“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days. […] Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance.”
― J.K. Rowling

Six Ways to Make Your Readers Hate You

As an author, you want to make your readers happy, right? You want to have outstanding writing that not only makes you feel good, but makes others feel good. You want people to read your work and say, “Hey, this person really knows how to write. I like their stuff.”

You don’t want to make your readers hate you and your work. Well, if you want your readers to like you, here are six things not to do.

137/365

1. Kill off a lot of characters.

Having a beloved character die is fine. Having a few beloved characters die is fine, but when you start killing off the whole school, or every single one of your main character’s friends, then you start to turn people off. And never kill your main character unless absolutely necessary.

2. Use clichés.

Don’t say she’s as stubborn as a mule. Instead, show she’s stubborn as a mule by describing what she is doing or saying. Don’t have the mom tell the kids that they’re eating too much junk food by saying, “You are what you eat.” Instead, have her say, “If you eat too many of those lollipops, you’ll turn into a great big one, all fat and round.”

3. Give too much description.

Yawning. That’s what your readers will be doing if you describe every bug on the sidewalk. Of course we need to know what the characters look like, and sure you can describe their bedroom, but do we need to know every inch of the mahogany dresser and the complete back story on how they got it? Of course not. So don’t describe it.

4. Have your characters break character.

If your main character is a cowardly jerk who doesn’t care about anyone but himself, then don’t all of sudden have him jump into battle to save the princess. He needs to stay on the sidelines where he belongs. If you want your cowardly jerk to change into someone who cares about other people’s feelings, then you need to have him change over a few chapters. He can’t just out of the blue say, “Hey, I care about people now!”

5. Have an unhappy ending.

Yes, you might want an ending that’s unexpected and not so happy, but if your ending is so unhappy that readers close the book in disgust and give it a bad review on Amazon, then you could have a problem. How would you have felt if J.K. Rowling let Voldemort kill Harry at the end of Harry Potter? I certainly wouldn’t have liked it.

You don’t need a completely happy ending—with daisies and Care Bears and cloud castles—just not a totally unhappy one.

6. Have superfluous romance.

This drives me crazy. If I’m reading a fantasy adventure story, I don’t expect to find romance. The whole point of the story is to have battles and action and magic, not mushy, unnecessary romance. If you’re writing a romance story, have romance. If your story needs the romance to make the plot work, have romance. If your story doesn’t need it? Don’t add it.

Does It Matter If Readers Hate You?

If your main goal is to make everyone like you and your writing, you might be disappointed. You can’t please everyone, and attempting to do so is exhausting. The best authors have never been afraid to offend a few readers for the sake of their art. They serve the story, not just the reader, and the story makes its own demands on them.

The most important thing you need to do is write a book that you enjoy reading (and writing). Write what makes you happy. Write the book that you would pick up in a library and devour. Write the story you’ve wanted to write for years.

And always, always, always have fun.

What about you? What makes you hate a book (and the author with it)?

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes about a character on an expedition.

Keep this post handy. When you’ve finished, look over it and ask yourself, “Are my readers going to hate me if I publish this?” If the answer is yes, redo it (unless, of course, you want them to hate you). If the answer is no, post it in the comments section.

And if you post, don’t forget to comment on a few others’ practices.

Have fun!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • The headline made me laugh–although I read it as “Six Ways to Make Your Characters Hate You” the first time. Oh well. Maybe that’s an article for another day.

    However, I prefer to not kill of characters left and right. It’s partly because I’m yet at a point where a string of death, Harry Potter style, was natural to the plot. Less is more when it comes to death. It’s also a balance. Too few, and the situation doesn’t seem as dire. Too much, and you lose emotional impact. And you can argue the latter for almost every story that has a lot of death in it.

    • Themagicviolinist

       Ha ha! That could be a REALLY funny post.

      Yes, there is a VERY fine balance when it comes to killing characters. When I was younger, whenever I wrote a book that had battles in it, the good guys always ended up winning and no one on the good side had died. Now I realize that’s not realistic at all. 😉

  • mlhatcher

    I do not typically have any , so called characters involved in my writing. I am normally providing a moment or a thought and expressing this in a, somewhat vulnerable way. The description of the moment is essential for the reader. I like to think it places them in that particular moment, as it is shared. You are right though, we need to develop a plot that is real and not so cushy, that’s what bores me to tears. And this is where I would share that boring moment and turn it into a written experience to share on my page. mlhatcher.blogspot.com

  • 1. I like to read Stephen King (for professional reasons) but I find myself skipping literally hundreds of pages (IT) because of all the details. Amazing how the editor ALLOWED him to keep that much in. So authors–stick to the story. On the other hand, I do like well executed descriptions that get me there and move on.

    2. I’m up all night reading a book, racing toward closure and all of a sudden it ends crazily, stupidly, all for an ending that makes no sense.

    3. Unnecessary swear words and gratuitous sexual situations.

    4. “Romance” stories where two people “fight” falling in love with each other and all they do is bicker–gives me a headache.

    5.  Over-hashed and done-to-death plots and characters.

    6. Wanna-be Lord of the Rings fantasies. Give it up people, there can only be one J.R.R. Tolkien and you’re not it. Ditto for Twilight, Harry Potter and Fifty Shades…

    And finally,

     7.  Kind of goes with #1, books that are TOO long. I don’t know about you, but my hands and arms go numb trying to position the book for comfortable reading and forget trying to lie down to read it.

    • Themagicviolinist

       I agree with you on every single one of these. Although I don’t mind long books, as long as they’re not long AND boring.

  • Holly

    Thanks for the posting. I enjoyed it. I started laughing when I read about a superfluous romances when they aren’t necessary. So I’m going to confess. I love JD Robb mysteries, especially when I listen to them in the car to and from work. I get totally involved. But the sex scenes between Dallas and Roark drive me insane. I get that they’re in love and are an unlikely couple and all that. Robb shows this just in the relationship, whether they’re fighting or getting along. But the sex is not necessary to the plot and I skip over it every single time. I may be in the minority, but that series taught me not to do things like that in my own writing.  I also wonder if Elizabeth George ever got past fan hatred when she killed off Helen.

    • Themagicviolinist

       I usually skip over the boring description or anything unnecessary that slows the story down. Sometimes I wonder how certain sentences or paragraphs got themselves into a published book.

  • My 15 min practice… I had an idea for a wild adventure… wrote the first paragraph and then the story just kind of took on a life of it’s own.  I’ve been working on a middle school fiction, so I guess that’s where my mind was.  Thought I’d post anyway.  This is the beginning of what is sure to be an exciting expedition (I think).

    I’d been ten for two days and I hadn’t touched a toy in
    thirty-three hours.  My Barbie’s were
    boxed up, my dolls shoved under my bed, my tea set buried in the kitchen
    trashcan.  No more games of pretend mommy
    for me.  No more cruising around in a
    plastic corvette with some halfwit plastic boyfriend riding shotgun. 

    “Sissy, when you’re finished with your breakfast come to the
    living room, I have something important to tell you,” Dad said.

    I looked up. 
    Something to tell me?  My toast
    and orange juice were instantly forgotten.

    The way I saw it, I’d been a grownup for two days already so
    I wasn’t all that surprised at Dad’s request to talk, even though no such
    request had ever come before.  This was
    just further proof as to how mature I had become.       

    I abandoned my food and followed Dad into the living
    room.  Dad pointed to the couch and I
    sat.  Then Dad grabbed the piano bench
    for himself and sat down in front of me, our knees nearly touching. 

    He looked me in the eyes, “Sissy…”  He looked away, shook his head, ran his
    fingers though his hair, cracked his neck. 
    I recognized the moves as Dad’s classic stalling techniques.  I’d seen him use them with Mom plenty of
    times, but this was the first time he’d ever used them on me.  Further proof that what ever he was about to
    say was important. 

    A third neck crack. 

    So it wasn’t just important, it was also making him
    uncomfortable.

    I sat up straight, crossed my legs and my arms, just like
    Mom.  Dad leaned forward, met my eyes.  I waited, quite, the way Mom waits when Dad
    starts stalling. 

    Finally he spoke.  “It’s
    time you know the truth about me.” 
    Stall.  Stall.

    The truth about him?  He
    was a dad, a husband, an accountant… what else was there to know?  Dad isn’t what you’d call a mysterious guy.

    Stall.  Cough.  Stall. 
    Eye contact, “Sissy, the truth is… well…” Stall. Stall.  “I’m not actually human… not technically.”

    What?  How is a person
    not technically human?  I wanted to
    laugh; he had to be joking… right?  But
    Dad wasn’t a man who joked.  Dad was
    serious… quiet… reserved.  Dad was a man
    who only spoke when there was something worth saying.  So I didn’t laugh, I just sat there… looking
    at him—mouth closed, body stiff, waiting for the rest. 

    “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

    A blink.  I’d never
    lied to Dad, Mom sure, but not Dad, and I didn’t want to start now… not on my
    second day as an adult.  But I also
    didn’t want to admit the truth—that I had absolutely zero idea what he was talking about. 

    “Good.”  Dad patted my
    knee and stood up, grabbed his briefcase and headed out the door. 

    And that was the last he ever said on the matter.  Case closed. 
    Only the case wasn’t closed… not for me. 
    For me, the case was WIDE open. 

    I kept a close eye on Dad after that.  If he wasn’t human, what was he?  I had this little notebook, pink and sparkly,
    a gift from Mom… a blatant, desperate attempt to turn me girly again.  I used it to chart Dad’s behavior; anything
    that seemed strange or animalistic was noted.  I wrote in code: (a) for alien, (w) for
    werewolf, (v) for vampire, (r) for robot, (z) for zombie.  That last one was a stretch but I was trying
    to be thorough.
    I got to work.

    Mon 7:01 am: Subject wore long sleeved shirt and jacket on
    sunny day (v)

    Mon 7:05 am: Subject sniffed milk before pouring it into
    coffee.  (w)

    Mon 3:17 pm: Subject scratched his buttocks once twice
    lots of times. (w)

    Mon 3:59 pm: Subject stared out the window, head angled
    towards space. (a)

    I kept a tally in the back, a little line for each tid-bit
    of collected information.  After a month,
    the notebook was full and the tallies pointed to werewolf, an unlikely
    conclusion.  But facts were facts and tallies don’t lie.  So I headed down to my first notebook-less
    breakfast in a month and tried to keep an open mind.  I studied dad from across the breakfast
    table, pretending to read as I peered at him from behind a box of captain
    crunch.  I took in his bright pink scalp
    with its few remaining hairs combed, waxed and plastered across its shiny
    surface.  I counted the strands…twenty-six,
    each painstakingly groomed.  It was hard
    to imagine a beast as hairy as a werewolf fussing and fretting over a few
    measly hairs.  I observed Dad’s hands as
    they roamed the Sunday crossword, carefully filling in the tiny boxes—accountant’s
    hands, soft and pale… smooth skin, hairless knuckles.

    I closed my eyes and tried to imagine my comfortably pudgy
    father loping through the woods, a mass of fur and muscle.  It didn’t fit.  And where were these woods he was suppose to
    be loping through.  Not in Brooklyn, that’s
    for sure.  Would a werewolf choose to
    live in a two-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of a crumbling brink
    building with no elevator?  Maybe.  And the fact that our building was the only
    building on the block that didn’t allow pets… I don’t know.  Dad didn’t even like dogs, but maybe that was
    just an act.  Or maybe he was worried a
    dog might smell the truth and expose his secret. 

    • Themagicviolinist

      Your practice was really good. It made me want to read more. I want to know if her dad really is a werewolf or not. I also loved this line: “No more cruising around in a plastic corvette with some halfwit plastic boyfriend riding shotgun.”

      •  Thank you.  I love these 15 min practices.  So fun!  You never know what is going to happen next. I was writing along and then all of a sudden I was like.. WHAT THE??  he’s not human!!???!  I read it to my 8 year old son and he said I had to keep writing until I figured out what happens.  I think I will.  This is SOO different than anything else I’ve ever written.  thank you for the challenge.

    • Marla4

       This is wonderful.  I love the way you ended this.  I loved the way you describe the dad when he’s telling her about him.  This is one restrained girl, because I would have had to know what my dad was talking about. 

      •  Thank you!  I wonder about her restraint as well, there must be some interesting family dynamics going on here.  My gut told me she was 8, I changed it to 10.  I’m thinking I should have gone with my first instinct.  8 would make her silence on the matter more believable. 

    • jenn_kn

      Great writing! I really like the way she takes notes on his behavior. So funny.

      I agree that it is so interesting to see where your story goes and how it can surprise you, especially in these practices where we may not have a hint of a plan when we start typing.

    • Plumjoppa

       This is so engaging right from the start.  I’m guessing that Dad will turn out to be something other than a, w, v, r, or z.   Love how you describe the comb over and how she views her Dad.  I think it’s believable that a 10 year old would keep silent and try to investigate the situation.

      •  HA!  That’s what my 8 year old said.  He’s certain Dad will end up being a complete surprise.  Excited to write more tomorrow and see what I find out….

    • Jeff Ellis

       I really loved this. It’s always fun to write without knowing where you’re headed and some of the most interesting stories come from this type of writing.

      Your main character’s actions (believing her father right off the bat when he tells her he is something more than human, even going so far as to take notes on his behavior) do a lot to reveal her true age, but I feel that the narrative, I’m talking word choice and speech patterns, falls flat in this concern.

      The “I’m already an adult at 10” mindset is hilarious and one I suffered from for most of my own childhood, but while her actions prove that she is still a kid, I feel that the way she speaks does not. Her speech pattern comes across as very mature to me and we see no sign that she misses the toys and playtime that she has only recently abandoned. I think throwing some slang and maybe even a little naive venom into the narrative would help establish her real age.

      For example: “…my comfortably pudgy father…” reads very much like something an actual adult would say. I think it might better sell the fact that despite how mature she thinks she is, she’s really only ten, if she just outright called him fat. While I never would have said this to an adult’s face, I know I thought more along these lines as a kid, before I grew into a more sensitive and understanding mindset.

      Of course, it’s all up to you, and I only go so far into critiquing this because I think it’s a great story with a lot of potential. I hope you write more and share it with us all 🙂

      •  I genuinely appreciate the feedback.  Funny, when I read this to my actual 10 year old, he didn’t buy the “comfortably pudgy” comment either.  He said no kid would think that.  HA!  Anyway, I honestly appreciate feedback and I’m glad you took the time to give it.  cheers.

  • Taylor Morris

    The Magic Violinist,
    You are such an inspiration to me! I was wondering if you have any writing books that you would suggest to help me become a better writer in general?
    Thanks!

    • Themagicviolinist

      Thanks so much, Taylor!

      I have a few books that work great for kids AND adults, so here are my suggestions:

      Let’s Write a Short Story (by Joe Bunting) 😉
      Writing Magic (by Gail Carson Levine) This book is an overall how-to-write book. It helps with everything about writing.
      Unjournaling (by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston) This book is full of creative exercises that are super fun and really funny. I recommend doing one of those exercises right before you sit down to work on a story or poem. It’s like stretching before running a marathon, but for writing.

      Hope this helps!

  • Taylor Morris

    I loved this! I love the fact that it is in the POV of the ten year old… and you actually wrote it like a ten year old (in a good way) ! What I mean by that is that it bothers me when people write as someone but the way they write makes it seem unbelievable. (an example is writing as a five year old but using words such as repugnant and egregious…)
    Over all… Great job! (I wish there was more…)

  • Marla4

    (I read a book I picked up on a trip to Canada that had abuse and ghosts
    and cancer and divorce and fire and broken hearts and madness and a
    snow storm.  I thought, Honey, you’re trying too hard.  I still read it
    all, since I was trapped on a plane.)

    Here’s my practice:

    There was a red ball in the field, so far away I couldn’t
    just see the top of it, its curve the slimest sliver of a moon.  I’d seen a tow-headed boy hurl it from his
    place near the fence that separates my house from the pasture that has gone fallow,
    neglected as it’s been these last few years.

    And so I watch the ball, the flax-colored grass waving
    around it.  So much seemed to rest on it’s
    being there.  I knew if I walked outside,
    if I parted the barbed wire and scrunched through, I could hold it in my
    hands.  It was warm from the sun, I knew,
    and would bend to my touch.

    The french doors that separated me from outside were smudged
    from where my cat, Creekkiller, licked it. 
    It was an odd affectation, but I’d had his claws removed, and he needed
    to make his presence known, I thought. 
    The doors seemed to block everything, both for the cat and me.

    I seldom ventured out, and when I did I rushed to my car, as
    if I were being tracked by someone.  On
    those trips – short jaunts to the market, quick stops at the liquor store – I shivered
    behind the wheel, summer and winter, it didn’t matter.

    The act of movement, of steel and rubber coursing across
    asphalt, made me weak with fear.  Outside
    my house, the world turned too fast, and I could not stop one thing.  I headed home, often, without my necessary staples,
    and rushed back inside where quiet reigned.

    The boy, the tow-headed boy, lived near me, though I didn’t
    know where. His bike was left for a time last spring, leaned against a
    telephone pole.  He limped when he
    walked, a halting gait that made him seem older, though I believed he was only
    six or seven.

    I liked to watch him, his struggle for fluid movement
    quelled every bad thing inside me.  He
    had not been willing, though, to broach the field for the red ball. There is a
    gash of land that drops off at the north corner, where another boy fell last
    year.  He lay in the quivering grass for
    three days before he was found, and now the children stay away.

    The tow-headed boy will come back, I think. He will want the
    ball. I will watch until he does. I will sip my  cup of hot tea and hold vigil. Creekkiller
    will keep me company.  It will be enough.
     

     

    • Themagicviolinist

       Holy crap, that sounds intense.

      I loved your practice. The way you wrote it made me feel very calm and relaxed. I could imagine everything in your practice perfectly. I also love the name Creekkiller. 🙂 How did you think of that name?

      • Marla4

        Thank you. Creekkiller is a last name you hear a lot around where I live. I’m close to the Oklahoma border, that used to be called Indian Territory. They had a chief whose name was Wilma Mankiller. They’re making a movie about her.

        • Themagicviolinist

           That’s really interesting. Thanks!

    •  Fabulous.  Is the woman old?  I had no sense of her age.  At first I thought she must be old, then I wondered if she was more middle age and watching the child because she wanted children of her own but was too disabled by her fear to have them.  Either way, you really sucked me into your character. nice writing.

    • wendy2020

      Agree with MV, Creekkiller is a terrific name!

      Loved that the character was so aware yet so insular, that she knew so much about the little boy, except exactly where he lived.

      Thought this was a really great paragraph:   I seldom ventured out, and when I did I rushed to my car, as if I were being tracked by someone.  Onthose trips – short jaunts to the market, quick stops at the liquor store – I shivered behind the wheel, summer and winter, it didn’t matter.

      You have such a unique voice in your writing.  Glad I have the opportunity to read it.

    • Mirelba

       Great build up!  I didn’t see the narrator’s age, but it felt rather ominous to me.  Creekkiller?  Great name, but it does not imply light and sunshine…  Why is she quietly waiting with her cat for that little boy?  Oh dear, I hope he ends up OK. 

  • AorthianArcher

    The Magic Violinist– you write with such clarity and simplicity and that is really, REALLY refreshing.  Thank you.

    Also, I am 100% with you about the unnecessary romance thing.  It was like the lady interest in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Where did the girl fit in?  The answer is no-where.  I’m pretty sure Indy didn’t even like her.

    • Themagicviolinist

       Thanks so much, AA. 🙂

      LOL! That is probably the thing that bugs me most. I’m glad we agree. 😉

    • Good point about Indiana Jones. It’s the James Bond formula: a lot of adventure and a different girl in every movie / book. It’s lame, but it definitely sells more tickets / books.

  • Jenna Lovell

    I loved this article.  Good to see you on here again, Magic!  I have one question:

    I understand perfectly why we should avoid using clichés.  But…what about alluding to clichés?  I wrote a chapter for my book today and used this line: 

    “When Neal desired to have my attention, he could have it without even dropping his hat.” 

    Is that okay?  Or do you think it would be more advisable/entertaining/effective to re-word it in a less-cliché way?

    I also just wanted to thank you for telling me to keep writing the way that makes me happy.  I had a friend yesterday tell me that my book (i.e. the concept of it) might not be appealing to most people because of blah, blah, blah…and she suggested I might try a different approach.  And yet, at the same time she said I should continue to write the way I’ve been writing, and just see what happens–because she might be wrong!  And my mom also told me this week that I can do whatever I want because it’s MY book.  So you’re the third person this week to tell me that (basically), and I’m grateful!  It’s strange to struggle with wondering, “Is this the ‘right’ way to write?”, but so encouraging to hear from others that whatever I choose is OK. 

    And, especially thanks for telling me to have fun!  I appreciate the reminders!

    And one last thing–I loved your use of “superfluous” here! ; )

    • Themagicviolinist

       Thanks for the nice comment. To answer your question about cliches, I think that would be fine. Just as long as you don’t use too many of them, and you don’t use the ones that are super common and overused. I’d try and stay away from them as much as possible. If you can, always try and use something besides a cliche. Something clever.

      Thanks again for the long comment. 🙂 I love long comments.

      • Jenna, Fay Weldon once wrote something along the lines of – a good writer is never controlled by her audience, rather a good writer is sensitive to her audience. People will always give feedback and they will often like and not like what you are doing, I think you should listen to positive and negative feedback, analyse and think about them all, and then take your stance. Listen to advice and don’t listen to advice – something that Shaun Tan once said. 

  • This is a great article! And I totally agree! I especially hate when too many characters die off and I absolutely can’t stand unnecessary (or overdone or graphic) romance.

    One thing I’d add to the list is not bringing all of the subplots to a satisfactory conclusion. Especially at the end of a series, the ending sometimes seems rushed and some of the storylines are just left hanging. I’m not saying they all have to end happily, but they should come to some sort of conclusion.

  • wendy2020

    Where Pigs Fly

    There were two ways to get to the Crespinia Magic Market:  by cloud or by unicorn chariot.  Most people in Kaylea’s town of Herwit were too poor to own a unicorn chariot and too cowardly to travel by cloud.  So hardly any of her neighbors ever journeyed there and gossiped that it wasn’t worth going to anyway.
     
    But this was Kaylea’s lucky year.  Her Uncle Spladrick had died.  A lifelong bachelor and unicorn farmer, Spladrick had left Kaylea and each of her sisters a unicorn, and a chariot to share amongst the three of them.  It was not uncommon for unicorns to be passed down from generation to generation.  But to inherit a unicorn chariot was a rare family heirloom.
     
    “Come with me to Crespina,” said Kaylea to her older sister, Lenri.
     
    “These gardens aren’t going to weed themselves,” said Lenri.  “Every time I yank up one these four-leaf clovers, two more pop up in its place.  It’s like our garden’s cursed.”
     
    “Come with me to Crespina,” said Kaylea to her younger siter, Pashryn.
     
    “These pots aren’t going to move themselves,” said Pashryn.  “Everytime I clear one out of our field, another rainbow comes along and drops two more pots of gold in its place.  What am I supposed to do with all of these?  The trash collector won’t even pick them up any more.”
     
    “Why do you want to go Crespina, anyway?” Lenri asked over dinner.
     
    “I was wondering the same thing.  It’s not like we have the means to buy anything.  And we certaintly don’t have anything magical to sell,” added Pashryn.
     
    “Oh, but I do have something magical to sell,” said Kaylea. “Look.”
     
    Her sisters leaned in close.  From beneath the floorlength tablecloth, Kaylea pulled out a flower pot of daisies.
     
    “Do you hear that?” Kaylea asked them.
     
    “I don’t hear anything,” said Lenri.
     
    “Me either,” said Pashryn.
     
    “I know.  Isn’t it amazing?  Flowers that don’t sing!”
     
    “That’s not magic.  They’re just broken,”said Lenri.
     
    “Who’s going to pay a hill of beans for those?” added Pashryn.
     
    “I think silence might be worth an awful lot, actually,” said Kaylea.
     
    “Well don’t expect us to do your chores while you’re gone,” her sisters said.  “You’ll have to taken them with you.”
     
    “I’ll be happy for the company,” said Kaylea. 
     
    She went out to barn and loaded her ducklets into a crate.
     
    “Quoink , quoink, quoink,” the little pink animals protested, flapping their white wings with such ferocity that they left a feather dusting all over the barn floor. 
     
    “Shh, now,”Kaylea scolded them gently.  “We’ll only be gone a few days.  Besides, it will be fun to see some magic for change.”
     
    One stray ducklet hid behind a bail of butter hay, but Kaylea say her pink swirly tail sticking out through the springs.
     
    “Oh no you don’t, you little sneak-a-boo.  You’re coming, too.”  When Kaylea picked the ducklet up, she found two freshly laid eggs beneath her, one pink and one yellow.
     
    “So that’s why you were hiding.  Don’t worry we can take your babies with us.”
     
    Kaylea pulled a thatch of butter hay out of the bail and formed it into a soft nest.
     
    “There you go,”she told the expectant ducklet. “You three will be quite comfortable.”
     
    “Quoink, quoink,”the ducklet answered back, without a hint of gratitude.
     
    Underneath their mother’s warm belly, the pink egg said “oink”and the yellow egg said “quack”.  But their voices were too young and faint for anyone outside their shell to hear them.  Inside their eggshells, two creatures who had not been seen in thousands years were preparing to hatch.
     
    Crespina would be awash in magic.  But only Kaylea would enter with two miracles.

    •  I am in love with this!  So fun and magical.  SO CREATIVE!  I want to read the whole book, cuddle up with my kids and just read the night away.  That last line gave me goose bumps.  “Crespina would be awash in magic.  But only Kaylea would enter with two miracles.”  I love the silent daisies. 

      • wendy2020

        Thank you, Alisha.  Recently, I haven’t been writing many stories  that are, shall we say, “child-sharable.”  But the tone of MV’s blog led me this way.

        So finally, I was willing to let my girls hear “what Mommy is working on”, and I lose them six paragraphs into it when the babsitter arrives with more entertainment X factor than me.  I need to work on my timing.  🙂

        Appreciate your feedback very much.

    • Marla4

      This should be published.  Tell me you didn’t just write this today.  So lovely.  I love the line about the broken daisies.  Well, I just love it all.

      • wendy2020

        Thank you, Marla.  I did just write this today, however, can’t say I stuck to the 15 minute limit as I was tossing ideas around in my head while I was at Target, the modern day ‘magic market’.

    • Themagicviolinist

       This is awesome. This could easily be made into a fantasy novel. I love the noises the ducklet makes and I love way Kaylea says that she thinks silence would be worth a lot. The only thing I would change is this: “But this was Kaylea’s lucky year.  Her Uncle Spladrick had died.” It sounds like Kaylea was happy about her uncle dying. Obviously she’s excited about the unicorn and chariot, but the wording doesn’t make it sound like that. Nice job! 😀

      • wendy2020

        Thank you, MV.  You write with a clarity that many double or triple your age still need to be “home schooled” in. 🙂

        Your feedback was really spot on.  Still mucking around with a way to finesse the first lines of that paragraph, but have taken out the celebratory “Ding Dong my Uncle’s Dead” tone.

        • Themagicviolinist

           You’re welcome! Much better. Love the part about him being too optimistic. 😉 You are so creative. I definitely wouldn’t have thought up something like “icicle butterflies.”

    • Mirelba

       this is just great!  Don’t put it away, keep at it!

  • jenn_kn

    This is as far as I could get on this, so here is my practice for the day:

    The desert air was completely still but full of tension, like static waiting for a touch to ignite its charge. Adam stepped out of his small Toyota and felt the hair on his exposed arms and legs stand and take note. The stock pile of plastic jugs were finally empty of their contents: gas, water–hope and life. Only a small canteen of water was left and the last of his fuel had taken him here. He looks out onto the smooth canvas of sand and sky, equally divided within the frame of his vision and knows, this is it.

    He settles a large canvas hat atop his head and it immediately soaks up a ring of his salty sweat. He grabs his backpack from the seat and slams the door. Not that it matters, if snakes and lizards want to make it their home then by all means.

    A few steps in and his muscles already ache, weighted by a heavy pack of supplies as well as a blanket of heat and soft sand pushing and pulling him down with each exertion. But to rest is to stop moving and to stop moving would be death.

    “If I die on this quest it will be while in motion. That seems noble enough, even if no one will see it.” He smiles to himself at the idea. A body tight with motion and then falling down, dead before it hits the ground. Death is not a significant fear to him anymore. Not since losing everything. But to die within sight of his goal cannot happen. His jaw clenches at the thought.

    “If there is no fountain of life then I will know by not finding it.” In his minds eye he glimpsed the hope within the cracks of this shaky mantra and then beneath that the true source for his journey: desperation.
    “Only fools believe in magic”, was always the response when he told people about his plan. He learned to stop telling them anything. And one day he just left. That was two weeks ago now. He hadn’t seen another soul in three days. But there was only one person he ever really wanted to see again anyway and she was already dead.
    He argued with the invisible critics in his head and held out the large wrinkled map.
    “If magic isn’t real, then how do I have this?” The map was the shape and texture of a dry leaf. But on it’s wrinkled surface within the faint pattern of its veins was a map to the fountain. But holding out a brown leaf the size of your head as proof of a magic life giving fountain doesn’t work with people. In fact they will probably mock you and try to destroy things. He learned that as well, a small tear at the leafs tip being the consequence of such an attempt. Over the last week, however, the leaf had been changing. The stem was now green and looked almost as fresh and alive as one just picked from a tree. This was a sign he was getting closer. This was magic.

    • Jeff Ellis

      This is great! I love the idea of the map itself being dead, and slowing coming to life the closer he gets to the Fountain of Life. It’s subtle and keeps the magic believable.

      I also like his mantra: “If there is no Fountain of Life, then I will know by not finding it.” It tells the reader that your narrator is a man who would normally be a skeptic if not for his desperation and the discovery of an abnormal element: the map. He is going to go where this map leads. Whether he believes there is anything there or not is irrelevant. If he doesn’t go to see for himself, he will never know if he might have been able to see her again or not.

      Wonderful practice. I want more!

      • jenn_kn

        Thanks for reading, I appreciate the kind words. The dead leaf idea came out of nowhere but I think I am the most satisfied with that bit. : )

    • Themagicviolinist

       This was great. Loved the ending. 🙂

      • jenn_kn

        Thank you, you offered a good prompt!

    • Mirelba

       Pulled me in.  this is good, I also like the leaf turning fresh.  Great idea!

      • jenn_kn

        Thanks 🙂

  • I am just going to say it… I love romance in books!  …Even when the story doesn’t entirely call for it.  Romance is all over life, so I am not the least bit surprised that it creeps up all over fiction as well.  That said… ridiculous sexy scenes randomly chucked into a book are buggy.  And one of my favorite books of all time.. Ender’s Game has zero romance.  The author was actually told to put in a love interest and he refused.  and in that book, a love interest would have been silly… a distraction from everything else that was going on.  So I guess I’m torn… hmm  

    • Themagicviolinist

       I know a couple people who are all over the romance thing. I personally don’t get it, but maybe that’s because I’m twelve and I’m not into it yet. 😉

      • I agree with Alisha, I think romance does and can work. And Magicviolinist, I don’t agree with your idea that we have to be confined to genre – i.e. romance is romance, sci fi is sci fi, etc. 

        Look at all the times it worked – Orwell’s 1984 were he marries politics, dystopia and romance. Conventions will always be subverted… If we were to lock ourselves into conventions then we’d be writing cliches.

        • Themagicviolinist

           I can see how it works in some books, but sometimes romance just pops up in parts that don’t need it. It becomes fifty pages of filler.

  • Themagicviolinist

    Thanks Sarah! I didn’t think of that one. 

  • Mirelba

    Are you sure you’re only 12?!?  MV, you are one amazing twelve year old!  Loved your list, and I agree with your later comment- if the book is really good, I don’t mind how long it is…

    Been too busy with our holidays to keep up with all the practices, will have to try this next week.  

    • Themagicviolinist

      Thanks so much, Mirelba! 😀

  • RE:
    5. Have an unhappy ending.

    Yes, you might want an end­ing that’s unex­pected and not so happy,
    but if your end­ing is so unhappy that read­ers close the book in
    dis­gust and give it a bad review on Amazon, then you could have a
    prob­lem. How would you have felt if J.K. Rowling let Voldemort kill
    Harry at the end of Harry Potter? I cer­tainly wouldn’t have liked it.

    I must be weird, because I totally wish that happened. It seems more realistic to me. But that’s IMO.

  • Patricia bumped back and forth on the gravel, her eyes staring up at the sun.

    A sparrow watched the children and the doll from the shade of an old oak.  The morning heat followed the girls and crept behind their knees and under their hair.  They wiped the sweat away with dirty hands but never stopped walking.

    ‘He ain’t gonna let us,’ Maggie said.

    ‘Sure will,’ said Candice, dragging Patricia up from out the dirt and stuffing her under a damp armpit.

    ‘Sure won’t,’ Maggie said, looking at Patricia. ‘Since you brought your ragdoll.’

    Candice stamped her feet on the gravel. ‘Patricia goes everywhere with me!’

    Maggie rolled her eyes and started to run.  ‘Race you!’

    Their legs flew over the long stretch of gravel and dirt road, past the cool pines and over Pancake Hill, beside the cherry trees and next to the white fields of cotton until they finally reached the brackish water.

    The group of boys didn’t see them approach at first, but when they did, they huddled even closer together with animal-like instinct.  David Raileigh spat, and three other boys followed.  Jonathan Moloney stepped towards them, taking his green cap off.

    The girls stepped forward.

    ‘We want to swim with you.’  Candice said and stuck her lips out.  Her pouting lips and rag doll induced hysterics among the pack of boys.

    Jonathan stepped even closer, and the boys stopped laughing.  Was he really going to allow girls to spoil the fun?  He circled around them, little puffs of dust rising as his feet hit the dirt.  Candice squeezed Patricia to her chest and Maggie stared right back into the jeering faces near the lake.  Everybody was silent.

    Jonathan put his finger to his chin, where he imagined a beard lay, and scratched it thoughtfully. 

    ‘Unfortunately,’ he began, ‘I can’t allow all three of you to swim.’

    Candice’s lips trembled and Maggie squeezed her hand hard.

    ‘But,’ he said and paused, ‘I’ve decided that you two can swim on condition that the doll stays out.’

    ‘Yeah that’s right,’ said David, ‘dolls can’t swim here.’

    Maggie squeezed Candice’s hand again, but didn’t let her face reveal the excitement. 

    ‘Well she doesn’t like the water anyway,’ Candice said as she propped the doll against a piece of grass, making sure Patricia had a view of the lake.

    To the girls, the lukewarm water was cold, the most refreshing a lake in midsummer could ever be, because Jonathan changed the rules just for them.

  • LKWatts

    When I’m writing my latest story I always try and make everything link up. I think as long as I do this then I’m on the right track. Otherwise I just usually stick to what I like writing and get on with it.

  • Books like “Fifty Shades of Grey”, where an amazing romance is supposed to be blossoming and all I see is a superficial relationship built on sex and image.  The two characters don’t really have too many interests in common, do they?  I haven’t come across anywhere in the book where they have a true, heartfelt, meaningful interaction.  It’s annoying to read a book that’s supposed to be about seeing above and beyond sex, and it’s unforunately, only about that.  I just wanted more of a connection between the two characters, anyway…

  • Colby Davidson

    Is it necessarily a romance novel if the entirety of the story revolves around two people who happen to be a couple? I mean, Frozen wasn’t a romance, and it was basically all about Anna and Kristoff, right? I just want to make sure my books aren’t classified as romance novels even though they aren’t.

  • kyleyoder

    But the crop of readers out there, especially those who read sub-sub-genres, are basically illiterate bi-polar autistic morons.