Keeping it Real

My new WiP is a beast unlike anything else I’ve written. It’s the first book I’ve tried to write which is entirely set in the contemporary world – so, I’m dealing with cars and houses and school and arguments and crushes on boys and temper tantrums and computers and mobile phones and friendship – and, because of that, it seems to be going more quickly than I’m used to.

I’m already at over 18,000 words with it. After less than a week!



Now, of course, there’s an element of the otherworldly in it – the frightening stuff I was talking about the other day – but nevertheless this is, as far as I remember, the first book in which I’m not trying to invent an entirely new world and/or way of life as well as a plot and story arc. I must admit it’s a nice change.

It’s great to be able to describe my character standing in her mother’s brick-a-brack shop in a small town by the seaside, and not only to have a crystal-clear image of it in my own head but to know that when I describe a dusty old shelf or a grubby window or a beach-ball or a bucket-and-spade display, that people will know what I mean. They’ll be able to create a version of this rickety little shop that means something to them, and that, with any luck, it’ll seem as real to them as it does to me.

There were elements of ‘realism’ in the other stories I’ve written, too, but ‘Eldritch’, ‘Tider’ and the book I’m continuing to refer to as ‘Emmeline’ (even though that’s not the name I ended up giving it) all featured, to a large extent, made-up worlds with different political systems, histories, technologies, and conflicts. Of course, at their heart, all those stories are about people, same as my current WiP, and they’re all about children trying to save their loved ones from danger, overcome something they consider to be ‘evil’, and work out what they’re supposed to do in a challenging situation.

But writing a book set entirely in our own world feels completely different from writing a book which takes an imagined reality as its backdrop. In some ways it almost feels too easy, and I’m finding myself struggling not to over-explain things. I’m used to having to find ways to make the otherworldly seem real, and when I’m dealing with the familiar, it seems like cheating to just say something like: ‘She walked down the street and got into the car.’ It’s not a street that moves by itself, or an electric car, or one which has an engine powered by unicorn spit; no. It’s just an ordinary car, on an ordinary street.

This doesn’t mean the story isn’t interesting. It really is. (Well, I think so, at least.) The fact that the setting is so ordinary makes the scary elements more scary, if that makes sense; it’s the sort of world we can all imagine, and so having something vengeful and angry and powerful decide to rip it to pieces will, I hope, add to the impact of the tale.

With any luck.

Today, I’m hoping to break 20K, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the story will keep on revealing itself to me as I go, bit by tiny bit. Wish me luck!



Happy Friday, and happy weekend. I hope all your writing goals are being knocked right out of the park (that’s good, isn’t it? I’m not too hot with sports metaphors), and that the words are flowing the way you want them to. Don’t forget to give Flash! Friday a try; they’re open for entries for several hours yet, and the prompts this week are doozies.

Write on, my friends. Write on.

5 thoughts on “Keeping it Real

  1. Kate Wally

    Good luck, my friend. This new story sounds very interesting indeed.

    I was amused by your toothbrush incident yesterday, but I must say I’ve never had the same experience. I mean, I’ve been freaked out when my husband arrived home unexpectedly, but I can’t say that has ever been made worse by my ‘scary’ writing. Maybe those two instances have coincided tightly enough. Not sure. Watching film and television however does impact, particularly if I’m alone. What I *write* I feel in ‘control’ of, as though it’s not as scary because I created it. Perhaps, I just haven’t had enough experience!

    I’ll try to get to Flash Friday, but I’m not going to get much computer time (a bit like last week), so I may not get to it. Fingers crossed.

    Happy Friday xx 🙂

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks, Kate. That’s interesting: you feel more in control of the scary stuff because you created it. I must work on that. 🙂 I guess I just know, better than anyone else, where my ‘aaaargh!’ buttons are – and, sadly for me, I scare almost comically easily. The toothbrush debacle was probably more to do with the fact that I was lost in thought, than necessarily lost in *scary* thought, when I was startled.

      Anyway. Either way it gave my husband a laugh, and I got a blog post out of it. Win-win. 🙂

      I hope you get to Flash! Friday. I always love to read your stories. 🙂 xx

      Have a great weekend. x

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you! Yes, it is a lot of writing. How much of it is *good* writing, though… 🙂

      Have a great Friday, and a great weekend, and thanks for your lovely comment. 🙂


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