Real horror is subtle. It seduces.
One of the finest pieces of horror I’ve encountered is Loren Eiseley’s “The Dance of the Frogs“. I doubt Eiseley wrote this intending it to be horror. If he did, I have to find more horror writing by him (consider “The Fifth Planet“. Not quite horror but damn close). It is brilliant.
Horror done well is subtle. Horror can’t wack you over the head. It has to seduce you. It has to sneak up on you, entrap you. Horror, done well, must take you from comfort and peace to helplessness and inevitability.
Horror done well allows you no sure escape. Questions regarding safety, yes, freedom from worry, no. The original 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie (with the original ending and based on the Jack Finney novel, The Body Snatchers) is an excellent example of horror. Horrific things do not make good horror, horrifying situations make good horror.
Continue reading “Analyzing Loren Eiseley’s “The Dance of the Frogs” as Horror”
They came, they saw, the did nothing else. They’re stage direction.
The last character to define is the one who only comes on stage once, isn’t really acknowledged by any other character and never shows up again. That’s a stage direction character.
Do they show up once and never again?
The children pulled back when Tommy picked up the…”
Most readers who read the above want to know what Tommy picked up. The reason some of you want to know Tommy picked up is because “The children pulled back” and humans, because of the way we’re designed, want to know what’s causing defensive reactions (pulling back is a defensive, flight based reaction).
Continue reading “Characters Part 5 – Stage Direction Characters”
A worthy read for authors regardless of genre
On Writing Science Fiction
is about writing science fiction only as a topic, not as a focus. Somewhere in the book is a money-line about the book teaching writing first, fiction writing second and writing science fiction last.
Quite true and accurate! This book is a gem for anyone who wants to write. Don’t worry about the genre aspect, it’s a great study.
Continue reading “On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back”
Nobody cares who the masked man is if he doesn’t use his gun.
Are they noticed then forgotten?
Does a character not have a name but is noticed by primary or main characters? That’s a minor character. Minor characters show up once or twice in a story but interact with the primary and main characters to reveal something the author wants to reader to know.
Continue reading “Characters Part 4 – Minor Characters”
Do they get a name? Are they uniquely described or identified?
Does a character provide focus but not often? Do other characters in the story know them by name or by some unique attribute or description?
Any character that gets a name or is unique description/identification is at least secondary and perhaps primary.
Any named character becomes important due to human psychology; describe someone as “a waiter” and we’ve described their function, describe someone as “Bobbie the waiter” and we’ve given them an identity.
Continue reading “Characters Part 3 – Secondary Characters”