Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 Things Every Writer Should Know....

10 things every writer should know before they start writing.

1) Basic plot. You need a beginning, a middle and an end. And basically, that is all you need to have. You can fill in the gaps later. Right now, there are more important things than plot to worry about.

2) Characters. I don't mean knowing the names, ages and what they look like. You gotta know how old your female MC was when she got her period, or how old your male MC was when he got his first stiffy. You need to know their grandmother's mother's maiden name. You gotta know how often they have sex. You gotta know if their mother has a skin condition of unknown origin, and if she does... exactly why is the origin of that skin condition unknown? These aren't just dolls! They are fucking people. If you're gonna pen down their story, you better know them better than their mothers do.

3) Genre. I know, I know. But you don't want to start a story as a romance, venture into erotica, then become a suspense/thriller, then sci-fi before finally settling into horror... just before it turns into a western, complete with "Well howdy there partner." Know what you're writing, please.

4) Setting. A story has to have a place to happen. Sure, the characters can travel, if need be, but they need a definite, central place for the story to focus on. Having fifty different places in one story makes for hectic reading.

5) Timeline. Some stories span hours, some days, some months and some even span lifetimes. You got to know how long this shit is gonna take so you can write accordingly.

6) Conflict. Gotta know who or what your characters are up against. There must be conflict, be it internal or external. Know the conflict. Make it fucking impossible to overcome. Then... have your characters overcome it anyway. "Protags must protag... and antags must antag." (Cathyfreeze said that on Absolute Write Water Cooler forums oh so long ago.)

7) Who is gonna win. Bad guy? Good guy? You decide, but you had better make sure that decision means something and isn't just because that is how you want it. No: it doesn't matter if it makes no sense in the story if all the other people die, I just want this one little girl to live, alone in the world with nothing but chain grocery store leavings to feed her for as long as her lonely lifespan lasts, which if I had my way would be forever and ever and ever and... shut up. Make your decisions count. Don't just do some stupid shit cause you want to. The story isn't really yours. You may create it, but it isn't your story. It is the story of the characters. Make sure it stays that way.

8) Will the winner of said conflict come away basically the same? If so... stop. Rethink. This is not so the character just goes on about his merry way like he or she never even went to Duggard Academy and got ass-raped by a baboon. It doesn't work that way. This shit changes people when it happens to them in real life and so, it must change your characters. They are, after all, people too.

9) How will this conflict change the world for your characters? This is not the change within the characters themselves, as is listed in #8 of this post. This is how things around them change. Do others feel the change this subtle conflict resolution has brought? If not, why not? If so... how... and why?

10) This is the absolute most important thing any writer should know before they start. Writing is fun. Writing is therapeutic. Writing is a great way to kill off a certain someone time and time again... all while being perfectly legal for you to do so because it is fiction and has no affect on the person in reality. They needn't even know you've killed them (or how often). If you aren't having fun, you aren't doing it right.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Writing Without Thinking: My Way

Okay. So, a little silence on the blog front from me for a while, other than my novelette pimpage, so I suppose I owe you guys a real post.

So, a few years ago, I was in between writing projects and had no new ideas forthcoming. But I felt the need to write. Those of you who write as well, you know that need. Those of you that read... well, it's inexplicable. I'd say it's almost like a need to scratch something you can't reach, but pleasant.

As I had no new ideas frothing in mine tiny brain, I decided to go with something old and borrowed. But what? I couldn't think of anything that interested me to write about. That's one thing about writing... the writer has to be interested too.

So, I'm looking around my house, looking for inspiration. I didn't find it, but I did find my DVD shelf and a thought occurred that tried to be inspiration.

I would pick four DVDs from my collection and have a day-long marathon. Thusly armed, I would sit down that night and just write a mash up of the plots. Just something for myself, something to do for the fun of it.

Instead of picking them all myself, I decided to enlist my kids to close their eyes and pick at random... one DVD from each of us.

First pick was mine. I picked Message in a Bottle.

My oldest son picked next... Sexy Housewife Orgy or some such thing. (Remember that we picked with our eyes closed, so he didn't intentionally pick the porn).

My Daughter picked... The Parent Trap (the original).

My youngest son picked The Silence of the Lambs.

Deeming the porn unsuitable for daytime watching, I re-placed it on my shelves and had my son pick another film, though I decided that I would keep the erotic aspect because it was originally picked.

His replacement pick was Exit Wounds.

Looking over these titles, I thought to myself, "Shit a brick. What am I even supposed to DO with this??" But, I stuck with my plan, watched the movie-marathon and sat down that evening to write.

I kept writing for months on that story. It was nuts, it was wildly unbelievable & cliched.

It. Was. Awesome.

I had so much fucking fun writing that story. It was seriously stupid in the storyline department, but it was some of my best writing. Because I didn't have to think about it too much. It was already there, I had the basic lines of my plot... cannibals, twins, sex, cops and romance. I dug it so hard.

Basically, though, this exercise taught me not to think about my writing too much. Get thee the basics and write the fruition of thy sullied mind. Don't think about it until it dies.

My writing has gone through many, many changes and grown by leaps and bounds. I tried several genres before settling down to horror. My mash-up story occurred just before I came to my horrible home. It is no longer my favorite bad story (because it really was awful) but to this day it remains the one I had the most fun writing. And writing should be fun, shouldn't it?

Peace & Love

Monday, June 21, 2010

And It's Black Rainbow Pt. 2

So, I just noticed that Part Two of my novelette Black Rainbow (clickables!) is up over at The Piker Press. If you read part one, go on and read part two. See what is up with Fox Thomas, Emma and Percy. You don't want to miss it.

Blurb: Fox and Emma try to forget what they both want, and can never be ... but even as they push away their thoughts, something else is listening ...


Monday, June 14, 2010

What Could Possibly Be Over a Black Rainbow?

My novelette, Black Rainbow (clickable), is being published by The Piker Press, and Part One is available today. Go and have a read.

Blurb: Years pass, and what seemed would be unending tedium, a habit of living suddenly changes. It feels good, but only as long as Emma and Fox don't think about it too much ...

Black Rainbow: Part One of Four, by Effie Collins.

Peace & Love

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Hisotry of Effie: The Girl You Think You Want to Know

It is the end of the school year here and the flurry has descended. Today was the very last day of school and the kids are home. Arguments have ensued and I am wishing heartily for the biggest Xanax they ever made.

Sometimes those cravings just refuse to stay gone.

There have been questions as to what kind of person I am... some people don't believe that my picture and I are the same person, or that my pictures are me in some other form of self that doesn't exist except in the land of photos and that I am hiding the true me. This has come up in more than one internet venue, so I'm making an effort and addressing it.

I've said it before that I am who I am and I'm not going to pander to anyone for anything. If you don't like how I look, don't look. If you don't like what I say, don't listen. If you don't like what I write, don't read it. It's not MY problem. But for those that do like what they see, hear, and read, and still doubt that the simple and plain looking girl in the picture has those dark and strange things in her head, here's a history of Effie. It's what defined me as a person and what makes me tick. This is far better directly from me to you, with no editing or filters as it's just me, and that's exactly how I like it.

I was born in West Virginia and have lived here for most of my life. By most of my life, I mean pretty much all of it. As a kid, I was bright and creative, with an imagination far too big for the little girl that contained it. I was never really a pretty girl--as a kid I had this awkward and strange face that could have belonged to either a boy or a girl, eyes that were far too dark to be real and gapped and horrid teeth. I have always been cursed with stupidly long legs that are impossible to buy jeans or trousers for. I was a thin kid and did cheer leading, karate, choir, band. Straight A student. I had promise.

But what is all that, really? Surface shit. It's what you would have seen twenty-some years ago, before the real world showed itself to me in all its ugliness.

15 years ago, you'd have seen an awkward, if mildly pretty teen girl who didn't know who she wanted to be. She wrote constantly and listened to music, sang songs and took long, lonely walks. She hand only enough friends to count on one hand with fingers left over, but that was okay with her. She'd have rather had two true friends than a hundred pretenders. And she wanted to be loved. It never occured to her that she had two very good parents who loved her more than anything. This girl wanted that one love, and you know what I mean.

Well, that girl found it. To her everlasting sorrow.

About 8-10 years ago, you'd have seen a teenage girl trying desperately to balance a baby on each hip while her toddler held onto her belt loop or back pocket of jeans that didn't fit and had holes everywhere, with a diaper bag over one shoulder and pacifiers over several of her fingers. One for each kid's mouth. This girl was too skinny, rarely if ever brushed her hair or her teeth; there just wasn't time. Her eyes were constantly circled in purplish-grey because she never slept and those same eyes were almost always red and dry because every chance she got, she lit up a doobie just to feel sane. This was a sad, desperate, angry girl who wanted to be anyone or anything other than the failure she was. Because I was a failure. I'd quit school, popped out babies every year from my 16th to my 19th and while those babies slept, I scribbled in notebooks, pretending I was a writer and not just another drug addicted teen mom with less than a glimmer of talent.

Her boyfriend-turned-husband is an asshole, mean and cruel. He never has a kind word for her; she is lazy and a lousy housekeeper, a terrible mother, she smokes too many cigarettes and does too much of the dope that he pays for.

She gets a job.

She works her ass off for a little bit of nothing and hands him her paychecks to pay for her cigarettes, pot, and cocaine, or pills, or whatever it is he has that week. Her children are now all toddlers, and she sings to them every night, reads them books, does flashcards and teaches them to read and write simple words, all before they are even school age. But she is a terrible mother. I hated my husband for daring to say that because I never beat my children. Back then, not beating them was equated with not so bad. Showing them how to read and write was that extra step toward good to this poor, stupid girl who didn't know better.

But one day she loses her temper at work, a famous franchise of restaurants that will stay nameless, and throws a full pan of freshly baked potatoes at her boss, clocks out and walks the seven miles between work and her house.

So now she's home, all the time, with nothing to do but take care of kids and snort more blow, smoke another doobie, crush another Xanax or hell even take a handful of them.

I do not exaggerate when I say I was high for more than 8 years. There may have been days when I had nothing to get high on, but on those days, I was so dope sick I was just as useless. Puking, shitting out the foulest stuff you can imagine, shoving Cheetos, a cup of milk and peanut butter crackers at my kids and calling it dinner so I could run back to the bathroom. And when my husband finally came home with some dope, I was waiting at the door, hand out.

Until he stopped coming to the door where I lived and started going to someone else's door. Then I was all alone with my kids and my habits in a place I didn't know. I called my parents and came back home. He came back, of course he did... but that's another story for another time.

That was a sad, lost girl. That was me.

I have dark things in my head because I've been dark places, the darkest places you can imagine. When you have an imagination like mine, it's dangerous to combine that with drugs, especially hard drugs. I tried to kill my husband not once, not twice, but four different times. I tried to kill myself far more. I never ate because I was never hungry--the pills fed the only hunger I felt--and there were times I remember eating five or six hydro tens and then waiting until it all went away, the blue or the green ones only... the pink Vicodin never did a damn thing for me unless I had more than eight. Percocet slowly became my drug of choice, but even it faded to coke.

That was in 2005... when my father died.

By then sleep had become a far away thing I barely remembered and I walked around in a constant stupor... a breathing vegetable just waiting for her next rail. A dope eating and snorting machine. If I didn't have a line to toot I was a class A raw bitch and no one wanted to even talk to me. Except my kids. My anger never extended to them. I know that sounds like a lie, but it isn't.

I never grieved for my father and have never visited his grave. I guess to me, seeing where he is would make it real. I think I'll go soon. It's time, I think. Maybe. Soon.

So, we have the now Effie to look at I suppose. I still smoke pot, but the other drugs are behind me. I can't go back there... if I do, I'll die. I no longer play with my writing, about two years ago, I stopped with the coke, though the pills took longer to give up, I think quitting coke was harder. I got my first computer and started typing my stories up. I started looking at publishing and realized just how badly my stories sucked. I was writing everything with nothing more than my imagination and a tenth grade education, plus GED, and I was horrified to find that what I was writing wasn't even close to good.

But writing was the only thing in my life that had been constant. And when I sat down to write, I was real. I knew I was real. Writing became something like a job and I started to be serious. I started to really want something beyond my walls and kids.

I want this. I want to write, I want people to read what I write and find the little truths in my words and worlds. They may be dark and twisted and disturbing, but they are mine and they are real and they are true. Just because they come from a place of imagination doesn't mean they are all fiction. My words come from a true place most of you could never face without pissing your pants.

Those places are still inside of me and all I have to do is remember to know what I don't want.

I have my kids to care for, my mother to care for. I have my writing and am working hard for the few publishing credits I have. I have my life and I am grateful for it because there was a time that I wasn't even human. That is what molded the woman people think should look differently than she does simply because of what she likes to read and write. I am cynical and I am bitter. I am dark and brooding and rarely happy in the most accepted sense of the word. I look "sweet", as some people say, but how many of you knew the truth of me before this? Do you like it? Is it interesting?

Do you think I'm pretty? All of me, inside and out? The ugly things inside me are the truths and the almost pretty face and decent enough body shape is the lie. I know what I am. I know what kind of monsters I have in my heart and head. I know what I can be, good and bad, I know my capabilities.

When it comes down to it, it's my choices that brought me to this place. And I chose to be better. I may never be completely drug free, I may never be completely whole or wholesome. But I am what I am. Aren't you so very glad you know me now?

Peace & Love

PS: As an added note, I'm taking a little break from the blog for a week or two to deal with some real life issues. I keep getting my posts in later and later and not on time and I am having to take time to deal with one thing and then another in my life that can't be put off. I will be posting still, but very sporadically.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hold me to it Pt. 6

This week's word count is good stuff, people.

The grand total is 4011 words on various short stories. I've done no work on the novel rewrite, but there are reasons for that. Real life sometimes only leaves so much room for writing time.

I did have a poem accepted for publication though, so that's something.

I have not been setting goals for this and I think that's best. I do well with a deadline, but not a self-set deadline. But, knowing I have to have word count every week to report to my followers is enough of a goal.

So, that's it. Till next time.

Peace & Love

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spotlight Weird: Necrotic Tissue

Necrotic Tissue: Issue 10: 04/2010.

Cover work is something that can grab you as you pass it by on the shelf. Strategically placed, the cover of a novel, or a magazine, can make you stop, pick it up, browse. Maybe buy.

Necrotic Tissue (clickable) has stellar cover art, they have stellar stories, they are, to be frank, an awesome magazine. Sadly, you might not find them on your local store's shelves... but that is what reviews are for. We get to pow-wow about these little gems you have to hunt.

Basically put, editor R. S. McCoy knows good horror. The stories chosen for each issue have a depth that many writers (including this one) hope to have in their work.

There's only one true downside to this magazine, and that's the advertising. But, they have to be able to pay their writers semi-pro and pro rates (pay scale differs for type of short stories see their submission guidelines, found on the site linked above, for details). The stories contained in each issue are worth that, so I don't mind scanning the ads while I thumb through for stories.

One thing I love about a printed magazine is the feel of the page. I don't know why, but I love the paper Necrotic Tissue uses to print on. It has substance and a certain feel to it.

Another thing I love about this magazine is their 100 word "bites" - little stories that are really just a glimpse that tells it all. In issue 10, I'd recommend the one entitled "Express Checkout Lane" by Bob Eccles. If you don't laugh, you're insane. So it is written and blah blah.

Pick up a copy of Necrotic Tissue from their site. It might cost you a bit more than some of the other magazines I've talked about so far, but I somehow don't think you'll mind.

Oh, and since you're here and all...

I have a poem out with SNM Horror Magazine's Dark Poetry section. Go and read Brothel of Wicked Fantasy (clickable) by me.

Peace & Love