author Lesley Livingston on writing

Author Lesley Livingston

Comic Con Toronto, as all other Comic Cons and Fan Expos, is known for characters walking about in amazing costumes, comic book artists and sellers of collectibles. And then there are guys like me! With our books.

While at Toronto’s coolest pre-spring event I enjoyed all of the above, as well as getting to know other authors. I had the pleasure of listening to a panel with Amber Benson, an actress known for her role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer who is also a writer, and Lesley Livingston, author of Wondrous Strange, who is also a seasoned actress.

The two had no problem sharing that they were drinking Ceasars, something American Amber was newly introduced to, as apparently there is no clamato juice south of the border. It was a ton of fun listening to them giggle and speak freely.

During the panel, Lesley, our Canadian creativite with the all important supply of clamato, offered three tips every writer should use.

Tip # 1 – When you’re having a bad day, go kill a character.

Makes perfect sense. It needs no description for any writer, except to say that I hope you don’t have too many bad days. You won’t have many characters left.

Tip # 2 – Make your characters as attractive as possible.

A writer can spend a lot of time in their imaginary worlds with their imaginary characters. Might as well make them good looking! It makes it much easier to pass the time it takes to imagine, develop and write a book.

Tip # 3 – “Write what you know” is garbage advice.

You start with what you know. Then you blow stuff up! Research. Explore. Ask questions. Learn stuff. Talk to people. Travel. Expand.

Amber Benson writer

Amber Benson at Comic Con Toronto. Photo from

Both Amber and Lesley recommended joining writers groups and critiquing groups. Not all groups are created equal, so find one where you meet in person or online that fits. They also both agreed that having someone read your work back to you out loud can make a huge difference during the final editing process. I read my own novel out loud to myself in my final edit and it helped me to see what had eluded me so easily many times before.

The girls were funny, informative and left me pondering. Check out their books, mostly YA. If I didn’t already have a ton to read I would have bought them! Go check out their sites.

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