Tag Archives: torment

GUEST POST: Lauren Kate on Editing

In between college and when I went to get my masters degree in creative writing, I worked as a fiction editor at a publishing house in New York. I learned about all the journeys a manuscript takes on its way to becoming a book—from its cover design, to the strategic selection of its publication date, to the marketing that gets it picked up off a shelf and into the hands of the right readers. As an aspiring writer, the most valuable lesson I learned during my days at the publishing house was the power of focused revision.

Writers are touchy. And writing feels very personal. Getting a twelve-page revision letter from an editor is enough to send many writers back to bed for a week. I had new writers call me crying after I’d sent them what (I thought) was a very positive and encouraging revision letter. And I can understand that fear. In high school and even college, I loathed the idea of revision. When I was finished with an essay or a short story, it was over, done. I’d completed it to the best of my ability. I never wanted to look at it again. That was then.

These days, I see revision as the moment when my stories really begin to sing. Every first draft feels impossible for me. Every revision gets the book closer to what it always wanted to be. Revision is FUN. You just need a little help from your friends and separate file to keep all the scraps you’ll have to cut (maybe they don’t belong in this book, but surely you can write them into your next one). Here are some tips I try to write and revise by:

  • Don’t revise while you’re writing. I could revise all day long and never write anything new. I make myself draft forward, instead of going back in to revise. I do that all the way through until I’m completely finished with a first draft. Then I have a foundation. Then I can go back in and make it better and have fun.
  • Once you’re finished with a first draft, take some time and space off. A week is good, a month is better. Don’t even open your document. Take a breather. Read some books. Do the things you’ve been abandoning while you were finishing that book. Let your mind breathe, marinate.
  • When you’re ready to dig back in, read the whole thing once. I load it on my Kindle, but before I had a Kindle, I would just read it on the computer (changing the font to something else, which makes it feel, bizarrely, like you’re reading something completely different—Try it. It works.) Read the whole thing in as few sittings as you can. Make notes on what stands out as working really well or not at all.
  • Based on the notes from your reading, take a stab at revision. Are there scenes you can’t see clearly? Flesh them out. Is your character feeling something on page 26 that doesn’t ring true in the larger context of the book? Reevaluate her emotional landscape. Are you bored? Trim the word count 10%! (A daunting but excellent rule of thumb) Did you laugh out loud or cry? Pat yourself on the back.
  • When you have one or two revisions completed on your own and you think your manuscript is really good, that probably means it’s time for someone else to take a look. Find a friend who you can swap stories with. If you don’t have writer friends, join a book club or a writing group to make some. I’ve done that in every new city I’ve lived in. Expect your reader to come to you with suggestions. Accept that your book is not perfect and will benefit from taking your readers’ questions into consideration.
  • Don’t follow advice from someone who doesn’t understand what you’re going for.
  • Do follow advice from someone who pushes you further than you thought you needed to go. There should be a voice in the back of your mind that says, “ohhh, this sounds really hard but it might be just the thing this story needs to be great.”
  • Go back to your book and make it better.
  • Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
  • Never give up—not after the first rejection letter or the hundredth.
  • In terms of publication, all you need is one person to say “yes.”

Lauren Kate is the bestselling author of “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove”, “Fallen”, “Torment”, and the newly released “Passion”! You can find out more about her work on her official site.

Aren’t these editing tips fantastic? I had no idea Lauren had a job as a professional editor, but it really shows in these expert tips! I’ve already been working to apply them to my work, and I hope they come in handy for all your aspiring writers.

Emma Maree Reviews: “Passion”

Lauren Kate’s “Fallen” series is one of the most popular reviewed series here on the blog. Thanks to Random House, I got hold of an early copy of the latest book in the series, “Passion”, for review.

“Every single lifetime, I’ll choose you. Just as you have chosen me. Forever.”

Luce would die for Daniel. And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .

Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.

Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen ifshe rewrites history.

Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.

Time travel is the latest addition to the “Fallen” series, playing an integral role in “Passion” as Luce hops around time trying to find some of the answers behind her curse. I love time travel, so I enjoyed Lauren Kate’s take on it.

With a unique set of rules preventing interaction with their past selves, both Daniel and Luce visit various different decades, and see their own past selves. The settings and cultures are only visited briefly, but Kate shines at them – showcasing culture and colourful characters, even if each location only features for a small amount of time.

She takes Luce from war-torn, snowy Moscow to 19th-century England; from Tahaiti islanders who mark themselves with elaborate tattoos to a Tibetan palace; even to a Mayan tribe with some terrifying rituals (my favourite scene).

It is important to realise that this book is both prequel and sequel – or else you might have the same niggling annoyances I did. The story arc didn’t seem to develop as much as in earlier books – the plot begins with Luce travelling through time to find answers, and that remains her objective for most of the book without any real detours. I could have definitely used a few more twists, but the last act of the book brought in some strong reveals and foreshadowing for the final book, “Rapture”.

As with “Torment”, there’s steady improvement in the writing – new characters, like the loud-mouthed gargoyle Bill, add some witty lines and a change of pace. The dialogue is sharper with some funny exchanges between Luce and Bill, and Luce takes a lot more control of her situation than we’ve seen her before. The world-building is also clarified – we find out more about the Announcers, shadows that are used to step through time and space, and there are some new rules about time travel and some exciting hints about Luce and Daniel’s curse.

I did miss some of the other characters – especially Cam. Cam’s awesome – but “Passion” does a solid job of filling in the back story and setting the scene for “Rapture”, which looks like an action-packed end to the series.

“Passion” is out on the 23 June. You can read our reviews of Lauren Kate’s other novels by clicking here, and we’ll have some exclusive editing advice from the lady herself on Friday.

You can pre-order it with free shipping almost anywhere in the world from the Book Depository, in Hardback or Paperback.

Disclaimer: A copy of “Passion” was provided for this review by Random House.

Emma Maree Reviews “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove”

If you’ve been reading much Young Adult fiction lately, you’ll be familiar with love triangles. You might even be sick of them. But “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove”, a standalone contemporary novel by “Fallen” series author Lauren Kate, deals with that problem in an unusual way – the secondary love interest, green-eyed Justin, is dead. Not zombie-dead or vampire-dead. In-the-ground, exit-stage-left dead. This doesn’t stop him haunting every corner of the book, completely outshining Natalie’s own boyfriend Mike.

Natalie Hargrove is Lauren Kate’s smartest and darkest protagonist yet. A small town Southern girl born on the wrong side of the tracks, in the wrong trailer park, she’s spent years plotting her way into the richer side of town. She’s gained a hot, rich boyfriend and a place at the top of elite Palmetto high school’s social ladder. Then she accidentally kills Justin, the gorgeous green-eyed reminder of all her past mistakes. Now her relationship, her social status, and her carefully-crafted life depends on making sure the police don’t find out she’s behind it.

The American high school culture is fairly extreme compared to British schools, but easy enough to adapt into if you’ve seen enough American movies. I wasn’t a huge fan of the plot – it gets off to a quiet start, setting up the stakes well, but the climatic scene felt awkward and unnatural. I’m also getting really tired of conveniently physic friends.

Where this book really shines is as an example of a strong character ‘voice’. Natalie is my favourite of Kate’s characters so far, way above Lucinda Price from Fallen. The first person writing lets you know the reasons behind her occasionally cruel actions, and little details are picked up that only she would pick up: first their fashion sense, then the state of their hair and how it could be improved, then their eyes and make-up or accessories. Lauren’s also good at using her environment to bring out character details – check out how she blends a bit of family back story with a description of Mike’s mother:

“from the seamless skin around Diana’s eyes when she smiled […] it was obvious someone had discovered the perks of having a son with an endless supply of botox.”

Oh, and that cover? Not bad at all, fits perfectly with Lauren Kate’s other books and does a great job working in the main character’s fondness for the colour purple. A huge improvement on the original American cover. The new American cover is better, but I think the UK one fits with “Fallen” and “Torment” much more smoothly.

“Betrayal” is a short read, but definitely worth picking up if you enjoyed Lauren Kate’s other books “Fallen” or “Torment”, or the portrayals of popularity in books like Lauren Oliver’s “Before I Fall” and Chuck Palahniuk’s “Invisible Monsters”.

Disclaimer: The copy used in this review was won in a competition run by Random House.

Click here to read my review of Lauren Kate’s paranormal romance, “Fallen”.

“Torment” Book Review

“Torment” by Lauren Kate Release Date: Out now! Genre: Paranormal Romance Publisher: Doubleday Children’s (Random House) I started off my original review of “Fallen” by gushing about how much I loved its cover. The sequel, “Torment”, doesn’t disappoint either – it keeps to the same gothic, monochrome colour scheme. Both covers avoid showing the girl’s face, and the hands in her hair hint at some of the confusion and worries that will be a key part of the story. There’s an excellent video on how covers like this are created here, showing 6 hours of work cut down into a 2 minute video. Here’s the cover blurb this time round:

LOVE NEVER DIES… It took Lucinda an eternity to find her beloved angel, Daniel. But he waited for her. Now they are forced apart again, to protect Luce from the Outcasts – immortals who want her dead. During their separation, Luce learns about her mysterious past lives. But the more she discovers, the more she suspects that Daniel is hiding something. What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t true? Is it really their destiny to be together? Or is Luce really meant to be with someone else?

Lucinda Price returns as our protagonist, and we join her as she’s being sent to a new private school after the horrors she went up against in “Fallen”. Daniel demands that she stays in her new school for 18 days without any contact with him. Luce can barely stand the idea of them being apart, but what bothers her more is the nagging feeling that Daniel’s hiding something. Something involving strangers coming after her if she ever leaves the school, involving Daniel killing to protect her, and involving a truce that has Daniel working together with Cam, the creepy demon who nearly killed Luce before.

I know what you’re thinking. A girl whining about being separated from her boyfriend for a measly 18 days, ugh. I groaned as well, but after giving it some consideration and thinking back to my young-and-stupidly-lovestruck days, I probably would have been a bit unhappy too. Let’s not kid ourselves here, young people are dramatic through-and-through.

That’s where Lauren Kate excels – she captures that age group perfectly, from the desperation of my-world-revolves-around-you first loves to the vicious mood swings and irrationality that happen when you’re a confused teenage girl. (Especially if you’re a confused teenage girl who’s boyfriend it being a bit of a prick, and keeping you locked up ‘for your own safety’ without telling you why.)

“Torment” is a novel about Luce, following her as she grows a lot more independent, stronger and forms her own ideas about what it takes to have a healthy relationship. She’s wildly reckless, too – frustratingly so, as she ignores warnings from others along the lines of ‘don’t leave the school it’s dangerous’ because of course it’s not that dangerous. Of course.

It doesn’t let down on the action side either, though. The first few opening chapters, which nicely recap “Fallen” for the short of memory but don’t cover it enough for anyone who’s thinking of reading “Torment” without reading the first book, start off at a relaxed pace as Lauren builds up some impressive new settings and a new cast of characters. Before long, though, the suspense starts shooting up and the story gets a welcome injection of paranormal adventure and danger.

Another area Lauren is brilliant at is scenery descriptions – we go from the gothic graveyards and reform schools of “Fallen” to sunny California, with a schools on cliff-side, yachts of bright blue oceans, beach party bonfires and road trips across the land.

She’s still a great creator of a varied cast as well – I particularly like the way there’s no clear signs whether a member of the cast is or isn’t trustworthy, and after the end of “Fallen” it’s impossible to tell if any of them are going to survive the story.

I was slightly let down by the end, though – “Fallen” pulled out a powerful twist with Penn, but the twist in “Torment” felt too obvious right the way through and I was disappointed when it didn’t turn out to be a red herring. The actual resolution of the finale did come as a surprise, though.

The book’s definitely a huge improvement on the writing in “Fallen” – I wish it had answered a few more questions, but I’m hoping the third book “Passion” will resolve a lot of my nagging questions when it’s released.

[easyreview cat1title=”Overall” cat1detail=”The plot could have used more answers and less questions, but it’s a good improvement on Fallen. Lauren’s writing is particularly strong when it comes to description and characterisation.” cat1rating=”4″ overall=false]  

Other Books By This Author: Fallen, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove.
For Fans of:
Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight”, P.C. Cast’s “The House of Night”, Becca Fitzpatrick’s “Hush, Hush”

A copy of “Torment” was provided for this review by Random House.

I also have a review of Lauren Kate’s first novel, “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove