4 Tips for Reading Books Faster!

So many books, so little time. It’s the phrase that runs through readers’ heads as they stare, er, glare down their overflowing TBR piles. How are you supposed to read all of those AND the books you want to read AND the books other people are going to ask you to read AND still have a life? While I can’t give you any scientific tips on how to make your eyes move back and forth faster (that’s just weird), I can give you some tips on making sure you finish those books so you can keep on moving.

  1. Read in a distraction-free environment

If you’re distracted while you’re reading, it’s going to take you longer to finish the book. Or, even if you keep reading, your mind is going to be drifting off to the quesadillas that await you at dinner tonight and not your characters who oh-so-desperately want your attention. If you’re reading at home, turn everything off so you can keep your attention at 100. That’s right; turn off those phones, tablets, computers, everything. Can’t do that? Flip your phone over so you can’t see the push notification light and make sure the sound is off. Those things drive me insane if I don’t respond to them. If your home is too loud and distracting, move to the library or the park, where it will be quiet and you can focus on the task at hand. Bonus points if you go to the library and return only with the book you’re reading.

2. Try audiobooks

This point could go both ways. For me, audiobooks are longer than the amount of time it would take me to read a book in one sitting. However, audiobooks allow you to read at times that normally aren’t times you can read, such as in a long car ride, train ride, or walking around town. Just put in your headphones (unless you are driving; I know some people listen to audiobooks while they drive, but honestly I think it’s safer keep your eyes and ears on the road. Stories can be immersive.) and listen to a book of your choice. You can actually get audiobooks free through your local library, both in physical CD form or in digital format that you can download such as through Overdrive. Ask your librarian about such services!

3. Read books you WANT to read

The fact is, if you don’t like the book you’re reading, you’re probably not going to schedule your life around finishing it as quickly as possible. If there’s a list of books you need to read for school, try and alternate so you can fit in books you want to read as well to prevent getting into a reading slump and thinking of all reading as boring.

4. Read shorter books

The trick that works for readathons also works for your year-long reading goals! If you’re trying to read a large amount of books, Infinite Jest may not be the one you want to choose right now. (Unless your goal is to read it, then of course, read Infinite Jest.)

Comic books work too, especially as in-between books like I described in point 3.

However, I’d say that as far as reading goes, quality trumps quantity. It’s not about who read the most books in a month or year or how fast they read them, it’s about reading good books and enjoying them. Of course, setting a goal for the year can be motivating too. So have fun, go read and of course, let me know when you finish your Goodreads reading challenges!


Comic Review: Tabatha by Neil Gibson

Never did I think I’d find myself rooting for a thief. Thanks, Tabatha.

Disclaimer: I was given a galley of this comic thanks to Diamond Book Distributors (who also own Image Comics!) on Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always.

Tabatha cover image courtesy of Netgalley

Tabatha cover image courtesy of Netgalley

Publisher: TPub, Diamond Book Distributors

Publication date: November 3rd, 2015

Type of Book: Comic/ Graphic Novel

Official Book Description

Luke works as a mailman in Los Angeles and moonlights as a thief – the empty houses on his postal route are rich, easy pickings for him and his friends. Everything goes as planned until one house turns out to not quite be so empty. The situation spirals out of control, leaving the happy-go-lucky thieves battling for their lives. And all because of Tabatha.

My Thoughts

Before Tabatha, my comic reading endeavors had been pretty much limited to reading superhero comic trades from my local library, with a few exceptions, like Saga and Kinski. Tabatha was a nice change that still delivered all the action I’d expect from reading a comic book, with an eerie twist. I loved how it started out almost normal; we follow your average mail delivery guy, and then as you read, the story unfolds and the action builds up. Suddenly, this isn’t just a guy delivering mail and robbing rich houses with his friends. Luke picks the WRONG house. And then you meet Tabatha.

The tale has your fair shares of creepiness and humor. There were times where I laughed at moments on every single page, and times where I had to recollect for a moment before moving on. (I will never become a mail delivery person. Not happening.) But besides the awesome story itself, the artwork is drawn beautifully. I cannot stress that enough. The the panels are drawn with such attention to color and vibrancy that you’ll find it hard to look away.

I can’t believe I’m that person who’s about to talk about a holiday that isn’t for another three months BUT seeing as this comic releases November 3rd, you’ll want to round up your leftover Halloween candy and pick up this creepy and entertaining start to the comic series when it hits the public! (Not literally, of course. I don’t think comics are allowed to do that nowadays. Although, I’d totally watch that happen.)

I’m giving Tabatha 3.75 stars, for being entertaining and beautifully drawn. If you can take creepiness, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re someone like me, it’s definitely entertaining, but I think I’ll stick to my usual Ms. Marvel for now.

Review: The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

There are few books that can make me laugh out loud (literally) in a public place, much less, the public place I work at. With the silence that generally hangs in a library, combined with my coworkers swarming around, it’s … Continue reading

Books I want to Buy and a rant on Bookstores

You’ve heard me say it only a million times; I’m kind of a library fanatic. If I’m reading a book, I probably got it from the library.

However, being the breed of bookworm that I am merits people getting the idea that I must spent years of my time in my local Barnes and Noble. Hence, I tend to accrue several bookstore gift cards on just about every occasion there is. (My high school even gave me a small Barnes and Noble gift card as an award. I was grateful, but you know, do I really read THAT much?) Don’t get me wrong; Barnes and Noble is a glorious wonderland, and so are my favorite independent bookshops and comic stores, but if I’m going to spend money on a book, I better have reason.

I don’t reread books very often, which is why the library is always a great idea for me. Why buy something I’m going to read once? However, after reading Looking for Alaska by John Green at my library, I went out and got the collector’s edition from Barnes and Noble. I definitely plan to reread that book in the future, it’s that good. And maybe get a tattoo, move to Alaska, and name my firstborn HankJohn..

I’m totally kidding here.

About the tattoo.

OK. Fine, I’m bluffing about the first born. JohnHank is a far superior title for a 21st century human (*if you would like some FABULOUS name suggestions, I’m totally your girl! #sarcasm*)

So, here are a few books I want to buy/own at some point in the future:

1. S by JJ Abrams

Yes, you read that right. If you hadn’t already heard, THE JJ Abrams (Lost, Star Trek, Fringe, and a whole lot of other shows and films) created the concept for this book. I myself was pretty darn shocked, and excited, when I found out it was a thing a few days ago on Booktube.

I haven’t read this yet, so my desire to own it isn’t based on knowing I want to reread it. I want to own S because I know that inside it, along with the text, are lots of inserts. I think this is such a cool idea, and I don’t know that the experience of the book would be the same at a library. Mine does not own this book yet, so my question would be; are we going to lend it out sans inserts, or not own it at all?

Plus, it just sounds freaking awesome.

2. Armada by Ernest Cline
Again, haven’t read this book yet, but I do have high hopes for it. I already stand behind Cline’s work because of the pure amazingness that was/is Ready Player One. I know Armada isn’t RPO, and you shouldn’t expect it to be RPO, but I know I will enjoy it. Plus, instead of a gazillion 80’s pop culture references I don’t understand, Armada is all about video games, which I can totally be thrilled about.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I just reviewed this one last night, and in my review I mentioned the collector’s edition. I like the idea of reliving Fangirl all over again, because of all the emotions that went on while I read it. I actually had a bunch of overdue fines on this one from not wanting to let it go.

(Oh god, I spent all afternoon with my Frozen-loving cousin and does that song ever end??)

And of course, comics.

Now, I’m not going to list all the comics and graphic novels I want to read in the future. I’ve already spammed my Goodreads friends with Green Lantern volumes. However, I adore some ongoing series like Ms. Marvel, and I’d love to start picking up more of the individual issues. Waiting for trades is an absolute PAIN, especially when some series you are interested in are not even in Trade form yet. *cough* Spider Gwen *cough* I also want to continue on with Saga; Volume 1 had me hooked.

That’s it for today, friends! What books are you looking forward to purchasing/receiving from your super nice pals in the future? Let me know in the comments below!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Summer 2015 To-Read List!

One of my annual summer traditions is to hop onto my Goodreads account an start making a shelf of all the books I want to read that summer. I don’t usually get to every one of them- I usually add about 15-20 to my list- but I try my best to get as close to the finish line as possible. This year, my list mainly consists of things that I feel I should have read by now but haven’t, as well as some fun new things I’ve just came across.

#1- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Somehow, I have managed to graduate High School without having read this novel. Strangely enough, I took all the advanced literature and English classes at my school, yet it was the “regular” classes who read Gatsby, not my classes. The Great Gatsby is a short novel, so I figure it’s a good way to start off my summer reading.

#2- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Another book I didn’t read in High School, for the same reason as Gatsby. Amidst news of a sequel coming soon, I figure I might as well read this acclaimed classic too!

#3- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling

I can feel all of your eyes glaring down on me for this one. No, I have never read a single Harry Potter book. I know, I know! What was my childhood? Did I even have one? Was I abducted by aliens? Aliens who also didn’t read Harry Potter? It’s alright, guys, because I will finally read it, I promise, and it’s better late than never, right? Don’t get all Incredible Hulk on me.

To be fair, I did see the movies…

…and I loved them?

Not helping, OK, I’ll move on to the next book.

#4- The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

I’m a big “I can’t watch the movie unless I’ve read the book” person. *Says the girl who watched Harry Potter and didn’t read it!* I’ve made a few exceptions, including Life of Pi and yes, Harry Potter, but otherwise I try my best to stick to this rule. I’ve never watched any of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings movies, (I saw the beginning of one but that was a long time ago) and now I can finally start, once I read this book of course.

#5- Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones

One of my best friends to this day cannot get over the fact that I have not read or watched Howl’s Moving Castle. It is one of her all time favorite books and movies, aside from Harry Potter and Star Wars of course. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of it before I met her. It has such a good rating, I can’t not give it a whirl.

#6- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The last book on my list that’s something I should’ve read a LONG time ago, especially for someone who adores YA sci-fi and fantasy novels. I even tried playing the H.G.G game, which I believe is hosted online by BBC, but it was perplexing after a while. Anyway, I’ve already started this book and I love it.

#7- Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

I’m super excited about this one. As you all know, I am a huge Ready Player One fan. I think I’m actually going to re-read it this summer, actually. In my literature class, we had a Hamlet To Be or Not to Be project, and I re-wrote the soliloquy from the perspective of Wade Watts. Anyway, the synopsis of Wolf in White Van sounds like something gaming fans and nerds alike will enjoy, and I’m hella (yes I said hella) excited to try it out.

#8- The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The thing that most drew me to this book when I first heard news of its publication was the fact that it is a YA fantasy without magic in the world. I have nothing against the use of magic in YA novels, but this really sets it apart from others on the market. Assuming it’s as good as I’ve heard, this one might be a real winner.

#9- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

This book is the sequel to Throne of Glass. I wasn’t as floored by Throne of Glass as I would’ve liked to have been, but I have high hopes for its sequel. (Although I did name by Skyrim character after Celaena- I love that name!) In fact, C.O.M. has a 4.2/5 star review based on over 60,000 ratings, which is pretty remarkable.

#10- Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

One of the things I do in my job is recommend books to patrons that come in. A lot of the times, though, the books that first come to mind are checked out, so I’m forced to look through the shelves for anything I know anything about. I know what’s popular, what goes out a lot, what people seem to like, and of course things I’ve read in the past. I recommended Seraphina to someone recently, because it’s something that I know I’ve wanted to read but haven’t, and I gave it to the patron despite knowing only this about it. I knew it involved dragons, which is automatically a selling point for me. She came back and LOVED it, and was enthralled when I told her there was a sequel. Now I can finally read this one for myself, knowing it is apparently pretty fantastic. You know I’ll be reading the sequel too if I love it.

#11- I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

It’s summer, which is when I tend to begin reading more lighthearted books and taking them to read by the water. A couple months ago I read Jandy Nelson’s other book, The Sky is Everywhere. I really enjoyed it, possibly because I felt I related to the main character in some ways, and was thrilled to hear the author had come out with another book. Plus, the cover is beautiful, so why not?

#12- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Goodreads really wants me to read this book based on the fact that I’ve read some John Green books and Eleanor and Park. I’ve read both good and iffy things about this one, but again, it’s summer, why not try it?

#13- Ms. Marvel comics

The new Ms. Marvel comics are really the only comics I follow. I read the collected editions, which means having to wait, but since I’ve now finished Volume 2, I think I may just have to venture to a comic store and get some individual issues.

Speaking of which, what comics do you guys recommend? I’ve been to a few comic book stores recently and get way too excited about the Marvel, DC Comics and Image Comics sections, but I don’t know where to start. I have favorite superheroes *cough* Captain America, Black Widow, Spiderman… *cough* and I’ve read some of the classic Frank Miller Batman comics, for example, but I haven’t really delved into this realm further. I’ve watched the movies, if that counts. But with Spidey alone there’s several different lines, like Amazing Spiderman or Ultimate, and yikes it’s overwhelming. What’s good? What’s not? Help!

#14- Bone Volume 2 by Jeff Smith

I’ve been shelving these graphic novels for years and somehow I never thought to actually read them in my childhood. The other day, though, someone returned the first Volume, and remembering a friend’s recommendation, I sat down and read it. It’s super adorable and fun, and I’m quite disappointed I didn’t read them as a kid. I’m not going to BookCon this year, but if I were I would totally get Jeff Smith to autograph a copy!

#15- Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Seconds is a graphic novel by the same guy who wrote the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. Those are awesome, so I just have to try this one out.


That’s it for this year’s list! Of course, I never want to limit myself to just this list, so I will most likely venture off of it slightly, but lists like this set a nice track to begin my selections off of.

What books are on YOUR summer reading lists? Let me know in the comments down below!

Guest Post: “Crafting a Believable Dystopian World” by Madeline Dyer

By Madeline Dyer

As a writer of dystopian fiction, I often get asked: “How do you create a dystopian society?” or “How do you make such a world seem believable?” And those are excellent questions. A lot of work goes into crafting a believable dystopian world, and before I even begin writing the first chapter, I spend days researching and jotting down ideas. It’s often the case that only after I’ve spent a few weeks (at least) mulling over possible ideas for the basis of my dystopian society, and delving into all the minute details of it, do I realise whether it is viable or not to set a story in that world. There’s nothing worse than a great plot being let down by holes and contradictions in the world building.

By definition, a dystopia is a frightening society. Most commonly, a dystopia reveals how a societal system that was originally intended to improve people’s lives has actually created oppressive circumstances. Dystopian fiction usually has a dark gritty tone and a strong social message, where the dystopian world acts as a warning of what could happen in real life. Of course, it’s unlikely to happen, but the possibility must be there; one of the most important things with a dystopia is how it interacts with the real world. And that means your dystopian world absolutely must be believable and as realistically portrayed as possible.

To craft a believable dystopian world, you need to know everything about your world. And by ‘everything’, I really do mean everything. How did this world emerge? What is the society like? What are the rules/laws? How is the law enforced? How do people live? How are people divided? How do people feel about this system they live in? What currently stops them from rebelling? Has anyone rebelled? What are the consequences?

Basically, you’re creating a whole new society. Think about the one we live in now: how we operate, how things are run, how we behave, what the norms are, what the problems are. You need to know all of this for your dystopian world—and more. And you need to make sure you know the answers to any questions about this world—and that your readers know these answers too.

Creating a Dystopia: the Foundations

Because many dystopian novels call for change and incorporate a strong social message, dystopian societies explore the consequences of what happens when things are run differently, or when one thing is favoured over another. Building your dystopian world on the basis on an existing issue, (one that has the potential to become a huge problem), will immediately make your dystopian world more believable.

Problems and issues that are typically explored in dystopian fiction include politics and governments, the economy, poverty, loss, climate change, the true nature of man, technology and scientific advances. A good way to create a dystopian world is to take one of these issues and exaggerate it beyond all current proportions and show the oppressing side effects. Because you’re creating a dystopia, your society must be frightening. It must be a place where we wouldn’t want to live. It has to make us feel fear. There must be the imminent threat of loss throughout, and a strong sense of danger that accompanies the magnification of the issue explored. For example, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games exaggerates the rich/poor divide, as well as exploring how far people can go in the name of ‘entertainment’, depicting the suffering and violence this causes. Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy explores the notions of divisions, experimentation and control, as well as how far people will go for power, thereby emphasising the risks of dehumanisation.

Once you’ve decided which theme and issue your world is going to explore, you’ll need to focus on how the exaggeration of this issue or problem is going to cause damage to your society. Will it oppress men? Will it have dehumanising effects? Will it result in violence? Or will it be the ‘solution’ to this problem that actually damages society more? Perhaps the only way to keep this problem under control is through a method that causes a loss of free will, imprisonment and the degeneration of man? But without this ‘solution’ would the exaggerated problem get worse, causing more oppression?

If you do include a ‘solution’ for the problem, then you need to know everything about this ‘solution’ and how society has been ‘fixed’.You need to work out why such a ‘solution’ would initially have been chosen, and how it’s gone so wrong. How long did it take for this to happen? Was there initial distrust of this ‘solution’, or were the bad effects only realised later? What is at stake? What will happen or be lost if nothing is done? What are the consequences—both for past actions and developments and potential ones? Is there a way to reverse the damage the solution is already causing? Or to prevent more damage and loss? Why is it apparently so difficult for your characters to fix it (because it must be difficult)? Who is trying to stop your characters from disobeying their new societal system or trying to change it?

Another way of creating a dystopian premise is to toy with the idea of taking something away, (something that is essential in our everyday life), and seeing how that changes a society, and the complications and consequences that arise from this. Or, how about exploring what would happen if something was added? Something completely unexpected. Something that sends the world into chaos where new systems and strategies have to be introduced almost overnight. This is the case with Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, which deals with an alien invasion and how that affects the human population, changing their society and values.

Remember, young adult dystopian fiction is big at the moment. So many worlds have already been created, with so many problems ‘fixed’. Of course, it’s unlikely you’re going to come up with a completely new idea—because haven’t all storylines already been done?—but the execution of your idea is where you can shine. And crafting a believable dystopian world comes into this.

And, remember, even if everything that you plan out doesn’t actually go into your book, if you write your manuscript knowing this, the world will automatically be more believable to readers. And, perhaps most importantly, you need to know exactly why this new ‘solution’ has made your world so frightening. Remember, the crucial thing is how your dystopian world interacts with the current world, so if readers can notice how small parts of your world tie into the world/society they live in, immediately this link helps to make your world more believable.

Creating a Dystopia: Knowing the History of this World

Knowing how your dystopian world operates is only one step of the process of crafting a believable world. In order to make your world as believable as possible to readers, you need to be able to show how this dystopia evolved. History plays a vital role in our society, and it will in your dystopian society too. The more details you can give about every aspect of your world, the better and more believable it will be.

How exactly did things get into the state they are now? Was it a slow process? Or a quick one? Was there opposition? If there was, how was that sorted? Are there still consequences from previous opposition now? Can any of the people in your world remember the ‘old world’? If country names and boundaries have changed, when did this happen? Is the history of their society taught to the people in your dystopian world? Is the past state of society used as a threat against them?

Those are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself. The more detail you can put in about the transition from the present-day world to your dystopian world, the more believable your world will be.

Creating a Dystopia: the System and the People

Now that you’ve created your own dystopian society and you know exactly why this world is a frightening place, you need to work out the details of how this society runs. We need to know everything. Why has no one instigated change before? What’s stopping them? Who is in charge? What type of government is in place? Who is in power? Who is oppressed? Can those people see that they’re being oppressed? Or can they see it some areas, but not others? What will happen if nothing is changed? How are laws and rules enforced? What punishments are used? How are criminals dealt with? Who is viewed as a criminal?

Other questions to think about include: how similar is this society to ours? How different is it? What is the economy like? Is it fair and equal to everyone? Who is privileged? Is there a healthcare system? Does everyone have access to it? What about education? And what is taught in schools?

An important thing to consider here is gender relations. Which gender is more privileged than the other? Of course, you don’t have to stick to binary genders here either.

Another part of crafting a believable dystopian world is understanding how your characters interact with the world they live in. You know how such a society was created, but how do your people really live? In cities? Or in rural areas? What do they wear? What is their culture? How do they name people and things? Which types of technology do they use? Or is technology feared? What are their rituals and beliefs? Which religions are the most dominant?

To what extent is equality an issue (because it nearly always is an issue in dystopian fiction)? What about class systems? Who is discriminated against? How different are the characters’ attitudes to given things than to ours? What’s the dominant ideology? And ethics? How many hours is one expected to work each week? How can an individual aspire to get more power and status? How do different people react to the oppression?

Remember, if someone’s grown up in a culture so different to ours, is that person really going to be able to see their own culture—and its flaws—in the same light that we see it as outsiders? This point is particularly useful to keep in mind if you’re writing in the first person. But this isn’t to say that your main character won’t see that there’s anything wrong with their world at all; there still needs to be tension and conflict. Those two things are vital to any plot, and it is the characters’ motivations and the goals that they set themselves that should drive the plot.

Creating a Dystopia: the Little Details

There are still many, many details left to iron out, and quite frankly, you’re not going to get them all sorted quickly—if at all. You just need to account for as many of these details as possible so that your readers aren’t being drawn away from the plot to ask questions about the world that they’re being asked to temporary live in.

So, you’ll need to know how food is produced in this dystopian world: is there still farming? Or is genetically engineered food the norm? How much food is available? How is it divided between people?

What about water? Pollution? Contamination?

What is the climate of the world like? Why is it like that? How does that affect the people who live in it? Do they inhabit all areas? Which plants are able to grow in this environment? Which animals are present? At this stage, creating a map can be very helpful.

As you can see, once you really get exploring your dystopian world, more and more questions will crop up—and, by no means are the questions I’ve mentioned in this article the only questions you should consider. But it is only through delving into your world and exploring it thoroughly that you can really begin to get to know it, and learn exactly how your dystopian world operates.

Your Dystopian World Must Feel Real to You

Your world must feel real to you. Only once you know absolutely everything that you can know, will your world begin to seem real to you. And it must seem real to you, if it’s to seem real to your characters and at all believable to your readers.  And believability is something that you definitely want. There’s no fun in reading a book where the characters seem unintentionally confused by the world they’ve been placed in; where the author regularly gives contradictions regarding the rules of their world and how it came to be; or where there are so many holes in the creation of the world that the reader notices them more than the actual world’s rules. In fact, quite frankly, this wouldn’t be a great book to read. And, given just how successful dystopian fiction is in the young adult market today, readers would probably drop your book for something more favourably written and better thought out.

I like to think of the world and setting as the foundations to the plot. If you’ve not crafted a strong, believable world, then it doesn’t matter how strong your characterisation is, or how excellent your plot is—there will be cracks across the whole book. And with how in dystopian fiction it is usually an incident of unjust societal oppression that spurs the main character to attempt to instigate change, the world you’ve built will be directly linked to characters’ motivations and the plot.

The Importance of Planning Your Dystopian World

As I’ve said, to achieve a sense of realism in your dystopian world, you will need to know everything about your world, including its rules. For this reason, I find it very hard to write a dystopian novel without doing a lot of planning beforehand. If I’m going to place characters in a new world, I need to know everything.

Often, when writing the first draft, even after carrying out countless amounts of research and spending hours plotting, you won’t convey your dystopian world in the most believable way that you could. There will still be holes, and you’ll have to go through it time and time again.

Before I started writing my first YA dystopian novel, Untamed, I was sure that I understood the world I’d created. But it was only after I’d finished the second draft and explored all the characters’ motivations in detail—and how they were reacting against this unfair world—did I realise that I only thought I knew my world well. It turned out, I didn’t. Not really. There were lots of holes. A few minor contradictions, as well as things that didn’t make sense, especially regarding the history of my world and timelines. And although I knew that there were aspects of my world that weren’t working, I couldn’t necessarily work out exactly what it was that needed fixing. I was too close to my manuscript to see them. It was only after a break, and getting feedback from several other writers and critique-partners, that I was able to see the areas of my dystopian world that needed more clarification and definition.

A great way to make sure you’ve covered all these questions and aspects involved in crafting a believable world is to tell someone else about your world. Ideally this should be a person who doesn’t know a thing about your plans for this world. Explain everything to this person—a friend, a fellow writer, or a family member, perhaps—and then let them ask questions. Often, when there are holes in the world that we’ve created, the author is too close to see the holes. Having a fresh set of eyes to look can be really beneficial. Especially when they can point out a whole new side of things that we’ve overlooked. And encourage them to ask questions. Find out what they want to know, that you haven’t yet covered.

Of course, the answers to all the questions I’ve outlined above, in regards to crafting a believable dystopian world, should tie together and make logical sense. The dystopian world you create will be more believable to readers if it works as a whole, rather than as individual fragments. And it should be logical.

It’s very likely that the majority of the details that you know about your world won’t even come into your manuscript at all. But it’s still vital that you know about them. That way, when you’re writing you’re likely to subconsciously slip in details that reinforce ideas, as well as suggesting and reinforcing the motives of characters, because that information has come naturally to you. If you have to stop and think about every detail you want to put in, as you’re writing, the chances are your pace will become jilted and you’ll lose the momentum, as well as bringing in quite a few contradictions, if you’re adding in details that you’re making up on the spot every time.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you can’t create a believable world unless you’ve done your planning and created your world before hand—it’s just likely to be a lot harder with room for more errors.

And another thing: remember, the art of creating not only a believable world, but an engaging storyline is all about how you deliver the rules of your world to your reader. As soon as possible, your readers need to know the rules of your world, but this doesn’t mean you should dump a load of information on them in Chapter One. No, you still need your writing to be engaging. You need to write the opening of your novel as if the reader already knows—because the characters most certainly do—but, as you do it, feed in little snippets of explanations until, as soon as possible (and ideally within the first chapter), your reader knows two of the most important things about your dystopian world: why the society or system is a threat in its existing state, and why nothing so far has (successfully) been done about it.

A great way to explore how other writers introduce new worlds in an engaging manner is to read as much as you can. Never underestimate the benefits of reading other dystopian novels. Take a look at how other authors craft their worlds, and which ones feel more believable to you. Work out why, and examine what they do. And read outside your genre. A lot of speculative fiction novels—fantasy and science fiction especially—are set in new worlds. Learn what you can from them, and have fun exploring the world you’re creating.

Remember: the believability of your dystopian world essentially boils down to knowing your world. It has to be real to you, for it to be believable to anyone else. If you don’t believe in it, how do you expect your readers to?


Madeline Dyer is the author of Untamed, a YA dystopian novel releasing from Prizm Books on 20th May 2015. Madeline is currently working on book two in the Untamed Series, as well as a new YA dystopian novel.

Untamed will be available to buy through Prizm Books, Torquere Press, Amazon and good bookstores from 20th May 2015.


Review: Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

My Summary

Tessa can absorb DNA and become a perfect mimicry of anyone. She’s been a valuable trainee for the FEA, a branch of the FBI, and the agency has her first assignment lined up. She must imitate a girl named Madison and stop a serial killer before he gets to her. But it’s hard not to get too attached to your classmates, friends and family, especially when anyone could be the killer…


I loved this book. The characters, the plot, the twists… Everything.

It was engaging. When you needed something to happen plot wise to keep things exciting, something happened. Chapters ended with a cliffhanger, so I felt the need to keep going. At 274 pages, it is most definitely readable in one night. I read it in mainly one sitting.

Tessa is relatable and I loved her. I understood her fears and desires, and she was always on a mission. She felt compassion for those she be heartless towards according to others, and she stayed true to her values despite pretending to be someone else. Although absorbing DNA is not realistic, it felt realistic enough.

However, I do have a couple negative things to say.

– A couple characters were not too well developed personality-wise. I felt they were there more for information giving, not really for the character. I mean Ana and Holly could’ve been the same person really

– This isn’t the most original novel I’ve read. This and Don’t Look Back have many similarities. However, the twist is that this one involves the FEA, impersonation and more of the supernatural than Don’t Look Back did. In Don’t Look Back, the main character was being herself

That being said, I do give this book 5 stars. It’s quick, satisfying, engaging and, honestly, cool. Forget mind reading and invisibility… This chick can literally become someone else! I also love the cover art; it shows you the characters exactly as they are described in the book.

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