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
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
For me, the simplest answer is:
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.
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
For 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!
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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!
As 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! ❤
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