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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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

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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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Lessons From My WIP, Part 1: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

Alright, picture this: It’s that fateful day when you sit down with the grand scheme to your current work-in-progress, and you realize, “I’ve got so many awesome things in this story that it’s… actually kind of incoherent.” I think it happens to everyone at least once. It most definitely happened to me.

It seems the next question is, what caused this? And better yet, how do you fix it?

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