Cookie Cutter Fiction

“I want to feel passion, I want to feel pain. I want to weep at the sound of your name. Come make me laugh, come make me cry… just make me feel alive.” ~Joey Lauren Adams

One of the first things an observer may notice, even from afar, is that I am a very passionate person. I am passionate about what I believe in and will stand my ground, preaching from  my soapbox until the cows come home. I am passionate about my friends and family. Upset someone I love, and pissed off hornets and fire breathing dragons will look like fluffy bunnies in comparison. I am passionate about what I do. I do not give bits and pieces of me. I am either willing to give something or someone every thing I have in me, or nothing at all. It is that simple.

At least, that is my opinion and you have been warned about where I stand with those already.

Should writing not be the same? Should we, as readers, not expect to be moved by the prose spread before us? Should writers not strive for this?

Any good form of entertainment, be it song, cinema, TV, or written word, should in essence make you feel the triumphs, tribulations, sorrow, and joy of the characters.

If I cannot lose myself in the world placed before me, as a reader, I feel disappointed. There is a sense of let down and betrayal that gnaws away at you.

Spare time is a valuable commodity. When it is wasted on senseless blathering or shoddy, incomplete work…it does not leave me feeling fulfilled or breathless with the rush of the thrill. It leaves me annoyed and aching for revenge.

Spiteful and vindictive wench that I am, eh?

I applaud the creation of the internet and all of the information and entertainment it brings. A mere click of the mouse and you can be anywhere looking at virtually anything your wretched little heart desires. Nifty.

Yet, part of me cringes. It loathes the ease at which many hopeful writers slap up what I can only kindly coin…garbage. One dimensional slop. Emotionless and cold as a rotting, dead fish and every bit as nauseating.

Like leeches they sap every bit of energy from you, the very willingness to open a web page, let alone read. They do not proofread. Many seem to be blissfully ignorant that spell check programs even exist. They leave us, head burrowed in the false security of a crooked arm, peering in dread at the computer screen.

These kind know no shame. They will assault you with the same emotionless characters time after time, the same tired plot, and equipped with every literary mistake known to man…they will slaughter you. The reader does not feel transported, nor do they laugh or cry along with the ensemble of cast.

Nope. We are left feeling appalled. The only question running through our weary mind, the only concern we really have is “Sweet Beezus! Is this thing over yet?”

Alas, though forty something odd chapters later, the torture goes on. We continue in vain hope that something, anything will stir even the mildest form of interest.

Don’t get me wrong. Not all writers are like this. The dreaded ones are far enough between and thankfully seem to migrate to each other. Perhaps this is the only way they find praise. To the contrary, many authors I have come across will without a doubt find success one day if they haven’t yet. Legions of them have a talent that I will never in my wildest dreams begin to touch.

I firmly believe you only get out of a story what you are willing to put in. *sweeping curtsey* My horns off to the vast majority of talented authors that pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work. Please know that you leave your readers shedding the same right along with you. Nothing beats vivid imagery, deep characters, and a heart breaking or breathtaking plot, especially if it is well written.

My advice as a writer is pretty cut and dry. Take your time. Explore your worlds and your cast. This is not a race to the finish line…unless you want your readers to feel the same way.

The editing process is painful. Read your work, re-read it. Hell, rewrite it, and then send it to along to someone else to scrutinize. A beta reader/editor is NOT your enemy.

**NOTE** They are only a good one if they send you back mistakes and are honest enough to tell you if something does not work. Send them a Rolex if they have the gumption to tell you something sucks.

If they are really good and totally honest, expect to go through this several times. Get used to rewrites. You may pull every last shred of hair out of your head before you are finished, but know that you are sparing yourself…and others pain. Add humiliation to that list.

Do not force ideas or anything else on yourself. Don’t let others cram their visions of what is “good or acceptable” down your throat.

If we all liked vanilla ice cream, there would not be millions of other flavors. In fact, Ben and Jerry’s would not exist and THAT would be a mortal travesty.

Some of us prefer spun sugar and frilly romance, others REVEL in angsty goodness and gratuitous violence. Write what you are comfortable with and people who like the same will find it.. Pay attention to the feedback you get from these people. Bask in the praise and learn something from the constructive criticism.

Make us FEEL.

If I get feedback saying a reader was laughing, crying, stunned, fearful, etc…if they felt what my characters did, then I know I have done my job.

Lastly, pat yourself on the back. Indulge. Learn from your mistakes and be original. Writing is a craft and it takes a lot of practice. It is not baking, so leave those cookie cutters at home and take a walk on the wild side.

~Best wishes and happy writing!~

Adriana

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An Evil Necessity…

Tired of hearing how horror is a “hack” genre?  Have you ever felt discouraged by the opinions people have of horror as a whole?  Need an added boost of encouragement?  Read on.

Horror is so much more than just blood and gore.  Since its inception, horror has had a reputation of being a “hack genre.”  To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s in reference to the violence or blood that splatters many pages in these type of stories, or some undermining barb that implies horror writers write this kind of stuff because they couldn’t “hack it” anywhere else.  Either way, it’s simply not the case.

Authors in this genre follow a calling.  Some of the most talented and renowned writers of all time have penned tales of darkness and terror.  Who doesn’t know the names of Lovecraft, Poe, King or Barker?  What about Koontz?  Even nay-sayers would recognize these names for what they are: masters of their craft . . . legends.  It’s not lack of skill that drives the pen forward in this genre, but quite the opposite.  We have to work twice as hard.

Effective horror doesn’t just have believable characters that strike a chord with readers.  It engrosses them.  It’s more than plot. For real horror, good horror, has a living breathing atmosphere that draws the audience in deeper with every word.  Horror takes the completely unfathomable–things we don’t want to imagine happening and makes it seem so real, so believable, that the audience clutches the covers and refuses to turn off the light at night.  It lingers and lives on. It refuses to die, even long after the story has ended.

We are not the bottom of the writing gene pool.  We do not lack in either talent or imagination, but rather have an abundance of it.  It takes a special gift to be able to reach beyond the shock value of blood and gore and truly rattle your reader to the core.  Hard work and insight are the only things that enable a writer to take an idea so farfetched it would be laughable under normal circumstances and make it a horrific reality, even if only for a moment.

People often ask me what’s wrong with me.  They wonder where these twisted ideas come from.  They hint at the kind of person I must be . . . after all, how else could a person write such dark and tragic things?  These are the times when I smile—it’s a crooked and often depraved grin, and sometimes, I feel a twinge of pity.  They don’t get it, and they never will.

Horror writers are not cursed, nor do we dwell in a terrible place from which there is no redemption.  We walk a beautiful line in life, able to see both sides of the coin in full scope.  We offer the balance.  For without our darkness and shadows, there would be no light.  Without adversity, pain, and fear, one never really understands the true meaning of peace and happiness.  We are the yin to their yang.

Horror writers are needed, and the amount of work and talent it takes to carve a niche for ourselves in this world is something some people may never understand.  We don’t view life through rose-colored glasses.  We view it through a kaleidoscope, often one dripping with crimson. And I dare say our readers tend to be some of the most intelligent and humorous folks you will find.

Hacks?  No.  We’re a brilliant and gifted bunch of people . . . an evil necessity.
Now hold those heads high and create!

~Best wishes and happy haunting!~

The Birth Of Evil

Evil is defined by Encarta as wickedness, or a force that has harmful effects.  We all have our own takes on this word, our own fears rooted in its existence, but what fuels this malicious force?  Where is it born?

Evil is a broad topic, but much of it serves as the backbone of horror.  This is the struggle our characters often face, the epic and age-old battle between good and evil, existence and destruction.  Whether it is the fight to save one’s self or the entire future of mankind, the final skirmish is still a passionate one wrought with peril.  We all know the hero’s strength comes from the basic instinct to survive, and sometimes, it’s tinged with a bit of love or compassion-but where does evil draw its power from?  How is such a thing even born?

The Natural Order:  This is one of the broadest scopes I can give, but probably the most frequently used.  You don’t have to be religious at all to understand this concept.  To everything that exists, there is an opposite.  Day has night, hot has cold, rain has sun, and so on.  If there are “good” people who understand actions such as love, compassion, forgiveness, and value life, then there are darker ones to counteract those effects:  ones who seek to destroy.  Take away the simple understanding most of us have, that inner beacon that serves as a conscience, and you very well may face evil in its purest form.  Just take a look at Dahmer and Gasey.  They are some prime examples.

Fear:  It’s a powerful emotion; one that drives us into acting irrationally.  Think for a moment, just how far this reaches.  It’s not just humans who can become violent or deadly when pressed with their back to the wall.  Even an animal, when wounded or frightened, will turn feral.  It doesn’t matter how much they love you, or how well they know you.  In those moments, they are blinded by pain and fear.  Us humans are no different.  Strip mankind of their comfort, cast them into something dark and frightening, force them to confront their own mortality, and one by one, all of our own rules filter out the window.

“Fear is the little dark room where  negatives are developed. ~ Michael Pritchard

Negativity:  Forget, for a moment, all of the special props and effects we’ve come to rely on in the horror genre, the typical things known to breed evil.  Cast aside the Ouija Boards, the spells, charms, and curses that turn men into monsters.  What does that leave you with?  An entire gateway seldom explored: the most common flaw hosted by man and one with the strongest capacity for evil yet.

Fear can be born out of a sense of danger, or a simple failure to understand our situation or the motives of others.   Fear leads to an entire host of negative emotions.  Hatred, loathing, jealousy, selfishness, anger, despair: all of these can and usually do arise.  It’s easy to let hatred fester, to let it consume you from the inside out.   Have you ever felt the true depths of despair?  Have you experienced the moments of helplessness and hopelessness that arise from those dark depths?  It would be so easy to give into that darkness, that woe-begotten way of thinking, never to return.  Once consumed with our own thoughts, miseries, and fears, how often do we stop to think about others around us and how they fare?

War, famine, disease, violence, corruption, an overall lack of compassion or tolerance toward our fellow mankind:  one need not look far or delve into the realm of fiction for inspiration or understanding.  We breed our own horror and our own forms of evil every day.

Think of the creatures or villains who might rejoice in such circumstances.  Think of a man who no longer cares about anything, including himself.  Think of a place devoid of all of things that made us human to begin with or someone who has been stripped of those things one by one until nothing remained . . . for there, you just may discover where true evil is born.

~Best wishes and happy haunting!~

Friday the 13th…

It seems only fitting that my debut blog entry be on such an infamous day. For some, it holds connotations of ill-luck, trouble, despair, and death. (those poor campers at Crystal Lake) But for me, it’s a day of celebration. I relish in the dark mystique it holds. I laugh at the alleged danger it poses. Not even superstition can dampen my spirits on this most wicked of all days. While most of you might cringe in horror, I simply smile and say, “Bring it on, love.”

Yes, I adore all things related to Friday the 13th.  The most of which is that deranged killer, Jason Voorhees. Anyone who knows me at all will vouch for the huge soft spot I hold for the big lug. I even boast my very own hockey mask signed by Kane Hodder, himself. Now if I could just find a suitable machete to match . . .

To anyone reading this, I hope you’ve had the most wonderful of days and the weekend treats you well. Perhaps I will devle more into who I am and what makes me tick in the future. But for now, I have a date to catch. I hear the water is nice this time of year. 😉

~Best wishes and happy haunting!~

Adriana