Book Review: Code Name Verity

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In the midst of the Nazi Regime, two young women cling to their friendship as the war seeks to rip them apart; and in doing so, they realize, that, while friendship is fragile, it is also the strongest of bonds.

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Genre: Historical Thriller

Rating: 5/5

Ages: Recommended ages 15 and up due to content and violence

Summary: During WWII, an Allied special agent is captured by the Gestapo and forced to tell them everything she knows—thus betraying her best friend, a British civilian pilot, who is stranded with her in German-occupied France.

*** SPOILER ALERT: ***

Proceed at Own Risk

7 Qualities Found in a Formidable Antagonist

Today I want to talk about a subject that I haven’t really addressed much before: Bad Guys. And there’s a reason for that, because for a long time, I struggled with creating good antagonists for my stories. They were weak, and weak villains make for weak plots. It’s not easy to write a gripping novel when your bad guy is a pushover.

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On Monday, I discussed five ways to spot a good character – and this applies to villains as well. If you have a great protagonist, but your antagonist sucks, it creates imbalance in your story world, and makes people wonder why the good guys are having such a tough time winning. This is why it’s important to give your hero a worthy opponent.

5 Ways to Spot a Good Character

Truly good characters are hard to come by. Characters that readers can see as humans worthy of their emotional investment. For writers, inventing fresh characters is one of the most difficult parts of storytelling, because an obviously underdeveloped character can carry bad influence into the rest of your novel. Nobody likes a flat cast of characters.

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Readers like stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things. People like them. Real people. Not cardboard cutouts. And that can make things tough for those of us who are authors. How do you know if your character is good enough?

Announcements and Awards

Greetings, everyone! Guess what day it is? That’s right—today is the end of my Christmas giveaway, and so you get to find out who the lucky winner is! But before I reveal that, I’d like to thank everybody for participating in the contest. You are all fantastic, and I wish you each a Merry Christmas!

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3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Critiques

Hello, friends! Today I want to share with you some more of my secrets. (Prepare yourselves.)

Some of you may know this, but aside from writing novels, I also do freelance editing, and I critique things because I enjoy it. Many people find critiquing to be drudgery, or something that only other writers can do.  While learning to give stellar critiques can take practice, the truth is, it’s not actually that hard.

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I’ve said in the past that a writer’s best critic is their best friend. And that is true. People think that all we want is to be told that our manuscripts are flawless and immediately publishable without being smushed and rebuilt. Sometimes we think we want that. But true novelists want to know how to make their works better. And that requires smushage.

The Top 15 Inspirational Soundtracks for Writers

Hey, everybody! Today I’m going to share with you some things I’ve been preparing for awhile now: the top 15 inspirational soundtracks for writers—that you’ve probably never heard of. I’ve talked before about the power of soundtracks, and discussed how they can help motivate writers. Today, I want to give you guys a little glimpse into my writer’s arsenal of music.

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My boyfriend and I are major, major soundtrack junkies. I mean, major. We have, I believe somewhere upwards of 53 hours of music in our library, from various movies, video games, and trailers. What can I say? We’re writers. Now, after much deliberation and input from Sam, I’ve narrowed down what I consider to be the top 15 tracks.

The 5 Glaring Fantasy Clichés (And How You Can Do Better)

Hi there! I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve actually written something for my blog. What with interviews and giveaways, and whatnot. 😉 But I’m back now, and today I want to talk about fantasy clichés—and how to avoid them.

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I’ve said before that I’m not really a fantasy writer, but that’s about to change. At least, hopefully. I’ve started world-development for a steampunk-fantasy, and, as every other fantasy writer, faced the five glaring clichés of fantasy. In fact, it may have been these clichés that scared me away from the genre until now. So how do you avoid them?