I’m facing a bit of a creative block with the first draft of my next book. Not Writer’s Block – I have no problem putting words down onto the page – but rather a gap in my mind for where the story needs to go next. I have the first third written and I know how I’m planning on the story ending, but there is currently a large gap where the bulk of the second and third acts go.
I’m not completely bereft of ideas. I have set pieces that I’ve had in my head since the beginning. I’m simply stuck on how to work them in. Every time I sit down and try to think about it, I simply find myself staring into the vast gaps where something is missing with no idea of how to fill it.
So it’s inspiration time, and where else to go to inspire a writer working on a haunted house story – did I mention that my next book will be a haunted house story? – than one of the best; Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.
Alone in the world, Eleanor is delighted to take up Dr. Montague’s invitation to spend a summer in the mysterious Hill House. Joining them are Theodora, an artistic sensitive, and Luke, heir to the house. But what begins as a light-hearted experiment us swiftly proven to be a trip into their darkest nightmares, and an investigation that one of their number may not survive.
I discovered Shirley Jackson in a blog post I read a while ago about essential female horror writers. Sorry, I wish I still had the link as it had some good suggestions for writer you should all read. But this was one of them, and I’m passing it on to you all.
It’s hard to come up with a new Haunted house stories. After a childhood of Scooby-Doo, the entire sub-genre seems so clichéd, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good haunted house stories out there, or waiting to be written. Like any genre trope, all you need is (a) a new perspective, and (b) engaging characters the reader will care about. Jackson’s story has both of these. She created a truly chilling story that’s far more about the mind of her protagonist than the house itself, and that’s what I’m looking to emulate.
And what you also need – and would be very helpful to me at this point – is more of an idea of what’s going to happen in the second half of my story. Oh well, back to staring at my notes and trying to come up with something.