Monday, July 19, 2010

Horror Writing 102

Congratulations, you guys! You passed Horror Writing 101 with flying colors! So now you can progress to the intermediate course: Horror Writing 102!

That being said, I bet you remember what we learned in 101, yeah? Primal fears. You can't be a horror writer if you don't know what scares people. You really are good students! Or maybe I'm just a stellar teacher. Either way, let's begin today's lesson!

Now, what I'm about to write is going to piss some of you off...but it has to be said. It is MY biggest pet peeve in the horror industry and it part of the reason why the horror genre is dying.


Horror writers have stopped trying to be original!

They write about the same tired monsters and themes over and over and over again expecting different results! Guess what? There aren't any! It's time to step out of the box and create something different. I'm not saying you should throw them away but just write OTHER stuff!

Vampires were scary as shit when Bram Stoker did it. Why? Because he was the first. Zombies were scary as shit when Mary Shelly did it. Why? Because she was the first! Aliens were scary as shit when H. G. Wells did it. WHY?! Because he was one of the first!

Are you sensing a theme, here?

The same can be said for werewolves, ghosts, and Cthulhu. Once it's been done, it's done. You can try to recreate a different "twist" on these century-old creatures, but it won't get you far because the horror genre cannot evolve without new material! It's, Christmas music. Yes, Christmas music. (I do have an analogy in here somewhere...)

After five or six songs, they all start to sound the same because they ARE all the same. Every year some new blowhard does a cover of the same shit people were singing about fifty years ago! They can't beat the originals, so they just sing the same shit. Same "Jingle Bells" but with Justin Timberlake. Same "We wish you a merry Christmas" but it's Katy Perry's voice. And every year the novelty of "Oooh, it's a Justin Timberlake twist!" wears off, and someone like Miley Cyrus replaces him with her "poignant" version of "Silent Night." There's a reason people don't listen to that stuff all year long. You'd go insane with boredom! Or perhaps overdose on Christmas Cheer, hohoho!

There is more to horror writing than vampires and zombies! Just look around you!

Look at Alfred Hitchcock's, "Psycho." Stephen King's, "Carrie." Edgar Allan Poe's, "The Tell-Tale Heart." Ray Bradburry's, "Something Wicked This Way Comes." Tim Burton's "The Nightmare before Christmas." William Peter Blatty's, "The Exorcist." Seriously, the possibilities are ENDLESS once you get your head out of the zombie-vamp-were-box.

As horror writers, you benefit from creating something different. It gives you an edge. Although it may be tempting to "do what everyone else does" stick to your guns and be an original. It'll pay off in the long run AND it'll add something to the horror genre that wasn't already there before.

This concludes Horror Writing 102. Clear your desks except for a number two pencil and a scantron. Testing starts right now!


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