Scare your reader!


How to instill fear, tension or anxiety in your reader?


Fear is a powerful emotion, which makes it a difficult one to achieve in prose. Instead of music or sound effects, we have descriptions of sounds and the author's voice. Instead of jumpscares, angles, cuts or shifts in colourgrading or imagery, we have paragraphs to describe the scary thing or the terrifying events. Instead of seeing an actor show a fearful expression, we have the thoughts inside the character's head. Compared to how easily a film can make you scared with a combination of all these elements to build and keep up tension and fear.

1. Use prose to your advantage. Sure, jumpscares may be impossible in prose. But jumpscares are cheesy and cheap anyway. Because a horror story requires the reader to focus and do the act of reading actively, instead of passively staring at a screen, they're also going to be more invested once they get into it. Because it's a slower process, and during that process you as the author gain the reader's trust, the fear will creep up on them slowly. Well written prose has the advantage of placing the reader inside of the character's body, unlike a movie where they are a by-watcher,  and if you write your prose in a calculated, immersive, authentic way, you may be able to convince them that just about anything is realand in this case, it's coming to hurt them.

2.  Use foreshadowing. In order to create fear, you need to slowly build suspense. And it really is a slow, slow thing. Find a way to make your reader suspect the worst while hoping for the best. Make them concerned. Make them suspicious of everyone around. Drop in hints early on in both the inner dialogue the character has, and the dialogue they have with the people around them. Suspense isn't just for horror writing, though! Every book needs suspense, and while foreshadowing is the most common way of creating it, there are also a lot of other narrative tools you as a writer should know. A book full of suspense is a book that can be read more than once.

3. Get all up in your character's senses and show them how everything feels, sounds, smells, and looks like. Make it unfiltered and raw. Your character is your biggest weapon against your unsuspecting reader. If you can make your reader feel like they are actually living as your character for the duration of the book, you're going to be able to truly torture them with goosebumps.

4. Don't show the monster. Maybe show it at the end, if you want to. And maybe it's just a personal preference, but I like to be kept in the dark. I love how the fear of the unknown makes me squirm and tense up. I don't like it when I don't know if I can fight the monster or not, because I have no idea about the monster's weaknesses. The longer you're able to keep your characters scared, confused and running around blindly, making things worse for themselves, the scarier it's going to be when they finally come face to face with the incarnation of their greatest fears.

What did I miss? What do you think about books that have no tension whatsoever? Pretty lame, huh? πŸ§›‍♂️ Happy 5 days until Halloween!! 

Rebirth and Regrowth


 

 If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.

~Eleonora Duse


How quickly spring turned into summer. How quickly summer is now turning into fall. The trees still look green, because you don’t ever think to look at the leaves closely enough—until one day, they’re not on the trees anymore, and you wonder, how did that happen?

I’m definitely an autumn person, even though I love chasing ocean waves and reading books under apple trees. I couldn't be happier for golden leaves and thunderstorms.

Picking blueberries, frantically flipping through mushroom handbooks, drying herbs and freezing strawberries (or just eating them all before you find the time...). Oh, and I can't forget putting an apple pie in the oven and sitting by the window in a cosy sweater, breathing in the sweet cinnamon scent emanating from the kitchen while lighting a candle to scribble by.

Today the sun shines and the air is full of that familiar freshly cut grass smell.

Before you know it, red leaves and blue skies turn into rainy days and frosty fields.

A song of rebirth and regrowth, an endless cycle that tells you: This is all that matters. This is all you want.

Rejoice, for your soul is alive.




Happy Birthday Sally-Boi!


 

Sal is the cutest little birthday boy! 





Saying I'm happy to have this tiny little guy in my life is a vast understatement. Sal is sort of a rescue rabbit in the sense that he would've probably never turned two years old if I didn't find him when I did, so this day is extra special. 

He's had a tough life so far with many homes where nobody ever gave him the love he deserves, but still he trusted me fully the day I brought him home, and just from looking at him and how he hops and runs around like each lap around the room is his last, it almost seems like he knows that he got a second chance at life and he wants to make the most of it.

He's found a best friend in Piny (see that dark floofy cloud in the pictures, who I'm still not completely convinced is even a rabbit because she wags her tail like a puppy and honks like a goose... ), and they always nap together, eat together, and huddle together to create masterplans of grand destruction to obliterate every shoe that ever dares cross their path... Shoes are the ultimate evil (or so I've recently come to learn), and luckily I've got Sal & Piny to protect me from their sinister shoelaces and demonic soles.



Life is truly never boring with this mischievous pair of weirdos.

Happy Birthday, Little Prince Sal!

Midsummer Magic...

If a maiden picks seven different wildflowers on Midsummer night, without speaking a word until the morning, and sleeps with the flowers under her pillow, she can see the man she will marry in her dreams.



Now, I’m not looking to get married anytime soon, lol, but it’s a cute tradition I like to do with my baby sister out in the meadow every summer on Midsummer’s Eve.

Flowers are an important part of midsummer. They’re often made into crowns or wreaths to decorate doors or houses, because in the past, they were believed to ward off evil spirits.

It was also believed, in the olden days, that the direction in which the smoke from the Midsummer bonfire (kokko in Finnish :D) blew were a person who was soon to be married.

And the funniest old tradition that I know of (although I haven’t ever heard, or thank goodness, seen, anyone do this) is that if you roll around naked on your crush’s meadow (or garden, I guess), that person will fall in love with you.

 


Yeah, old traditions, myths and folk stories are wacky. But oh, so much fun!! Midsummer, or Juhannus, in Finland, is all about love, laughter, making flower crowns, asking the gods, or God, depending on the person, for fertility and a good harvest, running from the steaming hot sauna to skinny dip in the lake, oh, and eating all the food. All the food.

Does your country or community have any funny traditions or believe in folk magic?

At midnight tonight, I’m venturing out into the woods to see if I can find any fairies, magical fern flowers, or trolls hiding under a wooden bridge. Wish me luck… And have a mystical midsummer, even if you aren’t celebrating!



Turning Fears Into Story Themes


I made a list of my greatest fears today, because writing about what you’re most afraid of can add so much depth to your stories.

I think that’s the kind of stuff the professionals mean when they say “write what you know”. It’s not them saying that you can’t write about vampires or elves or wizards. They’re saying that you should make those fantastical things feel real by adding what you know from your personal life experiences on top of that.

I’m afraid of sea cave corpses, falling, the thought of child soldiers and kids being sent to war, accidentally hurting or killing animals or people, never finding love, and not speaking up when I know I should. 

S h u d d e r s.

Fear can also be a good tool to find the theme for your story.

What your protagonist is most afraid of is what they most desire, right?


Ryiah from my story is afraid of living a meaningless life. Therefore her desire is to save her kingdom and be forever remembered.

What does she learn?

Ryiah comes to realize that her meaning comes from the people around her touching her life and sacrificing themselves for her, and that she can’t save anybody alone.

Theme?

Friendship, comradeship, unity.

This story says that our names don’t matter as much as the names it is remembered by.

What’s the theme of your story and how have you gone about creating it?





Pictures in this post are from EDINBURGH <3

High Concept Writing

I've been asked again to give more writing advice, and you should know that it takes a lot of courage for me to write advice because I have a lot of doubts about my abilities. But when you ask, I will deliver. No matter what.

So here we go. Let's chat about writing High Concept stories.


Cuuute London parakeet!

Most of my stories are so called "High Concept" stories, and I think it’s much got to do with the fact that I’m so entangled in the commercial film business world at this point that I subconsciously discard other story ideas immediately.

But, uh, what is a High Concept even??

A High Concept story idea is one that clearly encapsulates the vision and immediately engages the person listening to your pitch in a way that they have to read your story.

High Concepts sell!

But High Concepts don’t automatically make great stories if the plot doesn’t deliver on the High Concept’s promises. So here are some things High Concept stories need to deliver on:


1. The premise needs to be unique.

 It should be different to what is already out there, and this can be done by combining different concepts, tropes or twisting a traditional story around.


2. It has to appeal to a large audience.

If it’s never been done before, people will be intrigued to see what you’ve written.


3. It's often created by asking a “what if?” question. 

For example: What if Snow White was the dwarf, protecting seven beautiful princesses? And if this what if question immediately sparks ten more questions, you’ve got something interesting on your hands.


4. The story can be pitched in one sentence. 

If you can’t explain exactly what the core of your plot is with one sentence, it’s not concise enough.


5. It’s got a strong emotional focus.

The primal emotions are fear, hate, love, joy... Use them!! If the emotional core is clear, your story is much easier to pitch.


High Concepts aren’t necessary to build a good story. There are millions of incredible books and movies out there without High Concepts that are doing really well. And having a great idea doesn't guarantee that your storytelling will be great! Ideas are, most of the time, completely useless. It's how you use that idea that actually matters! But having your book or screenplay be a High Concept story can make it a lot easier to sell or pitch to agents and publishers.

There are no 100% original stories. But a High Concept comes pretty close to being original. It’s creative. It’s fun.

I love coming up with different High Concept ideas. They’re simple, sometimes weird, and you instantly want to see them come to life because they’re so intriguing.

And if you’re intrigued by a story, you can bet that someone else will be too.


London was a blast. I really freaking love parakeets.

How Tone Improves Your Writing

Hi lads and lassies! Today I'm doing more of a writing advice post because I feel like I have a lot to say about writing sometimes!

So let's just get into it! What is tone and why is it important for your writing??

Tone and voice are very much intertwined, but the more I try to figure them out, the more confused I am. So let's start from the very basics, because although tone is a very simple thing, it can be complicated. Because there are no real rules.

Tone is essentially the 'aesthetic' of the language you use in your story. But it's what the world and the characters feel like, not what they look like. Tone is created by a consistent choice of words that in turn create a clear image in the reader's mind about how things feel like in your storyworld. It's the general mood of the story.

For example, it isn't usually important for the reader to know the floor plan of your character's house. Unless the character is very analytical, emotionally distant and fact-focused. Then it makes sense.

The words and specific details you choose to describe the house builds the tone of your story. It's all about the mood! And this house example shows that tone ties in very tightly with the POV of your character and how they view the world.

Towards the Highlands! In Scotland!
Tone is like a pair of tinted glasses on a person, while voice is the person's thoughts describing what they see.

This means you can change the attitude (glasses!) of the POV character. But changing personality (thoughts!) is difficult. That's why tonal changes through the plot can be done, but changing the voice completely is disorienting. Attitude = tone. Personality = voice.

Get it?

Tone is basically an overall feeling. Just remember that.

That same feeling/mood should be SO consistent throughout your story that if you open up any page, the tone is immediately apparent from that page. Rules are made to be broken though! Like I said, tone is complicated!

Having some guide words as you write can be helpful.

For example, the tone of my story is grimy, tragic, nostalgic and has a sense of "us against the world". I try to achieve this mood on every page more or less.

But tone is a second draft thing. Don't worry about it if you're writing a first draft! But it's good to have a think about. What's the tone of your story? πŸŒ†πŸ–€

I really miss Scotland.



The Projects I Work on Now

When I get overwhelmed by my never ending idea machine brain or somehow weirdly feel like I don’t have enough of original ones, I like to make lists of them to clear things up.

It's an ever growing list of projects. I think I’ve got 11 at the moment… And those are just the ones I have dreams about or add to on a weekly basis.

This is a rock in the woods in Fort Augustus, Scotland, where I almost broke my arm (might still have a hairline fracture but I never got it checked out so...)
It’s like my brain’s got twenty tabs open at the same time.

But to make things easier, I’ve only got three projects that I’m actively trying to work on right now. This week, this month, this year, whatever 'right now' means.

1. ARN

An epic fantasy series about a kingdom called Noriannd that I never seem to finish because the plot keeps growing forever. But I also love that it does that. This story is my life long legacy. If I die and only ever finish this one, I’ll be really happy.

Arthur's Seat
2. Willowfolk

A creepy/dark fantasy stop-motion animation film about a magical forest and a grumpy old troll that befriends a little injured elf. I hope to shoot this one either this autumn or sometime next year.

3. Stories from Nelserin

A fairytale book for my little sisters with all the bedtime stories I used to tell them that I still remember, and some more. I get lots of ideas for stories that never evolve into full-fleshed novel or film ideas, so this is where those go. I hope to self publish this some day with my sisters’ illustrations in it. That’s the ultimate dream.

I’m so happy to have a brain that invents worlds and characters and magic so easily from basically nothing. I have really vivid dreams at night and usually I can remember them in the morning.

So naturally, it’s super important for me to always write things down and make millions of lists, or I’ll forget and be sad.

Stephen King has said that he never writes his ideas down because if it’s an important idea, he just won’t forget it.

Uh, well... My brain doesn’t remember to eat or take my pills, not to even mention appointments and meetings. I’m going to keep writing my project ideas down in my many pretty notebooks, thank you very much Mr King.



What projects are you currently working on? Write about them and tag your post with #dailywordmagic on instagram! πŸŒΌDuring the month of February, we're doing this daily challenge on instagram with other fellow writers where we share our process and thoughts by following 29 different daily prompts. It's not too late to join us!

And if you'e reading this after the challenge is already over, feel free to still use the prompts and share them on social medias whenever you like!

Happy writing!

Em

Saying Hello


I like the word ‘hello’. It means a beginning of a new adventure, a new friendship, a new phase of life.

This year I want to say a lot of helloes.

I’ve already said hello to a couple new cities and a few new people, some films and even books—although reading has been a bit tough lately.

I’m a lot better at saying hello than I am at saying goodbye.

Usually I just try to move straight past the goodbyes and fast forward to new helloes. But without goodbyes, would helloes have even a fraction of the beauty they hold?

Beginnings are kind of easy. For me, at least. I've moved a bunch of times and started over in new places. Lots of introductions. Lots of helloes.

There’s hope and dreams in saying hello. You’re filled with inspiration and motivation. Maybe you imagine everything magical that could unfold just because of that one little word.
But as time passes and you fall into a routine, it’s easy to forget how it was to say hello. How it felt in that exact moment.

So, what was an important ‘hello!’ moment in your life?

I remember each hello I’ve said to my little sisters after they were born. Those are some of my most cherished new beginnings of my absolute favorite friendships.

What ‘hello’ do you most look forward to?

I can’t wait to say hello to a house of my own, near a lake, next to the woods. Maybe there is a little isolated rock by the water and a few colorful rowing boats.

There I can sit and scribble, paint with watercolors and look at the fish through the water and the birds in the clouds.

I spend a lot of time focusing on the helloes that are in the future. But writing is all about the now. Describing feelings, sounds, smells, getting all up in your senses and putting those senses on the paper. You have to be present in order to be a good writer.

Find something new to say hello to every day, and write about it.

Be brave and explore!

Helloes are special, but they’re even more so if we manage to write about them, and remember them.

I started a bucket list


This year I decided to only give myself one long term New Year's resolution. And in addition to that, instead of a long list of goals that all go unachieved, make myself a bucket list of things I could tick off once, because I don’t have much patience or resilience to follow through with things.

So far, I’ve ticked off three things:

✔️ Try fish & chips.

Yes, I’ve lived in England for four months. I just don’t really like fried food πŸ˜‚ And while it was a good experience, I don’t think I’ll buy myself fish & ships ever again.


✔️ Donate to charity.

This is something I actually aspire to do multiple times a year. But I always over-stress it because I’m poor and don’t want to give my money to a charity I’m not 100% sure will actually help those in need. But now that I’ve done it once already this year, I hope it will be less stressful next time!

✔️ Write an article for a magazine.

I was contacted in December and asked to write a piece about mental health for a worldwide church magazine, which was just the most perfect timing! Because I'd been thinking about writing for magazines, but it felt scary. So having someone else contact me first was awesome πŸ™ Now edits are done, and it’ll appear on the internet in a month or a few… I never actually asked when, lol.


It’s been an educational year so far!

My one resolution is a grand one. It sounds super intimidating and unachievable to me right now. But I hope it will at least keep me on the right track so I'll be a few steps closer by the end of the year. A video about that will come up on my YouTube tomorrow!

I've also got some bucket list items that I need your help with! More about that later! ❤️

You're in a slump already, aren't you?

I am.

Slumps and funks are very normal to me and I’ve learnt to accept them and not be so hard on myself when they inevitably happen.

For the past three days I’ve survived on only pancakes because I don’t want to go to the grocery store. I’ve been lying in bed or on the little couch in the kitchen and tried to do stuff, but everything has been taking me so long that every evening I’m surprised that it’s already dark but I’ve only read a few pages and written a few pages.

At least I’ve been trying. But it’s just been going horribly slow and I haven’t really been able to do anything. I wouldn’t even know what day it is if wouldn’t have checked that from my laptop.

My days are just mushed together and everything feels like nothing.

But I know that this will pass, like every other slump I’ve ever had.

In fact, I think slumps are super important for my growth and for staying on the right path.

A slump forces you to take a step back, re-evaluate what you spend your time on, and make some changes. I bet that a lot of you are feeling a bit like I am, since the excitement of New Years is starting to wear off by now.

Don’t feel alone in your slump. It’s not the end of the world.

You’re feeling what you’re feeling for a reason, so try to get in touch with your subconscious the best you can and figure out ways to get back on track.

Journaling, watching lighthearted movies, cooking a meal around that one single vegetable you’ve got left in your fridge.

That’s what I’ll be doing today.

How do you treat yourself when you find yourself in a slump?


Photo taken from my kitchen window in my first own apartment in Tampere.
I was in a long, pretty bad slump back then, but I survived that one, too!

Hello, third decade of my life πŸ₯‚


The second decade of my life is over, and the third is here. What a weird thing.

2010 

My last full year living in Sweden, I cut bangs that I then spent the next two years growing out. AND TWIIILIIIGHT.

Oh and I also participated in a singing contest with a song me and my friend had written and composed together. I could totally not dance and our performance was a bit embarrassing.

None of our friends showed up to support us, which is when I learned that your most valuable fan will always be yourself. And that most times in life, you'll face things all alone, but that doesn't mean that you need to feel lonely. Alone:ness is a power that helped me get through this whole decade!

The contest was still fun. I still sing the song sometimes. It’s a real ear worm.

2011 

My family moved to Finland. I was sad because I had a crush on a Swedish boy. But I got new friends, new crushes, and new bullies at my horrible new school, so yay. And my youngest baby sister was born!

2012 

2012 was the year the world was supposed to end and we all were supposed to die! All I remember is more strange crushes, video games, bullying and pimples and fangirling and ew, everything other than books and movies was MAJOR EW. 

AND HUNGER GAAMEEESS.

2013 

At 14 years old, I started my first novel in English. It was awful. I still have it, but I haven’t looked at it since then because I keep saving it for a special moment of cringe. I also got guinea piggies!


2014 

I left 9th grade and my horrible old school, and got into my dream performing arts high school which I used to call a mix between Hogwarts and High School Musical.  Theatre kids amirite? I also started writing my fantasy book, participated in my first Nanowrimo, and opened this instagram account and got a bunch of writer friends. And we got a kitten!


2015 

More crushes, fun times with friends, video games, my emo phase, insecurities, feeling ugly and fat all the time, writing my second novel.

sfx makeup was a big hobby back in 2015


2016 

My high school did Romeo and Juliet, and I worked on tons of art projects, stopped eating meat gradually, rewrote my fantasy book, directed my first halloween shadow theatre play and was a girls’ camp leader.

vampires never get old for me honestly.
here's me being a 17-year-old vampire.


2017 

I graduated high school and got into film school, struggled a lot to make friends and stopped writing for almost half a year because I was so stressed.

first time in London! 2017

graduation candy

2018 

I made some friends and partied like an animal. Then I moved into my own apartment and dyed my hair red and it was the best thing ever. I got into running and exercising and was super fit and it was great. I also wrote another draft on my book and wrote songs and painted and did a bunch of other creative things.

And I went traveling a bunch (Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway), including my first ever trip to Stockholm alone!

I think 2018 is the most productive year I’ve ever had. But then I got super burnt out and depressed at the end of it...


2019 

I got help for my depression, and it's a long process that is still going on.

Yet despite it all, in February I published ARN as a serial novel and then took it off the internet because of said depression lol.

During one of my weird "Yay I'm feeling better now and not as depressed!" phases I cut my bangs again with kitchen scissors and  have been growing it out ever since that fateful night… sigh. But I traveled a lot and moved to England! And now my hair is black somehow, so that’s also new!

summer 2019. two months of making friends, growing as a human and finding hope in the darkness of my brain.
It’s been a strange year and a strange decade. And I’m super glad I’ve been keeping a semi-regular journal since 2010 so that not all of those hundreds or thousands of weird adventures, awkward mishaps and beautiful coincidences have been completely lost because of my chaotic forgetfulness.

I was a child when this decade started, and I feel like I've grown more or less into an adult by now.

21 years old. Still can't believe it despite spending the past twelve months trying to get accustomed to that thought.

I have many hopes for the next ten years. I look forward to finding my soulmate, getting a publishing deal, self-publishing some stories, releasing an album, swimming with whales, buying a house and adopting some rabbits and a husky.

2020’s here I come!