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GP: The Joys of Writing Styles by Nthato Morakabi

I had the privilege of being a guest blogger on The Eternal Scribe site. Here’s the post. Enjoy 🙂

eternal scribbler

This week’s guest poster is the wonderful Nthato Morakabi who discusses the concept of writing styles.  Enjoy! 

authorpicTITLEThe Joys of Writing Styles

by Nthato Morakabi

Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert and China Mieville all have different writing styles. Pick up either of their books and that distinction is immediate.

Now imagine you could write a story as either of these authors and your readers couldn’t tell the difference.

That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? And what’s the distinction between all of them that sets them apart? If you read the title of this guest post then you will know the answer. That’s right, it’s writing style.

View original post 1,042 more words

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Genre Writing: Horror – Crafting a Character

In my writing, I’ve noticed that I spend a lot of time building worlds and using descriptive language to tell the story. The one thing that I have always lacked, and hope to improve, is my characters. I know I reference Stephen King a lot. Like a lot, but one thing I keep mentioning about his work is how well he does his characters. Long after I’ve read the book, I can still recall his characters.

Character Building

So how do you build the perfect character? That’s quite difficult to say, although there are fundamentals we can pick out. You can use these basics for any story, whether it’s horror or Sci-Fi, or Fantasy.

  • Individuality

A friend of mine (Nicky from Chasing Dreams Publishing) has some great ideas on how to craft characters readers will enjoy. The one thing I extracted from her post is making characters unique. This may seem like a given, and in your mind you may see them as individuals. It’s how you bring them across that is important. Things like how they speak (voice/tone), how they carry themselves (body language), and how they act.

  • Motivation/Conflict

Everyone around you wants something. A personal goal that keeps them ticking. It doesn’t have to be anything epic (find the special item of immeasurable power) or world domination. These goals and motivations define what is important to your characters and they will act accordingly. Then have something that conflicts with their goal whether it’s a person or a personal trait.

  • Character Flaws

Usually this tags along with some sort of cliche. The red-haired is feisty. The ex-cop is a drunk. The religious lady is a crazy zealot. Etc. Most flaws are a little less eccentric, but can be written to be the character’s downfall or lead to something believable yet out of character. For instance, in Dreamcatcher by Stephen King, the one character stopped picked up chewing on toothpicks to get over a bad habit. This later leads to a very fatal end when he’s in a strenuous situation and just needs his toothpick. NEEDS it.

My Protagonist

The innocent Jane/John Doe whose life is thrown into disarray after discovering an evil entity in their home/child/parent/school, feels over done. I’ve watched a lot of horror movie trailers (and movies) as well as read a couple of horror book blurbs with this sort of premise. While I don’t always shun cliches, this idea is boring for me.

To change it up, my protagonist won’t be an innocent, ordinary Jane/John Doe. Instead I have:

One-Who-Must-Overcome

Profile: Must appear innocent to characters in book yet reader must get a sense of a deeper darkness. A troubled past they have embraced. An uncertain future they wish to clarify and brighten. Broken and hopeful.

Conflict: What defines them is exactly what they want to change. A journey of self-discovery, with very difficult choices that contradict their goal even though it’s supposed to help.

Strengths and Flaws: Carefree attitude allows them to shrug off lots of things, while nursing a crippling fear of the “darkness” within them that forces them to shun people. Troubled past has grown and matured them mentally and emotionally to live an almost normal life, while a small part is mischievous and playful to reconnect to that lost past they wish to regain which causes issues.

Jake Chambers The Dark Tower Stephen King

Jake Chambers from Stephen King’s the Dark Tower is an interesting character, especially since he is quite young. Also, he fits this description well. Too well…

Look Around You

Last point. Be observant of the people around you. There are living, breathing characters right in your vicinity and could make wonderful additions and mixes to your story.

Wayward Children Trilogy – Recommendation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.


Oh my gosh I have never immediately fallen in love with a book series like I did with the Wayward Children series. I’m currently reading the third book “Beneath the Sugar Sky” and just love, love, love it!  I thought it would be like Miss Peregrine, but it’s not. It’s better.

New favourite author!


Seanan McGuire, author of the Toby Daye series (Rosemary and RueA Local HabitationAn Artificial NightLate Eclipses), as well as other works. She is also Mira Grant (www.miragrant.com), author of Feed and Deadline.

Born and raised in Northern California, she fears weather and is remarkably laid-back about rattlesnakes. Seanan watches too many horror movies, reads too many comic books, and shares her house with two monsters in feline form, Lilly and Alice (Siamese and Maine Coon).

Brother’s Ruin – Book Review

Title:
Brother’s Ruin

Author:
Emma Newman

Genre:
Historical/ Fantasy

Book procurement:
Received a copy for Gamecca Magazine from Tor.com.

Rating:

Fascinating 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.

Brother’s Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman.

Book Review:

First Thoughts

Well to be honest the novella had me at Gaslamp. I mean, I’m a big steampunk fan (next to horror) and when I think gaslamp and fantasy, I get excited. Especially with the interesting synopsis from the book. I was actually looking forward to it. Only it’s not really about the fantasy or the gaslamp or the mages in the end. It’s not even, really, about the brother either. Not completely.

The Story

We follow Charlotte Gunn, a multi-talented woman who must live her life as a “woman must be seen not heard” kind of world. She witnesses how mages are recruited by the Royal Society, at the same time understanding how many see being recruited as a privilege. When Benjamin, her brother, is deemed to be a mage, Charlotte does what she can to prove them right, hiding her own abilities. Only everything spirals out of control as secrets are spilled and it puts Charlotte, her family, and her city into jeopardy.

It’s a story of sacrifice. Of political intrigue. It’s drama as Charlotte tries to balance the conflicting forces in her life, especially when it comes to her family and the secrets that come to the fore. The story ends on a cliffhanger, which sets up the Industrial Magic series well.

 

 

Writing

 

The writing was great. Elegantly put down in a way that reflects Charlotte Gunn’s personality (and the fact that she’s a woman). The magic is fascinating, and the fantasy inspired Great Britain makes for a dark, twisted world.

We are introduced to Charlotte Gunn first. Immediately we get a sense that there is more to her than meets the eye. She’s a strong, independent woman effectively born in the wrong era. Or at least that’s what I get from the book. She has to live in false pretense because the world she lives in does not see women as very important. Makes sense considering the Victorian Era theme of the book.

Benjamin wants to do what is best for his family, wanting to protect his sister too. Only he has failing health which makes working difficult. So when the Royal Society wants to recruit him, he does what any guilt riddled brother would do. Accept.

The remaining characters in the story are also fascinating. Such as Doctor Ledbetter, Magus Hopkins and other well written characters in the book.

Final Thoughts

From a storytelling perspective, Brother’s Ruin is a great delve into the struggles of a powerful woman who is made less powerful by her situation. Where she hopes to overcome through sacrifice and determination.

The worldbuilding is great, and I was transported into that dark Victorian era where no one can be trusted.

The characters are all distinct and have been well written to reflect both the times and their situations. From the parents who just want the best and will do what they can, to the representatives of the  Royal Society.

No doubt I enjoyed it, and would definitely read the rest of the series.


Brother’s Ruin was published March 14th, 2017.

Did you know: Emma Newman is a professional audiobook narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast ‘Tea and Jeopardy’


Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com

Genre Writing: Horror – Crafting a Story

Coming up with a story can have varying origin facets. From a single word heard during a conversation, to a writing prompt or even a random thought sparked by the world around you. Inspiration comes in many forms after all. In this particular case, for my unnamed NaNoWriMo horror novel, inspiration has been hard to come by. And trust me, I’ve been trying everything.

So what does one do when inspiration doesn’t come knocking? Easy. You go knocking on inspirations door.


From Nothing to Something

When I was creating my NaNo novel in the dashboard, there were a few things to fill out. One of these was the synopsis. I had no idea what to write in there, so I put down the most basic premise of a horror:

There was a person and a creature and lots of people died horrible gruesome deaths.

Pretty simple right. I wasn’t even thinking too much about it when I wrote it down. However, after looking at it for some time, I picked up four fundamental elements in it:

  1. The “person” is the main protagonist.
  2. The “creature” is the antagonist
  3. The “lots of people died” is the progression of the story
  4. The “horrible gruesome deaths.” completes the horror aspect.

And you know what, most horror films follow this thread. They change the “person” (mother/father/caretaker/camp counselor/detective) but they are all effectively the same. They change the “creature” (evil entity/ghost/serial killer/haunted house) but they all play the same role. Lastly, this changes how “lots of people died” and what “horrible gruesome deaths” look like, but they still happen.

Inspiration

There are various ways that one can tackle the great plague known as “Lack of Inspiration” A.K.A Writer’s Block. When it comes to crafting a story, your idea’s building blocks will either make or break your story, and moving from nothing to something while “blocked” makes it harder. I usually scourer the internet, recollect my favourite scenes in books/movies, listen to music etc. until I have a solid foundation that gets me excited about the story.

Also, just to note, I’m not talking about epiphanies or getting over the block. I’m talking about slugging through the lack of ideas by pounding against them until you get a breakthrough. That’s what I will be sharing with you.

  • The Prompt Finder

So you go to http://www.google.com right, then in search you type in “(Genre) writing prompts” and voila, an entire internet of results. Then you open about 100 tabs and read through all of them until a particular idea lights the fuse of your creativity. Sometimes it’s the 42nd tab (pun).

Letterpile – Horror Story Ideas

PS: You know it doesn’t have to follow the prompt to the T right? Just enough to put fuel into the fire.

  • The Reddit Prowler

Reddit is as close to the dark web as I will ever get. The things you find on it are just… wow/disturbing. Nonetheless, there are plenty of people like you and me, lacking inspiration, who post interesting topics, stories, and ideas to inspire. Below are my favourite horror haunts.

r/horror
r/nosleep
r/darktales

PS: There are other parts of Reddit that display the dark side of the human condition. I wouldn’t suggest visiting those places in fear you’ll be scarred for life. There are also really great fluffy places that I do not visit for the fear I’ll be scarred for life.

 

  • The Myth Buster

Okay maybe not busting myths, but there is a lot of interesting creatures and entities in mythology and folklore that creep me out. Like the Jorōgumo, who is half spider half woman. She sometimes appears as a woman holding a baby, who asks men passing by to hold it. Only for them to discover that the “baby” is made up of thousands of spider-eggs… and they burst open.

Mythological Creatures
Mythology and Folklore (Blog Posts) – By Carin Marais

  • The MusicMovieMan

So I love watching movies and TV series right. Right now I’m watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and it’s hilarious. Andy Samberg is my favourite person in the world. Sometimes you just watch something and it sparks a feeling. An idea. A story. Use it.

The second half of it is music. Usually the music I listen to reflects my mood. When I’m writing, I try to listen to songs that fit the mood of the story, the scene or even the character. For instance, when I wrote my short story called Love Will Tear Us Apart, I was literally listening (on repeat) to the Fall Out Boy version of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. When I’m writing a serial killer, I’ll plug in Slayer or Slipknot or something heavy. The music creates scenes in my head. It’s beautifully disturbing.

My Story Idea

So I perused every prompt, listened to many songs, watched series, went out for walks, and pet other peoples dogs. The story that I dreamed up was uninspired and boring. And then I read this really deep blog post about regret. That’s an emotion I resonate to a little too strongly. Then I read about a creature that possess people, and me, I love this kind of stuff right. Then the two ideas merged into my next NaNo Novel…

Emotionally Charged Horror Novel

There was a person (who lived with some sort of very deep regret) and a creature (who fed on it and took over this character) and lots of people died horrible gruesome deaths (trying to protect themselves from the regret-filled human-creature trying to fix his mistakes or trying to get rid of the creature by fixing their mistakes).

So expect lots of emotive language, broken characters, gruesome deaths, and plenty of crying. It also sort of fits how I’m feeling right now.


How’s your NaNo planning going? Are you experiencing any writer’s block? How do you overcome “The Block” and what sites/music/blogs do you use to help you in your writing?

Blogger Prompt Chain

I was tagged by my good friend, and fellow writer/blogger/gamer (and all round awesome) Rachel Poli to do a Blogger Prompt Chain. It was created by A.J. Alexander – you should visit her blog too. The idea is to create a “chain” of stories written by writers and bloggers across the blog-o-sphere.

Since I didn’t have a post for today, and Rachel so kindly invited me to participate, I thought, why not.

But first…
Hipster Ariel I Don't Do Challenges

The Rules:

  1. Pick one of the five given writing prompts (picked from Rachel’s blog – link above)
  2. Set up the Blogger Prompt Chain banner and publish your story under the banner.
  3. After your story, continue the chain by forwarding an invitation to five bloggers or writers. (In case a writer doesn’t have a blog, guest posts can be offered)
  4. Don’t forget to link the writers to your blog and back to the one who invited you.
  5. Publish the five writing prompts and rules!

The Prompts

The End of The Bucket List
Write a story about a character who finds out that he or she is dying and has been knocking things off his/her bucket list and has finally reached the last item.

Get Out of the Car With Your Hands Up
You’re driving to your favorite city when you’re stopped by a police officer. Sure, you were going a few miles over the speed limit, so you’re not overly surprised. But you are surprised when the police officer gets to your car and screams, “Get out of your car with your hands up!” This leads to an unexpected night for you. Write this scene.

Hiring a New Villain
Your old villain quit over creative differences, so you’ve put yourself in charge of hiring a new villain for your novel. What questions do you ask? What does the new villain’s resume say? Write this scene as if it were a job interview.

At The End of The Rainbow
You and a friend have decided to try and follow a rainbow to see if the end holds a pot of gold. But when you finally reach the end, you find something much more valuable than a pot of gold—and it changes your life. Write this scene.

The Letter All Writers Should Write
Write a letter to a person who supported your writing career, whether that be a friend, a family member, a teacher (even one that supported you at a very young age before you knew that it would blossom into a writing career), an author you’ve never met but have been inspired by his or her writing. Do you thank them? Do you blame them? Take the letter in any direction you want.

My Choice: At The End of The Rainbow

“You know, scientifically, we can never reach the end of a rainbow. You know this right? Right.” Chae says, pushing his glasses up his nose.

“No science today buddy, only faith.” I reply. Chae shakes his head.  Dried grass crunches under our feet, the sun a welcome sight parting what little clouds remain. A rainbow, clear as day and completely translucent, arches perfectly ahead of us.

“I’m all sweaty. Not even five minutes and it’s searing hot.” Chae says. “That humidity.”

“It will be worth it. Trust me.” I say. In my pocket is a piece of concrete slab. Etched into it hours before, as the rain poured down around me, is an ancient symbol. One that grants access to a rainbow. A perfectly arched rainbow.

“I do trust you. That’s the problem.” Chae says, squinting against the sun. The rainbow seems to recede with every step we take.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Faith won’t fail me today.” I say, running my fingers along the sharpened grooves.

“Faith isn’t going to solidify a rainbohmygosh.”

The rainbow, which was seemingly far, and fading quickly, is suddenly a solid, hued path dropping right at our feet from nothing. It expands forward ahead of us in a path wide enough for a car.

“Impossible!” Chae says, taking off his glasses to wipe them. As though the smudges and dust creates the vision before us. Only we both know its real.

“Faith my friend.” I say, feeling a smile tug at my lips, “Let’s see where the rainbow-brick road leads.”

We step onto the path and immediately a cold shiver runs through me. I turn to Chae to find he has paled considerably.

“No.” Chae whispers, “No. No. No. No. Somethings wrong. Something is very wrong!” His voice screeches.

“No man, it’s perfectly okay.” I say although the pounding in my chest says otherwise. I know it’s not okay at all. However, if we have reached the end of the rainbow then there must be some nugget of truth to the whole pot of gold myth. If only the sudden menacing presence around us wasn’t so strong.

“Do you notice something weird?” Chae asks. His eyes cast about the veld that stretches out around us. I notice it then.

“The world looks transparent.”

“I think we should turn back. I really think we should turn back.”

Chae begins to whirl around but something glints just ahead of us. I grab his arm and whirl him around.

“Look!”

“We cannot continue along this… this fantasy!” He yells without looking ahead.

“We found it Chae!” He stops long enough to look, then he runs.”

“Dude! Wait what if…” But he’s already reaching whatever it is ahead of us. I go after him, seeing that it’s not a pot of gold after all.

“It’s…”

“A book?”

Chae lifts it up. The cover is pure gold, yet bends and flexes easily. He casually turns the blank pages.

“Well that was a waste of time.” He says, shutting the book with a snap.

“Maybe if we write in it, whatever we write will come to life.”

“That’s just stupid.” He adjusts his glasses, dusts his pants before pulling out a tiny clutch pencil from his back pocket.

“I thought it was stupid.” I say with a grin.

Chae shrugs,

“So is finding a gold-bound book at the end of a rainbow.”

We put it down and I take the pencil from Chae.

“Don’t write anything stupid.”

“Shut up.” I laugh. Thinking. Then I have an idea,

We turn around and there’s a pot of gold.

“That’s really stupid.” Chae says, but he turns around. “Oh no…”

I look up from the page and follow his gaze. There’s a pot of gold alright. A pot made of gold. I sigh.

“I guess we need to be more specific.”

“I wasn’t “oh no-ing” about the pot…” Chae says. I look beyond the path and feel my stomach drop. Shadows rise up around us in coils of smoke. They block the path back but worse than that, they each hold similar books. They begin to shamble towards us. Chae clutches his chest like he’s having a heart-attack. I look at the book in my hand, at Chae and at the shadows. An idea pops up.

“As the figures draw closer, they part long enough for us to run through. We escape unscathed.”

Only the words begin to twist on the page, and words vanish and reform.

“As the figures draw closer, Chae sacrifices himself, parting them long enough for me to run through. I escape unscathed.”

“Wait no!” I scream at the book.

“Run!” Chae says. I look up to find him launching himself at the closest shadows, who part long enough to create a path. My feet suddenly move on their own.

“No!” I scream as my body jolts itself forward and runs. My arms reach for Chae but he’s too far.

“Chae!!”

But the figures clutch him tightly and I am propelled off the rainbow-path and into the heat. I turn around, only to find the rainbow has faded into the distance.

“Chae!”


I Invite:

  1. Carin Marais
  2. Nicky – Chasing Dreams
  3. Jen – Fictional Jenn (Where’s your site JEN!)
  4. Kelly Griffiths
  5. Tyron “Odly Otter” Armstrong

You don’t want to participate but it would be amazing if you did. If you do, please leave a link to your story!

 

 

Agents of Dreamland – Book Review

 

Title:
Agents of Dreamland

Author:
Caitlín R. Kiernan

Genre:
Lovecraftian Horror

Book procurement:
Received a copy for Gamecca Magazine from Tor.com.

Synopsis:

A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the Signalman.

In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible—the Children of the Next Level—and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence. The future is coming and they will help to usher it in.

A day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from ‘other’ sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact.

And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.

Book Review:

First Thoughts

To be honest I did not know what to expect from this book when I got my review copy for Gamecca Magazine from Tor. I had never heard of Caitlín R. Kiernan and that synopsis said a lot but nothing close to what the novella explores. In the end I was pleasantly surprised… okay I really enjoyed the book and look forward to more.

The Story

This is an interconnected story that follows mainly three sets of characters:

Signalman is a government agent assigned to a peculiar case that continues to haunt him. Even as he proceeds to a diner where he has a meet up with a mysterious woman. They exchange valuable information that only escalates the situation. He moves forward with the hope of figuring out exactly what he saw inside a particular ranch.

Immaculata is a woman searching for humanity’s last hope against an approaching, devastating event. She floats between time, searching for an answer.

Salton Sea is the current home of Drew Standish, a cult leader, and his followers known as Children of the Next Level. The Children seek to usher in a new future as they transcend beyond humanity.

Lastly, something beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe, New Horizons.

Writing

To say my mind is so blown, I’m deeply disturbed, is an understatement. The writing is solid. Each characters has a distinct and personal voice. There is no unnecessary drivel to distract from the unfolding story, which eventually meets in the middle beautifully, then rides off into the sunset, leaving you bewildered and unbelieving of what just happened.

There is a lot of shifting perspectives, as you can imagine, with all the characters giving a different view of the ongoing events. From Signalman, who is the investigator, to the Drew Standish and one particular child of The Children, who has disturbing insights of what is to come, to Immaculata, the seeker of salvation and something a little more.

There is also a switch in timeliness literally between sentences. Sometimes it was off putting, but Caitlín did a good job of not losing me or my focus between these switches.  Thankfully, they show a wider, more comprehensive perspective on the bigger picture revealing itself into some mind-blowing stuff. *shivers.

There is also a very obvious Lovecraftian style to the writing, more towards the combination of science, bible, conspiracy, and a real, obvious entity we never truly see. I loved how Caitlín uses conspiracy theories (The Beatles’ music, Apple Records, Yggdrasil, Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – basically APPLES), and parts of foreshadowing (Signalman watches a movie as a child, but misses a very important scene – also, this is not a spoiler), to build this world around the story.

It’s brilliant.

Final Thoughts

I have a love/hate relationship for Signalman. I’m deeply intrigued with Immaculata and her time-travel abilities (or whatever they are). Drew Standish is that charismatic type I would also probably follow, although I’d hate to be part of his particular cult (or any cult in general… the bad cults.) Together, they tell a compelling story. It’s a great novella which puts Caitlín R. Kiernan at the top of my favourite authors.

Rating: A well deserved 5 out of 5


Agents of Dreamland was published on February 28, 2017.

Did you know: Caitlín R. Kiernan wrote scientific papers in the field of paleontology, has written for DC Comics, and has over two hundred short stories, novellas, and vignettes published.


Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com

Genre Writing: NaNoWriMo Prep

Man oh man is time flying or what. One minute I’m bidding “July” adieu and next moment I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo.  I also wrote and posted my Horror Genre Writing series during September which just flew by. Since it’s October, a.k.a. Halloween, I decided to carry on the series. The difference this time? It’s your journey through my mind as I plan out my NaNoWriMo Horror Novel!


I’m sitting here at my desk, wondering what I will be writing for NaNoWriMo. To be honest, I think my mind is tired and will need to be energized. The reason I say that? Well, when I created my beautiful new NaNo novel on the site, I used the following details:

Title: Some Horror Thing
Author: Silvanthato
Genre: Horror/Supernatural
Synopsis: There was a person and a creature and lots of people died horrible gruesome deaths.

Yes. That is exactly how I will be approaching NaNo this year. Zero plan. One premise. Two characters. Three plot points, and four weeks to coalesce it all into a 50,000 word novel. Fantastic ain’t it? It better be, since you’ll be along with me as we shape and mould nothing into something. I hope to please.

make my writing awesome? Challenge accepted.

The Plan

Right, so this is where I say something like “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” or “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” and extrapolating that into a 1000 word essay on planning. Well I’m sorry to disappoint, this will be very simple:

  1. Figure out an actual story.
  2. Detail actual characters.
  3. Define plot points.
  4. Worldbuild it all together into a masterpiece.
  5. Write 50,000 words. (In November)

This also covers what the following weeks in Genre Writing are going to contain for October. Building a horror story, creating characters for this story, defining horror plot points (without spoilers!), and worldbuilding to correlate characters to story to the world around them.

Onward to NaNo

I don’t really know how I feel about NaNo this year. There’s no real excitement or desire or fear or anything. Just another writing project to get through.

If you have any tips, advice, blogs, websites, Pins, Tumblr accounts, music or even YouTube vids that you think will help me craft a mind-blowing story (horror or not), then please let me know in the comment section below. I’d greatly appreciate your help.

Now back to writing!


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Do you have your novel/story idea ready? What helps inspire you during the grueling 30 day challenge?

Inklings Press: Recommendation

Book Title:

Tales From the Underground

Authors: 

Ricardo Victoria, E.M. Swift-Hook, Jeanette O’Hagan , Jaleta Clegg, Lawrence Harding, Christopher Edwards, Rob Edwards, N.C. Stow, Claire Buss, Jeff Provine

Publisher:

Inklings Press

Release Date:

06 October 2017

Book Blurb:

Under our feet lie countless realms of possibility. Join twelve writers as they explore those realms – discovering lands of fantasy, lands from our far future, lands of mystery.

There are places full of wonders, full of terrors, full of visions of what could be.

Join us, down here, in the dark.


I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of reading  anthologies from Inklings Press and they are without a doubt my favourite publishers and authors. This is the upcoming anthology from a stellar cast of returning authors like Ricardo VIictoria,  Rob Edwards, Jeff Provine and E.M. Swift-Hook.

Looking forward to it.


Do you have any favourite indie authors/publishers? Let me know!

Genre Writing: Horror – Writing Styles

So this past weekend we celebrated a public holiday known as Heritage Day. It fell on a Sunday which made Monday automatically a public holiday. I was so disorientated I messed up my blog scheduling for this week (too many free days in a row). So this was supposed to be on Tuesday. My book review (condensed version is up on Goodreads) didn’t make it for Wednesday and I completely missed last week’s Friday Fiction (the story I wanted to tell has escaped me too.)

In short, I apologise profusely for my inconsistency. Right on to writing styles…


Writing horror can be quite an interesting experience. In my long history of reading horrors, I have come across varying styles that sway between simple easy horror (Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine) to truly macabre filth (Books of Blood by Clive Barker) and all the in-betweens on that sharpened swinging pendulum. When it comes to my own writing, my style switches with my mood, and my emotions as I stated in my Genre Writing: Fundamentals post.

Before we dig into that, let me give a quick overview of what Writing Styles entail:

Word Choice

Pretty self explanatory but basically it is the selection of words that guide the story. Each word should convey a particular mood, intention or perspective, either towards the character, their disposition, or the world around them.

Sentence Structure

Similar to word choice, sentence structure is how you use your words to build sentences that push the story forward. Things like sentence length, flow, whether it is active or passive voice (uhhh active always please), the type of sentence it is (simple, complex, compound), syntax, punctuation etc. all contribute to the overall perception of the story. These will vary with perspective, character, and voice.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
― Rudyard Kipling

Voice

The voice is the style by which the story is told. A YA novel might have a  more colloquial/informal voice that is light to read, while an adult novel may use a harsher, stark voice that carries stronger undertones. The voice carries the personality/disposition of the character or narrator. You wouldn’t want your nefarious, evil entity to have the voice of a juvenile thirteen year old (unless that’s what you’re going for of course). Voice is very important and can make or break your novel.

Expository/Descriptive/Persuasive/Narrative Styles

Each of these writing styles define the perspective, and the kind of writing you’re doing. Most novels will follow a descriptive (explain a picture through words) or narrative (share a story) style, while how-to’s and academic papers will be expository (explain concepts) and persuasive (convince reader of author’s opinion), respectively. Remember: You still have the option of writing your novel in either of these styles.

In short, a writing style defines how you tell your story. You can have the same scene, in the same genre, written in multiple ways, and each one will be different and unique.

“When you are trying to find your writing voice don’t try to emulate any writer, not even your favorite. Sit quietly, listen, listen again, then listen some more and write out everything the voice says with no censoring – none – not one word.”
― Jan Marquart, The Basket Weaver

My Horror Writing Style

As for me, my writing style varies so much it’s hard to pin-point one particular voice, and my sentence construction flows from the story itself which means it differs per idea. I do know my word choice tends to be quite similar and I always have to have a thesaurus/dictionary open to vary that up. My style is also quite descriptive because I want the reader to see what I’m seeing in my head. (and suffer with me!)

Here is an analysis of my writing styles, each affected by mood.

The “Have a Nice Day” Horror

My writing style when I’m in an uplifted mood, tends to sway towards bright cheery days where evil lurks just around the corner. These will have the everyday Jane and John in a regular situation which ends up going very badly, usually very quickly.

Word Choices: Bright colours. Sunlit environs. Happy general public. Hints at something off-colour or dark.

Sentence Structure: Long, flowing sentences with too much punctuation. Dialogue.

Voice: Optimistic. Innocent. Unoffending. Light.

In these cases, I barely show the horror as visceral (no gore) but rather hint at it. It’s not about experiencing the physical horror, but the psychological horror. Varies between first and third person depending on idea or character.

Example: Friday Fiction: The Playground

The sunlit jungle gyms and slides were half obscured by uniformed, screaming children. They scampered about like mice, eyes alive, front teeth missing, dirt and dust over their shorts and skirts and shirts and knee length socks. One of them, on his way down the scorching, silver pole leading to the graveled floor, looked across the playground. Three of the fourth graders were leading a second grader towards Big School. They weren’t allowed there during school hours. Not at all.

 

 

The “I’m Depressed – Hate the World” Horror

My writing style when I’m in a dejected, not-feeling-this-sunlight mood, drifts towards heavy introspection and characters in a dreary state. These will have a particular Jane and John at a low point in their life and things just get worse.

Word Choices: Dull colours. Sunlit but shaded or just grey skies. Non-existent populace or very closed off. Horror disguised as hope.

Sentence Structure: Longer, flowing sentences of descriptions to create an atmosphere of despondency.

Voice: Morose but hopeful. On the line between innocent and guilt. Heavy. Moody.

In these cases, it is about the character themselves and how the mind can bend even the best of things into afflictions. Psychological horror manifesting into physical. Usually third person to detach myself from the character while being true to the character.

Example: Friday Fiction: Fear and Fervor

He sleeps deeply and soundly. The dark tendrils of oily curled hair tumbled down to his chin like a frayed curtain. Near his bare feet lies a canvas still heavy with wet paint. Each corner holds a random item that keeps the canvas from rolling in. An iron stands in one corner, the severed cord wrapped in dark tape. In another corner is the other half of Eduardo’s wearable Jordan’s, the bottom half yawning with yellow strands of loosening superglue. The foot of an aged table, and one of the three metal stools keep the remaining corners down.

 

The – Excited Let’s Terrify Them Horror

This one is rare, and is usually in that phase between the first two styles. Usually the Jane and John see themselves justified in some way but the horror is there to humble them. Or they’ve walked into an unexpected situation that shifts from normal to horror very quickly.

Word Choices: Bright colours mixed in with disgusting variations. Use senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) Sunlit but shaded or almost greying skies. Varied populace and mood to show a more realistic perspective. Blatant horror with gore.

Sentence Structure: Varied, descriptive sentences to break the thin film of normalcy and horror. Fear is key.

Voice: Varied and focused on the psychological turmoil that will be augmented by physical horror. Blurred line between innocence and guilt. Varying mood and atmosphere.

When I’m in this mood, there’s no telling how far I’ll fall to the dark side, and whether I am the abyss you stare into… and I stare back. It’s about the characters and their reaction to the horror they are about to face. Usually first person in order to write what the character experiences.

Example: Friday Fiction: Frank

“Bella? It’s me, William.”

I stepped closer, avoiding the spillage. Iced pins prickled my chest. I fought the thrum rattling my bones – smoothed the aroused hairs along my nape with trembling hand.

“William?”

She began a slow swivel, golden rays refining her locks to dazzling white tresses. The first thing the glare revealed was the braided tongue-like cord, and the dangling pulped egg that was her eye.  My gut lurched with the stench wafting from the gaping abyss that was the rest of her cragged, hollowed face.

“He’s coming Will.” a greyed tongue languidly dripped yolk rivulets to the floor. The muck broiled, a single eye floating to the surface. Frank.


Sorry about the long post, there’s a lot to cover and I didn’t even get through it all. Have you found any distinctions in your writing style between stories? Do you consider voice, word choice, sentence structure etc when you’re writing? Does it change with genre? I would love to know.

Read, Sav, Read.

| B.A. in English. | Writer. | Lover of books. | 2017 Book Count: 61. | Currently Reading: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon. |

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