What is it about scary stories? We, collectively, just can’t get enough. Whether creepy wet girl-child, voraciously sexy vampire, gangrenous undead, or senselessly psychotic scythe-wielder waiting to kill, we keep coming back for more. Horror consistently tops the bestselling and box office lists, whether presented as out-and-out gore or more seductively as true crime or psychological thrillers. Just what is the secret to keeping an audience on the edge of their seats when they know the bloodbath is coming?
For those of you unfamiliar with the psychosis-inducing exercise that is National Novel Writing Month (inconveniently known as NaNoWriMo), behold. Every November, hoards of slightly *off* writers plunk down at their keyboards and legal pads hellbent on composing 50,000 words that will, with some luck, jell into the beginnings of a novel. It takes thirty days of frenzied doing and it’s a crazymaking good time.
New writers find NaNoWriMo to be an expectation-free way of diving in to what appear to be an impossible achievement. And novelists with a few on their shelves? Well, they find NaNoWriMo to be an expectation-free way of diving in to what appear to be an impossible achievement…or to start a new project or just for a bit of silly fun. Birthing 350 pages can be daunting to anyone and spilling it forth–without looking back and knowing that the first draft will indeed be utter crap–can be freeing and exhilarating for just about anyone. (Even screenwriters. And yes, we know your dirty little secret…)
NaNoWriMo is empowering. It shows us what we can do. It shows us that we each have unlimited depth to our abilities. (Personally, when I feel blocked, I reflect on my NaNoWriMo experiences and know the words are always there waiting patiently for me to bring them out and shape them into meaning. It’s comforting.) When a group of people come together to push themselves through together, anything can happen.
So far this year, over 15,000 writers have signed up! So why not toss your pen in the ring this November and sign up today?
Lance Weiler, an American filmmaker, writer, and director, tells Ireland’s ScreenDaily.com about the ways story forms are adapting as audiences change. We don’t often cover “new media” here on THE STORY SPOT but, as always, old is new again…
The tools I use are no longer simply cameras ― they are mobile and feature real-time web apps. Storylines, characters or scenes now exist beyond one screen or format. My stories spill out into the real world and guide audiences from one experience to another.
While the human need to share experiences in an engaging way endures, the ways we do so continue to evolve with society. Reality television, alternate reality gaming, Twitter fiction and other new forms may all feel vastly different from telling tales around a campfire but remember that the heart of each form remains people sharing what it is to be human. The ways we do that well will never change.
Novelist Jim Krusoe’s latest book, Erased, has been named by The Los Angeles Times as a must-read for the summer. Krusoe discusses his work (see: Girl Factory)and reads an excerpt on KCRW’s Bookworm.
In Erased, Krusoe takes on a dead mother who mysteriously sends notes from the beyond to her grown son, Theodore, the owner of a mail-order gardening-implement business. “I need to see you,” the first card reads. Theodore does what any sensible person would: he ignores it. But when he gets a second card that’s even more urgent, Theodore leaves his quiet home in St. Nils for a radiantly imagined Cleveland, Ohio, to track down his mother. There, aided by Uleene, the last remaining member of Satan’s Samaritans, an all-girl biker club, he searches through the realms of women’s clubs, art, rodent extermination, and sport fishing until he finds the answers he seeks.
– From Tin House Books
Jim Krusoe teaches at Santa Monica College and is a mentor in the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles.
Writers of Creative Non-Fiction and Memoir tell their true-to-life tales using the same ancient storytelling techniques that writers of invented tales employ. We all work to capture attention, create immersive dream worlds, and memorably move our audiences. But at times, it may seem as if truth and fiction share no common edges.
Don’t be fooled.
CNF, memoir, biography, autobiography, and other truth-based narratives aren’t all that different from a good old-fashioned work of fiction in shape and intent. They do however, present their own set of unique challenges not the least of which is separating author from narrator from main character.
In 2006, William Zinsser spoke on NPR about the challenges of writing personal history. His book, “How to Write a Memoir” offers this advice: Read on …