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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Writing About: Torture

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post is for literature purposes ONLY to help aspiring writers. I do not condone, support, or recommend torture in any way! And if you need to act out what your characters do in this sort of scene, I feel it is my duty to tell you not to do it to another human being or with weapons. Thank you!
And with that stated clearly...

The best tip that I could ever give you, or any writer who needs to write a torture scene, is to think about what you are afraid of. What are your phobias? What are your nightmares? What would be the most agonizing pain that you could imagine? What do you believe would be the most horrible thing that someone could do to another human being? Make a list of your answers and then pick the method of torture according to what would fit best with your story.

You will also want to tap into your reader’s fears. Ask your family and friends about their worst fears and see if you can incorporate one or two of the ideas you get from them into the torture scene.
Here are 5 phobias that many people have: 
1. Arachnophobia: The fear of spiders. 
2. Ophidiophobia: The fear of snakes.
3. Acrophobia: The fear of heights.
4. Trypanophobia: The fear of injections.
5. Pyrophobia: The fear of fire.
 If you use one of those then you will surely frighten a lot of people!

The next thing you could consider is whether or not tools or weapons will be involved. There are thousands of tools/weapons out there and you might find one that could make this scene in your book more horrifying. Just think of that sledgehammer Stephen King used in his book “Misery”. I still get goosebumps when I think about it!

Photo by Chrys Fey
When you have all the details and are ready to write about torture, the most important thing for you to remember is the characters. Whether the protagonist or antagonist is doing the torturing, you’ll want to get into their head. What is he/she thinking as they torture this other person? Are they excited? Are they thinking about what they want to do next? Are they laughing inside because they are getting their revenge or feeding their mania?

What does he/she feel while they are committing this gruesome act? Giddy. Angry. Desperate. Vengeful. Does the sound of the other person screaming fill them with joy? And, of course, why are they doing it in the first place? Is he/she doing it because they have no other choice or because it brings them pleasure?

Don’t forget to share what the person being tortured is thinking and feeling too. When you’re describing what is being done to them, share their pain, their screams, and their tears. Tell your readers about their fear of the person hurting them. Reveal their thoughts about death.

What do they see? What do they hear, smell, and even taste?
 
Finally, you need to figure out how you’re going to end this scene. If you’re writing a mystery or horror novel about a person who is kidnapped and living through this agony every day, you can obviously keep on going with the torturing, but it will have to momentarily end until the next time. In that case, you get to do this all over again.

If this is a onetime event in your book, you’ll have to consider why, how, and when the torturing stops. Does someone come to the rescue? Do they escape or are they killed? Does the person doing the torturing (possibly the protagonist?) leave after they get what they want?

Think it all through. And try not to frighten yourself too much!


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chrys’ Writing Rules: Don’t Leave Anything Out

When you’re caught up in writing the details of a story and trying to get that story down on paper, you might unintentionally forget important information that your readers need in order to understand the story you are trying to tell them.

This had actually happened to me with the first book in my series. The setting for my supernatural-thriller series is an unknown world very similar to ours, but I didn’t expand on that thought thoroughly for a reader to understand that.

After one of my friends read the beginning of my story, she pointed this out to me. Frankly, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe she didn’t see it. Then it hit me that I didn’t explain everything as I should have. I had to go back to the beginning of my story and add in a couple of paragraphs to coherently describe the world in my book. 

This is part of a paragraph that I had to add to the beginning of my book.
Photo by Chrys Fey

When you’re writing, give your readers all the information. Don’t leave them scratching their heads and desperately trying to figure out the story you’re telling them. It should be easy for readers to gather details about the setting, plot, and especially the characters.

If your story requires background information, make sure you tell it all and in a manner that your readers can comprehend. Just because you see and understand the story in your head doesn’t mean that your readers will. After all, they’re not in your head, but you can get them close by putting all of your thoughts about your story on paper then systematically adding those details into your story where they should be.

Not sure if what you wrote will make sense to a reader? Do you want to know if your story has all the facts that it should? Give it to a trusted person to read who can report back to you their opinion. Even if you just give them the very beginning, what they tell you can be extremely valuable.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Writing About: A Party

When we go to a party we look at the decorations, the food being served, the people who are attending and what they are wearing. And since characters are meant to be portrayed as real, I believe they should do the same thing if they go to a party whether it’s a birthday Party, Christmas party, New Years Eve party, or charity event.

However, you don’t have to say that your character stepped up to the food table to examine every appetizer or walked to every corner of the house to see every decoration. You’re the writer. When your character steps into the party, use that moment to tell the reader all the details that they need to know to perfectly envision the atmosphere.

What does the room/house look like? Are there hollies draped over the banister, streamers fluttering from the ceiling, a dance floor? Is there a performer or band?

Is there food? Indulge in your cravings by letting your characters nibble on decadent desserts and expensive treats. Is there popcorn, caviar, shrimp cocktails, or chicken wings? Are there waiters with flutes of champagne or a cooler stocked with beer?

Who is at the party? It wouldn’t be a party unless your protagonist knew people there. Let your characters mingle then tell your readers about the outcome. Does your protagonist spot their love interest or the person they believe is the suspect in a crime?

This is a banner I handmade for my mom's birthday last year.
Photo by Chrys Fey

Once you reveal who is at the party, tell your reader what they are wearing. I love to do this because the dresses that my female characters wear are dresses that I have designed. Now, if you don’t have a knack for fashion, don’t worry! Describe simple attire instead. Example: “She wore a black dress that pooled at her feet in a puddle of silk.” If you are fashion savvy but don’t design, use fashion magazines to find attires that your characters would wear and try to use your crafty way with words to put those outfits into your story.

Now there has to be a purpose for the party other than the fact that it is Christmas or New Years, etc. Something needs to come out of the party for your protagonist.

For a romance, does he/she dance with the person who has caught their eye? In each other’s arms, with music swimming around them, do they sink deeper in love? Do they end up leaving together or do they have a lovers spat?

For a thriller, does your protagonist confront the person they suspect did a crime? Do they get into a heated argument? What words are exchanged? Does it get physical? Whatever happens, make it good! Make your readers want to jump into your book to defend your protagonist.

Lastly, how does the party end? Does your protagonist leave with their lover to have a passionate night, with a black eye from the confrontation with someone they dislike, or with hors d'oeuvres in their purse to feed to their cat?


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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rules For Writing: No Tears

I’ve heard this rule that you should never write about tears. No “tears lingered on her lashes”, “a single tear fell down her cheek”, “tears blurred his vision”, etc. I’m sure you could come up with a thousand other versions that you’ve probably read in books by some very well-known authors. 

According to this rule, any mention of tears is a big mistake; a literature crime. A writer should never do this!

I don’t believe in this rule...

"Tears are words that need to be written.” - Apulo Coelho
Books may be fictional to some extent, but they are based in realism. The characters in fiction may not be real, but they are portrayed as real and real people cry. It’s what we do when we’re upset, sad, angry, and even happy. And what happens when we are emotionally compromised? Our tear ducts inflame, tears are produced, and we cry.


Photo by Chrys Fey

If one of your characters is grieving the loss of a loved one, a marriage, or just went through something a stressful, they could be so upset that they could breakdown and cry. Being extremely happy or overly enraged can cause the same effects. If you think you (or any person in general) would cry after experiencing what one of your characters has just gone through then it is your duty as the writer to create an authentic story for your readers by letting your characters cry too. 
When you’re reading a book, I hope you notice the vivid descriptions that plant an image in your mind of the characters and what they do. I also hope that you use the same strategy when you are writing. Descriptions are vital to create a story and prose is essential to optimize a reader’s experience.
See: Writing Good Prose
You should always describe everything you visualize while you’re writing your book so your readers can visualize it too. And that includes telling them what happens when your characters cry, which involves what? That’s right! Tears.

Don’t be afraid to use tears in your writing, but you should avoid cliches by being unique. Your readers won’t mind if you write about tears in your story (I know I don’t!) and the only opinion that really matters is your own!


QUESTIONS: Do you believe this writing rule is ridiculous or a gem? 
Do you use “tears” in your writing?


Stop by www.facebook.com/chrysfey to find more helpful advice and inspiration. 


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Writing About: A Fight


Nothing is more thrilling than a fight whether it’s on a movie screen or in a book. But writing one is not nearly as easy as witnessing one. First, you’ll need to decide what kind of fight you want to write. There are four options you can choose from:

·   hand-to-hand combat
·   sword fight
·   gun fight
·   a fight with supernatural powers

Of course, you could do a mixture of all four as I have, but that is also four times more complicated to write.

After you decide what type of fight will be in your book, you need to know how to create action through writing. This can be done with action-reaction, revealing prose, action verbs, fast pace, and exciting dialogue. 
For a more in depth lesson visit: How To Write Action
When you understand the methods to show action, you need to do some research to learn how to give details to a fight. This can be achieved by talking to professionals in the art of combat and weapon specialists. If you do not have these resources at your disposal, the next best thing is to use the Internet for a crash course, or to study books that you can find at the library.

Photo by Chrys Fey
Along those notes, I highly recommend reading fictional books with an abundance of action to find out the author’s secrets. Many fiction crime novels (mysteries, suspense, etc.) have fights of all kinds in them. Once you read them, you’ll have a much better grasp on how to write fights. And I can guarantee that you will enjoy reading them, too.
TIP: Before you begin writing the fight, plan out key moments. This will make the process of writing the fight much easier.
Once your research is done, it’s time to write the fight. Picture the fight in your head and write it out the best you can with as much prose as possible. (Does your character smell gunfire? Taste blood? Hear the whistle of a blade?)

Who are the key players in the fight?
What causes the fight to start? (Tell us why the characters are fighting, lead us up to the action. Most likely, the answer to this will be a good portion of your story.)
Do they use weapons? (Guns, swords, daggers, fists, supernatural powers?)
What do they do in the fight? (Describe every move, every hit.)
Every movement in a fight is followed by another movement like a dance. When one character hits another, show the reaction of that hit. Does their opponent stagger, bleed, or fall?
·    How does the atmosphere aide or complicate the fight? (Describe their surroundings.)
·    Are words exchanged? (Are curses spat at each other? Are threats exchanged?)
·   Describe the pain your character feels from the hits he receives, and his thoughts.
·   Finally, how does it end? (Who wins? Who loses? Describe the physical damage.)

TIP: I find that listening to rock really helps when I am writing fights. It speeds up my heart rate, my mind, and my words.

Writing a fight may not be easy, but it can be fun.


SHARE: Your tips for writing a fight.


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