Category Archives: Editing

Trusting Your Brain | House Blog

Sometimes it seems like my brain knows more than it lets on.

Even when I don’t notice, it’s back there – constantly churning out story ideas, thinking about writing projects, and generally working in the background. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

The thing that amazes me is that I think my brain is smarter than I am.

When I wrote The Six Elemental I was writing about Kit’s journey of coming to terms with being a living mythical being. It was only after I’d gone through my third draft that I realized there was an underlying theme of how outside influences can effect* how a person grows up. There’s a big difference between the person Kit is (growing up on Briton with a Humanist step-father) and the person Kit could have been (with a more accepting influence).

When I wrote The Fifth Queen (still in it’s editing stages), I was writing about a different character’s journey (plus a few familiar ones). After I’d written the first draft I realized that I’d done another parallel theme – this time, about accepting responsibility. One character accepts that they have a duty to uphold, while another character rejects it.

But I’d never thought about that when I was writing the story. That parallel hadn’t crossed my mind once while I was writing. Instead it was something that just happened to appear when I was going through the first draft.

My brain put it there because it’s smart, y’all. Maybe too smart…

So if you’re writing something and you’re not sure where your story’s going or what it’s all about, don’t worry about it. Just keep writing and eventually you’ll figure something out. Sometimes you won’t know until the end of your first draft (or maybe even the fifth), but as long as you’re telling a compelling story with interesting characters, eventually it’ll all become clear.

Trust your brain.

It knows – even if you don’t.

_______

*It’s too late** for me to care whether effect/affect is right, so this is the word I’m using. I’ll figure out if it’s wrong/right sometime maybe never.

**It’s only 11:54pm AST, so I’m not late! It’s still Sept 18th over here!

Advertisements

12 Hours | House Blog

On Wednesday at 1pm, I sat down in front of my computer, opened up the latest draft of the novel I’m working on*, and got to work. Other than getting up to refill my water glass, grab a snack, etc, I only took one actual break – around 8pm I took a half-hour to go get Taiyaki.

When I was finished, it was 1am. Over the past 12 hours, I had gone through the entire novel – almost 60,000 words.

Continue reading 12 Hours | House Blog

Flash Fiction Memories | House Blog

Back when I was in University I didn’t have this thing called ‘Facebook’.  No, I put off joining that for years (I still remember getting and ignoring a ton of ‘your friend is on Fb & you should join them’ emails).

Back in those days I had something better.  I had… Livejournal!

I mostly wrote about what was going on in my life and kept up with friends who were in different cities. Also, you could have .gifs as your profile picture. It was the best.

Another thing I used it for was writing drabbles, which are an early type of flash fiction. There was one group I joined called X-Men 100, where you could write drabbles about X-Men characters. Each week they’d post a word or phrase for inspiration and then you’d have 7 days to write and post something that was only 100 words long.

Continue reading Flash Fiction Memories | House Blog

Dude, Where’s My Character Sheet…? (AKA I am the worst at titles)

I have a very long To-Do List when it comes to writing projects. It’s so long that I’ve had to separate it into sub categories:

  • Ideas to develop further
  • Stories to start writing
  • Plays to start writing
  • Stories/Plays I’ve started writing and need to finish
  • Finished works I need to edit
  • What even is this idea/story/play and where is it going?

And, finally:

  • Reference binders to create

Continue reading Dude, Where’s My Character Sheet…? (AKA I am the worst at titles)

Writing marathons: Don’t take my word for it

I’m pretty excited about hosting a writing marathon in the St. John’s region this coming June. But while this is an easy sell for me, it may seem a little daunting for some. That’s why I decided to do an interview with writer Kaarina Stiff about her experiences with novel writing marathons.

Kaarina is a full-time writer and editor living in Ottawa, ON.  She has participated in three novel writing marathons and was the Young Adult category winner in the Toronto Novel Marathon in both 2015 and 2016. She was gracious enough to answer a couple of questions about the process so that I could share her experiences with potential participants. Continue reading Writing marathons: Don’t take my word for it

One Draft, Two Draft, Red Draft, Blue Draft

Sometimes you’re going to write something and right from the start it’s going to be amazing!  Other times you’re going to write something which will require a surprising amount of time and effort in order to make it readable.

Life is about balance, I guess.

My first draft for The Six Elemental clocked in at 118,000 words.  For someone who used to have trouble writing anything longer than 5,000 words, that’s a BIG accomplishment and well worth a pat on the back. Unfortunately, it still needed work.

The second draft was about the same length.  I added a few things, but I also got rid of these made-up quotes I’d put before each chapter.  The quote idea fizzled out two-thirds of the way through the novel anyway, and since I couldn’t keep it going I figured that I might as well get rid of it.

The third draft was when I decided to create a major secret, which would only be revealed when it was most shocking!

The fourth draft was where I got rid of the major secret idea, because it wasn’t working out AT ALL*.

Advice from a beta-reader led to the fifth draft, which is when things really started working out.  The story got more focused and the pacing picked up.  I also cut a lot of stuff.  Two main characters got cut entirely, and at least two minor characters.  Another minor character turned into to a one-line mention.  I lost some stuff that I liked, but as William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”

I must have taken that advice to heart, because The Six Elemental currently clocks in at approximately 78,000 words – 40,000 words fewer than the first draft.

Sometimes, though, when you’re making a lot of cuts, it can be hard to know when to stop.  At one point I was ready to cut an entire page worth of stuff, but when I ran the idea past my editor she told me that I should leave it in, and gave me a bunch of reasons why it worked (thanks again, Erin!).

Never underestimate the value of an opinion from someone who doesn’t reside inside your brain.

Another difficult part of editing is accepting the changes to your story.  In the original there was a character who died half-way through the novel, but during the re-writes that character ended up living. I literally spent a week trying to figure out if there was some new way to kill them so that I could bring balance between the two drafts. However, I didn’t want to go all Joss Whedon on the character, so when I couldn’t make the death work I had to accept that the world had changed and abandon the idea.

But just you wait until next time, character.

Just you wait…

___

*Sometimes you’ve got to write a lot of wrong to figure out what’s right.

Can Something Be Both an Introduction and a Warning?

Erin Vance, Editor
Erin Vance, Editor

I suppose I should start out with a greeting of some sort, because I feel as though most of you don’t know who I am; which is fine! I don’t know who you guys are either. The beauty of the internet, I guess. Those of you who do know me are probably here because you found a link on my Facebook (in which case: Hey. How you doing?).

My name is Erin Vance. I am a student in suspension (because I don’t know my next step), I am an editor at Engen Books, and I am a Sobeys’ clerk (you may have seen me there once or twice). I am often called any variation of weird, odd, strange, or crazy, and am owned by 3 Newfoundland dogs. I have a trampoline named Frank and a Grand Caravan named BeueI. I have 3 younger siblings, and a new cell phone that I am not yet comfortable with. I am also about to embark on a grand adventure: I am going to drive from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia with my younger brother, Michael.

You may wonder why I’m telling you this, and the reason is: Because people want me to write a travel blog. And because I am curious about this idea, and on occasion like to make people happy, I have agreed to their request. Which is what this post is all about: My upcoming trip.

I’m not an author like Matt and Ellen – not yet, anyways – and so I don’t have any thoughts or words of wisdom on how to write. All I have is my own random thoughts concerning a trip that’s going to span, according to Google, over 7500 km, or 78 hours of driving. And that’s if we go straight across, which we’re not. Not really. We have too many things to see and do on our way.

(I’m kinda excited; can you tell?)

Continue reading Can Something Be Both an Introduction and a Warning?