The Fantastic and Mundane Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer



Ingredients for Storytelling: Tension

Hello, everyone! I hope your holidays were well and relaxing! To start off this new year of 2018, I decided to create a writing-centered series called Ingredients for Storytelling! In each of these posts, I will discuss an element I find makes a story all the more intriguing and why.

As you can see from the title, today’s spotlight will be on tension and how creating this between characters can further enrich an already great plot.

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First of all, what exactly does tension mean in literary and storytelling terms? According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, tension may be defined as “A strained state or condition resulting from forces acting in opposition to each another”. In the context of storytelling, this comes about as a result of two or more characters being forced to interact, and many times, even cooperate while maintaining opposing goals. Because of this, nearly every conversation or action shared between these characters is laced with mental or emotional strain that we label “tension”. Another way we can think of tension is a “potential for conflict”. This isn’t to say the presence of tension always necessarily leads to conflict, but rather, that the potential for conflict constantly remains just beneath the surface of the characters’ interactions, influencing their dynamic and chemistry until their opposing goals are either met or adjusted to lessen the already existing tension.

A prime example of tension can be seen in the classical hate-to-love trope—one of the most notable cases being acted out by Han and Leia from George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy. As a princess and politician, Leia is the exact opposite of Han, who is a smuggler and relative loner, in nearly every way. While initially their personality differences cause a certain level of discomfort and strain, what ultimately creates tension and eventually conflict between them is the fact they retain not only different but opposing goals. Leia wants to save people’s lives and freedom by fighting against the oppressive empire. In other words, she believes in a greater cause. Han only wants to preserve his own life and freedom, and thus, has no interest in joining any cause at all…initially. However, circumstances force them to work together in order to survive, and thus, their encounters, while not violent, are rife with simultaneous conflict as well as attraction, and therein tension.

Why I love itLike in life, in literature, TV, and movies, you can’t ever physically see tension, but you can feel it. If tension is written into a novel or script and written well, we, the audience and readers, can practically feel the strained dynamic between characters oozing off the screen and page as vividly as if we were standing next to them. And isn’t one of the main purposes of stories to draw you into the characters’ lives—to see what they see and feel what they feel—in the first place? While incorporating tension isn’t a requirement for every story, as a viewer and reader as well as a writer, I find this element often makes the characters and the world they inhabit infinitely more life-like and relatable.

What do you think? Do you like tension in the stories you read and watch? If so, what are some of your favorite examples? Please feel free to leave your comments below!


The Fantastic and Mundane Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer

Writing Update: What to Do If Your Manuscript’s Been Rejected

The Fantastic and Mundane Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer


Hello, everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been updating lately. These past few months I’ve been trying to regroup after sending my manuscript out to several agents. Unfortunately, so far it hasn’t been successful, and while initially, I couldn’t help but be discouraged, I’ve since found a way of coping: writing another story, of course!

This isn’t to say I’m giving up on my previous manuscript, but I have, however, found great joy in starting another story. So far, the only things I can share about this newest project are that it’s a young adult fantasy and involves a love story.

In my experience, dealing with rejection regarding a manuscript is always hard. After spending so much time and effort giving everything you have to a story only to several literary agents give a simple and curt “no thanks” (in a usual pre-formed rejection email), it’s difficult to not take it too personally.

For all those fellow writers out there who may be in the same situation, here’s a short list of things you can do to regroup after facing rejection.

  1. Take a Break! 

It’s ok, even empowering, to take time to regroup. I love writing, but it was nice taking some time off to relax and focus on other things besides writing which leads me to the next tip.

2. Find inspiration

Aside from simply enjoying watching scifi/fantasy movies and reading books of the same genre, I also find I can glean a lot of inspiration from them as well. Yet this tip isn’t necessarily limited to focusing on things you think could lead to inspiration. In other words, I’ve found that inspiration often comes unconsciously and when you least expect it as well. I also think that while looking for inspiration is almost always beneficial, it isn’t a process that can be forced. Keeping a relaxed and open mind in regards to any creative activity is one of the most sure ways to find inspiration.

3. Start writing again

I would say this is can be both one of the hardest and easiest tip on this list. If you keep thinking back to how your last manuscript was rejected and all the overwhelming odds stacked against the possibility of you becoming a published author, then yes, picking up the pen to write again can be next to impossible. However, on the other hand, if instead of focusing on past disappointments and the unpredictable future, you focus on the story you want to write, on developing the characters and setting and everything about your current manuscript to the best of your ability, then this process will be rewarding no matter the outcome.

I hope these short tips help, and if anyone else has any please feel free to share! Most importantly, however, I believe if you have a story to tell, you should write it. Don’t mull too much over the details of if it will ever be published or anything else that isn’t directly related to your process of writing. In the beginning, just focus on getting your thoughts on page even if a story isn’t fully formed, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what adventure it leads to.

Good luck to all of you in your writing endeavors!



“I once followed a path through a winding wood..”.

The Query Letter and Purpose of a Literary Agent

Hello, everyone! I just sent out my first batch of query letters to several literary agents (*crosses fingers excitedly*), so for this post I thought I would focus on the subject of literary agents in general. I hope all you aspiring authors looking to get published out there find this helpful!

Anyone trying to get his or her manuscript published should strongly consider looking into obtaining agent. Their job is to submit the author’s work to publishing houses, or more specifically, the editors he or she believes would be the best match for the manuscript. In essence, literary agents act as mediators between the author and any entity wishing to sell, advertise, or promote his or her work, such as publishers or film studios. Simply stated, a literary agent’s function is to act as the author’s representative in the literary market. An agent will drastically increase your chances of getting your manuscript accepted by editors, negotiate the terms of your publishing contacts to give you the best deal possible, and also manage the subrights of your work.

Author Nathan Bransford has written a wonderful article that depicts the author-literary agent partnership in great detail here.

Here’s a basic list of the things you should include in your query letter:

  • 1-2 paragraph summary of your manuscript (like the blurbs on the back of book covers you see at the store) 
  • Brief biography (only things writing-related) 
  • Word count of your manuscript 
  • Why you are contacting this particular agent (note: This is IMPORTANT in making your query letter more personalized. If you’re choosing to query a specific agent because you read an interview that he or she was looking for YA fantasy works, and your manuscript fits this description then MENTION this!) 

Before starting your letter, you should research various resources online for more detailed guidelines on how to do this (the link for AgentQuery below will lead you to a page with this kind of information).

Okay, so now you maybe wondering exactly how to find the right literary agent for you?

One of the easiest ways to do this is to search online. There are many writing websites that regularly post agent spotlights that explain the types of manuscripts each one is looking for. These are some of my favorites:


Literary Rambles

Manuscript Wishlist

You can also buy this year’s Guide to Literary Agents book, which contains a comprehensive list of every literary agency in the U.S. and what genres they are currently accepting.

Tip: While it is tempting to immediately send a query letter to the top literary agents of famous bestsellers, you should keep in mind that newer agents who are still building their client lists are more open to submissions and more likely to take on inexperienced authors. Writer’s Digest has a specific segment focusing on new and upcoming agents that you can check out here.

Good luck and write on!

Writing Update:What to Do While Waiting for Feedback


So while I’m waiting to hear feedback on my manuscript from a beta reader, I decided to keep myself by starting another book!

I’m currently spending my day jotting down notes and ideas for where I want the story to go as well as beginning the first chapter. I always love writing the initial lines because they hold so much potential for the rest of the story. What do you do while waiting to hear feedback on a manuscript?

Word Counts

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Since I last updated, I have begun revising and editing my manuscript! This includes general proofreading as well as rewriting and adding or removing scenes. Right now I’m trying to decrease my word count as much as possible by cutting out anything that isn’t vital to the story. This is because literary agents and publishers are less willing to accept manuscripts with higher word counts, especially with new authors. Additionally, each genre has its own idea word count range. So for a YA fantasy/Science fiction novel, which is what I’m currently writing, my manuscript can be anywhere from around 75,000 to 110,ooo words, thought I should aim more towards 100,ooo words or less.

For more information on word counts check out these other sources!

Writer’s Digest 


The Swivet (slightly outdated, yes, but still a good information to keep in mind)


Writing Tips: Take Advantage of Your Local Bookstore!

Barnes & Noble (and bookstores in general) has always been one of my top spots for finding inspiration. Nothing delights me more than perusing the shelves for the next life-changing novel! Aside from being a place of inspiration and just overall fun, your local bookstore can also prove to be a place of research. It may seem like an obvious tip, but you should focus your attention on reading books within the same genre as the one you are writing. Choose the kinds of books you think may be similar to yours or the type you wish to write. Identify the common themes and characteristics of the books in a specific genre. This will give you a sense of the general format of the stories currently popular in that area of the market. While this isn’t to say that you should tailor your novel to fit the exact layout of those on the shelves, it will give you a better idea of what genre your novel fits into the best. Literary agents, and furthermore, publishers, will usually buy a manuscript if it can be easily placed under a single genre because it will make them more marketable. So, make a trip to your local bookstore and peruse away!

Why a Writer?

So, one of the questions I have been asked various times, is why exactly do I want to be a writer? To those people who don’t share a love of creative writing this urge to sit down and begin jotting down words of a story may seem somewhat of a mystery, and even now I can say the draw I feel towards this process is not entirely explicable to myself.

I suppose the best way I could explain why I write is this; I love stories, all kinds of stories, but especially the fantastic and magical. I love the way words can coalesce to form images, to form scenes of stories in worlds both real and imagined. A combination of words printed on a page when arranged in the right manner have the power to transport you out of your own reality—away from your problems, your failures, your sorrows—to one that is entirely new. And yet…the best stories, the ones that you remember, no matter how fantastical they may be , mirror our own realities in a way that touches us, that resonates with our conscience to make us feel.

Why do I wish to be a writer? What do I hope to achieve?

I want to give people stories that will allow them to escape from their everyday troubles. I want to create stories that will change people’s lives. Stories that will inspire them to reach for their own dreams, that will make them believe that anything is possible to achieve.

I suppose you could say that I write to inspire others.

I write to save dreams.


To any other writers out there, I pose the same question to you. Why do you write?


A New Year for Writing


After taking a break for the holidays, I just started working on my book again, and I’m so excited to get back to it! I’m currently trying to push through and finish my first draft so I can begin revising and fixing things. One difficulty I always have after not writing regularly for some time is getting back into the schedule of typing a certain amount everyday. I’ve found that it takes me around a whole week of writing consecutively each day to really bring me back into the mindset my characters and the world in which they inhabit. So, here’s to beginning a hopefully great year for writing and blogging!

Any additional thoughts? My question to my fellow aspiring novelists out there is do you have any special preparation before beginning your own writing or do you prefer to simply dive in?


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