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#FlashFiction: Fees and Bodies Must Fall

“Fees and Bodies Must Fall” was my entry for Microcosms Fic for this past Friday. The prompt was:

(Gonzo) Journalist / House Party / Crime


You would think the blood spatter, taste of copper, and underlying stench of faecal matter would ward me and the others off 17 Mahogany Drive that hot July afternoon. It wouldn’t. Journalists are the curious type and like the proverbial cat, death is part of the gig. Confetti is still strewn about the leather couch, right next to a Ms. Davidson, 22, student at the University of Johannesburg. We look over the shoulders of a police squadron on site led by a Constable Gumede who is all frowns and glares.

“This isn’t a puppet show,” he growls. But we know it is. And not because we can see the threads of bed sheets hanging off the balcony, angling Ms Davidson across the couch like a modern-day Death of Marat. It’s because we know the M.O. That this is the third victim in the repertoire of a man we journos have affectionately labelled The Neoclassic Killer. Just the previous month, a house party in the pseudo-glitzy Parktown area revealed students from Wits University arranged as The Death of Socrates. Bed sheets and all.

It’s difficult to remain objective when faced with the surrealism that our city has a serial killer. The fear radiating through our bones. Poisoning our hearts. Lining our street poles with headlines screaming murder at each corner. Yet we must remain objective so we may assess the situation without emotion. To notice that the killer targets these students not based on any merit of their own but the continuous protests sweeping our streets; Fees Must Fall – which Ms Davidson led as an advocate of.

I am not a prophet, it’s not in my job title, but as more pledges rise, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next classic we see, is The Oath of The Horatii. And death.

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New Inspiration: Steampunk Johannesburg

I’ve made a new observation: I’m not observant enough. I spend at least two hours in traffic and apart from the massive billboards vying from my attention, I don’t really look around much. Or I may look at a car but never really my surroundings.

As one who loves nature, I’m far more fascinated with drives down to Durban or Drakensberg, where the concrete towers and varying high walls and buzz of incessant traffic give way to sprawling greenery against a backdrop of harsh, grey mountain dipping its feet in deep-blue tranquil waters. I can watch that all day. How I love that scene. That image.

image of Drakensberg mountain

Image courtesy of: Go Self-Drive Tours

It was only quite recently, following a trip back to the city from nature’s beauty, that I became aware of landscapes around my home-city too. Then during the walk through the Joburg Central Business District (CBD), I started to notice the little things about it. The varying trees growing within the city. The modern buildings directly across their older, derelict kin. The repaired roads running parallel to the new public transport lane of the Rea-Vaya and its co-joined Bus lane. The uneven, mud-caked site populated by squatters and hawkers right beside the refurbished pavement leading towards the Mandela Bridge.

I noticed the cluttered, and varying shops with displays just outside their glass facades, with the door man calling out to us passing by. The street vendors cooking seemingly shady meat on equally-shady grills. Then I noticed the people. Like really noticed the people. All shapes and colours and fashions and styles. A marriage of cultures, languages, people, nations. Truly a rainbow nation.

image: Johannesburg CBD, Mandela Bridge

Johannesburg CBD and the Mandela Bridge

 

Same City. But Different: Egoli – City of Gold

So this new idea I’m rolling with (amongst others, I know, I know) came to me as a series of intermingled thoughts finding connections I hadn’t seen before. They are:

  1. Johannesburg is nicknamed, the City of Gold by miners who worked in the gold mines. e’Goli – where there is gold. I spend a lot of time in these streets. In a car, but… still.
  2. Many of you know I have a love for all things Steampunk. I even started a steampunk tumblr account at one point and I’m still (still) working on my steampunk novel Junk Yard Angel – 5 years strong.
  3. Worldbuilding is one of my favourite activities while I’m driving. Spending too much time in my head thinking of different scenarios. Concepts as trivial as what my first speech will be when I publish my book, to creating whole worlds where the species is telepathic which means we would not be able to hide our thoughts and someone just created a device that stops that from happening and its implications. You know. The usual drivel.

Then came that truly mind-blowing thought: Steampunk Johannesburg made with real gold buildings and political leaders broadcasting their campaigns on airships crossing the city skyline. The air has a constant buzz, not only from the passing pedestrians of every ethnicity, but from the gears that run the city, and the continuing mines constantly searching for the precious metal. Yes. I can see it now.

It’s so beautiful.

image: Johannesburg skyline sunrise

Submitting the Perfect Story

The year begins with a bang and there’s been much afoot since the clock turned the calendar over from 2017 to 2018. I’ll be meeting Nicky of Chasing Dreams Publishing this Saturday to work on getting my own novella published. What I hope to be a psychological thriller horror based on a short story I’m working on.

This particular short story is an idea I want to submit to FlashBack Fiction by the end of this week. The foundation for what is to come. The problem is that I keep running into the same wall every time I get to that 500 word limit; I find the story… boring.


The Perfect Story

I sit at my desk and let the mind begin its usual marathon run through visuals and ideas until it latches upon a man in a high collar shirt, white, and sleeves rolled to the elbows. Perfectly tousled hair whips in the soft breeze as he walks through a bustling street filled with dames in flouncing dress and lace parasols. The men tip hats, lips curling up with their carefully trimmed mustaches. Others ride by nonchalant on bicycles with empty baskets leading the way. Many park against intermittent trees lining the paved walkways where cafes and curious shops have opened for the morning. Woven chairs are arranged around square tables draped in cloth, adorned with cutlery and obscure vases from the local artisans. Coffee. Bacon. Toast. Their scents fill the warm air. Accompanying the scent is the rustle of leaves from the nearby trees. The crinkle of newspaper as a man in a bowler hat turns his copy of Die Zeit. Tranquil. Peaceful. Happy.

It contrasts the thoughts swirling through my protagonist who watches with a careful smile hiding his darkest thoughts. The satchel at his waist portrays him as an artisan though none know of his particular work. Of the “museum” that awaits him in the bricked apartments right above the supposed serenity the scene in front of him plays. He knows behind the coiffed styles of both the men and woman, behind their rosy cheeks and wide smiles and oiled beards lie secrets. Fears. Worries. Dark thoughts. They aren’t that much different from him. Not much at all.

And this is where I begin my story. The above description is a cut scene from my mind and now we step into the protagonist’s shoes as the writing begins.

Only from here, as I try to slip the darkness into the serenity, I find the pacing too slow or too fast. The transition too drastic or not drastic enough. I’m failing to find the balance between writing style and effect. To add that gut-wrenching punch drawing breath from lungs as you wail “No!” in horror and squirm where you sit, glancing behind you as paranoia sweeps along your spine in cold tendrils.

That. That is what my perfect story would be. But I’m struggling here. Anyway let me get to writing the new draft and see if I can craft the perfect story so I can submit it. *Sighs

Friday Fiction: The Best Gift

Prompt comes courtesy of my good friend and fellow author/blogger, Rachel Poli:

Write about a character who gets something special they’ve always wanted.

The Best Gift

Words: 596


The idea of a Secret Santa may as well be as old as the very concept of merry ol’ St. Nicholas. St. Dominic’s Primary School became the haven of such a tradition in its truest form since the school’s conception in 1895, when Sister Ignatius placed square, brown-paper packages within the 85 desks of her students prior the last day of school. The following day was followed by a chorus of joyous squeals as boys and girls ripped through paper and tape to find within the objects of their uttermost desire. The best gift.

As tradition wore on through the years, even when money seemed hard to come by, there happened to be one particular child with an almost unattainable desire. One that could not be wrapped save for in prayer. Furtive supplications cast to the Almighty in hopes of repairing broken families, sick fathers and mothers, dying brothers and sisters, and on more than enough occasion, for death’s repeal.

Where these gifts could not be attained, it was their next appealed desire wrapped and placed with the more modern school desks. The School Governing Body, with now over 300 students within the expanded bricked building, would question how such a tradition could be continued, and as with every Principal that had followed Sister Ignatius’ example would proclaim to those who questioned the gifts,

“The Lord provides.”

And truly, each year, He did.

As corporate and government and school slowly intertwined with the passing of time, and the education system turned into a business venture rather than a place of tutelage, the nuns of previous generations were replaced with CEOs and businessmen toting degrees and masters in Business Management. They did not, however, truly possess the spiritual depth and leadership of their predecessors. And yet, despite all of this, every year, the students of St. Dominic’s Primary School, received their annual gifts out of miraculous providence.

In the year 1995, on the last day of school following the newly elected Principal, as the muted excitement, and muffled bubbles of laughter echoed across the span of the school, there came a single ear-splitting scream. The school fell into utter silence. As though the wind itself had ceased to exist, the trees shaken to quiet, and the hum of traffic come to a standstill. Hairs on napes rose. Flowing blood seemingly turned to ice and coursed through each student and teacher alike as a virus through a body.

Young Francis had opened his package with frenzied anticipation, his particular gift sizable in comparison to his peers, and decidedly oddly shaped in almost rotund oblong contours. As the paper ripped between his fingers, he was struck by an odd smell. One that reminded him of his lunch tin when he had left it in the playground for a week and opened the lid to find the festering green and white mould growing within. Only this smell seemed different. There was also a sticky liquid trailing along the inside and staining his palms scarlet. By now the entire classroom had turned to see what he’d received. Curiousity emblazoned on rapt young eyes, lips parting in awe and wonder. At last Francis ripped the entire wrapping off, arms rising as expanded energy threw them upwards. For a moment he could only stare at the thing rolling out from the paper to stare up at him with glazed eye sockets and a gaping abyss marking misshapen ebony dentures. Only he couldn’t deny the jade green orbs gazing past and through him. For there sitting on his desk… was the head of his father.


Word to the wise: Don’t read The King in Yellow, and expect your mind to remain the same. See the true face of horror.

#NaNoWriMo Progress: Week 2

We all struggle when it comes to writing, right? I think we hear and cry out more “Woe is me” during NaNo than any other time. As though the words that seek to escape the prison of our mind have suddenly realised it’s better inside their familiar cell.

SO imagine my surprise when 22,309 words later I’m still working through the first arc of my NaNo novel and there’s still more coming. As though my Word document has become an anthill and the little critters are coming home to roost. (Do ants roost?)

The Actual Struggle

I think I’ve said this before in my previous NaNo progress post that my struggle is not with the words themselves but the story. At first it was how to start, then for a while it was where it was all going. Now its pulling back from bearing the emotions my characters experience as they guide me through their journey. Becoming a conduit for their tales of woe.

It’s one of the greatest feelings as a writer (and reader) when these fictional people created for the sake of entertainment become more than just characters in a book. They manifest into living souls tugging at the heart and mind and making you scream, “Don’t go in there! It’s a trap.” then watching them fall into the trap to leave you hoping with all your might that they escape.

However as the author I not only set up the trap, but drive circumstances forcing my characters towards that trap, make them fall in and then deciding whether or not the escape. Sometimes these characters take the reigns and tug them away from me long enough to make their own choices before I can regain control. As though they were alive.

It also scares me how much control they have once I’m digging into the writing and the real world disappears around me. As though I’ve plugged into a virtual reality headset that brings my story to life and I live through it, watching it unfold while also guiding where, how, who, and why everything is happening.

Summon the Great Editor

I would but I’m not allowed to during NaNoWriMo. You know that right? Also, I have an aversion to editing but as I’ve been writing, I discovered so many things about the style I want to use. I think the first part of my novel is all first person, then I switched to normal third person, and now, as my good friend Ole would say (shout out to you dude) about my current writing style, “That’s some wedding floral arrangement level of floweriness”.

So now I want to go back and rewrite everything with that same style but… perhaps in December. Anyway, I have to get back to writing now.

Onward to 50K and more.

Friday Fiction: The Dance of Death

Prompt courtesy of Chasing Dreams Publishing – Monday Writing Prompt

Prompt: They danced through the stars

Word Limit: 250 words


They danced through the stars. Moonlit wisps coiling through vast expanse as amber-scarlet flares belched stagnant pale tendrils into the gaping abyss.

“Engine failure. Engine Failure” Droned the monotony of the ship’s A.I.

Red blossomed across the deck in incessant flashes as wailing sirens echoed off the walls. The control panel shimmered with lights, illuminating the captain’s chair and halo of gold-red-gold tresses pressed against cheek and forehead, the captain sweating against pulsing lights.

“Estimated crash time?” She asked quietly into the attached headset.

“At this rate I’d say a steady seventeen minutes and… about 23 seconds. Unless you get some balancé Cap.” The voice replied with just a hint of smile in its gruffness.

“Just keep those cannons ready.” The captain replied, a ghost of smile touching her lips.

“Better bring this crash-ballet to its finale.”

As though summoned by the remark, the emptiness of space shimmered in colossal prism-tinged glare. Then they were wholly and completely surrounded.

Allegro, captain. Allegro.”

Trails of fire followed the diving ship as streaks of light boomed from the surrounding angular prisms of enemy forces. With as much elegance and grace a blazing ship could afford, the captain pirouetted through interminable fire,

“Fouetté!”

The ship spiralled, cannon extending outwards in explosive bursts of successive fire, tucking in to reload and extend once more for a repeat performance.

“Inbound photon torpedo.” A.I notified them. Hands and hearts froze. Silence pervaded.

“It’s been a pleasure dancing with you Cap.”

“Always Jarvis.” Tears trickling down, “Always.”


 

#NaNoWriMo Progress: Week 1

This is going to be a short one because I have to get back to all the writing. No tips. No advice. No words of encouragement beyond “Do the best that you can, and more.”

This is really more about how important the Prep I did before NaNo has helped me sit down and churn out 2K words in a two hours. Not an impressive Word Per Minute (it’s 16wpm) but in the end I was able to flow. My characters had been defined. The world had been built. The overall arc considered. It was just a matter of waiting for NaNo to come around so I can put words down and start working on the story.

The Difficulty of Starting

I struggled to start. I mean really struggled. Not in terms of word count, but in terms of how I wanted the story to go. I have these two main characters, the Innocent-yet-Tainted character and the Tainted-Seeking-Innocence character. Either one had a really good premise and backstory but I couldn’t decide which one to go with. So I did both. Hated both. Then I started a third draft right in the middle of each of their personal conflicts, guiding the story forward from each of their perspectives.

As it stands, between those three drafts I am on (13,289 ) words, though I don’t want to include the first two drafts into the word count. I feel like its cheating.

What idiot wrote this oh I did.

The Novel in Your Head

Once I started writing I could feel my characters come alive in my head. Their thoughts becoming my own, their emotions thrumming through me. The decisions they were making also mine to make. There are two experiences I want to share you with you:

The Diverging Path

As I was writing a particular scene, my character was on the way to doing something that would change their current situation. Only that change had two diverging paths and each leading to a different end for the scene. I knew this as I was writing, fingers too slow to catch up to the mind, the mind conjuring up new futures where the character could go and I had to choose one as I was writing. The words I was typing at that moment to alter the destiny of my character.

I have never felt so torn about the future of a fictional character. Seeing these two timelines stretching outwards and me choosing which one I think is best. Oh the thrill of writing.

 

The Movie Feeling

During my 2k writing sprint, I was writing a particularly emotional scene where the character makes quite an important decision. I was there with them through every moment, living vicariously through each word my fingers were typing to reflect this character I had become. And it was when I wrote the final scene and took my break that I realised I was emotionally invested into this character and wanted to know more. Like I had paused a scene in a movie and could press play to continue watching.

It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in my writing for a long while, and its both disturbing and exciting.

Onward to week #2

As well as this story is going, I feel like its not moving at the pace I expected it to. There are too many transitional scenes which attribute to character growth, and world building etc. And I know not every scene is going to be a horror-fest. I just have to plug away, knowing that after NaNo I’ll be free to edit, change, and chop as I see fit. Until then, I continue.

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?

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?

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.

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