It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!


Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

I have a frightening tale to tell…

For many years, I’ve thought about trying my hand at short fiction. Joe Bunting inspired me on his terrific blog, The Write Practice, when he was blogging about making the shift from novel writing to short stories. But, unlike the youthful abandon with which Joe leaped, I held back, feeling daunted by the concept. I felt afraid at the thought of having to minimise word count while at the same time freighting every word – much in the same way as poets do – as truth to tell, that just wasn’t me. I’ve always been the talker in the family. My books always make a good thick doorstop.

I felt challenged by the discipline needed for penning short stories and, I was too green at the time. I’m not a much better writer now, but I’m more willing to give things a go and fall flat on my face than I used to be when I was young. I’m more willing to get things wrong.

Daniel Jose Older

Last year, I signed up for a writing workshop with Daniel Jose Older, on writing short fiction. Daniel Jose Older was as informative and inspiring as expected. I felt electrified.

When he set us loose to write a short story, I had no preconceived agenda, no thought in my mind as to subject. We were given as broad a set of parameters as you could imagine, in that we could write about any subject.

I write for children and persons who are young at heart. I have always done so, since the day I began writing my first children’s story at the age of seventeen. That was my automatic go-to. As I moved the pen across the page, I was writing for children. And yet, the story which came to me on the ether was different, bustling and rustling. It wrapped me up and rushed me headlong on its dark wind. I particularly love when it’s like that, when the muse is speaking loud and strong and the ride is the most beautiful exceptional rush of creativity.


Imagine my surprise! I looked up later and found that instead of the usual adventure/quest type stories I like to write, I had written my first ever spooky tale! I’m still not sure how that happened, or where I veered off the path.

Birdy is  set in a modern Kiwi suburb. It’s a story about an old Maori woman, who the neighbourhood kids believe is a legendary water demon, and the creepy way that Birdy preys upon the weaknesses of her neighbour’s child. The story takes place over one hour in the victim’s life, with the clock ticking.

This story is dark, macabre, tense, unlike anything I’ve written before.

Horror is a genre I tend to shy away from in all its forms. I far prefer fantasy that is uplifting. Even so, I had surrendered to the process and this chilling tale was the result.

The horrible thing is, I’m not sure if the story is any good. I have no idea. In fact, I sincerely doubt it is. While I might be unsure if I will ever go that way again, you can be sure my hands are clammy. I’m looking at every granny sideways, and hearing twigs creak in the night, and shadows slide out of the corner of my eye!

How about you, have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?


Talk to you later…

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol


‘I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.’ ~ Jack London


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  1. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    I’m willing to bet you wrote a brilliant piece, Yvette! I, too, shy away from the horror genre. Let me rephrase that. I usually run for my life when it comes to horror. And when ideas come to me for a horror story, I try to erase it from my mind. Sometimes I scare myself!

    So, being a big chicken when it comes to writing scary stuff, I can write spooky stories if I sprinkle some humor. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to co-write the Monster Moon books!

    Cheers to your muse being let loose!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hi, Lynnie! Thanks for the shot in the arm. Yes, I’m the same re horror, in that I ignore any ideas I get! I’m too much of a lightweight and get easily scared. I’ve long admired Maria Cisneros-Toth’s innate ability to write spooky stories. She’s such a natural and just lets it flow. Your way of sprinkling in humour is a really good idea and it definitely paid off in your case with the excellent Monster Moon series. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. emaginette says:

    He was a key speaker at SWiC16. Not only was he funny, he was inspirational. Lucky you taking a course with him. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Oh wow, you saw Daniel Jose Older speak? Lucky! I’m green with envy. 🙂 I’ve been following him on social media the last five years or so, ever since I saw a guest post he wrote for The Write Practice. He’s a great musician too, did you know? With Ghost Star. Mostly, though, I admire his way with words. He’s a master. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Olga Godim says:

    Wow! What a story, Yvette. It’s the best way to write, when the characters take over and lead you. Like you, I started with the longer form. It took me a while to learn to write short fiction, but now, I love it. I’m reluctant to go back to novels. The longest I’ve written recently is a novella, and it feels ideal for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hi, Olga,
      that’s exactly what I’m thinking about at the moment, too. In fact, last week I started a file on how to write novellas! I’m intrigued by the idea of writing shorter fiction 🙂


  4. Patsy says:

    My characters often surprise me! That’s one reason I don’t plot too tightly as when I learn more about them I realise they won’t behave exactly as I’d wanted them to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      That’s one of the parts about writing I love the most. The surprises. I’m a pantser, too. I believe I read that on your blog earlier! And, I really enjoy the magic and mystery of how the story weaves together in the most unexpected ways, and the characters take on lives of their own.


  5. Toi Thomas says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. It’s nice to meet another children’s writer (though I also write for adults) I had trouble diving into short fiction also, but I’m glad I did. Glad you’re feeling more risky. I think it’s cool the way we sometimes surprise ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lidy says:

    It’s often amazing what you’ll find/create once you surrender yourself, take a plunge to write without inhibitions. If you hadn’t, that story night never have been born.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shorter fiction scares me too, but like you, I’ve surprised myself, and it allows me to try on different genres for size with minimal commitment, see if there’s a fit. Great post, and your short story sounds intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Raimey. My writing partner has been telling me for years to branch out into other types of fiction. I now realize how right she was. I’m glad you’re also trying your hand at short fiction. It’s the way of the future, so they say!


  8. ChrysFey says:

    Surrendering to the process can lead to marvelous outcomes, as it did for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. kimlajevardi says:

    What a great chance to stretch and grow. Even if the story never sees the light of day, you found a new piece of your voice. I bet that is what finds its way in to your upcoming work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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