1. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Scary things that can happen - boating down fantasy world river in ominous setting

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Mallory, Jul 12, 2011.

    In a particular scene I'm currently writing, my MC and her companions are sailing in this small boat (canoe-ish) down a river to get to someone's house in the wilderness. The way my fantasy world is set up, there's one major geographical region that's a dense city, but the farther away from it you get, the more isolated and rugged the territory grows. People who live in the wilderness areas sleep by day and are awake by night because they have to be alert to keep guard against large, hungry monsters that prowl the community looking for food. The farther out you go, the more monstrous, alien and aggressive the creatures are. (They don't have any type of agenda or side, they're just wild animals of the fantay world). The city is no safe haven, and has its own more serious and dangerous problems, but that's not encountered until later chapters.

    My MC and her friends are boating down this river to get to their destination because hiking through the woods is far too dangerous. (They have to hike on the way back though due due to unforseen circumstances ;) )

    Anyone have any ideas on how to make a boat ride through this type of river as ominous as possible? I've already included dark, murky waters; rapids; creepy noises and animal calls; glowing eyes; etc but am wondering if anyone has any really unique, out-there awesome ideas on how to make it even scarier. If so, I'll give you rep! Thanks!
     
  2. Heidi
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    Heidi New Member

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    How about a leaky boat?
     
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  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The air is very still and stifling, and smells like death and decay.
     
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  4. Heidi
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    Heidi New Member

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    And a few jagged rocks. Eddies that suck in small animals who foolishly drink nearby..... Muddy banks thick as chocolate pudding that bulge and bubble as though they were alive... and no one can say for sure that they are not...
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thanks guys! I especially love the bubbling muddy banks. Like there's something breathing under it. :)

    Any more ideas? keep it coming :)
     
  6. SteamWolf
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    SteamWolf Senior Member

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    eyes in the gloom muuaahaha
     
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  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thanks. Had that one already though. ;)
     
  8. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    How about anacondas attacking from low branches?? Hippos intent on tearing the canoe apart? Crocodiles over-turning the boat?? A waterfall they don't see coming? (okay a bit cliche, perhaps). Sharks?? :D
     
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  9. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does the boat ride occur at night? It could be a cloudy night with a full moon. The moonlight wanes as the clouds pass overhead. Or the moonlight could slant in through openings in the cloud cover, causing shadows to dance along the river bank.
     
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  10. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    Silence. Nothing says creepy like a silent, dark river. The lack of birds chirping, or animals howling, tells you two things: One, that those animals are not making a sound for a reason, and Two, that "reason" is close by.

    Maybe something appears in the corner of an eye, but as the character turns to see what's there, it disappears into the tall grass, leaving the character with once piece of knowledge. Whatever it was, is was not human.


    That's how I'd do it.
     
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  11. SteamWolf
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    SteamWolf Senior Member

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    random thumps under the boat
     
  12. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Ooh, I like that. :)

    I like the bubbling bank idea. Maybe a few crocodiles floating past, or some pieces of wood that look like them to give your characters a jolt?
     
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  13. Computerbug
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    Computerbug Member

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    They could have brief feelings that something brushed past their back or is breathing down their neck. And they could possibly encounter some sort of swamp gas that makes them dizzy, blurs their vision or could even make them hallucinate! There's so many fun thing you could do with this scene.
     
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  14. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    A soft thudding sound at the bottom of the boat.

    It gives the impression something is doing something to that boat that your life depends on, which can be quite scary if you established the other dangers properly. Maybe add a couple of lines about how scary it would be to fall into the river.

    You don't have to elaborate on the sound, just state it. It's more scary that way.
     
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  15. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    The forest/jungle going quiet is an effective way to scare someone. "When the forest goes quiet, danger is near." All that.

    Another way is to give them an "impossible" warning. You say there are only one city, right? So there are not supposed to be anyone civilized out here? Then let them sail past some sort of warning sign. Maybe a few (human) skulls on poiles, or perhaps an evil looking statue. (who would have built it? And why? Exactly.) Or even simply place a regular sign there, but it could easily come off cheesy.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that when they get into danger, they should stay in danger. I read a fantasy-book where the heroes were surrounded by enemies and escaped into a tower. It bought them some time, but the enemies surrounded the tower and were making their way in, so the heroes was doomed. But wait, they can fly all of a sudden? Oh. Nevermind. *groan*
     
  16. MrNomas
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    MrNomas Member

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    When I was in Nepal, I took a canoe ride. The canoe sat about 2 inches out of the water at the sides (if that). The banks were lined with crocs. They kept telling us that it was a sunset ride so the cool would keep the crocs out of the water but it freaked me the F out. I have never been so glad to get out of a canoe.
     
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  17. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    I'd go with the bumps against the bottom of the boat too...
    Maybe have a set of eyes close to the waters edge watching them as they float by, only to get sucked in by something from the water that makes no sound.
    Oo! Or sucked in by one of those odd mud bubbles!
    Hmm...
    The Absolute Silence would be a high creep-factor too. I know I'd have a near heart attack if I were out in the wild on a small craft in the dark and suddenly everything going 'bump' and 'chirp' in the night went completely silent... That would work best (imo) for the psychologically scary aspect.

    Maybe have what sounds like two large beasts fighting just beyond their view from the water with lots of thrashing and bone-crunching sounds, and give one last goosbump-giving scream/screech/wail and then the absolute silence. Which only lasts a few moments before a slurping sound (like something eating something(one) else).
     
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  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why would you put yourself through that!?

    Anyway as to the OP - since I can't swim, I'd say the idea of falling into the river would be the scariest. The river should be dangerous - creatures should live in it that you really don't wanna see (say, piranhas infested waters?)

    Maybe establish something, some creature, following them silently. I'd be freaked out if I was being followed, but there's nothing you can do and nowhere to hide, especially in an environment like that!

    Or your characters should be forced to park by the bank of the river - some sort of boat damage, accident, or even just that they need to rest. If the forest was that dangerous, that'd be the last thing you'd wanna do!
     
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  19. Yandos
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    Yandos Member

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    One of the site's (work) I was working on earlier this year had an old animal burial pit.
    A lot of the bones hadn’t been picked clean enough.
    As they sank into the boggy marsh/broads and left for a few decades, the pressure made the bone and other stuff start to decompose into a kind of translucent gloop that stank to high heaven.
    Anyway one of my colleagues discovered that if you poke this stuff with a rod that has chalk on it, it would react and make a gassy bubble that when it pops, flings a lump of this gloop in a nice satisfying arc. Let’s just say, when it hit me in the face… I lost my lunch.

    But if this was to happen in your boat, in the dark, and one of your passengers looks like they’ve been hit and also becomes violently ill from the ‘attack’, to smell something so horrific and then find out it’s not lethal. They may be able to laugh it off but still be shaken by the event (harmless(ish) as it was).

    Anyway I think my point was that there are REAL scary things in this world, if you know where to look. And in most cases it’s what you don’t know that scares you the most.
     
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  20. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thank you all so much! Those ideas are AWESOME!
     
  21. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    What about good, old leeches? They seem harmless enough, but they can carry deadly diseases. That's not fun when you are far away from civilization and lack medical supplies. Personally I think that has better scare-potential than 'big' threats like crocs and piranhas. A croc or steam of piranhas will simply eat the person who falls into the river and be done with it, but a disease can last days or weeks. The sick person will get sicker and sicker until he/she dies. The others know it, but can't do anything to help him/her. So should they carry the person with them and risk being an easy prey for big predators, or can they leave him/her behind to die and save themselves? ;)
     
  22. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I like leeches. :)

    (Not in that sense obviously, but you know what I mean! lol! Thanks!)
     
  23. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also keep in mind they can be hard to remove, and you can easily get a small wound from them. The wounds can get infected, so then what? In some cases you might have to amputate. But in the middle of nowhere without a doctor or anthestethics around? Hm... no pleasant. :p
     
  24. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Ugh I know! Leeches are disgusting...awesome idea though..they'll also be unnaturally huge.
     
  25. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Bats, flying over as a patrol... or ...?

    Full moon but now and then, unexpectedly, dark shadows show up.

    A voice, speaking to them from out of nowhere, warning against ....

    Soft and gentle itching in their faces, a bit similar as spider webs, although they cannot see or get a grip on it.

    Their sight blurring probably caused by an unknown gas.
     
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