Something Wicked This Way Comes – Zombies

Another week closer to Halloween means another creature to talk about, and zombies sure are being talked about a lot these past few years. I wonder if it is all the grunting and moaning that makes them so popular or maybe the classic zombie walk, but whatever it is it seems to have made its mark on pop culture. 

First, let’s take it back to where it all began. Before the world became futuristically invaded with zombies we had their first appearance in Haitian folklore. Bokor sorcerers would raise corpses from the dead and control them as personal slaves. 

From there zombies had their first Hollywood screen performance in 1932 in White Zombie. However, they didn’t take full center stage until the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video in 1983. Appearing again and again on screen in movies and video games,  these creatures continue to be apart of creepy culture. 

Some of their strengths include being impervious to pain, they never need to sleep, and can sustain massive injuries without feeling pain. However, they no longer have a high functioning brain and they move slow. 

You have most likely seen these creatures in an apocalyptic theme movie or book. Both with a classic theme and some unthinkable twists, as there is a lot to talk about with these ever appearing creatures. 

This Halloween season maybe you want to spruce up your spooky series with a zombie or two (as they also mostly travel in groups)? Create your own creature twist and dig a little deeper into all things zombie!

Halloween Zombie GIF by Scooby-Doo

Happy Spooktober!

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Something Wicked This Way Comes – The Ghoul

In the spirit of Halloween it is only right to dedicate this time to the creatures of the dark that we may not typically pay attention to. Join me each week until Halloween to find out what lies beneath the scales and fangs. 

First and foremost… the ghoul. 

Each creature comes from different mythology and pertains to different legends. That being said the ghoul originates under Arabic mythology. They have the ability to shape-shift and are known for inhabiting places like graveyards or deserts. Their true form are known to be hairy and canine like, but one of their most distinct features is their hoof like imprints, and most commonly known to be crawling on all fours. 

However, with so many stories and renditions we see the ghoul in many different forms, for example…

Ghoul on Netflix focuses on “the ghoul” from Arabic Mythology that can shape-shift, and is known for its hoof like print. 

In Supernatural a popular Sci-Fi TV show ghouls are not dead but a form of monster. They typically live in graveyards and feed on human flesh both dead and alive. They can also shape-shift and the only way of killing a ghoul is complete decapitation. 

Tokyo Ghoul is a popular anime show about a character who gets bit by a ghoul and becomes half ghoul – half human. In this version ghouls look exactly like humans but like to eat human flesh. 

So next time you are writing a story and want to incorporate a ghoul think about what features you want to show and the presence it plays among humans.

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Brain Drain

Another day, another writing exercise. It’s the middle of the week and you know what that means: it’s a great time for the mind to slow down and speak for itself. Time to get some tea, your favorite coffee and sit in a comfy nook with a fresh page. A stream of consciousness exercise can get you into relaxation mode or it can help you release the many thoughts running through your head every day. All you have to do is scribble every thought, feeling and perspective that pops into your head without filtering it out. This kind of writing can help you find perspectives, ideas, and innately human emotions you can eventually use for your next imaginative story or for the foundations of a new book.

If you’re a lover of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, or Proust then you know exactly what a stream of consciousness can look like in a novel. Writing in a stream of consciousness monologue may seem easy, though, unless you’ve mastered the writing style using your own monologue, attempting one with a made up character can be difficult. Mastering this kind of monologue starts with you. How can you start practicing non-stop mind splurging on the page? 


You can sit in a quiet place outside where there is earthly activity influencing your thoughts. While you are on public transport, listen in to people’s conversations, write how you feel in that moment, what’s going on. Put all feelings, perspectives, emotions and quick thoughts down on the page. It may not make sense at all, but when you look back, the scribbles could be helpful toward your next story. Don’t second guess yourself, even if it is a terrible thought, get it out on the page. Using Stream of Consciousness writing has proven useful for stress, anxiety and depression, and a nice additive to draining your brain are the stories, characters or ideas that come from the exercise. Seize the moment and allow all thoughts to fall through the brain drain without redirecting them to the trash.

Once you’ve gotten this activity down, using a stream of consciousness exercise with a made up character can help you get in their heads and portray their traits, actions and thoughts in an accurate and straightforward manner to your readers. Before you use SOC (Stream of Consciousness) on your character, think of the situation they’re in, what traits you’d like them to have, think of their history and why they may function in the way they do. As I said, it may seem easy, but writing in a SOC with a made up character can be a challenge. The more you get in their head and challenge yourself with a variety of situations the character may face, then the more realistic and relatable a character will seem. 

Get ready to stumble, trip and fall through the crazy, funny and wild parts of your brain. This writing Wednesday, challenge yourself to a stream of consciousness exercise. you’ll get more out of it than solely writing practice, you may even find your truest feelings and thoughts on a situation, or find a new perspective your brain has been waiting to reveal from your subconscious. Open your brain and drain all those uninhibited thoughts and feelings with your favorite notebook and pen in hand.  

What In The World…?

Last week, we wrapped up our ‘Word’ series and spent a few days wondering what in the world would we share next? Let’s not waste any more time then!

We are talking about the creatures of mythology, who sometimes make appearances in novels and our writing. Let’s talk about Europe first.


 

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Valkyrie

Scandinavia

“Warrior woman who chooses who dies or lives in battle.”

Basic Facts:

  • Got her powers from Odin (yeah, one of the Gods from Norse Mythology.)
  • Very noble characters. This is reflected in their appearance (statuesque, very fair skin, golden or jet black hair.)
  • May sprout wings or wear feathered capes. Depends on the story being told.
  • More in tune with human “weaknesses” (i.e. jealous, act on revenge, etc.)
  • Magical people? In some cases, yes! It’s up to your digression. (Hint: they were mortals then were chosen by Odin…that says something.)
  • Notable Valkyries: Brynhildr, Svava

He Lives!

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Art by Bernie Wrightson

Remember when Mary Shelley wrote one of the most well known monster tales of all time?

I sure don’t because that was 1818. But that being said, Mary Shelley created a man no one would ever forget.

Classic monster literature takes on several themes, some of which cross over into other. Most of the classic literature, like Frankenstein, Dracula, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…they all seem to carry the weight of these themes.

The biggest one is enlightenment and science. Since these works were written during the Age of Enlightenment, pretty much moving away from the influence of faith to the influence of science, the emphasis on science and how it impacted those who practiced was reflected in literature. Each of the main three works mentioned earlier each show signs of science and enlightenment.

The other themes shown in these types of works are isolation, loneliness, and duality. Most of the characters embody the feeling of being isolated, being lonely, being helpless. Duality is mainly mirrored through Dr. Jekyll when turning into Mr. Hyde and in the idea of vampires, resting during the day and running amok and causing destruction when the night comes.

Do you have a favorite monster or work of monster literature?

Watch Like A Hawk

One way to help with writer’s block is to observe and write. This exercise can help beat the slump in your own story by examining and writing a paragraph or two about something going on around you. It can also help to reflect a natural flow of events in a narrator’s point of view if you’re stuck. If want to give observational writing a try, follow along with us to learn about how to execute this way of writing effectively.

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First, pick your topic. Whether it is something you’re comfortable with or if you want to challenge yourself, pick a destination where you can travel to and sit with your notebook in hand. Your goal is to watch and write. The   world has so much to offer your writing abilities.

Second thing to keep in mind is choosing your writing tense. The most common way to write an observation is through the present tense. The present tense makes it easier to keep up with the flow of events as they happen. You may not be able to catch every word someone says in conversation but you may be able to see their mannerisms in conjunction with being alone, interacting with familiar faces, or meeting new people.

The third and more obvious tactic while observing is keeping an eye on crucial details. Every writer knows detail can be your best friend and worst enemy all at the same time. In observational writing, it will be your best friend. Without detail being described in the moment you are watching your future reader won’t be compelled to sit down with you. They’ll feel like that person walking by a window to a store, peering in quickly but still passing by; they won’t see the details you’ve managed to capture because you didn’t take their hand and lead the way into your point of view.

Going off of the details aspect, a fourth idea to keep in mind while writing should be utilizing your senses. We mentioned the importance of details but incorporating your five senses may entice the reader to feel like they’re sitting right there with you even more.

The fifth and last on our list (but certainly not the least) is bringing back some old high school creative writing techniques: comparative techniques. Comparisons, simile,s and metaphors are just some ways to mirror and describe the events unfolding before you. This helps more types of readers become involved in your writing. It definitely does not hurt to revisit your old creative writing class from high school or college to refresh your brain a bit. Hm, that sounds like a future ‘Back to the Basics’ post!

Back to Basics: Exclamation Point

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The best way to emphasize emotion in dialogue is to throw one or two (or 800) exclamation points into your manuscript or text. All joking aside, you realistically only want to use this point in moderation. Using too much of a good thing becomes dramatic and we want your writing to create the drama, not the punctuation.  It’s always good to know when to use this magical point that effortlessly invokes emotion in the person speaking and in the reaction from the receiver:

  • At the end of a sentence:
    It should never be followed by a period or question mark. Some, if not most, writers use the question mark paired with the exclamation point to bring light to an exclamatory question. We hate to burst your bubble on this one, but you only need one or the other.
  • In the middle of a sentence:
    As always, if a quotation ends in an exclamatory manner, I know I would usually throw in a comma to continue the sentence. Lo and behold, the comma is not necessary in this situation.
  • As a part of a titled work:
    Use the comma when the title of a book is yelling at you…this is the only time!

This week’s lesson is short and sweet and straight to the point, but wait… there’s more (or there was more)! Did you know there is a punctuation mark combining the question mark and the exclamation point? It’s called an interrobang. The interrobang came and went as quickly as you turn the page of your favorite novel, but sometimes we think we should bring it back!

Misleading

here to distract.pngAre you new to writing a mystery novel? Well, here’s your friendly reminder: use your red herring. A red herring is not only a dried smoke herring (that isn’t naturally red) but is a term that describes a mystery novel’s best friend: a distraction to the reader. By building a strong red herring in your story, the more believable the distraction will be. Your reader will be shocked when the real culprit is revealed.