Hello Readers! I’m currently working on a few new book reviews and fancasts that I can’t wait to share with you, but in the meantime, go over to my writing section and check out the completely redone section with much more aesthetically pleasing graphics/images for every single article on there like the ones pictured below.
I’ve also redone my “TGIF” page and added tons of behind-the-scenes photos and the year long process, and even images for my short stories to show some more context before you click on them to read them. There’s plenty of content and material to keep you busy in case you’re getting anxious to see what I post next!
After a hiatus from writing these dailies, I am back with another one! It may not be a daily thing anymore, so sorry for the false advertising, but I will try to get back into these as they’ve gotten some really positive reception on here. They are fun, and I feel really productive to do them while working on my two WIP projects: my When In Doubt draft and my untitled Fantasy-genre series thats still being ideated.
Todays prompt was from the image above, which is a short story starter I found on Pinterest. While I didn’t take the story further like I originally wanted, what I did instead was add some depth to what was already included in this short excerpt and…enhance it a little bit? Here is my work below the image:
The world burns all around them, and it was all his fault.
The hero, who was supposed to protect them all and assure their safety, had failed miserably and let this darkness into their lives and couldn’t do anything about it once the darkness crept inside the walls and destroyed them from within. All because the hero put his faith in someone who he shouldn’t have in the first place.
Screams could be heard off in the distance, but one by one, they were extinguished and became silent as the hero awoke in a daze on the marble floor. As he let his eyes adjust, he saw the pillars that had been knocked over, the debris that lay everywhere, and the scorching fire that was everywhere; a light that was anything but a beacon.
The hero tried to get up when he felt the sharp pain go right up his legs and even his spine and howled in agony. It was then he remembered about the betrayal; the slashing off the rapier through his calves and lower back, then the knockout of the butt of the sword against his temple. The hero checked, and there was a bump right where he’d been struck.
He had to find a way to help the others.
A shadow moved behind the wall of flames, and the hero’s eyes widened at the sight of the villain crossing over, their cloak caressed the fire as softly as a lover’s kiss. He could’ve sworn it was like the flames moved with him as if they were a part of him. The villain’s footsteps are almost completely silent against the crackling destruction around him, enclosing him while stalking with the slow intent of a master predator with prey that can’t escape. The hero had nowhere to run, and the villain reveled in it.
“Well well well, now what do we have here?” The villain tilted his head in mock concern. “Haven’t you suffered enough for today? Why must you keep fighting the inevitable?”
Rage fueled the hero as he growled from the floor. “How could you? We trusted you!”
That only made the villain’s smile grow larger. “It’s too late for me, this darkness has taken too much from me. I can only embrace it and let it take hold of me. It was the only way.”
He’d said it with such utter calmness that somehow the hero felt a chill go down his back despite the blistering heat.
“I don’t believe you!” the hero roared. “Anyone can be saved if they seek help from others.”
“Oh, I very much doubt that.” The villain chuckled. “I don’t believe I was asking either way. You should’ve seen this coming, not that you could’ve stopped this either way.”
The villain gestured with a single long finger over to the floor nearby, and the hero followed to recognize his fallen comrade lying there. Deep cuts cascaded down their face, and blood seeped out like spilled ink all over the marble floor. It was his eyes, that were usually so bright with life and mischief and laughter, now dull and unseeing that told the hero he was truly gone.
The hero could only cry in that moment. Yet another loved one he’s failed.
“Weak. Just like the others.” The villain’s smile turned into a vengeful sneer. “I only wish I could’ve prolonged the inevitable, but there wasn’t much time, but you’ll get to feel every single rip and tear they couldn’t feel.”
The hero’s whole body went cold at those words as images flashed behind his eyes, and he screamed out in pain as the footsteps of the villain drew closer. Seeing red, the hero fought through his body screaming at him to give up, to just lie there and accept this dark end, but instead rose to his knees and drew his sword.
He couldn’t go down without at least one more chance of redemption.
The villain stops walking, his smile frozen in place.
“I swear, it’s always the most unintelligent who don’t know when to give up,” he says before he raises his pale hand and cups it out towards the hero’s weapon. The villain growls and squeezes into a fist, his hand jerking without control as dark violet veins appear. A strange, pale glow emanates from the villain’s single hand, and the hero gasps as his iron sword disintegrates like dust, floating away with his last barrel of hope.
“You don’t have to do this,” the hero says. “Please, please don’t do this.”
With sweat on his brow, the villain smiles down at the fallen hero once more. “Please? Oh, how I love it when you say that.”
The villain grabs at the collar of the hero’s shirt by the collar and drags him up off his feet. With unexpected strength, the villain walks forward until the hero’s back is slammed up against the wall. The villains nails grow until they’re elongated blades, the edges digging into the hero until there is a bleeding necklace etched into his skin. The villain leans in closer to the hero, who sees nothing of the ally he knew before.
The villain purrs into his ear, “Please, do it again.”
Welcome back, and hope everyone has been safe and healthy! For today’s writing challenge, the image of a log cabin was the the prompt selected by Danielle, my friend and other writer participating in these. Obviously, it’s creepy AF and kind of foreboding, so I went with what felt normal and went with a horror route. It’s not what I normally write, and I never got feedback from Danielle, so i’m curious to see what anyone thinks! What did I do right? What needs some improvement? What did you like? Didn’t like? Feel free to comment, or send me a message somewhere.
To anyone else, it would sound like a simple task that any normal being could do. To anyone else, it would quite literally be a walk in the park…or a log cabin in this case. Walk in, grab a ring, and get out. Simple as that, nothing to worry about right? Easy like Sunday morning, or even just getting out of bed most days.
The only difference here was you absolutely couldn’t look into the eyes of the horror that lived there.
No one really knows how it came to be or where it came from; it felt like some story told by the campfire or some fairytale kids were told by their parents in order to stay out of the forest at night. Some may look at it as some version of the Boogeyman, the Jersey Devil, or even Slenderman to some; maybe it had no face just like the internet myth. It was hard to say because no one survived long enough to catch a glimpse of whatever used that small bed of land in the middle of those ghostly woods as it’s feeding ground.
I have no choice but to walk closer towards the cabin. I can’t go back without that ring, but whatever it is, that thing took my wife who carried it with her.
The ground beneath my feet cracks, so my heart stops and I freeze as my eyes go straight for the ground. I’ve literally never felt my body so tense before, but as I peek up with one eye open, I’m honestly surprised I’m still alive.
Somehow it’s even more chilling how there’s still absolutely no sound at all. No calls from birds, no other living creature around; there wasn’t even a breeze to move the tree’s. Everything looked dead. Despite what I know, my eyes dart around, almost like I’m expecting to see whatever it is running at me through the trees, but the silence makes it even worse.
Legs barely able to move and I can finally breathe again, so I manage to make my way closer to the cabin. The fog lifts, as if it’s inviting me to come in closer, and I wish I could do anything else, but I continue ambling up to the log cabin.
The stairs moan as I ascend, almost like they’re begging me to stop, and I bite my lip. A bead of sweat runs down my brow, and I’m almost tempted to just bolt right inside already, I can’t take any more of the anxiety running through my veins, weighing down my chest, and the paranoia making me picture something like the freakin’ demogorgon jumping at me.
I swear it was like the air froze as I reached forward and clasp the knob, and I don’t think I will ever forget the sound of that creaking door if I can somehow make it out of this alive.
There’s no movement inside, only dark silhouettes all pushed against the walls. The air was thick with dust and there was a strange odor that instantly made me gag, but there’s still no movement or sound other than my steps as I hesitantly stepped inside…
Welcome back readers! Just another day in the pandemic that we’re all going through, but my motivation today is that I have Savoy’s pizza preordered and so I excited knowing I have a great dinner on the way! Here’s todays Daily Challenge prompt below, based off the image of a bonfire with friends:
On a late August afternoon, Matt walked through the back fenced door into the small backyard, and smiled to himself at all the faces already sitting around a lit bonfire pit. Peter, Tony, and the three other guys they were living with had all sent out a mass text telling everyone who was back at school to come over to their place and have a reunion, and Matt had no idea so many of his friends had returned.
Eden was the first to notice him walking, so she squealed with joy and rose up out of her lawn chair. Her blunt bangs bouncing in tune with the clap of her flip flops, Matt’s mood continued to rise as she jogged over to wrap him up into one of her signature bear hugs.
“Oh my goodness! It’s so great to see you, Matt!” Eden gave him a peck on the cheek, and everyone else’s greeting could be heard over the crackling of the fire. “Come, come! Sit next to me, I’m sure we can pull up a chair somewhere.”
“Right here, bud.” Peter gestured to a chair he’d grabbed that’d been resting against the house. “Happy to see you, can I get you a beer?”
“No, I’m fine, but thank you.” Matt sat down and smiled around the fire. “I missed you guys, it’s great to be back.”
Jared grinned from across the circle. “You look like you got plenty of sun, Bedbreaker.”
Matt chuckled. “That’s what being a lifeguard will do to you.”
“So that’s why you’re so blond.”
Madison flipped her long hair over her shoulder as she peered over while sipping on a WhiteClaw. “No way, he totally got some highlights.” She got up to get a closer look at Matt’s scalp, and he squirmed in his seat when she made a satisfied noise in her throat. “I knew it.”
Matt groaned. “Nice to see you too, Mads.”
“Love you, boo.” Madison tossed him an air-kiss before she went back to her chair next to Jared, who’s grin only widened.
“Don’t worry, I think you look pretty neat,” Eden said with a wink.
“I see it now,” Peter said. “But you look good, bud.”
“Well, now that my hair has gotten enough attention, how about we change the subject,” Matt suggested. “Like, favorite summer memory?”
I know, I know… it’s not much to go off of. I used some familiar characters I’ve created from my “When In Doubt” project (check it all out above on the main menu), and believe me, there were plenty of similar scenes like the image above when I went to college.
I thought some small plot or conflict would come to me as I started writing, but it just didn’t happen, so I can admit that today’s daily wasn’t all that much of a success. It happens, and I told myself that I’d post the less successful days on here too to maybe show others that not every day is a successful writing day, and there’s nothing wrong with that! To be honest, I’ve been working on my 2nd Draft of my WIP, and my focus was more on that.
Danielle, my cowriter and friend doing these daily’s with me, and I have another prompt for our next short story, and I should have it written later tonight and posted soon!
So, you’ve finished the first draft of whatever piece of literature you may have written: a novel, screenplay, memoir, biography, self-help, or erotic fanfiction that you feel brave enough to share outside of Tumblr or An Archive of Our Own…first off, I want to tell you congratulations!! You’ve just accomplished something major that not everyone else can claim to have done, and that deserves to be rewarded. I say, go for that extra slice of chocolate cake, eat that gigantic plate of carbolicious pasta, have a whole bottle of wine, sleep in or whatever you prefer to do when you treatyo’self!
***Act responsibly, of course!***
One thing you absolutely should do is take a step back and separate yourself from your draft and give your mind a mental vacation. A few days to a week, maybe two, is the best amount, but honestly it’s up to you!
After the celebration is complete and you’re ready to get back to work with a fresh pair of eyes and rejuvenated mind, you can then start editing. One great method of doing that is to gather a small batch of people called “Beta Readers.” For those that are not familiar with the term, they’re basically a small group of people—similar to a focus group—who read your work and give you feedback on how it is: what works and what doesn’t, are there major plot holes, and what the overall impression of your words look like for someone other than yourself. They can give valuable perspective from an outside source, and give a whole new perspective to make your work even an even stronger piece of literature.
Going about gathering those readers is also important. Ryan J. Pelton wrote a similar article to this topic on writingcooperative.com—the link is HERE—but for those that want to stay loyal to my URL, he gives some guidelines on who would be a great candidate:
Beta Readers shouldn’t be writers, if possible…basically, it’s a tricky spot because each writer has their own voice, their own method of how things work with written word, and it’s likely they’d focus too much on switching things around to however they’d write it. Beta Readers shouldn’t be correcting grammar (unless it’s a universal no-no); they’re to help figure out story flow, character impressions and development, pacing, and plot. Grammar is something you’ll worry about later!
Only choose 1-2 Beta Readers…Everyone reads at a different pace and interprets the words differently. Ryan also uses the quote: too many cooks in the kitchen to help emphasize the point that too many people at a time giving feedback could be counter productive. I gave my five beta readers two months to look my draft over (which may or may not be more than enough time), and you want to make sure you’re selected readers you trust will actually do it and give honest, constructive criticism. Imagine my disappointment when the two months passed, and I get back to my some of my readers on their progress, and I either get some of them didn’t actually read it or the greatest response ever: “It was good.”…that’s it.
For this article, I focused more on the types of questions to ask if you’d written a piece of fiction over a piece of nonfiction like a memoir, biography, or self-help title. You really want to leave the questions open-ended so you don’t just get “Yes” or “No” answers, as those don’t really help. There are also plenty of other questions you may want to ask your readers that pertain to specific components of your story, and that’s totally okay! Go with that gut feeling, I am all about that journey for you. Just remember, you also don’t want to overwhelm your readers with too many questions, so I’d probably stick to twenty questions maximum; the twenty questions are entirely up to you on whatever answers you seek.
Below is the list of questions (in no particular order) that seemed to be broad enough to cover all the main aspects of what the Beta Reader is supposed to look for:
“At what point did you feel like the story had really begun?”
This question is about when they sat down and started reading, and you want to know where it was when they’d first gone “Awh yeah, now it’s getting good!” What was that first initial part that was (hopefully) early on in the story that really pushed it along and raises the call to action. Ideally, the introduction to the main conflict of the story should be introduced within the first 1-3 chapters, and I’ve had some fellow readers even say they give a book only the first twenty-five pages to grab their attention, and they’ll toss it aside if they aren’t interested by then…so if need be, get to the point!
“What parts did you find yourself skimming over?”
Basically, what were the boring parts? What parts seemed slower to the overall story, and if possible, how can you make them better? Maybe you don’t even need them at all, and could probably axe it from your story entirely. If you’re an artist, you’ve probably heard the phrase “kill your darlings,” which means to not get too attached and be prepared to trim off anything that needs to be. One suggestion that I’d like to give is to not actually delete any parts you decide to omit from your story, but instead to cut and paste them into a separate document–you never know if you might actually need them later on in the same project, or a different one!
“Was the overall premise of the story exciting enough?”
Did the conflict seem big enough? Are the stakes high enough? Is the conflict something the main character(s) absolutely can’t walk away from? If not, maybe you need to go back and rethink a few things about the plot…Think about Frodo and his task of taking the one ring to Mordor in order to destroy it before Sauron can fully return to power! Think about Harry Potter needing to defeat Voldemort in order to save the world. Your premise doesn’t necessarily need to be end of the world level of excitement, but it does need to be big enough to be a story worth telling.
“Did the conflict(s) your main character(s) deal with seem big enough or relatable at all?”
Besides the outer conflict, there’s also the inner conflict that your character is dealing with as well that’s a driving force for the whole story. Maybe they’re just looking for an adventure, or maybe they seek acknowledgement or glory from everyone, or maybe it’s to come to terms and move on from a past trauma, or it’s falling in love; it could be anything! What does your character want more than anything, and what are they willing to do to get it? Also, is their desire relatable in any way? Is it a desire anyone else could have in their own life, even if it’s not the same as the Beta Reader’s? If you have a main cast of multiple main characters: if their story arc doesn’t seem strong enough, if their development doesn’t seem strong enough, should they even be a main character? Maybe they’re better served as a minor character instead.
“Which characters(s) felt the most fleshed out, and who wasn’t?”
Obviously, some characters are going to receive more attention than others, especially if you have a cast of multiple main characters. For my WIP, I have a cast of six characters as my main cast, and I will say: it’s tricky… I relate to some of my characters more than others, and it does show in the writing with how in-depth you are able to get with their inner turmoil and their overall story arc. Do they have their own personality, or does it blend too much with someone else, and your readers may even get the two confused.
“Were there any moments in the story that felt really confusing?”
When you’re writing a scene in your story or maybe it’s just describing a person, place, or object, you may have a clear image in your head of what it all looks like. Unfortunately, no one is a mind reader–at least as far as I’m aware of–and they might not actually understand what you’re saying or trying to get across. Or, maybe you got some facts mixed up, or you screwed up a name somewhere, and need to go back and fix it. Maybe a character did something that’s completely against what they represent or it was so out of the blue, maybe rethink it if it’s purely for shock value.
“What were your thoughts on the pacing of the story?”
For this question, it’s all about how well your story flows. Is it really choppy and inconsistent, or do the scenes transition really well together? Is there a definite beginning, middle, and end? Does the tension rise as you read further along? With that, are the stakes continuing to rise and is the character being put in more confrontations that they can’t simply walk away from?
“At what point(s) in the story did you start to care about the main character(s), if at all?”
It’s referred to as the “Saving the Cat” in the story, but what it means is was there a specific moment in the story that really showed the characters moral code in a simple moment. If they’re being chased, would they take a longer route to avoid running over the little old lady across the street, or would they not care? Would they stop to save the cat stuck up in a tree, or would they say “screw you, beast, I’m out!” It’s usually how the character reacts to a certain situation that shows what kind of person they are, and the main character(s) need to be likeable to some degree, whether they’re the hero, the antagonist, or even the villain.
“Was the storyline too predictable?”
Maybe your story needs a few more levels of excitement to boost it up, or some major plot twists that no one could see coming. It would still need to make sense for the sake of the story, but readers need a delicate balance between what is expected to happen, and something that comes along that they’d never experienced before or never would’ve expected to happen. Maybe a character experiences a major betrayal from someone they’d trusted most of their life? Maybe a belief or myth that everyone had believed true for thousands of years turned out to be a lie? Maybe the villain turns out to be the father? Maybe someone’s gay? Be sure to add some foreshadowing moments so it’s not completely out of the blue, but to also add some sizzle to that steak!
“Did the characters sound like actual people with their dialogue?”
You’d want to go back and check your dialogue by reading it out loud and checking how well it sounds and flows together. I’m guilty of doing this, but characters can’t say lines while they laugh, snort, yawn, etc… It doesn’t make sense, and it’s an amateurish move in any sort of writing. Also, consider how each character sounds in the sense of their own voice. Not everyone talks the same way, and can use different words, dialects, or phrases to describe the same thing. Each character needs their own specific voice/vocabulary to help stand out amongst everyone else.
“How was the setting? Was it too descriptive or not descriptive enough in some areas?”
Going back to the question of whether something was really confusing in the story, the setting could be a specific component that may need to be edited. It may have made sense to you, but you want to make sure others can understand the image you’re trying to paint in their heads as to the location(s) your characters are in the story. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, you need to be just right in the amount of descriptions you give about the place. No one wants to read half a page of what the coffee shop looks like; they can fill in the blanks to a certain degree, and really, you should mainly stick to whatever is within the setting that pertains to the story. You want to sprinkle out little tidbits as the scene moves along, or even wait until the characters return another time to describe something. All in all, avoid info dumps but give your readers something to work with too.
“Did it feel like the main character(s)’s story arc had a strong enough beginning, middle, and end?”
Your character’s arc needs to somewhere to start, how it furthers along as the plot thickens and they have choices to make, and to have some sort of resolution towards the end. If it’s a series, maybe some part of its conclusion doesn’t happen right away, but a small chunk of it definitely does as every book within a series needs to have it’s own storyline within–Think about the Harry Potter books and how each one has it’s own journey or quest that Harry, Ron, and Hermoine work through everytime they return to Hogwarts. They deal with the sorcerer’s stone, then the chamber in the next one, and so forth as it all pertains to ultimately defeating Voldemort in the grand scheme of things. It helps to have an idea of how the story arc will end from the very beginning when you initially start writing the story, that way you’ll have knowledge of the direction the story arc is going and won’t drift off it’s path.
“If you had to get rid of at least one character, who would you take out from the cast, and why?”
You love all your characters, you don’t want to kill any of your darlings, but maybe your story is too long, or there’s just too many scenes that are filler and don’t need to be there. If their story arc isn’t strong enough, if their conflict isn’t strong enough, or they just don’t really serve much of a purpose at all except for maybe being another sidekick to the main character, maybe consider that a character should just be taken out of the story. Reminder: don’t just delete everything! Cut, paste, and store into a separate document somewhere because you never know if you’ll use that material elsewhere!
“What was the most exciting/suspenseful part of the story for you?”
You’re looking for criticism on plenty of what doesn’t work for your story, but you should also be aware of what DOES work for your story. Maybe you’re really good at writing sex scenes, or battles, or weaving between different character’s perspectives, or something else. That’s great, and you should also look into why whatever it is that works well in your writing, and remember it for future projects. Don’t fix something what isn’t broken, and it’ll even help make it easier on what components you should focus on in your writing from now on.
“What was the last book you’d read?”
This seems like a random addition, but it’s more for the Beta Reader themselves because how they critique your work can be heavily influenced by what they normally read, or even the last title they’ve read. Maybe they’re on a vampire binge, or maybe they’re looking for the next fantasy series to forget about the travesty that was season 8 of Game of Thrones, or they’re really into contemporary romance/erotica, or they’re not even into fiction at all, and instead love to read about subjects of history or political science. This can help you get a little intel into where your reader’s mindset is at when they’re looking through your work.
So there you have it, some help for anyone who feels a little lost on what exactly to do after you’ve finished writing your novel!
Look for feedback and gain some insight into where you need to go next, and honestly, remember to take whatever a Beta Reader says with a grain of salt. What they suggest may only pertain to their needs as a reader, and they only really offer another set of eyes on your work. They may be onto something or maybe they’re not; I’d at least take a closer look into whatever they’ve pointed out and give it some more thought, but ultimately it’s YOU that makes the final call! It’s YOUR work that YOU created!
Be proud, and be happy that you created something that took a lot of time and effort to do!