But it's not Kevin either. At some point I'll do a Being an Author about this. It's like the wall, it needs fighting past. You see, working mostly with shorts, sometimes I pump out so much work, that eventually the ideas just dry up. I can still write (I'm writing this aren't I?), but I don't have a great idea... not right now... not staring at me screaming write me!
So I start writing something. I've done a thousand works. I'll keep hitting my head on the idea (you know, when I'm eating fried chicken), two thousand words...
Consider this a ramble. I just had to say something. Now? Well, I'm going back to writing...
So you're the puppet master right? Yeah, it's cool pulling strings. But I'm talking about real people... no, not them, not the people that you see when you're out buying whiskey and fried chicken (the only reasons that I have found to actually go into the daylight). No, they're faceless drones. You have no control over them. I'm talking about the people whose strings you can pull. Your characters.
I know it's easy to say, "Well, what would I do in that situation?" But there is a problem with that. Ask yourself this... Does your story have five main characters? Yes? Are they all clones? No? Well they won't all act the same then, will they?
Even in shorts you still need to grow characters, and don't get me started on novelisation. Look at King. His characters are built like they are uncontrolled in a universe with un-faced god. That's a good thing. They are all coherent, uniquely minded individuals. Are yours?
Put plainly and in a sense that I think everyone will understand, look at Scooby Doo (No, the cartoon, not the film). Whilst we can all say that the cast are stereotype types, they are all different. Does Shaggy behave like Velma? No. Even in the unspoken subtext we know that Shaggy is a doped up drug addict coward who talks to dogs. Velma, not so much.
Allow that seed to grow.
Do you create characters that are as - if not more - individual than a childrens cartoon? If not, you may have to flesh them out more. Now I know that you're saying how difficult that is in a piece of maybe 8000 words. True. I know. But it does need to be done.
Your little puppets need two things. They need to behave differently, and they they need to speak differently. (I know, in some shorts it's difficult to get them to behave differently in the enclosed story. But please give them different personallities.)
We've all had it, haven't we? "So where do you get your ideas from?"
And there's the standard reply, "An author looks at what's around them, listens, and takes their ideas from the world that they see."
Pah! I call tosh! These people that believe this to be true, what are they, romance novelists? Celebrity Biographers? I'll tell you what they're not. Horror writers. If I was taking my inspiration from the world around me - with the crazy, off-the-wall, batty as fruit bats, bonkers horrorathons that I write - I wouldn't be here. I'd be locked away somewhere, and better off for it. In Static Movement's The Cedar Chest my opening lines describe a scientist stitching the corpses of his whole family back together, in an attempt to reanimate them. (It's called Family Union. Can you see what I did there?) Yeah, I heard someone talking about that on the bus one day, and thought I'd make a story out of it. (True story)
So anyway, horror writing. Another standard answer: Write what scares you. (You, not me. You don't know what scares me - it's hamsters with x-ray vision and rocket launchers. I dread the day they take over. All hail our new dolphin overlords.)
So where do I get my ideas from? That's easy. Nowhere. What I mean is, well, I just sort of get them, mostly, but I'll come to that in a minute.
See, when I'm writing horror - which is most of the time - my stories don't scare me. Mostly because I either know what's coming, or I want something to happen. Let's say that I can only write what scares me. How many x-ray visioned, tooled up hamster stories can I truly write? So I write what disturbs me. There is actually a vast difference.
So having discarded my hamster story as slightly stupid and not very likely to scare a four year old, I have to move on. The disturbing is much easier to grip. I find the concept of hell disturbing. I'm not saying that it scares me, or indeed whether I believe in it or not, but hell, look at it. Burning bodies, the devil, sorry I could go on, but I'm not your muse, so, etc. It's disturbing. Write it.
Spiders? Scared of them? No? Well make them eight foot tall with killer hamsters glued to their backs. Now it's disturbing. See? Write what disturbs you - not what scares you.
Anyway, so what happens when you have no ideas? Some people will say, Ha! Writers block! No. It's just that I'm not really in the right frame of mind. When this happens you need a go-to-guy. If you haven't got one, get one. (I've got two)
So, I've got two go-to-guys (they don't have to be guys, just non-vegetitive sentients). One helps me with grammar and the other stuff I suck at, and the other, story flow and on occassion, ideas. I'll say 'prompt me' and he'll blurt out 'vampire zombies fighting alien werewolves' and then we'll both laugh. But it's a catalyst. Vampire Zombies? It could work.
It's no different than a open call from a press asking for, I dunno, stories about one legged ninjas.
So I've rambled. Again if you don't like it, comment.
So yeah, I've decided to ramble about being an author under the guise of Being an Author. I know it shortens to baa. I can't be bothered to change it now. (I know you're thinking that I've got a thing for sheep)
So I've decided to start with 'How To Write'. Now I know that most of you reading this will fall into one of two camps. Either you are an author, or you want to be an author. So you're probably thinking, Hell, you're going to do the whole of how to write in one post? Wow. That's impressive, what a guy. You'd be right of course, but not about the subject.
We all write differently, but in some way, we all write the same way (zen, I know). No really. You wanted to be an author (or a writer, or whatever you want to call it... keyboard fondler) at some time, and decided to sit at a keyboard/pick up a pen/crayon and actually put those first tentative words down. That's where we're all the same. We write. It's what we do. The names in the title.
Aargh! No! Not that one again! I know, I know, well calm down. I've seen all the people that say if you really are a writer, then you have to write, and well, they're right. Thing is, no matter who says what, sometimes you either have no inclination to write, or hell, just don't have time. No matter what they say, sometimes you do just run out of hours.
What they should be saying, is that if you are looking for a reason not to write, or you find yourself day after day saying that you're too tired or whatever. Then honestly? It maybe time to hang up the keyboard and go back to playing Minecraft. I've had times like that. I don't know if I was too tired to write, but I just didn't want to. After three months of writing three thousand words a day - seven days a week - and yes, I do have a full time job as well, maybe I was just burnt out. Maybe. These days I just timetable myself an hour. I try my hardest to fill that hour with nothing but writing, and if I go over, I go over. And really. If you miss a day, it's not the end of the world. (Unless you're on a deadline - then it maybe, but that's your problem.)
Your Writing Changes.
It does. When I first started writing horror I thought that what I had seen in the movies was a great starting point... it is, but it's not. Take my old friend Freddy. Making a madman like that might translate to the written word - it may not. The only way to know is to try. (Yes. Some of your writing will blow chucks and suck poop. It happens.)
Thing is, as you find your own way, you'll naturally find a curve that you fit in. It most likely won't be what it was when you started, and hey, you might not have been expecting it, but when you hit it, everything changes. I'm not going into what, but you'll know when it happens.
Right. That's all I'm saying for now. If you disagree, comment on it, and we'll argue (constructively of course and hopefully not when I'm halfway down a bottle of something - my arguments may be flawed in that case). I'll be back with something else earth shattering to say soon, so 'til next time...
What can I say, it's been busy. Now I'm not saying that 'it' has gone away, so whilst I will attempt brevity - and most probably fail in the most faily failing type way - I thought that I'd just check in.
So yeah, I've finished another one of Laymon's books - this time the collection Fiends. I don't want any spoilers in here, so I'll be brief again.
The first one hundred pages of this one is the Novella Fiends. It's a good read, a little complex, but broken down into a mountain of tiny chapters (- chapettes?).
After that you get a further couple of hundred pages of typical Laymon shorts. They're wickedly creepy. If you want to be scared, you want to poop your pants, read it. Having been a fan of the likes of King and Barker my whole life - and I'm ashamed to admit to having never heard of Laymon until six months ago - he's good. I mean real good.
Talking of Wicked...
Jeeps, I'm behind on my stuff big time...
Okay, first up to the table is Hannibal's Manor, available at the Pill Hill Press Shoppe:
And I've had a couple of acceptances. Firstly, I have had my story Alice in Monsterland accpeted for Wicked East Press's Halloween Frights, and Inc. for Tales of Terror and Mayhem from Deep Within the Box from a collaboration between Wicked East and Hidden Thoughts.
So... me? I thought you'd never ask. I'm fine. Working my butt off on 'it', and of course the other project that I have been approached to do, so that's another 'it', and then there was talk of a third 'it'. Who knows?
So I'm off, I got to do some writing. I'll be back though, I thought I might follow up How Not to Write Horror, with something along the lines of the Misconceptions of being an Author. I might title it, Stop asking me where I get my ideas...