Go wash your mouth out!

‘Writing is just a learned skill and requires 0% talent.’

Excuse you????? Yes, I really did hear this through social media yesterday, and yes, a rage roared in my chest, but I managed to keep myself in check.

Needless to say, I disagree. Just like some people can sing or paint or dance, some people can write. Storytelling is an art form in itself. Of course, practise makes perfect, but who is going to spend energy practising something their soul isn’t passionate about? Talent is half natural ability and half passion: skill is the love child of both.

Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten Minutes #5

Week five of ‘Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten Minutes’ is an image from my list of ten prompts in my Narrative Prompts post. There is something hauntingly inspiring about this image, hence why I’ve been looking forward to this writing exercise.

Prompt Five:

I remember the day they came for us. I was eight years old, but I knew the importance. The air lay heavy with relief; a feeling I have never fully experienced again and doubt ever will. The sun was dying, we were dying, and angels came from above to save us.

I remember standing on the levi-pad with Mum, and my big sister, Fern, and the tingly, static feeling that spread over my skin as they boarded us. Some kids were crying; the huge hexagonal ship covering the sky for miles was intimidating, but no more so than looking up at the dying ember that was our sun. We left with the clothes on our backs, and thankfully, an angel let me take Lenny Bear, the stuffed bear Dad gave me before he died.

The angels, or aliens as the other humans called them, could have been mistaken for albino humans with their pale skin and white hair, but there was one distinct difference: their eyes. Mum thought they were freaky, but I found the gold sheen of their irises entrancing, beautiful even.

The living conditions were cramped. There was a crew of seventy angels on our ship, and approximately one thousand humans. In total, sixteen ships came to rescue us. That meant that only sixteen thousand humans had survived the death of Earth. The angels bunked us up with three other families. Mum, Fern, and I shared one bed, and their was barely enough food to go around, but we never once complained; we we’re too grateful.

The trip took the best part of four weeks. Mum said that an angel told her that we had to bypass four galaxies before we finally made it back to their home planet; the planet they called Haydra. Haydra was beautiful; an unspoilt Earth with a healthy sun that I could have only ever dreamt of.

***

I celebrated my eighteenth birthday and buried Fern on the same day. We fight on the side of the Haydran’s; the people who took us in when we we’re dying, who shared their planet with us, and who should have left us on Earth to die with our sun. Fern was killed by the human who started the mutiny, Vale. Vale saw the Haydran’s kindness as their weakness, and threw the salvation they gave us back in their faces.

I will protect my angels until my last breath, even if I have to kill every God forsaken, ungrateful human to do so.


All excerpts are the works of K.J.Chapman

Quotes of the Week, September 28th 2015

I’m doing this week’s quotes of the week a little differently today. Usually, I choose a theme or topic and choose two quotes that inspire or motivate me in relation to that theme or topic. Today, however, I am choosing two quotes from the author John Green. Both quotes comes from his ‘The Fault in our Stars’ novel, and I am in love with them.

‘I fell in the love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.’  ~ Hazel Grace, The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

In my humble opinion, this is the perfect surmise of falling in love. I wanted so badly to be able to capture love in a sentence just like Green, and I have had this quote written in my inspiration notebook for a long, long time.

‘You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.’ ~ Augustus Waters, The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

A true quote if ever there was one. Love is about jumping in head first. It’s about placing your trust and heart into someone else’s hand, hoping they treat it kindly.

Word Count Weekly #7

It has been another productive writing week for me this week. I’m a little surprised as we have had a busy week: Our nieces birthday party, school meetings, visiting family, and Mr.O’s birthday. Stealing writing time here and there throughout the day has proved fruitful.

Last week, I forgot to keep count of my word count each day, and instead, totalled up my weekly count. This week, I have purposely not kept track. It may be purely psychological, but not knowing my word count each day is less stressful and demotivating for me, and I enjoy the surprise at the end of the week. If it works it works, right?

My grand total for this week is : 7344 Words

Excerpt from this weeks work in progress:

Grayson keeps eye contact, his soft expression bringing tears to my eyes. He’s going to tell me something I don’t want to hear. “I’m sorry, Teddie, but we can only locate your friends if they show up at one of the fight houses. As it is, they appear to be in government custody.”

“Jude said something about detention centres. Do you have any idea where they are?”

“We have the location of one detention centre, but the information is pointless without the numbers to take on such a facility. They have near on impenetrable security systems in place. Jude said you are familiar with TORO, yes?”


All excerpts are the works of KJ.Chapman

777 Challenge: A Little Weekend Fun

The 777 Challenge is a bit of fun to support and promote our fellow bloggers and showcase a snippet of our work in progress.

The rules of this challenge are to go to the seventh line on the seventh page of your work in progress, and share the next seven sentences. Then, tag seven of your favourite author blogs (I’m most definitely classing poets in this).

I was tagged by the lovely J.A. Allen over at Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins. Please check out and follow her blog for wonderful writing tips, musings, and advice. I’ve not yet read a blog post that hasn’t guided, helped or inspired me on my writing journey. I’m happy to have J.A. Allen as a member of my blog family!

Here is my 777 excerpt:

Adam laces his fingers in my hair and fans it out, so the sunlight filters through, streaking his face in strips of shadow and amber light. “You’re beautiful,” he says, barely louder than a whisper. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

I lean in closer to reply, but the door to the stairs bursts open and Yana rushes out.

“You two might want to see this,” she says, her Swedish accent stronger due to anxiety. Her slender hands are clenched to disguise their shaking. “The British government has just broadcast.”

I could tag seven bloggers, but I have decided to limit myself to four bloggers from my blogging family/ community with whom I have great communication, and whose opinions I greatly value. If you do not wish to participate I won’t be offended 😉

Each one of these bloggers are fantastic editions to any blogging family/ community with informative, creative, and just downright brilliant blogs! Head over and check them out… you won’t be disappointed. I do enjoy spreading the blog love.

Dialogue Heavy: Is That a Problem?

Is a dialogue heavy novel a problem? For me, the answer has always been- no. I enjoy dialogue if it’s well written, and I equally enjoy writing dialogue. I get to know my characters from their spoken exchanges; their favourite cuss words, slang terms, and their use of body language in the dialogue tags. I thoroughly enjoy creating their tone and use of vocabulary.

I think it is a reflection of your writing style, and the kind of writer you are. If dialogue is your strong point, then you may tend to veer on the heavy dialogue side, or vice versa. I don’t agree with blathering dialogue that offers nothing to the narrative, but well written, purposeful dialogue can not be a bad thing, right?

Let me know your opinions, as this topic has been the root of many a self-doubt episode during my writing journey. Dialogue heavy novels- yay or nay?

Quit the Narrative and Character Cliches

We’ve all read that book; the one with the over-used, unimaginative clichés. If we’re totally honest with ourselves, we have all written that one book too. It sits nestled in the back of the folder or drawer and should stay there for all eternity.

So, what is a cliché?

Definition: A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.

I couldn’t have put it better myself- ‘lack of original thought’. Narrative and character clichés are predictable and dull.

  1. Damsel in distress: beautiful, but weak female protagonist without a personality, who constantly needs to be rescued by her hunky boyfriend <yuk>.
  2. The ‘Chosen One’ prophecy.
  3. Brooding, handsome love interest without a personality of his own.
  4. The villain sat in a chair, petting a white cat, and being mean for the sake of being mean.
  5. Wise, elderly advisor/mentor: the protagonist usually ignores their advice much to their own repentance.
  6. Love triangle…<yawn>.
  7. A return from the grave: the ‘but you’re dead’ line.
  8. Hate turning to love: ‘I hate you’… four chapters later…’I love you.’

As with any advice, I believe in ‘each to their own’. Some writer’s may not agree with my list, and if you can take a cliché and make it original and fresh, I take my hat off to you. One or two clichés may be unavoidable in your narrative, but stories littered with the above clichés are a huge turn off for me.

Do you have any clichés that grate on you as a reader? Have you read a story with a fresh take on an old cliché? Please, let me know.

Wednesday Morning Poetry Inspiration

A Nation’s Strength ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten minutes #4

Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten Minutes is exactly what it says. Each week I use one of the ten narrative prompts I created in my post, Narrative Prompts, and I have ten minutes to expand on that prompt.

Prompt Four:

She’s the third person today to tell me I look tired. How can I still be tired after fourteen hours sleep? I stick my hand in my pocket and pull out a napkin with a phone number written on it. This isn’t possible. Joel gave me this napkin last night… in my dream.

“Are you okay, Miss?” the waitress asks. She places my coffee on the table, and rests a hand on my shoulder.

I shake my head clear. “Thank you, I’m fine. I haven’t eaten in a while.”

She smiles, and meanders back to the kitchen, eyeing me over her shoulder. As soon as she disappears into the kitchen, I pull out the napkin once more. It’s not like she’d understand what it means. It’s a number on a napkin, not uncommon. How can this be happening? Joel is make believe, a figment of my imagination.

The door swings open again, and the waitress bustles through, carrying an ice cream sundae with a cherry perched on the top. “Here you go, Sweetie. The table over in the corner changed their minds. It’s a shame for it to go to waste.” She plonks it down in front of me, handing me a long handled spoon. “On the house.”

I thank her, and take a mouthful to appease her motherly, watchful eye. I’m not actually hungry, and it’s a mission to swallow it, but I do, and she heads off to clear tables. I pull out the napkin again and lie it on the table. I don’t recognise the handwriting; I know it’s not mine. Can it really be Joel’s? I press the heels of my hands into my eyes. That’s it, I’ve finally cracked.

I take another spoonful of sundae just so I’m doing something. The dark black scrawl of numbers glares up at me, daring me. Okay, the only way to know for sure is to ring the number, right? My mobile feels unusually heavy in my sweaty palm, but I steady my hand, and dial the number.

It rings.

“Hello?” says a male voice.

Oh my god, someone has answered. What do I say?

“Uh, hello, who is this?” I ask.

“You should know, you rang me. Who is this?” My heart stops for an instant. It’s Joel’s voice. I’d recognise it anywhere. “Hello? You still there?”

“It’s Isla,” I blurt. There is silence. “Joel, it’s Isla.”

“Isla, how?”

My voice shakes as it leaves my lips. “The napkin.”

“But you’re not… you’re just a…”

“A dream,” I add. “No, I’m real, I thought you were the dream. I found the napkin you gave me in my pocket.”

“I knew it! I knew you had to be real. Where are you? I’m coming to get you.”

“To get me?”

“Isla, where are you?” he asks, his voice forceful. “Something weird is going on. I need to talk with you. Please don’t be on the other side of the world.”

“I live in Hopetown, Sault County, England. I’m sat in a café on Fore Street it’s called -“

“Aunt Daisy’s” he whispers.

“Yes. How do you know that?”

The kitchen door swings open, and Joel’s slim frame is stood there in his kitchen scrubs, a phone pushed up against his shaggy, black hair.


All excerpts are the works of KJ.Chapman

Quotes of the Week, September 21st 2015

As a writer, I know as well as anyone about the torturous, creativity crusher that is self-doubt. We all go through highs and lows during the writing process, but it’s how we push through the lows and continue on our writing journey that determine us as writers.

‘Be bold, make mistakes, learn a lesson, and fix what doesn’t work.’ ~ Seth Godin

‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ ~ Ernest Hemingway

The reason why I like these quotes? It’s because they’re both stating that it’s okay to make mistakes in the first instance. The first draft is getting our story down, and being creative in the art of storytelling. Allowing myself to make mistakes was a game changer for me when writing my debut novel, EVO Nation. I still suffer from self-doubt from time to time, but I remind myself that mistakes are easily corrected, and I give myself a kick up the ass to finish that first draft.