Tag Archives: Writing

Press ‘Enter’ to Continue…

I didn’t write The Six Elemental with any sequels in mind. It sounds crazy to me now – that I put all this effort into creating a future world with a detailed history and never thought of another story for it (“Twenty-One”, in Sci-Fi From the Rock, was adapted from a scene that got cut early on). But, to be fair, I had doubts that I would ever finish this novel – I mean, I’d worked on it for over a decade – so the thought of writing a second was crazy.

But, on the other hand, I’d created an entire future world! Was I ready to just let it go? Surely there’s at least one more tale in there that wants to be told…

For a while I wondered if there was another story to tell… Was there something I had missed?

Then I realized that there was a secret I’d placed in The Six Elemental that I never told the reader. It’s not an obvious secret – it’s more of a secret in the personal history of one character, which explains some of their actions – but it’s there. Continue reading Press ‘Enter’ to Continue…

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

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

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…

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