It's not that easy to write a horror story. Many things that scare people have already been done in one form or the other on television and in literature.
So a few things I've picked up during my procrastination period are, first and foremost, to be original.
For me that's one of the hardest hurdles to get over. It's also why I let my imagination roam wild and I let my characters go into the abyss outside the box. If you have read my FF's you'll know what I'm talking about - when a story feels like it's starting to settle it means that it is becoming predictable.
That's when I change the direction of the story and throw one of my infamous 'twists' into the works; something no one saw coming and it follows the plot. My characters are still chasing after their happy ending (or not so-happy ending), they just decided to take a treacherous hike through the forest of doom instead of skipping along the clearly marked path to their destination.
Throwing these unexpected twists into my stories have had readers questioning my sanity and accusing me of being evil (although I will not deny the latter). But I'm not really.
I only choose the road I believe will develop my characters into the beings I want them to be, and you can't have character development if you're afraid to imprison your perfectly powerful little darling in the enemy's dungeon and have him slowly lose his mind instead of magically breaking out of his confinement, pronto!
Another thing I've gotten down to an art is developing the story itself. I'll have this wonderful idea for a novel, maybe dot down a scene or two, or I'll write a 'whole' first draft from start to finish. Then I leave it.
I go back over the details in my head; replay the whole story in my mind over and over. I leave it to fester, I re-think it time and time again. Truth be told, giving a plot time and space to grow inside of you will eventually produce a wild, beautiful tree. It will have branches that spread in directions you never would have thought of if you'd drowned it with water. And when the time comes to revisit it, you'll have a clear vision of which twigs to trim, which branches to break off, and which ones are necessary for the tree to flourish.
Then, of course, there's the roles your characters play that you need to consider. Minor characters that serve no purpose but to fill a blank white space with words need to be erased completely. Main characters that are necessary to tell the story must be original.
Each of mine in Shadow Legacy, the manuscript I'm currently working on, have clear goals they want to achieve. Haley, my lead protagonist, has her goals change throughout the novel, as her character develops and situations arise, from basic survival to protecting her family. Randolf's goal is to keep Haley alive and preferably in one piece, Jeremy's goal is mainly to woo Amber and avoid getting dragged back to his origins, and Amber's goal is unachievable - who can really make everyone truly happy? - but her determination for goodness serves as the spark that redirects the other characters toward the end.
Speaking of which, it's really difficult for me to write horror. Not that I lack the creativity to do so, just the opposite actually. The story has become so vivid in my mind that, yes, I actually get the jitters merely thinking of starting to revise it. A sleepless night of procrastinating later and here I am, coffee in hand, curtains wide open and music playing loudly.
I'm in the right mind to inflict my horror on the page, and once I have, maybe you too will be as scared as I am.
Until the next blog!