Tag Archives: The Weeping woman

Be Frankenstein. Grow your characters


When starting a new story and working on characters to populate it, I sometimes think of Frankenstein.
Yes, Frankenstein.
That’s because as a writer I have to grow and develop my characters. Not sew them together out of a bunch of dead bodies, but develop creations with thoughts, dreams, fears, weaknesses and strengths. Quirks and qualities. How will they react to conflict, love, loneliness or whatever situation in which I place them.
I start with a character profile where I can list almost everything from their favorite music to their background to what they want and need. Not all details will end up in the story, but I will know where the characters came from, where they are going and how they changed getting there. You’ll find many good templates for character profiles online.
Writing 101 tells use that characters should have an external goal and internal one. Take Clarissa Starling from “Silence of the Lambs.” Her outside conflict is finding Buffalo Bill. Her internal one is stopping the nightmares and the screaming of the lambs from an earlier trauma. Captain Ahab in “Moby Dick” must kill the white whale, but also face his own demons.
I minored in psychology in college, so motivation of my character is very important to me. The protagonist in my novel, “The Weeping Woman” is a detective who is promiscuous not because she is a nymphomaniac. It is because sex is the only way she can maintain control after growing up in an environment where she had no control. Not all characters may have motivations and just be monsters, but they will probably be the villain and catalyst for the story, not the main character.
Like Dr. Victor Frankenstein, writers need to a spark to bring their creations alive. Victor used electricity and chemicals. You will use motivations, dialogue, backstory, conflict and more to start your character breathing. If you succeed, then you also can shout, “It’s alive! It’s alive.”

Podcast of reading from ‘The Weeping Woman’


A reading from my horror thriller, “The Weeping Woman,” Halloween music, a movie quiz and other horror fun featured on a podcast at Horroraddicts.net.


My thanks to Tracey Emery for producing the recording of my segment.

Real evil is reflected in some horror stories


On a recent trip to Colorado to see family, a few relatives claimed they had seen or knew someone who had actually spotted “La Llorona.”
Because they knew of my book, “The Weeping Woman,” which is inspired by the La Llorona tale, they shared their stories.
One relative said when she was younger she and a bunch of girlfriends were walking home one night when they spotted a woman dressed in black standing under a street light. The woman watched as they passed. When she turned back, the woman had disappeared.
My father told me of curses of witches (Brujas) had made on people.
And who hasn’t heard the story of the clicking toes nails?
I love listening to these stories. When I was a girl, they scared the hell out of me. Sure I was also frightened by those monsters in the movies on the late show. But La Llorona was terrifying because she had the aura of reality. These stories were more than culture. They were told by people who believed them.
During the Depression, the WPA created the Writers Project in which people collected cultural tales around the nation. Among those gathered were witch and ghost stories from Latinos in New Mexico. They are fascinating to read.
What I garnered from those tales, as well as the one I heard as a child, was that we are drawn to what scares us. I believe people tell and listen to these stories because they mirror real evil in the world that may strike even at good people. They are metaphors for the real wicked people out there who are ready to carry away children, and those whose souls have become black as the shadows because of their sins.
This is scary. This gives me nightmares.
But for me there was always hope. That is, there are always other people willing to fight the evil. In addition, there is also redemption for those willing to come out of shadows and into the light.

Your story may be only as good as your bad guy


I’ve taken several writing classes and one of the things I learned is so true.
And that is, sometimes your story is only as good as the villain (or antagonist in writer’s jargon). In horror stories this seems twice as true. Many a good story has collapsed because the villain, monster, or evil house or creature was feeble and scary as a wet napkin.
And when that happens, the audience and reader feels cheated because they invested so much time into the story.
What makes a good villain? In horror, they should be scary, yes. But he, she or it should also have more than one dimension. They need charisma. They need character. A hint of humanity or melancholy. Villains can also be mirror reflections of the good guys, the protagonists, of course in a bad way. That is, they are everything the good guy is not. In my book “The Weeping Woman” villain Mercedes shares traits with the protagonist, detective Blue Rodriguez. Both had bad childhoods, have paranormal powers, and most importantly, they want to be loved, although their reactions to that need is what separates good from evil.

The devil is always a good villain, but we don’t just want to a red guy with horns and tail. We expect that.
In “Constantine,” I loved the Satan character played by the wonderful Peter Stormare. He was a weird creature in a white suit, which enters, feet first dripping with a black goo as if he stepped right through perdition. He’s funny, evil, and creepy.
A brilliant portrayal of a bad guy was the Red Dragon in the book by Thomas Harris. A madman, yes. A killer, definitely. But interesting because he was an abused boy who turned into a monster. Jame Gumb (AKA Buffalo Bill) in “Silence of the Lambs” also was killer with a hint of sadness. And the king of them all, Hannibal Lector, who was erudite, witty, charming, and a cannibal.

For half of “Psycho,” we felt sympathy for Norman Bates. Annie Wilkes in “Misery” loved Liberace as well as to torture her houseguest.  And Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho” talked with seriousness about the brilliance of Huey Lewis and the News and got enraged over people with better business cards.

So we’re talking depth. Villains with depth give our stories more depth, life and dimension.

When writing our antagonist, we should also form an in-depth character sketch—similar to what went into forming the hero. Even a haunted house should have a background. Take Shirley Jackson’s, “The Haunting of Hill House.” This place becomes a full character. Even the fog in “The Fog” has a backstory.

Of course, there will be those who are evil just because they aren’t any other way. Take the alien in the movie of the same name. What made it so damn great was its perfection at being evil and malevolence. And as always, the main story is really about how our protagonists act in the face of such a villain or evil.

So make sure you craft good villains, otherwise they could kill your story as well as the good guys.

For really bad horror pics check out: