Last week I had an epic writing fail.
I tried to write a horror story. I don’t often write horror, but I know the basic principles. Slow creeping menace, focus on atmosphere, build empathy for the victim… I’m sure there’s more I don’t know than I do, but I thought I could at least give it a crack.
Then I gave the draft to Mrs K to read. And the things she pointed out made me realise that, on the most basic level, I’d failed. Sure, I had full sentences, a beginning, a middle and an end, but beyond that it was a mess. Those basic principles I just mentioned? I hadn’t stuck to any of them. In fact, I’d done so badly that I’d missed even more basic writing principles. For example, I’d thrown in pointless background details instead of sticking to the story at hand.
What have I taken from this? That I shouldn’t write horror? As far as I’m concerned, that’s the wrong lesson. If I can know a set of writing principles, and not apply them, then I need to practise those principles, because if I don’t learn to apply my knowledge then I’m never going to get better.
So this week I’m writing another horror story. It’ll probably be another mess, but at least this time it’s actually a horror story, not an action adventure with crudely depicted evil spirits. And most importantly, in some way, on some level, I’ll have improved.