Should you study writing?

Some people will tell you that courses in writing are a waste of time. The most basic and influential way of learning to be a writer is by writing and reading.  You observe and write what you see. You read and then write some more. This is the simplest way to learn and improve your skills. You learn by doing. 

So, should you study writing? Simple answer. Yes and no. It solely depends on what you’re studying and your reasons for it. Let me explain.

If you want to sharpen your tools and techniques, talk to a community filled with other writers that can, in turn, help each other to become better writers. Then studying a course may be the perfect thing for you right now. Writing courses offer a safe space to experiment and practice with the knowledge that everyone is in a similar boat. You don’t have to worry about receiving a negative reaction such as you would from friends and family. Instead, you will most likely be offered genuine advice and criticisms on how to improve. Courses are great for a pick me up or boost when you have gotten as far as you can on your own. When you get to that step that you just can’t seem to swing your leg over.

On the other hand,  writing courses aren’t great for everyone and some courses are better than others.

There is no such thing as a good writer or a bad one. Every writer is different and what someone hates about your writing, someone else will love (as long as you put your whole heart into it) so sometimes courses aren’t great for certain people. Maybe you’re picking the wrong course and it’s too limited and is teaching you how to be a certain kind of writer. Sometimes you can find yourself on a course filled with hateful people that think they’re superior. They will dumb down your work and quote books you’ve never heard of. Don’t waste your time with those people. Sometimes you may even have a crap teacher or course. It can’t be helped. 

It’s a bit of a lottery finding a perfect course for each person but the benefits are plenty in my opinion. 

So, should you study writing? Yes, when you need to learn and improve your skills with a different tool. Courses are a great place to chat with other writers and really tune into your skills. They help you become a more knowledgeable writer. Just don’t expect everything to be easy or different with your writing as soon as the course is finished. Things take time and writing is a long winding road with plenty of hidden junctions.

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 2

Six years later, Charlotte’s nightmares are more gruelling than ever. Only last week did she wake up in a farmer’s field miles from home and was chased by the angry farmer with a large rake in hand. Another time she recalls waking up and all most falling off a cliff edge into the depths below as she casually turned over whilst stretching. She’s even tried to secure herself to the bed but her mother nearly caught her tying the knots. It was too risky. If her mother catches her they will send her away where all the others go. There seemed to be no desirable ending to her situation. My life is a constant torment. Charlotte wallows in her own dark thoughts as she leaves the school grounds after another long-winded day.

Cutting through the edge of town, Charlotte scoots around the local grocery and heads around the back. This isn’t the shortest route home but she never rushes. Her mother is normally having one of her meetings or out with friends whilst her father is at work in the city. At 4 pm there’s nothing to rush home for. So, she dawdles as usual. Taking her time and heading the long way around town through the Drive-in theatre and around the new park. She would never understand the appeal of moving pictures. Her parents, like a lot of others, had grasped onto the ideals of such a thing. Most people in this small town of 2000 were now driving fancy cars and enjoying unusual hobbies. Charlotte preferred to contemplate her surroundings and read the latest inquisitive novel by her favourite writer Anthony Burgess. Twenty minutes into her dawdling routine Charlotte arrives at the old park. Unlike the town’s main park filled with in-bloom flowers and forest greens, this park was old and forgotten. When the new one was made this became washed up garbage dismissed like a mouldy bloomer.

Not long-ago Charlotte didn’t know of this place either. She woke up here one frosty morning in September last year. Her bare feet on the degraded tarmac and her head next to the rusty pole that used to hold the weight of a swing. It wasn’t until she woke up here that she remembered this place. It was squished into the back of her mind blocked off by newer memories. Waking up that morning she remembered like she was here yesterday. She could recall falling on her knees and her mother helping her up when she jumped off the swing. The feel of the wind in her hair as she whizzed around the roundabout pushed by her father. She must have been quite young at the time because her mother and father don’t have the time for her now. They sigh a lot or shrug off her presence when she’s in the room with them. They act kind towards her for appearances on behalf of other people seeing a perfect family but that’s about it. They resent her for being anything but that sparkling precious diamond. They often busy themselves with hobbies, holidays and work with Charlotte being at the bottom of that list. The silver lining on every cloud though. It made it easier for Charlotte to hide her bad dreams. Still, sometimes she found herself wishing they’d had a second child so she would at least have some company.

She had never experienced any constant with her dreams up until recently when strangely she started experiencing the same dream over and over. She can’t recall all details of the nightmare but it involves a lot of running. Running to something or from something Charlotte wasn’t to know. Sometimes she would wake up with images of blood dripping from fingers engraved in her mind. Other times she woke with a start after hearing a woman’s scream. It would take her a couple of minutes to plant her feet firmly back in reality. Sometimes her dreams were like this. Regular dreams with no set story or structure. Unlike her other dreams though this one was regular in more ways than one. Every time she awoke from it she would be at the park. This had never happened before. Due to the frequency that she had awoken at the old park the past few weeks she had started to include a visit in her afternoon routine in hopes of settling her frequent stubborn atrocities. This recurring dream was broken into fragments. Charlotte only remembers the old park being in it. She remembers running with her feet pounding on the floor. Sometimes she sees images of two figures crouched over something but she can’t figure out what. There’s always a lady in her dream as well. She knows it’s a lady by the way she walks and the way she’s shaped. It’s frustrating to remember something in pieces that you have never experienced. 

Today, Charlotte was sitting in her usual spot on the bottom of the slide – you couldn’t go down it anymore because there were no longer any ladders, just a couple of poles holding it up – when she noticed someone walking somewhat cautiously around the border of the park. Turning around the bends and following the path of the misplaced wooden planks. Only a small glimpse of what was once the park fence and gate remains. Half on the floor and coated in an unkempt thick layer of wild grass and the other half stolen by bored children or drunken men. This person was a similar height to Charlotte and around 500 yards from where she was sitting with her legs crossed, perched on the end of the slide. It certainly looked like a girl, or rather a lady. She carried herself as Charlotte had been taught.

From as young as two girls are taught how to dine with others, how to do their hair and makeup and even how to walk. All in the hopes of moulding them into sophisticated young women. It was the figures confident walk that Charlotte first spotted. A walk she made sure to do in front of others. Shoulders back, hips forward, head up. Unlike this apparent lady though, Charlotte would only ever pretend to be proper. As soon as she was on her own she would slouch her shoulders and kick her feet, scuffing her shoes on the ground like a stubborn child. Charlotte spent several minutes watching the young lady.  She had never seen anyone here at this time before. There was normally only activity here during the evenings when people would use it as a hiding place for their frowned upon or even illegal actions. Charlotte knew people frequented here because they always left a trail of discarded bottles and cigarette butts in the more secluded areas such as the box climbing frame. Now only a few bits of wood it was still enough to duck under as a shelter from the rain. 

The lady looked to be of a similar age to Charlotte’s. She was certainly no older than 18 but she had the playful air about her of an older child. Stepping over broken wood with an energetic leap rather than a womanly stride on tiptoes. Certainly not that young though. Charlotte could see her large breasts bouncing uncontrolled under her floral tunic. Charlotte had certainly never seen her before. She must be new otherwise she would have seen her at school. Unless she doesn’t go to school anymore and doesn’t attend university, but then she would be expected to be courting for a suitable husband by now at the very least. Either way, she shouldn’t be here. Green tentacles loop through Charlotte’s hair and entwine into her clothes as she watches the spindly figure bouncing around the border of the old park as if it were her own property. Laying a tactile slender hand on various posts and flowers as if marking her territory. With Daffodil coloured and exceptionally straight hair moving behind the intruder as she bounces around, she glides around the fence twice in a loop before stopping abruptly on the third time when she reaches the gap where the gate once stood. Charlotte adjusts her seated position. Grasping the edge of the slide with both hands and planting her feet firmly on the ground. She gets ready to run if she needs to. She can’t allow this lady to learn her name. Charlotte has already taken a lot of risk by staying where she is. The last thing she wants is some tattle tale going to her parents. Charlotte would be sent away before the morning rose if her mother and father found out she had been coming here. Charlotte decides she would try to run if the lady walks any closer towards her, confident that she can find a large hole on the opposite side of the playground to scurry through. The slender figure doesn’t move at all though. Not a quiver of her feet that were previously moving so elegantly in their flat white loafers or a strand of her suddenly still hair. If Charlotte hadn’t just been watching her moving she could have sworn that it was a very realistic statue. Despite being unable to see clearly, she would assume that even the lady’s large chest was still and devoid of breaths. 

Standing at the edge without a single toe on the tarmacked square of the derelict playground. The 5’7 tall figure stares straight ahead. Charlotte turns to look behind her and can only see open empty fields filled with shrivelled brown grass and the random spots of yellow weeds. Nothing obvious that would indicate the attention needed of the woman and yet she stares ahead as if watching a play or expecting the world to end before her very eyes. Charlotte’s hairs stand on her neck and she shivers despite the wind carrying a warm breeze. Charlotte is surprised that she hasn’t been noticed, she may be wearing dark clothes but she is still an obvious out of place feature in the park. Something about the mysterious presence of the woman has her courage on tenterhooks. Still, now that she’s closer she can get a better look while the woman’s attention is elsewhere. She’s around 17 years old with a freckled pale complexion and pinched red cheeks. The tunic she’s wearing is covered in vibrant florals and intricate weaving. It looks of the latest fashion. Charlotte recalls seeing something very similar in the latest teen magazine. Brown tights hug her long legs and a yellow pearl necklace hangs from her neck. Her outfit is finished with a flame orange headband in her hair just like the girls at school wear. The bullies would love her. She looks like she’s stepped off the runway and straight into her worst nightmare, so out of place is such beauty in a second-hand disregarded area of the town. Maybe aliens have brought her here. Charlotte silently tells herself off for such a ludicrous thought. Maybe she does belong in the asylum after all. The tentacles of jealousy evolve Charlotte’s aggressive side. She feels betrayed by her own sensibility. To focused on herself, Charlotte fails to notice that the woman’s eyes now focus on her. Looking up she is met with a severe gaze burrowing into her mind.

Chapter 3 available here 

Copyright 2018 

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 1

“Harlot Charlotte!”

Dorothy spits in Charlotte’s face, a wide grin on her ruby red lips like a lion ready to pounce.

Dorothy hates any moment that Charlotte is near. Her weird ways only encourage hatred in Dorothy’s perfect world. Hannah and Tony stand either side of the queen bee. Ready to join in if given the chance. Acting as personal guard dogs, hanging onto her every word. Maybe guard dogs isn’t the best descriptive of the two. They’re more scaly and sinister than that. They only follow Dorothy because they don’t meet her high standards. If they resist then she’ll find others to stand in their place and then they’ll be with Charlotte. Huddled on the floor trying to minimise her existence by pulling in her limbs, close to her body. Nobody wants that. Not even Charlotte.

Words of abuse are thrown at her 5’2 petite frame. I’m just surprised that they know the meaning of the word Harlot. Charlotte can’t help but smile at the thought.

She would assume girls like Dorothy would think it was the latest French delicatessen cheese. Her smile only aggravates the bullies, with a swift kick to her shin they leave her on the floor in a satisfying heap. Smiles holding onto their porcelain doll-like faces as they elegantly sway down the school corridor. Dorothy and her friends can be compared to well-dressed Barbie dolls that should be on stage next to the Beatles. Fashion inspired haircuts, sky high with layers of hairspray to give the most volume copied from the latest issue of ‘Teen’ magazine. Charlotte works quickly to gather her books before they are stepped on by the oncoming stampede of pupils as the bell rings to indicate next period. Besides, if she doesn’t move swiftly they will likely come back for more fun.

At 16 Charlotte’s small, boy-like figure was an easy target for her fellow high schoolers. With skin so white you could almost see through it and a lack of a womanly figure on her protruding bones. She always thought her breasts would come in at a later stage but the small forms she was given didn’t show any sign of growing. She kept her mousy brown hair short. Cut into a neat bowl style that only aggravated the torment from her peers with their beehive hair in red ribbons and headbands. She used to have hair down to her knees to hide behind. After a particularly rough week at school, Charlotte felt belittled and angry at her appearance. She insisted that her parents take her to the hairdresser that weekend. When Monday morning came around she walked through the school’s double doors with a completely new style. Walking down the school corridor with a spring in her step. People were looking at her and for once she liked the attention. That was until the bullies spotted her. Purposefully sitting behind her in class they spent the lesson throwing screwed up pieces of paper at her and calling her a boy. She ran home crying and didn’t go back to school for 3 weeks. Now she must hide in other ways. Hats are useful but the teachers force her to take them off in class. She tries her best to be invisible. Dressing in dark simple clothes. Wearing scarves and hats even in Summer. Anything to help her hide. Sometimes it works. Sometimes she could go a whole day with only a few words said to her. Other days she wasn’t so lucky. Today was a particularly bad day. So far, she’d had her hair pulled, her shin kicked, paper was thrown at her and now she’s just been spat on for little more than minding her own business.

Picking up the last of her books off the floor Charlotte asks herself why she bothers but she already knows the answer. Despite all this. Charlotte would invite the torment. The clothes she wore to hide were in fact covered in holes and carried a second-hand stink of musk. She wore next to no makeup and wouldn’t follow the latest fashions. It wasn’t just the pupils that didn’t like her. People in the streets hated her mysteriousness. Her unpredictability. To anyone that didn’t know her she was a dangerous entity. An awkward presence containing a whirlwind of the unknown. People hated the unknown. They crave chronic stability and routine. Charlotte didn’t meet these standards. Strangers certainly wouldn’t spit on her like the bullies but what they did was worse in some ways. They looked at her like she was dirt. They would drag their toddlers to the other side of the street to avoid walking near her. She was the cigarette butt flattened into the dirty sidewalk. The lamppost with a broken light that will never be fixed. They pretended she didn’t exist. She knew she didn’t help herself. She could buy the latest clothes or smile at strangers but she was always too focused on her own fear. The hurtful words only allowed her the ability to remind herself that she was alive today. To Charlotte, her daily life was heaven. It was sweet and delightful. Every morning when she woke up was a relief. The only problem was figuring out where she was. The night was her enemy. You see Charlotte was plagued by nightmares. Terrible nightmares. Not your usual monsters or aliens. But instead, of serial killers on murdering sprees hunting their next victim or mental patients breaking out of a ward and killing children. Not unusual you may think. Everyone has nightmares, but again, you’re wrong. You see Charlotte was never the victim in her nightmares. She was always the one stabbing people until they stopped breathing. She could feel the warmth of their blood dripping down her fingers. She could hear the blood-curdling screams of children as they cried for their mothers to help them. They always seemed so very real in Charlotte’s head. Nightmares she couldn’t escape from. The worst part of it was that she would wake up somewhere else. Different to her soft bed. Sometimes soft like sand or grass. Other times hard like stone. Never in the same place and never where she fell asleep.

It first began when Charlotte was only 10. Her Mother and Father were quick to notice. walking through the door in the early hours of the morning wearing her frilly nightdress and a layer of dirt. Her Mother spent hours cleaning the house while Father was at the office. If one speck was out of place she would know about it. Charlotte wasn’t surprised when her mother rang Doctor Sanders. He was lost for words at first but after a lot of phone calls with other important Doctors, he told Mother that it may be Dissociative Identity Disorder. Charlotte always knew she wasn’t normal but by mother’s reaction when the doctors explained to her what her disorder is, well, let’s just say Charlotte didn’t feel normal anymore. Around here people don’t talk about the crazy folk in the asylum. They were a taboo subject that was too daring to form on people’s lips. If you talk about the crazies you risked being called crazy yourself. Charlotte didn’t want to go there. She’d heard terrible stories about people who were more dead than alive wandering through endless white corridors, covered in their own feces and urine. She wasn’t one of them and she made sure to convince the doctor and her parents otherwise. She told them she was happy and that her nightmares had stopped recently. After a lot of convincing she was allowed to stay. From that point on Charlotte did her best to act normal so they wouldn’t send her away to that place. Her head of the wives’ club sophisticated mother made sure Charlotte’s ‘disease’ was kept a secret. They carried on being perfect and Charlotte carried on having nightmares, only she didn’t tell anyone about them anymore.

Copyright 2018 

Chapter 2 Available here

How to be a writer – Pick up a pen

Let’s talk about being a writer. You see recently I’ve been doing some studies that focus on writing fiction, as a means to develop my knowledge.  One of the first things we were asked to do on this course is to introduce ourselves. My introduction went as follows: 

“Excited to get going on this course! I’m still very much an amateur writer but I suppose you will always be learning and therefore always an amateur. I have a website www.charlie-wright.co.uk where I share short stories, advice, and guidance as well as other social links. Follow me! Would love some writing friends”

Of course, I had to promote myself, that was a given but I share this not for the promotion but the common sense. ‘Always an amateur’, this one statement peeked interest with a few including myself. I said it off the top of my head but when I read back it makes perfect sense. 

I’m surrounded by doubts, worries, people never thinking they’re good enough. People always striving to improve. Take note ‘improve’. You never stop learning and the term ‘amateur’ refers to inexperience, but everyone is inexperienced in some way otherwise there would be no room to improve, am I right? So, why beat yourself up about not being good enough? There is no highest level or top pedestal to reach so why do we do it? Strange post, I know. I would just like to put that thought in your head the next time you start beating yourself up about not doing enough. I’m not saying I don’t have these thoughts by any means. I have plenty of worries and doubts thanks to an anxiety problem but I don’t let that stop me.

You’re always an amateur. Always learning something new, always striving too improve. So why hold yourself back and limit yourself? I’m not excepting you to write a novel or jump off a cliff ski diving but too just except that you can never be perfect. Perfection is an impossibility. 

So, to any writers out there. Stop worrying about messing up and your work not being good enough. Write what you want to write and stop blaming writer’s block everytime you get ‘stuck’ with doubts. 

Want to be a writer? Then pick up a pen and write. 

Detective Mentis – Chapter 5

Another long day. Mentis collapses on the armchair. Once a place that he sort-out comfort and relaxation. Stress now sits comfortably on his temples. He’s aged considerably in the last 6 months. Silver Whiskers along his hairline have become snake-like tendrils through his balding head. His favourite radio show has gone unlistened for months. Mentis doesn’t recall the last time he ate some proper grub. Still, he needed to lose some weight. He could make money selling this new diet, he could call it the ‘Detective Doom Diet’ – ‘The stress of an endless case will have you dropping pounds in days’ 

Hell, he’s disillusion. Mentis gives himself a stern acknowledgment of his stupidity with a hoarse grunt just as he would if he was toning down Stinton’s anxieties. Something he’s had to do regularly over recent months. The horrors they all saw and helped drag up out the muddy depths hit a nerve with everyone in a way. Stinton more than most. He’s already been up for a psyche evaluation. Fortunately, he passed it. Since then though, the Cheif has had Mentis watch over him, as a mentor somewhat. Something that Mentis would prefer to avoid the duty of but he wouldn’t leave the lanky kid with Erickson instead. Besides, if he looks after the kid then it keeps Erickson at arm’s length.

For the most part, Erickson is putting in the effort. He’s filing some paperwork and even doing a lot of the questioning. On the one hand, it gives Mentis more time to focus on tracking the killer whilst Erickson gathers the evidence. On the other hand, Mentis feels he would do a better job and may pick on a few things that Erickson would miss in his questions. 

The phone lets out it’s annoying shrill and Mentis hurries to answer it. 

“Yes?” 

The other end of the line is quiet in response. Mentis hangs up the phone assuming it’s some kid with his friends pranking random numbers, he used to be one of them when he was a wee one. There’s a niggling feeling despite what he tells himself though. A whisper of the idea with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the killer he’s searching for could be the one ringing him. 

He shuns the idea to the side and locks it away but it’s not enough. In the morning he unplugs the phone, just in case. He has a mobile if it’s an emergency anyway. He can’t have any distractions today. 

************************************************************************************************************************************************

Later that morning, with paper in hand, Mentis steps up to the podium and gives his speech. He looks upon the many people in black, their mournful faces. Parents, friends, siblings, aunts, uncles, even a few pets. One of which, a rowdy Chihuahua, sits proudly on its owner’s lap, barking once in a while for attention.  73 in total. 73 families pulled apart in grief. They’ll never be the same again. Sure, many will pretend to move on but there will always be those lingering stares when people recognize them or a look too long at the front door, hoping for their loved ones to return knowing even then that they never will again. Mentis hated his job at times. This occasion was the top of his list. 

The service is meant as a consolation. The bodies were…investigated over the months which delayed any planned burials. When the bodies have been poked, prodded and digested they were finally allowed to be buried in peace. As much peace as can be had after the ordeal each went through. His words are prompt, professional. A lot of apologies and sorry for your losses. He doesn’t say anything about the killer or the fact that they haven’t found him. When his speech his done. He sits next to Stinton and stares at the ground while they finish the service. Blocking out the cries of the mother three rows back who breaks down in the middle of the service and screams her son’s name in heartfelt anguish.

In that moment he made a decision to himself. He would find the person responsible for these deaths even if it killed him. A decision he never thought would come around. 

Copyright 2018 

Chapter 6 coming soon. 

Writing Inspiration – Where and how to find it.

As a writer, you aren’t limited to where you find inspiration from. Everything and anything can inspire a writer. Everything from the mug of coffee in your hand to the bird sitting on a branch outside to the neighbour who annoys everyone they meet. Inspiration is everywhere if you understand what it is and get in the right mindset for seeing it and understanding what you see.  I would highly recommend reading my post on writing focus. In order to find inspiration, we must be focused.

Reading

Whether it’s reading a book, magazine or another blog. Reading is the easiest way to get inspiration as a writer and you can’t have one without the other. If you don’t read a lot, then you won’t make it as a writer. 

Listening to conversations

Everyone has those times where you’re walking through town doing errands and you can’t help but hear what others are talking. You will be surprised at how inspiring these overheard conversations can be for a writer. 

Media

Films, TV shows, Music, and Video games are all great sources of inspiration. Especially if they follow the same genre that you want to write in. Even the internet can be a source of inspiration. 

Writing with no target

Writing for the sake of writing can be a great help in finding inspiration for new stories or ideas. Just set a timer for ten minutes or so and jot down anything that comes to mind even if it ends up in the bin after, it may well give you inspiration and will certainly get your creative juices flowing and may even allow you to vent some of your frustrations or worries.  

Word Games 

Play word association games, scrabble, even charades. You can get inspiration from any word related games.  For example, pick 6 words out of a book and then create a 6-paragraph story from those words. 

Keep a Journal 

Try to get into a habit of carrying a notebook everywhere you go. Even if you’re just nipping to the shops. If ever you think of something great, then you need somewhere to write it down promptly before forgetting. This is a good thing to get into a habit of doing every day.

Change your environment

Sometimes just a change of scenery or setting can be enough to inspire you with a new idea. When you work in the same place all the time your brain becomes bored and inspiration and focus become difficult. 

Write what you see

If you’re really struggling for inspiration, then sometimes the simplest things can be the most inspiring. You know we talked about taking your journal everywhere with you? Try taking it somewhere simple like a park or even a meal out and write what you see. Everything from the colour of the grass at the park to the smell of the pasta dish you’re eating. every day in as much detail as possible without it being too wordy and pay attention to your surroundings. Spot the things other might not like the waitress giving a knowing look to another about a customer or maybe a child hitting another in the park. Little scenes like this can make all the difference in good stories so make notes for a later date. 

Lost your writing focus? Here’s how you can get it back.

Read a lot 

How many times have you been reading a book and all of a sudden an idea for that story you have been working on pops into your mind and you have to scribble it down before you forget? Use that to your advantage. If you’re struggling to focus, read for a while. Reading, after all, is research for writing. This gives you a break but keeps your mind in writers mode. 

Remove distractions

If something keeps pulling your focus whether it’s technology, people or even the outside world. Remove that distraction. Close your curtains and turn off that TV. 

Write for you

Everyone knows how good it can be to write down your thoughts and feelings or just scribble in a journal. Sometimes it’s good to vent like this with your writing. Writing crap is better than writing nothing at all. Everything you write is still a learning experience. So, grab some pen and paper and write down anything that comes to mind. Time yourself for say, 10 minutes and see what you write. You might surprise yourself. 

Make it a game

If you’re really struggling to focus think outside the box. Instead of seeing writing as a chore or just something you need to do. Make it fun and make it a game. Set yourself challenges such as completing a word count by a certain time or getting a reward when you’ve been writing for so long. This can force your brain into focus mode. You could even create some word of word games from your writing. Give yourself a break and see how many times you can use the word ‘sight’ in 300 words whilst making sure it still makes sense to the reader. Challenge accepted. 

Remind yourself why you’re doing it  

Sometimes a loss of focus can be because you’re doubting your skills as a writer or you have fallen out of love with what you’re writing. In that case, you need to remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. Focus on how it makes you feel.

Rewind

Similar to when you remind yourself why you started in the first place. Sometimes it can be as simple as rewinding or replaying the story in your mind or an idea for a story to be able to pick it up again. Sit back, get comfortable and ready what you’ve already written. That can be enough to make you focus again and can even give you a new insight into what’s next for your story.

Schedule time for writing

It’s too easy to avoid writing if you don’t set time for it. Just like setting time for housework, your job and even eating. You have to set time aside for writing. Creating a general schedule to keep to can really help with this so you know on Thursday Morning, for example, you will be writing the plot line for the story whereas Friday Evening you need to be focusing on spending time reading. This is also a good way to make sure you don’t miss anything throughout your week.

Play that funky music

There have been endless studies done on the effects of music on your focus and general mood. There are even playlists on Spotify for concentration. Sit down, relax and get in the mindset of writing with some appropriate music. 

Write or die 

There is writing software and tools out there that help you with your lack of focus. Well, when I say help, I mean to punish. The premise is, if you don’t write a certain amount of words or right continuously without a break for a whole thirty minutes then everything you have written will be deleted. It doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth a try. I like the one attached to the software ‘Storyline Creator’.

Take a breather

If you have tried all of the above and still can’t seem to get back into writer’s mode then take a step back and take a break. Sometimes that is all you need. Write something completely different or don’t write anything at all for a few days.

Detective Mentis – Chapter 4

Body after body is pulled from the water in an endless cycle of horror. Each one with eerily similar signs to the other. Mentis loses count when the 18th is pulled from the water. It takes 2 weeks and an endless cycle of new faces from various policing departments far and wide to search every inch possible of the oceans harnessing depths below. At the end of one such day, as the night draws in once again, the chief, alongside a hierarchy of other credentials finally stop the search when it’s been 6 hours since the last body was found.

It’s been a long and tiring few weeks, both on Mentis’s body and mind. The events have taken an understandable toll on everyone. Erickson has been on his back, finding any chance to ridicule him or step on his toes while Stinton has been following in his footsteps. Asking Mentis questions with hidden notes of resentment and egocentrism. Mentis has been doing his best to function on little sleep and food. He’s already adjusted his belt to 3 settings tighter. Every time he got so much as a break he would get a call about another body being found and rush to the scene with a moment of hope that it may be different to the others. That there may be evidence on the body that it’s a suicidal death or just an accident. His hopes were always dashed when he unzipped the bags and saw those harrowed empty eye sockets. Men and women of all shapes and size. Even a boy as young as 10 have been found. The worst thing is, not all the bodies were complete. Legs here, arms there. Years or depredation on somebodies meant it was a jigsaw puzzle trying to work out what went where. Some of the older bodies have been checked by the coroner who estimated they could be around 40 years old.

All evidence points towards it being a dumping ground of a serial killer but they have no clues to who it is and where they are or even if they are still killing. They haven’t found Miss.Simms body so who knows. The earliest body they have found otherwise is already 6 months old. Standing at the edge of the field with Erickson by his side. They look over the grass coated with a layer of body bags. Covering the field like a haunted quilt that nobody would ever dare to wear. Even Erickson is quiet. Stinton is hovering in the wings, observing the scene with a face of terror, Mentis sent him to the side when they were halfway through the body count, Stinton became obviously detached and shaky, who knows how this is going to affect the young lad.

“I’ve never seen anything like this” Erickson is surprisingly considerate. Cases don’t normally affect him, or Mentis for that matter but this one has them both keeping them emotions back with a pitchfork.

“How many is there?”

The chief’s voice appears behind them. All the important people are here. Erickson looks a lot like his dad. Tall, dark, a perfect ladies man. Unlike Erickson though the chief doesn’t drink or anything else of the sort meaning he looks pretty ripe for someone of retirement age.

“73” Mentis forgets to call him sir but on such an occasion the chief decides to let it slide.

“Do you recognize anyone? Do we have any ID’s?”

Erickson answers his next question whilst Mentis signs a document handed to him.

“No, sir. No identities for anyone of them yet. We’ve got a lot of people working here and nobody recognizes any familiar faces and as far as we can tell they haven’t been reported missing”

Erickson has always been respectful to his father and very professional of their relationship. If only he could exert that professionalism for the rest of his job, he would make a good impression. As it stands though, the Chief keeps him on but always lumbers him with others in the department to try and keep him out of trouble.

“Miss.Simms has been the only one” Mentis intervenes. “I’ve asked two men to do a last sweep on the spot where I saw her jump”.

Mentis expects a whiplash from the chief about going behind his back but just as the chief opens his mouth the shout he’s been waiting for arrives.

“I think we found her!”

Mentis rushes to the aid of the two men dragging the body up. Not yet in a body bag it gives him a chance to do the once over. It’s the same lady who jumped of the cliff and started all this.

“It’s Miss.Simms. I don’t believe it” Erickson has only ever glanced at the case information.

“We can’t be sure Erickson”

“Yes, we can. Look at her left arm. You see that tattoo on her wrist”

It’s a tattoo of a swallow in drowning waters. Mentis remembers seeing it from the paperwork and thinking how tasteless it was. He’d never seen a tattoo like it. It was a strong confirmation that it’s Miss.Simms in their minds. A grunt of disapproval escapes his lips. Mentis did the hard work and yet Erickson turns up in his drunken state and can identify the body as quick as he can down a pint.

The chiefs authoritative voice snaps them back to focus.

“Erickson. Go call her parents. Get them down to the station. Mentis, I want you to get all these bodies sent to the coroners and start digging for information. Literally, if you must. Witnesses, evidence, anything you can find is brought to me first”

With Mentis’s nod of agreement and Erickson’s’ figure already in the distance the chief heads back to his car. Now alone, Mentis does a quick check on her body and checks her stomach for the words like the others. This is the only body they recognise and it may be a clue to the killer, a good starting point. Scrawled on her stomach the letters are fresh, possibly a few weeks, maybe they were put there the day she was on the edge of the cliff. These words are different though. They cause hairs to stick up on the back of his neck and he scans the area for any suspicious activity. Standing up he retreats towards the cars and gets straight onto the phone.

On Miss.Simms stomach, scrawled in capital letters across her abdomen are the words “YOU’RE NEXT”

Copyright 2018 

To continue reading head to chapter 5.

My favorite Author Tag #whosemyfav

Hello! It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve written properly on here because recently I’ve been sharing the Chapters for Detective Mentis. They’re still coming but they will slow down now. I only have a few more that are already prepped and I haven’t yet started writing others. So, for now, you will have to cope with me.

Everyone has a favorite Author, even if you don’t write you will likely have a favorite Author. Anyone who says they don’t just haven’t found theirs yet. So, who is mine?

Well for this post I decided to create a favorite author tag #whosemyfav. I have no idea if this has done before, I would assume so as it’s not that creative but I figured it would be the easiest way to talk about my favorite Author while also encouraging others to do the same with the questions below. Enjoy!

Christina Henry

Some Facts
  • Christina Henry is an author who is mostly recognized for her Black Wings Series,
  • Christina lives with her husband and son in Chicago.
  • She enjoys novels and books of similar categories, including zombies and samurai.
  • She is very keen on long-distance running, which is an activity she enjoys on a regular basis

courtesy of https://www.bookseriesinorder.com/christina-henry/

Do they have a website?

Yes- http://www.christinahenry.net/

Do they have social media accounts?

Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads 

How did you first find them?

I can’t remember if my husband bought me the first book or if I may have spotted it when it came out in a bookstore.

How long have you liked them?

She’s not actually been my favorite Author for that long. I would say maybe a few years now since I read ‘Alice’ which is a dark, twisty story based upon my childhood favorite, ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Why do you like them?

I love her ability to turn stories into some dark and thrilling with plenty of suspense and twists, both terrifying and gory. She’s a huge inspiration to me as a writer.

The biggest inspiration

Turning things into something dark and sinister. A very creative play on words.

Your favorite book

‘Alice’ the first Alice book is amazing. I couldn’t put it down and want to read it again soon. Probably the darkest book I’ve ever read and it was so good!

Your least favorite book

Out of them all, I would say ‘The Mermaid’ I still love it greatly but out of all the stories I care about Mermaids the least.

Most recent or current read

Currently reading ‘The Mermaid’

What did/do you think so far?

I’m loving it so far. Really enjoy the love story at the beginning and the idea behind the museum and people after her.

What I’m looking forward to?

I can’t wait to see what other stories she creates a dark version of. Beauty and the Beast or Snow White would be amazing. I would also love more in the ‘Alice series’

What I want to read

I really want to read the books she first became famous for which is the ‘Black Wings’ series. They’re supposed to be really good so I’m excited to give them a go and read some of her short stories.

If you like this post feel free to copy the questions and answer them yourself. Let me know in the comments if you do as I would love to read others and also remember to hashtag your post with #whosemyfav

Detective Mentis – Chapter 3

The first thing Mentis did after seeing the girl jump off the cliff was to ring everyone he could think of that should be there. It took a while for him to work the phone but eventually, all the right people were called. Within an hour the place was filled with police and ambulance while a local coast guard was scouring the ocean to find the body.

The night’s events have left Mentis in a state of hatred and confusion. Hatred over what has been done to the girl and confusion over the circumstances he finds himself investigating. In the early hours, the coast guard announces that he’s found something. Police work on dragging the body up just as Erickson turns up with Stinton close behind. Mentis grumbles under his breath. Erickson always appears at the crime scene to play his role as the partner when all the paperwork and research has been done. Mentis would happily say something to him but he wouldn’t dare without the worry of whispers heading back to the chief. Then it would be his neck on the line.

“Hey Mentis”

Stinton’s lanky exterior greets Mentis in a warm manner with an awkward wave that he quickly turns into a head scratch. Unhinged by where he is. Mentis nods in response. There’s no such greeting from his apparent partner. Erickson’s 6-foot slender frame hangs off balance, probably intoxicated. His 30-year-old body looks haggard and his sagging face has tell-tale signs of alcohol abuse and an uncommitted attitude to being here.

“What do we have?” he asks in his brash woven voice.

Mentis narrowly avoids remarking on his choice of the word ‘we’ and leads them to the police who are now laying a black body bag on the floor inland, away from the edge of the cliff. Mentis walks straight up to the body bag, kneeling on the floor he unzips it carefully. A moment of shock befalls his features. It’s not Miss.Simms in the bag. It’s a woman but this woman is from a completely different generation. Signs of age hold onto her skin forming wrinkles and dark spots. She looks at least 80 and she has been dead a while by the stench and decomposition stage of the remains.

“It’s not her” Mentis acknowledges to the gathering of emergency services people around him.

The most shocking thing is that such as the young girl, this woman doesn’t have any eyes. In a remarkable resemblance to the other, they look like they have been dug out and all that is left are two large holes with perfectly rounded edges.

“What the fuck” Erickson regards in his ear before disappearing, assuming to help with the continued search.

Mentis sends Stinton to grab him a pair of gloves which allows Mentis to have a better look, starting with the teeth. Surprisingly well kept for someone of this age, the teeth are almost all their with only two missing. On closer inspection, Mentis predicts they may have been pulled by force due to the visual damage at the root. That’s not the only torture inflicted. At some point her finger and toenails have been pulled from the nail bed, they have struggled to grow back properly and look somewhat thin and claw-like as a result with skin covering them in a peculiar manner. A layer of dirt and dried blood are coated underneath suggesting she may have been dragged or tried to defend herself at some point. Possibly during her death. Her hair is matted and sparse due to her decomposition. Again, like the other, this woman has shredded clothing hanging sparsely onto her body with just a few threads holding everything together. It appears to have been a floral nightgown by the intricate detail and lack of shape. On her arms, there are thousands of small scratches, whether they are on from the bedrock or before she died it is uncertain.

“There’s another one” Erickson calls to Mentis.

Just as he stands to view the other body a glimmer of the morning’s sun rays draws his attention to a marking on the woman’s stomach. Barely visible by the mud and clothing. Removing the garment and using it to wipe away most of the dirt, the word ‘RUN’ is scrawled on her body it large uneven lettering. It’s old and is now only a faded scar but the letters are still readable. By the uneven format and lack of structure, Mentis assumes that it may be self-inflicted.

“Run from what? What does it mean?” Stinton’s voice is shaky.

“I don’t know” Mentis can only shrug off his words. He’s expecting the suspected Miss.Simms to be in the next bag and is more focused on that. With a begrudged feeling of guilt weighing down on his shoulders, Mentis walks to the other body bag and unzips it.

A silence of many emotions fills the air. Inside the bag is another John Doe. A man this time. With the same tell-tale signs, even the eyes. This man looks no more than 30, yet his decomposition makes him dead a good month.

“What-t-t. What is this?” Stinton squeaks in his ear.

Mentis has no words to support Stintons fear. He can only do his best to hide his own. A quick glance in Stintons directions tells Mentis that Stinton is fearful of more than just the presence of the body itself. Focusing on where is eyes lay, Mentis pulls aside a piece of degraded cloth on the man’s stomach. The word is more difficult to make out this time but it’s still there. ‘RUN’. The same word on both victims with their torturing appearance in such similarity. Mentis’s heart is racing with a sense of panic and adrenaline, unwilling to admit what it means. Erickson appears at Stinton’s side after scrounging through the remains of the other bodies. Hovering over Mentis’s knelt figure with a look of horror that even the strongest willed would succumb to.

“You know what this means” Erickson states in a stern tone.

Mentis is quick to jump in.

“It’s too early to tell. Forensics will need to be called in but they certainly have similar marks which….”

“We’ve found two more!” One of the police helping in the search call from the water’s edge below as a group of people are each dragging lifeless bodies out of the water.

Mentis springs into action as Erickson rushes to aid the police officers with the bodies.

“Stinton. Call the chief and tell him he needs to be here. Then I want you to call forensics and the department in the city. Get them to send people over. We need more people. Tell them we’ve found bodies and we may find more”

Stinton runs off in search of the nearest phone or radio whilst body after body is dragged from the murky depths.

“STINTON!” Mentis shouts towards his rushed childlike figure just as shouts are heard about another body being found.

“Tell them it’s a serial killer!”

 

Copyright, Charlie Wright. All rights reserved.

To continue reading head to Chapter 4 here.