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Avengers and Flutters of Butterflies

Isn’t it a wonderful thing when you can trust someone to tell a good story? I tell you, there’s nothing like trusting your entertainment to someone. You wouldn’t think it would be such a big deal – but it really is!

We are only human, and we get upset when a story is told badly. When it’s full of clichés, or the action doesn’t flow properly, or the characters are impossible to connect with… So many ways a tale can be mishandled! But you get a deep, excited feeling in your stomach, a flutter of butterflies, when you know a new story is coming out by someone you trust. It makes you feel alive, and like there’s something to add just a little bit more brightness to your regular day. Praise God for good storytelling!

This was brought home to me painfully when the new Star Wars films came out. So much of my being is wrapped up in the story of Luke, Han, Leah, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and all that wonderful world of characters, and the Force that inspires them. But then the films were such a disappointment. I don’t want to go into that in detail here, although I might sometime, but it was the first time that I realized just how deeply a story could impact me. Because when you open yourself up enough to be impacted for good, then you’re opening yourself up to be impacted for the worse too.

And now the trailer for Avengers Endgame is out! And I am squirming in my seat! Those are storytellers that I trust – they have done such wonderful things with their world up until now – and it has been truly impressive! The large cast of characters, the emotions that affect all of them, the character building, the world building, the consistency and variation across films that matches so well together! I could get nitpicky, and point out a few things here and there that they didn’t do well, but when it comes down to it, they are masters. They are bards. They are Homerically Epic.

And, which is unusual for me, I don’t have a way that I want the movie to come out – I am content to merely let them tell the story, and lose myself in however they decide to handle it. Because I know it’s going to be amazing! 😃

The trailer already is! 🎥

Who are your favorite story tellers? Who do you trust when it comes to that flutter of butterflies in your stomach? Are you excited for Avengers 4???

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Coming of Age (or Internal) Genres

So, before I continue on the path of laying out each individual genre in this continuing series, I think it’s good to take a moment to talk about the category ‘Coming of Age’. This is the Internal Genre, where the story is driven by the hero’s personal struggles, rather than a villain they must defeat.

By ‘Coming of Age’, I do not mean a teen romance. I’m willing to bet that, when you hear that term, you think of a young adult category.

I won’t argue that these types of stories certainly seem to appeal in a deep way to young people who are only just beginning to understand life; however, a ‘coming of age’ can imply far more. Every person is learning and re-learning life all the time, and stages of maturity and realization happen for us sometimes at 12, sometimes at 20, and sometimes at 75, so I think it is fair to say that a ‘Coming of Age’ story can happen for anyone, and appeal to anyone.

There are 4 ‘coming of age’ categories that my brother and I have been able to identify so far. I’m not sure yet if there are more than these, and would love to hear what you think!

They are:

  1. Death
  2. Self-Delusion
  3. Romance
  4. Responsibility

I’ll use death to explain this a bit more. Sometimes there is a story like My Girl, where the main character has to deal with death at a young age, and matures through that process. But there are also stories like A Christmas Carol, in which an old man has to come to scrooge-and-tim.jpgterms with his own mortality, and becomes a more whole person because of it. Both of these, in a sense, are ‘Coming of Age’ stories. They deal with someone who begins the story incomplete, or possibly broken, in some way. And when the story is over, they have grown, learned, and moved on, embracing the reality that they had before ignored or been ignorant of.

So the criteria for a ‘Coming of Age’ story is:

  • There is a reality, or truth, of life – such as death or love.
  • Main character denies or does not know about this reality.
  • The reality confronts the character with unavoidable force.
  • They run from it, rebel against it, do not want to accept it.
  • Finally, they must accept it, although they have to die (in a metaphorical sense) to a part of themselves to do so.
  • They are a more complete person after accepting it.

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So there you have it! I’ll be diving into each section in detail soon, so keep an eye out.

Are there any ‘coming of age’ stories you can think of, or any other genres that fall under this heading? Are there any stories you would like me to explore to see what genre they fall under?

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Why Legolas is Unnecessary

Literary Panic

So, I called my brother in a literary panic the other day.

Let me explain. I have realized that I read books differently than most people. Even, possibly, differently than most authors – though I don’t personally know enough authors yet to confirm this.

I like to read in order to hone and perfect my own writing. So I read masters.

I tend to avoid anything that is subpar in every way.

If something is popular, I will read it to study why. And if something is a classic, I read it for the same reason. I love and enjoy many books this way, and I don’t really look at it as an academic exercise, but that’s why and how I read.

So I often revisit books that I have read before – especially books that are similar to my own stories. And while I was dwelling on The Lord of the Rings the other day, I had my panic moment.

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Legolas Superfluous?

All of a sudden, I was very much afraid that Tolkien made a grave error in his story. I suddenly wondered if Legolas was a superfluous character.

I called my brother, and the first words I spoke were: “Is Legolas a necessary character? Or is he only a convenient one?”

“I don’t know,” he answered, after laughing at my panic. “What does it mean for him to be a convenient character, and what is a necessary one?”

So I explained. An unnecessary character is one that could be removed from the story, and everything would still happen the exact same way. For example, if Sam were taken out of the Lord of the Rings, the ring would never of been destroyed, Frodo would never have made it to Mount Doom, and Gollum would’ve had a very different role in the story. Not to mention the fact that, as a reader, it’s important for us to connect with Sam in order to see Frodo from a distance, instead of being trapped inside his ring-obsessed head.

Frodo is the hero, but Sam provides a foil – a perspective – in which to view him. It’s a necessary point of view, especially the way that Tolkien told the tale. I suppose he could’ve left Sam out completely, but I’m sure we can all agree that the books would’ve been very different.

So I was suddenly worried that taking Legolas out would not fundamentally change the story. Now, there are some arguments against that. For one, Legolas, as an elf and kinsman, seems to be the key that allows the fellowship access to Lothlorien. For another, Legolas tells them the way off of Caradhras and gives them hope with his light heart. And lastly, he is one of the three companions traveling at the beginning of The Two Towers, alone, through the wild, and the reader can latch on to him emotionally through that journey.

But the more I explored these arguments, the more I was confirmed in the opinion that these are merely conveniences. If Legolas had not been with the group in the Fellowship of the Ring, when they enter Lothlorien, there is very little reason to doubt that they would still have been brought before Galadriel. Galadriel had a vision about them, apparently, and sends a message to her warden elves telling them to let the fellowship come to her. She has this vision apart from anything that Legolas does. Also, we learn in the appendixes that Aragorn was very familiar with Lothlorien, and could probably have gained almost as easy access to it as Legolas himself.

“2980: Aragorn enters Lorien, and there meets Arwen Undomiel.” – The Return of the King, Appendix B

For the second argument, Boromir and Aragorn head off to find the way off the mountain with Legolas, and Tolkien had only to change a few sentences to make them the ones who brought back the hope of going down. And this scene is so small that I’m willing to bet that some of you reading this article don’t even remember it. It’s pretty short. I had forgotten it myself.

“‘Well,’ cried Legolas as he ran up…. ‘There is the greatest wind-drift of all just beyond the turn, and there our Strong Men were almost buried. They despaired, until I returned and told them that the drift was little wider than a wall.'” – The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Ring Goes South”

Finally, we are given very little chance to emotionally bond with Legolas in the early scenes of The Two Towers. As I talked with my brother, the most emotional of a connection that I could recall was the moment when he is not sure whether the wizard approaching them is Saruman or not. When he realizes that it is Gandolf, and cries out Mithrandir! we feel elation and bond with him. But it is brief, and passes very quickly. After that, we are shown much more of Gimli and Aragorn’s emotions than Legolas.

“Legolas gave a great shout and shot an arrow high into the air: it vanished in a flash of flame. ‘Mithrandir!’ he cried. ‘Mithrandir!'” – The Two Towers, “The White Rider”

There seems to be no necessity for Legolas as a character, and I was crushed. Especially as my brother kept agreeing with all my arguments. I wanted him to talk me out of them!

I was crushed because I like Legolas. Because I want him to have a reason to exist. Not because Tolkien would be lowered in my estimation: every author has flaws. But I felt like Legolas should exist, and I wasn’t sure why. It bothered me.

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Is that OK?

But then I asked the next question. Is it OK to have a character who exists only out of convenience? Who is not well developed, and doesn’t fundamentally contribute to the plot line?

We explored that question next, and after a lot of discussion, we decided that it was. We allowed Legolas to remain. We realized that the biggest flaw was just that Tolkien had underdeveloped him. Not that he should not exist, but that he has so much more potential than he was given in the story. You could say it was the fault of Tolkien, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem with the story or the world. Legolas very much belongs in Middle Earth. Our understanding of Middle Earth is enriched simply by his being there, and that alone is enough of a reason for him to remain. But even more than that, he does not intrude into the story. His presence is not abrasive, or misleading, or distracting. It fits. And if a character fits, even if they are not as perfect as they could be, they should exist.

We started naming off some of our favorite classics that have underdeveloped characters. Even as main characters. The Chronicles of Narnia, for example, does not give us an adequate understanding of the Pevensie children – especially in Prince Caspian. They have no character arcs, no faults, and no struggles in that story. They simply exist as a convenience to place Caspian on the throne. Does that mean CS Lewis should not have written Prince Caspian? No! It simply means he did not elaborate as much as he could have.

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We also talked about the Lord of the Rings films, and how Orlando Bloom was given the opportunity, because Legolas exists, to elaborate on the character presented in the books. My understanding of the Lord of the Rings is intrinsically tied up with the films themselves. I saw the films before reading the books, and have very little desire to separate the actors’ portrayals from the book characters. And Legolas does have a little bit more presence in the films. As my brother said, ‘He kills Wormtongue!’ (He said that sarcastically though – our family is not a fan of that moment in the films! Why would Legolas kill Wormtongue? It makes no sense!) His presence in The Hobbit films is unfortunate, only because of the way that the films themselves turned out. I think his presence in the Middle Earth world could have been further illustrated, but that entire project was handled indelicately – which is a great disappointment!

So what do you think? Is it OK to have a character who is less developed than they might be? Should all the characters be thoroughly worked out, and always present a foil to those who are more central? Or do you think it’s OK for someone to slip in through the cracks, present more world building, and enrich our experience? Love to hear from you!

Who is your favorite Lord of the Rings character? And which do you like better, the films or books?

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I Kept Writing, and Got Rid of the Scary Red Text!

Last night, I skimmed through the 500 page word document of my novel manuscript, and stopped every time I encountered a block of red text. Those sections were notes I left myself about missing scenes in the narrative, and with dedication, I knocked each one out of the park! All my missing scenes are now written, and I officially have a finished, readable story from start to finish.

Woo hoo!

Those red sections were like scary warning signs before – telling me my novel isn’t complete, and darkly hinting that it may never get there. But I did it! I got there! I beat that red text.

I feel so much better about it now, too, because it’s turned into a great story! I know that when I enjoy reading my book, I’ve made a good product. It might have a few problems, or not be entirely, one-hundred percent perfect, but then, nothing ever is! It’s a good book, a good story, and I can say that with confidence. And soon, it will be published and able to be enjoyed by others!

I can’t wait!

Have you signed up yet to read it for free? Really, it’s totally free, no strings attached. Well, OK, unless you call giveaways, videos, and author interviews strings. Because that’s what you get if you sign up to read it BEFORE it hits bookstores!

If you’re not sure whether you want to read it, check out the first chapter, and see if you like it!

Also, if you could help me out – what was your favorite author giveaway or promotion you’ve ever been a part of? What did they do? I’m totally open to new ideas!

And… share the link! Got friends who love to read? Send it to them – they get to read for free! Who doesn’t love that? 🙂

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Freaking out about Publishing

I had a total freak out moment yesterday! I all of a sudden got very terrified – not just about publishing my book, which is scary enough on its own – but about being a writer at all. I’ve heard about writers feeling like frauds, and for the first time, I really felt that!

My mom talked me down from the emotional ledge, thankfully. She reminded me of the big picture: of the fact that I am a good writer and am always trying to be better, and that it’s ok to not be an overnight success. “They say it takes three books,” she reminded me, “before you really get noticed.”

I sighed in relief – this is only my second novel, and already, I know it will do better than my first. This is a process! I’m taking actionable steps, and I know success is down the road – I just need to be patient about getting there.

“Wish I could turn back time

To the good old days

When the mama sang

Us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out!”

Have you been there? How did you get past the overwhelming terror?

If you want to find out what I’m freaking out about, you can read the first chapter of my newest novel, and let me know what you think. If you enjoy it, sign up to receive the whole thing for free! I won’t send you junk mail – only my book and a weekly newsletter.

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Action/Adventure Genre

Action/Adventure is an EXTERNAL GENRE.

External Genres, as opposed to Internal, are primarily driven by a problem that comes up outside the person, and solving this problem results in the end of the story.

The problem usually looks like a large-scale villain. Someone the protagonist has to face off against and prevent them from doing permanent harm to the world.

Mystery, Horror, Thriller, Comedy – these are all External Genres. However, it is HOW these stories are told that determine what genre they fall into.

My brother and I determined the genre according to the emotion the story raises in us, and Action/Adventure raises the emotion of excitement. It puts us, with our hearts racing, on the edge of our seats, wondering at each moment what is going to happen next. It’s a lean forward, hands on you knees, emotion.

This is one of the largest genres of all time.

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Example Action/Adventure Stories are:

  • All the Marvel Films
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • All Star Wars Films
  • Dark Knight Trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Cowboys vs. Aliens
  • Bourne Identity
  • Mission Impossible
  • The Matrix

If the story is edge of your seat action, but takes the action lightly, it is not an Action/Adventure genre. Action/Adventure takes itself seriously. Guardians of the Galaxy is the closest you get to comedy without being a part of the comedy genre, only because it is part of a larger universe, and the characters are in real, permanent danger throughout the the story.

The story begins with a problem – someone is kidnapped, someone is running for their life, someone is pulled out of normal life and thrust against an evil force. The story ends when that someone defeats the evil force. All in between is full of nail-biting action – this is the Action/Adventure Genre.

I’ll do the comedy genre next.

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Romance

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post about genre, and I think it’s overdue.

Romance is another of the simple genres, so I’m going to get that one out of the way with this post.

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Most of us could say right off the bat what a romance genre is. Romance begins with two people who are not in love, and who are in some way closed to falling in love. Usually their problem is internal, but sometimes it is an external obstacle. By the end of the story, they’re both in love. That, in its barest form, is romance.

Example romance stories are:

Pride and Prejudice

You’ve Got Mail

Sleepless in Seattle

The Lake House

27 Dresses

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Romance is the first of the INTERNAL GENRES that I’ve posted about. Internal Genre stories are all driven by a personal problem for the protagonist. As the story progresses, the main character has to shift their world view until they see the world differently. For the Romance Genre, the World View is a shift from ‘closed to love’ to ‘open to love.’

And just to avoid any confusion, the love must be amorous and romantic in order for the story to be a Romance. Other types of love, such as a parent for a child, friendship, or pet love, would not be a romance.

I’ll do Action/Adventure Next! Keep an eye out!

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First Chapter of Trinian

Hey guys! I figured it was about time you got to read the first chapter of Trinian, An Epic Fantasy!

I’m so excited to share this with you – I’m at a loss for words. This novel has been 12 years in the making, and it blows my mind that it’s so close to it’s release date.

This chapter lays out the god’s plans, and introduces us to the villain. All the fun world-building!

The picture is a rough sketch of Rordan, done by the lovely Sophia Dytewski!

Enjoy, tell your friends, and sign up to receive the entire novel!

Trinian, An Epic Fantasy

Chapter 1

Fate, the master of the heavens, watched his round glass watch as it ticked eleven, and with its final, fateful chime, the last age of the mortal world began. At the start of every century, Fate hosted the centennial convention, the time for the high gods to convene and discuss the mortal land of Minecerva, and now he took his place as mediator upon his mighty throne to host the final meeting.

From the vast corners of Minecerva his brothers and sisters came flying to the heavenly palace. The first to arrive was Terror, on his wings of panic that were spread wide in darkness behind him.

Then sister Resolve, in her straight-laced dress, walked with dignified, regal, controlled steps to her seat in the circle.

Peace erupted into the chamber with a triumph of color, her gown fluttering freely. She was unrestrained, creative, and joyful; and she was wise and calm.

Knowledge sparkled and she was pure beauty. As she entered, she drew the other god’s eyes to her in wonder, fear, and scorn. They all considered her far too pretentious, but they envied her all the same.

Famine tripped in hand-in-hand with Plenty, both carefree and careless.

The three brothers Depression, Destruction, and Death stumbled about, singing a rousing war cry with their arms firmly round each other’s shoulders. The other gods gave them a wide berth, their presence unpleasant, but they three did not care to notice and threw themselves upon a bench, their feet stretched forward, their heads thrown back to drink during the proceedings with disinterest.

No one noticed Solitude, pale and forgettable, creep into her corner.

Charity and Passion carried on an age-old argument as they entered, their different beauties, the first subtle and the second overwhelming, clashing as they passed witty banter between them.

Hope smiled softly as she crept through a side door; she looked over all and shook her head at brother Fate. He smiled back, and made room for his favorite sister on the throne beside him.

Power, last to arrive, dominated with each shaking step, until he sat, not in a chair, but on the ledge above Fate. From here, he could make eye-contact with every god except his oldest brother, and he smiled. Let them notice him, let them roll their eyes at his vain seat of power here. Soon, he would control everything; soon, he would rise above Fate himself.

When Power had taken his seat, Fate lifted his mighty gavel and called the session to order.

“To this day,” he announced gravely, “we have conducted affairs on our own; we have not involved any low gods or mortals in our affairs, nor have any higher interfered with us.” There was a swell of assent that roared through the chamber like a mighty river, deep churning and little trickles drawing together into a mighty roar.

“But we are nearing the end of our reign. The Golden King has at last sent a messenger to me. We must heed what he says, for we know that when the clock has turned to the completion of time, it is His rule we will obey.”

With a rumble of voices that would have opened a chasm in an ocean bed, murmurs and whispers behind cupped hands, boastings and bragging, music and cheering and laughter, filled the hall at the mention of the Golden King. Hope held her hands over her ears and smiled to herself, doing what she did best. Power also made no sound, but settled himself firmer on the ledge, and sneered. He had waited patiently, plotting a long time for this hour.

Fate let them have their varied fun and anger until finally, he pounded his gavel once. “You will each decide how to act when the twelfth hour arrives,” he continued. “Until then, we have a little more time, and those who have not had free reign in the lives of men, will have it now.”

Death came forward to complain. “But you know why we’ve never gone down everywhere yet. Free reign – I snap my fingers at it, and you know why. The city of Drian, the very capitol of Minecerva, stands like a silver beacon, untouchable. We don’t want to go down if we can’t go everywhere. It’s a low, dirty trick of favorites, and it’s unfair.” Depression, Destruction, and Famine nodded their heads angrily, for it was they, too, had not yet had their turn.

“I have not forgotten. For the first time, we will convene with a lower power, for he has proven himself a force to be reckoned with. While we left him alone, he was not content to leave us so. Rordan, natural god of the river, I call you to the presence of the high gods!”

A colossal man entered the throne room of the gods and strode forward until he stood before Fate.

He showed no embarrassment in their presence, but merely bowed his head in submission before their might. There was, however, a rippling of his shoulders as if he would lash out any moment, at any threat. There were two remarkable things about the giant; the first was his hair, which flowed down his back almost to his knees, clear and green, blue, and silver, depending on how it caught the light. When he moved, it rippled.

The second was the walking stick he held in his fist which was the width of a fifty-year-old tree, gnarled, knotted, and ringed, and twice as tall as himself. Destruction, who was all too familiar with the weapon’s reach and solidity, backed up and hid behind Charity.

While all eyes were on the river god, Power, angry and stifled, was unable to maintain his temper in the presence of this discussion of the Golden King. Silently, he slipped from the chamber. But he did not leave. He listened still from the shadows of the outer hall.

“You have been called here, Rordan,” continued Fate, “because, as the natural god of Drian, you have set yourself as its protector and defended it from misfortune for over a thousand years. You have done well and the Golden King thanks you.”

The giant bowed, his flowing hair cascading over his shoulders and brushing the floor.

“But the completion of time nears, and even Drian must have its time of trial. You are not allowed to block out Death, Famine, Depression, and Destruction from the mortals forever. Those gods have a right over the mortals as much as any other, and the mortals must learn to deal with them as they will. You are to step aside and give the gods who have not ruled Minecerva free reign. This is the command of the messenger of the Golden King.”

The river god tensed and held his breath a moment, as if attempting to reign in an overflowing temper. But then he nodded curtly. “I will do as the Golden King commands,” he rumbled.

He turned to leave, and Death, who was cavorting gleefully behind his back, stilled in place until the Giant had stooped through the round doorway and his long hair had followed him.

Just before descending to the mortal realm, Rordan stopped still in the outer hall. A thin shadow lurked behind a pillar, watching him. He clenched his fists when he saw the leer of triumph on the shadow’s face.

With a flex of his strong arms, he planted his gnarled staff upon the stones. “You vile beast, you have already ruled Drian!” he told the shadow, which slithered out from its enclosure. It was Power, and he trembled with triumphant rage over Fate’s decree, for he hated the river god from the very depths of his being.

“I will allow the others through,” said Rordan, “but you will never have free reign again. You will rot in your murk and grime until the twelfth hour, when the Golden King casts His light upon your buried crimes.” Power’s face twisted in a grimace as Rordan continued. “Fate may not know or care how you spend your time, but I do. If you attempt to enter Drian, you will know my wrath!” With that, he lifted his staff, and Power growled and clenched his muscles, but then abruptly turned and marched away.

Power descended to his corner of the world, desolate as it was, and plotted evil for Rordan and Drian. Meanwhile, Famine, Death, and Destruction greedily leveled themselves against Drian, spreading their gifts in a massive overdose to make up for lost time. In the process, they forgot all about the Golden King.

Loved the first chapter? Read the rest!

Novel Promo (1)

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NaNoWriMo – My Failed Week – And Why I Don’t See it as a Failure

NANOWRIMO Fail

Hey everyone, it’s been almost a week since you’ve heard from me, and I wanted to be honest about why that is, and why I haven’t been keeping up with my NaNoWriMo Challenge.

As you may know, I chose not to pursue writing a novel this year – although I’ve done it the past two years. I just finished a novel, and wanted to pour my energies into editing and preparing it for publishing. So I chose to do a poetry challenge instead – see if I could learn proper metre  the same way I might learn a new language. To pursue this goal, I started reading The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry, and I completed about 6 challenges – less than one total week of NaNoWriMo.

Then I fell off the grid. For a complete week, I did no poetry, and posted nothing related to NaNoWriMo.

Do I feel guilty? Yes. Should I? No.

NANOWRIMO Win

Here’s the thing. In those 6 days that I actually participated in the challenge, I learned more about poetry than I did in 4 years of classical high school, and another 4 years pursuing a Liberal Arts degree.

In no way is that a loss!

Why I Failed

Life just got in the way, you know? It does for all of us, and each of our problems are unique. Personally, I’m plagued by Myalgic Encephalitis, and am constantly confined to bed with migraines, near paralysis, and brain fog. That makes writing near impossible at times, and last week was particularly bad.

But other problems are just as legitimate. Sometimes a kid gets sick, a pet dies, our spouse struggles and needs all our attention. Sometimes a friend needs us more than our writing.

We could beat ourselves up over this and say these are just excuses – we could say we should be able to write despite all that. And lots of times, that’s true! It’s important to pursue our writing whenever possible, and make time in our day for it. But when we have done all we could, and life still had thrown a wrench in our perfect plans, then regretting what we could not control, and beating ourselves up for it, helps nothing.

Changing Our Outlook

We need to embrace our weaknesses and distractions, and appreciate the work we did anyway! Despite my erratic illness, I learned iambic pentameter! AND, my love and appreciation of poetry had vastly increased! I was inspired to listen to all of Twelfth Night the other day just because I was so newly excited about poetry. That’s a win, if you ask me!

Any work you got done on NaNoWriMo this year is a plus. It has reintroduced you to writing, or reminded you how much you could write in a day. It has connected you with other writers, or re-ignited your passion. Any of those results makes this month of November a win!

We should never let the chance of failing keep us from benefiting from the journey. So please join me this week in celebrating the failures that lead to success!

What did you accomplish this month so far? In what way has it helped you? I want to hear your wins — no matter how different they might be than what you expected! Share your failures and wins on instagram and twitter with the handle #Nanofailtowin, and let’s support each other in life and in this final stretch of writing!

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The Terror and Thrill of Reviewing My Novel

Now that I have enough of Trinian, An Epic Fantasy put together to send into the world for review, I’m getting germinal feedback. I love it! But it’s also terrifying.

My sisters, who are geniuses with artwork, have already taken a stab at illustrating a couple characters, and my best friend Sophia has started marking up my first chapter. She says she’s being harsh, and I’m so grateful to her for that! I want the feedback as truthful as possible, so I can turn out a final product that will please my readers! And, of course, help me to achieve the highest level of writing ability that I can!

I’m thrilled and nervous all at once, and the emotions flow together inside me to create general excitement! Whether the manuscript is terrible or wonderful, it’s going out into the world, and that something!

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The Twelve Brothers

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ARTIST CREDIT

Arthur Joseph Gaskin

Vaclovas Ratas

Walter Crane

Harry G. Theaker

Henry J Ford

HansMyHedgehog on etsy

Louis Rhead Ill

Anne Anderson

Cremonini

Charles Folkard

Andrea Dezsö’s

Alice Duke

Nadezhda Illarionova

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See More Fairy Tale Art!

I’m going to put in a shameless plug for my pinterest board, because if you like what I put here on the blog, you’ll love what I post! So much beautiful artwork!

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Trinian for Free!

Come January, I will be providing my novel Trinian|An Epic Fantasy for free! Click here to sign up to receive it!

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Thoughts on Endings and Trinian, 2nd Draft

Sorry for my weekend extended absence. I spent all weekend, and some bleed through into Monday, finishing Trinian, An Epic Fantasy’s second draft. I just sent it out for review, and I can’t believe my project is actually out there, being read by other eyes! I’m all tingly.

I still have a few middle scenes to compose, and a bit more of the ending.

I intend to avoid the common writing choice of writers who write an entire book, with lots of detail and description, and then end the book immediately, as soon as the climax has passed. Maybe they have a brief wrap up, bringing the characters together who’ve been estranged, etc. But I have always felt far more satisfied by endings like Jane Austen or Tolkien, or even Dean Koontz, who really take the time to explain not just what the characters did immediately after the action, but how the action affected the rest of their lives.

So I’m making sure that I’m putting time into my ending, and not just wrapping up the major loose ends. But don’t worry – it won’t be a drag, making you wish that it would end already. — At least I hope not!

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The Fear of Taking the Next Step

I’ve been particularly struck lately by the power of creativity. The impact you could have on a person’s life by simply being brave and open to self-expression.

I used to doubt that word: self-expression.

It seemed fabricated, as if people were trying to force something out of themselves that wasn’t there to begin with. Or else were closing in on themselves, self-focusing and thereby shutting out the world. And while that might be true sometimes, I think most of the time, self-expression never happens at all.

Fear is a very real thing, and keeps us bottled up inside. In fact, if it were not for personal handicaps that have kept me from pursuing other avenues in life, I’m not sure I ever would’ve allowed my own creativity to see the light of day. I had nothing to lose by pursuing my writing: I couldn’t hold a job, I couldn’t volunteer or give of my time to other causes, other things that I saw as more important at the time. But over the years, by devoting myself to creativity and self-expression, I have found that I have not shut out the world by being self-centered: it’s the exact opposite.

I am so much more open to experiences, emotions, and connections to other people than I have ever been before. And the more recognized I’ve become through my art, the more it terrifies me. For the first time, I’m scared to take the next step, because it might be noticed.

And if it’s noticed, I can’t go back.

But I don’t want to go back!

I want to keep going. I want to write for the rest of my life, and make an impact on the world. It’s just that I thought I had to do something more than my writing in order to do that. But I just need to do what comes naturally to me. I need to allow what is easily inside of me to come to the surface. And to be seen by the rest of the world.

So look out world. Here I come.

Don’t let your fear stop you, or you might close up. You might shut out the world. You might never truly experience it. We only have one life. And it’s never going to be perfect. So why self-sabotage?

It’s. Just. Not. Worth it.

Be creative. Express yourself. And do it for others. By doing it for yourself, it cannot stay with yourself. It must – and will -influence the world.

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Mystery Genre

The mystery genre is pretty straightforward. It begins with the main character and the audience not having all the information, and by the end of the movie, they have all the answers.

Some films that fall into this category are,

Sherlock Holmes

Murder on the Orient Express

Rear Window

There are other films that seem to fall into this category, but do not. Such as the Bourne Trilogy, Memento, The Fugitive, and Minority Report. These have mysteries in them, but the main point of the film is that it is an action movie, which is a different genre that I will talk about soon.

In order for the film to be a mystery, the mystery must be the main point. It must be the part of the movie that most consumes and engrosses you, and what controls the action. If there is someone chasing the main character the whole time, then it’s the action that predominates. Because, in that case, the main character is only motivated to solve the mystery because of the chase, whereas in a true mystery, he will be motivated to solve the mystery simply because it is a mystery.

There are not many true mystery films, but there are mystery TV shows. Those abound in plenty! Numbers, Monk, Psych, Castle, Sherlock Holmes, Person of Interest, CSI, and The Good Cop are all mystery genre TV shows.

MORE POSTS IN THIS SERIES:

Redefining Genre Romance Genre Romance Genre

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Sabrina Fair by John Milton

I’ve always been curious about this poem. I love the artwork and Play/Films it has inspired, but I confess that the classic-ness of the poem eludes me. Maybe it’s because it’s John Milton – I’ve never been able to really enjoy him.

This poem is nice, and pleasant to read, but it doesn’t stir my heart and wrench my gut like most classic poetry. But I wanted to share it, just to see if, by investing in it, I can appreciate it the way Arthur Rackham clearly did. Enjoy the flowing meter and gorgeous artwork!


731ce153b10d9af3c95686989a1d4586Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph that livst unseen
Within thy airy shell
By slow Meander’s margent green,
And in the violet imbroider’d vale
Where the love-lorn Nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad Song mourneth well.
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle Pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?fd95fbedbf41c1ce24338d0246253ab5
O if thou have
Hid them in som flowry Cave,
Tell me but where
Sweet Queen of Parly, Daughter of the Sphear,
So maist thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all Heavns Harmonies

1fda379e48c45836b806074fc2828ba2Sabrina fair
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassie, cool, translucent wave,
In twisted braids of Lillies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,
Listen for dear honour’s sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save.

Listen and appear to us63761dea88ae9d1af10a21726c636b6c
In name of great Oceanus,
By the earth-shaking Neptune’s mace,
And Tethys grave majestick pace,
By hoary Nereus wrincled look,
And the Carpathian wisards hook,
By scaly Tritons winding shell,
And old sooth-saying Glaucus spell,
By Leucothea’s lovely hands,
And her son that rules the strands,
c35a80cad712a8c7b09ed32881c22e72By Thetis tinsel-slipper’d feet,
And the Songs of Sirens sweet,
By dead Parthenope’s dear tomb,
And fair Ligea’s golden comb,
Wherwith she sits on diamond rocks
Sleeking her soft alluring locks,
By all the Nymphs that nightly dance
Upon thy streams with wily glance,

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Rise, rise, and heave thy rosie head
From thy coral-pav’n bed,
And bridle in thy headlong wave,
Till thou our summons answered have.
Listen and save.

02dea57501ff6fe8178a94d7761178bdSabrina rises, attended by water-Nymphes, and sings.

1258c084b6804e729e5f239d44d4fdb1By the rushy-fringed bank,
Where grows the Willow and the Osier dank,
My sliding Chariot stayes,
Thick set with Agat, and the azurn sheen
Of Turkis blew, and Emrauld green
That in the channell strayes, 6a0b21f1e344e0e39959998be8571d3e
Whilst from off the waters fleet
Thus I set my printless feet
O’re the Cowslips Velvet head,
That bends not as I tread,
Gentle swain at thy request
I am here.

Spirit. Goddess dear

We implore thy powerful band

To’ undo the charmed band

Of true Virgin here distrest,

Through the force, and through the wile

Of unblest inchanter vile.

Sabrina Shepherd, ’tis my office best

To help insnared chastity.

 

9d7befdf8c1073f8e54dae2711ad8a09Brightest Lady look on me,
Thus I sprinkle on thy brest
Drops that from my fountain pure,
I have kept of pretious cure,
Thrice upon thy fingers tip
Thrice upon thy rubied lip,
Next this marble venom’d seat
Smear’d with gumms of glutenous heat
I touch with chaste palms moist and cold,
Now the spell hath lost his hold;
And I must haste ere morning hour
To wait in Amphitrite’s bowr.


Source Text

Gorgeous Illustrations all done by Arthur Rackham

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NANOWRIMO Challenge Day 5

Day 5 already! Even though it’s the 8th of November. 😉 (So I missed a few days over the weekend… oh well. It’ll probably happen again)

There was no exercise with the reading today, so I just decided to write five pairs of verse with what I learned.

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New Fairy Tale Facebook Group

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I just started a Fairy Tale Facebook Group for the Fairy Tale Blog. A place for writers and readers to talk about stories, build community, and mutually recommend great authors, films, and stories!

Same stuff you find here, just even more!

Visit and request to join. Under the first question, mention that you saw the blog post. 🙂

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Redefining Genre

So, my brother and I got very fed up last night with genre.

Take romance and psycho-thriller for example. One describes how a film makes you feel, the other describes how characters change throughout the film. They are not compatible comparisons!

Romance is about two people who meet and fall in love. When we hear the word romance, we know that the film will be about two characters who are not free to love each other in some way, but by the end of the film, they will both be free. But to say a movie is a romance tells us nothing about how we will feel when we watch it. In fact, it is so bad at conveying that idea that we have to pair funny romantic movies with the word Comedy, thus specifying it as a Rom-Com.

Whereas, if someone tells me we’re watching a psycho-thriller, I know exactly how I will feel when I watch it. As my brother put it, I will sit plastered to my seat, wondering eagerly what’s going to happen next, why it’s happening, and how.

So… We got ambitious, and decided to re-explore the entire concept of genre.

After an hour of discussion we split it into two categories.

  1. How Movies Make us Feel (External Genre)
  2. What World View Changes Throughout the Film (Internal Genre)

We call them:

  1. How to Feel Films
  2. Coming of Age Films

Number 1 is pretty self-explanatory. Movies make us feel a certain way, and dividing them into how they make us feel just makes sense. Especially since most genres that exist already fall into this category.

Number 2 might require some explanation. (UPDATE: You can read the post about it here.) Many films are driven by the main character changing their world view. They start by believing a lie about the world, or having wrong information, and by the end, their world view has shifted.

Most Stories have both an External and an Internal Genre, but they will be primarily driven by one or the other.

HOW TO FEEL

  1. Mystery (feeling: curiously confused)
  2. Action/Adventure (feeling: excited and adventurous)
  3. Horror (feeling: afraid)
  4. Psycho-Thriller (feeling: mentally stimulated)
  5. Off-Beat/Quirky (feeling: light about depressing or deep subject matter)
  6. Comedy (feeling: funny)
  7. Uplifting/Motivational (feeling: happy)
  8. Hopeful-Depressing (feeling: hopeful about depressing subject matter)

COMING OF AGE

  1. Death
  2. Self-Delusion
  3. Romance
  4. Responsibility

(Sure there are still more…Haven’t exhausted all of these – love to hear if you can think of any others!)

Check in soon – I’m going to be elaborating on all the genres in future posts, supplying examples for each.

What do you think? Any genres that I missed? Love to hear from you!

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NANOWRIMO Challenge Day 4

Well, this is a bit late in the day, but I’m just proud of myself for actually doing it!

I decided to repeat exercise 3 since I had so much difficulty with it yesterday.

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Nanowrimo Challenge Day 3

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My nonsensical lines for this exercise, although I kind of failed on the caesuras…😯😑

 

1) I listen – and I gawk at music played

By pianist for famous Bach: concert!

 

2) She loves – and waits in tower for

a lovely man to whisk her – well away.

 

3) But though he rides beneath, his eyes are cast

Unto the weary world and earthen place.

 

4) Mary, each day, for twenty greedy mouths

Bakes. Til she meets death above the stove.

 

5) Each saint or sinner is unknown, until

The ancient godly judge he stands before.

 

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NANOWRIMO Challenge Day 2

Stephen Fry’s second exercise:

This was my attempt. It was more difficult than I anticipated, so most of it’s just silly and nonsensical. But it was fun to do!

I think the hardest part was following his command not to rhyme!

  1. I see no reason to exclaim or cry
  2. The little bird has only bent her wing
  3. The back bears pack of heavy load and I
  4. Sink low and carry more than I can bear
  5. Meticulous and crazily I jerk
  6. Reading and books are bread and butter to me
  7. And Pluto is a faithful dog to Mouse
  8. Maximus eats apples and crunches nuts
  9. And Mag and Iron keep me fit and well
  10. I brave migraine amid the pits of woe
  11. Bernadette saw a lady dressed in white
  12. Her name I bear and to the lady pray
  13. A sweater warms and chases out the cold
  14. My slippers snug and warmly keep my feet
  15. Samantha had an uncle with a car
  16. The little bear found no more food
  17. The porridge pot would make no more
  18. The agony of wasted time drags each
  19. and all beneath her time encrusted hand
  20. By Merlyn’s magic great and small were wrapped

 

Artwork Credit: Michelle St. Laurent

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Writing Descriptions 101

There’s a lot of advice out there about writing descriptions. About keeping them to a minimum, about making sure they don’t cut into the action, about not over-painting a picture.

It’s all well and good, and has valid points. BUT, knowing how to write a long, detailed, poignant description is still a very important skill! You won’t know what to cut out without knowing what to put in in the first place. And who better to learn from than the masters?

The greatest description writer of all time, in my humble opinion, was Charles Dickens. Reading him can get cumbersome at times, but oh, how lovely his cumbersome writing is!

51NKRiPgHVL.jpgTake this passage here: “The place through which he made his way at leisure was one of those receptacles for old and curious things which seem to crouch in odd corners of this town and to hide their musty treasures from the public eye in jealousy and distrust. There were suits of mail standing like ghosts in armor here and there, fantastic carvings brought from monkish cloisters, rusty weapons of various kinds, distorted figures in china and wood and iron and ivory: tapestry and strange furniture that might have been designed in dreams. The haggard aspect of the little old man was wonderfully suited to the place; he might have groped among old churches and tombs and deserted houses and gathered all the spoils with his own hands. There was nothing in the whole collection but was in keeping with himself; nothing that looked older or more worn than he.” – The Old Curiosity Shop

What an image! The shop lives and breathes in our minds, leaping out to us from the page, drawing us inward. Dickens did not simply lay out all the items in the shop, and then describe the old man. He used the items to reflect the old man, and the old man to reflect the items. He made them seem one and the same, as if removing one from the other we do harm to both. Which of course happens later in the book, and is all the more heart-wrenching because of the image he has planted in our minds at the very beginning. The old curiosity shop is curious not so much in itself, but in it’s inhabitants. And Dickens conveys all of this in one paragraph.

Take this next passage as well, which is one of my favorites: “Monseigneur, one of the 1953.jpggreat lords in power at the Court, held his fortnightly reception in his grand hotel in Paris. Monseigneur was in his inner room, his sanctuary of sanctuaries, the Holiest of Holiests to the crowd of worshipers in the suite of rooms without. Monseigneur was about to take us chocolate. Monseigneur could swallow a great many things with ease and was by some few sullen minds supposed to be rather rapidly swallowing France; but, his morning’s chocolate could not so much as get into the throat of Monseigneur, without the aid of four strong men besides the Cook.” – A Tale of Two Cities

What a ritual! It goes on for several more paragraphs, detailing exactly how he takes his chocolate. Aside from a few comments about what other people think of him, we are able to form a picture of the Monseigneur simply by watching him eat chocolate. He makes a ritual out of it, as if it were a celebration of the mass, or some other liturgy. Amid all the squalor that we see in other parts of the book, this is a revolting spectacle of decadence, and yet, Dickens never tells us how revolting it is. He lets the actions speak for themselves.

Dickens is a true master of description. His characters come so to life, but if you’ve everThe_Old_Curiosity_Shop_08 watched a BBC miniseries reproduction of his books, you know that they are the most true reproductions of any book you’ve ever seen. His villains are hatable, is heroes lovable, his side characters mysterious, lovable and gross all at once. I highly recommend that you pick up a page of Dickens, notice the details that he draws upon, and then try to describe the room you are in with as much detail. Reflect on the characters and personalities of the people who decorated the room, or left their things in it. Allow the surroundings to speak of the characters, and you will become a Master Descriptive Narrator!

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My NaNoWriMo Poetry Challenge

So, I’ve decided to go a different direction this year with NaNoWriMo. I’m reading Stephen Fry’s book The Ode Less Traveled, Unlocking the Poet Within, and I’m loving it!

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Every day I’m going to read some of it and write a new poem/verse. I’m hoping to improve my ability to write poetry, which is a writing art that has always eluded me. 🙂

Today’s I learned Iambic Pentameter, and here’s my verse:

And searching o’er from top to pit for it

For what is lost and missing left unfound

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The Art of an Artist – To Ever Improve!

As I’ve been editing the final draft of my latest novel, Trinian – An Epic Fantasy, the editing process affects the way that I watch and read other stories.

What I mean is, as I edit and pay attention to character development, all I notice when I watch a movie is the character development.

And when I edit plot and pacing, that’s all I notice in the book I’m reading.

My head is so jam-packed with characterization, mounting conflict, increasing stakes, and relatable villains that I feel like I’m going to explode!

I will be so happy when this novel is finally finished, which should be the end of December!

I couldn’t have gotten this far without all the resources I’ve benefited from along the way, so here is a brief list of some of the most helpful writing resources that helped turn me into the writer I am today. I highly recommend all of them!

  1. Shawn Coyne at The Story Grid, especially his podcast with Tim Grahl
  2. Joseph Campbell’s analysis of The Hero’s Journeya
    • Although I’ve never read his book, just studying the concept has helped me immeasurably! I love charting various heroes’ journeys!
  3. Writing the Breakout Novel, recommended by Weronika from Lightening Bug (below)
  4. The Lively Art of Writing
  5. Lightening and Lightening Bug’s Blog
  6. The Institute for Excellence in Writing

I’m so grateful for everyone who’s helped me through this process, which has benefited me so much and burned away so many bad habits and thought processes in my writing!

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The Children of Lir

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Source for Text

The Children of Lir Artwork

Anne-Marie Tully

Andrew Ryan

Source for Artists Below

Sheila MacGill-Callahan

Ed Org

John D. Batten

Paula Tabor

PJ Lynch

Matt Doyle

John Duncan

Emily E Weichbrod

Shauna Blumingale

John Quigley

Deirdre O’Reilly

Alexandra Soranescu

Keshi-Shiro

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How to Increase Drama by Lengthening Sentences

A paragraph with sentences that vary in length is far more powerful than sentences of all the same length.

For example,

Short: I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin. I wanted him back. But my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak. I lost him.

Long: With longing, I watched him leave the room, and the pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin because I wanted him back, but my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak to take the steps necessary to get him back, so he left and I lost him forever.

Compare those to this:

Combo: I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin because I wanted him back, but my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak to chase after him, and lost him forever.

This paragraph begins with two short sentences, and then swells with a longer one that carries up through the emotion and out the other end, where the last sentence drives home the resolution.

When every sentence is the same length, it’s difficult to convey emotion in writing. Short, staccato sentences carry desperation and excitement, while long sentences convey melancholy or peace. But when put together, a wider range of emotions can easily be conveyed. Your writing will improve by leaps and bounds!

3 Tips to Vary Sentence Length

1. Combining Sentences

  • Combine 2 thoughts into one sentence and create a flow.

2. Clauses

  • Put a less important thought inside a longer one to extend the dramatic effect.

3. The Short Sentence

  • An occasional short sentence drives home a point, or increases the drama.

1. Combining Sentences

Two thoughts side by side can sometimes be combined into one sentence, which makes for easier reading and variety of structure.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. She floated by like a cloud.

2. I was terrified by her beauty.

1&2: She floated past me like a cloud and I was terrified by her beauty.

Or these,

1. I decided monsters didn’t scare me. 

2. I was going to be brave.

1&2: I decided monsters didn’t scare me, and I was going to be brave.

How to Lengthen Sentences

By combining the sentences, the cause and effect is much more clear, and so is the sequence of events. It plays out easily, with a flowing rhythm.

2. Clauses

Sentences can also be made longer by the addition of a clause. Whether at the beginning, middle, or end of the sentence, a clause adds information that stretches the thought, and makes it more dramatic.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. The trees grew thickly behind the house

2. I ran among them as I tried to get away from everything inside me.

1&2: Where the trees grew thickly behind the house, I ran to escape the thick, tangled thoughts inside my head. 

Or these,

1. I was thirteen and emotional.

2. That was when I decided to run away from home.

1&2:  I decided, because I was thirteen and emotional, to run away from home.

In both sentences, the first thought is not as important as the second, but it serves to paint a picture of the setting. It works better as a clause inside the second sentence, instead of on it’s own.

3. The Short Sentence

I am not opposed to short sentences by any means! They are a valuable tool and should be used when a short, dramatic statement will heighten the tension or drive home a point.

For example,

1. He loved me. I knew it now. Looking deep into his eyes, savoring the truth I already knew, but wanting to hear him say it, he whispered tenderly into my ear, “I love you.”

2. I felt like the room was closing in like the trash compactor on Star Wars. Something was coming, breathing down my neck, making the little hairs prickle and rise. Just behind me, a hoarse sigh. I whirled.

See how each short sentence is accompanied by a lot of detail, and longer sentences? This raises the stakes, and we know the short sentence is important. Everything leads up to it, or adds to it afterward.

Conclusion

Writing long and medium sentences is a good idea because it adds a rhythm and flow to your writing style. It heightens emotion and action, and draws the reader naturally into the story. But don’t forget the short sentence! It’s the best part, so use it sparingly.

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The Seven Ravens by Ludwig Bechstein

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The Seven Ravens Source Text

Illustrators:

Allison Reimold

Oscar Herrfurth

Adrian Ludwig Richter

Mary Alayne Thomas

Lisbeth Zwerger

Jana Heidersdorf

Teresa Jenellen

Ryan LeMere

Gustaf Tenggren

Maria Pascual

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The Seven Ravens

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The door was locked, and she started to take out the chicken bone, but when she opened up the cloth, it was empty. She had lost the gift of the good stars.What was she now to do_ She wished to rescue her brothers, a.png

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The Seven Ravens Source Text

Illustrators

Allison Reimold

Oscar Herrfurth

Adrian Ludwig Richter

Anne Anderson

Mary Alayne Thomas

Lisbeth Zwerger

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3 Tips to Improve Sentence Structure

The best way to make your book interesting – after having a good, solid plot and characters – is to improve your sentence structure.

Lately books are all the same. The sentences are short. They’re sweet. They all start with a subject.

For example,

I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart, burned my skin. I wanted him back. But my pride rooted me to the floor.

When every sentence begins with the exact same part of speech, it gets boring to read. It’s easy to read, but it’s boring. So if you want to write a novel that stands out, and doesn’t come across as simple, keep reading.

3 Tips to Vary Sentence Structure

1. Adverbial Opener

–Describes the verb.

When I was a child, the world was a simple place.

2. Adjectival Opener

–Describes the subject.

Chivalrous to a fault, I refused to let her open the door and did it for her.

3. Prepositional Opener

–Begins with a preposition

With the force of a mighty wind, he destroyed the sand castle.

Adverbial Opener

Don’t just open with an adverb, like ‘lately’ or ‘really.’ Stretch yourself and describe the setting with a phrase. Instead of putting two thoughts into two sentences, combine them. Place and time are good material for this.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. The trees grew thickly behind the house

2. The trees were like my thoughts, and I ran among them as I tried to get away from everything inside me.

1&2: Where the trees grew thickly behind the house, I ran to escape the thick, tangled thoughts inside my head.

Or these,

1. I was thirteen and emotional.

2. That was when I decided to run away from home.

1&2: When I was thirteen and emotional, I decided to run away from home.

Adjectival Opener

Freeing you to create free-flowing visuals, adjectival openers can be a wonderful tool. A good indication that you’re using an adjectival opener is when the first word ends in ING, although it’s not always the case. Just make sure it’s modifying the subject. Again, a good way to use an adjectival modifier is to combine thoughts.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. She floated by like a cloud.

2. I was terrified by her beauty.

1&2: FloatING past me like a cloud, I was terrified of her beauty.

Or these,

1. I felt lazy.

2. I decided to watch tv.

1&2: FeelING lazy, I decided to watch tv.

Or,

1. I was brave in the face of monsters.

2. I stood up to him.

1&2: Brave in the face of monsters, I stood up to him.

Prepositional Opener

As with any sentence variable, prepositional openers can be very useful. But these have the most potential. There are tons of prepositions, which means tons of different sentence openers for you!

Combine these sentences,

1. We looked to the sky.

2. The elephant floated like a dark gray cloud.

1&2: Above the three ring circus, the elephant floated like a dark gray cloud.

Or,

1. She mourned the loss of her gray kitten for a while.

2. But Mandy tried to get on with life after that.

1&2: After mourning the loss of her gray kitten, Mandy tried to get on with her life.

Next article, I’ll talk about how to make your sentences longer inside and at the end, and when it’s a good idea to do it.

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The Seven Swans

So…there is NO fairy tale called The Seven Swans, although I’ve often referred to it by accident. Turns out, there are several different fairy tales that include the words ‘seven’ and ‘swans’, and are all much the same story: “The Seven Ravens,” “The Six Swans,” and “The Wild (or Eleven) Swans.” There’s also the story “The Children of Lir,” which has a plot similar to the others. And the more I dig, the more I find! The Twelve Brothers/ The Twelve Ravens by Grimm, and The Seven Ravens by Ludwig Bechstein, are both another retelling. There seem to be more versions of this tale than of Snow White!

I’m going to call this post The Seven Swans, as a nod to all the similarities between the stories.

1. “The Wild Swans,” by Hans Christian Anderson, is majestic and ornate. By far my absolute favorite! It’s full of trusting tenderness and wicked guile. And Anderson’s descriptions are gorgeous!

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2. “The Seven Ravens,” by Grimm, is short, with a lurid tone. A regular Halloween tale.

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3. “The Six Swans,” also by Grimm but translated and republished by Andrew Lang, was clearly the one that most inspired Anderson in his retelling. But it is a little darker than his, as all the Grimm tales are.

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The Children of Lir, an Irish Fable, is a short one, and far sadder than any of the others!

5. The Twelve Brothers surprised me! I thought the Twelve Ravens was my last one to compile until I found this hidden gem!

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6. The Twelve Ravens has a twist at the end that I like, but some confusing plot twists!

7. The Seven Ravens retold by Ludwig Bechstein, is my favorite of the Ravens!

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The Wild Swans

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More Wild Swans Artwork

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Even MORE Artwork

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AND MORE!

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CALL TO ARTISTS

I would love to feature artist’s work for “The Wild Swans”! Please reach out to me by email, and I will include it here!

Contributing Artists: 

Disclaimer – None of this art is mine. I reached out to as many people as I could to receive permission to feature their art here. If you see your art, and do not want it displayed, please let me know, I will be happy to take it down! Also, if I fail to credit anyone, please tell me so I can fix it! Thanks!

P J Lynch – Checkout more of Lynch’s fantabulous artwork.

Leila at Treemagination – See more here.

Kakoa-bean – Follow her on instagram @azolia_art, or checkout her website

Susan Jeffers – more

Arthur Joseph Gaskin – more

Igor Vyshinskii

Milo Winter – about

Anna and Elena Balbusso – website

Donn P. Crane 

Rene Cloke – about

Nika Goltz – about

Vilhelm Pedersen – about

Anne Yvonne Gilbert – more art

Achen089 – deviant art profile

Paul Hey

ejbeachy – see her profile

ofpaintedflowers – see her profile

”The

 

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Introducing My New Novel: Trinian, An Epic Fantasy

I’m so excited to introduce you all to my NEXT BOOK

When I was thirteen years old, I read the Lord of the Rings and was disappointed by the lack of female characters in it. So, I decided to write my own epic fantasy that would be sprinkled with plenty of women characters who fall in love, go on adventures, and save the world. Typical thirteen-year-old girl stuff. I wanted to read the story, so I decided to write it.

It was a tale of a kingdom with a new king, a vague enemy threatening the safety of a world, and several romantic couplings playing out against the backdrop.

At the beginning, it was a straightforward story with many plot holes and inconsistencies.

Since then, I have grown. I have found more reasons to tell the story, expanding beyond the superficial need only for more femininity. The story has come out of me, grown with me, and reached beyond me. The protagonists have grown more complex and wonderful over time, and it has taken a full ten years before I finally discovered the wider context of the fictional world living inside my head.

It has truly been a fantastic journey to discover the intricacies of this story over the years, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you!

I just wrote the climax, and for the first time, I feel like I’m really almost done with it! I’m so excited to finally finish this story!

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Literacy: The Phenomenon that made us Culturally Inept

Just joined Medium.com, and this was my first post! You can read the entirety here.

We see illiteracy as a negative thing because without being able to read, we lack the ability to effectively communicate ideas. But, ironically, our reliance on literacy has actually led to a degradation in our confidence to communicate through the written word.

While any average person on the street can tell you how to pronounce the sounds of the alphabet, or how to spell “Kardashian,” they stumble over writing a basic business email. And most wouldn’t have the confidence to sit down before a room of kindergartners and tell them a ten-minute story about a cat and a ball of yarn.

Yet this is a very simple process, drawn upon everyday experience, with a very simple audience who, if you make the cat fall down or get twisted in the yarn, will be very forgiving of your mistakes. They just want to hear about how a cat responds to the yarn because it helps them understand life. The illiterate children relate to storytelling better than…continue reading

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When to Dance to Death – How to End Your Story

In the Grimm’s version of Snow White, the evil queen attends Snow White’s wedding at the end and receives the sentence to dance in iron-hot shoes until she dies. Snow White gets a happy ending, and the Queen dances to death.

Here, the protagonist is happy and the villain is miserable, and all is right and just in the world, but what about the stories where the main character has a tragic ending, Hamletlike Hamlet or Gone with the Wind? Why did the author decide to give the protagonists in these stories a pair of theoretical iron-hot shoes? 640px-Snow_White_Iron_Shoes.pngWhat was the point? Was it just to break the hearts of readers and make them feel betrayed for investing all this time and attention into the character?

Probably not. If that was their only reason, then they’re a terrible writer (Not to mention person).

But allowing for the benefit of the doubt, what would be their good reason, and how can we know when to apply it in our own stories?

There are two endings to any type of story, and we see them to best advantage in Shakespeare’s brilliant two categories: The Tragedy and the Comedy. (All his Histories can fit into one of these two categories)

Comedy

A comedy ends in rejoicing, marriage, and the promise of a bountiful future.

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A tragedy ends with death, suffering, and general doom and gloom.

COMEDY

Every story has a protagonist, a main character. It is the job of the protagonist, throughout the story, to overcome the internal and/or external dangers that come their way. Sometimes they overcome them through brawn, sometimes wits, sometimes unflinching goodness, and sometimes just pure good luck.

All of those reasons are legitimate and popular methods of storytelling.

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Luke Cage uses brawn. Adrian Monk uses wits. Emma Swan uses goodness. The three stooges use luck.

These stories explore the meaning of good fortune, and how we can achieve it. Often, the main character begins without believing in the benefits of his/her force for good. They think they are destined for unhappiness, and don’t know how to use their inner strength. The riveting nature of the story is how he/she learns to accept and grow, until they are a major force to be reckoned with, and can overcome great evil.

TRAGEDY

Sometimes, however, their inner strength is not enough, or they are not able to grow enough to harness it. This is where fallen nature comes into play.

The InformantI watched The Informant the other night, a movie wherein Matt Damon plays a man helping the FBI to uncover illegal activities inside his company. However, about half-way through, the story takes an unexpected twist. We discover that, although he has been helping to uncover legitimate corrupt activities and thinks of himself as a hero for doing so, he has been stealing 11 million dollars on the side all along.

And he doesn’t see himself as a villain.

This is significant. We realize that he was actually an evil force all along, and his refusal to see it results in the FBI turning their attention away from the first crime and entirely onto him. He finally ends up in jail because he refuses to see that he was in the wrong.

This is a tragic ending.

The Informant involves an internal evil that Matt Damon’s character was unwilling to defeat. There are a few stories, however, which are fewer and far between, in which there is an external villain the protagonist cannot conquer.

This rears its head in plays, mostly, such as Shakespeare and Aeschylus. There are very few films that deal in this genre.

This particular evil is almost always Fate. Any evil can be overcome, the story tells us, unless Fate is against us to begin with. We cannot see it, feel it, or get our hands around its throat, so our lives end miserably because Life/Fate/the gods had it out for us in the first place.

Tragedy is either about refusing to wage inward battles, or losing battles against fate.

So there you go! This is the difference between a happy ending and a sad. You can choose to end your story happy, but make sure it’s because your characters learned their lessons. Or, you can end it sad, but make sure it’s either on account of fate, or block-headed characters!

Did I miss anything? Did I leave out a genre? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

RECAP

Comedy endings are about people who overcame all obstacles, inward and outward, and have a hopeful future because of it.

Tragic endings involve either the protagonist’s refusal to accept their weaknesses and seek to overcome them, or else involve intangible Fate destroying them from the outside, no matter what they do.

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Fairy Tale Definition #2

Fairy Tale: A story that pushes the boundaries of the natural world, seeking to raise the reader to a simultaneous knowledge of both the supernatural realities of life as well as an innocent, child-like perception of creation.

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Fairy Tale Definition #1

Fairy Tale: A story intended for children that bursts the bonds of childhood and speaks to the innermost hearts of the old.

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‘Jack and the Princess’ by Elizabeth Russell

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jack. He lived with his mother in a cottage on the outskirts of a kingdom, right between the town and the outlying farmland. The kingdom was going through a period of drought: everyone was starving, and Jack and his mother were no exception. One morning, his mother said to him, “Jack, we are going to starve. You must take the cow into the village and sell her for what you can get. We will live on what she sells for a few weeks and then we will die.”

So Jack took the cow and headed down the path to the village. On his way, he met a hobbling old man who carried a little handkerchief. Inside the handkerchief, the old man said, were four magic beans, and he offered to trade Jack the beans for the cow. Jack saw that this was the most he would get for the dried-up, starving cow and gratefully accepted. When he got home, however, his mother was less than pleased and grabbing his ear with one hand, threw the beans out the window with the other. “How could you!?” she cried. “We were supposed to live for another few weeks, but now you will go to bed with no supper tonight, because we have no food to make a supper with!” And at that, Jack went to his bed, tired out from his walk and his empty stomach.

The next morning when Jack woke up in the early light, he found a great plant had grown up where his mother had thrown the beans. All the way up to the sky it reached, and further even than that. It was taller than the tallest skyscraper in our world.

Well, Jack knew he had not long to live and decided that there is no moment like the present, so he started making his way up the vine. “Maybe I’ve already died,” he thought, “and now I’m climbing up to heaven.”

But eventually he found himself at the top, and the beanstalk supported a great castle – a castle larger than the biggest prison in our world. It was a castle made for giants.

Jack went inside and was in awe of all the magnificent things he saw there: sparkling gold, glistening jewels, gorgeous velvet, and exotic spices. Most of the things were far too large for a normal-sized man like Jack, but some were people-sized, and these he picked up and fingered: some were softly embroidered, others were prickly-plated, and still others glassy smooth. He breathed deeply and there wafted a most heavenly scent upon the air. Jack could have stayed in that castle forever; he was beginning to lose himself in the radiance of it all when he was suddenly startled by something far more beautiful. Through the door at the other end of the room emerged a lovely girl of normal, person-sized height. She was adorned in a dusty apron, carried a dirty broom, and her hair curled around her forehead in sweaty, frazzled wisps. But nothing could dim the vibrant, fresh beauty in her face or the stately way that she held herself erect.

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She started when she saw Jack and dropped her broom. “What are you doing here?” she cried in alarm.

“I did not mean to startle you, miss. I found a giant beanstalk and climbed it to find myself in this beautiful place.”

“This place is not beautiful at all,” exclaimed the girl. “I know it glistens and dazzles, but it is all false finery that covers the den of a troll. My master eats any man that he can find, and he will eat you if he smells you here. You must leave immediately.”

As you might have guessed, Jack was instantly head-over-heels in love with this beautiful girl, and because of this, her concern did not fill him with proper caution; instead, since he had a dreamy nature, he was grateful for her concern, and he saw her through stars and galaxies, shining in the glow of the stained-glass window draping its light upon her.

“My name’s Jack.”

“Please, Jack,” she begged, “please leave.”

“If I leave,” he said, “you must come with me for I will not leave you to live with a man-eating troll.”

“I cannot go,” she started to tell him, but then Jack, who really was starving to death, suddenly fainted.

When Jack awoke, he was lying on cold stone beside a ginormous fire with a cold cloth on his forehead. The smell of hot soup wafted to him from a bowl at his side.

“You should really eat,” came the voice of the girl, and he turned to see her standing on top of a giant wooden countertop cutting up vegetables. “You look like you’re starving.”

Jack ate without another word, practically swallowing the entire bowl in one gulp. He was that hungry.

“Thank you.” He started to climb up the leg of the counter-top.

“No!” cried the girl. “I was telling you earlier, I can’t leave but you must!”

“Why can’t you leave?”

“I am the princess of the kingdom below.”

“Princess Miranda?”

“Yes. I was kidnapped three years ago and forced to cook and clean for the giant. I have a spell on me, and if I try to escape, this whole castle will fall down upon the kingdom and kill everyone.” Jack had reached the top of the counter, and she handed him an apple. “Now you must go. It is almost his lunchtime and he will be down shortly. Then he will eat you and I will have to watch.”

Jack’s heart leapt at her concern. “There must be a way to break the spell?” he asked.

“So long as he has his magic items, he will have power over me.”

“What are his magic items?”

The princess pointed to the corner of the kitchen. “His magic golden eggs and magic golden harp give him all his spells.”

Suddenly the entire room shook, and Jack fell against the wooden counter-top. The princess, who was more used to it, just wobbled a bit.

“Quick!” she cried. “We are too late, he is coming! You must hide.”

She slid down the leg of the counter, and he followed her, then she grabbed his hand and raced to a cupboard. Jack was too overcome by her touch to do anything but completely obey her. She pushed him inside, and before he realized what had happened, she had sliced his hand with a knife.

“Ah!” he cried, pulling away.

“No time!” she cried and taking his hand, dripped his blood into a bowl. “Wait until he is eating then leave through that door. Go down your beanstalk and never come back here again.” Then she shut him up into complete darkness except for a small sliver of light between the cracks.

He saw the princess take the blood that she had drawn from his smarting hand and pour it into the giant’s bowl of soup. If he had not been so completely in love, Jack might have shuddered at the fact that he himself had just eaten that soup.

“FEE, FIE, FOE, FUM!”

The room shook and the pottery on the shelves clinked and rattled. “I SMELL THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISHMAN!” The ground quaked as the largest man you have ever seen rumbled into the room. Jack peered through the sliver of a crack and bounced up and down with each heavy footfall. The giant turned his head so that he could see the hugeness of his face, the wideness of his shoulders, and the fierceness of his eyes. Then he did shudder. No, he quaked; and not from the vibrations of the giant’s steps.

“Do you, sir? That’s just a little something special I put together for you. I managed to bargain it off Mrs. Dungbury of Gigantic St.”

“AH! YOU KNOW WHAT I LIKE!” The giant sat down at the large table and  started eating like a mad animal, pouring soup in his mouth before even having time to swallow.

Then Jack took his chance. He leapt out of the cupboard, and the giant was so busy with his soup that he noticed nothing else. The princess watched him anxiously, but Jack did not head straight for the door like she had told him; he jumped up onto the table in the corner, where the golden eggs and harp were laid out in all their glory. The princess in fear shook her head at him, but he ignored her and picked up the eggs one by one (there were three of them, and each was very heavy). Then he reached for the harp, but it was magical, and played music whenever anyone touched her, so now she began to play herself, and at hearing the sound, the dinner table shook as the giant lifted up his mighty head.

“WHY DOES MY BEAUTIFUL HARP PLAY MUSIC?” he asked the princess.

Jack rabbited and raced across the kitchen floor for the door to freedom, but he still clutched the golden eggs to his chest.

“I do believe she just wants to make your dining experience more enjoyable, sir,” said the princess, and sighed with relief when she saw that Jack was safely out of the room.

Jack climbed down the beanstalk as quick as he could. When he got to the bottom, he found his mother waiting for him.

“And where have you been all morning? Do you expect me to starve to death alone?!” She stood before him with arms crossed over her chest in her strictest manner, but he could see how thin her cheeks really were.

“Mother, look!” he cried, holding out the eggs that he had wrapped in his shirt.

“Oh, my!!” she cried out and threw her hands high into the air in astonishment.

They sold the eggs and got enough money from them to live on for the next ten years.

But Jack could not forget the Princess Miranda, so the very next morning, he got up earlier than the sun and started climbing the beanstalk again. As soon as he entered the palace, he headed for the kitchen to find her.

“Princess!” he cried, when he saw the lovely girl at the giant fireplace. She was standing on an iron ladder to reach a huge, boiling stew pot and using a great spoon to stir it. Her face was flushed and her arms straining, but her back was strong and she looked more beautiful than ever.

“Jack!” she yelled at him, “you’ve come back! But why? You must have sold those golden eggs and are no longer starving. You’ll get eaten!”

“No Princess,” he answered her, “I will not. I will steal the golden harp so that you can escape from this man-eating giant, and his castle will not fall on your kingdom.”

“Oh, Jack…” she cried with rising hope, but then she pulled back, shaking her head. “No, no. I can’t accept this. I won’t let you put your life in danger again. I’m the princess, and it is my duty to keep the kingdom safe: all of it.”

But Jack just grinned at her foolishly. He did so like it when she worried about him.

“FEE, FIE, FO, FUM!” The ground heaved and the pottery clattered. The pot over the fire swayed and the ladder tipped. Jack jumped forward to steady it, but the Princess, who was very used the trembling, had already caught herself against the brick.

“Quick!” she cried. “This is very early for him to come; he must have smelled you!”

Jack knew what to do and jumped inside the cupboard. When the Princess came to him with the knife and bowl, he dutifully held out his hand. Without flinching, the princess took his blood and shut him inside the cupboard.

“I SMELL THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISHMAN!”

“Do you smell that?” she cried gaily. “It’s the last of it that I got from Mrs. Dungbury.”

While the giant was busy gorging himself on the stew, Jack once again slipped out of the cupboard and made for the table in the corner. There was the beautiful golden harp which he took up and then ran across the table.

But the enchanted harp, alarmed at Jack’s wild motions, played vigorously in dismay.

“WHY DOES MY BEAUTIFUL HARP PLAY MUSIC?” the giant cried out in anger and whirled toward the corner-table before the princess could distract him.

“RAARGH!” he cried in rage when he saw Jack holding his precious magic harp.

“Run!” screamed the princess.

“Come on!” cried Jack as he raced across the kitchen to escape. He grabbed the princess’s hand and now she could do nothing but obey him. She followed him outside and to the beanstalk, and they both started climbing.

The giant followed close behind, but he was slower and had to search for strong parts of the vine to hold him up. They were halfway down before he had really started.

“I’LL GET YOU! AND I’LL DROP MY PALACE ON YOUR KINGDOM!”

“No, you won’t!” Jack yelled up as they kept going down.

“What if he does?” asked the Princess when they reached the bottom. The whole ground shook with the giant’s footfalls.

“He won’t,” said Jack, and ran to the back of the house where he got an ax. Then he went back to the vine and started chopping.

“HA HA!” cried the giant, “YOU’LL MAKE IT FALL ON THE KINGDOM ANYWAY!”

“Not if you fall the other way,” yelled Jack and at that, the vine fell over. And sure enough, Jack chopped so it fell across the fields and pastures, crushing the meagre, dried-up crops.

The giant was dead with no harm to the kingdom.

There was great fear when everyone felt the earthquake of the palace crashing onto the fields. The kingdom panicked at the loss of the crops, but when they gathered about the fallen beanstalk, they rejoiced over all the wealth of treasures within the Giant’s palace.

In the giant’s attic, cellar, and pantry, they found mountains of seeds and nuts, hordes of dried fruit and vegetables, oceans of grain, and hills of dried meat. No more starvation, no more death, and no more illness, all thanks to Jack’s heroic conquest.

There was, of course, wonderful rejoicing at the return of the princess, and she, of course, married Jack. Her father was not thrilled that she would marry a farmer, but he was too happy to have her back to argue hard with her choice.

The End

Keep Reading:

Jack and Princess Rose

Rose and the Prince