In Four Days…

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My favorite holiday of the year is approaching fast:  Halloween!!  So, to start this year’s fun off right, I have decided I am going to tell you all a horror story.  I wrote some of this about four months ago and have dabbled with the piece now and then in between my other projects.

A new genre of horror stories called “Creepypastas” came out a few years back.  Here is the actual definition and how they originated:

Creepypasta  — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Creepypastas are horror-related legends or images that have been copy-and-pasted around the Internet. These Internet entries are often brief, user-generated ghost or alien stories intended to scare readers. They include gruesome tales of murder, suicide, and otherworldly occurrences. According to Time magazine, the genre had its peak audience in 2010 when it was covered by The New York Times.
In the mainstream media, creepypastas relating to the fictitious Slender Man character came to public attention after the 2014 “Slender Man stabbing“, in which a twelve-year-old girl from Waukesha, WI was stabbed by two of her friends; the perpetrators claimed they “wanted to prove the Slender Man skeptics wrong”.  After the murder attempt, some creepypasta website administrators made statements reminding readers of the “line between fiction and reality”.
Other notable creepypasta characters and stories include Jeff the Killer, Ted the Caver, and Psychosis. In October 2014, a book called Creepypasta: Spökhistorier från Internet (Creepypasta: Ghost Stories from the Internet) was published in Sweden.  In May 2015, Machinima Inc. announced plans for a live action web series curated by Clive Barker, titled Clive Barker’s Creepy Pasta.
The term originates from “copypasta“, a word used on 4chan in 2006 to describe viral copy-and-pasted text.

Anyway, after reading several creepypastas, I decided that it would be a blast to do my own.  I may eventually compile this into an e-book or perhaps a graphic novel; I haven’t decided, but mainly I am writing this for the fun and thrill of the scare!  Bwah hahahah!!

Here is “Day One” of my creepypasta saga called In Four Days:

 

 

DAY ONE…

Taken and reposted from Rosalina Rico’s Cuisine Review.  January 21st, 2016

I am sorry – I am at a loss what I can do next.  Normally as you all know, this is my restaurant blog and daily journal about my experiences within Philly’s unique diners and dives.  Today, I am using this to reach out for help and ideas.
This… for lack of a better word, this stalking started on Wednesday, January 20th..
The first night came when I was at the firm, B****** & D******, running a series of month-to-date reports.   I am one of three “seasoned” accountants and as always the other two had conveniently found reasons to be away from the office.  Due to our computer system having issues, the reports were pushed back three hours and I was on my fourth cup of coffee.
At 10:38 pm I needed three things:  the reports to be done, another cup of awful coffee and a badly-needed cigarette.
I ran down the hall and went to the ladies restroom.  It was deserted.  Yes! Lucky me!!
The fluorescence lights always flickered in this bathroom; one intern called it the Disco John.  Gave me the creeps each time, but tonight I didn’t want to take the long elevator ride to the parking lot where they had our designated smoking section.  Besides, the fans worked well and would clear out my cigarette smoke in a couple minutes.  Yes, this wasn’t my first time sneaking a drag.   
Just after my sixth or seventh long pull from the cigarette, the bathroom door squealed as the door was slowly hauled open.  In a panic I dropped it into the water below and fanned the air with my arms.  Holding my breath, I waited to see who was coming in – please not that fat ass from security.
Three heavy steps inside, then the person stopped just passed the swinging door.  Crap!  Sounds like boots!  No one from the office.
Above the fluorescence bulbs suddenly froze still and then brightened with an odd humming buzz.
The footsteps started again.
This time I heard a squelching sound.  Each step made a soft, obscene squishing burp.  The person turned the corner and began walking down the length of the stalls.  I kept waving the smoke up toward the fans.  The visitor stopped right in front of my stall and faced my door.
I sighed heavily.  “Sorry… sorry.  I know we aren’t allowed to smoke in here.  I already put it out.”
My name would probably go into some kind of Security Guard’s report.  .
“Uh… I am not done in here, but… I promise no more smoking okay?”
No response.
I coughed Ahem into my hand hoping “he” would get the hint.
No response.
“Look! I know you are just doing your job, but I don’t think you are supposed to do it in the ladies room.”
Nothing.  Silence.
I was getting pissed, frustrated and a bit frightened at this point.
I tried to see passed the slits in the door but “he” was standing in the center of the stall door.  His boots I could see were covered in a nasty grey-green muck.  A thick trail of mud followed his steps.
Who the hell was this??
“What do you want?  My name? Who are you?”
No answer.
I listened intently and I could make out just a whispery breath on the other side of the door.
“Are you purposefully trying to mess with me, asshole?”
I waited for something, anything.
Remembering my phone in my slack’s pocket, I reached down and checked to see if I had a signal.  I was lucky again.
“You better get the fuck out!  I am going to take your picture and then call 911!”  I threatened.  “You hear me, ya goddamn pervert!”
I rose up from the toilet, yanked my slacks up and held the phone up over the door.
The lights went out!  Everything covered in pitch black like a tomb.
CHRIST!
 My cell phone went dead too.  When I checked it, it slipped from my hand as I started shaking uncontrollably.
His breath echoed and seemed louder somehow in the confines of the bathroom.
“Four days… I will have you in four days.”  The voice was hollow and stony.  No emphasis or emotion.
I screamed and kicked the door hard hoping to knock him down.  At that same moment, the lights exploded on and blinded me.  I fell forward in my momentum, crashed into the wall outside the stall and fell hard to the floor.
Lying on my back in the muddy grey-green slime, I blinked my eyes repeatedly trying to get them to adjust and see the bastard.
I was alone.

 

Hope you enjoyed this — next week, I will post “Day Two”!!  I will do these installments up through Halloween, but don’t be surprised to see other blog posts now and then on writing or self-publishing!  🙂

Let me know what you think of this story so far!

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Diving into the Oceans of Your Characters… — Derek Barton

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I would like to expand a bit on my blog, Finding the Character Within….  Here I want to show you some of the ways I work up my character backgrounds and elaborate on the questions I ask myself.

I will show you my notes that I made for Queen Demetryce Artadeus from Consequences Within Chaos.  She is the main character’s mother who has a deep-seated contempt and malice towards him.

A lot of what I wrote for this character did not even get into the book.  Yet having it in my mind helped me direct her actions, guide her dialog and even her interactions with other characters, both noble and even criminal characters.

Queen Demetryce Artadeus

How old?   67 years old

What does your character look like?  Long, grey-blond hair, 5’ 9” and 121 lbs.  Average looks, but her constant frown makes her seem uglier than she really is.  I picture Dame Judy Dench or Dame Helen Mirren in my mind.

Where does she live?  As Queen of Tayneva, she shares the Castle Adventdawn, of course with her family, but she also has ties to her own family in a smaller kingdom, Yata-Malai.  She makes semi-annual trips to visit her sisters and her surviving aunt.

Where is the character from?  From the small, island state of Yata-Malai.  Malais are very orthodox and pious.  Often accused of being religious zealots and have very rigid moral codes.  Murder, adultery, rape and other such immoral evils are persecuted strictly.  In the cases of adultery and even rape (in some cases) the victim may be blamed as well and suffer similar shame.  Think Quakers as far as their religious purity and strict doctrines.

What kind of childhood?  She went through a rigorous childhood as a student of the temple and was on the track to becoming a priestess.  In a chance to boost their position in world powers though, her father sent her to wed a young duke, Haedrec Artadeus.  Although this ended her promising path as a priestess, she found she was taken with Duke Artadeus and they married shortly afterwards.

What does the character do for a living?  Not only the functioning Queen of Tayneva, but she leads the court affairs and acts as court justice administrator.  Her iron fist philosophies and her decisions have made her many enemies and many “bought for” allies.  Not an evil woman, but has fallen into corruption by the power of her position and her means are always justified in her mind.  She also maintains her magical Mending Skills and religious practices.

How does your character deal with conflict?  Mostly with an icy demeanor when she doesn’t get her way, but as of late she has become very short fused.  Especially when it concerns her son, Taihven.  He is a constant reminder of her secret shame of rape and the worst event that happened to her in her life.  She cannot let go of her anger and has grown to hate him due to his embarrassing episodes of mental instability.  In some respects, she feels her daughter, Princess Letandra has become quite a strong leader and she even feels slightly threatened by her growing leadership skills and popularity among the citizens in Wyvernshield.

Who else is in their life? Her family is the center of her world, but that world in her eyes is a constant source of drama and aggravation.  Her only happy relationship is with her husband who is sadly dying a slow, debilitating death.  The court affairs are the only outside distraction and depending on her mood, she takes out her days on the poor saps brought in front  of her judging bench.

What is your character’s goal or motivation?  In spite of the threat in power and popularity that Princess Letandra has, Demetryce is pushing to have her become Lady Magistrate.  This would supersede Taihven, the Heir-Apparent.  She would rather have Letandra to deal with and perhaps have sway over instead of her son who has his father’s stubbornness and of course the mental malady.  She is extremely frightened of facing alone this on-coming war with the creatures known as the Viestrahl.  Her goal is to obtain the Throne for Letandra before King Haedrec dies.  Demetryce has decided that if necessary she will imprison, hide or as a last resort, have her own son kidnapped and sold into slavery.

As you can see, this character depiction is in-depth and thought through.  I had a strong sense of who she was and how she would react to coming events in my story long before I even started writing the book!

With questions like this, exercises to explore their background, you find and develop layers to who they are.  These are real people to both you and the reader.  Characters should have some conflicting emotions and some quirks to their nature.  We all do.  Why wouldn’t the people in your story?

Did you find this helpful or do you think you can use some of these questions for your own characters?

That Spell You Weave… — Derek Barton

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This week I have been focusing on research for the upcoming sequel.  I want to expand upon the basics of magic and spellcasting from my first book, Consequences Within Chaos.  Again even though it may not always be a huge part of your characters’ lives, it comes into play and it’s an important detail to work out.  Knowing what is available or what can be utilized by any character can help direct your plot as well as add depth to the world surrounding them.

In the first book, my main character Taihven uses “Sigil Magic” which means that before he casts a spell, he inscribes a fiery pattern in the air specific to the spell he wants to use.  It is the spell’s “focus” or what draws out unique powers in unique ways.  His specialty is the Evoker Class: spells based in natural elements (fire, earth, air, water) and for destructive or offensive uses.

His sister, Letandra, utilizes Mending Magic (Healing).  This type of magic is more energy or soul-powered magic and the power funneled through the hands.  This type of magic also gives you an insight to the type of person she is:  a guardian or protector at heart.

The villain or my antagonist has unusual abilities and spells that require a vocal element.  Definitive words are the focus for his spells which are of a chaotic nature and also used destructively.  It added more to my novel’s final climatic battle — two opposing types of magic versus both using the same type of spells against each other.

One other type of magic I hinted at is used by a secretive cult called the Beleardea.  They are “facilitators” or middlemen that specialize in obtaining cursed items or finding cursed items to be bought by the highest bidders.   They are not actively evil, but their amoral actions define their motives.  The magic that they utilize is Eldritch Magic.  This is archaic magic that one can derive from an ancient deity or entity after it grants you favor when you  act on its behalf.  The Beleardea serve an ancient evil and thus gain incredible power from it.

When you google “types of magic” you will absolutely be amazed at just how many types there can be.  Not just the old wand or from a staff type of magic used in the Harry Potter stories, but magic centered on energy, planar, divination, elemental magic, soul (“ki”) magic, blood ritual, transformation, necromancy or even witchcraft.  There are over a hundred different versions of magic types.  So when you decide that you are going to have a fantasy world be sure to give this aspect a lot of thought.  It will define your world, your characters and the lands that these powers can come from.

What other types of magic appeal to you as a reader?  What would you like to see in a movie?  Couldn’t it be argued that the Force is just another version of magic?

Finding the Character Within… — Derek Barton

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Those words literally scream with a story, a background of tormented history.  This person’s agony and pain are their whole world.  It motivates their actions, taints their decisions and monopolizes their every thought.  It makes you ask why?  What happened?  And when you are working up your story or novel, you have to have that level of intimacy and deep understanding of what drives him or her.  You want to know the why behind it all.  As the writer, you need to know the truth and the source.

This all of course ties into what I was talking about in my last blog, Where Your Path May Lead… As with world building, knowing each facet of your characters is crucial to making the story come alive in the reader’s mind.  Overall, every novelist or writer wants to carry their readers away and keep them immersed in their land or story.  It’s the whole reason we live to write!

An unforgivable mistake and the fastest way to breaking a reader’s immersion is having your hero and/or villain act out of character.   When they do something that is abnormal or perhaps even far-fetched, questions immediately jump at the reader and they are going to want to know why.  When the reader is stepping out of the story to ask themselves questions or to wonder about the hero’s actions, how can they continue in your world?  How are they focused any longer on your story?

They are many great ways to build and to delve into your characters on the internet.  I have found a couple that I use and I have added my own questions that help me explore the character’s fears, goals, dreams or even hatreds.

You start off with the basics:  name, age, height & weight, hair & eye color, race.  Then you go into background:  What do they do for a living?  Where do they live?  Who is close to them in their life?   Now go deeper:  What are their current goals or motivation?  How do they deal with conflict?  What was their childhood like?  Do they have anything in their past they are proud or ashamed of?

Another great resource I found, came from the writer Michael A. Stackpole who has written several Battle Tech novels and eight Star Wars novels himself — he crafted and presented in a writer’s workshop, Twenty-One Days to a Novel.  It is a fantastic series of exercises to learn and develop your characters. Here are the first four “days” to show you what he is talking about:

Day One:  Write a single sentence about a character in five areas of his life.  Subjects ranging from Romance, Jobs, Financial Situation, Education, Religion, Health or even Hobbies.

Day Two:   Write two more sentences on each of the above areas to create a paragraph.  These sentences should explain and support what has gone before.

Day Three:  Write a single sentence concerning each of the above areas that is in opposition to the previous paragraph, exposing the dark side of things, or the silver lining.

Day Four:  Add two more sentences the above single line expanding and explaining in a paragraph.

As you can see they are simple and focused directives, but they have a lot of potential in helping you learn about your protagonist or villain.  He adds examples and further details in how this will give you material to work with and give you the necessary motives for your characters.  Highly recommend his work and recommend you get it on his official website:  Stormwolf.com

You won’t have to do this with every character in your novel, of course, but the main ones or the ones with critical elements in your story, you will want to spend the extra time and effort with.  Learn not only their private history, but their troubled future.

Take a magnifying glass to the character and learn who they are — it will make your characters more believable, their actions seem authentic and ultimately your work that much more richer!

If you  have other resources you use to build up your character backgrounds I would love to hear about it.  What other questions do you ask or use?

 

 

Where Your Path May Lead… — Derek Barton

Blog pic 6I am in the midst of “creative juicing” — my mind is racing with ideas and running over story elements for the world I am building for my new book.  My father likes to call them creative writing phases, but to me it is more than just a happenstance.  I have to work hard at finding inspiration; keeping my brain sharp on the lookout for ideas or pieces that will fit nicely into my stories.  Until something seems to “click”, I keep running everything out in my head looking for a new factor to add, change or flesh out.  Evolving the story before I even touch the keyboard!

A great blog to check out is www.aliventures.com — I have subscribed to Ali Luke’s newsletter recently and one bonus to doing that is that I was able to get her free e-book, The Two-Year Novel.  In it she details how if you carefully plot it out, you can have a rough draft written, edited, proofread, beta read and then published within a two-year period!  Inside that she also has many other beneficial resources and blog posts to help.  Highly recommend it! 

So, the reason I am bringing this up is that I am starting her timeline project at the same time that I am working diligently on getting my first novel out this September.  I am currently in the world building and research stages upon her timeline.

This go-around I want my novel writing to be a lot better structured.  Not only with faster and better quality of writing, but I want to have more of an idea of the world my characters are roaming around in and the lands that surround them.  With the more you know of their world the more authentic your story will come across and keep the reader immersed in it.

After I wrote my first draft of Consequences Within Chaos, I realized that I left a lot of normal world elements out:  like calendar dates, holidays, and time measurements (also I didn’t want to use normal modern terms a.k.a inches, miles, etc).   Before I started my first real edit, I researched to find out what ways people might tell time in pre-modern times.  What sources of “clocks” were there besides sun dials.  What were the terms they used  to measure.

These are just a few minute details I find you need to really help the reader feel the world you are constructing is full and rich.  Especially in fantasy stories you are going to have to think and ask yourself, “What do they call the night or morning?  Would they have a different term for midnight?  Would they use the word ‘breakfast’?”  And what if you are working on a world that isn’t even human?

Dialogue and careful use of terminology is important too.  I find myself sometimes really getting annoyed and jarred out of the story being told in a movie when someone uses a present day slang term or idiom.  This seems pretty common in futuristic films.  Wouldn’t you role your eyes if Han Solo said “Whatevs!” to Luke Skywalker?  In other words, would they really still use “All the bases are loaded” in a time period two thousand years from now?  Or “like ridin’ a horse” when they are climbing into a spaceship!

I get why they do this: they need the audience to relate to the hero or get his joke.  Is this just poor or lazy writing or is there no way around that particular writing trap?  I am not absolutely sure.  Yet, I am positive if you include a phrase like “an idea formed in his head like turning on a light bulb” in a fantasy novel, you would never hear the end of it!

By doing the world building first and comprehensively developing it, I can then incorporate those aspects and details naturally rather than going back and plugging them in.

A lot of professional writers also spend huge amounts of time writing about their main characters and every little historical fact or story they can think of.  Some will even have fake dialogs between characters to learn more of each personality.  Or they delve into all the background elements they can think of so that they truly know the character before they write the story of that person.  Much of this will never see publication or be brought into the story for the readers.  Yet all of this is to bring essential immersion into that world.

I personally love working up backgrounds for characters or thinking of unique world elements, but not every writer does.  My advice though is to really make time for this.  To me the GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) Rule applies here.  The more work you invest and the more you really know your world and its heroes, the more your reader will love and cherish your stories.  You just cannot skimp on or cut corners when it comes to world building!

How do you develop your worlds?   What do you do to bring your heroes to life?  Please leave a comment if you have suggestions on what is important to your world building.