1. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Nightmare Fuel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Leaka, Oct 17, 2008.

    All right, I have set my eyes to writing a horror story with a lot of Nightmare Fuel.
    My inspiration is the Doom series, those games scare the living buggers out of me.
    My other inspiration is the Silent Hill series, those games disturb me.
    So I really want to incorporate these two stories Nightmare Fuel, but I don't want to sound like I am ripping them off in any way.
    Which means I have to come up with some really original ideas.
    But I have never been good at brainstorming.
    If I brainstorm my stories usually turn out less then enthusiastic, brainstorming seems to take all my good qualities away for some reason.
    So, how can I plan stuff out for this story?
    How can I get any ideas, without ripping these two series off?
    How do I give my store Nightmare fuel, because obviously what scares me may not scare you?
     
  2. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never played either of those games, so I can't answer your question as a whole, but I will try to tackle this part:

    I haven't read much horror literature, but in visual medium, the best way to scare someone is to let them scare themselves. By that I mean let their own imagination fill in the blanks; bring them to their own personal fears instead of trying to tell them "this is scary 'rawr'." For example, if you describe a spider in excruciating detail, people who aren't afraid of spiders won't be bothered. But if you describe an eight-legged "something," pointing out some of its more pronounced aspects, but leaving a lot to the imagination, it can have a much stronger effect. Also, if your narrator isn't scared, we won't be, so make sure he/she/it is creeped-out and not quite sure what's going on (because knowledge is one of the easiest ways to foil fear).

    I saw the Silent Hill movie, and it was very scary, mostly because of the darkness, the fog, and the general "WTF is going on here" atmosphere it had. Are they in Hell, Purgatory, or just some really messed-up corner of our own reality? I don't know, but the more I guesed at it, the creepier it got.
     
  3. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Well here is a general underline of my story:

    I want the main character to be in the military

    I don't want the story to take place on earth

    I want the freakshow to be something less human and less supernatural...more wtf, what is the heck is that thing he is describing.

    So, how would you scare a man in the military?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's the problem - what scares one person doesn't scare the next. So your best bet is often to lead the reader to dredge out his or her own worst nightmares instead of presenting yours on a platter.

    There are certain elements of nightmare that can be counted on though. One is a feeling of dread that some unknown something is about to happen. Your heart begins to beat faster, your nerves are on edge, and you are prone to hot and cold sweats. Then there is a dual fear thet if you move, something will get you sooner, warring with the equally strong feeling that if you don't move, it will get you in seconds. Every sound is magnified, and every strange sound seems to come from an uncertain direction. On top of that, you feel like every movement you attempt is in slow motion, that you won't be able to run faster than a walk.

    While you are conveying all these feelings, you want your reader's imagination in overdrive. What is lurking in the dark/fog/behind the crates/in the low hanging branches?

    And what is that horrible smell? It smells like...ugh!

    Something brushes across your ear! Only a hanging bit of slimy moss. But then...!

    The longer you can avoid being specific, the more the reader's imagination kicks in. But don't try to build a scene that will scare everyone - you won't succeed. Just try to find elements that will send shudders down the spine of most of your target audience. If you can't guess what that would be, then you'll probably just have to choose something, and accept that it will affect some readers far more than others.

    Go to horror films, and sit near the back, See what scenes make the audience react most, and which ones get laughs and amused sighs. When Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was in theaters, it was amazing how many of the audience shuddered or had to surreptitiously scratch itching ears when Khan put those slimy parasites in Chekov's and Terrell's helmets.

    But all in all, the best horror comes from anticipation. When the creature finally appears, it's generally a letdown, a release of the tension.
     
  5. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I don't watch horror movies any more, they are a big let down these days. They make me laugh more then scare me.
    But to go to a horror film to watch the audience I have done that before.
    But the only thing I could think of when I see them is, "Oh come on, how is that even remotely frightening?"
    But I will try my best.

    Thanks for the advice Cogito, I'll definitely watch some audience.

    But I still have to find out what scares a military man?
    Do you think I should watch some military audience as well?

    I'm being serious by the way.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A few thoughts:
    1. He's sure it's there, and can see him, but he can't see it.
    2. He's separated from his comrades.
    3. He may hear gunfire and screams of his dying comrades. This also makes him doubt that his weapons are going to have an effect on it.
    4. He has time to get increasingly afraid, but no opportunity to stop and plan a defense.
    5. The terrain provides no cover for him, but his enemy remains concealed and unknown.
    6. He doesn't know his location relative to camp/ship/base/designated target.
     
  7. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    O.O
    Cool, thank you.
    I'm not in the military so I wouldn't know.

    Well wouldn't it frighten him even more because the place is unnatural to him, because as I said I don't want anything on Earth.
    So if its a different terrain and different planet, wouldn't that add to his anxiety and fright?
    Also because the enemy is more alien then supernatural, wouldn't that add a little to his anxiety as well...he doesn't know the enemy?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Probably not. I would think his training would help him ignore the strangeness and focus on fundamentals like seeking cover or defensable locations.

    Not unless he expected to be on Earth. Actually, it would probably unnerve him more if he expected an alien environment and found himself on something resembling a country club golf course.

    Not knowing what the enemy is would be the most unnerving - not knowing its tactics, objectives, numbers, strengths, and vulnerabilities.

    I should point out that I am not and never have been in the military. Those who have can probably offer more insight than I can. I have known military folks, but that's all I can go by - that plus the fact that they remain human.
     
  9. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    All right. So the thing in this story is that he won't be on the planet itself. He'll be underground the planet, in a science lab were scientist are studying alien artifacts.
    So wouldn't he suggest some of these aliens were still alive? Would anyone in my story suggest some of these aliens were still alive?

    Should I talk to some military people?
     
  10. CommonGoods
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    CommonGoods Senior Member

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    Cogito was brilliant as always, but I got some things to add to that nifty list of his;

    1. He has to flip some switch within a certain span of time (the computer in the first few seasons of Lost scared the bejezus out of me).
    2. The alien leaves him alone for some reason, while murdering everything else.
    3. The threat isn't all alien; some humans are up to no good as well (yes, I also played Doom... Loved it. To bad I'm not allowed to play it after 7 o'clock any more (little sister...)).
    4. He is haunted by the thoughts of his dead mother/father/sister/comrad/lover.
    5. Children in horror stories are terrifying. Really scary. But you may not want to make it that dark. (Doom3 does... how we all loved that sound halfway the game: "They took my baby!")

    Hope this helps. As for the question; what is a military personal afraid of; remember their just people. They have the same fears we do, they simply get training to supress that fear. So what if that training fails him...

    And about the alien artifacts... yes, someone may hint that these aliens where still alive. And since your taking this so close to Doom 3 anyway; why not have your hero find out trough personal diaries. The personal datapad-thingies in Doom3 where brilliant.
     
  11. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    off topic: The personal datapads in Doom 3, scared me sometimes. Especially the great detail of the most disturbing sounding things.

    Thank you for your help as well, some more plans.
     

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