Tag Archives: writing advice

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!

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Tips for Writing Different Genres

Last week Engen announced their next anthology – Dystopia From the Rock. This genre isn’t as widely known as their previous anthologies (I know I did a double-take), but don’t fear!  If you’ve never written dystopian before, you’ve got until October 31 to learn how!

Today I’ll be offering some tips on how I write strange-to-me genres. Although I mostly stick to Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Fiction, I’m not against branching out.  If I have an idea for a story, I’ll chase it wherever it’ll take me.

What follows are some of the steps I take to get myself into the mind-set of a new genre (and that I will surely be using when I try to write something dystopian):

  Continue reading Tips for Writing Different Genres

“What is Dystopia?” | Dystopia from the Rock

This week, Engen Books announced its 2019 call for submissions and focused in on Dystopia as the genre of choice for their anthology collection. As Dystopia is slightly separate from the ‘Big Three’ genres we’ve explored to far (Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror), we thought it would be appropriate to ask the question: “What is Dystopia?”

The word Dystopia comes from Greek heritage, where it means a society or community that is undesirable or frightening. Directly translated it means ‘not a good place’ and is used as an opposite for Utopia. In fact, many successful Dystopian stories use elements of both Utopia and Dystopia, in which a seemingly-Utopian society is revealed to be Dystopian for those of a lesser class. For a great example of this, see the 2005 Micheal Bay film, The Island description.

Dystopian stories are often allegorical. They have a hard time not being so, as depicting what we imagine to be a troubled future cannot help but have some reflection on how the author — and the reader — views the present. Dystopian novels seem to often start with the goal of answering the question: “If we continue down X path, how bad could things get?” A common hallmark of dystopian stories is that often enough time has passed that the protagonists cannot directly remember what the world was like before or were not present for the changed, making a society so different from our own that it may as well be alien.

Continue reading for some great examples to read to prep for writing your own Dystopian epic!

Continue reading “What is Dystopia?” | Dystopia from the Rock

“Where do you get your ideas?” | House Blog

For me, the simplest answer is:

My Brain. 

My brain is a very strange little thing, and it comes up with weird ideas all the time.  Some ideas are half-formed and need to be thought about before they become something I can actually work with.  Some are fully-formed scenes that merely need a story.  Some are just an object or one sentence.

I don’t think there’s a wrong way to come up with ideas.  There are probably a vast many different ways that a person can be inspired – and what inspires me might not inspire someone else.

However…

If you’re looking for a longer answer, let’s get into detail:

Where do my ideas come from? Continue reading “Where do you get your ideas?” | House Blog

THE ULTIMATE EXERCISE IN WORLD BUILDING | Patreon Blog

Matthew LeDrewFor the last few years I have been using the term ‘World Building’ incorrectly. I always took it to mean the Tolkien-like appendixes and appendices that some authors chose to but in the front and backs of their books, often with maps and diagrams and schematics and character histories that had little to nothing to do with the story at hand, and which I often found exhausting.

However, my fellow author JJ King has recently educated me that this is not the case: World Building can simply be the slow process of letting the reader know what can and cannot happen in your world, a set of rules that you write by and provide information on on an as-needed basis, ideally.

I say that I used the term ‘World Building’ incorrectly because I only associated it with the sort of pedantic info-dumps I try to never do, but apparently this is just bad or expositive World Building. Good World Building can happen organically an naturally, giving small snippets of the larger world in book after book… much like I did with the Engen Universe. I was embarrassed to learn that such a pivotal term had escaped my vernacular, but such is life, we all have our knowledge gaps.

Since then I have spent months ruminating on all the wrong-answers I have given regarding World Building in my previous Writing Panel experiences. After some serious thought, I think I’ve come up with the ideal World Building scenario for those who have an exhaustive world and cast of characters in their heads without knowing where to start – and it works for any genre!

The rest of this post can be viewed for as little as $1 for any of our Patreon subscribers! Click here to go to this post’s page on the Engen Books Patreon!

NaNoWriMo Round 6!

Over the past 7+ years, I’ve NaNo’d 6 times. Some times I’ve been successful, some times I haven’t, and one time I failed so spectacularly that I’m almost proud.

Below are some observations I’ve made & lessons I’ve learned:

* * *

Year 1 – 2010

Project Type: New Novel

Project Info: A werewolf-type story

Final Word Count: 52,000

For this one, I started a brand new story on November 1. I think I did a rough outline beforehand, but mostly just character sketches and a very loose plot. After 2 weeks I hit the wall hard, but a few days later I managed to push past it. I ended up reaching a conclusion around the 40,000 mark and thought I was going to fail this task, but then I thought of a way to make the story longer and managed to get over 50,000 words. I also wrote a really cool back-story scene that I’m super happy with.

This was my first year, and I consider it my most successful so far. I was working 2 jobs and rehearsing 2 plays, so I have no idea how I managed to do it. (Actually, that’s a lie – I’m editing that story now and there’s a lot of nonsensical rambling that needs to be cut down – but there’s also some great stuff that I got from the aforementioned rambling. Swings and roundabouts, my friends.)

Aside from being super determined to rock my first year, I learned how to push myself and that I could actually finish a story. It taught me that I could write a full-length novel in less than 3 years. As someone who had trouble focusing on one single project, it was a great confidence boost. Continue reading NaNoWriMo Round 6!

Coming Soon: The Write Project Podcast!

podcast01As announced previously, Engen is going to be kicking things up a notch with an all-new twice-monthly podcast starring Amanda Labonté, Ellen Curtis, and Matthew LeDrew! Each 60 minute episode will have three topics / segments: Writing Chat, Publishing Chat, and General/Reviews Chat!

The Write Project Podcast starts in November as a part of the Engen Books / The Tutoring Center’s NaNoWriMo 2017 celebration! Subscribe to the Engen Books YouTube channel and make sure and hit the bell icon when you do, and you’ll be notified when we upload new episodes! ❤