I haven’t posted here for a while now. For one reason or another, I didn’t know what to say. They tell you to have a few ‘emergency’ posts ready in advance, but this is a diary kind of blog.
Monday was the last day of term for my writing class, and it was my turn to take something of mine in to read and have critiqued. It crossed my mind, at the beginning of term, to ask not to bring anything in, because I didn’t have anything. I felt short of ideas. I’ve been struggling, for a while now, to write a non-genre story. I’d got on a treadmill of churning out horror stories and, while I still love reading them, and watching them and listening to them, I felt that my own stuff was becoming stale. But I could not seem to come up with anything else.
Still, I persevered. On Monday, I took in a synopsis for a proposed novel- a contemporary, straightforward story, not in any genre. It was an idea I’d had kicking around for a while, had even begun writing once. I thought that, even if I never write the actual novel (and I didn’t feel inclined to), at least the class would see the sort of thing which I wanted to do.
The synopsis was only about a thousand words. As a make-weight, I also took in a newly minute horror flash fiction, also around a thousand words.
Well the synopsis went down like cold sick; but the class seemed to like the horror story better than anything I’ve ever shown them. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
I suppose the horror story was more fun. I try, when I write horror (well, when I write anything) not to let my characters seem cardboard. With horror, I start off with a plot idea- I don’t know any other way of doing it. But it’s so easy, then, for the characters to seem like chess pieces. I try to keep the plot mechanics to a bare minimum, and to let the protagonist become involved in the story through a personal failing, such as his greed or her blatant disregard for what other people are saying. I also like to sketch in the protagonist’s everyday life. M.R. James does this brilliantly.
I thought I might at least be applauded for trying something different. Anyway, I haven’t given up thinking of a straightforward story.