Reasons You Should Be Beta-Reading

So, in my last blog post, I talked about my own experiences as a beta-reader and today, I’m gonna give you a few reasons why you should be a beta-reader too! (Whether your a writer or not).

We’re just gonna jump straight in to it!

  • You get free books!

Now, this might not be one of the best reasons – it sounds kind of selfish actually, but essentially, you could be reading the foundations of a best-seller and you might not even know! You might even find your next favourite read – and, you can call yourself the starter of the original fandom!

  • You don’t feel so alone!

When I first started beta-reading, I was worried that the manuscripts I would read would be absolutely flawless. I felt like my writing wasn’t going to compare – at all. I essentially expected books that could be put on the shelves tomorrow, and sell-out within days – and I think those were just my own insecurities and self-doubt getting the better of me – because, they weren’t flawless, they weren’t perfect. They had potential, they had everything they need to be a good, even great book, but they still needed help, and it just reminds you that absolutely everyone is in the same boat as you at one point or another!

  • You get better at critiquing stuff (including your own)!

This is an obvious one (and sort of carries on from the last)! The more you beta-read, the easier it gets. You start to understand what your role is, what your looking out for, and if your able to analyse and critique someone else’s writing, it becomes all the easier to critique and analyse your own! It’s surprising how many things you will notice that just seem so obvious to you, but, you’ve done the exact same in yours too!

  • You can explore different genres!

Beta-reading doesn’t always come in the way or genre you might prefer, but, it gives you the opportunity to try new things, to read and explore genres that perhaps you don’t feel like picking up at the book store. There’s some that I never would have picked up. I would look at the blurb and think ‘No, that’s not for me – it’s not the typical genre that I like’, but with beta-reading, it’s can be about looking at things that are different to what you like, to sort of give your two-cents on whether it might even convert you. I know a lot of mine have now.

  • You become a part of the ‘journey’!

Beta-readers can be invaluable aspects of a books development. They can make a book great, or they can slam it in to the ground. Their usually the first people that the writer has shown their work too, and, that in itself is an honor, because, if your a writer, you know how hard it can be to let your baby go.

  • You meet amazing people!

So, to follow on from the last one. The people you beta-read for can become a staple in your life. Whether it’s over the internet or in real-life, being a part of their journey means a lot to them – and it will to you too – and, they are people that perhaps you might not have got to know so well if you hadn’t!

A writers unspoken duty is to support other writers, so, get out there and help a fella out!


If you have any other reasons why you should try your hand at beta-reading, I’d love to hear from you!

Until then though,

Just Keep Writing,

Jade x

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A Beta-Readers Experience

Before last year, I had never read someone elses novel in an unpolished state!

To be honest, I hadn’t really met any other writers who wrote novels, so, all in all, the whole of last year – writer community wise – was a first for me, but that’s another post for another day!

I’ve always been the one who my friends look to, to look over their work. I can be quite a good proofreader when I try, and pair that with a love of reading books, and helping out my fellow writers, I think beta-reading just appealed to me in a way I’d never expected it too!

The first time I beta-read – a retelling of both ‘The Little Mermaid’ & ‘Cinderella’ called ‘Melody’ by Penny Kearney (which should be out sometime this year) – I feel like I came up short a little if I’m honest. I wasn’t completely sure what I was doing, and, although, I answered all of the questions – and highlighted a few flow problems – I liked it too much to say anything bad about it!

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If I looked back at it now, now I’ve sort of realised what my role actually is, I’m sure I’d find characters that need a bit more development, and maybe some more sections that didn’t make all that much sense, but, you have to start somewhere, right?

The next novel I got to beta-read was by someone I met whilst doing my #LetsWriteNaNoWriMo challenge! During the challenge, I learned all about the novel that ‘Andrew Henley’ was editing – called Hayley Soon – and when it came around to him needed beta-readers, I knew I had to take the plunge and see what it was all about!

I didn’t have a clue what to expect – not really – but I’m so glad I answered that question in his comments section! With Hayley Soon, I feel like I was able to give a lot more, and with my feedback, I just sort of ‘let loose’ a little and I’d question this and that, and I can be sarcastic as hell sometimes – which doesn’t come off too great in text – but I feel like I was actually able to help in that development, you know?

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And, I think, as you read more manuscripts, as you read more books, you do get better.

Much like writing!

And, I think, as a writer, you give something different to beta-reading than you would if you were just a reader, you know!

The next one I got to read was the first 20,000 words of an epic fantasy, and like Hayley Soon, I had my thoughts and opinions down. I knew what it was I should be looking out for, you know?

And I don’t think you can teach it to people, the more you do it, I think, the better you become. Practice makes perfect and all that, you know?

At the start of this 2018, I got to beta-read two more in January, one was about a cannibal, which was an experience in itself! And the second was from a total stranger.

You see. I had a message through instagram; this person asking me if I’d like to beta-read their book, and, after telling me what it was about and all that, I said yes.

It’s very unique, this manuscript, it’s a contemporary that looks at some very delicate aspects in the western world right now. It’s definitely going to make people think – and it’s definitely going to be one of those that people either love or they hate.

I love it, and Z, if you’re reading this, I’m still waiting for that chapter!

At the moment, I’m reading another fantasy – which is more nordic and viking like called Whispers of Savage Song by Ashley Earley and I have another Andrew Henley manuscript waiting in the docks called MIRI!

And, you know the best thing about this whole experience is when you see the books you beta-read get published! You were apart of something that means the world to someone.

Andrew Henleys ‘Hayley Soon‘ and Allen Dark’s cannibalistic novel ‘The Black Heart‘ can now both be found on Amazon, and I encourage you to go read them both! Completely different, but completely worth it!

And, until next time guys,

Just Keep Reading (Or even better; beta-reading),

Jade x

Week 10/52 Writing Update & Adding More Layers

So, this past week, it’s consisted of me writing up an extra chapter, adding some more bones to a character, finishing off a few more chapters for my beta document and writing up a bit of my beta survey!

I also had the chance to dive in to my main characters moms! The challenge #MYMCSMOM was something that both me and my friend, Andrew Henley, popped together at the beginning of the week! It was a great way for me to learn more about Lauryns mum, Willow, from my current WIP Tales of Monsters, and Mels mum, Jackie from my NaNoWriMo project ‘Diary of a Child Zombie Killer’, as well as allowing a platform for others to do the same!

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Check out the #MYMCSMOM tag on instagram if you want to check out all the entries!

The challenge also allowed me to add a bit more depth to my story line – particularly with Tales of Monsters – and made some things a lot easier to understand.

It still sort of scares me though; the layers that this fantasy series might end up with! It might not live up to the whole complicated world that is Game of Thrones, but you know what, it might actually come close when it’s all finished and polished.

Diaries won’t be nearly as layered – its much more straight forward, Mel’s mum, Jackie, still surprised me a little! Mels mum, being a zombie for more time than we actually see her alive means that she doesn’t have that big of an impact on Mels story-driven-life (in a certain way), and I think the fact that Mels mum was always working anyway, and that her dad was Mels main care-giver, that not having her mum wasn’t that much of a big deal?

Or maybe, it was easier for her to adjust to the aspect – although, she does miss being taken cared off – but what kid wouldn’t? (Hell, what adult doesn’t every now and then?)

Concerning my beta-reader survey too, I also came across a load of helpful questions that you should ask critique partners, or readers of your manuscript, like it’s no one’s business! They’ve been absolutely everywhere on my IG feed, and I’ve even come across a few on wordpress without even looking for them!

I’ve picked out a few thatI think I’m gonna end up using for my more general questions, and then, I have a whole page in my bujo of things more specific and ‘spoilery’!

I’m really hoping to document my whole beta-reading process, for both myself and anyone who’s interested in knowing about it, and I’ll be sure to write up a blog post on the process of writing up a beta-survey once mines done (and whether it actually works the way I want it to).

Despite all this, half way through the week, it was looking very bleak! I thought it was going to be a little bit of a bust – I had only got that extra chapter written by the weekend, plus the MC’s mom challenge in action, and I’d been working too much to even comprehend doing much more than sleeping and eating!

However, I’m quite a ways in to beta-reading part one of a nordic fantasy novel for someone on insta, and I managed to get out three blog posts too!

And then, after a very busy Saturday morning, and mostly a lay-about evening feeling a little sick, I managed to do some writing! Followed by Sunday, and after work and a beef dinner, and one of those food coma naps, I woke up and did some more writing!

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So, in all, the weekend sort of made up for all the crazy and got me that bit closer to sending out my manuscript to beta-readers!

For this coming week, I’m planning my usual Wednesday blog post, with maybe an extra on Friday if it all works out! But, I’m also planning a week-long series of blog posts – most probably for April when I’m not obsessing over Tales of Monsters anymore, but only time will tell for that one!

What are your plans for this week?

To finish this weekly update off, I’m gonna leave you guys here with my favourite quote from my writing this last week:

‘But to allow smaller men than you to take the applause, will only result in smaller men taking the lead’

Until next time guys,

Just Keep Writing,

Jade x

International Womens Day: My Top Ten Bookish Females

So, to celebrate the today, I thought I’d name my top ten bookish females!

This isn’t by any means in order! I’m far too indecisive for that, although, my number one is definitely my number one!


Number Ten

Inej Ghafa – Six of Crows

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Image found on LBardugo’s Tumblr

At just fifteen years old, this gal here is a badass, and she’s absolutely awesome! Taken hostage, sold to a pleasure house, bought out by a bunch of misfits, she’s been through a lot in her young life even before we meet her! (Whilst hanging off a roof) This girl just screams fearless and ferocious, and she demands something of the world, even though it owes her nothing.

She’s one of my favourite characters in the SOC Duology!

Did I mention she’s fifteen?

How could I not include her?


Number Nine

Sylvia Redbird (Nanna Redbird) – House of Night

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This lady here is one understanding nanna! After nearly getting killed (multiple times) and losing her own daughter, she is still there for granddaughter Zoey when she needs her. Wisened by the world, this old lady here gives some of the best advice, and, continues to support her grand daughter in whatever it is she does!

I love my nanna’s, but, I’d love to have her and her cookies! And I’d love to be able to see a lavender farm too!


Number Eight

Cithrin – The Dragons Path

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D&C Wiki – Grueler

Chased from her home, belittled by elders and used by men; Cithrin has come a long way from the orphaned girl who was taken in by the Medeen bank. She’s not in any way perfect, she doesn’t do all the right things, but she’s continues to grow in to this strong independent women that will do anything to get what she deserves!

I picked up The Dragons Path whilst looking for a book to read in Ibiza, and I absolutely loved it! Cithrin is amazing, as are Marcus and Yarvis!


Number Seven

Hayley Soon – Hayley Soon

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Hayley Soon is a book I beta-read before it was published at the the end of February, and, she’s definitely one of those characters that you need a bit of in your life. I’m probably biased (maybe a little), but, the journey she goes through, the acceptance she has to find, for herself, and the people around her is a story people need to read. They need to see life from this different type of view point

Being a woman is hard work already; imagine how hard it is when you didn’t start out as one.


Number Six

Bonnie Bennett – The Vampire Diaries

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I know bookish Bonnie and TV Bonnie aren’t completely the same, and just for this one, I’m gonna focus on the TV Bonnie! (I tried to read the books, I just couldn’t).

From the beginning to the end, I’ve loved Bonnie Bennett. I’ve loved the strength she’s showed, the things she’s done, and the way she’s held herself and kept herself so true. She’s gone through horrible things, lost so many people, and despite it all, she got to live her life the way she wanted too in the end. It wasn’t the perfect life she dreamed off, not by a long shot, but she took what she was given, and she was happy.

She got her “happy ending”, but damn it, she fought hard for it!


Number Five

Ping – Dragon Keeper

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It would be a damn shame if I didn’t include Ping in this list! As well as helping me fall in love with dragons and the whole concept of them, Ping was just a little slave girl, abused by a horrible master, and turned in to this little outlaw who became a dragon keeper.

I owe a lot to these books, and to Ping!


Number Four

Hermoine Granger – Harry Potter

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Of course I had to get her in here somewhere right?

There’s not much that I can say that you guys don’t already know about this lady here! Hermione is always going to be one of those women that people strive to be like, to be brave, courageous, smart and loyal. She’s going to be up there in the great list of bookish females for hundreds of years to come, and can you blame us?


Number Three

Arya Stark – Game of Thrones

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I could have put a load of Game of Thrones females on this list, but out of them all, Arya is the one who stands out to me! (I love Dani, damn, I wish she wouldn’t be the way she is sometimes, because she would be here instead of Arya, but, she probably gonna die in the end, so I might as well pick someone I have hope for)

And whether its book Arya or TV Arya, she’s gone through so much, but still, she’s kept true to her roots, she’s still that person who doesn’t need a man to lead the way, she takes what she wants, she does what she wants. I think she would make a great Kings guard one day.


Number Two

Ferius Parfax – Spellslinger

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So, I couldn’t not put Miss Parfax in this list! After reading Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell, I can’t imagine a life without her now! Stubborn, fearless and the most sarcastic person you may ever have the pleasure to read about, Ferius takes it upon her self to look after a little kid, who, like her, is different, and unique and not the same as everyone else.


Number One

Katniss Everdeen! – The Hunger Games

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(Does anyone else say that in Effy’s voice? Cause I do)

The only reason I actually read The Hunger Games is because I knew the movie was coming out. I think I’d seen a little bit of a trailer here and there, and although I’d heard about the book before; until I saw it in WHSmiths on a stand near the door, I never thought of picking it up!

Within a week or so though, I was reading the next one, and then I’d read the third, and then had my mum read them too, and then I had to wait ages for all the movies to come out!

It quickly became a part of my teenage life obsession, and, to this day, she is my favourite bookish female ever! And, I think that despite a few drips and drabs, the movie portrayed her so perfectly that it just gave me all the feelings that I had whilst reading it!

And that one scene. That one that will probably give me chills to the day I die…

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Anyway, Happy International Womens Day guys(gals?!?). I hope you enjoyed this little list! I enjoyed putting it together!

Who would you have on yours? Or, who is your number one favourite bookish female?

Until next time though,

Just Keep Writing,

Jade x

The Great Blizzard of March 2018

So, it may not have been the blizzard all of us (okay, maybe just me) were hoping for, but, it gave most people down here in the south of wales a nice blanket of snow which meant that we had the day off work and a well-earned Snow day!

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And, whether you’re the adventuring type, or the the sit by the fire type, I think the snow and the pure whiteness of it can bring the good out of anyone!

Especially us creatives! Whether you go out searching for inspiration (alone or with four-legged friends) or spend the day couped up in bed with a hot drink and a notebook, you can find just as much inspiration looking out a window as you can exploring on the ground!

Me, I’m one of those adventurer types, and, so you don’t have too, I explored some woods near my house, fell over atleast twice and will probably get a cold by the end of the week!

But, I have here some photo’s that might just fit right in to a setting or a story you’ve been working on!

So, with a miniture beast who could be quite photogenic when he stopped still, I bring you some snowy images taken by me on a crappy phone as the darkness crept up on us!

This here is the start of the hill I had to walk up, and the second is part of the snow drift right next to said wall I used as cover as a cloud of snow tried to wrap itself around me!

Then, me and the pup (because the Springer could not deal with going out in the snow twice in one day) decided to head up the lanes, only to get side-tracked by a path in to the woods that surrounded us on each side!

At a certain part in my current WIP ‘Tales of Monsters’ a bunch of my characters are searching through the woods – for what, you’ll find out if you ever read it – and the winter snow has come to visit, and this, is how I envision it! There are evergreen tree’s placed here and there, but mostly, the shrubbery is bare and naked and everything is on show!

From the photo’s, you can see that as the light changed and it got darker, how the world turned that bit more blue!

And, just to add a bit more, here are some photo’s I took whilst on my way down a country lane the day after the blizzard hit! The snow was starting to retreat already, melting from the heat of the dragon (and all that stuff), but it was still pretty and white! And you could slip on your ass just as easy as before!

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And here are some of the illusive beast when he finally stops still!

Week 9/52 Writing Update & Favourite Quote Of The Week!

This week, I’ve been getting even closer to my goal of finishing my current ‘Tales of Monsters’ draft ready for beta-readers to get later in the month!

Currently, I’m adding in an extra chapter so that my change in ‘POV’s’ don’t look as if I’ve completely forgot about my ‘homebody’ group!

At first, I was worried that you would notice that it was just extra – maybe just filler, but it’s let me add a little more depth and knowledge to these characters!

For example, my main guy has finally released the reason to me for his inability with girls, although, below the surface, he’s fighting a harder war that even a man obsessed with monsters might not truly get!

And my monster mad Lord is also being all nice and upbeat, and himself, which, he didn’t really have time to do before the storm starts to arrive, and it’s nice to see this happy, jokey side to him that he always was, but you would never have really saw.

The only thing is, the more I write, the more this word count climbs. It’s at about 130k words now, and I still have to add some more.

Tales of Monsters definitely won’t ever be my debut novel – whether I’m lucky enough to get an agent, or I self-publish, the word-count will be too great, too much off an ask, or even a risk – especially if I went the self-publishing route.

Although, maybe that begs the question – should you give readers a taste of it first (with the average sized debut novel) or just throw it all at them and hope for the best?

Maybe that’s not a debate to get in to just yet…

Anyway, in the week to come, I’m hoping to finish off this chapter, finish off a final one I decided needed a rewrite, and put it all in to the beta-reader document!

And write-up that beta survey I just keep scribbling notes for in my journal!

To finish off this blog post, which hopefully, I can get out every monday for the weeks to come, I’m gonna share with you one of my favourite lines that I rewrote/edited?!? this week!

‘Maybe they should have killed the men that were walking away from them; but in a world with so much sorrow, hate and fire, did hope not make you wish that not every man coloured as the opposition was a villain’.

And, I’d love to know what word-count your at, and what word-count you think a debut novel should get too!

Until next time though,

Just Keep Writing,

Jade x

#MyCharactersAreReal Tag Part 5: The Reader of a Child Zombie Killers Diary

So, to finish off this tag, I’ve decided to group the whole of the questions in to one blog post and tell you all about the reader of Mel’s diary – Albert!

To check out Melanies four-part character development series, click here to start at part one!

Abert (or Al) is my second protagonist from my NaNoWriMo 2017 Project ‘The Diary of A Child Zombie Killer’ – and if you need a small recap on what it was all about, check it out below!

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Set in a zombie apocalyptic Britain, a forty-year old guy called Al finds the diary of the twelve-year-old Melanie. Inside, it documents the beginning of the apocalypse and the world she experiences. He doesn’t want it to ever finish; but he can see the un-penned, blank pages at the end. Did she decide she didn’t need it? Did she lose it? Or did she die…

My Main Character:

A forty-year old called Albert (or Al).

Their Backstory:

Al lived with his wife and daughter, and short of being a very important buisness man in his earlier years, he’s now a proud house husband who cooks the dinners, does the washing and make sure his daughter get’s to school on time! His wife is part of a team of scientists, who may or may not have started the zombie apocalypse in the first place.

What Does Your Main Character Value?

Above all else, he values family and friends. Which he doesn’t have many off at any point in his life, but, still, he wouldn’t be without them.

What is Your Characters Most Valuable Trait?

Al is very reasonable when he needs to be. He can quite easy diffuse stupid confrontations and dilemmas, and is definitely someone you can go to if you want some hard-truths.

If Your Character was one of the Deadly Seven Sins, Which one Would They be?

This is a hard one, but he would have probably been Gluttony before the apocalypse started. He really does love his food, and even now, he’s more likely to eat a chocolate bar he finds than give it to his daughter.

What Makes Your Character Relatable?

Al’s absolutely terrified of what the world will do to him if he lets it. He feels like he often has no idea what he’s doing, and the lack of control easily makes him go mad!

What Does Your Character Consider Immoral?

Murder. Although he has killed live people before, he thinks it’s completely immoral and shouldn’t ever be done.

And What Moral Might Your Character Excuse or Sidestep?

Betrayal. But, only because, the world they live in, people are going to focus on themselves and the people they love before anyone else, and how can you hold that against them.

Who Does Your Character Love More Than Anything or Anybody?

Al loves his daughter – Josie.

Who Gets Under Your Characters Skin?

Josie! She’s growing up and being a typical teenager who whines and moans when she doesn’t get what she wants..

Who or What Could Break Your Character (even if it doesn’t happen in your book)

Being alone would end up killing him. He’d hate to lose his daughter, or to be bitten by a zombie, but being alone would break him in to pieces you could not fix.

Who or What is a Bad Influence on Your Character?

His apocalypse-born best friend, Rhys, is the baddest influence of all! He encourages Al to let loose a little bit, and, gives him a chance to be the immature bachelor he never got to be!

Is Your Character the One to Instigate the Fight, Break it up or Stand Back?

With his reasonability, Al is most likely going to be the one who breaks up a fight.

When Someone First Meets Your Character, What do They Think of Them?

From looking at him, he looks old and cold. And, very stand-offish, but he’s quite soft and kind, and deep down, a good guy.

What Does Your Character Look for in an Ally or Friend?

Like Mel, he looks for trust! It’s now one of the most important things that you can hold on to.

What Would be on Your Main Characters Bucket List?

Al has always wanted to live in a house where one of the rooms is lined with book cases, preferably filled with memoirs!

He also wanted to be a milk man when he was little!

What are Your Characters Emotional Strengths and Weaknesses?

Strengths

He’s been through a lot, and he’s very street-wise!

Weakness’

Al finds very easy to get anxious and depressed, and in turn, turn in to a very moany and sulky person.

What are you Characters Physical Strengths and Weaknesses?

Strengths

Al is quite strong, thanks to all the fat he once had from his over-eating that turned to muscle because of all the running and carrying he does!

Weakness’

Al finds it really hard to climb. If it wasn’t for Rhys having the strength to pull him up over walls and on to the top of bins, he would probably be dead by now. It’s not that he’s not strong enough to do it, he’s just scared of heights and the fear of it effects him a lot more than he’d like to admit!

What Does Your Character do When They’re Upset?

Al will read when he’s upset – which means he’s able to read Mel’s diary quite quickly as a lot of horrible things start to happen between the time he finds it, and the time he finishes.

Special Skills and/or Weapon of Choice?

Al loves his shovels and spades! He has an old rusty one that he keeps near his bed, just in case, but is always on the look out for a nice, non-rusted one that perhaps someone left in a shed and forgot about.

Still not found one yet, but he’s still hoping!

What is Your Character’s Greatest Fear?

The same thing that would break him – being alone!

Significant Objects or Symbols for Your Character?

Melanie’s Diary! Obviously!

And, a swiss army ruck sack that he found early on in the apocalypse and carries around with him everywhere!

Nervous Habits or Ticks?

When he’s nervous, Al scratches at his ear. Not many people notice it, but Rhys does! And, uses it to make sure that his friend stays calm, and helps him get through it without letting him know that he knows.

Do They Immediately Say Whats on Their Mind or Put Their Thoughts Through a Filter?

Al can be very rash, and sometimes, he just doesn’t think before he says things. It can get him in trouble, but, it can also get him out of a lot of trouble too!

What Does it Take to Tick Them Off?

Stragglers and bums! Al really detests people who sit on their arses and don’t do anything, and in the apocalyptic world, bums are even more noticeable, but, half the time, their the ones that get killed first, much to the guilty pressure of Al!

However, stragglers also annoy the hell out of him. In this world, you can’t be slow, but, he does make exceptions. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have his best friend Rhys, and, he wouldn’t have his wise old man Patrick!

In Most Situations if Your Character Passive, Aggressive or Defensive?

Al has always been very defensive, but, not always in a judgmental, defend his honor kind of way. He’s defensive in the way that he would only fight back if the need arose – which includes risk to his life, and risk to the lives of his group.

On a Scale of One to Ten, How Patient is Your Character?

Al ranges about six out of ten on the patient scale! Not too great at all, but still, he can hold it back a bit more than some people!

In What Ways Could Your Character Grow as a Person?

Take a few more risks, and be a bit more immature before the world takes his life away.

What Does Your Character Learn by The End of The Story?

He learns to face his fears for the ones he loves.

And maybe he also dies, just like Melanie. Or maybe they meet up and become a super-group.. Or maybe he turns in to a zombie. Maybe I have no idea what happens to him…

This is just a little aesthetic board that I created for Al! I think it sums him up perfectly!


And, I’m hoping to start posting a bit more! It won’t be every day, but perhaps every two days, you’ll have something new to read on my blog if you wish too!

So, until next time guys,

Just Keep Writing,

Jade x