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Writing Clichés: Heroes

Cliche

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the clichés that befall protagonists, mostly in fantasy stories. I am, of course, talking about the ‘Hero’. Fiction and fantasy have come a long way over the years, and our character development has come along with them, we now have multifaceted heroes, flawed heroes, and anti-heroes (my personal favourite). But while we’ve come along way in some respects, there are still a lot of hero clichés out there and I’m going to rant about my most hated three.

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Real World Horror: Haunted Objects Robert the Doll

Real World Horror

Robert the doll is a popular haunted object, with many articles, blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos discussing him. The doll initially belonged to Robert Otto, an artist. It was made in Germany and given to Robert as a young boy by his grandfather.

After Robert and his wife passed away, the doll remained with the property until 1994 when it was sold East Martello Museum, although it also spends time at the Old Post Office in October.

By all accounts the doll moves independently and can change its facial expressions, it has been heard to laugh at times, typical creepy doll stories.

But there is more to it than that, local legend claims that the doll has caused car accidents, loss of employment, injuries, divorces etc Apparently the doll does these things because people are disrespectful to it in the museum or Post office, taking pictures without asking is a big no-no. However, it has never been explained how the doll causes these mishaps.

What do you think, superstitious people blaming misfortune on a creepy doll? Or unexplained paranormal stuff at work?

 

 

 

Famous Writers: Clive Barker

Horror

I first talked about famous horror writers back in January, when I wrote about Bram Stoker, today I want to talk about another horror writer, although calling him just a writer is selling him short. I am of course referring to Clive Barker. Clive Barker is one of my favourite writers.

He is well known for his horror short stories, collected into anthologies, namely Books of Blood volumes 1 through 6. His Hellraiser books & films, and my personal favourite book The Thief of Always.

One of my other favourite writers Stephen King has been quoted as saying “I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker.” This quote appeared on the Books of Blood.

Barker has been a key influencer in the horror genre and has widened its scope immensely. Not just in the sense of the genre itself but by being an openly homosexual creator and promoting inclusivity throughout his work. In 2003 he won the Davidson/Valentini Award at the GLAAD awards for his work promoting diversity in the media.

Barker has not limited himself to writing novels but is prolific in all areas of media and creative work. He’s a true renaissance man of the genre, writing books such as the well-known Damnation Game, screenplays such as Rawhead Rex. Many of his non-screenplays became films, such as his short story The Forbidden becoming the film Candyman.

He has worked as a director, notably directing Hellraiser; as a producer on the film Gods and Monsters. He even did a stint under the management of Disney, but this didn’t work out and was cancelled. He and Jorge Saralegui own and run the production company Midnight Picture Show and make horror films.

He is also an artist in the traditional sense of drawing, illustrating many of his own books himself. His art in Thief of Always is amazing, especially the images of the creatures in the pond (no spoilers lol) and the night Harvey becomes a vampire for Halloween. His art has been part of exhibits in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

It’s worth mentioning that he also designs horror costumes and has a line of toys.

Lastly, he’s also worked on videogames, providing the voice for Ambrose in Clive Barker’s Undying and also working on Clive Barker’s Jericho.

So, as you can see Clive Barker has been a true influence on the horror genre from many different perspectives and mediums. He’s had a hand in shaping how we experience the genre and has brought it forward by leaps and bounds in many respects. He is a capable craftsman in all senses, shown to be skilled at multiple subgenres such as gore, psychological, creepy and haunting.

I strongly recommend experiencing his work, whether its written, film, visual, or games.

Habits and Work

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Habits are tricky, sneaky, disagreeable, argumentative bastards.

And I say that in the nicest possible way.

A habit, for clarification purposes, is a pattern of behaviour that is repeated often enough that it can be done without thought. The behaviour becomes second nature to the point where you consciously don’t have to think about it you just do it.

Habits are incredibly useful, if you want to reach a goal, you’re far more likely to succeed if you build a small habit that takes you a step closer every day. Hell, you don’t even think about it after a time because it became a solid habit and before you realise where you are you’ve easily reached your goal.

At least that’s how habits work in a perfect world.

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Cliche: Werewolves

Cliche

We’ve been talking a lot about various clichés recently, horror clichés, fantasy clichés, and cliché male and female characters. Today I wanted to branch out more into the horror genre and talk about a creature that turns up in a lot of horror stories, werewolves.

But before we start, I want to stress that I will be talking about the werewolves that tend to turn up in books. The reason I am making this definition is that there is something I have noticed. In books werewolves tend to appear as actual wolves with a human consciousness inside, the pack dynamic is regularly explored and the mannerisms of actual wolves make up a large part of the characters behaviours and traits. Whereas when they show up in films and video games, they appear more like a cross between man and wolf, they tend to be huge, walk on two legs and are pretty mindless save for a need to kill. There’s rarely a pack dynamic and they are often portrayed as stupid beasts completely separate from their “human side”. There is the odd exception to this, the movie Wolf with Jack Nicholson being the one that comes to mind for me.

Anyway, now that that point is out of the way, let’s roll.

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Creepy Pasta: Harbinger Experiment

creepypasta

Today’s blog is the third instalment in the Creepy Pasta Series, where we look at popular CreepyPasta stories and consider why they are so effective.

By way of re-cap, Creepy Pasta is the modern equivalent of an urban legend or a campfire story. They are spread online (although they are spreading to other forms of media such as movies). The level of variety in Creepy Pasta is staggering, there’s video content, written content, image content and podcast style content. So regardless of your preference for devouring stories Creepy Pastas have got you covered.

Todays Creepy Pasta of choice is the Harbinger Experiment.

Synopsis

The story is told by Zimmerman, a scientist with a fondness for the occult. On the surface the experiment seems to be about testing what isolation does to the human mind, however, we soon learn that the reality of the experiment is to trap spirits and place them inside human bodies. Naturally, this goes horribly, hideously wrong and Zimmerman as the narrator is the sole survivor of the experiment and also finally feels something of remorse for unleashing his creation on the world.

Why it Works

Harbinger Experiment is a successful CreepyPasta for a number of reasons, the key ones I’d like to address are the style of writing/narration and the topic of choice.

The style of writing is that of a man telling of his experiences, it’s a first-person perspective, making the story immersive and emotive in a way that third person perspectives sometimes struggle with. You travel with Zimmerman along his emotional and quite frankly terrifying journey, you see him go from curious to terrified as the story progresses and experience these emotions with him.

The topic of choice, a science experiment gone wrong with a large dollop of the occult aka creepy demon/spirits, mixes several types of horror well. As I discussed in an earlier blog horror is a very flexible genre and can take from many different narratives. The idea of scientists messing around with the occult is nothing new, but the Harbinger Experiment puts a slightly new twist on it due to the writing style and the character of Zimmerman. We don’t enter the story as an outside observer, we are right in the thick of it from the get-go.

Overall I’d say the Harbinger Experiment has earned its place as one of the most well known Creepy Pastas on the web.

Give it a read.

 

 

How to Write Suspense

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Suspense is essentially an emotional process – Hitchcock

Suspense is used across all genres to one extent or another. However, it is crucial to horror. In horror for a story to work in the horror genre, there have to be moments of genuine suspense.

However, writing suspenseful scenes can be tricky, especially as you know what’s going to happen so it’s difficult to feel the level of suspense yourself. So today we’re going to look at the key to writing successfully suspenseful moments.

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