Why I’m Going to Fail NaNoWriMo This Year

Not exactly the title you were expecting to see from a NaNoWriMo-prep article on Kingdom Pen, now was it?

Pretty soon, the beginning of November will hit and writers all around the world will be starting NaNoWriMo: when they attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just one month.  At this point, several of you probably plan on doing it, several of you have probably decided against it, and some of you are on the fence.

This article is written for those people who are on the fence about it. 

A bit of background information about my own experience here may be appreciated.  I’ve done NaNoWriMo twicenanowrimopinterest before: once in 2011 and once in 2012.  Both times I competed, wrote, and managed to succeed at hitting the 50,000 word mark.  I was more productive in writing than I had ever been before, and more than that, I enjoyed the challenge.

But then I stopped doing NaNoWriMo.  There were a couple of legitimate reasons for this.  First off, I was in the middle of revising my work from the previous years, and I wasn’t about to put it down mid-progress in order to start a new work.  But there was another reason as well.  I had started college.  And the idea of trying to write 50,000 words while handling a full load of college classes sounded insane to me.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This year, however, I’m planning on doing NaNoWriMo.  But not only that, but I’m also planning on failing NaNoWriMo.  Why, you might ask?  The short answer is that trying while failing is better than not trying at all.  Read on as I try to answer this question more fully. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

Focused Hues: How Graphic is Too Graphic?

How graphic should one be when writing a battle scene?

When forming a beating or torture scene?

When describing the dark rituals of some fantasy druid?

These, and hundreds of related queries are valid questions. And yet, to answer inquiry with inquiry, there’s one question which can help clear up this confusion. And the answering question is this: where does your focus lie?

As Christians, when we write a story, what are we trying to focus on and portray?focusedhuespinterest

Philippians 4:8 reminds us to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and are of virtue and praise. This would include what we watch, listen to, read, and, of course, what we write. There’s trouble in every story, as well as darkness, danger, and perhaps violence, but what is your focus on? The good or the bad? The golden hope and light, or black despair and darkness? As Christians, our point shouldn’t be to get a story as dark and gory as we can without stepping over the line. The point is to glorify God though our writing, and as we take up the pen or sit down to type, we need to keep that in mind. Darkness and violence may (and, quite often, do) have their own place, but don’t write dark and gory scenes simply for their own sake or to add shock value to the story.

“Still, as every painter knows, it takes the dark shades to bring out the vividness of the light. Which brings us back to the original question of how much darkness a Christian writer should put in their story.” 

The most common question, and also the broadest, involves how much blood, gore, and violence should be shown in a book or story. Like many things which aren’t really a ‘sin issue’, different writers will have different convictions on this topic, and unfortunately there isn’t a hard line of ‘over here, everything is acceptable and good, but on this side everything is bad and wrong’. Somethings are obviously good, some are obviously unnecessary and over the top, and yet the majority of these red colored queries are tinted with gray and depend on the circumstances. It can make things a pain to figure out sometimes, but here are a few guidelines which will hopefully help.

First, don’t write something that you’d be uncomfortable reading yourself.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

KP Critiques – 14

Here today we present to you, fine ladies and gentlemen, our fourteenth installment of KP Critiques!
We thank all of you for the flood of critiques we have received! It’s lovely to witness the rise of courageous writers who are willing to submit their work to be analyzed and critiqued. It’s never easy to  put your work out there for all to see, but by doing so you are benefiting more writers as well as growing as a writer!

Thank you Charis for your submission!KP Critiques Post 1

 

҉Chapter 1҉

A kick, a punch, a block. In a few short minutes, the fight was over.

“Very good, Chris! I can see you’re improvement improving. Just try to remember to keep your hands high on your blocks.”

“Yes Sir,” I replied and left martial arts training for the day. I grabbed my gear on my way out and headed for my family’s rooms for lunch.

After reading through the rest of this short scene, the fight seems like a rather random place to start the story.  Unless martial arts is really important for the story, and even then, I would avoid starting your story with a scene that’s just ending.  My suggestion would be to start the story a bit earlier so that we see more of the scene, or to cut it after the fight ends right as the alarm starts.  That way, the story can start off with some good tension and also be connected to the main plot of this first chapter.

Since every building on our island is connected through various hallways and lifts there was no need to go outside; though we had balconies and outdoor pathways if you did wish to go out. [Read more…]

Book Reviews Now Accepted!

The last page has been turned and the final sentence read. You have to tell someone about this amazing book; the whole world should know!

Today, Kingdom Pen is making that possible. KP isn’t global yet, but we are on the World Wide Web, which is close enough. Bookreviewspost

Book reviews can be difficult to write, but we’ve simplified the process just for you! One of our editors, the talented Josiah DeGraaf, has written up guidelines that doubles as a how-to for writing book reviews!

Once you’ve written up your stellar book review, simply put it in a Word document and email it to kingdompenmag@gmail.com with the subject line: “Book Review.”

We look forward to receiving your reviews!

KP Guide to Writing Book Reviews

Fiction Book Reviews

The goal of this guide is to give a general sense of direction for subscribers who want to write fiction book reviews to be published on Kingdom Pen. Book reviews should try to hit all of the different aspects included below, and preferably should follow the suggested format. But if you feel like the book review would work better with the elements below in a different sequence, reviews need not strictly follow the suggested sequence (although it is recommended).

Summary of the Book

Begin the review by describing what the book is about. A good way to do this would be to start with a one-to-two-sentence hook and then go on to explain what the book is about. Now, since this is a book review and not a book report, you don’t want to give away the whole plot of the book (don’t include any spoilers). Rather, you want to give a general idea of the book’s premise and what it’s about in order to entice people to read the book. One to two paragraphs would probably suffice for this section of the review.

If this book has won any awards or has been really popular, include this information at the end of the summary.

Review of the Book

Moving on to the actual review of the book, explain to the reader why this is a good book and why it is worth reading. For the book reviews that KP publishes, we prefer to only publish reviews of books that we’re actually recommending, so at this point in time, we’re not going to publish negative book reviews. However, if there are any weaknesses that you see in the book, please include a brief discussion of those weaknesses as well, since we do want to give a balanced review of the book. In listing the book’s strengths, try to include specific things in the book that you liked as well as general things, although of course you’ll want to avoid spoiling major plot developments in the book.

Since KP is focused on helping Christian writers to write well, a quick discussion of the book’s worldview, to whatever extent it’s present, would be appreciated. In addition to this, since KP is focused on helping Christian writers to write well, if there are specific aspects of the book that you think writers could learn from, please feel free to include some particular discussion of those aspects as well.

Content Advisory

If there are any parts of this book that you think might not be suitable for younger or less mature readers, please include that in this section of the review.

Nonfiction Book Reviews

The goal of this guide is to give a general sense of direction for subscribers who want to write nonfiction book reviews to be published on Kingdom Pen. Book reviews should try to hit all of the different aspects included below, and preferably should follow the suggested format. But if you feel like the book review would work better with the elements below in a different sequence, reviews need not strictly follow the suggested sequence (although it is recommended).

Summary of the Book

Begin the review by describing what the book is about.  A general explanation of the book’s thesis and the different points that the author makes would be good. You don’t need to be too specific because those sorts of descriptions are better sorted to the review portion. However, a general discussion of what the book is about would be good. One paragraph would probably suffice for this section of the review, but two paragraphs would be fine as well.

If this book has won any awards or has been really popular, include this information at the end of the summary.

Review of the Book

Moving on to the actual review of the book, explain to the reader why this is a good book and why it is worth reading. For the book reviews that KP publishes, we prefer to only publish reviews of books that we’re actually recommending, so at this point in time, we’re not going to publish negative book reviews. However, if there are any weaknesses that you see in the book, please include a brief discussion of those weaknesses as well, since we do want to give a balanced review of the book. In listing the book’s strengths, try to include specific parts of the book that you liked as well as general parts, and explain what specific lessons or applications you personally took from the book. When relevant, an explanation of the author’s specific arguments would be good, but try to avoid stating the author’s entire line of reasoning, since we do want the reader to read the book as well.

While nonfiction books don’t need to be explicitly focused on writing, since this is a website for writers, if this book is not explicitly on writing but you still see applications in the book for writers, please try to include that as well in the review.

Content Advisory

If there are any parts of this book that you think might not be suitable for younger or less mature readers, please include that in this section of the review.

-Josiah DeGraaf

Hello, My Name Is

 

Hello,

my name is

overwhelmed with sadness;

I’m tired of feeling like 

I’m worthless.

I’m spinning,

spinning,

spinning

tales of greatness,

when inside I’m

broken.

hellomynameispinterest

 

How can I–

How can I–

fix this 

before it’s over. 

But I can’t

fix this heart

beating in my chest

that reminds me that I’m

alive;

and each breath I take

is labored with 

one thousand regrets

and one thousand scars. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Sarah Spradlin
If you’ve ever emailed us at KP, you’ve probably “met” Sarah—a passionate storyteller with a huge heart that loves Jesus and everyone she meets. Sarah grew up in Georgia with her mom, dad, and little sister, Merry, where she attends the University of Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Agriculture Communication. When she graduates, Sarah wants to help people all over the world succeed in the agriculture industry and tell the all-important story of the farmer. She joined the Kingdom Pen Team as Secretary in September 2013 and now serves as the Director of Community Happiness. Sarah has been homeschooled, private-schooled, and graduated from Madison County High School in May 2015. She attended Summit in July 2015. She’ll read pretty much anything (if she had to pick, though, her favorite author would be Frank Peretti) and has tried her hand at pretty much every kind of writing out there, though she likes writing fiction and poetry best. But because writing bios is a struggle, if you really want to get to know Sarah, shove some words in her general direction via the Forum, on one of the many social medias down below, or through the KP e-mail: kingdompenmag@gmail.com.

KP Book Review: Sword in the Stars

by Wayne Thomas Batson

The book begins like a stereotypical fantasy novel: with a character who is prophesied to find the “chosen one” figure of this universe.  Only problem is, the prophesied finder of the chosen one is a drunkard and when all the other signs of the prophesy line up, he is unable to actually find the chosen one. Book_ReviewSwordinthestars

From there, we then proceed to the main plot of the story, involving a murderous hostile nation that is bent on destroying the main nations of the world.  But make no mistake: this novel is largely not driven by plot.  The gems of the book are found in the fascinating world that Batson slowly sets up over the course of this book and the different characters that dominate the main storyline.

It’s about a man who struggles against an addiction to drink, a sarcastic and virtuous maiden, an optimistic king who just wants to bring peace to the realm, and another determined king who always sticks hard and fast to obeying the commandments of the God of this fantasy world.  In a book that largely serves as a prelude to the rest of Batson’s planned-seven-book series, it’s a book that is driven by characters but has an entertaining and twisting plot nonetheless. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Critiques – 13

We are so delighted to be giving you the thirteenth edition of KP Critiques!! All of you amazing subscribers who have submitted your work for us to critique, THANK YOU!!! Through your courage you have provided us with substantial material, as well as aided in sharing wisdom to fellow writers. Receiving constructive criticism is never easy, but it’s necessary to grow as a writer!
So please continue flooding us with your wonderful critiques! KP Critiques Post 3

Thank you Amanda for your submission!

 

Sarah pulled open the garage door, coughing at the rush of dusty air that swirled into her face.

“Jacob?” she called.

She was just about to give up and return to her room when she heard a faint, “What do you want?”

You want to try and give each new line of dialogue spoken by a different character its own paragraph.

“Oh, you’re here.” She stepped forward, blinking in the dim light. “Why is the light off?”

No response. She walked another few steps, squinting as she sought out his precise location.

There he was, over in the corner, with the invention in front of him. It seemed like he’d been trying to pack it into a box that rested beside him. [Read more…]

Purposefully Capturing a Reluctant Reader

By Jessica Greyson

Into caring about the details of your world

I’ll be the first person to admit it. I am not the best at worldbuilding, I am much better at what I call world painting. My first published book Annabeth’s War has a lack of description. I’ll be honest. I did it on purpose. Why?

There are several uses and reasons to worldbuild or not to worldbuild. CapturingReluctantReader_post

In Annabeth’s War, I chose not to specifically worldbuild, and describe deeply. Why? I wanted the reader’s imagination to take control of the situation. I wanted them to paint the canvas of Annabeth’s War for themselves. I put in the emotions I wanted the readers to understand, but the rest was up to them. They could read as a spectator, or they could step into the shoes of Annabeth and Ransom and make the world their own. The choice was up to them.

However, many people need more guidance:  they want to be told a story, and that is where purposeful worldbuilding or painting comes in.

Personally I don’t like too much worldbuilding as a reader.

Why?

Because far, far too often the characters didn’t care.

For me as a reader and writer, worldbuilding must be purposeful; it must have meaning. I don’t know how many times I’ve skipped description in a book because I felt they had no meaning and were mere words that clogged the story from the plot and inhibited the story’s building drama. Why are you describing the sunset to me, if it’s a mere fact of life? As a reader I see no purpose for the description of sun putting itself to sleep behind the ridge of mountains, no matter how prettily put. [Read more…]

Last Day To Enter Lyric Contest!

The end of things is almost always sad.
We’re sorry to see Summer go, but then the delightful season that follows is Pumpkin Spice Flavored Everything! Er, Autumn, I mean. Yes, Fall is ushered in on the wings of multicolored leaves, scarves, boots, and apple everything!

Lyric_contest_10-6

Today we have the end of our Lyric Contest.

Fret not, there is still time to submit those amazing lyrics you’ve written. And if you haven’t written them there are still several hours left. You have until midnight!
Make your final edits, or if you’re one of those people, type up your lyrics in a Word document and email them to kingdompenmag@gmail.com with the subject line: “Lyric Contest Entry.”

Again, this contest is only open to Kingdom Pen subscribers. (So if you’re one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writers who likes to crunch the deadlines, go subscribe now!)

This contest only allots one entry per person. Let your creativity run wild, but not so far that it exceeds our content publishing guidelines.

We eagerly await your entries!

Happy writing and go drink a pumpkin spice latte, or apple cider…if you’re into that kind of thing.

How Skeletons Can Help Your Story

I view outlines as the dry bones of a book or article.

The inner structure of a story, invisible and yet affecting the shape of the final work. Of course, sometimes these skeletons are larger and more detailed than others. And sometimes major bones are missing. When I sat down to outline this article, the finished product was messy and splintered. Talk of irony…how do you outline an article about outlining? But I digress.

At the very outset, let me say that every writer has their own views on the usefulness and manner of outlining. Some people don’t outline at all. Personally, I like to outline almost everything I write. And I think that at least a basic outline is of great help to any writer skeletonsto help keep the shape of your story as you flesh it out (pun partly intended). The bones help you keep in mind what you are aiming for, and may cut down on major rewriting later on. Having said that, I’m sure there are many different styles of outlining and an almost unimaginable depth you can go, so I’m going to simply focus on what has worked for me.

Outlining is…well, outlining.

For me, it also involves a number of brief synopses laying out a rough draft of what happens and in what order from the beginning of the story to the end. At the same time, these bones need to be flexible to change at any stage. They aren’t rules, they are more like…guidelines. My own outlines change multiple times, and the longer the work, the more often I tend to rearrange parts of the skeleton.

My first outlines, no matter what I’m working on, ends up very sketchy. It involves a lot of thinking, mumbling to myself, writing contradictory points, and backspacing. Basically, I get a rough idea of the whole story or article. There are normally minor, or even major, details that need to be figured out, but the basic pieces are in place. Here’s an example of what I could have written for a book of my own: [Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/