Countdown to NaNo

So it’s Halloween today and I’m flailing around trying to get through a research paper proposals and two other assignments before I finally, finally, get to start on this year’s NaNoWriMo.

Oh god, guys, I’m scared and strangely excited. I have a hard time explaining why I want to join National Noveling Month so badly, other than just to say that I could start a project and see it through. There’s something about a solid deadline that helps me get through projects I wouldn’t normally attempt. And, so far, I’ve enjoyed spending time fleshing out characters and settings instead of just starting the writing blindly (and stumbling inevitably due to a total lack of preparation).

I’ll  be here during the month with stories of panic, tears and (hopefully) some outtakes from my progress.

Remember, kids, have fun. Even if it's awful.

Remember, kids, have fun. Even if it’s awful.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a tip or two gleaned from my last minute preparations:

Keep your ideas, don’t edit your outline too much. Don’t run out of tea or chocolate after the shops close.

And also: Start Small. 

The writing advice I’ve encountered most often around the web when it comes to creating a story is to ramp up  the conflict. High stakes make a story, right?

Well, yes, until you come on the NaNoWriMo forums and realize half the people there have interpreted that to mean that, at the very least, the world should be on the brink of destruction in your fictional universe, either as a result of the zombie apocalypse or due to a 4,000 year old vampire criminal mastermind’s evil plans.

That’s not tension, but – in my opinion anyway – a bit of bore. Because you haven’t given me a reason to care for your characters (and ‘they’re immortal with a dark and troubled past and that’s awesome’ is not a reason.)

Everyone out there with a non-vampire/werewolf novel, you guys are winners to me already! Let’s write ourselves some really awesome (or at least hilariously crappy) books.

5 Reasons Why You Should be Afraid of Clowns

With Halloween just a week away, I took a little break from studying to do a fiction writing exercise on the topic of fear. The idea was that by pouring some of my emotions out into a Word document, I’d be receiving free therapy and end up with a beginning to a story that wasn’t entirely dull.

The prompt I used runs something along the lines of the classic movie Psycho – you’re taking a shower in the house, no one is in and you aren’t expecting anyone, when suddenly there is a noise in the a room beyond the bathroom. You go to investigate, and-

All I can see is a vague shape stalking the corners of my living room. On every breath he takes, the figure makes a horrible rasping sound, for he has no discernible nostrils in the ruined bulb that sits where the nose should have been. He moves slowly and with an uncertain limp, as if his feet don’t belong to his body .The sound of the door disturbs his movement- he turns, I see his face in the light from the hallway; a skin deathly white except for where the paint crinkles around the eyes. Where the lips should have been there is only a thick smear the colour of blood that turns up at the corners when he grins at me…

Turns out the monster that haunts the depths of my imagination is, in fact, a clown. My career as the next Edgar Allen Poe died a quiet death backstage, while I pondered the psychological implications of it all. Or in other words, I googled “fear of clowns”.

According to Wikipedia, fear of clowns exists as an honest-to-god anxiety disorder, as evidenced by the fact that it also has a name in greek – Coulrophobia, creatively derived by psychiatry enthusiasts from the Ancient Greek word for “stilt-walker”. Obviously, the Greeks never invented such a thing as “clowns”, but if they had, I think they would have thought they made pretty lame monsters, compared to say, sphinxes, or Medusa.

Clowns are actually so lame that my boyfriend refuses to believe I find them more scary than spiders, and mocks me for lying awake at night because Mr. Giggles might show up. To prove him wrong, I bring you the 5 main reasons why it is not only rational to be afraid of clowns, but why YOU should be afraid of them, too.

  1. “clowns [are] universally disliked by children” (according to NBC News.)
    Think about this for a moment; if children are universally scared by something that is supposed to be entertaining for children, you probably have a reason to be worried too.
  2.  Stephen King thinks clowns are scary– as evidenced by the novel and movie “It”
    as King is worth an estimated 400 million dollars, all earned by writing horror stories, he should be a pretty reliable authority on all things scary.
  3.  Florida police dressed up one of their undercover officers as “Coco the Clown” – and busted four hookers. Remember, Gentlemen, nothing screams “desperate” like a red nose and an oversized bow tie.
  4. Some of popular culture’s most famous villains resemble clowns – Batman’s The Joker, who attempted to blow up Gotham, and Ronald McDonald, making children cry all over their Happy Meals the world over.
  5. Their face paint makes it virtually impossible to read a clown’s emotions-  because of their painted-on smile, you never know if they’re smiling at you or about to rip your head off. This is why they make such effective serial killers

Enjoy your Halloween kids- but never trust strangers, especially not if they’re wearing a fake nose and offering to make you a balloon animal. What irrational fears are keeping you up at night this year?