Tag Archive | books

July: Currently Reading

As I’ve said multiple times before, I’ve been meaning to catch up on my reading and get into the habit of reading more often, since I already have several books here that I’ve been planning to read and lists upon lists of books I want to read. I tend to read fairly fast, my biggest problem seems to be picking up the book on a regular basis so that can add up – I’ve been working on reading one book since April (which I wound up only reading 70-some pages of during that month, and somewhere between200 and 300 of it in my free time during May, with about 20 or so pages in-between Camp NaNoWriMo escapades last month) and when I’ve managed to pick it up I tend to get really into it and read quite a bit, but I never seem to be able to pick it up again soon and make significant progress.

That’s what this is for. I’m going to give you guys a report on what I’m currently reading now, at the beginning of the month, with titles, current page counts and a few thoughts, and at the end of the month, I’ll give another report – be it with pride, shame, or neither – to show what progress I’ve made, if any at all. I don’t expect to make a whole lot of progress, but I’m hoping to finally finish the one I’ve been reading since April and hopefully start one or two more.

In terms of novels, my ‘currently reading’:

‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker

Currently on page 400 out of 450

I’ve been reading Dracula since sometime during April. I really do adore the book, it’s entertaining and inspired me to get back into writing through journal entry format – I just really have trouble picking it back up after I put it down and why. It’s really a matter of picking it up and starting. If I’m able to pick it up once or twice between a few days, I’ll probably be able to finally finish the book, which I’ll admit, at the moment, I’m liking a lot better than any interpretation of the book I’ve seen before, although that’s admittedly, not many.

‘The Salem Branch’ by Lara Parker

Currently on page 166 out of 334

I don’t remember when I started reading The Salem Branch – not too long after I first bought the book, unlike most of the books I have lately. I’m enjoying it a bit, especially since I got it during my withdrawal from the series it’s based on (the original Dark Shadows soap opera, which I was only able to see the portion of the series on Netflix at the time). Now that I’ve burnt through all of my DVDs and will probably have some time before I can buy the next set of DVDs of the series, I’ll probably be making progress on this as well.

As for the non-fiction books I’m reading, I’ve been slowly making progress on ‘Making Comics’ by Scott McCloud (119/272 for page count) while I work on my comic. It’s fairly helpful, at least in getting inspired to work on it, and while I’m not drawing ‘noir comics’, Shawn Martinbrough’s ‘How to Draw Noir Comics’ (finished for the most part, still need to read the example comic it’s got left in the back) has a lot of good techniques and insight on the process of comics.

I’m not quite aiming to finish those two this month as much as I’m aiming to finish the fiction – at the very least, Making Comics is one I’m just trying to read through when I hit a dry spell for inspiration on trying to work on my comic and to get ideas on techniques to use, and I’m not very sure on when I’ll be up for reading the comic example to consider How To Draw Noir Comics completed.

I’m going to go into closing this with a quick apology for getting this posted a bit late (it was intended to be posted yesterday) and if the ending seems a tid-bit rushed. I’m a bit spacey right now, having some trouble fully concentrating on this, but I really want to get it done and posted so that I can have this up as inspiration for me to keep reading, plus for the sake of possibly getting some opinions on what I’m currently reading and answers to my end-of-the-post-questions.

What are you currently reading, and how is that going for you? Are you generally a fast, slow, or average reader?

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End of the month update: What I have in store for July

Summer for me, thus far, has been fairly productive in the writing front – I’ve finally completed my first draft, I’ve been updating the blog fairly frequently, and at least trying a little bit to get involved with the community of writers on twitter. Now that I’ve finished up that first draft and Camp NaNoWriMo is coming to a close, though, I’m not too sure if I’ll be keeping up with productivity. While my novel is going to be a bit on the back-burner aside from a little bit of outlining every day or so during July, I have other projects that I do want to keep up with, some work, drawing and painting, and I’d like to at least keep myself writing -something- regularly (aside from this blog, of course).

In terms of keeping up with writing, I’ll probably stick mainly to writing things for the blog and doing some daily writing on oneword so I can focus primarily on outlining the novel when it comes to writing. I’m planning to try to update the blog weekly on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays and do a little writing at oneword on Mondays through Fridays, which may or may not be posted here, considering they’re practically just free writing from what comes to mind first for a minute for me (although maybe a weekly post of my oneword writings on Saturday or Sunday would be nice, or maybe just one at the end of the month of the best things I came up with? We’ll see, I guess). I’m thinking I’ll try to mainly stick to posts about writing, from my tips and opinions to posts on resources I use for writing and why/how. I also have some reading updates in mind, if I’m able to keep up with my reading like I really want to.

That’s another thing I’m going to try to keep up on this Summer – I love reading and I’m actually a fairly fast reader when I work at reading frequently, but I’ve been getting too caught up in other things to keep reading on a regular basis. I think to keep up with this I’ll try to do a post at the beginning and end of the month reporting how I’ve been doing with my reading and what I’ve been reading in general. Since I’m reading multiple books at once, I’ll try to get about 50 pages in each of the fiction ones read a week, minimum, until I finish one of them. I’ll probably go at a more leisurely pace with the non-fiction, since most of the non-fiction I read are books intended to help with the process of making comics, so I’ll be reading it along with working on things of that vein.

In terms of things of that vein, I’m also going to be trying to work on a collaborative comic my lovie and I have been working on throughout this month regularly on at the very least weekdays. I’m hoping to at least get a rough sketch for a frame (it’s going to be a single-frame-a-page web comic rather than a multiple-panels-per-page one – sort of an experiment on our part) done per day during the week. I’m hoping to finish up at least the first chapter before we launch it so I won’t have to rush to finish pages to update on a regular schedule – however, if I do seem to slack from the blog every now and then throughout July, it may be because I’m working on trying to get significant work on this done, since it’ll probably be my biggest focus of the month.

While working on the comic counts as working on art, I also want to keep up with doodling and digital painting, so I’m going to be trying to work on those more during the weekends and free time, which is why a lot of what I’ve said above seems to be focused on during weekdays. Weekends will be reserved to relax and work on various digital paintings and concept sketches for them. Doodling is something I’ll probably do during both the weekdays and weekends to just be silly and avoid getting burnt out.

I’m going to try to update my other blogs, which are all more focused on my art and inspiration for that rather than writing, at least once every week or two, as well, so when I get around to regularly updating those, I’ll probably put up a page on here that can redirect people to those if anyone’s interested. Over all, I have a lot in store for July to keep me productive and busy, which is something  I need to keep up with to keep my mood from taking a turn for the worse too often and is essential to my recovery. I’m not planning on overloading myself or taking it all too seriously – breaks will be there when necessary, and I’ll be keeping in touch with ways to relax, be it talking to my buddies or watching things.

What do you have in store for July?

Camp NaNoWriMo Week One: Schedule Adjustments, Story Involvement, and Late-Night Camp-outs

Word-count: 27,963 and counting

I’ll admit, this is a bit late, but I think it’s still close enough to do this.

Week two of Camp NaNoWriMo has officially begun, and the first week of the event has gone fairly well for me.

Despite adjusting to a new sleep schedule and trying to work my sessions and rewards to fit that, I’ve still managed to get a fairly good total word-count so far, and am keeping it up. My story is making wonderful progress, and like I thought I would, I’m stepping into dimensions of it that I haven’t before, on a deeper level than expected, and discovering more and more new things that are making the process even more of a joy to go through. My characters are developing, my plot is twisting and taking leaps I never thought it would, and I’m writing more than ever, thanks to the help and support of my lovie and doing wordsprints to keep up.

I have been faltering on my rewards a bit – movies aren’t working anymore, since my laptop, for some reason, refuses to play DVDs, which I’ve tried every solution I could find to fix, from updating drivers, to codecs, to cleaning the disk drive myself, but I am determined to keep up with giving rewards and having a little bit of fun every weekend to refresh everything. I will admit that I have been slacking on writing sessions and hitting my minimum word goal every day, but I have my schedule change to thank for that, and am working on it. I’ve been able to evade my inner editor thus far, and just letting the words fly – it’s a blast!

Getting so involved with the story for the periods of time that I’m working on it is a blessing and a curse, sadly. Since it’s being written in journal entry format, there are entries now and then that the character gets a bit emotional and cuts the entry short, to finish up explaining at a later time, and sometimes, the buildup and getting in-tune with that feeling leave me dumbfounded on how to start the next one, stuck in that sort of feeling for a little while, but I have been able to evade it by forcing myself to start and trying to write a starting line for the next entry when I finish the prior one, in order to sneak away from the “how the hell do I start this one now” stage at a later session and just get into writing the actual content.

Re-acquainting with my characters, especially the narrator, has been a treat, as well. He’s gaining a lot more dimension and becoming a lot more than he ever was in the previous attempts to get this story done, and I find him a lot more interesting and likable than I did beforehand. At this point, he’s struggling with a lot of things – no one else seems to believe what he sees, he knows near nothing about his real parents yet still feels haunted by the brief memories he does have and the tiny links to him he’s starting to unearth, and approaching him are struggles with things more related to who he is on the (cliche wording oops) ‘inside’, this bit here being the aspect that I think will help make him easier to relate to for the average reader in terms of his struggling with, among the rest of the things, things most people do at some point in their life, specifically teenagers.

There has been a little trouble weaving the plot together the way I wanted to, but I’ll keep working on that and fix it up more in the editing process if need be. I’ve definitely wound up neglecting certain parts every now and then, but again, that can be dealt with in the point of the process where I go back and spruce up those bits. Right now, I’m focusing on pushing the story forward and getting everything down so I can edit and make it worth something more later, anyhow. I’m not sure how many times I’ve mentioned this, but the quote stating that you can’t edit a blank page is one of my favourites, despite not knowing the exact quote or the person it’s credited to, and I like to enforce it as much as possible.

Unfortunately, all of the work on writing and sleep schedule hoopla has left me slacking on my reading. I just haven’t had time to pick up the books I’m currently reading and making significant progress. The fact that I’m reading more than one book right now isn’t really helping – I want to catch up on my goal to read 12 books this year, and I’ve been getting caught up in things every time I start to make progress on that, so I’m trying to juggle reading Lara Parker’s ‘The Salem Branch’, Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, and a little bit of Scott McCloud’s ‘Making Comics’ on the side there at once. Trying to alternate is one of the big problems here, but I’m working on that, as well.

Catching up on that, though, is what I suppose tonight is for – I wrote a bit on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, and am going to be spending the rest of the night trying to catch up on other things I’ve been neglecting lately. I’m currently on page 135 of ‘The Salem Branch’ out of 334, 392 of ‘Dracula’ out of 450, and 101 of ‘Making Comics’ out of 272, and am going to be working on that periodically throughout the night. Speaking of which, I am planning to spend the entire night outside – since my new sleeping schedule utilizes staying up until sunrise and sometimes after, and I’ve been coming outside to get most of my writing done, I’ve decided to attempt to spend my entire night out here on the carport.

It’s currently 1:28 AM, and I’m doing fairly well thus far. I thought that I would wind up chickening out, but I’ve updated my to-do list and got plenty to keep me occupied, plus the company of my lovie to keep me from getting too scared. I’ll be dropping inside – just at the front door – on the occasion to grab a drink or a bite of string cheese, but other than that, most of tonight is being spent out here. I guess you could consider it camping out, if only a little, in the Camp NaNoWriMo spirit. In addition to reading, I’ll be updating things that need updating that I’ve been neglecting a bit, and probably wind up working at least a little on the NaNo Novel as the sun comes up (sleepy writing is always fun).

To keep up with my progress throughout the month a bit better, you can follow me on twitter @TheDerpOfficer and I’ll most likely follow you back (just say the word, hehe). I’ll probably be giving some fairly frequent updates on the late-night “camp-out” throughout the night, as well, if anyone’s interested to see how that’s going!

In conclusion, the first week has been well, and week two is setting itself up to go by great, as well! How has the first week of Camp NaNoWriMo or JuNoWriMo been going for everyone else participating?

Camp NaNoWriMo: My Plans and ‘Supplies’

I’ve already mentioned a few times before that I’m going to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this June. I’ve never participated in either of the Camp NaNo’s before, and I’ve only participated in November’s NaNo once, which I wound up giving up on. This year will be different – I’ve got time, goals, rewards, and inspiration. I’m building up more and more excitement for Camp NaNoWriMo, and I plan to go through with this. I’m outside now as I write, sitting on my porch and enjoying the fresh air – something I’m sure I’ll be doing during most of my writing sessions during ‘camp’.

My project this year is the same one I tried to go through with last time, and the same I’ve began several unfinished drafts on, even completing one of them. None of them quite had the right spark – and after a while of immersing myself in a different project along with reading up on the craft of writing a lot more, I’ve figured out how to make it work for me much better. The plot’s being twisted around and recreated, new twists have been added, and I’ve gotten heaps of ideas for new character development, something that was missing from the older drafts (despite my absolute love of it – my characters and their relationships as a whole are some of my favourite parts of writing). Instead of sticking to the same old story that I usually try to tell, I’m starting at the same place and allowing myself to branch out to whole different levels of the story. It is, as I mentioned in a previous post, a continuation of an edited version of a short story I posted on here a while ago, The Angels.

This may not be the final draft, but I have a feeling it will be the best version yet – complete with new dimensions to old characters, and a plot much more fun to get into than before. I am 100% sure that when this draft is finished, it’ll take tons of revising and rewriting to make it into really something, but that’s not really the point – you can’t edit a blank page, and if you don’t start with anything, you won’t end with anything either. NaNoWriMo is a tool to get a draft started/finished, not a tool to complete a polished, ready-for-publishing novel, after all. Now, without further ado, my supplies for camp:

  • A few pre-written entries to the novel

I’ve been doing some pre-NaNo writing, to get the ball rolling on my story so that when the event actually begins, I’ll be past the opening and ready to delve into new and exciting dimensions of a story that I’ve been through several times. My project is going to be written in journal entry format, seeing as it’s one of my favourite formats to both read and write in. It’s a blast getting into my character’s head and it’s a way to make the story very personal – it’s not just his story, it’s his thoughts and his emotions weaved into it on a different level. Journal format isn’t right for everyone, but for me, it makes writing the story much more enjoyable, and that’s what matters at this point – I have to enjoy writing it as much as possible to be able to get things down so quickly.

For camp, I’ve decided to try out a software made for journals, called ‘The Journal’. It’s working very nicely for me – it took a little bit to get used to (which was another reason I started doing some pre-NaNo writing, in order to get used to the program) but it’s easy to get in the hang of and use. Since I’m writing in journal entry format, I’ve created a category for my NaNoWriMo novel and am using the journal features that the program was primarily made for. It logs each entry per day (which I will have to change the dates when I save the draft as a whole, but it is useful) and has a little calendar that you can manage and click through to each entry on, even allowing you to add onto days that have already passed or start entries for days that have yet to come, which is also useful for novel-writing in some ways. It saves your entries periodically, and also has a ‘save as’ feature under the export file section where you can save each entry (or even the entire thing) as a different file-type (I go with .rtf’s for the time being while I just save an extra copy of my work).

Dropbox is how I manage to keep all of my files backed up and in-order. I haven’t had it for long, but it’s a great help – if you save a file in the dropbox folder, it will store a copy of it on your account online and on every computer, phone, etc you have connected to your Dropbox account. It also allows for easier sharing of files and folders. This is where I save my extra .rtf copies of my entries for my novel, in it’s own little folder in my Dropbox. Not only is it easy to use, it’s very useful and helps you keep your files on-hand as easily as possible! I suggest it to anyone who wants to keep their files safe and sound and would like to be able to access their files not only from any computer or phone that they have the program on, but anywhere so long as they can get online and into their account.

  • Drinks and snacks

While I’m not much of one for snacks, I love to have a drink while I write. Coffee, sweet tea, green tea, Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, anything I like, I’ll drink it while I write. It helps keep me comfortable and energized, and the occasional snack is great too. As I write this, I’m sipping on some very, very sweet tea, expecting a little bit of supper in an hour, which will be around the end of a pre-writing session. I’ll also probably go to Starbucks every now and then like I did during November to enjoy some of their delicious little snacks and a mocha while I write (this usually helps me get a lot of work done – going out into a different environment specifically to write both gives me some fresh air and a change of setting, along with motivation!).

  • A friend to participate with

This June, both my sweetheart and I will be participating. Having someone else to participate with is actually very exciting for me – especially since we’re going to be sitting down and powering through some writing sessions together. We have our goals set for our days and will both work towards them together until we both reach the minimum word count goal we’ve set, meaning that if one of us has hit that goal but the other hasn’t, both of us keep writing regardless until the other has. Not only does that encourage writing more than our daily goal when it happens, it also has some motivation for the other person to get their draft down faster (again, as NaNo is a tool for getting things down, not getting a polished, publishable draft, getting the story down quick is a goal for most) since the other person will continue to work despite hitting their daily goal. We’ve also decided that after we both hit our goal, we’ll discuss the work we got done today and whatever problems we encountered/things we discovered during the process.

  • Rewards

I guess this kind of ties in with the last two here, but I have worked out a rewards system for the month. Every Sunday, if we’ve hit at least our minimum goal in weekly word counts, we’ll be able to watch a movie together to relax for a little while. The movies are generally less serious ones and moreso ways to relax and get a laugh after a week of hard work. We’ve also both chosen something to get the other when we finish writing these drafts, which might not necessarily be during NaNoWriMo, but still provides incentive to keep writing. Another reward I’m planning on giving myself is being able to read a little bit once I’m finished with my goal for the day.

  • Twitter/this blog

Yes, they’re distractions – but being able to escape and get distracted every now and then is okay, especially when you’re doing a lot of work around the time. Not only will tweeting and blogging document the experience and how it’s going, it allows me to reach out to others who are experiencing/have experienced the same event before. One of the most enjoyable parts of NaNoWriMo is, to me, learning about other people’s points of view on the event and how it’s gone/going for them.

Daily word count goal for weekdays: 2,000 words

Daily word count goal for weekends: 840 words

Are you going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are your goals and “supplies”? And for everyone in general, what have you been working on lately in terms of your writing, and how’s that going?

The personal side of my writing

This is going to be a really short post, and a bit personal, so if you don’t like that kind of thing I’d suggest not reading this. It’s short, unedited, more than likely all over the place and bad with explanations, but I’m having a lot of trouble today (especially with writing) and I really want to at least post something if I’m not going to get anything else done.

Writing is a very personal thing to me sometimes.

It’s more than “just a hobby” as people I know personally seem to claim it to merely be, it’s a passion – it’s something that’s very emotional for me, and looking back at old drafts, I can see the mentality I had when I wrote them. I can see my fears and hopes and dreams shining through them, no matter how they’re laced into the stories. Writing unlocks several different facets of me that I may not have even noticed until writing a certain story or rereading draft of one. Drawing and writing are things that I have always loved to do, and are also ways of expressing myself.

Sometimes, they’re even a means to keeping myself happy, although that’s tied into that writing and drawing are things that I really enjoy, and some of the only things that I have to enjoy as of now. Sure, there are other things, but most of the time, what I’m proud of tends to be my writing or my drawing. Without them,  I’d probably drive myself mad with my own boredom.

But that also means that having problems with my work can cause some pretty bad effects on me in general. A lack of motivation to work on editing and revising my script is currently making me feel lost and hopeless in the process, where even forcing myself to do it ends up getting no where and helping with nothing, and trying to take a break just stresses me out even more. Problems with this end up unlocking problems with other things, and everything just grows and gets worse.

I just don’t know how to motivate myself to finish this chapter of the project. I really want to, but at the same time, I just feel like I can’t.

I’m relapsing, and it’s a horrifying experience. I feel helpless in terms of some of the only things that make me happy, and finding inspiration and motivation is one of the hardest things for me to do.

I really need some help here – how do you find motivation to write? How about inspiration?

Goodreads and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”

Accomplished some things I’ve been trying to do for a while today thus far! I’ve had an account over at Goodreads for a while now, but I never really bothered with it after I first got it. I’ve fully intended to start using it more, and I was reminded of it earlier today, so I hopped back on there and found that it actually seems like it could be fun and maybe a little handy for keeping better track of anything. I’m just starting out with it so I’m still working at getting it all situated, and I don’t have anyone on my friends on there, and I’m definitely willing to be friends on there with anyone who would like to add me. Feel free to join me while I try to get nice and cozy there, whether you’re a long-time member, a new one like me, or anywhere in between that.

It’s made me realize that while I really love to read and get immersed into fictional worlds, I haven’t really read as much as I’d like. I have a few books I want to read, and a few books I’ve read and really liked, and of course, I’ve read people’s work online (Roninspath’s The Rosemary Saga stands out here, I don’t really remember much else I’ve read online thus far. I think it’s worth reading the summary and checking it out if you like how it sounds!) and work my friends have written, but I haven’t read much of what I’d like to. That being said, upon realizing this I was very disappointed in myself, and thus, took action.

I’ve started reading Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, since it’s the most appealing book on my shelf that I’ve not read yet at the moment and seems to really suit my tastes from what I know about it. I’ve been planning to do more research on the original vampire myths and older depictions for a long time through reading the novels and watching the older movies (I’ve seen Nosferatu, but nothing more than that) for a while now, and it’s really time that I start taking action instead of planning on doing things, because sitting around and planning to research, planning to read and planning to watch isn’t what I want to spend my days doing. As I write this, I’ve got the book marked at page 27 and might read some more later. For now, I’ve got a few things to get out of the way.

If you’d like to check out my in-progress Goodreads profile and maybe friend me, you’re more than welcome to, and since I’m trying to wrap up this post and keep it fairly small for once, I’ll go ahead and close it now. What’re your opinions on Goodreads if you’ve checked it out any time before, and have you read/started reading Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” before or are you planning on reading it? If so, what did you think of it, or why do you want to read it?

Fiction Writing: Horror Genre – Scary story tips!

The Slender Man

One of the first images of a viral horror that has inspired pants-shittingly horrifying video series, alternate reality games, and blogs.

So, you want to write something that will inspire fear in someone – something that will legitimately scare people. Something to perhaps wrench our stomachs in fear, crawl up our spine with that little feeling of being watched, make our hearts beat like fear is pumping into it through our veins. But you may run into a problem that I see a lot in those who want to write horror – you might be unsure of what to write about that can both be enjoyable for you and have a product that has the ability to inspire fear in people.

That’s what I’m here for, today. To give those tips that those of you who want to write a convincing scary story and want to enjoy writing it as well, or in my case, feel at least a tad bit of fear while writing it yourself – although, to me, personally, fearing while writing a horror is enjoying writing it – but need a little help figuring out how to do so, or simply need some inspiration on new ways to do so.

I write creepypasta (for those who don’t know creepypasta, it’s pretty much short stories of the horror genre) in my free time, for two reasons. The first one being I like to write a bit of horror when I get the chance, the second being I want to string together a story that can actually scare people, since most of the pasta I see floating around the internet isn’t written in a way that it scares me, personally, and in the eyes of a horror loving reader, that’s not really a good sign.

So, I decided to try to piece together what made the horrors that actually inspired fear in me scary, and why the ones that didn’t simply… didn’t. Now, everyone is afraid of different things, so I can’t assure you that following my tips will make a story that scares everyone who reads it shitless, but the thing about these tips is it doesn’t outright TELL you what to write about, it only does what this is for: tips. Tips on how to make the fear realistic, the story convincingly written, something that you yourself can enjoy and/or fear at the same time and still be your own unique product.

So, without further ado, this is a brief list of some of the reasons I’ve found with why some horrors don’t come off as scary to me or in the opinions of others I have seen:

  1. It’s not written in a way that it really convinces and engages someone.
  2. It doesn’t seem like the writing style shows fear.
  3. The subject matter isn’t something that seems like it would really scare many people.

Now, as I said earlier, everyone has different fears, therefore not everyone will be scared by your story. However, there are people that share fears, and that will come to your advantage. Here is my personal check list for when I write horror – feel free to bend and break it to your will, you’re a writer, you have every right to do that – that is inspired by things that actually have reception of scaring many people, and my observation of common fears.

  • Project your own fears into your writing. I cannot stress this point enough. If you aren’t scared, chances are, you won’t be able to make it seem scary in the writing, so your readers have a high chance of not being scared. This is a big part of making the story convincing. Channel your own deepest fears, be it a combination of your largest fear mixed with your other lesser fears or just a certain fear you have, into your writing and make something that YOU would be scared of. This tends to give it a more effective, scary feel. The first and perhaps funnest thing for many people to write about is something that they know about, be it from research, experience, or however it is they know of it, so it would make writing it much more easier on you and enjoyable, although by all means, step out of your comfort zone as much as possible (writing a horror story about something you fear may already be this) – a feeling of discomfort may be pushed into your writing, but it will make it even more convincing – as challenges always help you improve.
  • Try something you know others fear, especially if you, too, fear it. Let’s face it – a lot of people have similar fears. This is what makes popular horrors popular – the common fear. Many people fear the unknown – that’s why so many people fear things such as the popular fear, death, the dark, and paranormal creatures that you may or may not know as such as The Slender Man. They don’t know what happens after death and what they will face, they don’t know what could come out after them in the dark, they don’t know paranormal entities/eldritch abomination’s like Slender Man’s motives, weaknesses, or true modus operandi. Find something that you know other people fear, and you fear at least the tiniest bit, as well.
  • Alternatively, take something that people know well and/or find comforting and throw it into the uncanny valley – twist it into something unnatural and/or intimidating. Imagine, something people see every day. It’s perfectly normal, perhaps even comforting to see. Then they realize that there’s something off about it. Something so normal that it’s not, that it becomes something alien and intimidating to them. This is like combining something people know well and combine it with the unknown. Changing something that should be normal or comforting and turning it inside out, twisting it into something unnatural and intimidating, can be scary. Again, take The Slender Man for example. A tall, thin man in a business suit isn’t something most fear. But there’s just something so wrong about him/It, something so wrong that it’s left tons of people scared shitless after getting into the mythos. Perhaps you can take something so normal and push it into the uncanny valley, combine it with factors that people and you yourself tend to fear beneath it’s ‘normal’ surface.
  • Be subtle, but be careful about it. Subtlety is your friend in most cases. Be subtle about things. Foreshadow, but don’t make it obvious. This is something that every story needs at least a little bit at one time or another, but it’s something I LOVE to see hit right on the head of the nail in horror. It gives an unnatural “What’s going on?” feel to it while still remaining effective and convincing. Don’t use too much subtlety when it comes down to it, but don’t use too less if it can add something to your story, either. The point is, try not to say things outright sometimes, but keep giving it emotion and feel. Practice subtlety when you need to use it, so you can learn what a good amount of subtlety for your writing is when it comes in handy. Mystery is a lovely aspect for some things, especially when it’s mixed into horror. Subtlety is something that can be very hard to do right, and I’ll probably give it a post of it’s own sometime later. Until then, if you think subtlety is something that can compliment your scary story, see how you can use it for it – don’t forget to practice!
  • Subtle or not, give us detail on the senses of the writing. Do not be boring, but not over the top. If you really want to scare someone and your story has a character experiencing fear, don’t just say “John was scared.” Use detail on certain things, no matter the style, if you want us to get the same feeling as the character. Compare a simple sentence like “John was scared.” to something more detailed, such as “Anxiety rose and bubbled through his body like boiling water as John’s eyes darted around the room. An unnerving sensation of unblinking eyes upon him surged through his body, his heart pounding loudly as if it were trying to escape the confines of his chest, racing against time itself. Something wasn’t right, but he didn’t quite know what it was. Confusion and fear laced his rising breath – he saw no one else alongside him, despite the unshakable feeling that there was someone there, watching him constantly.” Detail can help make the reader feel things much more easily – don’t say that he’s scared, or he’s confused or angry, show it instead. Make the reader get the same feeling that someone in the situation would. However, when doing this, like subtlety, it is important not to go over the top with detail, or it’ll just become a heap of steaming detail and let the reader know too much about the feel of the story, depending on what kind of feel you’re going for. You can try to experiment with using a lot of detail if you want to see if it can work, but I personally wouldn’t advise it. It depends on personal and reader preference.
  • Whether or not you’re going for psychological horror or gore-based horror, maybe you can try to mess with our psyche just a little bit. The human psyche is something very interesting, and using horror writing to play with it at least a little bit depending on your horror genre can just be great. Messing with people’s heads in writing can be a great practice for learning styles, at the very least. We’ve got our own fears and ticks up here in our minds, why don’t you try to play with it? Mess us up a little, give us nightmares, if you want.
  • Have fun with it. Make your own list of how you do things when you develop your own horror style. Don’t follow everything in this list, if anything at all, bend and break it until you find something that works for you and your genre of scary story. You’re a writer – mess around until you find something that you want. Take the tips you get and bend them around, twist them until they fit for you or don’t use some of them at all. If you want to try something someone doesn’t advise, if you want to experiment with things that are considered things that should never be done in the genre just to see how you would do it, go ahead. Do what YOU want, not what a list of tips tells you to do. This list is to help you create your own formula and give you ideas on how to help your horror writing, not tell you what to do. Be yourself in your style and be unique when you find the opportunity to be.

This is how I personally work on my horrors and what I tend to see done in ones that are successful. The key to it is finding what you enjoy doing and what really works when you try it, observing the way different things in your writing effect the piece itself and the readers, and very importantly being original, in the end. These tips can also apply for script writers who are doing a script for a horror movie and the like, not just people working on writing a fictional novel, novella or short story.

I’d like to suggest a little horror writing exercise, either to help you get inspired for something else, practice your horror writing or just your writing in particular, or maybe even just for fun – if you have any childhood fears or nightmares, use those for practice. Things based on childhood fears and the like can turn out to be very scary and fun to write about if it doesn’t bother you too much to do it.

On a last note, I’d like to suggest some of my  favourite horror for you horror fans out there.

Novel: Mark Z. Danielewski’s ‘House of Leaves’ is a splendid novel that is most often considered horror. It plays with psyche and experiments quite a bit. Despite it’s large size, I would definitely recommend it – it is a splendid example of psychological horror.

Web video series: Marble Hornets is the video series that started the hype over Eldritch Abomination, The Slender Man. It is inspired by the original creepypasta under the SomethingAwful thread and has scared plenty of people to unbelievable degrees. I, myself, had to cover my mirror and windows for months after watching and becoming hooked to it. However, the key to the story is to *pay attention to the background* and when you don’t see anything for a while, keep paying attention and don’t give up until you’ve at least watched up to entry 18. This is the element that causes the horror effect it has with it.

Music: ‘Haunted’ by Poe, the sister of the writer of House of Leaves, is a beautiful song that inspires me for horror writing. Although the song is inspired greatly by their father, it is also a companion piece to the novel, as the album itself is considered to be as well.

Do you have any comments, ideas, or things to add on to these tips? Leave them in the comments section if willing to do so – any insight is helpful to writers of any genre!