“Alice never wants to hurt anyone again, but the robots won’t end the experiment.” ~ By Scott DuBar, from the SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Region “Ink to Inspiration” event at Richmond Public Library, 06/20/2015
This past weekend I participated in the SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Region’s Ink to Inspiration event at Richmond Public Library, and had the opportunity to lead the group in yet another rendition of Story Starters, my Mad Libs styled activity where me and the writers/illustrators create a unique opening line by committee.
Once the line’s created, the writers/illustrators have 15 minutes to write or sketch whatever that line inspires. It’s meant to be an exercise in flexibility (you never know what the line’s going to be) and a demonstration that ideas are simply what YOU make them.
Part of the deal with Story Starters is anyone who decides to write a complete story, or finish an illustration, based on our sentence, gets a spotlight here and on my social media.
Behold Illustrator Scott DuBar’s submission which. Is. AWESOME!!!
Scott’s one to watch, and I’m excited to share his work with you. I’m going out on a limb to say this won’t be the last we see of him. Thanks Scott!
Hey gang, just doing my usual drive-by posting. News and updates are going to be coming faster and furious(er?) since FAKE ID debuts in LESS THAN A YEAR!!! It’s been such a long journey that it’s hard to believe we’re so close now. HOWEVER, this post is not about my current project. It’s about my NEXT project.
Can’t give you details yet because it’s still in the classified phase (black bars and all), but here’s a glimpse at how things are progressing.
BTW – Everything’s not blacked out.
“Nobody likes a clown at midnight” – Stephen King
How can such a simple statement sum up why that man is so good at what he does? But I digress, the I-LOVE-STEPHEN-KING post I’ll save for another night. For now, let’s talk about Clowns at Midnight…or, to really get to the heart of it, Mundane $&*# that’s scary as a #*@$…
In reality the creepy old house in your hometown is probably scary. It’s dirty, it’s got rats and roaches, and if you poke around the foundation long enough with a stick, you’ll find some crackhead’s discarded underwear (or maybe that’s just my hometown). The problem is there’s really nothing compelling about that kind of scary. It’s obvious. There’s literally yellow tape on the door that says KEEP OUT.
Sure, there are a thousand movies where teenagers (really 30 year olds) go into this exact environment and die
deservingly horribly. They are dumber than us. That’s not scary. That’s Natural Selection.
What’s scary is the stuff there’s no warning for. The stuff you can’t reason your way around, or avoid. Or worse, the stuff you’re totally aware of, but someone more powerful than you drags you there anyway (like parents taking their kids to the circus to see those creepy guys in the white makeup and blood-red grins).
Stephen King built a career out of noticing when the stuff that’s not supposed to be scary is just about running someone out of the room. It’s not a bad observational skill to have, particularly in the wordsmith game, regardless of genre (I don’t care if you’re writing romance, comedies, or adventure tales…real people should exist in your stories, and real people have fears).
Here’s one of mine (my wife laughs and laughs at this): Wet Tissue.
(get your WTF moment out of the way)
I’m not really afraid of wet tissue paper. I just find it disgusting. It makes me cringe, with it slimy mushiness. By no means do I plan to write a novel about Evil Wet Tissue, but I can focus on the sensation it brings out in me. I can apply it to something else slimy (tentacles?), and I can make my character feel fear.
And maybe my readers, too.
Just something to think about. At midnight. While the clowns are surrounding you.
Do any of you have off the wall fears/deep dislikes? Let’s hear ’em
I’m working on revisions for my Young Adult mystery WHISPERTOWN. I’ve gotten feedback from several knowledgeable people with the consensus saying that the story is fresh and compelling. Any negative feedback I’ve received has centered around a few plot points, which are easily fixed, and an inconsistency in voice…not so easy.
The book is a 1st person account told in the voice of a tough 15 year old boy. And one critic pointed out there are a number of times when it doesn’t sound like that. So, going through the book line by line, I’ve spotted some obvious areas, but it’s a balancing act. I still have to maintain vivid descriptions, still have to weave in pertinent info, but word choice and cadence are key. The fact that I have very little access to actual teens doesn’t help…that lends to the ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ problem.
Is anyone out there a teen (or knows a teen) willing to give the latest revision of my little book a read? I could really use some help from an experienced reader in the 13 – 17 range who’s able to say, “Someone my age wouldn’t say it like that”.
Here’s a brief description of the book:
15 year old Nick Pearson is pretending to be someone he isn’t. Not high school pretending. Witness Protection pretending. And the #1 rule is “stay low-key”. But, when his sole friend Eli dies in the school’s journalism room under mysterious circumstances, and Nick stumbles upon the conspiracy Eli planned on exposing, staying low-key takes a backseat to staying alive.
Newspaper Nerd Eli had a secret, an in-the-works story codenamed “Whispertown”. And it’s got a lot of folks interested. Like corrupt cops, the town’s shady mayor, and certain high-ranking government officials. Teaming with Eli’s estranged (and gorgeous) sister, Nick sets out to unravel the mystery and still maintain his cover. He’ll have to use all the deviant skills he’s gained from his racketeering dad, assassin godfather, and their Serbian gangster boss to find the truth. However, each clue brings him closer to answers he may not want. Whispertown is bigger than he could have ever imagined, and in its shadow stands a killer…a killer Nick fears may be his own father.
Any takers? If so, email me here: lrgiles [at] cox [dot] net