Why I Write Horror and so can you.

The last two years at UVU I was able to complete a creative project to further explore the horror themes I had been studying. The last three posts about the horror genre are the fruits of that research, but I wanted to take this further and write new and interesting horror. Want to see how this project was created? Read on.

The experience I wrote about in my thesis was one of the more memorable moments, but why write it now? Why do I write about things that scare me? If I was to study what fear is and how it affects people, why not start with myself. I decided I would delve deep into why I write horror, what scares me and how I am affected by horror and what kind of writing I would come up with. I decided that writing a list of things I was scared of would be a nice start.  Here’s that list.

  • losing a child
  • being subject to the repercussions of my own and others bad decisions
  • innocence
  • being helpless to those with a greater intellect
  • not being adequate enough for my needs
  • not fitting in
  • not being part of the crowd
  • bullying
  • not being understood
  • not being able to explain or make myself understood by others
  • Regret and not knowing what to do with my life
  • strangers
  • being too unique or not unique enough
  • predators; human and animal
Okay, wow that’s a list. Seeing it in black and white is scary in itself.
So I have the list of things I’m scared of. What next? Why am I scared of these things? What is it about each of them that holds sway over my life? Making the list was part of my solution. They say, whoever “they” are, that if you face your fears, they can no longer control your actions. This is what I’ve been trying to do; face my fears. I want to become fearless and take a greater control over my life and I can really explore and master this through writing. That also means visiting these fears and that means material. In the popular question of where do ideas for stories and books come, my fears have been a massive library just waiting to be explored and it’s been fun and interesting.
So, have you ever wanted to write horror, or try your hand at writing a more visceral genre? Here’s how I created the short stories for Alterran tales from that list of fears above. Maybe you could try your hand at writing horror, perhaps it might be a fun brainstorm for possible ideas.

1. “Darcy and Glass.” I have  this fear of losing a child, and being subject to the repercussions of my own and others bad decisions. Both these fears came out in this short story. What if the actions of my own child were to cause a nightmare for the both of us and I had no control over the situation. This is creepy to me and so was born this weird slightly rhyming, slightly black amusement. A small girl who disobeys her parents and goes out on her own, becomes prey for a predator that makes no distinction between mother and child.

I had a lot of thoughts and ideas for this story. Some of the most interesting ones was, Is there a difference between white witches and black witches? Magic is magic isn’t it? Is magic always bad and does this nullify the moniker of white witch? Can humans be demons? What is the demon stereotype and how can I make it fresh?

2. “That Boyish Smile.” I have a fear of innocence, being helpless to those with a greater intellect and not being adequate enough for my needs. This story was a challenge to myself to write a vampire story but not explicitly mention vampires.  It finally came out as this cool Las Vegas story about a little boy who hunts and feeds on Psychic people.  Some of the questions I had were, How does modern prose view vampire myth?  e.g I am Legend, Ultraviolet, a vampire drama that never explicitly mentions the “V” word. What is the vampire stereotype and how can I make it fresh?

3. “Victuals.” This story is about bullying, pack mentality, and a fear of not fitting in.  I love this story. I wanted a were wolf story that differed from the norm. My solution was to have were-dinosaurs that masquerade as cub scouts. This was one of the more tongue in cheek stories but I wanted to answer questions about pack mentality.  Are cub-scout packs antiquated? How are cub-scouts viewed in today’s climate? What is the werewolf stereotype and how can I make it fresh?

4. What’ll I do? There’s nothing scarier than some of those Japanese horror movies like the Grudge and Ringu. I wanted to mix my love of these movies with my fear of not being understood, not being able to explain or make myself understood by others. I wanted this to be very different from the norm. I wanted to play with audience expectations and how people read images. I was toying with film Noir and Irving Berlin and ASL at the time and some of that comes out. It’s basically about a suicide victim who relives her suicide through a single person every few years. Maybe I’ll post it here.

5. “Puppies.” I have a fear of strangers, ever since watching the stranger danger videos in primary school in England. I wanted to play around with the idea of predators and a vulture like creature that preys on little girls. This is the story with the biggest twist and is a fun one.  I wanted to explore what stranger danger is. What is a predator narrative? What is a lure? Is it sweets and candy? Is it puppies or kittens in a pedophiles home? Is it that ice cream cone from the friendly stranger in the park? What is the monster stereotype and how can I make it fresh?

So I hope you enjoyed some of my thought processes here. Looking at your own fears might be an interesting place to mine for story ideas.

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