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  1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Writing Fear and describing a scary setting

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by MilesTro, Aug 26, 2012.

    I am new at writing a story that suppose to sound scary and spice it up using sensual words. I also want to learn how you can describe a setting that sounds creepy. Do you have any examples that can help me?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Description and word choice can certainly help, but character reactions do far more to set the tone.

    For examples, I'll leave that more to those who are far more into the horror genre.
     
  3. Michelle Stone
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    Michelle Stone Member

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    I would think that your plot and characters should be creepy. The setting is just the spice. I think too many aspiring writers focus too much on the setting and forget that they have a story to tell.
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I'd say read early King, Koontz and Clive Barker to see how the aspects are put together. Stories like Christine and It are very good at it. It really messed with my mind when I read that book. Watch how King makes it work, and Koontz's work..
     
  5. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I can't handle reading those books. They have too much descriptions hard for me to understand I prefer books like James Patterson. His writing is fast paced and his chapters are very short.
     
  6. DanesDarkLand
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    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

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    Think Thriller style movies. How would you describe someone walking through a house that is supposed to be haunted, but it hasn't proved that way yet? Your characters hear the creek of the floor boards, but see nothing ahead of them, or behind. There are light scratches at a window, but proves to be a branch. The lights go out, forcing people to use flash lights. It is about atmosphere. And its about surprises. A character who isn't who they appear to be, but the main supposed hero actually is the serial killer. You need to imagine the scene, just like any other genre, fantasy, mystery, action, erotic, or horror, they all need for the writer to imagine what the characters are feeling, and what they are seeing.

    What they say, and how you describe it is up to you. Dean Koontz is an excellent author to read and find examples of how to write scenes. The series under Brian Lumley, a series written about a Necroscope, one who can talk to the dead, he's a fairly decent author and has some pretty decent ways to describe things.
     
  7. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Thanks.

    It is also hard for me to get scared from reading horror books. The books just describe how the characters feel, and it doesn't make my skin shiver. But what scares me are surprises. I played a video game called Dead Space. When I first played it, it was hard for me to continue playing it. I kept pissing in my pants every time I encounter a monster. And the movie, Paranormal Activity, I almost ran out of the movie theater, but it was exciting. I think the visual in the horror genre is more scary than the books.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So why are you trying to write a scary story if such a genre of writing doesn't connect with you? My suggestion is, abandon ship!

    Or pursue a graphic novel instead.

    But as for writing - it's about atmosphere and caring about the character enough that you care about what happens to him/her. It's not a matter of one scene but a matter of building a psychological concept or fear in the reader's mind through a series of hints and events in various scenes, all building up to your scary scene. When someone's scared, everything they see changes - a swinging door could be the trick of the wind or a hint that someone who's not meant to be there just entered, only now the stranger is hidden and your protection (the door) is gone. Think about how fear transforms someone's mind, and thus the way they would describe things, and then describe it.
     
  9. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Thank you, Mckk. You beat me to the punch :)

    He's right, if you're trying to write a scary story without a genre that connects, you're wasting you time. Furthermore, things jumping out to jump out, and no description or narration/dialogue to explain WHY it's scary means you have disjointed actions that don't make sense. As for fear, I use my experience living through the VA earthquake last year (epicenter happened right close to my house...won't say how much...just that it was close) for fear. It woke me up from a sound sleep, and scared the beejeezes out of me. Then the tornado that came through my yard earlier this year. Each time my rational mid transformed into something frightened.

    Horror stories, however, are psychological more then "gore," Christine, with the descriptions King uses to describe a scene there are creepy, and play with your mind. His books show the psychological, while Koontz's show the thriller aspect. Combined together, they make on hell of a story...but only if you're interested.
     
  10. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I am interested; I'm just trying to figure out how I can add what scares me into my own scary story ideas. Things that suddenly jumps out really scares me.

    What about fear in dark fantasy stories that have action scenes?
     
  11. Juganhut
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    Juganhut Banned

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    Usually when someone is scared, time seems to slow down, and their sense are hightened. The seem and hear and see more, but there actual reasoning skills drop, making everything seem horrifiying.

    Thats the reason people do stupid things in scary movies that you yell at.

    The suspense building up to the actual fear is what you play on. As they slowly begin to realize what is going on, their hearts race and they begin breath in the cold, wet, stail air. Each breath makes their stomach churn, and head spin. Eventually they will begin to panic, and everything else but survival enters their mind.

    well, thats what I did. Once they are panic it was hard to explain, but the build up is what I sell.
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    You're never going to have the same surprise element that you do in movie's or video games. The fact is you have to
    build on the moment to have the surprise. That means drawing on the spooky setting and how it effects the character.

    Remember with a video game and movie - you see it. The writer however is everything - actor
    director, set designer - he has to paint the scene for the reader with words to trigger an emotion of
    fear in the reader- he has no shocking images, or spooky music to help him along.

    Horror is like any other genre out there. With it's own twists - in some odd way it's
    rather like Romance - because when the big love scene comes up - the writer can't skip over
    it - it's got to be drawn out in detail - same goes for Horror - when the spooky scene
    comes up there is a slow, creeping pace before the monster, psycho, evil spirit pops out.

    Try Richard Laymon he's not exactly quick paced, but he's sparse and interesting.
    But if you don't like to read horror. Maybe you should switch to more thriller styles - James
    Patterson , or stuff like the Bourne Identity which are quicker paced.
     
  13. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I'll check out one of Richard's books, but how can I describe the fear as a surprise without having it just jump out?
     
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I'd forgotten about the Ludlum books! They're very good at keeping a quick pace, not boring you with too much extraneous stuff, and rocketing you through them. Bob was a great writer for that genre, my only regret it never getting to meet him or Bradbury.
     
  15. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I met Ray Bradbury like three years ago. I shook his hand and he autographed two of his published books, which I brought from Boarders.
     
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Another one who's great at thrillers and keeps you wanting to read is Lee Child. Every time I get one of his books, I can't set it down until it's done...even if it's 4am...
     
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I am more into supernatural or science fiction horror genres. Thrillers are okay, but I believe strange deadly unexplainable events are the most strangest.
     
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    captain kate Active Member

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    like the Bermuda Triangle and Philadelphia Experiment ;)
     
  19. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Perhaps, stuff like the Twilight Zone and X-Files.

    I also don't like slasher flicks.I am not into psychopathic serial killers unless they are supernatural killers, like Freddy Krueger.
     
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    captain kate Active Member

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    X-files and Twiight Zone, The Philadelphia Experiment/Project Rainbow, and Bermuda Triangle all make one big quartet of strange happenings. Supposedly Project Rainbow TRANSPORTED a destroyer from Philly to DC and back and then into hyperspace, only to open a hole over Montuak on Long Island...weird stories there. Enough to keep one busy for hours :)
     
  21. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Which scene in a movie most made you jump out of your seat - for me it was this stupid moment in Jaws 3? I think I was so tense
    waiting for the shark to appear that when this little fish bumped into a divers mask - he jumped and I jumped!

    I don't know if there's any tricks or techniques - but maybe it's just buiding up the tension and filling it with
    false scares - like say your character is trapped in house with an evil ghost, and he's trying to get to the basement
    to switch the breaker, turning on the lights, expelling the ghost. Every creak, every corner turn has him on edge.
    He gets spooked by his own reflection in the mirror, relaxes, you're readers are on edge -
    the ghost is due to pop out any moment now. But you give him another fake scare - he spots a
    dress dummy in his wifes sowing room with a curtain billowing around it. By now your reader is waiting but
    off guard - expecting the action won't happen until your character reaches the basement. He turns
    a corner - again nothing - but then - the ghost yanks him up, ankle over ears, and throws him down the stairs.
     
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    where can i purchase pen and shoes?

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    What also scares me is knowing that there is something in a room with the character, and the character doesn't know about it. I never know when the thing will suddenly attack the character. The movie I saw that has a sight like that was Paranormal Activity. In that movie, you never know what will happen next.
     

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