|As A Writer, Ask Questions, then Imagine|| |
Sometimes the most important thing we can do as writers is to ask a question.
I love asking questions when I read authors, especially when they stimulate my imagination and the questions lead to more questions!
Recently, I started reading H.P. Lovecraft, and although his name wasn’t new to me, I’m grateful to the young author whose interest in his stories led me to take a closer look. (Thank you, M!)
I find the 1900s racism of Lovecraft to be blatant and frustrating, but when I look beyond that, there's a vivid and striking imagination that leads to compelling possibilities.
Here are some elements to apply to your fantasy and horror story beginnings, gleaned from reading Lovecraft. See how many you can weave into your fantasy or horror story, prodding the reader to ask more questions.
Artifacts are key. Is there an artifact in your story? Where was it found? Or, where is it believed to be hidden? What lore or myths surround the artifact?
A corpse, mummy, or preserved body is as an irresistible artifact. Also, if there are remote villagers who tell stories of the above, even better.
A scream, “off camera,” that curdles the blood, will tempt and terrorize us into wanting to know what happens next. Who is the screamer in your story?
Is there a rancid smell? Where does it emanate from? What is it redolent of?
Are there inhuman sounds associated with your story? Creaks, rattles, groans? What? From where?
Is there a family resemblance, of your protagonist, to a long ago eccentric? What is the facial or physical feature, and to whom is the resemblance? Perhaps a great-great-great-something or other? How is it discovered? Does a portrait hang on the wall, or is there a piece of jewelry or other item that has been passed down?
What rumors surround the people, places, and artifacts that seem to have mystical powers, magic, or curses associated with them? Who tells these rumors?
What other elements are you finding in favorite stories, movies, or books that you could bring into your own work, as you craft your mind-tingling tale?
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