Writing horror is unlike writing in other genres, it has its own challenges, mediums and hacks. Here we will look at the how and why of writing horror, we’ll also make books and films fight each other.
Urban legends, cryptids, monsters, and creepy places from all across the U.S. and beyond! I chat with horror fans who love learning about their local spooks and sharing that knowledge with others, and ask a whole lot of random questions in the process. Then, there’s the inevitable descent into ridiculous conversation and dark humor, because these guests are AWESOME! Every episode will be marked explicit for language (sorry, it’s a habit I have a hard time breaking).
Horns was one of those ones where I saw the film before reading the book.
Is it just me or do you find that if you see the film before reading the book that you enjoy them both on a more equal footing?
I find that if I read the book first then I generally find the films less enjoyable. I have to work hard to get past my own mental image of the characters, locations etc I also find that I miss the bits they cut more as well. But if I watch the film first then I enjoy both the film and books. I’m not sure if this is to do with the fact that watching a film is a much more passive exercise than reading, or if I’m just happier to accept the actors as my mental image of characters, or if the films I watch before reading the books are just great bloody films.
I think this might be the case with Horns.
The film was fantastic, wonderfully acted, wonderfully scored, it really sucked me in and made me want to go read the book.
Naturally, there are still some differences between the two mediums but before I got into those I wanted to give a little bit of thought as to why my mind works the way it does.
Today I wanted to talk to you about three horror films that have taught me writing lessons.
While these are all stellar horror films in their own right, I’m not here to gush about the films themselves (except maybe one), I’m bringing them to your attention to show you how these films are great examples of subversion in horror and how to write certain things really well.
So while none of these films are my personal top horror films(except maybe one) they are all brilliant examples of excellent writing.
Today I am writing to talk to you about monster cliches.
These three cliches can apply to almost any kind of monster, or a protagonist having to circumvent the monster in question. They are sensory cliches, and they pop up in a lot of horror stories.
Now, like with all cliches I can understand why they are used. Like, character cliches which are used to establish character traits quickly these are used as short cuts. But like character cliches which can work well for background or side characters that you don’t want to spend tons of time developing because you’re basically using them to make a point or be cannon fodder, sensory cliches can work well in small doses.
The sensory cliches are a bit different to character cliches though, while they are used as a short cut the same way character cliches are their shortcut is a shortcut to stakes not personality.
Sensory cliches attached to the protagonist will be used as a way to raise stakes and sensory cliches attached to the monster will be used to lower stakes. As they will always be used to establish a weakness for either the protagonist or the monster to exploit.
Do you remember when I used to write to you about cliches? I’d like to do that again, in part because it’s a lot of fun, in part because you seemed to enjoy it (and I crave positive feedback) and in part because I enjoy having a good bitch about things.
Not all cliches are lazy writing, they can actually be bloody useful when used properly (and sparingly), they are a good way to set audience expectations when you don’t have the time or space to dedicate to establishing something.
However, as I said above, this should be used sparingly and in specific circumstances, such as for low screen time side characters who serve a singular purpose and are there and gone again quickly. After all no one wants to spend ages establishing a character when they are only going to do what the creator needs them to then disappear.
Clichés become lazy writing when they are used for main or significant characters, places, plot points etc.
Previously I’ve focused my rants on specific topics, but today I want to cast a wider net, so where previously I did a blog about male characters, female characters etc today I want to touch on three clichés that affect characters as a whole.