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Brian J. W. Lee is a writer. When he's not writing, he's plotting to plunge the world in a deep chasm of terror, darkness and screams. Sorry, did I get carried away?

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Why Writers should Travel

Just yesterday, I had finally closed off the first draft of my very first story set in Batam, Indonesia. At a surprising 11,111 words long (I'm not kidding if Microsoft Word isn't), it is the second longest story I've developed for my second book, a horror short stories collection.

Just a little teaser for anyone here who wants to reads anything in my (admitted tiny) bibliography, it's a story that's clinched many 'first' titles. It's my first ghost story - surprising again, I know, because I write horror. But honestly, my stance is that ghost stories are done too many times and it's a saturated genre. It feels as if everything about it has been done, every angle explored. That said, I wrote this one for a very good reason which I will cover later.

It's also, as mentioned on top, my very first story that's set in Batam, Indonesia, and one of the few that isn't set within Singaporean borders.

It's a very personal short story, one that's built on my experiences. It's about a happy-go-lucky type writer (I know XD but come on, I write all kinds of characters) who goes to Batam to work on a crime thriller novel, only to encounter something sinister in the boarding house he is renting a room in - or more accurately, from its dead 'Siamese twin' next door.

You should be glad that that's not it, but the Siamese Twin building is only slightly better.

Don't worry though, while I haven't encountered anything supernatural yet except for some strange bells ringing around midnight and a few odd tapping at God-knows-where while I'm showering, I'm still alive and well, and I'm not posting this from the netherworld (or am I?).

That leads off to the point I'm trying to make. This story is made possible only because I got off my butt and plopped it down somewhere else on the globe. By doing that and actually living in the locale I travelled to, I've gained so much more to work with. Just the place I live at alone has so much character, even if some of them made me kinda worried for my own safety and sanity.

As writers tend to write what they know - I know I do, to maintain authenticity - This is pretty much one of the best ways to write what you previously don't know; expanding what you know so you can write more interesting things.

What I'm doing is just for starters. I'm just going to be stuck in one new place for a month - most of the fresh new things I experienced would already be experienced in the first few days of my life here in Batam, with my depth of knowledge of the place increasing only marginally with not much new material to be had in the subsequent days.

To gain a whole spectrum of new material, some backpacking would be in order, going from one place to the next after just a few days, absorbing all the new locations, people, sights, sounds, everything. And to make sure you experience everything, you shouldn't be so shy about it either - chin up, chest up, and walk on through. That's what I've been doing so far anyway, without knowing the lingua franca of the area nor their customs, and I've been doing fine so far.

Anyway, a Writing Report is coming up tomorrow.

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