As I draw nearer to the creation of my own digital story, I find myself drawing inspiration from some of the well-known and the lesser-known authors of the horror genre. I have been “picking their brains” for tips, tricks, ideas, and words of wisdom for how to get started writing successfully about the undead. I have read excerpts from Stephen King’s On Writing, consulted Jim Butcher in person at a meet-and-greet in my town, and read a variety of blogs from a plethora of authors. One that stuck out to me recently was a post by author Craig DiLouie from his blog post titled, “Writing The Zombie Novel: Lessons on Craft.” In his post, Craig details ten different tips on how to write survival horror that people actually want to read. Reading through these ten tips, I couldn’t help but think about how his advice was the embodiment of the work we’ve been learning and doing in class. They also epitomize the ideas of good story telling.
Tip #1, “Read Everything,” and Tip #2, “Always Be Writing,” are the exact rules that were set by Lori on day one. Every week we sit down to read/watch something story related and every week we sit down to write our own thoughts, critiques, and personal creations. As time has gone on, repeating these two acts has helped me to become a better writer, reviewer, and storyteller. I remember a while back that a fellow student questioned the validity of only reviewing stories and not writing them; wondering what the purpose behind these writings was all about; implying a desire for wanting to be more of a creator than a reviewer. I believe that Craig’s first two tips very clearly underline the purpose behind our work in our blogs. Right now, writing about others’ work and reviewing it critically on a consistent basis is getting us to practice in reading everything and practicing to always be writing. Repetition in this way is preparing us to produce more interesting stories full of depth and development. Not only that, but it is exposing us to numerous examples of what works and what doesn’t, thereby providing us with enough fodder to remix a story that is unique and creative to our own styles while respecting the styles of those who came before us.
Continuing through the tip list, tips #5 through #7 invite conversation around Jason Ohler’s traits for assessing storytelling. Respecting the needs of the audience is an important part of a successful tale. Doing your homework (#7), responding to your audience’s ability to suspend belief (#5), and writing a story about people, not zombies (#6) are all geared toward respecting the target audience of a survival horror production. Audience buy-in is probably one of the most important factors in a story’s success, and this can be accomplished through reader empathy. My good friends Lisa Fish and Nick Grimes feature empathy in their blogs frequently as a tool for good storytelling due to its ability to unite people of different backgrounds and beliefs. Craig also addresses it in his blog by stating, “Readers need somebody to empathize with in the story; in a sense, characters stand in for the reader. As terrible things happen to these people, the reader feels like these things are happening to him or her. But if the reader has nobody to care about, they will not empathize.” This is something that I am going to be playing very close attention to as I start to develop my own story.
Tip #10 may very well have been written by Lori herself stating, “be prepared to promote your work.” Since the beginning of this course, we have been asked to promote ourselves via blogging, Twitter, and a variety of other social networking tools. Seeing this written out by Craig got me thinking if what I am doing now is enough to get my story out there and, if not, what I should be doing to publish myself in as many places as possible. The more that I write in this blog, the more important it has become for me to have viewers reading what I am writing. In our latest Gallery Walk, I finally realized just how important my blog posts have been to my peers and how I can have an impact on a larger audience. I am determined to make my own digital story shine better than any blog post I’ve created to date and find new ways to gain attention from others outside of our class to promote myself and my work.
@CraigDiLouie, @StephenKing, #INTE5340, #DS106,