The Hypnagogic State

December 31, 2012

It’s real.

It is!

It is one of the coolest and most interesting tools I use as a writer. ‘Use’ isn’t the right way to put it, though.

When I started writing short stories I had a wickedly regular schedule. I could sit down for a couple of hours every day at the same time, same desk and write. It was working really well. I had tons of ideas and motivation. But with my third story I couldn’t quite figure out how to end it. I knew the final final scene, but I had no idea how to get the story there. So I lay in bed that night, thinking about my story…and it came to me, in it’s entirety—like a scene from a movie, somewhere between being awake and falling asleep. Pop. In my head.

For some reason I didn’t get up and write it down, I took a gamble and went to sleep. When I woke up the story was still with me. I made my coffee, ate some brekkie, and when I did sit down to write it just spewed out.

So I’d say ‘access’ is better than ‘use’ to describe what happens. It happens a fair bit, too.

I didn’t know what it was until I read an article by J N Williamson in Mort Castle’s book, On Writing Horror.

I do it all the time, now. It gives me something to do as I’m falling asleep, too. Better than working myself into a panic attack about money and all that real-life bullshit.

Here are some other resources that are pretty useful:

Shun’s manuscript format: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

James Gardners workshop for writers: http://www.thinkage.ca/~jim/prose/toc.htm

What I’ve learned (so far)

December 29, 2012

This blog thing, I’m hoping, will take a direction, become what it wants to become. Until then here are some of the tips and realities that have made my writing better and my life easier.

  • Hold down function alt while you type m j i j on your keyboard if you have a notebook like me. This gets you a properly formatted emdash. I use a lot of emdashes. I thank Angel Leigh McCoy for that tip.
  • Start every story in the correct manuscript format.
  • Adverbs are, in many cases, bad. I already knew this, but if you didn’t, Google it. Decide for yourself.
  • Beware of filtering. It is also bad. (thank you Sarah Cassidy)
  • Micro tension. Make sure each section of your story begins and ends with something compelling and propelling. Even each paragraph, each sentence. Don’t ‘close’ a scene. Leave it open and the reader wondering. (thank you Usman Malik)
  • Ask yourself ‘what are the stakes’. Are they compelling enough? (thank you Joseph Nassise) I forgot this important issue in one of my stories, fell in love with the creature and ignored the story. Joe pushed me back on track.
  • Make as many connections as you can in your writing community. Help people out, be friendly, volunteer, get involved. It can be a solitary life for a writer, but there are others out there. Support each other, encourage and commend. It can inspire you and motivate like you wouldn’t believe!
  • Too many adjectives, also bad.
  • Don’t be too clever and cute, and then fall in love with the cleverness in your writing. Cut it. Hit delete. It’s annoying. Just write the story. I want to go back to the stories I wrote in high school and see what atrocities I committed.
  • Submit. You won’t know until you do.
  • Editors are great people who want to put out great publications.

Accepted II

December 25, 2012

I’ve just received my second acceptance.

So psyched.

I never intended to write a zombie story. Didn’t think I had anything to add, except that I find zombies kind of sad … until I read something on Open Call about zombies in history, the editor was specifically looking for zombies BC.

The story came to me in its entirety. It flowed so easily. And it was something the editor was looking for.

It was really interesting to talk with the editor on the phone. He requested some edits, and more words. I’d never expected to be asked for more words. I figured it would typically go the other way. I’m so thrilled to be engaged in this process. His suggestions and feedback were encouraging and inspiring.

I’ve been looking forward to getting to this point with a story, looking at it with someone who also wants to see it be its best and can give me an outside perspective. I’m learning so much.

And I’m so happy.

PS … I am never going to write a story about psychotic hill-folk. I guess the novel will be coming to me soon.

Accepted!

December 15, 2012

December has been a fantastic month.

Not only did I sell my first story … to [Nameless] Magazine, a fantastic magazine put out by some fantastic people, but I also have a mentor now!

I am so happy I joined the HWA (Horror Writer’s Association). I’ve got my newsletter column, a number of great new friends, my critique partner, Usman. It’s been the best investment in writing I’ve made.

Added to last month’s news that my non-fiction piece will be used in the Deep Cuts anthology … I’m feeling pretty chuffed.

YES