The Ebony Quill

Thoughts, reflections, and whimsies as I experience life

Archive for the tag “novel”


Don’t kill me guys. 

I know.  I know it’s been over two months since I posted, and even though the last two months have been crazy, that’s no excuse.

I took a hiatus from writing these last couple of months, and now I’m going to try to get back into it.  It’s just that whenever I read a particularly good novel (Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys, for example), instead of feeling motivated to finish my WIP, I feel incompetent.  I feel like I’ll never be good enough, so why bother trying?

But that’s not the way I should think.  I need to remember that each published novel was at some point a messy rough draft, so it’s okay that mine is, too.  I have to learn to bury the perfectionist in me that wants to weave magical phrases and metaphors the first time around, or my inner editor that wants to keep rereading (and mentally criticizing) what I’ve written thus far.  I have to accept my work as it is–a rough draft–and realize that it will improve with each new round of edits.

Do any of you have tips for how to stay motivated and slay that inner editor/perfectionist?


The Importance of Setting

This month, I’m participating in the Teens Can Write, Too Blog Chain for the first time.

The blog topic is: “How much does setting affect your novels and stories? What are some of your favorite ways to portray setting?”

I’ve always considered a novel’s setting to be one of it’s most important characteristics because it provides an environment in which the reader can immerse his or herself.  Although characters are, of course, the most significant aspect of a story, their surroundings can mold their actions, reveal their strengths and flaws, and serve as an obstacle or a blessing.

Since my novel is a fantasy, the setting is imaginary and is still under construction.  However, it’s based on real locations and terrain.  I’ve always been fascinated by the Middle East and Egypt: the tantalizing mystery, the depth, the vivid color, the customs, the traditions.  Thus, the city my main character lives in is located on the edge of a desert.  This, of course, affects the way people dress and how they look.  The women (and some of the men as well) wear kohl eyeliner and they dress in light, colorful, and comfortable clothing (I researched ancient Persian clothing to get a good visual).  Sometimes, they also cover the bottom half of their faces with a scarf to avoid breathing in sand and dust.  They have tan skin and dark hair.  You can get a bit of a feel for the setting by reading an old excerpt from the first draft of my novel (please be forewarned that most of the excerpt has undergone major changes).

I plan on drawing a map to help me clarify where everything is located (which I will definitely post here).  I also want to incorporate different types of terrain, so that each of the three kingdoms have their specific set of advantages and disadvantages.  I hope to find a way to incorporate mountains, rivers, hills, forests to make the world richer and more exciting.

Additionally, I’ve learned it’s important to avoid “info-dumping,” which is difficult, especially in fantasy and science fiction novels.  I’m currently trying to fit in bits and pieces about the setting, history, and traditions of the land where it would naturally make sense to mention them instead of going into long-winded explanations about the political and social system of the kingdoms.  Basically, I aim to illustrate the setting the way my characters see it and reveal details as my characters think them.


Here are the other blog chain participants:

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day

September 5––Musings From Neville’s Navel

September 6––Olivia’s Opinions

September 7––Miriam Joy Writes

September 8––Kirsten Writes!

September 9––Beyond the Moon

September 10––Crazy Red Pen

September 11––The Ebony Quill

September 12––Reality Is Imaginary

September 13––This Page Intentionally Left Blank

September 14––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

September 15––All I Need Is A Keyboard

September 16––Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

Excerpt from my Novel

So, I finally threw aside all my outlines and character sketches and sat down to wrote a couple of pages of the novel last night.  And lo and behold, it worked.  I wrote, and it felt good.  I would like to share a short excerpt from what I’ve written thus far, and I would appreciate any and all feedback, corrections, and constructive criticism.

Without further ado, may I present a taste of my novel…Untitled (no, that’s not really the title- I just don’t have one yet.) :

Arianna peered around the corner of the red adobe and brick building she was hiding behind.  The market was as busy as usual: colorful, open-air stalls lined both sides of the narrow dirt street, filled with everything from fruits and vegetables, trinkets and baubles, to clothing and weapons, twinkling in the late morning sun.  Merchants marched back and forth in front of their individual stalls, yelling out their wares and prices to the clusters of shoppers.  Camels and donkeys stubbornly resisted the tugs and reproaches of their owners, kicking up red dust and clouding the entire scene.  The scents of spices and food, the fragrances of perfumes, and the odors of livestock mingled in the thick, dry desert air.  On the walls of the buildings that rose behind the shops, visible now and then through the gaps in the stalls, were signs illustrating wanted criminals and the reward for their capture or information about their whereabouts: murderers, swindlers, and thieves of all sorts graced the ragged parchment, their features somewhat distorted by the artists.  One face recurred more often than any of the others: Arianna’s face.  She gazed at the signs, smiling proudly at one featuring herself.

“Wish they’d get my face right for once,” she muttered.  Admittedly, however, her likeness was better represented than the others on the wall; she knew a good number of them by name.

Arianna checked the market scene again before emerging from her hiding spot and weaving skillfully through caravans of livestock, dodging several women arguing over some vegetables in the middle of the path, to a large barrel on the other side.  Crouching behind it, she breathed heavily, catching her breath as she readjusted the covering over her mouth and nose; the piece of cloth was used less to protect her from the dust than to shield her from sharp and wary eyes that might identify her.  After a few seconds, she looked over the barrel, just in time to see a tiny boy running into his hiding place behind a similar-looking barrel.  He caught her eye and gave her a confident grin and a thumbs-up.  Arianna gave him a curt nod and retreated back into position behind the barrel.  She and Nathanial had successfully executed this same routine a hundred times without getting caught—although they had come dangerously close on more than one occasion—, and were incurring increasingly fewer cuts and scrapes in the process.  This time was different, however

The baron who ruled this part of the kingdom would be riding through town today to “see how his people were faring,” a thinly veiled guise for his real intention of gauging the citizens’ wealth so that he could increase taxes.  Arianna and Nathanial planned to rob him.  To be sure, Arianna had robbed many lower officials on her own, but this one called for some assistance; it would be tricky, but with the backdrop of a busy market, nobody would see a miniscule ragamuffin deftly cut the coin bag that regularly adorned the side of the baron’s large, white stallion.  Arianna wanted to be the one who did it, but Nathanial insisted that he was ready.  Hardly thirteen, he had trailed Arianna for several weeks on her missions undetected.  When she finally discovered him, she realized he would be a valuable partner, and they had been thieving together for over a year now.  Nathanial wanted to proudly present the coin pouch to his mother and younger siblings upon his return to their squalid living quarters in one of the city’s poorhouses.

The clattering of horses hooves—a foreign sound in the city center—sent Arianna’s senses on high alert.  It was time.

–So that’s the end of the excerpt!  Please let me know what you think!

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