My Strange Relationship with Spiders

This past week was the ever popular “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel. And well, don’t we all love Shark Week? Hours of the most dramatic programming possible about the most efficient predator possible; what’s not to love?

Well, it got me thinking.

I myself am vaguely arachnophobic. I’m not one of those people who have a panic attack looking at a photograph of a spider. I’m just more creeped out by spiders than the average person is, I’d say. But, because of this, I’m also extremely interesting. I know the species that live in my area, which ones are poisonous and which ones aren’t. If I know a species isn’t poisonous and can’t hurt me, I can even find watching them kind of exciting, because I’m just a little bit afraid of them.

Most of us have the compulsion to look at something that frightens us at a safe distance. It’s the same reason why people rubberneck at traffic accidents and go to horror movies.

It’s also the same reason horror is one of the most popular fiction genres, and why writers like Anne Rice and Stephen King are best sellers.
So, when I’m staring at a spider for a cheap thrill, or watching Shark Week, I think about what draws us to the horror genre. Maybe it’s the rush of engaging our “fight or flight” response while knowing that we’re not really in danger. Maybe it’s because it makes us feel like children, telling each other ghost stories by flashlight in a dark tent. It might even be Schadenfreude.

Maybe it’s a mixture of all of these. Or maybe, we all just like things that go bump in the night.

Do you like things that scare you? What are your favorite horror stories?
Did you watch shark week? Or do you just stare at things that frighten you?

Leave me a comment!

Writing the Olympics

Hello little writers!

Between my my fiverr.com gig and the August’s Camp Nanowrimo, I’ve been so busy lately! And on top of everything else, BCITW (Best Cat in the World) and I have been mesmerized by the Olympics. It’s been a very dramatic two weeks, hasn’t it?

But, the coverage got me thinking. They spend quite a lot of time talking about the athletes, telling us who they are, where they live, what their successes and failures have been in the past, and how they came to be on the world stage we see them on now. If medal counts and rankings and the events themselves were all that mattered, why would they spend so much time on biographical information?

Because, even in a sporting event, characters matter.

Victories have no thrill and defeat is robbed of its agony if we do not know and care about the people involved.
It got me thinking, even if it’s not fiction, even if it’s sports journalism, the audience has to care about the characters involved. Otherwise, they do not care about the events that happen to them. Sometimes the events motivate the plot, sometimes the characters do. That’s just the way fiction goes. But, at the end of the day, nothing is more important than getting your readers to care about your characters.

Here are some quick tips:

1. We’ve all heard “Show, don’t tell.” This goes double for your characters. Don’t tell us how your character feels. Describe their reactions, their posture, and their body language. Then we’ll feel your characters’ emotions with them. Images of the Olympic athlete’s emotional responses are what we remember. Create those images with your words!

2. Allow your characters to make mistakes. Watching your character fall and get back up again is so much more beautiful and moving than a perfect score.

3. The road to gold is never smooth. The obstacles and setbacks that your characters have to overcome are as important as the victory. They make the victory that much sweeter.

It’s been an amazing couple of weeks. Keep reaching for the writing gold!