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Houses, Camps, and Factions: Categories and Why We Like Them

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Image via Flickr courtesy of Alex Schultz

I am a Ravenclaw (or Ravenpuff if you don’t mind the merging of Houses), Athena’s child, and probably Erudite/Amity. I own a Ravenclaw scarf and eagerly tell my friends that I am a member of that House. Magical groups are one of the most popular things in YA fiction. To classify as being part of a Hogwarts House, or Half-Blood Cabin, or post-apocalyptic faction; that’s exciting!

But why? Why do we enjoy it so much? Why are we, as readers, so intent on declaring a side?

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In Defense of Science Fiction

Defense of Sci-Fi

[Image courtesy of flickr by L.E. Spry]

Long ago, in a land not too far away, began a genre that is everywhere today. In 1864, science fiction began, but not as we know it. A man named Jules Verne began what would later be called science fiction with his story, The Journey to the Center of the Earth. While science fiction began with wondering what secrets were hidden beneath our feet, we have gone and surpassed that.

I love reading science fiction. It’s my favorite. But it does take some getting used to. There are people I know of who can’t watch or read science fiction. It’s wordy, complicated, and sometimes a bit vague. But if you can be patient and can stand watching and rereading some material, then the benefits of science fiction more than outweigh the time taken. Yes. There will be times where it is a mess to have to figure out who is speaking and why it matters that there is a martian that looks kinda like an ostrich, but the world it opens up is so worth it.

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6 Ways to Avoid Being Predictable

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I have discovered that I can predict plot twists. A lot of people don’t like that I can do that. I have a few friends who recommend things and I predict the end of the series or the book and it doesn’t surprise me like it surprised them (like Legend of Korra, one of my friends was surprised that I guessed the first season villain and how he did it). Whatever I do that makes it so the major plot twists don’t surprise me, I still love reading because I don’t catch everything. So here are 6 ways to avoid being obvious about your plot twist and how to keep your readers interested.

1. Be subtle.

Do not start out your book by giving the reader the plot twist. Don’t do it. End of discussion. Don’t be too subtle. The reader needs to know that something will happen, they just don’t need to know it when they open the book or start reading the story. You can have the book start at the end, with all the aftermath right in front of your reader, that is fine. You should lead and guide your reader to the end, that’s what keeps them around. But be aware that it will seem obvious to you and that you might need to just change all of it. Don’t. Let someone else read it first. They can give you feedback that you can use to make sure your story is plot and not just surprises.

2. Lead up to the twist.

As you go through the plot, drop hints. These can be anything. A sly look or the character not quite believing some information can lead to the reader being aware something is going to happen, but not necessarily what. Dropping hints can be difficult, but it comes with developing characters. Your twist (whatever kind of thing that might be) will leave some trace. It could be a note left discreetly, but the protagonist might only see the flicker of paper out of the corner of their eye. Or a city being wary of travelers, but the protagonist only sees people that have been beat down by oppression. Give your reader signs that something is off. That leads to a good ending.

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Get on Your Butt and Write!

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We as writers have ideas flowing around our heads. Some of us have even gotten to the point where those ideas are on paper. But why is it that writers so rarely turn those brilliant book ideas into … actual books?

We all face the never-ending list of ideas that never lead to  actual writing. These ideas only lead to ideas continuously building on each other. What needs to happen is something every writer I have met seems to avoid: sitting down and writing.

As simple as that sounds, it can be pretty tough. To help you as you face this common writer’s struggle, this article gives you ten tips on buckling down for the daunting process of actually writing.

1. Give up on perfectionism.

You will not have perfect prose your first time writing. You won’t. I’m sorry that we have that idea in our brains, but it just isn’t going to happen. At some point, you’ll have to transform those wonderful ideas into a messy, flawed reality. It doesn’t matter if you can’t spell. It doesn’t matter what the grammar is like. You can do all of the editing later. For now, just write.

2. Pick a single idea.

Part of the dilemma for writers is that we so often get overloaded with the sheer number of ideas. In response, the best idea is usually to just pick an idea or scene. You don’t have to decide where it fits in the grand scheme of things yet, and you don’t have to plan your entire novel before you can write that brilliant scene that you thought up at three in the morning. In fact, writing the scenes you’re excited about will often give you the momentum you need to figure out the rest.

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