Monday, January 22, 2018

Action Verbs for Gothic Hero Characterization

Trying to weave character conflicts in an intricate dance that will move the story forward has had me tied in knots on several occasions. I did a lot of research in hopes of refining this part of my process and came up with a ton of questionnaires, character arc outlining tips, etc. but nothing has really helped to really get to the heart of my characters or not quickly, anyway.

Then recently, I came across a great technique of choosing an overarching action verb for characters. And, Eureka! Read Author Damon Suede's verb technique of constructing characters here. This isn't just for writing Romance, Night Writers, this is a phenomenal technique for all storytellers.

I first came across the notion of applying verbs to characters' goals, while in the performing arts. Actioning is a technique of the Stanislavski's acting method. So, this idea of choosing action verbs for my characters really clicked for me. I think it will for you, too.

Since using action verbs to build my characters has been a game changer for me, I thought I would list out some possible verbs for the three types of Gothic Heroes. Yes, there are three types, the Byronic Hero, the Satanic Hero and the Promethean Hero. A great description of the three types can be found on Author Kristin Miller's blog post about Writing the Gothic Hero.

The action verbs I've listed may be applicable all types of Gothic Hero as there are obviously some similarities and sometimes a character can be a blend of one or more of these.

Gothic Hero Action Verbs

Adore Adulate Advocate Allure Amend Analyze Annoy Appraise Appropriate Assess Attack Attract Authorize

Balance Beat Beguile Better Belittle Blackmail Blame Blast Browbeat Bury

Calm Captivate Capture Castigate Censure Challenge Champion Charm Cheat Chide Circumscribe Coerce Command Compel Con Condemn Confront Conquer Constrain Control Convict Convince Correct Cover Covet Criticize Crush Curb Curse Cuss

Damn Deceive Decry Defeat Defend Defraud Defy Degrade Deify Delegate Delude Demolish Denounce Derail Derange Desire Despise Destabilize Destroy Dignify Disarm Disobey Drive Drown Dupe

Ease Elude Empower Empty Enable Enamor Encase Enchant Encompass Endorse Enforce Engulf Ennoble Enshrine Entrance Entrap Envelope Envy Escort Extort

Fascinate Focus Fool Force

Gag Glorify Govern Gull

Harbor Harass Hector Hoax House Humor Hush

Idolize Impel Instruct


Level License Lull Lure

Mesmerize Moderate Mock Motivate Muddle Muffle Mute Muzzle Mystify

Obligate Oblige Outlaw Overmaster Overpower

Permit Perplex Persuade Plunge Press Protect Provoke Punish Puzzle

Qualify Quell Quieten

Rebuff Reform Reject Repress Reprimand Reprove Revile Revere Rule

Safeguard Sanction Scold Scorn Screen Secure Shelter Shield Sink Strengthen Submerge Subsume

Thwart Tranquillize Treasure Tyrannize

Unsettle Urge

Veil Venerate

Warrant Worry Worship Wrap

This is definitely not a complete list of the possible action verbs, so if one here doesn't fit your Gothic Hero, I encourage you to search for one that does.

A great resource for finding action verbs is the book ACTIONS The Actor's Thesaurus.

Have you ever used this verbing technique? If you have, is it getting you to the heart of your characters? If you haven't do you think it is something you'd give a try? Leave me a comment letting me know.

Stay Beautifully Haunted, Night Writers!

♥ Shadow.

Update: Damon Suede has a book out on Action Verbing titled Verbalize. I highly recommend you add it to your writing resource arsenal.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Night Writer - J.A. Grier

Today, I'm excited to introduce to you the fabulous Dark Poetess and Speculative Fiction Author, 
J. A. Grier.  She is also a true Mad Scientist. I hope you brought a torch 🔦 because it is going to get Dark in here. 👀

About J.A. Grier aka Dr. Grier.

J.A. Grier is a planetary scientist, fiction writer, poet, science educator, and wine lover. More than three dozen of Dr. Grier's poems and stories have appeared in venues such as Mad Scientist Journal, Eternal Haunted Summer, Eye to the Telescope, Liquid Imagination, and Mirror Dance. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. Dr. Grier spends her time: penning strange stories; teaching workshops in poetry, science, and crafting; comparing vintages; and researching impact craters on other worlds. She might also be found doing paper crafts, like creating this paper moon out of about 2000 coiled strips (called paper quilling).

My Q&A with J.A. Grier.

Can you tell us a bit about what you are currently working on?

At the moment I'm mostly focused on my horror poetry, which contains all sorts of paranormal, dark, and gothic elements. In preparation for construction of a full manuscript themed with "Childhood Horror," most of my poetry pieces are being published one at a time in a variety of journals for speculative fiction. Some are online, but most are print journals.
I've also been working on dark short stories that cross genres between horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. These are also out in a various publications. Here are some examples of work that might be of interest:

(1) My most recent published poem is in a lovely print journal by NILVX - The Journal of Magic - Sphere of Luna. (January 10, 2018) As for romance, I published a bit of pagan magic here which you can read for free.

(2) A couple of dark fantasy poems that can be read for free online are:
"It Snows on Camelot"
"Stop Praying, Girls"

(3) Perhaps not surprisingly, I'm a big fan of the "Mad Scientist Journal," which publishes much more than just sci-fi related items, including dark fantasy and magical realism.
I've a new dark story, "Permanent Exhibition" out in their Winter 2018 Issue. I expect it will be up on their site to read for free very soon. The print version is here.

(4) And to end with something funny, two humorous dark/horror poems that can be read online for free are:
"Token of Affection"
"A Zombie Anthem" (scroll down the issue)

What is your favorite Dark/Gothic novel?

I'm going a bit off the mark here, since this isn't a novel, but close enough. I'd say my copy of "The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" is my favorite gothic go-to. For dark, tragic romance it is hard to beat the mood created by the poem "Annabel Lee."

What is your favorite Gothic motif/theme/element? Any particular reason why?

Skulls. I do not know why. Something of the memento mori theme, maybe? A callback to Yorick? Alas ... Anyway, here's me drinking smoked whiskey out of a glass skull.

Which resource/s helped you the most in researching or writing your dark poems and stories?

I don't write historical novels, so rarely have to do that level of research (except when I was writing about how to hunt, hang, pluck, and cook a pheasant ...) For me, it is more about creating a mood in which I feel the most creative for writing dark poems and stories. My favorite resource for this is artwork. I spend hours looking at dark visual art that grabs my attention. I focus on the feelings the art inspires, like fear, anxiety, disquiet, anger, desire, longing, even disgust. I ask myself how those feelings were invoked, and consider how my writing can do the same. Sometimes I'll write directly to the art (ekphrastic) but mostly I just investigate the feelings.

Do you have plans to continue writing in this genre? If so, is there anything about it you would be willing to share?

Besides continuing to write dark poems and stories, I'm also working on novels. I have a full draft of one novel that is a dark, gay romance: "A vampire artist and a human math teacher are struggling after a zombie apocalypse - the fate of their star-crossed romance might have bearing on the fate of their entire world." This one is at 140K words, which means I really have to find some words to cut. I'm also working to clean up another novel about a middle aged accountant who wakes up in Hell, "Will the carnival-like trials of Hell keep Jill and her misfit group of friends trapped forever?" The real question is, "Will Jennifer ever finish editing this novel?"

Do you have any advice or insights for other Dark or Gothic writers?

My most important tip ever for all writers - celebrate everyone's successes! Some people are competitive in genre, but I don't see that as an effective approach to personal happiness, or the happiness of others. I really do think "we are all in this together." So let's work together to promote this genre we all love by promoting each other. And don't forget to celebrate yourself, too! I think we as writers can be so self-critical - we can see other's successes as more important or 'real' than our own. Take time to bask when you finish a draft, complete the editing on a tricky chapter, or get a story accepted.

Second most important tip ever for all writers - if you write it, then read it! It's always hard to find time to read when we are so busy, and when deadlines are looming. But I am convinced that I write the best poetry when I am immersed in the good poetry of others. Also, anyplace you want to see your work published needs your support. So read that stuff! And if you can, write reviews in places like Goodreads or Amazon after you do!

If you are into speculative poetry like I am (horror, fantasy, sci-fi, or the just plain strange) then check out the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. Good place to read poetry and a venue to place some of your work.

Please let us know where we can stalk you.

I can usually be found posting various facts and fictions (as well as strange tales and general updates) on my website and blog at I also pontificate on twitter at irregular intervals @grierja 
I have other spaces, like Facebook and DeviantArt, but I'm not there as often.
Other places I'll be - I'll be teaching some poetry workshops this year:
fantasy poetry for the Maryland Writer's Association yearly conference in March,
general poetry for the Howard County Writer's group in August,
and maybe a reprise of my horror poetry workshop for HallowRead in October.
I'm hoping to attend Stokercon in Providence in early March, and as noted, HallowRead in Ellicott City, Maryland! Maybe I can squeak in another convention or con in there somewhere, but the schedule is getting pretty full at this point ... have to keep time open for the actual writing :)

Thank you so much for sharing!

Stay Beautifully Haunted, Night Writers!

♥ Shadow.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Quick Tip: Writing End to Beginning.

With the New Year started I thought I would write about story beginnings.

I always struggle with writing the beginnings of my stories. Even during the plotting stages, I find it difficult to know where the story starts.

A character analysis technique I would use, whilst in the performing arts, was to go straight to the end of the script and figure out what my character got or didn't get. This told me what the character wanted and some insight into their motivation, making the rest of analysis relatively easier. So, I started looking at the ends of my stories first.

Once I know what I want the ending to look like and where I want my characters to be, I then create the mirror image of that scene to put at the beginning. Like bookends, I've started to structure. At the very least, I now have an idea of how to start the story and a good idea of my character's goals.

Even Pantsers who have trouble with beginnings should give this a try. There are still a lot of opportunities to discover things along the way and some which may change the outcome, but I would still start with the idea of how the story ends and then flip it to start. Nothing is ever written in stone, the point is to just get started.

How about you, do you have any tips on starting a story? I'd love to hear them. Let me know in the comments if you've tried starting at the end and if it works for you.

As always, Night Writers, stay beautifully haunted,

♥ Shadow.