The Base, The Roux, The Legend

WIP: Work In Progress

When you think about this concept of building a myth for a world, or specifically for a WIP, you have to be able to manipulate the information you have to get you to where you need to go. I know this seems a little a little heady or ‘out there’. But what I need you to know is you control the world you create.

The tension, the people, the towns, the time–you control all of it! With me being an amateur chef, and I like to think of cooking and writing as a type of alchemy. So, let me give you some practical encouragement which will help you in all that you will do.

The Base. A base is something that you cannot make anything with out. Think of this as the dry ingredients for a cake, or a gravy. These are things that are immutable about your story. Think of these things are your character’s identities, eye color, height and weight, even their birthdays! The base of your myth are the things which will not change.

The Roux. A roux is more specific. You cannot add, neither should you add, a roux to everything! This of a roux as a specific genre or specific to a genre. How you would write a horror story isn’t the same way you would write a mystery or a romance. A roux gives flavor to a dish! So in using this idea in your writing, a roux for a horror writer could include more specificity. More detail. This is where you can begin to examine how you want your characters to interact with the world, and how they interact with it.

Example:

Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyer have both written about vampires (base–the immutable thing.)

Anne Rice’s vampires in The Vampire Chronicles cannot go in the sun, have had a King and Queen, and a spirit (Amel) that had given all these blood drinkers their power. (roux–specificity.)

Stephanie Meyer’s vampires can go in the sun if it is cloudy enough. The Cullens (her main protag’s) feed on animal blood not human and their eyes are gold. The vampires that feed on human blood have red eyes, especially as newborns (roux–specificity.)

The Legend. What I call legendary is a myth or the making of a myth which will allow for a world to be built or multiple books written using the same myth (again, imagining Rice and Meyer). When you grant yourself the freedom to create in such a way, you allow your imagination the room to revisit a character or story.

Let me blow you mind a second: Anne Rice’s vampires didn’t just become all she imagined overnight.

She had a base (the basic idea) and then made it specific to her idea (the roux), and from there she gave herself the space to create a universe. When she took a break from her vampires, choosing to write other things (as writers sometimes do), she had enough written to substantiate going back to it–without having to recreate anything!

Even with Stephanie Meyer! She liked the idea of Jacob Black in Twilight, and wrote a book specific to him–this was New Moon. She created a myth to go along side the main myth–giving her space to write or create the Twilight Saga. She also made it all work! And as of 2020, there are seven books in that series! The latest of these books being Midnight Sun.

This, dear ones, is legendary. A recipe that you can do back to, tried and true, which you have worked at–making it your own.

You control the seasoning, what works, as well as what goes in and what you can work around.

You can do it!

Encouragement Pages-10/19/2020

Motivation as a writer is born out of discipline! Stefani Germanotta (we know her as Lady Gaga) said this during her Oscar win last year:  “There is a discipline to passion.” I completely agree! Motivation and passion are not cousins–they are siblings! They are to be parented by you. As any good, attentive parent, I ask you this:  “Where is Motivation?” “Where is Passion?” If you cannot answer this question, there are other problems afoot. With

Love & Ink,

JBHarris

The Power Of Story—Part 2: Learn To Make It Up

One of the beautiful things about writing in community is being able to ask questions. When I restarted writing as a hobby, I spent a lot of time on social media–specifically, Twitter.

It was through the vehicle of Twitter that I met Tonia Ransom, the executive producer of Nightlight: The Black Horror podcast! I was following the podcast’s Twitter account before I ever followed her personally. But, the better thing that happened on while on this Twitter journey, was I met the marvelous Tananarive Due.

This is why this is important: Writers need community and writers need support!

I asked her all types of questions! I would ask her practical things, writing things, and she answered everything! But, the thing that was most incredible, and helpful was her advice about myths. Here is how that started.

I told her that I was working on something, and didn’t see (or didn’t have) the myth I needed. I asked her, “What do I do?” As gracious as she is, she answered me. Really quickly, as I remember. Her answer was three words: make it up.

Make it up.

I cannot explain why that freed me, but it did. She gave me the permission, the reminder, that I as a writer had more power than what I thought. Myths are fantastic, but making up one? Making up a myth to suit your story or build your world? That…that unlocked another realm of my imagination that I didn’t know existed! I didn’t know I was allowed to just make up a myth. This is why writing in community is vital. This is why if you have access to your favorite authors on social media, don’t be afraid to ask them questions!

The worlds that you create are yours, yes. It is your responsibility to maintain and construct these worlds. Myths provide framework, structure and key to your work! Remember, if you don’t see or know the myth you need, you have the power to make it up.

You have the power–the responsibility–to maintain it! Don’t take that lightly. The story you need, the foundation you need, you have! Think of each story you create as a house. Each house needs it own foundation, and if you are building a subdvision you need allocate space to build. Take the space–and if you can’t take it, make it up.

Encouragement Pages, 10/09/2020-Along The Way, Part 3

I want you to take stock of your imagination today.  I want you to begin to respect it as you never have before. I want you to take stock of what you have encountered, missed, lacked, and loved. I want you to take all stock of what you have read as well:  good books, favorite books, bad books, even books you couldn’t get through! All of these things you will need! Since you need all of it, use all of it. Use it and spare not! The people in your head will than you.

With Love and Ink,

JBHarris

Encouragement Pages-10/07/2020-As You Go Along, Part 2

Writers are readers.  I mean, how else can you scope out the competition or any trends? Reading is recon work! It is a mobile vacation! It is a way to explore the world without ever leaving your house! As a writer, you need to bear witness to worlds you didn’t create in order to design your own or to improve one you have seen already. Remember what you like, what you didn’t like or what you want to improve.

Use all of it.

Fear not.

Make the worlds that you want…or even that you fear.

With Love & Ink,

JBHarris

The Power Of Story—Part 1

Note: This is not a horror writing blog. However, if you are interested in horror writing please see Nightlight: The Black Horror Podcast. On the show with Tananarive Due (9/19/20) there is a mention of a on-line horror writing class: The Sunken Place: Racism, Survival & Black Horror. This class is taught by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes.

Story. Noun

  1. an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.
  2. an account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something.

Most writing is based around this simple idea, tell the reader something they haven’t known, would like to know, or would like to entertain them. Sometimes, the things that scare us–are some of the oldest stories we ever learn.

With this autumnal mood apparent, the one thing, I will remind you of when you begin writing is the myths are powerful things, ancient things even! This is none more apparent that in the genre of horror or speculative fiction. It is the myth which gives basis and foundation for what it is you want to create. One of the things about horror writing which is both tricky and amazing is being about to master what scares you, what scares other people and how do you make that make sense. The way you do this is myth!

What people are normally afraid of is most often based in or around a story. A myth is a story! You need an idea on which to base the thing which will scare other people–with a myth being a story, it is easily relayed, repeated and built upon if necessary.

Just think about it!

Most of the troupes we find in literature are based in or off of myths. Using horror as our hook of sorts we see this clearly. From the myth of vampires, have troupes of blood drinking, needing coffins, and incineration from sunlight (remember, a troupe is a formula!). Do not dismiss the power of a myth, and what it will add to your story or WIP. You want to give your story all you have, whether it be the first or last draft.

Keep going.