Bye For Now

Five years ago, a struggling would-be novelist started a blog all about fiction in general and writing in particular. He was by no means an authority on the subject and never in his wildest dreams imagined that his little side-project, which he lovingly dubbed Penstricken, would ever last a whopping five years and earn the kind of respect it has from bookworms, novelists and even teachers.

It was, after all, originally intended to be nothing more than an exercise in writing to a regular deadline. Being something of a perfectionist, I was never good at sticking to self-imposed deadlines, which meant I spent a lot of time writing yet never quite managed to finish anything. Publishing a post on Penstricken every Sunday come hell or high water forced me to produce a completed piece of writing on a regular basis and helped me to develop good habits. It also served as a kind of writers journal where I was able to reflect on everything I had learned about writing. In short, writing Penstricken made me a better writer.

However, that was five years ago. I didn’t have a daughter five years ago and I only worked 15 hours a week. Now I do have a daughter and spend almost two hours a day commuting to my full time job which leaves me with barely enough energy to make myself a cup of tea before I collapse on the sofa every night. What little time I have left to write is devoted to frantically trying to knock out four weekly posts for this blog, to say nothing of keeping up with my regular correspondence with authors to whom I’ve promised reviews or interviews. The blog has grown arms and legs and in order to maintain it, I’ve had to sacrifice my novel and short story writing; the very thing Penstricken was originally intended to support.

So, I’m taking a break. A long one. I was actually thinking of canning the blog altogether but I am proud of what I’ve created and the domain is all paid for now until next summer anyway, so while you won’t be getting any new posts from me until at least July, I will be reblogging old posts every day between now and then to keep the blog ticking over in my absence, so I will probably look busier than ever. We’ll see what happens after that.

I am also knocking together a little e-book of the collected flash fictions I’ve published on Penstricken over the years. That’s still a work in progress but if you enjoyed my writing, do keep a wee eye out for it.

In the mean time, enjoy the relentless reblogs. I’ll not be monitoring Penstricken’s social media or e-mail very much so please don’t be offended if I ignore you.

Ciao.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: Jasyn T. Turley

Phil, Tim, and Dakota are three survivors taking refuge in Atlanta, Georgia. The year is 2027, ten years after a nuclear fallout decimated the known world and left it in shambles… Trying to survive and stick together, no matter the odds, they must rely on their faith, bond, and past experiences to live through their tribulations. In this world, a fool’s chance is usually their only chance.

Jasyn T. Turley is the author behind the zombie thriller series, Weeks. I caught up with Jasyn about Weeks, his writing routine and plans for the future. Click here to buy Weeks on Amazon.

How did you first get into writing?

So that’s a long story, I’ll compress that into a nutshell. WEEKS essentially was a game me, my brother and our friend Katie had played for quite a while. Eventually I was so consumed by WEEKS and even passionate enough, that I had to vent it out from my head. So I took a spiral notebook paper, and on a nine hour car ride to Colorado Springs, I wrote out book one. Then on a nine hour car ride back home to Kansas City, I wrote out book two. Things just took on a snow ball effect from there!

Wow, so was it a case of the three of you making up your own characters who eventually became the three main characters in Weeks?

Yeah, essentially as it played out, I was Phil, my brother was Tim, and Katie was Dakota. However, while mostly all of the events in the book actually took place in our game, a lot of the character and dynamics, etc. etc. was done by me, so there are stark differences

Who would you like to play Phil, Tim and Dakota in the film?

Oh man, I’ve got a loaded answer for this one too! First off, Thomas Jane for Phil, Tyrese Gibson for Tim, and Alice Braga for Dakota (I even kinda of hint at this in the book). It’s funny though, because every time I mentally picture them, for some reason I always picture those actors. So much that when doing writing the early drafts of Book One, that’s how I saw them. So even my concept art reflects that too, at least when I drew them out

What was the hardest thing about writing Weeks?

Well, I started writing Book One and Two back in the summer of 2009. I can’t put a number to all the many rewrites and edits it had gone through. I say the hardest obstacle was deciding which rewrite was going to be my last and be the published edition.

What is your writing routine like?

For the time being, it’s waking up at 8:15, get my computer loading and coffee brewing. And after my morning routine is done, I write between 9am to noon or 1pm Monday through Friday, before I go into work. The weekends are kinda of whatever happens happens. Right now I’m about halfway through Book Three’s rough draft, and the routine serves me well I think. I try to optimise my mornings the best I can.

Plotter or pantser?

So this is something of a recent struggle for me. Right now Book Three has been tumultuous for me, just the rough draft. I’ve gone through at least eight drafts, some different some similar. The common denominator? The outline. So right now on my current draft, I let the ideas come and go as they will, I didn’t write any of it down. Went back to my original idea for Book Three, which I wrote out in 2010, and implementing my new ideas with that. The same thing occurred with Book Two, I think it’s because I write better as a pantser.

Who are some of your favourite authors? Have any authors had a particular influence on your own writing?

Well, D.J. Molles is the biggest influence for me as a writer, as well as my favourite author. His Remaining series was very informative, because I have no military, weapon, combat, fighting experience or anything of the sort. Mr. Molles obviously does, if you read his bio and books it’s obvious. So I learned a lot, taking out the fact from the fiction of his books, getting an idea of how those things I know nothing about worked, and it even backed some of the research I had done prior. All of which really helped me write Phil, Tim and Dakota. Because they’re veterans essentially. I don’t know if I wrote them as believable soldiers, that’s for the reader to decide, but I think I did enough and part of that is thanks to D.J. Molles. Plus, his books are just a fun, good read all together. Other authors I like is H.L. Walsh, Kevin M. Turner and Stephen King are probably the ones I can name right off the back. Because the biggest chunk of things I read are also history books.

Any tips for new authors working on their first book?

Yes, there’s this video, one my most favourites (P.S., I don’t care that my grammar was bad there ūüėč), is a video from storytellers on YouTube, called ‘How to be Creative: How an Artist Turns Pro.’ It’s very informative I think, and helps me when I hit moments of despair. ‘Just write’ and ‘make it a work ethic to write’ are the biggest takeaways from that video I got. Like Stephen King said, and I paraphrase: ‘Routine is the bed of creativity, so get comfortable…’ or something like that.

What are your plans for the future?

Well I’m a dreamer and fantasise all the time. My dream of being a published author has been achieved after ten plus years. Now my next dream is to make being an author my full time gig, but that’s going to take some work. So smaller goals/dreams to work up to that. With Book Two on the horizon, the next step is to get Book Three done. I’ll keep grinding away, because full time or part time, I feel whole when I do write. But I’m making a network with other indie writers, and I feel like that does help a lot.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Throwback Thursday: The Perfect Antagonist

Originally published: 08/05/2016

For me, the antagonist – what we might loosely call ‘the bad guy’ – can make or break an otherwise good story. He is the living and breathing incarnation of¬†the obstacle your protagonist (or ‘hero’, if you insist) needs¬†to overcome. It’s also a good opportunity for the author to create a character who ticks differently from any of the ‘good guys’ and (depending on your genre) you can really let your imagination run wild when it comes to his physical attributes.

Of course, a good author (or even philosopher) will tell you that the good guy doesn’t necessarily wear shining white armour and the bad guy doesn’t necessarily have a swishing black cape…¬†but these conventions do exist for a reason. Just try¬†and imagine what Star Wars would have looked like if Darth Vader had been the hero and Luke Skywalker had been the villain. Picture the scene in your minds eye, if you can: Darth Vader, hanging over a sheer drop and Luke Skywalker standing over him triumphantly:

Skywalker: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Vader: *heavy breathing* He told me enough; he told me you killed him.
Skywalker: No. I am your father.
Vader: No! No! *heavy breathing* It’s not true! That’s impossible!
Skywalker: Search your feelings! You know it to be true!
Vader: Noooo, noooo! *hyperventilating*

See? Ridiculous.

On the other hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean your antagonist¬†should be swishing around in a black cape. What you want is something distinctive that makes your antagonist¬†really stand out. I don’t mean to keep rabbiting on about Star Wars, but before I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I had a gnawing anxiety that no matter how cool the bad guy was, he would never live up to Darth Vader. When I finally saw it, what I got was an antagonist¬†(Kylo Ren) who wore a cape and a mask¬†similar to Darth Vader’s¬†and¬†who used the dark side of the Force like Darth Vader but apart from that, he¬†spent most of the film throwing hissy fits because¬†he wasn’t nearly as good at being bad¬†as Darth Vader was. He wasn’t cool; he was pathetic. One can’t help but wonder¬†if the writer of this film created Kylo Ren as an expression¬†of¬†his own frustrations at the impossible task he had of creating a villain worthy of Darth Vader. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Force Awakens, but I think Kylo Ren would have lived up to Darth Vader far better if he had simply not been anything like him.

The most tragic thing about it all is that most of Kylo Ren’s problems were simply cosmetic.¬†Darth Vader was a Jedi who was seduced by the dark side, but Kylo Ren is introduced to us as an antagonist who is drawn to the ‘light’ side. That sounds like the makings of a bad guy who really does stand out¬†from Darth Vader and the Sith. It was little things like the black cape, the shiny mask and the red lightsaber (okay, it was a funky shape, big woop) that made him look like a Darth Vader wannabe. The fact that he really did wish he was Darth Vader didn’t help matters. Personally, I think he would have been a much more compelling¬†antagonist¬†if he had been wearing a bit more colour, no cape, no shiny mask and (dare I say it?) no lightsaber – and definitely no scenes where he¬†is compared to Darth Vader.

Moving on from Star Wars and the outward appearance of the antagonist, another important thing all bad guys must have is a motive for their actions. If you read my Valentines Day’s post about creating a love interest, you may recall how much I underlined the importance of your love interest being a character in their own right, with their own egos, agendas, desires, fears and motives. They are not just there to swoon after the hero. In the same way, your antagonist must be a person in his or her own right. They must have their own beliefs, their own hopes, their own ambitions and their own reason to get up in the morning apart from simply annoying the protagonist. The only real difference with an antagonist is that you might feel a little bit safer in exploring darker motives for doing things, but even then, watch out! Don’t turn them into the sort of bad guy who cackles about how magnificently devious they are and don’t make them bad just for the sake of being bad. Even if they’re mad in some way, there must be something which motivates them; a fear, a desire or a goal of some kind. In the 1993 film, Falling Down, Michael Douglas played a character who¬†had a mental breakdown while stuck in traffic on his way to¬†his daughter’s birthday party at the home of his ex-wife. There’s no denying that his character has flipped. He¬†spends most of the film smashing up various people and places but behind it all, he still has a goal (‘I’m going home!’) and a motive behind his violent outbursts (frustration at¬†the problems, flaws¬†and injustices of every day life). Thus he remains a character in his own right; his existence is not defined by the hero or anyone else.

Your antagonist can be motivated by almost anything. They can be power hungry, racist, misogynistic, greedy, paranoid, psychotic or (better still!) they can even be driven by seemingly noble motives. In the¬†Star Trek¬†franchise, for example, the Maquis are depicted as a group of terrorists but they are motivated by a desire to¬†drive out what they see as alien invaders from certain human colonies. Indeed, even the ‘good guys’ in Star Trek often appear to sympathise with the Maquis’ cause – but ultimately, they oppose them. Having an antagonist who has good intentions can often make for a much more compelling character and it adds substance to your plot. Whatever their motives and however you decide to dress them up, the two most important things you can do with your antagonist is make them unique and make sure they are a fully fledged character in their own right. Give them all the shades of grey that we find in every character and try to avoid clich√©s.¬†Having said that,¬†I don’t care how cool your bad guy is and I don’t care how much I sympathise with his feelings or his motives…

The bad guy should never, ever, ever win.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Unfortunately, I am unable to take on any more author interviews or solicited book reviews at this time.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Weeks by Jasyn T. Turley

Phil, Tim, and Dakota are three survivors taking refuge in Atlanta, Georgia. The year is 2027, ten years after a nuclear fallout decimated the known world and left it in shambles. With hordes of the undead flooding their once safe home and a city now depleted of all resources and supplies the three must make a daring gamble. To trek across the States and Canada, looking for a new place to call home; safe from the monsters that plague the lands. In their daring gamble this trio encounters more than just zombies. They are relentlessly pursued and hunted by both an old and new nemesis‚Äô. Trying to survive and stick together, no matter the odds, they must rely on their faith, bond, and past experiences to live through their tribulations. In this world, a fool’s chance is usually their only chance.

Praise for Weeks

Weeks is a well-written apocalyptic tale that gives a fresh new life to the overdone zombie genre

Billy Burgess, ‘Review – Weeks by Jasyn T. Turley’, Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, 24/02/20

Have you read Weeks? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Weeks on Amazon.

Click here to check out Jaysn T. Turley’s website.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

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Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Unfortunately, I am unable to take on any more author interviews or solicited book reviews at this time.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

A scrivener using Scrivener

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Unfortunately, I am unable to take on any more author interviews or solicited book reviews at this time.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

10 Quotes About Writing

‘There is no greater agony than bearing an¬†untold story¬†inside you.’
РMaya Angelou

‘So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.’
–¬†Dr. Seuss

‘Write quickly and you will never write well; write well, and you will soon write quickly.’
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus

‘Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader ‚Äď not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.’
E. L. Doctorow

‘Don‚Äôt 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 ‚Äúterrible,‚ÄĚ describe it so that we‚Äôll be terrified. Don‚Äôt say it was ‚Äúdelightful‚ÄĚ; make us say ‚Äúdelightful‚ÄĚ when we‚Äôve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, ‚ÄúPlease will you do my job for me.‚ÄĚ’
– C.S. Lewis

‘You do an awful lot of bad writing in order to do any good writing. Incredibly bad. I think it would be very interesting to make a collection of some of the worst writing by good writers.’
William S. Burroughs

‘Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one neither resist nor understand.’
– George Orwell

‘Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.’
– M.J. Bush

‘You have to resign yourself to wasting lots of trees before you write anything really good. That’s just how it is. It’s like learning an instrument. You’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot. That’s just part of the learning process.’
– J.K. Rowling

‘This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy and that hard.’
– Neil Gaiman

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

A scrivener using Scrivener

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Unfortunately I am unable to take on any more author interviews or solicited book reviews at this time.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Throwback Thursday: I Need a Hero

Originally published: 01/05/2016 under the title ‘A Fanciful Tale of Heroes and Call Centres’

It’s been a while since I posted one of my own humble stories, so¬†I’ve quickly knocked together¬†this little bit of nonsense for your enjoyment. Unlike a lot of the stories I’ve published on the site before, this is not a rejected competition entry. I wrote it for no purpose other than to amuse myself and hopefully, dear reader, to amuse you as well. I suppose it’s best described as a fantasy (since it features heroes guilds and all that kind of stuff) but it also draws heavily on some of my own¬†less fantastic¬†experiences.¬†It also happens to be a¬†little experiment in writing a story using minimal narration; it’s almost entirely dialogue. As ever, this story is entirely my own work and has never¬†been published anywhere else, whether online or in print. I hope you enjoy it.

—-

I Need A Hero

by Andrew Ferguson

 

Brrp, brrp.

Brrp, brrp.

‘Good afternoon, you are through to the Free National Heroes Service. My name is Colin, how may I help you?’

‘Yes, good morning, I’d like to book a¬†knight¬†please, for three¬†o’clock tomorrow.’

‘Oook, if you just give me a minute I’ll take some details off you…’

‘OK.’

‘Now you do understand I can’t¬†guarantee¬†it’ll be a knight¬†because‚ÄĒ’

‘Why not?’

‘Well you see‚ÄĒ’

‘It really needs to be a knight, I always get one. If you check your records you’ll see, I always get a knight.’

‘Oook… well, let me just take your details then and I’ll have a look for you, OK? What’s your name please?’

‘Shona¬†Forrester.’

‘And your date of birth?’

‘Age of Esfin, 03, 36.’

‘Aaaand your address?’

‘0/1 1236 Esclimber Way’

‘That’s great, thanks. Oook, you don’t seeeeem to be registered on our system just now but that’s OK, I’ll just add you on‚ÄĒ’

‘Sorry,¬†what do you mean I’m not registered?¬†I’ve had heroes out here loads of times and¬†I’ve always got a knight. It’s never been a problem before. Has it all¬†changed now?’

‘No, madam, as I tried to explain before, we’ve only ever had¬†three categories of hero available. You can have a warrior, a mage¬†or a ranger. And you’re definitely not on our system either, but that’s no problem, I’ve just added you on now.’

‘Oh! So I can’t have a knight¬†then?’

‘I’m afraid it’s out of my hands madam, the best¬†I can do is put you down for a warrior¬†and I’ll¬†put it in your notes that you wanted a knight. That way Control will see that on their screens when they come to allocate heroes and will do what they can to¬†accommodate¬†you.’

‘So I should still get a knight¬†then?’

‘I really wouldn’t like to make any promises, madam, but the Controllers will do their very best if there’s one available. You will definitely be able to get a warrior¬†but that’s all I can say for¬†certain until you’re assigned a hero in the morning.’

‘It’s never been a problem getting a knight¬†before but right, whatever… well, OK. Can I go now?’

‘Nooo, not quite yet, I still need to take a few details off you first if you don’t mind. Now was it AM or PM tomorrow you wanted this for?’

‘PM, three¬†o’clock please.’

‘OK, now because we’ve only got so many warriors on at one time, I obviously can’t give you a cast iron¬†guarantee that it’ll be exactly three¬†o’clock. It just depends what’s available. Normally what we’d do is book you in for an AM or PM slot just now and you’ll be assigned a time by the Controllers depending on when there’s a warrior¬†available. So I’ll put you down for PM and put it in your notes that you’d prefer it for three, is that OK?’

‘Well what time is he likely to arrive then?’

‘I honestly couldn’t say for sure, madam, that’s entirely down to¬†Control, I’m afraid. An afternoon booking could be any time between twelve¬†o’clock and half¬†eight.’

‘OK, make it AM then.’

‘Are you sure that’s¬†OK?¬†That would be any time then between nine o’clock and twelve.’

‘It’ll have to be, it’s no use him coming at all if he’s any later than three, half three¬†at the latest, so I’ll go with AM. Can you let me know roughly what time that’s likely¬†to be? I’ll be at work in the morning so I’ll need to ask my neighbour to let him in.’

‘Like I already said madam, I’ve no way of knowing until you’ve been allocated a hero what time it’ll be, except that it’ll be in the morning between nine and twelve. I can get Control¬†to give you a call once you’ve been allocated if you like?’

‘Fine, thank you.’

‘Nooo problem, now I just need to check your eligibility to use this service‚ÄĒ’

‘Why do you need to do that? I’ve had heroes out before, loads of times.’

‘I’m sorry madam, but there¬†was definitely¬†nothing at all on our system for you. Are you sure you didn’t use a private guild last time?’

‘No, I’ve always dialled this number. There must be something wrong with your system.’

‘Mmm, maybe but I need to check your¬†eligibility¬†anyway or my system won’t let me make the booking. Is¬†that OK?’

‘How long do you think he’ll be anyway? I mean, I need to know when he’ll be back from his¬†quest so I can make sure there’s someone in. I’ll be at work till two.’

‘Well, that really depends. I was actually just about to ask you exactly why you need a hero. I mean, is there any one else who can go for you?’

‘What difference does that make?’

‘Well, you see even though this as a¬†free service, we don’t receive any government or lottery funding so it’s really only those who are completely unable to go on the quests themselves that we can provide this service for.’

‘Bu‚ÄĒ!’

‘And there’s no way I could guess at how long your hero will take to complete his quest unless I know what it is. Also Control need to know in advance if he needs any special equipment; things like enchanted armour or really bulky things like rune stones or armoured horses might take a bit longer to arrange.’

‘Well, he won’t need any of that so there’s no problem.’

‘I’m sure there isn’t, but I need to ask you what his quest will be anyway or I can’t take your booking.’

‘I just need him to go to the supermarket for me. I need him to pick up some things for my son’s birthday and I can’t go ’cause I’ve got work!’

‘The supermarket?’

‘Yes. It’s never been a problem before today!’

‘I’m really sorry, you’ll need to go with a private guild for something like that.’

‘But‚ÄĒ!’

‘I am really sorry, but there’s nothing I can do. This¬†is¬†a¬†free service and we don’t receive any government or lottery funding so¬†we really can only provide this service for extremely dangerous or difficult¬†quests and to those with a household income of¬†less than twelve-thousand quil per year.¬†Is there anything else I can help you with today?’

‘…’

Click.

‘Bye then.’¬†Click. ‘Geeeeeez…¬†Unbelievable!’

‘Let me guess,’ said Colin’s supervisor.¬†‘It’s young master Forrester’s birthday again?’

‘Yeah!’

‘Hmph! That’ll be his fifth birthday this year then!’

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

A scrivener using Scrivener

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Love Offline by Olivia Spring

Emily’s Struggling To Find Romance Online. Will Ditching The Dating Apps Lead To True Love?

Online dating isn’t working for introvert Emily. Although she’s comfortable swiping right at home in her PJs, the idea of going out to meet a guy in person fills her with dread.

So when her best friend challenges her to ditch the apps, attend a load of awkward singles’ events and find love in real life, Emily wants to run for the hills.

Then she meets Josh. He‚Äôs handsome, kind and funny, but Emily‚Äôs had her heart crushed before and knows he’s hiding something‚Ķ

Is Josh too good to be true? Can Emily learn to trust again and if she does, will it lead to love or more heartache?

Love Offline is a fun, sexy, entertaining story about friendship, stepping outside of your comfort zone and falling in love the old-fashioned way.

Praise for Love Offline

… A funny, but powerful romance novel about learning what it means to love yourself and live life to the fullest

Jenny, ‘Blog Tour Review: Love Offline by Olivia¬†Spring’, Jenjenreviews, 30/10/2020

If I could sum this up in three words it would be fun, flirty and fabulous.

Leane, ‘Book Review: Love Offline by Olivia Spring’, Readpea, 30/10/2020

Have you read Love Offline? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Love Offline on Amazon.

Click here to check out Olivia Spring’s website.

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Monday Motivation

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

7 Deadly Writing Sins

I’ve never been a huge believer in hard and fast rules for writing. Oh, sure there are techniques which general work better than others, but in general I find that authors work best if they work according to their own set of rules, and within the written work itself, it is sometimes helpful to defy conventions in a way which makes you writing stand out… to some extent.

But if you ask me, there remain some lines we should simply never cross; some crimes we can commit as authors which are just unforgivable. And so, I’ve listed a few of them here for your enjoyment and instruction.

Info-dumping

One of the most frustrating things about writing a novel is the audience will seldom see just how much attention you’ve paid to the little details of backstory and worldbuilding. You know every character’s birthday, their favourite food, their family tree going back at least three generations, where they’ve lived and who they’ve worked for. If you are writing a fantasy novel, you will have done even more work, painstakingly realistic creating a world from scratch, including a full timeline of history leading up to the main events of your novel.

You might, therefore, want to include a two or three chapter history lecture or have your characters discussing the mechanics of your world. But don’t do it. This is info-dumping and it is boring, boring, boring with added boring.

Telling, Not Showing

Broadly speaking, there are two ways an audience can experience your fictional world, characters and the events that are taking place:

  1. As someone being informed about what happened, in much the same way you would if you read a newspaper.
  2. As a tourist visiting your fictional world, meeting your characters and experiencing events for themselves

It won’t surprise you to know, option 2 is the one you should be going for. Use all five senses and especially figurative language to draw the reader into the experience of your novel, rather than just using dry, technical descriptions.

Flat Characters

I feel like I do nothing on this blog but rant about how important it is to have well developed characters and today is no exception. If your characters are nothing more than a name and a physical description, no one will remember who any of them are, nor will anybody care about them. Characters need depth. They need motivation, goals, conflict and a lesson to be learned. They need a meaty backstory (though don’t info-dump it on us!). They need clearly defined traits which govern how they behave. They need all the little surface details like a DOB, home town and occupation. And yes, in spite of what I’ve said, they do need a physical description too (though I would shy away from describing this in unnecessary detail).

In the same way as I want to be shown the places and events of your story, not simply read about them, I want to meet your characters as if they were living breathing people. I want to get to know them. I want to love them, hate them, care about them. Only then will your story be worth reading.

Purple Prose

I love reading books where the author has a clear mastery of the English language. If you aspire to be the kind of writer who writes in elegant, poetic and striking ways then I take my hat off to you, because that’s the kind of thing you should be doing.

However, this does not mean you should write long winded sentences, pile up confusing metaphors or use any word other than ‘spade’ to describe a manual soil manipulator. Remember, your prose should be elegant, not sesquipedalian.

Keep it simple.

Cliché

This one hardly needs any introduction. Sometimes you read a novel and you could swear you’ve read it a thousand times before.

That’s because you have. It just had a different title and someone else wrote it. For instance, how many sword and sorcery fantasy novels have you read about a young nobody who discovers he is in fact THE CHOSEN ONE referenced in some obscure prophesy? I know I’ve read a few. They are all the same. Dull, predictable, boring. And I use that only as an example, but there are many, many other fiction clich√©s out there across the entire genre spectrum.

While I’m on the subject, I would also be very sparing in your use of clich√©d figurative language (‘as fit as a fiddle’) or clich√©d sentiments in your main theme (‘love conquers all’).

Deus Ex Machina

There’s nothing worse than devoting several days or weeks to reading a novel you think is really good only to get to the end and realise the author gave up at the last hurdle. Instead of resolving the story’s main conflict in a satisfying way, he simply introduced some previously unmentioned magic, technology or (worst of all) mushy sentiment to zap the conflict away.

And the audience aren’t daft. They know why you did it.

You did it because you wrote yourself into a corner and didn’t have the foggiest clue how to get out of it, so you effectively gave up. But it gets worse. You didn’t just give up. You pretended you hadn’t given up by publishing the novel anyway, tricking everyone into thinking this story was actually heading somewhere, wasting not only your own time but also the audience’s.

The audience despise you for it, and quite frankly so do I.

Intended Audience (Lack of)

I’ve written about this before but it’s more important than a lot of people realise. Most half-decent stories will appeal to some cross-section of society or another. However even the best stories won’t appeal to everyone. If you try to please everyone, you will almost certainly please nobody, because the work you produce will have a nasty jarring quality to it like putting custard on your steak pie.

Instead, decide who your intended audience is and what they want from your novel before you start and write just for them. Don’t worry about if the rest of humanity hates what you’ve written. Write for your own intended audience and you won’t go far wrong.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

A scrivener using Scrivener

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here: