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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cosmic Horror (a la Lovecraft)


Time for another horror lesson, minions. It is important to keep to a certain "style" when you're writing literary horror. There are expected tropes and rules to follow. After I finished writing my tentacle story, I went to THIS WEBSITE  to double-check my math. The editor who inspired my tentacle WIP had asked for a "Lovecraftian" style. Little did she know I'm a huge fan of cosmic horror and absurdist/existential philosophy. Angst, Nihilism, and Psychological Trauma are my favorite toys to play with! Authentic "Lovecratftian-inspired" works must have these themes! Some of my favorite tropes of the genre:

1. The apocalyptic log.  Bwahaha, oh god! This article cracked me up (especially the picture of the dude getting eaten by the crocodile) I think South Park made fun of this with the killer guinea pig episode. Why must the terrorized victim always record everything in a diary/video? Obviously, so we (the audience) can see it as if the events are occurring in "real time." The absurdity of this trope makes it all the more entertaining! In real life, I DOUBT a frightened person is actually going to do this. "Hey Mr. Monster, can you hold on a second? Lemme grab my camera or pen so I can record all the gorey shit you're doing. Yes, that's a better angle. OK please continue devouring my legs now. Thanks."

2. The Eldritch Abomination. So at the heart of every Lovecraftian story is its monster. Your monster can't be a serial killer or a brainless werewolf, zombie, vampire, [insert any other clich├ęd creature here]. Your monster has got to be something so fantastical and strange, it mind-rapes the other characters just by existing in the story! An Eldritch Abomination has no logical purpose but to destroy everything around it and or to drive the other characters insane. These otherworldly creatures live in different realms and operate in an alternate universe. Eldritch Abominations are worshipped as God-like or Satan-like entities because most humans are too insignificant to pose a threat. And since the Eldritch Abomination's motivations are rarely explained, there is seldom a resolution at the story's conclusion.

3. The Complete Breakdown of the Human Psyche. No link for this one--pretty self-explanatory, don't you think? Some examples of this would be movies like 1408, Black Swan, Sucker Punch, and Psycho. A Lovecraftian horror story psychologically BREAKS its characters. And I do enjoy breaking my characters! I fuck with them to the point their minds literally snap and they go mad. This breakdown should occur slowly...gradually. You let the reader witness the full devolution from start to finish. Increase the intensity over time until the climax and then ram your character into the ground so they are left twitching, dazed, and unresponsive! It's fun to write and fun to read! Psychological horror is a personal favorite of mine! It relieves a lot of my stress to torture my fictional characters, ha! 


4. The Existential Angst, Absurdism, and Absence of Religion. Not going to get "wonky" on you (Paul Ryan reference, heh!) but to understand Lovecraft you have to understand a little bit about philosophy. When I started reading Lovecraft in high school, I also started reading Nietzsche, Kant, and Jung. (Yes...I was a hardcore nerd even in high school, minions) I can't explain these philosophical principles in detail (it would take too long and my attention-span is too short) but in a nutshell the Lovecraftian philosophy is this: human life is meaningless and the pursuit to find meaning is and of itself a meaningless exercise. Get it? Got it? No? Check out the links. Think Franz Kafka or Albert Camus. That'll give you a better idea what I'm talking about. 

So yeah. My tentacle story has all four of these principles. However unlike most horror stories, I caved and wrote a happily-ever-after ending. *sigh* It just would have been too depressing (and I think less marketable) had I wrote a true absurdist conclusion where everyone dies at the end. Aaaaand since this story is technically an erotic romance, I do intend to publish it at a small-press. That is, IF I can finish my query letter before Halloween. Ughhh! I really did enjoy writing this story and if it ever sees the light of day, I will be inspired to write more erotic horror! It is 50K words! I cannot believe I wrote it in such a short period of time! Over and out, minions! 

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