Blank Pages are Scary …

Oh, look!  I have a short story collection on Amazon.com?  →   →   →    →

Bought it, yet?  Thanks!  You are too cool for school.

Okay.  Now, on to this blog’s writing advice …

Did you know going to the doctor can cause your blood pressure to go up?  We call it “white coat syndrome”, and the ol’ saw-bones will re-take your BP near the end of an appointment after the latex comes off.  Likewise with writers and blank pages.  If you can get something — anything — down on paper, then your anxiety (and your blood pressure) will drop like a rock.

But staring at a blank page does not need to be daunting.  Just like the doctor’s appointment, apprehension will ease as your character discovers what she really fears.  After all, your characters have emotions, right?  And what evokes an emotional response quickly in people?  Two things.  Humor and horror.

While I could choose to yuck it up on my blog this New Year’s morning, I’ll shy away from guffaws and chortles until the morning after the night before wanes ;-)

Now, ask yourself: What is your character afraid of?

I’d been wondering that myself, and in order to answer the question, I decided that 335 heads were better than one.

So, I polled my Facebook friends to get some feedback on all-things-scary.  If I haven’t told you before, I have the greatest Facebook friends on Earth.  They are intelligent, witty, thoughtful, supportive and sarcastic.  All traits I admire.

I asked what scared them.  Some replies were expected, some creative, some down-right demented —

  • Spiders
  • Snakes
  • Clowns
  • Demons
  • Speckled butter beans
  • Hair in the shower drain (ewww, thanks, Susan)
  • Michelle Bachmann
  • Democrats
  • Hair in the shower drain
  • Clown hair in the shower drain (thanks, Paul)
  • Ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends
  • Evangelicals
  • Owls
  • Convicts
  • Cherubs

So, instead of getting frustrated about that blanknessivity [sic] on your screen, get your creepy on.  Have your character walk into a haunted house.  Make it a good old-fashioned haunted house with crooked tombstones, weeds, dead trees, dark clouds, and big rabid bats.

Your character pushes the front door open.  It creaks.  Now then: What does she see?  What does she hear?  How does the house smell?  How does it taste?  You do know that fear has a taste, don’t you?  So, how does she feel?  Is she trembling?  Is her hand at her throat?  Is she taking baby steps?  Is she murmuring to herself, telling herself that everything will be okay when she knows that everything won’t be okay?   And why does she feel that way?  Because something is not as it should be, and that is coupled with a goose-flesh sensation that there is a something unknown (or unknowable?) in that house with her ( … thank you, Jamie, for this latter thought).

I wrote about her encounter in 375 words.  But I’m not going to tell you what she saw, what she heard, or whether she even survived.  That’s for another entry, or possibly for a new short story.

Now you can do this, too.  Crank out some words about how your character feels entering that house of horrors on the hill.  And, voilà, your blank page is no longer blank, but you might wish it were.  But it’s still better than Doc strapping on that glove, isn’t it?

As always, peace from Keith

© Copyright 2012, Alan Keith Parker.  All rights reserved.  Clip art © by Dixie Allan, 
http://webclipart.about.com

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3 thoughts on “Blank Pages are Scary …

  1. A friend of mine on Facebook added cherubs. It took me a minute to process that one, too :)

    If I had to guess, then I’d say it’s a fear similar to gargoyles on top of an old cathedral. Any human-like statue can scare the bejesus out of you given the right (or wrong) frame of mind, lighting, weather, etc.

    1. I did some writing in the Pottery in Nantgarw. Upstairs there is a life sized figure, the sort of thing that might have stood outside a shop to draw people’s attention. I was there for a good couple of hours and I still didn’t like it.

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