Tag Archives: writing advice

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!

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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:

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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! ❤

Going Full-Time | Distractions | Matthew LeDrew’s Blog

This might have to be my final post under the ‘Distractions’ banner, if only because I will, very soon, not be able to abide distractions anymore. That is to say, as of January 1 2018, I will be going Full-Time writing and publishing through Engen Books.

This is a massive step forward for me personally and for the company as a whole. We’ve made great strides in the last ten years helping to build ourselves as Atlantic Canada’s premier small-press, indie, and genre publisher. We’ve taken on a massive amount of new projects and new authors which has helped expand our library exponentially. This is going to give me the time to  really pour gasoline on that process. We’re going to be expanding into new areas and taking on new authors, as well as making sure our existing stable of amazing talent like Ali House, Ellen Curtis, Amanda Labonté, and Paul Carberry remain focused and driven to succeed.

It isn’t, however, without risk. While we’ve had an amazing year in 2017 and this was a part of a 5-year plan for us, this wasn’t a strategically-planned and calculated move. This came out of necessity because of some upheavals in my person life that I’ll disclose as I become able. Suffice to say, we’re viewing this as a positive and bravely making this leap forward. 🙂

As a part of this building though, we’re going to be needing the support and patience of our fans more than ever. There are going to be some changes. First and foremost will be an increased focus on Kindle and other eBook formats, as there is very little overhead to producing fiction in those methods. We have a dedicated print fan base we know, and our most popular titles (like the ‘From the Rock’ anthology series) will still be available in print day-of release, but some titles may see a digital-only release for short periods of time so that we can bring our work to those who want it. Continue reading Going Full-Time | Distractions | Matthew LeDrew’s Blog

The End is Near! Sort-Of…

At one of the panels for Avalon Expo, someone asked “How do you know when to end a story?”

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I’ve had time to think about it and I thought I’d share some of my current musings. This is especially relevant since the big project I’m working on has spun so far out of control that I have no idea how it’s going to end…  Or if

Honestly, this advice is for me as much as you.

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So, how do I know when to end a story?

Short answer: Mostly intuition.

Long answer: There are a few ways…

  1. I’ve written the ending first.

Usually I know the end before I even start writing. Most of my short stories start out with that final moment, and then I just have to figure out what happens to bring me to that point.  It happened with The Gemini ProjectThe Invisible Boy; and the two horror stories I’m currently working on.

There were a few times where, when I got to the end of a longer story, I realized that the original idea no longer fit and it was going towards a new ending. But that’s not a bad thing – stories change, it happens. Sometimes you plan on killing all of your characters but a few of them end up surviving somehow. But then you write the final line (for the new ending) and you think to yourself “Yeah, that’s a fantastic ending line”. And all is right with the world again.

  1. I’ve written a really good end-line.

I love a good ending line as much as I love a good opening line. In fact, if I write a so-so ending line it bothers me to no end, because I know it can be better. It’s like looking at a row of pencils that aren’t quite perfectly in line….

Some examples are: Virginia Wolfe’s To the Lighthouse: “Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.” And George Orwell’s 1984:He loved Big Brother.” There’s something about those lines that are so final and yet mean so much more.

  1. The story I wanted to tell is over.

Once I wanted a project to have 25 chapters (for symbolic purposes), but when I reached the end of chapter 22 I realized that I was done. My character’s journey had ended. I’d said all I wanted to say about this particular story, and to write any more would do a disservice to the fantastic ending scene I’d just written. Yes, I wanted to continue with these characters, but I knew that it would be best to start a new plot, with new themes and ideas, instead of dragging this one out.

The Hobbit ends when Bilbo returns home; The Fellowship of the Rings ends with the breaking of the fellowship; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ends when Harry’s school term ends.  Even though their stories continue, their current task has ended and it’s time to take a breather before the next adventure.

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Typically, when I plan my ending, I try to resolve matters – either for better or worse. I don’t like leaving huge plot holes or dangling plot threads. It’s fun to have hints and intrigue and something to look forward to, but I’m not happy when the ending to a book is more like the ending to a chapter (yes, there’s a difference – As Fierce As Steel left me wanting more, while Mindspeak made me regret the time I’d spent reading it).

When in doubt, I think of who’s journey this is. Then I try to find a way to bring them to the end point – to let the character finally achieve their goal, or fail horribly, or realize that they need to change their way of thinking.

Originally, I had no idea how to end The Six Elemental. I tried to resolve what I could, while leaving certain things unsaid, but the end just didn’t feel end-y enough.  Finally I thought about Kit’s journey and how she had changed over the course of the story.  I thought about what I was trying to say with this story and made that the ending, so when people close the book that’s the impression they’re left with.

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And with that, I return once more into the void from which I came…

Novel Writing Course starts in 18 days!

Have you always wanted to bring a novel to publication? Slots are still open with “Novel Writing Foundations,” a 6-week course lead by the author of over a dozen novels, Matthew LeDrew!

Novel Writing Foundations: Starting Right to Make sure you Cross the Finish Line!

“THE presents ‘Novel Writing Foundations: Starting Right to Make sure you Cross the Finish Line,’ a 6-week adult learning course aimed at making sure authors writing for both pleasure or publication start off with the right tools to ensure their work reaches fruition. This course will feature a mix of short instruction and group feedback on your work led by Matthew LeDrew, the author of 17 novels and partner at prominent local fiction publisher Engen Books.” For additional information or to register please call 753-3972 or email creativelearningdianne@gmail.com

Each class will be a combination of group manuscript assessment, short lecture, and interactive discussion. Classes will be fluid and will cover the topics needed by the authors and their work, but LeDrew will also have some fundamentals prepared to generate discussion.

Fundamentals that will be covered include:

  • Idea Generation
  • Structure of a
  • Character Creation
  • Show, Don’t Tell
  • Scene Construction
  • How to manage multiple storyarcs to a satisfying conclusion.

Lit Wars! Lord of the Rings v. The Dark Tower! | The Writer’s Block

The main event! The one we’ve been teasing since we started announcing panels for the Avalon Expo Writer’s Block is finally here: Lit Wars: Tolkien v. King! 6:00-6:50pm Saturday August 26 at MILE ONE Avalon Expo!

Lit Wars will be an hour-long debate to decide, once and for all, which epic fantasy is better: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or King’s The Dark Tower. Teams of two will head off against one another to defend their respective kingdom and be crowned: the Lit Warrior!

For team Tolkien: Dr. Christopher Lockett, an associate professor of English at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Though his main area of specialization is twentieth century American literature, his enthusiasms (academic and otherwise) range widely into film and television, fantasy, cultural studies, and the ongoing definitions of humanism
And: Ellen Curtis, the editor of Fantasy from the Rock who has been a prolific fantasy author since the age of fifteen and currently writes for the Infinity series, Newfoundland Quarterly Online, and is a member of the WANL Board as Youth Representative.

For team King: Matthew LeDrew, the author of over a dozen books, including Questing the Dark Tower: An essay examining the concept of Stephen King’s Dark Tower as it applies to Derrida’s theory of the Pharmakon.
And: Heather Reilly, author of the Binding of the Almatraek series of YA fantasy novels, and recipient of the Noble Artist’s Author of the Month award for February 2015.

Moderated by Mike Connors of NTV! Watch as this Lit Nerds engage in Lit Warfare and… let’s be honest, it’s Matt and Heather against Ellen and a MUN Prof. You’re coming to watch Matthew get powned… in the nerd battle that will last from the time of Middle Earth until the crumbling of the Dark Tower itself!! Be there!!


Continue reading Lit Wars! Lord of the Rings v. The Dark Tower! | The Writer’s Block