KP Critiques – 03

We’re back with another critique! Thank you all so much for having the courage to send them in! We know it’s never easy to have your writing critiqued, let alone shared for the benefit of others. That takes guts! But we also know that receiving critiques from others is one of the THE BEST ways to grow and improve. Constructive criticism is invaluable!KP Critiques Post 2

This critique comes to us from Rolena, and her story, Hero of Mine.

 

Rolena’s submission!

 

I shoved the fridge door shut and slammed the salad onto the counter.

“Why now dad? Why do you have to leave again?” I cried.

Dad sighed, got up off the couch and leaned on the counter so he could look at me past the overhanging cabinets.

“Because my boss requires me to leave immediately.”

“But you were just gone for three weeks. We need you here dad!” I exclaimed.

I ripped open the salad bag and carelessly dumped it into a bowl. Most of it fell onto the counter. I snatched it up and shoved it back into the bowl.

“Kathrin, I just can’t buy any time this round…” he stated my full name.

“What kind of job do you have dad?”

I watched his brown eyes. He folded his hands.

“Katty, I have had this job for seventeen years, got it the very day you were born. And your mom and I knew that we would have to keep my job a secret for extreme security purposes. If you knew what my job was it could put you in serious danger. I am protecting your life sweetheart.” He raised his brow.

I looked away from his intense gaze.

“Yes I know dad.” I said quietly.

I grabbed a chunk of chicken and started chopping it to bits.

“Do you have to go tomorrow though?” I asked.

“Yes Katty, you know how it works; I have to leave when I’m told. But you also know that I usually have at least a week or two off in between trips, so when I come back, we’ll have to spend some special time together, just you, Maddie and me.”

Tears filled my eyes and dripped onto the cutting board. I stopped cutting when I could no longer see the chicken, probably saving one of my fingers. Dad lifted my chin.

“Katty what is it?” he asked.

I choked on a sob.

“Do you remember what tomorrow is?” I smeared the tears across my cheeks.

He glanced to the left obviously thinking hard. I didn’t wait for him to answer.

“It’s the second anniversary of mom’s death.” I sobbed.

“Oh Kit-Kat.” He used his special name for me.

Sliding around the counter, he pulled me close to him.

Dropping the knife, I clung to him tight no doubt getting his work shirt all wet with tears and chicken juices.

 

Our Critique! 

 

I shoved the fridge door shut and slammed the salad onto the counter.

Technically, she’s not slamming a salad onto the counter.  From below, it looks like it’s actually a salad bag, so you’ll want to specify that here.

“Why now, dad? Why do you have to leave again?” I cried.

Dad sighed, got up off the couch and leaned on the counter so he could look at me past the overhanging cabinets.

“Because my boss requires me to leave immediately.”

These last two paragraphs should be combined into one paragraph as they’re both dealing with the same subject.

“But you were just gone for three weeks. We need you here, dad!” I exclaimed.

I ripped open the salad bag and carelessly dumped it into a bowl. Most of it fell onto the counter. I snatched it up and shoved it back into the bowl.

These last two paragraphs should be combined.  I like the content of the last paragraph, though.  Nice way to show her emotions.

“Kathrin, I just can’t buy any time this round…” he stated my full name.

“What kind of job do you have, dad?”

Given that this seems to be an ongoing conversation between the two of them, I think she would naturally bring it up in a different way.  She isn’t asking this for the first time, so it’s going to be asked in the context of their larger long-lasting debate about this topic.

I watched his brown eyes. He folded his hands.

Combine this sentence with the following paragraph.

“Katty, I have had this job for seventeen years, got it the very day you were born. And your mom and I knew that we would have to keep my job a secret for extreme security purposes. If you knew what my job was it could put you in serious danger. I am protecting your life sweetheart.” He raised his brow.

This dialogue is basically only spoken for the benefit of the audience.  Kathrin already knows all of this, so this is pretty much just an info-dump.  The audience needs to know this, but you’ll want to work it in a more subtle way.

Also, it seems odd that he would tell Kathrin that he has a secret job and not just go with an alibi.  It would be easier for him to just claim that he is a business man, and that these are all business trips, since then he would avoid suspicion.

I looked away from his intense gaze.

“Yes, I know dad.” I said quietly.

These two lines should also be combined into one paragraph.

I grabbed a chunk of chicken and started chopping it to bits.

“Do you have to go tomorrow though?” I asked.

Ditto with the paragraph combination

“Yes Katty, you know how it works; I have to leave when I’m told. But you also know that I usually have at least a week or two off in between trips, so when I come back, we’ll have to spend some special time together, just you, Maddie and me.”

If Kathrin knows all of this, then he doesn’t need to tell her how it works.  This is also just being spoken for the intent of the audience, and is thus an info-dump.

Tears filled my eyes and dripped onto the cutting board. I stopped cutting when I could no longer see the chicken, probably saving one of my fingers. Dad lifted my chin.

“Katty what is it?” he asked.

I choked on a sob.

“Do you remember what tomorrow is?” I smeared the tears across my cheeks.

Combine these past two sentences.

He glanced to the left obviously thinking hard. I didn’t wait for him to answer.

“It’s the second anniversary of mom’s death.” I sobbed.

Good line, but would a man really forget the anniversary of his wife’s death?

“Oh, Kit-Kat.” He used his special name for me.

Sliding around the counter, he pulled me close to him.

Dropping the knife, I clung to him tight no doubt getting his work shirt all wet with tears and chicken juices.

These last three lines should all be combined into one paragraph.

Overall: Your paragraphs tend to be consistently on the short side and many of them should be combined, as I’ve noted above.  You’ll want to work on info-dumping less on the reader through dialogue and making the dialogue more natural.  You have some good character tension in this scene that is compelling and do a good job of showing the emotions of the characters.   Keep it up!

– Josiah DeGraaf

Creative Writing Contest: Picture Prompt Story

Our new contest has arrived! For this contest, you must write a short story incorporating this painting by Rachel Ramm. Be creative! Use this picture prompt however you see best to construct your story!

 

Picture Prompt Contest Pinterest

Basic Guidelines

 

Your story must be between 800 and 3,000 words in length, and be written in English.  It must be submitted by 11:59:59 EDT on the night of May 29th, 2015, in submission format (please refer to the list of details below for information on this formatting),

The rest is up to you!

This contest is open to writers within the age range of 13-19.

 

Judging Process

 

Two KP staff members will narrow down the pool of submissions to the top six, and will then select the top three and the winner from the remaining six.

The judges will scale your story on each of the following categories, with a potential of between 1 and 10 points, with 1 being lowest and 10 being the best quality in that category. These points will then be added together (with a max of 100 possible points each). The submissions receiving the highest scores will move on to the final round of judging.

Strength and clarity of message in balance with artful presentation (how clear and strong but not preachy your theme was, in other words) – 10

Strength of style (how readable and captivating your actual writing is) – 10

Strength of narrative (how captivating your actual story is) – 10

Consistency of story (self-explanatory) – 10

Strength and realness of characters (how identifiable and believable they are) – 10

Strength of setting (how real your setting is and how realistically it effects your story) – 10

Flow and pacing of plot (how well your story works with itself and is paced appropriately) – 10

Strength of dialog (how real-feeling your dialog is) – 10

Creativity (how do you use the picture prompt to tell a compelling story) – 20

 

Notice that creativity is worth a whole fifth of the score, and the majority of the creativity score will be determined by your use of the picture prompt.

Prizes

 

First place:

The winner of the contest will receive $100 (Payable via Paypal) and a print of the story prompt painting.

 

Second place:

$50 (payable via Paypal)

 

Third place:

$25 (Payable via Paypal)

 

Additionally, the top three finishers will all have their submissions published on the Kingdom Pen website, and will receive comments from the judges on their submissions.

 

How to Enter

 

As we mentioned above, the only requirement to enter the contest is that you be a Kingdom Pen subscriber and between the ages of 13 and 19. If you’re not, we’d love to have you. You can sign up for free right over here.

To submit your story, email it as an attachment to kingdompenmag@gmail.com by May 29th. Please include the subject line, “Story Prompt Contest” in your email. If you are unable to attach your story for whatever reason, please contact us at the same address and we’ll work something out so that you can still submit.

 

Details (These Are Important!)

 

Writers retain full rights to their stories. All stories must be the original, previously unpublished works of the submitting author. No story that fails to meet these requirements is eligible.

To claim prizes, the winner must submit their Paypal email address. If they are unwilling to do so, they will retain their place in the contest but will forfeit their prize. Only the winners need submit this information.

If you finish in the top three, we will require a 3rd person biography of you consistent with our general submission guidelines to place under your story in the magazine. An appropriate photo of you is optional.

Stories should be submitted in Submission Formatting.  All words of emphasis in italics. All text should be in Times New Roman font, double spaced. Paragraphs should be indented at the beginning. Write your legal first and last name in your submission email, but please do not put it in the header or footer of your document.

If a minimum of 10 stories are not submitted for the contest by May 29th, the contest will be called off.

After the deadline, the judges will be given three weeks to review the material. Following this, the winners will be announced via email and the Kingdom Pen website.

Any content in any story which could be judged as objectionable or offensive (cursing, extreme or inappropriate violence, adult content, ect.) See our submission guidelines for more details.

Are You Too Young To Be Writing Romance?

Almost every adventure novel has the same few characters: a hero, a villain, a mentor, an ally, and a love.

 

There is usually some sort of romance going on in just about every popular adventure novel today; however, should teens be including a “love” character in their stories? Are you too young to be writing romance? I think there are a couple things we should consider before we blindly follow the formula.

Too Young For Romance Pinterest

Do you know what you’re talking about?

 

As Josiah explains:

 

Perhaps the simplest answer to, “should you include a love side-plot in your story,” is just to “write what you know.”  Now, I’ve written a post before about this line and why it doesn’t necessarily mean what you might first think it means (Portraying Reality In Your Story), but I think there’s an obvious kernel of truth in this saying with regards to the given issue.  Namely, if you haven’t been in a relationship before, it’s going to be really hard to do it accurately in a way that is going to be realistic enough for your readers.

 

I’m not going to say that it can’t be done—after all, one of the finest romance authors in the history of English literature, Jane Austen, was never married herself.  But it does mean that you’re going to have to do a lot of work if you’re going to attempt it without personal experience: lots of people-watching, lots of research, lots of thought and revision.  I’m not convinced that you necessarily have to be a certain age before writing a romance, but the younger you are, the less experience you’ll likely have in the area, and thus the less likely it is to be as realistic.  And so for me personally, I’ve tended to shy away from writing romances for that reason: one can only really write about that which one has experienced or understands.

 

Without experience, a good, realistic understanding is hard to achieve. 

[Read more…]

I See You Waiting

I see you waiting,

Waiting there for me

With tears that flow like a river

And a heart that longs to be freeI See You Waiting Pnterest

 

I see you crying

Crying for a love

That holds your heart in chaos

And makes you his beloved

 

I see you searching

Searching for a hold

But you can’t see me here

Giving you a hope

 

I see you finding

Finding what isn’t me

You give your heat to another

Praying that he won’t leave

 

I see you screaming

Screaming late at night

At the world that has left you bruised

And buried you deep inside

 

I see you silent

No words are left to say

Nothing can describe your pain

For no one had come to stay

 

I see you drowning

Without a pleading cry

You think no one will love you

But child, you are mine

 

I see you standing

Staring up at me

Knowing that I’ve held your heart

And all those things, I’ve seen

 

I see you laughing

Heart filled with life

You see me here beside you

And you know that you are mine

 

 

This poem was inspired by a friend of mine who has recently been going through a really rough time in Public High School. While I haven’t communicated with her a whole lot, God has kept me praying for her, and has been continuing to give me glimpses of how much He loves her. So, this poem is through God’s point of view, which was a little difficult to write, but I believe I was able to at least capture some of the idea around how God sees an individual person struggling for something to believe in, while He’s been there the whole time, often not being seen. 

 

Writing For Christ By His Guidelines

I always need renewed vision when I’m writing. I’m constantly needed to be reminded of my purpose in why I’m writing in the first place. And recently I’ve been challenged to stop and think…

Why is writing so important to me? Why do I spend hours at a time clicking away at the keys to add words to another page?

Or maybe the question should be: why should writing be so important to me?

Is the answer “because I love it” good enough? Or “because I have something to say”?Writing For Christ Pinterest

Should these be the answers that justify the hours and hours of time we pour into our stories? I suggest that they should not. There is so much more to writing than our love for it and because we have something to say. And it all lies on this one fact; that we belong to Christ. (“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” 2 Cor. 5:14-15) Therefore we represent Him in all that we do.

So how should we reflect, nay, radiate whom we represent?! I would like to propose this idea, which has given me new inspiration to continue writing for Him.

Why not let God’s Book be our inspiration?

Think about God’s Book. Since God wrote it, the book is perfect; therefore He is a perfect author. And we don’t have many of those in our culture today, do we? In fact, He’s the only perfect author I know. Which also means His book is the ultimate example for me, in everything I do, including how I write.

So how do we create our books in light of His perfect Words? How do we radiate His Words in the words we write?

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Rolena Hatfield
Rolena is a country loving girl who wears cowgirl boots and has dreamed of being Cinderella since she was four. She has an explosive imagination that leads her on crazy adventures in other worlds, yet she somehow always ends up back at her desk with a pencil and cup of coffee in hand. Beside writing at late night hours and devouring books, she has a tremendous love of music and musical theater. She blames them both for not being able to stay off a stage since age eleven, becoming a vocal teacher and now directing dramas. Her favorite places to be are up in her library (yes, she has a special room in her house just for books), outside for a romp or any place with people. On her shelf of favorite books you’ll find The False Prince, Once on This Island, Princess Academy and Bella at Midnight. Her favorite thing to do is laugh. Though she has tried to stop writing, she’s never been able too and has no intentions of doing so in the near future. Or ever for that matter.

http://daughteroftreasure.wixsite.com/daughteroftreasure.

Every Tear

A poem by Sarah E. Raine

 

The tears fall down slow and steady,Every Tear

but they disappear as fast as they came,

falling to the ground, into a sea of tears,

an ocean of salty sorrow,

Mingled with everyone’s tears,

as if my sorrow means anything,

as if my pain is any different than yours,

one can only hope, and hope seems gone,

It’s like saying that that one rain drop

is more special than any other droplet,

have you not seen people catch raindrops, though?

Have you not seen them collect the rain

for a greater purpose later on?

And just as those people collect the rain,

God collects our tears in a jar,

because they do mean something

and will be used for a greater purpose,

Because God does care about our sorrow

and He does care about our pain,

just like others care about the rain…

“He collects each and every tear”,

Is that not a beautiful thing?

And  when the tears fall,

and when the storms come,

(even if the pain is unbearable),

remember to collect the droplets of rain,

Because someday they will be special,

special to you just like your tears are to God…

every…single…tear….

KP Critiques – 02

Our second installment in our KP Critiques series!

KP Critiques Post 3This critique comes from Sophia and her novel Sola Fide.

Sola Fide

She would that he would die.

His thickset chest heaved in her peripheral and his breath rasped like a coin in a coffer. She glanced out the latticed window, half expecting to glimpse the Angel of Death at the door lintel. Her white fingers clamped the book that had lain idly in her lap for the past hour while she listened to the mucus rattle in his throat. If only she could suck the will to live out of him, as he had done to her.

She stroked the gold leaf lettering, iridescent in the fire-dance. Would God punish her for refusing to forgive him? His breath spiked, and the cockleshell of her ear tilted back towards the bed that she had shared with him these past six months, the bed that was not her own. Because she wished death upon him, would God forever sear his features into her memory? She massaged the ache carved into her low back and shifted her chair so she could not see the man whose child she carried beneath her loose-fitting kirtle. If she deserved the brimstone of Sodom, the fiery furnace and the winepress of God’s wrath, how much more did she deserve a child who resembled its father?

And our critique!

She would that he would die.

While this is a seemingly good sentence to start with, I believe it could be written in a more concise manner. Two woulds in one sentence like that feels cluttered.

His thickset chest

Interesting, intriguing description.

heaved in her peripheral and his breath rasped like a coin in a coffer.

In a full or empty coffer? There is a difference in the sound; although I really like how you tied in the description with the setting of your novel.

She glanced

Just how did she glance? Nervous? Anxious? Show me. Let me feel with her.

out the latticed window, half expecting

Is she anticipating it? What?  

to glimpse the Angel of Death at the door lintel. Her white fingers clamped the book that had lain idly in her lap for the past hour while she listened to the mucus rattle in his throat. If only she could suck the will to live out of him, as he had done to her.

She stroked the gold leaf lettering, iridescent in the fire-dance. Would God punish her for refusing to forgive him? His breath spiked, and the cockleshell of her ear tilted back towards the bed that she had shared with him these past six months, the bed that was not her own.

Is this a bitter thought?

Because she wished death upon him, would God forever sear his features into her memory? She massaged the ache carved

Oh I love this word choice! I can picture it clearly! Excellent!

into her low

lower

back and shifted her chair so she could not see the man

Perhaps if you used a description that showed us how much she does not want to see him instead of telling us.

whose child she carried beneath her loose-fitting kirtle. If she deserved the brimstone of Sodom, the fiery furnace and the winepress of God’s wrath, how much more did she deserve a child who resembled its father?

Interesting, but I’m not swept into this story enough; I need to be gripped and thrust inward, hungrily moving onto the next sentence, the next scene, eager to see what happens next. Oftentimes when you tell us what is going on it dampens the effect of us being transported into the story world. I was almost there, almost transported, but there were subtle things that kept bringing me back. In this particular section we need to be shown, feel the emotion; I want to feel the weight of her dread what God might do; feel the impatience (that could be displayed clearer) of her husband dying. If I could feel all of that then I would be ushered into enough curiosity as to why she wants her husband dead. 

I sincerely hope this helps you; and that you aren’t discouraged. This has potential! 

~Haley Long

Your Questions: Answered! (2)

Another installment of “Your Questions: Answered!” send us your writing questions with the subject line “Question for the Panel” and we will publish our answers here!


Question:

 

 

I have a question. How do you identify a theme in your novel? This is something I’ve always struggled with.

– Ashley

Questions Post Graphic

 

Answer:

 

Dear Ashley,

Here are a series of questions you can ask yourself which should help identify the theme in your novel.

  • Your novel is built on a foundation; the theme. If you could narrow your novel down to one little statement of truth, which you believe, what would it be?
  • What is the main lesson your hero needs to learn? 
  • What are common problems in your novel? Do they point to a theme?
  • Could you describe your novel with any cliché or adage, if so, what would it be?
  • What are the common character flaws and/or dreams in your novel?

I hope this helps you. Good luck with your novel!

– Haley Long

 

Question:

I have a question about how much I should share my books and poetry. I’m a Christian, and I chiefly write for self-reflection and to examine social issues; but I am apprehensive about letting acquaintances read my work because it might negatively change their perception of who I am. I’ve written about depression, self-harm, child soldiers, and many other issues that make for heavy subject material. Should I just stop writing about these things? Or should I make a pen-name so people don’t know it is me writing? I’m not sure what to do.

– Hosanna

 

Answer:

 

Hello Hosanna, 

There is nothing wrong with writing for self-reflection and keeping those writings to yourself. Writing only for ourselves can yield many benefits. 

To answer your question about whether or not you should be writing on the topics of depression, self-harm, child soldiers, etc., I don’t know your specific circumstances, so I don’t want to say “yes” or “no” concerning your unique example. However, generally speaking, I don’t think it is wrong for Christians to write on these topics, especially considering they could be called epidemics in our culture. How we write about them is important, though.

I know quite a few Christians who glorify such things as self-harm or depression, or try to defend these actions.I don’t think this honors God. We should pouring hope and healing into our stories, and showing the better life in Christ, not elevating depression and self-inflicted harm, as these are the domains of Satan, not Christ.

But there are many people who struggle with these vices, among other things, and I think it is important for Christians to write on these topics, and to offer hope to those who are trapped, rather than merely trying to justify the darkness.

Concerning your question on whether or not you should use a pen-name, there are good and bad reasons to use one.

Fear is always a poor motivation, and we should never make a decision based on fear. If your opinions or beliefs are controversial, I think you should be willing to defend your position. We should not fear the opinions of others. Jesus said quite a few things that led to others forming negative opinions of Him. In fact, Jesus hurt some people’s feelings so bad they killed Him! Our goal as Christians should be to please God, not to please man. Our concern should be with how God will judge our writing, not how other people will judge it. 

Additionally, if you are writing material that you are ashamed of, you are probably better off changing your content, rather than your name. But if you are not ashamed of your writing, and you believe it to be honoring to God, then I personally think you should stand for your beliefs. 

Again, I don’t know your unique circumstances, and this is my mere opinion. 

I hope this helps! Keep writing for Christ!

– Reagan Ramm

 

May Theme: Characters and Relationships

Hello Kingdom Pen! It is a new month, which means a new writing theme! May Theme Blank

For this month, we will be focusing on characterization and relationships. To give you some ideas for what articles you could write, here are some questions you might want to try and answer.

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