#CoverLove Tag = Awesomeness!

This is a new tag, invented by Anika Walkes and it is AWESOME. Just sayin’. It’s a tag for anybody who loves books. And, um, doesn’t that just about define us all?

There are RULES, people. Rules.

  • Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog. (I kinda nominated myself.)
  • Create seven new #CoverLove questions for your nominees (or just copy and paste mine).
  • Answer the seven #CoverLove questions your nominator gave you.
  • Nominate 7+ other bloggers and let them know they’ve been tagged.

 

1 . What are your 3 favorite covers of all time?

book1 Michael Vey – Fall of Hades. Because, can you honestly tell me that cover isn’t epic-ness?

book2 Fawkes because that’s equally epic. And that mask!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00020] This cover is just plain cool. I mean, the scroll, the ink, the pen, it’s just . . . really cool. And it’s an awesome book, so there.

2 . What is one cover that you could squeal over forever?

book2 Why could I squeal over this cover forever? I think the cover answers that question, if I’m not mistaken.

3 . A cover that’s sweet and innocent and cuter than a kitten in a bow?

bookc This was such a fun book, and that cover is terrific.

4 . An absolutely EPIC cover that just screams “I’M AWESOME”.

book1 Um, yeah. Seriously.

5 . A series that has amazing covers for ALL the books (a rare delicacy)?

book3 24466484 700463 Can you honestly disagree with me here?

6 . What’s a cover you loved, but then you ended up hating the book?

23200402 I almost didn’t do this one. It just felt mean. But let me be clear – didn’t like this book, but I also didn’t finish it. My opinion of the story was by far the minority. But anyway, it’s such a lovely cover!

7 . The cover of a book that hasn’t come out yet but you’re screaming about how AWESOME the cover makes the book look?

book2 Yes, I did this one already. So?

 

Now it’s your turn!

  1. Your two favorite book covers EVER.
  2. A book you haven’t read, but can’t live without because of the cover.
  3. A book you loved, but disliked the cover.
  4. A cover you loved, even though you disliked the book.
  5. A series in which every cover was AMAZING.
  6. A cover containing your favorite color(s).
  7. A to-be-published book with an epic cover.

Take these and just have fun with them! I’m supposed to tag seven people, but I don’t really have seven people I could properly tag. So I’m going to tag three, and if you want to do it on your blog, please do! And drop me a link in the comments, because I LOVE BOOK COVERS!

Officially tagged: Kate at the Inky Notebook and Hope Ann at Writing in the Light and Kinsey at Over the Withers. Have fun you guys!

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Highlights and Goals – July, 2018

I haven’t done a Highlights and Goals post in eons (however long that is), and now seemed an appropriate time, since I am WWAAYY behind in blogging and, um, I was running out of ideas. 😉

So, let’s dive right in, folks. June highlights!

The biggest highlight of June was bringing home our little puppy Phoenix. I introduced her in the last post, and she’s pretty much the reason I have been absent from this blog. To give you an idea, I’ve been keeping a pair of shoes on at all times just so I’m ready to fly out the door when she has to go to the bathroom. But then, if you’ve ever had a puppy you’re trying to potty train, you know where I’m coming from.

Otherwise, Phoenix is a remarkably smart little girl. She is already sitting and staying while I prepare her food and waiting for my release command despite being the most food-crazy dog I’ve ever met. 🙂

In other news, in June I also wrapped up a few more things in One Light Shining, which has been saved for editing/proofreading. And we planted our potatoes in the garden. We never plant potatoes now until late June/early July, which allows us to avoid the first onslaught of Colorado Potato Beetles.

So, June was a pretty wild month. Now for July goals!

This is where I have to be a little, shall we say, secretive. Because there might be a super crazy exciting announcement on the bookish front coming up in a few days to a week. So I can’t be too forthcoming right now. But stay tuned. Please. *cue dramatic music*

  • Read Fawkes by Nadine Brandes. This is like, number one, and for a very good reason. I devoured Nadine’s Out of Time Series. And I LOVE the sound of Fawkes. If you haven’t the faintest clue what I’m talking about, go check out the book. Quickly.
  • Train Phoenix. Of course. She’s going to be the best-behaved Goldendoodle in our neighborhood. Actually, I think she’s the only Goldendoodle in our neighborhood, so . . .
  • Read. Because, I must.
  • Pick raspberries. Our bushes in the backyard are FULL of unripe berries. They should be coming in a couple weeks.

I know, I know, boring. But the most potentially exciting thing on this list, well, can’t be on this list. You must watch for new posts, that’s all.

And speaking of new posts . . . you know how I said I was running out of ideas? Well, I need your advice. All of you. Let me know your ideas on upcoming posts I could share. Writing related is good, but I’ll consider anything that would interest my faithful followers! You guys are just the best. So, let me know your thoughts, ’cause I can’t read your minds. Oh, really?

Let’s chat! What are you up to this month? What book are you most looking forward to reading, or are presently reading? How about possible blog posts? I need your opinions! What would you like to see on this blog this month?

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . it’s a Blog Tour

Yes, indeed. Today is the day we celebrate the release of Tricia Mingerink’s and Sarah Addison-Fox’s newest books. My participation is going to focus on Tricia’s book, but I’ll have the schedule for the tour posted at the end, so you can take a look around!

Blog Tour Header

Cool titles, right? And two seriously enchanting covers. Wow.

So, to celebrate the release of Dagger’s Sleep on the 28th, I have had the privilege to host an author interview with Tricia. But first, the synopsis of her newest book.

A prince cursed to sleep.

A princess destined to wake him.

A kingdom determined to stop them.

High Prince Alexander has been cursed to a sleep like unto death, a curse that will end the line of the high kings and send the Seven Kingdoms of Tallahatchia into chaos. With his manservant to carry his luggage and his own superior intelligence to aid him, Alex sets off to find one of the Fae and end his curse one way or another.

A hundred years later, Princess Rosanna learns she is the princess destined by the Highest King to wake the legendary sleeping prince. With the help of the mysterious Daemyn Rand, can she find the courage to finish the quest as Tallahatchia wavers on the edge of war?

One curse connects them. A hundred years separate them. From the rushing rivers of Tallahatchia’s mountains to the hall of the Highest king himself, their quests will demand greater sacrifice than either of them could imagine.

And the interview with Tricia – which can also be translated as the first author interview I’ve ever done. 🙂

1. Welcome! What was it like to publish your first book?
It was really cool. I decided to be a published author when I was 6 years old and it was my dream ever since. 
That’s great that you knew so early on. 2. Would you say your writing/publishing experience has changed since your first book?
Yes, definitely. Things are different once you are published. There is a lot more pressure on your writing once you have fans waiting for the next one and you don’t want to disappoint them. 
3. What are your hopes for this new series?
I really hope it connects with readers just as much as The Blades of Acktar did and perhaps find an even wider audience. 
4. Would you say there is one author who has most influenced your writing? If so, who?
C.S. Lewis did much to shape my writing. The Chronicles of Narnia was one of the first fantasy books I read, and the way Lewis used fantasy to convey Christian themes still blows my mind each time i read the books. 
Agreed! Narnia was truly inspired! 5. Which do you prefer: Cats or dogs?
Dogs all the way. 
What??? How about daytime writing vs. nighttime writing?
Daytime, but since I work full time I usually end up writing at night. 
C.S. Lewis or J.R.R Tolkien?
If you hadn’t guessed already, C.S. Lewis. I re-read The Chronicles of Narnia at least once a year. I think I’ve only actually read The Lord of the Rings all the way through once. The writing is well done, but C.S. Lewis holds my heart. 
Thanks a lot, Tricia!
 ~ ~ ~ ~
About the Author:
Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.
You can connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.
Tricia Mingerink Author Picture 1
 And there’s a party to celebrate.
~ ~ ~ ~
To celebrate the release of Dissociate and Dagger’s Sleep, Sarah Addison-Fox and Tricia Mingerink are hosting a day-long Facebook Festival. There will be plenty of games and giveaways, not to mention Serena Chase, author of the Eyes of E’veria series, will be the guest of honor. It’s a party you won’t want to miss! You’ll be able to stop by any time during the day to join the fun, no matter what time zone you live in!
Facebook Festival Header
Giveaways!
Sarah Addison-Fox and Tricia Mingerink are each hosting a giveaway for their books for the blog tour. Sarah Addison-Fox is giving away a paperback set of the first three books in the Allegiance Series. The giveaway is open internationally where such giveaways are permitted and where Createspace ships. The books may or may not be signed depending on where the winner lives. To enter this giveaway, follow this Rafflecopter link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/624234b712/? 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
And that about does it for the blog tour here! But you can find a lot more info about these two exciting books by checking out the blog tour schedule below. Enjoy . . . oh, and happy reading!  🙂

 

Tuesday – May 22

Laura Grace – Author Interview

Reading Anyone – Book Review

Jaye L Knight – Book Spotlight

Quirky Faith – Book Reviews and Author Interview

Wednesday – May 23

Allyson Kennedy – Author Interview

Sam H. – Book Review

Addyson Huneke – Book Review and Author Interview

Ivie Brooks – Book Reviews

Thursday – May 24

Shantelle Mary – Book Review and Book Spotlight

Brie Donning – Book Review and Multi-Character Interview

Blooming with Books – Book Review and Author Interview

Julian Daventry – Book Review and Author Interview

Friday – May 25

Faith Thompson – Book Reviews and Author Interview

Hannah Gaudette – Author Interview

CM Williams – Book Review

Chloe Parker – Book Reviews

Saturday – May 26

JM Christian – Book Review and Multi-Character Interview

Abigail McKenna – Book Reviews

Liv Fisher – Author Interview

Book Wolf – Book Reviews and Author Interview

Liz Koetsier – Book Spotlight

Monday – May 28

Jessica Dowell – Book Review and Author Interview

Lila Kims – Book Reviews

Marie Elrich – Book Reviews

Faith Potts – Book Review and Book Spotlight

Punctuation Pantry – How to Use Suspended Hyphens

Welcome! We’re starting something new today. An ongoing series entitled “Punctuation Pantry,” because amid all the excitement with crafting characters, creating unbeatable plot twists, or finding a way to kill cliches like nobody’s business . . . well, all that would fall pretty flat without proper punctuation, wouldn’t it? *tries to ignore various snores among audience*

Hey, it’ll be fun, I promise!

And you might be pleased to know I’m not starting with something boring like commas. Nope. I’m introducing – you may or may not have heard of these handy little things already – drumroll, please . . .

Suspended hyphens.

These things are so useful. Everyone needs to know about them. Ironically, I did not learn about their usage from a grammar book – nobody ever talked about them. I picked up on them from reading novels, and compared their usage so I could guess as to the proper placement. Then I asked an English professor who also happens to be our neighbor. 🙂

So, have you ever seen this:

We strolled across the black- and white-checkered floor of the restaurant.

The italicized phrase black- and white-checkered floor employs the suspended hyphen. Note this sentence:

The two- or three-sentence riddles were vastly entertaining.

Two- or three-sentence riddles also recruits the suspended hyphen. What is it? Basically, you use it to bridge the gap between two adjectives that describe the same noun if a conjunction (like or or and) comes between the adjectives. So, if you just wrote two-line riddles, you obviously wouldn’t need the suspended hyphen, just a regular one. However, if you wanted to add an adjective, and still keep the conjunction in between, a second hyphenated word would be in place, with a space between the hyphen and the conjunction.

If this is confusing, I have more examples to follow. However, please realize, you can rework the structure of most sentences to get rid of suspended hyphens. But don’t do so too eagerly. They are extremely useful. The suspended hyphen actually makes your writing clearer to the reader, in my opinion. It harnesses those adjectives and makes it clearer what they are describing. For a more thorough definition, I recommend you check out Wikipedia’s explanation.

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century technology was limited during those times.

The gray- and blue-scaled snake stole away into the grass.

It took only a one- or two-minute speech to capture the people’s attention.

These are all examples of suspended hyphens. You’ve likely seen them while reading, but if you didn’t know their usage before, I hope you can understand it now. There are other, clearer explanations elsewhere, I’m sure.

Let’s chat! Have you ever used suspended hyphens? What do you think of them? And what other forms of punctuation would you like to see highlighted in our Punctuation Pantry series?

Does Your MC Have a Soul? – and some character-crafting advice

If you have spent any time at all researching the art of writing, or, for that matter, if you’ve spent time actually writing, you’re probably aware of what might, arguably, be the single most important factor in the crafting of your story. Simply, it’s called character development or character arcs, but we’re delving a little deeper than that.

Does your MC have a soul? It might sound like a funny question, but it essentially refers to the bend-ability of your characters. Or, their ability to grow and change, for better or worse, and thus engage your reader’s heart and attention. If your characters do not engage the reader, your story is very likely . . . drowning.

A while back, I read a novel that was very much based on the typical plot line of “time travel brings the prophesied hero into a world that they are destined to save.” You know that kind of story. And there’s nothing wrong with that kind of story, aside from its cliche-ness. However, because the plot of that book relied so heavily on a used-and-abused cliche, it did not feel to me as the reader to be a very well developed story.

But then there were the characters. And those characters were so well-developed and had so much room to grow – in other words, they had souls – I kept reading and ultimately enjoyed the story. Because of the characters.

Then there are the stories with plots and worldbuilding so thorough and well thought-out we are blown away. But many times, if those stories do not have believable characters, they cannot really stand up to the stories that do.

However, please note that you may write a very believable, real MC, with an excellent arc, that a particular reader can’t relate to. Thus, they may not enjoy the story as much as they could. I’ve read books like that – but just because can’t relate to the protagonist, doesn’t mean it isn’t a character with a soul.

1. GIVE YOUR PROTAGONIST FAULTS

Let him/her make mistakes. This is one of the easiest first steps in reaching the reader. If your MC is “perfect,” well, who can relate to that? Yes, of course, you can make your character a hero in his own way, but a hero without fault is unlikely to inspire the avid reader or garner their support. And besides that, I think even the author will find that a hero with his own weaknesses or misled beliefs or shadowed past is much more interesting to write. 🙂

2. DON’T LET YOUR ANTAGONIST BE STAGNANT

This is far trickier, it doesn’t work for every story, and honestly, I don’t recommend you tackle this until you’ve reached a certain level of confidence in your writing, especially the writing of your protagonist. That said, there may come a time when you’re ready to do more with the antagonist.

Be creative. Ask questions. Was he/she always evil? What carried him/her down that path? Make your antagonist someone we might even be able to feel a little story for. An example, at least for me, would be the antagonist Shinzon in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis. Without going into too much detail, let me just say that he was not only given a unique launch point – he was more or less a clone of our protagonist who took a different road in life – and because of the things that encouraged him to make the choices he did in his life, it is easy to come to feel sorry for him, making that character an excellent antagonist.

To clarify, that antagonist just went from someone we cheer against to someone we want to see become a better person. And that is good writing.

🙂

There are many more points I could talk about here, but I’ve run out of time. So let’s chat. Who is your favorite antagonist/protagonist? What do you do in your writing to give your characters a soul?

Home: Where the Goats Roam – a short story

Hello friends! So, I’m taking a short break from the regular blog posts today so I can bring you a recent short story I wrote for Write the World, an online community of young writers, which I would encourage you to check out.

This was a piece I wrote at random, but I was pleasantly surprised at the feedback it received. It was also shared at Lexigraph Blogs – you can find some good tidbits on writing from them!

But without further chit-chat, here goes:

A jagged hillside juts up from the earth, steep and long and full of thorns – go around, instead, along the path, around our land to the trees.

You approach slowly, quietly, your feet making minimal noise in the soft spring grass. Crows take flight from the field, startled by your approach. Halfway across this field, you stop. You can hear them now – their soft baas from the hillside. They must be hidden down there, where the contours of the land descend out of sight. Their baas range from the high-pitched cry of a young kid who searches for his mother, to the low reply of the doe as she stops grazing to answer him.

You continue on. You reach the zenith of the hill and a gust of wind pulls the scent of the herd and the scent of the grasses they graze upon up to your nose. Keep going. Go to the shade of the locust trees and watch.

Watch the baby goats leap like rabbits, here and there and back again. Watch that red doe – see how deftly she ascends the hill? Turns your head now and see the young white doe – see how she consumes the wild raspberries, thorns and all? Only a goat could accomplish such feats as these. Climb down a little farther now. Look down, past the brambles and thorns. The other red doe is there, with the brown-and-gray kid. Watch them as they eat away at the foliage and branches, whatever they can reach with their long, sleek necks. Small black bugs irritate them on this hill, so they are working their way into the woods for a reprieve.

Sit here now and watch. Watch the goats exist – thrive – here, here in their natural home, this wild hillside and deep and tangled wood. This is their home. This is my home, too.

My home is where the goats roam.

 

What do you think? This is only the third or fourth short story of my own that I’ve shared with all of you on this blog, but there will be more to come!

How to Choose the Best POV For Your Story

Here it is – the follow-up on my last POV post.  I brushed over this topic in that post, but I felt I should go into more detail about the actual process of selecting which POV is best for your story.

First, there are questions to ask yourself.

HOW MANY CHARACTERS DO YOU NEED TO COVER?

This is one of the most important factors in deciding the POV fate of your book, and in some cases, it may be the only question you ask.

If your story centers around one character and that character essentially carries the whole story, consider first-person POV. Because it will enable you to come across with a depth of emotion and voice you may or may not achieve in third person. In my writing, I prefer first person over any other POV, simply because I do not write as well in third. In this POV, I can get deep into my character’s head and convey that character much more clearly than I can otherwise, and clarity is critical in writing.

An example from one of my WIPs is Ashes Remain. I finished the first draft of this story in first person/present tense. This story contains many characters, but it is told solely from the perspective of a teenage girl, Wren, because I found her to be a strong enough protagonist to carry the story.

However, if you have many important characters, several different main or secondary people who will carry the story, your best choice is likely third-person multiple. Keep in mind, you don’t want to enter too many characters’ heads in the course of one book. Keep it to as few as you can manage and still tell the story.

Another WIP example is my back-burner book, One Light Shining. This is written in third-person multiple so I can allow several different main characters to carry the story throughout.

WHAT VOICE ARE YOU SPEAKING THROUGH?

This is another important question. If you’re telling the story of a young woman living through WW1, you may, in fact, find third-person limited or first person to be your best options, simply because, in a story like this, you are probably trying to portray the emotion of the time, and remaining in one character’s head throughout is a possible way to accomplish this. That said, if you have two crucial MCs, the girl waiting at home and her brother (or father, or fiance) on the battlefield, obviously first person – unless you use first-person multiple – is not going to work.

Your story/character voice is another deciding factor in what POV you will use.

WHAT POV DO YOU LIKE BEST?

This is actually a more important question than it seems. Whatever POV you are most comfortable writing in, that’s probably what you’ll write the best. You may or may not be able to make the rest of your story conform to your preference. Keep in mind, you may simply need to stretch your abilities in writing, but this is a good start-up question to ask yourself.

 

There are so many ways to choose the best POV for your story, but asking these questions can get you started.

What POVs do you like the best in books you’ve read? First? Third? How about second?? Let’s chat!

The Joyful Tag for Writers!

Okay, so I’m doing something new today, and I am inventing a tag. 🙂 Sounds like fun! I was planning on continuing my post on POVs, but I thought it might be nice to split that up and stick this one in between.

Okay, rule number one: Acknowledge who tagged you for this.

Rule number two: Tag at least two people in return.

Rule number three: Post these three rules when you do the tag. 🙂 Easy, right?

1. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF ANY THREE OF YOUR CHARACTERS WERE PUT IN A ROOM TOGETHER FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME?

(Mine would be looking at each other, trying to figure out why that person is from the twenty-first century and they’re from a fictional medieval universe. That spells trouble for sure.)

2. IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE A THEME SONG TO REPRESENT YOUR CURRENT WIP, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I’m exempt from this question because I am presently in between WIPs. 🙂

3. IF YOU COULD TRAVEL TO ANY FICTIONAL UNIVERSE, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

(I thought I was putting this question in here to be slightly mean – you can only choose one! – but suddenly, I’ve come up blank.) Okay, probably Rivendale in The Lord of the Rings, but ask me again tomorrow.

4. IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON ANOTHER PLANET WITH ONE OF YOUR CHARACTERS, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I would select my character Elian because he would be good at that kind of thing.

5. IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON ANOTHER PLANET WITH ANOTHER FICTIONAL CHARACTER – NOT ONE OF YOURS – WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

Oh, totally Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. I mean, who else???

6. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE GENRE TO WRITE IN AND WHY?

Least favorite = horror. I. Do. Not. Write. Horror. YYUUCCKK.

7. IF YOU HAD TO LIVE OUT THE ROLE OF A FICTIONAL CHARACTER, WHO WOULD IT BE?

(By the way, this can be your book or someone else’s.) I would have to go with Katrina from my story One Light Shining. She goes through some really, really hard stuff, but the result, as far as this author is concerned, is way worth it. I just haven’t thought to ask her if she agrees. *cue evil author laughter*

8. WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE MUST KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am a cataholic. No, spellcheck, not Catholic, I said CAT-AHOLIC. Definition: Serious addiction to cats. 🙂

 

Now it’s your turn. If you want to do the tag, consider yourself tagged, and send me a link in the comments! Officially, I’m going to tag Kate Flourney, Jane Maree, and Hope Shelton. Have fun, you guys, with the Joyful Tag!

What I’ve Learned From a Year of Blogging

I have been managing this blog for just about a year. Happy birthday! Actually, I have learned a great deal in that time, and there are a few things I would have liked to have known in advance. I’m going to share some of these today.

I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF KEYWORDS AND TITLES

So, prior to blogging, I was working on our farm website, and I kept hearing about these things called keywords. As time went on and I researched more and more about writing and wrote more and more blog posts, I discovered some keywords of my own. For instance, I have found that some of my most popular blog posts have titles that include words like how-to or include a question mark. I honestly don’t know if these are coincidences or not, they are just observations.

Titles, people. They’re important.

I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITHFUL BLOGGING

Hey, I don’t care if you have zero followers or one hundred, you have to blog regularly. I’ve heard it from many sources and I’ve experienced the benefit myself. It doesn’t matter if nobody sees that five-hundred-and-fifty-word post you slaved over for a day. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a major lull in blog traffic and nobody puts a like on that post you loved so much. It. Doesn’t. Make. A. Difference in how often you have to blog.

When I started, I was faithfully blogging every three days. That has changed. I don’t have a set schedule, but I try to get one in a couple times a week. It is critically important, my friend, to blog regularly, even if no one sees it, because it is broadening your span of keywords and it is boosting your SEO status.

I LEARNED TO BE AUTHENTIC

It is important to have an open and welcoming atmosphere on your site, and blog posts are a good way to get that message across. Be authentic. Be you. Use your voice. People are going to get that.

LINKS!!!

I love links. Put ’em on Facebook. Put ’em on the other blog and the other blog. Reblog from the new blog. Seriously, do that. I accidentally reblogged a post from our farm blog to this one and because I did, it got attention. Our new blog received traffic. I might just try it again. 🙂

See what I did up there? 😉

Links are excellent ways to improve feedback over time. Use them more than once.

THE CONCLUSION?

I hate blogging.

That’s a joke. I actually love blogging. It gets a little tiresome in those intervals when no one drops by for tea . . . *sad face* Okay, whatever. Those are just the times when you remind yourself you have something to say, and someone will hear it someday. (Please don’t call out that lame rhyme, it was accidental).  🙂  See what I mean? Authentic = randomness. Fun!!

 

Tell me, friends, what are your thoughts on blogging? Has any of this been helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments! We’ll share tea and . . . um, pizza? Or Oreos. Or toast? You fill in the blank.

How to Overcome the Threat of Cliches in a few Easy Steps

Ah-ha! I know what you’re thinking. My blog post title was cliche. “A few easy steps”? Yes, I know that was cliche, because that’s exactly what we’re talking about today.

First off, let’s just get this out of the way – it’s awful hard to do away with “cliche” in general, and there are times when cliches can actually be used to your great advantage (which we’ll talk about as well). But if you’re writing time travel fantasy, you might find it difficult to get away from the cliche “ancient prophecy” storyline. In fact, let’s start with that one.

WHEN TO DO AWAY WITH SAID CLICHE

Personally, I consider time travel fantasy to be an exceptional sub-genre, one to be used and used thoughtfully. However, C.S. Lewis popularized the trend which has spanned eons – the main characters come into your make-believe world via the projection of an ancient prophecy. Who are we to argue with C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia?

This storyline may be . . . how shall I say it . . . cliche. Now, but maybe not then. Which means if you’re writing a time travel fantasy story, consider doing away entirely with the prophecy cliche. However . . .

WHEN TO USE SAID CLICHE

When it defines your story – when, in other words, there wouldn’t be a story without it. Or when it contributes something meaningful and powerful to the plot. Or when you can use it and completely twist it around so it is unique, or otherwise no longer a cliche. Simple. Pretty much.

You can apply this to practically every cliche, except maybe the happily-ever-after one. Seriously, don’t end anything expect a child’s bedtime story with happily-ever-after.

STEP ONE – OVERCOMING ANY CLICHE STORYLINE

  1. Take care to recognize if that cliche is actually a building block for your story, one you can transform so that it is no longer a “cliche” in the strictest sense. In other words, try to reinvent, to some degree, whatever cliche you’re employing.
  2. Be imaginative! If you’re dumping the cliche altogether, it will likely be a difficult feat, especially in fantasy, or a fairy tale retelling. I get that. So you may want to refer to number one right above this. But if you are determined to be rid of that cliche plot twist or setting or character arc or archnemesis, by all means. Now just be patient in your outlining and be imaginative! Think outside the box – wwaayy outside it if you have to.

STEP TWO – OVERCOMING ANY CLICHE SETTING OR ARC

  1. A lot of settings are cliche in fantasy writing. Forests, castles – you know the ropes. So consider placing your story in a different setting than the commonly appreciated ones. Maybe your main characters are nomadic? Live under the ground? Under the sea? Maybe they’re people the size of ladybugs. How would that affect your story? Tricia Mingerink placed her story in the Blades of Acktar Series on the open prairie.
  2. Be aware of what character arcs you’re using. There is a lot of flexibility here – I mean, a good character arc is a good character arc, cliche or not. So if you’re using a cliche character arc to achieve character development, maybe change the way your character gets there. Jane Maree wrote a fantastic post on torturing your characters that you should find helpful in this.

But that is just about all I can say on the subject. How often you can do away with cliches – we’re more dependent on them than we realize – will only be identified through careful examination of your story. Let me know how it goes! What are your thoughts on this subject? Let’s chat in the comments!