A Horror Fan’s (Kind-of) Guide to Horror Writing – Louse Style

We’re all excited for Halloween! Photo by Sabina Music Rich on Unsplash

G’day!

Spooktober is in full swing!  Yay!  So, what’s there to do aside from blogging Halloween themed posts and stories?  I’ve been a horror fanatic since the days of borrowing Goosebumps books from the school library, to now.  Anyway, the title of this post is pretty self-explanatory.  Your ordinary Louse is here to provide some suggestions on how to write in the horror genre, from a horror fan’s perspective.  This is for anybody who wants to dip their toes into the icy cold, kelp-ridden waters of creepiness, or for a seasoned horror writer wanting to see things from another person’s perspective.  Without further ado, let’s goooooo!

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Four Years and Counting…

Not looking bad, Bessie. Not looking bad at all. (Source: Twitter)

Well, look who’s back!

Yes, yes, I’m still here, which means TABL is here too (yay smiley face). Anyway, I know that I haven’t been around as such and I keep on saying that I’ll be back, yaddi yaddi ya. Truthfully, I’ll have to say that work has been taking up a lot of my time, being essential and all during this cruddy and uncertain climate.

But enough of that emo crap, we’re here to celebrate TABL’s fourth birthday! Woohoo! As always, I’m grateful for anybody that stumbles across this blog, and glad that I’ve connected with like-minded people that share the same enthusiasm for writing and reading, and sharing their passions even if it isn’t literature-related. Admittedly, I wish I could write more on here like I used to. I just have a lot of blogpost ideas but my computer is… argh! It keeps shitting itself, but I’ll be getting it repaired during my time off work in the next month.

As well as reviews and poetry interpretation, I also want to post more “guides” like the POC one, and rambles about the story writing process. While I’m not a perfect writer or a professional one at that, I’d still like to share my thoughts on character types, tropes, and the like, to maybe have a think about in your own time, or to share your insight (if you want to, of course!) with others.

The four years being on here have been sporadic, just like life itself. At least, here on WordPress, we have a little niche of our own where we can take a break from the stress and unpredictability of life, reading and writing about things we love. We still have each other, and again, thanks for popping in to TABL every now and then. You’re always welcome here, don’t forget about that! Stay tuned, I’ll be with you when I can!

TABL Turns Two!! (Actually Three. My bad)

Hello everyone!

Not much going on here but MY BABY IS TWO( ETA its actually THREE)! Admittedly, I haven’t been writing in here as much as I’d like to, but I’m glad to still be here. As always, I’d like to thank everyone for reading/skimming/lurking/visiting the blog, even if there hasn’t been much content published.

Wow… two three years is a lot of time (duh). I started this blog as something to motivate me to read my set novels for my studies but it completely evolved into something not different, but better. Here, I can share and express what’s on my mind regarding literature, and although I should do this more, see what other bloggers are writing about. WordPress has been a godsend to my life, and having a blog as a writer has its perks.

Since writing is going through a major shift from print to digital, it’s a great advantage for any writer to have a blog. This is because with the skills we learn from having one i.e HTML, SEO, content management systems, possibilities with jobs are endless (take that, naysayers that think Arts is a rubbish degree!). Plus, aside from journaling and working on manuscripts or articles, a blog is one more medium to exercise writing.

Anyway, I’m gonna celebrate with a glass (or two, or five) of some cheap Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve got a night shift on tomorrow, so I’ll be just right getting on the sauce tonight (winky face emoji). But for now, ciao!

Can We Really Avoid Clichés Though?

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Nawwmygod this image has nothing to do with this blog post but look how cute they are (ignoring the fact that they could shred us to ribbons if we made them angry)

[Edit: I accidentally reverted this post back to a draft, because the editor was being super-glitchy, and I had a bit of a misadventure when I tried the “new editor”, but luckily I’m back to the classic one.  A word of advice, do not switch to the new editor or else your blog will be cursed!]

So, here’s another thing I want to get off my chest.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about this topic because it’s something we all deal with, whether we read or write a story.  We pick up a book, begin reading it, and as we take in the plot, we think, ‘well, I’m sure I’ve read this before’.  Sometimes, if we’re sassy enough, we roll our eyes.  We have times where we have an idea for a story and begin plotting.  Then, halfway through development, we go, ‘aw shucks, this isn’t original at all!’.  For instance, I’m planning on writing a romance novel (something that isn’t mindf%$#ery for once), and while the love interest isn’t a sexy, chiselled, 6-packed bajillionaire, he still has inner demons, and the trials that my lovebird protagonists go through aren’t exactly original either (no spoilers!).  So this was one trigger to my exploration of clichés in literature.
 
So this brings me to the question: can we really avoid clichés and certain tropes in literary works?  As avid literature fans, we all desire a breath of fresh air when we search for new books to read.  I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers and the like, but then, there comes a point where I can predict a plot twist or pinpoint the true villain of the story (usually a wolf in sheep’s skin).  Are these devices repetitive?  Most certainly.  Are they boring?  Not necessarily.
 
Sometimes I feel that clichés and tropes can be inevitable at times.  It’s almost as if some genres are born to have particular tropes associated with them.  I suppose clichés work, and they sell.  Not only are the tropes and cliches within the story repetitive, so are the book covers!  In romance, there’s a woman in the arms of a very sexy (and often shirtless) man, and in crime and thrillers, there is either a dark corridor/alley or a silhouette of a person, and in sci-fi, there’s usually alien landscapes with a celestial body of some sort in the background (often a photoshopped Saturn).  Perhaps the reason that book covers are designed in a specific way so that they can appeal to their intended audience.  Though to me, I think that most typical romance covers look tacky, but that’s my own personal taste (minimalist covers are my favourites).  But at least they scream ‘ROMANCE’ to the fans of romantic stories.  Vice versa for other genres.
 
The main argument that I want to put forth is that no, we can’t always avoid certain clichés and tropes when we’re reading or writing particular genres of literature.  Despite critiquing the tropes/clichés, I’m also guilty of using some of them myself (ergo, I’m a HYPOCRITE).  I suppose the reason that we probably get a little too nit-picky with either our own or someone else’s works is because we want ORIGINALITY™.  But, no story is truly original, do you agree?  Stories do follow a certain type of formula to some extent, and we’re kind of pushing pressure on ourselves to try and write something that’s completely out of left field.
 
But I also want to say it won’t hurt to use them, and people are going to be peeved at clichés and stereotypes whether we like it or not, and we can’t impress everyone.  Yeah, they can be annoying and overused, but perhaps they could work if they are written well.  Additionally, is it really that fair to compare books to others in the same genre?
 
I’d like to hear your thoughts, and ask:
  • What do you think of the common clichés and tropes present in literature?  You can talk about genre-specific ones too.
  • What’s your favourite cliché or trope?  What is your least?
  • Have you ever added your own twist to an overused cliché/trope?  How did you do this?
  • Or, has an author whose works you’ve read twisted them around?
Anyway, now’s the time to say toodles, and have a nice day, wonderful reader!
 
new siggie again

Fanfiction

Hey stranger!

I know that I said that updates on this blog would be less frequent, but today I’ve got a bit of free time and I’d like to share with you some thoughts that popped into my head.

Firstly, so it turns out, I don’t really follow plans.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to follow a schedule or anything like that anymore.  I’m just going to write whenever I want to, and I’ll write whatever I want, and I’ll be happier that way (and that’s the way blogging should be).  But don’t worry though, the T.S. 1888 series will be happening, and more reviews and writing tips are coming up sometime this year.

Anyway, without further diverging, I’d like to talk about fanfiction.  We’ve all encountered it if we were on the internet; they were my guilty pleasures when I was in high school.  It can be literally about anything from The X-Files to Naruto, or any media we consume.  The main characteristic of fanfiction is that the franchise, the characters, and most of the things involved in the fanfiction are not entirely our own.  There are people out there that abhor fanfiction because of this; apparently, they’re not being original, and that fanfiction writers are just lazy and can’t be arsed to make up their own universes and characters.

I can see where they’re coming from.  We often like to show our creativity through the things we make, be it a painting, drawing, a story, poem, or whatever, and if for instance, I painted a picture that is reminiscent of Van Gogh’s art style, you may think, ‘you’re just copying him.  Try and find your own style’.

But here’s where I’ll disagree with this stance.  While the universe, characters, the franchise of the media is not our own, the idea of the fanfiction is.  We can view fanfiction as some sort of wish fulfilment for ourselves; I may want to write a fanfiction about two characters that I want to become a couple (but never will because their original writers CAN’T SEE THE FACT THAT THEY BELONG TOGETHER).  Or, there may be an event that you wished could occur differently or have a different outcome.  The idea is yours.  I know the Fifty Shades franchise gets criticism for starting out as a fanfiction series (I’ve shown distaste for this series on my About page, but I’ve since edited that out, and yeah, my opinions about these books haven’t changed).  But, was it Stephenie Meyer’s idea to have Edward and Bella have some sort of f*cked up, Dom/sub relationship?  Answer: no.  It was E.L. James’ idea (or should I say, Snowqueens Icedragon).

You know what else is original?  Characters you wrote yourself.  Granted, original characters are often frowned upon; there are some dreaded Mary Sues and Gary Stus that make me cringe even to this day.  However, there have been some well-written original characters that blend perfectly with the world of the book/show/movie/anime etc.

There are also what are called Alternative Universes (I like these ones a lot), in which the characters well… they’re in an alternative universe; it speaks for itself.  They may be in an alternative time frame (21st-century characters are in the 19th century and vice versa).  These are original too!

In other words, my views on fanfiction are quite positive.  I mean, there are reaaaallly bad fanfictions out there, but there are also some really good ones too.  Fanfiction is creative.  It enables a person to use their creativity.  It encourages them to write and read a lot more, just like original stories.  Additionally, it also encourages people to write their own original stories eventually.  In fact, I’ve written a few fanfictions, but never published them.  I wrote a fair amount in high school, but eventually, I broke off and wrote my own original stories.  While there are some people that can create plots and characters at a drop of a hat, some others may need a stepping stone to get to that level of creativity.

Here’s a writing exercise for ya.  Choose a franchise of media you follow.  Choose a minimum of two characters from that franchise.  Let’s say that these characters are travelling from their hometown to a city they’ve never been to before.  Then suddenly, their mode of transportation fails to bring them to the desired place (i.e. the vehicle breaks down or they fall off the carriage and the horses run away), so these characters are left to walk.  What are their interactions and dynamics?  What do they say to one another?  Then, a stranger stops and offers them a ride to wherever they’re going to.  How do these characters react?  What happens next?

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say about the topic.  What do you think of fanfiction?  Have you written one?  Comment below!

I’ll see you when I see you.  Take care and stay creative!

new siggie again