Bound by Fear

 Guest Blog by H. Squires

 

I am a writer, an author, and storyteller. It took me a long time before I could utter those words either on paper or in conversation. I was bound by fear—afraid of being judged, ridiculed, laughed at, or simply disregarded. My voice climbed only as high as the paper stacked.

From the time I was a child, I enjoyed writing. Rarely, did I share my work with others—or even let people know my love of words. I only allowed family members to read my stories.

After I wrote my first novel, I fantasized about being published—which actor(s) could star in the movie, and the potential revenue it could generate—but I didn’t spend too much time in “La-la-land”. Instead, I got busy writing the second novel, and by the third, I felt my work should be published. I was ready to share it with the world. However, I wasn’t sure if it was good enough to move forward.

I knew my husband and daughters enjoyed the stories, but I felt their opinions were biased. After all, they were my family. I needed others to give me their honest opinions. I had many unanswered questions pertaining to grammar, continuity, and the lack of clarity when it came to editing. Even though I considered myself [somewhat] good at grammar, I wasn’t sure if I remembered everything from school. Does the story make sense, flow right, and keep the reader engaged? You can do only so much research from the privacy of your home. I needed help—actual, human, face-to-face support.

One of the first things I did was join a writing group. It was an all-women’s group, so the tension seemed less nerve-racking. The group meets three times a month—one of which is a teaching class on grammar and other helpful tips. The second meeting, we are instructed to read our latest work out loud to the others. This was the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in a long while. Reading to a bunch of strangers—a story that I concocted—sent me into a shaking-fit, so much so that I decided to hand my pages to another lady to read for me. I was astonished by all the positive feedback, something I hadn’t expected. They helped, reassured, and gave me honest advice. It propelled me farther.

Last year, I accomplished my goal. My third novel was published, and, for the first time, people were reading my work. It made me realize that others struggle with the very same issues as I did—not willing to share their stories. Some people are satisfied letting close friends and family read their work. For example, Emily Dickinson—a world-renowned poet—wasn’t discovered until after her death. Her younger sister found a lifetime of collective poems in Emily’s attic. Later, she sought the publication for her sister’s work. Imagine how different Emily’s life could have been if she had become published?

If you are a writer and have written poetry, short stories, or novels that serve as dust-bunny habitats, it’s time to consider sharing beyond family. Trust me, I know how hard it is, like bearing your soul to the world. Research local writing groups or go to online writer’s forums. You will get a lot of advice, constructiveness, and learn a lot. Who knows, you could be considered as the next Hemingway, Rowling, or Dickens?

Take care, my friends.

How to Find a Writer’s Group
Online Writer’s Community


Meet our Guest Blogger, H. Squires:

 

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Heather Squires’ life calling to be an author began in 1989 in Phoenix, Arizona. As an editorial writer on staff at the Utopian Newspaper, she decided to seek further review and publishing. The first project to be completed outside of the journaling world was To Desecrate Man, an action novel; completed in 2005, it became over shadowed by the second project: Rogue, a young adult fiction-adventure novel.

Upon completion of Rogue in 2009, Squires’ place in the young adult fiction world became clear. The Sphere of Archimedes began to take shape, and was finished in 2011. Currently working on the sequel, The Omphalos of Delphi, she continues to create anticipation for the future of young adult fiction.

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Make Your Readers Worry, And They Will Be Loyal

[found on writersdigest.com]

“Predictability

Readers like to worry about characters in crisis. They want to tremble about what’s around the next corner (whether it’s emotional or physical). If a reader knows what’s coming, and then it does in fact come, the worry factor is blown. Your novel no longer conveys a fictive dream but a dull ride down familiar streets.

The fix is simple: Put something unexpected in every scene. Doing this one thing keeps the reader on edge.

So how do you come up with the unexpected? Try making lists. Pause and ask yourself what might happen next, and list the possibilities, centering on three primary areas: description, action and dialogue. For each one, don’t choose the first thing that comes to mind (which usually amounts to cliches). Force yourself to list at least five alternatives.

Description: Dump generic details for ones unique to the character’s perceptions. How might he see a room where someone died? What’s one surprising thing about the wallpaper? The bed? The closet?

Action: Close your eyes and watch your scene unfold. Let the characters improvise. What are some outlandish things that could result? If something looks interesting, find a way to justify it.

Dialogue: Don’t always use “on-the-nose” exchanges. How might characters say things that put other characters (and thus, readers) off balance? Consider Clarice Starling’s first conversation with Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Clarice begins:

“I think you’ve been destructive. For me it’s the same thing.”

“Evil’s just destructive? Then storms are evil, if it’s just that simple. And we have fire, and then there’s hail. Underwriters lump it all under ‘Acts of God.’”

“Deliberate––”

“I collect church collapses, recreationally. Did you see the recent one in Sicily?”

You can make these lists in your planning stages, just before writing a scene, and/or when you revise. Either way, the unexpected elements that result will perceptibly elevate the quality of your story.”

For more tips on writing from , click here.

[found on http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-5-biggest-fiction-writing-mistakes-how-to-fix-them]

Perfect Horror Short Story? Yes, please.

[found on fecklessgoblin.blogspot.com]
    1. Pick something that could happen to your reader.
    2. Pick a location that’s familiar to your reader.
    3. Eat, drink, sleep the horror that you have created before you actually begin to write. Lie back in a darkened room and really visualise it. Scare the pants off yourself.
    4. Go to your location or one that looks like it and sit there quietly for a while. If your story takes place on a quiet street in the early hours, find one, get up in the early hours and drink it up. Take a pad and write down some notes about what you see and how you feel.
    5. Try to see the story from three or four different views even if they won’t be in the final version. Choose someone timid, someone thick skinned, someone religious. The choice is yours.
    6. Take your time, build up the pressure, slowly but surely. This may be a short horror story but you’ve got more time than you think to lay out your stall.
    7. Stay focussed. Don’t get bogged down in back story. In fact, try giving back story a miss altogether.
    8. Anticipation is nine tenths of the horror story battle – let your reader know something bad is going to happen, lead them there by the hand.
    9. Dig deep into that horror. Choose one that scares you. If it doesn’t scare you, how do you expect it to scare the hell out of your dear reader?
    10. Throw a few red herrings in there, twist them on their heads. The old cat jumping out of the fridge is a bit of cliché but you get my drift.
    11. If you’re scared of heights, go and stand on the edge of a tall building and lean over, if you’ve got a spider phobia, go and put one on the palm of your hand. Remind yourself how real fear feels.
    12. Don’t overload your reader with gore. It becomes boring and they quickly attain sensitisation. A splash of blood here and there will do fine.
    13. Don’t over describe. You’re not Dickens. Give your reader some credit that they can imagine your ultimate horror. Don’t be afraid that they won’t get the point.
    14. Keep the monster/horror hidden for as long as possible.
    15. Read the best and the worst of horror. Reread the passages that got your heart racing and try to see how the author did it. Look at the way you reacted and imagine that’s what you want your reader to feel.
    16. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles. Write a couple of different versions of your story to see how it comes out.
    17. Leave your first draft for a decent amount of time so that you come back to it fresh. For some people that’s a couple of days. For others it’s a couple of months.
    18. Always, always read your draft through once without touching it before you sit down to edit.
    19. Check you have the right vocabulary to scare. Choose the words to describe your fear with care. Make sure they fit and sound right. Try not to use unusual words that your reader won’t readily know the meaning to. It will break the flow. You’re trying to build fear not a larger vocab.
    20. Don’t forget that your story isn’t written in stone. It can change. It can evolve. It can be totally different from the original. Don’t be afraid to delete stuff that doesn’t belong.