First Sentences

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

“Sometimes a mayfly skates across a pond, leaving a brief wake as thin as spider silk, and by staying low avoids the birds and bats that feed in flight. At six feet three, weighing two hundred ten pounds, with big hands and bigger feet, Timothy Carrier could not maintain a profile as low as that of skating mayfly, but he tried.”

This is interesting because the contrast between a mayfly and a man is stark, and grabbed my attention in a bout of curiosity.

Prey by Michael Crichton

“Things never turn out the way you think they will. I never intended to become a house-husband. Stay-at-home husband. Full-time dad, whatever you want to call it-there is no good term for it.”

This grabbed my attention because house-husbands are rarely heard of (in books and in reality), so listening to one’s story is completely interesting.

Hannibal by Thomas Harris

“Clarice Sterling’s Mustang boomed up the entrance ramp at the Bureau of Alcohol , Tobacco, and Firearms on Massachusetts Avenue, a headquarters rented from the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in the interest of economy. The strike force waited in three vehicles, a battered undercover van to lead and two black SWAT vans behind it, manned and idling in the cavernous garage.”

This is very interesting to me because the dramatic switch from boring real estate to crime pulls me to read further. I wonder why the SWAT are there? That is the question that pulls me to read.

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe


It’s been about six hours since you left the island. The way things have been, I know you wouldn’t have expected me to come to see you off, but I keep thinking about how you waved and waved from the bock five years ago, when I was leaving for Toronto.”

The speaker sounds mournful, which I find interesting. There is no spectacular hook, but I can tell that there is a subtle, underlying hint of danger that could grow later on in the novel.


Amazing Metaphors

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.
Khalil Gibran

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.
George Orwell

Dying is a wild night and a new road.
Emily Dickinson

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Pablo Picasso

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.
Truman Capote

Ok, now take a left at the corpse…

I’ve been playing Dark Souls for about a year and  half now, and I have to say that I am thoroughly pleased. It rated a staggering 9/10 on IGN, and for good reason: the game is beautiful and intriguing, but viciously hard. I’m not kidding when I say this. Not in the least.

If you are a new player, you will most likely die multiple times. The game does say “Prepare to Die” on the back, anyways. Besides the non-existent difficulty setting and the inability to ever pause, you must learn the tactics of each enemy and constantly watch your surroundings as a single mistake can cost you dearly. This game was not catered for casual players. However, it is emotionally rewarding for each thing you manage to get through properly (Blighttown, anyone?).

One of the greatest aspects of Dark Souls (and ultimately, one of the most annoying) is the seamless open-world gameplay. I’ve had a few people stop me on Xbox just to ask what they are supposed to do next, and I answer them as best as I can. For me now, the game is easy, and that’s why I’m typing this super-rough timeline-guide-thing: to help any Undead find their way through the game without any frustration.

*Please note that I’m not going to write out entire walkthroughs on each area, or teach you how to defeat each boss, this is just so you can get from the beginning of the game to the end, with a few secrets tossed in here and there.

-After leaving the Undead Asylum-

-Go to the Undead Burg (via the aqueduct pathway) and kill the Taurus Demon.

     -Ledge-jumping damage (falling damage) works wonders on the Taurus Demon.

-Being wary of the Hellkite dragon (that most likely killed you), you can either run to the stairwell or duck under the dragon’s legs to reach the bonfire.

     -With a bow, 40 standard arrows, and 14 DEX, you are able to shoot off the dragon’s tail  from underneath the bridge. This will get you the Drake Sword, a good weapon for 1/4 of the  game.

-From the bonfire, run through the Undead Parish until you reach the next boss, the Gargoyles. Past them is the first bell. Ring the crap out of it.

     -Look for a guy stuck in a cell in the tower leading up to the fog gate. Fight the first Gargoyle as fast as you can, because his friend is going to come out of nowhere and burn your sh*t to hell. OH! Try to cut off one of their tails!

-One more bell to go! Easy right? We can’t to the next bell as the way is locked. Drag your butt to the Darkroot Garden (via the stone bridge in the Undead Parish, by the church) and hit a wall by a large door to reveal a hidden bonfire.

     -If you have 20,000 souls on-hand, I recommend buying that door seal thing from the big burly blacksmith in the Undead Parish. Using it on the big locked door in Darkroot Garden will lead the way to getting your money back and then some, but more on that a bit later.   

-Get humanized and fight your way to the tower across the clearing a ways from your bonfire.  Summon the Witch Beatrice to help you out with taking down a huge Moonlight Butterfly, the boss that is in the way of you getting to the second bell. After it’s dead, run up the tower to get the Watchtower Basement Key and the ember.

     -If you’re not a magic caster, let Beatrice handle it. The buttery fiend will come down to rest, however. Use this time cautiously.

-AHA I LIED. You didn’t need to go through all the trouble with the butterfly. When you ran past the dragon you most-likely picked up something called the “Basement Key”. Getting the Watchtower Basement Key will come in handy later though, and having embers is a very good thing. Use the Basement Key on the locked tower door by the Hellkite Dragon Bridge, on the side with the deceased Taurus Demon, and enter the Lower Undead Burg.

     -If you got that key-thing from the blacksmith, now would be a good time to get your money back. Open the large door (make sure you rested at the bonfire), run down the stairs and into the woods to attract the human enemies. They will chase you, so run back to the stairs. Instead of going up the stairs, run along the cliff edge beside them and hug the wall. The group of idiots will run up the stairs and try to jump down to where you are, but they’ll fall down the cliff, killing themselves. Also, the Hellkite Dragon will burn you and everything you love when you go across that bridge. Run back under the bridge and kick down the ladder leading to the Undead Burg.

-Go down the street to end the life of the Capra Demon who holds the key to the Depths. Take this thing and open up the Depths down the stairs from the Capra Demon’s area.

     -Up the street is a door that can be opened. A spellcaster trainer is behind it and will train you if you free him (by using a Residence Key or Master Key, of course).  

-Welcome to hell. Go through the Depths with caution until you reach the bonfire.

     -Quite a few nasties in here, as well as a lot of goodies. I cannot strain this enough: The big-eyed lizard things will curse you with their breath if you get close enough, and falling through those holes in the floor will usually land you in a huge nest of them. If you’re human in that sewer area, Kirk the Darkwraith will invade. Kill him. Trust me.

-Get to the Gaping Dragon, using caution along the way. Kill that beautiful piece of art and take the Blighttown Key. Use this on the gate leading to a huge hole in the ground.

     -Make sure you’re human, you’ll want to summon both of the people there before the fog gate. By doing this, they gain the attention of Big Bertha while you can sneak behind her and cut her tail off.   

-Welcome. Like the dark? Then this is the place for you! Run through Blighttown till you reach the bonfire in the sewer tunnel. Rest up.

       -In the town you should have come across a set of ninja-looking armour. Use this and the spider shield you picked up from now on, as it has high poison resistance. You should also make the jump to that inaccessible roof to get a very good pyromancy and DEX-scaling sword, the Iaito.  

-Become human and run towards that giant mountain-thing. Inside, you will find egg-carriers (don’t hit them) and Quelaag (hit her). When she’s dead and you’re feeling mighty good about what you just did, run into the tower and ring that bell like you would a man’s neck.

     -If you’re human by the bonfire tunnel, Maneater Mildred will attack. Defeat her, and she will appear for summoning by the fog gate to Quelaag.  

-Run back to the Undead Parish (that tower where you can hear the blacksmith working) and across the bridge to the open gates.

     -If you ran down the stairs in the bell tower you can go through an illusion-wall to a bonfire. Don’t hit the egg-carrier, just say yes to his questions. Remember that big, hairy, fire-spider/woman thing (Quelaag)? The Fair Lady is her sister. I hope you’re happy. If you have the Old Witch’s Ring, you will be able to understand her, making you a double-decker-prick.

-Run through Sen’s Fortress, avoiding the traps along the way.

     -When you get to the roof, look to where that giant is throwing giant-sized fire bombs (black spots on the ground). By running up the stairs (with caution) and jumping off the ledge where there is no brick-wall boundary, you get to the only bonfire in Sen’s Fortress. 

-After killing the boss, touch the light orb to be kidnapped by flying demon monkeys to Anor Londo.

     -Black Iron Tarkus is available for summoning against the boss. Run across the bridge near the fog gate, and, as long as you’re human, you will see his summoning sign.

-Follow the path (watch for mimic chests) and find the bonfire at the lowest point of the moving pillar platform. From there, go back up and head up the big stairs to the castle.

    -When you’re inside the cathedral place (walking across the rafters), if you look down you’ll be able to see a huge portrait. If you ever went back to the Undead Asylum (via the crow in Firelink Shrine) and went back to your cell, you’ll find the Peculiar Doll. Have this in your inventory and touch the portrait to be transferred to a place of death and despair.  

The City of Light – In Pieces


When Erika stepped through the door of her apartment still furious about her encounter with Alistair, Hope was on the kitchen floor, “reading” a magazine upside-down. She dropped her keys on the counter carelessly and knelt down to her daughter’s height.

“What are you looking at, dear?” she asked. Hope looked up quickly to smile at Erika, her soft black hair covering her eyes when she returned to the magazine. “Oceans.” she replied “There’s a lot of blue.” Smiling, Erika picked up Hope and sat her on the counter, forgetting about Alistair and what he said. She was surprised when Mathew came around the corner, but remembered that he was supposed to be there. “Hey Mathew, has she been good?” Erika asked him.

Mathew took care of Hope when she came home from school every day, as he left work earlier than Erika, who continuously worked late-nights. He looked at her, then at Hope, who looked up from the magazine once again to smile at him. “Very good. She keeps to herself though, like always. Reminds me of someone I know, actually.” Erika shrugged slightly before taking her coat off and placing it on the coat hanger beside the door. Mathew followed her, sliding his feet into his work shoes with ease. He said goodbye to Hope, who quickly waved her hand in farewell before he stepped out into the hallway. Erika stopped him before he could go any farther.

“Hey Mathew, I just wanted to say thanks. You know, for taking care of Hope and everything.” Mathew looked back from the hallway to the grey-eyed woman leaning against the side of the door.

The second the engine shut off, Erika became stone. She sat completely still, not daring to even shift in her seat when she had an itch. She glared at the darkness of the alleyway in silence, waiting for her target to appear, and when a man in a red hoodie emerged from the shadows, her heart raced. He walked with a limp, oblivious to the detective in the car he passed. Erika saw his erratic movements and realized that the suspect wasn’t shown to have a limp, but she didn’t care. She would get him, no matter how he walked.

Like poison, Erika slid out of her half-open door and into the damp, murky night. The cold air dulled her sense of touch, but she hardly noticed as she followed the man as her mind was elsewhere; somewhere dark and without feeling. She walked, keeping a reasonable distance between them, but as he turned a corner to head into another alleyway, she quickened her pace. His limp was how Erika easily caught up to him when they were both cloaked from prying eyes, and she couldn’t wait to get started.

A buzzing feeling against her leg was what woke her up from her sleep. Erika opened her eyes lazily to see the roof of a vehicle, and for a short time, she wondered why she was sleeping in the back of her car. Nonetheless, she sat up and maneuvered to the driver’s seat to answer her phone, which buzzed again furiously. It was a text, and upon reading it, Erika wiped the sleep from her eyes and drove to the crime scene, head buzzing with a migraine.

“Took you long enough to get here. Didn’t you get my texts?” Matthew crossed his arms as Erika stepped out of her car, worn and tired. She looked at him and scoffed. Matthew got off the topic, but switched to another, as he knew it would be next. Just as Erika opened her mouth to speak, he interrupted her. “Hope’s fine. She’s at school.”

Risking His Life For Pennies

My father works as a window installer in Vancouver. This means that at twelve on each and every work day he is rappelling off the tops of skyscrapers with other people to install new windows for the city. In his workplace this is referred to as “abseiling”, or “to rope down”. To me it means “dangerous”. If a single knot is left weak, or if there is a single fray in the rope, I could be left fatherless, and so could my brother. People all over the world do anything in order to feed their families, and many of them risk their lives. My father is one of those people.

Recently, he had to move to another company after his other workplace claimed bankruptcy. This new company is paying him almost nothing for the work he’s doing, and I can’t seem to understand why. A lot of other people in dangerous trades have this problem, too, like loggers and taxi drivers. Every day they’re on the job, risking their safety so other people can enjoy life. A good example of this would be the fishermen out in the Arctic or Pacific Oceans. In their case, they have to worry about extreme weather conditions and heavy equipment. These are all conveniently placed above “drowning”. Their pay? A staggering $33,430 per year. With a death count of 63 in 2012, it is true that loggers have it worse, as they get $33,630 annual pay, a tiny increase of  $200 with almost double the death count of fishermen in 2012. Not a fair price to pay if someone’s risking their life. The least the government could do is make an increase in safety regulations if they aren’t planning to increase the pay.

It makes me angry and it makes me sick, but most of all, it worries me. My father will do what he needs to, but I really wish the company would actually think about this problem. I’m quite sure that if we tied up the CEO and threw him off a building (held by ropes, of course), he would actually see what it’s truly like, and most certainly raise the pay, just so he wouldn’t have to experience it again.

Waking Thoughts

I could move, but I was slow about it. I was forced to watch my death come slowly up the track in a black mass of steel and coal. As I attempted to move out of the way, I began to think to myself: Why can’t I move properly? How did I get here? I closed my eyes, but when I opened them, I was suddenly in the school’s hallway. By that time I realized there was something wrong. I took in my surroundings, feeling carpet under my feet.  I knew I’ve never been to a place like that. That’s when I figured out the illusion. Like clockwork, I began to become aware of the pillow under my head. I was sad. I didn’t want to leave the confines of my skull just then, as in there I was the architect of my own world, but outside of it I had no control. I violently woke up as my mother turned on the light to get me up for school, but I refused to move. Why is it morning? I don’t want to leave or see anyone today. I believed in the fact that I still had ten minutes before I would have to leave my bed, so I kept my eyes shut, hoping for tranquility. It didn’t come. All I saw was darkness.

Writing Scenes



  1. Jump into the action right away. Don’t drag your feet.
  2. Hook readers with large surprises.
  3. Make the action relevant to your character’s personality.
  4. Act first, think later.
  5. Communicate information to the reader before the action.
  6. Reveal a character’s intentions that can’t be shown through action.


  1. Does the beginning have to include a lot of action, or can it lead to it?
  2. Can action be gradual?
  3. How can you reveal information about the character if the narrator isn’t omniscient?