There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

How to Choose an Unforgettable Title for Your Fantasy Novel October 30, 2013

The perfect name is hard to find. It’s the principle of first impressions. Get it right and your title will be the first step in enticing a reader (or agent) to pick up your book. Get it wrong and your work of fantastical brilliance will be overlooked as readers skim through the wide variety of competing titles. However with a bit of focus (and a flash of brilliance from the creative muse), you can give your title a fighting chance to stand out from the masses.

Don’t get attached to your working title:

Very rarely is your first idea your best idea. I often think of the working title as a childhood nickname. It’s fine when you’re nurturing it through the development phase, but is it really the best way to present it to the world? And bear in mind, if you’re heading down the traditional publishing route you might not have control over the naming rights at all.

Make a list:

Often a good time to start is when you’re writing the book. Look for things that are unique to your story so you can give yourself plenty of options. These could include:

  • key character names (Frankenstein), descriptions (The Time Travellers Wife) or titles (Prince of Nothing)
  • significant locations – specific (City of Bones), or descriptive (Dune)
  • major events (The Hunger Games)
  • timespan (1984, The Wheel of Time)
  • key objects – particularly those with a magical bent (The Sword of Shannara)
  • quests (The Name of the Wind)
  • unique-to-your-world characteristics (Ironskin)
  • themes (Divergent)

Set the Tone:

Ask yourself what you want your title to evoke from the reader? The Mists of Avalon, makes me think of a long forgotten time in history shrouded in legend. Game of Thrones speaks to the epic scale of the novel, covering numerous kingdoms and their interactions. Whereas The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy smacks of humour of an out-of-this-world variety.

Is your fantasy gritty and hard (Prince of Thorns), or based in a more whimsical setting (Starlight)? Is it dealing with a personal struggle (I am Legend), or the effects on a wider population (The Fellowship of the Ring)? Does your title really capture the essence of your novel?

Google It:

Don’t forget to google your title, it’s an easy way to check that your title is as original as your novel.


Don’t panic – even your most obscure title can still be a winner. Hugh Howie’s best-selling Wool series was lauded as a terrible name for a dystopian fantasy, yet it is undeniably memorable (and does make sense if you read the novel!).

And when all else fails, you can always rely on The Random Fantasy Novel Title Generator to come up with something amusing – if not entirely original.

What are your most memorable fantasy titles? 

– Raewyn Hewitt


Creating Your Fantasy Bible: Characters October 26, 2013

I’m not entirely sure why I thought I would be wrapping up the Encyclobibliogrimoire series today with Magic, but we’re gonna hold off on that seeing as how I only glossed over a major, MAJOR component of every story:


This image compilation brought to you by:
The reason I pay a cover artist.

I’m sure you guys wouldn’t have forgotten this component of your Encyclobibliogrimoire, but we’ll go over it anyway. The first suggestion I would have, that is not all biased, would be to go back over some of the character building posts we’ve made here at TADA over the past year. There’s some good stuff in there. And to be a pal, I’m even going to compile a list for you:

Oh, and don’t forget to take your character’s race into account (See: Creating Your Fantasy Bible: Races) So how do all of these posts help us with our Encyclobibliogrimoire? Easy. They help us to create well-rounded and unique characters. Don’t lean on stereotypes, and never treat any character like a throwaway character in your books. If a character appears on your pages, they should have a place in your story bible. World-building isn’t always just about the world itself. A lot of draw in fantasy novels is how real your characters are and how well your audience can connect to them.

First, start with the basics. I already listed those before, but lets go over them again. Depending on how minor the characters are, not all of these will apply. But you should at least try to fill out as many as possible. It will do wonders for helping you get a good grip on that character.

    • Name
    • Age
    • Birthday
    • Birth Place
    • Race
    • Physical description
    • Abilities
    • Family members
    • Best friend
    • Love interest

Next, get into their character traits and history. I put these two together because a lot of times they go hand in hand. My main character Zelene has an attitude and a chip on her shoulder, but she is also one of the most compassionate and passionate characters in the book. Why? Because she grew up in the ugly side of the foster-care system and was physically abused most of her life. This is the reason for her anger, and for her empathy when she sees other downtrodden people.

After you’ve nailed down their history, get into the plot points they have to deal with in your story. It seems silly to outline everything again from the fabulous storyboard I’m sure you’ve made, but it’s more important than you might think. This will help you to track your character’s progress throughout your story. As writers, we never want our characters to be stagnant. We write about the journeys they are on, and those journeys change them as they move forward. Track this, and make sure your character is developing the way you want them to.

Next, talk about relationships. You might have already covered this in the previous two points, but it’s a good idea to at least have a rough list of the relationships your character has and what kind. Do they have a good, strong relationship with their parents? Do they hate their brother? Idolize their best friend? All of these things effect how they react in certain situations.

Last, talk to your character. I recently did a blog tour for Heirs of War, and did several character interviews as tour stops. I was surprised by how refreshing it was to sit down and talk to my characters like they were real. You’re a writer–you come up with the conversation. It might feel silly at first. I know the first time I tried this years ago after reading that J.R. Ward did this, I felt like a complete idiot. My suggestion? Don’t use a questionnaire that is already filled out. Think about what you would want to say to your characters, or what they might want to say to you. I know Tate has some choice words for me…Anyway. You might be surprised and get to see a whole different side to your characters that you didn’t realize was there.

Whew. Now I feel better about the character portion of the Encycliobibliogrimoire. It was sorely lacking before. Next time we’ll talk about magic, but I want to hear your thoughts. Think I missed anything this go round with characters? Think we had enough covered before? See me in the comments!

  ~Mara Valderran

Making the most of NaNoWriMo October 23, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 7:58 am
Tags: , , , ,

Hi everyone!

The end of October is looming and NaNoWriMo is coming up fast! Are you ready to write a novel in a month in November?

NaNoWriMo Crest

What’s NaNoWriMo?

It’s the National Novel Writing Month. The idea behind such a writing challenge is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. All you have to do is sit down and write 1667 words a day for 30 days and you end up with a complete first draft on the last day of the challenge, which makes you a challenge “winner”.

Is this doable?

Yes, it is. Here are a few tips to make the most of NaNoWriMo:

1) Be prepared.

Before you dive in the writing challenge, know what you are going to write. Have a rough outline for your plot, some ideas for your characters and your themes. This will help you not getting “stuck”.

2) Register on the NaNoWriMo website

Here is the link. Half the fun of this writing challenge is the online writing community you get to interact with while writing your novel. So sign up, meet other writers, support each other.

3) Find inspiration

Writing 1667 words a day means finding enough inspiration to come up with ideas every day. Music can help, or maybe pictures. Create a Pinterest board for your NaNoWriMo novel and come back to it when you get stuck.

4) Take part in writing sprints on Twitter.

NaNoWriMo is about community. As writers, we can feel pretty lonely sometimes. Motivation and perseverance stems from talking to other writers, and “word sprinting” alongside them.

5) Write every day

This may sound basic, but it’s the heart of this writing challenge. To me, the purpose of NaNoWriMo is less writing a novel in a month and more writing every day.

6) Don’t become obsessed with your wordcount.

Remember that whatever your wordcount is in the end, it is a success, because YOU WROTE WORDS.


Are you planning on taking part in NaNoWriMo? Do you have any tips to make it a success for you? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments!

EM Castellan


Fantasy TV October 19, 2013

Filed under: Industry News — thereanddraftagain @ 5:28 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The best thing about fantasy, at least in my opinion, is that it has been making a resurgence lately. Primarily on television. Science fiction tends to be the go-to speculative fiction that gets air time, so seeing shows like Once Upon a Time, its spin-off Wonderland, Grimm, Sleepy Hollow and the like grabbing viewers in every week is really encouraging.

For people who struggle to get into books or don’t want to spend the money trekking out to a movie, television provides a free and accessible way for stories to be absorbed. And what better way to dabble in fantasy than from your couch? Show’s like Angel, Buffy, Charmed, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch paved the way for the stories that are network staples today. True Blood, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, all paranormal in genre, but firmly sitting beneath the fantasy umbrella and proving that they can stand tall against cop dramas or sitcoms. There hasn’t been a better time in television history for fantasy.

My favorite fantasy series as of now is Once Upon a Time. It had a bit of a slow first season and then seemed like it jumped the shark on some of its plots, but I feel as though this season has allowed the show to finally settle into its own skin. Exploring different fantasy worlds, new characters and unconventional plots. Instead of worrying about bridging the real world and fantasy world, it has begun to slip into a story that is primarily focused on the fantastical.

I’m not as convinced about it’s spin-off, Wonderland. While it has some interesting aspects and seems to be firmly rooted within the realm of Wonderland, it might require the same expanse of time as ONCE to really get going. Do I feel as if the network will give it this time? Probably not. It should be enjoyable in the meantime, providing quirky and imaginative tales from the twisted Wonderland alongside a touching romance.

These types of shows offer the perfect escape to viewers coming home from stressful days at work or a busy day with children. And even though they take place in other worlds, or crossover worlds, the abstract ideas are easily relatable and thoroughly exciting. Who wouldn’t love to have magic? Or be able to fly or teleport themselves to such amazing places? At its heart, that’s why fantasy is the greatest genre. I would love to see more fantasy series picked up like these to introduce a whole new generation of people to the wonders of fantasy.

What’s your favorite fantasy television show of all time and why?

~Rachel H


It’s Not So Bad . . . Is It? October 16, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:30 am
Tags: , , ,

So, here’s the thing. I read this really great, enlightening post on the word ‘it’, and said word’s usage in writing. That being, laziness. Now that I want to reference the original post, I can’t locate it. I even went back in my handy WordPress reader. No luck. Which means the blog was one of those I get e-mail updates on and I’ve deleted it.

Anyhow, I will admit, I never gave It much thought until I read that post. I mean, who doesn’t use that tiny word, right? Such a simple creature, really. Two letters. Most times I’m not even aware I’ve read It. Like ‘said’, It blends into the sentence, unassuming and totally at peace with the surrounding words. It causes little trouble. Keeps to Itself. I never suspected It suggested laziness as a writer. I actually hadn’t dwelt on It at all.

Until that fateful post. Now I can’t get It out of my head. But I’m very conscious of trying to remove it from my writing now. Is that good or bad? I haven’t yet decided. I don’t want to be a lazy writer. I don’t want to use words such as thing, stuff, something . . . You know, “He picked up the thing.” Well, what is the thing? What’s it look like, feel like, smell like? Even if he doesn’t know what the thing is, he certainly knows those bits of information. Right?

“He heard something.” Really? Something like . . .  a whistle, a hoot, a scream, a bang, a thump . . .what?

Now there’s It.

Is this lazy writing? Jenner picked up the sword. He swung it, marveling at the way it whistled through the air. He had just enough coin. It could be his if he wanted it.

All right, it’s not winning any literary awards, that’s not the point. The point is, what if I write this instead: Jenner picked up the sword. He swung the weapon, marveling at the way the blade whistled through the air. He had just enough coin. The sword could be his if he wanted to part with his gold.

Is the second attempt better with the elimination of It? I definitely had to work harder, coming up with other words to replace those two lovely letters. Did the change improve the writing? What do you think? Does It go onto the list of Lazy Writer Words That Shall Be Avoided?

~ K. L. Schewngel


What would fantasy writers do without Pinterest?! October 10, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 12:52 am
Tags: , , ,

Quick note: I know I said I would blog about Line Editing, but I decided to wait until next month after I’ve finished doing line edits on my second novel. Stay tuned!

I just had to take a moment to talk about one of the lovely places all of us fantasy writers go when we’re low on inspiration, waiting for a reply from someone and our thumbs just aren’t busy, or (dare I say it?) procrastinating. But here’s the wonderful thing about it: if I’m hiding from work, waiting for something, or just having a downer, Pinterest almost always takes me back to that writing zone. I don’t know how it does this, but without fail there will be a perfect little piece of art that will grab me and instantly transport me to another world. My brain starts working creatively as soon as I catch my breath of awe. Emotions evoked send me to my story zone and DUDE, I AM THERE.

What do I pin? Well, it can be anything from a scene that captures the feelings in my story, such as this:

Marina by Guily ^^ on Flickr.

to a moody image that describes a scene:

to a moment that provokes all kinds of feels:

By smoothdude on Flickr

to a snapshot of a character that describes them so perfectly, I can’t even:


Fantasy authors such as Susan Dennard and Sarah J. Maas use Pinterest all the time, especially because it’s great for worldbuilding. Little snippets that remind us of our worlds can be easily arranged in a symphonic manner to instantly immerse just by revisiting a board. (I know the There and Draft Again ladies are on Pinterest quite often, because I follow them and they post awesomeness!)

For me, Pinterest has the same squeal-factor as watching my favorite movies, only it takes less than a minute to scroll through a board I’ve made or find a few pins from a friend who inspires me. Yep, I’m here today to hook you on another form of social media. To convince you it belongs in a fantasy writer’s toolbox. You’re probably in desperate need of it and don’t know it yet. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

And, if you’d like to, feel free to share your Pinterest handle in the comments so fellow fantasy writers can follow and be inspired by what YOU are inspired by. 🙂

–Rachel O’Laughlin

Final Note: Another great thing about Pinterest is that — like Tumblr — it does a great job of maintaining the trail of creation. Artists get credit for their work wherever it is repinned. All pictures in this post are linked directly to their original pins, where you’ll find links to the original content.


Review: Urban Fantasy “Magick Marked” by Chauntelle Baughman (DarqRealm Series #1) October 5, 2013

Filed under: Reading — thereanddraftagain @ 6:10 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I might write epic fantasy, but I have to say that I love reading urban fantasy a lot more than epic. There’s just something about vampires, werewolves, and ghouls (oh my!) that pulls me in, even though I have no desire whatsoever to write them. Recently, I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reading copy of Chauntelle Baughman‘s book Magick Marked, which is the first in her DarqRealm Series. This book is definitely an example of how the book can prove to be ten times better than the blurb. The blurb didn’t really get me super-excited. It sounded interesting enough, so I figured I would give it a shot. And man, was I blown away.

ImageForced into a world of ancient magick and fabled creatures, vampire Rhowen Vasile has been honored with the prestigious appointment of executioner—a promotion she never wanted. Now she has two important responsibilities: execute criminal vampires and protect her race’s Kamen, one of five ancient relics said to harness all magick in the DarqRealm.

When the Kamen Rho swore to protect goes missing, she’s assigned the most important task of her life—join an interracial team with a magick mover, a werewolf and a shape shifter to recover what’s been lost. If she fails, the executioner will become the executed, and the magick held within the relics could be lost forever.

As other Kamens start to disappear and the teammates struggle to trust one another, Rho discovers a physical bond with a powerful magick mover that shouldn’t be possible. With the survival of the entire DarqRealm compromised, she barely has time to deal with her temperamental teammates, much less a forbidden attraction. Rho and her team must put everything aside to find what they seek—before the enemy finds it first.

Goodreads  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Smashwords

My Review:

This is definitely an example of the book being 10x better than what I expected after reading the blurb.

I didn’t expect to connect with the characters as much as I did, but these characters really do jump off the page. Chauntelle Baughman does such a great job of being in their heads without giving you too much that I had to remind myself it wasn’t written in first person. I felt as though they were talking to me, which creates a much deeper connection and draw to the characters for me.

This gets a bit spoilery, so be warned.

The love story was really well played out. I felt like the resistance was done well and the progression was natural. Rho wasn’t completely emo because she felt like things would never work with Eldon. It’s just a fact to her, even if it is one she isn’t happy with (though she’ll barely admit that to herself). They both have faults (stubborn, independent, argumentative) and instead of trying to change that about one another or battle over dominance, it seems that the faults they have in common only draw them to each other more, giving them insight into what the other is thinking in a way they haven’t experienced with anyone else before.

The inter-race relations is also very interesting. They’ve all been raised to think they know about the other race(and that their race is superior, of course), but they’re proved wrong. First impressions might emphasize those stereotypes (like Tim acting like a testosterone driven jock at the beginning when Eldon stupidly downplays the bond between a pack), but we get to see the layers to each character as they discover those layers about one another.

I loved that Rho wasn’t this perfect, graceful, seductive, all-knowing vampire. She was vulnerable. She was lonely. She was damaged. But she was also prideful and had her walls up. She was more human than you would expect in a vampire story.

The action and suspense really kept you turning the pages. I’ve been at DragonCon reading this, and any spare moment I had, I pulled out this book. Once I got to chapter twenty, I was ready to go back to the hotel and finish it off. And I am definitely ready for book two!

Happily, book two will be hitting the shelves October 7th. And if you haven’t read the first book, it is on sale for just $0.99! I would highly recommend you check it out.
~Mara Valderran

Revising for Publication October 3, 2013

Filed under: Publishing — thereanddraftagain @ 8:42 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Right on trend, I’m following Mara and posting a day late because I was apparently so engrossed in critiquing my CP’s manuscript that I couldn’t read my calendar. #headdesk

This post, and the next few posts of mine, will be allllll about revising and editing, so…grab some coffee. I know this will make you sleepy.

I am the world’s worst outliner. There, I said it. Phew. No matter how hard I try to outline, I always abandon it somewhere in the middle and just wing it. Of course, this makes for a crazy amount of revision. My CPs [and my editor] have waded through an awful lot of my crap and given me straight-up amazing advice, and I love them to pieces for it. Anyhoo, I don’t figure I’m the one to give you advice on how to outline, or how to write a draft. As much as I love drafting, I’m crazy spontaneous about it and don’t really have a rule besides “let your hair down and have a good time…oh, and freak out while you’re at it!”

When you first look at that beast you created and it’s time to revise, you’re probably going to be all “bleh…bleh…blarrrrrggg…” and want to drown yourself in still more caffeine. But you power through and whip that thing into shape, no problem. Send it to CPs. Revise according to their notes. Get it in the hands of some betas. They say it’s looking pretty good. You decide you can do better. You do a rewrite or another overhaul. Send to more betas. Let it sit for awhile. Implement more little tweaks. Read through it and, scared as you are, it just might be ready.

I’m fairly certain those who have an agent can just idly peruse this post with a bemused expression, because I’m pretty sure you’d have already sent in that third draft or what-not to your agent. This is that last, crazy madhouse revision that you absolutely MUST do if you are self-publishing. And of course, this can fall anywhere in your process, however it works for you. It just needs to happen after you’ve gotten a considerable amount of notes and implemented them. After your story is rock solid. After your character arcs are all in place and any unnecessary scenes have been trimmed. This is your last swoosh before line edits. (And yes! I’m doing a post on line edits next week.)

First, make sure your mood is right for this. You need to be confident in your story and know where it’s going. You’re almost done! This is exciting. If you’re depressed or having an off day, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT hack up your manuscript. Stay the heck away. You need to be in your best zone to do this. Maybe even knock it out in one lovely day with no other responsibilities so that you can feel empowered with it. I like to print off my whole manuscript and do this last revision with a pen, because after I’ve done it all on paper, then I have a moment to check myself as I do it in the document. And always, always save an old version before you get ruthless.

All right. Time for the nitty gritty. What you’re looking for:

Scenes that end too soon. Do they end strong? Do they give enough information? Is there mystery? Do they keep us reading forward? Check every single scene. Double check. If there’s even the slightest feeling that it’s weak, fix it. This might mean you need to move endings to the beginning of next scenes or move beginnings of scenes backward into the one before it. That’s okay. If it needs to happen, do it.

Scenes that are too long. This is something I do too much. I keep my characters rambling forward just a paragraph too long, because I think the reader needs to know something–but they would probably be much more interested if I just let them discover it. Cut, cut, cut those endings. Save them all in a file in case your line editor sees something missing and you need to recover some nuggets, but for the most part, those things need to be gone. Don’t cry. It’s okay.

Unnecessary dialogue. I’m a huge fan of using dialogue to tell the reader things instead of putting it in the narrative. Of course, you’ll already have eliminated places where the dialogue feels unnatural or wrong, but keep an eye out where it’s still lurking. (This stuff lurks and lurks.) Dialogue needs to feel real, and that could mean they talk about soap monsters once in awhile, but make sure it’s all necessary to character development and every bit of it is driving us forward.

Unnecessary description. Likewise, I find myself with whole paragraphs that don’t have much to do with the story, I just…I just…couldn’t part with them. You have to be cruel to these lovelies. No one is going to do it for you. If it hasn’t made one of your CPs dance with happiness, if it bugs you on bad days, if you catch yourself skimming over it because it’s boring…it needs to go. Get it out of there.

Anything that interrupts the flow. Anything, anything, anything at all. Characters introduced in a weird way. Info-dumps that may have been missed because they’re actually only a sentence long but gosh-darn-it, they’re still an info-dump. Imagine your book in it’s final, formatted state. Do you have a segway for everything? Do the chapter titles make sense? If the book is in parts, do the parts work together? Scratch things out. Move paragraphs. You’re invincible. Go go go!

As the publisher, you don’t have loads of professionals sifting through this. If you have a line editor and a copyeditor (and you better have a copyeditor), assume they don’t exist, because there will still be plenty for them to catch. At this juncture, it’s just you, baby. You and your utter, cold-hearted ruthless pen. Slice, dice, toss, reword, rethink, rearrange until that thing looks like a freaking bestseller. And you know what that means?

Wheeee! You’re ready for the scary land of line edits! YOU DID THIS THING!!!

–Rachel O’Laughlin