Monthly Archives: January 2014

Fourteen Ways on How to Write a Good Female YA Protagonist

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This is a brilliant post on how female protagonists can be interesting. Highly recommended. It was like someone had tapped into my brain and saw what I thought.

jdominique37

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that these are my opinions and observations after reading many YA books with weak female characters.

1. If she is pretty, she should know it.
They shouldn’t flaunt it (unless it’s part of their character arc), but they shouldn’t not know it and continually say, “Oh, I wish I was pretty like that girl!” when they have two guys falling head over heels for them.

2. She should be decisive.
But not to the point where they aren’t uncertain. If they have two guys falling for them, they should have a reason to like both. (As a love triangle is a common literary device in YA, I will use it frequently.) Not because one is cute and friendly and the other is hot and mysterious and they can’t decide which one they like better. They must have legitimate reasons.

3. Don’t make her ignorant.
A little…

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The Key to a Great Story – What and How?

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I started this series of blog posts with a quote from James Bond’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, expressing that a great story includes who, what, where, when and how, but it was the why that was key to making it great. I’ve so far endeavoured to explain the ‘who?’ of stories, through my posts on the developing characters. Now I am going to start looking at the ‘what’ and the ‘how’? Basically plot, style and structure.

The reason I’ve combined these two concepts is because to me they are inseparable – what is happening and how you tell it are two key components to a great story. You can have the characters, you can put them in a setting and various time periods, but what happens is the story, otherwise there would be no point in having characters or settings. How you tell it also affects the way in which the audience can react to a story. Ideas about perspective can have an effect the characters as well and I will link back to my ideas about characters throughout my posts on plots.

I will be posting about different story types, genres, main plots, sub-plots, story arcs and perspectives. More than that, I will go about explaining why I think mixing all these ideas up rather than picking one and sticking with it makes for much more interesting stories.

Check out my original post to start off my series here – The Key to a Great Story

Book Review – ‘The Time Keeper’ by Mitch Albom

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It turns out that reading ‘The Time Keeper’ by Mitch Albom for the first time on New Year’s Day, came with a heavy dose of irony alongside the satisfied feeling that I have just read a really fantastic book. There was no particular reason why I choose to read the book today and yet there were many reasons. Ever since I first read ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’, Mitch Albom’s talent for storytelling has been part of my inspiration to want to be a writer and I follow that dream. That inspiration though has never led me to read any of Albom’s other works. Today, I thought, it was about time that I rectified that void in my life. Another reason I choose to read it today was because according to the readout on my e-reader, it was a short novel in comparison to my other choices. It wouldn’t take up much time to read.

In a way looking at it I have spent about three hours, or a portion of an afternoon interrupted only by heating up some tomato soup, reading ‘The Time Keeper’. Anyone looking for a good book to read I can certainly tell you that it would not be time wasted. The story is about Father Time coming to terms with his own story and using his experience to help two other people understand theirs. Very simple and yet very powerful. I guess, given it is New Year’s Day I have been very reflective of my own time spent on this earth as I normally am at this time of year, certainly more so than any other. Sometimes I’m less than satisfied with how my year has gone; this year I’m quite positive actually, looking forward to the future with optimism, hope and love in my heart.

I know that this is not really reading as a book review, more like a confessional. It might not even end up making sense to you, but sometimes you can’t review a book on its technical skill but on its power to affect how you feel.  I can tell you that the book is brilliant; I hadn’t expected anything less from Albom. I can’t tell you how you would end up feeling though.

I’ve been planning a book of my own recently, and it’s about time, more specifically a time loop. One day repeated over and over. Sounds like ‘Groundhog Day’ I know; my version is set in a fantasy world full of magic, back-stabbing politics and shadowy corners hiding all-sorts. Not a romantic comedy; more a dark reflection on the meaning of one’s choices. In a way another reason I choose to read ‘The Time Keeper’ was a professional reason; to check out what was already in the market concerning time and the reflections character’s make about how they use it. Albom weaves three character’s story together into one simple message – the moments of our life are truly precious, whether we are nearer the beginning of our life or nearer the end of it.

I do not feel though as if the book has scolded me for ever wasting time. Instead I feel as if the book has heightened another idea that has been rolling around in my mind recently. What if we had all the time in the world to reflect and think? What if we could spent a single day reflecting on a single sentence of a philosopher’s musings or staring at an artist’s canvas trying to imagine what they were truly trying to convey. Would we understand life better if we had all the time in the world to try and fathom it? Or would we forget how to live? I don’t have an answer. I don’t even think the questions would make sense to everyone. After all I like thinking and reflecting, but not everyone may see life that way. They might see infinite time as an opportunity to pursue love or make money.

Like I said, reading ‘The Time Keeper’ today has come with a whole host of irony, and not just because some of the book is set around the holiday season of Christmas and New Year, which I hadn’t known when I started. Many of the thoughts that I had been thinking already were drawn out by Albom’s book. A book that considers what a person’s life could be like if time was not a concept that can be measured. That measuring time, giving it names like New Year’s Day, is an idea that is an engrained principle in our modern lives created artificially by mankind which makes us stand out from the rest of the life that lives on this world. That life is a collection of moments, immeasurable and to be cherished.

I’m quite glad I spent about three hours, or a portion of an afternoon interrupted only by heating up some tomato soup, reading ‘The Time Keeper’. I’ve filled a bit of the void that I felt only Mitch Albom’s work could fill and I have been left with a satisfied feeling that I have just read a really good book. More than that, despite wanted to read the book to escape the reality of the world for a bit, I finished it feeling positive about the reality I do live in. I know that is not always the case; sometimes reality can be a dark place, but every moment is to be cherished, even the bad ones because from the bad moments we can learn just as much as we can from the good.