The writer’s alphabet M-O

A to ZIf you’ve been following my writer’s alphabet so far, you’ll know it’s intended to be a handy catalogue of suggestions for creative writers. It’s not a list of rules (in any case, rules are made to be broken). But it might just give you a jolt when you need it.

Up to now I’ve been playing it safe, telling you all about the craft of writing: parts of speech and dialogue attribution and why you should let your characters live and breathe for themselves. But real creativity requires more than just craft. It needs just a dash of madness. Hold tight – this could get messy.

M is for Monsters

Monsters stalk. Monsters bite. Without monsters, your story has no conflict. I’m not talking vampires or zombies – although they might suit you well enough. I’m talking about human failings and human fears. Misfortune and misunderstanding. Jealousy and guilt. Despair. All these things have teeth. Try putting them in your story and see if they bite.

N is for Night Terrors

Night is when the monsters come out. The thing is, the monsters are you. If you doubt me, think about the last time you lay awake in the small hours, surrounded by shadows, thinking awful things. Regrets about the day you’ve just had, fears about the day still to come. Terror that the bogeyman’s gonna get ya. Try channeling that sense of dark foreboding. What springs from it may not necessarily be a horror story, but it’ll be soaked in the kind of visceral emotion you can’t access any other way.

O is for Ordnance

Try seeing your readers as targets. Take your sniper’s rifle and pick them off with unexpected revelations about characters they’ve grown to love. Make your plot a minefield and watch them pick their way gingerly through its twists and turns, fearful of what might go off next. Just when they think they’ve reached safe ground, open up with the heavy artillery and tear them to pieces.

Tomorrow: P, Q & R

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