Halloween Reads and Two Sentence Horror Stories

In which I give my Halloween reading recommendations and dramatically read two sentence horror stories.

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Turning an Idea into a Story

I often quote Stephen King. In some ways he’s the king of how to write, so I decided to google search for a picture of him wearing a crown, and low and behold, it exists.

Ta da! I’m not exactly sure what that symbol is in the corner, but whatever.

Well, I’m going to quote him again–or at least paraphrase–something he said in his book On Writing: anything can be a novel. I’ve heard other people say it as well, but I can’t think of who at the moment and they all say the same thing anyway.

You can make anything a story, if only you have the guts to do it.

I think Stephen King uses some example of a plumber in space, so when he says anything can be a story, he really means anything. And I agree with him. If you’re gutsy enough, you’ll go for it. You have to stop worrying about what a story should be, and start thinking about what a story can be. Creativity doesn’t spawn from rules, but from possibilities.

Whether or not you turn this idea into a short story or a novel or a poem or flash fiction is completely up to you. If it feels right, do it, but first, you have to put words on the page. Stop worrying and simply type.

But writer’s block is a real thing, you say. My personal solution to writer’s block is either to not look at it for a while or to type “What I don’t get is…” and then I finish the sentence and then the paragraph, and then I go back and erase the first bit and then I keep going. The point is, there’s a solution. If you want to know more in depth solutions, read my blog on writer’s block: https://rebeccaweirapensivewriter.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/how-to-be-a-writer/ But I don’t want to focus on that here.

Here I want focus on making the story. It doesn’t even have to be something as crazy as a plumber in space. It can be a shoelace on the ground. Ask yourself, what story does it tell? How did it get there? Who’s was it? Where is there shoe?

There are never ending questions and possible directions to take this story, but instead of deciding on a direction, sit down and start typing, and see what comes out. Let the plot develop; let the characters develop; don’t force it.

If you have a more developed plot idea, that’s great. Totally great. Been there done that, but it can be difficult and restrictive, and I think you’ll find that you end up changing a lot of it anyway.

Don’t think: if it’s meant to be, the ideas will come.

There are always ideas. You only have to see them.

That shoelace. That girl standing on the corner of the street. That coffee shop. That blade of grass. That planet. Think big; think small.

No idea is a bad idea, except Fifty Shades of Grey. That was a bad idea.

Hermione approves of that statement.

I Might Have A Chance

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That’s a quote from at Instagram account called words.by.eliu, that posts quotes from authors, and some of them are okay to me–there are a lot about love–but this one really spoke to me today. I think that it’s because I really need to feel like I have a chance.

That’s awful depressing sounding, isn’t it? That probably reflects my horrible day. We all have them, but allow me to expound upon the series of unfortunate events of my morning (not to say these are horrible things necessarily, but that doesn’t meant they’re fun, either):

I barely slept last night, and then I get to my car and spill coffee on my clean white shirt, and then I have to go to class anyway because it’s a senior BCMB class and, let’s just say that I need to do well. Then I drive around for 50 minutes looking for parking when it doesn’t usually take me more than five or ten minutes, only to park in a staff spot that I pray won’t get me a ticket. So I’m late to my worst class and we have a quiz and I make it for that, but it’s online for some dumb reason, so of course my technology doesn’t work, and I have to schedule a time to come back to campus in the afternoon to take it. I get back to my car, and ho–a ticket! For the 40 minutes I was away from my car… And that’s just my morning.

We all have mornings like that, I know, but it always feels like it sucks the most when it happens to you.

I think it effected me so much because I’m just tired: of this semester, of being in the wrong major, of school, and even, yes, of writing. I’m so tired that I am losing the energy to read or write. I’m simply over being a senior. Can’t they give me my degree already? Especially when I’m not sure if I’ll even use that degree.

And I know that I have a chance of making it–of passing my classes and graduating.

I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there is an awful lot of fog between me and it.

Really though,

I just want to write. Is that too much to ask?

Yes. Yes it is.

Not only do I have to find the time and energy to write, but the writing world itself is a den of wolves. That’s not to say that writer’s are terrible people, because obviously I would like to think I’m not, but it’s terribly difficult to meet their standards, but even that’s not good enough. There are so many wannabe writers that you much exceed expectations.

While there is competition in all career fields, some feel it more than others. It’s well known that making it as a writer is hard. It just is. There’s a reason the phrase “the struggling artist” exists. We’re all hoping “that perhaps, there’s a slight chance that I might have a chance.”

All this to say, there’s no way I’m giving up. Like the quote says, “There’s a fire in my chest that anchors me to the ground, that constantly tells me that I can do this.” So even if at times like these, when my anchor is but a thread and the fire, a single, lonely flame, there is still a chance.

The Instagram account: https://instagram.com/words.by.eliu/

Reading Quality Books

You always want to read a quality book, right? But what does that look like? Quality can mean a myriad of different things in the world of literature.

To some (usually English majors), that means Fitzgerald level writing–it’s a classic or it’s not worthy! Others read for the plot, but oftentimes those books don’t have great writing. Some even give credibility to a book for it’s length (and if you’re one of them, please stop), confusing quantity with quality.

Each group forms their own posse that fights for top of the leader board.

In one corner we have beauty; in the other corner, we have intrigue. Who shall win?

None may know.

I’m one of those people that acts as the referee for the match. I like both, and I always find myself debating this with people and trying to be the mediator. Each are enjoyable for different reasons. I think Stephen King said it best:

“There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words–the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.”  -Stephen King (On Writing)

I have definitely read books that are bland but pretty and those that are interesting but in ways, horrifically written. Take Divergent: the first of the series, it runs off of suspense, but the writing is quite poor. It’s popular for the masses though because the story is so interesting, and honestly, because the reading level is not very high. That’s not to say that readers of these books aren’t capable of more. No, not at all.

See, oftentimes people read not to become smarter by increasing their vocabulary and their knowledge of sentence structure, but for relaxation, and you can hardly relax if your brain is having to work a lot, can you?

An easy reading level also means that people can read it really quickly. People zip through them in a day or less oftentimes, and then they’re hungry for more. They aren’t huge commitments, which makes them more appealing.

However, there’s a lot to be said for beauty in words. My favorite examples are Fitzgerald (guess why I picked it earlier) and Charlotte Brontë. My favorite book is Jane Eyre, which kind of surprises me. Not a lot happens in the book, and the first ten chapters people talk about dragging on. I never really felt that way about it though. The words were strung together into poetry–and yet it was a book–so it made me forget that I was waiting on things to happen. (Mostly… I still thought about it some).

But like Stephen King says, the combination of great words and plot is gold, and when you find a book like that, never let it go. A good example of that is Tolkien, and he will never be forgotten (I hope). While some of his writing feels extraneous, he definitely keeps you reading with plot, and his words are literal poetry in places. It’s simply amazing.

So, folks, read for beauty; read for intrigue; read for both. But whatever you do, read.