I’ve had some difficult conversations with clients (and prospective clients) over the years. People can be…resistant to constructive criticism, despite the fact they’re paying for it—all the more so if there’s an inherent issue to the writing that stains character and plot. Some of the most delicate conversations, I find, are those in which the issues of subconscious misogyny, racism or bigotry must be raised. Writing is intensely personal, after all. But look, horror fiction is my bread and butter; *context matters, so I’m here today to help parse the difference between portraying repugnant things and absorbing them into your writing.
Anna is a dystopian novel, set a few short years from now. War has devastated us to the point of societal collapse. It’s a lawless, bleak and wretched place out there, but our protagonist has managed to survive it, picking her way through the Unlands and trying where possible to avoid the remnants of humanity. Her capture happens with shocking speed, and we are dragged along with her into a living nightmare of enslavement, degradation and manipulation in a cold and bitter world.
It doesn’t take a pandemic to keep an introvert or an agoraphobe locked away. We like small, controllable environments. Plenty of people have found themselves isolated by virtue of their career, whilst others are minimising human contact out of a sense of social responsibility. Isolation is not always a bad thing. However when isolation is combined with feelings of loneliness and helplessness, it can feel like the cruellest affliction.
In these times of Covid, more and more people are coming forward to report mental health issues. Some people see this as a weakness, a crisis in and of itself, just as pernicious as the pandemic. Others see it as a process of destigmatisation: an open sharing of vulnerability and pain that unites and enables us to heal through support, empathy, and encouragement.
Another week has flown. I almost didn’t make this one. It’s been a tricky time and I’ve been kind of overwhelmed. Back on track now. The last editing gig is almost done and the tangle of personal bits and bobs are starting to resolve themselves at last. Anyway, moving on. Just two of us taking part in the challenge, so no voting required. Not sure if the change of days has affected things or if the stars of creativity just failed to align for the folk who would usually appear. We shall have to see. In the meantime, here are the entries inspired by Jono Dry’s art.