Friday, October 31, 2014

What Halloween Can Teach Us About Writing

Once again, it's that time of year. Leaves changing to orange from green. Scary movies on syndication rotation. And the dreaded five (OK, ten) pounds gained between now and New Year's.

So, what can Halloween actually teach us about writing? Read on, if you dare....muahahaha

Step into Someone Else's Shoes
The best part of Halloween (aside from eating all the dark chocolate I want with no judgement? bite-size has no calories, you know). Becoming someone else. Whether a superhero, slut or pop culture soundbite, prancing around in someone else's shoes is fun. And as a writer, for readers to connect to the page, you truly have to know your characters.

What's the backstory? Motivation? Inner demons? What does your character look like? Physical ticks, traits and nuances. Get fully into your character, so their choices and reactions within your plot flow without thought. Intimacy creates emotional connection...and the reason we read in the first place is to feel something.

Face Your Fear
Howls, heavy breathing, bumps in the night. Moving forward down dark
hallways. If scary movies have taught us anything, it's that at some point you'll have to face your fear. And despite the number of friends you start out with, you'll end up at some point going it alone.

Everyday a writer faces the blank page, there's a moment (or even days) of sheer terror. What do I write? What if it sucks? What if no one likes it? What if it never sells? What if? What if? What if?

The future is 100% unknown. And as a former control freak, that is the ultimate scare. But that shouldn't force you huddled in a corner, shivering, mumbling and stuck. You can't predict the outcome. But you can have fun playing with words, because you have total control over your actions and perspective. And who doesn't love kick-butt heroines (Go Buffy!) over the whiny "can't do it" personas?

Trick or Treat!
On the same night every year, you can knock on a stranger's door, hold out a bucket and demand candy. One of the many lessons we forget as writers is to ask for what we want. The worst that can happen is rejection (again and again and again), but you'll never hear yes if you don't ask.

Writing is predominately a solitary existence. But it takes a writing community to create a great story. You need critiquers and editors; publishers and distributors; cheerleaders, teachers, peers and readers. Communities are essential to producing your best work possible, but most importantly to stay sane (especially when facing that scary What if?).

Ask for what you just might get it.

Happy "Spooktacular" Writing!

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