Let’s Get Honest – Writing Your Truth

Welcome back, it’s been a while since I have written about writing your truth. Today, instead of giving you tips on writing your truth or how to be vulnerable, I’m going to share something from my life.

My life inspires my writing, and I think it’s safe to say that’s true for most writers. I mean, what else are we going to write about if not our life. Even if you write fiction, fantasy, horror, little things in life will inspire things in stories. I’m going to preface what I’m getting ready to tell you by letting you know that I’m not sharing names, but I will let you know that I am talking about my Dad.

Alright, Dad has inspired me recently to start writing children’s story. Using the word inspired makes it sound like a good thing that he has done, but it’s really the negativity that he has added to my life that has inspired me.

First off, I’ll cover the good he has done. I know he is a good person, I can trust him to be there if I need him, and he did the basic things that parents are supposed to do to take care for their kids. He makes me laugh, and we have had good times together, and I still like being around him, but he has also hurt me in many ways. He wasn’t and still isn’t, big on practicing what he preaches. He often told me things that I should and should not do, but I constantly saw him breaking those rules.

He was somebody I was supposed to be able to trust, but, as I got older, I started questioning that trust. He also expected and wanted me to respect him, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. As I got older, I started questioning this blind respect I was supposed to have for him, and he didn’t like it. We’ve had our fair share of arguments, most of which revolve around this concept of trust.

Now, I know respecting your parents and elders can be a touchy subject for people. I know there are quite a few people like my dad that believes you’re just supposed to respect people older than you simply because they are older. I’m not one of those. Hear me out, I do think you should respect older people at first. Just like parents deserve respect from their kids from the get-go just because they are their parents. That said, if the older people and parents show you, on numerous occasions, that they have little to no respect for you and your boundaries, then you have every right not to respect them as much. Simple as that.

But that’s where my Dad and I bump heads all the time. We’ve had numerous arguments and it all comes back to the same thing. And it doesn’t matter how much I try to explain how I feel to him, he doesn’t listen, which, ironically, is something he tells me I don’t do. He doesn’t have the respect for me that he expects me to have for him. Growing up, I did respect him, but it wasn’t until I hit probably 12 or so that I started to really realize the injustice.

I live very close to some cousins, and when I was younger, we would ride bikes together and play, but my Dad hated it when I played with them. I never got an explanation as to why, but if my Mom wasn’t home, he wouldn’t let me go see them. Now, I did do bratty things growing up, but what kids don’t? I snuck out of the house once to go play with them because they had a swingset. I got caught, of course, but I didn’t do that again.

If it wasn’t for my Mom, there are a lot of things I wouldn’t have gotten to do. It seemed as if my Dad didn’t want me to be a child. I could be a kid, at times, when I was with my parents, like when they took me on vacation and such, but at home, I was supposed to be seen and not heard.

The fun part about growing up is I was pretty much grounded my entire childhood. I know I did things that pissed my Dad off, which is why I got grounded, but for the most part, I had no clue as to what exactly I did. The one thing I can remember is I spent the night with a friend once, and my parents asked me to call before I went to bed. I forgot to call. My friend and I were having fun and then we crashed. There was no between time where my mind went, “Hey, Felicia, we need to call home.” I apologized for forgetting, but that wasn’t good enough. My Dad told me I would never get to spend the night at a friend’s house again.

Now, I will say this, my Dad didn’t hold strong to those declarations, but whenever I managed to upset him, he drudged up every little infraction I had made growing up and he would punish me for them all over again. Like I said, I don’t remember much of the “bad” things I did as a kid. Trust me, I’m sitting here trying to remember things from my childhood, but I’ve realized I’ve repressed most of those negative moments. I can remember the fun I’ve had, but I don’t remember much of the yelling I got from my Dad.

When I got older, I began to realize a lot of my Dad’s problems stemmed from his childhood, but he doesn’t see these things and this causes us to be unable to move past these problems.

But my Dad loved yelling and still does. He sucks at sharing his feelings in any other way. If a friend asked me to spend the night, I never knew how to broach the subject because I didn’t know how he would respond. His favorite answer was “No.” He’d turn me down on everything.

High school was my roughest time and the roughest time for my parents. I went to an Early College where I got more freedom than a regular high school and I went stupid. I skipped classes from time to time, and I got found out and punished for it. Luckily, I was still able to graduate on time with my diploma and associates degree. (That was just a side note)

My Dad had a heart attack when I was in high school. It was scary for me, and I know it was for him. But here’s the kicker, when he was better, he blamed me for his heart problems. He had smoked cigarettes since he was 15 and had biscuits and gravy every Sunday, but I was the cause of his heart attack. That was something I had heard from him my entire life. Starting at around age 8 or 9, he would tell me on a regular basis how I was the cause of all of his problems. He hardly ever gave specifics, but most of the specifics were things that all kids do because it is part of the learning and growing process.

He doesn’t understand why I don’t respect him, which is his skewed viewpoint because I do respect him to an extent. He’s a man that doesn’t listen when I ask him to stop bothering me. He’d poke and pick at me, try to distract me from what I was doing, or just all-around bug me, and when I would say, “Dad, would you please stop,” he would say something along the lines of, “Don’t get an attitude with me.”

All humans have their faults, but I feel we should learn from those shortcomings and try to improve. My Dad, unfortunately, isn’t at a point to learn from his. He doesn’t want to face the darkness within, and until he does, he will always be the short-tempered, yelling man that I have always known. But, even though he hasn’t been the best Dad, I’ve always known that he does love me, and I will continue to love him.

So, how does all of this inspire me to write kid’s stories? I don’t have kids, yet, but I feel I can teach children something. Maybe, it might also help parents. I want to, in a cute way, share these struggles and teach them about respect, trust, and more.

Through my kid’s stories, I hope to shed light on this darkness that children and adults alike can learn from. Don’t worry, though, I’ll still be writing my other novels as well.

To sum things up, I decided to share this because I have preached about being vulnerable in your writing, yet I haven’t shown you vulnerability. I could get more vulnerable than this story, but I figured this was a good place to start. Plus, it felt good to share. I know I may get some backlash on this because people may see me as some ungracious brat, and if you feel that way, so be it. I’ve said these exact words to my Dad before, but “Only I know what I feel and think inside, just like only you know how you feel and think inside. It’s up to you to believe whether I’m share my true feelings or not.” I can tell you a million times I’m being truthful, but it’s ultimately up to you to believe me or not.

Hopefully, there is something in my story you can resonate with, and I hope that nobody views me as a brat. But, as long as you read this and it stirs up some type of emotion, that’s all that matters.

“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” – Noel Coward

FYI:

Make sure you grab your copy of Loved by Death here. I am going to make it available, soon, on other sites as well.

10 Ways to Find Writing Inspiration

Being a writer isn’t as easy as some people think. It takes time. You have to come up with ideas. Then ultimately you have to write it down into a cohesive manner. After a while, you will find it hard to find inspiration. Inspiration has evaded me before, and there have been times where I had to make myself write. I don’t like feeling like I’m being made to do something, and I’m sure most of you are the same way. If you’re looking for some inspiration to help you get motivated to write, I’ve got a few tips for you.

  1. Books

What better way to find inspiration that with a book. You don’t even have to go with inspirational books, but you can. Any type of book; fiction, non-fiction, young adult, fantasy, horror, whatever your favorite type of book is. That book might just hold that piece of inspiration you’ve been looking for. Stephen King’s book IT helped me figure out how I wanted to organize my book.

2. People Watching

This is my favorite. I’ve always been a fly on the wall type person. Or a wallflower. Whatever you want to call it. So sitting around and watching other people has always been entertaining, and it’s the perfect way to get inspired to write.

3. Brainstorms

Sit down with a pen and paper and start writing things down. Write the different ideas you’ve been playing. Don’t worry about organizing anything, just write. Something on that paper could end up becoming your next big success.

4. Writing Journal

This is great for any writer. It’s not something you have to write in every single day, but it’s there for you if inspiration strikes. You can write down quotes, snippets, plot twists, characters, or dialog. All you need is a simple spiral bound notebook.

5. Dreams

This may not be very easy, but keeping up with your dreams may give you some ideas on what to write about. There was one morning I woke up and I could remember a dream I had that night, and I wrote it down because I thought it would be a great plot for a story. I’ve not used it yet, but I still have it written down and ready if I ever want to write it.

6. Exercise

Breaking a sweet is a great way to find inspiration. There’s something about physical exercise that gets the brain working.

7. History

It’s amazing but looking back at history can give you inspiration. Look back at some of the greats like Leonard di Vinci, Helen Keller, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and Gandhi.

8. Nature

Tired of staring at a blank screen? Take a walk outside. Spend some time and nature and let your mind relax. Appreciate the things around you. Notice the beauty of a sunrise or sunset. You’ll be amazed at how well this will help you find inspiration.

9. Friends

Have real conversations. Spend time with people you like and just talk to them. You never know what’s going to come up, and it might just inspire something inside you.

10. Music

Find some music that inspires you and play it while you’re writing. This could be classical, hard rock, metal, whatever gets your mind working.

That’s my tips for you today. I hope some of these help you to find inspiration the next you are stuck. If you have some tips to help people find inspiration to write, please share them in the comments.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

 

The Killer of all Great Writers

Today we are going to talk about the biggest killer of all writers.

 

Writer’s Block

 

Calm the screaming. I know, it’s scary, but it doesn’t have to end your career. There are ways around it, and I’m sure I will write many more posts on the subject. There’s no need to feel bad. Every writer gets it. Even the best most famous writers have to deal with writer’s block. I’ve got 14 ways to help you work through writer’s block.

Before we get into how to combat writer’s block, let’s look at what could be causing the block.

  1. Timing – Maybe it’s not the right time for you to write. Maybe you need to let your ideas stew a little bit more before they can be written down.
  2. Fear – A lot of writers will struggle with fear when it comes to actually putting their ideas down on paper. They are afraid of sharing a part of themselves. They are afraid of being criticized and judged. They are afraid that it will be the only thing they write. I know fear has been what has slowed me down on getting my first book out.
  3. Perfectionism – For a writer, the book is never done. Even once its gone to press, you’ll still be thinking about how you could have changed something. At some point, you have to be finished with it. Perfect doesn’t exist. It’s only an excuse.

While dealing with writer’s block is tough, here are some things you can try to break through the wall.

  • Find some inspiring quotes and read them for inspiration.
  • Make bullet point lists of ideas.
  • Call somebody you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Spend some time with a person that lifts you up.
  • Come up with a regular schedule.
  • Make some coffee.
  • Listen to music.
  • Freewrite.
  • Read a book.
  • Switch up your environment.
  • Play.
  • Exercise or do something that keeps your blood pumping.
  • Get rid of your distractions.
  • Take a walk.

The important thing is to create some momentum to get over that wall.

If your still not sure what to do, here are some things that you should not do to try to overcome the block.

  • Refusing to write until you are inspired.
  • Wallowing in self-pity.
  • Making excuses or procrastinating.
  • Watching TV.

If you’re looking for that magical fail-proof way to overcome writer’s block, here it is:

WRITE

Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you. – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Writing a Horror

I just got finished with another short story. This time I tried my hand at a horror/dark fantasy type story. I’m planning on submitting this to the next issue of Millhaven Press. Whereas all my other stories that have been published through Millhaven have also been published on here, I’m not going to add this one to my website. The only way to read it will be through Millhaven. So, I’ve been inspired to write a little blog about writing horror stories. They can be tricky.

Horror, if you’re not aware, means “an intense fear of fear, shock, or disgust.”

When it comes to horrors stories there are five main things you will find:

  1. They deal with wicked or malevolent characters, phenomena, or deeds.
  2. They cause feelings of disgust, fear, or shock, and a sense of uncanny. This means that things aren’t always what they seem. There is a strong sense of the unknown.
  3. Horror stories will cause intense emotion, environments, tones, and moods.
  4. They have shocking and/or scary story revels and plot twists. All of the evil characters are very, very real.
  5. Readers are immersed in the macabre.

So how can you convey these five things in your writings? Here are six tips to help you.

Strong, Pervasive Tone

Mood and tone are the two elements that create the feeling of your story. The right mood and tone can cause the reader’s spine to tingle before any of the characters have done anything dangerous.

With horror, the frightening and dark tone is typically how most writers go. Making things that shouldn’t move, the move adds a frightening tone. Write a scene that most people aren’t going to want to actually live.

Read A Lot of Horrors

No matter what kind of genre you like to write in, you have to read a lot of books in that genre. While you are reading, you can take notes to see how those writers evoke feelings of disgust and fear. Some great horror authors include Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, and Bram Stoker.

Give Bad People Good Motivation

The bad people in your stories should never be doing things “just because” they can. That’s boring. Give them a really good reason as to why they are getting ready to hurt people. Reveling their reasoning can be part of the mystery as well

Use the Importance of Tragedy

The best way to write horror is to implement tragedy. The best stories will have tragedy as a character flaw seen through stupid choices and missteps. These basics of tragedy have become so obvious is nearly cliche. It’s those moments where you’re screaming “Don’t go in there stupid” because the character is oblivious to their own personal danger.

The important thing is to remember that all the horror-filled scenes all depend on character flaws. They wouldn’t be in their scary situation if they hadn’t made the decision to walk into the woods alone or run to the attic where there is no escape to get away from the serial killer.

Tap Into Human Fears

An easy way to make sure you arouse fear in your readers is to use some of the most common fears out there. Things like the:

  • fear of animals
  • fear of flying
  • fear of the dark
  • fear of heights
  • fear of another person’s unknown desires
  • fear of ugly or disorienting environments

Think of how you can use these types of situations in your stories to evoke a more natural fear in your readers.

Terror VS Horror

Both of these things have their place in horror stories, but you need to know the difference. According to the Oxford dictionary, terror means “extreme fear.” Horror means that you are also causing disgust and surprise. This means that horror should not only have extreme fear but a sense of surprise and revulsion. Here’s a quote from Stephen King:

I’ll try to terrify you first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll horrify you, and if I can’t make it there, I’ll gross you out. I’m not proud.

There you have it. Try these tips the next time that you decide to write a horror story.

Before you go, check out these links and purchase the first two copies of Millhaven’s Tales.

Get Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder here

Pre-order Millhaven’s Tales of Suspense here

Pre-order a double pack with Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder and Suspense here

Seven Steps to Writing a Short Story

Writing a short story can seem a daunting task. Feeling as if you have to get an entire story into a certain amount of words can be scary. I feel ya. I had written a full length book before I ever tried to write a short story. You would think since it’s a short story it wouldn’t be as hard to write, but something about it feels you with dread and despair.

Chances are, the way you write your short story will change each time. But there are some patterns for short stories that you can follow. I’m going to talk you through the seven steps to writing a short story.

First, let’s look at the three requirements for short stories.

First, you will need about 10 to 20 hours to work on the story. Everybody writes at a different pace, and the length of short stories can vary from 500 to 5,000, so there isn’t an exact time.

Secondly, you’ll need an idea. The seven steps assume that you already have an idea.

Lastly, writing devices and utensils. You can’t very well write if you don’t have a way to write.

Here are the seven steps to writing a short story:

  1. Write out the basic story in a single sitting

This may sound like a crazy step, to tell you to write a story, but there are two types of stories. The short story, which is complete with characters, plot, and descriptions. And a funny story that you tell your friends.

This first step is writing out the shorted, quick version of your story that you would tell a friend. It’s not about all the action, just the quick nitty gritty information.

This needs to be done in a single sitting. Just spew out the story. Don’t worry about all the little details.

2. Find the protagonist

Once you have spewed out the story, ignore your feelings about it, and start looking at the details. Read through what you have written, and find the protagonist. You may think you know who your protagonist is, but it can be a bit tricky.

The protagonist doesn’t have to be the narrator, and they may not even be the good guy. The protagonist is the person that makes the story move forward. They’re the one that holds everything together.

3. Create the perfect first line

That first sentence is what keeps people from setting your story down and walking away.

Here are five ways to create that perfect first line:

  • Invite the reader in
  • Surprise them
  • Establish your voice
  • Be clear
  • See if your story can be told in a single sentence

4. Break it up into a scene list

All stories are made up of a series of scenes that take place at a certain time a location. Creating your scene list will help to keep your story organized. Don’t feel like you have to stick perfectly to your list, but it’s there to help.

5. Now you can do research

You probably want to do this first. Get as much info as you can get so that you can feel your story with a bunch of detail. The problem is that it can distort your story, which could drive you crazy.

Some writers don’t do any research, which isn’t good either.

Right about now is a good time for research. You know what your story is going to consist of, and now the research can help you add in details.

6. Write, edit, repeat

Now that you have everything you need for your story, you can start to write it. The actual process of writing your story is yours to do as you will. Everybody is different, and I can’t tell you how to do it.

7. Publish

Your story isn’t done until others can read it. That was the point of writing in the first place, right? This can be the hardest and scariest part, but there are lots of different ways to achieve this. You have to put yourself out there, but you’ll feel good once you do.

Now you have the seven steps to writing a short story. Make sure that you continue to practice your writing. Practice makes perfect.

If you’re looking for something new to read, check out Millhaven Press and grab your copy of the first ever Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder. It’s the first issue. Get it here.

You never learn to write a novel. You learn to write the novel you’re on.

-Gene Wolfe