The Best Writing Advice Anyone’s Ever Given Me

So I got this idea from the Confessions Of A Writer Tag I did last week. The tag was created by my dear friend and fellow blogger, Nicolette Elzie, where you answer 20 questions about your writing and reading habits/preferences.

One of the questions was “What was the best writing advice you’ve ever received?”

My answer: Write the story you want to read.

I’ve mentioned this tidbit a few times in previous posts, but I want to expand on it because it affects more than one aspect of the writing game…

Here’s the long and hard truth of it: your novel, the thing you’ve been slaving over, may very well not get traditionally published. It sucks and that’s awful, but if you started writing for the monetary benefit or the “prestige,” this may not be a good venture for you to jump into.

AND even if you do get traditionally published, rest assured you will still spend more time with your manuscript than anyone else on this globe. So you might as well enjoy it.

Reason No. 1 – Fads are fickle beasts
So this first one applies more to YA than most audiences because the age group itself is in a constant state of flux. It’s that brilliant time in one’s life where you get to decide what kind of person you’re going to be, along with finding out what appeals to you on both superficial and deep-rooted levels. Granted, I wasn’t following the industry prior to Twilight (was in high school at the time), but since then, there are clear cut “fads” that have run through the YA SFF genre.

In a nutshell: Vampires >> Angels & Demons >> Dystopian

Of course there were sprinkles of mermaids and zombies in there, but the above ripped through the industry in a way that left some agents and editors “done” with the topic. But the important note here is that it commonly (there are outliers based on cultural prevalence) takes a minimum of two years to get from acquisition to bookshelves in traditional publishing. Basically, the books being acquired now [will be] published late 2017(ish).

So by the time you realize a “Fad” and decide to write to fit what’s “popular,” odds are you’ve already missed the boat.

Reason No. 2 – You’re going to be rereading the MS again and again and again.
I’ve said it before: your first draft is not you final draft. You’ll be rewriting and revising that thing a few times before you’re even ready to query, let alone go on submission, so don’t write a story you hate. Create a story and a world that you want to get lost in for hours. Create characters you want to spend days/weeks/months/years getting to know. That passion will shine through in the work and those who read it will pick up on it. 🙂

Reason No. 3 – You can’t please everyone.
Whether we like it or not, everyone has their biases. Because I write YA F, I’ve dealt with my fair share of up-turned noses by people in and outside the writing community. LitFic people scoff at genre. Adult genre scoff at the audience. Civilians (non-writers in this context) ask “oh, like Harry Potter and Twilight?”

hulk smash

^^How I feel when confronted with these situations…

Point is, prior to submission, the only person you need to worry about pleasing is yourself. Any advice/criticism you receive should be filtered through your wants for the story. No one knows the story better than you. No one knows the world better than you. No one knows the characters better than you.

No one can write your story but YOU.

So write the story you want to read and enjoy the project you’re working on.

Happy Writing!

BOOK REVIEW: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Heir of Fire is book 3 of the YA epic fantasy series, Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll go to the nearest bookstore and pick up book 4.

If you haven’t picked up this series, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Jk. J But you can see my review for book 1, Throne of Glass, here. And for book 2, Crown of Midnight, here.

Now for my thoughts on Heir of Fire

NON-SPOILER-Y REVIEW

In book 3, Maas expands both the world and the plot, adding layer upon layer of brilliant world building and character development. She introduces new characters, new villains, and really sets you up for what to expect from upcoming books.

I loved this book. It was unlike the first two in a lot of ways, but I thought it was an awesome gear-change from the first two in the series. We left Crown of Midnight shortly after Celaena experiences a tremendous loss that leaves her broken and alone. So while we got to see the depths of Celaena’s darkness in COM, we get to see the depths of her grief and pain in HOF.

Again, Maas gives us an incredible narrative wrapped around friendship and love of all kinds, and what that means to different people. In this third installment, she really challenges each and every character to their breaking point, and you as the reader, have no choice but to break with them.

And that’s it for the non-spoiler-y section, come back once you’ve read the book and we’ll discuss!


SPOILER-Y FANGIRLING

So I connect with Celaena on several levels (No, I’m not an assassin), but especially with the never-ending need to be seen and accepted. Basically, I cried throughout a good portion of this book. Like choking on sobs for a half-hour, tears streaming down my face, UGLY CRYING. But I’ll get to that later.

First off, we have the opening, seeing Celaena beat down, hungry, filthy, drunk on the streets of Wendolyn. This really sets us up for the growth Celaena experiences throughout the course of the book. And when she realizes the vagrant woman mistook her for another vagrant, we all understood that our girl had hit an all time low. Of course that didn’t last long before ROWAN (mmm, Rowan) walks in and drags her sorry ass to Mistwood, where we meet Queen Maeve of the Fae for the first time.

Maeve is dark and manipulative and you don’t trust her for a moment, but I love how her plan to manipulate Celaena backfires on her when Celaena and Rowan visit her in Doranelle. “You wanted to see how powerful I am…” YAS!!!! Basically, cue the rock star music and pyrotechnics because Aelin Galathynius gives ZERO shits. ZERO. NONE.

Which brings me to the second of our new cast of characters, the lovely hard ass that is ROWAN WHITETHORNE. Guys. Guys. This fae prince. I can’t. But no, honestly, I can’t express how much love I have for this character. He’s exactly what Aelin needed to shed the prison that was her Celaena persona. He’s a friend, a confidant, caretaker and warrior. He’s legitimately Aelin’s other half, her Carranam. BUT as much as I SHIP THEM (Seriously my OTP), I appreciated that their relationship was strictly platonic in this book. Not to mention he’s loyal and compassionate and doesn’t shrink away from Aelin when she goes off the edge. LOVE HIM! Can I have one? Please?

Okay, okay. I’ll stop with the Rowan love…

So we’ll move on to Aedion Ashryver, Aelin’s cousin. Have I mentioned how much I love the characters in Maas’s books? Because I do! Aedion is such a curious character for me because he straddles the line of “Super-macho-general” and “wounded-immature-boy,” which I think is a perfect characterization for Aelin’s cousin. His love and loyalty for Aelin is so endearing, and when he puts Chaol’s life before his own for Aelin’s sake, I really wanted to throw something through the pages at him. Because for as much love as I have Chaol, Aedion is so much more useful to Aelin.

Speaking of that last scene, was I the only one who didn’t like Sorscha? I appreciated what she did for Dorian’s character (CONGRATS, KID! You made a decision for yourself!), I was relieved she wasn’t going to join us into book 4.

And our final new character, Manon Badass Blackbeak. Okay, so “Badass” isn’t her middle name, but it should be. At first, her POV made me feel the way Sorscha’s did: Can we get back to Aelin please? BUT the moment she claimed Abraxos, she won me over. 1. Because Abraxos is ADORABLE! “I can’t eat right now, I’m smelling the flowers.” Gaawww, it’s a puppy-dragon. 2. Because I’m anticipating some epic awesomeness from the witches in the upcoming books. One thing we can always count on from Maas is that no POV is wasted space, each is important to the final puzzle, so I’m excited to see how the witches fit in with Aelin’s plot.

So much happened in this book, and I’m trying not to make this super long. But one final thing: the moment when Aelin goes emotionally numb and lashes out at the other demi-fae. I mentioned before that there were parts of this book that had me just sobbing, and this was one of them. Living with PTSD, you spend every day battling triggers that could break you apart at any given moment. When you do break, at least for me personally, you hide away in a state of numb suspension. Maas captured this beautifully and reading it was such an incredibly cathartic experience for me. So as Aelin began to heal after that, I kind of did too.

And that’ll be it for this review of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. Check out my review of Queen of Shadows, here.

BOOK REVIEW: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Here’s where the series takes off, guys. Like I said in my Throne of Glass review, even if you thought TOG was “meh,” I still HIGHLY RECOMMEND you pick up books 2 and 3 and 4…

If you haven’t read TOG, you can read my review here.

Now for my thoughts on TOG Book 2, Crown of Midnight

NON-SPOILER-Y REVIEW

When I first finished Throne of Glass, I wasn’t completely sold on continuing with the series. It could have either gone a brilliant way or a not-so-brilliant way.

Lucky for me and you, Sarah J. Maas did not disappoint. Crown of Midnight starts in a few weeks after where we left off in book 1, jumping right into Celaena’s new life as the King’s Champion.

Maas expands the world of Adarlan and the conspiracies that rule the realm. We get to see more of Celaena’s past and how her past sins weigh down her present actions. That being said we also see the depths of Celaena’s darkness, which were terrifying and fantastic.

One thing I loved about TOG was the brilliance with which Maas writes the interpersonal relationships between the characters and that continued into COM with a pacing that kept you guessing what would come next.

Throughout this book, you get a wide gambit of feels from elated joy and hope to all-consuming rage and inconsolable grief.

And that’s all I’m going to say for non-spoilers. Go read COM, then come back and we’ll discuss!


SPOILER-Y FANGIRLING

ALL. THE. FEELS. All of them.

First off, I’m going to straight-up claim that I had shipped Chaol and Celaena since the first chapter of TOG. I know a lot of people ship Celorian, but I just couldn’t get behind it… So the first two thirds of COM were a lot of fun for me.

But shit went south fast. So very fast. 😥

When Nehemia had that conversation with Elena about “I know what I have to do,” my immediate thought was PLEASE DON’T KILL CHAOL! Then he got kidnapped…

I did not expect Nehemia to die. Not at all. I know the king mentioned the threat, but I just thought it was a political move to keep Chaol busy and out of the way.

Before I jump into the shit storm that was Celaena finding Nehemia’s body, let’s discuss the fight scene! I LOVED that Maas gave it to us in Chaol’s POV. It really showed the terrifying glory that is Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin. And I think we needed this to separate us from our girl in order for us to accept her attempt on Chaol’s life later. Way to go, Maas!

And now for Celaena’s grieving. It’s an unadulterated, animalistic thing, and the way Maas depicts it – from clawing Chaol’s face to singing at Nehemia’s grave – is a glorious piece of characterization that really sets up the events of the following two books. Was I the only one sobbing when she was pounding her chest, singing the Fae language? God. Maas captures the raw pain of grief so beautifully.

Which brings us to the portal, poor Fleetfoot, and the CELAENA-AELIN-FAE REVEAL! I had a feeling Celaena was Aelin – Stupid Archer Finn. But Maas does this brilliant thing with Celaena’s narrative where it feels like there’s this very clear divide between the two women… Nope, Celaena’s totes the Lost Queen of Terrasen. And her fire power! Mushu would cower at Aelin’s feet.

And I just realize I haven’t even mentioned Dorian yet in this review… woops. Ok, Dorian fans, please don’t crucify me for this, but I’m just not sold on him yet. He’s another pretty prince who doesn’t know where he stands. Blerg. He makes good choices in the moment, but he just doesn’t seem to have any real agency. He just looks around for others to define a stance for him to take. His pure heart is his saving grace for me. He’s so willing to accept people for who they are and that’s fantastic, but I need to see him take some chances and make decisions before I can really appreciate him as a character.

But Chaol doesn’t really make good decisions either. His decision to send Celaena to Wendolyn was incredibly misguided, but I loved Heir of Fire too much to really hate him for it. Tee hee.

You can see my review of the third Throne of Glass book, Heir of Fire, here.