1. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Fear: reading this alone in a dark room how would you feel?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Edward, Jul 15, 2007.

    Could someone tell me if I'm getting the suspense right or if it just seems like inane babbling?

    Excerpted from Ash-Chapter Tw( ):
    A cold chill blows up your spine. You shiver. Darkness enshrouds you, your heart aches and your body quakes. You can feel the darkness, it's a palpable vale that covers your entire being, tightening itself around you like a boa with a mouse. The kind of fear that paralyzes you with just the thought of it, sends chills up your arms and legs, radiating into your core and turning your spine into stone. Your breath quickens into a series of shallow gasps that can barely sustain you. Lungs cry out in vain, only answered by sharp pains, heated needles driven through them, cutting off the little breath there was still in them. And yet still they pump, pulling in nothing but nothing.

    It stands there, behind you, a nameless shadow reaching out to get you. To strangle you, slit your throat, tear out your innards, one of a thousand different things that you could never-and would never want to- imagine. Standing there like granite you have no say in the unspeakable things that could be done to you. This isn't Rocky, this isn't just some poor angry soul trapped in a hideous body with pain to share with the world, it's a true monster, the kind of evil that acts only for the sake of it. Wrapped around you like some horrid bow is the kind of darkness that haunts the nightmares of a sadist, filling the minds of those who delight in horror with oh so much horror not even they could look upon it without being driven into a raving fit of madness. Heh...! Your shriveled lungs weep for air and you fall to your knees into the blanket of snow. Ugh...it hurts...

    The snow becomes a burning ash tossed up by an empyrean blaze, each and every fleck burning through your skin. It burns... oh God, I'm on fire, it hurts so much! The fiend that stands behind you, just out of site, tickles your shoulders with black wings, sending fire into the nerves beneath the flesh, burning your clothing, and re-clothing you in flames. Your head spins from the lack of necessary oxygen, you cough up blood and spit and vomit, staining the pure ground. Ash coats your esophagus, your eyes water from the soot as well. Even though you lie in the middle of a crossroad and there's nothing but white as far as the eye can see -snow, fog, ash, the little stars dancing before your eyes as hypoxia overwhelms you- you are stricken with a sense of claustrophobia. Even in such an agoraphobic place you feel the walls are closing in.

    Suddenly everything feel great. You laugh to yourself as your hands turn blue. Ha, ha, oh God, why is this funny? Your arms tremble and you can't hold yourself up. Your vision shakes, you fall next to the pile of your spit, blood, vomit, laughing at your own demise. Oh, heh, I'm... dying. Is this what it's like? It hurts so much, my whole bodies is burning. But it's so cold... You convulse in the snow, giving off week and unearthly chuckles. After a while, your heart slows down and the convulsions stop. I don't... wa...n...'... it hurts.... It doesn't matter though, your last thought remains incomplete as you expire in the snow, laying with your cheek in a puddle of your own freezing blood and vomit with God knows what creature from the darkest ward of Pandaemonium standing over you, laughing from the shadows.
     
  2. Eoz Eanj
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    Eoz Eanj Contributing Member Contributor

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    I believe I would be feel more grossed out than afraid, fear is more about the what ifs that one evokes when they're faced with a spooky situation.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Too much telling. You keep telling the reader what the fear feels like, but not everyone reacts the same way to the same images. All the description continues to distract the reader from the situation that is supposed to be bringing about the terror.

    Also, I agree with Eoz. Graphic gore is more a formula for disgust and revulsion than fear.

    Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, once discussed the nature of suspense in an interview. He spoke of hidden information, using the example of a bomb under a table. If neither the viewer nor the characters know the bomb is there, there in no suspense. Likewise if the characters know, but the viewer does not. If both the characters and the viewer know, the suspence is limited to the uncertainty - will they escape before it goes off, or will they be able to disarm it. But suspense peaks if the viewer knows about the bomb and the characters do not.

    You can't bludgeon fear into the reader's consciousness. The best you can do is nudge the reader to empathise with a character in fear, and let the reader's imagination do the rest.
     
  4. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    revisions

    I'm starting to see why no one ever writes in second person... makes it a little hard for the reader to know something the character doesn't...

    I can see what you're saying, that as my I need to "stop telling him what to do", but I can't think of a way to do that and have it a second person story without allowing the reader to choose their own adventure... I mean, what I'm trying to do is write a story that actually immerses the person who's reading it. I've always felt that stories never do what I'm always told they're supposed to: Take you to other places. It always seems more like watching TV instead of being there. (look at this, I'm rambling...)

    So what you're saying is I should take out the parts where it's all "I'm so scared" and let the reader just feel afraid from the context of "Hmm, if this happened to me I'd feel.. blah blah blah" instead of telling them they're afraid? Would this revision perhaps be a step in the right direction?

    The snow becomes a burning ash tossed up by an empyrean blaze, each and every fleck burning through your skin. It burns... oh God, I'm on fire, it hurts so much! The fiend that stands behind you, just out of site, tickles your shoulders with black wings, sending fire into the nerves beneath the flesh, burning your clothing, and re-clothing you in flames. Your head spins from the lack of necessary oxygen, you cough up blood and spit and vomit, staining the pure ground. Ash coats your esophagus, your eyes water from the soot as well. Even though you lie in the middle of a crossroad and there's nothing but white as far as the eye can see -snow, fog, ash, the little stars dancing before your eyes as hypoxia overwhelms you- you are stricken with a sense of claustrophobia. Even in such an agoraphobic place you feel the walls are closing in.

    Suddenly everything feels great. You laugh to yourself as your hands turn blue. Ha, ha, oh God, why is this funny? Your arms tremble and you can't hold yourself up. Your vision shakes, you fall next to the pile of your spit, blood, vomit, laughing at your own demise. Oh, heh, I'm... dying. Is this what it's like? It hurts so much, my whole bodies is burning. But it's so cold... You convulse in the snow, giving off week and unearthly chuckles. After a while, your heart slows down and the convulsions stop. I don't... wa...n...'... it hurts.... It doesn't matter though, your last thought remains incomplete as yYou expire in the snow, laying with your cheek in a puddle of your own freezing blood and vomit with God knows what creature from the darkest ward of Pandaemonium standing over you, laughing from the shadows.

    I wasn't really trying for gross out, just trying to give the impression that the character was having a panic attack and thought she was dying (blood often gives that impression) Which is really just a side effect of her medicine. The panic part, not the dying. Shortness of breath, euphoria, hallucinations. I don't suppose that earns me any points?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why are you writing this in second person, anyway?... it's a pain to read and does not involve/engage the reader as well as third would, if that's why you did it... it makes no sense for someone else to be telling the readers what is supposed to be happening to them, does it?... to scare the readers, let them experience vicariously what is happening to your character, instead...

    the changes don't do a thing to make this more readable, imo... cog's post nailed most of the other problems with this... you lost out on points from me from the get-go by using second person and present tense... here's how this could draw the reader into the scene and the terror by using the more reader-friendly third/past...

    see what i mean?... hope this helps some...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  6. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    I guess I should consider second person dead to me for a while...

    yeah, I guess that's the last nail in the coffin for second person... Maybe the detective story would work better in that point-of-view. I'll go back and change it to third... though I wonder if First might work better, sort of like you're at least being told the story. [I had been toying around with the idea of it second person, and then at the end the shadowy hidden villain would be in first person, sort of "'I've been waiting for you' I moan from the shadows. You gasp as the lights flicker on 'You shouldn't have taken so long.'" I don't really know why. It was just an experiment.]

    The point of it though wasn't to give people the feeling that they were being told what to do, but that they were just doing it, sort of just slipping off into the world. Something like a video game, you don't really have much choice, because in the end the game will end in a relatively similar manner, and the story of the game will stay the same whether you get the key from that guy you saved or you go in through the window. But then I guess, that medium does still have more freedom.

    I mean, do you think second person is just not the kind of thing that works, or that it doesn't work for what I'm trying to do? does this rather mundane passage seem to work? :

    You turn away from the bed and go back to looking for your glasses. You don't see them anywhere, so you get your vest on and start to leave. As you go to the door your foot hits a thin wire and the sound of it skittering across the floor and hitting the door reaches your ears. You get on your hands and knees and gently pat the floor until you feel the cold glass beneath your fingertips. You slide your fingers up under the earpieces and flip them out, after you slide them on you stand up.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Second person rarely works. No one likes to be someone's hand puppet; it's a pain in the - well, you get the picture.
     
  8. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    A different scene; more suspense?

    Alright, how is this? it's a completely different scene (lack of change is banal) that I've had in my head for a while but didn't write until now. In third person

    The loud barking grows closer, and she can hear the skittering of the dog's paws on the tile. As Ashleigh rounds the corner she almost misses the locker. She's a petite woman, and it's big enough for her to fit in. Most importantly though, the rusted blue locker has a broken lock. She ducks inside and hold it closed by the inside edge. The smell of rot creeps through the vents as the dogs tear down the hallway, panting like their hearts are about to give out. The first of the two skitters past and stops suddenly, turning in mid run. It almost loses it's balance before trotting over to the locker and sniffing it. The second of the six legged beast joins it's friend, bandages trailing behind it. The first one starts pawing at the door with it's front two pairs of legs while the other growls.

    Ashleigh shrinks back into the locker as much as possible, scratches being torn out of the metal as they claw at it. "Go away!" she says in a loud whisper, her voice trembling, "shoo!' The dogs get bored quickly though, and run down the hall. She's almost about to leave her safe spot when she hears a grinding sound, like metal being dragged across the floor.

    Ashleigh waits for another minute as the sound grows closer, and joining it is the sound of metal on metal. When it's right in front of the locker she sees it, but it's tall and she can only make it out from the chest down. It's a man, his torso is covered in burn scars and stitches. His left arm has stitching that seems to go all the way around it. Ash's breath quickens and she can't help but think he's going to hear her. From his waist down is a long skirt made of leather belts and rusted chains clanking together, above that is gauze wrapped around his stomach, with blood soaking through on the side. In his right hand is a large weapon that he pushes along the ground, cutting tracks into the linoleum. As it shuffles down the hall she looks at it through the slot and can see the back of his head, all wrapped in gauze with hair that must once have been blond pouring through. After a long, breathless moment Ashleigh can hear the squeals of the two dog creatures from somewhere else in the school. She gets out of the locker as fast as she can and runs until her legs ache.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    better, but present tense is almost as annoying as first person... which is why even the best, most successful writers seldom use it...

    i even cuss out pat cornwell when she gets the urge!... her stories and characters are much more reader-friendly in past... one critic said it ['predator'] read like 'cliff's notes'... reader comments on amazon are mostly negative for her occasional present tense forays, winning them only 2 stars, compared to her more usual 4...
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The natural way to tell stories is third person, past tense. Therefore it is what we as readers are most comfortable with. If you plan to deviate from this, you should have a good reason for doing so; what deviates from what we are used to will attract our attention. When yoiu are trying to have the reader immersed in the story, you don't really want to distract him or her away from it.

    Having said that, experimentation is great. But it is best to hold off on it until you have mastered the standard approach. Great painters like Dali and Picasso first learned to paint more conventionally. When they developed their own unique styles, they knew why they were stepping away from the norm.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    excellent advice, cog... and well put, effectively illustrated...

    in case i haven't said so before this, it's good to have you here on the forum!

    hugs, m
     
  12. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    I'll take that into account. I find it hard to think about it in past tense at the moment because most of my excersises at the moment have been either imagining something happening at the moment, or watching something and "writing" it in my head.

    One more try, third person and past tense, though it sound a bit stilted, so I'll probably rewrite it again:

    [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Water rushed into the cab, lights flashed and the car's alarms blinked with an annoying jingling note: your seat belt is off, your engine needs to be checked, and a hundred other things it seemed to say.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]A woman lay slumped in the front seat, her head on the steering wheel. She moaned as she came to and lifted her head, the horn goes silent. She couldn't recall anything, and when she tried to remember there was a dull pulse sent through her back[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman, serif] “Ugh... where am I?” she wondered aloud “ What the hell happened to me?”her thoughts were pushed elsewhere though, as the water eddied past the windows. As her calves, then thighs and then waist become soaked, she pounded on the window, fearing she was on her way to a watery grave. She hammered on the glass so hard that her fingers lost colour and feeling, until she noticed that the tide had stopped rising. [/FONT]
     

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