Fiction with Kay

I read. I write. You enjoy!

Chris Colfer completely blew me away with his novel, A Tale of Magic, and he did not fail to amaze me with its sequel, A Tale of Witchcraft!

A Tale of Witchcraft picks up perfectly a year after Brystal Evergreen (now popularly known as Fairy Godmother) overcame the Snow Queen, saved her school, and legalized magic.

When Brystal and the Fairy Council are called to save a kingdom’s beloved dam, and to receive an award for all the good they’ve done, Brystal begins hearing negative voices in her mind, but realizes those are her own thoughts. These horrific thoughts convince her that nothing is as perfect as it seems. In fact, everything she’s built up and achieved is in jeopardy.

After a magic-involved accident, Lucy Goose (That’s GOO-SAY!) is suspended from the Fairy Council, and Brystal becomes overwhelmed by her magical duties. To worsen her dilemma, Mistress Mara, a witch who is head of her own school of witchcraft, arrives at the academy, attempting to recruit some of Brystal’s students. This costs Brystal a student and a friend as Pip, a dear mate of Brystals, joins the witch’s school.

After a near-death attack at her brother’s wedding, Brystal gets away from her academy to search for some answers. And one particular fairy is just as eager to find her own answers. A heart-breaking feud dampens their friendship, and Lucy strays away and joins Mistress Mara’s school.

Not only is this school a threat, but an ancient clan, a detrimental curse, and death itself is out to get Brystal. She must overcome her own fear, she must win the battle against evil, and most of all, against herself.

This was a novel I absolutely could NOT put down! Although this is considered a middle-grade book, A Tale of Witchcraft is actually a pretty morbid fantasy novel, as it dabbles in dark rituals, includes a cruel, evil woman who is the daughter of Death himself, and nearly brings the main character to a horrible, terrifying death. This novel is full of twists, eerie characters, and, believe it or not, wholesome humor!

What do I like about this book?

I love the fact that most of the story follows Lucy. She is my favorite character, and although she is the morally-gray supporting character in the story, she proves to be the most courageous of all!

I really admire the darkness of A Tale of Witchcraft. I would say it was border-line horror to be honest.

The journeys of both Brystal and Lucy are spine-chilling and suspenseful, it’s almost impossible to stop turning the pages!

What do I not like about this book?

Honestly, the only negative feedback I have to offer is that I wish Lucy’s time at the school of witchcraft was longer, and that I could have read more about Lucy’s experience as a witch. Besides that, I really can’t complain!

I rate A Tale of Witchcraft with five stars, and I must say that Chris Colfer has once again outdone himself! I do not care if this is meant to be a kids’ book, it was an AWESOME read!

Chris Colfer

Good evening, everyone!

I hope all has been well, and I hope you’re all ready for some more Bookie stuff!

In case I haven’t talked about this enough, I am indeed writing my very first novel, which is a paranormal romance, and it has been a really fun journey so far. And I will be sharing updates on the process of my WIP as I go. Unfortunately, I am a very slow worker, so my Book Baby will not be published anytime soon.

BUT! On a brighter note, I have had the opportunity to get to know a large number of writers in the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, and I’ve made some amazing writer friends on Facebook! I really enjoy getting to know these special people, and I absolutely love the support we all give to one another! Also, I love learning about other writers’ processes and their own methods of telling a story.

Speaking of which, this leads me to my topic for the night: Outlining vs. Pantsing.

What’s the difference?

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I’m sure most of you know what outlining and pantsing is, but if not, allow me to elaborate!

Outlining is a method most authors use, in which the writer creates an organized timeline of chronological events that occur throughout the entire story. This is basically the author’s Bible for that specific book, or simply put, the skeleton of the story.

Pantsing is probably not as common as outlining, but this method is “writing by the seat of your pants.” Basically, you put your fingers on the keyboard and fabricate a story without creating a timeline or organizing an ultimate guide for your story. Most pantsers have a very general idea of where the story is going, and they may have a select few scenes brewing in their minds, but typically, there is no specific planning.

Am I an Outliner or a Pantser?

Being that my brain bounces all over the place, and I am possibly one of the most unorganized creatures on this planet, I am in fact a pantser.

In the past, I have attempted outlining, and it does help keep things in order, but I have never been able to stick to any of the outlines I’ve created. To be honest, I find more fun (and more progress) when I start half-blindly. Basically, I create a few characters, give them their flaws, find their voice, and throw them into whatever personal hell I can give them. From that point, I get to know my characters while I follow their journey.

One of the main reasons I prefer to not outline is because I detest feeling confined to one specific order, and I feel that I cannot be as freely creative as I would like. Also, this method somewhat convinces me that these people I’ve fabricated are more real (to me), and that they have a mind of their own. Of course, each author has his or her own preference, and their own brain quirks that aid them on their own writing journey.

The Downfall of Pantsing

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As I mentioned, it is more natural for me to write without a detailed map for my stories, but this can be frustrating at times. There have been numerous times I’ve sat at my laptop, staring at the screen and asking myself “Okay, what’s next?”, and this can (and does) slow me down. But once I take time to clear my mind and briefly brainstorm, the right idea comes to me, and the words start to flow!

The Bright Side

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I truly feel like pantsing give both the author and the characters freedom during the writing process. I feel like writing blindly encourages quicker thinking and enhances problem solving. It’s also more fun for me because I feel like I’m experiencing the story for myself, instead of telling it.

So, are you an outliner or a pantser? I’d love to know! What do you like or dislike about each method? Let me know in the comments!

***ALSO!***

Halloween is approaching us, and I feel like I could bring on some fun here by hosting another weekend event. In the past, I’ve held a horror weekend and a Coraline weekend, and it’s been so long since I’ve done something like this, so I’d like to hear from y’all! What sort of event would you guys like to join me in before October ends? LET ME KNOW!

Remember that you guys can follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney and on Instagram @kaylamclaney. I will inform you all that I am way more active on Twitter than I am on Instagram, but I’m there! You can also find me on Facebook, and you can follow my page Fiction with Kay, and you can join my writers’ group, which is also called Fiction with Kay.

I hope you all have a great night, be safe, be creative, and remember to Keep Reading!

“I had to become king, for I knew then, and only then you could be mine.”

-King Edward, The White King
Corinne M. Knight – The White King

The White King is definitely an interesting historical fiction novella, written by a talented new author. Over the course of 107 pages, Corinne M. Knight tells the story of a just, but vengeful king who looks to avenge the death of his father and his brother, who were killed in a battle against the French Queen’s army.

While King Edward is headstrong and passionately determined to take the thrown of England, he must face and eventually defeat the cold, ruthless French Queen as she takes command of her ill husband’s army. Along with King Edward’s fight to attain the throne, he also seeks the heart of his beloved Elizabeth, who he swears to make his Queen.

This story is full of vengeance, power, war, hope, love, lust, and victory. I am personally not a fan of historical fiction, but The White King was definitely worth the read! I believe Knight deserves a great applause for her debut novella, and I proudly rate the book with four stars! I definitely look forward to what else she has in store for us!

Hello, everyone!

Gosh, it’s been a while, right?

Well, looks like I’m back! And I’ve got some pretty great news!

It has been a while since I’ve made a post here, but I do believe that last time I posted, I said that I had a huge announcement…

Well, here it is!

I am writing a novel!

I’ve taken the time to work some more on my social media, and I am steadily building up, and I’ve been interacting a great deal with some other author’s and with the writing community in general, and it’s been awesome!

The novel I’m writing is a paranormal romance that follows our main character, who is a witch in her early-to-mid-twenties, who has recently gotten out of a toxic relationship, and who is reluctantly giving love another try with a man who is not quite what he seems.

I don’t want to spoil anymore for you guys, but I am super, super excited that it’s hard to keep quiet!

On another note, what in the world have I been up to besides gathering my ideas for my novel? I’m so glad you asked!

So before I went MIA, I was in the middle of taking Neil Gaiman’s course on Masterclass (you all KNOW how much I LOVE Neil Gaiman!), and I have recently started taking Margaret Atwood’s course on Masterclass, and I absolutely love it!

I’ve also been beta reading, which is way more enjoyable than I thought. Of course, I love reading, but I felt honored to have authors who have more experience than I have, ask me read their books!

One particular book that I would like to mention is a novella written by Corinne M. Knight, titled The White King. Guys, she is awesome! She’s extremely nice, and she has a gift for writing, and I appreciate her so much for having me read the book! If you enjoy historical fiction full of royalty, romance, and vengeance, then this is definitely the author for you!

Although I, personally, am not a fan of historical fiction, but I really enjoyed the read! You should most definitely check her out!

Also, I will be writing a book review on The White King very soon!

Again, guys, I am sorry for disappearing for a while, but I will publish content as frequently as my schedule allows. I may have to limit myself to, maybe, three blog posts per week? Time will tell.

I hope you guys have had a great month! What have you all been up to? Reading? Writing? No idea? Have you read any good books lately? I’d love to know!

I hope you guys have an amazing night, and, as I said, I will be posting as frequently as possible!

I also want to let you guys know that I will blog a great deal about the novel as I go, but I promise I won’t write any spoilers!

Did I mention I’m excited?

Okay, before I talk anymore about my WIP, I’m going to wrap things up!

If you haven’t followed my official Facebook page, Fiction with Kay, feel free to do so! Also, I have started a Facebook group, which is also called Fiction with Kay, and if you are part of the writing community, then come on and join us! There are some really awesome members who are already published, and they are beyond awesome!

You can also follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney and on Instagram @kaylamclaney.

I hope you all enjoy your night, and this fresh, new season! Remember to Keep Reading!

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       Yesterday, I was trapped inside my own emotions. I felt so hopeless as a writer, and the entire day was unsatisfactory.

       Not only am I writer, but I am also a mother, and working as both is not an easy ask. As a writer, I have several ideas to cross through my brains throughout
my day. Sometimes, I can be doing something as simple as washing dishes,
listening to music from my favorite films (this is the stuff that gets my brain
working, and sparks my creativity), and as I’m rinsing that plate, a good thought
or a meaningful phrase passes through, and after I complete my housework, I
begin to write down that idea, but it’s gone.

       I’m angry because I hadn’t written it down before it left me. Then my toddler acts like a toddler, and I tell myself to stay calm. It’ll pass, I tell
myself, growing even more frustrated.

       Finally, my toddler takes a nap, and I have time to finish my housework and then, hopefully, write. I sit at the keyboard, staring at the blank screen, listening
to my movie music. “The”… No, no… “She sat”… No, that sucks… Aha!

       My son wakes up. I can’t write. I take off my writer’s hat and put on my mother’s apron and tend to my son, and pray for ideas to come to me so that I can write them down for later. Nothing.

       Last night, my boyfriend took my son into the bedroom with him so I could have some time to myself to work. Once again, I’m staring at a blank screen, begging God almighty for just… something. My mind jumps from one thing to another, and I become overwhelmed. Over an hour had passed, and I’d still written nothing.

       I’m not a writer. I’m a failure. I’m not creative. I’m a loser.

       Frustrated and plain miserable, I surrender to the bedroom. My son and boyfriend are already in their own state of slumber. My son, Elijah, is snoring softly, cuddling with his stuffed puppy. Calvin (Junior), my boyfriend stirs as he
hears my soft footsteps across the floor. I climb into bed, and Junior places
his hand on my back as I begin to sob. He asks what’s the matter, and I let it all
out. I tell him of my self-doubt and that I want to give up. He tells me
otherwise. He praises me. Not only as a writer, but as a mother.

       I ignore him at first, sunken into my negative emotions. Closing my eyes, I’m neither awake nor asleep, but in between. I fall into a series of flashbacks, of the nightmares I’ve survived; of my darkest moments; of the times I felt that I was absolutely worthless. I hear a voice. And that voice says one single word.

       Sitting up in bed, it finally comes to me, and I grab my phone and open a blank note page, and I begin to write.

       Here is that short story.

       Back and forth…


       To and fro…


        I’m soaring forward, feet first. And I’m swaying backwards. A wooden plank supports my bottom, and I’m held up by two dwindling ropes. I look up. A
weathered tree branch is above my head, creaking and cracking as I swing.


        A cool autumn breeze whistles through my loose black hair, and my white dress flows as I continue to and fro.


       My lips curl into a smile, regardless of the threatening ropes and tree branch. Opening my pale blue eyes, I see the sky; the clear, cobalt-blue sky, naked, with only a glistening sun to smile over me. Birds chirp from nearby and from far away. Watching my shadow cross over the brown grass below, I feel safe. I’m at peace.


       I close my eyes.


        Back and forth…


        To and fro…


        The birds have stopped chirping. The soft autumn breeze has become a swift,
violent wind, knocking me sideways off my original path. The ropes inside my
closed palms are thinner, as if they’re unraveling. The creaking above me has
grown louder into warning snaps and crackles.


       My eyes remain shut. I’m terrified. I tell myself it will go away…


       It doesn’t.

   
       The whistling wind pounds through my ears like a rage of thunder, and I open my eyes. The clear blue sky is gone, and in its place is a dark, foreboding grey, almost black, sky. Another crack sounds above me, followed by low snapping on
either side of me.

Worried, I look down, and I sharply gasp in terror. I’m swinging on the edge of a grassy cliff. As I sway back, I have just enough ground to catch me. Forward, I’ll
fall to an oblivion.


       I hear another crackle. Dear God, what can I do? How did I get here? The wind
roars around me, casting me I to a ferocious spin. I cry out, begging for
mercy. And with one final snap, I fall, grabbing onto nothing but the moist air
around me. My legs are kicking, my arms are swarming, and my mouth is screaming with desperation.


       I grow heavier, I’m falling faster, and the floating grassy plain above me is
growing smaller while the rocky pit below me is growing dangerously larger.


        I begin to cry. This is it. This is the end. I’m so close to the rocks, I can
feel them piercing through my flesh, impaling every inch of my existence.


        Abruptly, I stop. There is no pain. Where is the pain? There are no rocks?
Where are the rocks? My eyes are closed tightly, afraid to look around. Reaching out, I grasp nothing before me. Below me, I feel something… soft. What is this? I caress my hand over the soft, fluffy substance. Relaxing, I open my eyes once more. I’m lying on a cloud? Arching my brow, I look down. Less than my own height below me is the sharp, deadly tip of a large rock. My heart
sinks, and tears begin to stream from my eyes, and I explode with hysterical
laughter, rolling around over the cloud like a child playing in the snow.


        Suddenly, my elbow bumps something beside me. It’s hard, drastically
contrasting against the comfort of the cloud. I pick up the object and discover
that it’s a rock. Examining it a little closer, I can see one word engraved in
it.


“Faith”.

This story is written rather fast-paced, but this is how I experienced the vision that led to writing it. This is also how life goes. One second, all is nice and comfortable. He next, we feel as though we’re falling into a horrid despare,
seeing no light and no end.

The serendipity of the cloud depicts the reassurance that God (or whoever you believe in) will always be there to catch you. Things are allowed to happen, but faith can keep you afloat, and it can help you find the light again.

I no longer feel miserable or worthless. Sometimes, we have to reevaluate ourselves and crawl into the darkest pits of our minds to find our own answers.

Today, I’m not a failure. I’m a mom. A damn-good mom. A loving mom.

Today, I’m not a failure. I’m a writer. A damn-good writer. A passionate writer.

If ever you feel like you’re not enough, let yourself believe it. Sink into the darkness of your mind. Cry. Pray. Meditate. Plummet into your own horrors, and seek out that reassuring cloud. You will find it. It will catch you.

It’s okay to slip into sadness every now and again. It’s okay to have some self-pity once in a while. It’s okay to cry into your pillow. In the end, you’ll find
your answer.

You are somebody, and you can do it.

I hope this has given you the same inspiration it’s given me. If nobody else is proud of you, know that I am!

Remember that you can follow me on my official Facebook page Fiction with Kay. You can also follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney and on Instagram @kaylamclaney

I hope you all have a great day. Remember that you are loved, you are worth it, and you can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t ever give up! And as always, Keep Reading!

Stories have been passed down for millions of years, be they written, spoken, or painted on cave walls. We all know about the boy who cried “wolf!”, the girl who lost a slipper, the girl who ate a poisoned apple, the golden-haired girl who stumbled upon the home of a family of bears, and the three pigs who incorrectly built houses. Perhaps some of you have spent a great deal of your lives flipping through books. Perhaps you’ve read about the guilty man who continues to hear the steady heartbeat of the body he’s hidden beneath his floor. Maybe you’ve read about the girl who’s fallen down a rabbit hole and discovered a world of nonsense.

Every one of these stories is entertaining and captivating, but what truly makes a story good? Well, I am here to answer that question!

All stories contain characters, plots, a balance of good and bad, and resolutions, but there is so much more to an outstanding story!

Let’s begin with interesting characters. Characters are the backbone to any story. Without characters, there really is no story to be told. You can create an entire world of your own, but nobody will care to read about it unless something memorable happens to somebody in that world. And with a memorable journey comes a memorable character. Nobody is going to remember someone who is plain and who lacks any sort of originality.

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Think about Harry Potter. What is the first thing you think of when you hear that famous name? I can imagine you see a black-haired boy with round gasses and a lightning bolt scar. Let’s be a bit more vague now. Who comes to mind when you read the name “Dorothy”? I’m almost certain that you see a red-haired girl in a blue-and-white dress and a pair of red shoes. Was I right? Even a plain name can spark a memory so vivid because her character is so specific and full of unique, specific detail.

Therefore, when you are creating your characters, create them with something your readers cannot forget! When your readers hear your character’s first name, you want them to immediately place a face with it.

Aside from great characters, a good story must contain a message of some sort. What are you trying to tell the world? What is one thing that you see wrong with the world around you that you feel the absolute need to speak about? When a story tells us a message, it tends to stick with us.

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Maybe you’re angered about racial differences that have taken over the internet? Write equality into your story. The entire story does not have to revolve around this issue if that’s not your desire. You can simply write this in as a subplot. Write about two different types of characters who come to a peaceful conclusion despite their difference in appearance or belief. Maybe you have a race of elves versus a race of fairies. Perhaps they’ve been at war for years, but you, the writer, want these two groups to realize that harmony is indeed an option, and that unity makes their world a better place. Write it!

Maybe you’re upset about the feminine inferiority idea? Write a story about a woman who proves to the world that she can do that specific thing nobody thought she could do. Write about a woman who became successful with her own willpower and courage.

Readers feel more inspired when an important message is delivered to them, and your story will be more appreciated by those who are too afraid to take that step you took to spread that message. Afterall, writing is all about expressing your own feelings, so why not use this to your advantage?

Moving on, every good story needs a memorable villain. When someone mentions an “evil queen”, you probably think about Snow White’s corrupt, envious stepmother. It’s easy to remember that she was so vain, that she was willing to murder her own stepdaughter because she was more beautiful. This may be a silly purpose, but this is something we will never forget.

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No, I’m not advising that you give your villain a senseless motive. I’m saying just the opposite. When creating a villain, you want him or her to be driven by their strong passion or desire for something. Readers will not appreciate a story about a person who decided to be evil “just because”. Give that villain a drive for something deep and meaningful.

Let’s take the Other Mother from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. This woman was beyond wicked, and whether you know her from the novel or the movie, you can’t forget that she was the spider-like woman who had button eyes, and moreover, that she wanted to trap Coraline inside her realm to feed on her life. She didn’t decide to just trap random kids for no reason. She had a specific, necessary desire for children, and this is what made her so terrifying, and this is why we remember her so easily.

What else is essential for good storytelling? The answer is your voice. And yes, I know very well that words printed on paper do not make sound. But the way a story is told; the rhythm; the style; these are all part of your own unique voice. Maybe you could sound a bit witty and nicely rounded and sharp like Neil Gaiman, or more firm and damn-well blunt and ever so precise and overly descriptive like Stephen King. (That was a bit of a stretch, but you get the point.)

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Readers tend to enjoy a story when they can clearly hear a narrator in their head. When you combine your rhythm, choice of wording, tone, and style together in your story, then that unique voice the readers hear is indeed your own. When someone is reading your story, you want that person to know it’s yours. If you sound general and vague, then that story you’ve put so much of your time into can easily be mistaken for another writer’s.

Finding your voice definitely takes time. I’ve found myself trying to mock Stephen King and Neil Gaiman since these two are my all-time favorites, but I’ve discovered that I am in fact NOT them. (Crazy right?) When you begin writing, it’s easy to try to follow in your favorite writers’ footsteps, and you tend to try to copy their voice, which is normal. However, as you go, you begin to develop your own style, and you tend to stray away from those other writers’ voices, which is exactly what you want to do! You are not J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer or James Patterson—you are you, so own it! Are you sarcastic? Soft? Witty? Poetic? Romantic? Only you can find that out!

In conclusion, that number one, MAJOR thing a good story requires is originality, originality, and MORE ORIGINALITY!

There are HUNDREDS of stories about princesses, fairies, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and so on. How do these stories not run together and get mixed up? Well, they each have their own unique settings, events, and plots. When we hear about a sacred ring protected by a group called a fellowship, we immediately recall J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings series. If we hear about glass shoes, we instantly think of Cinderella. Any time we see a clown, we think about Stephen King’s IT. What do all of these have in common? NOTHING! That’s the point!

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When you’re writing a story, it’s your mission to make it as original and different as possible. If you’re inspired to write about a vampire, steer clear of Twilight! Do NOT write about a vampire who falls in love with a mortal girl and has a werewolf as rival! Instead, maybe you could write about a vampire who is cursed by a fairy, or a vampire who kills clowns? (Okay, not that one, but you get the point.)

Remember to avoid clichés and other ideas that have already been written. And yes, I know that it’s hard to come up with something that hasn’t been thought or written before. Stephen King once used a metaphor specifically for this. In my own words, he basically said that ideas are like eggs: they’re still eggs, but they can be cooked in several different ways.

Wizards have been included in hundreds of books, but they’re all written differently. Is Hermione Granger anything like Gandalf? Not really. Hermione is a know-it-all child who nags her friends and tries to keep them out of trouble. Gandalf is an old, wise wizard who firmly steers a whole group of other fictional beings to destroy a ring. The only thing these two really have in common is that they can both perform magic, and that they’re smart.

When you’re writing, sit and think of your own unique series of events that can take place in your story. Maybe someone stumbles upon a cursed chair? Maybe someone has discovered a streetlight that shows the future? Maybe someone works as a detective who specializes in werewolves? Think about the impossible, and write it down as if it is indeed possible.

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This concludes my list of things that make a good story. There are so many ways to tell a story, and there are even more ways to tell an amazing one!

Was this helpful? Can you think of anything else that can make stories unique and memorable? Let me know in the comments!

Remember that you can follow me on my Fiction with Kay Facebook page, and you can follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney and on Instagram @kaylamclaney, and that you can email me at fic.w.kay@gmail.com

I hope you all have a great night, and as always, Keep Reading!

Hello, lovely people!

So, tonight, I have something I’m more than tickled to share! (Sorry, but it’s not the big news you’ve all been waiting for.)

As of yesterday, I have started taking Neil Gaiman’s writing course on Masterclass… Y’all. This class is AMAZING! If you’re not new to my blog, then you already know how much I LOVE Neil Gaiman. And his class is worth every penny!

Neil Gaiman

I’m only a quarter of the way through his entire course, so I cannot give a full review on it. However, I can say how helpful it is.

Watching his lessons, it actually feels like he is sitting right there in front of you, offering you genuine advice. Not only does he offer useful tips, but he speaks so warmly into the camera, and he makes the experience very personal and endearing. You can literally feel his kind nature in his voice, and he seems to genuinely care about you as a student, and moreover, as a writer.

Unfortunately, I cannot give too many details because I don’t want to ruin it for any of you who may be looking into taking his class. But fortunately, I can inform you that Neil Gaiman is a great teacher, and that I recommend his lessons!

On a completely different note, I’m pleased to say that this unspoken project I’ve mentioned a few times is coming together nicely! I’m steadily gathering my materials and making all my notes to prepare for it, so it’s coming along!

I am also in the process of writing yet ANOTHER short story, which I will most likely share within the next few days!

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In conclusion, I would like you to leave you guys with a question for the next weekend event that may be coming in two weeks. During one of Neil Gaiman’s lessons, he talks about fairytales, and this has persuaded me to try my own hand at fairytale retellings. How would you guys feel about a Fairytale Weekend where I share my own versions of beloved stories about glass slippers, wicked stepmothers, fairy godmothers, and talking wolves? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you all for joining me once again!

Remember that you can follow my Facebook page Fiction with Kay, and that you can follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney and on Instagram @kaylamclaney

I hope you guys have an awesome night, and remember to Keep Reading!

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

-Anton Chekhov

Hello, lovely people!

Tonight, I have my own personal story to tell, and a little advice as well.

I’m sure you guys are aware that I am indeed a fiction writer. I do have some short stories under my belt; some are good, and some need work, which is why I have not attempted to climb the mountain and write a full novel quite yet.

I have discovered that I struggle the most with “showing” vs. “telling”. I have discovered that I try to write my short stories a bit too quickly, and I don’t exactly give the story enough time to unfold and feel realistic enough. I think the best example for this would be my short story The Right Choice.

I’ve actually gotten some outside feedback on this via a Facebook group, and those who reviewed it complimented the story as a whole, but they each one pointed out my same flaw of telling more than showing. Therefore, over the next few stories I write, I am going to be working on this problem, and I’m going to be doing a ton of editing. (Pray for me, guys.)

So, while we’re on the topic of showing vs. telling, let’s dig into it!

So, what is showing vs. telling?

Telling a story is simple. You simply write down events that happen to a character along a journey. However, a story can be felt and brought to life by writing the story with vivid details that allow the reader to experience the journey as well. For example, don’t tell your reader that your character is happy. Show them the broad smile and the twinkle in your character’s eye.

If you write something from more of an omniscient point of view, you’ll realize it’s a lot easier to “tell” more than you should. For an example, I’m actually going to be using an excerpt from my most recent short story.

Mona continued to stare up at the stars, twinkling like an ocean of glitter. She wondered if her father could see the same stars from her old home. Perhaps he, too, was stargazing, as it was an activity they both enjoyed, especially after her mother’s death. Another reason why Mona was unhappy was because she had expected her mother to be in the same graveyard. To her dismay, Annabelle Bailey’s grave was empty, and she had been told that her mother had crossed over years ago.

“Azrael?” Mona said, her sweet, trembly voice breaking the silence. “Why do we have to die? Why can’t we live on forever?”

No response was given. All Mona heard was the endless chirping of crickets and the distant hum of other ghosts’ conversations.

“Do you think I’ll get to talk to my dad again before I move on?”

Once again, there was no response.

“I know you can’t answer me. But I guess I’m just kinda depressed.” A tear formed in the bucket of her eye, and Azrael nuzzled her cheek and purred loudly. Mona ran her pale hand over the cat and wiped away her tears with the other.

Considering this was from an omniscient point of view, I actually did not think anything was wrong with this scene, but after having others criticize this, I was able to understand my own mistakes, so I rewrote this scene with less telling and more showing.

The stars were twinkling like an ocean of glitter as Mona lay on her grave, her head rested upon her folded arms. Could her father see the same stars from her old home? Perhaps he, too, was stargazing. Both he and Mona enjoyed this, especially after her mother’s death. Passing through her memory, Mona recalled the day she realized that her Annabelle Bailey’s grave was empty, and that she had crossed over years before her own arrival.

“Azrael?” Mona said, her sweet, trembly voice breaking the silence. “Why do we have to die? Why can’t we live on forever?”

No response was given. The endless chirping of crickets and the distant hum of other ghosts’ conversations continued around her, reminding her that she was still alone in her own sorrows.

“Do you think I’ll get to talk to my dad again before I move on?”

Once again, there was no response. There was only soft purring vibrating against her ribs as the cat remained at her side.

“I know you can’t answer me. But I guess I’m just kinda depressed.” A tear formed in the bucket of her eye, and Azrael’s purring left Mona’s side. Instead, the cat’s cold nose nuzzled against her cheek, her soft fur offering its limited comfort.

As you can see, in this version, I removed a few filter words, and I allowed the reader to feel the experience more vividly than I had before. I will not say that this was written to perfection, but I did fix that one small error.

So, in short, telling a reader what is going on is not as effective as showing them. Readers are more satisfied when they are put into the main character’s shoes than when someone simply tells them what is happening.

I think that writing a story in first-person point of view is a lot easier when it comes to showing. When you’re writing in third-person, you have to speak for the main character, and you have to channel their own feelings through yourself and explain to your readers how these feelings are impacting them. But in first-person point of view, all you have to do is tell the story as if you experienced the events yourself.

For example, I wrote a small excerpt of a girl seeing a ghost for the first time incorrectly, and I wrote the same excerpt correctly.

I had been lying on the sofa after a long day. I was tired, and my back was killing me. It wasn’t long before I had almost drifted into sleep. That was until I heard a voice. Opening my eyes, I raised up into a sit, scanning the room around me. Curious, I stood up and went on to investigate.

The voice was coming from outside. Following my ears, I opened the front door and stepped out onto the wooden deck of the front porch. And there he was. An insubstantial figure with the shape of a man stood before me, his translucent, ghostly eyes containing no color, but a silent plea only my ears could detect. I was scared at first, but I realized he needed help. And I knew that I was his only hope.

This excerpt was a quick, effortless piece, but as you can see, I have almost no showing in this at all. I used several filter words, and I used no detail as to how the narrator felt. Now, here is a much more detailed, more showing version of this same excerpt.

Lying on the sofa, I had been recovering from a long day. Pain throbbed throughout my back, and my muscles felt as though they would explode at any second. My eyelids grew heavier, and I began drifting into sleep. That was until I heard a low whisper. Sleepiness left me abruptly as my eyes opened. Raising myself from the warm cushions, I scanned the room. Nobody was there. The furniture was undisturbed, and the room was still and silent. Curiosity took over, and I stood to my feet. Taking a deep breath, I tugged at my jacket as I went to investigate.

The voice returned, but this time, I could tell it was coming from outside. Slowly and stiffly, I opened the door and stepped out onto the wooden deck of the front porch, slightly startled by a sudden creak below my sneaker. Before I could take another step, I drew in a sharp breath, and fear stopped me in my tracks. Before me stood an insubstantial figure in the shape of a man, his translucent, ghostly eyes containing no color. I wanted to scream, but there was something about those eyes. There was a silent plea; a muted cry for help arising from them. I swallowed the hard lump in my throat, and a tremendous weight fell upon my shoulders. He needed me. Looking into those worrisome eyes, I knew I was his only hope.

The difference between these two is very obvious. In this version, I avoided more filter words, and I clearly explained how this character felt without using phrases like “I was tired” or “I was scared”. This actually makes a huge difference to the reader, and it makes the story feel more realistic.

I think this is something every writer should practice throughout their writing process. For me, showing vs. telling is a little difficult, but it is essential to better storytelling.

This is also why you should always be open to criticism. Had somebody no pointed this error out to me, I would never had noticed that I had made the mistake. When you’re writing, it’s easy to overlook something this small, so I hope this helped you to pay more attention to these tiny details.

What are some storytelling elements you struggle with? Let me know in the comments, and I will be more than happy to write an article dedicated to them!

I hope this was helpful and enjoyable for you guys!

I will be working on more short stories for a while, and coming soon I do have a huge announcement for something I have in the making. Once I have all my materials and a decent start, I will let you guys know my big news!

If you’re on Facebook, you can follow my official Fiction with Kay page. You can also follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney and on Instagram @kaylamclaney

I hope you all have a great night, and remember to Keep Reading!

Hello, lovely people!

So, last week I wrote a brief review on Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and I had also announced that I was going to be writing a longer, more in-depth review on the novel as well.

Well…

IT’S COMING OKAY!? Don’t hate me…

On a serious note, this has been a pretty busy weekend for my little family. This weekend, my sweet, sweet boyfriend and I were celebrating our one-year anniversary, so I had pushed my work aside for this.

HOWEVER! Woe and behold, I am back, and I will be producing more content for y’all. I am going to be honest, though: my in-depth review on The Graveyard Book is still in the making, so that is definitely going to be published later on. I expect both halves of the review to be published by next weekend. On a brighter note, in between working on that little project, I am still writing short stories and writing-related articles!

As for my short stories, I do have a little “ghost” theme going on, but if you have any other themes you would like to suggest, those are more than welcome! (Just no zombies. NO! ZOMBIES!)

ALSO! I am working on something HUGE! And I will be announcing this soon, once I have all my ducks in a row.

Tonight, I will write an article about a recent experience I’ve had with my own writing and some outside criticism, for which I am more than grateful!

Well, this is all I have for y’all for now, but keep an eye out for my next article tonight!

Thank you so much for following me and allowing me to inspire and entertain you! I really and truly appreciate you guys!

If you’re on Facebook, you can find my official page Fiction with Kay. You can also follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney and on Instagram @kaylamclaney

I hope y’all have a great day, and remember to Keep Reading!

Becoming a writer is not an easy task, and like any other goal, it takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to reach.

As an aspiring author and writer myself, I am more than familiar with this struggle, and along my journey (of which I am still in the beginning), I have learned a lot already. And I am happy to share 10 pieces of advice with you!

  • Write, write, write!

So, you want to be a writer? Well, here’s a no-brainer: to be a writer, you have to WRITE!

Like anything else you want to get good at, writing requires a lot of practice and exercising. And no, I don’t mean running track with a notebook in your hand. I mean sitting your butt down in front of that computer and putting those fingers to the keyboard. If you’re not sure what to write about at first, write about something that has been on your mind. This helps you to A. figure out what you like to write about, and B. how to expand from that.

Don’t expect yourself to write a whole book in one writing session. (I PROMISE that will not happen, ever!) But at least take time to open your mind through your writing.

Set a designated time for writing. As humans, we are creatures of habit, and when you form a habit out of writing, you are guaranteed to get more done!

I try to write at least a thousand words a day, but you can set your own goal and push yourself to reach that goal!

Try your best to be constant with your writing schedule. If you’re a night owl like me, make a habit of writing at night. But if you feel more inspired in the morning, then by golly, write in the morning.

It is so easy to feel uninspired and neglect to write. I have done this NUMEROUS times, and it ruins my whole writing mentality. Skipping one night can make you want to skip another night… and another night.

Push yourself because you know you can do it!

  • Read more

Okay, this one should be kind of obvious. As writers, it is only natural that we would enjoy reading. And it’s awesome to read within the genre in which you choose to write, but don’t be afraid to explore!

Reading more often can expand your vocabulary, and it can help you understand the writing method itself.

For example, the next time you read a book, don’t read for entertainment, but read as if you are editing it. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • How much dialogue does this chapter have?
  • What is the conflict?
  • How has the author kept the conflict going?
  • What is the major event taking place?
  • How has the author described the surroundings?
  • How is the character feeling? What context clues indicate this?
  • What is the pacing of this chapter?
  • How was this chapter resolved?

Once you’ve answered all these questions, it’ll be a little easier to figure out how to structure your story.

Reading is also a great source for inspiration. Maybe that one bridge inside that one forest sparks your imagination to create your own bridge inside your own forest. Maybe that dashing prince in that fantasy novel inspires you to write about your own prince. The possibilities are quite endless!

  • Start a blog/author platform

Okay, when I first officially started my writing journey, I thought this was insane! “God, I’m already wrecking my brain trying to write this story! Now I have to do more work?” Yes. Yes, you do.

If you haven’t started your author platform AT LEAST start a blog! Doing this will get you a nice little following and grab the attention of readers and blooming writers like yourself, and you can use this to discover and create your own public voice. This will also help you get your name and your brand (yes, your brand) out into the public. As an author, your name is your brand, and if your brand is good, then your followers will expect your books to be as good, if not better.

When you start your blog, it is going to feel awkward and uncomfortable, as you are just developing your own voice. Therefore, I don’t advise you to start with something huge, but perhaps you could start by introducing yourself and discussing your favorite genre. You could even write an article about your favorite book. Start small, learn the basics of blogging, follow other bloggers that write about something that interests you, and expand from there.

Now that you’ve started your blog, create your platform. Start a Facebook page with your author name or even the name of your blog. Start a twitter account strictly under your author name. If you decide to write as JimBob Jones, then it’s best that your followers know you as JimBob Jones so that they’ll recognize you after you’ve officially published your novel. You can even boost your platform on Instagram or YouTube. Several authors have YouTube channels, and they all upload videos that are related to writing, and they offer tips and advice to newer writers like you and me!

WORD OF CAUTION! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it takes YEARS to successfully develop a decent following on social media, and it’s best that you start NOW!

  • Be consistent

While you are blogging, it is best that you keep content coming! Remember that there are millions of other bloggers out there, and it is easy for viewers to forget about you when so many other bloggers write content that is as interesting as your own. This does not have to be every single day, but I advise that you blog at least three or four days a week if possible. Keep your audience interested, and keep them coming back for more!

Also, only write what you know! This should be a no-brainer, but I’m including this anyway. If you are still unfamiliar with the writing business, then it is very likely that you don’t know very much about the process, which is fine. We have to start somewhere. Suppose you excel in creating characters. Great! Write articles about interesting characters and why you enjoy creating them. What inspired you to create them? What are they like? What is your favorite character type? Write articles as you learn. Maybe you’ve just learned a very important lesson on setting. Guess what? Blog about it! (In your own words of course!)

You can also write about your own process. Are you in the middle of your first draft? Have you written a short story you’d like to share?

You can even share something personal. Maybe you’ve just visited a café that reminded you of a story you read a long time ago. Or perhaps you’ve just watched a movie that touched you. Whatever interests you, blog about it!

  • Practice writing short stories first.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but before you can successfully write that whole novel you’ve thought about, it’s best to start small. Short stories are fun and great for practice! And novels are absolutely not for practice! These are huge projects, and they’re really your breadwinners. Novels are to be taken seriously, and most authors spend years on them! Short stories can be written easily within a few hours, and you can be a bit more playful with these. Typically, short stories run from 2,000 to 10,000 words, which is a great deal shorter than a novel (50,000 to 70,000 words).

I’m not advising you to completely push the thought of your novel away. While writing short stories, it is perfectly fine to keep a record of ideas for the big one in a notebook. This will certainly help you in the long run!

  • Keep a notebook

I have found that a writer’s notebook is a very handy tool for authors. Ideas are so easy to come, and just as easy to go. It helps to keep a notebook close by at all times in case a great idea comes to you throughout your day.

Stephen King once said that notebooks are not so useful, as “the good stuff stays”. He is indeed correct on this, but he’s Stephen King, so take this however you will. I, personally, prefer to have my notebook. As a mom, I stay scatter-brained, and it helps me to keep my ideas on paper so I can remember them more easily. But as Stephen King says, it is true that the good ideas stay in your head more easily than the smaller, less significant details you thought about four hours ago.

These written ideas also help you organize and plan your novel. This helps if you are an outliner. However, if you are a pantser like myself, the notebooks will help you keep track of random thoughts you had that you thought would be nice to include in your novel at some point.

  • Do not get discouraged

When you start out as a writer, it is scary! Especially when you finally start that novel!

Anytime you start something new, it’s normal to feel nervous and out of place. But once you get the flow of things, it is much easier to find your comfort zone.

Also, don’t compare yourself to currently successful writers. This will only lower your hopes. Remember, these guys have been doing this for years! There was a time they were right in your shoes! Remember that you’ve started this journey, and believe that you can definitely finish it!

You must also learn to accept criticism. As a sensitive person myself, this is a hard one! It is devastating to early writers for people to point out flaws in their works. Criticism is good! After all, aren’t you writing to entertain these people in the first place? Instead of arguing and trying to defend these mistakes, figure out how you can fix them and make the story better.

Before moving on to our next point, let’s talk about writer’s block. Some say it is real, some say it’s not. Personally, I say it’s real to an extent.

Writer’s block is when you feel totally uninspired to write. You may open a blank document with an idea boiling in your brain, but as you put your fingers on the keyboard, your mind goes blank, and you cannot write a single word. Or maybe you’ve just gotten halfway into a chapter of your novel, and suddenly, you can’t think of what to write next.

All writers have suffered this at some point. The best advice I’ve heard for this is “keep writing”. This may seem to be easier said than done, but I do have my own personal method for writer’s block. If I have already written up to a certain point, and I cannot put into words what happens next, I simply move on to a different scene and write what I can of that one, and later I go back to the scene I had just been working on. This may not work for other writers, but this was only an example to help you figure out what might help you through writer’s block.

I say writer’s block is a real thing, but it is easy to overcome if the writer is determined to get past it.

  • Own the title of a writer!

So, you’ve officially begun writing, be it short stories, a novel, magazine articles, or what have you. Guess what? You are now a writer! Congratulations!

Now is the time to give yourself that awesome title, and to think like a writer! No, I do not mean to expect to make a million dollars overnight by writing one single story. Even if you’ve already published it, that’s not going to happen. Sorry. It takes YEARS to become successful from writing. However, you can write and talk about your own works with pride. You can even tell the world that you’re a writer!

BUT! Do not get a big head! Do not tell yourself or anyone else that your writing is better than anyone else’s! You may have more knowledge about writing, and you may have mastered the craft of storytelling, but that does mean that anyone has less potential than you do. I have seen so many people stick their noses up at others who have not reached their level, and it honestly sickens me.

Like, I get it Gertrude! You’ve written fifty short stories and one novel. Good for you! You can stop talking about it now!

But honestly, be humble and remember where you came from! Be proud but be kind!

Also, remind yourself that you have less potential than anyone else. As I mentioned, becoming a writer can be scary, and you will get discouraged along the way, but you’ve brought yourself this far! You can do it!

  • Learn about marketing

Okay, this one is no fun at all! Unfortunately, I cannot go into deep detail about marketing, as I am still doing my own homework on this topic. However, I can give you the harsh truth about marketing.

Whether you traditionally-publish or self-publish, marketing your book is going to fall on you. Seriously. Traditionally-publishing seems like the easier option, but in all honesty, it’s not. Both routes require hard work, and they both require you to take care of the majority (if not all) of your books sales. If you self-publish, it’s all you. You hire an editor; you hire a cover designer; you market your own book. Marketing is your real path to success. You have to come up with creative ways to advertise your work, and that is time-consuming, and it can become expensive!

I’m not telling you this to discourage you at all; I’m only trying to be honest and tell you the truth that most publishing companies do not tell you. Aside from editing, marketing may be every author’s worst nightmare! But if you are dedicated, you can do this!

Remember that author platform I told you about? This is when it really comes in handy! You know those followers you’ve gotten overtime? There is your audience! You’ve already gotten those people to follow you and support you, now you can persuade them to buy your book!

Catch their attention with your book cover, an interesting synopsis, art, advertise your book in a video; do whatever you can think of that will draw attention to your book! This will help you tremendously!

  • Learn the difference between traditionally-publishing and self-publishing

The publishing industry is everchanging, and it is typically updated every year, so stay alert on these changes.

In more recent years, authors have had the option to self-publish their own books as oppose to going through a publishing house.

Basically, when you traditionally-publish, you sell your book and your rights to that book to a publishing house, where they will provide an editor, a cover designer, and a marketing team. And yes, you read that correctly: you sell your book AND your rights. This means that this company can make any alterations to your work, and you really don’t have any say in what stays or goes. This sounds a bit harsh, but these people know what sells, so you are usually guaranteed to make some pretty decent sells. Some feel that this route is less expensive since they provide your editor and cover designer, but what they don’t tell you is that you actually pay for most of the marketing. Although they have their own marketing team, you still have to do your own portion of the marketing, so you still have to do some of the work.

However, if you self-publish, all the work falls on you. You are responsible for the editing, cover designing, publishing, and marketing. On the bright side, you still own your book AND your rights! But and as oppose to the publishing houses, you get to keep a great portion of your royalties!

Both routes have their own pro’s and con’s, but either can be a successful choice depending on you.

Basically, the best advice I can give you on this topic is stay up to date, and choose which is best for you. Do your own homework and weigh out which option fits better into your budget, and which one fits in better with your own business preference.

This concludes my ten pieces of advice for newer writers! I really hope these tips were helpful, and I hope they will get you closer to your goals as a writer!

***As a bonus, I have a list of YouTubers who also offer advice like this, and more! These ladies have inspired me so much on my own writing journey, and I honestly don’t think I would have even made it this far without watching their videos religiously!

These ladies are:

  • Jenna Moreci (Eve: The Awakening, The Savior’s Champion, The Savior’s Sister)
  • Alexa Donne (Brightly Burning, The Stars We Steal)
  • Vivien Reis (The Elysian Prophecy)
  • Meg LaTorre (The Cyborg Tinkerer)
  • Abbie Emmons (100 Days of Sunlight)

These ladies are AWESOME! They create very helpful videos and give heart-to-heart discussions on the writing process and the publishing process, and they are altogether entertaining! I highly recommend them to any aspiring author, so go ahead and check them out!

Thank you all so much for checking out this article, and I wish you all the best of luck on your own writing journeys!

If you haven’t already followed my official Fiction with Kay Facebook page, you can go ahead and do so! I usually post any upcoming book reviews or weekend events on that page specifically.

You can also follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney and on Instagram!

I hope you all have a great night, and remember to Keep Reading!

The Graveyard Book cover

Neil Gaiman’s novel The Graveyard Book is an awesome ghost story! This book follows the boy, Nobody “Bod” Owens, who is raised in a graveyard after his entire family is murdered by The Man Jack.

As a baby, Bod wanders into the graveyard, where the ghostly couple Mr. and Mrs. Owens adopt him, and a ghost by the name of Silas takes the role as Bod’s guardian. Once his is adopted and accepted as a member of the graveyard, Bod is given the “Freedom of the Graveyard”, which means that he is able to do everything the ghosts are able to do, such as Fading and walking through walls and seeing in the dark.

Growing up, Bod explores the graveyard and often gets himself into trouble. However, as he grows up, he develops an interest for the outside world. Once he realizes the world outside of the graveyard is not what he expects, Silas takes all necessary measures to protect him.

The Graveyard Book is an adventurous, exciting, and heartwarming story that revolves around the meaning of home, family, and friendship. Within this story, Neil Gaiman gives us a grand tour of life (or death) inside a cemetery and he guides us through with amazing characters! Gaiman offers a journey that includes an underworld full of ghouls, a buried treasure, magic, and tremendous thrill! This book is definitely a must-read, and I rate this with five stars!

I decided to make this review spoiler-free for anyone who has not yet read the book, and who is interested. However, I will be publishing more thorough review that will include spoilers for those who would appreciate more detail and more commentary from yours truly.

Author Neil Gaiman

Thank you so much for checking out this review! I hope you guys have a great night, and remember to Keep Reading!

The moon shone it’s silver light over the headstones and angel statues as crickets chirped, singing their nocturnal song. The night was clear, and the graveyard was as peaceful as always.

Upon their awakening, the earth was still and undisturbed as the ghosts arose from their resting places. The spirits yawned and stretched, preparing themselves for another night. Most were dressed in more modern clothing, as a great majority of the older ghosts had already passed on.

Once everyone was awake, they exchanged their hello’s and how-are-you’s. Children called to their playmates, young ladies tidied their graves, boys searched for mischief, and the adults conversed. The ghosts’ lives were all quite normal, as they would begin their nightly jobs shortly before midnight, the children would play throughout most of the night, and the teenagers would act as typical teenagers; some worked, some looked for fun, some engaged in their hobbies, and some would flirt.

It wasn’t long before Azrael made her nightly entrance. As she passed through the old iron gates of the graveyard, her black paws stepped silently over the grass, and her big, golden eyes were as warm and friendly as ever.

Everyone always looked forward to seeing Azrael, especially Mona Bailey, a young lady of sixteen, who had called the graveyard her home for nearly three years now. Mona loved to talk to the cat, and pet her, and cuddle with her. But that was all. She, like everyone else, knew the true reason Azrael came into the graveyard every night. As the Grim Reaper had the job of leading a person into purgatory, Azrael the cat had the job of helping a person to crossover into the afterlife. Nobody knew what happened there. But it had to beat being stuck in a graveyard.

Mona, however, enjoyed her time in the graveyard. Not because she was a ghost who underwent her death, every night the same as the other, but because she always looked forward to her father’s daily visits to her grave. During these visits, he would talk to her, tell her stories, read the daily paper to her, and on her birthday, he would leave her a single rose and a card. He never understood why his gifts would be gone the next day; little did he know that Mona had been storing them inside her coffin, as they were too precious to leave aboveground where the wind might sweep them away.

Mona was among the few ghosts who could not remember her death. Of course, her father had told her the story numerous times (and how he held her hand until her eyes closed forever). Although the memory of her death was more than unclear, she vividly remembered her father’s face: his brown eyes, his scruffy beard, the hat he still wore, and the warm, gentle smile he seldom wore nowadays. Sometimes she would see it when he would tell her about a funny memory, but most times, he was too sad to smile. He wasn’t ready for Mona’s demise, and neither was Mona.

The girl sat cross-legged on her headstone, picking petals off a flower, signing a low melody to herself. Although she was translucent, her curly red locks were unmistakable. Azrael approached her kindly, sitting on the ground before Mona and curling her tail. “Good night, Azrael,” Mona greeted her, holding her hand out to the cat. Azrael nudged Mona’s hand with her paw, purring with delight. Abruptly, Azrael left Mona’s grave, and she made her way to a grave across the cemetery. Raising an eyebrow, Mona followed the cat, spying from behind a statue. Azrael had stopped at Mr. Griggs’s grave. He had died while in his fifties, and had been in the graveyard since long before Mona’s arrival. He was a kind man, but according to others, he had not always been so nice. Many of the ghosts had talked about Mr. Griggs’s bitter attitude, and how they were amazed how his time in the graveyard helped him sort out his problems and shape him into a better person. He even seemed to enjoy his job as the graveyard’s gatekeeper, picking up the live gatekeeper’s slack.

The cat rubbed her side against the grave, the same way a cat would rub against its owner’s leg for attention, and she jumped onto the top of his headstone. After waiting for a moment, Mr. Griggs’s spirit appeared beside the grave, and Azrael meowed, letting him know it was now his time. A huge, toothy smile spread over Mr. Griggs’s face, and he followed the cat down to the old oak tree at the far eastern end of the cemetery. Mr. Griggs petted the cat for the last time, and with ultimate joy, he passed through the tree until his ghostly body had disappeared. A bright, golden light accompanied him, enveloping the whole tree only for a few seconds, and then the tree was back to normal.

With pale blue eyes full of awe, Mona witnessed the scene, and before the cat could spot her spying, she hurried back to her own grave. Silently, she wondered what it would be like to finally move on. She had heard rumors that each spirit has his or her own personal, unique experience at the old tree. What would hers be like? What or who will she see when she finally crosses over? But she quickly dismissed the thought. She had already left her father once. She didn’t want to leave him for good.

“Good night, Miss Bailey,” called a familiar voice. Already annoyed, Mona let out a sigh and greeted the woman. Miss Jane Collins was a thirty-two-year-old woman who had been in the graveyard for almost a decade. She was the graveyard’s counsellor, and Mona seemed to be her favorite person to pester. Mona was a locked door full of secrets, and Miss Jane Collins was more than eager to unlock her. “How are we feeling, Mona?” she asked with an exaggerated smile framed with bright red lipstick.

“Peachy,” Mona replied, refusing to look up from the flower she had already de-petaled.

“That’s lovely, dear,” Jane said. “Shall we get started?”, she said, pushing up her glasses and clutching her notepad.

“I don’t feel like talking.”

“It’ll make you feel better, dear. It always does,” insisted Jane. “Now, let’s see… Oh yes, there we are.” She flipped through her notepad. “Now, last time, we discussed your sleeping pattern. Are you sleeping better during the day?”

“I guess,” Mona shrugged, still refusing to meet Jane’s eyes. She tossed away the remaining stem of her flower.

“Very nice.” Jane scribbled something inside her notepad. Mona tried to keep it secret that she always woke up around four o’clock in the afternoon. It was a rule to stay asleep during the day, but Mona chose instead to stay awake for at least an hour each day to hear her father. She had lied and told Jane that she was just “restless”, which Jane insisted was the reason Mona could not move on. Allegedly, when a ghost is “restless”, he or she is holding on to unfinished business. Mona did not believe this was true, but she agreed anyway to shut her up. God, was she a pest.

“Do you have any suppressed feelings you feel we need to discuss, dear?”

“No. Like I said, I don’t really feel like talking.”

“Very well. I’ll respect your wishes this time, Miss Bailey, but you really should open up a bit more. It’s unhealthy to keep thoughts and emotions bottled up.” Jane collected her notes, adjusted her glasses, and offered Mona a clumsy smile. “Until next time, Miss Bailey.” Then, she walked away, seeking out her next patient.

Azrael had made her final rounds. All three ghosts she had been ordered to help had finally crossed over, so now the night was hers to enjoy. Although she was not allowed to have favorites, Azrael frequently spent hours at a time with Mona. She was kind, gentle, and affectionate. But most of all, she was lonely, and Azrael felt sympathy for the poor girl.

Returning to Mona’s grave, Azrael watched Mona lying on her back with her head rested upon her folded arms. She let out a meow, and Mona met her golden eyes. She smiled and called her over.

Mona continued to stare up at the stars, twinkling like an ocean of glitter. She wondered if her father could see the same stars from her old home. Perhaps he, too, was stargazing, as it was an activity they both enjoyed, especially after her mother’s death. Another reason why Mona was unhappy was because she had expected her mother to be in the same graveyard. To her dismay, Annabelle Bailey’s grave was empty, and she had been told that her mother had crossed over years ago.

“Azrael?” Mona said, her sweet, trembly voice breaking the silence. “Why do we have to die? Why can’t we live on forever?”

No response was given. All Mona heard was the endless chirping of crickets and the distant hum of other ghosts’ conversations.

“Do you think I’ll get to talk to my dad again before I move on?”

Once again, there was no response.

“I know you can’t answer me. But I guess I’m just kinda depressed.” A tear formed in the bucket of her eye, and Azrael nuzzled her cheek and purred loudly. Mona ran her pale hand over the cat and wiped away her tears with the other.

Before long, the sky grew a little brighter, fading from dark blue to violet, to pink. All the ghosts were making their way back to their graves. Within a short while, the graveyard was silent, and the sun introduced a new day.

Azrael wandered up the path to the old iron gate, and with the twitch of her tail, she faded away.

As usual, Mona awoke at four o’clock. She heard footsteps approaching her grave, accompanied by the same cough she had heard for weeks now. Mr. Bailey sat down on the grass at the foot of his daughter’s grave, and she surfaced, only letting her head peek through the cemented top of her grave. She looked like someone bobbing in a deep pool of water.

“I’m back, Princess,” said Mr. Bailey, followed by another cough. “I brought something for ya.” With a weak hand, he slowly placed two red roses on her grave, and then two envelopes, each containing a birthday card.

Two gifts?, Mona thought. She always had trouble keeping track of her birthday as most ghosts could not keep track of time in death, but she was more than certain that she couldn’t have two birthdays.

“Best that I go ahead and give you this one in advance, Princess. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to next year.”

Mona was taken aback. What did he mean? She desperately wanted to ask him, but she knew he’d never hear her.

Another cough.

“I miss you so much, sweetheart. But maybe I’ll see you soon.” Mr. Bailey wiped a few beads of sweat from his forehead, and he shifted onto his knees. “I have to cut this visit short, Princess.” Shakily, Mr. Bailey arose to his feet and blew a kiss to Mona’s headstone. “Happy birthday, darling,” he whispered, and he slowly made his way back down the path of the graveyard.

Once he was gone, Mona clutched her cards and roses, and she quickly took them down to her coffin. She ripped the first envelope open and read her father’s first card.

Dearest Mona,

Today, you would have been nineteen. You would have been a grown up woman. Where has time gone? It seems like just yesterday you were inviting Mom and me to your tea parties with Mr. Teddy. He’s fine, by the way. He still sits on your bed, and he still gives the best hugs when I need them.

I would have loved to have seen the beautiful woman you would have turned out to be. You used to look so much like your mother. Even when you were sick, you were the prettiest girl in the world.

I love you, Princess. Rest well.

                                                     Love, Dad.

After reading the first card, Mona opened the second envelope.

Dearest Mona,

I’ve just come back from my visit with the doctor. Your old dad’s not a spring chicken anymore. Don’t be sad for me, though, Princess. Don’t let this spoil your birthday. Let’s both be happy. We’ll see each other again very soon.

Happy birthday, Princess.

                                                      Love, Dad

Sleep was hard for Mona to find for the rest of the day. She wasn’t sure whether she should be happy or sad. She had hoped for so long to finally have her father back, but not under such dreadful conditions. Inside her coffin, she lay still in the silence, her mind full and weary. Sleep was hard to find, but she eventually drifted into it.

The night had finally fallen, and all the ghosts in the graveyard awoke again, stretching, yawning, and greeting one another. From underground, Mona could hear hundreds of footsteps above her. She rolled her sleepy eyes and shut them, trying to ignore it all. Then she heard a knock against her headstone, followed by, “Miss Bailey? Yoo-hoo! Rise and shine, sleepy head!” With a groan, she reluctantly arose. Didn’t that woman have someone better to bother? Tucking away her birthday gifts, she floated to the surface.

Miss Jane Collins was awaiting her less than patiently, notebook in hand, wearing that broad, fake smile. “Good night, Miss Bailey! And how are we feeling tonight?”

“Tired,” Mona replied dryly.

“Still not sleeping, huh?” inquired Jane, shifting her red-lipped smile into a thin frown. “Sweetie, you’re never going to move on if you don’t get some proper rest, and certainly not if you don’t open up and discuss what is keeping you from resting.”

“I miss my dad.”

Jane shifted in her black high-heels. “Darling, it’s been three years. We’re supposed to have let go of our loved ones by the end of our first year. It holds you back.”

“What do you care? You only pretend to care about everyone here because it goes on your record, just so you can move on.” Angry, Mona crossed her arms.

“Teenagers,” whispered Jane. “I’m not here for myself. I’m here to help you. Please, just talk to me. It will make you feel better.”

Mona met Jane’s eyes, and finally forced herself to open up. “I didn’t want to die. My dad didn’t want me to die. But here I am. And you keep talking to me about ‘moving on’. Have you ever considered that I don’t want to move on?”

Arching a thin brow, Jane asked, “Why ever would you not want to move on? There’s nothing for you here in the graveyard.”

“No. Not at night. You want to know why I don’t sleep during the day? Because that’s when my dad visits me.”

“Darling, I’m sure you two miss each other, but death is a part of life. It’s cruel and nobody will ever fathom death in its whole, but as spirits, we can’t linger in this world forever. We have to move on at some time. It’s just the way it is, I’m afraid.”

Mona looked unconvinced. Instead of looking at Jane, she only picked at a loose thread on her soft-blue gown.

Jane gave a genuinely compassionate frown. “I had a baby brother,” she said. “His name was Neville. He was such a sweetheart! I used to love to play with him and cuddle with him when he would wake up from a nightmare. He used to bury his face into my shoulder when I would hold him. Neville and I were so close. I loved the little booger,” Jane laughed. “But one day,” she said, with sadness filling her eyes, “we were coming home from school. My mom was driving. Neville was only six. I was twelve. It had been raining that day, and a car had pulled out in front of us before Mom could stop, and we crashed.” Jane paused, wiping a tear from her cheek. “My baby brother died. My sweet baby brother died. I lived the rest of my life remembering all of this, and for years, I lived with the guilt, telling myself that I should have been the one to die. Not him. He was so innocent.

“But I knew that my sweet Neville wouldn’t have wanted me to live like this. I knew he would want to see his big sissy smile again, and I knew I would only drive myself crazy if I didn’t move on.”

Mona cried with her. She had never imagined that Jane had gone through such a horrible childhood. She had no idea that this obnoxious counsellor who pestered her every single night had suffered such trauma and sadness.

“How did you die?” Mona asked suddenly.

Jane frowned, removing her glasses. “I did something horrible, Mona. Something I have refused to let myself remember. Something I so deeply regret.” She met Mona’s eyes. “I hanged myself. I tried so desperately to move on. I tried to let go of the guilt. I tried to be happy. But one night, everything that had built up inside me hit me all at once, and I wanted it all to end. So, I ended it.”

Mona swiftly threw her arms around Jane’s shoulders, squeezing her tightly and sobbing with her. Jane relieved her sorrows on Mona’s shoulder until she recollected herself. Putting her glasses back on, she offered a genuine smile to her friend.

“You see, Mona. Moving on is so important. If we linger on something like this, it damages you. It can do the same to you in death. I could feel your bottled emotions the night you first came here. I don’t want to tell you what to do, Mona. But you need exactly what I needed. A friend. Someone to help you through everything. Someone to help you move on.”

Mona looked down at the ground, nudging a rock with her foot. “But my dad… He wrote me a birthday card. He says he’s dying.”

“I already know what you’re thinking. And I know what you want. But sweetie, don’t rush his death. Life is so precious. I know you want to see him again, but nobody knows how long that’s going to take. Would you rather be miserable and wait, or would you rather let go? There’s so much waiting for us in the afterlife. And when your dad’s time comes, you two will be together again in a much brighter place.” She took mona’s pale hand into her own. “Do what’s best for you.”

Mona said nothing. She looked away from her friend, and she thought. It seemed as though she and Jane were the only two ghosts in the graveyard. Looking around, she could think of only the misery and the loneliness the graveyard had to offer her. Finally, she returned her eyes to her friend and said, “I know what I want to do.”

Suddenly, Azrael made her entrance into the graveyard through the old iron gates. After what seemed like an eternity, she approached Jane grave and rubbed against it. In the blink of an eye, Jane disappeared from Mona’s grave and reappeared at her own headstone. Mona smiled. She knew.

From afar, Jane nervously looked around herself, then down at Azrael who meowed at her. Jane smiled her wide, red-lipped smile and followed the cat to the old oak tree. Once they reached it, she cupped her mouth and exclaimed with tremendous joy and hurried inside the tree. The golden light radiated throughout the tree, and Jane was gone.

Mona felt proud for her friend. She was happy to know that Miss Jane Collins no longer had to suffer her hidden sorrows. She also noticed that her own sadness had left her. The night had a much brighter mood, and the moon seemed to shine a great deal brighter than it had ever shone before. She placed one foot upon her headstone and rested her elbow upon her bent knee, feeling more relief than she had ever felt in both her life and death.

Seconds later, Azrael approached her. Her golden eyes looked more angelic than usual, and after a brief pause, Azrael rubbed herself against Mona’s headstone. Mona stood abruptly, unsure as to what exactly what was going on. She furrowed her brow. “Azrael?”

“Hello, Mona,” arose a clear, feminine voice from the cat’s mouth. Mona’s jaw dropped, as she had never heard the cat speak before this very moment.

“H-Hello.”

“It’s time, sweet girl.” Azrael spun around, and Mona followed, taking one last look at her grave. Mona expected to feel nervous, but all she could feel throughout her ghostly body was peace. Tears welled up in Mona’s eyes, as she never thought this night would come.

As they inched their way toward the tree, it’s shape faded away until Mona saw a tall, solid white door before her. The door opened on its own, and behind the door was Annabelle Bailey’s beautiful face smiling at her, inviting her inside. It was then that Mona knew she had made the right choice.

A Tale of Magic book cover

A Tale of Magic is an amazing Young Adult Fantasy novel written by Chris Colfer. This story is about fourteen-year-old Brystal Evergreen, who is the daughter of a cold, hateful High Justice, Justice Evergreen, and a firm housewife, Mrs. Evergreen, and a sister to brothers Barrie and Brooks Evergreen.

The Evergreens live in the Southern Kingdom, where magic has been banned, and women have the shallow end of society. While Brystal is forced to learn to be a model wife and mother, she is also faces the dilemma of hiding her passion for reading, as women are not allowed the knowledge to read.

After sneaking herself a job at the local library, where she gets herself into fatal trouble after discovering a secret library and discovering that she is indeed a fairy.

After she is almost executed by the court, the cards change for her as she is alternatively sent to a rehabilitation center for young women. At this establishment, she is rescued by Madame Weatherberry, who herself is a warm, kind, motherly fairy, and the founder of a magic academy that she just cannot seem to give a permanent name.

At the academy, Brystal and her classmates are taught how to better their abilities, but things take a dark turn when Madame Weatherberry is called to visit a “sick friend”. When Brystal discovers that matters are in fact not what they seem, it is up to her and her classmates to set things right for the sake of their instructor, their school, and the whole world!

A Tale of Magic is a MUST-read! Colfer has created an amazing fantasy world filled with adventure and several interesting creatures! His vivid characters and exciting plot kept me on the edge of my seat! I highly recommend this book to any reader, young or old, that enjoys magical journeys and playful, yet determined characters!

Chris Colfer, the Author

What I enjoyed about the book:

  • I loved all the characters altogether, but my favorite character of the novel is Lucy Goose (Goo-say), who is a whimsically sarcastic girl who has an insatiable taste for mischief, but is altogether a great character!
  • The magical creatures within the story, ie. unicorns, gryphons, fairies, witches, dwarves, trolls, and many more!
  • The message Colfer delivers: women have as much potential as any given man; everyone deserves a chance to be their better selves; only good can destroy evil; have faith in yourself; everyone deserves to be accepted, no matter how different they truly are.
  • The book cover! I absolutely LOVE this book cover! It is so beautiful! Very outstanding!

What I did not enjoy about the book:

  • The only problem I had with the book is that the beginning of the book is a little to slow-paced for my liking. I do feel that the beginning could have been summed up by a little bit. Besides that, I found nothing else wrong with the book!

I absolutely give this book a 5-star rating!

Have you read this book? If so, tell me what you think in the comments! What did you like? Who was your favorite character? Let me know!

If you haven’t already, you can follow my Facebook page, Fiction with Kay.

You can also follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney, and you can find me on Instagram!

I hope you all have a good night, and remember to Keep Reading!

As a writer, it is only obvious that I love books! Reading is the coziest way to travel and escape to another place and explore new realms. However, as a human being, I am quite particular about what I read.

Photo by We Hear It

I’ve read some good books in my lifetime, and I’ve read some books that I could have enjoyed, had they not lacked a few minor details. So, without further ado, here is a list of ten things I look for (and absolutely love) in fiction!

1. Realistic Main Character

In my opinion, a story can only be as enjoyable and as saturating as its main character. Besides, this is the very person who is taking you along the journey. Would you rather go on a tour with someone whose voice is so monotonous and bland, that you lose all interest, and forget that you’re even on a journey? Or would you rather travel with someone who brings the journey to life with his expressive tone and colorful language?

Also, when I’m walking through this story with someone, I feel more familiar and invested with this character when I have a vivid image and clear understanding of him. If a writer cannot even tell me this person’s eye color or hair length, why does he care to tell the character’s story?

Lastly, I absolutely cannot read about a person who shows absolutely no emotion throughout the story.

“My best friend was just eaten by a dragon. I’m sad now.”

I mean, okay? That sucks, dude, but I suddenly have the urge not to care.

“Tears burned throughout my eyes as I watched my best friend draw his last breath. My heart shattered, and I felt nothing but the throbbing in my stomach as I knew I would never see him again. Holding his limp, cold hand in my own, I whispered my final goodbye.”

Hold on while I go cry now.

It truly takes a convincing character to tell a convincing story. No matter what events actually take place throughout a book, if the character is boring, then nine times out of ten, the whole journey will be, too.

2. A Funny Sidekick

Whether the book is Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, or whatever, it is good for the main character to have at least one loyal companion—a funny loyal companion for that matter!

As a goofball myself, I tremendously enjoy at least some humor in novels. Ya know, so long as this character doesn’t spoil an intense moment with a corny pun. “So, you’re just gonna freeze us to death? That’s cold, man.”

We’re going to pretend that was actually funny, but you get the picture.

Funny sidekicks are also the best because most genuinely funny people are actually loyal and devoted, so the hilarious best friend just makes the story great altogether.

3. Magic, Magic, and More Magic!

Since I am a total geek for fantasy, I love a story so much more when there is magic involved! Whether the main character is a witch, wizard, elf, fairy, or just some random guy with a magical pebble, a character with magical abilities bring so many flexible possibilities into a story.

Magic can make a story fun or terrifying. For example, a magic wand can help a flying broomstick can take you on an adventure through the sky, but an evil wizard with a magic staph can turn the world into a land full of someone’s worst nightmares.

Literally any form of magic in a book just urges me to keep flipping the pages!

4. An Underlying Romance

I am not a fan of romance novels. However, I love romantic subplots! Romance can be used in literally any fictional genre, and for readers like myself who are hopeless romantics, they make the story more excited and fulfilling.

Intimate relationships inside a story give the reader something a little extra to look forward to between the scattered conflicts of a story. Not to mention that this only makes us happier for the main character. Therefore, those little breath-taking warm fuzzies definitely keep my eyes glued to the book.

5. Ghosts

This one is a little different. Of course, I’m known to love horror stories as well as fantasy, but I love a good spine-chilling ghost story. But I am also supportive of ghosts outside of horror novels. The novel The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh is a perfect example for this. While this novel does indeed revolve around ghosts and New York underground, the story itself is not scary, despite the three-headed dog Cerberus. Without this mythological monster, the story is actually fun and heartwarming, as well as emotional and sad.

I think ghosts are great characters, as they can show us a life outside of the living. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is awesome for this, as a graveyard full of ghosts raise a live child.

Ghosts are even great for helping or warning the main character of certain dangers that lie ahead, like Victor Pascow in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. This is the ghost of a college student who warns Louis Creed about the soured ground of the sinister cemetery.

Overall, ghosts will always be a go-to for me!

6. Strange Realms

I don’t mind reading a novel that takes place in the real world, but I will always enjoy a story that is set in an entirely different world!

I understand that world building is no easy task. (Believe me. I KNOW!) But when an author puts forth the tremendous effort to bring to life a world created entirely from his or her own imagination, it is entirely captivating! Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Chris Colfer’s A Tale of Magic are excellent examples!

For me, the purpose of reading is to escape the world around me to explore in a new realm beyond my own belief. And to enjoy it.

7. Castles and Large Houses

Not only are castles ancient, beautiful architectural structures, but they are also the perfect place for secret passages, history, ghosts, and adventure!

I have always dreamed of living inside an old castle, and to read about one only excites me. I love the idea of exploring a centuries-old building and discovering its many secrets, as well as learning about its past inhabitants.

These kinds of buildings also make for a great deal of suspense for any story. You never know who could be lurking behind the bookcase, or where the secret door behind that painting could lead or what kind of message that ghost in the attic might be trying to tell you.

8. Vampires and Werewolves

Yes. I’m one of those folks.

I don’t care how overdone these tropes are; I will always be prepared to read about a bloodthirsty undead guy or a shapeshifting, howling monster!

Vampires are so eerie and blood curdling (pun intended), and they are altogether a classic! Ya know, when they don’t sparkle. Sorry, Edward. And werewolves are just perfect for monster stories!

Many frown upon these tropes and say that have been worn out, but I disagree. These two creatures will always hold a place in my nerdy little heart.

9. Witchcraft

Witch!”

I’ve already said that I love magic, but the idea of witchcraft in novels really spikes my interest! Burning candles, reading tea leaves, gazing into a crystal ball, tarot cards, tying knots—Believe that I will definitely read it!

Need a way for a character to learn that he is about to go through something dreadful? Throw a fortune-telling witch in there! A character cannot find her true love? Throw a love spell in there! The main character’s life is going too smoothly? Throw a curse in there!

Witchcraft (not the devil stuff) is already an interesting topic, but when one of the characters is a witch, it only bends the physical laws both the character and the reader already know.

Witches in general are already interesting characters. They can interact with those beyond the grave, brew potions, make and break curses, and twist any novel’s plot with the snap of their fingers. Literally! Whether a witch is a protagonist or an antagonist, she can add so many paranormal possibilities to any novel!

10. Unique Character Traits

I’ve already spoken about realistic characters, but I really admire a character who is not afraid to be different. Why read about a typical girl with blonde hair who wears skirts and floral blouses like every other girl in her life, when you can read about a girl who wears ripped jeans, a Beatles T-shirt, has wild hair, and sports a couple piercings or tattoos?

I cannot stand to read about a typical Jane. It’s YOUR character! Make her YOURS! What makes her different from all the other millions of females in literature? Does she have a distinct walk? A funny accent? Can she juggle? Is she a cat person? Raccoon person? Does she have the ability to actually be her own person?

Unique, diverse characters make for unique, diverse stories, so why limit yourself? Give the character an uncommon name, his or her own style, his or her own personality. When a character lacks depth and individuality, the reader can actually get bored.

As a writer, do not be afraid to express yourself through your character. Writing is an art, so treat your character like so.

There you have it! What are some specific things you like to read about? What is your favorite genre? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

If you haven’t already, you can follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney, and you can follow my Fiction with Kay page on Facebook, and you can follow me on Instagram!

I hope y’all enjoyed, and I hope y’all have a fantastic night! And as always, Keep Reading!

“Curiouser and curiouser!”

-Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Art by Kayla McLaney

Good stories are so captivating, and they can take you to brand new worlds full of wonder and mystery. And when the protagonists themselves are taken into a completely different universe, the experience is all the more fun for the readers as well!

Hundreds of books take un this same journey, but there are three particular stories I would like to talk about: Coraline, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. All three of these began as books and were adapted into unforgettable films!

New world, new girl

One of the many things that these classic stories have in common is that they each revolve around a young female protagonist who stumbles into a strange universe that changes her whole outlook.

Coraline from Coraline desperately wishes to get away from her boring life and her workaholic parents, Alice from Alice in Wonderland is sick of her dull reality where everything is meant to be proper and too bland, and she longs for a world where things don’t have to make sense, and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz wants to escape the troubles of her home and cruel, wealthy neighbor.

Little do these young ladies know that the only real threat is in fact these new worlds they so desperately desired.

Coraline discovers a small door in her new home and discovers a world where a motherly woman gives her all the things she is starved for, and attempts to lure her into her trap so she can keep here in this world forever.

Alice falls down a rabbit hole after attempting to catch a white rabbit in a waistcoat. The rabbit hole leads to a place called Wonderland, where Alice grows frustrated by treats that cause her to shrink and grow, animals who tell her a load of nonsense, a sarcastic caterpillar, an antsy rabbit, a disappearing, mischievous cat, and a spoiled, evil queen.

Dorothy and her home are sucked into a tornado that carries her away to a land called Oz. Here, Dorothy is greeted by a good witch, Glinda, threatened by the Wicked Witch of the West, and she acquires a pair of red shoes that the Wicked Witch is so desperate to get her hands on. Dorothy and her new friends, a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tinman, and a cowardly lion, travel together down the yellow brick road to find their only hope, the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.

After fighting to escape these newly found worlds, each young lady returns home with a valuable lesson. Coraline learns to appreciate the family that she already has, and to be careful what she wishes for. Dorothy learns that the safest place there is, is home. And Alice learns that living in a world full of nonsense is truly not as fun as she had hoped, and that an orderly life is much safer.

With a little help from her friends

Not only do the girls discover new places, but they manage to make new friends along the way.

During her time in the Other Mother’s realm, Coraline meets a new version of a boy back home, Wybie, or as she calls him, the Other Wybie. This particular character is a very sweet person, as he literally gives his life to help Coraline escape the Other Mother. Before his demise, Wybie had been muted by the Other Mother, as she knew Coraline was extremely annoyed by the Wybie back home. When Wybie shows his sadness for Coraline’s dilemma by frowning, the Other Mother forces a painful smile upon his face by sewing his mouth into a permanent, strained smile. In the end, the Other Mother kills Wybie after he helped Coraline return to her own world. You can definitely say that this poor character suffered the most compared to the rest.

On her journey to find the Wizard, Dorothy meets three new companions who are known very well for their contradicting characters. The Scarecrow is the first friend Dorothy makes, and he seems to be her most beloved. Scarecrow is unhappy as he claims to lack a brain, despite his wide vocabulary and wit.

Second, she meets the Tinman who had been rusted alone in the woods. Once he is restored by an oilcan, Tinman expresses his dismay of having no heart. He longs for emotion, when all the while, he expresses his feelings freely through tears.

Finally, Dorothy meets the Lion, who intimidatingly introduces himself as King of the Forest, and literally scares the other two by urging them to fight him. It’s when Dorothy slaps him for scaring her dog that he bursts into a panic of tears and explains that he has no courage.

In the end, all three of these misfits are gifted placebos by the Wizard: a diploma, a heart-shaped watch, and a medal. As soon as they receive these gifts, they immediately embrace the traits they so longed for, but possessed from the beginning. Good message, though, right?

As for Miss Alice, it’s a little difficult to actually pinpoint just who her “friend” is in this story. But after evaluating, I have decided that the Cheshire Cat is probably the closest person in this story to actually being a friend to Alice, as he does at least show her a little kindness.

However, if we want to talk about the 2010 version of this film, (which I will add is definitely my favorite!) the true friend and companion is undoubtedly the Madhatter. I absolutely LOVE Johnny Depp’s adaptation of this character! He is not only silly and humorous, but he is also dark and vengeful. Although I was expecting a beautiful romantic relationship to form between him and Alice, I was more than pleased to watch their heart-warming friendship bloom throughout the film.

Good girl vs. bad girl

Finally, the last similarity that these stories share is that while each protagonist is a female, all three villains, too, are women.

Coraline’s spider-like enemy is a bloodthirsty scullery maid who builds her entire realm off the souls of children she has trapped overtime.

A green-skinned, hook-nosed, screechy witch is the woman who antagonizes Dorothy, as she threatens the lives of her friends, and even her dog, Toto, over the sacred Ruby Slippers.

The evil Red Queen Alice’s royal, hot-headed enemy who demands to be hailed above all, enforcing this by threat of beheading.

All though all three of these women are beloved by the many fiction lovers they have both scared and entertained, they are most definitely nobody to cross!

Through these stories, we’ve discovered a world of nonsense and mystery down a rabbit hole, a tricky journey down a yellow brick road, and a realm full of buttons and ghosts behind a tiny door. These three will always be some of my favorite works of fiction, and they have tremendously helped me find my own writing path, and for this, I am forever grateful!

I hope you guys enjoyed this brief comparison, and I want to thank you again for joining me on my Coraline Weekend!

If you haven’t read my Coraline Theory, I highly recommend that you do!

If you enjoy content from me, you can also follow me on Facebook on my official Fiction with Kay page. You can also follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney, and you can follow me on Instagram.

I hope you all have a good night, and Keep Reading!

Do we truly know who Coraline is?

Both the novel and the film Coraline are amazing works! And the characters are very unique and extremely intriguing. But what makes them so interesting, you may ask?

The film itself is full of magic and mystery, but after watching the film several times over and over, I have developed my own surprising theory about Coraline, the Beldam, and Misses Spink and Forcible.

Let’s begin with the leading lady (No, not you, Miss Forcible), Coraline Jones. Coraline is a restless young girl who is constantly searching for an adventure. But I feel that this 10-year-old has some secrets up her sleeve… I believe this nature-loving, free-spirited girl is indeed a witch!

My first piece of evidence is from a scene near the beginning of the movie where Coraline takes a branch from a nearby bush and declares it to be a “dowsing rod”. She even chants, “Magic dowser, magic dowser! Show me the well!” in attempt to use this instrument to help her find an old well she had heard of upon arriving to the Pink Palace. After meeting Wybie, he even refers to her as a “Michigan water witch”.

Also, when Coraline meets the stray black cat, she asks him if he knows of this spoken well, and when he does not answer, she says, “Not talking, huh?”, as if she has experience actually talking to animals. Some believe the myth that witches used to have animal whispering abilities, ultimately talking to their familiars, black cats.

Let’s take a look at Coraline’s parents for a moment. It’s obvious that they are irritable, and that they try their hardest to ignore their own child. But why is that? Could it really be that they are just that tired? Or perhaps they have grown a resentment toward her because they are unhappy with having a witch for a daughter? Why do you suppose the Joneses wound up moving in the first place? Is rent cheaper at the Pink Palace? Did they relocate for business purposes? Or is it possible that Coraline’s witchcraft could had gotten them into trouble in their previous town?

Another clue to Coraline’s witchiness is her love for rainy weather. Witches are known to enjoy storms, being that the energy from the thunder is said to give their spells a great boost. We also know that Coraline enjoys plants and nature all together. Witches are known for growing their own herbs and other plants for spells or rituals, and maybe Coraline is sprouting her interest for such things at an early age.

Let’s look at another more subtle hint to this little detail. When the Joneses are having dinner in their new home, Coraline’s father is singing a cute little song to her:

Oh, my twitchy witchy girl

I think you are so nice

I give you bowls of porridge

And I give you bowls of ice cream

Notice that he says, “Twitchy witchy girl”. Maybe this is sort of an inside joke shared between the two? Or maybe he could be taunting her, reminder her of her huge flaw?

Throughout the movie, we also notice that Coraline is in fact left-handed. Hundreds of years ago, if a person was left-handed, they were accused of being a witch, or even having some relation to the devil. However, I seriously doubt that Coraline had any engagements with the devil at all, so we’re going to overlook that one little myth.

Later in the movie, Coraline actually sees and talks to ghost children. “Well, duh, it’s part of the movie!” Well, do we suppose that Coraline could possess the gift of necromancy? For those who aren’t sure what that term means, it is the ability to interact with or even work with the dead. Not only does she talk to them, but she frees them through a ritual that she just somehow knows, which consists of her sleeping with the soul’s conduits under her pillow.

In the end of the movie, Coraline is walking alone to the old well, preparing to dispose of the key. But notice, as she’s walking, she’s singing her father’s song to herself. Or is she chanting the song? Perhaps she’s using this song as an incantation for self-protection? Afterall, that’s how spoken spells work, isn’t it?

Now that these clues are out in the open, could it be possible that Coraline is indeed a young witch? Or is she simply a young child with a too-wild imagination? Let me know what you think in the comments!

The real history of the Beldam

Let’s take a look at the Beldam. Of course, she’s obviously some sort of other-worldly creature who seems to feed off the lives of children. It is uncertain just how old the Beldam really is, and how long she has been in this other world preying off of children, but perhaps there is something much, much more than meets the eye.

Before she became this spider-like scullery maid, what do you suppose she was during her years of life? Some may say that she was a normal woman who discovered a magical realm and traded her own soul for eternal life within this realm. I, however, have something more in-depth to suggest.

Let’s begin with the land surrounding the Pink Palace. When Coraline first moves to this new place, the first thing that really strikes her interest is an old well. I’m sure you’ve all noticed the ring of mushrooms that surrounded the opening of the well. This is known as a fairy ring, and legends say that these actually act as magic portals to other realms.

Before you guys remind me that this theory already exists, I am fully aware of the YouTuber, the Theorizer’s own story about the well acting as its own entrance to the other world, and I fully agree. However, my own theory does take a more diverse path than his brilliant story does.

Anyway, my point of mentioning the well is that perhaps, there is a natural magical energy beneath the grounds of the Pink Palace. Unfortunately, I cannot answer how it got there to begin with, but I can definitely say that it is possible for this sacred ground to possess its own magical aura.

Now, let’s return out attention back to the Beldam. We see from both the film and the movie that she actually lives off of and bases her entire world off the lives of young children that she lures in like a spider with its prey. But let’s take a closer look. Does she honestly feed off of normal children? Or does she seek out more “special” children? The movie lacks this one piece of evidence, but in the book, we find that the Beldam has actually killed a fairy!

She was a very pale child, dressed in what seemed to be a spider’s webs, with a circle of glittering silver set in her blonde hair. Coraline could have sworn that the girl had two wings—like dusty silver butterfly wings, not bird wings—coming out of her back.”

This theory is also valid when combined with my other theory of Coraline’s being a witch. Unfortunately, I have no evidence to base upon the other two ghost children. However, if this theory is true, it makes perfect sense because the magic from the children’s souls would offer more life and more possibilities to the other world for the Beldam to work with.

Now that we have considered the thought of magic outside of the other world, who else do we believe could have possessed magic in her lifetime? The Beldam. I believe that the Beldam was actually a witch in her life before discovering the other world. Perhaps when she was younger, she discovered her abilities at a young age, and when others found out, they shunned and mistreated her, sort of in the same way Coraline’s parents show a tremendous amount of anger toward her in the film. We already know that the Beldam had a deadly hatred toward her own mother, for in the book, she admits to KILLING HER!

“’I swear it,’ said the other mother. ‘I swear it on my own mother’s grave.’

‘Does she have a grave?’ asked Coraline.

‘Oh yes,’ said the other mother. ‘I put her in there myself. And when I found her trying to crawl out, I put her back.’”

Perhaps after murdering her mother, she needed to flee to a safe haven and stumbled upon the land belowground and claimed it as her own. And after discovering that she was in fact not immortal, she knew she had to take drastic measures: finding magical beings to kill and use their magic to sustain her. She also may have decided that children were an easier prey, since children are more gullible and more vulnerable.

It is obvious that she has to build from something already existing, being that she does not have the ability to fabricate anything out of thin air, so perhaps she used portals (ie, the well and other hidden portals that the cat used in the film), and perhaps, she decided to create her own portal inside her home, the Pink Palace, to avoid having to come in contact with any outsiders who may try to harm her for being a witch. This would make it easier for her to gather materials from the real world to build from.

Another thought I have is that the Beldam may be psychic. Notice that the dolls look exactly like the children she is targeting. However, we do notice that the doll looks like Coraline BEFORE Coraline even moves into the Pink Palace. And perhaps she knows when these children are going to move into the manor. We see in the beginning of the film that the sewing room is covered in cobwebs and dust, indicating it has been years since she’s used any of these tools. This could be because she knows precisely when she needs to make these dolls.

Speaking of the dolls, let’s take a closer look at Coraline’s “little me”. Not only does this doll look identical to her, but the doll also seems to make its way to her, as if it’s alive! Okay, okay, I do not actually think it’s alive. BUT! I do believe that the doll can be moved by the Beldam’s magic.

I believe that the Theorizer already covered the fact that the Beldam definitely uses these dolls as her spies, not to mention that Coraline plainly says this in the movie. But perhaps the button eyes are tied to her own via magic. Perhaps the Beldam is able to transport this doll and see into the other world with the button eyes. And on another note, perhaps this doll (or the doll’s eyes) can act as a portal itself! Remember in the film when Coraline falls asleep in the other world and wakes up back home. Notice who is there beside her bed when she falls asleep: the Beldam. Who is there when Coraline wakes up? The doll.

The YouTuber the Fangirl has her own “Limbo” theory, which pretty much says that once Coraline entered the other world the first time, that she never actually returned back to her real world. She believes that the Beldam has actually created an illusion to trick Coraline into thinking that she made it back home, but all the while, she is still in the grasp of the Beldam. (Great theory by the way! If you haven’t already, you really need to check out the Theorizer’s and the Fangirl’s Coraline theories! They’re MIND-BLOWING!)

On the contrary, I believe that the Beldam used the doll to transport her back home. “But why didn’t she do that in the first place? Instead of making her go through the door?” Why didn’t Glinda tell Dorothy that she could have used the red slippers to go home? FOR THE SAKE OF STORY!

Anyway, I do have more evidence on the teleporting doll. Both times that Coraline falls asleep in the other world and wakes up back in her own world, the Beldam is there when she falls asleep, and the doll is there when she awakes. However, the final night that Coraline tries to go to sleep to wake up in her bed, who is missing? BOTH of them! Coraline had left the doll back in her own world, and the Beldam did not follow her into her room.

In addition to the Beldam’s being a witch, as I mentioned in my Coraline witch theory, witches have a special ability to talk to animals, which is most common to be cats, specifically black cats. However, The Beldam seems to have to ability to communicate with the cat, to whom she refers as “vermin”. Instead, it seems that she actually is able to talk to mice and rats. Throughout the film and the movie, we discover that the jumping mice act as the Beldam’s servants, and that they are truly rats in disguise.

Honestly, I had thought that her most compatible animals were bugs, being that bugs are used widely throughout the film; even the furniture is a group of giant bugs! But it seems that bugs are more of a treat for her instead, or maybe an obsession. Many also believe that the Beldam is actually a spider. Of course, she does have spider-like legs and fingers, and she does turn the entire living room into one giant web in the end of the movie, but I honestly think that this is only symbolic, showing that she is trying to lure Coraline into her web, and that she is only feeding her a “web of lies”. Either way you see the spider detail, it is still creepy and very suitable for her character.

Now, let’s talk about the buttons. When the Beldam asks Coraline if she would like to stay with her in the other world, she tells her that she must have buttons sewn into her eyes. The Theorizer had said in one of his videos that he believed that the buttons were more of a placebo, if you will. I, on the other hand, see more definition to them.

Notice that in the film, all the living creatures and people have buttons for eyes. You think she did this to keep them inside her world? I doubt it. I believe that the buttons are her enslaving method. In other words, any creature or person with these buttons are under her control.

“Then why does she have buttons?”

That answer is quite simple. The Theorizer once said that the Beldam sacrificed her eyes to offer her soul to the other world. On the contrary, my answer is that she uses the buttons on herself to link herself with her chosen servants.

Just two sweet old ladies… Or not!

I have two final characters to bring into this theory: Misses Spink and Forcible. These two quirky old ladies add a great deal of humor and life to both the novel and the film. However, their secret is obvious in comparison to the rest. As oppose to them just being your typical senile elderly women, it’s no secret that these two are definitely witches!

When Coraline visits their flat downstairs for the first time, Miss Spink offers to read Coraline’s tea leaves, which is a form of divination (witchcraft!). Also, I believe their magical abilities sister as yin and yang. For example, Miss Spink see a “very peculiar hand” in the bottom of Coraline’s cup, while Miss Forcible flips the cup upside down to reveal a giraffe, informing Coraline that it is indeed good news. While Miss Spink is delivering a sinister warning, Miss Forcible is offering Coraline a good omen, foreseeing a “tall handsome beast” in her future. A minor theory I have developed from this scene is that it is possible that Miss Forcible was actually prophesizing a romantic relationship between Coraline and Wybie, referring to a future handsome Wybie.

Another piece of evidence for this belief is that Misses Spink and Forcible give Coraline a hag stone to seek out “bad things” or “lost things” when she tells them about her missing parents.

Wait, where the heck did they get this from? So glad you asked! Part two of my Spink and Forcible theory includes these two women actually having visited the other world in the past.

Wait, where the heck did they get this from? So glad you asked! Part two of my Spink and Forcible theory includes these two women actually having visited the other world in the past.

I’m sure both women were aware that Coraline would not be able to use the stone in the real world, as it is only an alien object there. So, I am led to believe that they knew perfectly well that Coraline would have to use it in the other world.

Moving on, let’s go back to the tea leaves. When Miss Spink spots the hand drawn by the leaves, how exactly does she know this is a bad sign? Is it possible that she remembers the Beldam’s scary hands from her own experience in the other world? Maybe!

Also, let’s recall the one flaw that Miss Forcible has: her bad eyesight. I know, she’s old, and it’s normal for our vision to fail us as we advance in age. However, there could be another explanation for her impaired vision. My idea is that when the two entered the world together, they experienced the same battle with the Beldam regarding the buttons. I believe that the Beldam attempted to sew the buttons into Miss Forcible’s eyes, but was interrupted when Miss Spink fought back and was able to save bother herself and her beloved friend from her trap. I know, this is a very wild theory for something as small as bad vision, but I say it ties in nicely.

Whether or not it is true that Miss Spink and Forcible did visit the other world, there is not doubt that these two ladies are witches, as there is too much evidence to prove this part of the theory to be correct!

Well, that’s all I have for you guys, and I really hope you enjoyed it! Tell me what you think in the comments!

***I also want to add that I will definitely be extending this event to possibly Tuesday. I had planned to have squeezed everything in over the weekend, but as it turns out, my love for Coraline is too immense, and I’ve packed in way too many projects to publish within a three-day period. With that being said, yay to more Coraline!

Also, if you haven’t, check out my Coraline Book Review and my Coraline Movie Review!

Thank you all again for joining me for my Coraline Weekend! As I’ve said before, this event is also taking place on my official Facebook page, Fiction with Kay, and you are all more than welcome to join me there as well! I hope you all have an amazing night, and remember to Keep Reading!

The stop-motion film Coraline was directed by Henry Selick and released in February of 2009. Coraline is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I am beyond excited to share my review! So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

The film’s opening is so creepy, but moreover, fun to watch, and the music makes it all the more perfect! We see a cute little doll float into a window, falling into a pair of metal, needle-like hands. These hands begin to dissect the doll and remove all of its contents, ie. the stuffing, clothing, and its button eyes. Then, we see the making of a whole new doll who looks identical to the film’s main character, Coraline.

When Coraline and her family first move into the Pink Palace, she immediately begins exploring outside, in search of an old well. While using a “dowsing rod” to try to find it, she is startled by a masked biker. After scaring the daylights out of her, he introduces himself as Wybie (Wyborne) Lovat.

Although Coraline is obviously annoyed by the boy, he goes on to tell her how his grandmother, the owner of the Pink Palace, never allows him to go into the manor, nor does she normally rent to couples with children.

“I’m really, REALLY busy!”

We continue to follow Coraline through her normal daily life with two uptight, workaholic parents who have neglectful tendencies and very short tempers with Coraline. Not only is she ignored, but since their budget is so tight, Coraline is fed unappetizing foods that she says look like “slime”.

“Think they’re trying to poison me?”

We also meet her neighbors: Mr. Bobinsky, who is a seemingly crazy old drunk who lives in the flat above Coraline, and Misses Spink and Forcible, who are two old retired actresses who live downstairs. Coraline is not too fond of these neighbors, mostly because they persistently call her “Caroline” instead of “Coraline”.

I must admit that these characters are what make the movie more enjoyable. I love that Mr. Bobinsky has a Russian accent, and that he comes off as insane. Misses Spink and Forcible are my favorite characters in the whole movie. These bickering old women offer her more help than any person in Coraline’s real world, and they dabble in witchcraft by reading Coraline’s tea leaves and lending her a tool that’s “good for bad things, sometimes.” Or lost? Bad? Lost? (If you know, you know.)

“See? Danger!”

However, two events bring forth a huge change to Coraline’s life. The first incident is when Wybie leaves a doll on her front porch that is identical to Coraline, all the way down to the yellow raincoat and rainboots.

The second incident occurs when Coraline is utterly bored, and the rain has hindered her from any outside activities. After her father suggests that she walks around the flat and counts all the doors and windows, she stumbles upon a tiny door hidden behind the wallpaper of the drawing room.

When Coraline asks her mother to unlock it, they only discover that it is bricked up. After her great disappointment, Coraline puts the door out of her mind. Little does she know that this door is indeed magical… and dangerous!

That night, she is awoken by small mice at her bedroom door, and she follows them downstairs to the tiny door. When she opens the door, she is in jaw-dropping awe at the sight of a magic tunnel that takes the place of the bricks.

On the other side of the passage, she enters a home that is almost the same as her own, despite that it is more welcoming and cozy. Within this home, she meets a woman whose appearance is almost identical to her mother’s, besides that she has big black buttons for eyes. The kind woman introduces herself as Coraline’s Other Mother, and later she meets a man who is introduced as her Other Father.

The Other Father is actually another one of my favorite characters! And upon meeting Coraline, he sings her his “new song”:

“Making up a song about Coraline

She’s a peach, she’s a doll, she’s a pal of mine

She’s as cute as a button

In the eyes of everyone who ever laid their eyes on Coraline

When she comes around exploring

Mom and I will never make it boring

Our eyes will be on Coraline”

Although this seems to be a sweet, innocent song, if listened to carefully, you’ll know that this song is actually a grim warning as to what this world really is, and what tricks lie ahead for poor Coraline.

Within this world, not only does the Other Mother try to win her affection by making her delicious food and treating her with motherly affection that Coraline so obviously lacks, but she also builds her a beautiful garden, makes her pretty clothes, and “fixes” a friend of hers.

The Other Mother also seems to compete with Coraline’s real mother. For example, the day that Coraline’s real mother took her clothes shopping, Coraline asked her mother to buy her a pair of expensive gloves, and due to the Joneses’ tight budget, Coraline did not get them. However, when Coraline returns to the other world, she discovers the her Other Mother has made her a lovely blue sweater adorned with stars.

“You probably think this is a dream come true, but you’re wrong.”

In one scene of the movie, the same cat from the real world has appeared, letting Coraline know that he is not the “other anything,” that he is indeed him. When Coraline asks how he can talk, he simply replies, “I just can.” I guess logic is just not a thing with this feline! Then, he goes on to tell Coraline, “You probably think this is a dream come true, but you’re wrong!”, foreshadowing that terror indeed lies ahead.

Later, she and her friend, the Other Wybie, who has been muted by the Other Mother, go to the Other Misses Spink and Forcible’s flat downstairs, and walk into a theatre, where the two women are performing a live show. This scene is actually disturbing, being that this is meant to be a KID’S MOVIE! First, we see the Other Miss Spink in a seashell bra and a mermaid tail, which I will say is not so bad. But the Other Miss Forcible is PRACTICALLY NAKED! Even Coraline exclaims “Oh my God!” at the sight of her! She literally has two tiny shells on the tip of her breasts! I really think this one particular scene was taken way too far, but it was not enough to damage my love for this movie!

And boobs.

The Other Mother starts showing a more grim side of herself after Coraline returns from the show. After the Other Wybie escorts Coraline back “home”, he slightly frowns, and the Other Mother motions to him to smile, and an eerie flash of music accompanies this gesture.

Smile!

The Other Parents ask Coraline if she would like to stay in the other world with them, and Coraline is more than ecstatic. However, the Other Mother has one “tiny” condition… Coraline must have buttons sewn into her eyes! Completely appalled, Coraline shouts her refusal and shoves the gift box that contains the said buttons. When the Other Mother comforts her by saying it’s her decision, Coraline declares that she is going to bed.

“So sharp, you won’t feel a thing.”

In contrast to the two previous times that she has fallen asleep in the world, she does not wake up back in her own bed. Instead, she wakes up only to find herself still in the other world.

Later, Coraline and the Other Mother have a dispute when Coraline tells her that she wants to go back home to her real parents. While the Other Mother is enjoying a box of yummy cocoa beetles from Zanzibar, she gets angry when Coraline shouts at her, and she locks Coraline inside a mirror, saying that she may come out when she has learned to be a “loving daughter”.

Inside this mirror, she meets three ghost children who tell Coraline their stories of falling into the “Beldam’s” trap just like Coraline. Then, they encourage her to try to escape, and to find their souls so they can be freed.

I have a couple comments on the ghost children. First of all, these kids are obviously not from the Elizabethan times, but one child tells Coraline, “Thou art alive. Thou art still living.” Also, the animation of these children is creepy, sad, and well done, except for the odd facial expression on one of the two girls. Besides this, I’m actually disappointed that one of these children was not a fairy, being that in the book, there was a fairy! But the scary, twisty-face girl is good enough. The scene still delivers, so I appreciate it.

Coraline is rescued by the Other Wybie, and he helps her back into her real world. Although Coraline is happy to be home, to her misfortune, her parents have gone missing.

She later discovers that the Other Mother has taken them when the cat leads her to a mirror in her hallway, and she sees both her parents trapped in what appears to be a blizzard. Through her shivering, Coraline’s mother writes HELP US backwards on the glass, and they both disappear.

Coraline returns to the other world to rescue her parents, but is aware that this will be no easy task. The Other Mother is already waiting for her at the end of the tunnel, and she pretends that she has no clue as to what happened to Coraline’s real parents.

It is while the Other Mother is cooking an omelet for Coraline (an omelet that has no business looking that delicious!) when Coraline asks the Other Mother if she would like to play a game. The deal of the game is that if Coraline finds all the ghost children’s souls and her parents, the Beldam, (aka the Other Mother) must let them all go. Shall she lose, she will stay in that world forever, and allow the Beldam to sew the buttons into her eyes.

Behold! The omelet!

Coraline scavenges through the three “wonders” that the Beldam created. First, she searches the garden, where the plants begin to attack her, and the Other Father involuntarily attacks her as well, steadily apologizing and explaining that the Beldam is making him do so.

I absolutely love the Other Father! Of course, I know he is just a creation by the Beldam, but I love that he actually tries to fight back and help Coraline.

The next obstacle is the Other Misses Spink and Forcible’s theatre. During this scene, Coraline finds one of the souls within a pearl on a ring. And the ring happens to be on one of the women’s hand. Inside some kind of cocoon that looks like a piece of candy. And the two women are some kind of taffy-noodle monsters who screech “THIEF!” as Coraline tries to take the pearl. She manages to escape with the soul after the women are attacked by a swarm of… dog bats?

“THIEF!”

Coraline’s final obstacle is the Other Mr. Boninsky’s flat. This scene SCARED THE HECK OUT OF ME! When Coraline enters the flat, the once-joyful and merry entrance of the circus is now abandoned and dark. She continues into the next room where a limp body that appears to be nothing more than the Other Mr. Bobinsky’s clothes slithers around the room, taunting Coraline and begging her to stay. When Coraline tells him he’s just a “copy she made of the real Mr. B,” he replies,

“Not even that… anymore.”

A rat! Coraline pulls off his tall top hat to reveal a RAT! Coraline sees that one of the souls is trapped within a red ball that the rat had been holding on to, and instead of running after the rat, she THROWS HER MAGIC STONE SHE NEEDS TO FIND THE SOULS at it! That made me CRAZY!

However, all hope is not lost, as the cat manages to get the soul for Coraline by killing the rat that had escaped with it.

Coraline’s last battle is with none other than the Beldam. She asks Coraline where they are, but she instead tricks the Beldam into opening the door by saying that her parents are behind it, when all the while, she knows they’re inside a snow globe atop the fireplace mantle.

When the Beldam tells her she loses, she tells Coraline that she is going to stay there forever, but Coraline says otherwise and throws the cat at her face. Angry, the Beldam stomps her feet over the floor, and the whole room turns into one giant web. After a long struggle with the Beldam, Coraline does manage to escape.

Back in her real world, Coraline is ecstatic to see her real parents, but they have no recollection of ever being trapped by the Beldam. Coraline pushes the scary thoughts away and celebrates having her parents back.

That night, Coraline sets the ghost children free through a dream, but they warn her that she is still in danger, and that she must dispose of the key to the tiny door. Never mind that she has just tackled the seventh circle of hell and finally made it home, but she’s still not finished!

Coraline’s next move is to walk down to the well from the beginning of the movie, and she begins to throw the key down the well, until she is attacked by the Beldam’s needle-like had that had managed to return to her world with her. When the hand almost drags her back toward the Pink Palace, Wybie shows up on his bike and rescues Coraline, and he helps to get rid of the key and the hand.

The movie ends with panning over the Joneses’ huge garden that looks eerily like the Beldam’s grim face, and a loud boom before the credits. It gives the audience a kind of it’s-not-over-yet feeling, and I’m all for an unsure, creepy ending!

Aside form the story as a whole, I just want to say that I absolutely love the style of this film, and moreover, I love the music! It fits the film and the story so well, and I actually have an interesting fact for you! Did you know that the singing in film is entirely gibberish? Yep. That is a choir of children just singing a melody of gibberish, and honestly, that just makes it more creepy!

I also have one last thing to discuss. I’m not sure if you noticed, but there is actually a color scheme to this movie. When Coraline is bored of her home life, she tends to wear brighter colors, like yellow, orange or pink, while the home shows mostly blue or gray colors. However, everything in the other world has more exciting colors like red, orange, yellow; even the characters show these differences. Coraline’s Other Father wears orange monkey slippers, and her father’s are blue. However, when Coraline begins to miss home, we see her wearing blue and black. In other words, the colors of her clothes correspond with which world she is longing for.

Henry Selick

Coraline is, and always will be one of my favorite movies, and I am so thankful that Henry Selick displayed his talent so well in the film! I give this movie a HUGE five-star rating!

Coraline was originally a novel written by Neil Gaiman and released in 2002, and later adapted into a stop-motion film in 2009. Both the novel and the film have entertained many, and have captivated their audiences with their creepy but adventurous stories.

Gaiman’s novel is about a young girl whose name is none other than Coraline. She and her parents move into a flat that is part of a 150-year-old manor called the Pink Palace. The other tenants include an older, seemingly crazy old man who lives in the flat above Coraline’s, and Misses Spink and Forcible, who were two elderly retired actresses who lived in the flat below.

Coraline is introduced as a very restless and adventurous girl. Her mother and father are writers for a plant catalog who also dabble in gardening. Although Coraline is eager to explore, her parents are bound to their computers, and are constantly exhausted due to working and trying to make ends meet.

We are also shown the rebellious side of Coraline very early in the novel. Coraline is warned to stay away from a specific well, and the day after her family is settled into their flat, Coraline goes to find this well so that she can “keep away from it properly”.

However, one day when the rain hinders Coraline from going on any adventures outside the Pink Palace, her father suggests that she count all the doors and windows of the flat, and in the midst of this “fun” activity, she stumbles across this mysterious small door that linked her flat to the empty flat next door. However, she is disappointed when she discovers that the door is bricked up.

That night when she is laying in bed, she hears a creaking noise downstairs and goes to investigate, only to find the same red bricks behind the foreboding door. Although she is dissatisfied, she returns to her bed and dreams about “little black shapes with red eyes and sharp yellow teeth” who sing:

“We are small but we are many

We are many we are small

We were here before you rose

We will be here when you fall”

This foreshadowing dream had me hooked, and I could not wait to read more!

The next day, as she is walking around the Pink Palace through a thick, blinding mist, she shares a brief hello-and-goodbye with Misses Spink and Forcible, and she is greeted by the crazy man from upstairs who goes on to explain how his mice do not like mist. Then, he delivers a message allegedly from the spoken mice, saying not to go through the door. This entirely befuddles Coraline, but she casually shrugs it off and returns to her flat to join her mother, who is typing away at her computer.

At this point, I could not help but feel sorry for the poor girl. I completely understand the life of a working mother, but the fact that her mother ignored the fact that Coraline wanted her attention really bothered me. And when Coraline asked what she could do for fun, her mother only passed her a piece of paper and said, “Draw something.”

Coraline eventually decides to go visit the two old ladies downstairs, and during this visit, Miss Spink offers to read Coraline’s tea leaves, only to warn her that she is in “terrible danger”. After asking what kind of danger she was in, Misses Spink and Forcible admit that they are not sure, that the tea leaves were too vague, so they advise her not to “wear green in her dressing room” or “mention the Scottish Play”. Then, they give her a strange stone (a hag stone) with a hole in the center, and inform her that these stones are good for bad things sometimes.

“They’re good for bad things, sometimes.”

First of all, I really admire how Neil Gaiman included mist with this scene, being that mist or fog symbolize the “unknown”. Secondly, I have to admit that Misses Spink and Forcible are ultimately my favorite characters. Aside from the fact that they are hilariously bickering old ladies, they are genuinely sweet, and they make it well known that they care about Coraline, although they cannot seem to get her name right. “A” for effort though, right? Not to mention that they dabble in divination! When I read about a sweet old lady, I’m already in love, but when you add any kind of witchcraft to a creepy story, I am SOLD!

After having a dispute with her mother over a pair of gloves, Coraline is later home alone while her mother is food shopping, and she takes the giant step into the other world after unlocking the little door.

On the other side of this door is a tunnel that leads into another flat that is the mirror image of her own flat. Although the flat is laid out in the same style as her home, the room is significantly more uplifting and far less depressing than that of her home. A prime example of this drastic change is an oil painting of a boy, which was almost exactly the same as the painting in Coraline’s own home. Although the paintings are similar, Coraline notices the facial expression on the boy in the painting has been altered.

The next person we meet is a woman who looks similar to Coraline’s mother, despite her pale complexion, her height and thinness, her fingernails, and her BUTTON EYES! Coraline is immediately taken aback by this, but the Other Mother quickly begins to win her over with her warmth and motherly affection.

After meeting her Other Father, Coraline enjoys a delicious meal with them, fulfilling her undying craving for some decent food. After the more than pleasant meal, Coraline enters her other bedroom, where she finds a group of rats under her bed. The mood is changed immediately when the rats sing an unsettling song:

We have teeth and we have tails

We have tails we have eyes

We were here before you fell

You will be here when we rise”

While Coraline is exploring outside, a cat she had seen from her own world approaches her, and she notices that his particular cat does not have buttons. When she insists that the cat must be the “other cat”, the cat simply replies, “No. I’m not the other anything. I’m me.” When Coraline asks how the cat is able to talk, he says, “I just can”.

OKAY! This made me CRAZY! Here, Coraline and I both have all these questions swarming around in our brains, and this feline has the audacity to say, “I just can”. That’s fine! No logic needed here! Carry on!

After pinpointing cats’ superiority to humans, the sarcastic cat warns Coraline that this world is indeed not what she believes it to be. Neglecting the cat’s warning, she carries on with her exploration to the other Misses Spink and Forcible’s flat, where she experiences young versions of them performing in a theatre. (By the way, if you have seen the movie, this scene in the book is way less disturbing. If you know, you know.)

Concluding her fun and adventurous evening in the other world, Coraline returns “home” to her other parents, where they ask Coraline whether she likes it there or not. When she says that she in fact does like this other world, the Other Father informs her that there is one tiny condition in order for her to stay… She has to have buttons sewn into her eyes! To no surprise, Coraline says no, but the other parents insist that they want her to stay, and that the button sewing procedure “won’t hurt”. After realizing that Coraline is still reluctant, the Other Mother says they only want what’s “best for her”. Coraline abruptly says that she’s leaving, and, unbothered, the Other Mother says that they will see her soon, that she’ll definitely be back. Pushing this away, Coraline returns home.

Back home, Coraline slowly comes to the realization that her parents are indeed missing, and there are no signs of their return. When she goes to have tea with Misses Spink and Forcible, she tells them of her missing parents, but they act careless and neglectful to this. Seeing no hope, Coraline returns home.

Remember when I said these two were my favorite characters? Yeah, this put a damper on our relationship… (If you can name where this quote is from, I will give you a nice shoutout on my next blog!)

Coraline eventually cries herself to sleep in her parents’ bed, and is later awakened by the cat, who silently implies that he can lead her to her parents. She eventually follows the cat to a mirror, where both her mother and father were trapped inside. When they realize that Coraline cannot hear them, her mother writes HELP US backwards on the glass.

Determined to rescue her parents, Coraline returns to the other world, where the Other Mother and Other Father still try to convince Coraline to stay. Another one of the Other Mother’s tricks is showing Coraline the illusion in a mirror of her real parents enjoying a vacation without her. Coraline refuses to believe this, and demands that they release her parents.

Later on, the Other Father makes it known that he is not allowed to talk when the Other Mother is not around, and he lets out the secret that there is nowhere else but that particular house and those particular grounds in that world, being that that is all the Other Mother has built.

Coraline and the cat explore the outside in attempt to discover a new part of the world, only to discover that there is in fact nothing else. The cat’s answer to this is “Walk around the world.”

“Small world,” Coraline says, and the cat explains that the world is indeed big enough for her. Then, he compares the Other Mother to a spider by saying, “Spiders’ webs only have to be large enough to catch flies.”

Personally, I love that comparison.

Back at the other flat, the Other Mother suggests that they play a game, and Coraline refuses. After trying to win Coraline’s love for the millionth time, Coraline flatly says, “I have no plans to love you.”

After the Other Mother offers her one of her yummy beetles enclosed in a white paper bag, Coraline disgustedly declines, and they have, yet, another contradiction, and the Other Mother declares that Coraline has no manners, and as punishment, she locks Coraline inside a mirror.

Inside the mirror, Coraline meets three ghost children. (ONE IS EVEN A FAIRY! Read for yourself!) The ghost children tell Coraline of their own experience with the Other Mother: ie. How they fell into her trap, and still wanted more, and wound up losing their everlasting soul to her cruel web. They advise Coraline to engage in a game with her, and they beg her to find their souls.

So, eventually, Coraline and the Other Mother agree to play this game after Coraline says the Other Mother should genuinely win her. This particular game consists of Coraline scavenging through the “wonders” that the Other Mother made to find the ghost children’s souls AND her parents.

One small detail that the movie does not include is when the Other Mother swears to Coraline on her right hand that she is going to keep her word if Coraline wins.

During this game, Coraline does manage to find the souls of the children in pretty much the same manner as in the movie, but the novel does include one pretty creepy monster that the movie however does not include. Like in the real world, there is an empty flat next to Coraline’s other flat, and the Other Mother tricks her into going into that flat. Gaiman already opens this scene with suspense when Coraline enters an old, foul, dilapidated room. The creature that dwells inside this flat is described as “pale and swollen like a grub, with thin, sticklike arms and feet. It has almost no features on its face, which had puffed and swollen like risen bread dough.” After being nearly defeated by this monster, Coraline manages to escape.

Coraline does not however win the game in the end. Instead, she has to trick the Other Mother by claiming that her parents are trapped inside the tiny door—the perfect way to make the Other Mother open the door! After throwing the cat onto the Other Mother during a fight with her, Coraline does manage to escape with the souls and the snow globe.

“And as hard as she could, she threw the black cat toward the other mother.”

After the ghost children are freed during a dream, Coraline – and the reader – expects it all to be over and done for, BUT this is not quite the case. Remember how the Other Mother swore on her right hand? Yeah, it escaped with Coraline. And Coraline winds up defeating said hand by setting up a fake picnic with her dolls.

(I’m way too old for dolls… No you’re not, Coraline. Again, if you know, you know.)

The hand falls down the well from the beginning of the novel, and all is well. Coraline has her family and her weird, friendly neighbors back, and they all live happily ever after.

I cannot lie at all, I love both the movie and the novel. But being that I did watch the movie before reading the novel, I was expecting to read about the doll and Wybie Lovat, but these characters are indeed not in the book. However, I think the scary dough monster and the fairy ghost child make up for those nicely, so I am satisfied.

Neil Gaiman

I think Neil Gaiman’s story itself is very inspiring, creative, and overall, cleverly creepy! The pacing is spot-on, and each scene is written in perfect detail. Overall, I offer this novel a five-star rating, and I could definitely read it several more times!

Hello, everyone!

I’m aware that some of you have seen my most recent blog about starting Coraline Weekend tonight with a Coraline Book Review.

I’m very sorry to delay this, but I’m having some technical problems at the moment. I was almost finished with the review, but my laptop hates me, so I am going to have to publish the review first thing in the morning.

I would fight it out, but my son in an early riser, and I had expected to have the review finished by now. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned, but I will definitely have the review published first thing in the morning!

Thank you for your patience! Due to the delay, if you guys would like, I can stretch the “weekend” out a day or so if you would like to explore more Coraline topics as a bonus! Let me know in the comments!

Have a good night, and Keep Reading!

Hello everyone, and welcome back!

So, it has been a while since I have written anything at all, but woe and behold, I’m here! AND I encourage all of you to join me in yet another fun, eventful weekend, Coraline Weekend!

If you are following me on my Facebook page Fiction with Kay, then you already know about this, but in case you don’t, this weekend I will be writing a review on both the novel by Neil Gaiman and the film by Henry Selick, sharing a few fan theories I have developed about the Other Mother, Misses Spink and Forcible, and a very special theory on Coraline herself! Also, as a bonus, I will be sharing some Coraline artworks by Yours Truly!

Here’s a little sneaky peak!

“Beware of the Beldam” by Kayla McLaney

I will have more of these to share with you guys! Coraline weekend launches TONIGHT! I really hope you all have as much fun as I do!

***ALSO! I will be more than happy to accept suggestions regarding art, topics within the Coraline subject, and my blogs are always open to comments and discussions, so don’t be shy!

I’m super excited to talk about Coraline with you guys! My review will be posted soon, and I hope you all enjoy!

Also, if you are not following me on Facebook, you can find my page Fiction with Kay, which is where I am a little bit more active. I will be starting a twitter account soon, but I will definitely notify you guys when it is up.

I look forward to kicking off Coraline Weekend with you guys, and remember to Keep Reading!

Welcome back everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend, and I want to give a huge thank-you to everyone who joined me in my Horror Weekend!

I’ve been looking forward to working another book review into my schedule, and today is that day! If you haven’t read my first book review on Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, it is on my blog page, and I encourage you to check it out!

Now, let’s dive in!

Today, I am reviewing Amanda Hocking’s novel Freeks. First, I would like to say that this was a pretty good read; probably the best teen paranormal fiction story I’ve ever read.

Freeks is about an eighteen-year-old girl who is part of a traveling carnival whose members all possess supernatural powers from necromancy, to pyrokinesis, to flying, to incredible strength. When the group arrives in the town, Caudry, an eerie wave takes over the air around them, and the main character, Mara, experiences a mysterious romance, the heartache of a missing friend, a tragedy amongst the carnival’s members, and a horrific battle between them and an evil force that terrorizes the carnival at night.

I appreciate the engaging mystery of the story the most. We are immediately introduced to an unsettling conflict when the carnival’s owner Gideon swerves his mobile home off the road after having an unexplained premonition, followed by Mara’s mother, Lyanka, saying, “There’s something off here. I felt it as soon as we got on the bridge. I knew we should turn back, but I hoped that maybe I was imagining things. Now that I look at you, I know.” Hocking wastes no time with her story’s beginning, and she proves very well that she knows how to captivate her readers.

Hocking adds to they mystery when a sixteen-year-old member of the carnival, Blossom, goes missing the next day, after the start of Mara’s new romance. Mara had met a strange, handsome young man named Gabe at a house party the night they arrived in Caudry, and she wound up spending the night there, and when she returned to the site of the carnival, she is informed that Blossom had not returned. They assume that she is most likely attending a music festival in a neighboring city. However, throughout the story, Hocking cleverly gives eerie, eldritch clues that Blossom is in fact not at a music festival. One example of these clues is when Mara vividly hears Blossom’s voice saying, “’Will you walk into my parlor?’ Said the Spider to the Fly.”

The underlying romance in this story is sweet, emotional, and suspenseful. After meeting Gabe, Mara describes him as mysterious with a “darkness to him”. She constantly mentions the unusual heat he radiates, and the unsettling feeling he gave her, but at the same time, she is absolutely in love with him. Gabe is the first person to ever have such strong feelings for Mara instead of hating or judging her. Although his emotions are genuine, Mara keeps her job with the carnival a secret, desperate to hold onto him.

As the carnival continues, everyone involved begins to complain about either not feeling well or that something is wrong with their powers. Lyanka has constant migraines, Mara’s best friend, Roxy, cannot use her pyrokinesis, and even a pair of tiger sisters are distraught. The air seems to have some sort of paranormal plague. One result of this is Mara’s recurring nightmare of an old woman screaming something at her in another language. Mara fears that the dream has some dark meaning, but she is too afraid to ask her mother, being that she is already stressed out. However, we do learn that these grim nightmares do carry a sinister warning.

I admire Hocking’s idea of the dreams. I’ve always believed that dreams act as spiritual messages. Hocking actually uses a tremendous amount of spirituality throughout the novel. Tarot cards are illustrated throughout the book, and Mara’s mother reads tarot cards to her customers, and as I mentioned before, Lyanka possesses the gift of necromancy. Spells are even cast toward the end of the novel.

The chilling horror of the story continues when a monstrous creature begins to terrorize the carnival grounds afterhours. The creature even manages to nearly kill two members of the group, only worsening the dilemma. However, despite this, we learn that there is far much more opposing Mara and her loved ones as we learn the relation between Caudry, Gabe, everyone’s paranormal powers, a missing teenager, nightmares, and the being that lurks around the carnival.

Freeks truly is a spine-chilling story that kept me on the edge of my seat. Amanda Hocking has such an amazing talent, and she shows it off with this great novel. If you enjoy mystery, suspense, monsters, spirituality, or even witchcraft, I highly recommend this one!

There are SEVERAL different exercises to practice your writing skills. Some writers like to try thoughtless writing, which is just typing away nonsense words and connecting them into a story. Some just pull up their chair and write a scene that pops into their mind out of the blue. But today, I’m going to share with you something a bit more off the wall.

I’ve found that movies help me a lot with my writing.

What? Movies!? You mean the things you watch as oppose to reading?

Yes, I mean just that.

As a reader, there is nothing wrong with enjoying movies as much as reading those precious books on your shelf. Movies can inspire a writer as easily as a story full of crafty vocabulary and clever storytelling. Of course, I’m not saying that you should turn whatever movie you’ve just watched into a book. First of all, that’s kinda stealing, and it’s just lazy and dishonest. I’m talking about just seeing one thing in the movie that sticks with you and sparks your creativity. Maybe you’ve just watched Spielburg’s E.T., and Elliott’s sister, Gertie, helped you cook up a character who is big-mouthed and whiney. Boom. You now have a character.

Or perhaps you’ve finished watching Coraline, and you’re inspired to write about a magic portal. That’s perfectly okay! Ya know, as long as you don’t write about a little girl with blue hair that found a portal in a huge house that leads to her dream world with a crazy spider-lady who wants to sew buttons into her eyes… That, my friend, would be stealing.

Movies are great for inspiration, as I said. But my the biggest, most helpful tip I want to give you is my personal advice for using movies to improve your writing, and not as a source of inspiration.

Watch the movie as if you would want to write about it. Pay attention to every detail. Maybe you’ve just gone through your favorite scene. Pause the movie and grab your laptop or a piece of paper, and write the scene in your own words.

DO NOT TRY TO MAKE IT YOUR OWN STORY!!! IT’S NOT!!!

Write the scene as if you were writing it for a story. What creative words can you use to describe the scene? At what pace can you tell that part of the story? How can you describe the surroundings? How would you describe the character’s feelings by watching his body language on the screen?

Like I said, this is not a way to get an idea for a story (again, it’s not your story. It’s already been told!), but this is a great way for learning to expand your storytelling talent, and it can help you learn a better way to describe a scene in your story.

For example, I am going to share with you a scene from a movie I watched and put into my own words. Since I am still engaging in my Horror Weekend project, I am going to write the nightmare scene from the 1985 film Silver Bullet, based on the novel Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. (If you haven’t concluded it by now, I may be a little obsessed with Stephen King.)

“The sanctuary fell silent as the congregation finished singing ‘Amazing Grace’, and everyone slowly sat back down into their pews. The room was sorrowful as a few of the church members released occasional mournful sobs, paying their attention to the row of caskets displayed before them.

“It’s hard,” Reverend Lowe began, choking on his own anxiety as every eye was now upon him, “at a time like this to find the words… to offer you any comfort.”

“There is no comfort!” a grieving father cried from the congregation, mocking Reverend Lowe, laughing hysterically. “There is only private justice,” he continued.

Lowe paused, swallowing an awkward lump within the back of his throat. “Mmm…” he uttered, staring down at his podium. With heavy breaths, he continued, “The Bible… t-tells us not to fear the, the terror that creepeth by night or that which flyeth by noonday…” His unsettling breathing continued between his sermon. “A-and yet, we do… We do. Because there’s so much we don’t know. And we feel very small-”

“Reverend!” the voice of the mocker returned with a growl. “He was torn apart!” A sinister growl escaped the man’s mouth as fangs began to grow inside his snarling mouth.

Lowe gasped, his eyes widened with terror as he witnessed the people surrounding him all beginning to change… to transform into hairy, ferocious monsters, ironicizing his own secret. The sound of skin stretching and tearing pierced his ears, and he began to tremble with despair as they all continued to evolve into werewolves. “No!” he shouted, his chest heaving with every breath. Cries and howls of pain filled the room, echoing throughout the sanctuary. Clothes began to rip at their seams, and fur protruded beyond the torn material.

Suddenly, all the light escaped the room, and only lightning and flickering candle flames prevented the church from becoming pitch-black. The bloodcurdling growls grew louder, and adjacent to Lowe’s podium, the woman who had been the pianist was now a horrific monster slamming her claws onto the ivory keys of the piano, slashing and demolishing them in off-key notes. Furry limbs burst abruptly through the closed coffins mere feet away from Lowe, and in seconds, every werewolf within the walls of the church was now surrounding Reverend Lowe and closing in on him, reaching out to him with exposed claws. “No!” he shouted. “No!”…

Lowe arose from the nightmare, gasping for air, his forehead moist from a terrified sweat. After realizing that the previous event was only a dream, he closed his eyes and fell back onto his pillow. “Let it end, dear God, let it end,” he prayed, steadily panting.”

To be honest, I have a lot of fun challenging myself with this exercise. Some may find this a little pointless, but I think it’s a great way to learn how to describe scenes thoroughly in your writing.

I hope you found this idea helpful. I will say it again: I do not encourage you to use this to steal scenes from a movie, but only to better your method of storytelling. Tell me what you think in the comments, and I hope you guys have a great weekend!

Remember to keep your eyes peeled for more of my short horror stories. If you haven’t checked out my own works “Claire” and “7:13 A.M.”, you can find them here on my blog, or if you’re on Facebook, you can find them on my page Fiction with Kay.

Be safe, and keep reading!

She sat upright in her wooden chair. Black curls rested flawlessly over her shoulders, contrasting picture-perfectly against the cream-colored dress and her porcelain skin. Her blue glass eyes were two glossy globes staring into an oblivion. They didn’t look at me; they looked past me. Sometimes I felt as though she were looking through me…

Mom always loved Claire. The moment she spotted the doll at a yard sell a year ago, she fell absolutely in love with her. “Oh, Jan, isn’t she gorgeous?” she had exclaimed, picking it up as if it were a newborn infant. My only response was a dry shrug. It was just a doll. A creepy, antique, morbid doll.

I vividly remember the seller practically giving Mom the doll when she had inquired a price. “I’ll take whatever ya got,” the old man had said, spitting a chunk of chewed tobacco into a Coke bottle. “She’s old, and frankly, I’m sick o’ lookin’ at her. Hell, I’ll even take a quarter.” After exchanging 25 cents for the porcelain thing, Mom happily took her home.

Between Mom and Claire, I couldn’t decide who had freaked me out the most. Mom treated her like a spoiled toddler. She constantly brushed her hair and cuddled with her. Hell, she even talked to the damn doll.

I hated Claire. And it took Mom a whole year to understand just why. Within two weeks of the doll being in our home, I began having nightmares. Not of the doll, but of someone – something – chasing me. I had mentioned them to Mom, but she thought I was overreacting. “Jan, it’s just a doll.” Just a doll, I had thought. Oh, the irony…

Following the nightmares, I constantly felt like I was being watched. Of course, I tried convincing myself that maybe I was just paranoid. But every time I would pass by Claire, I could feel her cold, lifeless stare following every step.

“You’ve got to stop worrying about Claire so much, Jan. Afterall, we’re both witches, for crying out loud! If something were wrong with Claire, don’t you think I could sense it?”

She’d had a point. As witches, we had a sixth sense. But I was not letting my guard down. No sir.

After a year, Mom started acting differently. She had been very irritable and very hostile. One afternoon, I came home from school to find Mom searching the house, cursing under her breath. When I asked her what was wrong, she spun around, and the face I looked at was not her. Her skin was pale, her eyes had dark circles underneath, and her voice carried a sinister growl. “Where is she, Jan?” she shouted.

“Where is who, Mom?” I asked, frightened at whatever was taking over my mother.

“My damn doll, Jan. Where is Claire? I know you’ve done something with her, now tell me, you little monster! Where is Claire!?”

“I haven’t touched your doll, Mom.”

Infuriated, she clutched my shoulders, maniacally shaking me. “Tell me where she is, dammit!” Her breath hit me with a sour odor with every jolt, and I could feel her nails digging painfully into my skin. Knocking her back, I fought back a scream, but tears managed to escape my eyes. For the first time in my seventeen years of life, I was terrified of my mother.

Assuming she saw the fear in my eyes, she collected herself, cupping her mouth with a gasp. “Jan, honey, I’m so sorry.” Unsure what to say next, I abruptly ran into the “safety” of my bedroom. When I opened my bedroom door, there she was. Claire was sitting in her wooden chair – the chair I had not taken to my room. I could’ve sworn I saw the damn thing smirking at me, as if to say, she’s our mom now. I plucked Claire from her seat by the back of her dress and carried her into the living room, where Mom was still scavenging.

“Here’s your damn doll!” I said, tossing it onto the couch with a thud. Like a mother rushing to her crying baby, Mom rushed to the doll, scooping it up and cradling it like a dying kitten.

“Mommy’s here, Claire. It’s okay. Don’t scare me like that!”

I could see nothing but madness on her face. I wasn’t only scared of her. I was scared for her. Whatever entity was dwelling inside this porcelain freak was taking over my mom. There was nothing logical I could do about this. I knew the only answer was magic.

That night, I waited until Mom was asleep before I began my ritual. I tiptoed into her bedroom and cut a small lock of her black hair, and I did the same to Claire, who had been enveloped by Mom’s arms like a small child with her teddy bear. Glaring at the doll, I whispered, “Enjoy your last night with her, you little bitch.” I could feel a wave of anger from the glass stare as I left the room.

I sat cross-legged on the beige carpet of my bedroom and lit a black candle. Opening my book of shadows, I flipped the pages to a bond-breaking spell. As I began to throw the doll’s hair into the flame, it wouldn’t burn. Why in the hell wouldn’t it burn? I waited, but it remained intact. I could smell the hair burning, but that was all. Goosebumps arose over my arms, and I could feel Claire’s eyes on me. Looking over my shoulder, I watched my closed door, expecting the doll to burst it open… But the door remained shut. I even listened for footsteps, but there was nothing. She knew what I was doing… And she was not going to let me carry through. I knew what I had to do at this point. My only option was to call Grandma. She was the oldest witch alive in our family, and she’d had experiences with dark entities before. I grabbed my cell phone off the cherrywood nightstand and dialed her number. I listened for the chimes indicating my call was going through, but all I heard was static. I hung up and dialed the number again, and this time, I heard Grandma’s voice, but it was fading in and out. “Grandma?” I said, but I only heard every other word.

“Jan? Is…you?… Jan…what’s go…on?…Can…hear…e…?…lo…”

I kept calling out to her, but she could not hear me. Static overtook Grandma’s voice, and suddenly, I heard something that sounded like a child’s laughter. The damn thing had gotten into my phone somehow. Frightened, I threw the phone across the room, and it collided against the wall. I didn’t even care if my screen was potentially cracked, or even shattered. I had no hope at all inside this house…

The next day, I skipped school to visit Grandma myself. On the walk, I could feel Claire watching me. Although Mom thought I would be sitting in Mr. Brown’s history class, Claire knew exactly where I was. Her eldritch presence followed me. But I knew I would be safe as soon as I made it to Grandma’s.

A chilly wind crept up my spine, and leaves began to fall at once from their overhanging branches. I tightened my purple jacket about myself and tugged at the shoulder straps of my backpack, whispering an incantation under my breath. Darkness that follows, return to your hollows. You will not take me, for I forsake thee. I repeated the incantation over and over. Turning onto Sparrow Street, I began to run, impatient to reach Grandma’s door that was merely three more houses away. I began to see red eyes lurking from within the windows of the houses I was passing by. Demonic whispers rang in my ears, taunting me with each step. The whole world seemed to be spinning.

The driveway appeared to be ten miles long as I darted toward the red door of 215 Sparrow Street. Once I finally reached it, I ran inside, neglecting to knock. “Grandma!”

“Jan, honey, is that you?” I heard Grandma’s voice calling from the kitchen. She emerged from the doorway, still drying a plate with a dish towel. Her sweet vanilla perfume reached me, and I felt safer than I had in what seemed like an eternity. A lump formed in my throat, and tears streamed down my cheeks. I rushed to her, throwing my arms around her, allowing myself to sink into her loving, maternal embrace. “Jan, sweetie, what’s the matter? Was that you that called me last night?”

“Grandma, it’s Mom,” I began, fighting through jerking sobs.

“What’s wrong with your mother? Is she all right?”

I wiped my moist eyes against her pink sleeve and began to tell her about Claire and my mother’s crazed obsession with the doll. Then, I explained to her my failed attempt to break their bond the night before. “I don’t know what to do anymore, Grandma. It’s like she’s being possessed by the doll.”

“Dolls can’t possess people, Jan. But something may be bound to the doll, or even trapped within it.” She led me into her kitchen and directed me to take a seat at the small table. She brewed us a pot of tea, and she took her place across the table from me, setting my teacup in front of me on the lacy tablecloth. I had no interest in the tea at all. While she sipped on her beverage, I chewed on my thumbnail. “When did all this begin, honey?”

“Mom bought the doll a year ago at some yard sale. It wasn’t long before she started affecting me. I was having nightmares, and then soon, I could feel her watching me.”

“Whatever is in that doll, it’s dwelling on magic. That’s why it tried to attach itself to you first, but your mother seems to be more vulnerable since she took such a liking to the doll.”

“Why couldn’t I break their bond last night?”

“Seems to me like she’s absorbed so much of your mother’s magic that she’s able to fight off yours.” Pushing up her thinly rimmed glasses, she took another sip of her tea. “It’s been years since I’ve dealt with something like this…” she said, staring at the rim of her teacup. I could see her memories haunting her like a swarm of invisible ghosts swirling about her head. She pressed her red-stained lips into a thin line.

“Grandma?” I asked, drawing her back from her own mind.

“It’s not going to be easy. We have to get, uh…”

“Claire.”

“Yeah. That thing away from your mother. We could either burn her or bind her to something else. Then burn whatever she’s bound to.”

I was completely dumbfounded by her solution. How could that do any good? “Burning certainly didn’t work last night.”

“Maybe not with your efforts alone. But if we both perform the ritual, our magic may be strong enough to separate her from your mother.”

Finally, Grandma’s words were making sense. Grandma rose from the table and disappeared down the hallway. A few seconds later, she returned with a wooden spoon with some sigil engraved into it.

“It’s simple, but it won’t be easy, Jan. That’s why you will not be doing this alone.”

“A spoon, Grandma? All this time, I could’ve just used a spoon?”

She laughed. “This is not just a spoon, sweetheart. This has been blessed with my own magic. This sigil represents purity and protection.” She offered me the utensil with an outstretched arm, and I took it into my own hand, examining the engraving: a symbol that looked like a drop of water. “When the spirit is bound to this, any evil it has accumulated overtime will be cleansed, and it can move on. But as I said before, it won’t be easy. You must understand this. In order to begin the ritual, we have to break the bond between the doll and your mother.”

My stomach sank.

We waisted no time leaving her house to return to my own home. The walk home felt much more secure with Grandma to protect me. However, she could feel the same evil that had followed me before. We both muttered incantations to ward off whatever was traveling with us. Eventually, we made it home in one piece.

Grandma followed me into the house while I searched for Mom. I found her in her bedroom rocking back and forth in her rocking chair with Claire in her lap, watching me with those damn eyes. Mom looked deathly-ill. Her face had lost almost all of its pigment, and her cheekbones were protruding through her now thin flesh. Her teeth were coated with brown plaque, and her eyes were stained yellow. “Hello, Mother. Jan,” she greeted hoarsely, her glare stabbing through my soul.

“Hi, Norma. Jan tells me there’s a problem with that, uh, doll you have there.”

“Oh, does she, now?” she growled. “Does she tell you that she wants me to get rid of Claire? My baby?”

“Norma, that thing is not your baby,” Grandma said calmly. “This is your baby,” she continued, gesturing to me, concealing her spoon within her dress.

“That little bitch is just jealous. Claire is innocent. She loves me.” Although I knew that wasn’t really my mom shouting those harsh words, they still stung me, and tears burned in the back of my eyes.

Grandma took a diagonal step forward, holding her arm protectively in front of me, as if shielding me. “Norma, this is your daughter!

“That thing is not my daughter. Claire is.” Then, Mom leaned her ear to the doll’s mouth. “Huh? What’s that?” A lump of anxiety formed in the depths of my throat, and I swallowed hard. Mom ran her fingers through Claire’s hair, nodding with each whisper that only she could hear. “If you say so, sweetheart…” She wrapped her arm tightly around the doll and retrieved a kitchen knife that had been tucked between the cushion and the wooden frame of the rocking chair. Her lips curled into an eerie, haunting smile, and her eyes seemed to glow. She arose slowly, her eyes fixed on me. It felt as though I were shrinking, and she was growing larger even faster. She gently placed Claire on the bottom cushion of the rocking chair, and stood still, as if she were waiting for me to make my first move. The smile grew wider, and her eyes were now piercing through my very flesh, and my heart pounded.

“Norma-”

“Shut up, you old hag!” Mom shouted in an otherworldly voice. It sounded like a deep growl had been blended with a screech from a banshee. Then, Grandma took a step forward, and within the blink of an eye, Mom had crossed the room with quick, inhumanly quick, steps. Her hands reached out like claws, and they clutched Grandma’s arms, yanking her onto the ground.

I darted from the doorway and tumbled onto her bed, rolling over to the other side, mere feet away from the doll. Suddenly, I heard a monstrous hiss, and I felt her razor-sharp fingernails digging into the exposed skin of my ankles under my jeans. With all my might, I tugged on the bedpost, fighting as best I could to escape her grasp. Then the worst pain I had ever felt in my life stabbed throughout my leg as Mom sank the kitchen knife into the side of my thigh. All I could do was scream. I squirmed and kicked and pleaded, but this only earned a roaring laugh from her. My strength abandoned me for a brief moment, then she had me. Mom flipped me over and straddled my waist, raising the knife above her head, preparing to plunge the weapon into my chest. I closed my eyes and winced. I knew it was over.

“Norma!” Grandma shouted from the rocking chair, holding Claire by her black curls. Mom turned around, and her jaw dropped. She dropped the knife onto the bed and released me, going for the doll. Before she made it to the rocking chair, Grandma pounded the doll’s porcelain face against the arm of the chair, shattering that precious face into pieces.

“No!!!” Mom screamed, dropping to her knees and picking up each piece of the doll’s face. With the broken pieces still in her hand, she clenched her fists, cutting her own flesh, and tiny shards of the porcelain and blood fell from her hands. After only a few seconds of sobbing, Mom silenced her grief, and her sinister eyes met mine. She arose and reached for the knife that was beside me. Before her clawed fingers could reach it, I snatched it away. I was not yet successful, though. After I managed to get the knife away from her, her alternative move was wrapping her hand tightly around my neck. Fighting through coughs and desperate gasps for air, I saw no escape. The room began to grow dark, and I could feel myself losing consciousness.

Suddenly, my neck was released after a loud shatter. Grandma had broken a lamp over Mom’s head, knocking her out. Mom was laid still on the floor, the doll’s broken face was all over the carpet, and blood continued to drain from the open would on my leg, staining Mom’s bed covers.

“Jan, we don’t have much time. Grab a sheet and follow me to your room.” As I ripped the sheet off Mom’s bed, Grandma collected the remains of the doll, and I limped as quickly as I could behind her across the hall into my bedroom. “Wrap that around your leg snugly,” she said, motioning to the sheet. I followed her directions, then I grabbed my book of shadows and my black candle. Grandma used an incense stick to cleanse a piece of the doll’s hair, and she threw it into the flame. I still had Mom’s hair from the night before, and I handed it to Grandma. She continued the spell, burning both locks of hair. She began to rotate her spoon around the flame counterclockwise demanding that their bond be broken.

Our next step was to bind the spirit within the doll to the spoon. Grandma took one of the doll’s eyes and tied it to the scoop end of the utensil with a black ribbon. She had been explaining to me that black was the best choice since that color corresponded with banishing negative energies. Once the knot was tied, she began chanting.

“Spirit who dwells within this eye, you must now say goodbye. Out of this realm you will be soon. Out of the doll, and into this spoon!”

Grandma and I repeated the spell three times, both our hands around the spoon and eye. I followed her lead as she began shaking them rhythmically. We closed our eyes, focusing on our intention, and I could feel the spirit’s rage as it tried to fight us. I heard the sound of my books falling from my shelf, crashing onto the floor, and I could feel the floor trembling beneath me. Grandma could sense my tension, and she reminded me to be strong and concentrate.

Suddenly, my mom’s face appeared in my mind’s eye. Not the deranged monster who had just attempted to kill me. Mom. The woman who loved me unconditionally. The woman who was always there for me. The woman who loved me more than this demonic doll. Her bright green eyes and her rosy-pink cheeks that radiated a motherly glow from her sweet, warm smile. I found peace with the image, and I held on to it. I was going to save my mother, and I was going to get rid of this spirit once and for all.

I chanted Grandma’s spell one last time at the top of my lungs, squeezing my eyelids together so tightly, they hurt.  

“Spirit who dwells within this eye, you must now say goodbye! Out of this realm you will be soon! Out of the doll, and into this spoon!”

A loud thud echoed throughout the room, and a calmness followed. I could still feel its presence, but it was very faint. Placing my palm over the spoon, I could feel the spirit’s energy vibrating through the wood. “It worked,” Grandma said, half smiling. I winced as I scooted across the carpet, and I threw my arms around her, crying with relief. “Oh, we’re not finished quite yet.”

“I know. Now we burn this damn thing!”

Grandma helped me to my feet, and I shifted my weight onto my good leg, and we progressed to the living room. We approached the brick fireplace, and I threw the spoon into its pit. With a strike of a match, Grandma nodded. She added the lighted match to the pit, setting the spoon into a burst of flames. At first, the fire was a normal red-orange color, but after a moment, the flame burned green and blue. This only lasted about two minutes. After the fire returned to its original color, it quickly went out, leaving nothing but a pile of ash.

I stared at the remains, satisfied. I no longer felt the haunting presence. I felt no eyes watching me anymore. I was fearless and at peace once more. Most of all, I felt safe.

Footsteps joined us in the living room, followed by, “Jan? Mom?” I spun around and saw the image I had seen in my bedroom. Only this time, it was more than just a picture from my memory. It was Mom. My mom.

So, why should you write?

If you’re not new to writing, then you already know the answer. However, if you’ve recently begun writing – be it writing in a journal, on a blog, on a Facebook page, or simply on a word document – then here are a few reasons why you should engage in, and enjoy, your writing!

I think the most obvious reason you might consider writing is simply to express yourself. Life is NOT easy, and EVERYONE struggles. We all occasionally crawl into our deepest pits of despair, swimming around in our own emotions. And I’m pretty sure you know it’s NOT safe to keep it all bottled up. This is one of the leading causes of depression, and we all want to get these things off our chests.

As a teenager, I was EXTREMELY emotional. I suffered the loss of my father, I endured bullying, I cried my way through the death of one of my best friends, and I experienced minor trauma that NO teenager should have to know, and how did I get through this? Listening to music and WRITING!

Writing is a gateway to your innermost feelings, and until you put the pen to the paper, or your fingers to the keyboard, you may have suppressed feelings that you never knew existed. Therefore, it is a 100% healthy way of expressing this!

Sliding away from the feels, another reason you may consider writing is to put that wild imagination of yours to some good use! We all daydream, but do you have those same ideas that never seem to go away? DON’T LET THEM! Although you may think that some of your ideas are silly, someone out there will definitely enjoy them! These silly ideas are the door to your chance to be the next J.K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman or Stephen King!

Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you never know. If you entertain yourself with that “nonsense”, imagine the hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe MILLIONS who may find it appealing!

On another note, you know that one story you want to be written? That one thing you desperately want to read about, but nobody has written it? Guess what? That’s your opportunity! You would never believe how many people could be searching for that same story, but have yet to stumble across it.

Perhaps you don’t want to write fiction? There are NUMEROUS non-fiction topics that you can write about in order to help people like yourself: Cooking, sports, motherhood, gaming, travelling, finance… The list goes on and on… and on… and- Oh, you get the idea!

Not only is writing helpful, healthy, and just plain fun, but it is also an excellent career opportunity! Maybe you don’t want to be the next huge author- fine. Maybe you do want to be the next huge author- even better! But you can write as a day job! The internet is FULL of these opportunities! Although you may start out small as a one-time blogger for a magazine, your foot is IN THE DOOR! From that small, teeny-tiny step you’ve just taken can potentially bloom into a long-term career if you either reach out to or are discovered by that one person or business!

“But my writing isn’t good enough!”

Well, join the club! I still consider myself as an amateur, but the web has SO MANY sources where you can learn more, and some of them are FREE! There are some low-cost classes on the internet that you can take to expand your knowledge in writing, be it blogging or literature. Another good source? YouTube! Several authors have their own channels (Like Jenna Moreci and Alexa Donne), and they create and post vlogs specifically to help and inspire people like us! (Seriously, guys! Check them out!)

Whether you decide to write for your own entertainment, or you actually want to aspire to be the next big author, I hope this has given you some inspiration!

What are your writing goals? Share them in the comments!

Introduction

Storytelling is a truly fun and exciting form of art. We all love to read about a school of witchcraft and wizardry, a fellowship out to destroy a ring, vampire romances, a clown terrorizing children all the way into their adult life.

Sure, all of these are intriguing, and they keep the pages flipping. But what is the real back-bone of a story? Characters, of course! Without Harry, we would never have known the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone. Had Frodo not taken the ring from his uncle, how would we learn how true of a friend Samwise was, and who else would’ve had the will power to destroy the One Ring? Without Edward, Bella would have remained a depressed, average teenager. Without Bill, Richie, Mike, Ben, Eddie, Stan, and Beverly, would Pennywise still be terrorizing Derry?

The Main Five

Not only does a story require strong characters, but it needs specific characters. Most stories demand at least five characters: the antagonist, the protagonist, the mentor, the skeptic, and the sidekick.

J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings is the perfect example for this. Frodo Baggins is obviously the heroic protagonist since he is the ultimate leader of the story, and he brings on the resolution. Samwise Gamgee is the sidekick. He is Frodo’s loyal, supportive best friend who follows him throughout the entire journey. Gandalf the wizard is the mentor. He shines a light of wisdom, and he teaches and guides Frodo along the way. Our skeptic of this story is Boromir. The skeptic typically goes along with the main character, but usually is shady. Boromir took on the honor of joining the group to destroy the ring, but he briefly finds himself wanting the ring for himself. The antagonist is ultimately Sauron considering he practically wears the badge of “the bad guy”. However, Saruman definitely fits the role as well with his loyalty to Sauron. But that debate is for another day.

What Makes a Character?

Now that we have that ground covered, let’s discuss the fundamentals of a character. Well, first and foremost, that’s simply a person in a story. However, creating a character is not that easy. What does this person look like? Where do they live? What does this character want? How will his own desires affect the story? What are his weaknesses? Now we’re getting the picture!

What makes a character? Number one would be his personality. Is he independent? Is he young? Old? Let’s take a look at Harry from J.K. Rowling’s series. She described Harry as a skinny boy who had messy black hair and green eyes and a lightning bold scar. Unfortunately, this is not enough. Harry grew up with a harsh life under the roof of an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin who all hated and mistreated him. From this, Harry understood how to appreciate people who truly cared about him, and he was able to see through more shady people like Draco Malfoy. By this, I am indicating that your character requires some backstory.

Also, your main character should not be perfect. As children, we all felt a strong connection with Harry. But why? Because we related to him. Readers cannot easily relate to a character who has no flaws. The story will eventually become boring. Not only was his appearance flawed, but he had emotions. Crazy right? A heroic kid who can perform magic actually has the ability to cry; who would have guessed? That’s something that can pull your reader deeper into the story. And when your reader is emotionally invested in your book, they are more likely to finish and enjoy it.

One major trait that is crucial to your character is his voice. Yes, I said it. A voice. True, a book is just words on a page, and you cannot physically hear the character speaking, but each character should have a specific tone and vocabulary. Harry was very sarcastic and a little arrogant. Ronald Weasley, on the other hand, was more childish and a bit grumpy. Hermione Granger was clearly witty, and we could hear her intelligence through her larger vocabulary and her more precise language. Without character voice, your reader will feel like a ghost is telling them the story, and it will feel monotonous and flat, like that history teacher that put you to sleep everyday in high school.

The Little Things

What else makes a character unique? What are you ding right now? Chewing on your fingernail? Perhaps you’re twirling that one strand of hair? Or maybe you’re tapping your foot? Well, these little things are called quirks, and if you want a genuinely unique character, that puts the icing on the cake. In Stephen King’s The Shining, Jack Torrance had a habit of eating aspirins and rubbing his mouth when he craved alcohol. In King’s other novel IT, Ben Hanscom tends to bite his thumb. These tiny details make for a much more believable character.

The Character Arc

The final step for your character is the character arc. Now, what in the world is this, you may ask. In a sentence, the character arc is the change and development a character experiences throughout a story, whether he notices it or not. In life, we grow, we learn, and we change based on our life lessons. Guess what, your character needs that, too. If your character endures this back-breaking or mind-bending journey, and he learns absolutely nothing, and he remains the exact same, what was the point in dragging him through the mud? When your reader sees your character’s growth and his accomplishments, your reader is usually proud of that character, and he can be moved by your story. What if Frodo never realized that he needed Samwise by his side on his way to destroy the ring? He would have kept rejecting him, and he would have never understood the importance of friendship. See the lightbulb yet? Or what would have become of the Lucky Seven if they never understood that faith is stronger than fear? Would they have ever killed Pennywise once and for all?

Conclusion

As you can see, there is so much to making a solid, believable character. A story cannot be told by a plain John Doe who has nothing to remember him by, and who does not go through the pits of hell to learn a lesson and make his greatest accomplishment. A character must have depth, and you are the one who has to give him that significant breath of life.

I hope you can carry this with you on your next character development session. Have fun, and remember to keep writing!

Hello, hello, hello!

How are y’all doing on this fine Monday morning? I hope everyone’s fine, because this writer (and Momma) is STRUGGLING! 😑

So, I’ve had a long weekend, as I had to prepare for my son’s birthday (My little Nugget is 2!) And the odds were NOT in my favor. So, I haven’t been able to finish much writing. HOWEVER, I have had some time to plan this new series “Random Rants”, where I get to whine to you guys about my struggle as a writer!

Now, let’s dive in!

Of course, stories require a variety of diverse characters, and although I’m kinda proud of my MC, I’m not too happy with her sister. I’ve written her with the “older, smarter, prettier sister” personality, and I thought she’d be a great supporting character, but… I hate her.

I know we’re not supposed to like all our characters, but this one gets on my nerves. Not only because of her character, but because I loved the idea of her, but now that I’m filling in my plot, I feel like I don’t need her. So, now I’m just debating on whether I should keep her, get rid of her, or kill her off?

Gosh, that was cold.

Do you guys go through this? Let me know in the comments!

On another note, I’ve been engaging with the #WritingCommunity a LOT, I’ve seen a few writers admitting that they feel like they’re not working hard enough because they don’t meet their word count, and really, that’s not true at all. Whether you write 2,000 words or just one single sentence, you are getting somewhere, and you all need to be proud of yourselves.

Writing is HARD. It takes a tremendous amount of mental energy, and it’s not good or healthy to be so hard on yourselves. I’m proud of you, so you should be proud!

Finally, I will be writing another book review (excuse me while I groan) so keep your eyes open for that one!

Remember that you can follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney, and I’ll follow you right back so we can grow together!

Did you enjoy this #RandomRant? Do you have a character that you so despise? Feel free to rant with me in the comments!

I hope you guys have a happy Monday! May the Coffee be with You, and Remember to Keep Reading!

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