Writing Creative Non-Fiction 101

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My writing class is on break right now for finals, but we recently began our creative non-fiction unit and while I haven’t read or written a lot of CNF (creative non-fiction), I have found this unit really fun and interesting to learn and write about. We had a CNF assignment due on December 10th and it was a big change from writing fiction, but I had a lot of fun doing it! Anyways, here are some of the tips I’ve learnt from writing CNF and I hope they help you!

First Off…What is Creative Non-Fiction?

Well, creative non-fiction can be an array of different things from essays to articles, research papers and memoir. The key thing within all pieces of creative non-fiction is that they contain a factual narrative.

Types of CNF:

  • Personal essay
  • Memoir]
  • Literary journalism
  • Travel article
  • Research paper
  • etc, etc, etc

How to Write GOOD Creative Non-Fiction:

  1. Get Your Facts Right – Without correct facts, your creative non-fiction will not be creative non-fiction…it will just be fiction. It is especially important when you are doing a research paper or piece of journalism, that the facts you are using are actually true and correct. When it comes to personal essays and memoir, this is also important to keep in mind. However, when it comes to recalling your entire past, you are going to forget minor details and have to tweak something to make YOUR story make sense. As long as it is your story and overall, is correct and true, that is okay but when it comes to research papers, etc, they must, must, must be correct…does that make sense? The next tip elaborates on this.
  2. Make Aware the Limits of Your Memory but Not TOO Aware – It is important to make it clear to your readers that yeah, your memory is not perfect. However, advertising this too much will make them start to question what is true in your story, and what parts of it are you making up because you can’t remember how this specific incident really went, but think it’s “cool to add in”. No one can remember everything and your audience will appreciate you acknowledging this once. If it is acknowledged repeatedly, it also just becomes repetitive, annoying, and honestly, cliche.
  3. Remember, You Are the Character – Okay, so for research papers and some other pieces of CNF, this isn’t the case but for a lot of types, it is. It is crucial to remember that this is not fiction and you are the main character. This means you have to use “I” with great care and stay true to your own thoughts, values, and mannerisms while writing. Don’t get caught up trying to make yourself seem perfect because you aren’t, and creative non-fiction or really any fiction honestly, should not have perfect or near perfect characters. Just remember to be authentically you.

That was a mini crash course in writing creative non-fiction and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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NaNoWriMo Week 4 – Last Week Check Up

Happy Monday!

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I can’t believe it is already the last week of NaNoWriMo! Where has this month gone? While I haven’t been participating in writing 50k this month, I’ve still been celebrating writing and writing a LOT this month. I wanted to use this last NaNoWriMo weekly blog post to do a little last week check up and give some tips on how to really take advantage of these last 5 days so I hope you enjoy!

  • Write During Every Bit of Spare Time – There are only a few more days left of NaNoWriMo, and even if you are close to your goal or not, use every last bit of November to get some words down! You might not have time or energy once the buzz of NaNo is over, so take advantage of all this fun and write, write, write. Instead of reading, write. Instead of watching Netflix, write. Instead of eating…just kidding, eat AND write!
  • Use NaNo Sprints – NaNo sprints on Twitter will be your LIFE saver these last few days in motivating yourself to sit down and WRITE. These are different lengths of sprints where after them, you can talk with other writers about what you got done and how you’re feeling after each writing session. It’s really helpful because the last half of NaNo can be an uphill battle I tell you.
  • Check Out the Write-In Live Streams – Make sure you check out NaNoWriMo’s YouTube channel for some past live streams where the amazing people of NaNoWriMo film videos of them doing writing sprints. They are really motivating and I recommend them if you are having trouble sitting down and writing. Usually, they are an hour long and a lot of the time I sit down and write for that ENTIRE hour…even when they are talking about what they wrote. Super helpful!
  • Reflect On the Writing You Got Done – Even if you are nowhere close to the overall 50k goal, as long as you wrote SOMETHING that is still worth acknowledging. Writing is NOT easy and it’s important to recognize that and reward yourself for what you got done. November is a busy month for a lot of us because it is so close to the end of the year and everyone is trying to wrap up everything, so if you got some words down this month, celebrate!
  • Figure Out What the Next Step Is – Do you still need to finish writing your draft or did you completely finish it? Figure out where you’re at so you can start your attack plan for next month, or for whenever you plan on writing next. That way you know what will happen next and you will be better prepared! For example, I didn’t get my 50k written at all…but I have been working on a lot of short stories, essays, and articles. In December, I am going to keep working on different short stories, essays, articles and whatnot, to build up my portfolio which is seriously lacking material. I would LOVE to work on Project Mystic (the fantasy novel that I’ve been working on since March), but I just don’t have the time to work on one project but the point is that I know I don’t have the time, so now I won’t be wasting any trying to work on it.

Those are 5 tips for your last week of NaNoWriMo, and I hope they were helpful! Hopefully these last few days are good and productive, and remember, if you don’t reach your goal it’s okay! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts linked below. Thanks 🙂

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3 Things I’ve Learned From My Writing Class

Taking a writing class at my local university has been incredibly enlightening with helping me figure out what I am going to study at university next year, and also with my writing overall. While I am only almost halfway through course, I’ve learnt a lot, to say the least, and today I am going to be sharing three of those things with all of you!

1. A Writing Major Is Not For Me

It makes sense that since I want to be a writer, a writing major would be ideal for me to study, right? Wrong. So very, very wrong. A writing major would probably be the worst idea for me, and I am so happy I figured this out in grade 12 rather than the first year of university. I am leaning more towards majoring in English so I can get better on my non-fiction writing like essays, and also my ability to dissect novels. I also want to make sure that I take a lot of different classes like history and whatnot, and the least amount of creative writing ones possible.

2. It’s Hard to Write Something Someone Else Wants You to Write

This is part of being a writer I’ve realized; writing when you don’t want to, and also sometimes things you don’t want to write. I’m glad I’m learning how to write regardless of that though, and I just hope I get better at it in the future. I would like to write things I want to write as much as possible though, so this ties into me NOT majoring in writing. It drains me creatively and leaves no time for the projects I actually want to write.

3. Writing Lectures Are Kind Of A Waste of Money…

If you are a writing major and like it, that’s great! In my opinion, though, I haven’t learned anything from these lectures that I haven’t read in a book on creative writing that I borrowed from the library. And also, they are just really boring to sit through. My lectures are about an hour and twenty minutes and it feels like the minutes just drag on and on and on. I need at least two cups of coffee each lecture to stay semi-awake. I’m lucky that my writing class is paid for by my high school because I’ve learnt more from Stephen King: On Writing (THE BEST WRITING BOOK BY THE WAY) which took me a few days to read, as opposed to this eight-month course.

So there they are! The three things I’ve learnt from my writing class so far, and I hope you enjoyed and at least found them useful. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked below. Thanks 🙂

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NaNoWriMo Week 3 – Turning Off Your Inner Editor

Happy week 3 of NaNoWriMo, and also, happy Monday!

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While I am not doing NaNoWriMo traditionally this year, I am still making sure I get a lot of writing done, and in order to do that you have to do one thing…and that is turning off your inner editor.

NaNoWriMo is about writing a LOT of words in a short span of time, and in order to do that, you can’t be editing every word you write right after you write it. This can be really hard though because sometimes we can’t handle our writing being crap…which during NaNoWriMo it usually is if we are being honest. However, it is possible to turn off that inner editor and get those words down, and here are a few tips to do that!

1. Use Timed Writing Sprints – This is something that helps me because if I have a timer for 30 minutes, I know that I have to use that time to write and that there is not enough time in that sprint to also edit as well. I still don’t recommend editing AFTER the sprint either, personally, I would wait until after NaNoWriMo or until after I finished that project’s draft…but it’s better to do it after than during. Use that designated timed writing sprint to just write and worry about editing later.

2. Remind Yourself of This Quote by Anne Enright “Only Bad Writers Think Their Work Is Really Good” – Okay, this is true to a point because I still think you are valid to be proud of your work and think it is good (eventually, usually after lots of edits), and thinking that doesn’t make you a bad writer. Buuuuut if you think your first draft or even second draft is really good…your ego is going to suffer a lot in the writing world. Get used to the idea that it takes time to get your writing to a good place, and recognizing that it’s bad is actually good!

3. Reward Yourself for NOT Editing – At the end of each day, reward yourself if you held back and didn’t edit, and punish yourself if you did. Maybe you got through the whole day without editing any of the words you wrote, so you take yourself out for a coffee. However, if you did edit, maybe you can’t watch Netflix for a day. I recommend making the rewards and punishments kind of extreme, to a point, of course, but by doing this it will make you not want to edit your work even more…which is good.

4. Turn Off Any Online Editing Apps – I have Grammarly on my computer and LOVE it by the way, but seeing something underlined in red makes me want to go back and fix it. Sometimes I do, and it’s harmless when it’s only like one word but it can lead to a whole editing frenzy. We don’t want that so for whatever you are writing your project on, turn off any editing apps (you can leave on spellcheck if you want, but turning it off might help if you are someone who really can’t help but edit their work immediately) and just write.

Those are four tips for turning off your inner editor and making sure NaNoWriMo STAYS NaNoWriMo and not NaNoEdiMo…get it? Anyways, I hope you enjoyed and found it helpful and make sure to let me know how your NaNoWriMo is going if you’re participating! Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts linked below. Thanks 🙂

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NaNoWriMo Week 2 – How I’m Tailoring NaNoWriMo to Me + Tips

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Yeah, so…I’ve already failed NaNoWriMo 2018. I talked about it a bit in yesterday’s Reading + Writing Update, but basically, I have not been writing 1,667 words a day…or really any at all to be honest. I did try, I really did! And while I haven’t been working on Project Mystic, I have been writing towards other projects. November is my busiest school month and requires a lot of essay and short story writing for portfolio deadlines in December and also just class deadlines in general. Because of that, I haven’t had any leftover creative energy to pour into Project Mystic. That is why I am tailoring NaNoWriMo to what I know I can get done this month because when December 1st rolls around, I still want to look back on November as a productive month creativity wise.

Here are the 5 steps I will be following for the rest of the month so that it is still productive.

Step 1: Identifying the Writing Projects I Need to Get Done

Not only am I someone who likes to write multiple stories at once, but I have to. This goes for essays and other school assignments too. I don’t have the time to work on one and even if I did, I have gotten in the habit of juggling multiple writing projects at once so I don’t think I’d want to. I still produce content and lots of it too, meaning I have more things to edit and submit. So yes, the first thing I am going to do is sit down with my notebook and write out all of the writing projects I need to work on this month, as well as what I need to get done for all of them.

  • Persuasive Essay for English, 5-8 pgs
  • Short Story for school writing contest, 400 words
  • Essay for essay contest, 800 words
  • Fairy Short Story for writing portfolio/contest, 2,000 words

Step 2: Creating a Colourful Time Line

Next is my favourite part! Drawing out a fun and colourful timeline so you can look at it and see what you need to get done. I recommend posting it above where you write or on the back of your door. Just somewhere you always look so you are always reminded. Sometimes the days pass by me and all of the sudden it is the day before one of my deadlines but having a timeline helps me keep track of all my deadlines.

Step 3: Sectioning Off Writing Time for Each Project

When writing multiple writing projects the most crucial tip I can give is to devote specific times to each one. For example, I will probably be devoting mornings and early afternoons to my creative projects and then the later afternoons and evenings to my school writing assignments. This way they are separated and I am also not constricting myself too much to a specific time when I need to write. I can still choose which project I work on that morning or evening and that freedom helps me from not burning out.

Step 4: Sectioning Off Time to Re-Fill the Creative Well

You also need to make time to re-fill your creative well because writing any project let alone multiple requires a lot of creative energy. Depending on what time I have a class that day, after my morning writing session I like to spend time watching TV, reading, or just listening to music. Yes, I could be working on something else because I do have other things to do apart from writing projects, but I need to take some time for myself. I will also take time for myself once I am done all my work for the day and usually I will do the same thing like watch The Mindy Project for hours…

Other Things You Can Do:

  • Listen to an audiobook
  • Paint, draw, colour, etc
  • Play an instrument (don’t play one? Learn one! I play the piano and its a great way to re-fill the creative well)
  • Go for a walk

Step 5: Reflecting and Recognizing Your Accomplishments

Now, if you’re like me and have to tailor NaNoWriMo to your needs aka not exactly meeting that 50k on one project, this is an incredibly important part of that. When the end of the month comes around, you need to look back at all you got done and appreciate that. Even if it isn’t 50,000 words towards one of your writing projects, you still accomplished something and that’s worth celebrating! Writing is hard, even harder if you have a life outside of it (which I recommend you do…). Some months we can’t write 10 words let alone 50k, and that is okay. 

So yes, that is how I am tailoring NaNoWriMo to more realistic goals for me and I hope you enjoyed! It turned into a how-to but that’s okay, and I hope you found these tips helpful! Good luck to those thriving during NaNoWriMo and to those who are shaking up the path a bit. If you want to check out my last blog post or my social media accounts they are linked below but that’s all until Wednesday! Thanks 🙂

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8 Writing Prompts

Since we are in the midst of NaNoWriMo, I thought it would be nice to share some writing prompts. Whether you use these to free-write before a writing session or even use one as an idea for your next scene, writing prompts are super useful! I put together a list of 8 awesome prompts I found on the lovely Pinterest, and I hope you enjoy 🙂

  1. “Sometimes memories are the worst form of torture.”
  2. He wears the scent of blood and death like perfume.
  3. What if the prince or princess discovers they aren’t really royal?
  4. You have the ability to see into the future, but each time you do you lose an important memory.
  5. You’re an assassin with the sixth sense and you help ghosts avenge those who did them wrong when they were alive.
  6. The princess had many charms, but her looks were never one of them.
  7. He found the journal on the train.
  8. Write seven poems dealing with the seven deadly sins. You can’t use their names at all.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like jumping into some writing after reading all those! I hope these prompts to inspire and interest you, and let me know if you start writing something based off one of them. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts linked below! Thanks 🙂

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NaNoWriMo Week 1 – Taking Advantage of the First Week Buzz

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Happy day 5 of NaNoWriMo! I cannot believe we’re already 5 DAYS into this crazy month, and I am…well, I’m doing alright. I talked about it in yesterday’s reading and writing update, but basically, after day 1 I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious creative burnout already. However, I am ready to get back into the swing of things and catch up, which is what this blog post is all about! Taking advantage of that first-week buzz.

Set Your Schedule ASAP

I talked about this in one of my preptober blog posts, but I am going to remind you again because it is super important to implement your writing schedule during the first week of NaNo. It is going to be a struggle to commit to it someday, but you need to otherwise you will fall behind like me and then get really, really stressed out about it…and we don’t want that. Set alarms or reminders for whenever you need to sit your butt down and write. Whatever gets you writing your story so it will be easier in the coming weeks!

Write In Your Spare Time

During the first week of NaNoWriMo, everyone is still excited about their projects because everything is still new and fresh. Even though you might be excited about your project for the whole month, nothing compares to that buzz of writing it during the first week, so take advantage of all your spare time and write! You might not have that spare time later on.

Rewards!

Really exercise the idea of rewards this week with yourself because I don’t know about you, but knowing I have a reward waiting for me after each writing session during the beginning of NaNo gets me really excited and motivated to actually do the writing. Make them as small or as big as you want, the point is to fuel that first-week buzz even more and try to stretch it out as far as you can into the month of November.

Minimize Wasted Time

By this, I mean try to minimize all the times you turn on your phone just to scroll through Instagram or Twitter, or to watch mindless YouTube videos. Instead, use that time to write or at least to fuel your creative well for the next writing session. When you add it all up, those 10 minute Twitter sessions will add up to maybe a few hundred words instead.

Those are a few of my key tips to really harness that first-week NaNo buzz! I know we are over halfway through week 1 already, but there is still time to think about these tips. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed and don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked below. Thanks 🙂

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Preptober Week 4 – Creating the Perfect Schedule

Happy Monday!

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One massive part of having a successful NaNoWriMo is creating the perfect schedule. One that is tailored to your daily life and allows you to write the most words each day. To do so, however, you need to ask yourself a few questions to create that “perfect schedule” and here are some of those questions:

  1. Are you a morning, afternoon, or night person? – When are you most awake and productive? That is the time you should spend writing so you don’t waste time trying to write during a time when you aren’t really productive.
  2. How long do you want to write for? – Are short sprints or longer sessions more beneficial for you? This is really important for getting the most amount of words out of each day. You also don’t want to overwrite or underwrite yourself.
  3. Do you want to set a timer for each writing session or just go with the flow? – Personally, I do about 20-30 minute writing sprints so I set a timer, but sometimes at night if I’ve gotten most of my words in for the day, I just let myself write until I want to stop.
  4. Are you walking into each writing session blind, or are you going to try and have an outline for each day? – I am more of a panster than a plotter, but sometimes having a loose outline/idea for each writing day really helps make sure you don’t go off track, thus making each writing day a bit easier.
  5. How many days a week are you writing? – 7 days? 2 days? 5 days? Personally, I try to aim for 6 days because then I am giving myself an entire day off to just relax and recharge. I’m able to do this because I am for higher word counts each day though!
  6. When will you schedule in “you time”? – This is super important in order to avoid creative burnout. The last thing you need during NaNoWriMo is to lose the motivation to write, so make sure you take time for yourself. That can mean a little bit each day or an entire day. Whatever works for you.
  7. How will you make up for missed writing days? – Sometimes life happens, so how will you make up for those missed words? How many words will you add to each writing session, or will you write on your day off that week? It’s important to know this so you don’t freak out when you can’t write one day!

Those are some questions to ask yourself when creating your perfect writing schedule and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media account linked down below. Thanks 🙂

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Preptober Week 3 – Determining Your Goals

Happy Monday!

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching so now is the time to kick our prepping into high gear, and get some stories planned. Today we will be discussing all things goals for NaNoWriMo and how to have an overall successful and productive month!

 

Step 1: Create Big SMART Goals

I always bring up SMART goals whenever I make a blog post centred around goals because these are the type of goals you need to focus on making. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-bound, and by following these five words, you will create goals you can ACTUALLY achieve! When making goals, it is important to make them as directed and specific as possible and to make sure they are goals you can achieve in the time given. Some examples of my big, overall NaNoWriMo goals are:

  • Edit and re-outline character profiles, world history, and act I, II, III by October 31st – I specify what I want to edit and re-outline and also by what date = SMART goal!
  • Write 50k words by November 30th – This is a SMART goal because I determine how many words I want to write by whatever date, and I have achieved it before so I know it is attainable!

Step 2: Create Smaller SMART Goals

Now it is time to narrow our focus into the individual days of November and figure out what daily goals we can make to help lead us to success. The main goal in NaNoWriMo is to write 50k words in 30 days but in order to do that, you need to write at least 1,667 words per day. Maybe you can’t write that much a day though, and 1,667 words in a writing session is a rare, amazing occurrence. Whatever the case, you need to tailor these daily goals to your life and make them attainable so you are not letting yourself down at the end of the day and month. While 1,667 words are the average daily goal, maybe your goal needs to only be 1,000 words a day or maybe you write a lot and want your daily goal to be 2,000 words!

I also recommend if you have the time during the day, to split your NaNo writing session into two or even three sessions. For example, on the weekends (this is only what happens during Camp NaNo or NaNo, I don’t do this every weekend!) I like to write for three 30 minute sessions because, in the end, I finish the day with up to 3,000 words! That way, I still have time to get other things done but still get a lot of writing done. Figure out what works best for you in order to attain your personal daily goal so you can finish the day with the largest amount of words possible!

Step 3: Set Up a Reward System

Now that you have your big and small goals created, it is time to put in place a fun reward system! Whenever you hit a big, overall goal, like you write 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo, reward yourself with a big reward! For example, when I reach 50k I plan on giving myself a weekend free of writing where I get to watch Netflix and basically do whatever I want. November is not only busy because of NaNoWriMo, but also because school really picks up for me during this month so I know I am going to be exhausted by the time November 30th rolls around. When it comes to the smaller, daily goals, I like to give myself little rewards at the end of the week if I have written 5-7 days of that last week. Here are some smaller reward ideas!:

  • 30 mins of Netflix
  • A writing session at a coffee shop!
  • 30 mins at the gym (I know this might not be a reward exactly, but if you use some spare time to workout you will feel AMAZING. Trust me)
  • Reading time! (I don’t know about you, but finding time to read the books I want has been incredibly hard, so this will definitely be a reward for me)
  • Adventure to the bookstore

Step 4: Displaying Your Goals

It is important to have these goals AND your possible rewards displayed somewhere you will always see them. Whether that is when you first wake up or when you sit down to write, have them put up somewhere looking all pretty and exciting for you to see and be reminded of. I know you probably already wrote these goals down, but now take a clean piece of paper and make them colourful and lively; something that will catch your eye.

Okay! Those are the four steps to creating smart goals for NaNoWriMo! Now, to make sure these are truly smart and achievable goals, ask yourself if you know what your overall goals are for the month and how you are going to achieve each one. Know each step, or at least have it written out for you, and remind yourself of the deadlines and rewards for when you finish them!

I hope you found this blog post helpful and that you enjoyed it! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below for more bookish and writing related content. Thanks 🙂

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The Shadow King

Happy Friday!

One sort of “resolution” for my blog was to share my own writing from time to time…so that is what I am doing! This is an older story of mine…maybe like from 1.5 years ago when I was 15, but I still wanted to share it because it is polished and well, finished. Can’t really say that about any other of my other writing projects…but anyways, if you want to critique it or give me feedback, don’t hesitate! Tell me you like it, tell me you hate it…whatever your heart contents.


 

Her cloak was a flashing torrent of black as she zipped through the forest. Gnarled roots twisted out of the ground, but the princess skipped over them with beads of sweat dripping down her face and thighs screaming of pain. Her blue nightgown caught on a root and she slammed into a tree trunk, gasping, pushing the hood of her cloak off of her inky curls. She dropped to her knees, exhaustion blurring the edges of her vision. Her eyes scanned around. The towering trees had swallowed her up, shielding her from the outside world with their bushy tops. When she looked over her shoulder there was no sign of her castle in the distance, its vine-twisted, cobblestone walls and candlelit windows now just a faint memory of bitter times.

A silver coin winked down at her from high up in the sky, sprinkles of gold-dusted around it. The moon. Had she been running for that long already? She looked around. Night had settled over the forest. It cast its thick shadows which danced in the small slivers of moonlight, and its crisp wind which swept through the leaves. Pinching her lips together, she pushed herself to her feet and wandered deeper into the forest. The princess’s shoulders tensed, her neck angled and grey eyes keen as they scanned around.

Crunch. She stopped, breath trapped in her chest and fingers halting mid twitch. Goosebumps sprouted along her arms as she took another step forward, the icy claw of fear seizing her throat.

Snap. Her heart leapt from her chest and onto the ground. She placed a hand over her gaping mouth. Past the darkness, something flailed from behind a tree, and a deep groan echoed throughout the forest. Fingers trembling and knees wobbling, she shuffled towards the tree, carefully skirting around it in a big arc. Behind it, a wedge of moonlight trickled down onto a pile of leaves. Something twitched on those leaves; a body angled oddly with a face concealed in the shadows of the night. The princess swallowed down the bulging lump in her throat.

“Hello?” she croaked and then cleared her throat, balling her hands into shaky fists. “Hello?” she called out again. A wheezy breath rattled in the lungs of the body at her feet. The princess grimaced. “Excuse me…are you okay?” Several heartbeats passed, and she was only answered by silence.

Help me,” a raspy voice hissed, and she whirled around, expecting to see someone lurking behind her but there was nothing. It was the lump on the leaves that spoke. She turned back around, her stomach flipping at the face which was now illuminated in the pale moonlight. It was the face of a young man with sickly skin so white traces of blue veins shone underneath, and dark streaks of blood and dirt were slashed across his cheeks. He blinked, his eyes a dull blue, like the sky before a rainstorm. The princess could tell his eyes were once a brilliant blue, maybe even like the ocean on a summer day, but now they were leeched of their colour and empty. His clothes were torn and tattered, and like his face, blood and dirt stained. Her eyes flicked down to his arms and legs, which had deep, bloody gashes carved into them. The princess looked away, fist pressed against her sealed lips.

“What happened to you?” she asked breathlessly. His blue eyes darted around nervously, and his skin was shiny with sweat. The princess’s heart twisted, and she reached down for his frail hand. It was ice cold and thin under hers. He glanced down at their hands, his entire body tremoring before relaxing.

“What happened to you?” She shook her head. “Who did this to you?”

“The…” he started, his voice hitching and his eyes wide. “The Shadow King.” The princess flew away from him like he had suddenly caught on fire, the blood slowly draining itself from her body. “I was a prisoner,” he continued, pulling his arms and legs to his chest, “for two years in his castle.” He shuddered, eyes fluttering shut as poisonous memories tainted his mind. A seed of uneasiness planted itself in her stomach, and she no longer felt as sympathetic for the young man as she did a few seconds ago.

“How did you escape?” she asked, shaking as that name rang inside her mind. The Shadow King. Her mother used to tell her stories of a king who lived underneath their land for centuries. An ambitious king made of darkness and shadows who was tired of living beneath the feet of humans. A king who was building up an army to take over the lands above. The only thing was that it wasn’t a story, but a fragment of history people chose to forget. Until now.

“He let me go,” the young man said, leaning over and coughing. A dark liquid blossomed on the ground next to him and the world tilted under the princess’s feet.

“The Shadow King doesn’t just…let people go,” she said as the young man rolled onto his back, sweat dribbling down his forehead and his chest heaving up and down. The princess bit her lip. “Tell me the truth.” The young man sighed and looked up at her through the corner of his eyes, defeat and exhaustion painted in grey all over his face.

“He-he let me go to-to,” he started, squeezing his eyes shut and grimacing. “T-to deliver a message to the King of Nordom.” The world around her faded, all noise becoming just a faint static in her ears. She shook her head, lips parted. What message would the Shadow King give to my father? What does this mean?

“What is it?” she asked, head snapping up as everything came back into focus. The young man stared blankly at her. She pushed the stray pieces of hair from her face and glared down at him. “I am princess Adelyn of Nordom,” she hissed viciously, startling him and herself. She had never known herself as the kind to hiss, or be vicious. The princess glanced away, shaking her head. “Just tell me. Please.”

“The Shadow King said,” the young man started slowly and hesitantly, licking his dry lips, “that the world will not end in a bang or a crash, but with one scream at a time…u-until there is nothing left,” he paused, lips shaping invisible words. In his lap, his fingers fiddled with each other. “A-and that end is the next Harvest moon.” The world was a carpet being yanked out beneath her feet. Her knees wobbled and she fell onto the forest floor. The next Harvest moon? That was only four days away! Her stomach flopped and flipped like a fish out of water as fear washed over her in monstrous waves, her skin clammy and chest tightening until no air was left. She dragged her eyes to the young man. He was suddenly still and unmoving. Pushing herself to her feet, she walked over to him, arms crossed over her chest as if to defend her from the bitterness of reality. He still didn’t move. Not even when a stick snapped under her foot, the sound echoing sharply throughout the forest.

“Young man?” she asked, bending down next to him and shaking him gently. No response. She leaned over him and gasped. His blue eyes were open and glassy, and he wasn’t blinking. Letting out a soft breath, she closed his eyes with her fingers before scrambling away and retching beside a tree trunk. Tears trickled down her cheeks in winding streams, sobs silent but stabbing pains in her chest. She stared up at the night sky.

The King’s message played over and over in her head. She realized what she had to do. Adelyn had to go back. She had to go home to her parents and warn her people, despite all the mistakes they made she still loved them.

It was only a matter if they would love her back.

Slowly she backed away from the dead body on the ground, and then spun around, breaking into a sprint. The tears continued to roll down her cheeks, the same words playing on a loop in her mind, inching her closer to the edge of insanity.

The world will not end with a bang or a crash, but with one scream at a time. Until there is nothing left.

Those words sounded insane, the product of one who sees ghosts and talks to the moon like she is a friend, but the princess gripped those words to her chest as she ran through the forest, cradling their power and hoping that it was all enough.