane amounts of research + a decent understanding of government structure

STYLES || ("put the chicken back, styles." I AM NOT A VERY HUMOROUS WRITER.  I take myself so stupid seriously.  But I am not immune to recognizing + inadvertently creating humorous scenarios, so my works are not without their lights of levity to brighten the way.
  • third person (usually)
  • first person (occasionally)
  • melodramatic (unfortunately)
& then I just write with lots of intense description + growling + snarling + colours that are best defined in medieval French.

TOPICS || I am, oddly*, not a topical writer, but I have noticed that I have an interest in pursuing plots that contain depression (like, clinical depression, not depressing stories), not really because I think that I can somehow educate the world on this topic, but because I haven't seen it often in strictly "fantasy" stories, & it's definitely a common, long-standing, relateable topic.

*i like reading topical books, but not writing them


how long have you been writing

For about ten minutes.

oH, OVER ALL.  Right.   Let's see...I think my sister was born when my memory of writing a "story" first crops up, so I was older than five.  (the story was of a black alicorn with numerous miniscule varicoloured freckles + it's name was twilight, & it went to the pool with me) I've been writing ever since, so I'm gonna say where is my phone + the calculator feature what do you think i am a homeschool graduate eighteen plus years.  Wow.  Yep.

why do you write


when is the best time to write

When everything is quiet + I don't feel like I have any other obligations pressing on me; see also, when my muse is actually operating properly.

what parts of writing do you love // what parts of writing do you hate

LOVE || I really do love writing.  I'm pretty tongue-in-cheek online + in person; I don't want to say shallow, but I function near the "surface" - whereas, when I'm writing, it's like I'm in some deeper, more comfortable part of myself.  I love being there.  It's the only form of meditation that I've managed to pull off. XD

I love going back over my writing + being surprised that I wrote something good.  Enjoyable.  Remarkable.  Writing is such a solitary, introspective, + at the same time oddly blind work, I don't realize when I've pulled something off well until I break the act of writing + transition into reading.

&, you know, i like hearing that people like my work, too...

HATE  || Being a by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer.  That's who I am, & while I do try to ask myself concrete questions to guide my way, it's a fact that I'm intuitive + not mathematical.  & it's so frustrating to not actually know what I'm doing.

you never learn how to write novels. you just learn how to write the one you're on.

Editing.  It's such a struggle to pull the first draft out of the hat, let alone going back in + trying to add to the meagre skeleton.  

how do you overcome writer's block

ha HAA. i don't.

The only thing I've found that works is staring down my manuscript + slowing putting something on the page.  That's it.  No magic.  Nothing fancy.  No playlists, no drama, nothing else; just grim, determined junk being put down on a page until something sparks.  

are you working on something at the moment

It's at this moment that I am once again faced with the onerous task of constructing a book-back summary blurb for my work-in-progress Ethandune.

a man in a gilt mask asked of me,
'how many coffee beans grow in my tree?'
i answered him, as i thought long,
'as many notes as are grown in a song.'


do you have any writing goals for this year

I have the modest goal of finishing the first draft of Ethandune.  I can't (or won't) move forward with the series until Ethandune is squared away because it's next up in the chronology.  So even though Talldogs is ready for editing + Drakeshelm needs reworking at the end, I won't go back to those until the next brick in the wall is placed to my satisfaction.

or adamantine commandeers my brain + derails all my otherwise best-laid plans. -_-

BOOM. That's the #WRITERSTAG* with my answers.  I originally saw this tag on Paper Fury, so be sure to check out Cait's answers; they are always a hoot + a half!

*writer's tag? writer stag?? how majestic!

If you are a writer + you can also read this post (i didn't know you could read), I tag you, too!  Please link to your post in the comments because I am curious + I want to see your answers.

au revoir, penslayers!
xoxo, jenny

Sneak Peek: My First Lines + How I Make Them

I know beginnings are super hard for a lot of people, & most people loathe them to death.  But I don't.  I love beginnings.  As I mentioned in a previous post, beginnings are basically con games that you play on the reader, & I love conning my readers.  AH ha.  AH ha.  (forgive me a cruel chuckle).  I'm not a gambler, but have you ever played Yatzee?  Remember shaking the dice a million times in the cup (like that's gonna make a difference) + feeling that crazy rush of adrenaline right before you throw the dice down?  That's me when I'm warming up for the pitch.  That's me when I'm burrowing inside my deep dark inner genius place where I do my creating + I'm one second away from opening my eyes on the opening scene.

i follow lichipan on instagram because her feed makes me jelly

THE THINGS YOU DON'T DO  ||  I've learned a lot over the years about what to not put in a story's hook.

a:: gobs of description
b:: dwindling hope of actually meeting the character within the first five pages
c:: an upfront, exhaustive detailing of what the character looks like (bonus points if the character is totally plain + swoon-worthy gorgeous at the same time)

THE THINGS THAT I DO  ||  Remember Yatzee?  That's how I play with opening lines: the story is the cup + my readers' imaginations are the dice.  Shake it up, charge it with energy - hurl it into the plot.  

tippity tip-tip: pose a question

Your reader owes you a big balance of absolutely nothing, so you've got to prove it to him that your story is worth his time.  There are hundreds of different ways to make your reader care*, but I find the question is one of the most potent methods.

"did i tell you about the time a very not-straight guy in a yellow slicker got chased round a glaswegian bus stop?"
"wait - what??"**

*citation needed.
**i am not making this scenario up.

THE "WAIT - WHAT??" RESPONSE  ||  is a great one.  & now you're all going to recognize it when I use it on you.  Way to go, Jenny.  



Not all of my upcoming novels have opening lines yet, but many of them do.  Would you care to take a peek?  I really love them, & I hope you do, too (even if they are all subject to editing, scraping, + rewriting cuz i'm the leader + i say when we go.  ...   here we go.).*

I stood on the last railway platform of my journey.
In all, the experience of riding in a rail carriage was the least harrowing yet in this bleak, unfriendly island country. Not such an island as I was used to: high-topped, volcanic peaks blistering white beneath the smithing of a summer sun, slopes tangled in olive and bay, streets clapping with the sounds of bare native soles and the shriek of gulls... Such islands were graceful, young in their antiquity.
This island was dead.

“What is a son of man?”
I looked up critically, instinctively lifting one hand to shield my eyes from the early morning sunlight. Pan Aeneas stood in front of us with her crazed red mares’-nest falling round her face and her fists bunched at the linen pleating of her gown. Her narrow face was white and drawn, and every freckle stood out starker than ever.

"MY LORD, I AM TRYING. You are asking me to do a thing which Christ himself did not accomplish until after his resurrection!"
blueshift (what even is this novel??)

“No, from the sound of it, it’s the Fellows.” Lord Dammerung uncurled languidly from his deeply recessed armchair and reached for the smart silver tray of tea I had put down for him. “With any luck, they’ve brought the post up with them. Simon, do you go tell Lady Margaret, please.”

It would not have made a difference, but in the end Alwin wished Destrian had not said it. It soured all from the outset.

“—You mean she has no abigail?”
“She has two sisters; what in the world could she need an abigail for?”

Goddgofang de la Mare rolled a pair of shirts together and thrust them wholesale into the depths of his saddle-bag. “Are you sure you will not come?” he asked, whirling from the bedstead with the swiftness and smoothness of a kingfisher. “Aaron is coming, you know.”

*these are in alphabetical, not chronological, order

Questions, questions, QUESTIONS.  Are you excited to read the rest of these stories?  Yeah, me too.  XD  I consciously began Adamantine as a mirror image of Plenilune's beginning because I wanted that reminiscence + continuity.  Blueshift?  What is it that yours truly is trying to do which only Jesus has done??  Who are the Fellows?  What foreboding doth loom upon Drakeshelm?  Who doesn't have an abigail? Who won't come to where?  We may never know because I might expire before I get to all these, yikes.

I can't be the only one with first lines prepped for upcoming stories.  Do you have some to share?  Do you have some that maybe need a fresh coat of paint + a sharper hook?  Please share!  After all, first impressions are everything.*

*don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise

thank you! you've been a great audience.
xoxo, jenny

How To Identify Your Crutch Words & Destroy Them Forever

While I was editing Plenilune for publication, to my chagrin, it was brought to my attention that I relied heavily on two words, & that I needed to start cutting them because they were

a:: lazy, +
b:: unhelpful

& guess what?  Because I'm such a perfectionist + it galls me to realize I've made a mistake, my two crutch words now have huge Minion sirens that go off whenever I use them - "BEE DOH.  BEE DOH.  BEE DOH."


VERY & LITTLE  ||  My two crutch words of note.  I used them all. the. time.  One might even say, very often, & not a little.  But don't, because that would be lame.

WHY ARE THESE ROTTEN?  ||  They're empty, indefinite.  They offer scant information to the reader, & as a result, the reader may (at best) ignore them or (at worst) find they bog down the narration.  Writing faux pas.

WHAT TO DO??  ||  Being as close to my writing as I am, I don't always notice when things go awry.  How am I going to notice these mistakes when I'm kind of programmed to overlook them?  HERE ARE MY TIPS.

a:: have someone (if at all possible, not yourself) read a sizable portion of your manuscript so they have an idea of which words reoccur + which shouldn't be used

b:: read it aloud (if you don't have anyone to read the manuscript for you +/or you can't stand the thought of anyone seeing your manuscript because i totally appreciate that sentiment) so your voice can catch repetitive words + bring them to your attention

c::  slow down.  think about what you're trying to say.  find the word you actually need rather than grabbing the literary equivalent of a poptart on your way out the door, late for class.


Sayeth what??  Yes, it's true!  While I was tooling about on The Great Noveling Adventure blog, I came across a link to a Word Frequency Counter, & I thought, "Hey, this looks like fun + like it won't steal my manuscript, let's give it a go!"  The results were more encouraging than my pessimistic attitude expected.

I took a scene of 2,200+ words, plunked it into the counter, & this was my result!  HOO DA LALLY very + little don't even make an appearance in the entire scene!  I AM CURED.  

ARTICLES + PREPOSITIONS ARE NOT CRUTCH WORDS.  ||  The, a, of, I, + and are my top most-used words, but these are backbones to English so this is not a bad thing.  Just because a word shows up with a frequency in the hundreds does not mean you're relying on it too heavily: it could just be a staple of our language.

THE WFC ALSO LETS YOU KNOW USEFUL STUFF LIKE  ||  the fact that I (not shown) used the word "Lazarus" as a descriptive probably too many times in a scene.  It's a rare word & needs to pack its punch, not be swinging so many times that overuse renders it exhausted.  Thank you, WFC.


Try this out on a scene like I did.  Scenes are semi-self-contained stories which, all together, build the entire novel; in order to make sure each brick is as solid as it can be, take them individually & check on their word frequency.  Is a key word overused?  Are building-block English words the mainstay of your scene?  Are there areas you need to polish?  This will help clue you in.

At the same time, don't be neurotic.  Yes, we all have issues + particular tendencies to literary sins, but do be gracious with yourself (this is the proverbial crab tell her proverbial son to walk straight, i know).  We all have crutch words.  It's not the end of the world.  Just do your best to figure out what your particular weakness are, & work on strengthening your manuscript around those points.

so now, take a scene + plug it into the counter.
share your results!

thank you so much for reading.
see you soon!
xoxo, jenny