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

Empire of the Ebon Sky – Chapter One

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Chapter One – Winter Falling

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“Winter Peak” by Max Bedulenko

The wind was soft but cold, so high along the rampart of the citadel. It whispered the night’s embrace, pulling gently at the lapels of Gemmen’s coat. The skin on his close-shaven scalp prickled with goosebumps. It was cold, yes, but the winter twilight was far preferable to the stifling heat and conversation in the feast hall.

Torches burned, spaced every hundred feet along the walk. Gemmen could see guards posted, silhouetted against the lights as they leaned against the white stone or squatted for a brief escape from the breeze. He ignored them as he moved by, just as they ignored him.

The first flakes of snow began to flutter down as he walked. The night was not still, but it was silent; the wind stirred and the snow traced lines down to melt on the wall, but even the guards quieted themselves. There was a feeling of abeyance in the air, a muted pressure.

Gemmen loved nights like this. Continue reading

Drew’s State of Writing – Resolutions for 2017

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And so we approach the end of another year.

In many ways, 2016 was a great year for me, personally. I hit some major life milestones in the past twelve months, not the least of which were getting engaged and buying a condo. All in all, it was a successful year on that count.

But on the writing side, 2016 was much more of a failure. I hoped to achieve a few things, none of which got done. 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

Mini State of Writing: Of Genesis Edition

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Big things have been afoot in the Chronicle of the Sons plan, lately.

As I mentioned in various earlier State of Writing posts, the plan for CotS has been for four books, with Of Genesis coming second and going over the same timeline as All Flames Cast, but from the POVs of some of the antagonists. As I set out to outline this, things started pretty smoothly. I got through an almost complete checkpoint list, and wrote a couple of character sketch scenes to help get a feel for the new POVs.

And that’s where I hit a wall. With one notable exception (we’ll revisit this in a bit), none of the characters excited me. I didn’t want to write them. Their stories didn’t feel right. On top of that, I realized that doing this as a second book would completely derail the narrative momentum built up at the end of AFC. Continue reading