She’s a psychopath! – The perils of outside influences

Hey sports fans! Sorry for the delay in putting this blog post up but I have been swamped with planning a literary scavenger hunt and a surprise book launch for my fiance. Phew! Lot’s of work! But I’m back today to talk to you all about the hideousness that is being slyly influenced by stuff around you without even noticing!!

I think if you’ve ever attempted to write anything (a book, a song, a poem, etc…) then you’ll know that a lot of what you write can vary depending on mood and what’s going on in your life at that moment. Looking at you Adele and your glorious selection of bad ass break up songs! I kinda took that as a given and have edited my writing to compensate for that, such as, when I’m in a happy, it’s so fluffy I wanna die mood I should probably not sit down to write the horribly gritty massacre scene I have been planning for months. Doubt that would end up ideal. That type of influence I was prepared for. What I was not prepared for was the ghost at the feast. Other media!

To explain what I’m talking about I will describe exactly what happened to me a week ago when writing. I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon writing a scene I had been incredibly excited to get to. The start of this scene involved the murder of a shitty individual and I got into it. I got into it hard. Later that evening I asked my fiance to have a read through the scene I had written and let me know what he thought. I was bouncing off the walls at this, thinking it was awesome and that he’d love it. I tried not to watch him as he read it but couldn’t help myself. He had to love it, right? So I was thoroughly unprepared when he looked up from the laptop with an expression of horror on his face. What was that about?! Slowly he said to me, “you realize that she’s a psychopath?!”. I was so confused, what was he talking about? My main character was NOT a psychopath! She was a bad ass! So as he normally does when he’s right (far too often than is good for him :P) he talked me through my scene, even acted it out for me to see what he meant. And, surprise surprise, he was correct. I had written someone who was certifiable. The scene had to go.

And go it did. But I had to work out how that had happened. How had a character I had down pat make such a drastic change without me noticing? So I had a brief think and then it hit me; tv. In the run up to writing that scene I had been binge watching Criminal minds. For those of you unfamiliar with Criminal Minds, it is a tv show that follows an FBI unit that catches serial killers and psychopaths. The bad guys on that show do unspeakably, toe curlingly, horrible things. But I had been watching that show so much it had all become common place! ‘She cuts the guy 20 times? Sure! That’s fine! It’s not like that one episode where the guy pours acid into his victims eyes or down their throat while they’re alive. This is just a little bit of blood.’ I had gotten so used to seeing gruesome things that I didn’t realize I had raised the bar of what was normal until someone pointed out to me that it was, in fact, not normal.

It was something that really could have ruined my book. Turning your main character into a psychopath without realizing would not have ended well. But equally you can use these subtle influences to help for the better. I’ve since put away the grizzly murders and started watching the Harry Potter films again and that is influencing my work in such a positive way. My world is a magical one but I’d been surrounding myself with books, films and television that were real world, no magic. And so the magic in my world had been taking a back seat. Who wants a world with magic where you still have to do the washing up? What a goddamn waste of time! But 2 films in and I have plates cleaning themselves and floating across the room to put themselves away. It’s fabulous. I’m being magically creative once more instead of thinking about ways to torture people.

Essentially what I’m trying to say with this blog post is that pay attention to what media you’re exposing yourself to and really try and notice if it’s having an impact on what you write. It might be such subtle differences but honestly, submitting yourself to the correct influences can transform your work from merely alright, to a flowing, wonderful masterpiece! 🙂

I hope some people can relate to this and that it helps a few of you who, like me, hadn’t even noticed it happening. Happy writing! 🙂

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