WRITING HORROR - PART 1

When writing a Horror story, one must begin with a Monster. The most terrifying of course, are the ones you don’t notice, or refuse to notice. The ones right next to you.

Writing HORROR
Part 1


When writing a Horror story, one must begin with a Monster. The most terrifying of course, are the ones you don’t notice, or refuse to notice. The ones right next to you.

“The most dangerous werewolves are the ones that are hairy on the inside.”
A Company of Wolves


Making a MONSTER

Think, who are the people that walk right up to you every day – and you let them?
• Your neighbors
• Your co-workers
• Your friends
• Your lover
• Your parents
• Your siblings
• Your children

Now imagine if one of them was a man-slaughtering or even man-eating Monster?

In reality, it happens all the time. They’re known as Psychopaths.

Psychopaths cannot be understood in terms of antisocial rearing or development. They are simply morally depraved individuals who represent the "monsters" in our society. They are unstoppable and untreatable predators whose violence is planned, purposeful and emotionless.
-- http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath_2.htm


Not only that, they’re COMMON. The American Psychiatric Association estimate that 1 in about 25-30 people are Psychopaths. Do you know more than 30 people? Check your Friends list. Check your email address book. Check your phone contacts. According to statistics, for every 30 people you know at least 1 is a Psychopath – an actual monster.

How's that for scary?

The Psychopaths’ weakness, however, is that they’re actually pretty easy to spot by their behavior patterns. Here’s a checklist:

20 Traits of a Psychopath

1. Glibness and Superficial Charm
– Smooth-talking, engaging and slick. (They talk, and talk, and talk...without ever really saying anything. They also frequently mix-up their vocabulary.)

2. Grandiose Self-Worth
– Greatly inflated idea of one's abilities and self-esteem, arrogance and a sense of superiority. (Pride is one of the few emotions they can actually feel, even if they've done nothing to earn it.)

3. Needs Stimulation/Prone to Boredom
– An excessive need for new, exciting stimulation and risk-taking. (Attention-seeking even to the point of provoking fights just to keep the focus on themselves.)

4. Pathological Lying
– When moderate: shrewd, crafty, sly and clever; when extreme: deceptive, deceitful, underhanded and unscrupulous. (When caught, they'll lie even more to cover their lies.)

5. Manipulative
– Uses deceit and deception to cheat others for personal gain. (They have only one agenda: themselves.)

6. No Guilt/Remorse
-- no feelings or concern for losses, pain and suffering of others, cold-hearted and unempathic. (Love, Affection, and most importantly, Compassion are things they simply cannot feel -- or respond to.)

7. Emotional Poverty
– Limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness. (They are only capable of feeling 5 emotions: Pride, Hate, Greed, Fear, Amusement.)

8. Lacks Empathy
– A lack of feelings toward others; cold, contemptuous and inconsiderate. (I repeat: Love, Affection, and most importantly, Compassion are things they simply cannot feel -- or respond to.)

9. Parasitic Lifestyle
– Intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others. (They prefer the easy route, and it's much easier to mooch off of other people, or just plain steal, than it is to work for it.)

10. Poor Behavioral Controls
– Expressions of negative feelings, verbal abuse and inappropriate expressions of anger. (Since they can only feel 5 emotions, they can only Respond with those 5 emotions: Pride, Hate, Greed, Fear, Amusement. Anything else is an Act.)

11. Promiscuity
– Brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs and an indiscriminate choice of sexual partners. (They literally don't care who, or what, they sleep with because sex is limited to strictly physical sensation. They can't feel any of the emotions that make sex special, such as Love or Affection -- but they know You do, and will happily use it against you.)

12. No Realistic Long-Term Goals
– Inability or constant failure to develop and accomplish long-term plans. (To make a long-term goal, one must have a passion for that goal. The only emotions they can feel passion with are Pride, Greed, Amusement, Fear, and Hate, which is why they can be unusually persistent if they are angered.)

13. Impulsiveness
– Behaviors lacking reflection or planning and done without considering consequences. (Greed / Amusement / Pride + extremely short attention spans = stupid stunts.)

14. Irresponsible
– Repeated failure to fulfill or honor commitments and obligations. (If they think they can get away with it, they will Try to get away with it.)

15. Fails to Accept Responsibility for Own Behavior
– Denial of responsibility and an attempt to manipulate others through this. (When caught, they will ALWAYS blame someone or something else. They are incapable of feeling bad about their actions because the emotions needed to feel Remorse or Guilt, such as affection or compassion, are Missing. However, Fear they definitely feel, so they will do everything in their power to avoid Punishment.)

16. Many Short-Term Marital Relationships
– Lack of commitment to a long-term relationship. (Love, Affection, and most importantly, Compassion are things they simply cannot feel, so relationships happen out of Greed. In other words, they only form attachments to those they can Use. When they can't be used any more, they leave.)

17. Early Behavior Problems
– A variety of dysfunctional and unacceptable behaviors before age thirteen.

18. Juvenile Delinquency
– Criminal behavioral problems between the ages of 13-18.

19. Revocation of Conditional Release
– Violating probation or other conditional release because of technicalities. (If they think they can get away with it, they will Try to get away with it.)

20. Criminal Versatility
– Diversity of criminal offenses, whether or not the individual has been arrested or convicted. (If one trick stops working they'll happily try another.)

For more detail, read this:
http://www.lovefraud.com/01_whatsaSociopath/key_symptoms_sociopath.html

Know anybody like this? I’m absolutely SURE you do. I do. In fact, I can name two from my own immediate family, one of which was actually diagnosed Sociopathic. (The difference between a Sociopath and a Psychopath? The Sociopath hasn't killed anyone -- yet.)

The real horror comes in when friends, family, and particularly lovers refuse to see the Monster staring them in the face. Why not? Those fascinated by them (their confidence, their physical attractiveness, their smiling sweet-talking charm…) simply will not listen to reason, even when warned by those they say they trust, those who have seen the psychopath in action. This is particularly true with Women ‘in love’ with such monsters.

Why won’t they listen? Because they don’t want to.

The psychopath goes out of their way to make the people they consider their possessions (friends, co-workers, family members, lovers…) their victims feel "special” and most importantly: needed. And they’re good at it.

These Monsters are so good at pretending to be exactly what their victims want them to be, (spouse, lover, best friend, parent...) their victims refuse to believe it even when the evidence is staring them in the face. Even when they have been shown point blank that everything they have been told are lies they still refuse to see the truth – that it’s only a matter of time before the Monster eats them.

They want the illusion that the Monster made for them; “I love you,” “I need you,” “I’m the only one who will ever accept you as you are,” even if they only see that illusion for two short weeks right after the Monster does terrible things to them.

Take a look at Ted Bundy; my friend's mother once went on a double-date with him and claimed he was the nicest person. His mother said he was the "best son any mother could have." Bundy was also apparently quite good-looking, which made him even more dangerous.
-- http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath_2.htm


What exactly do these Monsters do to convince their victims to remain victims? Here’s a list:

Lavish flattery -- They tell them all the things they want to hear.

Impressive-sounding Credentials
-- They use name-dropping, detailed resumes, or other credentials to sound impressive. However, when investigated, their information is exaggerated and/or completely false.

Trustworthy on the surface
-- They pay back initial loans, or favors, or appear to be unselfishly helping others. Once they are believed they drop everything. “Loan? What loan?”

Lies that sound like the Truth
-- When small inconsistencies or unexplained loose ends come up in their stories, they glibly provide explanations that sound plausible, often using a thick coating of meaningless chit-chat to distract their listener away from the their initial question.

Intense eye contact
-- A "predatory stare"—unblinking, fixated, and emotionless that’s often mistaken for a sign of empathy, or rapt attention. It’s not. It’s an intimidation technique.

Loving Isolation
-- They slowly and subtly separate their victims from those who may question their plans. "No one loves; knows you; trusts you, better than I do."
-- http://www.lovefraud.com/02_howToSpotAcon/spot_con_artist.html


So…! Now you know how your monster thinks, what they do, how they do it, and how easily they can fool the people closest to them. You also have their potential victims; those who refuse to see the evidence right in front of their eyes, “He’s never done anything to me?” or worse, those helping them hide their deeds. “I walked into a door. I tripped on the stairs.” "He didn't mean it, it was an accident."

All you need now is a Costume to wrap them in, such as:
• Vampire
• Werewolf
• Sorcerer
• Demon
• Witch
• Mad Scientist
• Ancient god whose seal was accidentally broken…

All that’s left is to research the mythical monster of your choice. Once you wrap this costume around the psychopathic personality you’ll have a monster worthy of any Horror story you could possible think of. Even better, it’s realistic. After all, there is nothing more frightening than Reality.

Okay, now that you have a Monster, what’s next?
-- A Place for terrible deeds to happen, some Terrible Deeds, a Hero, and a Story.


Continued in Part Two!

DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.

Posts

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Max McGee
My name is Legion: for we are many.
8247
Psychologically speaking, this article is fairly inaccurate. I'm almost entirely sure that those traits you listed are the identifying features of a sociopath, not a psychopath.

As for the article as a whole, it's all rather...obvious? Formulaic? Not sure what's the best word to use.

It's not completely without merit/useful stuff, however.
author=Max McGee
Psychologically speaking, this article is fairly inaccurate. I'm almost entirely sure that those traits you listed are the identifying features of a sociopath, not a psychopath.
Sociopaths & Psychopaths have identical traits. Go back and read Hare. One is merely more civilized than the other. If you doubt me, check the links included in the article. That's why they're there. :)

author=Max McGee
As for the article as a whole, it's all rather...obvious?
Only to those actually familiar with the genre.

author=Max McGee
...Formulaic? Not sure what's the best word to use.
It's not what you have, (a plot formula,) it's what you DO with it that makes it creative. :)

author=Max McGee
It's not completely without merit/useful stuff, however.
I'm glad you found at least some of it useful.
Honestly, while I feel like the article provides some interesting information, even if it's not that psychologically accurate, it's not all that useful when it comes to helping people write or understand horror. It covers a very specific subject that, while potentially unsettling if written well, doesn't do anything to inform people how to write their own horror stories. You would need to cover the themes, atmosphere and psychology of the people reading said stories to really do so, I feel. It's a rather complicated genre, and one that isn't necessarily defined by the presence of "monsters", supernatural or otherwise.

I dunno, just kind of going off of impressions, though. Sorry if that all comes off as a bit harsh. ^^;
author=ganonfrog
Honestly, while I feel like the article provides some interesting information, ... it's not all that useful when it comes to helping people write or understand horror. ...You would need to cover the themes, atmosphere and psychology of the people reading said stories to really do so, I feel.

I dunno, just kind of going off of impressions, though. Sorry if that all comes off as a bit harsh. ^^;


It's fine. My feelings aren't hurt that easily. LOL!
-- I agree, to truly do this subject justice, I would have to go far more in-depth on theme and atmosphere. I have that information, however I am not about to post it. Mainly because I'm too selfish to post everything I've learned about writing this genre, (gotta keep some secrets for myself,) but also because that would make the posts ungodly long. (This one is already ungodly long. I had to cut it in half to post it!) If I'm going to write a tutorial that's that long, I'm gonna publish it as a How-To book and make people Pay for it, not give it all away for free. LOL!

As for the "psychology of the people reading said stories," that's something the individual author needs to learn directly from their readers (aka: Fan Letters) because no two authors' stories are the same. Every author is different. They think different therefore they write different, and the point to their stories are individual to that author. This means that the readers of one author are going to be at least a little different from another author's -- even if they write in the same genre. Therefore the psychology of said readers is going to be individual to the author too.

I can tell you point blank that my readers are very different. LOL! Mainly because my work has a lot of smut in it, but lets not go there. :)
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