I haven’t done a book review in awhile, but Salt to the Sea deserves one. What follows will be spoiler-free, so fear not, friends, and read on.
I’ve talked several times on here about why reading is a great pastime, and why you should read more books. But if you only read one book this summer, it should be this one. And should you survive the journey, there are always other books to continue on with.
“Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction.” That’s how author David L. Ulin put it, and I quite agree. In our culture, distractions hold a tyrannical reign, and unless we learn to resist them, they will devour our time.
There’s something special about reading—something you can’t achieve by watching a movie or listening to an audiobook. Reading a magic all its own. It draws your mind to focus; challenges your imagination to spin into gear. If you aren’t making time to read, you’re missing a lot of extraordinary benefits.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve finally started dipping my toes back into the pool of writing fiction. I’m finally developing a story idea into a real book after more than a year of “absent creativity”—and at last, I had a revelation: my creativity hadn’t really been gone; it had merely been asleep, recharging.
When I was a teenager, my dream was to be a novelist. I would sit in my room at my desk for hours, plotting, writing, editing. The “life of a writer” consumed me. This was all I ever wanted: for it to be me, my characters, and my world. And of course, one day, a best-selling novel. But things didn’t quite work out that way.
Hey, everyone! Today I have a good friend of mine, Braden, joining me again for another guest post. He has some great insights to share with us about putting ourselves into our characters—and how it will make them better. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and make sure to hop over and check out his blog afterwards!
Basing your main characters off of yourself is generally considered a bad idea.
I did this with my first novel, Nephilim Rising, when I was sixteen years old. My main character was basically me. He had my goofy laugh. He had my vocabulary. He experienced emotions in the same way I did.
Whether it’s the main plot or just a subplot, as writers, many of us strive to write good romance. We endeavor to create unique characters for our readers to ship. We want their relationships to be cute, genuine, and exciting; and so it’s important to watch out for certain clichés that make for cheap, unrealistic romance.
Shipping characters is fun, and the more powerful and authentic the romance, the better it gets. Because above all, readers want something they can believe in; something that rings true. I’ve talked about a few things you can use to help develop great relationships between your characters, and today, I want to point out four pitfalls that cheapen romantic subplots like nothing else.
Some people think that writing fan fiction is a horrible waste of your time. Why write down someone else’s story when you could be writing your own—or doing something else productive? It might surprise you, but I disagree. Writing fanfiction can actually be a valuable way to spend your time.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with Narnia. I mean thoroughly infatuated. After The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came out as a movie when I was ten—(holy cow, how’d that get to be a decade ago?)—I delved into fanfiction for the first time. I wrote dozens of short Narnia fanfics. I even wrote a couple of novella-length stories. (Did I mention I was committed to this?) Some might say I wasted my time, but during that period, I learned that there are actually very good reasons to write fanfiction.
Romance is a difficult subject, and very few people write it well. Too many authors pass it off as the ultimate fix for a flat novel and forget to determine whether it actually has a place in the story. If it does, they usually forget to ask one very important question.
Sam and I have been going through an amazing relationship class at our church, and we’ve learned a lot about each other, and what makes relationships actually work. Most importantly, we’ve learned what to do—and the number-one thing to remember when things get tough. Then one day it occurred to me; if you want to write powerful fictional romances, this is part of the secret.