Tuesday, 16 February 2016

My seventh writing-related blog post in which I'm looking at my greatest weakness as a writer and at my attempt to overcome it

Ah... weaknesses! I'm sure I have more than a few when it comes to writing but the most crippling one is that I seem to be incapable of writing action and adventure, which is most unfortunate for someone who lives in the 21st century. I mean, it is not a problem when I'm working on one of my regencies, but it does seem to become an insurmountable obstacle when I'm trying to write a fantasy novel for young adults. I guess a lot of it is connected with the fact that my reading preferences are deeply rooted into the 19th century literature and that I've subconsciously made it my job to emulate it when working on my books. It is also, I believe, conditioned by the fact that I'm not an adventurous person and I've always preferred slow walks and quiet evenings at home to going out and having fun. In fact, I sometimes think that I've somehow managed to trap myself in the mindset and life circumstances of a 19th century woman. I'm weird that way. It's a huge problem in real life and it definitely effects my writing. 

I love slow openings and beginnings. If you want to know just how slow I can be I can give you a hint: I'm 40K into my current regency WIP and my main characters haven't even met yet! I love using adverbs, exclamations, passive constructions, convoluted sentences, stilted speech and way more telling than showing. I think that they make writing more poetic and — yes — old-fashioned. Basically, if you make a list of writing don'ts, I'll have them all. In my defence, I do believe that such rules cannot be considered general and absolute and depending on the genre of your book can either benefit or suffer from them. All these things definitely work with regencies, making them more natural and authentic for that time period. However, they don't work with modern fantasies for young adults and that's why it's such a huge weakness and the one that has to be rooted out if I want to have a chance at succeeding in publishing it. I've finally stopped resisting and started implementing some of these rules in my writing. I also started reading a lot more modern books written in this genre.

I have several ideas for stories set in different times (one about fifty years in the future, one in Victorian era and one a bit of steampunk) that will require a lot of action and adventure and fast pacing, so I'm going to challenge myself and see if I can make it if I put my mind to it and use all the resources that I have. I'm quite excited about plotting them out and not a little scared to see what will come out of it. And now I'd like to share with you my previous and current attempts at writing the beginning of my long-suffering fantasy novel that has gone through countless drafts and versions. I'd also love to hear your feedback. Which do you prefer? Which makes a better impression? Which is more appealing and hooking? Should I continue with the second version? Or should I stick with the first? Should I drop writing altogether? No way! - to that, by the way :D


Almendra opened her eyes on the seventh chime of the clock. She quickly sat up, stretched and smiled. Just then the door to her room opened and in entered a large, grey wolf with a tray on his back.

“Good morning, Woo,” said Almendra, her face splitting into a grin. She pecked the wolf on the nose and took a large mug of hot tea from the tray. Breathing in the familiar scent of mint, she clutched the cup in her hands and raised it into the air like one would a goblet at a feast, her hazel eyes bright with humour. 

“Cheers!” she said loudly and “May today be the day!” before bringing the cup to her lips, an expression of bliss on her face. Woo walked towards the window and drew back the curtains with his teeth – the sky outside was murky grey. 


I never hear the striking of the tower clock. But I always wake up on the seventh chime. I open my eyes as soon as its nagging echo stops bouncing back and forth in my brain and sit up in bed, clutching the blankets around myself against the morning chill as it penetrates through my thin nightgown, setting my teeth chattering. The fire in the grate is fast asleep. The room is shrouded in darkness with the curtains drawn but I can just make out thick grey light outside, like a wall of mist, through two spots on either side of the slit where the material has been worn down to a thread by constant tugging. I sigh and as soon as I force myself to smile, feeling my face twist unpleasantly, and murmur a quiet supplication to forces unknown that today may finally be the day our fate will change for good, the door to my room opens and my faithful wolf friend and guardian enters with a tray on his back. 

“Good-morning, Woo!” My smile is genuine this time. It feels natural too and it doesn't hurt. Woo is like a bright beam of sunlight I have only ever seen on the pages of a book. He is like a warm shawl and a cup of hot tea. He greets me through the bond that we share and though he doesn't use human speech I understand his meaning as perfectly as if he did. He has been by my side ever since that horrible night. The night my mother was dethroned, my people slaughtered or driven away and my kingdom plunged into ruin, surrounded by a curse. Woo is my animal companion. But sometimes I think that he is so much more than that. My grandmother says that it's loneliness and wishful thinking talking. Maybe she's right. She's almost always is. Woo comes up to the bed and I heave an ornate tray with a large cup of tea onto my lap. 

So... what do you think? *bites her lower lip and runs for cover*

My biggest writing weakness and my attempt to overcome it. bit.ly/1oFZeZE via @faridamestek (Click to tweet)


  1. It's interesting to see how different genres have different writing conventions, isn't it? Also frustrating when you realise that what works in one doesn't work in another. So much work to change! But it does make for a better book in the end, despite the struggle.

    Ooh, I love the comparison beginnings. I like the simplicity of the first one, how it's streamlined and not cluttered with too much, but I also like how you get inside the head of the character more in the second one. With the first, the way it's written we don't really know what the character is thinking or feeling and it's a bit hard to connect to her, whereas in the second, we feel her reluctance to face the day. Personally, I think the second one works better if you want to get readers to identify with the character straight up. But at the same time, maybe streamline it a little? So you get the idea of what she's feeling and what the room is like without wading through a vast amount of description straight up? Of course, that's only my opinion. You know your book and the effect you're going for the best.

  2. Thank you for your feedback and suggestions - they are very helpful. I think that's largely the problem with the old version - it doesn't show the feelings and the inner thinking process of the main heroine. I'll keep rewriting and reworking it in the 1st POV and try to work on streamlining it. I've already resigned myself to the fact that it'll be a long process, so I've decided to treat it as a side project while I'm concentrating on others.