Lina Hansen

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Wattpad Star, Wattys Winner (2015 and 2018), and published author (Literary Wanderlust, Denver, Colorado). My debut novel, "In My Attic" is the first in the Magical Misfits series. I love to read and write paranormal cozy mystery adventures with a dash of romance. I'm also an administrative member of the Scribblers' Society Critique Circle and the "Ladies on Life" Discord Server for female authors.


There's a lot of potential in that opening, but as the previous reviewers mentioned already, there are also some issues. The voice for me isn't YA at all (not that I read any, but I run into lots of YA in my critique group). And, of course, I read it when I was younger. This is not a sixteen/seventeen-year old, but a much younger child. 

Actually, the incident is so effective because he's young. It's a moment of supreme disbelief, his world is shaken since his parents are not who he thought they were. It's a great point to start from but, yes, it's also tricky. 

I wonder whether this scene could be a flashback to a younger self. But unless his parents are dead now, this won't get you much further either. 

I also agree with Julie, there's a lot going on and you create pressure on a person we don't know yet. Since we aren't sure we care about him either, the urge of the paper wanting to tell him something isn't as immediate as it should be. Plus, I don't get crime vibes at all (I do write mysteries, so that's something I do know about). 

Something along the lines of "A single sheet of paper changed my life" or whatever might be a better hook. Hm, doesn't work either, since you're using present tense. One way around that would be to write introductory passage in past, but tense switches are tricky especially at a point where you're still setting the tone of your novel. 

Whatever you do, we need to get into your character first, understand there's a conflict that matters to HIM (and should in turn matter to us). 

Can the steps to the attic urge him on? Can he ask himself if he should open the box? Does the box have to be in the attic, could it be in the wardrobe hidden under Dad's socks.? If he already knows he's getting close to forbidden knowledge you create suspense. Having him mull over the problem gives you a chance of introducing your character the same time as you hook your reader who is half wanting to prod you on and half-willing to tell the character to ease offf. That sort of setup will give you conflict, hook, and character - and the inciting incident that sends your character on his journey. And this incident might well have happened in the past and is influencing his present. 

I read a writing guide from donald maass recently, and he said quite rightly "Not two people are reading your novel the same way." They don't even read it the way you meant it, and Ryan's comment about the lens of race being applied everywhere - often for good reasons - is also true. 

If it's any consolation, I got a 2 star review for "encouraging bodyshaming". That comment was based on the character noticing she's got a few pounds too many, but living with the surplus kilos. 

I "shouldn't have mentioned that" said the reviewer who did not finish the book for that reason. 

Well, heck, if we take out everything that might cause offence these days - race, DNA, opinions, weight, sex etc etc. no book would get written anymore. As long as you're not setting out to be racist, divisive denigrating, offensive etc. - which you obviously are not - then there isn't much you can do. 

Look at the bright side - a three star brings the overall rating down a bit, makes it more realistic. I'm VERY wary of books with only five stars...

It IS fun in a way. Divided by a common language. I write cozies, so my linguistic combobulations are of a more mundane nature, but the confusion reigning supreme over things like car bonnets and even jumpers can be totally hilarious. My tins are now cans - who cares? But I draw the line at "gotten". No self-respecting British character in my novels will ever use that...

Have a good break, Harry. And, hoh, easy on those mince pies (I wrote peas first. Go figure). 

As to your comment "the passion came first. Thoughts about publication came second. Thoughts about making money from publication came a snail-like third."


I started off on Wattpad. I had ideas in my head but publishing them? Dearie me, no. And novels are there to be read, right? So, I heard about the platform, and publishing was easy. That got me started. I found readers. Even better. Of course, the publishing bug bit next, and I went into the querying trenches. 

Amazingly, I found a publisher. One novel is out, the sequel under way, and two more manuscripts ready for release once I have a publication date. Now, I 'm not dreaming of white xmasses, but of some sort of regular income once more books are out. 

It might remain a dream, but as long as there's a goal, life doesn't look so glum, even in the grey, dreary, dreich, dank, and drizzly monstrosity meteorologists call winter. 

A very mery xmas and a happy new year!

Well, I guess that's part of the trad-publishing experience. If your publisher takes editing seriously, they come up with a house-style. And in my case it means, no semicolons, no parantheses, very limited use of exclamation marks, and otherwise use of em-dashes and the serial comma. I've got a style sheet I need to comply with (no three dots for ellipses, but the proper command. There shall be no spare spaces in the manuscript, or I'll be shot at dawn... Nah, I'm exaggerating). I should perhaps add that I'm contracted with a US publisher. Indie, yes, but not a garage outfit either. And while I might not like some of their stipulations (e.g. semicolons), I'm very happy otherwise. Perhaps, this is different in the UK. 

My biggest issue is not punctuation, though. We have a lot of "fun" with transferring British English into AE. My novel is set in the UK, with only a few American characters popping up, like the temp landlord in the pub. Using things like "Chinese whispers" causes a massive upheaval....😁  

I learned to use semicolons exactly the way Edward James describes above. "My" editor from the publisher, however, has a very clear take on the subject. NO semicolons whatsoever. Period, no discussion allowed. No parantheses either, btw. And only one exclamation mark per manuscript. (I lie. In the latest novel, I got two.) Looks indeed like the modern (? is it that?) obsession with brevity is spilling into novel writing. 

First POV rocks, and in the constellation you've mapped out it could add some spice to the story, especially if one - or both - of them arent reliable. Roger Ackroyd is a good example, Gone Girl also plays with that technique. 

Why not simply "bouts of vomiting"? Though, to be honest, the sentence as such for me isn't quite where it should be. 

“They’re….real?” Bradley asked as clearly and carefully as he could as to not choke on any excess spit or whatever else was in there between vomit spasms.

If somebody is struggling with nausea the notion of "clearly and carefully" is a bit of a non sequitur. Yes, you're trying to modulate that via the "as he could", but this attempt at explaining things not only veers into telling, it also takes us away from the sensation of a really nasty upchuck. 

Then, the repeated use of as is problematic, especially when it comes to "as not to choke". 

Plus, you're being a tad unclear "excess spit or whatever else was in there". In where? And by naming spit, you're actually being rather precise. If you've ever eaten a bad mussle, you'll know that wondering about what exactly is trying to get out is the last thing on your mind... 

I think, this is trying to do too much and you risk confusing your reader. 

"They're...real?" Another wave of nausea rose and Bradley ground his teeth/groaned/snapped his mouth shut whatever. 

Simple is always better. A thesaurus is always your friend, I use powerthesaurus, but that's all about personal preference

Uh, that depends on the subgenre you write in. And it's not only the font, the whole cover has to be "on topic", otherwise your readers won't bite. If you want to design your own cover, the best approach is to check industry standard in your subgenre (e.g. I write paranormal romantic mysteries, so the colours would be more sombre, and you're more likely to use a serif font, with halos, sparkles and stuff). Quite honestly, the safest approach is to get a professional cover designer. As to why romance writers are mostly women - mh, the readers are mostly women (just like for the cozy mysteries), but having a different take on the genre to my mind is a good thing....

Question to myself - as a genre writer, am I even allowed to comment on what seems to be literary fiction? 

Mh. Let's be bold, shall we? 

First of all, I asked myself how literary fiction compares to genre. There are (too) many explanations out there. This is the one I tend to adhere to: 

A genre is a category of literature, such as mystery, suspense, science fiction or horror. ... Literary fictionin general, emphasizes meaning over entertainment. Literary fiction also aspires toward art.

Okay,Harry's examples don't give me much in terms of meaning, but what I see is definitely art i.e. somebody is playing with the language and, in doing so creates some impressive and evocative imagery. A reader can get joyfully lost in these words. 

Yes, the excerpt is redundant, repetitive, contradictory. Very much so. As a genre writer, I would be SHOT by my publisher if I dared to go anywhere near this style. But that's the whole point. We can't compare the two. 

Would I read this? No way. Give me characters, give me a plot, give me something to take my mind off the fright that is modern life. If this were a short piece, say: a poem, I might enjoy the language. A novel-length load of it isn't for me. 

That's art for you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or words to that effect...

I always developed stories in my mind. I told them to my little sister, painted paper cutout dolls to match the stories. As soon as I could read, I read. And read. And I've always been writing, but mostly business texts. The travel articles I freelanced were fun. In 2014 I read about Wattpad and that kicked me into action. My first novel was written in half a year. So far, I've written 13, but only number three is trad-published, the sequel currently being ping-ponged between me and my publisher. It was a hobby at first, but now I hope to be able to generate some minor income from my words. 

Hey, I can dream, right? 

Tell you what, without writing and editing I would have gone nuts in the pandemic. I had to stop work for health reasons, and writing gave me a purpose. 

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