The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips – Find Your Genre(s)

Writing in multiple genres is fine; and it happens to many of us, but figuring out what your main one or two are is important. As much as you might explore and take time to figure out what your favored type of writing is, this will eventually become your foundation. Having one will help you grow stronger and also encourage you to experiment more. The fact that many genres have ramifications and ties to others also encourages you to explore without necessarily jumping into something totally different from what you are familiar with.

My deep interest in Science Fiction, whether when I analyze media universes in my nonfiction and academic endeavors, or when I create my own stories, has been mine for many years. From there, I have expanded into Fan Communities and Gender Studies in nonfiction and in Fantasy in fiction. Gravitating back to my foundation and growing stronger in it has helped me tremendously over the years.

You shouldn’t pick a genre just because you think it will sell better. Trying a genre out because you are curious about it or feel any sort of inclination towards it can be a great experience. Forcing yourself to do it because you hope it will sell better when you have no interest whatsoever (or even repulsion) at the thought of delving into it, shouldn’t be considered. Writing is hard work enough when you have passion, so when all about it is a chore, it doesn’t make for a rewarding experience.

What about you?

  • Do you have a favorite genre or two?
  • Can you imagine new developments branching out thanks to them?
  • If you don’t have a favorite genre to write in yet, what genres do you feel most drawn to as a reader or viewer?

Digital Quill's Writing Tips

Recent Interviews

I have been featured on two blogs this month, with interviews where I discussed my writing path and process.

Many thanks to both Lyn Vicknair and Sally Cronin for these opportunities!

If you haven’t done it yet, you can read my interviews by clicking on the links below and also check out both blogs.

Recent Interviews

The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips – The Time Element

What if you don’t have time right when the muse hits you with a hammer and demands?

Still try to take some notes as soon as you can (which can also be a good idea to use a way of voice-recording if it tends to happen to you while you are driving or doing something you can’t put on hold right away).

Making efforts to stay focused on the ideas you are getting, so you can remember them for as soon as you can take actual notes, is a good way to go as well. Even if you are unable to recall everything as if you had taken notes right when inspiration hit you, every bit of information you can gather can still make a difference.

So, if you don’t have the immediate possibility to take notes when inspiration happens, don’t fret and write down everything you can remember when you have time.

And if you do have time to take notes when your muse barges in, you should make the best of this opportunity. You never know what you can learn in those moments. If you are blessed with availability when it occurs, it always makes for a meaningful experience.

What about you?

  • Did you ever have time to dive into an inspiring moment and take as many notes as you could? Does your muse show up at most inopportune times?
  • If so, how do you react?

Digital Quill's Writing Tips

Writer Interview: Samuel Brantley (The Chronicles of Count Carlos)

Today, I am happy to interview Samuel Brantley, one of the authors of The Chronicles of Count Carlos: Son of Dracula (R Rated). The kickstarter for the project runs until September 1, 2016.

Count Carlos1

The Chronicles of Count Carlos: Son of Dracula

Stuck in a small Mississippi town, a vampire obsessed geeky kid must rescue his mother from REAL killer vampires. But when he finds out that he is the heir to the vampire world’s throne he must embrace his vampire side or risk losing everything and everyone he’s ever loved.

Samuel Brantley

Samuel Brantley has been involved in film-making for 10 years all the while working at day jobs too, naturally.  He has written over 10 feature length screenplays, and consulted on many more. He has also written and produced a number of short films, and stage productions in the New Orleans area. He is currently in post production on his feature-length directorial debut, a documentary about a New Orleans Mardi Gras group known as The Krewe of the Rolling Elvi.  Count Carlos is his first attempt at comic books, which he has read since he could read. He lives in New Orleans with is wife and step-son.

Samuel Brantley.
Samuel Brantley.

NG: What inspired the Chronicles of Count Carlos: Son of Dracula?

BRANTLEY: Pretty much just my co-writer and I just talking about horror, action, and sci-fi movies and what we liked about them.  The conversations then turned to what we found funny about stories in such genres, and what could be made funny.  From that foundation we thought about classic horror icons, and pitched around ideas until we were set on taking the character of Dracula, and vampires in general, into weird and fun places. We also wanted to incorporate elements of fan culture and geek/nerd culture into the story.  Our hero, Carlos, is an avid player of a vampire live action RPG system known as the Vampire Allegiance Guild, and we thought it would be fun to see how folks who love acting like vampires would react to encountering real ones.

NG: How did the team come to work together?

BRANTLEY: I met my co-writer, Armando Leduc, about 10 years ago.  I was working on a screenplay with a filmmaker who had also worked with Armando, who is a TV/film actor.  We hung out and such, and eventually ended up working together on a live sketch comedy variety show produced here in New Orleans called “Sketchy Characters”.  Around then, almost 7 years ago, the seeds for Carlos were planted and we wrote a short film script for it together. The story sat for a while, and we would occasionally come back to it, but were often both too busy with other projects or day jobs to work on it. Then a year ago he came to me and said he had some producers interested in horror/comedy, and we picked it back up.  After many drafts, over a dozen live reads, and a ton of feedback, the story evolved into what it is now.  The comic book is an adaptation of the feature length screenplay that is now in early development for production and filming.  We decided to do a comic book version to generate interest in the universe we created, and to expand more on that universe without the constraints a film script can have. Our illustrator, Anthony Figaro, is an awesome artist who Armando met and brought in to bring the story to life in a comic book.  He was in the moment we pitched him the story.

NG: What are the central themes of the story?

BRANTLEY: I’d say the story explores the theme of finding out who we really are and where we really come from.  In the story, Carlos learns who he is and has to embrace his vampire heritage to save the world and fulfill his destiny.

NG: What audiences do you believe will be most interested in the universe and its characters?

BRANTLEY: Anyone who appreciates a story that takes tropes from horror, action, and sci-fi and makes them funny without insulting the genres or fans of them.  It is a story full of laughs, but also intense gore and violence, crazy fights and battles, with some good old fashioned lewd and crude jokes and situations.  I also think it will find an audience with readers who like a diverse cast of characters outside of traditional Anglo-Saxon style vamps and humans.  Dracula is about the only main character who fits that mold, and he ends up becoming a “vegan” vampire (a vampire that doesn’t consume human blood).  I would also say anyone who has played role playing games, or who considers themselves part of a fandom, and who always dreamed about actually living IN the universe they are so drawn to.

NG: What are your hopes and goals for this project?

BRANTLEY: To make a living writing it.  I’d love to see this first issue generate enough interest to get it picked up by a publisher and turned into a monthly comic book series. We have enough of the story done thanks to the screenplay for a good 12 to 15 issue story arc, and have more outlines for much bigger adventures for Count Carlos.

NG: Thank you very much, Samuel! I wish you all the best with your kickstarter!

The Chronicles of Count Carlos

The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips – Always Have Note-Taking Tools on You

This isn’t negotiable (unless you’re in the shower I guess, but you might still want to have tools in the bathroom for when you get out). Years ago, I didn’t care so much about listening to inspiration when it knocked on my door. I still remember needing six months before remembering the development I needed for my first novella. Those were long six months.

While I love notebooks no matter what, I always make sure to have smaller ones I can carry on my person at all times. I also make sure to have two pencils instead of one in my purse, because I sometimes don’t realize one is almost at its end and found myself with a non-functioning pencil right when I had to take notes!

Smartphones and tablets also have great options and apps for notetaking, voice recording, or any shape or form of jotting down thoughts and ideas. I am still a dinosaur without a smartphone so I still tend to stick to pen and paper for random notetaking.

One way or the other, having anything to take notes on you is a must have for a writer.

What about you?

  • Do you stay prepared for whenever inspiration hits you?
  • Do you have certain tools or device you always keep with yourself?
  • If not, are you willing to make a change?

Digital Quill's Writing Tips

Calling All Readers and Bloggers

Generations after Earth died, humans have been living in the Dantek system, cohabiting with multiple ancestral species in the region.

Investigator Morden Avachk and his team ally with a Prisias priestess. They are the only hope to save her species, endangered by a biological weapon in the making.

Avachk’s hierarchy won’t like his team’s choices but innocents come before orders.

My Science Fiction novella Dream Crusher will be released in Kindle and Print formats in November (date TBD). Illustrations are currently in preparation and I am looking for help to spread the word from early October to mid December.

I am looking for opportunities such as character or author interviews, guest posts, book reviews.

Thank you in advance to everyone willing to help!

Calling All Readers and Bloggers

The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips – Finding Inspiration and Purpose

Even when everything is “perfect” and we are ready to take on our project and get writing, if our soul doesn’t show up, our creativity can take a nosedive.

We have to get into the right mindset and it can be quite difficult at times. Yet, we shouldn’t give up and we should work on improving it so we are able to write. We could be just satisfied with “show up and write” but why don’t we try for something that is a little more enthusing? (There will be days when showing up and writing will be good enough and way better than we might have expected when getting up, but I want us to focus on how we can all grow!)

You may want to find rituals that channel your creativity. Those can encompass multiple forms. Maybe you like to work out, take care of certain tasks from your to-do list, or play a certain type of music, so you can devote your attention and energy to your writing.

Having a spiritual element to bring you towards your writing can also be strongly encouraging and inspiring. As I grew as a writer, I also grew in my faith and it has strengthened me. A few times in the past, I remember trying meditation before writing, but it didn’t really work for me, because it lacked a true spiritual dimension (and just sitting there listening to my breath tends to stress me out anyway!)

Over the past years, I have prayed more and grew in my faith a lot. At first, I didn’t notice how it influenced me so much, including in my writing. By now, my daily praying is an important part of my life. While I don’t necessarily pray right before writing, it is common for me to bring up my writing concerns to the Lord and ask for guidance. This is how this book came to be.

What about you?

  • Do you have rituals that help you get into your writing mindset?
  • Do your spiritual practice fuels your writer’s life?
  • If you are unsure where to begin or how to create rituals that might help you, can you think of elements that have worked for you in the past and that you could use on a more regular basis?

Digital Quill's Writing Tips

The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips – Making Time

Time is often the big question. We all have different lives, different obligations and preferences. Sometimes, you can arrange your day around your writing, other times you have to do the contrary. What matters is – once again learning by doing – finding out what works best for you in your current circumstances.

It is one thing that isn’t always stressed out enough. Our lives evolve and so does our writing process. It can even change from a type of project to the other. Maybe you love blogging first thing in the morning but if you are working on a novel, you’d rather do that in the evening.

It isn’t so much about a free-for-all approach than listening to your soul. Due to lack of paid job in the past few years, I have had time to focus on writing, which has been a saving grace for me, so I could develop professionally regardless of lack of income. Even like that, I felt bad a few times when reading all those “how-to” guides about writing time blocks, how to establish the perfect routine. I am quite organized and enjoy routine, but I eventually found out that having a very firm approach to my writing wasn’t going to work so well.

I would recommend knowing how much you want to achieve in a given day (whether it is 500 or 5000 words,  1 book chapter or 3 blog posts). Having a (reasonable) goal can help a lot to organize how you will make the best of allotted time.

What about you?

  • Do you have a favorite time of the day for creative endeavors? Are you able to make it into writing sessions?
  • If not, what can you do to change that?
  • If you can’t, what best alternatives can you think of? Feel free to experiment until you find/develop a good writing time.

Digital Quill's Writing Tips

The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips – Find Your Favorite Tools

We all tend to have some favorite software (Word, Scrivener, Google Docs…) or can be partial to longhand writing. I would recommend finding out what are your two favorite, so in case one isn’t available, you have a fallback option you actually enjoy and that doesn’t require too much thinking.

As much as writing software can have similar basics, jumping from one to the other can still be a little annoying. The same goes for actual devices. If you prefer writing pen on paper, find as well a couple of materials you like best, as we all have quirks and favorites. For example, I can’t – for the life of me – write on quadrille ruled paper. This is just not going to happen. The same way, I love Scrivener to format, but am not comfortable working on my drafts on it.

I love Microsoft Word and notebooks. Those are my two favorite tools. I prefer typing my manuscript but if I have a notebook available, I make the transition without thinking and the muse is still here! It keeps my mind at ease.

What about you?

  • Can you think of two favorite sets of tools you love writing with?
  • If not, why don’t you take the next week (or month!) to figure out what you enjoy most writing with?

Digital Quill's Writing Tips

The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips – The Gift of Sharing

Welcome to the Digital Quill’s Writing Tips series. The name comes from my blog’s Q&A feature The Digital Quill Answers.

This project idea came to me when I was toying with the idea of creating a mailing list, and wanted to have a freebie for new subscribers. Since I have decided against a mailing list for the time being, I thought this would make a great blogging series.

Wherever you are on your path, toying with a book idea, writing your first manuscript, or juggling with several upcoming titles, I want this series to help you. I hope it will spring some new ideas and give you confidence in your ability to pursue your project.

I will focus on the writing process. So this doesn’t include tips about formatting or marketing. I will leave that for future series.

The installements posted in th upcoming weeks contain tips that have worked for me and ideas for possible other options, depending what works best for you. The core of my message would be to find what resonates most with you, beyond all firm guidelines that can scare even seasoned authors.

Pick up your pencils, notebooks, laptop, whatever tools you love writing with and let’s begin!

Background by Ivory Mix.
Background by Ivory Mix.