Tag Archives: Psychological-horror

Prism Dreams

I long to roll down the river called Prism Dreams; to feel the night sky percolate the open pores of my skin. But I heard that the riverboat overturned last winter; had kicked all of the stars out of kilter, had halted the flicker of dragonfly wings under a wearisome moon. I heard that life had become receptive to the fear that had flourished in the eyes of the submerged.

@alittlebirdtweets2016

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Rootless

She had woken in a loveless society that admired nothing more than its own reflection. She had commuted dank streets for years, with her coat collar tucked protectively in the crook of her neck; masking the putrid breaths of strangers, their voices ripe with pessimism. She had died savagely at the hands of stony scavengers, in their quest for food. But, she had drawn her last breath with a smile; having observed a set of doors that had opened into a new and fragrant society.

April finished reading the last paragraph of her manuscript, placed it on the kitchen table, and looked at her Mother, who was standing at the kitchen sink, daydreaming into the garden.

“What do you think, Mother?” She asked, rotating her thumbs in her sweaty clasped hands.

Her Mother turned to face her. “I’m left wondering what the new and fragrant society was like.”

April grabbed a pen. “Then I shall write on, for you, Mother.” She spoke the words of her story as she wrote; her fingers dancing eloquently across the page.

She had woken in glorious sunlight with a diamante heart encrusted on her brow. A stranger had greeted her with open hands; had given her his maps, his compass, his lifelong supply of food, his honest smile. And on her journey of life, she had looked to the psychedelic colours of the skies; had glimpsed the wings of eternity. And all the while, she had smiled, loved, and had thanked the universe.

@alittlebirdtweets2015

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Wishing you all a frightful evening…

Hello Readers,

Well the sun is setting and the moon is brightening, on this still and autumnal Halloween in London.

I cannot think of a better day than to send out a big THANK YOU to all of my readers and followers; for their support and their likes on my blog. You all give me the encouragement to continue writing and blogging. From today, I am going to make a promise to visit and support every blog that supports mine.

So what have I been up to in the world of literature, of late?

150 Word free-writes…

I have been spending my early-morning commutes undertaking 150 word free-writes. I start the process by searching for a random image on Google and studying it for a few minutes. Then I visualise the image as I write, conjuring up whatever words and sentences come to mind. The trick to this process is to write without stopping, and to allow the mind to run wild like water. Sometimes the final piece naturally turns into a piece of prose, a poem, a character biography, a descriptive setting or a flash fiction; and the excitement lay’s in the unpredictable outcome. So why am I doing this? Well, it keeps me writing and achieving every day, which is great practice, but my ultimate goal is to create a portfolio of 150 word pieces that I can re-work into a collection of prose and poetry – which I aim to send out to publishers when dusted and polished.

Nano-Wrimo…

I have been working on the first assignment towards my Diploma in Novel Writing, which, if I am honest, has taken me too many months! But I am almost finished! The task was to create an outline of a plot, for a novel, to include all of the basic elements of novel writing. I will be submitting the assignment to the college very shortly; but I won’t be putting the plot to waste. I have decided to use it as inspiration for November 2014, 30 day Nano Wrimo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge; which starts tomorrow. I had better sharpen my pencil. I am not sure what to expect of this write, but I am going to follow the free-write process, let my imagination run wild and let the story lead. I am extremely excited to get started!

My Debut Novel…

Earlier this year I undertook the Camp Nano Wrimo ‘50,000 words in 30 days’ writing challenge. These 50,000 words became the first draft of my debut novel – a psychological thriller/horror – a story that has been growing in my mind for many years. After completing the 50,000 words, I tucked it away in a draw for several months (a bit longer than Stephen King’s recommendation of several weeks). However, this weekend, I plan to dust off the 70x A4 pages, dissect the daily writes, and place them in chapter/plot order. As you may have guessed by now, I free-write most of the time, and tend not to write in any particular order.

Reading…

I am currently a third of the way through a terrific thriller/horror novel called ‘One Door Away from Heaven’ by Dean Koontz. The novel is a great setting for this time of year; it’s dark and uneasy plot coincides nicely with glowing candle-nights. I have read 12 novels this year, which is less than the 22 books I had predicted on New Year’s Eve. However, I need to accept that some novels are a slower and longer read – and that I just need to take my time and enjoy the process. I have set myself a new goal of reading at least two chapters of a novel every day – and follow the concept that smaller steps lead to big achievements.

Well that’s it readers. I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has inspired you to continue with your projects.

Have a fantastic Halloween weekend!

Donna x

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Rootless

Hello Readers,

This month I was given the wonderful opportunity to write an exclusive flash fiction called ‘Rootless’, for Paula Lawes, who owns and runs an online magazine called ‘Tips for Growers’ at thedailygrow.com.

The theme of the magazine this month, and the theme with which I had to create a story, was ‘Love Yourself First’. This proved to be both exciting and challenging, and it certainly brought me out of my comfort zone of the thriller and horror genres, in which I write.

“Rootless leads us on a light and dark thematic journey. It highlights how, if we open our eyes and use our minds, we can transform ourselves and the world around us.”

To buy a copy of Paula’s 46 page magazine, please visit thedailygrow.com. The magazine not only contains my exclusive flash fiction ‘Rootless’, but it also contains some inspiring articles by guest bloggers, original photos and inspirational quotes.

Thank you!

©2014.alittlebirdtweets

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Life

Ernest Burroughs pulled the well-thumbed life manual close to his face. His cataract eyes failed him; so he sniffed out the written words with his white-haired nostrils. The words travelled his nasal paths to his brain; where he chewed on them vigorously, squeezing them of their collective meaning. Billions of random words danced atop his eyeballs like small dazzling clouds, when his chest tightened. And before he could impart the revealed recipe of immortality to mankind, a force pulled him through a white tunnel.

©2014.alittlebirdtweets

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Camp NaNoWriMo – April 2014

Hello Readers,

Hot news! I am a participant in Camp NaNoWriMo April 2014!

In April, I will be writing the first draft of my debut novel (a psychological thriller/horror), and Camp NaNoWriMo is going to be my retreat in achieving this. In Camp NaNoWriMo I am a member of a cabin of twelve writers, all wanting to achieve a long-length piece of written material. Every day we will add our word counts onto the website, discuss our achievements and problems, and help keep each other motivated to the end of the month.

This is my first attempt at a written piece this length, and so I have set what I believe to be a workable goal.

1667 words per day = total of 50,000 words in 30 Days

You can keep track of my word count on my Facebook page.

Wish me luck!

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The Rickmansworth Writer’s Group

Hello Readers,

I attended the Rickmansworth Writers Group for the second time on 2nd March 2014.

As usual, the group organiser Mike Loveday (a published writer who teaches writing to adults in community settings) set out a mini agenda for the three hour session, which included;

  • A 10 minute writing exercise (taking inspiration from a set of scenarios all based on dialogue).
  • The reading-sharing-critiquing of written works by members of the group.

 A 10 minute writing exercise…

The first task on the agenda had been a ten minute ‘warm-up’ writing exercise, taking inspiration from a set of scenarios based on dialogue – as listed below. These were adapted (by Mike) from Zoe Fairburns, Write Short Stories – and Get Them Published (Hodder Education, 2011).

Scenarios:

1. Write a conversation between two people, with a character whose way of countering loneliness is phoning up a call centre and engaging the listener in conversation.

2. Write a conversation between yourself now and when you were half your current age. Be aware of how language and attitude differs.

3. Write the final conversation between two people (end of business arrangement, a friendship, a romance?). Let their feelings show.

4. The “cold call”: One person is trying to persuade another person. (Doesn’t have to be selling a consumer product). The pair have never met before. Write their dialogue.

5. Write a conversation between a carer and a person being cared for. Make use of (subtle or unsubtle) conflict and tension.

The goal had been to produce a free write narrative, a poem, a flash fiction, a short story – or any other literary form that had inspired us at that moment.  I had chosen scenario number 1.

I had created a screenplay / dialogue piece / telephone conversation between two characters. Here is ‘Phone Call’ – which was edited following the writing meeting.

—–

Phone Call

The phone rings. The call centre guy reads an outside line on the display. He thinks it is unusual that a member of the public has managed to get through to his line directly. Telephone numbers were never advertised, and all outbound calls were marked ‘unknown’ – so that customers were unable to return calls. He picks up the receiver.

– Hello. C… c… c… can I speak with Alan Davison please?

– Hello. This is Alan Davison speaking. May I ask who is calling please?

– Not just yet. I do have a good reason to call you. I called to tell you that I am lonely.  I have been lonely for years – I know you are the person to wash my loneliness away.

– I’m sorry Sir, but we are unable to provide professional support. We sell car insurance. Can I suggest you call the Samaritans?

– The Samaritans cannot help me like you can, Alan.

– Excuse me? Who is this speaking?

– It’s your b… b…brother. Luke. I guess you were never told about me, right?

– Sorry Sir, I think you may have the wrong number?

– I know this is a shock. I know you will never believe my words over the telephone – how about we meet?

– I don’t think that is a good idea, Sir. Is there anything else we can help you with today?

– Yes. Meet me tomorrow morning, outside your work building. Say, eleven?

– I’m afraid that won’t be possible Sir.

– Then if you are unwilling to cooperate, I suggest you look me up on Facebook to prove the situation.

– How will that prove anything?

– Because we are identical twins.

End

—–

Following the ten minute exercise, we were given a worksheet detailing what can be shown through dialogue. This was adapted (by Mike) from Zoe Fairburns, Write Short Stories – and Get Them Published (Hodder Education, 2011).

 How to Write Effective Dialogue

 Using Direct Dialogue:

  • In a story, direct speech benefits from fizz, sparkle, movement and a sense of “conflict” between people.
  • Aim to make it obvious who is speaking from the dialogue itself, so the reader / listener doesn’t become confused. Otherwise best to use “he said” or “she said”.
  • Good to practice to avoid resorting to melodramatic speech verbs to make the dialogue seem more interesting e.g. “he exclaimed”. A better technique is to put the drama into the dialogue itself.
  • Similarly, good practice to avoid relying on explanatory adverbs – “he said shyly”. Let the words speak for themselves.
  • In real life people often rely on stock phrases, repeat words, talk in circles – you can make use of this, but in a story you can do so more sparingly (rather than wear out a reader’s / listener’s patience and interest).

What you can show through dialogue:

  • Relationships between people – Affection or insult. Formal or Informal. Tact or Aggression. Condescension or Respect.
  • Origins – National, regional, class differences (avoid stereotypes though).
  • Age – 7, 17, 47, 87 year olds all speak differently. Teenage slang words vs. old-fashioned terms. More limited or richer vocabulary. Rambling vs. speed of communication.
  • Attitude to “conversation” – Interrupters, sentence finishers, contradictors, ignorers, avoiders, or people who turn the topic of conversation back to themselves.
  • Attitude to “self” – Trailing off and not finishing sentences. Checking with the listener that they agree – “do you know what I mean”.
  • “Obsessions” – Using repeated phrases, recycling favourite topics. Obsessions can be significant or mild.
  • “Lies” – Evading answers Exaggerating. Excluding information. Providing excess, unconvincing detail.

In addition to discussing the points on the worksheet, the group also covered other aspects on the subject of dialogue.

  • Pacing – how shorter speech can speed up a piece of writing; and longer speech can slow down the pace of writing – all depending on the effect the writer wants to create.
  • Overheard conversations – one member of the group had recommended using a notebook to capture snippets of conversation. I informed the group that lyricist Michael Stipe (of music band, R.E.M) undertook this practice regularly for his song writing – and that many snippets can be heard in the lyrics of their songs and in the title of the band’s albums. Automatic for the People was apparently a phrase that Michael overheard in a restaurant – when the waiter had advised customers that food was ‘automatic for the people’ (as in self service).
  • One character completing another character sentence for them – how often do we struggle to find the last word we want to use in a sentence – and in the time it has taken to think of the word, someone else has found it for us? I know I do this quite often – especially so on tired days when my brain is still in sleep-mode.
  • Action and setting – rather than have your characters just talk it out, have them continue with their actions and task – have them move around – let them connect with their environment. Remember, nothing is still in drama – even if the character is seated at a table – he is bound to be flicking a cigarette, swirling a cup of coffee or yawning.

The reading-sharing-critiquing of our own written work…

My flash fiction ‘Freedom’ was critiqued by the group. The reaction to this story was mixed; some having loved it to the point of wanting to pin it on their wall, while some curled away from it due to its minor horror / dark / pain content. This led me to think about the horror genre and how people can feel and react to it so differently.

Before I dig deeper into the discussion that took place, I will start by adding, that I wrote this piece after a very tired day at work. It was one of those days when my body and mind was exhausted, yet was also in a kind of thoughtful and reflective state. I had arrived home and questioned life and it’s routine – I’d asked myself ‘was there really any escape and ultimate freedom in this life, from work, from repeated pattern?’ Now, please don’t get me wrong, I love life and I love my routine, but on that particular day I was completely worn-out and thinking how nice it would be to stay in a position of freedom forever. And so I decided to allow all of these emotions evolve into a story.

Read the story Freedom

When the group began to discuss the story, the first word that came up was ‘pain’. One writer seemed to recoil at the idea of pain and blood, and the need to have to experience this to achieve her ultimate freedom. Another writer explained that he did not think the themes were horrific in the slightest – that we are all born into this world in pain, with blood – and that the themes are a normal part of our existence.

Another writer also saw it is a ‘watch what you wish for’ – which was quite an interesting take on the plot. This raised thoughts like ‘maybe we should all be happy and content our lives. May be the ‘wanting more’ is ultimately what causes us unhappiness – that it is about living in the now and not the past or future.’

It was very interesting to see the in-depth take on themes of the story – because originally, to me, the story was one that that had only expressed ‘escape’ – nothing else.

Some writers found the story Kafka-like and dreamlike – the fact that everything the character experiences does not possess full evidence of it actually happening– for instance, the writing just appears on the mirror – she does not see anyone or anything write it. This questioned the reliability of the story and the integrity of the characters mind.

franz-kafka

A writer had also mentioned the actual structure of the story. He liked how the story was split into two parts – the first part, the beginning, is where we live the characters’ dreams – and the second part, the ending, is where the dreams are played out and we experience them with her. This also led on to specific word-use in the story. Words such as ‘scrawled’ had a menacing, insidious feel – adding to the horror of the story. Some writers had mentioned the symbolism in the story – that bathing was a means to cleanse the soul – the perfect setting for the ultimate cleansing of her life.

I finished the discussion by informing them of an ending that I decided not to add the story – mainly because I wanted the reader to interpret it and end it in their own way. But for me, in my world, I pictured the character breaking the glass of the window, flying out towards her faraway land –  wherever that was, and ultimately achieving her escape.’

The next piece of work to be critiqued was a poem written by another writer. The title was called ‘Critique for the Day’. This had a fairy-tale quality and structure, which was nicely fused with darker words and themes of the piece. The writer had confessed after the discussion, that is was an autobiographical piece that came to be written because he always found himself concerned with his own thoughts – and how much they could be portrayed by others if he were to share them. A comment was made by another writer (before the writer confessed) that we ‘all assume the protagonist was human – when it could have in fact been about an ice-cube or an insect.’ There was nothing to assume the subject was human actually – and so this thought led me into thinking about the wonderful world of animation.

The last critique was on a poem – a selection of observations that all occurred to people at the same moment in time – lunchtime. I had commented on the humour which mostly occurred in the habits of the characters during their meal break. It made me think about comedy and how humour may be at its best when we hear or read about habits and moments that we all have in common but rarely share with each other. I also mentioned that the story reminded me of CCTV – a camera moving around on all the characters at the same moment in time – in my mind I pictured a series of moving pictures. It was asked if all the characters were related, and I guess all the readers were expecting some final answer in the story to show that they were. In the end it was revealed the only way they were related was in the essence of time. This was kind of difficult for me to grasp, being a writer of stories – and I guess I have to learn to accept that some pieces are not always stories – but are there to exist purely as themes, emotions, thoughts, concepts and rhythms.

Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood was mentioned as being the inspiration behind the poem. The writer had commented that it had been his goal to capture the minute details of everyday life, just like Dylan had. I think this concept of ‘minute detail’ is a brilliant tool for flash fiction. I believe one minute detail (whether it be an object in the setting, the habit of a character) can light up a story like a lightning storm.

under milkwood

I hope you found some of the ideas in this month’s write-up inspiring. I am loving these sessions – they are certainly opening up my mind to new ways of thinking and seeing things – as a writer and a reader.

Until next time, happy reading and writing!

Donna x

©2014.alittlebirdtweets

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Popworld

Glitterball

 

Midnight, beats pumping, last orders. She watches him; he winks. She smears gloss to hungry lips. Gloss, she thought, it always mesmerizes him.

Morning after; their heads throb, and he induces rejection, mascara tears. Passing her tongue over furred teeth, she walks home with regret. Love, she thought, is more appetising beneath the glitter ball.

©2014.alittlebirdtweets

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27

Camden Lock. ©2014.alittlebirdtweets

His big mouth strikes the revellers. His pining voice turns their body hair to live wire; their minds into psychedelic ecstasy.  He leaves the pub at the last beat of the drum. He lights a fag, walks past the Hawley, and dreams of wild days in tomorrow’s world of sobriety.

©2014.alittlebirdtweets

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Clown

I had been drawn into a dark circus of a world; a world where high-wired voices had giggled so delicately, over nothing.

This is the spirit of the circus, they had voiced with curled lips, and it’s about laughing over fake flowers, to entertain the curious.

Summers had slipped, and my laughs had burned out like old rings of fire. The mouths of jugglers had wheezed at my woeful face.

A circus is no place for a sad heart, they’d chorused.

©2014.alittlebirdtweets

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Faded

FotoSketcher - tea2

(Piano Instrumental ‘Dream of Flying’ by Brian Crane plays)

I had watched her lips dance upon the rim of her teacup; her bitter breath had fused with steam, had formed fumes of rejection.

“Just leave it Frank!”

I had posed her a floret of my affection, worlds of pipe dreams; but to her it had meant disintegration in love.

(Piano Instrumental ‘Dream of Flying’ by Brian Crane fades to silence)

©2014.alittlebirdtweets

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Distraction

Danger had loitered on a street corner that day. It had awaited the collapse of slate clouds, hard rain, and the thump of half-past five. It had awaited her arrival, stiletto-heeled. She’d stepped in the road, whilst struggling to open her umbrella; oblivious to the car approaching the corner at high speed. Metal had struck her legs, forced her body to collapse, and her head to hit concrete. She had laid in a grey sea, as ambulance crew, police, and strangers watched her; like she had been a newly erected sculpture. Voices had asked her questions, prompted answers; but she’d been too stunned to reply. She’d only been capable of crossing her fingers; of praying with her trembling heart, for the chance to see long corridors, fluorescent lights and fresh grapes.

©2013.alittlebirdtweets

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Fragility

Petals, a million shades of rose, lay frozen-in-time, upon the cemetery’s frost-laden grounds. Tomorrow, heartless feet will crush them; turn them into russet particles. Their dying breath will emit rancid vapours into the air, as they succumb to the earth. And, beyond the borders of the cemetery, people will look to the skies; sing the lyrics of summers’ song. Smiling faces, embracing sunlight; unaware that decay is a fraction away.

©2013.alittlebirdtweets

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Frozen

White light dapples the snow through the trees. Winter’s breeze blows at flakes rested on branches, forcing them to chute to the ground like dancing angels. She rests on a bench; allows the winter sun to warm her face. She imagines that she’s sitting in a Christmas card scene; that everything is picture-perfect. But the woolly jumper that she wears makes her skin sweat and itch. She feels uncomfortable and disorientated. She gets up, walks; and decides that today she’ll smile at no one; and that she’ll keep her eyes fixed on frozen paths, which threaten to swipe her feet.

©2013.alittlebirdtweets

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Elm Lake

Elm Lake ©2013.alittlebirdtweets

Whenever there were grey curls in the skies, the lake would awaken. Sinister waves would ripple on its surface, and rekindle a whispered voice that spoke of a past happening. The voice would travel through trees and into nearby cottages, where it was eager to be heard. But, no one would listen. No one wanted to believe that it was the voice of the girl, who had drowned in the lake half a century ago.

©2013.alittlebirdtweets

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🎭दो चेहरें हैं,दो लहज़े हैं मेरे...और हर सवाल के दो जवाब "एक मैं जो लिखती हूँ दूजा तुम जो जानते हो"!! 👑Queen Of My Own Thought❣ #MyBlogMyFeeling

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