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.


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? 🌆🖤

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! 🌼During 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!


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.