Book Review Follow-Up: What writers can learn from Across the Universe.

So today we’re looking at Across the Universe by Beth Revis. The review’s over here. But that post was long enough without this tacked onto the end, so I figured I’d make a new post of it and see how that goes.

Note that in this section, there will very possibly be spoilers, so read at your own risk! 

(Preferably after you read Across the Universe so you know what parts of the book I’m referring to, but I’m sure it’ll make sense either way.)

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How to Break the Rules of Writing (and Get Away With It!)

Well, in light of a frustrating encounter with an invasive computer repairman, I’m feeling very… defiant, today.

So I’m going to help you break the rules. Sound good? I think it does.

Thus far, the most complete list of  rules I’ve found are Superhero Nation’s Five First-Time Novelist’s Mistakes. SN’s writer, B. McKenzie, is actually a very brilliant man besides being an old friend, but as I read these rules he’s laid out I keep finding ways to break them. He’s a pretty good sport, though, so I’m sure he won’t mind.

So… ‘on with it’, am I right?

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Lessons From My WIP, Part 2: Weed out your ‘trophies’. second segment of Lessons From My WIP is on weeding out your novel’s trophies. Trophies in this case are in the same vein as ‘Author’s Darlings’, but covering a much wider range. And while source after source after source say to kill your darlings, to murder them viciously where they stand, it’s still something that the average novelist struggles with well into publication.

So how do you identify your trophies? And what can you do to prevent the collection of more?

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Book Review: I Am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore

“They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.

They killed them all.

I am Number Four.
I am next.”

I Am Number Four is a YA science fiction, and the first in a proposed six-book series called the Lorien Legacies, written under the name Pittacus Lore.

The book is told from the point of view of a fifteen-year-old boy named John Smith. Or Daniel, or any of the dozens of other identities he’s been forced to assume for the last eleven years of his life. The only name he truly has isn’t a name at all, but a number: Number Four. And if the enemy find him, he’s dead.

But who are the enemy? I believe the better question is, ‘Who is Number Four?’ John–I’ll call him that, since that’s what he goes by for most of the book–is the fourth of nine gifted survivors of the doomed planet Lorien. Each of the nine was given a number and a guardian, then blessed with a protection spell: They may only be killed in order, One and then Two and then Three and so on. Otherwise, they’re close to invincible.

The book opens with a third agonizing scar appearing on John’s ankle, and his guardian Henri burning all that they own. Number Three was dead, hunted down by the Mogadorians who destroyed their home-planet in the first place, and John is next in line. So they have to disappear, destroy all evidence of their current identities and truck halfway across the country to whatever obscure town Henri thinks they’ll be safe in next. For a little while, anyway.

This winds up being Paradise, Ohio. A small town… but as John soon discovers, the first place that feels like home.

Over the course of the book, John–with the help and protection of Henri–must balance school bullies and the first girl he’s ever truly cared about with learning to control his Legacies (Lorien powers, to put it simply) and dealing with the ever-present threat of discovery and certain death at the hands of the Mogadorians hanging over his head. Especially when they get word that the Mogs might be closer than they feared, and John is faced with a decision: Flee Paradise and vanish yet again from the enemy’s clutches, or stay with the girl he loves in the only place he’s ever truly belonged?

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How Not to Anger Your Reader

This evening I finished re-reading one of my favorite books, Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. And once again, I found myself confused. ‘I love this book to pieces,’ I told myself. ‘Why is it that I always, always feel so unsatisfied after I read it?’

And then it hit me: After a book that I could really and truly relate to, Blackman ended it in such a way that entirely lost my compassion as a reader.

If you haven’t read the book and don’t want spoilers, stop here! Otherwise, I’ve got an intriguing bit of advice to offer you, so keep on reading.

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8 Crucial Life Skills Every Writer Needs

Hello, everyone! Since Tuesday’s writing advice day (I really should post the schedule somewhere…), I’m bringing you a list that’s been a while in the making.

Everyone knows that in order to publish a book, you need to be able to write, and write well. (Before you point fingers, Twilight was a fluke.) That much is a given, a fact generally understood as obvious. You need to be able to write, read, and edit, at the bare minimum.

But what other skills are necessary to make it as a novelist?

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How much does a polar bear weigh?

Enough to break the ice!

Hi, my name’s Morgan Bishop and I swear that’s the lamest joke you’ll ever hear me tell. (Well, see me tell… ah, technicalities.) The truth is, I’m not fantastic with introductions, but I am fantastic at being a dork. I’m also fantastic at eating chocolate cake, turning my elbows inside-out, and getting more deaths than kills on your first-person-shooter of choice.

I’m not too shabby at mowing down waves of the undead, either.

When I’m not killing zombies or getting gunned down with my elbows inverted and cake in my mouth, I’m usually either reading or writing. Or writing about reading or reading about writing, or sometimes even writing about writing. (That whole sentence screams ‘diagram’, but it’s 2 AM and you never want me using Paint after midnight.)

Either way, that’s what you can expect from this blog. I’ll write about reading and my writing and your writing and all of the topics in between. Sometimes even writing about reading about writing. But I’ll stop before we cue the Inception jokes. Suffice to say that you’ll hopefully be equal parts informed, intrigued, amused, and excited. If I can accomplish that, even if nothing else, then we’re in business.

Tomorrow you can expect my first real post. It’s gonna be Saturday, so I think that means my kickoff post is going to be Part 1 of What I Learned In Writing Frontline (my current WIP). Lessons about various aspects of the writing world, be them craft techniques or marketing tips, fresh off the grill from my own mistakes so you don’t wind up hitting the same pitfalls I did.

Until then, have a great rest of the night, and I’ll see you tomorrow.