Books

A collection of posts about books and book reviews.

Sky-Daughter (NaNoWriMo) – Support a Fellow Young Writer

Hey, guys, and thanks for reading Tween Fiction Girl! Today’s post is going to be a unique one, because I’ve never done a book review/human interest combo post. It’s going to be a book review, sort of, but you’ll also need a bit of backstory.

Remember last year, when I did NaNoWriMo? I wrote a book called The Juniper Tree that will never be published because I didn’t like it, but I also came across my fellow young writer Lily Sowell. I read the excerpt of her story on her NaNoWriMo account page, and we got to talking.
It turns out that her book went a lot further than mine. While mine remained an unfinished idea, she went on to publish hers on CreateSpace. I own a copy of it, and I have to say, for a twelve-year-old author, this was a stellar read.

And now for the review bit of the book review.

The book’s title, as you may have surmised from both the headline and URL of this page, is Sky-Daughter. (It sounds a bit ambiguous out of context, but it makes more sense once you read the story.) To give a simple summary, it’s a fantasy story, centered around three young women by the names of Ayanna, Gwynn, and Oriel, set in a place called Ajeda in a time during a long, hard war. (Actually, the e in Ajeda has an accent mark over it, but I can’t figure out how to make it on my computer.)

It’s not an adult book, but that’s understandable. It was written by a 12-year-old for a 12-year-old reading level. I’d recommend the story itself for an age group of about 8 to 14; it’s not too complex and not at all inappropriate, but it’s compelling enough to attract the attention of an older reader, too. I mean, even my mom enjoyed it, and, when it comes to books, she’s hard to interest.

The author’s writing style is brisk and dialogue-oriented, which leaves a lot about the details of the setting to the imagination. I like descriptions, frankly, but even more, I dislike lengthy and tedious descriptions, so I didn’t find this much of a setback. The writing flows, with understandable characters (which is definitely a plus, especially in stories written by younger individuals) and easy, casual dialogue. I made note of the fact that a good portion of the main characters are female. As it was written by a girl, it’s written for girls, even if that particular facet was unintentional; as I myself am an almost-teen girl, this didn’t bother me, but, despite the fact that this book is set in a war, I don’t recommend it for boys looking for a nitty-gritty action story.

A heads-up for anyone looking to purchase the book: it’s NOT flawless. No book is. It has as many flukes as anything I’ve ever written, I’ll admit, such as an accidental g tacked onto the word tightly in the last chapter in the book, or an extra “that night” in a sentence on the first page. As a whole, though, I’d recommend this to young readers who’d like to try out something a little different from the rest of the young adult fiction stories.

For a fun and fast-paced plot, memorable characters, and an interesting origin (how many 12-year-olds do you ever see publishing books?), but taking points off for a couple of grammatical errors and other small flukes, I give Sky-Daughter four stars out of five.

I don’t usually do this with my reviews, but since this book can currently only be bought in two places in the known world, here are the links to Sowell’s outlets.
Sky-Daughter at Amazon.com
Sky-Daughter at CreateSpace.com (by Amazon)

UPDATE:  Sowell released another edition of the book; she fixed the aforementioned typos.  (The webpage still says 1st Edition, but the interior of the book says 2nd).

Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful to you.

~ Summer

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The Feels: Why the Feels are the Best

Hey, guys!  Sorry I haven’t posted in a while; I haven’t been able to think of anything to write about for a while  *glares viciously at empty post suggestion page*.  Anyway, my inspiration from this post came from this Minecraft skin of mine I posted on Planet Minecraft for a contest.  The theme was things money can’t buy, and since I thought love and friendship were going to be overdone, I wrote a story about a guy and his dead wife.  It was ridiculously depressing, but I was (and am) getting good feedback from my writing.

But why would anyone enjoy reading a story that made them so sad?

Let’s look at the larger picture for a second.  Be honest – you’ve had the feels for a fictional character before.  Whether it was from a book, movie, or TV show, I’m willing to bet that you’ve felt an emotion for a story before, whether it made you happy, excited, nervous, scared, or flat-out sad.  You may not have enjoyed feeling so bad about a person that doesn’t even exist, but the truth is, you probably enjoyed it a lot more than a story that didn’t make you feel anything.

Why is that?  Probably because you like reading stories with relatable characters.  You enjoy reading about people with the same hobbies, interests, and characteristics as you.  It helps you get in the know of the story.  You can understand the characters well, and it makes you connect with them on a whole new level.

Chances are, you’re human (unless you’re a cyborg, in which case, you don’t even GET the feels, so why are you even reading this) and if you’re human, you feel plenty of emotions.  That means that emotional characters with real personalities are more relatable to you, too.  You like well-written stories, and well-written stories mean well-written characters.  Well-written characters mean realistic, relatable characters.  You need a story you can connect with.

But why are emotional roller-coaster stories the best?  You may disagree with me here (especially if you’re not into unhappy fiction) but I think that, if a writer can write a scene or story well enough and realistically enough that you – a living, breathing being – can feel real emotions for it even though you know it’s not real, then that’s a really good author.  They’ve portrayed their characters so skillfully that you feel what they feel, even though they only exist in words on a page.  You forget you’re reading fiction and get into a story like it’s actually happening around you.  And I, for one, think that’s pretty much the coolest thing ever.

So, writers, just remember – emotional, suspenseful stories are the best,  People enjoy them the most, and, I’ll tell the truth here, they’re the most fun to write, too.  The feels are never a bad thing to have in a story!  Invite the feels in.

Thank you all for reading!  Remember, feedback, comments, and ratings are always appreciated – I want to know what you think!

Until next post!

~ Summer

Convincing Characters: The Trouble with Mary Sues

Hey, people, and thanks for reading this Tween Fiction Girl post!  As we writers [and maybe a few readers] know, the plot of a story doesn’t just happen.  It doesn’t just magically manifest itself.  You need characters within the plot to carry out the action that makes the story happen.  The thing is, writing said characters is often a whole lot more difficult than it seems.

One mistake that’s made often occurs when the plot is planned out before the characters.  If you already know what’s going to happen in the story and you develop your characters later, your characters can end up as meaningless tools that carry out whatever actions are necessary for the plot to go on.

This just doesn’t work.  As with in real life, the circumstances are made by the person, not vice versa.  His or her own actions need to further the plot.  That’s a good start to giving each character their own unique personality – if you make it so they only do what they do to keep the plot going, they’ll seem like gears and pulleys in a machine:  you pull the strings, they pull the weight.  This’ll make every character seem the exact same, and they’ll all be equally boring.

On the other hand, it’s possible to get too into the development of a character.  You may have heard the term Mary Sue before.  A Mary Sue is a character that’s too perfect.  The author liked him or her too much, so they turned them into the most annoyingly immaculate person ever.

They’re flawlessly attractive, have an amazing personality, and everyone loves them; except for the villain, who’s almost always featured in said Mary Sue’s traumatic backstory, who hates him or her with a burning passion.  There are several different breeds of Mary Sues:  the charismatic, innocent charmer; the tough, brave, noble, honorable warrior; the tragic, likely orphaned/abandoned hero, and many more.  If you want to protect your characters from Mary-Sue-hood, try running them through this Mary Sue test I discovered on NaNoWriMo last year.

The problem with Mary Sues is, they’re hard to connect with.  You may love the impeccable character you made, but no one else can identify with them.  No one is that perfect.

Why is it so important that your characters follow these guidelines, you ask?  It’s certainly easier to write characters that you love, or make your plot easier to write.  The truth is, readers will hate them.  People like characters that they can understand; characters they can truly identify with.  If your characters are lifeless puppets that are only used to give your plot the push it needs, they aren’t understandable.  If we don’t know enough about them, it’s like trying to get to know a block of wood.

Alternatively, no one can really relate to a character without flaws.  Real people aren’t gods – we all have problems.  It’s what makes us human.  On the other hand, a Mary Sue will seem inhuman, unreachable, too good for this world.  We just can’t sympathize with someone so unrealistic.

The truly perfect character isn’t “perfect” in the Mary Sue sense of the word.  A perfectly written character is realistic.  He or she seems human.  They have problems, but they mean well [some of them, at least].  They have real, varied personalities; every one is different, and they all seem believable.  Follow these steps, and you’re well on your way to writing a book full of the greatest characters imaginable!

Remember, feedback is always appreciated!  Rate my posts with the stars at the top of the page, comment your thoughts, and even give this a like if you really loved it.  If you want to see a post about a specific subject, you can always suggest one here.

Thanks for reading!  I hope this was helpful!

Summer T

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Story Beginnings

Hey, guys, and welcome to another Tween Fiction Girl post! Even though I’ve only ever finished two or three stories (GOOD stories, like the kind that other humans can read, that is) I’ve started to write many, many more than that. I have a whole folder on my computer devoted to stories and ideas. Even though few of these make it past Chapter 2, there’s one part that’s written in every book: the beginning.

While climaxes and action – maybe even endings – are way more fun to write, the beginning of the story may just be the most important part of every book or story that’s ever been written down. Every book is different, of course, but there’s a few things that every beginning must do.
– They must draw the reader into the story. If your beginning is stale or boring, the reader will struggle to get through it, and they’ll almost definitely lose hope and stop reading.
– They must give the reader necessary information about the premise of the story. Try to describe your main characters, but don’t go into TOO much detail; endless words about every thread of everything the character is wearing and every detail about every aspect of their body may be nice for you to imagine, but no one wants to read that. Don’t go into the extreme, either – give the reader some information about the surroundings of the main character, or it’ll be difficult to get into the mood of the book.
– They must introduce the mood of the story. Getting the reader to keep reading and telling them what’s happening around them is a great start, but giving them all the details of the world isn’t enough to get your story started. Tell them what they need to know about the story – the characters, the problem, the culture surrounding the setting. Is this a sad story, or a happy story? Scary, or funny? Make sure that’s clear early on.

Of course, beginnings can change. While you’re writing the rest of the story, all the beginning has to do is get you involved. As long as you won’t lose interest, it’s great. For now.

But, after the first draft of the story is written, you’ll likely want to go back and change it. Imagine it from the point of view of someone who’s just getting to know the world you’ve created. Is there information about the characters that doesn’t fit in with what the rest of the story says, or maybe it should be revealed later? Does it seem boring and droning, or does it leap into the action without enough setup at the beginning? If something seems wrong, fix it.

Of course, it’s not a good idea to jump straight from writing the ending of the book to writing the beginning. Let it sit for a little while first. If you’re still in the mood that writing the ending put you in, wait a little while. If your book starts out happy and winds up sad, you want to make sure that you’re capable of writing an actually happy beginning before jumping into it. Make sure the mood of your story flows, or the beginning will seem as out of place as it did if there were flaws in the actual writing of it.

As with any part of the story, make sure the grammar is accurate and readable. Vary the length of your sentences. Add some short ones here and there, or put a long one every paragraph or so. It’ll make the wording seem more natural and easy to understand, thus letting your reader get through it more easily.

If your story’s beginning meets these recommendations, then congratulations! You’re well on your way to writing the world’s next bestseller. Keep going!!

Remember, if you want to see a TFG post about a specific subject, you can always suggest one here. As always, thanks so much for reading!!!

~ Summer

Character Development Sheet

Hey, people! I don’t know if anyone else has had this problem, but I’ve had a lot of trouble finding a suitable character dev sheet for writing down their information and stuff. They’re all either too short and too cryptic (e.g., name, age, personality, appearance) or wayyyy too long (seriously, who cares about their social security number?)
So I decided to write my own. It’s not perfect, but it works for me. If there’s anything you want to change on it, you can remove parts and/or add your own fields. Copy the whole post and paste it wherever you want it (notebook, microsoft word, etc).
Enjoy!!

—————————————

“Quote”
– name, book

Personal Info

Full name:
Age:
Gender:
Type of being:
Name origin:
Name meaning:
Birthday:
Astrological sign:

Physical Characteristics

Height:
Weight/build:
Skin color:
Eye color:
Hair color/style:
Facial features:
Striking/unique features:
Tattoos, piercings, etc:
Voice:
Characteristic gestures:

Personality

Temperament:
How others would describe him/her:
Describe in three words:
Sense of humor:
Positive traits:
Negative traits:
Fears:
Things that make him/her happy:
Quirks:
MBTI personality:

Romantic Life

Orientation:
Current significant other:
First love:
Exes:
Turn-ons:
Turn-offs:
Current love interest:

Death (Optional)

Time of death:
Age at time of death:
Cause of death:
Place of death:
Last words:
Resting place:

Personal Life

Address:
Hometown:
Describe his/her house’s exterior:
Describe his/her yard:
Describe his/her house’s interior:
Describe his/her bedroom:
Pets:
Favorite memory:
Worst memory:
Most important thing in his/her life:
Goals:

Family

Biological parents:
Adoptive parents, if any:
Siblings, if any:
Step-parents/siblings, if any:
Children, if any:
Birthplace:

Supernatural (if any for all questions)

Supernatural powers:
Strange or supernatural physical attributes:
Supernatural affiliations (can talk to dragons, raised by werewolves, etc.):
Supernatural beliefs:

Biography

Infancy (1-3):
Childhood (1-9):
Preteen years (10-12):
Teen years (13-16):
Young adulthood (17-26):
Adulthood (27-36):
Late adulthood (37-49):
Seniority (50+):

Relationships

Confidantes:
Grudges:
Friendships:
Enemies:
Others’ opinions of him/her:

In His/Her Mind

IQ:
Dominant brain (left or right):
Dominant hand:
Secrets:
Reason he/she kept his/her secret/s for so long:
Religion/life philosophy:
Favorite quote:

Universal Profile

Desired actor/actress or voice actor/actress:
Theme song:
Character inspirations:

Other Info