Finishing a Book is a Skill all Writers Must Learn

Millie Ho Finishing A Book Cat Doodle

My cat doodle for jump starting self-introspection.

It hit me recently that out of all the writing skills I have, actually finishing a book is my least developed.

Compared to other skills such as character development, world building, or plotting, which I improved on a lot in 2015, it’s very rare for me to finish a final draft of a book. This means a solid Chapter One that continued to The End. This is understandable given my problems with writing perfectionism, but now that I’m no longer ripping up every draft when something doesn’t work because I’m approaching the writing process differently, I’m still noticing something in the way.

To give you some stats, I have only finished four novel-length final drafts in my entire life.

Compared to the nearly thirty drafts I started, revised, and then deleted/shelved away somewhere, that’s a pretty sharp contrast. Continue reading

3 Steps to Find a Story’s Emotional Core

The emotional core of a story is the universal human experience.

It’s also what readers and audiences remember long after they finished a book, TV series, or film.

When I was first writing and re-writing the Nash Moor story many moons ago, I neglected the emotional core. I focused too much on the procedural elements and not enough on the emotional connection between the reader and my characters. Instinctively, I knew a story should be driven by characters and their emotions, but I didn’t believe it. This was largely due to my fear of being vulnerable (which I try to work out in other ways), or possibly my commitment to the stereotypes of the neo-noir genre.

The Quotation that Saved the Draft

Like most of My Realizations About What I’ve Been Doing Wrong and How to Create Better Things, a quotation changed all that:

“Yeah, but when fiction works for me it works on an emotional level first and an intellectual level second.”

— Stephen King (The Atlantic)


MIND EXPLODED. Continue reading

5 Quotations That Help Me Create Better Things

Stella Gibson

Stella Gibson, spirit animal material.

I’ve been cataloguing interesting quotations I find on the Internet. These quotations help me create better stories, comics, or simply help me through creatively challenging times. Most of the quotations are about writing, art, and personal development, while others are snippets of TV reviews, and interviews with rad personalities.

Here are the best five gems I’ve saved over the past month, and hopefully you get something out of them that’s not just an acute awareness of my browsing history:

  1. Kate Beaton, artist and creator of Hark! A Vagrant, on finding inspiration and always working your creative brain:

Continue reading

Villains Don’t Always Need to be Humanized

Two of my favourite TV shows aired their finale episodes last month. The first show is Hannibal (unfortunately, cancelled by NBC) and the second is Pretty Little Liars. While they are drastically different shows for different audiences, both shows feature a main villain that is portrayed as intelligent, organized, murderous, slightly supernatural and sees people as toys they can control like a puppeteer.

While Hannibal Lecter from Hannibal is impossible to relate to or sympathize with, I understood his motivations much better than A from Pretty Little Liars, who fell apart when the writers tried to humanize her actions.

Key takeaways from the video:  Continue reading

To People Who Think I Use Big Words to Sound Smart

Using Big Words to Sound Smart

The comment screenshot.

Recently someone commented on a comment I left on a Youtube video, claiming that I was using big words to sound smart.

The problem I have with this comment is not so much the commenter thinking that I have low self-esteem or that I am repeating what the Youtube video creator said in the guise of my own ideas. My problem lies with the fact that more and more, people are being encouraged to tone down their vocabulary to satisfy “what’s normal”. Continue reading

Plotting Fiction: Process, Narrative, Believability

I love chatting with other writers, especially writers that challenge my beliefs and way of doing things. There’s usually always creative friction, unexpected insights, and, of course, a sense that this writing a book thing isn’t just a personal insanity (bonus!).

I had the pleasure of speaking with D.R. Sylvester, an aspiring Australian writer of science fiction, fantasy, and space pirates. We chatted about our respective work-in-progress novels, and break down the mechanics behind how we plot and inject believability into narratives that contain supernatural or out-of-this-world elements.  Continue reading

What Alice Munro Taught Me About Writing

What Alice Munro Taught Me About Writing

A good article on how to start reading Alice Munro.

After Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature, she said something that stuck with me to this day:

“I expected to be famous some day. This is because I lived in a very small town and there was nobody who liked the same things I did, like writing, and so I just thought naturally, some day I’m going to write books, and it happened.”

Munro’s self-affirmation is admirable. As a writer who started in the microcosm of small town southwestern Ontario, the idea of making a living from writing and being known internationally was in the realm of fantasy. The fact that she accomplished all that and more is remarkable.

She’s talented, that’s a given, but I think Alice Munro’s greatest weapon has been her focus.
Continue reading

Interview with Millie Ho

Author and blogger Jonas Lee and I discussed writing, genres, favourite characters, and the state of Young Adult fiction today.

Check out the video and visit Jonas’ blog and YouTube channel for more writerly fun!

Jonas Lee

Today I had the pleasure of doing an interview with someone brand new and from the lovely country of Canada. The insightful Millie Ho was able to take some time with me this weekend and debate a few of the finer things with reading and writing. Come take a look and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE and check out Millie’s page, channel, social media…well, everything.

View original post