Saturday, November 24, 2018

Leaves in the Wind: November Wrap-Up and Update

We are at the end of November, meaning that this year is almost over. How can it have happened so quickly? I can't even believe how quickly time flies.

We are all leaves in the wind. Some days it is calm and there is silence. Some days we a gently lifted up by the breeze and move slow but steadily. Then some days it is raging and we are blown around so quickly we can't even do anything but try to survive.

Last month, we here at RW were in a storm. We were all so busy with school, work, and our lives that we couldn't do anything here. But, we hope that we made up for it this month! Here is what we have done this month:

Blog Posts:

Revealing.....The Great American Read Finalist!

Catherine tells us all about the winner of PBS's Great American Read! She shares her thoughts on that and the top five. I am happy to say that it is one of my favorite books!

Endings That are Sunsets

Keturah Lamb's lovely post tells us how endings that are sometimes bittersweet can be satisfying.

Balanced Writing: Guest Post by Jessi Roberts

We were able to post thoughts by Jessi Roberts on why she likes to portray morally diverse characters. Thanks, Jessi!

How to Brainstorm Titles

Whether it is a title to your novel, or to a blog post, Melissa gives us tips on how to name our work (which I really needed).

Social Media Stats

97 followers, 32,627 all-time views. 
57 likes, 63 followers.
315 followers, 449 tweets, 643 likes.
19 posts, 132 followers.
22 boards, 136 followers, 1.8k monthly views.
67 members, 16 topics
48 subscribers, 2 videos

Around the Neighborhood:

A lot of people participated in Julian Daventry's Shared WIP Tag this month, including RW members Gray, Keturah, and Melissa.

Catherine celebrated her two-year blogoversary on her personal blog, Working by Candlelight.

Ivie started her series, Rewriting Uprising!

Please go read those posts! I know I am way, way, behind on reading posts.

Final Thoughts:

RW member Audrey Caylin had to step down this month, and all of us here at RW just want to say thank you for everything!!

We might be taking a break around Christmas, but we will have a few posts in December!

Enjoy your last few days of autumn as things turn into (or in my case are already) winter!

Yours &c.

Clare A.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

How to Brainstorm Titles

There are three kinds of writers in the world. The kind who can come up with jaw-dropping titles in seconds, the kind who struggle but consider their titles "okay", and the kind who cannot create a title to save their life.

I fall into the second category, but over my years of struggling to create titles, I've managed to compile a list of key elements necessary to consider when brainstorming a title, plus some helpful methods! So if you're not sure what to title a story or blog post, hopefully these tips will help you out!

Before you start jumbling and mixing words around, there are three key aspects you need to know first:

Your Audience

This one is fairly straight forward. If your book is YA, your audience is young adults (and a fairly big chunk of adults who read YA too). If you write for children, it will be children. Adult fiction for adults, and so on. Your audience will have a certain vocabulary, and so if you're writing for kindergartners, "The Luminescence of Twilight Lampyridae" is not an appropriate title. How will they be able to tell someone what their favourite book is? Something like "Fireflies' Journey to the Moon" might be better.

Your Genre

Readers of each genre have specific expectations of what a title in their genre will sound like. For example, in fantasy, most book titles have "queen" "king" "prince" "shadow" "crown" "empire" and so on in them. Or they have specific phrasing like "___ of ___" and "____ of ____ and ____". When I browse through Goodreads or a website, and skim book titles, these expectations help me to quickly determine whether or not I'll click on a book. Make sure you know the expectation of what titles will sound like in your genre, so you don't lose any readers!

Your Intention

Intention can span a variety of areas. There's the intention of the effect on the reader (such as creating a title that evokes mystery), the intention of your words (such as inspiring someone with your blog post), and your intention for the future of the your story (such as starting a series). All of these will impact what title you create. Let's run with the series example. Titles in a series need to be consistent, so that readers can easily pick up that they're linked, which is what Holly Black has done with "The Cruel Prince" and "The Wicked King". So if you plan to write a series, aim for titles which can relate to each other!

Now that we have that all figured out, here are some ideas of how to brainstorm your title if you're stuck:

A Couple Brainstorming Methods

- Make a Word Aesthetic List: Think of words that relate to your story or settling, and try playing around with them in different ways and orders. For example, there's Tammy Lash's "White Wolf and the Ash Princess".   
- Take Inspiration From a Key Line: Find a line you love in your story or article, and use all or a snippet of it as your title. Sarah J Maas has done this a lot, such as in "Queen of Shadows".
-State It For What It IsSometimes simple and sweet works, and leaves an impact. Take a key word or idea from the article, like a blog post titled "How to Use Scrivener". It also works for books, such as Nadine Brandes' "Fawkes".
- Pull From the Theme: Brainstorm a list of words or phrases that relate to the theme or message of the story, then think of some ways to express it more artistically or vaguely. This is what C. G. Drews did with "A Thousand Perfect Notes".
- Focus on Character: Think of ways to describe your character, their relationships, or what they do. This is common in a lot of historical novels which use some variation on "The ____'s Daughter/Son". As another example, Mary Weber used her character's name in "The Evaporation of Sofi Snow" to create intrigue.

And there you have it, some key considerations when brainstorming titles, and some ways to create them! I hope you might now have inspiration or an idea of how to form yours!

How do you brainstorm titles? Have you seen any patterns in titles in regards to audience/genre? What's your WIP's title and how did you come up with it?

~~Melissa Gravitis~~ 

Melissa Gravitis is a Christian teen writer with a Thai heart, Aussie heritage, and international blood. Growing up overseas, she developed a passion for following dreams, and crafting Young Adult stories with vibrant worlds and characters that pop off the page. Though she doesn’t own any pets (yet), she has imaginary friends called Characters that she spends most of her days with. When she’s not with them, she’s jamming to music, sketching, or burying herself in books. You can read her thoughts and follow her writing progress on her blog, Quill Pen Writer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Balanced Writing: Guest Post by Jessi Roberts

Note from Keturah Lamb: Hey, I'd like to introduce you all to my friend, Jessi Roberts, whom I met at the Realm Maker's conference a couple years ago. She writes sci-fi stories centered around aliens and is an overall fun person to talk to — Love how she thinks critically about interesting subjects! I hope you all will enjoy what she has to share today!

When it comes to writing, there’s a line authors sometimes debate about, and that is the line between writing clean fiction and writing realistic fiction.

I’ve thought about this myself. While I don’t believe it’s wrong to put swear words in stories, I don’t use them, other than references to “h***” as a place. It would make my audience smaller, and since it feels unnatural to me, I might use them in a way that doesn’t feel realistic.

Some authors try to show that what the characters are doing is wrong, but when I feel the author’s view coming through and telling me the POV character is doing something wrong, it takes me out of the story. I’m supposed to be in the POV character’s head, not the author’s. These stories often come across as preachy, a problem common in the Christian and general market.

I like to portray morally diverse characters since that’s how life is. 

I might show a good soldier on one side, but he could be in opposition to insurgents who are also portrayed positively. I leave it up to the readers to decide what that soldier should be doing. In some story lines, I might have him change sides, or I might only mention him/her in passing and not expand on what’s going to happen to him/her.

In these cases, I think it’s fine for the readers to think about it and come to their own conclusions. I don’t believe it’s likely they’d be harmed if they chose the “wrong” outlook. I got them to think about it, and if they’re thinking about it, I figure I accomplished my goal.

I also have characters who are “good guys” but may have some beliefs I disagree with, such as racism/ speciesism or slave trading. I figure that, because society opposes these beliefs strongly, there is little chance my readers would become like the characters being portrayed.

However, there are a few things I have decided I will never portray without showing it as a bad idea. Homosexual relationships, fornication, lying for selfish reasons, and disrespect of (good) parents.

Why won’t I portray these in passing like slave traders, racism, and other issues? Because unlike those issues, our society is confused about these. 

When society doesn’t know something is wrong, authors have to be much more careful about portraying them. 

We can mention some things in passing, or even portray the characters as allies to the good guys without harming the reader because the reader will know those things are wrong, but if the reader is unsure something is wrong, we must be more careful not to normalize sinful behavior.

 What about you, readers? What are some things you won’t show?

About Jessi Roberts:
I live and work on my family’s cattle ranch in eastern Montana. I have a flock of chickens, a hyper golden retriever, some cows, and a few horses. I enjoy fantasy and science fiction and my head is full of wild sci-fi story ideas, some involving apocalypses and others involving aliens.

I’ve been published in the October 2015 and April 2016 issues of Havok Magazine, an imprint of Splickety Publishing Group.

You can connect with Jessi on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Endings That Are Sunsets

There isn't a time in my life where I can't remember writing.

But writing wasn't always so pleasant. When I was little I was very proud of my handwritten, self-illustrated short stories. But in my early teens . . . I was nearly ashamed of my struggling novels and hid them from all prying eyes.

needed to write stories others could love. But every story I started wandered away into some unknown abyss.


Then, in my late teens, writing changed for me after I joined a knitting group. I found a writing community on there, and we were challenged to write a short story from the prompts given.

I'd only tried to write novels, never short stories. At least not since I was little. But over the process of this challenge, of writing several short stories, magic found my pen and something clicked for me.

I'd been writing to just to write.

I wanted a story to tell – but I wasn't telling the stories I knew. All the novels I'd tried writing weren't me. They were me trying to write something that felt like a real novel. But I wasn't writing from my reality – and my endings were what gave me away the most.

My stories had no goals.
My ending had been the abyss that ate away everything.
My characters were people I didn't know.
I had no plots, I had no themes. I had nothing but words.

Until these writing challenges.

I learned to embrace my creativity. I looked at the prompts, and “What ifs” came to me . . . along with endings.

I couldn't even write a novel, and suddenly I saw the ending of my story before I'd even written it! I was elated and wrote these short stories for a good year or more before “graduating” on to other my own writing goals.

It wasn't until after using this process and finishing my first novella Silent Thoughts that I was finally able to articulate how I was doing what I was doing.

“I write sunsets,” I told a friend.

Here is what I meant:

Sunsets are the end of the day. That can be sad if you don't want the day to end. It can be relieving if the day has been too long. It can be bittersweet if the day was full of all sorts of things. But either way, most sunsets are satisfying and beautiful and give you a chance to breathe and think back on all of the day and appreciate the beauty you now see. Sunsets also hold anticipation. Because darkness will follow. It always does. But after the night, there is remains hope – the promise of another sun rising tomorrow.

Now when I write I don't just write.

I have a story to tell – actually, I have so many stories to tell. It's just a matter of choosing which one to write first. But before beginning any of my stories I envision the ending I want.

This ending may be vague in my head. It may be only a mood I feel.
When I wrote Let Me Meet Death Dancing the entire plot formed itself in my head, but I saw the ending only as an emotion. Let Me Meet Death Dancing ended when I found that emotion.

It may be perfectly imagined out – when I wrote Silent Thoughts the ending was the only scene I knew before writing the story. I didn't know any of my characters or my plot or my story. I wrote Silent Thoughts reaching out to that ending until I found it.

I'm not saying it's easy to write now.

But knowing my endings has drained the process of misery. It's also taught me that stories are not just words on paper, but words to capture something bigger.

And there's something about a beautiful ending – one that is both bittersweet and satisfying – that I feel I was born to write into every single one of my stories. Maybe that's because I love writing realistically moving fiction that captures the many aspects of human relationships and life?

Maybe it's because I relate when hope cries, laughter aches, joy knows pain?

Maybe it's mostly because I strongly believe fiction is meant to show us how to better embrace (not escape) reality, and story endings are what give us back to reality.
I want to leave the story feeling inspired and refreshed and equipped. And I want my readers to be able to do the same.

Yet, I don't feel sunset endings are unique to me, though I think this is my terminology.

Many of my favorite books have endings just like a sunset.
Authors like Katherine Paterson, Lois Lowry, and some of Stephanie Morrill's books.
A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews and Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson are two more examples of sunset endings.

You can call them bittersweet if you like – but I find them satisfying, too. Realistically inspiring. Overwhelmingly relatable. Breathtakingly beautiful.

Just like a sunset.

Do you like sunset endings? Can you think of any other books with such endings? What kind of endings do you like to write?

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Revealing.....the Great American Read Finalist!

Hello, my dear rebels!

Let me first apologize for falling through on my promise for the 100 reviews. There were a couple of reasons. Firstly, I ran into a logistics problem of trying to review eighty or so books that I haven't read before. Second, research into other people's reviews and the citations that were required were taking way too much time.

You see, we here at Rebellious Writing had been monitoring the nationwide survey hosted by PBS known as the Great American Read. From a list of 100 books, readers voted for one book per day.

Along with several beloved classics, we have noticed (with some alarm) that there were several books that have content concerns. Because the survey is popularity-based, we were afraid that it would be skewed towards these bad books. The 100 reviews was going to be a review of each of the books on the list. But by the time I made decent headway on the post, the event was coming to a close. So, I decided to wait until the end, and make a post revealing the Great American Read.

At the same time, I would love to examine how some well-beloved titles from the list of 100 have ranked in this event, both in this post and in later posts. I'll go by category, and in this post, I shall concentrate on the most relevant to Rebellious Writing: the Young Adult genre.

There were a surprising amount of young adult novels that were chosen for America's Top 100 list. I have listed them here, in reverse order of ranking:

97. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
92. Looking by Alaska by John Green
73. The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
71. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
66. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
31. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
44. The Giver by Lois Lowry
40. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
37. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
32. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
30. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
11. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Many of these titles are probably familiar to our readers, but I want to highlight a couple facts about some of the more unfamiliar ones...

  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds, believe it or not, was published in 2016. For a book that is only 2 years old and to be on the Top 100 list....that's insane. 
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon is about an autistic boy who solves a neighborhood crime. 

In a way, I'm very relieved how these ratings turned out. Several of the books that I was concerned about were lower on the list, and a lot of classics rated at the top of the list. 

Speaking of which, are you ready to find out what book made the top of the Great American Read List of 100 novels???? 

Then please, scroll down......













To Kill a Mockingbird

I completely understand why this book was chosen as America's Top Novel. One, it's set in America itself, specifically in the American South. Two, it follows this sort of American story line — an ordinary life in a small world suddenly gets visited by big huge change. Three, the themes present in the novel are still really relevant in today's society as they were in Harper Lee's time. It truly is a timeless classic in American literature.

Apparently, this book never left the top spot in all five months of the Great American Read event. It never even got challenged. Considering that this survey was undertaken by people of multiple ages, sexes, and races/ethnicities, that is saying a lot.

The Top Five Finalists were:

5. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To be honest, Outlander completely surprised me — as I think it did with at least half of the people following this event. All I can say is that there must have been a huge fan base that was following it and pushing it up there. I personally am not going to read it, due to some rather grey morality issues about spouses in multiple time periods.

I wasn't surprised to see Harry Potter up there, but I personally wasn't happy. Knowing that one of America's favorite books has positive references to witchcraft says a lot for our culture, and in my opinion, not a lot of good either. Plus, from what I understand, there is some abuse concerns in there as well (dysfunctional families, etc.). Collectively, RW has not supported Harry Potter due to these concerns.

As a huge fan of both of these books, I was ecstatic to see Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice up there in the Top Five. I mean, how can you not be? There is a large American fan base for each of those books, and, what's better, both are superbly clean.

In the future, I hope to give more commentary on these and other books that were featured in the Great American Read event. In the meantime, for those who wish to check out the official book list and the rankings thereof, please click this link HERE.

It's your turn! Did you follow the Great American Read? Do you agree or disagree that To Kill A Mockingbird should have won? Which book from the 100 Novel list is your favorite? I'd love to discuss (just please keep it civil)

Keep fighting the fight, fellow Rebels!