Category Archives: writing

Make Time to Read | My Writing Process | Distractions

goodreads1One of the oldest clichés when it comes to writing advice is that if you want to write, you need to make time to read and you need to read a lot. I will confirm: yes, yes that’s absolutely true.

It’s entirely subjective evidence, but I find in my own life that when I do hit the rare dry spell writing, I’ve also hit a similar dry-spell reading. Perhaps life is just getting in the way too much. Perhaps I’m reading a particularly lengthy book that I’m not enjoying as much as I’d like and is “bottlenecking” my desire to get back to things. Or perhaps I just find myself seeking other, less engaging forms of media that week. (I enjoy games, the Lego games especially).

All that is fine as a temporary issue, but if you don’t have the discipline to finish a book, how do you expect to have the discipline to… well… finish a book? But it’s more than that. It’s a creative muscle that you’re flexing when you read, and it’s informing how and how well you write. I’ll attempt to break down my experience and the pseudo-science behind it. Continue reading Make Time to Read | My Writing Process | Distractions

#LOLAnl Writer’s Circle a Success!

img_0649The Writer’s Circle event hosted by the AC Hunter Public Library tonight was a great success!

Hosted as a part of the ‘Love Our Local Authors’ month going on all through February at the AC Hunter Public Library, the Writer’s Circle was a round table discussion with four of the indie writing community’s top talents: the person in charge of taking your submissions (Ellen Curtis), the author of Call of the Sea (Amanda Labonté ), the author of more than 15 novels (Matthew LeDrew) and  Erin Vance, the author of Song of the Mockingjay and the revolutionary editor behind Sci-Fi from the Rock and Fantasy from the Rock!

The Writer’s Circle aimed to answer any questions about the writing and publishing process, from professionals with a combined 25 years experience in the competitive small-press market.

Engen Books would like to that the AC Hunter Public Library for hosting the event, as well as Amanda Labonté, Erin Vance, and Ellen Curtis for taking part!

Gettin’ in the Mood (for Writing)

I find it easiest to write when I’m inspired or when I’m bored. If I’ve thought of a really cool/interesting scene, then I have to write it as soon as possible or I risk forgetting about it. If I’m bored, then my brain goes into thought-overdrive and comes up with a bunch of scenes and ideas, and since I have nothing better to do, I might as well write them down.

But what about when I’m not inspired or bored? What about when I need to write something, but the words just aren’t coming? How do I make myself write? What’s my secret?

Most of the time: music. Continue reading Gettin’ in the Mood (for Writing)

Why snow days are the best days (for writing)

Amanda LabonteAs a writer, I think there is something magical about a day when you can stay inside and block out the real world – both figuratively and literally if the snow is halfway up your front door.

Before going further, I do have to confess that I am a winter grinch. When the first hint of frost hits the air, I heartily join in the chorus of ‘not yet’. I refuse to pull out my heavy coat and boots until the snow sticks to the ground. I curse when I am already running ten minutes late and I go outside to find the car needs to be scraped. Again.

But then a day comes when everything closes. When the police ask all cars to stay off the roads. When the convenience stores run out of chips. And, if you are a writer like me and not one of those brave souls who has to work in an ER or 24-hour gas station, those days can be creative perfection. Continue reading Why snow days are the best days (for writing)

Coming Feb 22: Writer’s Circle – Presented by the Arts & Culture Center

Join Amanda Labonté, Ellen Curtis, Matthew LeDrew, and Erin Vance as they discuss writing, the process of getting published, and being small press in Newfoundland as a part of the Arts & Culture Center’s “LOLA: love Our Loal Authors” month! 🙂 Come and get answers to your questions, meet the authors of some of the province’s most thrilling genre fiction, gets books signed and learn the different avenues to success with writing! Admittance is free, although Arts & Culture encourages calling ahead to reserve seats at: 709-737-3950. The event will be 6:30pm-8pm on Feb 22 2017 at the Arts and Culture Center, 95 Allandale Rd, St. John’s, NL A1B 3A3. To join the Facebook event and get more information, click here.

Continue reading Coming Feb 22: Writer’s Circle – Presented by the Arts & Culture Center

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.

WorldBuilding Step #1: Destroy the World!

It was early in the year 2000, and I was standing in my aunt’s kitchen, trying to destroy the world. No, I wasn’t having a premonition about all the terrible things that would happen in 2016, I was trying to come up with a new world to write about.

See, I had friends who were writers, and they were writing about these crazy, complicated futures, with technology and people with amazing powers. Meanwhile, I was writing about assassins in present day. As much as I liked the story I was writing, I also wanted to write about people with cool powers, so I decided to push myself to come up with an interesting new world.  Not an alien world, but an Earth that was different from the one we had now.

For some reason (I forget why), I wanted to avoid big cities. If I was destroying the world, maybe I could do it in a way that smashed the land into bits, and the biggest pieces left over were the size of small cities. Then these islands could be grouped together based on proximity, and joined by overseas highways, and people could travel between them!

But it would be difficult to build up all these new cities if the entire world had been smashed to pieces, so maybe I should keep one large bit intact. Then, once the remaining people had recovered from the huge war that had decimated their world, they would have the resources to go out and build up the islands for habitation.

Yes… this could work…

Continue reading WorldBuilding Step #1: Destroy the World!