October 29, 2010

making real characters

Is everyone ready for NaNoWriMo?

I am.

Some of you like to plan it all out, outline each chapter and scene, and then there are those of you that like to fly by the seat of your pants. I take a little bit of pants-flying mixed with a semblance of a third of an outline. It doesn’t matter how you do it really. All you need is an idea and characters.

You obviously have an idea, or you wouldn’t be going into NaNoWriMo, but are your characters ready?

I’m going to steal from Dungeons & Dragons for a minute…

October 28, 2010


I want to thank all of you for following me on Twitter (@brookenomicon) and on my blog. Every time you guys @ me on Twitter or comment here, it really makes my day! So, this contest is for you!!

The prize will be any book under $20 at The Book Depository!
(you may choose more than one book as long as the total is under $20)

Here are the rules:

You must be a follower of either my blog or Twitter (new or old)
You must comment on this post, and your comment must include:
  • one random or weird fact about yourself
  • a link to the book you want
  • a link to your blog, website, or twitter account
If you link to my blog (including tweets), you get a second entry!

Depending on how many entries I get, there may be more than one winner! The contest will be open until Sunday, October 31st 11:59 pm CDT (GMT -06:00). I’ll announce the winner(s), who will be chosen randomly, November 1st.

To be fair, here are a few weird and random facts about me (you can find more on the “about me” page):
I usually shower at 4 pm
I have never been to a concert
I like pickles on my grilled cheese sandwiches
I graduated from college Magna Cum Laude
I didn’t see Star Wars until my senior year of high school
I want to learn Icelandic

October 27, 2010

what to do in the face of rejection

Stay Positive.

I know it can be difficult at times, especially when all you see in your inbox are waves and waves of rejection letters, but that's part of being a writer. It's part of the road to publication. With NaNoWriMo coming up, it's even harder to have a positive attitude when your word count isn't increasing fast enough or when you come to a block in your writing. Don't despair. We have all been there. Keep your chin up. Keep writing. Just remember, you're not alone in this! Don't give up. 

October 26, 2010

plot structure

Many of you (me included) are outlining your NaNoWriMo projects, and we’re all familiar with the standard plot structure.

Being the blasphemer I am, I say forget about that plot structure. It stinks. Stories that follow that basic structure are weak and unbalanced. To scale, the climax would happen at the very middle of the story, and as we all know, that’s not how it happens. The concept behind the structure is right, but I have a better diagram for you.

October 25, 2010

finding time to write

NaNoWriMo starts next Monday, and I decided to participate this year. Find my page here. I participated back in 2008, but it was short-lived (I only wrote 3000 words before quitting). This year is going to be different. I have you guys to hold me accountable… I can’t back out for fear of disappointing you. 

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is or want to learn more, check out their site here

The gist of it: write a novel in a month. Now, it seems a bit daunting at first. A novel in a month? Yes. It is certainly doable. The website boasts that last year, out of 167,150 participants, 32,178 finished a novel of 50,000 words or more. Over 32,000 people finished a novel in a month, so don’t say it’s impossible.

October 22, 2010

queries and rejection

So, as those of you that follow me on Twitter may know, my rejection tally is continuing to rise. I am an optimist with very tough skin, so it’s actually easy for me to take a rejection and move on.

So, while I have yet to receive any requests, I’m going to pass along the little bit of query knowledge that gets me responses over deletions and the dreaded no-response.

Sometimes agents send rejections just because they are in a rush, your story is just not their thing, or because they already have something similar on their plate. Rejections aren’t a reflection of the agent’s thought of your work. One agent that rejected my work loved my writing and loved the concept behind my story, but in the end, they just couldn’t get behind the characters. It happens.

October 21, 2010

becoming a qualified writer

Since I started this blog two weeks ago, I've wondered why I'm doing it and whether or not people will actually care about what I have to say. What makes me qualified to keep a blog?

Let's take it even further...

What makes me qualified to write?

I love to write. I love to tell stories. I love to imagine far off worlds full of magic and adventure, but am I good at it? Am I qualified to do it?

I decided I was going to be a writer when I was twelve years old. I knew exactly what school I was going to go to for it, and I planned the next ten years of my life at that precise moment. Sometimes, I think it was a waste of time. I don't have a job that pays. I don't have any recognition. I'm just a broke girl wishing magic actually existed. What about that qualifies me to be a writer?

Sure, I've been writing for ten years, and I have a degree in Creative Writing... but that doesn't mean anything, really. If I did it over again, I would have gotten a double degree in Philosophy and History, maybe taken Creative Writing as a minor. What's done is done, however, and I am sitting in front of my computer, telling my life story because I have eight followers who will read this post. Eight. The saddest part... I'm excited about those eight followers. I do happy dances every time I get a new follower on Twitter or my blog. Literally. I squeal with joy when I get a new comment or mention.

My husband will attest to my overzealous excitement.

So, if you ask me what qualifies me to write, what qualifies me to keep a blog, I'll tell you... It's those eight damn people that follow my blog. It's the eighty-six people that follow me on Twitter. They qualify me to write. If it wasn't for the #amwriting community on Twitter, I never would have finished my first book. I owe my first book to the #amwriting folks.

So when you ask yourself what qualifies you to write, remember there are other nobodies with no money that are striving for the same dream, asking themselves the same questions. They keep going, despite the rejections, despite their joblessness, despite all their doubts. They keep going.

We qualify ourselves to write. We qualify each other to write. We are a community of starved dreamers, just waiting for someone to recognize our talents.

Keep on dreaming. Keep on writing. You're qualified to do both.

October 20, 2010

reading habits

So, here is my little tidbit of wisdom for the day…


That’s it. Read every day if you can. You should mostly read books that fall in the genre you write in, but you can branch out and read other things, too. Reading a good romance novel could help you with romantic scenes in your paranormal thriller. Reading a contemporary middle grade novel could help you capture the essence of a child in your adult science-fiction novel. Reading good novels can also help you hone your craft by seeing what works and what doesn’t.

I write what I enjoy reading, so most of my favorite books fall in MG/YA fantasy, but I read adult adventure, mythology, and historical romance too. Mythology has a large influence on my work, especially the structure of the monomyth (which I’ll get into later). A lot of what I write is inspired by what fascinates me. I love the idea of the Persians, ancient India, Norse culture, and the legend of Atlantis. These things inspire me to no end, so I try to find books on these subjects.

So find time to read every day, even if it is only for an hour. You can learn from everything you read, and you can apply it to your writing.

October 19, 2010


Here’s a short post on world-building since I have the sneezes and I have to pull a double load on writing today.

The biggest mistake writers make with world-building, whether it be a fantasy, science-fiction, or contemporary, is info dump. I do it in first drafts just to get stories going, but I always take it out later.

You’ve created this world. It has its own geography, religion, culture, and natural laws. Setting the scene so that your reader understands your world is a logical way to begin a story. It’s also boring. You can easily take the prologue, the first ten pages, or the first chapter of world-building and delete it now.  Do it. Trust me.

Now, take those thousand years of history and back story and filter it throughout the novel. Some, you can present in dialogue, and the rest you can weave into inner monologues or descriptions of places.

Keep this in mind when you feel the need to explain things in your story. Always keep things moving if you can.

October 18, 2010


I bought Super Scribblenauts Saturday, and started thinking about the beauty of adjectives. If you don’t know, Super Scribblenauts is the sequel to Scribblenauts; both are puzzle games for the Nintendo DS. The original was interesting enough. The game presents a problem and you have to solve it by creating what you need. Say you need to feed an assortment of animals. You would write in “steak” for the lion and “oats” for the horse. Then, an actual steak and a mound of oats appear on screen, feeding the lion and horse. Simple stuff. Well, the second game lets you use adjectives, where the first game only allows nouns. So, if you want to make a “pink winged fearless zombie unicorn,” you totally can.

The game obviously has limits. Gerunds can’t be used as adjectives. You can’t type in graphic material, like “poop” or “blood” or the terms for man parts. It’s a game for kids.

Super Scribblenauts opened up a new level of fun for me. I am a very imaginative person. Being able to think of a “golden tiny glittery yeti” and seeing it pop into existence is the coolest thing ever. 

Also, in case you didn’t know, in a battle between Dracula and God, God turns into a vampire.

Most of playing the game is senseless fun, solving puzzles and making weird combinations. My favorite adjectives in the game so far are “rainbow,” “zombie,” and “giant” – relatively tame adjectives. I made a “rotten zombie pickle” which made no sense of course, but there it was, a sentient pickle that turned things undead. 

So how does all this mesh with writing?

Adjectives are your friends in Super Scribblenauts, and they can be nice in writing, but it is possible to go overboard with them. For example, my pink winged fearless zombie unicorn – four adjectives in front of unicorn. It’s wordy. I obviously can’t break up strings of adjectives in the game, but in a sentence I can.

Instead, it’s a pink zombie unicorn with wings and a fearless attitude. 

Same number of adjectives, but broken up so that the sentence flows better. Descriptions don’t have to be in the same sentence either. 

It could be a pink unicorn, winged like the lordly pegasi. The war turned it into a zombie, and since the final battle, it has become fearless.

This is elementary stuff, but I have seen sentences that ramble on with adjectives. For example… 

My poofy green and blue glittery silk prom dress is super-duper awesome. 

That’s a lot of adjectives. Yes, we pretty much know what the dress looks like, but the writer doesn’t have to describe it in once sentence. For example… 

I bought a blue and green prom dress. The corset is glittery and the silk skirt is poofy. I love it.

Yes, the sentences are boring, but they aren’t wordy either.

Adjectives add detail, but nouns also add detail. In the first sentence, I didn’t say corset or skirt, but in the second description, I did. Remember the zombie unicorn? In its first description, we didn't know there had been a war that turned the unicorn into a zombie. Unless you are writing really short flash fiction, stretch the descriptions out

Details signify something as important. The more details you tack on to a noun, the more it stands out. (You don’t want it to stand out in a bad way, though!)

The grassy fields are nothing, but the grassy fields covered in pink and white flowers make you take a second look.

Think about how you use adjectives.

Do you pile them around a single noun, or do you spread them out? Are you paying too much attention to the clouds and not the mysterious stranger that just stepped out of the inn? 

Adjectives are your friends when used properly. Give them some respect and put them where they are needed.

This discussion now raises a new question… Where does the zombie unicorn fall on the Zombies vs. Unicorns debate?

October 15, 2010


Today’s post will be short, right? Yes. Breathe easy, readers.

Don’t lose sight of your story.

Remember what you are writing and why you are writing it.

This is your story, and it will not be told unless you write it. Remember that you must write the story. No one else can capture the characters and the tale as well as you can. Remember that when times get rough and you stop churning out those beautiful words every day.

Keep writing, and don’t give up.

Have a safe and enjoyable weekend everybody!

October 13, 2010

as common as dirt : the woe of clichés

The following passages are from Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, a book all fantasy writers should read. I have decided to include this for personal reasons mostly, but if it will entice you to read the entire book, then so be it. This could partly be considered a book review, partly writing advice, and partly a WiP Wednesday post. We’ll call it a conglomeration.

October 12, 2010

character empathy

As a writer, I think the greatest skill in writing stories deals with the characters. Some people believe the most important thing in a story is the plot, the prose, or the voice. I am a character person. The characters are the most important aspect of a book for me.

I’m a sissy baby. I’ll admit it. I am guaranteed to cry at least once while reading a book, watching a TV series, or watching a movie. This is a fact. I just watched Beauty and the Beast (which I have seen more than a dozen times) and cried. I cried during Rugrats: The Movie. I cry every time I read Harry Potter. I bawled my eyes out nearly every episode of LOST and Battlestar Galactica. I cry a lot. This is another fact.

My episodes of incessant crying are not always triggered by sad moments. I cry when I’m happy too. I also laugh when I’m happy, just so you know I’m not a complete sissy cry face. I am a very emotional person, and my husband can attest to that.

So the point of this is, I cry or feel sad when a character feels sad: character empathy. I can also be just as exuberant when something good happens to a character.

I have wondered lately if my emotional instability is caused by the writing or acting – whether it be dialogue, inner monologue, the actions, or the way the situation is handled – or if it’s just because I’m a sissy baby cry face.

Is character empathy written into a story, or is a certain level of it ingrained into each individual reader? You may not have cried when Rose and Bernard were reunited in Season 2 of LOST, but when they saw each other, I felt their happiness. I cried. Without ever experiencing something like that, I knew exactly what thoughts and what emotions were running through those characters, and I cried my little eyes out. On the other hand, I didn’t cry during a single Percy Jackson novel, and that may be because the level of emotion in those books is rather minimal.

Is character empathy reserved for writers? We know how much effort goes into writing a good character, someone who makes you laugh and cry, but does that make us more sensitive to other writers’ creations?

I don’t know the answer. I don’t know the mystery behind character empathy. I do know that I want to write characters that readers can relate with on a level that connects them emotionally to the story. My goal as a writer is to have a reader empathize with my characters. I want them to cry. I want them to laugh and feel angry with the characters in my novels. If I publish one book, only one person reads it, and they tell me that they cried, or they laughed, or they hated with the same ferocity as the characters, I will have done my job as a writer. I would have accomplished my goal, and I would be content never writing another word. 

And that is a fact.

October 11, 2010

national coming out day

In honor of National Coming Out Day, I want to give a shout out to all my gay and lesbian friends, and also to those of you that I don’t know personally: I love you guys! :D

For me, this is a serious issue. Where I come from, toleration is not something you find in most people. If you are outside the "norm", you are considered inferior, and that's the truth of it. Even if you try to reason and try to explain your personal oddities, they only offer their prayers. Prayers aren't good enough when your own family doesn't accept or support you. Prayers won't change who you are, and that goes for any decision or lifestyle that goes against the grain.

Today, I declare myself an ally of the LGBT community. 

Here, you will find love, acceptance, and support.

I suggest everyone be an ally and support National Coming Out Day because there is no reason for hate and violence toward the LGBT community. The time has passed for narrow-mindedness. No matter our sexual preferences, we are all human, and we all strive toward happiness. We don’t have the right to deny someone’s happiness because of their gender or sexual inclinations. 

So, be an ally with me. 

Support National Coming Out Day.

October 8, 2010

when Inspiration strikes

Inspiration is a terribly inconvenient thing. Most of the time, I get Inspiration (capitalized because it is like a disease) while in the shower. The shower is not the best place to have Inspiration because it is decidedly so that ink on paper does not work well in a wet environment, nor do computers. If I can manage to hold on to that Inspiration while washing, drying, and clothing myself, that is good, but most of the time I forget said Inspiration by the time I reach my computer and open up a blank document.

Which brings me to the dilemma of the black document vs. Inspiration. The blank document is Inspiration’s nemesis. I have never been able to find Inspiration in a blank document. Kudos to those of you who can wade through blankness and blinking cursors to find it.

So how do I find Inspiration when I need it?

I type “writer’s block” into Google search and hope something pops up to help me. Rather inefficient because admitting you have writer’s block only acts as an antibiotic against Inspiration. Deny writer’s block at all costs. You do not have it. It does not exist. Stop being a hypochondriac.

I could take take multiple showers a day, but that would increase the water bill, making my husband very unhappy.

My best bet has been to not think about not having Inspiration. Once I stop worrying about it, it slaps me in the face and I’m writing again. It’s like sleeping for insomniacs.

How do you get Inspiration for a story?

October 7, 2010

revisions are a necessary evil

You just finished the manuscript you’ve been working on for months, years, or maybe even lifetimes… now what? I asked myself this when I finished my first book a few months ago. Is it time to revise? I say yes, and no. I jumped into revisions about a day and a half after I finished the manuscript. I polished it up to what I thought was good quality, and then gave it to my husband to read – my alpha reader. He found problems with it, and he’s an IT professional. So I took his suggestions and revised again. I then sent it out to my beta readers. They still found problems with it (I predicted they would since they are/were all Creative Writing or English majors at my former university). I took some suggestions to heart and some I discarded because they didn’t fit with the “feel” of my novel. They didn’t understand what I was going for. They didn’t understand the novel.

October 6, 2010

now that i have a blog...

... I'm not entirely sure what to write about.

We'll leave the first blog post to an introduction.

Hello, my name is Brooke. I'm twenty-one, married, and I live in beautiful Northwest Arkansas.

My current profession is novelist, though I have yet to make any sort of money or recognition from this job. It would seem that my dreams of selling a book as soon as I finished it were rather unrealistic. That's okay. I'll keep writing. I have finished one novel, and I am currently working on several more (meaning there are about five other books that have anything from a synopsis to three pages). I have recently started a promising project, which may lend itself to be a finished novel in some undetermined amount of time. I write fantasy, and fantasy only. I don't care to write anything else.

I thoroughly enjoy reading. My favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones. If you haven't read any of her books, do so... right now. I recommend starting with Howl's Moving Castle and The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. I believe that Tolkien ascended to godhood after he finished The Lord of the Rings. I love Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. There are of course many other books that I love, but I don't want this post to be entirely about books.

During the time I spend with friends, we either go bowling, play video games, or play Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, I'm one of those. I currently play as Nor-Al, a Goliath Storm Warden for those of you who know what that is, and I just reached level seven in our current campaign. I used to play World of Warcraft (80 Troll Shaman named Xerzhena) but I got tired of Northrend and froze my account. I might possibly start playing again when Cataclysm hits December 7, but that depends if my husband starts playing again or not. He's rather determined not to, but I have a feeling he'll give in. My other favorite games are Rise of Nations, Fable, Lego Harry Potter, Oblivion, Raving Rabbids, and the original-ish Prince of Persia trilogy.

I don't watch much television since we canceled our cable, but my favorite TV shows to date are Battlestar Galactica, LOST, Avatar: the Last Airbender, Merlin and Fullmetal Alchemist.

Favorite movies include anything written by Hayao Miyazaki, mainly Castle in the Sky, Ponyo, Princess Mononoke, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I'm a huge fan of the Disney princesses movies, like Aladdin, Pocahontas, the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast.... etc.

My favorite color is green. I like to cook.

And, I think that's everything.

Nice to meet you, too.