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Final day of dragon con

I’ll be in a captain America shirt with a winter soldier arm. May try to go to the worst gaming story panel, other than that, our group isn’t doing much today. Hope to see some of you all!

45 ways to avoid using the word 'very'

I’m going to print this on stickers and put them everywhere around my school library.

- Allie

More D*Con Day 3 updates

I’m currently in the hyatt ballroom level by the centennial ballroom ii if you are interested in saying hey. Not sure what else I’ve got planned for the evening, so now is a perfect time to chat!


Sorry to you all about the late post-I’m dressed as Medusa from Soul Eater, and I’ll be around the marriott taking pictures for awhile from now.
I’m in the food court for a little longer, come say hey!
Hope to see you all!

FYCD Does Dragon*con: Day Two

Hey there guys! I’ll be headed to watch the parade this morning (which is really cool so if you’re in the area, you should definitely come see it anyway), but we will probably spend a good deal of time in the artist alley and dealer’s hall, though I may try to hit up some YA and writing panels during the day. I will possibly be at the doctor who screening, though that really is dependent on the group I’m with!
I’ll be dressed as Jafar today, my boyfriend will be Wreck It Ralph and I think two of our number will be ponies? Not sure.
So anyway, if you see me and want to chat or ask questions, go ahead and ask. I may be busy and I’ll let you know if that is the case, but don’t hesitate to ask.
-mod covert



A cliché is NOT a trope.

A trope is NOT a cliché.

Tropes are things that are used over and over again. They’re conventional actions, people (archetypes), and things, that make up story the same way rhyming schemes and set meter make up poetry. Tropes aren’t bad. They’re a tool.

Cliché’s are thoughtless generic place holders. They’re frequently the first thought to occur you precisely because you’ve seen it so often. But the Clichéness is in the (lack of) thought, not the frequency.

When you worry that you are going to be cliché, what you’re worried about is that you haven’t thought enough about your story. You’ve taken the first thought that occurred to you and just taken it. Sometimes that’s good, that’s your storyteller instinct. But particularly at the beginning it’s easy to simply take your first thought because you don’t want to think any more about it. So, yes, you do tend to use tropes, and you tend to use the one that you have run into the most in a close situation because that’s easiest for your brain. And that’s bad: not the trope, how you used it.

What I’m telling you is that the Trope isn’t the problem. The problem is how much you’ve thought about it. A trope is a tried and true method for solving a story problem. A cliché is a tried and true story method misapplied. It’s the misapplication that is the problem.

My best piece of advice for dealing with cliché is to stop worrying if your method for solving your story’s problem has been done before. It has. And somebody did it before that. And someone else did it before them. But somehow it didn’t screw their story over. Funny that. Why would it inherently screw yours?

Instead worry if what you’ve done solves your story problem the best way that it can be solved for your particular tale. That’s when you’ve beat cliché: when you’ve mastered the extremely difficult art of correct application, which must be relearned for every individual problem. Not when you’ve miraculously mastered the impossibility of saying something new. Worry about your story, not anyone else’s. Of course what’s happening has been done before. But it’s been done right and its been done wrong. The people who did it right, did so by thinking very hard and rejecting anything that could be done better until it was good enough.

If your question is, “I’ve seen this done a million times. Should I….” Stop. It doesn’t matter. If your question is, “Why does this bore me?” Then you’re on the right track. And the answer isn’t just that it has been done before. It’s that it doesn’t work for your story. The answer that does work will have been just as used, it just won’t be the first thing to pop into your head. “What would make this interesting?” “What else could they do?” “What would have more meaning?” Those are the questions to ask yourself. That’s avoiding cliché, not going on a goose hunt just to avoid eating turkey.

FYCD Does Dragon*Con: Day 1

Hey there Developers! I won’t be getting to the Con until later tonight (around 8 or 8:30) but since that’s a little bit later in the evening, my group doesn’t have much planned other than getting tickets, so I’ll probably be completely free to chat if you spot me!

I’ll be wearing a tan Attack on Titan t-shirt (title on the front, scouting legion symbol on the back) and jean shorts if you spot me around.

Hope to see some of you all soon!


Writability: Thoughts from the Intern Slush Pile: Is Your Voice Up to Snuff?


As I’ve been going through the intern slush, I’ve noticed that many times, when I recommend a rejection, it’s largely because of voice. Voice, to me, is one of the most important elements in a novel, because if it’s wrong on the first page, it’s usually wrong throughout the whole manuscript.

Being that I read a lot of YA submissions, this post is largely centered on voice-related problems I frequently see with YA submissions. But many of these issues can also apply to NA by looking at the points with a slightly older cast in mind.

YA Voice Red Flags:

  • Lack of contractions. This can actually be a problem in any category, but it’s especially important in YA manuscripts—a voice without any contractions always sounds stiff. This is one of the easiest (and often one of the first) voice-related red flags I pick out. Why? Because we speak and think with contractions, so when they’re absent, the writing becomes stilted and loses a great deal of flow, making it extraordinarily easy to pick it out. “I am not feeling well so I can not go,” for example, doesn’t sound nearly as fluid as, “I’m not feeling well so I can’t go.” Agreed? Good.
  • Outdated slang. If you’re writing YA, you need to be current with the language—no exceptions. For examples, teenagers today don’t really say “talk to the hand” or “phat” or “what’s the 411” anymore. (Note: those weren’t taken from actual submissions, I’m just giving outdated examples). Outdated slang, to me, is an enormous red flag and tells me the writer isn’t reading enough YA. 
  • Forced (current) slang. This is an equally problematic, but harder to spot problem. Sometimes I see submissions that use current slang, but the waythey use it feels…off. This is a little harder to describe, but the easiest way to ferret them out of your manuscript is to have critique partners and/or beta readers who are up to date with the current slang read your manuscript. 
  • Corny curse substitutions. This is a biggie. While not all teenagers curse, many of them do—and when they don’t, they don’t often use corny substitutions. “Frickin’” for example, could work as a substitution for a particular four-letter word, but “french fries” probably won’t. 

    Note: UNLESS your character makes a point of being corny, or it fits with your voice. I won’t say this never works (because I’m sure there’s a book out there that can make it happen), but to be honest, I’ve yet to see it work successfully with exception to “D’Arvit” in Artemis Fowl, which mostly worked because it wasn’t corny—it was a made up gnomish word. 
  • Teenager stereotypes. This is huge. When I see teenager stereotypes blended into the voice or the characters, it almost always puts me off. Teenagers are not a sum of their stereotypes, and relying on them in your writing, quite frankly, is lazy. You can do better–and teenagers deserve better. 


  • Listen to teenagers talk. A lot. Don’t have a teenager in your life? That’s fine—watch YA-centered TV shows and movies. They tend to feature teenagers who are effortlessly up to date with current slang, references, etc. Or go to your local mall and do a little (subtle) eavesdropping. Yes, really. It’s research. 
  • Read YA. By and large, the YA that’s published today (especially if it’s relatively recent) have great examples of successful YA voices. Read them. Learn from them. Write your own. (This step by the way? Not optional if you’re writing YA). 
  • Get critique partners. This is so ridiculously important—make sure you have beta readers and critique partners look at your work. I personally recommend having several rounds of betas and CPs, so you can see if the changes you made in the first round, for example, were as effective as you hoped. 

Would you add anything to either list? Unmentioned problems? Solutions?

FYCD Does DragonCon- Update!

Hey there, Developers! Unfortunately, I will not be able to get the prompt books together in time, as I am still working on cosplays and sorting out how and when I’m getting to the con and working on schoolwork.

However, I will take index cards, and in my spare time I’ll try and write some prompts to give out to any of you who want them- and like i said, if I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere, please feel free to stop and chat with me! I’ll try my best to answer any questions you have.

Tentatively, my schedule is that I’ll be at the con Friday evening just kind of milling around, not sure what I’ll be wearing yet. Saturday I’ll be dressed as Disney’s Jafar, possibly traveling around with Wreck-It-Ralph. Sunday I’ll be dressed as Medusa (from Soul Eater) and walking around with a Stein (also from Soul Eater) cosplayer. Monday is looking to be another chill-ish day, I’ll likely be wearing a Captain America t-shirt with a homemade Winter Soldier arm.

Not entirely sure what panels I’ll be at, though I definitely want to hit up a few of the Writing panels, and I’ll be at the bethrevis autograph session unless something awful happens and I can’t make it.

Feel free to leave any comments on this post or message me on my personal blog!


“If you are a writer, and you have a novel idea that you are excited about writing, write it. Don’t go on message boards and ask random Internet denizens whether or not something is allowed. … Who is the writer here? YOU ARE. Whose book is it? YOUR BOOK. There are no writing police. No one is going to arrest you if you write a teen vampire novel post Twilight. No one is going to send you off to a desert island to live a wretched life of worm eating and regret because your book includes things that could be seen as cliché.

If you have a book that you want to write, just write the damn thing. Don’t worry about selling it; that comes later. Instead, worry about making your book good. Worry about the best way to order your scenes to create maximum tension, worry about if your character’s actions are actually in character; worry about your grammar. DON’T worry about which of your stylistic choices some potential future editor will use to reject you, and for the love of My Little Ponies don’t worry about trends. Trying to catching a trend is like trying to catch a falling knife—dangerous, foolhardy, and often ending in tears, usually yours.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to what’s getting published; keeping an eye on what’s going on in your market is part of being a smart and savvy writer. But remember that every book you see hitting the shelves today was sold over a year ago, maybe two. Even if you do hit a trend, there’s no guarantee the world won’t be totally different by the time that book comes out. The only certainty you have is your own enthusiasm and love for your work. …

If your YA urban fantasy features fairies, vampires, and selkies and you decide halfway through that the vampires are over-complicating the plot, that is an appropriate time to ax the bloodsuckers. If you decide to cut them because you’re worried there are too many vampire books out right now, then you are betraying yourself, your dreams, and your art.

If you’re like pretty much every other author in the world, you became a writer because you had stories you wanted to tell. Those are your stories, and no one can tell them better than you can. So write your stories, and then edit your stories until you have something you can be proud of. Write the stories that excite you, stories you can’t wait to share with the world because they’re just so amazing. If you want to write Murder She Wrote in space with anime-style mecha driven by cats, go for it. Nothing is off limits unless you do it badly.

And if you must obsess over something, obsess over stuff like tension and pacing and creating believable characters. You know, the shit that matters. There are no writing police. This is your story, no one else’s. Tell it like you want to.”

Rachel Aaron (via relatedworlds)

Yeah, so, this answers a lot of asks I get. It’s also why YW focuses on technique and style, and less on content and research.

(via clevergirlhelps)

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