Anachronistic Techniques (Jumpscares) in Horror Period Pieces: Please Stop

Helen Mirren, my queen, playing Sarah Winchester, an intriguing and misunderstood woman.

Hi bats, ghouls, and nonbinary spirits! I hope you’re doing well. Okay, let’s talk about horror movies, particularly ones that take place earlier in the twentieth century or around the turn of the century. This bit of a rant was inspired when a fellow horror fan I know and respect says she doesn’t enjoy Gothic horror films. As someone whose favorite horror genre is Gothic, I was curious why, and she went on to say she didn’t like Woman in Black, but she liked Crimson Peak and The Others. Having seen all these films, I started to see the pattern, and it reminded me of what I disliked in Annabelle: Creation (which isn’t Gothic, but it has a similar issue I’ll address), and what seems to be an issue in Winchester, though, full disclosure, I am going by reviews, not my own viewing experience.

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Writing Expectations and Impostor Syndrome

writing bat
Writing bat during a funk

Hi, spooky ones! I hope you’re doing well, and that if you’re not, you find some kindness today.

I don’t know about you, but I put a lot of expectations on myself when it comes to writing. On one hand, if you want to do this professionally, I understand the sentiment that it’s important to regard writing like you would any other task with a contract or deadline attached; you wouldn’t go up to your boss and say, “Restocking the paperclips? Sorry boss, I’ve been browsing bird and writing memes on Facebook and Twitter to avoid doing it.” At the same time, while I don’t believe you should wait when the stars align to write because writing can be work, I personally feel like if I cannot give a story 100% of my regard, if I’m not passionate or invested, how can I expect readers to be?

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New Adult: A Book Category We Desperately Need

Hi there, spooky ones!

In the book world, genres and categories are different. Genre labels media under a certain style or form. The composition of a political satire differs from a demon possession story–unless the story has both politicians and demons, but I repeat myself. Anyway, book categories tell you the intended audiences. There have typically been these: Children’s, Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA), and Adult. YA is not a genre, but a category to tell you the intended audience. A YA book, like an Adult book, can be fantasy, romance, horror, etc.

Recently, though, there has been a new category for those around 18-30, though leaning more toward 18-24: New Adult (NA). This label has some criticism attached to it. Many professionals consider it a marketing ploy, and many readers and writers complain that the genre mostly consists of romance and erotica. I’m not a fan of the dismissive sentiments toward romance and erotica. These are valid genres, and it’s perfectly valid to enjoy these genres. There’s no need for feeling guilty for liking certain genres.

The issue isn’t that most NA works or romance, erotica, or erotic romance. It’s the haughty attitudes that dismiss readers and writers of the genre as “just wanting YA with more sex.” This perception has bled into the idea of what NA is as a whole, and I’ll reiterate that there’s nothing wrong with NA works that resemble YA and have more sex. However, this description has made many authors, readers, and professionals wary toward the genre, and I’m here to say why NA is an important category that should be diversified and rebranded, not because what exists now in the genre is shameful, but because it is only a part of the New Adult experiences. Not only that, but there’s room for all the genres prevalent in every single other age category.

Some might say, “Why don’t you just keep these college-age stories in the YA category?” Read more “New Adult: A Book Category We Desperately Need”

Character Motivations in Writing: A Case Study of The Hate U Give (Not Horror)

the hate u give book writingHi, spooky ones! While this blog will be mostly horror and fantasy, I think it’s important to take elements from other genre fiction and see how they effectively execute certain elements. Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give is a Young Adult Contemporary novel about a girl, Starr Carter, who witnesses the death of her unarmed childhood friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer.

Warning: This will have spoilers for the book. It will also discuss racism and violence.

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Ambiguity in Writing: A Case Study of The Wailing

the wailing horror movie writingHello, spooky ones!

I recently watched The Wailing, a South Korean horror movie on Netflix directed by Na Hong-jin. It is a gripping movie that warrants a second watch after you’ve completed it. Described as a cross between Se7en and The Exorcist, the story revolves around a bumbling police officer, Jong-goo, who investigates people getting sick from supposedly digesting a supposed mushroom that makes them murder their loved ones while they progressively grow more aggressive and have sores and rashes covering their body. Meanwhile, the residents of Goksung (which means “the wailing”) suspect the illness or curse is caused by a Japanese stranger who arrived in town and allegedly raped a woman who then became sick and began showing up naked in public locations. The situation worsens when the officer’s daughter, Hyo-jin, begins to exhibit a strange personality shift, and the rash appears on her thigh.

Just to be clear, I highly recommend you watch the movie first because I am going to talk about the ending in great detail. Trust me, the runtime looks like a lot, but just when I thought the movie was ending, and there were about thirty minutes left, I was excited. I wanted the film to keep going. Also, I will discuss insinuations about sexual abuse and historical instances of widespread rape through coerced sex work. So, be careful.

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Writing: The Three C’s

Hello, spooky ones!

In my previous post, I spoke about the differences between plot and story. Plot is what happens in the story; story is what your characters want and what impedes them, either externally or internally (typically both). If your character fails to overcome, there will be a consequence, which sets the stakes.

Here, I will give you a tip for how to know your story, and that’s to figure out the three C’s: cannibalism, cats, and chocolate. Just kidding! Character, Conflict, and Consequences. This will also come in handy if you need to summarize your story briefly in, for example, a query letter, since these function as the core of your story.

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Writing: Plot vs. Story

Okay, spooky ones. I’ve noticed when some writers, even those who teach writing, speak about plot or story, they tend to use these terms interchangeably. However, I’m here to tell you something important:

Story and plot are not the same!

“So then, creepy one,” you ask, “what’s the difference?” Here it is, bats and ghouls:

Story: What your characters want, and what gets in their way. What gets in their way and creates the conflict can be an internal or external force, typically both that dovetail at some point.

Plot: What happens in the story. Read more “Writing: Plot vs. Story”