18 Books That Will Give You an Accidental All-Nighter

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Books Rock My World

Every bookworm knows the feeling. “I’m just going to relax a little and read my book before bed” turns into “Why is it light outside? What time is it? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?”

There are a few qualities that combine into a magical mix that keeps us stuck to the page. Great characters, embroiled deeply in plenty of complications and stuck behind insurmountable obstacles. Wonderful prose, although if the premise is good enough just “good” writing is plenty good enough to keep us hooked.

Here is an assortment of books from many genres that combine all of these qualities into something that readers just couldn’t put down. Anyone of them might give you an accidental all-night reading session. You have been warned.

*Book descriptions come from Goodreads*

1. The Illuminae Series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This series is completely unique! The format is brilliant (yes, the story is told…

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Talk that Talk (the Way Your Reader Likes it!)

Editor's Suggestions

Today, Inklings, we’re talking about talking.

Naturalizing your dialogue, to be specific.

Every writer has their own unique voice when they’re writing, because every person has their own dialect, inflections, voice patterns, and even vocabulary or colloquialisms. This is part of what makes language so diverse and gratifying to play with. You can use a variety of letters and sounds, and even make up your own!

But despite this, many writers struggle when it comes to making their characters speak, and if you have this problem, trust me, you are not alone. Dialogue between imaginary characters is hard, dude.

There are books upon books and blogs and lessons and classes and conferences about creating awesome dialogue, but there is a much, much simpler method of amping your character’s convos up to enjoyable levels.

1. Listen to conversations around you.

Go to your local coffee shop, grocery store, park. Sit for a while and hear how people speak. Pay attention to how they phrase things, or what inflection they use. Are they guilty of “up talk” or “vocal fry?” Do they over use the word “like” or “uhm” or “you know” because they are struggling to piece their words together? Do they have a tic, like beginning every sentence with “Okay, so…”, or just jump in and talksofastyoucan’tevencatchup? Believe it or not, these are all things you can incorporate (within reason) in your own writing. To make dialogue in writing believable, you have to know speaking in real life. You have to understand speech patterns—but this isn’t as hard as it sounds.

As human beings, we are actually significantly gifted at picking up body language and tone in speech, and now, it’s your great difficulty to translate that innate knowledge into your book.

2. USE. CONTRACTIONS.

As I’ve stated many times before, one of the easiest ways to make your language flow is an extraordinarily simple one. When you’re talking to a family member, do you say everything so prim and proper that you could be an extra in Pride and Prejudice? Chances are, no, no you don’t. Everyone has their “professional” voice and their “relaxed” voice. Professional you might be more precise, but chances are you won’t be able to cut those syllables with a chisel, right? Relaxed voice is how you normally speak, when you’re alone or with comfortable acquaintances. Putting a sense of “relaxed” voice in dialogue is a fantastic way of making your reader “say” it in their own version of relaxed voice, which makes it flow smooth like butta, baby. And the best way to do this? Use contractions.

“Do not take that bag out of the closet! If I have to look for it, I will end up late to practice!”

“Jer, we are going to the store. Is there anything you will need me to pick up?”

“I cannot forget to put all of the laundry in the dryer when I get home.”

“But Barbara, there is nothing you can do. He told you he does not want any help.”

Or

“Don’t take my gym bag out of the closet! If I’m late to practice because it’s missing, I’ll be pissed!”

“Jer, we’re going shopping. You need anythin’?”

“Aww, crap! I gotta remember to switch the laundry over when I get back.”

“Barb, you can’t do anything. He said he doesn’t want help.”

Write how people speak, not how a narrator would dictate a sentence.

3. Read EVERYTHING aloud. ALL OF IT.

Go and read a portion of a book out loud. Doesn’t have to be dialogue or even your own work; just pick something and go. Did you find yourself sliding over the pronunciation of certain letters in favor of your relaxed voice? Like saying ‘don’ instead of don’t? Do you perhaps soften your “r” to the point where ya sound Bostonian? Did you read it fast, or slow? Did it jive with your internal voice, or did you find yourself pausing and rereading portions so you could reassess the tone? Reading written words aloud will strengthen your understanding of dialogue and language in general. Pay attention to your own accent. Are you from the south? Did you know that southern accents have different dialects depending on where you live? Midwestern tones can seem southern, but have subtle differences, and west coast people sound completely different from northerners and southerners altogether? A Bostonian accent is drastically different than one in New York, and both are distinguishable from New Jersey or New England.

Hearing words out loud from different regions can really help you develop a style of writing conversations that will give everyone an individual voice. If you want your characters to pop, give them different “vocal” affectations. Learn to recognize and incorporate different accents, dialects, and parts of speech in your dialogue to give your character, well… character.

4. Use slang and colorful (not necessarily vulgar) language.

My siblings and I grew up in northern Florida surrounded by country folk and surfer dudes, but my mother is from New York, so we picked up a lot of slang from her that wasn’t common in that area. I ended up pronouncing forest as “fah-rest” or orange as “ah-renge”, and we abbreviated “shut up” so that it became a single word (“shaddup!”) and we called unidentified bits of paper or fluff on the floor “schnibbles.” At the same time, I was developing a touch of a lazy drawl, and getting a bit too relaxed around g’s, if you know what I’m sayin’. I was comfortable with “surfer talk”—which is its own thing entirely. I found out that I would specify tacos at Taco Bell the southern way of “the 89 cent” ones—yes, children, tacos did used to be that cheap. We don’t lie when we say the 90s were a wonderful time—or when telling someone to leave “something” alone, I would often jam the words together to pronounce it as “Lea’ that alone.” I fought against using “ain’t,” although I will admit that it has slipped in conversation at least twice. Language is fun! Use various methods to make yours enticing.

5. If it doesn’t need it, DON’T MAKE THEM TALK.

Sometimes, the best things are left unsaid, right? Well, occasionally. In dialogue, “a picture is worth 1000 words” takes on extra meaning. If you can show us what’s going on without your characters talking us through it, then do it. When you’re writing a screenplay, dialogue is a precious commodity. You seriously have to consider what words are going on that page because you are so limited with page space. Some of my favorite parts of a movie are where the characters say absolutely nothing because the action speaks so well for them. If your character is talking when they really should be quiet, remove it. See how well silence can direct a scene for you.

Pixar actually does a fantastic job nixing dialogue in favor of showing action—think of the beginning of the movie Up, or actually don’t, because I do not need to cry right now. How about a film like Wall-E, instead? The action carried so well that they were able to forego dialogue in HUGE portions of the film, and one of the sweetest moments ever is when Wall-E first meets Eve:

Now imagine if he had been giving her verbose, expository dialogue about how he’d been fulfilling his mission to box all the trash on Earth.

When in doubt, go without!

 

photo: SFStation

3 Cliches (That Completely Lose Your Reader)

Editor's Suggestions

The Top 3 Clichés that Make Me Close a Book

By Kelly Kobayashi

1. The Love Triangle

How many times have you yourself been in a Love Triangle? How many times has anyone you’ve ever known? I’m sure I’m blowing your mind when I tell you honestly that neither is true from my own experience. Have I known girls who broke up with one guy because they found themselves attracted to someone new? Definitely. Have I known guys who stayed silent and sat on their feelings until they sorted out which girl of two to approach? Of course.

But I’ve never personally known anyone just so darn alluring that multiple people crushed on them (and made their passionate feelings known) at once. I’ve never found myself so confused by my own feelings as to selfishly string anyone along. I’ve never known any boy, girl, man, or woman so stupid as to not know the difference between “I find this person hot” and “I care for this person’s story, their happiness, opinions, feelings, and overall well being.” Lust and Love are not hard to separate, even for teenagers. Shocking, I know.

So, even more offensive to me than the predictability, pointlessness, and utter failure at creating tension, is that the Love Triangle is just unrealistic. It’s lazy. And it’s actually pretty insulting, especially to YA readers. We know who we would pick, so why is the protagonist such a shallow, cruel, weak dimwit?

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Don’t care. *slams book shut*

2. The Misunderstanding That Could Be Solved With a Single Conversation

Usually goes something like this: Girl sees Boyfriend walking beside another girl across the street. (They are not even holding hands.) Next day, Girl freezes Boyfriend out. No texts, no calls, no explanation.

Girl, I don’t have time for you and your faux drama. Boyfriend is really better off without you if that’s the way you’re going to act.

Or how about this: Male Lead of high fantasy novel finds out his Female Lead is stuck in an unwanted-but-arranged marriage, which—due to obvious factors such as time period, societal norms, and family politics—is completely understandable, but he still accuses Female Lead of betrayal, cowardice, and gold-digging.

Um, Author, you set up this world. You designed it as a medieval realm. You created gender parameters around the Female Lead. You made arranged marriages an accepted practice. Why is your Male Lead throwing 2016 shade?

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Nope. *slams book shut*

3. The Misdirected Insta-Thirst for Revenge

Ugh. This one I really just can’t take seriously. And it’s the crux of far too many crime thrillers and graphic novels. This one plays out: Villain murders Mentor, Love Interest, or Family Member, then leaves scene. Best friend enters scene. Hero walks in, merely sees Best Friend standing over the body (wearing a look of horror), and vows REVENGE! upon them.

Call me nitpicky, but I’m pretty sure I would want to… you know, ask questions, investigate, and FIND THE REAL VILLAIN who is not my OBVIOUSLY-A-GOOD-GUY Best Friend?! I would at least ask Best Friend what happened. Did they see anyone? Did they just get there like I did? Have they already called for an ambulance?

If the Hero’s friendship is so tissue-paper-thin that he can believe Best Friend capable of murder, I don’t care if he realizes the truth later. Best Friend should run in the opposite direction from this idiot’s brand of loyalty and consideration.

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I can’t even. *slams book closed*

 

Feat. Photo: mensxp

The Secret Good News!

Blog Articles

Waiting around to hear back for that rejection you just know is coming can be one of the most painful things you will ever do as a writer.

You worked for this. You sweat for it. Hell, maybe you even bled for it.

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“Yes, paper cuts do count in this industry, thanks very much.”

And then there’s one day when the clouds part and pure, unadulterated Monty Python God-in-the-Heavens sunlight beams down on you… the planets align (literally, in my case), and that rejection… Becomes a yes.

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I’m stoked to announce that my soft sci-fi book has been accepted for publication!

I’m not gonna lie, I may have cried a little (Okay a lot, and my waste bin was full of tissues–don’t judge), after I read through the whole email three times just to make sure I wasn’t fooling myself. And then maybe my husband and I celebrated with a bottle of champagne because

YEAH! I’ve got a book coming out, baby!

I’ll have more updates later on, once I have a better idea of things, but look out for my book to hit shelves in 2017!

*Happy dances out of the room.*

 

The Editor’s Perspective: Too Much Information

Too Much Information...

One of the things that I consistently see—and am guilty of myself—is the habit of over-sharing.

Writers often have the difficult task of not only making up absolutely every part of their story down to where their character has an unsightly mole or embarrassing birthmark, but to do this mental and physical creation for every single character in their story. It’s exhausting!

Think about it: Imagine your friends or coworkers, or even family members. We’ll say just pick three at random. What do you know about them? Favorite color? How many fillings they have? When they were born? Their parents’ current city? The place they lost their virginity? Their first car? Their pet’s name from when they were ten that they use as a password? The amount of their bank account/s?

Now imagine their personal drives, inspirations, or fantasies.

Do they have a tortured secret from their past that haunts them to this day? Was their first love a con artist? Father an abusive drinker? Do they hate alcoholics for that reason? Are they one themselves? What’s their ultimate goal, their dream in life? What makes them keep going, even in the face of complete and total hopelessness?

Hell, what’s their favorite position in bed?

Likely, you won’t even have half of the answers to questions that specific, and probably not at all to that last one about your family members.

 

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Please, no Jaime and Cersei Lannister jokes… except this one.

Moving on…

A writer may not have this specific information, but imagine knowing a person on a much more in-depth scale and then having that depth of knowledge for 10 other people in your book—or even more, if we’re going with Game of Thrones again. Now imagine that you have three stories that you’re working on concurrently, and each of those people also has those individual properties, and not to mention they’re in different genres, so it’s an entirely different type of world…

Oh, and some of them may only exist for one page. Or not even show up in the story at all.

What I’m saying is, there is a lot of information going on in a writer’s head at any given time, and sometimes it’s hard to compress that information to determine what goes into your book and what stays off the page.

I recently edited a short piece where the author randomly decided in the middle of an unrelated paragraph to go into detail about the character’s very specific job, her age, the length of time she had been at said job, the people she liked there, what she hoped to accomplish at the job in a couple of years, and the respect she hoped she garnered from her co-workers. It was random, it was waaaaaay too in-depth, especially given the parameter of what she had been talking about before, and it was absolutely over-share.

The toughest part? Not one single thing about that woman’s job mattered to the story at all, and given its awkward delivery and general unimportantness, it had to be completely cut. Do I feel bad when I make these suggestions? Yes, I do. Someone worked really hard to come up with a believable character with believable background information and wants to show that information. Are the changes necessary?

Let’s just say this: Nine times out of ten you can cut entire paragraphs of over-share from a book and not just make it shorter, but make the story better.

I thought you were supposed to be detailed in writing?

Absolutely! When world developing, it’s good to be as thorough as possible. There are numerous sites whose soul purpose is to help develop worlds and characters with intense detail. In the past, I’ve used LitLift to keep track of specific things about characters from their shady pasts and emotional and physical scars down to height, weight, eye, and hair color. Not all of these things make it into the pages of a book, and honestly, not all of them should. That does not mean you shouldn’t have that information before you write.

Think about how much more information J.K. Rowling was able to divulge about her Harry Potter series after the final book came out. The information you keep back can oftentimes be important to the development of your character or world, but still not entirely pertinent to the story itself.

Confused yet?

Writing differs from world building in that you have to be far more selective about where, when, and even if that information you’ve worked weeks, months, or years on makes it into the final cut. It’s basically having a giant bin of Legos and having to sift through it for all the exact right pieces. Could you use all of those pieces to build a cool spaceship? HELL. YES. Legos are amazing. All of those pieces would fit together one way or another.

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But would they be the streamlined, coherent, amazing spaceship you saw on the box? Uhm… maybe, if you tweaked it here and there, and kinda squinted your eyes and tilted your head…

Okay, no. But that’s basically what writing a book is like.

So how does a writer determine what goes into the story?

This part is going to be difficult, no matter how many times you write a book. You have allllll that information rolling around in your head, itching to get out. Sometimes you know your character’s personal information better than you know your own. Being that close to it, you literally can’t see the forest for the trees. So what helps cut down what the necessary information isn’t?

Outlining and plotting out your story like a well-crafted blueprint, that’s what.

When I was younger, there was no way in hell I was going to outline my work before I wrote. It wasn’t that I was against it, but I’d get the idea and I’d just go for it, full throttle, no easing back until the words had left me.

As I got older and went to school for writing, I started to learn more about the Hero’s Journey and other methods of crafting your story, and outlining became MUCH easier. Using even a vague pattern for outlining your story will give you a better idea of where it’s going, what your important plots and subplots should be, and if you really need to crack that joke on page 156, or divulge your character’s reason for doing that thing on page 79.

Can you sew a pair of pants by hand? Sure, but it’ll be messy as hell. Can you use a pattern to make it much more neat and then clean it up when you’re done? YES. Nobody’s going to want a pair of jeans with seventeen buttons on one pant leg and no fly, or a scarf that’s way too big—

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Never mind. Sorry, Mr. Kravitz.

What I’m saying is that giving yourself time to plan and outline the story before you start writing will give you knowledge about the highlights and important areas in your story, and also tell you which parts can get chopped off right away. Sometimes people write out of order because the parts come to them that way. I do this sometimes when I find the urge to write a particular scene before I’ve gotten there. It can work because I’ve outlined specific instances to happen, so my brain is still working out how they go together, even if I have several pages from the beginning and end done with no middle sections.

Your outline should always be in the order that your book needs to go, regardless of how you write. It gives you a ladder that you can follow to reach the top, even if you’re hopping from the third rung to the eighth.

Does outlining guarantee your story will be right the first time?

In no way does any planning you do beforehand guarantee that everything will work perfectly in the long run. There are always complications in writing, and sometimes, your character will simply run you into a corner before you realize what’s happened. Sometimes the outline needs to change because you realize that parts of it won’t work or don’t suit the direction you’re trying to go. Maybe the goal changes and you need to rewrite that super sweet space battle or remove it entirely.

Just like your writing won’t be perfect the first time around, your outline will often change as the story develops and fleshes out. It’s the nature of writing. It’s a living, moving, writhing, sometimes bratty piece of work. It occasionally has a will of its own and will make you feel like you’re trying to convince a toddler not to stick that shiny thing in their mouth. But the important thing is to push through it and get to the end, whether you’re happy with it or not…

…And then hire a crazy awesome editor to clean it up for you. ;p

Reflections!

Blog Articles

A lot of things have happened for me in the last year. Not all of them great, but some of them pretty wonderful. May 3rd was the anniversary of the day my (now) husband and I officially started dating, waaaaaay back in good ole’ 2011. We celebrated quietly (because one can only have so many anniversaries, I am told, and marriage trumps dating), ate dinner, played GTA 5, and my husband gave me a glorious Sailor Moon figure, because, yes, we really are that much of a geeky couple.

It was, unfortunately, also the day that marked a big sadness in my life: the day I got rear-ended by a–not soccer mom, I was vehemently corrected–woman in her “athletic sport-abled transportation vehicle.” It caused a lot of issues, a lot of pain, and a lot of pure, utter, nonsense. It’s a part of my life I am hoping to put behind me.

Because of these things, May 3rd caused a lot of reflection for me. I will be twenty-eight in a scant few days. If my grandmother were here, she’d tell me I’m only a year away from her favorite age of twenty-nine. When I was little, I actually looked forward to getting to that age so I could tell people the same thing my grandmother told them all the way up until she passed: “I don’t care what my birth certificate says, I’m twenty-nine and holding.” This is the woman whose thick Brooklyn accent I adored to mimic, who always had a electronic gambling game in her purse, a cigarette in her hand, and lipstick on her glass.

It’s amazing the things you think about around birthdays, isn’t it?

These days it doesn’t feel like I have time for anything. Much less for reflection, so the third was an interesting–albeit it bittersweet–period. About a year and a eight months ago, I graduated from college. Half a year after that, I started working as a proofreader. About eight months ago, I got married. Three months ago, I got promoted to editor. About two months ago, I started editing job number two, and hell if my days haven’t just been a whirlwind since then. Working in your industry is great; it’s what you strive for. Of course, the pay doesn’t really cut the mustard some days, and your workload is shit, but the thing is, you adore what you do. And I do. I don’t mind filling my days with editing and my downtimes with video games… but it doesn’t leave much time for my writing stuff.

When I went to school for creative writing, I had grandiose dreams of finishing a couple novels, getting some short stories out, and eventually having a successful editing company of my own. Of course, the real world never works out like a five year plan… and slowly that plan began to look more like fantasy than the novels I read for a living.

(Still, it’s hard to complain. I read books for money and tell them how to make it better!)

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When you can actually fix the misspelled words in a book

I’ve been trying to cram a lot into a very limited amount of time, however, and recently, that meant pushing myself to clean and polish (read: cut 8,000 words out of) a short story of mine, in the hope that I can submit it for publication in an anthology. I’m super stoked, if not perhaps nervous that I’m taking their ‘20,000 words or less rule’ a bit too literally.

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I take word count to heart, thank you very much.

Like all hopefuls, I’m eager to see the acceptance email after working on something so hard, but there’s still the nagging doubt that I’ll be able to do it at all. Editing other people’s work makes me understand how great it is. Editing mine? Not so much.

(Hint to any struggling writers out there: You are probably your own worst critic… so don’t listen to you.)

Maybe the five year plan isn’t working out the way I wanted; maybe my dreams are different now, and maybe a couple got derailed in lieu of more realistic expectations.

That’s okay. Gonna keep at it and hope I hit my mark one day.

Wish me luck! The deadline is June 1st. ;p

‘The Coffin Blind’ Excerpt

Blog Articles

“Is that Gaven?” Ingrid lifted a pale hand to shade her equally pale blue eyes and stared into the setting sun’s light.

Irritated, Elijah only nodded.

“He shouldn’t force the emissaries to act. They’ll just send him to the Farm,” Ingrid said.

Elijah squirmed uncomfortably. He couldn’t let Ingrid know how close he had come to crying. “Should we say something?”

She thought for a moment. “He lost his family today… leave him alone.”

Elijah was grateful for her empathy—a rare trait among a culture where deep emotions were deemed distasteful. The chastisement of Gaven’s actions was nothing more than rote; one of the strange laws they’d followed compliantly since the End nearly thirteen cycles prior.

Elijah often wondered what it had been like before the End, but he couldn’t picture it since he’d been born into the new world. Now, all he had to imagine the lives of his parents and siblings were pictures and remnants. He wondered if it was harder for the others who knew both, or for him not to have known it at all. The way they mentioned it was almost reverential; he was sad he would never understand.

In the village behind them, hushed whispers announced the coming of the emissaries.

At her hip, Ingrid’s hand tightened on the pommel of her short sword, and Elijah followed suit. Did someone already call them? He wondered. After a few minutes of fearful expectation, he forced his hand to unclench.

After all we’ve seen today, Elijah pondered as survivors turned and dissipated into the dark houses of the settlement, maybe they don’t want to cause more pain?

It wouldn’t last, though.

It never did.

Anachronistic (Sample)

Writing

9:18PM—SimTech Laboratories Main Hallway

“Yes, but does that make her an android, or a cyborg?”

“Well, if you look at it that way—“

“SIR!”

The outer door slid open with a whispered hiss, almost as though mocking the agonizing look of panic emblazoned on the security guard’s face.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“She’s gone sir. She escaped.”

“What? How? This is a level D facility! You can’t just walk out of here!”

“She was in the machine, sir. It lit up like a bolt of lightning and then she was gone. Delivery truck had the hatch open. She must have gotten out that way. Desmond’s dead.”

Dammit, dammit, this was supposed to be routine

“Go! I want her found now, and I want the fools responsible fired!”

“Yessir.”

Android was not really a word that would describe Alice Fontenot-Corrigan even on her most apathetic days. In fact, ‘android’ was not a word she even used often, as it sounded strange against her tongue, which was used mostly for the praise and chastisement of her son, Johnny, and her husband, Reed.

Having repeatedly had the word thrust upon her that very morning, when strange men had thrown her into a squad car as it hovered in front of her son’s bus stop was another story altogether.

7:58PM—SimTech Laboratories Consultation Room

“Robot? Android? What the hell are you talking about? How many times do I have to tell you people I’m a… that I’m human?”

This particular ‘hell’ was only the thirtieth curse word that she had spoken in her entire twenty-seven years of life, and it was directed at one Liam Marcum, Lead Developer of Robotics. The sounds coming from her throat seemed foreign to her, as though her mouth was forming words in languages she didn’t recognize.

 Two guards stood posted at either side of the room, guns drawn and tense at their sides

Liam’s mouth perked at the corners, a sly, knowing smile reserved entirely for scientists and people who know too much.

“Yes Mrs. Corrigan. You are an android.”

Pause. Check the dossier

            “You are scheduled for deconstruction in an hour if you will not voluntarily submit to your processor wipe and the downloading of your memory files.”

Glare over the glasses

           “If you are deemed unstable, you will be deconstructed.”

It was eight in the evening, and Alice Fontenot-Corrigan was the most believably human android they’d ever seen. That very night, she was going to be submitted for reprogramming so that she could be reassigned to another task. There was only one minor problem:

Please—God, I’m not an android!