Interview with Beth Revis, author of Paper Hearts Series!

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I  N  T  E  R  V  I  E  W:

To celebrate the release of Beth Revis’ latest book ‘Paper Hearts’, completely dedicated to inspiring aspiring writers, we got the chance to ask Beth some questions about the book! (And if that wasn’t exciting enough, there’s also a giveaway you can enter here!)

Maddie and Bee: You discuss a lot of controversial tips for writers in Paper
Hearts, which piece of classic writing advice are you most opposed to and
why?

Beth Revis: “Write every day.” That one piece of advice was very damaging to me,
personally, and it’s one of the most pervasive in literature. You hear it
over and over when you start out and it’s just wrong. I have never been
the type of person who can write every day. My writing schedule usually
means that for three or so days of the week, I can write between 2k and
10k words, averaging out to about 10-15k per week. But when I do those
really big bursts of writing, I almost always take one or two days off.
And that’s fine–the book gets done, often at the same rate as someone who
writes every day. It doesn’t matter how often you write, as long as you
write consistently and progress toward completing the novel.

“Write every day” is the kind of advice that has a good heart. There are a
lot of people out there who like the idea of writing, but don’t actually
write. But if you’re not one of those people, forget this advice. Write
the way you write to finish a novel. That’s all that matters.
Continue reading “Interview with Beth Revis, author of Paper Hearts Series!”

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Leigh Bardugo’s Writing Advice

When we met Leigh Bardugo at her Magic and Mayhem Book Tour for ‘Six Of Crows’, she answered a lot of questions about writing, the inspiration and the motivation behind it. Leigh gave some absolutely amazing pieces of advice. So, today, we thought we’d share what the best selling author of ‘Shadow and Bone‘ had to say about writing:

1. “There’s No Expiration Date On Your Talent”
This was the best thing she said. This is the best thing anyone has said.
Leigh talked a lot about how, when it comes to writing, it’s easy to put deadlines on yourself, and what you should be able to achieve at a certain age. There’s always the comment of ‘She’s doing so well for her age.” But, we should just scribble out the last half of that sentence. You’re always bright, you’re always talented, and there’s no limit to the amount of things you can achieve. Leigh said she didn’t start writing ‘Shadow and Bone’ until she was 35, and look where she is now. You don’t need to have a three-book publishing deal at 18. You can write whenever, without deadlines. 

2. “You Have To Love Them If You’re Going To Write Them”
Pretty easy, but if you don’t absolutely love the characters you’ve created and the world they’re living in, you’re not going to take the time to write them. It normally takes quite a while to write a book, (50K in a month is beautiful, but redrafting can take years!) So, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your characters. Make sure you won’t want to strangle them by the end of your manuscript.

3. “There’s No One Way To Write”
You do you, that’s perfectly fine. Apparently, one of the most popular questions authors get is to do with their writing process, but there’s something different for everybody. Leigh talked about how Laini Taylor loves to have every, tiny detail planned out before she writes, whereas she herself likes to have a looser idea of what’s going on.

4. “Go With The Muse”
When you’re feeling inspired: write. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a bargaining magic scene, if you feel the desire to write a kiss or a battle or a calm conversation over ice-cream, do it because inspiration doesn’t hit you everyday.

5. “Don’t Crush The Inner Critic”
When that little voice inside your head tells you something isn’t quite right, or that your writing is terrible (which I assure you, it isn’t!) listen to the voice. Agree with it. Qualify that this is only a first draft, and nothing is going to be perfect first time round! You can do anything, but you don’t need an enemy inside your head before you’ve even started.

6. “Nobody Writes A Good First Draft”
Normally, when you get stuck in the middle of writing, it’s easy to turn to all the beautiful books on your shelf and compare what’s on your Word document to what glued between those covers. That’s not fair. At all. What we see on the pages of our favourite novels is probably nowhere near what was written in the first draft. Everyone struggles, and everyone has setbacks. Comparing yourself to published works is only going to make you lose the fight before you’ve even picked up a sword.

7. “Write Terrible”
Sometimes, the only way to get a draft finished is to just write, no looking back. Leigh stressed that no one else has to see your first draft, that it’s 100% for you, so don’t be ashamed of what you think is sloppy or rushed or badly written. All that matters if you’re telling yourself the story first, before you try and tell it to other people. But, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see the first draft of ‘Shadow and Bone’?

8. “Finish Your Draft”
Every time I’ve heard this piece of advice, I’ve thought ‘that’s obvious!’, but somehow, I’m yet to do it. It’s not enough to say you want to write, you actually have to do it. Who knew?

And there you have it, tiny pearls of wisdom from Leigh Bardugo! Keep writing everyone, and good luck with your drafts!

How To: Write a YA Dystopian Novel

You will need:

  1. Female protagonist

That’s not to say that you can’t have a male protagonist who’s equally as amazing – The Maze Runner, for example, has a male protagonist (in fact 99% of the characters are male) – but kick-ass female protagonists seem to be the most popular in YA fiction. Look at Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior! Celebrated as literary heroes! The gender of your main character shouldn’t really change its reception, but undoubtedly there has been a trend of braid-wearing K-A females, and they definitely act as strong, independent role-models.

  1. Contain the area

You know, with some kind of fence, steel wall, ocean perhaps? It’s tension building, and means you can explore the characters in a limited space. Also, it means there’s always going to be the question – and therefore motivation for your protagonist – of ‘what’s out there?’

  1. Answer the question

Is it an organisation of people that have built this society as part of a genetic experiment? Okay, so this one is turning into a big cliché, and you can see why. It perfectly answers the question, and means that the series can progress from focusing on the baddies inside the contained area, to the baddies on this outside. Maybe it’s a baron waste-land, or maybe it’s magic! Maybe it’s aliens or maybe it’s a drop-off that leads to an entirely new world? What about a portal to another dimension? The possibilities are endless as long as you have some imagination. Just be aware that the ‘your life is a lie because it’s all been an experiment’ thing is starting to loose impact.

  1. Categorise the society

By wealth, or personality, skill set or generation. Again, pretty much everything has been done, but nothing says dystopian society more than societal boundaries!

  1. Take down the Government/ the equivalent system

Girl vs. Government is becoming its own strand of dystopian fiction and its popularity in YA has sky-rocketed. Surely the logical step after getting out of the contained area is trying to break down the boundaries established in step 4. You didn’t spend all that time creating a complex government system with an awesome acronym to not have your protagonist tear it to shreds! I feel this is mostly done to show that the voiceless have an incredible amount of power when they come together, and it reassures everyone that tyrannical overlords are always destroyed. What I always wonder is: what happens next, after the government is taken down? Maybe that’s something you could explore in book three.

Extras that you might want to consider:

  • Why not add a love triangle, everyone’s favourite relationship dynamic (!) Although your setting may be futuristic, it’s important to have grounded characters that go through human experiences that readers can relate too. Now, the love triangle is pretty difficult to relate to, but there are plenty of other contemporary tropes that you could explore in your dystopian setting.
  • Adult figures! So teens are the ones that destroy the government, but you’ll need a lot of complex adult characters to make this a successful series. And, wait for it, your character will have parents, maybe include them!
  • Communication is key. I think readers are pretty fed up with communication barriers, so good communication skills should be necessary.

Disclaimer: I have not (yet) written a best-selling dystopian series, and not all of my points are to be taken seriously – *cough* satire *cough* – but I’ve read a lot of YA dystopian fiction, so I’ve picked out some of the key features that have varying success rates. If you have any other suggestions of dystopian clichés/tropes, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Other How Tos:
How To: Write a John Green Novel

Review: All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher

all i know nowAll I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Genre: Advice, Non-Fiction
Published By: Little, Brown
Pages: 322
Format: Hardback
Rating: ★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

This is my first non-fiction book, so I’m a little unsure of how to review it! It’s Carrie’s life after all! But, I did have a few thoughts while reading the book, so while this might not be the most conventional review, I thought, seeing as a lot of people will probably get this book, that it might be nice to hear some opinions from a slightly critical fan.

Continue reading “Review: All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher”

Balancing Reading and School

It’s almost October. I can’t believe that means I’ve survived almost a month of early rising, sandwiches and school.

School, of course, takes up a lot of time, especially when teachers give you extended pieces of homework about John Keats’ poetry or the reign of Edward VI. This means that instead of reading Vampire Academy in one sitting, I have to toil over one book for at least a week before I get the satisfying feeling of updating my GoodReads status.

However, when I looked at how many books I’d read so far this month, I was surprised! Eight books? Not bad! So, I decided to compile a list of tips for those that want to read more in the school year.

1.) Read whenever and wherever possible.

This might sound obvious but you’ll be surprised how much you can read whilst waiting in line for some pasta at lunch or when waiting for class to start. You can also read in your lunch break when your friends have a different lunch time to you, so it doesn’t look like you’re all alone (Am I writing from experience here?…)

2.) Read short books.

There’s nothing like a short book. You get the satisfaction of reading and completing something. A real moral booster.

3.) Listen to audio books.

This is something I’ve been doing more often. If you have a Kindle, there’s normally a text-to-audio option, or you can search Youtube for audio books (or buy one, of course) That way, you can still read, but play Animal Crossing at the same time and get two fun things done at once!

4.) Read books with friends.

Reading with other people can help a lot with motivating you to read. If you’re reading ‘The Darkest Minds’ with someone, as Bee and I will be soon (how many times can we make that promise!), then you have a set number of pages to read each day that you know you have to get done.

5.) Don’t set unrealistic goals.

You’re not really going to be able to read ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Clash of Kings’ in a month while at school, right?

6.) Just make time for reading.

If there’s always a time you read in the day, like before you go to bed, then it will become part of your routine. Simple.

I hope these tips help if you’re struggling to maintain your Reading Point Average and wish everyone luck for their reading during school!