Just a couple weeks ago, I introduced you folks to a “How to Write Horror” Wiki that had some rather generalized ideas about writing the genre. Most tried to make it sound as easy as riding a bike. On top of the “you just need to do this, this, and this” trope, it was clearly written by someone with a misguided sense of writing in general. Need I remind you of the “don’t forget the details” line…
This week, continuing with our instructional foray into the world of horror writing, I stumbled across this Instructables page about how to write horror. This one blows the other one out of the water. Not only are the ideas cliched, there are places where the writer either forgot which word to use or used spell-check and didn’t re-read their stunning how-to masterpiece. Case in point: a line that says “…a person despaired and appeared again…” So, the person went into a massive sob-fest causing them to go invisible, and then they reappeared, good as new?
I decided to switch up our Horror-FAIL Friday blog to now include the occasional Horror-FAVE Friday, a collection of film, books, and video games that I felt did a superb job of fitting into the horror genre, even redefining it in some cases.
A couple years ago, while browsing along on youtube (as several of us do in our boredom), I ran across the first part for this dark narrative game called “The Cat Lady”. The art style was funky and the concept dark and fairly depressing. The further along I watched the more I became engaged in the protagonist’s endeavor to figure out what kind of world she was in. The Cat Lady tells the story of Susan Ashworth, who, unable to live after a heart-wrenching tragedy decides to end her life. Except she doesn’t die. She awakens in a strange world, inhabited by dead doppelgangers of herself and a creature disguising itself in the skin of an old woman that calls itself “The Queen of Maggots.” It soon becomes clear to Susan that the only way she can leave is by accepting a deal from this Queen; root out evil in the real world by searching for the Parasites, individuals with extreme darkness in their hearts.
I was blown away not only by the story, but by the characterization, music, and art style of this game. It has become one of my favorite examples in the horror genre by far. As visual and interactive media, it’s one of my favorite games that I’ve encountered in recent years. Now, I wish there was a book version.
Here, you can watch Youtube Let’s Player HarshlyCritical play through The Cat Lady.
Interested in picking it up for yourself? Hop on over to the official website from Screen 7 and Harvester Games.
Mr. Burt Bacharach said it best: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” And that was my intention last week on Valentine’s Day when I made a pink-frosted chocolate cake for a good friend and co-worker of mine (as it happened to be his birthday the same day). It seems as though this week, I’ve seen several examples of bullying, hatred in the media, and an all around depression because of our never-ending winter here in New England. And then, there is that little bit of depression that the single people of the world (including myself) often get on Valentine’s Day. In short, last weekend, everyone was desperate for sunshine, for laughter, for smiles, and for friends.
It can be hard to look past the desire for companionship when you feel lonely in order to realize that there are people in your life who matter, who you care about and who care about you. Basically, without descending too deeply into preaching, look at what you have today, the good and the bad and appreciate it for what it is.
Today, I’m telling you to make a cake. Make it for someone you care about, make it for someone who might need it, make it for yourself if you are feeling low and need just a little break. Make that cake and enjoy the act of making it. Put on your favorite song and rock out in the kitchen. Because…being happy is what matters. And if you’re making cake, how can you not feel good?
There are those of you out there that have toiled with the idea of writing a horror story. It may have been just a quick campfire tale, a one-shot Creepypasta, a full-length novel, or even the background for a survival horror game. There are the cliche ways to go about doing this. Five teenagers meet at their house in the woods, one by one are separated, and end up dying horrible violent deaths (Only Joss Whedon has managed to re-invent this genre and do it like a boss, in my opinion). Then, there are the truly fun and unique ways to go about writing horror. This is what I enjoy. However, there’s always that daunting task of how to go about starting a project like this. Sometimes taking that first step can be the most intimidating thing you do. For the lazy, I was horrified to discover a wiki page on how to write a horror story. A WIKI. Are you freaking kidding me?
So, you’ve crafted a horror novel, or filmed your movie, or made your horror game. Now all you need is something to call it. I’ve always felt that picking a title for a book, film, song, or movie is a very unique and wonderful moment. I like the idea of coming up with the right combination of words, or just a simple composition that ultimately leaves people interested in wanting to learn more about the piece. I do, however, know that there is also a wrong way to go about this. Take the film above for instance. “Kill-Dozer”? Seriously? It’s like a bad incarnation of “Christine”. A bulldozer isn’t that intimidating when you think about it. It’s slow, big, and really only frightening if you happen to find yourself on a construction site in one’s path. And the thought of a possessed bulldozer makes me wonder what the filmmakers were smoking when they came up with the concept for this one. It’s certainly not the worst though…
Formatting with Microsoft Word: A Guide to Frustration
Yes, the above picture sums up my reaction every year I must format and layout a paperback with Microsoft Word. I am currently undergoing this mission again as I work on the paperback version of my latest novel “Memento Mori”. I am fully aware that there are other programs I can use for this task; but since I’m practically surviving on rice and bread right now, I’m not in the position to make that kind of change. I’m also aware that there is a 2013 version, which doesn’t seem to have cleared up some of the issues that have caused me problems in the predecessor. After having spent a substantial amount of time dealing with page alignment, headers and footers, page numbers, glossary writing, and the always tricky page breaks, I’ve decided to create a guide to how I feel about each one of them. Continue reading →
So, if you live in Maine (or anywhere in New England for that matter), this picture above probably describes how you felt today. On three separate occasions today, I spent time digging out my door from impending snowdrifts, and even futilely attempted to dig out the staircase at ground level before the wind filled it all back in again.
Doing all that work in the bitter cold and cutting wind was, however, a welcome experience for me. Why? Because as I’ve now sat down with a nice hot cup of tea, I’ve returned to an apocalyptic story set during the Maine winter that I’d begun a couple years ago and lost my focus on. The characters have been speaking to me for a while as I’ve been working on other projects and I know I can’t ignore them any longer. I feel as though I’ve found the right mood, the right voice, and the right way to tell this story now and I can’t wait to really buckle down and work on it.
So… Christmas Elves are not scary. Figured I should just come right out and say it. Especially when they are designed to look like a Nerf ball with eyes and Chicklets for teeth. They also make a monotone honk like a clarinet whenever they’re about to attack. The point of the indie game “Nightmare From My Bed” puts the player hiding under their bed from elves that have suddenly developed psychopathic murderous tendencies and want to end your life.
SHOUT-OUT SUNDAY is a blog post meant to highlight other authors/writers and/or their books. I’m all for getting the word out on fledgling writers, especially those that have written engaging and interesting work. These posts will range from book reviews, to Q&A sessions, to guest posts. I’m even happier to feature you if you specialize in horror/sci-fi/fantasy fiction. I will not feature erotica fiction on this blog. If you have an interest in being shown on Shout-Out Sunday, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As this is my blog, I do have the right to decide who gets featured and when they are featured. If you have a requested date to line up with a blog tour or for a book release, I will try to make it work but I won’t guarantee it. I’d like to start posting Shout-Out Sunday blogs as soon as February.
Horror media, whether it is a film, video game, or book loves to employ jump scares. What exactly is a jump scare you may be wondering? Well, let’s put it this way: Say your main character is driving to a party at a friend’s house outside the city. All of a sudden, their car breaks down. They’re on an empty stretch of road and are forced to walk to find help. After trekking through the woods for over an hour, they happen upon a derelict mansion and go inside searching for a phone or something to aid them with fixing the car. The house is old, dark, and creaks with every gust of wind. The character digs out a flashlight and begins exploring. And then…this happens…