When Your Own Story Scares You
So, I have finished a first draft of another novel this year. That means, in the span of less than a year, I have drafted three novels. One is currently being shopped around to literary agents (and if that fails, then to small press publishers, then maybe to Kindle Scout and, if that fails, I'll publish it myself), one is with a Beta reader and needs MAJOR help (that one may be out by end of the year) and this one.
And this one scared the crap out of me.
I have two Beta readers for it and it's called Storyland. It is my first attempt to write a psychological thriller. I love those types of movies and books. They tend to scare me even more than the jump-out-and-yell-boo kind of books. The psychological stories burrow deep into my brain and my imagination fills in the horror and that often makes it scary. That's why Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts is one of my favorite recent horror novels and the movie Dead Ringer is one of the scariest horror movies in my book. They are low on gore and monster terror scares and high on creepiness that lingers.
Storyland is the first time I have drafted a novel-length thriller of that nature. It tells the story of a man who wakes up one morning to see that his best friend from childhood as brutally murdered four people in the woods near their childhood home. He heads back home to find out why and proceeds to uncover forgotten memories that reveal horrors he has forgotten from the years when he was a child.
It is the first time I have written a novel where two scenes near the end disturbed me deeply. They had me on the edge of my seat writing them, nearly open-mouthed. I don't want to reveal the scenes as they are key to the novel and, I hope, twists/surprises for the reader. Just trust me in the fact that they left deep scars on me and disturbed me unlike any other work of fiction I have done before.
Sure, I have written scenes that creeped me out and scared me. I firmly believe that the stories come to me, rather than being conjured in my brain. In fact, that is a concept I sort of deal with in a frightening way in this novel. So, with this novel, the story revealed itself slowly and when I got to these two scenes, I was as shocked as I hope readers are.
What do you do if the thing you write scares you? Well, you could stop. You could put it aside. I have done that before. This time, though, I worked through it. I buckled up and let the story come and wrote what came. I think this is a very good story and I hope to get a polished and scary version to you by Halloween this year.
As for other things? Well, I am taking some time off to work on a freelance project this summer. Then, I have ideas for five stories that I think will make good short stories. I'd like to write, edit and publish those throughout the rest of the year and maybe into 2018. I find writing short stories fun, but I haven't had ideas for them in a while. Then, perhaps, down the road my third collection of short stories will appear - we shall see.
I look forward to bringing Storyland to you later this year. It ventures down some of the darkest alleys yet. If that's not your cup o'tea, be patient. I should have some scary short stories for you, too.
A very special thanks to Beta readers Heather and Jen for volunteering to help me with the first draft of this one. You guys rock stepping in here to play a critical role and potentially deal with me acting like a big diva and baby. That being said - more than likely I'll take your suggestions to heart and make the changes.
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