ten books that made me a better writer


This week’s BrokeandBookish Top 10 Tuesday  theme is a freebie, so I thought I would talk about some of the books that inspire me, books that I read and thought “YES. THIS. This is what I want to do: I want to write.”

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1. 1984, by George Orwell, for the exquisite use of the 3 act structure

Maybe because I read this book in a time where I was seriously and obsessively studying the three-act structure for novel writing, but I really appreciated being able to pinpoint the breaks of each act, the moment Plot Point 2 launched the second act into the third, the glide of the climax into the denouement — this book is a classic not only for its biting social commentary, but the fact that it is tightly written. It’s one of those books that makes you think, did this book endure because of the three-act structure that built its skeleton, or does the three-act structure as a model endure because of classics like this book?

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Sickles and Sixpence: Deciding Your Fantasy World’s Currency

I’ve talked once about deciding on your fantasy world’s religion, but there’s another question I’ve been struggling with: money. Moolah. Coinage. Currency, whether it be in bills or beans or other shiny things.

*very* shiny things

There are two facets to fantasy money important to consider in world building — what counts as currency/trade in your fantasy world, and what do you call it?

Obviously, unless your plot deals intimately with the economic structure of your fantasy realm, you’re not going to want to inundate your readers with this kind of detail. Readers want to know about your characters, their troubles and the big ol’ exciting plot, not exchange rates and other economic jargon. 

But, think of Harry Potter. Going to Diagon Alley for the first time and getting money from his Gringotts vault is a threshhold-crossing moment for Harry. He’s brought into this  unfamiliar but amazing magical world, given a purse of gold coins, and told to go buy stuff. We learn so much about wizards in that chapter — we see their cauldron shop, the owl emporium, the shop that sells their custom-tailored Wizarding robes. And legitimizing the whole experience is a brief, comically confusing rundown of Wizard money:


“The gold ones are Galleons. Seventeen silver Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle, it’s easy enough.”
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

And suddenly, as a reader, we’re right there in it. We want a moneybag of tinkling, glittering gold galleons. We want to buy our wand and school books and get fitted for our robes. Even a brief mention establishing your fantasy world’s currency can go a long way to legitimize the world. It’s a little detail, but a fun one, and one you can make as unique or imaginative as you like.

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ten authors I would never ever ever be able to meet


Today’s Tuesday Top Ten List is technically supposed to be “10 Authors I Would Like to Meet” — only, nope. Wouldn’t do that. Because … of … I don’t even … No.

Standing in a signing line, walking up to someone whose work has affected me in any significant capacity, saying sentences to them, remembering my name long enough to repeat it, watching them write my name down, trying to come up with any amount of small talk that isn’t “BLARH ARGH BLAH BOOKS, THOUGH, YOU’RE GOOD AT THEM” is way too intimidating for me to even consider as a possible actual reality.

(I don’t know WHY, exactly. I guess this is a combination of social anxiety, fear of humiliation, fear of saying something ridiculous, fear of standing in lines (???), fear of forgetting my name, fear of making eye contact, fear of expressing to another person my feelings — there’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s just leave this emotional baggage firmly padlocked and crammed into the back of the storage closet, shall we? I’d rather pretend to be utterly unaffected than to melt into a puddle of feelings, apparently.)


So, the point is, instead of listing authors I’d like to meet, I’ll list authors whose work I care about too much to actually make eye contact with them:

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The Moments I Look Forward To Whenever I Reread Harry Potter


The theme for this round’s Harry Potter Moment of the Week (over on Uncorked Thoughts) is Most Anticipated Moment. I’m not sure if this meant things we were looking forward to as we initially read the series or not (like Harry defeating Voldemort, or certain characters hooking up), but I decided to take it in a slightly different direction and talk about the moments I look forward to when I reread the books.

Because I reread these books all the time. Basically, at any given moment, no matter what books are stacked on my nightstand or even open on my lap, you can be sure I’m rereading some Harry Potter book as well. Right now, I think I’m around the Quidditch World Cup in Goblet of Fire. What can I say — I love reading Harry Potter! It’s a total comfort book, an easy way to charge my creative batteries, and just makes me happy.

So! I’ve noticed that whenever I get really into an HP book, there’s always some specific sentence or moment I’m really looking forward to reaching and reliving again. My toes start to wiggle, I sit forward a little in my seat, I get all jumpy and excited, like I’m in a car and the roadsigns are confirming we’re almost at our final destination. Here are those scenes, in order:

1. Neville wins his 10 points in Philosopher’s Stone


Cue immediate tears. Book or movie, this scene slaughters me. I love Neville getting his moment, I love Dumbledore for giving it to him, I love everybody in this Great Hall. 

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Beautiful People, May Edition

beautifulThis month’s Beautiful People post is all about your Camp NaNoWriMo characters! I spent April editing and writing bits and pieces for my ~fantasy series~, so I’ll answer the questions for my main character, Charley! I talked about Charley and his relationship with his best friend Simon in last month’s BP post. 🙂

1. Do they get nightmares? If so, why or what of?

Yeah, Charley gets a few nightmares throughout the series — in the book I’m writing right now, he’s majorly worried about avalanches and getting buried in piles of falling rocks. (A legitimate thing to be worried about, I think!)


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