New Years Resolutions

Page 7

 

I don’t usually make New Years Resolutions.  Well, I do, but they’re usually jokey ones like ‘give up smoking’ (the joke being that I have never smoked and therefore will keep the resolution without even trying – you know like when people say ‘give up sky diving’ etc) .

Many of you may remember I made a difficult decision after suffering my first bout of writers block.  So this year I have set myself some goals.

In no particular order, here is what I have decided on:

Join a writing group

This one has been on my mind for a while.  I have been unable to attend a physical writing group for some time due to many factors such as money an familial responsibilities.  This year, I’m going to make an effort to attend one.

Write at least one short story/flash fiction a month:

This is a resolution carried over from my Creative Summer.  It was important because I had never written a short story before.  At the advice of an old friend, I wrote the kind of stuff I enjoyed reading – epic, sprawling stories with ever expanding worlds and a plethora of characters and winding sub plots.  Forcing myself out of my comfort zone and focusing on the basic elements of story telling really helped so I intend to carry this forward.

Enter more competitions:

When I was ten, the schools in my local area hosted a writing competition for students aged 10-18.  The prize was £50.  I entered and I won.  Prior to my Creative Summer I had not entered one since.  I’m not sure why.  I guess I have been so focused on my writing projects, fearing distraction, that I have shied from them.  Over the summer I entered three.  I didn’t win but I learned a lot, so I intend to keep this going throughout the year.  It will tie in nicely with my aim to produce one short story a month too!

 Publish Lexus:

I had already been working my way to self publishing Lexus (most likely on Amazon). In the months leading up to Christmas I had a good look at the story.  I had been limited by the novella word count limit of the SWP2016 and so there were scenes and characters that could have done with a little more pizazz. Now I have that chance to make Lexus something better.

Keep a writing journal

This one is a little odd for me because in a way I do keep a writing journal.  Every project I work on gets a notebook:

Notepads
These are the notepads for projects I’m currently working on.  I have 36 notepads in total.  I may have a problem …

When I need to figure things out, I sit and think and plot ideas as I think them.  However, this isn’t something I do every day.  To help with the creative flow I will aim to keep a writers journal to chart my creative journey.  Writing down insights that have nothing to do with projects I am working on could lead to new projects and it’s also a way for me to document my personal struggles so that I may draw on them for future or current projects.  My aim is write whatever comes into my head.  I even got given a gorgeous notebook to write  in for Christmas:

notebook
Ain’t she a beaut …?

I was itching to write in it the moment I unwrapped in it so this is a good start!

Read More:

A very obvious and common one I know but I have noticed that over the years I have really cut back on my reading.  The reason?  I’ve been trying to keep myself focused on writing.  This is a tremendous shame because reading is a great way to recharge my creativity and improve my writing skills, so on top of attending to the Jukepop reading party every month I have set myself the target of reading at least one book a month – starting with Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.  I have more or less all of his books on my reading list (which gets bigger and bigger each day – currently there are 300+ books of all genres (including graphic novels). Yeah that’s going to take some getting through.  I’m not sure I’ll manage it in a year but I’ll have a damn good stab at it.  My list includes titles from the likes of Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Dean Kootz,  Bill Bryson, Stephen Baxter, and Ursula LeGuin.  I’m hoping to read work from lesser known authors too.  I’m even hoping to start reading some super hero comics.  As you can see my taste is somewhat broad and I intend to expand it further.

Get out of my writing comfort zone

When I started writing short stories during my Creative Summer I was not so much pushed out of my writing comfort zone as drop kicked out of it.  I had never written a short story before.  Was it possible to tell a story in 3000 words or less?  Or how about 1000?  Or 300?  Some of the word count limits in the competitions were really daunting.  Nonetheless I sat down and I worked on my idea.  The first short story I wrote was about 5000 words.  The competition it was intended for only allowed 3500.  So I looked at it, cut parts out, read some short stories to see how they managed to get vital details across and went at it again and again until finally I had shaved it down to 3150.  I felt such a sense of accomplishment.  Better still, I applied what I had learned to Lexus and experimented with exposition and wound up in the SWP2015 top ten!

With that in mind, I am determined to keep trying things that make me uncomfortable and unsure.  At the time of writing this, I reached another milestone.  I wrote my first 100 word flash fiction and I am working on a new project where I experiment with a different narrative style (more on that later).


 

So there you have it!  My New Years Resolutions!

Has anyone else made any resolutions?  Feel free to write a comment either on what you think of mine or what yours are.  Also can anyone recommend any good books or comics?

Advertisements

Review of Lyncia by J.A Waters (Part 1)

My initial plan last month was to read Lyncia by J.A Waters.  When I didn’t get through all of it I decided I would read the rest over the Christmas period (which coincided nicely with the December Jukepop Reading Party).  Then Christmas rolled up.  Having a two two year old is exhausting enough as it is, but Christmas is a particularly difficult and overwhelming time for young children.  I got so rushed off my feet that I lost track of time and I didn’t get to read any serials.  I missed the reading party.

I am determined to finish Lyncia, but for now, allow me to review the first fourteen chapters that I got through.

Serial Status: Finished.

Spelling/Grammar Rating: 1

Lyncia

Jukepop Synopsis:

A story on gods, death, pain, and adventure. Completed on 18 November, 2015.

Lyncia Eyresin is about to play host to a strange array of visitors, and some of them have frightening powers beyond her comprehension. Life is full of choices and chances, and Lyncia’s will lead to maddening oddities and a spiraling descent.

But on the world of Nalan, the fall may never end.

So Lyncia begins a struggle to understand the world as it truly is. Buried stories tell of concealed gods and sunken relics. Cracks in the known history reveal a shattered past. Somewhere in the truth, Lyncia will find power.

Find out more about Nalan here:
http://nalanwiki.watersartistry.com/

WARNING!  THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!

What was done well:

Although I only got through what was essentially the start of our heroines journey, I found so much I liked.  The characterisation was fantastic – particularly the sublime balance J.A strikes with Lyncia, the titular protagonist.  She’s wilful but not to the point where she is spoilt.  She is strong, both physically and mentally but this has come from years of hard training.  Lyncia is also keen to take over ruling from her father so she can keep the times peaceful and do what is best for her subjects.  That said, I get the impression that she isn’t quite ready to rule just yet (more on that later!).

This brings me to the thing I liked to most.  The first few chapters gave me the impression that this was going to be the story of a princess fighting against a patriarchy not just for herself but for the greater good of her people, all the while learning various hard truths that would eventually mould her into a wise and powerful ruler.  Then we witness her shocking murder and suddenly all those expectations go out the window.  Lyncia is reborn as an unwilling prophet with a whole new set of problems: a frightening voice in her head that is actually a god that is forcing her to be a prophet and can control her actions, a new body and to top it all off she has to come to terms with the fact that her own father had her killed.  This kind of sudden misdirection is a difficult one to pull off but J.A does this masterfully.

The beauty of it all is that the plot hasn’t changed all that much from where it started.  The focus has altered but at its core, the story hasn’t.  You see, even if we had stayed along the lines of a strong and formidable princess fighting back against a patriarchy, Lyncia would still have her work cut out for her.  It’s clear that while she has a greater understanding of politics and leadership than most, she is missing vital bits of wisdom.  Look at how she reacts to her fathers decision to go to war.  She flat out refuses this is a solution.  Unfortunately, issues like these don’t have a clear cut answer.  I’m certainly not advocating war.  It’s never a good thing.  But sometimes, particularly in a world such as Lyncia’s, it is a lesser evil that can cut short years of extended suffering.  As a potential ruler Lyncia needs to understand that and be ready to make difficult and sometimes harsh decisions.  When she becomes a prophet, this core issue is still there.  In fact one thing I noticed is just how grossly Lyncia underestimates the influence of religion in the machinations of power.  As a prophet (even a reluctant one) she’ll be treated to some invaluable lessons that will help her on her journey.  More importantly she’s starting from the bottom.  As a princess she was in a privileged position where it was unlikely she knew the full extent of her people’s suffering.  Lyncia has the chance to really get to know her people and in turn her kingdom and hopefully she might even pick up some street smarts on the way.  And that is what will help her win the day … assuming she is willing to learn.  I guess I will have to wait and see.

What Could Have Been Better:

I’d like to place a mini disclaimer here and state that the following ‘criticism’ is the result of hours and hours of re-reading in order to find some kind of general weakness (well done J.A!).  After all, I believe that even the best piece of work has room to improve.  Similarly I believe that even a story I don’t get along with has something good in it.  This is why I always try to find at least one good thing and one bad thing.

So … what is this one thing?

Well, I noticed that it takes eight chapters to reach the event that kicks Lyncia into her ‘Heroes Journey’.  The story itself is only fifty chapters long, which means it takes almost a fifth of the book to get to where the plot begins rolling.  The eight chapters aren’t short either.

I’m not saying this is ‘wrong’.  After all, there are no set rules on the ratio of beginnings, middles and ends (that I’m aware of anyway).  It’s not even like what happens is irrelevant filler either.  There is no rambling on.  We need to see Lyncia in her lessons, we need to see her go to the temple and witness the miracle and we need to see her cause havoc at the meeting.  I just think that J.A might want to examine the story more closely to see if there is a way to bring the reader closer to this pivotal event.  My personal suggestion is using a small prologue where we begin with Lyncia dying.  We don’t necessarily have to know it’s her; there can be brief details that hint at who the dying character is that the reader can slowly put together as they read through the events that led to this calamity in the next eight chapters.

That’s it.

Overview:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lyncia and wish I’d had time to read more.  The characters are well thought out, the setting, plot and drama play out really nicely and there is a real balance of fantasy here.  It’s not overplayed but we can see we are in a fantasy realm.  Lyncia is certainly shaping up to have some interesting concepts and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys well crafted fantasy fiction.

Incidentally if anyone is interested, J.A Waters has a wiki where he provides some stunning illustrations and information about the world of Nalan.

He also has other serials on Jukepop that you should check out: