1. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Horror Horror novel audience: what freaks you out?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Mallory, Jan 4, 2011.

    I'm looking for ways to amp up the horror/suspense in my 2nd novel.

    The title of the thread sums up my question, but I have something a little more specific/hard to explain in mind, so bear with me for a sec. :)

    I'm not talking about a real-life fear (intrusive government, nasty company bosses, losing your job, murderers/rapists in the neighborhood etc) or about an "irrational" phobia (cockroaches, etc).

    I guess what I'm asking is...what types of things creep you out in the sense that they get your imagination running? What types of settings, situations etc give you the willies?

    Stuff like isolated houses; places where everyone's always happy and perfect and you know something's lurking underneath; stuff like that, those are just examples I've heard in passing but I'd love to get some input as to what creeps out your imagination and why.

    I'll give my own example to better illustrate my point. I sleep on my side, and when I'm in bed by myself with the lights out before I fall asleep, I can't face the wall. I have to either lie on my back or face the room. Even if there's a creepy looking shadow in the room, I'll still know what it is, but I sometimes get a feeling that if I'm facing the wall, there will be something scary standing above my bed that I'll see the second I turn back around lol. Okay my imagination runs rampant, I'm a horror writer, but you get the idea. :)

    So...what types of places, situations and the like cause you to be on edge? When does a twig snapping make you think "oh, it's just a squirrel" and when does a twig snapping make your "there's a monster under the bed" feeling kick in?
     
  2. xxkozxx
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    xxkozxx Active Member

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    My daughter had this barbie head that you could buy and it came with brushes and hair bands and stuff so you could be barbie's hair dresser. Well the thing had a button on it that, when pushed, would cause the barbie's hair to grow.

    Now the giant barbie head was creepy enough but one day they pushed that button and it was sitting there looking all evil and hair starting shooting out of the top of it.

    It made my skin crawl. I hope to never see that creepy damn toy ever again.
     
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  3. thenewpeter
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    thenewpeter Senior Member

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    For me... I'd have to say emptyness. The idea of nothing sparks my imagination... I'll probably have to explane that a little...
    In something such as Silent Hill, the town it's self is empty, your charecter will be forced to wander through the fog, further obscuring the town, my thought go wild personly at what everything was, how various things happened.
    I'd also have to say that the unexplained is what can give me a true grip, letting the reader/viewer make their own assumptions about what something is, if you edscribe something, give it a centre, make it relatable in any way and the horror can so easily be lost.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me it is the ones that mess with mind more than the body - so no blood and guts (think the original Japanese The Ring or original 1950s Village of the Damned) - Agatha Christie's Hound of Death is perhaps the scariest I have ever read. A series of short stories and very few involve blood, guts or gore. The simple ideas of mind invasion, the existence of the fourth dimension etc.

    My fantasy books have elements I have taken from those stories.
     
  5. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I'm scared easily so this should be simple xD
    -something like Sawako from the Ring.
    -Ghosts.
    -Things that come out of nowhere when everything seems okay.
     
  6. Adrian Whitefield
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    Adrian Whitefield New Member

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    I personally have a phobia for wide spaces. I could freak out and cry when I am in one of those.
    I think what you don't see, but feel is often scarier.
    Let your character be terrified by some unknown or perharps unseen thing/force.
    In my novel the guy has to deal with such a thing throughout the entire thing.
     
  7. Florent150
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    Florent150 Member

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    Yeah, I think the mind is the biggest tool. Psychological horrors are usually the best. Descriptive gore is repulsive but often not scary, whereas if you can really play with somebody's mind, that'll get the fear going.

    It depends on your setting in mind, but personally, I find abandoned/decayed scientific facilities or factory environments incredibly scary.

    These are the sorts of thing I'm talking about:


    Hellingly hospital: An abandoned, derelict asylum hospital in Britain. Extreme disrepair.

    99 rooms: An internet art project with a pretty scary atmosphere.

    Hellingly in particular. can scroll through the pages of that webpage with all the photos of hellingly. You take a derelict hospital exactly like that and make it night-time. You've got one of the scariest settings I can possibly imagine for scary things to start to happening in.

    That 99 rooms provides a pretty good interactive outlet for a creepy setting.



    The trouble is I rarely get spooked in RL situations. I don't know why, I tend to feel pretty safe and comfortable in my house/town/ w/e. It takes far more extreme circumstances to spook me than I come across in RL (hellingly is an example :\)




    Edit: I have a strange feeling links arn't allowed so I removed them, but you can easily google 99rooms art project, and hellingly hospital
     
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  8. TokyoVigilante
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    TokyoVigilante Member

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    The idea of of bureaucracy going wrong and accusing me or placing some kind of responsibility on me that's not my fault. (Bank losing all of my money, wrongly placed on a sex offender list, owing a bunch of money to someone/some company that I didn't know about).

    Screwy paperwork doesn't really make for "Good Horror"; but you can boil the fear down to a fear in being picked out by human authorities and wrongly accused, then having to face the non-sense that it motivating them. And a general discomfort in technology.
     
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  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    thanks for all the tips. Yes, mind horror that's not spelled out is the best, I agree....wow that barbie thing is freaky lol!

    tokyo, I agree 100 percent. To me, the worst types of perpetrators are the ones who have authority to be in a position where they can "legally" abuse people. Much worse than some psycopath who escaped from jail; at least in that case, the law's on your side.
     
  10. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    Mallory,

    Check out Franz Fafka's novel The Castle!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Castle_(novel)

    It's about a guy who comes under the sinister view of authority, but has no idea why.
     
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  11. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Being followed by something

    The only time I'm scared in dreams is when something is following me, and I'm hiding and can hear it. It's horrible :p
     
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  12. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    I hate the idea of something happening when I'm asleep. When I'm sleeping, completely oblivious to actual events, what if there's something horrible happening? What if a fire starts? Here's a big one when I'm sick; what if I throw up in my sleep and choke on it before I wake up? Uggh...

    I hate things happening when I'm asleep.
     
  13. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    When something familiar is just a little... wrong. Going back to Silent Hill, one of the biggest things that made it work for me the first time I played was how ordinary the town seemed. Except it wasn't. It was dark, desolate. And if you walked too far in one direction, the road just... ended. Fell off into nothingness.

    In Silent Hill 2, one of my favourite moments in all of horror came right near the end. One character confronts you on a burning stairwell, and your character tells her to get off of it, because of the fire, and she just responds, with no emotion, 'Oh, you see it too? For me it's always like this."

    Or, yet again from the Silent Hill series, near the end of the third game you meet someone who knows a little bit about the town's history, and the topic of the monsters comes up. He laughs and says, 'Oh, that's what you see them as, monsters?'

    So adding them all up, it's uncertainty, not knowing what's wrong, just that something is wrong. The idea that what you're seeing isn't actually real, that something is watching you, judging, and reshaping the world in such a way it reflects who you are, and what you'd most like to forget.
     
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  14. Fiona
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    Fiona Member

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    I really love both reading and writing horror... for me, I'd have to say the following three things scare me the most:

    1. Spirits/demons/hauntings
    2. Being trapped - such as in a room or coffin (confined spaces)
    3. Being isolated (such as in a house alone in the middle of the woods)

    That's all I can think of for now :)
     
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  15. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Poe pretty much snatched the best one -- being buried alive. Not only would you know you'd suffocate very soon, but even worse, you wouldn't be able to turn or move or do anything while waiting for it... Claustrophobia in its absolute worst form. Nobody would even hear your screams through the thick, dark soil.

    Another one is the surreal. Recently I saw a film with a ghost that reached people through mirrors. Like mirrors were portals into another dimension from where the ghost could strike. People looked at themselves in the mirror and saw themselves bleed, although there was no blood on them in the real world. This played on a fear from my childhood. My grandmother had a large mirror in her house that for some reasons scared the hell out of me.
     
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  16. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thanks - what film? I'd love to watch it. :)
     
  17. TricksterDizzy
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    Tension. I can bear a lot of stuff, but tension I just can't. It freaks me the heck out.
     
  18. Adrian Whitefield
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    Adrian Whitefield New Member

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    I would be scared of knowing that I am helpless,
    being helpless is one of the worst feeling especially trapped in a house with a demon/killer/monster what ever o.o
     
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  19. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I was having a tough time with this question until I read Adrain's reply.

    I would not like finding that I was in a prison, but not a standard prison, but a town like in your story. I'm thinking of the old show The Prisoner, which was about a spy who wanted to retire and the organization put him on this island where everyone acts like it's not a prison. That would be scary to me. The weird behavior mixed with the inability to escape it would make me feel trapped with no way to use me resources to escape.
     
  20. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I think walking the streets at night, especially a alleyway with no lights alone is pretty creepy. Also if you get paranoid that some one is following you, but you can't see anyone around.

    Or actually spotting a ghost, maybe you walk away from a house and spot someone looking out of the window at you.


    Also I used to be utterly terrified when walking my dogs as a kid in various situations...
    1) Snakes in the long grass
    2) Wild Cats in the bushes
    3) At night there was a massive mansion which always over looked the field, and you could see right in the window, I imagined 'what if I saw a brutal murder', a knife attack, and then the murder looks up across the field and spots you. The next thing you know you are running for your life.
     
  21. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed, agreed, agreed. Nothing has ever scared me as much as Silent Hill; not nearly. Those games get right under your skin. They've had me trembling and scared in my own home. Hell, my own head!
     
  22. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Things that get my imagination up and running? Hmmm...

    Things I know are there, but I can't see them. Once I was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico when...something big...bumped the bottom of the boat, but my two cousins and I couldn't see anything in the water. That got my imagination racing, not because it was a gentle bump, but because it knocked the crap out of our boat (jarring us through the deck, knocking over drinks, my cousin fell down, etc.). It was rather alarming to not know what the heck was going on. My first thought was that any second the tail of a whale was going to rise up and splash down, possibly either capsizing our boat or worse, splintering it (and us) in the process. One of my cousins speculated on a reef, but we were too far out for it to have been a reef. My other cousin speculated that perhaps the bottom of our boat had been clipped by a submarine...we packed up and headed back in when the subject of a Giant Squid came up in conversation.

    Another thing that gets me is to suddenly realize that something big is going on, and for some reason I've been oblivious to it. Like going to the kitchen, cooking up something, then coming back out to find everything deserted. Not a soul in sight, the door is open, the wind is blowing through the building, a cup of coffee is spilled in the floor, a smoldering cigarette is still in the ash tray, but there is no one in sight, even out side. Its just a case of all of a sudden, I'm all alone. My mind flipped through hundreds of possibilities trying to rationalize it (they all left because...a gas leak, approaching tornado, a fire, someone is having a medical emergency, we're under some kind of terrorist attack, an Elvis sighting, a Brinks truck crashed and money is blowing all over the freeway....it turned out to be none of the above, bloody practical jokers :().

    ...And then, of course, there is the H.P. Lovecraft type of creep out, such as driving by a house near the woods in the morning, and coming back by in the afternoon, only to find the house has been smashed to debris and a huge path of felled trees, with crushed and snapped trunks, leads off into the forest...implying that something very big and very heavy had passed through the woods...and for some reason the air smells like a combination of salt and ammonia...that will get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.
     
  23. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Faces with either no eyes or no mouths.
    A town where everything is empty. It doesn't necessarily have to be scary or even at night, just empty with no other living things, no life, no energy. And no sound or anything like that. It makes me crave for another character to interact with, to talk to, to assure me that I'm not alone. (I get a similar feeling in RPG Dungeons where I've killed all the monsters and it's just an empty, sprawling labyrinth. Then I'll run to the guy who sells potions and feel better.)
     
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  24. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Whoa the face thing is sooo gross and creepy. I totally agree.

    You'd like the short story "The Faceless Thing" by Joyce Carol Oates. It's scary. It can be found in a horror story collection called "999."
     
  25. Soul
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    Maybe,psychological horror,that can by some 1/100000 chance happen in real life :) .If you think wouldn't everybody be petrified of stalkers,or to to wake up and realize that someone watched them while they were sleeping.Or like number 23,when you install strong paranoia in MC

    Or you could try some supernatural,but these days it is overused,or maybe lovecraftism

    and cockroaches are scary :)
     

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