Story Worms: Introduction
I’m Angeline Trevena, a horror writer, and I’ll be popping up here every month with my latest successes and failures, hints and tips, nightmares and monsters.
I’ve been writing stories ever since I was old enough to hold a pen and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved all things horror. I don’t know why; I can’t offer you some clever psychoanalysis on my childhood, and I can’t claim to be an adrenaline junkie, or even particularly brave. The truth is: I’m a wimp. Ghost stories scare me. Darkness scares me. I’m terrified of spiders, mirrors at night and Freddy Krueger. I once had a nightmare after watching the Eddie Murphy movie ‘Coming to America’ (and my husband has never let me forget it!)
I only started writing short stories a couple of years ago; I had always automatically fixated on writing novels. So far, I’m yet to find the commitment and remain excited about a story long enough to write a novel. Short stories have become the perfect compromise.
I still have a novel on the slow-burn, but while I’m writing short stories and getting them published, I’m not in any rush. It’s a good thing; my novel will get written when I’m ready, and that’s the best time to do anything.
My first short story was published in an anthology in January 2011, and it was only when I held that book in my hands, that I realised I could make a go of it. That short story had been more of an experiment; a story taken from the context of a stage play I wrote. And there it was, in print, chosen from among hundreds of stories.
From therein, there was no stopping me.
I have a spreadsheet of all my submitted stories; the boxes coloured green for an acceptance and red for a rejection. I still have more red boxes than green, but those red stories just need to keep knocking on doors until they find a home.
Everyone you ever ask for writing advice will tell you: never give up. What they don’t always tell you is how easy it is to give up. How easy it is to watch TV instead of write, to let deadlines pass you by, to blame your absentee muse, or lose all motivation after a rejection. And I’ve given up so many times. But the times I have soldiered on; submitted a story with just a few minutes to spare, begged a beta reader to return their comments urgently, given a dying story mouth-to-mouth; those times have been worth it. Sometimes you just have to do it without your muse in tow.
I’ve just had a story accepted that fits into the ‘soldiering on’ box. I thought it was beyond hope – the characters were good, the premise was good, but it just wasn’t coming together.
I’ve been writing long enough to know what stops my stories working. Nine times out of ten it can be fixed by one of two things; changing the point of view (either changing the POV character, or changing from 3rd person to 1st), or starting the story in a different place. A story that had been stalled for weeks was rescued in under an hour. Emergency surgery. And it will be unleashed in an anthology this summer.
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Angeline Trevena is a British author of dystopian urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic fiction. She has an impressive backlist of novels, a series of worldbuilding guides for authors, and short stories appearing in various anthologies and magazines. Despite the brutal and dark nature of her fiction, Angeline is scared of just about everything, and still can’t sleep in a fully dark room. She goes weak at the sight of blood, can’t share a room with a spider, but does have a streak of evil in her somewhere. Find out more at www.angelinetrevena.co.uk