Do you ever think it’s weird how the most unexpected things can inspire you to write? Like, the most amazing idea of a character can strike you when you’re washing the dishes. Or, this epic new storyline forms in your head when you’re listening to a song or watching a movie whose genre is unrelated to anything that you would want to write about. I love how the writer’s mind works, and how inspiration can strike sometimes when we’re not even looking for it. It’s especially welcome when one has gone through a long spell of writer’s block or hasn’t had the mental energy to write for a few weeks.
I myself felt a relapse of intense inspiration while listening to some sadcore songs by Lana Del Rey. I normally listen to her music to unwind or to combat stress/anxiety. Then, one day, I played a few of her songs while cleaning my room and the sun was shining through my window. (For those of you that don’t know me as well… it’s rain that normally feeds my writing energy, not sunshine. I’ve often said that I loath too many sunny days in a row). I don’t know how this moment gave me the motivation to think of new characters and further the plot of my novel – which is bleak and dark in most scenes, but it somehow did. I’m not sure what this says about my psyche right now, but whatever. I’ll embrace the artistic-driven euphoria while it lasts.I am about half-way through that outline I said I would work on a couple of weeks ago, but it’s progress! There’s just a lot of details to work out, so I am not going to rush it right now.
I guess I’m just always fascinated by the workings of a human’s mind, especially a creative writer’s mind. It can go from orderly to chaotic to melancholic to joyous all within the span of a couple of days. I guess it’s what needed to create spell-binding tales…
How about you? Have you ever felt strongly inspired to write during an unexpected or strange moment?
Hello writers and readers! Today I am going to talk about my writing projects and then share an excerpt from my most recent novel in progress.
Well, I’m happy to say that my newest novel has reached the 46,000 word mark today. Part One flowed amazingly well, but things get quite complicated in Part Two after one country invades another and I want to introduce some more characters — The Kings and Queens, the anarchists working undercover, etc.
Considering that the story is inspired by my four grandparents, WWII, violence in the world today, and just my usually weird mind… I have a feeling that I am going to need to give in & start an outline for Part Two. Sometimes, I can get away with writing as I go, or at least I think I can. Maybe it’s all just a figment of my imagination that being a “pantster” works for me. Maybe the whole writing process would be much easier if I always just created an outline first.
I would realistically like to have the first draft complete by this summer. Let’s say by June. I’m just so excited about it because it will be the very first full length book that I have ever written! And I want it to be the best that it can be. If it takes five years to polish up, edit, re-edit, and re-write before publishing, then so be it! Also, I really need to think of a working title.
An excerpt from this story is at the end. Based on my Grandma Maylard’s character. Comments – whether they are criticisms or praises – are always welcome.
The Short Story
I completed a short story back in the spring that is very close to my heart. I thought it was in that “ready to go” stage, but my amazing beta reader showed me otherwise. Honestly, the most important people in your writing career are going to be your beta readers. He picked up that my supporting character seemed a little weak (A prop) and he also noticed a lot of plot holes in the story.
You see, with short stories you really can’t skimp on the complexity of the characters and all the details that make it worth being a short story. In my mind, all of the details are there, but sometimes I think I can be a little light with description and too heavy on the adverbs.
It’s funny how writing mistakes seem so blatant when someone else points them out, but before that you could have read over it another 25 times and you still wouldn’t see it. Alas, I am excited to get into the nitty gritty of that story in due time.
So, there will be a lot of editing and adding to it over the next few months as well. My goal is to have it polished, beta read, and edited by this summer.
Yes, I’m actually going to write a story about… *Awkward moment alert*… me! Of course, I’m not going to make it blatant that this book is an actual autobiography. Me and the characters will have slightly distorted names and the setting is going to be quite whimsical and fantastical, but it will indeed be based on my life. Half of my living moments are spent in fantasy worlds anyway, so I thought it would be fitting to write the story of my life set in a different realm. People that know me will likely be able to piece certain things together and figure most of it out.
I’ll be working at it here and there, whenever the inspiration strikes.
Helena climbed onto the fence that lined the road to watch the marching soldiers. The time had come for them to leave the safety of their training camp and sail for Nesi. Many were not much older than she was, yet they were in such a hurry to fight as though death could never touch them. She knew all too well that no one was safe from mortality’s kiss of betrayal.
Remembering a document of her father’s that she had read over a year ago about the superior weaponry and fighting tactics used by the Nesins, she felt guilty for pitying herself earlier. If she were a boy, she might have become a soldier in a couple of years rather than continue to work as a miner. She shuddered at the idea of running through a volley of arrows or trying to escape from an enemy much bigger and more skilled than she. Perhaps the mines were not so terrible, after all.
The line of fighters came to an end. She watched as the last of them disappeared into the forest. Perhaps never to be seen in their own country again.
“You are an optimistic, nice girl. Where does all this dark stuff come from?” said a co-worker of mine four years ago, after I told him about the sort of things I write about.
Some of my stories wouldn’t be described as pure horror, but all of them contain significant elements of it within them. So, what does make people want to write books that contain graphic and horrific content? It’s probably not what you think.
I am speaking for myself. Maybe other writers will disagree, but this is how I feel about writing horror.
Horror’s sole purpose is not, or should not, be to simply scare the hell out of people. Good horror writing’s intent should be to send a message, to make people think. To use the negative events to set ideas to flight.
There will always be the torture porn and the mindless “Scare them. Kill them. The End!” stuff, but obviously there is not a lot of craft in that. Imagination? Yes. Skill? Not really.
Like any other book genre, a well-written horror story should contain fleshed-out, complex characters (That you will actually care about when they, um, die, or when they suffer from some other terrible outcome) and a well thought out plot (Or, at least a sensible one!). It also needs a unique idea to set it apart from all of the other horror books that have been written in times past.
I’m not going to say that writers who partake in the art of horror writing don’t have messed up, even twisted imaginations (Because we actually do). Perhaps a concept formed in a writer’s mind as a result of some tragic experience, or from reading or hearing about one. Other times, a writer will look inside of themselves and write out some of their worst fears. All of us are afraid of something, and sometimes what we think are irrational or strange fears, turn out to be more widely regarded as scary than we thought.
Writers, if you want to pen a truly terrifying tale, you’re going to have to dig deep into your own psyche to explore your own anxieties and those nightmares that you’ve tried to forget. Writing always needs to be honest, from the heart. Otherwise, the story will seem forced. Forced is boring. And peoples’ attention spans are short enough as it is.
A lot of my stories contain horror elements in them in large part because the antidote to horror is, essentially, hope. I just love the satisfaction of a character overcoming obstacles of a more dramatic scale. I don’t receive much enjoyment from writing romance, because it’s just too simple and linear for me. I want the character to experience a lot of hardships, go on a journey or two, and then develop as an individual. If there is a hint of romance in my books, it will be destroyed at some point.
Sometimes, characters will need to die in order for a point to come across or for the message to really settle into the reader’s heart. While many things do work out for the better in life, sometimes things do not get better. They get worse. Why do they get worse? Because of “evil” in the world – the diseases, the corrupted world leaders, the warfare, the natural disasters, the rape culture, etc.
Horror asks the gripping question: Who will win – the evil forces or the main characters? Hope or fear? Violence or peace? And, why did they win?
Most of my more recent works have an anti-war or anti-violence theme. Ironically, one needs to show the terrible effects of pain, brutality, and lost lives in a story in order for the message to have a full impact. Show people what life in a third world country entails for a young girl. Emphasize the atrocities and their effects on those people who are subject to war crimes, human trafficking, starvation, cruelty… whatever it is!
Suzanne Collins did not write The Hunger Games, a dystopian novel, with the intent of glorifying violence. She showed the tragedy of teenagers forced to kill one another in a sick game of survival as a symbolism for today’s violence-accepting world.
Many genres have horror components in them. Fantasy, thrillers, dramas, etc. can contain their fair share of the nitty gritty reality in the world.
My opinion is that writing containing horror is an excellent way to tell a lesson or a truth. Often when I have something very bold to say, my writing inevitably channels into the realm of horror.
(Credit: Journey’s End By Jay Epperson) Well, it’s the last day of October. I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo, but what I will do is focus on my current work in progress. It is a fantasy tale centered around four … Continue reading
There seems to be some pressure out there from literary agents, publishers, readers, and even other authors to stick with one genre. The reason is that it could possibly confuse or frustrate your book following if you publish a young … Continue reading
I really like Fast Company’s website, especially Co.Create. Of course, right? You can always find inspiring and informative stories as well as practical advice to become more efficient at your brand or your skill.
So, I found an article all you writers out there will appreciate. Today I was happy to have stumbled upon an article called “The Science of Storytelling.” by Jonathan Gottschall.
The author of the article writes:
“…stories aren’t just fun escapism–they have an almost spooky ability to mold our thinking and behavior. In this post, I’ll describe the science behind the attention-seizing power of stories, leaving their molding power for a follow-up post.”
It’s true. Of course we read a book or watch something on the TV to escape from our real world of work and chores and failed social interactions (Sorry, had to add that one in), but what happens to us as our mind enters into a story and its characters is so much more. We literally become part of the story.
Get ready for this one! Further in the article, he says:
“But when absorbed in a good story–when we watch a show like Breaking Bad or read a novel like The Hunger Games–we experience approximately zero daydreams per hour. Our hyper minds go still and they pay close attention, often for hours on end. This is really very impressive. What it means is that story acts like a drug that reliably lulls us into an altered state of consciousness.”
Storytelling is really very powerful, isn’t it? The way a good book or an intense film can mould your mood and spike your thinking process is really quite amazing. We become stressed, afraid, joyful, upset, etc. as we follow the fictional life of a character. We really do live through the eyes of the main character in a book, show, or movie.
I also find that while writing fiction, I don’t find the process to be relaxing at all. It feels as though I have become the characters, and I will develop goosebumps during a scary scene or I will often shed tears if one of the characters I have loved and nurtured in my imagination dies. Sometimes, I need to sit back and take a sip of tea to remove myself from the intensity of being so involved in an alternate world.
This also reminds writers how cool it is to think that other people reading your work will also feel such emotions simply because their brain is wired to tune in to a story and become so engrossed into the tale that they lose track of reality. I love it!
So, writers, what do you think of this article? Do tell.
I’ve been typing away at several different works in progress over the summer and I realized that I really need to set some definite goals. The worst thing is, I haven’t even begun writing my sequel to Followed yet! But I have two other books nearly finished, plus a second short story that is nearly ready to go.
You can tell that I am a panster to the core, eh?
So, this is what I hope to achieve before the snow falls. (I’m in Alberta, so this might occur in mid-October).
Start writing the sequel to Followed (I have the ideas down, now I just need to bring them into existence).
Finish my novella, Frozen
Publish my short story, Eve and Adam
There! It feels much more manageable seeing it typed out so simply. I have a lot of other works in progress but I think that I really need to buckle down and focus on these three stories.
So, what are your writing goals for the fall? Any publishing plans on the horizon? New works being started? Perhaps editing is your main focus? Do tell.
The feel of your hand sliding across the page as you pen the words birthed from your imagination. Seeing a story handwritten in a notebook is an art in its own way. Watching your ideas and characters form into sentences by your own hand is simply breathtaking.
Writing in a notebook allows you to travel anywhere and sit in the most interesting places that might be awkward if you carried a laptop. Of course, writing on a computer is certainly poetic as well, as writing is writing. But one cannot compare the magic that takes place as the writer pens her or his heart out onto the page as they lean against a tall oak tree or sit upon a rock at the top of a mountain.
I like the idea of writing to change a certain aspect of something that is wrong with the world.
“You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” – James Baldwin
I know creative writers create stories out of inspiration, but I love the idea of writing to help people or to challenge a current way of life that hurts people. Hunger Games, for example, challenges us to think about the horrors of violence and war. Collins was actually inspired to write the three books from her time watching news footage in the Vietnam War with her dad.
I want to write about many things. I want stories to challenge bullying, religious/cultural ideals that hurt people (Namely, women, gays, etc.), war, violence, prejudice.
When you write, are there issues that you want to address within your tale that allow people to think outside of their immediate world? Do tell!
I have always wondered how to properly convey an accent or dialect in writing without sounding too over the top. I stumbled upon the Bookshelf Muse blog where it is so amazingly explained. It is so simple that I almost smacked my head reading through it. Haha.
Basically, you do not need to figure out how to write how a sentence would sound in Irish (For example) within the dialogue portions of a story. You can describe the character’s background and how they sound when they speak in a sentence or two to tip the reader off. Pretty cool!
So, writers, what are your thoughts on this? Happy writing!