Quote of the Week

Today is Wednesday which means it’s time for another Quote of the Week. Today’s quote from JoAnn Ross, author of No Safe Place, is found in Writing Conversations by Cherie K. Miller. I really love this quote because it’s very encouraging. My mom and I have been listening to classic literature in the car and on the computer this summer. It’s often discouraging to hear the beautiful language and incredible writing and then think of my own novel, and compare my writing or plot to another’s. This quote makes me realize that I’ll never write like anyone else because I write in my own way, and that I can still write a novel, even if it doesn’t sound like anyone else’s.

“One of my many college majors was literature, and for several years I doubted I could write a novel because I’d never be a Tolstoy. It finally dawned on me that the world already had a Tolstoy, and it didn’t need another one. Which is when I decided to tell my stories my way.” – JoAnn Ross

~ Kayla

Writing Sample – Incident at The Green Dragon Inn – Part 1

A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of Granada Television’s Sherlock Holmes series. The episode was “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place.” In the show (as well as in the book), it mentioned that Holmes and Watson visited an inn, called “The Green Dragon.” As soon as I heard the name, “The Green Dragon,” I immediately thought of the inn of the same name in Hobbiton from The Lord of The Rings. So, this is part 1 of a crossover story about what really happened at “The Green Dragon Inn,” in the form of a letter from Dr. Watson to Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien.

My dear Mr. Tolkien,

In response to your inquiry I believe that this most singular incident that occurred during the case of the Shoscombe Old Place might be just the idea you desire for your novel. I have not dared to publish this account, seeing that no one would believe it. As you are an author of fairy stories, I trust that this account of our adventure might be more useful to you than to the public.

For this narrative I have copied below, I have chosen to drop the more formal style that I reserve for my published works, seeing that, you, Mr. Tolkien, will be the only one to lay eyes on it.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. John Watson
221b Baker Street
London, England

“Incident at the Green Dragon Inn”
Thus it was that on a bright May evening that Holmes and I stood outside the door of the inn, where we had the most remarkable experience. The inn was a tiny building, looking barely big enough for a man to enter without hitting his head. Surprise and puzzlement were written across Holmes’ face, but these emotions did not hinder our entrance. We stepped inside the inn, and to our shock, found it overflowing with children. From the sudden silence, the children seemed equally shocked by our appearance.

“This was not in my calculations, Watson,” said Holmes.

“Who are you? Friend or foe?” demanded a voice at my elbow. Directing my gaze lower, I found the voice belonged to a female child with coppery red, ribbon-adorned curls. More startling than the hair was the small pan clasped in both her hands, held high and threatening to swing, as if it were a weapon.

Next Tuesday, I’ll post the next part of the story. Kind criticism is welcome. 🙂

~ Kayla

Character Names

I have always had a love of baby name books. I used to have fun flipping through them and finding the most unusual names. Now that I’m a writer, I have a great excuse for pawing through name websites and baby name lists! 🙂 I really enjoy picking out the perfect name for a character. Of course, not every random name that I come across is going to be “The Perfect Name.” So, here are a few of the things I’ve learned about character names and naming characters.

1. Names that sound alike
It is always really annoying to the reader when character names sound alike. It makes it hard to figure out who is who, especially if the characters with the alike names know each other. One example I can think of is Sauron and Saruman from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Because of all the similar letters and sounds, it makes it really hard to remember who is Sauron and who is Saruman. (My mom still can’t keep them straight! :)) Another example of this is the brothers, Boromir and Faramir, again from The Lord of the Rings. I like the idea of matching names for the brothers, but in practice it made it confusing. (So that no Tolkien fans are too mad at me, I think Tolkien created some beautiful names and did a wonderful job matching names to the characters.)

2. Names that end in “s”
I am very guilty of this one! In my novel,The Last Four, I have many characters with names that end in “s”. At least three characters, Meris, Hays, and a main character, Tytus, all end in “s.” The reason this is bad is that it’s not easy to do possessives on names ending in “s.” In a normal name, say Lexi (another main character in my book), it’s very simple. Lexi. Lexi’s. When it comes to Tytus, it gets harder. Is it Tytus’s? Tytus’? While it’s not impossible to figure out (with all my character names ending in “s”, I think I finally have it down), it does make it a lot harder, so it is best to avoid ending in “s” names when possible.

3. Strange sounding names
This one is more a trap for Fantasy and Sci-Fi authors. When writing about exotic places and worlds, naturally an exotic name is needed. A lot of times these names are a little too exotic. If you name your character Bonbonnogopotato (my apologies to anyone who has this name) or even something half as strange, it’s going to be really hard for the reader to attach himself to him or her not to mention hard to read. An author who didn’t fall into this trap is Brian Jacques, who created the Redwall series. Rakkety Tam is the main character of the book of the same name, and Tam, as he is called in the book, has an unusual name, but not enough to be unpronounceable or to turn you off from the character.

4. Names of the times
If you are writing a book set in a different time, make sure the names match the times. If I were writing a historical fiction novel set in 19th century London, I would pick a name from 19th century London. Or if my book were set in the future, I would pick a name that was more “out there.” Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451, is guilty of this. Guy Montag’s wife is named Mildred, which is a very old-fashioned name, but the world Mildred lives in is suppose to be the future. It makes the book seem set back in a dystopian version of the 1950’s instead of an undated time of the near future.

5. Names that everyone else has
If you’ve read a name a lot in other’s work, then don’t use the name. If you name your main character Scarlett, readers are bound to think of Gone with the Wind‘s Scarlett O’Hara, even if your Scarlett is totally different. Even if the name you want to use isn’t in a famous novel, but is used a lot in your chosen genre or you’ve heard it a lot, it’s best to steer clear. That way the reader knows your character is different than all the others floating around. In teen Christian novels, it seems like the choice of name for girls is Ashley. I don’t know why, but at least two book series I’ve read, Sigmund Brouwer’s The Robot Wars and Chris Fabry’s Red Rock Mysteries, have had an Ashley as a main character.

One more name tip – I’ve started keeping a list of names in my phone for all the neat names that I run across. It might be that the cool name I heard at the grocery store could become my next character!

~ Kayla

My Writing Setting

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”

Okay, not that kind of setting! I’m actually talking about when and where I like to write. I usually write in my room, propped up on my bed. I find it much more comfortable for long periods of time than say a desk or the floor. I write on my laptop, since I much prefer to type than write longhand. My handwriting is pretty bad anyway. I also love the fact I can copy and paste, and also, I can type faster than I can write. I listen to music while I write since it helps focus my thoughts. I usually pick one song and just listen to that one over and over. 10:00pm to 12:30am is my time to write since I’m a night owl. (and besides, being a homeschooler, I can sleep in :)) It’s nice and quiet with no distractions. I’m also not tempted to get up and find something else to do, since it’s so late.

If I’m not at home, and I get a great idea, I write on my media player. I downloaded an app called “Writer.” It’s pretty much a basic word processor for your Android device. I love it! I couldn’t ask for much more in a writer app. It is completely free, which makes it even better. 🙂

When I am at home, I have a “writing buddy”. My cat, Precious, has to sit beside me when I write. She jumps up as soon as I grab my computer and settles herself down next to me. She usually gets bored with watching me pretty quickly and goes to sleep!

My writing buddy!

My writing buddy!

Tired of helping, and decided to take a "cat nap!"

Tired of helping, and decided to take a “cat nap”

Thoughts about the character Sherlock Holmes

Hello!

I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I was first introduced to him when I was younger through an abridged version of three of Holmes’ cases (“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”, “The Red-Headed League” and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”), and I read it dozens of times, so much in fact I practically had it memorized. When I finally read the “real” thing, I was greatly impressed by the way Sherlock Holmes “popped” out of the page and seemed like a real person. I can’t think of another character where people consistently wonder, “Was he real?” He was so real to his readers, in fact, a secretary had to be hired to answer all the fan letters sent to Holmes at 221B Baker Street! So, I’ve written a list of some of the reasons why I think Sherlock Holmes is such a great character. Here it is:

1. Sherlock is a brilliant detective using logic and deduction to solve cases no one else can.
2. Sherlock fails. In a couple of his cases such as the “The Yellow Face” he does not correctly solve the mystery.
3. Sherlock Holmes has a drug problem, adding to his fallibility.
4. Holmes’ friendship with Dr. Watson shows another side to his character, making him less a flat, fictional character and more like a human being.
5. Holmes’ has some very predictable habits such as not eating during a case, smoking a pipe, and playing his violin.
6. Sherlock loves wearing disguises and revealing the solutions to cases with great drama.
7. Holmes has many admirable qualities such as his gentlemanly behavior and taking on cases even when his clients can’t pay.
8. Holmes has some not so admirable qualities such as his rudeness.
9. Sherlock has his own moral code, breaking into houses to solve a case and letting some escape the law.
10. We really don’t know much about what Sherlock looks like. It leaves a lot our imagination.

I love Sherlock Holmes and I am grateful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for creating him!

By the way, I started watching Granada Television’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett over the summer. 🙂 I found Jeremy Brett to make a fantastic Holmes! The show stuck pretty closely with the books, and Brett totally made Holmes come even more alive for me.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

Hello!

I plan on posting a quote from my favorite writing books every Wednesday. 🙂 Today’s quote of the week is from Jodie Rhodes, President of Jodie Rhodes Literary Agency. I have been tempted to start out with scenery again and again! I struggle with a good beginning and scenery always seems like a safe bet! However, I know as a reader, scenery can make for an incredibly boring beginning!

This quote is found in Writing Conversations by Cherie K. Miller. Each day has a new quote about writing. It is now one of my favorite books and has lots of great quotes in it!

“Let’s start with the things you should not do: Never open with scenery! Novels are about people, about the human condition. That’s why we read them. Yet writer after writer starts off with descriptions of cities, towns, streets, forests, mountains, oceans, etc. Of course I know why. They’ve learned how to describe landscapes in language that seems literary, and hope we’ll be impressed. We are not. We are looking for life.”

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Writing Sample – The Last Four

Hello!

Today I’m posting a sample of my writing from my novel, The Last Four. The novel is set in a dystopian future where humanity is controlled by a thought-recording chip implanted by the government at birth. Every person has this chip except for four teens who have escaped for various reasons revealed in the book. The book is still in its rough stages as I am currently working on my second draft. This is a paragraph from what will become the first chapter, when one of my main characters, Solara, is escaping her house before she is captured.

Her feet touched the ground, the cold snow crunching beneath her fur-lined boots. Flinging herself up against the dark grey house, she waited for a few anxious minutes to make sure her landing was undetected. She held her breath, afraid that even that little sound would give her away. She waited, but there was nothing, no sounds. No one had heard. Taking a deep breath, it dawned on her that her escape for freedom would be a lot harder than she had ever thought. She dropped to her knees and started crawling around the corner, keeping her body low to the ground.

“Sir, the door appears to be locked. Should I check around the house?” She could hear the voice of one of the Defenders.

“Go ahead. Search the surrounding area and determine if the citizen has indeed escaped,” the autocratic voice of the Commander spoke.

The voices faded into the thud of heavy footsteps that pounded closer to her position. She froze, knowing she had to do something fast. Her numb fingers worked at the buckle that held the bow against her. Her fingers picked and pressed, but to no avail; it was stuck. She glanced up, frightened, and seeing nothing so far, she continued working at it. Finally, with a slight leathery creak, it slipped off, letting her breathe a sigh of relief. With one fluid motion, she notched one of her red – tipped arrows to her bowstring and, crouching, she waited intently for his approach. The unsuspecting officer stepped into the dull patch of moonlight. The snow threw the light back up on his shiny black armor.

She stood and aimed the arrow straight at the Defender. He froze, the black mask of the helmet covering his shock. “Stay silent or I fire,” she hissed into the darkness, her eyes fierce and desperate, making real her threat.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it! 🙂 Kind criticism is welcomed.

~ Kayla

Welcome to my blog!

Hello!

Welcome to my blog, Concerning Writing! This is a blog about writing where I plan to share some of my favorite writing tips, quotes and my own writing as well. I also plan to do book reviews and even a little about my own life. 🙂

The name of my blog comes from one of my favorite songs, “Concerning Hobbits”, from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack. It is also the name of the preface to the first book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Fellowship of the Ring, one of my favorite books. It took me over a month to finally find a name I liked and wasn’t taken!

So, a big welcome to my blog that concerns everything to do with writing!

~ Kayla