What stops an agent from wanting to read more of your story?

I sure needed this! I hope you all can learn something here. Writing is hard, but keep at it! 😉

God bless!
Rana

onewildword

One of the most popular events each year at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference is a workshop called SIWC Idol.  Think American Idol except for writers. Anybody who’s brave enough can submit the first page of their manuscript to be read in front of a panel of judges—four literary agents.

Author Jack Whyte, in his deep and resonant voice, reads a random selection of first pages in front of the 200 or so writers. He reads until at least two of the agents raise their hand indicating this is where they’d stop reading if they were reading the submission in their office. The agents then explain why they stopped where they did.

I was lucky enough to be one of the few submissions where a hand wasn’t raised. But what exactly stops an agent from wanting to read further?

  1. Too much description up front that’s not interwoven into the…

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Why Are Writers Weird?

 For a while, I wondered why writers were weird. I mean, we do have a reputation for being a bit off our rockers.

We cry over “fictional” characters (note the quotes).

We lock ourselves in dark rooms with a computer and only let people in when they come bearing gifts of food.

We would generally rather stay at home, flip on the BBC station, and curl up with a computer on our laps than hang out with people.

We look weird too. Most of us anyway. We walk around in pj’s, rarely bother to brush out our disheveled hair… Right? I’m not the only one. I can’t be. But my hair looks fine considering. It gets poofy if I brush it.

Anyway. *cough* So, why are writers so weird?

Well, after much contemplation, I think I found the answer. Please, feel free to add your thoughts to this as well. I’m very interested in this. 🙂

Writers are weird because we live so many lives. We feel too many emotions.  We experience more than the average person. We’ve killed more than the average person too. Guys. We’re murderers. O____________O

But yeah. We feel more than people are designed to feel. People feel a lot anyway, but we feel more. Because we put ourselves in our character’s positions. If it’s real to us, it’s real to the reader, right? (Not always, but generally.) When we kill off our favorite character, we get depressed.

I mean, it’s like killing your best friend.

You’re emotionally dead for the rest of the day. You can’t stop thinking about everything they did. I know because I just did something horrible to my MC’s and I cried.

These people are real to us.

They’re sad, we’re sad. They’re happy, we’re happy.

You know what I mean? We’re not Batman. We don’t lead double-lives. We live, like, fifty million lives at the same time. Not sayin’ I’m better than a superhero, but I don’t think Batman could handle leading more than two lives. 😛

Did that make sense? Or was I rambling? Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Leave me a comment. ^_^

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

And now, my darlings, I have a revealing. Here is the t-shirt I am wearing tomorrow for Halloween. I’m pretty proud of it. I just got a cheap shirt at Walmart and used a q-tip dipped in bleach to write after outlining with a white, water-soluble pencil. 🙂 I’ll make the costume complete by wearing black skinny jeans with pink Converse sneaks and adorning my skin with tally marks as well as mascara tears.

(Sorry for the low quality. These were taken with my computer.)

picture105 picture106

God bless! 😀

Rana

Voting Time… Again

Hey, there! 😀

By popular opinion, I changed the header image of TVA. I’m not a big fan of the way it looks up there though it looked nice by itself… What say you? Keep it? Change it? Got other suggestions?

If you have a suggestion or wish to see something else, please let me know in the comments. 🙂

Let me know! 🙂

God bless!

Rana

P.S.

Here’s the older image:

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Something I Learned + Fangirling

‘Ello, my lovely ladies and gentlemen!

Okay, so I was thinking a bit about something that happened to me in about first or second grade. I learned a valuable lesson back then, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I learned how to get people to like you. And if they like you, they’ll most likely want to help you out and BAM! you’ve got some people to help with getting the word out about your novel! 😀

The assignment was to write about what was in the paper bag on the teacher’s desk. I don’t remember exactly what the other kids wrote, but I expect it to be something like aliens or bunny rabbits.

What was mine on? An alien. But that’s not it. I included most of the kids in the class plus the teacher! The teacher was kidnapped and my fellow students were the heroes. They actually all shouted in unison for an encore and the teacher read it again. That’s what makes people like you. You HAVE TO make them feel special.

They’ll associate that warm, fuzzy feeling they got from that one time you complimented them or helped them carry their groceries or whatever! Every time they see you, they’ll remember the feelings associated with the first time they met you, so make it a good one.

It’s that simple! 🙂

Now, onto fangirling. 😀

I’m going as a fangirl for Halloween. ^_^ I’m going to buy a black t-shirt from Walmart or something and slash just a little bit of the front to make a broken heart. Something like this, though much smaller and I’ll keep the shoulders up:

And then I’m going to have cutouts on the back to spell “FANGIRL” and spray bleach over them to get an effect like this:

I’ll probably carry around a picture of Moffat with a yellow smiley face spray painted onto it, but poke holes in to make a frown. My Holmies/Sherlockians will get that. 😉

Mascara tears are a must and as for the rest of my outfit: probably black skinny jeans and my pink Converse sneakers (a friend gave me her pair for free because she didn’t like how the two sides met in the middle :P). Oh! And definitely tally marks on my arms/hands/and possibly face!

There you are, my dears!

Have a safe Halloween and don’t do anything stupid. 😉

God bless!

Rana Aboujaoude

Something New

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! 🙂

So, Inkpen Authoress has started a thing. It’s called chatterbox. Every month, there’s a new “prompt” if I may use the term. In essence, you’ve got to take the word/sentence she’s put up there and write about it using your characters. Did that make sense? Like, if it’s about coffee, you write about the characters drinking/serving/talking over coffee. If that still doesn’t make sense, check out her blog and hopefully that’ll work. 😛

Anyway, I’ll be doing that. This month’s chatterbox topic? Have you guessed? Coffee. 😉

Here’s my snippet using my babies Cael and Aspen and Kody (Cael’s twin brother) and Core and Blade from Desensitized. This is from the second book in the series. It’s written from Aspen’s point of view.

“What do we do between now and then?”

“Take advantage of this time and catch up on sleep.”

“Sounds good.”

“Not you.” Cael pokes my arm. “You are spending time with Kody. And you’re going to be the best of friends.”

He smiles wickedly. “And while you’re working things out, I’m going to catch up on sleep. Now… if you don’t mind…?” Cael makes a shooing motion with his hand, indicating that I should move so he can get out. I cross my arms.

“You’re staying here just in case this doofus decides to break someone’s face again,” I say, nodding in Kody’s direction. “Blade and Core can go to sleep first.”

The two boys perk up at the thought, then slide out of the booth and head upstairs before Cael can stop them. He glares at me.

“Just until you start getting along,” he says, rubbing his eyes.

“You’ll be needing some coffee then,” I say.

“Already had some.”

“You need more. Do they do free refills?”

“I think so. Kody would you mind…?”

The older twin grudgingly complies, scraping three mugs off the table and bringing them to the counter.

 

I’d love to see your snippets if you decide to choose to join in the chatterbox prompt! If you want to share, go ahead and leave a link to your blog/website (or leave the snippet if you don’t have a blog/website which is totally fine!) and I’ll check it out! 😀 I can’t leave comments, depending on who you are, but I will check it out. 🙂

 

God bless!

Rana

I Want Your Opinion! Pleeeeeeeeze! *grovels at your feet* Please!

Hey, there!

Okay. I’m desperate. I don’t really like how the blog looks… I want a new header. I’m not sure if I’ll keep the background.

It all just seems so… boring.

SO! I’ve come up with some sample headers. I want you to tell me which you like best, or if you like what I’ve got now, or if you like one, but would like to see more stuff happening with it. PLEASE HELP MEEEEEEEEE! Please? 🙂 (I made these with GIMP and got some fonts off of dafont.com and the butterfly images are courtesy of Hawsmont Universe.)

Option #1

Header_1

 

Option #2

header_2

 

Option #3

header_3Okay! Feedback time! 😀

 

Aaaaand, now for the background!

 

Thank you SOOOO much in advance!

God bless!

Rana

 

 

 

Researching for Your Novel + Halloween Costumes

Goooood afternoon, people! 😀

Sorry I haven’t posted in, like, forever. I’ve been pretty busy, and then when I’m not, I’m still busy (procrastinating, that is). My life has mainly consisted of studying, looking for Halloween costume ideas (I want to make my own again — I’ve done that the past several years), and writing (though not as much as I would like).

But first! Here’s a little helper when researching for your novel. I learned this in my debate class and thought it’d be fantastic for writing as well! So, you know when you do that random Google search that brings up 1.5 million results that don’t help? Yeah. The ones we do every. single. day.

Well, quite frankly, it’s frustrating. I’m sure you know my pain.

My friends, I’m here to tell you there’s a better way.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen! It’s called Google Advanced Search. You can search like you normally would, then filter out results you don’t want, and make it more specific to your needs. It’s pretty cool.

Now onto costumes! 😀 I’ve know what I want to make, but I’ve got no idea what it’s going to be for. 😦 I was thinking Steampunk, then Amy Lee (from Evanescence) style, and now I’m just like, “Whatever.” XD Here are the things I want to make (with links on the first two –click on the pix —  on how to make them if you’re interested):

A corset t-shirt

A No-Sew Tutu

Using the above idea, the one below could be totally do-able!

Something simple like Amy Lee’s outfit here could be epic!

I love the idea of sparkly fishnets over black tights! Modest and cute!

This is cool too! Though it’d take a lot of time looking through thrift stores and possibly sewing…

And this is so epic! I don’t know how much time/money it’d take to make though… :/

Well, folks! There’s my post of the day!

God bless!

Rana

To Outline or not to Outline…

Hey, there, you! 😀

Today’s topic is on outlining. I find that my writing turns out so much better (plus, I feel very organized) when I outline before I start writing.

 So, first off, what is outlining? It’s organizing your thoughts and ideas into chapters so that you’ll know what happens next if you get in a jam. 🙂

Why should I outline?

Instead of writing then going, “Oh, I had a brilliant idea! I’ll just work it into this chapter somewhere… somehow…” you’ll be able to insert it into the outline for future reference. You won’t feel like you need to get all the ideas into the story as you think of them.

Organization-wise, it is SO beneficial to me as I mentioned before!

Plus, if you have a certain formula you follow and incorporate into your novels, that’s a big help too! Instead of just aimlessly trying to slap together a good book, you incorporate dilemmas, disasters, deaths with a meaning, etc.

Do other writers use outlines?

Yes, ma’am/sir, they do! To name one successful person, we’ll look at Christopher Paolini, the author of the Inheritance series. Here’s what he has to say:

I read college-level courses on the subject, teaching myself about everything from plot structure to descriptions. All of this culminated four years ago, when I sat down and outlined the plot for a cycle of books. For weeks, I struggled to figure out every detail. Then, with everything ready, I began to write.

So, courtesy of the OYAN curriculum and my bestie, here is the outline I use (see the end of this post). But first, you need to know the difference between a disaster and a dilemma.

Disaster: could be a natural disaster such as an earthquake, landslide, tsunami, etc.

Dilemma: where the MC (main character) needs to choose between two equally bad things (like saving their best friend and kill their mom or let them both die – something like that).

Chapter Criteria
Chapter One – THE INCITING INCIDENT
<> Open with action: a fight, a new arrival, or trouble. Begin to reveal the Hero’s Ideal and establish a pre-story world. This chapter should include a major disaster for the Hero.

Chapter Two – PROMISES, PROPHECIES AND PREDICAMENTS
<> The Hero reacts to the disaster in Chapter One. Write in subtle hints about things to come, and include a disaster or a dilemma. The Hero should set a goal to set things back to the way they were before the disaster in Chapter One, and their reality should become farther from what they expected.

Chapter Three – EMBRACING DESTINY
<> In this chapter, the Hero accepts his destiny. The Hero should accept their destiny regardless of the cost. This chapter should include both a disaster and a dilemma. The Hero loses something or someone of value, and this cements his involvement against the Villain. The Hero crosses a “point of no return” in this chapter.

Chapter Four – THE NEW WORLD
<> This chapter includes a disaster. The Hero is drawn into a New World, and begins to take steps to fulfill the Story Goal. The Hero is also introduced to a test. In this chapter, the opposing forces (Villain vs. Hero) are balanced.

Chapter Five – THE MIDDLE CYCLE
<> The stakes are raised. The Hero forms a goal, and is forced to confront a fear. A surprise is revealed.

Chapter Six – FAILURE
<> This chapter includes both a plot twist and a disaster. The twist should shock your readers and be completely unexpected. The Hero realizes he has more to lose than he thought. The Hero fails miserably.

Chapter Seven – LESSONS
<> The Hero learns a lesson from his failure in Chapter Six, and discovers why he failed. The Hero forms a short term goal, but it is thwarted by the Villain. The Hero begins to use his exposure to his worst fear to equip himself for the Showdown.

Chapter Eight – ATONEMENT AND ACHIEVEMENT
<> This chapter is defined by a disaster or a dilemma. The Hero forms and fails in fulfilling a goal. The Hero begins to master the New World and achieves a major success. The Hero also attempts to make atonement for something in his past.

Chapter Nine – THE BLACK MOMENT
<> The Hero is faced by his most crushing, total defeat. He is offered a chance to retreat and go back to the way it was. A dilemma follows this defeat. The Hero hits rock bottom. The stakes are raised. Include another plot twist- either tragedy or grace. (If grace, make it the result of something the Hero did in a previous chapter – luck is not allowed)

Chapter Ten – THE COMING STORM
<> Failure to achieve the Story Goal should be almost certain. The Hero loses something of value. Tension steadily increases. This chapter is defined by both a disaster and a dilemma. Make the Hero appear to make the wrong choice. This chapter should be a race against time to achieve the Story Goal.

Chapter Eleven – THE SHOWDOWN
<> The Hero and the Villain square off in a deciding confrontation. Failure appears to be inevitable and the Hero is faced the the most difficult decision possible. The Story Goal is fulfilled, but not in the expected way. The fulfillment of the Story Goal costs more than expected, and the Hero loses something of value.

Chapter Twelve – DENOUEMENT
<> This chapter should be fueled by and tie together all the subplots and possibly return the Hero to the Old World. Add in a final unexpected plot twist.

I really hope this helps you out! 🙂

God bless!

Rana

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Trailer

K, I’m spazzing out. I’m a total J.R.R. Tolkien geek. I’ve read:

>Lord of the Rings

  • Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King

>The Silmarillion

>The Children of Hurin

>Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

>Poems and stuff… don’t remember the title of the collection

I’ve listened to LotR and the Hobbit on CD (LotR twice, and I’ve listened to the Hobbit since I was a wee little girl).

I used to have a replica of the One Ring. But, um, guess what happened. Yep. I lost it.

But I’ve got a little something for you fellow nerds! In case you weren’t aware, WE’VE GOT A SECOND TRAILER FOR THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG!!! Excuse me while I fangirl over Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice. (My mom and I watched Star Trek: Into Darkness. She was like, “Are you sure that’s his real voice??” And I grin and I respond, “Yep.” She goes, “…It’s just so deep.” And I, with a satisfied look upon my face, turn my face back to the telly screen.)

Well, here you are, ladies and gentlemen! 😀 Care to share your thoughts?

God bless!

Rana