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Inspiration for writing an horror novel: What scared you the most?

Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by hellwarrior, Sep 23, 2014.

  1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm mostly scared by a complete loss of control. Possession stories really get to me, for that reason - not having any control over your body, even having your mind overtaken by something else. Similarly, well-written alien invasions scare me because you can't control that situation when you have no idea who your enemy is, what their capabilities are, or what they want.

    I can tell you what doesn't make scared - zombies, vampires, werewolves and other such supernatural creatures. I'm so bored of those in horror.
     
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  2. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Put simply, THIS is the kind of thing that makes poo come out of my bottom.

    But asking what scares people in films, to get an idea of how to write scary stories, is rather pointless in my opinion. You can't scare people with words in the same way you can with film.

     
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  3. Ivana

    Ivana Contributing Member

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    Those mirror scenes... When a character looks in the mirror and there's someone or something staring back at him from inside the glass or behind him. :bigeek:
     
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  4. PBrady

    PBrady Active Member

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    Not sure that this is useful contribution for a fictional context, but what scares me is the things that people will do to others in real life. In my youth as a forensic scientist I became inured to some quite gristly exhibits and crime scene photographs.

    There was one exhibit and accompanying notes that had a particular effect on me, and still makes me feel mildly nauseous some three decades after the fact. A particularly disturbed young man had decided to embed Stanley knife blades into a rubber mallet, and wander around the streets of Birmingham hitting people around the head and face with it. None of these people had any connection to the lad. Holding it in my hand and knowing what he had done with it 'just for fun' was very disturbing.

    Callous, uncaring violence can make create powerful horror, however this will often result in a bleak emotion in the reader.
     
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  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Good post. This made me think of Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer, which is so disturbing to many people.
     
  6. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger gave me the heebie-jeebies because the MC was hyperrational, trying to make sense of the subtly off things happening around him. Everything felt really real, stuff that could happen to me (and I'm always looking for rational explanations), and it creeped me out. If the author can keep the wall between fantasy and reality thin, almost transparent, I'm bound to get at least slightly scared because I become momentarily convinced that this shit is real, it could happen in my house, it could happen the next time I go strolling in the graveyard. I love/hate it when that happens. If I start to have nightmares about the book, it's done its job.

    ETA: Also, The Little Stranger, as the name suggests, is about a child ghost. Child ghosts disturb me the most.
     
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  7. Song

    Song Active Member

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    My list of top fears...

    That feeling of being watched or followed.
    Seeing my family and friends die around me.
    Growing old.
    Being truly alone.
    Dying.
     
  8. Capricorn42

    Capricorn42 Member

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    The only time i've been truly scared, in real life as opposed to watching a film or reading a book, was when i got myself trapped under a car, doused with petrol, with an electric lamp right next to me, which had frayed wiring and was prone to sparking and arcing. Wriggling out of there took a minute, the longest 60 seconds of my life. I guess that i was scared at thought of what might happen, all of it bad, and that everything would change for me, and they do say that change, dramatic and sudden, is the scariest thing of all.
     
  9. BookLover

    BookLover Contributing Member

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    Geesh, that was scary. And you're absolutely right. If we tried to turn that short film into a story, it wouldn't be scary at all. There would be a lot of "a silhouette was seen in the hallway," "feet pattered down the hall," "the light switch turned on its own," "a girl with white eyes and an open mouth..." I can't think of a way to make it even mildly scary to read.

    I don't usually find books to be all that scary. Creepy? Yes. Suspenseful? Absolutely. But scary? I don't know. Maybe I just haven't read the right books. I bought House of Leaves, but I haven't read it yet. I hear it's scary.

    Well, I take that back. I used to be afraid of stories. As a child I was majorly into ghost stories, the kind you tell with friends before bedtime or read in the pages of the creepiest Scholastic books. I just haven't read a scary story in a very long time.

    What scares me? A lot of things already mentioned. Jerky, unnatural movements in films. Doing something "wrong" in reality, such as a car accident that's my fault. The shock of the crash plus the fact that I just messed up big time and it could have huge consequences is terrifying. Especially that moment right after the crash where you don't even know if you're okay or if the person you hit is okay. Not that I've been in that many accidents. lol. My driving record is good, but I have a fear of accidents. Close calls, all that stuff that makes the adrenaline rush through your body and the "what ifs" rush through your mind.

    Just earlier today someone crashed into the car that was stopped behind me at a light. I didn't get hit at all, but I heard the squeal of tires, the thud of metal against metal. It definitely made me jump and caused me to be very alert, and for a split second, I wondered if I'd been hit.

    Recently I was almost mauled by dogs, and that was the most horrifying experience I've had all year for sure. I knew if one of them jumped on me I'd be down on the ground being ripped to shreds. As soon as I made it to safety, I could feel this tingling sensation going up my spine and over my scalp. It was the kind of fear and relief that I would never experience from watching any movie or riding any roller coaster or going into any haunted Halloween house. It was the kind of fear I wouldn't want to experience.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2015
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  10. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    You make a very moot point here (or moo, if you happen to be Joey Tribbiani :D). People go on about how they enjoy being scared, but there are two kinds of fear. Real fear and 'secure' fear, and no one wants to experience real fear.
     
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  11. Kittophoros

    Kittophoros Member

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    Squids.

    They are super scary and super fascinating to me! There's a recent Youtube video of the Bigfin Squid which is absolutely amazing and terrifying to watch!
     
  12. TheoremAlpha

    TheoremAlpha Member

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    The most terrifying things to me tend to be the ones that get into your mind.
    I've never found gore of violence to be scary in the slightest. Hack and Slash type horror is incredibly bland to me. Not saying it isn't scary. Just not my thing.

    So haunting, things caused by mental illness, creatures that have mystery about them: Those tend to be the most terrifying.

    And I think it can be as easily explained as:
    We understand violence. We fear death and injury, but we at least understand it and know what to expect.

    To have something terrifying that you don't even know what to expect of, whether death, harm or otherwise...
    That's the scariest thing.
     
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  13. izzybot

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    When I was a kid the only thing that scared me was the Invisible Man. He could be anywhere! Maybe he was already in the room. I was a fearless kid but the thought of an evil I couldn't even see horrified me. The xenomorphs from the Alien movies unsettled me (love them though), which, when I got a little older and understood the symbolism behind them, I realized was because pregnancy wigs me tf out.
     
  14. MockingJD

    MockingJD Member

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    What scares me in horror movies are creepy children, dolls, contorted bodies, and anything weird/creepy going on in/around someone's mouth, attics and basements, haunted houses.

    Things that terrified me (in no particular order):

    V/H/S (don't ever watch it)
    The Ring
    Annabelle
    The opening credits to Are You Afraid of the Dark?
    The Grudge
    The Buffy episode with these guys: Gentlemen.jpg
     
  15. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is limiting, but the scariest thing for me to this day is simply my children being in any danger. If they get away from me in the store, or someone I don't know looks at them for too long. A book about a parent just looking for their kids, all the fears and dangers described in painful detail... Terrifying.
     
  16. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Who wants waffles...? Contributor

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    The warped minds that created this stuff. Nothing like some good old Nightmare Fuel. :p 2335.jpg 2337.jpg 2341.jpg 2344.jpg 2345.jpg 2349.jpg 2383.jpg 2388.jpg 2359.jpg 2354.jpg
     
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  17. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Living with the ghost of a cat.
     
  18. ReproveTheCurlew

    ReproveTheCurlew Member

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    The most frightening thing to me is a loss of self, to feel empty and yearn for some form of bodily experience, even if it means inflicting pain to oneself. Pain and suffering as a result of feeling nothingness. To be honest, I cannot think of a greater horror. I often feel that sense when suffering from a flu.
     
  19. MsParrish

    MsParrish New Member

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    If you want to write something truly horrific, write something about a power nation that is going into the proverbial toilet because of it's disgustingly bad government, a government built on the premise that it's 'by the people', when in reality it's 'green the money'. On a Simpson's Halloween episode the politicians turned out to be the aliens Kodos and Kang. Same principle. Yes, that really frightens me. LOL
     
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  20. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Who wants waffles...? Contributor

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    Hey, get rid of the Aliens, and you just summed up our fair nation. Living the horror story. :p
     
  21. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    A sense of doom is probably the thing that most frequently and effectively scares me. For example; if the main character dies at the end just when you thought it was going to be okayish in the end, that gets me pretty bad. Honestly though, I'm a bit wimpy so it doesn't take that much.
    If you want some inspiration material:
    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Don't actually use any of these, copyright and all.
     
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  22. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cults scare me. There is something about organizations with unknown intentions, usually that of the wicked, in black pointy robes that is terribly unnerving to me.
     
  23. Startled Crow

    Startled Crow Member

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    In movies, rural settings scare me the most particularly at night when it is hard to see. I live in a rural setting and understand that things commonly lurk around in the dark - wolves, coyotes, etc. I couldn't see a city being that scary but then again, I have very little city experience.

    I can relate! I did security for 10 years working at old factories, old abandoned coal mines and even guarding construction equipment out in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Good time as far as inspiration for writing goes!
     
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  24. Ochalis

    Ochalis Member

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    Existential threats.

    An "Other World", a core concept from the book Caroline, was nothing short of terrifying and foreign to me as a child. When I first entertained such existential ideas, as a very young and vulnerable mind no less, I was simply horrified. A parody world, identical in almost every way, populated by inhabitants that are nearly perfect reflections of their "real-world" counterparts... But this world was ideal, and flawless, a place that offered the familiarity of the olden world but fun and fantasy not found there. This world, however entrancing, was horridly off. I came to realize that, in truth, that world, with all of its lures and promises, was effectively a trap.

    Any world, really, that mocked our own, scared me. Such ideas of alternate reality toyed with my understanding of existence (or, rather, lack thereof). It also opens the door to ideas such as Solipsism, which is an arguably just as scary, if not scarier.
     
  25. T.Trian

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have exactly one fear, and it's a big one: something bad happening to @KaTrian. Getting hit by a car on the way to work, being assaulted etc. are some of the usual ones I worry about.

    Don't get me wrong; plenty of things cause the fear response in my body, i.e. a release of adrenaline and all the related effects, and I can be startled as much as any person, but that's not really fear, not the visceral, lingers-with-you -type of dread I call fear.

    My guess is it's because I think nothing of myself, so violence or death have become kinda meaningless unless it happens to my wife. I know this because I've almost died a few times (once from severe blood loss, twice from an accidental prescription drug overdose, and a couple of times with driving-related situations) and every time I was perfectly calm, content that if it was my time, so be it, if not, that's fine too.

    We have some weird shit going on in our home every now and then, though. E.g. knocking on walls, i.e. repeating patterns, plates and glasses falling out of a closed cupboard and smashing on the floor, loud sounds like an open hand slammed really hard against a wall etc, all while we're sleeping, all stuff we both hear/see/witness.

    Only the knocking has happened when I was awake on the living room couch: a series of 3 knocks sounded right next to my ear. It repeated several times until I responded with 3 knocks of my own. Then there were 3 more knocks and then it ended. Stuff like that.

    We don't really believe in anything supernatural (two atheists reporting!), but it's fun to think it could be something ghostly.
    Personally I just find the notion of a ghost, spirit, or poltergeist absolutely adorable. It'd be like having a pet or something. Of course it'd be a little awkward during sex, but I guess that'd be the price of a spectral companion.
     
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