Tag: Creative Writing

How NOT to Write a Horror Story –

How NOT to Write a Horror Story –

What I’ve Learned So Far –

For more than seven years I’ve been working on this one horror story, off and on. It’s a story that shows great promise. Truly remarkable and unforgettable characters, one of which scares me witless, but for the life of me, I cannot get this story right.

This morning, I decided that there are a few things I’ve learned from trying to write this story, especially after publishing three others during the time I’ve been working on this one:

  1. Every story is different –

    What works for one story, does not necessarily work for another and as a writer, I must be honest enough with myself to recognize that.

  2. As a writer, I must face my fears –

    Especially while writing horror and, in this case, my fear is my antagonist. While interviewing him before writing this story, he truly unnerved me and unfortunately, I believe at some point, I chickened out.

  3. Don’t listen to other people’s well meaning advice –

    Wait, before you go off the deep end, allow me to clarify. Yes, some writing advice is good and noteworthy. But in the case of your story, no one knows your story better than you do, even if it’s still inside your head and in this particular case, part of it was research.

    In the original story, the focus was on Native Americans, Apaches to be exact, and during a research trip I interviewed a so-called Apache expert on the reservation near Flagstaff. The result of this bound me up creatively so bad that I scrapped the story.

    The other problem I had was taking the story to two different writers’ groups over the years, both of which were helpful in one fashion, but totally confusing in another. So, I put the story on the back burner to “cook” some more.

    In the meantime, I tried changing the layout of the story, adding a prologue, taking away the prologue, because prologues are “bad” right? I’m laughing now, but not then. Then to make the story fit I added two more scenes completely changing the dynamics to fit the new story. Sheesh! Crazy stuff…

  4. When all else fails, rewrite –

    Which is what I am now preparing to do. The first seventeen pages are great and then I get off track. So, that’s where I hope to pick up this afternoon. Sound be interesting as I’m working on the Esme Bohlin series this morning.

  5. Relax. Meditate. But, whatever you do, stay true –

    To your characters and your story. Maybe that’s how Stephen King does it?

    I don’t know. Yeah, I’ve read On Writing, maybe I need to reread it.

    Bottom line, in the process of writing the first version of my story, I knew I’d lost my antagonist somewhere along the way, but had no idea where. Then, to make matters worse, I made him into a love-obsessed “clown.” Maybe he really is a clown…

    Nah, he’s a seven-foot effin’ bone-obsessed, angry, red-eyed dude that can scare people into sticking knifes in their bodies… He’s definitely no clown!

    (Disclaimer – this is in absolutely NO reference to Pennywise in Stephen King’s IT, even though he really was more than just a clown.)

    Venting Over –

    Okay, thanks for listening. Now onto writing and rewriting and hopefully I’ll finally get this horror story done…hopefully, this year. Of course, if you find me with a long, sharp knife sticking out of my chest, you’ll know why.

    As for the picture above, yeah, there’s definitely a cave involved…

 

About Writing, One Should Never

About Writing, One Should Never

Tweet or Comment While Writing…

Because one just never knows who’s in the driver’s seat –

When I started writing this morning, this great quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald appeared on my desktop. Seconds before, I had vowed to stay off social media and get serious about finishing my novel in progress. When I saw this quote I realized the wisdom of my decision.

I mean with all these characters running around inside my head, I never know who’s tweeting or commenting. And to be honest, some of “them” are just plain scary…

A good example would be from my novel, MY FATHER’S MAGIC..
Would you really want this guy to respond to your post?

“Hmm, yes. Fear me, Esme. Good, be very afraid.” His voice seemed to vibrate.

What is he doing? He sounds like— What the—

Okay, Esme, calm down. This isn’t good. Panicking won’t help. Deep breath. Okay, what is the last thing you remember? I was at the penthouse, trying to find my father’s—

No. Not the Book of Spells. If Geoff has that book—

I’m not a praying person, but at that moment I prayed to whatever powers existed, please save me. In the background, I could hear heavy breathing and that squeaking noise Geoff makes when—

Or what about?

“Natasha.” The harsh, graveled voice confirmed my worst fears as I turned to face the drooling mass before me. “What have you been up to, Natasha? I could taste your emotions from down the hall.”

I will not be afraid. I will not be afraid. I will not—

Would you really want either of these two villains responding to your tweets or Facebook posts?

I mean, this guy (below) has responded for me in the past and I had some serious explaining to do afterward:

From my upcoming novel, working title REVENGE:

“With that I heard a chirp, much like I once heard a parakeet do in a pet shop. I glanced over at the large onyx eyes. “Was that you?” My eyes once more on the road, I switched lanes to pass a truck, another chirp and telepathically I heard, “Yes.”

“Wow, you are full of surprises. Aren’t you?” Another chirp made me smile. I was glad for the company.

Nothing like a little “chirping” to your friends…

 

 

 

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

As my study of the horror genre continues, next stop, THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE…

When I was in Junior High, like most eighth graders, I read Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery.” To this day, Ms. Jackson’s visuals are permanent etchings upon the haunted corridors of my mind. The fear upon Tessie Hutchinson’s face, previously so cocky, so full of bravado now shattered beneath the grim realization that it is her life that is in jeopardy. Honestly, I need to go back and read that story again.

But no true fan or determined writer of scary stories, should leave The Haunting of Hill House off their syllabus of must reads. After not being able to find a copy of Ms. Jackson’s, dare I say, “haunting” masterpiece for so long, I was finally able to locate and read the story of Hill House.

Like my memories of The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, is a very clever and suspenseful tale. I won’t go into details or elaborate, no doubt that’s been done, re-done and over done.

 

No, what struck me about the story, more than anything was how the two young woman, Theodora and Eleanor bonded that first day, two complete strangers forming an alliance against the unknown.

Then through the course of the story, how their relationship slowly and purposefully unraveled. But who was the cause of this unraveling? Was it one of the women? Perhaps. Maybe Theodora in her flighty shallowness or Eleanor in her insecurity. But, better yet, maybe the house itself caused the unraveling of their friendship or as the Doctor so eloquently stated, “Divide and conquer.”

From the beginning, you know something terrible is going to happen. The author has set the stage perfectly, pulling you in gradually page by page. And then there’s the pounding, the knocking on doors and walls, but is the noise real or just the imagination or imaginations of the four visitors. There is even a point where Eleanor seems to be the only one hearing “things.”

What was so amazing to me about The Haunting of Hill House was how one minute I, as the reader, wanted to slam the book shut (can you do that with a paperback) and run for the proverbial hills and the next, because Ms. Jackson’s characters are so enticing, I had to read more. She orchestrated her highs of intense anxiety and lulls of engaging verbal frolic between the house guests perfectly. And then, as the suspense rose to its climax, two more characters, outsiders, were thrown in, and I felt compelled to defend the actions of the original four. Well done!

Oh, and I must ad, as Eleanor is pushed into the vehicle at the end, I actually felt her fear of the future, her sense of abandonment and betrayal. I didn’t want her to leave.

Was The Haunting of Hill House the most brilliant book I’ve ever read? No, but it was certainly one of the most clever.

 

Amie Irene Winters, Author of Strange Luck and The Nightmare Birds

Amie Irene Winters, Author of Strange Luck and The Nightmare Birds

Our guest for today, Amie Irene Winters, author of bestselling novels, Strange Luck, and Nightmare Birds.

Amie, congratulations on becoming an Amazon Bestseller! If you had one word of advice for struggling writers, what would it be?

Thank you! It was a long-time goal of mine and it feels very strange now that it’s finally happened.

Here’s my best advice for struggling authors:

  • Don’t ever give up writing! It’s okay to take breaks from your book. It’s normal to feel burned out. It’s normal to be upset if you get a rejection or bad review. The good news is that it does get easier with time and experience. At the end of the day the most important thing is focusing on your craft.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Every author and book is unique, so one type of marketing technique might work for one author, but not another. It’s all trial and error. Just don’t get too caught up in the marketing and repeatedly changing things. Writing a stellar book should be your number one priority.

I was privileged to recently read Strange Luck, a fun, truly unique and original tale. What I found the most striking was the Darling shop for haunted “junk.” There has to be a real-life story behind this idea. Please tell!

I’m so glad you enjoyed Strange Luck! Yes, there is a real-life story behind it. That being…I love to antique! My antiquing addiction started when I was a little girl and my parents would take me to garage sales and antique fairs. Oh, the wondrous things I would see and learn! Each object was a unique piece of history, and sometimes the story was more intriguing than the actual antique.

A lot of the antiques in the Strange Luck shop were inspired by real things I’ve seen or read about over the years. For example, the fortune-telling cricket is real! Well, sort of. Growing up, my parents had a little cricket statue in our living room. When I got older, I asked where it had come from and my mom told me it was given to her by my great grandma who said it would bring their home good luck. I always thought that was neat, so when it came time for me to live in a house of my own, my mom gave me the cricket. Since then, it’s traveled across the country with me and it currently resides in my living room.

You can learn more about some of the peculiar antiques of Strange Luck here: http://www.amieirenewinters.com/antiquesofstrangeluck.html

–  Fascinating! Being a lover of owls, I especially like the owl clock.

I read in your bio that you have a Masters Degree in Environmental Leadership, my immediate thought was, “Wow, such a big step from that to writing,” but as I think back at the fantastical adventure in Strange Luck, I have to ask, “How did your background influence your writing?”

Yes, it was certainly a leap, but the experience has definitely influenced my writing. They say to “write what you know”. Since I’m an outdoorsy girl, I found it easy for my protagonist to be one, too. Daisy’s a bit of a tomboy who loves hiking and camping. The trails she hikes and places she goes are based on some of my favorite real-life places in California.

With that in mind, do you ever write outside? And if so, do you have a favorite place to write?

Not really. I’ve found it difficult to find a good spot that isn’t distracting. I also primarily work on my laptop, so I’m always battling with the glare from the sun. Occasionally I’ll write ideas in my notebook outside, but that’s only during the beginning stages of drafting a book.

I believe you’ve written a sequel to Strange Luck, “The Nightmare Birds.” The description on your website looks enticing. What can you tell us about the book and where do you see your series going from here?

Yes. There are three books planned in the Strange Luck series. In Book I, Strange Luck, eighteen-year-old Daisy Darling uncovers a world built using stolen memories.  It is in this world that Daisy discovers that she possesses unexplainable and unique abilities that she uses to battle the dark forces at play.

Book II, The Nightmare Birds, flashes forward to Daisy at twenty-one-years-old and uncovers more of her strange abilities and how they tie in to her heritage. In the process, Daisy uncovers the truth about the mysterious Theater of Secrets – long thought a dark legend by many, but known as a frightening reality to those who truly know its powers.  As Daisy assumes her new role as ringleader, she not only discovers a surprising connection between herself and the previous ringleader, but also the haunting truth behind the theater’s limitless power.

I’m working on Book III, A Darling Secret, right now. It’s expected to be released in winter 2017. You can sign up for my newsletter here to be notified about new book releases and special promos.

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00XZ88V5A

Blog: https://golden-cricket.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aiwinters

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13851542.Amie_Irene_Winters

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amieiwinters/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmieIWinters

Website: http://www.amieirenewinters.com

 

Amie, thanks so much for joining us today. It was truly a pleasure, and best of luck with your writing. I look forward to reading Nightmare Birds. Such an amazing cover!

And to my readers, thanks so much for joining us here on “Please Welcome!” Again, our guest today was Author Amie Irene Winters. Her books are available in both ebook and paperback format. Check out “Strange Luck” you’ll be glad you did!

Our guest next time on “Please Welcome!” will be SJ Hermann, author of the Morium Trilogy and my personal favorite, Splintered Love.

 

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Originally posted January 17, 2010

One of the requirements of my horror-writing education is to read every story listed on pages 18 – 22 of ON WRITING HORROR by the Horror Writers Association

ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin is on this list.

As a child sitting on the sofa between my two older sisters and often through the cracks between my fingers, I watched the movie ROSEMARY’S BABY. To this day I still have a vivid recollection of semi-naked old people and the black bassinet that gave me nightmares for weeks to come. But, in spite of those memories, I was determined to fulfill my horror-education requirements. So, yes, not only did I read the book, but I loved it.

Ira Levin is truly one of the greatest writers I have ever read. He has the rare gift of horrifying you one minute and making you laugh hysterically the next. In truth, as I sit here, six years later, revising this blog post, Rosemary’s Baby is still on of my favorite books of any genre and one I am sure I will read again and again.

Mr. Levin’s main character, Rosemary Woodhouse, is a naive mid-western Catholic girl transplanted into the big city with her actor husband. As in all good suspense stories, there were subtle clues dropped here and there as the story unfolded. Rosemary was everything a woman in her situation should have been. The rape scene midway through the book was intense, the result of ultimate betrayal by her devious husband.

Ira Levin wrote his story at a time when everything was in question, including religion. Mr. Levin accurately portrayed society’s mindset during the 1960s with a conclusion grounded in the most basic of human relationships, the bond between a mother and her child.

On a personal note, I think reading Stephen King’s Introduction, though profoundly well-written, may have been too in-depth a read prior to the story itself.  Because the information given was so complete I do not believe I enjoyed the story as much as I may have if I had read the story first before the Introduction.

Other books on the list from ON WRITING HORROR:

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

I AM LEGEND and HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson

….and many others

Never Settle for Second Best

Never Settle for Second Best

Years ago, at seventeen, I sought an outlet. Something, anything, that would allow me to give voice to my thoughts, a way to “visualize” the pictures and the “movies,” that ran through my head. The medium I chose was what came naturally to me, words.

With words I could paint a picture, with words I could share my thoughts, my ideas and explore the unknown universe within my mind…with words I could stretch and expand my creativity, thus providing the outlet I so badly needed.

…and so, a love affair began, my love affair with words.

Today, I was reminded of why I can never settle for second best when it comes to my own creativity. This movie, this delightful and entertaining movie, Words & Pictures, reminded me of why I started writing. It reminded of that innermost desire to paint with words.

My Narrow Escape from Life Inside a Box

My Narrow Escape from Life Inside a Box

I dreamed of you last night,
This time it was her heart
You broke, not mine, and
I… I no longer wanted you,

Did I still love you?
Yes, that much remained
But you, you were tainted, and
I… I no longer trusted you,

Were you ever true? Or
Was I an escape, a reprieve
From a box guilt and
Religion chose for you?

How strange it was to see you
The man I once esteemed,
Now stuck…inside that box,
The same box I once climbed into,

I laugh at the reality, You
Always were so different, Content
To follow rules society, the church
Dictated, A life I could never live,

Thank you for “discarding” me…
I am free, free to thrive
While you remain… Forever
Tucked inside your box.

difficult-roads

The Other Side of the Ocean

The Other Side of the Ocean

I’ve been reading my aunt’s book, “The Other Side of the Ocean.” Her words so fresh, so alive, I feel a newfound sense of who my grandparents were (my American grandmother and German grandfather, both pacifists) during a time of turmoil and “madness” in their beloved Germany. 
Upon the first mention of Hitler and what would later become his Nazi party, shocks ran up my arm as a sense of foreboding enveloped me. Until that point, the story, which chronicles the lives of my grandparents and their young family from 1899 until 1946, had been full of hopeful aspirations. It had been a love story. But as the reality of life outside their marriage began to change, the strain was reflected in my grandmother’s letters to her family in the States.
Nine years before the start of World War II, was the first mention of Hitler in the book. Under his leadership, his fledgling NSDAP party gained 107 seats in the German Parliament. Germany became torn between three political parties, the Social Democrats, the Communists and the National Socialists (NSDAP.) History tells us who became the victors in that struggle. What it seems to overlook is that as early as 1931, it was dangerous to publicly voice opinions contrary to Hitler’s party.
My Grandmother – Ellen Hayes Schulz
 
January 1933, Hitler became the German Chancellor. By the end of March, up to six thousand Social Democrats, Communists, trade union officials, heads of radio stations and newspaper columnists were arrested. On April 1st, Hitler declared a boycott of Jewish businesses, but then cancelled it due to negative international press.
 
One of Hitler’s first new laws was the, “Law for Restoration of the Civil Service and Aryan Clause.” Under it former Social Democrats, former Communists, and Jews lost their right to teach in public schools. My grandfather lost his job and his status as a civil servant.
My Grandfather – Paul Schulz
During all of this, my young grandparents were raising a family. My mother was born in 1928, her sister, Barbara, in 1929, and two more sisters (Sonia and Gudrun) were born years later in the 1930s. All this turmoil and still life, somehow, went on…
My mother, Kathleen, and her sister, Barbara (Author)
Sharing Our Hidden Secrets, The Ultimate Vulnerability

Sharing Our Hidden Secrets, The Ultimate Vulnerability

Our secrets, the ones we keep hidden too afraid to reveal to even our closest friends, can be our greatest stumbling blocks. There’s a part of us that yearns to be free from our emotional pain, if only a safe, empathetic avenue of exposure could be found. But reveal our secrets to friends and, even worse, strangers? Surely that is the hardest act of bravery an author could ever do! Be Original

I applaud those who are that brave, unafraid to expose their deepest, most life-shattering revelations. But what about the rest of us? We need that release just as much. We need the knots to become unwound. We need the wound to be open to fresh air and in doing so, we too can heal.

To poor souls like me, I say one word…FICTION.

If our secrets are too profound, if our memories are too hurtful to ourselves or others, why not write in such a manner that allows us to reveal the pain, yet not expose our reality? That is the path other authors have followed and for them it has been most healing….and just between us, it is the path I took while writing my novel, My Father’s Magic.

My-Fathers-Magic-minThough Esme and her world are not direct reflections of my own, I used my personal memories of childhood trauma, separation anxiety and rape as fodder for the more traumatic parts of her story. Also, my own deep desire to be closer to my mentally ill mother was a key component in Esme’s relationship with her mother. The path I took in writing this novel allowed my inner pain to be handled in smaller doses and to expose my own memories at a safe distance rather than up close and personal.

Regardless of your choice, nonfiction or fiction, to all of my fellow writers I offer a warm smile and an empathetic, “Peace be with you.” And remember, we are all on this journey together and though revisiting our memories can be a dark and scary place, please know that with the love and comfort of friends, we can get through it and be the better for it on the other side.

As always thank you for reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

We are all in this together...

close

Did you enjoy your visit? Please spread the word

EMAIL
Pinterest
Pinterest
Tumblr
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
http://ingridfoster.com/tag/creative-writing
RSS
LINKEDIN
SOCIALICON