Monday, May 19, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of My Writing Abilities by Alicia Dean

The Good: I think (I hope) that I am pretty good at creating villains, at writing creepy scenes and weaving a fairly interesting suspense. Here is a brief creepy scene from DEATH NOTICE:

Clown-bastard punched a button on the CD player and that song about Pina Colada's started. He walked slowly toward her.
"Why?" she asked, choking out the word.
He spoke for the first time. "You know why."
"No. I don't. I swear. Please tell me."
He sighed as if disappointed. "Laurel, Laurel, Laurel. Would knowing why make what's about to happen any easier?"
"Oh, God," she sobbed, dropping her chin to her chest as her entire body shook with terror.
"I didn't think so," he said.
She lifted her head and stared up into his face. "I'll do anything you want. Please don't hurt me. Pleeeaasse..."
His red lips curled into a smile. "You always were easy."
She frowned. "Do I know you—" The words were cut off abruptly when her eyes dropped to his right hand and, for the first time, she saw the knife. Panic gripped her, moving from her heart into her throat.
He gave a soft laugh and reached his free hand up to the orange hair. Slowly, he removed the wig. Her attention was riveted to his actions, the knife momentarily forgotten as she watched in curiosity.
Next, came the nose. Then, he took the collar of his costume and started wiping at the makeup.
As his features were slowly revealed, recognition dawned and she gasped in shock, but no words would come. A small glimmer of hope surfaced. She did know him. And he wouldn't hurt her.
She smiled, found her voice, and made a sound, something close to a nervous laugh. "What the hell? You really had me scared. Is this some kind of joke?"
He didn't answer. She looked into his eyes and felt the smile slip from her face.
Her remaining hope vanquished when the knife plunged toward her breasts. The first cut made her scream.
It was a long while before she stopped.

The Bad: I suck at characterization. I am not great at emotion, or at love scenes. I try, really I do, but somehow, what I’m thinking and wanting to convey, just doesn’t come across. My characters are not real enough, not sympathetic enough. But, I’m working on it. That’s the thing about writing, even though I’ve published 18 novels and short stories, I never want to stop learning, stop improving.

The Ugly: When the writing just isn’t working, when every scene is like being in labor, a very long, trying labor, and having a tooth pulled at the same time. Also, the Ugly is that I don’t have near enough time to devote to my writing.
But, you know what? There is a lot more Beauty than there is Ugly.
The Beauty is…
  • I’m doing something I’ve dreamed of my whole life.
  • When a reader takes the time to let me know they enjoyed my story.
  • When the words flow and you actually love what you’re writing.
  • The satisfaction of typing The End, even though you know there will be tons of revisions.
  • The phenomenal people I’ve met in my writing journey. I still marvel at how supportive and close-knit the writing community is.
I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, and no matter how Bad and how Ugly, I know, the Beauty is always lurking around the corner, and without the Bad and Ugly, the Beauty wouldn’t be quite so beautiful.
The Beauty is also that with self-publishing, we have the freedom, the control, to write whatever we want. I’ve always loved gothic mysteries, and I had the pleasure of writing my own contemporary gothic mystery a little while back. It’s on sale right now for $1.50. Here’s the blurb for Lady in the Mist:

(Buy Link: )

Upon her arrival in Shoal Harbor, Maine, Lily Jackson hears eerie moans that the locals claim are the ghostly cries of the unfortunate Breckenridge women. Running from loss and setback in Cincinnati, Lily needs the job as semi-psychiatric caregiver for Andrew Breckenridge, but the storm she has to weather from the oldest Breckenridge brother is severe. Clinton Breckenridge is a brooding man used to getting his own way, and he’s not convinced Lily is the right person to help his troubled younger brother.  

Even as Lily starts picking up the pieces of Andrew’s tortured psyche and finding out his dark secrets, another mystery looms before her. Andrew’s lover has gone missing in recent months and no one knows what has happened to her, or if her voice has joined those of the other Breckenridge women. Before she knows it, Lily finds herself in danger—thrust directly into the eye of the raging storm.




Donna Michaels said...

Wonderful post, Alicia! And a riveting scene! I'm okay with relaying emotion, but it's that 'fluff' I'd talked about that gives me trouble. Isn't cool how we all have our strengths and weaknesses? I, too, love to learn and grow with each release. It is very exciting...and also 'ugly' when I open one of my earlier works and see the mistakes I now know not to do. lol That is the beauty of writing, too!

Alicia Dean said...

Thank you so much, Donna! I really like writing those kinds of scenes. It might be a sickness. :) Yes, it is funny how we have our strengths and weaknesses. Ugh...yes, I cringe when I run across some of the older things I've written. :/

Leah St. James said...

What a terrific message, Alicia. You DO write really creepy villains! :-) If enjoying writing those scenes is a sickness, I share it with you. To me, writing (and reading) bad guy scenes releases some of the negative energy (in a healthy way) that we collect from day to day. Keep on writing them, please!

Alison Henderson said...

Ok, so your scene officially scared me to death! Wow, you really do that well. For me the Ugly is also when the words won't flow. It's such a relief when they do.

Alicia Dean said...

Ha, Leah. Well, I feel better then. Maybe I'm not twisted--at least not in a bad way. I will definitely keep writing them. I can't stop...muwahahahaha :) Thanks for the kind words. You're pretty good a this villain stuff yourself!

Alicia Dean said...

Oh yes, Alison. Ugly is when the words won't flow, which happens a little too often for me. Thank you...I'm sorry, but I'm kind of glad I scared you. :) I appreciate you saying I do it well!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Eeeeeeewwwwwwwww! Yuck! What a great, great scene, Alicia. You had me going too. I really thought, maybe, she was going to be okay. It is fabulous for those of us doing what we love. Thanks for finding the beauty in all of it.

Diane Burton said...

Yes, Alicia, you DO write creepy well. I don't. Every time I try to write a serious scene, I want to inject a quip or smart aleck comment. You do atmosphere well, too. Lady in the Mist is a great example of Gothic Mysteries (like Victoria Holt and Daphne DuMaurier wrote). Love your Beauty list. Me, too.

Jannine Gallant said...

I adore writing villains. I whip those scenes off in no time. I agonize over love scenes. They take me days and days and days... We have the same birthday. Maybe we really are twins! LOL Great excerpt!

Alicia Dean said...

Thank you, Margo! Yeah, she thought she was going to get out of it too. :( We most definitely have to find the beauty, right?

Alicia Dean said...

Aw, Diane. Thanks a bunch. I'm glad you found another thing I do well! :) As far as humor or a quip, uh, did you not see he was dressed like a CLOWN? That's funny...right? ;)

Alicia Dean said...

LOL, Jannine. Yes, it's confirmed now. We are twin souls for sure. Yeah, on the love scenes, I want to just rush through them and say, "He's turned on, she really likes him, they do it. The end." Haha. But I do like to draw out those killing scenes. Sigh...

Ashantay said...

I like your sweet romantic stories a lot and you write those stories better than you think.

Alicia Dean said...

Well, thank you, Ashantay! I'm really glad you think so.

Betsy Ashton said...

Sorry I'm late to the party PC troubles yesterday, but resolved today.

The scene drew me in. The fear was tangible. I could taste Laurel's terror.

I agree that when a scene isn't working, it sucks. But when you break out of the suckiness and move into a new realm with the scene, it's bliss. May we all enjoy daily bliss.

Susan Coryell said...

Alicia--you definitely know how to do CREEPY! I actually jumped after the mask came off. I agree that romantic scenes are difficult. I swear, it's easier to write about a 9-inning baseball game than a love tryst! Good, bad, or ugly, we writers have to write. Sigh. Blessing or curse?
Thanks for posting.

Alicia Dean said...

Betsy, no worries about being late. I'm notoriously late. ;) Glad you felt the fear, that was my intent. Can't usually make people feel the love, but fear works too, right? Thanks!

Susan, thank you. I consider that a compliment. LOL. Yes, I agree about the difficulty of writing a love tryst. I believe writing is both a blessing and a curse. Mostly a blessing. :) Thank you for stopping by!