Cup of Dcaf: The Value of Creative Writing Classes

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Earlier today, I stumbled across this article from Hannah Jane Parkinson at the Guardian. In it, she talks about her experience with creative writing classes and workshops, and whether or not she agrees that they’re a “waste of time.”

The verdict: yeah, she thinks they’re pretty much a waste of time.

Now, like Parkinson, I spent four years and a sizable amount of money getting a degree in creative writing. But I think I had a slightly different experience from what she writes about. Continue reading

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Cup of Dcaf: Building Up, Not Tearing Down

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Writing is a strange venture for a variety of reasons. It has demands, both physical and mental, that don’t align with a lot of other professions or hobbies. But one of the most peculiar things about writing, I’ve found, is one of the most common attitudes among writers. This is something that has popped up its ugly head a few times, recently, so it’s been on my mind.

Writers, as I’ve seen many times in many different forums or environments over my brief decade as an active writer, tend to be competitive. Now, being competitive isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor is it unique to writing. I myself am extremely competitive, both from my years as the youngest of six children and from playing hockey at a reasonably high level for two decades. When nurtured, competitiveness can be a big help in getting a step forward in life. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2016 – And the Gates Open

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You guys, I’m doing it. This is the year I *officially* take the plunge. I made an account, I’ve started writing, and I’m gonna win this thing.

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and I’m taking a break from drafting On the Strings of Oblivion (the sequel to All Flames Cast) to write a new story.

And the Gates Open is the result of some brainstorming I’ve done over the past two months, and the natural extension of a novella idea I came up with. Featuring two main characters, And the Gates Open is about a city under siege by an overwhelming enemy, and the two leaders who consider it their duty to keep the people safe during this time—at odds with each other. Mezra is the high priestess, concerned with the despair that plagues the city-state of Vael and fighting to keep her faith alive in the face of a conquering foreign religion. Vatan is the naturalized former mercenary who finds himself in charge of the garrison at the most important point of Vael’s defenses. Neither likes the other; each has different goals.

And meanwhile, one hundred thousand enemies camp outside the walls, under gathering stormclouds…

Cup of Dcaf: Finding Your Balance

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Let’s be frank here: every writer is going to have a unique approach to writing a book. I’m not going to sit down and say “you have to do it this way!” For one thing, that would be bad advice. For another, it would be wildly hypocritical. I’ve written three novels, and each was approached in a wildly different manner.

As most writers probably know, there are two general types of writers when it comes to novels. There are “plotters” and there are “pantsers,” or, as George R. R. Martin famously put it, “architects” and “gardeners.” Continue reading

Grand Admiral Thrawn: Why the preservation of the Star Wars Expanded Universe is still important

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Probably the biggest news to come out of Star Wars Celebration in London this past weekend was the confirmation that Grand Admiral Thrawn will make his return to canon.

The trailer for season 3 of the animated TV show Rebels was a great teaser all around, but was more importantly a cause for delight among fans of the old EU. The (re)introduction of Thrawn is something that had been long rumored to happen in Rebels, and it stands as a potential cornerstone in the development of the new Expanded Universe under Disney’s revitalization of the franchise.

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Cup of Dcaf: Music That’s Impacted My Writing

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I know for a fact that I’m far from unique among writers as a big music fan. Almost every writer I know has some sort of writing playlist; many have the same habit I do of making a new playlist to fit the tones of new books or stories.

But just because I’m not unique doesn’t mean that music isn’t worth talking about in the context of writing. It’s indispensable for me. I simply cannot sit down and be productive on a manuscript without music.

On top of that, I get a lot of inspiration just listening to music. Often, it will be the tone of a song that gets me; others, it’s a line that I particularly enjoy or a really cool song title. In this vein, I thought I’d talk about some of the songs and the stories (that you can read right here on Dcafwriting!) that they inspired.

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Cup of Dcaf: On the Subject of Prologues

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I must admit to some discontent with myself even as I write this. I’m a fan of a well-executed prologue, especially in a fantasy novel, and indeed there is a prologue in All Flames Cast (and will be one in Of Genesis). Yet I’m about to argue in opposition of prologues, for some reason.

Actually, for good reason. You see, prologues are generally unnecessary.

Oh, most authors will argue heartily that their prologue absolutely HAS to be in there. “It sets up so much!” they maintain. Or, “There’s tons of background there!” Possibly even, “It’s where the plot gets set up!” Continue reading