Elements of a horror story – descriptions

man with horror mask - elements of a horror storyWhen man first developed language, life was harsh and merciless to say the least.

Back then horror stories must have been quite common, only that they often had to do with everyday happenings. Tragic happenings.

Given that storytelling is most likely as old as language itself, also the essential elements of a horror story must be just as old.

Indeed, some of them crystallized a long time ago and, in a way, never really changed.

In this post I’m going to focus on descriptions. In particular, on why it can be so difficult to strike the right balance between detail and vagueness when writing horror fiction. I mean, this is a difficult feat in any genre, but in horror fiction it is even more so.

Elements of a horror story – from the beginning

We humans are made the way we are made because it paid well from an evolutive point of view.

For example, when a man looks at a woman for just a brief moment he tends to overestimate her beauty.

In fact, it’s better to stop, go back, have a second look and maybe get laid with miss cave woman rather than simply go on with our everyday chores and then, maybe, get killed in a mammoth hunt without having first passed on our precious pool of genes. Continue reading

How to use creative writing quotes to be more productive

Seen from a distance, as an outsider, creative writing might look like a decidedly glamorous occupation. And, indeed, many creative writing quotes seem to enforce such idea:

Creative writing and shooting are muscles that atrophy. But when you work them, you become a self-generator who can branch out—Eli Roth
It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way—Ernest Hemingway
dancer on a stage - creative writing quotes

However, the truth is decidedly more prosaic. Creative writing, like many other occupations, is a business. A business that requires a serious commitment.

Sure, there will always be someone going around claiming that it’s better to work smart than to work hard. Or that grit isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for success.

Truth be told, some time ago I myself wrote a post about the benefits of quitting. But I focused on quitting after having tried hard and without success to get the job done. Not on quitting just halfway through our first attempt at something.

In any case, even if it’s quite apparent that working smart is much more preferable to just toiling away, it is also true that many people tell themselves they are working smart when instead they are simply loafing about. In a manner of speaking, they’re always taking a break.

Of course, also creative loafers manage to finish some notable work from time to time. But those who do so represent a small minority of the loafers. All the others have simply nothing  to show for all their self-professed creative endeavors. Continue reading

How to become a writer, really?

path leading to the beach - how to become a writerIf you want to become a writer, all the rules in the world and all the books about style and usage can help you only so much.

In fact, at a certain point you must come to terms with the fact that there’s no other way than actually trying to do what you want to do most.

I want to become a writer… It’s a simple concept, isn’t it?

Yet, have you ever noticed how the simplest concepts often are among the most difficult ones to put into practice?

Because the simpler they are, the more pervasive they can be. In a word, they can change forever your life. Maybe even capsize it. Continue reading

How to be more creative

half an orange - how to be more creativeIf you can come up with a large number of ways to use a brick or a hanger, then chances are you already know about how to be more creative.

At least, this is what the Alternative Uses Task devised by J.P. Guilford’s seems to suggest.

Now, there was a time I thought this way of measuring creativity, though fascinating, was somehow too simplistic. A bit like the definition of creativity in the Merriam Webster dictionary: “the ability to make new things or think of new ideas.”

Yet, it has to be acknowledged that any idea, even the stupidest one, is an act of creation, and that sometimes great ideas don’t look very promising at the beginning.

So, instead of pondering on the possible pros and cons of all the different techniques purporting to teach us how to be more creative, I think it is much better to try them out in first person.

In fact, what works for me could represent a waste of time for someone else. And viceversa. We’re all humans, but we’re all different. Continue reading

Writing a book – a simple checklist

tree on mountain top - writing a bookIt is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed. This is just one of the innumerable quotes likening writing to hard toil, self destruction, and whatnot.

Indeed, writing a book isn’t exactly a piece of cake. After all, on average, a novel is 80.000 words long. Considering 5 characters for each word, this means that our fingers will have to strike at least 400.000 times on the keyboard. And this just for the first draft. Without taking into account any mistake, any rewriting.

In fact, chances are that, before we are finished, we’ll have hit no less than a million keys on the keyboard.

Just at the thought, my fingertips ache…

However, truth be told, writing a book can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. Besides, many of the difficulties beginning writers encounter are nothing else than the result of quite preventable mistakes.

All we need are some down-to-earth tips. And determination, to follow them. Continue reading