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”