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I’m Not Done Yet! Or am I?


Am I done with this novel? Is it good enough? When can I say I’m truly done?

As a writer, I always ask myself these questions. But the fact is, one can never say a novel is truly done. There’s no benchmark. There’s no checklist. There’s just me… and my novel. I’m the judge of when it’s complete. And yet, I cannot judge. I wonder if the extra rounds of editing would make my book worse. I oscillate between editing again or leaving it as it is. I don’t know what to do! Help! The uncertainty drives me crazy. But recently, I’ve come to a realisation.

Whenever I edit my novels, I mostly dislike what I read. I’m rarely happy with the text before me. I always think my story sucks – that I’m not a good writer – and I know I’m not alone. But in the midst of that, there’ll be a moment in time – a second of contentment – that hits me like an unforeseen kiss. It’s rare. It doesn’t happen as frequently as I hope it would. And it only transpires after I’ve grown tired with my work. This emotion comes after my self-loathing is replaced with fatigue.

Have you ever felt worn out from all the editing? Have you told yourself, “I’m done. I’m not touching this again. I’ve done all I can”? This brief moment of unexpected tranquility is how I know I’m done. Because… it only sweeps past me after my final round of editing. And by ‘final’, I mean I decided it would be the ‘final round’ before even starting work. How convenient, right?

You see, subconsciously, we know when we’re done. We can sense it. It’s an innate ability. Like how animals can sense an earthquake, it’s a gut feeling we writers have. But the two things holding us back – driving us to spend years on a single book – are doubt and fear. We doubt we have what it takes. We fear we’re not good enough. So we keep at it, on the same piece of writing, not realising that by working on the same thing over and over again, we’re not growing. We’ve boxed ourselves. We’re unable to learn by exploring other stories within us. We squeeze our creativity, then question why we’re not good enough. And when that moment of contentment hits – when we’ve come to believe we’ve given our all – we quickly brush it aside. We disregard the prompt that’s telling us to stop. And we repeat the vicious cycle of wondering, questioning, and not knowing when it’s done.

I, personally, don’t believe we should work on a single piece of work for years. I know I say this with The Slave Prince being a novel I worked on for 3 years, but I wrote plenty of other work during those 3 years too. And by honing my craft, I’m able to better The Slave Prince as I find my own style and voice. Am I done with The Slave Prince now? Yes. Very done. I’ve given my all. And there’s only so much I can do where I am, right now.

Moving forward, I’m ready to dive into new worlds. I’m ready to challenge my creativity and imagination. And I know I cannot do that if I’m stuck on the same book. Don’t let the question of ‘done’ stop you from moving forward. Because in reality, we’re never done. We will always grow, and we need to let ourselves grow.

So take it from me. The next time a wave of surprising satisfaction washes up your shore, after your ‘final round’ of editing, ask yourself these:

Am I done with this novel? Yes. Is it good enough? No. When can I say I’m truly done? Never.

You don’t have to publish your novel tomorrow. But you most certainly need to start writing something new. Only then can you free yourself from a curse, so cruel, it robs you of your much needed ‘happily ever after’.

The End.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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My Existence As A Writer

How often does life corner you to think about your existence?

For the most part of my life, I knew I wanted to write. Writing is my passion – it’s my calling. Writing is my purpose – the only thing I have that truly defines me. But how much of my writing has made a difference? How much of my writing has inspired, provoked, and brought about change? Well, to be honest, not much.

In this unexpected season of my life – where change has forced me to question – I realised I’m not writing enough to make a difference. Or at least, I’m not using my words enough to do so. I write for fun, for leisure, to pay the bills, and all for what? What I’m doing brings no fulfillment. And I cannot imagine living the next 50 years as such.

Hence, I’ve decided to make a couple of changes in my life and on this blog. And for the first time ever, I’m going to stop a project. You see, I’m the kind of person who endeavours to finish every race. But when I begin questioning the race – dreading to put my best foot forward – I believe I should stop. It’s not quitting. It’s realigning why I do what I do. Thus, I’m calling an end to Beneath The Crimson Star. This blog series, as cool and fun as it might sound, serves no purpose. The story exists to challenge my imagination, but I find no drive in that reason alone. So in replacement, I intend to write stories that matter.

Moving forward, I want to share more on my writing journey while publishing thought-provoking stories you’d enjoy. I’ve monitored the ‘likes’ and I’m able to gauge your general interest. In no way I intend to make this blog about me alone. I want it to be about you too, and I plan on giving you my best. So if you have any questions – in regards to whatever – ask away. If my words can help you realise your full potential, while I uncover mine, I’m more than happy to share them with you.

Wow. Apologies. This post reads rather personal

Honestly, I never thought I would question my existence. I always believed I knew, until I took a step back and found myself in a meaningless monotony. This brief existential crisis has made me more self-aware. It brought me to a conclusion that I want to write with a purpose – that I want my words to have meaning 7 days a week. Writing to pay the bills isn’t how I want to live this life. And I hope that in this paradigm shift, you would continue to stand with me. I don’t know where life will take me from this point onward, but I’m hoping I’ll be at a place where I can make a difference… and truly live.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Willow | Mouse | Hat

Once upon a time, there lived a mouse. He hid under the dying shades of a willow tree. And bearing the weight of a gargantuan human hat were his feeble shoulders. For most of his life, that was the frame of his identity. He was a small and weak creature, shielded from the world by a soulless perennial plant, with a destiny that mirrored a curse. And with such a fate, he couldn’t live. Yet, in the irony of his birth, he was told to live – a great and mighty life.

Growing up, he heard stories about the creatures beyond. They lurked outside the drapes of the sallow. They had monstrous fangs, sharpened claws, and an insatiable appetite for little mouses. And the one he trusted – the one that groomed him – the tree, continued to feed him those lies. It painted a hazardous unknown, one he feared the most. But then came the day he was done – tired and frustrated of living in the shadows.

“I cannot live like this, Willow,” he said.

“Then how should you live – as dinner for those beasts?”

“I can sneak.”

“And your hat?”

“I can be quiet.”

“You stupid little mouse. I’ve told you, these devils can smell you. They can’t see, but they can sniff.”

“Then what am I to do – continue with this purposeless life?”

“You have a purpose. You will be great one day. But that day, is not today.”

The tree shook its branches – shedding its browning leaves – ending the conversation. The mouse was left to wallow in the growing darkness, as day gave way to night. Soon, the moon would bask in the starry canvas. And soon, he would hear the terrifying howls of the monsters outside. Perhaps the tree was right. Perhaps he should remain where he was, do what he was told, and wait for the promise of a great life. But how long should he wait? He was no longer a pup. He could now carry the human hat with little difficulty. Should he wait till his shoulders were broader? They didn’t seem like they could grow any wider. Deciding to take control of his destiny, he left the tree.

As he cautiously slipped from under the willow’s shade, the glorious evening hues had altogether vanished. It was now the darkest hour. There was no warmth in its embrace, and absent was the comforting scent of spring. His little feet scurried to the nearest rock for safety – his shadow stretched distorted under the moonlight. And in the silence, his ears perked for the familiar call of the beast. Yet oddly, there was none. Were the monsters in hiding? His eyes darted to every moving shadow, as his breath grew short.

Five feet behind him was the tree in its slumber. It was unaware of his truancy, and he was tempted to scuttle back in fear. But, he pushed forward. He’d caught sight of a glistening body of water, and its preternatural attribute called to him. Its stream winded through the field of grass. Its current stirred a soothing melody. And in its transparency, it reflected the night sky. Dragonflies zoomed above, unafraid of the night and the monsters in hiding. Having not met any creature outside his cocoon, the prospect of friendship excited him.

“Hello there,” he greeted in a whisper.

Three dragonflies buzzed past, but one stayed behind. It had a peculiar question, one the mouse didn’t expect to hear.

“Why are you whispering?” the dragonfly asked.

“The beasts. They might hear me,” he replied.

“What beasts?”

“The beasts that devour mouses like me.”

The dragonfly, in its graceful flight, oscillated from left to right. “I see. But you don’t have to whisper,” the dragonfly stated.

“The beasts-”

“It makes no difference, little mouse.”

“It doesn’t?”

The dragonfly caught the night breeze. It rose in its lift before diving down. “It doesn’t. And with a hat like that, you’re safe.”

“But Willow said my hat makes me vulnerable.”

“Did it now? See that owl on that tree.”

A few feet down the stream was an autumn tinted tree. Faint were the colours of its leaves, but bold was the predator on its branch. The snow white bird swivelled its head toward them, and a shiver ran up his fragile spine.

“That’s a beast!”

In the panic, he scurried into a bed of periwinkles. The dragonfly promptly lowered itself on a leaf beside him.

“One of the many beasts in this world, I’m afraid. But look, it isn’t coming after you,” the dragonfly said.

“Because of my hat?”

“Because of your hat, and because of you.”

“Me?”

“Go to the water, little mouse. It’ll show you who you are.”

“But the beast…”

“Go.”

The dragonfly didn’t wait for him, nor did it offer to watch his back. It left him words without assurance, taking off into the sky. But as it did, a strange desire to see himself sparked. So he took a bold step forward. And with one step, came another, and another, until he was at the bank. In his peripheral, the owl remained perched. But the caution toward his predator evanesced when he caught his reflection.

Staring back, in the mirror of the universe above, was an aged man. Adorning his head was a shimmering crown, embellished with rubies and sapphires. Draping from his broad, square shoulders was a crimson robe. He was no mouse – he was a king. The willow had lied. And a costly lie it was. But could he blame it and not himself? He chose to believe the willow’s tale. He chose a sheltered life. Now, if only he was braver sooner. If only he wasn’t fearful of the unknown, he could’ve lived a greater and mightier life – a life promised from birth. But at the very least, he could now die a man. At the very least… he was no longer a mouse.

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Willow, mouse, and hat were words given by SJJ. When I think of these words, I think fairytale. Hence, I’ve attempted to write a story one would read to a child during bedtime. I’m not sure if I did a good job, so I’ll leave the judging to you.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. You could, perhaps, take a fairytale spin to it too. The choice is yours.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in Original Works

 

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The 7 Stages of ‘Writing’

the-7-stages-of

Or should I say, The 7 Stages of ‘What did I get myself into?’

Those who think writing a novel is a single phase operation, I believe it is my duty to inform you that it isn’t. Oh, how I wish it was. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Alas, this arduous truth should not be withheld. Hence, I’ve decided to write this post and share my 7 stages of writing.

Disclaimer: My process isn’t benched at 7. Often times I go beyond when working on a novel. Sometimes I go under when working on a short story. But as my standard guide, 7 is a wonderful number. Do note that these stages do not include planning, and most certainly excludes professional editing.

1. Word Vomit

Mean Girls, anyone? My first stage of writing is vomiting everything in my head onto a word document. It’s just me, getting the story out, while trying to be as creative as I can. However, creative writing isn’t my goal. This stage is about telling, or should I say ‘reporting’, the story as it is. I do build the universe, I do develop the characters, but only as much as it is required to complete the story. Then, once my head is figuratively empty, I move to stage 2.

2. Rewrite

This is where I get creative. I research, google, and expand my imagination to paint vivid worlds and mold believable characters. I endeavour to be as ‘literary’ as I can, one paragraph at a time. Yes, one paragraph at a time – I rewrite every single paragraph. And yes, I detest this stage. If I could skip it, I gladly would. But I can’t, of course. Nobody wants to read word vomit.

3. Line Edit

Once I’ve heaved a sigh of relief, after completing stage 2, it’s time for line editing. I read aloud, test the pacing, check for errors, and split lengthy sentences. I scour for problematic areas. And as an extra step, I send the manuscript to beta readers.

4. Rewrite… Again? Again.

There’ll be areas in my writing that bug me excessively. So in this phase, I rewrite those paragraphs, dialogues, and sentences that rob me of my sleep. I also catch repetitive words in each chapter and find alternatives for them. And while doing all of that, I request feedback from my beta readers.

5. Line Edit… Again? Again.

Since I rewrote, I need to re-line edit. It’s back to reading aloud, testing the flow and pacing, and making minor changes if required.

6. Proofing

Before proofing, I usually take a break. And by break, I mean working on another story (either a new one or an existing one – it doesn’t matter). I try my best to clean my palate of the current work, and only return to it a month or so later. Fingers-crossed, my brain wouldn’t default to autocorrect upon my proofing. Though, let’s be honest, there’ll be mistakes I’ll overlook. Hence, stage 7.

7. Audio Proofing

Depending on the work, I sometimes run audio proofing twice using different voices. I alternate between tssreader.com and speechninja.co. Audio proofing helps me catch what I’ve missed, while testing the tempo as if read by a reader. It’s not a full proof stage in cleaning a manuscript, but it does call out errors. Despite it taking a while, it’s worth the time.

So, there you have it – my 7 stages.

Like I said above, this is just a guide for me to follow. The Slave Prince has gone over 10 stages, with multiple rewrites. Trails of the Wind has been audio proofed 3 times. Whereas most of my stories below a 1.5k word count are only rewritten once.

Also, the stages differ from author to author. I know of authors whose stage 1 is carefully executed requiring fewer rewrites after, and of those who’ve lost count of their rounds. It depends on the individual. But, we can all agree on one thing: no story should be published straight from the head.

If you’re new to writing, I hope this doesn’t scare you. Draw strength from your passion and dream, and you’ll find yourself doing your very best. Writing may seem laborious, but if it’s what you love, you will do it. Heck, you have to do it. It’s your life! And you’ll embrace whatever it encompasses.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Love | Hearts | Roses

loveheartsroses

It was on a sunny day in the year 1995. I stood by a tree in the park, with a box brimmed with origami hearts – it was what she wanted, or so she told me.

“Hey!” I called, waving her over in the middle of her game of hide-and-seek.

“What?” she asked.

Her hazel eyes reflected my grin, as I handed her the gift. That day, she wore a yellow floral dress with puffed sleeves. Alike a princess, she caught my breath in her innocence and grace.

“What’s this?” she asked. “And who are you?”

“It’s what you wanted,” I said.

“My mummy says I shouldn’t talk to strangers.”

“And your mummy is right.”

She frowned, as bewilderment glazed her small face. I had the urge to reach down – to brush her hair – but I pocketed my hands instead.

“Anyway, that’s for you. Happy Valentine’s Day, Emily,” I said.

“Eww!” she exclaimed. “You’re not my boyfriend.”

I chuckled. And just when she proceeded to unwrap her gift, I left.

1995 was the last year I saw her. It was also the last time I did something for her. But it wasn’t the only time. At least, in this respect, I was in control.

It was on a rainy day in the year 2007. I stood outside the diner, with an umbrella and a bouquet of velvet roses. It wasn’t something she wanted, but perhaps something she needed.

She once recounted a tale of being stood up by her date. The boy blamed the weather for his no show, and she laughed at the absurd excuse. But as I caught the glistening tear, trailing down her cheek that evening, I needed to rewrite history.

Entering the quiet eatery, I confidently strolled to her booth. In the warmth of the building, she wore a polka-dotted, monochrome mini dress. When I halted before her, she gazed at me expectantly. Then realising I wasn’t her high school crush, she turned away. Her disregard of my presence broke my heart. But I wasn’t there for me – I was there for her.

“I have something for you,” I said.

“I don’t know you,” she replied, eyes fixated at the barren street outside.

“Someone asked me to deliver these to you,” I added.

Shoving the bouquet in front of her face, I left her with no choice but to accept it. And when she did, she promptly asked, “Who?” Her dejected mien now replaced with curiosity and anticipation.

“Not whoever it is you’re waiting for, that’s for sure,” I replied. I had to tell her – he wasn’t worth her time.

“Then who?”

“Your secret admirer.”

“I have a secret admirer?”

I nodded. I contemplated on asking if I could join her, but the eyes behind the counter narrowed on me like a hawk. So after acknowledging the presence of the stranger, I turned to her and wished, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Emily.”

“Who’s my secret admirer?” she repeated. “Tell me.”

I shrugged in reply. Then before I raised further suspicion, I stalked into the wet outdoors – leaving her wondering from behind the glass window.

2007 was a memorable year. I lingered for months to see the result of my intervention. It didn’t alter the course of history, but it did repaint a memory in good light. That was my intention all along… after I failed her.

It was on a cloudy day in the year 2017. I stood by the sidewalk, moments before her death. She wore a red, fitted dress – one I told her not to, but she insisted anyway.

“I’m ready,” she said.

“No. Let me try again,” I replied.

“You said it yourself. Nothing you do can save me.”

“Please let me try.”

“How many times have you said that – how many times will you watch me die?”

She wasn’t afraid of death. The fear in her eyes, and the dryness in her voice, were for me. She fought back the tears, threatening to break her in the face of death, for me. And at that moment – the moment I’ve experienced countless times – I knew it was the last. Her words were different. Her countenance was foreign. In this timeline, she embraced her fate.

“Emily,” I pleaded.

“I don’t want you to live your life on repeat. Please let me go this time.”

“I can’t do that. I cannot let you go.”

“You can. And you will.”

“No, I need to go back. There’s a loophole somewhere. I know there is.”

She sighed. Then reaching for my hands, she said, “If you must go back, then go back. But when you do go back, don’t return to this moment.”

“What?”

“Let this be our first and final goodbye.”

“I…”

A wrenching pain wrapped inside my chest. Its asphyxiating nature dragged my soul into a darkness I never knew existed. My throat tightened in response. My head scrambled for words I couldn’t say. And my eyes blurred in her final moment alive.

“I love you,” she said, with a thin smile.

“I… Em…”

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

That was, indeed, our first and final goodbye. Of all the endings to her life, I’d found the one with the most peaceful facet. And so I heeded her words – I went back.

It was on an ordinary day. I stood before the place I called home. As I reached for the door, ready to accept the life within, the door opened from inside.

“You’re back!” she squealed. “Happy Emily Day!”

With a smile, I picked her up for a tight hug. That day, she wore a navy blue jumpsuit.

“Happy Emily Day, Emily. Did you miss me?” I asked.

“Every second of every day.”

“I missed you too, Emily.”

Every second of every day.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Love, hearts, and roses were words given by breezyonthebeach. In fact, they were given as a Valentine’s Day prompt last year. I thought, since it’s Valentine’s Day next week, I might as well run with them.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. If you’re not up for a fictional tale, then recount your Valentine’s Day with these 3 words. It shouldn’t be difficult… unless you’re as single as I am.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Ridley | Burrito | Pluto

ridleyburritopluto

It was on Wednesday night when a delicious wrap of 223 calories went missing from the kitchen table. The burrito, of greens and beans, had been prepped for a simple dinner. Having not eaten the entire day, I was looking forward to savouring it. But just before I sank my teeth into its glorious flesh, the house phone rang. Briefly leaving to attend a common case of ‘wrong number’, I returned in horror to find my wrap missing. Who had eaten it? There were only two suspects.

The first was Mr Ridley. Mr Ridley wore fake moustaches, as he was very fond of playing detective. He had an unrepressed love for mystery novels. And I wouldn’t be surprise if he created a crime just to solve it.

Minutes before the incident, Mr Ridley was in the hall. A stone throw away from the kitchen, Mr Ridley saw me assembling the masterpiece. When the phone rang, the 46-inch television was playing a rerun of Sherlock. It seemingly grasped all of Mr Ridley’s attention, as he wouldn’t leave his seat to answer the call on my behalf. However, his oblivion of the monotonous ring was suspicious. I toyed with the possibility he feigned ignorance to steal my meal. So, I questioned him.

“Did you eat my burrito?” I asked.

“No,” Mr Ridley replied.

“You could’ve asked me to make you one, if you were hungry. You didn’t have to steal it.”

“Why would I steal your burrito? I don’t even like burritos.”

“That’s the thing – why would you steal, when you don’t like them?”

“Exactly. Why would I?”

“Then who ate my burrito?”

“I don’t know.”

“There was no one else at the scene of the crime.”

“You could’ve misplaced it.”

“I didn’t.”

“Well, it wasn’t me. But if you want me to help solve the case-”

“It was you, wasn’t it? Give me back my burrito.”

“I don’t have it. I never did.” Mr Ridley shrugged.

Seeing as Mr Ridley wasn’t admitting to the crime, nor were there any physical evidence he’d committed it, I had to consider my second suspect. His name was Gregory Pluto Junior. I just call him Pluto.

Pluto lived with Mr Ridley and me. He didn’t have a place to stay, so we rented him the guest room. I’ve never met Pluto until he arrived at our doorstep. He was a friend of Mr Ridley’s, and the pair shared a common passion for adventure and mystery.

On most nights, Pluto and Mr Ridley watched Sherlock together. That night however, Pluto was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t in his room. He wasn’t in the garden. He wasn’t even responding to my call. Where could he be, if not hiding and devouring my delicious dinner? Then again, if Pluto did commit the crime, was he capable of executing it on his own?

Now, I did consider waiting until the next day to question Pluto – when he showed up. He was never gone for long. But, I had an inkling the suspect was nearby. Thinking Mr Ridley might’ve witnessed the crime, I switched the television off for further investigation.

“Where’s Pluto, Ridley?”

“I told you, I didn’t steal your burrito. Now please, let me watch Sherlock in peace.”

“Where’s Pluto, Ridley?” I repeated.

“I don’t know where Greg is. Did you call him?”

“He isn’t answering.”

“Well then.”

“If it isn’t Pluto, then it must be you.”

“I. Don’t. Eat. Burritos.”

“Did you see what happened then?”

“I was watching TV until you turned it off.”

“Liar. You helped him, didn’t you? You know Pluto couldn’t have stolen the burrito on his own. So you helped him. You’re his accomplice.”

“Ha! Now who’s the one reading too many mystery novels?”

“Seriously Ridley. I need to eat.”

“Go make another burrito then. Is that so hard to do?”

“Oh… So you did steal it. Or helped steal it. Just confess – tell the truth.”

“Fine, I ate your burrito. You happy now?”

“No. You’re covering for Pluto.”

“Yes, I’m covering for Pluto. Now give me the remote.”

I narrowed my eyes. Tossing the remote at Mr Ridley, he shifted in his seat in reach for it. And when he did, the front door opened. No, it wasn’t the suspect Pluto.

“I thought you guys would be hungry, so we bought pizza on the way home,” Mr Watson said.

“Ah, real food!” Mr Ridley exclaimed.

“Where’s Pluto?” Mrs Watson asked. “Have you kids fed him yet?”

“No. He wouldn’t answer my call,” I replied.

More confused than before, I thought through my theories. There was Mr Ridley, who could’ve eaten my burrito despite claiming dislike. He was clearly hungry, seeing as he wolfed down the pepperoni pizza. And then there was Pluto, the smart canine that could’ve stolen my food by leaping onto the kitchen table. Whether Pluto had the help of Mr Ridley, it was another theory. So what really happened? Who was the culprit – or should I say, culprits?

For now, it remains a mystery unsolved. Perhaps one day, the truth will surface. And perhaps breaking the fourth wall will help uncover it. After all, ‘nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person’. You being another person, what do you think happened?

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Ridley, burrito, and pluto were words given by Mr Ridley. The idea to write a mystery piece wasn’t planned. It came in a snap and I rolled with it, drawing inspiration from The Case Files of Sherlock Holmes. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of mystery. But, it was certainly fun to write.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. And while you’re at it – concocting a story with such random words – leave a comment below with 3 more random words of your choice. Go on, I’m up for the challenge.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Write To Challenge

writetochallenge

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that writing isn’t just writing. In order to become a better writer, I’ve got to do more than writing.

You see, writing isn’t just about writing my niche genre, building familiar worlds, and creating characters I can relate to. Yes, it’s good to have a label under my name. And it’s natural for me to keep building it – heck, I should build it. I should master the art of my choice. But in order to become a stronger writer, I have to expand. I have to grow. Just like a kingdom, once established doesn’t remain stagnant, I need to push the boundaries of my world. But… how do I do that? Do I change my writing style and publish novels in different genres? No, I don’t. I simply experience – experience what I’ve never experienced.

To grow as a writer, I need to write beyond the comforts of my pigeonhole. I need to write outside of what I’m accustomed to. It will make me extremely uncomfortable, yes. I will struggle to convey my thoughts. And potentially, I’ll create disastrous pieces. But in order for me to become better, I need to take the leap of faith. I need to explore the vast universe and adapt to its varying nature. I may not be a master of all realms, but I have to experience them. And who knows? I might just write a decent piece.

There’s a reason why writing challenges and writing prompts exist. They don’t merely serve as a filler for when you don’t know what to write. These challenges, as they are called, challenge a writer to write something different. Despite not being good at a particular genre, world, or character, taking the challenge helps one get better. It is the stepping outside of a comfort zone that carves a writer. It is the embracing of something new that broadens the mind.

Personally, I’ve endeavoured to write in other genres, embrace different worlds, and toy with characters. I’ve written and will continue to write sci-fi, romance, mystery, and other genres outside of fantasy. I’ll mould different worlds with different cultures, beliefs, and eras. And I’ll create protagonists whom I’ll dislike more than the antagonist itself. Even if I don’t excel in these challenges – even if I don’t write novels through them – I’ll write anyway. I’ll write to challenge. I’ll write to challenge myself, my imagination, my skill, and my potential. I’ll write to challenge, because I know it has helped me in many ways. And I’ll write to challenge you, to write to challenge too.

I’m not just saying this on a whim. Through past experiences, I’ve grown from the challenges I put upon myself. From Dr. Slubgob’s Letters, a novella about a demon and his quest for the truth, to The Clubhouse, a blog series with characters I disassociate from; I’ve learned to construct deeper worlds and fuller personas. I’m still not good in either arenas – I don’t think I’ll ever master them. But, I have improved. And with a long way to go in my writing journey, I’ll continue to challenge myself.

This 2017, my writing goal is simple: write to challenge. As this year revs its engine, I encourage you to adopt this goal too. In fact, I encourage you to adopt this goal in general. It isn’t just for writing, but for anything – for areas you want to see growth. And If you stick through it, no matter the obstacles, you’ll come out a finer jewel than before.

Also, it can be quite fun.

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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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