Category Archives: Friday Phrases

My Writing Process – Updated

Another retooled post! Last year I was very kindly asked to participate in two blog hops, each of them inviting me to elaborate a little on my writing process. I’m currently doing a little housekeeping at The Ark Hive at the moment, and in reading those posts again I found areas where some of info was outdated. The works in progress or upcoming projects are sights in the rear-view now, so I wanted to post versions with those sections edited out, but if you’re of a mind to read the original posts (and I’d point you in that direction if only to introduce you to the awesome people who very kindly nominated me, and the equally awesome people I subsequently nominated) the originals are available here and here.

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

At first I thought this was quite a tricky question to answer, but ultimately it’s as simple as “It differs because it’s me writing it.”

To me, writing is like seeing shapes in the clouds. You and I might lay back on the warm grass, watching those little crystals of water or ice embrace tiny particles of dust in the blue sky, and, wondrously, this cold and unstoppable physical law will inspire you to see unicorns or angels, cats or dogs, the famous or the infamous, whatever your mind is wired to see.

If your mind is wired like mine, or if you’re meeting me halfway by reading the ink on a page or the pixels I’ve arranged on a screen, all I can hope to do is use my own experiences and emotional view of the world to convince you we’re seeing pretty much the same thing. That’s all any writer does. All our work differs from others in its genre.

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

As I say I’m wired to see what I see, and to imagine what I imagine. As a kid, my earliest stories were superficially science-fictional, cherry-picking concepts from my favourite films and TV shows and comic books and mashing them into tales that didn’t so much explore strange new worlds as recycle them … many is the story from that time that saw a Doctor Doom/Darth Vader hybrid commanding an army of “like Cybermen but not really Cybermen” against a brave band of Mutant mercenaries armed with laser swords (definitely NOT lightsabres). Incidentally, I used to draw fake movie posters for these stories, crazy, sprawling artwork crammed with all the elements I’d stolen from my influences. Thankfully, none of these drawings survive, but they tended to be a variation on this:

I have this album ... and it's brilliant!

I have this album … and it’s brilliant!

 

The thing is, if I was writing about a cyborg, say, I started to realise how much more I enjoyed writing about the seeping, decaying remains of his or her flesh than the sleek, mechanical aspects of the cybernetics. Eventually, I came to understand that my science-fiction efforts were Horror stories in disguise, and that if I was going to write, that was the territory in which I could have the most fun.

I’ve written elsewhere about my love for the Horror genre, but the short version is that I honestly believe it’s the most flexible field I could ever work in. I can have my zombies and demons and killers (oh my!), but if I want I can also have comedy or erotica or teen angst or political drama or whatever I need. I don’t think it works the other way. Any of those genres can exist brilliantly on their own, but make the President a vampire or the angst-ridden teens serial killers and the story’s heart begins to blacken, to turn to the Dark Side.

For me, the genre remains honourable and undiluted no matter what other themes and elements it can comfortably incorporate. That’s why the Horror element always comes first when people talk about mashing it up with another genre. Zombie Western, Zombie Romance, never the other way around. Horror defines itself, and the stories it tells, and that’s why I love writing it.

HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Unfortunately, my day job doesn’t allow me the luxury of a fixed time to write, or indeed a great deal of free time at all, and so any creativity tends to be left to the end of the week for Friday Phrases, and as much novel-writing as I can manage to fit in over the weekend.

If I have a whole day, I’m at my most creative in the mornings. I’ll aim for around two thousand words of new stuff then, and spend the afternoon checking through what I’ve already written. I usually find this PM editing a relatively painless process, as I’m in the habit of editing the work as I write it. I know many writers might shake their heads at this, considering it a great sin against productivity and creativity. It’s far better, they might argue, to let the prose flow, to let one’s imagination spill unrestrained on to the page, and later to use craft and skill to shape the words into the best they can possibly be.

For the record, those writers are absolutely 100% correct, but generally speaking it’s not how it works for me. There is a reason for this, I think.

A few years ago, I tried my hand at a little stand-up comedy. I’d been writing a few jokes for radio shows and the like and thought it might be interesting to see how my material played to a live crowd. Believe me, though writing is a solitary, sometimes lonely endeavour, it can feel like a party compared to standing alone on stage in front of a cold audience daring you to make them laugh.

The material was a weird stream-of-consciousness thing which wondered what might happen if – and those of you of a sensitive disposition might want to look away now – an adult movie was created by the cast of Sesame Street.

It was strange. I fully suspect anyone still reading can guess the kind of things the beloved Count was so joyfully enumerating, and even deduce what appallingly inappropriate selection of letters and numbers my imagined episode was brought to you by. What role I speculated that the renamed Cookie Monster might play in these sordid events is perhaps best left consigned to history.

The material got a few laughs, but the guy behind the microphone was an idiot, so I stopped. The experience did leave me with a curious learning curve that informs my writing today, though. All those times when I stumbled over a line, or ducked a thrown beer bottle, or misplaced one of the events in my routine and had to backtrack in as naturalistically a fashion as possible … all those things meant that I learned to cut and paste my thoughts, and quickly. To edit and shape as I went along, rewriting “as live”, if you like. It’s one reason why the shoot-from-the-hip nature of writing the Friday Phrases really appeals to me. Many of mine share the same structure as a joke, I think, albeit a joke where the punchline involves a demon or a dismemberment.

So that’s about it for my Writing Process … thanks for reading!


#jabeflash – The #FP 100: 20th December – 24th December

The final part of the FP Advent Calendar posts (sound of everybody cheering). There are more FPs to be archived on here, but now that a chunk of them are posted, I’m hoping to populate these pages with some new stuff for a little while. Anyway, thanks to all who read, starred and retweeted the 24 Twitter posts (25 if you count the double bill) throughout December. You’re all brilliant! Happy Holidays! 🙂

December 20

December 21

December 22

December 23

wallpaper christmas series newdesk

#jabeflash – The #FP 100: 1st December – 5th December

#jabeflash – The #FP 100: 6th December – 12th December

#jabeflash – The #FP 100: 13th December – 19th December

A Love Letter To Friday Phrases

Friday Phrases – I’m In Love

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 01

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 02

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 03

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 04

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 05

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 06

 


#jabeflash – The #FP 100: 13th December – 19th December

The third thrilling installment of the #jabeflash #FP Advent Calendar Format! Parts One and Two can be found here  and here, and as usual, there are links to my other #FP themed posts below. Thanks, as always, for reading!

December 13

December 14

December 15

December 16

December 17

December 18

December 19

A Love Letter To Friday Phrases

Friday Phrases – I’m In Love

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 01

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 02

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 03

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 04

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 05

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 06


#jabeflash – The #FP 100: 6th December – 12th December

The next lot of #FPs in their #jabeflash, Advent Calendar style incarnation, including the double-bill I needed to ensure I hit the target 100 by Christmas Eve.  The first lot can be found here, and there are links to my other #FP scribblings at the end of this bunch, if you’re interested.  And while I’m here, a quick but sincere thank you to anyone who’s read or starred or retweeted the #jabeflashes – You’re all ace!

December 06

 

December 07

 

December 08

 

December 09

 

December 10

 

December 11

 

December 12 part one

 

December 12 part two

 

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Below are the links to the other FP-centric posts …

A Love Letter To Friday Phrases

Friday Phrases – I’m In Love

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 01

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 02

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 03

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 04

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 05

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 06

 


#jabeflash – The #FP 100: 1st December – 5th December

Another FP collection , sneaked in below the radar under the #jabeflash banner (the flash of course referring to fiction rather than any implied pantslessness during the creation of the FPs … maybe). There are a number of posts on here collecting my FP scribblings (links below), eight in total, comprising of around 240 pieces of microfiction, give or take. The good news (for me, at least) is that almost every one of them has been incorporated into or evolved into a longer work.  The bad news … there’s lots of them left to post. So to shake things up a tiny bit, I’m aiming to post a hundred on Twitter between 1st and 24th December, using a kind of advent calendar format. Four a day, for 24 days (meaning that at some point, I’m looking at posting a kind of double bill). I’m reasonably sure that none of the #jabeflash posts contain mini-tales duplicated elsewhere on the blog, but if anyone spots a doppleganger, feel free to let me know.  Part Two of the #jabeflash stuff, covering the 6th – 12th December, can be found here.

Aaanyway …

December 01

December 02

December 03

December 04

December 05

Thanks for reading! As I threatened earlier, here are the links to the other FP-centric posts …

A Love Letter To Friday Phrases

Friday Phrases – I’m In Love

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 01

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 02

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 03

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 04

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 05

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 06

 

 


#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 06

Another collection of Friday Phrases – In the interests of context, the first two presented here are from Halloween 2013, while the following three are from Valentine’s Day 2014. The rest follow my usual roll-of-the-dice approach to presentation 🙂

The skulls and bats were festooned with spiderwebs, all for the visiting children. She’d thank the spiders later, after they had fed.

The plague killed almost everyone. She roamed Twitter, looking for survivors, and lost hope until the DM at Halloween: “Trick or Tweet?”

He finished breakfast then started to gather what he needed. In an hour, the world would have a new massacre to remember this day by.

He sat surrounded by crumpled pages of terrible poetry. He’d just have to hope his Twitter crush picked up on the subtweets.

She looked down at the crowd. The crossbow felt good in her hands and she had plenty of bolts. “Time to play Cupid.” she whispered.

“How about some scrambled embryos?”
She made the same awful joke every morning, but when I saw my plate, I knew she’d taken it too far.

A cold wind rose, teased her hair and blew litter around her feet. She looked up, and found herself in the shadow of vast, leathery wings.

In the dark, the pillowcase looked rumpled, like a mask of peeled skin. Nearer, I saw that my eyesight was better than I would’ve wished.

The swordsman’s blade whirled, a spinning blur of death. Unexpectedly, Indy shot him dead. Even more unexpectedly, the swordsman sat up.

She didn’t recognise the couple in the old photo, but thought that the groom looked like a younger version of the man brushing her hair.

The teacher slept, drugged. The girls poked her scalp with pens until one glistened red. She really DID have eyes in the back of her head.

“Sorcery!” they yelled. “Black magic!”
The clown’s cheap tricks littered the ground as he fled.
“It’s only a kid’s party!” he screamed.

Of course I washed my dirty hands before dinner. The ones attached to my wrists AND the ones on the plate.

She didn’t realise it was a tweet from the dead until she walked into the house and found him hanging from a ceiling beam, his eyes wide.

He tasted sweat at her temples, yet her skin had prickled to gooseflesh. He read the texture like Braille, until he found her secret words.

Shaggy knew that things were getting weird when Fred traded in the Mystery Machine for a Pinto. Then Scooby got bitten by the bat …

12 rich kids abducted in 6 months. The cops let them take No.13. As the gang reached the remote hideout, the cops detonated the hostage.

“I killed a man and wrote it as a story on my blog. I was all set to leave it there, but when I saw the spike in the stats …”

The knight and the dragon strolled back into the village holding hands. They were smoking cigarettes and the dragon looked very content. The villagers were horrified. “We sent you to kill it!”
“You misheard,” the knight smiled. “I’m a Dragon’s Layer.”

(The above originally posted as two FPs)

Know that your stars and mine are the same.
Know that when your hands are cold, I’m on my way back, and I’m bringing a nova with me.

Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, here are a few more FP-centric posts 🙂

A Love Letter To Friday Phrases

Friday Phrases – I’m In Love

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 01

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 02

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 03

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 04

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 05

 

 

 

 

 

 


#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 05

Let’s do this! 🙂 For context, the first FP presented here is VERY much based on the marvellous @clraven – Welsh, Gothic, Red Bull charged twins who write exceptional Horror Fiction and cast caution to the wind with their ghosthunting exploits. You can probably guess how many fanboy boxes that ticks with me, and if you’re not already following them on Twitter and reading their excellent blog, I’d absolutely recommend that you take a look at their genius 🙂

Aaanyway …

“I watched your video,” he sneered. “The haunted asylum one. I didn’t see any ghosts.”
The twins simply smiled. “Didn’t you?”

She walked thru a door that wasn’t there, wearing only her scars and the satin stream in her hair.

He knew kids thought it a lame trick, poking a thumb between fingers and saying “Gotcha nose!”
Lame, until the day of the sharp scissors.

He pointed at my breakfast. “You’re meant to peel that before you eat it.”
“I like the skin.” My mouth was already wet. “And the eyes.”

People ate the chocolate eggs with the sweet, sticky filling, unaware of a factory full of dragons that wept for their stolen offspring.

Unable to find a pair of sufficiently stretchable trousers, Hulk discarded his pants and ran into battle.
“HULK … FLASH!!!

He smiled at her thru the glass as he cleaned the windows, singing.
“If you could see what I could see … when I dream of killing …”

“Any regrets?” he asked after the ceremony.
She smiled at the horned faces rising in the flames. “Only that the sacrifice didn’t scream.”

Born in a hospital fire, she thought herself a child of chaos for 80 years, until another hospital, another fire, and she was gone.

The moment before I pressed the blade to my hot, wet wrists, I saw my reflection in the steel.
I didn’t recognise myself at all.

The wind caught the kite and he watched it soar. Once in flight, no-one could see that its taut breadth was covered in tattoos and scars.

He left, and the house stopped feeling like a home, ’til she recalled an old proverb and cut out his heart to keep in the bed beside her.

She felt as if she were trying to scrub his soul from her dirty hands, as if Lady MacBeth was whispering to her, “Keep washing …”

Before he got into the escape pod, Threepio saw the One Direction CD sliding into Artoo’s middle.
“I’m going to regret this.” he said.

She’s dusk and burlesque, an hourglass in moonlit silk. Eyes the colour of risk. A rosebud pout with thorns, a kiss that stings.

A year after the accident, his memory returned. He tracked down his children, only to find that they’d forgotten everything of him.

“Yes, she was a fine artist.” he said. “I have several of her pieces hanging on my walls. This is her heart, here are her kidneys …”

He drew his cold, numbed palm from the wall and saw from the imprint of his dirty hand that, unexpectedly, he was missing three fingers.

“Out, devil!” the priest shouted. “Begone!”
The demon smirked. “It’s a No from me.”
Regrettably, the priest lacked the X-orcist Factor.

“Hey, man.” The long-hair flicked soil from his Woodstock tee. “You can’t just shoot me, you dig?”
I levelled the gun. “No. You dig.”

More FP collections:

A Love Letter To Friday Phrases

Friday Phrases – I’m In Love

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 01

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 02

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 03

#FP – An Archive Within An Ark Hive – Part 04