Thrown to The Blue, Writing Exercises

Capitalisation of Honorifics and Names is the Bane of my Editing Life

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What has this edit and my proof-reader shown me? That I am inconsistent in my capitalisation of honorifics and names. Oh my word! As soon as my proof-reader started pointing them out, she just couldn’t stop. I mean, seriously, I’m totally crap and inconsistent to the point of frustration.  Titles such as King, Your Majesty, and the more common ‘Father’ (in terms of referring to an actual person by that name), are just a few of my pit falls. This is how I picture my proof-reader’s reaction every time she has to correct me on this issue:

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What makes this edit even more exasperating is that my novel is full of honorifics with one of my main protags coming from royalty. Oh well, at least I am now aware of my annoying tendencies, right? Ha!

Do you have any annoying writing habits/ pit falls? What is your biggest editing peeve?


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

GIF sourced from GIPHY.COM

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Writing Exercises

10 Weeks, 10 Prompts, 10 Minutes #8 (Prompt Me Special)

The purpose of these writing exercises is to take a prompt a week for ten weeks and allow myself ten minutes to expand on it. All the prompts are taken from my writing prompt eBook: Prompt Me.

To check out my list of ten prompts, and maybe have a go yourself, follow this link.  Go with the flow, take the prompt literally, or just allow elements to inspire a totally different story. It is up to you. Link back to me, so I can have a read of your creations.

The Prompt:

They said that I was insane and that I never had a sister. They even went as far as to edit her out of my photographs. I know they did because they missed one- the one I keep in my locket.

They hold us in some kind of secure facility with hundreds of others. We aren’t treated badly, but we aren’t free either. Words such as cure, hope, and future are continuously brandished about, as if words can persuade us to cooperate. If you take away a person’s freedom, you take away their basic human right. Once that’s gone, then it’s a one way street- we’re prisoners and they’re our captors. Cure, hope, and future, feel very very far away.

Every day I ask for Georgina. Every day they say the same thing- ‘she is a figmant of your imagination. An imaginary friend you created as a way to get through the fifteen months you spent on the outside without another soul to talk to.’ Georgina is real. She is not my friend. She is my older sister, and they know more than they’re letting on. Why are these people trying to make me believe I’m crazy?

Jenson, the big boss, enters in his full military get-up; combat clothes, black shiny boots, and cap. He glances around us all like we’re nothing more than rats in his elaborate test, and then he waves his hand to beckon someone into our tent. A teenage boy, similar in age to me, steps into the tent. His hair looks filthy, he has cuts on his knuckles, and his eyes are sunken.

“Tent 98, this is your newest occupant- Harry Mave.” Jenson pushes Harry further into the tent, before leaving without so much as a goodbye.

Harry grips his rucksack to his chest and glances around all of our faces. This isn’t the friendliest tent, and the majority of the occupants are middle aged and have an adversion to kids and teenagers. Finally, after eyeing every inch of him, I call him over to me. The bunk above mine is empty, and hell, it’ll be nice to have someone my age to talk to.

“I’m Nell,” I say, holding out my hand. He looks at it, but doesn’t shake it. “You can have the top bunk.”

“I’m not staying,” he mumbles. “Where are the showers?”

I came in with the same fighting spirit, but that was quickly sucked out of me. “The shower tent is directly behind here. If you have anything of value take it with you.”

Gregory, our resident kleptomaniac growls at me. I just glare back, inviting him to say something. Go on, you scummy thief, so I can make a scene and search your collection for my shoelaces and hair scrunchie.

“I’d stay away from ‘Crazy Baby’ if you want to fit in here,” Gregory warns Harry. The tent gave me that nickname because of Georgina. “Sees things. Hears voices. Fucking nutjob.”

I give Gregory the bird in response. Harry grunts in acknowledgement and heads straight out of the tent. Not missing a beat, I follow him.

“This place is a fortress. You won’t get out,” I call after him. Harry doesn’t even turn back. “I should know. I tried…and tried…and tried.”

“I have people on the outside who need me. Staying here isn’t an option.”

“If they left people behind when they picked you up, it’s because they are infected.”

Now, he spins to face me, anger written all over his face. “Bullshit! My sister was not infected, and they still left her behind. We’re here because we have something they need.”

My heart pangs at the mention of his sister. “What do we have?” I ask.

He shrugs. “Something… I don’t know. Something so important that they tell me that Hannah isn’t real. They’re trying to make me think I’m crazy.”

“They said it to you too?” I grasp my locket, stepping away instinctively.

An arm encloses around my shoulders. “Nell, are you pestering the new boy?” asks Jenson. “Harry, you were placed in the wrong tent- clerical error. Bring your stuff and I’ll take you to Tent 23. It’s the other side of the camp.”

“Away from me you mean?” I ask Jenson. His eyes bore into my soul. “Harry, she’s real. Hannah’s real.” Jenson lifts me from my feet, but I fight with every ounce of my being. “She’s real, Harry. Don’t let them make you forget! Never forget!”

Jenson’s hand encloses over my mouth. “You see why her tent call her ‘Crazy Baby’?” He half laughs, squeezing the air out of my lungs as I kick and wiggle against his torso. “Stop this, Nell. Have you been taking your meds?” More military staff race over, helping Jenson to restrain me. I’m pinned to the floor and injected in the neck with a sedative. Instantly, my body feels heavy.

As Harry is escorted away, he looks over his shoulder at me. “Don’t forget,” I mouth before my eyes close.

***

Someone shakes me awake. My mouth is dry, and my limbs feel stuffed with lead weights. From the musky, body odour stench, I know I’m back in my tent. Gregory snores in the bunk beside mine, and someone farts.

“Nell, wake up,” whispers Harry. I jump fully awake in shock. He covers my mouth with his hand and shakes his head. “Stay quiet.”

I can’t move; the sedation hasn’t fully worn off yet. Harry stuffs my few belongings into my tatty rucksack and swings it onto his shoulder with his own. Then, taking me under the thighs and arms, he lifts me.

The air outside is bitterly cold, and it brings me to my senses a little. Harry skims around the side of the tent, coming to a stop behind our shower tent, and lowers me onto the damp ground. It is a dark night without moonlight, and my eyes have to adjust to see his face in front of mine.

“How?” I ask.

“I’m good at what I do.” He pulls me to sitting, and brushes my tangled hair out of my face. “They call you ‘Crazy Baby’ because Jenson has made you look crazy?”

I nod. “And they’ll do the same to you if you’re not careful.”

“How can I be sure that you’re not just crazy?”

“Why’d you come and steal me from my bed if you thought I was making it up?”

He rolls his eyes. “I need something, Nell. Before I risk my life to get us both out of here, you need to give me something to believe in.”

Pulling my pendant from under my t-shirt, I hold it in my clenched fist. “They edited her out of my photographs. They didn’t just destroy them. I suppose that would make it look like they had something to hide. This way, they can make it look like I just made her up. I didn’t make her up, Harry.”

“Who?”

Taking off my necklace, I hold it out to him. “Everyone thinks this is a pendant, but it’s a locket. They never thought to check it.” Harry feels around for the minute clasp, and opens the delicate locket. He shines his torch over the small picture inside of me and Georgina. “That’s my sister. Her name is–”

“Georgina,” he interrupts. My heart skips a beat. “You are the one I’m here for. Can you walk? We have to get to the back fence by 3am.”

“Wait? What? You know my sister?”

He smiles at me. “You could say that. Georgie is my boss- the leader of the resistance- and we’re getting you out of here.”

“What about your sister? Hannah?”

Harry takes my face in his hands. “I’m an only child. I needed to make sure you were who I thought you were. This is all for you, Helena.” My breath catches in my throat at his use of my full name; a name not even Jenson knows. “Georgie says, ‘sorry she took so long.'”

 


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

 

 

Picture Prompts, Writing Exercises

Fortnightly Picture Prompts

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Over on my Instagram account, I have posted an inspiring picture that I took on my rambles around Cornwall. I plan on posting a picture every fortnight that inspires me in some way, and invite you to have a pop at writing a sentence or paragraph to accompany it. You can find me on Instagram by following this link.

If you do not have an Instagram account, but would like to join in, you can post your sentence/ paragraph in the comments, and I will feature them in the next Picture Prompt post right here on my blog with links back to you.

So, let’s see this picture, KJ:

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Here is my paragraph inspired by the picture:

‘The map says nothing about a lane or road in this part of the woods. The lock is new, but the fencing looks as if it has been here for some time. The wet mud preserves boot prints; someone has walked up there, but there are no boot prints to show that they have come back out.’


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

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Tip Share, Writing and Me

Crafting Chapter Titles

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Chapters don’t always need titles, but when they do, they can be tricky to craft. My first books, EVO Nation and EVO Shift, are sci-fi and urban fantasy novels and chapter titles didn’t match the tone of the books. However, my fantasy novel, Thrown to The Blue, is split into different POVs, and each chapter is defined by the character’s name and a title. I’ve never had to craft chapter titles before, and it has been a great writing experience for me.

Here are the top five lessons I have learnt as a first time chapter titler.

Write the chapter before you title it.

You can have an idea for the title, but after writing the chapter it may not exactly fit, and you don’t want to have to tailor the chapter to the title. Once you have read the chapter, you can capture the overall tone/ message. You may even find a phrase or quote from within the chapter that works.

Not every chapter title needs to follow the same style.

I noticed this a lot in books I have read of late. The titles follow a style of some sort- perhaps just three words: For example: Sugar and Spice, Gold and Silver, Hurt and Betrayal. If this works for your novel, then roll with it, but please don’t think this is a necessity. You can have some short and sweet titles, quotes, one word titles. As long as the title sums up the chapter, then I don’t think it affects the experience of the reader if the styles are different.

If you can’t think of a suitable chapter title, leave it, and return to it later.

Sometimes a title is glaringly obvious, other times it eludes us. Do not force a chapter title, let it simmer for a bit before setting it in stone. It may even be worth not titling your chapters until your final edit. You can read through the draft with fresh eyes and the titles may jump out at you.

Sum up, but do not give too much away.

This is where it can be particularly tricky to find a suitable title. Summing up the chapter doesn’t mean highlighting the key narrative point in the title. For example: If Freddie is going to die in this chapter, it is best not to title the chapter ‘Freddie’s Demise’ or ‘The Death of Freddie’. This may seem like common sense, but I have seen it done. The impact you may try to make with a certain scene will be dulled by the reader’s knowledge from the title. Finding the balance between summing up and keeping it vague is what I found difficult.

Think outside the box.

This ties in with all the above tips. Forget what you have read in other books. Your titles should be unique to your novel. Just because particular titles or styles worked for another book, chances are they won’t work for yours too. Forget about your preconceptions on titling chapters and work with what you have written within each chapter. It is the best way to craft memorable, interesting titles that are true to your novel.


Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

 

 

 

 

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Uncategorized, Word Count Weekly

A Change to the Word Count Weekly Posts

I am at the final stages of my first draft of EVO Shift, so my writing time has stepped up a notch, and when I team that with my writing exercise posts, I don’t have enough hours in the day.

I have decided to bring my ‘Word Count Weekly’ posts to an end, and post updates as and when I have time. Once I hit the editing stage, the updates will be sporadic and dependent on whether I have anything of significance to report.

I have been posting up to five posts some weeks, and now, unless I have something worth sharing, I will be cutting back to three. It’s getting a little tight trying to juggle a full blog and my work in progress, and although I love blogging, I need to give myself back some writing time for my novel. At first, the three posts will all be various writing exercise posts, but when my ‘Write Me’ posts come to an end in a few weeks, Monday’s slot will free up for shorter posts of book reviews, musings, and tip shares etc.

6e6bdf3e9fe1c79f5bc8074f22f1c4b0I have big plans for 2016 and I am taking the necessary steps to ensure I achieve them.

Seeing as I haven’t any writing news to report, I have decided to share a few pictures of my totally awesome Christmas gifts. My husband has covered both my writing and fan girl obsessions with his enviable gift buying skills.

I hope you all had a fantastic time over the holidays, and are looking forward to a bright and productive new year .


Photographs featured in this post are the property of K.J.Chapman