Since I was wondering what my readers wanted to know/read, I asked for blog post ideas on my Facebook profile the other day. One of the people who replied asked me how I came up with story ideas, etc, and since I write horror, I assumed they wanted to explored the dark, damp, cold, twisted paths of my brain that come up with all the sick, twisted, carnage I sometimes write.
When I write I try to make the characters as real as possible, and then I sit there and think – once I’ve gotten to know the character – about what would really freak them out, or at least cause the reader to cringe. I consider it an extra bonus if I can make my myself cringe while writing. I did so when I wrote the end of chapter 13 in my Nurse Blood series. Hell, I still cringe, just thinking about it…
To truly write something horrific, you have to be able to tap into that part of yourself that’s willing to see the horrors in life for what they are and where they stem from. What wouldn’t you want someone to do to you or your body while you’re still awake and alive? What is really in the mind of a serial killer? Do they know they’re wrong, or does their thought process make sense to them? What if monsters were real? What would they look like? Would they hunt you down until they caught and killed you? Would you be strong enough to save yourself?
Horror is also a search through the weakened human condition. Once you realize that most fear comes from a weakness we see or perceive in ourselves, that someone else might find out about and capitalize on, you’ve opened up a world of possibilities.
Our bodies – one of the greatest weaknesses we have – are often ripped to shreds or tortured in horror. We, as human beings, fear what we can’t control when it comes to our bodies, whether it’s disease, or someone doing things to us to hurt or damage us. Everyone wants to be, and stay, in good health; the very idea of someone violating or torturing us will send us into a frenzy of panic. Being unable to prevent bad things from happening to us is horrifying. How would you like to be injected with or exposed to a disease that will kill you and there’s nothing that can be done about it? How would you like to be kidnapped, tied down, and tortured for someone’s sick pleasure? The helpless, you just got screwed over and there’s nothing you can do about it feeling is the biggest bitch in the world, and she likes to hunt you down in horror.
There’s also the psychological trappings that can just go off the charts. What’s it like to be inside a crazy person’s head? Is it happy in there? Is it filled with twisted thoughts? Or is it misunderstood and filled with pain? There are so many ways a writer can go with this to make the reader think: What if?
Like… What if the crazy person shows up at your door? What if the crazy person has targeted your children, or someone else in your family? What if they think you’re in love with them?
I just wrote a story entitled, “Bubble Bath of Blood,” where a man who has escaped from a mental hospital is fixated on a woman who doesn’t know he exists. In his mind, they have a real relationship and are in love. The only thing standing in way of them being together – in his mind – is her husband, and he plans to take that obstacle away.
Can you even imagine being in that situation? How would you deal with the out of control chaos focused on destroying your life for the soul purpose of bringing about the happiness that only exists in one person’s mind?
Unfortunately, it happens all too often in real life, and that brings another level of fear into it. There’s a layer of ‘real‘ in the idea that would have you checking to make sure your doors and windows are always locked.
Fear is horror – horror is fear.
You may be wondering at this point if exploring these dark places of one’s mind is a good idea. The truth is…not everyone can do it and still stay sane. Most of us who do, are either strong enough or have a rift in our soul that lets the darkness in every now and again to play. Some do this with alcohol, etc. But it’s not true only with horror. The truth of the matter is that all artists who can make you feel something (even if it’s a bad something) delve deep within themselves; there’s a reason why artists of all varieties are deep and moody. We dance with the demons in our souls that others lock away and hide from.
I hope my rambling has given you some insight into where horror comes from and how I find fear to write about.
Stay sane, or insane. Whatever you’re comfortable with.
©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.