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  1. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    The Taboo....

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Leaka, Jan 24, 2009.

    is it horrifying?
    A lot of American culture has a lot of taboos. Tattoos have become more popular then what it use to be, but it's still taboo especially for most American businesses. Dog eating or even eating a cat is taboo because as Americans we view those animals as our pets and companions. Killing children is a taboo, innocents must be protected.
    So could it be possible to write a story about one of these taboos to scare people?
    I was thinking about it, but what about the dog napper. We love and adore our dogs to bits. We buy them clothes, give them food, and hand them over tons of affection. We call them our children and we love them like human children. But what if your dog was taken away. What if someone gave you a flyer told you they were a dog walking service and you trusted them. They took your dog for a walk and never saw them again. You don't know who took your dog and you don't know what is happening to your dog.
    The dog nappers themselves take your precious pet and make him their dinner.
    Would that scare anyone?
    Would that be a good horror?
    Or how about, a young child a murder. A young child goes around the schoolyard and neighborhood killing his classmates and his peers. His parents have no clue, the neighborhood has no clue. They expect it to be a man bigger scarer, and in the end it's a child who has the friendliest smile and the happiest personality.
    Would that be scary?
     
  2. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem with building a story around "taboos" is many people could find the story theme "disgusting", rather than frightening or thrilling. You'd have to be one hell of a good writer to bridge that obstacle. And even if you did, the next problem would be "selling" it to an agent and publishing company because they would understand the issue of possible reader disgust and that the story-theme may not sell. Then again, I encourage people to push against barriers so go for it!
     
  3. othman
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    othman Member

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    Well, I don't want to sound mean but the idea of a dog napper has been used various times in different varieties and the child killer hasn't been done much as far as I know, but it is very close to a soft spot especially in America as there has been a few students who have murdered classmates...

    Oh, and with your taboos, most people other than Asia and Africa also think of animals as companions bar farmhouse animals. Killing children a taboo just for America? Yeah, in England shooting children is just a past time, and as for innocents being protected??? Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Gaza, Japan, Vietnam, America, Mexico, and that's just a few of the top of my head ...

    On a more normal note, doing taboo stories are easy but can quite easily be shot down and equally easily become a bestseller. But many taboos, as said in another thread, are as often, if not more so, laughed at than scary, and although everyone loves animals and all, the main way to scare an audience is to show what the character is like. For example, in Saw the people are given a small backstory which portrays them as perfectly normal people (give or take a few morals) and that can scare some people as they can effectively relate to them, otherwise people build up a lovable character and have them die making the audience possibly even cry. Animals however are very difficult to make them dear to the audience unless they have had a similar experience.
     
  4. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Well how about you know make it a quick flash of it being an ordinary pet.
    "She found me in the pet store. I was the happiest and most proudest of the puppies. She picked me held me in her arms and named me on the spot. She pampers me and loves me a lot. Though I don't understand her funny human language sometimes."

    Or something along those lines of personification.
    And animals have emotions, I have watched enough animal documentaries to know that.
     
  5. Ex Leper
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    Ex Leper Member

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    If you want to write something scary then you could do worse then taking Stephen King's advice: If it scares you then there is a good chance it will scare someone else. NOTE - That is not an exact quote.

    If you find dog napping scary then you'll know what nerves to hit. Most of your ideas are disturbing and that's not a bad thing in horror and the same theory applies. If it disturbs you you'll know what strings to pull.
     
  6. othman
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    othman Member

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    I realise that animals do have plenty of emotions but people find it very easy to distance themselves from animals much the same way as some people do to people in films. In Saw (Yeah, I know, another saw comment) but I actually found it funny, and I don't cry at almost all films 'cause I distance myself subconsciously it would seem. But an animal is just that, an animal. Though a lot of people know that isn't true (well technically it is but, y'know what I mean) but they don't feel it as such, they pity the dog about to be killed but unless it is done brilliantly they're not going to feel particularly sad and certainly not for long.
     
  7. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Saw was a crappy movie though. And I don't distance myself. Certain movies scare me and certain movies make me laugh.
    Final Destination was one of those movies that makes me laugh. The Sixth Sense gave me shivers. The Excorsist was kinda creepy too.
    It kinda depends on the movie.


    Back to what I was asking. Well if I could write the dog's emotions as if he were a real person, could people not distance themselves?
     
  8. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    As far as child killers go You should watch "The Good Son" It stars Elijah Wood and Macauhley Caulkin as 11 year old cousins.

    Caulkin is a serial killer in the movie though. Check it out cause it is really good and the only movie that was not like Home Alone that Caulkin did.
     
  9. Darker Rarechild
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    Darker Rarechild Member

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    Most my story ideas are generated on Taboos because they do creep people out and that is what I like about them. If you can do them right, you can totally mind screw people and leave them freaked out for years to come.

    One of the most f-ed up and scariest episode of the X-Files was based on a Taboo. It was the one with the incestuous family that where inbreeding and they looked like monsters. Man, saw that as a young kid and its another one of those things that will stick with me for life. :eek:
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Violated taboos are more likely to offend readers than to engender fear. You can go that route if you wish, but offended readers are not likely to seek out more of your writing. If sufficiently offended, tey may not even read the current work to completion.

    Also keep in mind that taboos are somewhat culturally specific. What is a taboo in one culture may completely escape notice in another. As small a gesture as kicking off one's shoes and putting them on a footstool while engaged in conversation may be interpreted as a gesture of utter contempt.

    Its your call.
     
  11. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Children die all the time in fiction, especially in mine. Every taboo has already been broken and I think taboos are what we make of them. Nudity is taboo to some yet we still have many mainstream movies with heavy nudity. Unless legal legislation is made(such as with nudity of children in film) restricting it, I think the only taboos are the ones we ourselves make. Readers may have a taboo that you violate, but you'll grow crazy trying to avoid them all, and often miss excellent potential stories.

    The only taboo to avoid completely, IMO, is poor writing.
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's all about how you pull it off. Teen sex is a taboo issue, bit Judy Blume pulled it off without cencoring herself in her book Forever in the 1970's. There was even a movie in 1961 where they say nothing more than "make love" and a comment about not all brides being virginal. The story is about a teenage girl who has a little love affair with a man on a cruise ship and ends up pregnant. The man has to go away for something and dies right after she finds out she is pregnant. Until the baby gets hurt and only the mother is allowed to go into the room, they pretend it's the girl's baby brother.
     
  13. BillyDee
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    BillyDee New Member

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    Speaking from personal experience, I have read a lot of novels (particularly ones revolving around terrorism and the clashes between muslim & western cultures) that have deliberately gone out of their way to confront taboos and often at the cost of the novel. As it becomes "cool" to be "edgy" we are increasingly seeing books that confront taboos. Whilst some would argue that this is a good thing (and to an extent I agree with this as it forces people to address issues they may otherwise ignore), I think the point of addressing taboos looses its importance, as it almost becomes du regur as opposed to an important piece of social commentary.

    For example, a book I am reading at the moment called "Absurdistan" by Gary Shteyngart - the protagonist is a Jew and encounters a lot of anti-semitic slurs and comments throughout the novel. At first it is kind of shocking, but then it just becomes the venacular of the characters and then the reader - much like the protagonist - become immune to it.

    However, it can be done cleverly. A great example is A Clockwork Orange. Alex is committing acts of violence, but as he does so his language (He speaks in NADSAT slang) becomes so floral and prosaic as he expresses his excitement. This is still shocking as Burgess does not describe the violence explicitly, but the reader is still shocked nonetheless at the pleasure that Alex derives from inflicting violence on others.

    If you are going to be provocative with your writing, my advice would be to do it cleverly and to do it sparingly
     

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