Novella, Fantasy, Mystery
Mainu, a young mage with a thing about sand, is pulled away from his bland, academic life by Hesykhia, a Master Fate, and meets a vivacious princess who is everything he's not. The only problem: he doesn't want to be there in the first place. Can he get to the bottom of the suspicious happenings around the castle and protect the princess from a very vague yet certain danger?
Novella, Fantasy, Action
Siderion is mere minutes away from becoming a member of The Order and earning his first rank stripe when Serkha City is attacked and his life is changed forever. Thrown away from everything he holds dear, he must scramble for answers as his moral ground shifts under his feet. In a world full of mages and monsters, nothing is safe.
Novella, Fantasy, Horror
A 12-year-old boy. A fireproof shopkeeper. A card magician. A mysterious old man.
Sixty years before our story begins, a scroll was created by none other than Grand Mage Athael. He called it the Ng Ey, and it was famously blank. Indecipherable. That is, until young master-of-disguise Kellyn happened upon it and saw something.
Short Fiction, Poetry, Essays
These are my shorter writing pieces. Not all of them are from the Kirev universe, but most fiction pieces will be compatible with it. I write everything from short stories to poetry to essays. Stay tuned!
Musical Fiction, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Adventure
A small mep named Velda, orphaned since birth, is waiting for her life to change. She meets Cha, a spirit being, who reveals that she is destined to save the universe with the help of a magical Powerstone. Velda is found by the royal family on her planet and joins seven other teens with similar beginnings. But, as they begin their training on the path to mastery of magic, something goes wrong...
Fantasy, Horror, Romance
In the not-so-far future, humans have colonized other planets and have begun to divergently evolve. Tatiana is an ordinary Termixian girl, but on top of her limited magic abilities, she has a Gift: she can see six seconds into the future. When her Gift is simultaneously discovered by the Criminal and Anomalous Magic Investigation Organization and a blind, Gifted psychopath named Squall, she is thrust into a quest to end his rampages, but what if he isn't the crazed killer that he appears to be? A darker evil lurks on the horizon...
I'm occasionally asked to review other people's fiction writing, and over time I've learned which things tend to show up in my comments. If you're still looking for an editor or just wanting some ideas on how to improve your writing, here are my top pieces of common advice, sorted into what I call the 5 Ss: Spelling, Style, Structure, Strategies and Separate Documents. These are the things I ask myself while editing a piece of writing.
Spelling: Are words (including made up ones!) correctly spelled?
Tense: Are all verbs in the correct tense, either following the overarching tense of the piece or changing to fit spots where the tense changes?
Punctuation: Are sentences correctly punctuated, including around dialogue?
Capitalization: Are the beginnings of sentences, proper nouns and special words capitalized, and nothing else?
Numbers: Do numbers follow a consistent formatting style, either spelled out or written as digits? My rule of thumb is that all numbers under 11 are written using words, and higher ones are written using digits.
Grammar: Do all sentences follow correct English grammar?
Formatting: Is the piece as a whole formatted consistently? Are the font, font size and spacing the same throughout? Does it look neat?
Formality: Is there a consistent level of formality, either formal or informal?
Consistent style: In general, is the style consistent? Does the writing feel like it was all written by the same person at the same time, all at once? (Obviously it wasn't, but pretend it was :P)
Repetition: Is there variety in word choice? Make sure that dialogue tags, descriptive words and other bits of language don't repeat too much. Once is usually enough for a particularly good word.
Pronouns: Are pronouns used instead of character names the majority of the time, and does the speaker remain clear? Can you tell who 'she' or 'he' is?
Realistic dialogue: Does the dialogue sound like something a real human person (or whatever your character is) would actually say? Try saying it out loud.
Adverbs: Are adverbs not overused, especially in dialogue tags? Beginning writers often write very formulaic tags with adverbs like 'she said happily' or 'he replied loudly', which can get repetitive quickly and is telling instead of showing (see below).
Dialogue tags: Speaking of which, dialogue tags! Do they have some variety in structure and placement relative to the dialogue? Are they not included at all when appropriate, especially in a one-on-one conversation?
Sentence variation: Do sentences in general have variation in their structure? Are there some kinda long sentences and some kinda short ones sprinkled in?
Idea order/moles: Do ideas flow in a logical order, or are there 'moles' that pop up in the middle of a train of thought? For example, "Sally was my best friend. I like dogs. We always played pretend together." Exaggerated, but you get my point.
Flow/readability: This one is tricky to explain. Does the writing have consistent, steady flow? Is it pleasant to read? Does it roll off the tongue? The best way to tell is, again, to read it out loud.
Show, don't tell: Are traits or reactions of characters, places and things demonstrated through actions instead of said outright? For example, "Her brow furrowed" as opposed to "She was angry," or "A bitter wind whipped their bare ankles" as opposed to "It was very cold."
Slow cat/breadcrumbs: Are plot points revealed over time, and not spilled all at once in an info-dump? This is what I call the 'slow cat', named for letting the cat out of the bag slowly, or 'breadcrumbs', as in, leaving breadcrumbs akin to Hansel and Gretel for the reader to find instead of the whole loaf.
Set the scene: Are settings explored and detailed? It's a common mistake to write all action and no background. Setting is a whole third of 'person, place, problem', after all (see below).
Character development: This is another third of 'person, place, problem'. Do the characters show growth and change over the course of the story?
Motivation/plot logic: And here's the last third! Does the plot make logical sense? Is there a sequence of cause and effect instead of just a series of events? Do characters have motivations to do what they do?
Plot before characters: Is the plot designed around the characters and their development, instead of over-detailed characters being pushed into an unrelated plot? This is a very common mistake for beginner writers who give their characters more attention than their story.
Person, place, problem: Here is is! This is the foundation of any plot! Is there a person (one or more characters or entities), place (setting) and problem (issue needing to be resolved through plot)? For more detail, I look to the hero's journey or Freytag's Pyramid, though they don't need to be followed perfectly.
Read out loud: I've said it twice and I'll say it again, reading your writing out loud is the best way to find areas to improve. If something doesn't sound good, it's probably not written well.
Piles of grapes: If you don't know what to write somewhere, write in a filler (my personal choice is 'piles of grapes'), skip it and come back to it. Don't let a lack of inspiration stop your flow.
Mini version control: Don't delete or replace a bit of writing until you're absolutely sure you won't want it in the future! Either use a program that keeps track of all your changes, or copy-paste old bits of writing at the bottom of your document, just in case you change your mind.
One small edit at a time: Editing can be overwhelming. There's a lot to do. It becomes easier when you break it down into smaller bits. If you're working on setting the scene, for example, don't just think about how you should write more background details in general. Find one spot where you could write a sentence about setting, and write it. Then, do it again.
Keep asking why: Always asking why is a great way to test the strength of your plot. Mainu is going to the castle? Why? Because he wants to save the princess. Why? Because he's been promised a reward. Why? Because the fates gave him a quest. Why? Unwrap the layers and see when you get stuck. The more layers, the better.
Thematic music: Maybe this is just personal preference, but I think writing always feels cooler with writing that fits the vibe of the piece. Rock on.
Plot chart: It's tough to keep plans for an entire plot in your head, and much easier to put it into a chart, so you can look at all of it at once. I recommend a timeline or chapters on the X axis and different locations or characters on the Y axis. Write down things like events, hints about plot secrets and character whereabouts.
Character sheets: I have a love-hate relationship with these, because overplanning characters results in the characters before plot problem I mentioned earlier, but in general, planning characters is a good idea. There are lots of good options online, but my favorite one is pinned in ║￤writing-chat on my server. Remember to only work on these in conjunction with plot points.
World facts: Worlds can get complicated fast, especially when you get into magic systems and extensive maps and culture. Write it all down in one secure and easy-to-reference location.
Version control: Like mini version control! Please, please, please save past versions of your writing. You'll want the memento, if nothing else, and sometimes the best ideas are hiding in old work that you thought was garbage.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, that's normal. There's a lot of writing strategies out there. Remember to take it one step at a time, and if you still want some help, I offer editing services at $7 per reasonably formatted page. Just DM me on Discord if you're interested.
Did you know Maja has a Discord server?
Tales of Kirev is a great place to read Maja's works, post writing of your own, and hang out with nerdy people!
Just hit the button below to join the fun!