A Much Needed Update

So, I’ve been silent for a while because I’ve been busy with writing (and coursework and now my final year exams next month X__X). A few people have recently reached out to me, asking me to keep you updated and I’ve had dozens of questions about where my work is available.

I just want to take a moment to clear this commonly asked question. At the moment, the only place my work is available is on my hard drive/notebooks. After all that happened, that’s the only place I trust. Also, by not posting online, I’m free to edit as I go along, write at my own pace and everything feels more fluid (i.e. I’m not committed to keeping anything the same).

Another common question is when do I plan to publish? And why don’t I just self publish via Amazon? Well, since I’d like to go for traditional publishing one day, publishing my work via Amazon is not a good move at all. (While some titles have been previously published out there, those are the ones who made crazy sales when self publishing. For average people like me and you, it isn’t worth the risk unless you only intend to self publish.)

Now, some bad news for most of you. *hides*

Back in 2015, I initially wanted to write a story set in a Chinese inspired world about a rubbish disciple and a prodigy master. Up to then, I’d only have a bunch of false starts of novels throughout my teenage years and wrote a lonnnngg star wars fanfiction when I was 17. In other words, I’d never written and finished a novel. Added on to that, it was set in a culture I wasn’t familiar with. So, I then ended up instead writing what would become the TWW that most of you know me for.

However, I was still insistent on writing that initial, more challenging idea. In summer 2016, I had another go at trying to write it. I got inspired by a legendary female ninja clan who hired prostitutes and orphans, and then that novel became Glass Dragons.

Around last summer, I really started to reflect on what was wrong with Glass Dragons. And the issue was that I was trying to write two different stories. The setting was trying to be both Chinese and Japanese (because of the two different ideas), and my protagonist was trying to be a badass ninja and an awful disciple at the same time. I also do think that what most people loved about this story was the dynamic between Yuna and Shao – which meant I needed to strip the story back to its initial idea and write about an awful disciple and her progidy master.

It was binging on dozens of xianxia dramas that it finally clicked. I became familiar with the culture enough to feel confident to write about it and studied mandarin so that I understood how naming of people and places worked and then create my own. And I’ll keep marathoning dramas and studying mandarin and history books until I have represented this culture to the best of my ability.

Studying mandarin meant I was able to name Yuna and Shao properly. And they are now Lu Yulan (卢玉兰) and Li Shao (黎劭). Of course, Yulan took on the hopeless disciple role entirely and I fleshed out what her goal is, her background and why she is so terrible. And now I’ve ended up with what I’ve been writing for a past few months and I’ve tentatively named it “Bound by Jade”. (Quick explanation: they both belong to the Jade Dragon Order, Shao is the future Jade Dragon – i.e. leader – and the Yu in Yulan is 玉, meaning ‘jade’ and then they are bound together by fate, despite all the trials they have to overcome. That’s why I’m going with this title RN 😊)

I did share Yulan and Shao’s initial meeting in a post from November, but I wanted to add another snippet today for any GD readers still out there. I hope that the essence of GD still lives on in BBJ and this is essentially a reimagining of that original draft. And I hope this is visible in this snippet! I actually think that Yulan’s personality fits Shao much more. She’s mischevious, somewhat awkward and even more stubborn this time around.

######

It was in the center of a glade that Li Shao came to a stop. Here the bamboo was as tough as rock and towered over us. He sat on a nearby rock and pointed towards an axe lying in the grass.

“Get cutting,” he said, flicking out a plain white fan.

I glanced at our surroundings. “Get cutting?”

“There’s an axe right there and bamboo all around us. What don’t you understand?”

“What I don’t understand is why you want me to cut wood. If you immortals need this chore doing then fine, but why don’t you just use magic to cut down dozens at once?”

“Since I’m your master, if I tell you to cut wood then you cut wood. Now chop, chop. Get to it.”

I grumbled and lifted the axe up, which was much heavier than it looked. What did chopping bamboo have to do with cultivating? I’d expected to spend the day meditating or sparring – not doing this of all things. Maybe Li Shao just wanted to annoy me. After all, he’d objected to teaching me to begin with. Surely this had to be some sort of revenge.

I struck the bamboo with all my might, pretending it was instead the grumpy immortal. But the blade glanced off the wood and almost bounced out my hands. Despite the force, the axe hadn’t even scratched the bamboo.

“What kind of trees are these?” I exclaimed, whirling around to face him. “They’re impossible to cut!”

“They aren’t impossible to cut,” he said, snapping his fan shut and flinging it towards the tree is been trying to chop into. The paper sliced straight through the wood, all the way to the other side and the fan flew back into Li Shao’s outstretched hand. “In fact when I was five, I could already chop down these trees in a single strike. That’s how easy the task is.”

“I bet you used your magical fan back then, as well,” I huffed. “That’s why you found it so easy.”

“Of course it was an axe I used, just like the one in your hand.” He snapped his fan shut and tossed it over to me. “But you’re more than welcome to use the fan.”

It was a struggle to catch it one handedly and I really didn’t want to embarrass myself by dropping it. Luckily I managed to secure my grip and exchanged the axe for the fan. I flicked it back open and ran my fingers across the paper inside. It did seem like an ordinary fan but who knew what magic was hiding inside. Legend said immortals imbued all sorts of objects with energy.

“Aren’t you going to give it a try?” Li Shao asked with a wry smile dancing upon his lips.

“Fine, fine,” I said and swept the edge across another bamboo tree. Nothing happened, of course. Nor did anything happen the second time – not even a scratch. Even on the third time, the only result was Li Shao’s smirk growing.

With a scowl, I snapped the fan shut and hurled it towards his head. Unfortunately, he only raised his hand and caught it before it could hit him.

“I suppose you prefer the axe after all. Of course, this fan is an ordinary fan and it is through my magic alone that it could slice through the bamboo.”

“And why didn’t you just tell me that?”

“It was a useful lesson. You must stop looking for shortcuts and instead focus on the task at hand. And even if it were indeed a magical artefact, a weapon is only as good as its master. Without any cultivation, it would be as useful to you as it is now.”

While he insisted it had been to teach me, it was hard to believe that with how he’d smirked at my attempts. Most likely, it had been for his amusement.

I picked the axe up once more and whacked the tree over and over until I could barely feel my arms. Yet I continued on, even though the sun shone high above us and drew out more of my strength with every strike.

By the late afternoon, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t help collapsing against a rock. When Li Shao noticed I’d stopped, he began fanning himself – no doubt to spite me since my cheeks were burning up. I did wonder whether he’d purposely brought it along to annoy me.

“Aren’t you going to continue?”

“What? I can’t even take a break?”

“If you find this tiring already, then clearly the path to immortality isn’t for you.”

I gripped the axe and leapt to my feet. “Of course it is my path! It’s not my fault you won’t even let me catch my breath. What kind of slave driver are you?”

“If you put as much energy into chopping as you protesting, perhaps you’d have already cut down the tree.”

I pressed my fingers to the cut I’d made in the wood. It looked almost halfway. “Do I have to do this until dark?”

“Indeed,” he said. “Unless you’d rather return to the mortal realm. If it proves too much for you then I can take you back.”

“That’s exactly what you want, isn’t it? To get rid of me.”

“Of course I don’t enjoy wasting my time on a useless mortal. It is best for both of us if you go back to where belong.”

“I’m not going anywhere. So, you’d better just get used to me already.”

“Suit yourself,” he said with a sigh. “It’s your own time you’re wasting, as well as mine. And since you’re a mortal, you don’t have a lot of that.”

I pulled a face at him and returned to my ever tedious task. At least the axe was good for venting my frustration. “And what about tomorrow?”

“What about tomorrow?”

“I mean, what will we – well, I – be doing? Not chopping bamboo again all day, surely?”

Li Shao shrugged. “You’ll see tomorrow.”

“Why don’t you just tell me now?”

“What difference will it make? You’ll have to do what I say all the same.”

Since it made no difference, I didn’t see why he refused. Though I supposed the difference between him answering my question and not answering was obstinacy. Still, I was just as stubborn as he was and pestered him for the rest of the day. But even by the time night fell, he hadn’t relented.

######

This scene reminds me of the Trial of the Black Ox from GD, where Shao doesn’t let her drink or eat, yet brings water along for himself to spite her. I hope I’ve kept the essence of their dynamic mostly intact and expanded on it 😊

Obviously everything is subject to change and this work might not ever get published. And before anyone asks, nope, I’m not posting it anywhere online 😂 I’m currently 21k words through it and hope to finish the first draft of the first book by the end of summer. I was also wanting to write the entire story as one piece before going back and editing out the structure into separate books (though I know where I want the breaks to be – but we’ll see!)

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 25 comments

A Rather Jealous Glyn (TWW Snippet)

Someone on wattpad once asked me, “Why is Inna always the one who gets jealous? Why not Glyn for once?” I can’t remember who said that, but you’re right! It’s so not fair on poor Inna, and Glyn certainly deserves a taste of his own teasing. That’s why this following snippet is dedicated to you – whoever it was that pointed this out! 😊

“How long are you gonna be in denial, Nessie? We both know you want me as much as I want you. Why can’t you just admit how much you fancy me?”

Because I had too much pride. And mostly, I loved how it frustrated him. “You’re always so fixated on that, Captain. If you were really so sure of my feelings, then you wouldn’t need confirmation, would you?”

“I know you like me,” he said. “I don’t need confirmation.”

“Oh, but how can you be so sure? Perhaps I have a childhood sweetheart back in Yoshka. Perhaps that’s why I’m so desperate to return. Maybe I killed the man they wanted me to marry so I could run off with my true love.”

He paused, watching me for a moment. “You’re lying.”

“If you truly believe I’m lying, then why do you look so worried, Captain? Of course, as a princess, I had so many suitors vying for my attention. All sorts of young lords to choose from. Not that I would ever choose any over my dear friend, Andrei Ivanovich. You know, he is both excellent in poetry and he can play the piano, the violin and the harp. He would often teach me how to play instruments in the palace, and the sunset would shine through the arched window before us – ”

Glyn had heard enough apparently, since he tackled me over. My hat flew off and my hair spilled out across the sand. He pinned my wrists down, keeping me beneath him but I didn’t struggle like usual. Instead, I was too busy giggling at his expression. He looked so unhappy over my invented lover, and I hadn’t expected teasing him would be this entertaining. It was certainly well deserved.

“Tell me you’re lying, Inessa,” he murmured, his voice almost a breath.

I wasn’t sure what possessed me right then, but I fluttered my eyelashes at him. “Oh, but I’m not. Andryusha has me all to himself.”

He stilled. Maybe I was starting to convince him that Andrei was real.

“What’s the matter, Emrys? Dryusha isn’t making you all jealous, is he?”

“Course I’m jealous: I want you all to myself. I reckon you’re messing with me and there’s no Andrei.”

“And what if he is real, Captain? What would you do then?”

“Then I’d plunder you.”

“Plunder me?” I choked. “Why does that sound so terribly improper?”

“And how we’re lying ain’t terribly improper?”

“You’re right. Andrei certainly wouldn’t approve of this.” I lifted his hands from my wrists and pushed him over. He grabbed my arm and we tumbled down the dune together, sand coating us both. I pinned his shoulders down before he had the chance to do that to me.

“I’d say he’d approve even less of this,” Glyn said, flicking away my hair as it brushed into his eyes. “And he’s not real anyway, is he?”

It seemed he really was starting to worry and I couldn’t help grinning. “Well, I suppose you’ll never know either way, will you?”

He scowled, though I could tell he wasn’t all that serious. It disappeared when I traced my fingertips across the scar on his cheek, continuing down to the corner of his mouth. When I stopped, he snatched my hand and pressed my fingers to his lips. Though he didn’t kiss them, his warm breath tickled my skin. “I didn’t think you’d be such a tease, Nessie.”

“You’re still far worse than me,” I said.

“Aye well, that’s true.”

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 15 comments

Notice

Hello all, I wiped out all my social media a week ago because I wanted to get away from this drama. While I’m touched that people are concerned over the way wattpad removed me without warning, I do not want to fight the author in question and have never tried to do so. Last week, it was only the company itself I went up against for a reason.

I want to make this very clear now that I do not condone the way this has gone on twitter and after seeing this, I have stepped in to silence this. I was over this a week ago and I would appreciate it if people could respect my decision. Please let us all end this and let everyone move on with their lives.

Thanks for all your support over the matter, but I want to focus on myself now and getting published. This has definitely made me realise the dangers of posting important work online and I wish I had not thought myself immune to this. Unfortunately there is nothing I can do, which is why I removed my work (before my account itself was deleted). I had intended to use the account in question as a way to maintain the relationships with my readers that I had built over the past two years and while I am hurt that this was taken from me without warning, I would like to end this now so I can move forward and start over.

Thank you all.

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 7 comments

Another Snippet from TWW (draft 3)!

Glyn let go of my hand then and we were both silent, though it was not an uncomfortable silence. He stared at the wall somewhere behind me, and I stared into the flickering candle which sat on the table before us. I sniveled a little but he didn’t say anything about it and after a while, I looked back up at him. He would always tease me relentlessly but somehow – maybe just in this moment – I felt comfortable sitting here with him. He wasn’t scared of me or my magic and he didn’t hate me for it either, and that made me feel a little less alone.

I couldn’t help my gaze trailing from the scar across his cheek, to the stubble which framed his sharp jaw and then to his eyes which I realised were looking straight at me. His lips curled into a smirk and I reddened, averting my eyes. Then I realised it was the worst then I could have done so I braved looking back up at him. His grin was even wider.

“Something the matter?”

“I was just…” Just admiring him. No, most definitely not. I racked my brain for the best excuse I could think of for whatever it was I’d been doing. “I was just wondering where you got your scar.”

He arched an eyebrow and as our eyes met, my heart skipped a beat. “Were you now?”

“Um, yes.”

“Well, then you’ll be disappointed. There’s no grand story, just some drunken tavern brawl. Probably over some woman. Maybe money. I can’t remember.”

“Oh,” I said. “I see.”

He watched me for a few moments, his smirk growing. “But I do have a few more scars… elsewhere, if you’d like to inspect.”

I flushed a horrible red. “We’ve already been through this many times. I am most definitely not interested in finding out where else you might have scars.”

“Really?” he said, leaning across the table which felt far too small now. I tried sliding my chair back a little, but it wouldn’t budge. “You say one thing, but then you look all hot and bothered. You’re in denial.”

“I’m not,” I said, my mouth drying and the words catching in my throat.

Of course, he wasn’t convinced by my words and I wasn’t sure I was either. He reached for my hand again, sweeping his thumb against my fingers. I froze in place and let him lift it closer to him, unsure whether I wanted to run far or relish the way it tickled and electrified me. He brought my hand to his lips and kissed the back, caressing my palm with his fingers. My heart pounded and just when I thought it couldn’t beat any faster, he looked up at me with a glint in his eyes that was daring to kiss me again – elsewhere. And maybe a part of me wanted to see him dare but as soon as he pulled back from my hand, I snatched it away.

“Your face is bright red, you’re all flustered and your pulse is racing,” he said. “Why’re you in denial? Why is it so hard to admit you fancy the hell out of me?”

“Because,” I said, struggling to even my breathing, “because I don’t want to involve myself with an alcoholic, womanising scallywag.”

Random snippets from the latest offline version of TWW 🙂

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 9 comments

Working On My Third Draft

Hi all,

I had a mass purge of my social media last week due to being followed across to other platforms and harassed there. At the moment, only my Tumblr and this blog are online.

My main reason to cut the drama out of my life is because I’m super busy right now. Uni coursework, as always, but also with revising and querying! I enrolled in a course with New Leaf Literary Agency, and I submitted my practice query and first five pages tonight. Even though it was only for the course, it was still super nerve-racking to hit that send button. I get feedback on the 17th February so I’m both super excited and super nervous because I’ll be able to use the critique to help me prepare for the real thing.

Their course was really useful and helped me make my plan of action with querying, and I’m so glad I signed up for it. It’s really helped put me in the mindset and prepare me for this part of my journey.

I’m currently just over 50% through my third draft – which has been another almost full page one rewrite, and I’m hoping to get that done by the end of next month. Hopefully after some more brushing over and a fourth draft, (missing words are the bane of my life) I’ll be able to start querying the agents on my list!

To all my old readers, I want to share some snippets of moments I’ve added because I love these new hilarious bits. Glyn is at it again, basically.

Some of the things I’ve changed so far are:

  • Beginning goes from 7.5k to nearly 14k to flesh out Yoshka and Inna’s world more
  • Cut a bunch of scenes and words out (i.e. the 7k I added in got taken out here) from around the 20% mark where the pace was soooo slow.
  • Kira is now Inna’s aunt because it makes more sense why she would become Queen once Inna kills Ruslan
  • Vadik became Vadim because oops, Vadik is apparently a diminutive of Vadim *slaps wrist*
  • Had a ball with getting my head around fancy Russian names. Super complicated but super fun! Inna is now Inessa Vadimovna Talanova (Inna for short – or Nessie if you’re Glyn).
  • I finally gave the Empress a name… after two years. Behold Empress Naenia Aelius, who is as crazy as ever. And I fleshed out her backstory a little more – I just hope I can squeeze a mention in somewhere.
  • Ruslan gets some funny bantz with Inna before she, you know, kills him.
  • Hangings galore! Totally keeping this PG with my violent descriptions over here… Oh and Inna almost gets hanged for buying a book which they thought she’d stolen.
  • The hand kissing scene! *Squee* That’s one that’s on my share to blog list so watch this space for when that one gets posted.
  • Oh, and we’re back to first person *grins* I guess I like that level of intimacy after all. But I love third for blocking and plot hole fixing because of that added distance!

Lots changing, as always with my drafts! I definitely love this version soooo much more. Also, I took Glyn in a *slightly* different direction this draft because I felt he was a little too forward at times in the previous. But I haven’t really touched him for the most part! I just toned down his very, very worst moments. I do think he’s probably funnier and more charming in this version though, so that makes up for it.

Okay, so the first snippet I want to show you is one from where they first meet and are running from those guards. As soon as I chose Inessa as Inna’s full name, this scene was born 😂

We continued in the same direction we had been walking before the guards had interrupted us. And after a while, Glyn said, “What’s your name, anyway?”

“I’d rather not tell you.”

“Ah well, missy I’ll have to call you forever then.”

“Please don’t.”

“Not got any choice, have I missy?”

We fell silent again, keeping to the shadows – though they hardly concealed my ballgown. Whenever footsteps approached, we hid in the narrow gaps between buildings. Sometimes it was only townspeople but other times, it was guards. Thankfully, Glyn didn’t dare try to cover my dress with his body again. Maybe he believed my threat after all.

“Where are you taking me?” I demanded many streets later.

“To find you some less obvious clothes – unless you want to try and slip past the guards dressed like that, missy.”

“You’re really going to keep calling me that as much as you can?”

“Aye, that I am, missy.”

I let out a long sigh. “Fine. Inessa Vadimovna.” I stopped before saying my surname. His accent marked him as not being from Yoshka – most likely Glawyr instead – so he probably wasn’t too familiar with our politics. But I didn’t dare chance that he recognised the name of the ruling family. Maybe he would think me more trouble than my magic was worth. Leaving out the princess part was for the best.

“You know,” he said, “I don’t speak any Yoskiy.”

“That was my name.”

“And I didn’t catch one word of it.”

“It was only two. My given name and patronym.” But Glyn only blinked at that explanation and I supposed it meant to him as much as a sentence in Yoskiy would have. “How about Inessa then? Is that any easier for you?”

His face cracked into a grin. “Nessie?”

“No, Inessa.”

“So, Nessie for short.”

“If you really insist on shortening my name, then I’d rather you call me Inna.”

“I like Nessie more. Suits you better.”

“Of course you’d think that.”

(And we’re now 57k words through and he’s still insisting on Nessie because you know – Glyn.)

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 16 comments

Improving As A Writer

This past week, I decided to read my second draft of The Water Weaver and after doing so, I almost wanted to cry. After two years and a rewrite from absolute scratch, it still wasn’t good enough. I wonder whether I will ever be able to love my writing, but I hope that it will one day be good enough for me to put to rest.

What happens between each draft is that my writing improves. It’s a good thing, even though it means an endless cycle of rewrites from page one.

So, how have I been improving as a writer?

Of course, through writing and through reading book/articles on craft. But while both are important, I think the most important one often gets overlooked. We need to read – a lot. And I don’t mean wattpad books or self published Amazon books. We need to be reading that top, fully edited and polished quality so that we can learn from them.

I remember reading “Wintersong” towards the end of my second draft of The Water Weaver and I loved the lush writing style. I know it made the world of a difference to my writing, and my readers pointed out the improvement in the last few chapters. Recently, I read “Uprooted” and I loved how the writing flowed. So, I started rewriting my story and tried to write it in the same way Uprooted was written, and I love the result. A few thousand words in, I grew comfortable enough with this new writing style to make it part of my fingerprint as an author.

I’ve heard other authors say this, but I wanted to talk about how reading analytically has helped me. It really works! Even on a subconscious level, reading widely helps but I think figuring out what you specifically loved is when the magic happens. And that’s how we learn. Like Stephen King said, if you don’t have time to read then you don’t have time to write either.

Honestly, I feel I haven’t read enough in 2017, so my new year’s resolution is going to read a book a week – in between my rewrites. Actually, full rewrites have also been a massive help in improving, because it’s made me figure out what I don’t like, and find a way to fix those problem areas.

Oh, and I also found a super interesting article over here that I really want to share:
https://thefriendlyeditor.com/2015/06/16/rowling-writing-harry-potter/
It’s about J.K. Rowling’s writing journey as she wrote the seven Harry Potter books. Of course it was through many rewrites and plenty of tears, and reading that article made me feel much more determined to rewrite this story until I’m finally happy (enough) with it. I hope that you also find inspiration and motivation through that article too 🙂

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 8 comments

An Excerpt From My New Project

Obviously I want to write this new project (still untitled, lol) over a very long period of time so everything is subject to change. But I have written a bit of the start to get a feel for it, and I thought I would share a scene from near the beginning with you all 🙂

Although I don’t have an overall title, the first chapter (which this scene is from) is currently called “Under A Blood Red Moon”.

♡━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━♡

After that, I didn’t dare run into anyone else since the sun was lowering with each breath. I focused on weaving through the maze of sloped roofs and glanced up at the sky every so often.

It was when my eyes were glued to the darkening heavens that I smacked into a towering jade wall, and the medicine bag flew out of my hands.

Except, I realised upon opening my eyes, it wasn’t a jade wall at all but a young man wearing jade robes which flowed from his frame. Since I knew everyone from the village, I instantly recognised him as a stranger. But a most curious stranger.

He held himself with the pride of the ancient generals I had seen painted in books, and his every movement held the grace of an immortal. No, he didn’t just seem like an immortal – he was one.

It was the dragon embroidered onto the back of his robes which marked him as from the order of the jade dragon. Of course, I had never met one of these mythical peacekeepers before, so I was only guessing from the stories Papa had told me. But seeing how ethereal he looked, it was hard to believe he was from anywhere but the order of the jade dragon.

Between him being the most handsome man I had ever met – though granted that wasn’t many men since I’d never strayed far from the village – and him being an immortal, my jaw hung open for far longer than it should have. Though it probably shouldn’t have at all. Realising how ridiculous I must have looked, I clamped my mouth shut as quickly as I could. But this only worsened my predicament since my teeth clashed together.

My cheeks warmed. Then, as I remembered I’d walked straight into him and had not yet apologised for it, both my ears and cheeks boiled.

I dared to meet his eyes, if only for a moment. He arched an eyebrow but otherwise, he just held his face like a stern statue. He didn’t look angry, I decided, but he didn’t look too happy either. Seeing how his figure towered over me, I figured it best to apologise. Quickly.

But, of course, my throat decided to close up at that moment. I coughed a few times until it cleared. “Sorry, sorry! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to…”

I trailed off as he turned around, not even once blinking at my words. Yet, surprisingly, he did speak as he started away.

“You dropped something.” And that was all he said in that emotionless tone of his.

I stared at the retreating dragon drawn into the back of his jade robes. He was no doubt a statue but more specifically, he was one carved from ice – if his tone was anything to go by.

It took me another moment to realise he’d been referring to Mrs. Liu’s medicine which was in a dirty puddle. I pulled a face at my sour luck and wiped the paper bag on my plain dress, which was nowhere near as majestic as the robes this jade immortal wore.

“Excuse me!” I called after him, realising that I could only refer to him as ‘this jade immortal’. “May I please ask what your name is? I’ve never met an immortal before.”

He continued for several strides without stopping and I thought I would never get to learn his name. But to my surprise, he paused for just a single breath and glanced back over his shoulder. “Li Shao.”

“Li Shao,” I repeated quietly, mostly to myself. “I’m Yulan! I mean, Lu Yulan.”

I groaned, realising how informally I had just introduced myself to this mystical warrior and then groaned for a second time when he continued out of sight, not even once acknowledging my name.

In every moment since I’d walked into him, I’d been so ridiculous. I smacked my forehead. The only saving grace was that I would never meet Li Shao ever again. He’d be long on his way to doing immortal things – like fighting demons and maintaining peace throughout the mortal realm. Then he’d be back to the immortal realm, since as Papa had told me, immortals never stayed in the mortal realm for very long. And when they did, it was good reason.

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 16 comments

Conflict 101

Is your story boring? Are you struggling to stay interested in what you’re writing? If so, then you might not have enough conflict to keep yourself and your readers engaged.

What is conflict? Conflict is the driving force of your novel. Without conflict, we can’t have a story. And piling on that conflict will make for a better story.

Goal: Your protagonist wants something (goal) but they can’t have it -> that right there is your primary conflict. The journey of a novel is them struggling to achieve this goal while we (the author) throw obstacles at them. To have conflict, the reader needs to know what the protagonist’s goal is. Do they want to escape? Do they want to save someone? To want to see the character achieve their goal, the reader needs to know why they want it. They need to know what the consequences will be if they fail. We need to make our reader care. Engage them emotionally. The more important the goal is, the more engaging your conflict and novel will be.

Uncertainty: Most books end in a happily ever after and yours most likely does too. The reader knows this and so, they expect a happy ending. We need to shake that certainty. We need to make them question whether our protagonist is going to succeed and we can only do this by making the task seem impossible. We can also achieve this by foreshadowing if something bad is going to happen – because even in a happily ever after, there are consequences. So, allude to them subtly. Make your reader question what the outcome will be. Keep them on their toes.

So, we have a crystal clear goal that our readers are emotionally invested in and we have made them unsure of the outcome. But maybe that isn’t quite enough. Luckily enough, there are two extra spices we can throw into our recipe for engaging conflict.

Temporal aspects: To up our tension and create more conflict for our protagonist, we can put them against time. If there’s a set time limit and you’ve achieved the above two in creating meaningful conflict, then your reader will biting their nails along with your character.

Lack of control: This builds on uncertainty. By throwing obstacles that are out of your protagonist’s influence, you will make achieving the goal seem even more impossible. If the problem is so much bigger than your protagonist, then they will feel lost despite their efforts.

Overall, I really believe that meaningful and engaging conflict is the key to writing a brilliant story. Sure, structure and characterization and everything else is important but conflict is what keeps people flicking those pages. To me, it’s the most important part of a story.

Make me care about a clear goal and make me doubt the character is going to achieve it. That’s what makes a compelling story.

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 6 comments

My Little Home on the Internet

I’ve finally built myself a proper author site! This is going to be my main hub and base of operations. I’ve included links to my other spaces on the internet (tumblr, twitter and facebook – though the latter still needs much work as of writing this post). I’ve also included links to my books and a bit more information in my about me section that you might not have known about me.

I don’t like posting broadcasts on wattpad because not many people read them, and so many non-readers follow me and don’t like getting email notifications. So instead, I’m going to use facebook and this site for announcements! Twitter I mostly retweet stuff and on tumblr it’s turned into an anonymous Q&A which is tons of fun. You can also subscribe via email to get email notifications to my blog posts.

I hope to post writing advice and my own experiences with that/online writing. I’ll also be basing a lot of my content on the tumblr questions and expanding my answers from that.

Posted by Holly in Uncategorised, 0 comments
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