5 Words I've Banned Myself From Using

We all have words we use too much. Safety blanket words. Default words. What do we do with them? SMASH THEM. Come on, you knew I'd say that, didn't you? 

The last thing any writer wants to do is be redundant. So! Don't reuse a word too much. Don't let it be your fallback. Fresh writing is awesome writing.

Here are my top 5 words I need to smash

1. Worming
Not the actually muddy snake. The act of "worming". As in:
"She wormed towards the exit."
It use to be a "cool" word for me. The kind of "omg, look, I'm using this super creative word!" After I'd used it at least once. every. chapter...I started to realise it wasn't so cool. (Plus my critique partners crushed my dreams and told me to cut it.)

2. Flick
The amount of time my characters "flick their eyes". WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Flicking eyes...gosh.
Her eyes flicked across the room. 
It's a legit word. It's just a phrase I depended on way too much.

3. Whisper
If I had a dime for how often my characters whisper...I would have enough money for the enunciating classes we probably need. There are other ways to speak! For instance: SHOUTING.

Whisper is a fine and good word, but (like all these words) I use it far too much. I'm an advocate of using "said" instead of things like "grumbled" or "intoned" etc. But if I'm not using "said", I find I rely on things like "whisper". Show don't tell!

4. Almost
This is a filler word! You can usually cut it out. Plus using it constantly makes your writing feel undecided. Like you, the author, aren't even sure.

5. Started
Why "start" to do something when you can just DO it?
He started running. 
Noooo. Use:

He ran. 
Tighter. Less passive. AWESOME. I usually do a word-doc search on "started" or "starts" and see if they need eliminating or not.

Just remember: these words aren't necessarily bad words! Not all of them are weak or useless or redundant. They're just words I personally use too much. (Although I do recommend getting rid of "started". It's starting to bug me.) I like to be aware of them so I can smash them and make my writing better.

(And I'm not going to lie: these words always make me angry.)

What are some words YOU use too often? Let me know in the comments!

-- Hulk

I'm trying to be fabulous...I'm trying.

Thor's Thoughts: Productivity Whiplash


We have all had them.


We have all had those as well.

A friend of my alter-ego's tweeted a while back, "Why is writing so slow for me some days and so awesome on others?" Shortly after, another friend tweeted, "This day is all kinds of wrong.... Yesterday was just so amazing. Today hit me bad."

I, despite being a god, have been there. We have all been there. An incredible day in which you accomplish so much more than you ever planned and you are prepared for the next day to be just as incredible. Then reality comes flying in with its Mjölnir and smashes your expectations to pieces. You get nothing done, and anything you might accomplish takes superhuman effort.

Now, I mean not the times when physical challenges* or mental illnesses get in the way. Neither of those are your fault. But those topics are for another post (or, just click on those links for some great thoughts). Today, I simply mean the days when everything is as simple as it gets, the variables have not changed, but you go from a flurry of get-it-done to feeling like a sloth just trying to keep up.

Why does this happen?

I am sure there are many scientific and logical reasons for it, and we could likely spend many hours contemplating them. However, the fact is they happen. And the way to make them pass is simply to let them pass. 

If you are working toward publication in any form, you should already have some type of writing schedule in your life. On those bad days, you will sit at your computer or notebook and wonder whether it's all worth it when the words refuse to come. But I guarantee, sitting and pounding out even one hundred words on that bad day is better than nothing. Keep in mind, whatever you write on a bad day will inevitably receive a polish during revisions, and your readers will (hopefully) not be able to tell the difference between that and your moments of inspiration.

I have a rule for myself. I make myself sit at my designated writing time and write for at least an hour. If, by the end of an hour, I still feel counter-productive, I will get up and do something else during my writing time. (See my last post on things to do while you wait for feedback. Those things apply here as well.) But usually, within the hour I have entered THE ZONE. I'm sure you are familiar with THE ZONE. It is a place extremely hard to enter and far to easy to be pulled from. 

Do not pull a writer out of THE ZONE.

Once I am in THE ZONE I can write for hours. I can even switch projects if need be, and go back to them. The point is, I started. That is the most difficult part.

If you have suffered from productivity whiplash, never fear. You are not alone. Get as much done as you can, then let your mind rest. Switch from laptop to handwriting, change projects, or watch a movie. Feed your mind and refuel it, then get back to work as soon as possible. We all need breaks sometimes. But we should never assume the break is permanent. 

We are writers. We write. It is what we do.

Now get to work.


Make ‘Em Laugh

Of course you’ll know the song Make ‘Em Laugh. You know, from “Singin’ In The Rain”? You’re all looking at me blankly. I’m seriously concerned. Go forth and educate thyself on musical theatre and then read the rest of this post.

Or you could just watch the song right here on YouTube in wonderful high definition, which might be quicker.

I’m talking about books where bad things happen. I mean, most books have some bad things, but these are books where maybe there’s no happy ending, or there is but most of the characters are too dead to enjoy it. Tragedies. All that stuff.

They come in two varieties: sad, and depressing. Sad ones are great, because you can cry your eyes out, write about it in caps lock on the internet, and find friends to emote with. Depressing ones are not. You sit there wondering where hope went and why the universe is so awful and sometimes you begin to wonder what the point is.

The key ingredient to making a tragedy less depressing is to throw in some humour.

You can have a mass-murdering terrorist who has lost his entire family and also happens to be immortal, so he’s got a lonely, miserable eternity stretching out in front of him, but if you make him sarcastic enough, your beta readers will still like him. Honestly, I speak from experience.

Humour in tragedy is something you’ll find as far back as stuff by Shakespeare. I’m partial to Hamlet, myself. (I feel like I know this guy from somewhere.) You only have to look at the banter between Hamlet and Horatio to get some light relief.

For thou dost know, O Damon dear
This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
A very, very – peacock.

You might have rhymed.

Shakespeare’s always going off with scenes that provide comic relief from the doom and gloom of the tragedies themselves, leaving you with a play that’s sad, even miserable, but doesn’t depress you so much that you want to shred it and grind it into the mud so that you never have to read it again. Not that I’ve ever felt that way about a book. *cough*Catcher in the Rye.*cough*

I like to think I’m a funny guy. I try my best. You get a bunch of superheroes in a room, you need some of them not to take themselves too seriously.

You know that Peter Parker kid? Man, it’s a shame we can’t get him on here so you could see for yourself. He’s got the sarcasm absolutely nailed. But don’t tell him I said that, because I’ll probably never live it down. Even Thor’s been known to crack a joke occasionally, and Natasha’s got a supply of vicious jokes about Capsicle’s age.

To use some examples from YA fiction, since that’s what most of you guys are interested in, I’m going to look at a couple of bestsellers. First up is The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, and before you start judging my reading taste, Pepper has the whole series. That’s my excuse.

And those books are hilarious. Admittedly, I’d say they’re not particularly tragic, since not nearly enough people die, but they could easily become melodramatic and overblown if the characters actually bothered to take themselves seriously. Instead they’re constantly making wisecracks, even when things are going completely awry.

“Jace perched on the windowsill and looked down at him. "You really don't get this bodyguard thing, do you?"
"I didn't even think you liked me all that much," said Simon. "Is this one of those keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-closer things?"
"I thought it was keep your friends close so you have someone to drive the car when you sneak over to your enemy's house a night and throw up in his mailbox."
"I'm pretty sure that's not it.”

Including humour in a novel makes it instantly more appealing to most readers. I’m far more likely to turn the page if I’m expecting more jokes.

I can’t explain how to be funny. (I’m terribly sorry if it doesn’t come naturally to you the way it does to me. You’re unfortunate.) But I can give you a list of some authors who write funny books, so that you can investigate them. This list was compiled with some help from my alter-ego, who is procrastinating on revising for an exam this Thursday. Some of these writers write books that are funny. Others include funny parts in books that are otherwise not funny.

In no particular order, I recommend:

  1. Terry Pratchett for those who like fantasy and satire. As a bonus, his collaboration with Neil Gaiman (“Good Omens”) is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.
  2. Maggie Stiefvater for those who are into YA fic with sarky protagonists.
  3. Tom Holt for all your fantasy and science-fiction needs.
  4. On that note, Douglas Adams for some slightly more traditional sci-fi, best known for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”.
  5. Jasper Fforde is a great one, especially for writers and bookworms, since his Thursday Next series literally involves a BookWorld. Also, book four has Hamlet in it.
  6. Ben Aaronovitch is again a fantasy writer. I think a lot of SFF writers have learned not to take themselves too seriously – especially when they delve into comics, TV shows, and superheroes. His Peter Grant series is about a policeman who becomes a wizard and it is hysterical. Pepper thought my arc-reactor had malfunctioned.
  7. I hesitate to include Laini Taylor on this list because on the one hand: hilarious one-liners, mischievous secondary characters, etc etc. On the other hand: pain. All of the emotional destruction.

The best way to learn to write is to read, but I genuinely do believe that the best way to understand humour is to look at those who do it best. What makes you laugh? Is it sarcasm? Or maybe you favour puns and wordplay. What about slapstick? No need to be the one to slip on the banana peel when you can give that moment of humiliation to your main antagonist…

Be a writer, my friends, but be a comical one. Make ‘em laugh.


-- Iron Man

Put Your Smashing Vote in! Which May YA Book Are You Looking Forward To Most?

Happy May everyone! I hope you had a smashing April... Okay sorry, but did you see what I did there? Smashing? Hulk...smashing... NAILED IT.

Okay, you know what? Never mind. Let's move on.

Since we're saving the world (or taking it over, in Loki's case, I guess...down, Loki, down) one word at a time, we need to keep our eyeballs peeled for what's trending hot in the YA market! I'm a huge reader (hey, it's very calming when you have a...destructive temperament like mine) so I like to keep an eye out for monthly releases.

So what's looking smashingly good this May?

After The End by Amy Plum [goodreads] [may 6th]
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart [goodreads] [may 13th]
A beautiful and distinguished family.A private island.A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.A revolution. An accident. A secret.Lies upon lies.True love.The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. Read it.And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

The One (The Selection #3) by Keira Cass [goodreads] [may 6th]
The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.
Second Star by Ayssa B. Sheinmel [goodreads] [may 13th]
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

Rebel (Reboot #2) by Amy Tintera [goodreads] [may 13th]
After coming back from death as Reboots and being trained by HARC as soldiers, Wren and Callum have finally escaped north, where they hope to find a life of freedom. But when they arrive at the Reboot Reservation, it isn't what they expected. Under the rule of a bloodthirsty leader, Micah, the Reboots are about to wage an all-out war on the humans. Although Wren's instincts are telling her to set off into the wilderness on their own and leave the battle far behind, Callum is unwilling to let his human family be murdered. When Micah commits the ultimate betrayal, the choice is made for them. But Micah has also made a fatal mistake . . . he's underestimated Wren and Callum.
The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes [goodreads] [may 20th]
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.
And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff [goodreads] [may 27th]
It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.
But they don't.
This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other's lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn't belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren't in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all.
These are my top May picks. What are yours? Feel free to shout out in the comments.

Oh and before you go, how about voting on my fabulous poll?

Which May release looks the best??
pollcode.com free polls 
Sorry, I'm shy and awkward.
-- Hulk