Archive for January 2013

ᴡᴏʀᴅs ᴀʀᴇ ᴀᴡᴇsᴏᴍᴇ ♥

Perhaps I'm a bit odd, but as a writer words excite me. ;> Especially interesting, or unusual words. I've always had a bit of a love-affair with the English language, and finding weird words is a bit of a hobby. In lieu of anything important, I decided to post my favourites. These words all need more love! Some are long, some sound funny, but all are fabulous. And hey, maybe you'll learn something new!

♥Amalgam - A mixture, union or combination of ideas.
♥Abyssopelagic - relating to the very bottom of the sea.
♥Agrestic - rude or aggressive.
♥Bumbershoot - an alternative word for an umbrella.
♥Cathartic - a release of emotion.
♥Confabulate - to chat with someone.
♥Corpulent - a polite way of saying 'extremely fat'.
♥Floccinaucinihilipilification - to describe something as worthless.
♥Flummery - nonsense, empty compliments.
♥Hobbledehoy - a clumsy youth.
♥Icythyophagous - something that feeds on fish.
♥Kakistocracy - a government controlled by the least qualified citizens (literally the UK) ♥Lackadaisical - lazy, in a dreamy way. Like me :>
♥Quixotism - idealism without regard to practicality.
♥Saccharine - cloyingly, overpoweringly sweet.
♥Sesquipedalian - long winded, ponderous.
♥Shenanigans - mischief, silly behaviour.
♥Syzygy - when three celestial bodies are aligned. No idea when you'd need this, it made the list for having a ridiculously cool spelling. I challenge you to get it into your next piece of writing. I also challenge you to say it aloud without having it sound like a sneeze.
♥Tatterdemalion - a raggedy person.
♥Xanthochroic - pale.
♥Zenith - the highest point reached by an object, or the point in the sky directly above you.

Oh! And if anyone follows my twitter, you'll know about Oliver. He's the fox that appeared at my work with the birds over Christmas, and he is completely unafraid of humans! He sits maybe five metres away from where I am in the aviary with the birds, and watches me. When I watch him back, it doesn't bother him at all. At first I thought he might be injured or sick, but he's not - he looks absolutely beautiful. We put out food for our tame crow Russell, and he's been helping himself :> And he is so cute!I managed to snap this photo of him while I was inside the aviary. It's taken on a video camera so the quality isn't all that good (had to zoom in a lot) but here he is! Isn't he just darling?

ᴀssᴏʀᴛᴇᴅ ᴡʀɪᴛɪɴɢ ᴛɪᴘs

(Alternate title: an assortment of irritants that you should very definitely avoid)
Hello, there :> I thought about doing this post for a while, and I've finally got around to it. This can either be viewed as a list of personal grievances with things people do when they write, or a list of tips to help do it better! Make of it what you will.
Also, pretty much everyone ever will have made these mistakes. I have, and I still do, and then I normally slap myself upside the head when I realise my sins.

1. Remedial grammar.
Because it's the number one thing that people do wrong, and seeing it done wrong is a little upsetting. Observe and remember: Alice's crash course in grammar.

It's: short for 'it is', or 'it has'. (It's really annoying when people use apostrophes incorrectly)
Its: possessive, belonging to it (A leopard can't change its spots)

There = Indicates location. (There you are! Over there!)
Their = possessive, belonging to them. (It's their cake)
They're = short for they are. (They're eating my cake :( )

Your – possessive, belonging to you. (It's your cake)
You're – short for you are. (You're talking absolute flummery today)

2. Description, and over-description
Over-description is, quite possibly, one of my biggest pet peeves. Some description is fine, of course, otherwise your story would be pretty bland. So make it interesting, don't use clichés - be imaginative. The hallmark of the beginner writer is poor description, or over-description. Looking over my old writing from the age of twelve (a dark time for most people, to be fair) I can see that I was just as guilty.

You do not have to describe every little thing. You especially don't need to take two paragraphs to describe a character, particularly a main one. It's not necessary. No one cares precisely how tall they are, exactly what clothes they're wearing, or how poetically you can describe their eyes. Yes, description is fun to write, but be honest with yourself - you can give a character an introductory description in one line, and then you can slip the rest in throughout the story. You can do it imaginatively, too! No more reeling off all their attributes (read: stuff people don't care much about) one after another in a long and boring list.
(This wonderful example has been donated to my blog by my friend Dominic, as apparently my joke description wasn't funny enough. Read and weep. Enter Fuschia Moonclaw Garnet Naruto Maw-Sit-Sit Raven Never Smiles Smith-Jones)

She strolled through the spacious, sixty-seven-roomed mansion complete with thirty nine bedrooms, all of which with ensuites, seventeen bathrooms and a multi-disciplinary swimming pool. The walls were still drying, having had a fresh coat of magnolia just that very morning; allowing the rooms to be as airy and spacious as she liked.
Her shoes, cherry red with extremely long heels, click-clacked across the mosaic-tiled floor, reminding her of an evolutionarily beautiful business woman that she'd seen on her thirty-seven inch plasma screen TV when she had been a blonde, curly haired, chubby eight year old girl.
She deposited herself on one of the nearby seats; a beautiful sculpture of white leather that would have cost her a pretty penny had it not just fallen out of the sky one day; providing her with the comfort and security that a man had never been able to bestow upon her.
Yes, she supposed, it was unfortunate that she was as unlucky as she was. But with the white leather seats and fresh-smell of magnolia paint, she could not be sad. Not today. Sadness never ended well for her. 
"Oh, Chives!" She cooed, careful so as to not smudge her freshly applied elephant-tusk-red lipstick.

(Fuschia Moonclaw Garnet Naruto Maw-Sit-Sit Raven Never Smiles Smith-Jones is, of course, meant to make total sense at all times. Anyone who doesn't like her character is obviously just jealous of how perfect she is, or is racist against Munchkin Princesses. Or wants to usurp her throne. But she doesn't mind because she's so humble and kind to everyone. Gosh, I wish I was as awesome as her.)

Of course, instead of this tripe, you could do something different for their introductory description. Have them catch sight of themselves in a shop window or mirror; note a mass of scruffy blonde hair and a pale and peaky face staring back. Later on you can slip extra bits in - polished fingernails, chapped lips, high cheekbones, a Roman nose. Whatever takes your fancy. Zero in on one or two of their features at a time, don't try and do it all at once. Focusing on a flaw of the character is a good way to go about it - a crooked nose that looks like it might have once been broken, wonky teeth, or anything else. It makes it human. Why focus on perfection, when imperfection is so much more real and fun?

There are some exceptions to what I've said above, of course. Description is fine when it contributes to creating an atmosphere, or is central to the plot.

Outfit description – if the character is putting on a one-time outfit that is particularly special (a lavish ballgown, for example, to go to a party that is important to the story) then you can describe that from their point of view. You just don't need to do it for every little thing they wear.
Character description – you -can- get away with longer descriptions of other characters from the point of view of your narrating character. Normally you should keep it brief - 'the other girl was tall and stocky, with a shock of ginger hair and a nasty grin' but if the character is particularly unusual, go deeper. I say this because one of the characters in my shorts is a human-like robot, and her description is from the point of view of the psychologist who will study her development. Because the robot is not human and is completely alien to May, she gives a much more in-depth description of her. I comment on her factory-smooth skin, skin a single blemish or mark - and how she makes May's own skin crawl. She's real and yet not real, flawless and yet horribly, uncannily imperfect - all at the same time. Deep in the uncanny valley, this one ;>

Anyway, getting back to it. Here's a checklist of what to avoid during descriptions.

Overlong descriptions, especially of main characters, are pointless. One sentence should do, with other bits slipped in throughout the story (ie, in conversation with others 'you're a scrawny little squit, aren't you?')
Focus on the flaws that make them human, rather than how beautiful they are. A broken nose, bitten nails, wonky teeth – all make your descriptions more alive!
Don't use poetic terms all the time, especially not cliché ones. No hair falling like waterfalls, no eyes described as gemstones. Every fool with a notebook and pen does that, and it's at once cliché and Mary-Sue-ish. (more on Mary-Sues in my upcoming character development post! Stay tuned!)
Don't be afraid to let the reader's mind fill in the gaps! It's better to paint a picture in their subconscious rather than just tell them your character has 'raven locks' and 'azure orbs for eyes'.

2.5. Using -ly words
I know, more angsting over description. But this deserved its own point. Observe, if you will. Fuschia returns.

"Chives!" Fuschia said frustratedly, "Do hurry up!"
"Yes, madam," Chives said happily, quickly passing Fuschia her drink. Fuschia sipped it boredly, relaxing on her chair. There really was so little to do, she thought sadly, for a Munchkin Princess who had just valiantly claimed her rightful throne. 

Grating, right? The flow is awful, and it reeks of amateur. The fact is, you don't need -ly words to describe verbs. The verbs describe themselves! Instead of having 'said loudly' you can have 'shouted' 'yelled'. Instead of 'yelled crossly' you can have 'snapped'. These verbs don't need extra, unnecessary description! You can use them occasionally (she said, quite calmly) but do your best to keep them down.

Oh, and for the love of God don't start making up -ly words. If you're using 'boredly' as a description, then there is no hope for you. I have a raging hate-affair with overuse of -ly words, especially those that were pulled out of thin air. The English language is vast and there are so many words to choose from – please don't bastardise it without good reason?

3. 'Favourite' words
I am absolutely guilty of this, I find it all the time when I edit my work! People often do this subconsciously, but it really needs to be corrected.

'Fuschia was so very tired. She'd had a very long day and her tiredness was starting to take its toll. It was very difficult not to drag her feet on the cobblestones as she walked. She had never been so tired before. Munchkin Princesses weren't used to being so very tired'.

Okay, that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Here the overused words were 'tired' and 'very', but they can be anything. Beautiful, hell, shadows, night... you just need to get the thesaurus out and swap some of them out for other words! It really affects the flow of the story, which is something I'm big on. The 'flow' of a piece of writing is really important because it can change the whole atmosphere of it – it can be dreamy, bitter, angry, regretful, tired-out. It's like painting colours, with words! It's art. Sometimes a single word can ruin the feeling you're trying to create, so you should choose another that fits.

'Fuschia was completely drained. She'd had such a long day, and her tiredness was starting to take its toll. It was difficult not to drag her feet on the cobblestones as she walked. She had never experienced anything like this before - Munchkin Princesses were hardly used to exhaustion.'

Still about Fuschia, but at least it reads better.

4. Edit, edit, edit!
Once you've done writing something, read it aloud to yourself to get a feel of the flow. You'll be amazed how many sentences don't work, are too long, interrupt the rhythm of the writing. You can leave it for a few days before going back to edit it, so that it's not quite so fresh in your brain and the flaws will be easier to spot.

Oh, and you will be needing to edit it. Nothing you write is finished the first time you write it, and if you think so you are wrong.
Out of interest, pretty much all my stories get at least five rounds of edits over a period of time before I call them done (it's why they take so damn long) and even then I'll keep going back and changing things.
Get other people to read it and edit it for you, too! And get them to be brutally honest. Unless you hear the ugly truth over a beautiful lie, how will you ever improve?

And I think that brings us to the end, for now! I have so many more pet peeves - misuse of commas is a big one, as is inconsistent characterisation, but I'll get to those another day.
I hope this post helped, at least a little! :> It took me quite a while to type up, so it had better. (;

ᴜɴɪɴᴛᴇʟʟɪɢɪʙʟᴇ sᴄʀᴇᴇᴄʜɪɴɢs

Yeah, so I was just editing We've Lost Our Moral Compass (almost completed the digital edits, have completed the ones on paper) and my computer decided to crash. Unfortunately it crashed right in the middle of me saving my file, so now I have to write all the edits out again.
All of them.

It was a dark moment. I shall put off dwelling on it.

Now, as anyone who lives in Britain knows, we've had a stupid amount of snow over the last few days! So, you can all have some snow spam because every idiot with a camera seems to be posting them at the moment, and this idiot doesn't want to miss out.
I tried to make a Dalek snowman, but unfortunately it was an embarrassing failure. No photos. None.

Oh, I did my Chemistry retake and for a final showdown, it went decently. Couldn't do a couple of the questions, but apparently no one was able to do those questions as they weren't actually in the textbook. C'mon, OCR, give me this one! Let me have my dratted A in Chemistry and I'll walk away. 

I also finished reading 'A Clockwork Orange', which is absolutely fabulous and has made it onto my list of all-time favourite books for being deliciously dark and twisted and thought-provoking, and for some incredibly fun messing-around with language.

Speaking of language/writing, next blog post will be something I've considered doing for a while. Namely, a list of things to avoid when writing - writing tips, if you will! May also include character development tips as they almost go hand-in-hand, but may make a separate post for that. I don't know, there are just some things that really frustrate me when I read other people's writing - perhaps this post will help others, I don't know! My one good deed of the day, perhaps.
Also, I'll be introducing a blogroll on here soon! Just as soon as I find some blogs to actually link to - I need more writing blogs to follow/read! This one is lonely :<

But for now, of course, I'd better be getting back to it. 19 pages of size-ten to re-edit? Bring it.


Okay, so it's two posts today  
My favourite writing buddy has just started a blog! Visit her at Artemistimms  ♥ I asked her ages ago to get one and she finally has and it's all rather exciting!

Reasons you should definitely visit this blog:
1. She is currently working on a novel (and has one finished already! There's something unfair about this!) 
2. She is a liar, I am not a better writer than she is, so you can ignore that part of her introductory post ;> As her occasional-inpromptu-editor, I think it's safe for me to say that she's brilliant.
3. She is  fabulous in pretty much every way? 

ɪɴ ᴡʜɪᴄʜ ɪ ᴛʀʏ ᴛᴏ ᴅᴇsɪɢɴ ᴀɴ ᴇʙᴏᴏᴋ ᴄᴏᴠᴇʀ (ᴘᴀʀᴛ ᴏɴᴇ)

So this is being written basically to put off my Chemistry revision (exam is in two days. Christ.) and because my friends are being funsponges and ignoring my whinging on the matter on skype. Boo, commoners!
Whinging is pretty pointless if no one gives it attention :( My friends are peasants. I'm not being narcissistic at all here. Gosh.
All you need to know about this one is that my self-esteem is not going to recover after this exam. This is going to be abysmal.

This post does actually have a point, of course - and that is that I'm trying to design my ebook cover! My laptop was broken so I was using my Dad's at this point (I got it back today) and so what I've got so far has been made in GIMP rather than my usual Photoshop. It's not done, my original design idea turned out not looking so great so I had to scrap most of it. But I've sorted the typesetting and the background and so decided I might as well post my progress.
It was born out of a desire to escape Chemistry revision and We've Lost Our Moral Compass, and me stumbling across I can remember thinking, as I scrolled through it – this is not going to be me. I absolutely refuse! So, I decided then and there to make my ebook's cover. For one thing, it was a valid reason to procrastinate. I was going to have to do it sooner or later, and I might as well get it done while I was feeling creative. You can see the first part right at the top! I personally feel it's pretty snazzy so far, especially for someone who isn't so interested in graphic design. I'm not posting the whole thing yet (partially because this is only a start) and though it doesn't look very impressive now I hope it will later!

I had a look at the covers of the books in my room, and tried to figure out which ones worked and which ones didn't. The first thing I looked at was typesetting - most book covers have two different fonts - and I picked Jura and Infinity after a quick google search. I experimented with sizes/combinations on MS Paint (stay classy) before hopping over to GIMP and arranging them.

The background itself, I already knew that I wanted to be navy blue. Not as harsh with white text as black, and it suits the nature of my writing. I added more colours and hues with a low-opacity layer and a fuzzy paintbrush (deep purples and greens) to give depth, and also incorporated a free paper texture from bashcorpo. I noticed in my bookshelf 'market research' that covers looked better with a faint texture to them rather than flat colour, so I turned down the opacity on it, adjusted the colours and erased some distracting darker areas. I quite like how it turned out!

I was drawing the images to use on the cover by hand (I had a little picture for each story drawn out, but it didn't look so great on the mock-up so I'm rethinking the design) and now I'm having a long think before I commit to another. I'll be creating it myself in either Photoshop or Illustrator, but whatever happens I want it too look professional and classy. Think cogs and gears, perhaps a swallow. I'm going to take my time on this one! I'm determined to do it right. I'll post the full cover just as soon as I finish it - and hopefully soon after (drumroll...)
My first three stories will be available to download  for free! (:


Okay, I really need to do some Chemistry.

ʜᴀᴘᴘʏ (ʙᴇʟᴀᴛᴇᴅ) ɴᴇᴡ ʏᴇᴀʀ

This blog isn't dead. :>
I just have had an extremely busy holiday season, and it's only just calming down now! Lots of nice presents, and writing. I finished story number 8 at 00:05am Christmas Day (because I was determined to get it done before I went to sleep on Christmas Eve) and was stupidly proud of myself afterwards. ~

As for where I now am with the stories:
Completed: 1,2,3
Finished, need edits: 6,8,9
Finished, need serious edits: 4
Half finished: 10
Unwritten: 5, 7

I also completed 'Death of the Hour' and I'm looking to slot it in, though it still needs edits. It's starting to look pretty good now! Also, considering publishing my ebook on amazon very, very shortly - the first one will be free and will contain 1,2 and 3. I'll then release the others as paid, I think - either in batches or as a complete set. Who knows? But it's super exciting!

I had to trudge off to the hospital today, where I spent an hour having an assortment of needles stuck into me and laughing my head off. Apparently this is my basic response to blind terror, because I did exactly the same thing when I went to the dentists' to have two teeth yanked out. I'm really not okay with needles - as in, really not okay. It's not necessarily a phobia (my two happen to be small spaces and burglars) but they really, really freak me out. Pretty sure the nurses thought I was deranged.

So... I guess I'll try and keep posting.

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