10 Dialogue Verbs that Only Work in Parodies

After finishing my previous post about said bookisms, I was suddenly overwhelmed with ideas for further said-bookism-related writings. Thus, I determined to set out another, lighter list. The verbs here are bad, but they are in a special category of bad, one where the only response to such ridiculous wording is to burst out laughing.

When used seriously, these words kill the mood. But if used in a parody, they could be hilarious.

#10: Questioned

I put this one on the bottom of the list because it seems a bit subjective, but I do think it could be very funny if handled correctly. The thing about this word as a dialogue tag is that even though it’s technically a valid grammatical option, it reads like the author didn’t know any interrogative verbs and thus turned “question” into a verb to compensate. I know that that is in no way what it is, but for some reason that interpretation has stuck with me, and it makes me giggle a little every time I see this word in a dialogue tag. It could be pretty funny if someone wrote a parody of poor writing where they pretended it was the case by adding some bizarre malapropisms like “exclamationed” and “speeched.”

#9: Cajoled

I wasn’t really sure whether to include this one at first, because I thought it might be possible to use it effectively. Then I remembered that every time I’ve seen it used and not winced, it was in the prose rather than the dialogue tags. Even people with chronic cases of Thesaurus Syndrome seem to avoid having characters “cajole” their lines. Combined with the funny sound of the word, it makes for good parody material. Ideally, the writer would completely ignore all connotations of the word and just use it as a synonym for “said,” alongside several other bizarre and obscure words with funny phonemes.

#8: Verbalized

In contrast to the “it just sounds kind of funny” feel of the previous two entries, this one has more of a “so stilted and clinical that it’s funny” appeal to it. I can just imagine someone writing a parody of overly-technical styles where characters “verbalize,” “vocalize,” “communicate,” and “pronounce” their lines. For best results, combine with overly-verbose and bizarrely specific descriptions, such as calling puzzle pieces “interlocking cardboard chips” and giving a precise measurement of each character’s hair length.

#7: Dribbled

I have never seen this word in a dialogue tag, but thinking about it makes me picture the character melting. Perhaps it’s a mark of how strange my mind is that I find that funny. Since the connotations of the word are rather sappy, I think it would work well in a romance pastiche, mocking the drippy dialogue between the main couple. Just make sure to only apply it to really, really saccharine lines.

#6: Yakked

Oddly enough, I have seen this word used in a dialogue tag… in the infamously bad fanfic My Immortal. This may be a very strong argument for the “troll” side of the “real vs. trollfic” debate, because “yakked” is a silly verb, and I’m pretty sure that not even an incompetent fanfiction writer would use it seriously. It does have a really funny sound to it, though. Yakked. Yak yak yak! Say it with me, guys: yak! Yak yak yak! Yak yak yakkity yak yak yakked! Yak! Yak yak yak! You have now lost the ability to register “yak” as a legitimate word.

#5: Blubbered

In a bizarre twist of language, a great number of crying-related verbs sound kind of funny to me, largely because of their present-tense homonyms or homophones. “Bawl” sounds like “ball,” “wail” sounds like “whale,” and “blubber” is, of course… blubber. I think this one stands out to me because I register the noun “blubber” as a “sortamatopoeia”; that is, if whale blubber made a sound, “blubber” would be it.

#4: Exploded

In my previous post, I mentioned how the dialogue tag “burst out” made me picture the words bursting gruesomely from the character’s chest. This word is similar. Whenever a character “explodes” a line, I picture them literally exploding, often to hilarious effect. Seeing that effect used consciously in a parody would make me laugh my ass off.

#3: Enunciated

Though similar to “verbalized,” this word has a particular feel to it that I find inexplicably humorous. Just sit back from your computer for a moment and enunciate the word “enunciated.” For best results, make sure to overemphasize the stress a little more than strictly necessary. It sounds funny, right? Come on, this cannot be just me.

#2: Ululated

Ululation was a favorite joke of Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman in How NOT to Write a Novel, though even there it never ended up in a dialogue tag. Personally, I think this would be a great parody of the “sound” tags, e.g. “hissed” and “snarled.” While it is technically possible to hiss, snarl, moan, or sigh a line if the wording and length are suitable, I’m pretty sure it would be impossible to ululate a line… and since both the act of ululation and the word “ululate” seem to be funny in and of themselves, well, bonus!

#1: Ejaculated

Admit it: you knew this one was coming. Oddly enough, I’ve seen “ejaculated” in dialogue tags more than any other word on this list, except perhaps “questioned.” This is probably because some works can actually get away with it; that is, older ones, written before the word “ejaculated” was associated with, er, penile emission. However, despite its drop in commonality in the present day, it does make its way into modern stories; for example, I recall one particularly hilarious example from Harry Potter, where Professor Slughorn “ejaculated” Snape’s name. I love J. K. Rowling, but that was ridiculous. I suppose it just goes to show that even great writers can make the occasional goof. Really, the only place you should see “ejaculated” in the modern day is in a parody, especially a parody sex scene. Of course, if you aren’t writing parody, never use this verb anywhere close to the sex scene if you value your reader’s immersion.

10 of My Least Favorite Dialogue Verbs

Allow me to set a scene. A young aspiring novelist sits in their single-digit-grade classroom, listening intently to their teacher’s advice on writing effectively. One thing in particular stands out to them: the idea that they should vary their word choices. After all, who wants to read a piece full of generic terms like “really big” or “very bad?” Better by far to use interesting, attention-grabbing descriptions, like “enormous” or “terrible.”

Some time later, our young writer sits down to write a story. Eventually, they get to a section of dialogue and notice that the word “said” occurs pretty much every line. “This will not do!” they think, and begin coming up with ways to weed out the “said”s. By the end of the night, their dialogue looks something like this:

“But what if they catch us?” Amanda wondered.

Todd shrugged. “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he remarked.

“That’s just like you to say,” groaned Izzy. She twiddled her thumbs for a second, then added, “Amanda’s right. If the monitors catch us in the secret passage, we need a plan.”

Todd rolled his eyes, but mumbled, “Okay.”

“I think we should split up,” Amanda stated. “They’ll have a harder time following more than one —”

“Bad idea,” interrupted Kevin, looking up briefly from his Rubik’s cube. “That just gives them more chances to catch one of us.”

This, of course, is poor writing. Dialogue tags are not meant to draw the reader’s attention, but to point out who is speaking. The word “said,” which goes largely unnoticed by most readers, performs this job admirably, and its replacement often has unpleasant results. By placing attention-grabbing words in their dialogue tags, the writer essentially takes the reader’s focus away from their characters and puts them on the writing, and by extension themselves. Eventually, this adds up to make the writing look overwrought and the author pretentious.

In literary circles, such verbs are known as “said bookisms,” and generally regarded as a red flag for an amateur writer. Of course, the presence of said bookisms doesn’t mean a work is bad, but it usually indicates that the text is in need of an editor. There are, of course, places where unconventional verbs can be used effectively, but they should still be used sparingly… and some particular verbs should never be used at all.

So here, I present ten of my least favorite verbs to see in a dialogue tag. While the category of said bookisms also delves into adverbs and the occasional accompanying action, the verbs are usually the ones that slap me in the face.

#10:  Uttered

Hello, pretension. I seriously cannot read this word in a dialogue tag without rolling my eyes. I think the problem with it is that it’s always used to make whatever a character says IMPORTANT or DRAMATIC, which in turn makes me picture the characters chewing the scenery and milking the giant cow. If an author needs to force drama by putting “uttered” in the dialogue tags, they clearly aren’t doing their job right; and if the dialogue would be dramatic without the “uttered,” then there’s no reason for it to be there. “Stated” is similarly unnecessary, but somewhat less pretentious, as are “spoke” and “told.”

#9: Grunted

It was difficult to figure out which “noise” dialogue tag to put here. “Hissed” is a common example of a much-abused dialogue tag, but there are at least cases of it being used appropriately. “Snorted” is roughly the same, although it is much more difficult to find its good instances. “Grunted,” on the other hand, is one that I don’t think I’ve ever seen used well, because how exactly does one “grunt” a line? Like “gasped,” “grunted” could only really work on a monosyllable; however, the act of grunting seems like it would drown out pretty much anything.

#8: Burst Out

I actually read this in a published work once. The resulting facepalm left my forehead aching for several minutes. “Blurted out” and “forced out” are bad enough, but they at least sound like something you could do with dialogue, and could be okay in the right circumstances. “Burst out,” on the other hand, makes me picture the words erupting from the character’s chest in a shower of gore, like the xenomorph in Alien. It’s pretty much impossible to take it seriously.

#7: Proclaimed

Pop quiz: is your character a political figure enacting a new law or making an important announcement? If not, don’t use “proclaimed,” and if so, no, the answer is still “don’t use ‘proclaimed.'” This fits in with “uttered” as a word often used to force drama, but has the added benefit of making your dialogue sound like a legal brief. Other words with the same effect include “disclosed,” “alleged,” “attested,” and “notified.” “Announced” is in a similar category, but as much as I hate it, there is very occasionally at least some excuse for that one.

#6: Trilled

This particular bookism may be somewhat subjective, because for me, it comes with an association. I have almost always seen this verb used for dialogue from a character type I absolutely despise: the annoyingly perky girl whose author was aiming for The Pollyanna or a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but missed the mark and created a caricature straight out of the Valley of Saccharine Hell. Trilling one’s lines seems to be a symptom. Other verbs to watch out for include “chirped,” “chimed,” and “lilted.”

#5: Chortled

I considered several “laughing your lines” verbs for this slot. I’m not entirely sure how one goes about laughing, chuckling, chortling, giggling, cackling, or snickering a line, especially if said line is longer than a few words and still easily understood by the surrounding characters. I think the factor that made “chortled” stand out is the fact that it’s just a weird, unappealing word. This is the kind of word that won’t just pull a reader out of the scene to roll their eyes at the over-embellished dialogue tags; this is the kind of word that will make a reader cringe.

#4: Realized

If your character realizes things out loud, that’s fine, but please don’t state it outright like this. Using “realized” as a line of dialogue is basically a sneaky way of telling rather than showing. Give us a facial expression or a character tic: a flash of the eyes, a sudden smile, or a wave of one hand as the realization hits. The same goes for tags like “remembered” or “recalled.”

#3: Averred

This one represents the category of “words that at least 90% of your readers will have to look up in the dictionary.” It’s annoying enough when an author uses such words in their prose; using them in the dialogue tags as well is just crass. Other words in this category include “demurred,” “asseverated,” “expostulated,” “descanted,” “promulgated,” “hectored,” “expatiated,” “adduced,” “propounded,” and “remonstrated.”

#2: Smirked

Nobody can smirk a line of dialogue. They also cannot sneer, grin, flutter, smile, frown, cringe, grimace, or shrug said line. If you’re going to use an unconventional verb in your dialogue tag, it should at least be a verb that can be used for speech. At least “chortled” and “grunted” are sounds.

#1: Hesitated

At this point, I wish to make a statement: while not all of the “other examples” I have mentioned are things I have seen in published works, the headliners are. So yes, I have seen this dialogue tag “in the wild,” and not just in a published novel, but in a bestselling one. I suppose that goes to show that “bestselling” does not mean “best quality,” because I’m pretty sure that this became a dialogue tag on account of a typo… or at least, I would like to think it did. The fact that it happened more than once might throw a wrench in that theory. Regardless, I don’t think anyone reading this has to be told why “hesitated” is a terrible dialogue tag. To add to the horror, I have seen this same mistake made with “paused.”

Why I Won’t Self-Publish

With the sudden proliferation of ebooks in the past decade, the doors have been opened wide to authors who wish to self-publish. Many who could never afford to have their book physically printed have been able to publish their books with minimal difficulty. Adding to the appeal of online self-publishing is the fact that most companies, such as Amazon and CreateSpace, offer the authors a much higher percentage of the royalties than traditional publishing companies.

There are, of course, success stories. The Martian started out as a series of posts on the author’s blog, which was later compiled into an ebook and released online. It was then picked up by a publishing company, and went on to inspire a big-budget movie that raked in over 500 million dollars in profits. Fifty Shades of Grey began life as Twilight fanfiction, until its writer changed the names, self-published it as an ebook, and was, again, later picked up by a mainstream company. While its reception was notably cooler (and, in my opinion, for good reason), it still pulled in a ridiculous amount of cash. The Inheritance Cycle began with Christopher Paolini’s parents creating their own publishing company to self-publish his book, before it was, yet again, picked up by a big-name mainstream publishing company. Its movie was, er, less lucrative, but nonetheless got made.

However, when it comes to my writing, I absolutely refuse to self-publish.

What I want to make absolutely clear at the outset is that this is not a simple case of garden-variety snobbery. I don’t consider myself above self-publishing, nor do I consider self-published works to be automatically bad. I may detest Fifty Shades of Grey, its sequels, and its movies with the burning intensity of an O-type blue supergiant, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian, both the book and the movie. Heck, did you guys know that The Joy of Cooking was originally self-published? My family and I make recipes out of that book all the time; it’s fantastic.

That said, there is a correlation between self-publishing and a noticeable lack of polishing. Self-published works often hit print without getting the attention of a professional editor. At best, the author gets beta readers and takes their suggestions to heart. At worst, the book is almost completely unedited, and tumbles forth into the world seething with errors.

In many cases, such books were largely unsalvageable even before you factored in the grammatical errors: hackneyed plots, aimless author tirades, etc. However, the examples of self-publishing that really make me sad are the ones that had potential. These are writers who have laid out an interesting plot with distinctive characters and a well-thought-out world, but lack the technical ability to bring it to life without a thousand grammatical errors along the way. With a bit of help from a professional editor and a good few rounds of rewriting, these books could be really good, and that’s what makes me sad.

Basically, this kind of book is the literary equivalent of a premature baby.

I actually happened upon one of these earlier this month. I had recently become acquainted with the YouTube channel Terrible Writing Advice, which I absolutely loved. I highly recommend it; the guy clearly knows his tropes, and it’s fun to watch him mercilessly mock overused characters, settings, and plot devices.

The guy who made the channel, J.P. Beaubien, self-published his book. Out of curiosity, I bought it. I had not been aware of the book’s self-published nature beforehand, but as soon as I opened up the Kindle edition and started reading, I could see it clearly as day.

Aeon Legion: Labyrinth is a book that I desperately want to love. It has interesting themes, a rather good plot, some nice Take Thats at overused tropes, female characters who are actually written as people rather than “x type female character,” and freaking Ancient Greece references everywhere. It hits all my soft spots dead-on! But it has not been sufficiently edited, and it shows.

I want to love this book, but I can’t, because every time I read it the grammatical errors jump out of the page and slap me in the face. One thing that particularly annoys me is Beaubien’s apparent aversion to hyphens, which results in such constructions as “clean shaven” rather than “clean-shaven,” and “pear shaped” rather than “pear-shaped.” I suppose this wouldn’t be such a problem for people who don’t have the same grammar hang-ups as I do, but the point here is that if this book had gone through the editing and rewriting process inherent in traditional publishing, these mistakes would not be there.

Ultimately, most of my reluctance to self-publish comes from the fact that I want my books to get all the professional polishing they need before releasing them to the reading public. I know that I’m a good writer. I’ve been told such by friends, family, teachers, and peers alike, and my history of high scores on tests of writing ability back all of them up. I scored 800 on the verbal and writing sections of the SAT, for Athena’s sake. But that does not give me license to let my book pass into the world unedited. If anything, it means that I should be even more cautious, because overconfidence can be truly fatal to one’s prospects for success.

Another reason I’d like to avoid self-publishing has to do with marketing. I am good at writing and coming up with ideas. I can spend hours in my room coming up with languages and sketching out minutely detailed maps of my fantasy nations. However, I am not good at marketing. My brief attempt at being a Let’s Player is proof enough of that; I never broke twenty subscribers. Publishing my book through a company would not only ensure that it gets professionally edited, but that it gets marketed by people who know what they’re doing. To me, that’s worth a chunk off the royalties.

If you’ve written a book and you want to self-publish it, I won’t stop you. I would, however, encourage you to think long and hard about whether it’s the best thing for your book. Sometimes, we really do need the company’s help.

Novel Progress: F*** Yeah, Five Chapters!

The draft is now five chapters and over 29,000 words long, and I’m starting on Chapter Six. Chapter Four is probably going to need some significant editing, but I’m pretty confident that what I have now generally represents how the early stages of the plot will look in the finished work. Confidence continues to build.

I have been getting feedback from a few friends and family members as I go, of course. My mom provides most of the early editorial, and has me rethinking plot devices and word uses that make more sense to me than they do to her. One of my friends is very good at hacking magic systems, so I have workshopped mine with him to make sure that it won’t create plot holes or be open to obvious system cheats.

One thing I’ve been doing that may be counterproductive is comparing myself to authors I liked as a kid, whether favorably or unfavorably. It may be fun to learn that I use fewer said bookisms than someone whose writing I have grown disillusioned with, but counting the unconventional verbs takes up time that I could be spending writing. On the other side of that equation, comparing myself to authors I still love can be both inspiring and entirely disheartening.

My biggest problem area right now is probably transitions. I sometimes have trouble figuring out how to get to the next scene I have planned, and end up rushing through the process to get there. Sometimes this is acceptable, of course; if getting to the next scene involves traveling and not much happens on the way, it’s only natural to condense that as much as possible. Other times, it leads to rushing through potentially important information.

Alongside my writing, I have been working on my setting’s conlangs. Freithan and Astarian, the nearly-identical languages spoken by the main character and her father, are taking shape rather nicely: I’ve mapped out five declensions (one of which is unique to Freithan) in singular and plural, decided on possible verb stems, and invented an odd way of using the vocative that I don’t think occurs in any real-world languages. I’m not sure how much of the conlang will actually make it into the book, but I do find it immensely useful to have just for the sake of naming. People in the main characters’ culture are typically named using a noun or adjective combined with one of a few “endings” that indicate personal names; for example, Andreva (andar, “birch tree” + -eva), Rinna (rin, “river” + -na), Kelric (keli, “blond” + -ric), Cathrenna (cathre, “summer”+ -na), and Garron (garre, “stormcloud” + -on). Places tend to be named after geographical features, particularly bodies of water in the Freithan region.

Speaking of place names, I’m often unsure of whether to translate them. In the draft I have, I’ve pretty much been adhering to the Rule of Cool and occasionally to what will give the reader the impression I want to give. For example, “Rivermeet” gets translated because it sounds better and is more evocative than “Rinnausva.” Giving this particular place a fantasy name would utterly erase the picture that you get from its literal translation, which is important, because to the characters, it does have a descriptive name. It’s built on the intersection of two rivers, and is pretty much everything that implies: a trade hub, a center of travel, etc. Meanwhile, “Ilsevand” remains untranslated because its translated name, “Clearlake,” isn’t particularly interesting.

In any case, I should probably wrap this up and go back to writing — this draft isn’t going to finish itself! Plus, if I keep going, I’ll start spilling far more of the plot and setting than I should.

The Skit

The DVD case is a jarring shade of translucent pink, though against the dark wood of the bookshelf, it looks blood red. Clumsy writing, only just recognizable as my own, scrawls across it in silver gel pen. The words are smudged by years, some to the point of illegibility, but that matters little. I know exactly what they say.

This is it. This is the silly dance and weird little skit that my elementary school best friend and I put together during a sleepover one night.

I can at least remember the dance fondly. Blissfully unaware of the true form of The Chicken Dance, my friend came up with a “chicken dance” of her own, accompanied by a song composed entirely of exaggerated bawking. I don’t appear onscreen at all during this; it was her creation, and she pulls it off better than I ever could, then or now. My rhythm extends only to my brain, lungs, and vocal cords.

No, it is definitely the skit whose memory makes me wince. My brain has already generated a list of explanations for this abomination. We were, like, ten, it reminds me. We were in elementary school. This was back in the mythical time before the iPhone; you can’t be counted upon to have good acting skills. Or writing skills. Or taste.

The skit is half-roleplay, half-fanfiction, inspired largely by the Inheritance Cycle, though at that point it was still called a trilogy and only comprised one published book and one in progress. I play a Dragon Rider, while my friend takes on the role of a lynx-person. Not a werecat, mind you, a lynx-person. Her pretend name is literally “lynx” with some extra letters tacked onto the end.

I contemplate watching the DVD’s contents, just to see precisely how bad it was, but decide against it. This was not meant for human eyes. Not even mine.

I deposit it in a box of my old projects and shudder.

Novel Progress: Wordier than Senior Thesis

I passed an important milestone today. My novel draft has how surpassed my senior thesis in word count.

To be fair, my thesis was a bit short for a senior thesis at Reed. I wrote it over one semester, so the length requirement was cut down a bit. Still, my thesis is one of the biggest writing projects I’ve ever done, and I have managed to exceed its word count within about half the time. If that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.

Of course, some of this speed might be owed to the different type of writing. Academic writing requires a lot more setup, because you have to research everything. Novels also require research, but when you write in your own world, a lot of the history is in your head. The research largely functions to establish whether what you’ve imagined is at least plausible.

It’s also interesting to note that although I have passed my thesis in word count, I’m not even close to passing its page count. The reason for this one is far more obvious: I’m writing my novel single-spaced. I will have to double-space it when I send out the manuscript, but for now, I really do prefer to have it single-spaced, because it makes it easier to scroll around. It also keeps me from feeling like I’m being too long-winded. This is the first draft, after all. I have heard that most final drafts are anywhere from twenty to fifty percent shorter than the first draft. I can cut down on unnecessary material later; for now, I just want to get the story written and crafted, so that I know what needs tweaking when I look it over.

Perhaps the most fun thing about this is, I’m not even out of the double digits in chapter count. This book is going to be long… but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And now, back to the draft I go! After all, I still need to get up to my 2,000 words of the day.

I Took the Fantasy Novelist’s Exam

Have you ever heard of the Fantasy Novelist’s Exam, of RinkWorks fame? If not, take a moment to read through it. It points out a lot of the most annoyingly persistent tropes in the genre, and even if I disagree with a few of its points being deal-breakers, I do agree that a good many of these things are red flags. Plus, when you get down to it, it’s just a funny commentary on the kinds of devices that show up endlessly in the ever-growing library of fantasy novels.

On a whim, I decided I might as well put my current novel-in-progress through it, and this is what I got.


Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?

At the time of this posting, I’ve written about fifteen pages, and although a lot of it is worldbuilding and character establishment, the main character has already set out on her adventure and is making her way toward the initial goal. I’d call that something happening.

Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?

Not quite. She’s young and has a Missing Mom, but she’s certainly not a farmhand.

Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn’t know it?

No; I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that both of her parents are of completely common birth.

Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?

There is an element of coming-of-age, but gaining great power is debatable, and defeating a supreme badguy is a no. It’s much less a “good versus evil” story and much more a “struggle against adversity” story.

Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?

No. Ancient magical implements are generally considered outdated and kept as curiosities and status symbols rather than actually being useful. A few ancient spell formulae are worth study and adaptation to modern methods, but for the most part, ancient magic is obsolete magic.

How about one that will destroy it?

As implied by the above answer, magical artifacts in this world generally aren’t up-to-date; hence, most aren’t anywhere near powerful enough to destroy a city, let alone the whole world. Heck, they probably couldn’t even knock down a stone wall without exhausting the item’s entire supply of magical residue… if there’s even enough magic left in the thing.

Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about “The One” who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?

No. There’s an elaborate system of astrology based on the multiple moons, but like real-life astrology these only give general predictions. Plus, as stated above, it’s not really the kind of “good versus evil” story that you usually see in the fantasy genre.

Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?

No, and if I ever write a character like that, please slap me round the face.

Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?

None of the characters in my novel are gods, disguised or otherwise. I don’t really touch on religion much, though I might make a separate post about this world’s development in that regard. Functional magic can have interesting implications for that sort of thing.

Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?

The main character’s father is a loving single dad who plays the role of mentor. So, pretty much the opposite of that.

Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?

There is no one king of the entire world in this setting, and none of the kings I’ve created so far are that kindly. Most are reasonable to a degree, and there aren’t many outright tyrants, but any shady or misguided actions are there without the influence of evil magicians.

Does “a forgetful wizard” describe any of the characters in your novel?

In this world, the word “wizard” refers to an ancient class of people who practiced a highly outdated form of magic and kept their lofty position by hoarding their secrets. Essentially, wizards are historical figures, and not very well-liked ones at that. So no, there are no forgetful wizards. Calling a magic user a wizard would be like calling a real-world, modern-day scientist an alchemist.

How about “a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior”?

There isn’t really much focus on warriors in this novel, so no. Those who do show up aren’t really portrayed as this kind of archetype as much as they are, you know, soldiers; that is, they’re more likely to act like Haymitch Abernathy than Lennie Small. (Yes, I know neither of those characters are soldiers per se, but the difference I’m illustrating is between “near-textbook case of PTSD” and “misunderstood Gentle Giant archetype.”)

How about “a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons”?

The story is pretty low on mystical sages. In a world with functional, documented magic with a variety of tried-and-true uses, the closest you get are the astrologers. See above for why they don’t actually know crap about the plot.

Do the female characters in your novel spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, especially when the male main character is around?

Moot point: the main character is female.

Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?

Capture-and-rescue plots are another thing my novel is fairly low on.

Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?

I like to think that, as a woman, I can write female characters as fully-functional, fleshed-out people. It’s kind of my default. If a character in my novel ends up embodying feminist ideals to the reader, then good for them, but that would not be my sole intention in creating them. I create my characters for the sake of the story.

Would “a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword” aptly describe any of your female characters?

Definitely not.

Would “a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan” aptly describe any of your female characters?

Closer, but still no cigar. The main character kind of fits the latter description, but she’s never actually been in a battle and has a marked tendency toward self-doubt. One of the major characters fits the former description to some degree, but is less a “warrioress” than a huntress, and would not take kindly to the insult to her cooking. Things made in a frying pan may not be her forte, but she makes a mean rotisserie.

Is any character in your novel best described as “a dour dwarf”?

Moot point: there are no dwarves.

How about “a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage”?

Moot point: there are no elves.

Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?

See above responses for why this, too, is a moot point.

Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?

No, they’re extras. I don’t really focus on child characters unless the main character is one, and the story starts when my main character is sixteen.

Do you think that the only two uses for ships are fishing and piracy?

The first chapter of my novel features transport barges. That’s how the main character’s hometown exports its lumber. It’s also the most convenient way to travel from said hometown to literally anywhere, seeing as it’s surrounded by thick forest.

Do you not know when the hay baler was invented?

The 1870’s, if I recall correctly.

Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like “The Blasted Lands” or “The Forest of Fear” or “The Desert of Desolation” or absolutely anything “of Doom”?

I have a map, but it’s more a representation of a map that’s actually in the novel, and I like to think that my naming skills are much, much better than that. The named places so far are called things like “Northwood,” “Afenhold,” “Rivermeet,” and “Lake Freith.”

Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you’ve read the entire book, if even then?

I’ve actually been going back and forth on whether to include a prologue. I would kind of like to, but I feel like I should get the actual story done first, or at least significantly started. I don’t want the reader to have to read the whole book to understand it, but I do want there to be a bit of mystery, so that they can put things together as they go along.

Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?

Actually… yes.

This is the point at which, by the rules of the test, I fail. I’ll admit it: trilogies are totally overdone. However, I really do think it fits the story, so I’m going ahead with it anyway. Tropes Are Tools, after all.

How about a quintet or a decalogue?

I think this is covered by the above. For what it’s worth, I promise not to succumb to Trilogy Creep. I will not have my books be the next Inheritance Trilogy Cycle.

Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?

Don’t know yet! We’ll have to see when it gets published.

Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you’re still many sequels away from finishing your “story”?

Moot point: this is my first novel.

Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?

See above.

Is your name Robert Jordan and you lied like a dog to get this far?

Isn’t Robert Jordan dead?

*checks Wikipedia*

Yeah, he’s been dead for ten years at this point, though he was alive at the time of this test’s writing. Considering that I am alive, I am obviously not Robert Jordan. Some friends of mine have been fans of The Wheel of Time, but I could never really get into it. A lot of the gender stuff struck me as seriously problematic.

Is your novel based on the adventures of your role-playing group?

If I wrote a novel based on the adventures of any roleplaying group I’ve been a part of, it would be the most ridiculous thing I ever put to paper. Well, except the Mary-Sue cat aliens I created when I was seven years old, but those are a discussion for another day. Needless to say, no, my novel is not based on a roleplaying campaign.

Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?

Nope. C.S. Lewis did it better than I ever could.

Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?

No. Their names are fantasy-ish, but they’re all fully pronounceable. They range from actual Celtic and Anglo-Saxon names to similarly-sounding but entirely made up names. The main character, for example, is named Andreva, and her father’s name is Garron.

Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?

Not unless you include bynames and/or titles. The first names of the main cast are all either two or three syllables.

Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named “Tim Umber” and “Belthusalanthalus al’Grinsok”?

Asclepius help me, that name makes my eyes bleed. That is a very specific level of bad commonly known as “only works in a parody.”

Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?

Nope! It’s just humans.

How about “orken” or “dwerrows”?

Please, if I wanted to disguise a fantasy race, I’d be a hell of a lot more creative than that. I’d call elves “huldren” and give them a hollow in their backs. No, wait, I’d just write actual huldren. They’re interesting.

Do you have a race prefixed by “half-“?

Again, it’s just humans, so there aren’t any various humanoid species to hybridize in strange and unusual ways. I’m not writing in Faerûn.

At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?

Refer back to “no dwarves.” Hey, did you know that “dwerrows,” mentioned earlier, is the correct plural of Tolkien’s dwarves, according to the Professor himself? Just a little fun fact there.

Do you write your battle scenes by playing them out in your favorite RPG?

Oh Hermes, no. RPGs are fun, but they’re not exactly great at simulating actual combat.

Have you done up game statistics for all of your main characters in your favorite RPG?

I honestly have no idea how I would stat Andreva alone. I mean, I guess she’d be a Ranger, probably, but there’s no way to make the class features work with the world. This is largely due to the aforementioned “it’s just humans” thing, plus the fact that the variety of monsters is rather limited, which makes the “favored enemy” class feature difficult. There are a lot of nasty animals, some of which are somewhat fantastic, but this isn’t a world where dragons, trolls, and chimerae roam the land. It’s a world where big, scary birds swoop out of the sky and grab your cattle, and ocean fishing carries the risk of something eating your boat.

Are you writing a work-for-hire for Wizards of the Coast?

I think I would have to be an established writer before they would make a deal with me, and I’m not sure I would really go for that. When I was thirteen, I would have eagerly said yes, but decisions made when one was thirteen are not generally good decisions. Now that I’ve matured a bit as a writer, I’ve found that I really like writing in my own worlds. If I use someone else’s world, it’s almost always just a side project. I’ve never even had a fanfiction.net account, and I was a teenage girl in its heyday.

Then again, my lack of interaction with fanfiction in my teen years stemmed largely from my ridiculous innocence and the general impression that almost all of it was yaoi slashfic.

Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls?

My characters use inns for sleeping.

Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don’t?

The inner workings of feudalism have been branded into my mind by the red-hot iron of childhood obsession. They’re not quite as ingrained as classical mythology, but they are definitely there.

Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?

I must admit, there are a lot of travel scenes in this book. The main characters’ profession pretty much requires them to move around, and when you live in a world with roughly late medieval technology, you’re pretty much stuck with slow travel even if you do have functional magic. Attempts at magical travel in this world have been few and far between, and those that did happen were, without exception, disastrous. They also used a disgustingly impractical amount of resources. Much better to just stick runes on existing methods of transportation to make them safer and/or more efficient.

So, the answer to this question really depends on what you mean by “inordinate.” I suppose that when I go on about semantics, I should just put in a “yes,” but I honestly think this is a subjective thing.

For what it’s worth, I do hit fast-forward on the travel when nothing else is happening.

Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won’t break the plot?

I am taking great pains to avoid this. Thankfully, most of the plot revolves around things that the characters really, really don’t understand, so that makes it a little easier.

Do any of the magic users in your novel cast spells easily identifiable as “fireball” or “lightning bolt”?

This kind of goes with the “wizards.” Fireballs and lightning bolts were things people who used staves did. Nowadays, they’re considered clumsy, “blunt instrument” spells. They only see use for stage pyrotechnics, because the people who work with magic have found much better, more precise ways to use it.

So, yes, but they’re party tricks, not badass combat spells.

Do you ever use the term “mana” in your novel?

No, because the tech level is far too low for MMORPG’s to exist in this universe.

Do you ever use the term “plate mail” in your novel?

No. The main characters wear leather armor (when they wear any), and the soldiers mostly wear chain mail, though it does depend on which country they’re from. If you have better mines, you get better armor.

Heaven help you, do you ever use the term “hit points” in your novel?

Zeus’s balls, is that something that people actually do? Seriously, the only time that could EVER work in a fantasy novel is if it’s urban fantasy and the main character plays MMORPG’s. Or if it’s about a magical MMORPG where hit points are a thing. I mean, there are circumstances… but they are very far-fetched and would be incredibly hard to do right. Plus, didn’t Sword Art Online already do that? This is verging on that “only in a parody” sphere.

Then again, I live in a world where Twilight, Eragon and Fifty Shades of Grey made their authors rich and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, so perhaps I should curb my optimism.

Do you not realize how much gold actually weighs?

When I was in middle school, we didn’t have lockers. The school was too small. As a result, I brought all my books to and from school with me. My dad would regularly make the same old joke about how my bag must be full of gold bars.

So yes, I do know how heavy gold is. It’s fucking heavy. If I have back problems later in life, I am blaming them on that book bag.

Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?

This was actually something I called bullshit on Christopher Paolini for back when I liked the Inheritance Cycle. Don’t judge me; I was barely double-digits in age.

Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?

There is a bit in the second chapter draft where the main character gets a mild case of sunstroke from taking a slightly-too-long nap outdoors at high noon. She spends the rest of the day feeling ill and delirious, and has to take several hours to sleep it off. This also gives her a nasty sunburn, because she is a pale kindling-person.

My point? Nobody in this novel avoids the ill effects of things that should tire them out or make them sick, and if they ever do, there is always an explanation.

Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?

Remember what I said earlier about how transportation magic is virtually impossible to do? Yeah, that applies to weapons. It’s not expensive like actual personal transport, but it really doesn’t work.

Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?

Definitely not. They’re made for slashing. Plus, I got the Drizz’t ripoff out of my system back in my middle school D&D club.

Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?

Possibly, but it’s a Justified Trope in this instance. Starmetal blades on normal earth-metals are like knives through softened butter. You certainly couldn’t do it with a normal blade, but if you’ve got a high-quality starmetal alloy and a good arm, and your opponent’s armor doesn’t have warding runes on it? Yeah, you could do it.

Do you think swords weigh ten pounds or more?

It’s more in the neighborhood of five pounds, and that’s only for the big ones. Starmetal alloys might mess with the figure a bit, but probably in the other direction.

Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?

Ignoring the assumption that my hero is male, which she isn’t, my hero is not exactly focused on romance. She’s an ambitious, socially-awkward teenager with high career goals that involve a lot of travel; not exactly the kind of girl who moons after unattainable people. The first book doesn’t even have a romance subplot.

In the latter two books, Andreva will develop feelings for another major character, but I would hardly call the recipient of her affections “unattainable,” and I haven’t decided yet whether the feelings are reciprocated.

Does a large portion of the humor in your novel consist of puns?

Puns? What’s wrong with puns? I think they’re punderful!

Joking aside, no, I don’t think I’ve written in any puns. Yet. Humorous moments are largely found in awkward actions by the characters and Garron’s dad humor, which is far less punny than your average dad humor.

Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?

My hero is only able to withstand a little more punishment than you’d expect of a scrawny teenage girl. She’s stubborn and tough, but a well-placed blow from a sword would definitely kill her outright, and a small woman with a dagger would still be a plausible threat to her.

Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?

Not by a longshot. Most arrows to the chest are going to be fatal within a minute because of the blood loss; that is, if they don’t kill you outright. Heck, if you assume medieval-level medicine, even a guy who survives the initial blow to the chest and the resulting blood loss will probably drop dead of blood poisoning within the week.

And yes, that “longshot” pun was intentional.

Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an “on the road” meal?

Believe it or not, I have some skill in the kitchen, so I do know that stew is annoying as hell to make.

Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?

The tundra is largely uninhabited in this world, so no.

Do you think that “mead” is just a fancy name for “beer”?

I don’t really know much about alcohol, but I’ve never pictured mead as beer. Mead never really comes up in this story, so I don’t see how it has an impact on my writing skills in this case.

Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?

Again: just humans. No monolithic species here. Honestly, the Species of Hats is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

Is the best organized and most numerous group of people in your world the thieves’ guild?

Nah, it’s probably the Arathi military. Their organization is almost on Ancient Rome levels.

Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?

The series as a whole doesn’t really have a single main villain, though I suppose there is a character whom I could call the main villain of the first book. He doesn’t do this. My antagonists all vary in nastiness levels, but none of them are cartoonishly evil.

Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?

My story is about a teenager trying to prove herself and ending up in a big pile of world-changing shit. It’s about uncertain futures and trying to live up to the expectations of yourself and others. It’s about making mistakes and trying to fix them. It’s about the misuse of things that could have been great advances, and how everyone tries to do the best they can with what they have.

So no, it’s not about a D&D-style adventuring party.

Is “common” the official language of your world?

There really isn’t an official language of the whole world. Andreva, her dad, and people from her town speak Freithan, the language of the region surrounding and north of Lake Freith. In the neighboring kingdoms, they switch to the regional language if they know it, or the eastern trade tongue if they don’t. The people of Arath, the larger country west of the mountains, speak Arathi, which is highly standardized a la Classical Latin (though grammatically, it is definitely not Latin).

Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?

No. Ruins are few and far between, and the ones that haven’t been plundered are the ones that haven’t been discovered. Plus, as I’ve said before, ancient magical items are weak little party favors compared to modern ones.

Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?

It really doesn’t have that much in common with The Lord of the Rings.

Read that question again and answer truthfully.

I guess that’s my cue to go into detail.

Yes, I do draw a significant amount of inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m pretty much a fangirl. I can conjugate Quenya verbs, and sometimes greet my friends “mae govannen, mellon nin!” I would never deny that The Lord of the Rings was a significant influence on my desire to write, my choice of genre, and my style.

Here, it is important to note the difference between inspiration and rip-off. The plots of Tolkien’s trilogy and mine do have some elements in common, though I can’t go into too much detail on that if I want to avoid spoilers. Heck, there are even some meta elements in common: Tolkien originally intended for The Lord of the Rings to be a single book, the sequel to The Hobbit; he’s quoted as saying that “the tale grew in the telling.” Yet, these are either coincidence or inspiration rather than a rip-off. Inspiration is also using a medieval-esque setting. Ripping off would be naming the main character “Freuda” and giving her the quest to destroy a magical necklace used by the Evil Empress of Arath, and having Arath just be Mordor but in the west instead of the east.

However, my opinion that I’m not ripping off The Lord of the Rings goes much deeper than the difference between being inspired by someone and ripping them off. I would argue that once you get down to the bare bones of the story and themes, past all the tropes and assumptions, what I have planned is very different from what the Professor wrote.

The Lord of the Rings, along with Tolkien’s other works, is the Ur-Example of high fantasy. At its core, we have that familiar theme that permeates so much of our literary canon, particularly the post-Christian portion: the struggle of good versus evil. The central quest is to defeat the dark lord Sauron, whose former master Morgoth was essentially Middle-Earth’s Satanic Archetype. The secondary quest is to restore the monarchy of Gondor and Arnor, which strikes me as rather conservative. Above all, though, there is a persistent theme throughout the books that everything that happens is meant to be. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and Frodo in turn was meant to carry it into Mordor. The world of Middle-Earth is one of fate and myth, a legendary history for a world much like ours.

I want no part in fate.

I suppose it’s somewhat ironic to say that, since I’m basically controlling the fate of all my characters. What I mean is that I want no part in suggesting that fate is the driving force behind anything that happens in my novel. My novel is a story about a young woman making her way in the world I’ve created, and how she both contributes to and deals with the major world-changing events of her lifetime. While her story does put her into conflict with people who could be considered evil, she does not do this because she is some destined instrument of good, but because she is in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time, and because her own moral sense compels her to act. There is no Good with a capital G and Evil with a capital E, and there is no divine plan for how the former is to defeat the latter. There are people.

That, ultimately, is the biggest difference between my novel and The Lord of the Rings. It doesn’t involve the destruction of a ring or any other powerful artifact, it doesn’t contain elves and dwarves and hobbits, and it doesn’t have the elaborate mythology of Middle-Earth… but those are window-dressing. My story differs from Tolkien’s not just in plot and setting, but in themes. It’s not about the same things with regards to plot… and it isn’t about the same things with regards to theme and message, either.

So, to conclude? No. I can honestly say that my book is not a ripoff of The Lord of the Rings.

Novel Progress: Chapter One Finished!

My New Year’s Resolution was to finish my first novel in 2017, and I’ve just taken a big step towards that: I completed the draft of the first chapter. It’s a little over 6,600 words and takes up ten and a half pages in Microsoft Word (12-point, Times New Roman, single-spaced, one-inch margins). If that seems a little long… well, it may need some trimming. It is, after all, only a draft. On the other hand, I am writing in a genre (fantasy) where long chapters are not exactly uncommon.

I’m pretty excited about this, because even though it’s just one chapter, it feels so much bigger. In my personal experience, I’ve found that the first chapter is almost always the hardest to write. Once I’m over that hurdle, the rest follows much more naturally, even when I end up going back and fiddling with what I’ve already written. I suspect that the effect is psychological: having a chapter already fully drafted makes it that much more believable that I can write the rest. It’s still daunting, but having an example helps me to stop second-guessing myself.

This was actually the kind of process I saw when I wrote my senior thesis. My thesis was an examination of mythical themes in Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura, a didactic text of the Epicurean school of philosophy (which, among other things, holds that myths relating to gods are almost entirely untrue). I spent a great deal of time outlining, but what really made me feel capable of finishing was that moment when I put the final words on the introduction. The first chapter was a much bigger milestone in terms of content analyzed and points made, but having a whole section done made it real.

Of course, novel writing is necessarily different from academic writing. I still have research to worry about, but I don’t have to include quotes. Footnotes are a non-issue, and contractions are much more acceptable, but suddenly I have all sorts of styles to choose from. It can be a rough switch.

In the interest of fun, though, I’ve decided to talk about some things I’m already observing about the draft. First, I think I’ve identified one of the floweriest similes:

Her long, wavy hair was the color of freshly-cut oak heartwood, though the evening darkness and bright torchlights lent it a richer cast of polished mahogany.

It probably needs some trimming, but I do want to keep the “wood” theme in the final draft, since the scene in which this occurs is set in a logging town. If it had been a mining town, I would have exchanged the oak heartwood for a simple “brown” and said that the highlight made it appear gilded.

(And to think I used to be all snooty about how I didn’t care that much about figurative language, and how we should all just let stories be stories… gah, I was so pretentious as a teenager.)

Although I try to keep off the self-praise, one thing I’m kind of proud of is that I think I did a good job of establishing the main character’s introversion without making her seem like a doormat. She gets lost in crowds, and her extroverted childhood friend pulls her around a bit, but she still manages to be pretty forceful on her own or with people she knows, even calling out said friend when she got a little too pushy. She also takes initiative on her “quest,” so to speak, and it’s established that those close to her knew that she would do that. She has her nerves, but when she makes up a mind to do something, she gets it done.

I also really like writing her dad, even though it can sometimes be hard to come up with his lines. He’s very reasonable. I want to trade stories with him over a nice cup of tea.

One thing I definitely think could use some trimming is a bit of description surrounding the moons. The world of my novel has three moons, which has resulted in a rather interesting form of astrology. I went into this a bit because the midsummer festival described in the first chapter ties into it; however, I think what I have now is a bit too close to an infodump, and I’m not quite sure how to fix it. Getting carried away with details I find interesting is kind of an Achilles heel of mine. It probably comes from the same part of my brain as the Random Research Projects.

Chapter Two is now in the works; in fact, I have almost a page of it written already. I don’t know how long it will be relative to Chapter One, but I do know that it will take much less time to write.

From now on, I’m shooting for the Stephen King 2,000 Words Per Day Minimum. I had already greatly exceeded that quota for the day before I started on this blog post, but really, what’s the point of cutting it off at the minimum?

The answer, of course, is none. None whatsoever.

I am going to keep going while I’m ahead, and I am going to DO THIS THING.

Keeping My Mind on Writing

I want to be a writer.

Technically, I suppose I already am a writer. It’s what I spend most of my time doing, and I daresay I’m rather good at it. What I should have said is, I want to be a professional author. My dream job is to make a living writing books and blogging on the side. When I imagine my ideal life, I picture myself living in a nice high-rise apartment just big enough for me and my cat(s), earning money via royalties, with my books on sale in Borders and Barnes & Nobles everywhere.

Of course, writing a novel is a tricky process. Right now, I’m almost done with the fourth draft of the first chapter of the first novel of a planned trilogy (it started out as a single book, but then the idea exploded outward and, well, I liked it better that way). My personal process is a bit odd, because while my inspiration is sporadic, my brain does not enjoy shifting between mindsets. I often end up writing a scene, but then getting stuck at a transition with a nice momentary bout of writer’s block and not wanting to stop writing because my brain is still in “writing mode.”

That is pretty much where this blog came from.

In the past, this mostly led into “side projects” that I would write in Google Docs and pretty much abandon because I had nowhere else to put them. Now that I have this platform, though, a lot of them are going to come out. Generally, they come in a few categories, the most common of which are below in no particular order.

  • Random Research Project: I latch onto a detail of something I have read, watched, or heard recently, and run with it until I know everything about it. This is the kind of thing where I see a scrap of Ancient Greek or Classical Latin and absolutely must translate it. This kind of side project often happens in “breaks” where I actually get out of writing mode, and serves as the vehicle back in. It can also happen as a product of research for any piece of writing, if I end up finding something to be abnormally interested in along the way.
  • Bout of “Literary” Criticism: I have a tendency to be rather sensitive to poor writing and an insatiable urge to correct perceived inaccuracies. With those traits combined with my love of writing, it’s no surprise that I end up writing extended critiques of bad media. Note that although I say “literary” criticism, it isn’t necessarily literature that gets criticized: film, visual arts, and music are fair game too. Random Research Projects may end up integrated into these on occasion, e.g. if critiquing poor science involves an explanation of why x scientific inaccuracy is so wrong.
  • Short Story: I have a great many random ideas floating around my head at any given time, so when I take a break from writing my novel, one easy road to go down is writing one of my other concepts as a short story. Sometimes it grows a bit too much, and I end up with a linked series of short stories, or something that might grow into a future novel; however, many of these do end up as legitimate short works. A related field is…
  • Spitefics: I am a huge fan of the sporkings of Das Mervin and co. As a result, I occasionally write “spitefics” about the things she’s reviewed, drawing either from my own ideas or from her critique.

In the interest of adding content to this blog, I may end up posting some of these side projects here. Spitefics are more likely to be posted on Mervin’s spitefic comm, but the rest are certainly fair game, particularly the Random Research Projects and Bouts of Criticism. Bouts of Criticism even has a few projects that might become ongoing series: in particular, I’ve been working on some sporkings of creepypastas, and an extended chapter-by-chapter critique of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host (in which I have been careful to not simply repeat Mervin’s points from her still-unfinished recap).

I may also post updates on my novel’s progress. This would include pieces about my writing process, discussions of the setting, and perhaps even introductions to some of the main characters. Samples may come eventually, but they’re far off; I want to make sure that everything is nice and polished before it hits publication, whether traditional or on the Internet.

If you have any suggestions for topics I might want to consider in these little side projects, I’d love to hear them!