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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm working on something new right now that's 100% horror. I've placed my protagonist in an untenable situation in a horrible (horrible!) location with a dead child...and twice now I've had to stop writing because I've gotten myself too creeped out to comfortably go on.

This is new for me -- usually I'm reveling in the horror aspects, but this one is really getting to me.

Anyone ever freak themselves out while working on a story?
 

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Haha, it must be a sign that the scene you're writing is actually scary, if it's freaking you out. Given that you don't write horror all the time, you're probably just reacting to the scene the same way a reader will.

I've been freaked out a couple of times writing my book, too. Mainly there have been times where I've written something (the first thing that jumps out at me is a scene where a guard shoots an unarmed man for attempting to steal supplies in a totalitarian city) where I've read it back after finishing it and thought "wow, did I really just write about that?"

Don't worry about it and keep writing. Horror writers have to be pretty messed up to scare other people. If you're scaring yourself -- then you must be writing some gruesome stuff!
 

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I don't usually freak myself out, I'm always watching horror or reading horror and have been a life-long fan so most times I can separate myself from what I'm writing. Most of what I write doesn't creep me out but I'm hoping that it does my readers. Maybe I'm not pushing myself deep enough. :)  
The only time I do remember being freaked out was because of my surroundings at the time... I was totally alone, it was night and a really wicked thunderstorm was raging outside. I was in the middle of writing a short story (don't recall which one) and was right at the scariest parts... it did sort of freak me out. I had to stop and check every noise I heard.

A lot of my stories recently have been extensions of nightmares. My writing actually helps me deal with ones that get a little too intense...I put them down on paper (or computer) and flesh them out into stories that makes sense. A few of my dreams involved pigmen walking alongside a garbage truck rolling down my street in the middle of the night. I turned that into a story. Another was a man in a butcher apron using a cleaver in an attic and each time he chopped the cleaver I could hear the blade hitting wood in my dream.... that nightmare was in my head for years until I finally wrote into a story.  So I think what creeps me out in my dreams gets into a story and then it doesn't creep me out as much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think it's getting me because I try to put myself in the protagonist's shoes, and I've put him in a location and situation I would very much not like to be in. I keep imagining if it were ME there. :)
 

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JGrover said:
A lot of my stories recently have been extensions of nightmares. My writing actually helps me deal with ones that get a little too intense...I put them down on paper (or computer) and flesh them out into stories that makes sense. A few of my dreams involved pigmen walking alongside a garbage truck rolling down my street in the middle of the night. I turned that into a story. Another was a man in a butcher apron using a cleaver in an attic and each time he chopped the cleaver I could hear the blade hitting wood in my dream.... that nightmare was in my head for years until I finally wrote into a story. So I think what creeps me out in my dreams gets into a story and then it doesn't creep me out as much.
That would actually lead to some pretty good horror stories, I would imagine. I wish I had nightmares like that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Anotherdreamer: the first [first draft] chapter is on my web site at http://www.fredanderson.org/charnel-house-first-look/, but there's not really any horror in it except the hint at the beginning.

Warning: adult stuff in that excerpt, not for kids.

The part I'm working on has the man in the crawlspace of the house mentioned in the opening, along with a dead kid and his imagination...or something else. :)
 

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I've gave myself a small case of the willies a few weeks ago while writing a scene. Shrugged it off and chugged along.

That night I dreamed the scene exactly as written, jerked awake in my pitch black room and spent the first minute with my eyes open wishing I was dead. Honestly wishing I was dead. Then my cat meowed at me and broke the spell of the dream. I didn't sleep any more that night.
 

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When I was a kid, I wrote about a squad of soldiers that had gotten detached and lost from their platoon. At one point, a few of the squaddies get separated, one of them the radio guy. They go about searching for him, eventually running across his radio equipment which is in a state of disarray. The soldiers are, of course, rather upset, and are standing around the equipment when it suddenly starts clicking. They stare at it, and there come more clicks from the phone, like someone tapping on the receiver on the other end. The radioman's voice comes over the speaker, screaming and frightening the men. One of the soldiers quickly scoops the phone out of its cradle and asks where he's at. The phone starts clicking again, like a wired-receiver dropped and set clattering against a wall and the cord, and suddenly a voice comes on, hissing as it nears the mic, and it stutters with some crackling voice like its vocal chords are made out of paint chips, "P-P-Private W-W-W-Williams is dead." And then the phone goes full-on white noise and shorts out.

The story was a plagiarism of H.P. Lovecraft's brilliant short story "The Statement of Randolph Carter", my kid-self finding ground in writing, but it still creeped me out.

Recently, I did write a story about an old man who has a spider that keeps growing in his backyard bushes. At first, he notices it because it's cannibalizing all the other spiders, aggressively taking over their webs. And it survives through the months, getting larger and larger (eventually coating everything in white webbing filled with dead birds and cats and other things). When a paperboy comes over, the old man invites him to the backyard to show him 'something cool.' The paperboy says he doesn't see anything, and the old man goes, No, it's there, look. And he points and there in the bushes is a basketball-sized spider with spiny black legs, thrashing through the branches, bending them as its body jerks forward and back, bumbling about the thicket with spastic motions.

I don't know why, but that scene really unsettled me.
 

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The only thing that creeps me out is the points where I'm pretty sure that some of my characters are making their own plans without me realising it. >_>
 

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I'd take it as a good sign- if it can evoke a strong emotional reaction from you, then it will likely do so with readers. The question of course, which only you can answer, is what kind of reaction you want to evoke. Sometimes a shock is good, and takes the story to a new trajectory; sometimes, in the wrong place, can turn off a reader. You'd know your story best and need to judge that....have fun. Writing horror is truly fun, because you are leaping into territory usually (thankfull for most of us) so far removed from everyday reality that you can really let your imagination run loose.
 

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Writing "The Sacrifices We Make" was tough for me, as it involves child abduction and abuse. I had to go back and make sure I didn't self-censor, which meant keeping some horrible images. Thankfully it's a short. Not sure I would have finished if it was full-length.
 

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Stephen King once said something to the effect of the reason he writes horror is because all those things freak him out, so I'd say you're in good company.

I don't write horror, but I do think it is a good thing when you're really "feeling" your character that way.


Good luck!
 

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I definitely freak myself out on a regular basis. I think it's a good sign that you're doing it right. It's like writing erotica that doesn't turn you on...kinda misses the purpose.
 

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When I was writing my short story The Night Prowler I had four or five ideas about who or what the unseen prowler might be as I was writing it. It wasn't until I wrote the closing scenes that it became something else altogether, something from my own nightmares and that freaked me out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
CaseyHollingshead said:
The paperboy says he doesn't see anything, and the old man goes, No, it's there, look. And he points and there in the bushes is a basketball-sized spider with spiny black legs, thrashing through the branches, bending them as its body jerks forward and back, bumbling about the thicket with spastic motions.

I don't know why, but that scene really unsettled me.
Little spiders unsettle me, so a big one definitely would. I do have to admit, while reading your description I kept expecting the old man to shove the kid into the web so the spider could feed on him and get even bigger, so we see how my mind works. :)

Victoria Champion said:
I recommend the book Dark Dreamers: Conversations with the Masters of Horror. You will find that even the most prolific bestselling authors freak themselves out
Thanks for that. Have to go add it to my reading list now!
 

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I remember looking over my shoulder a few times when I really got into a scene. Nowadays, when I know I've nailed a scene, that creeped out feeling gets replaced with a big fat grin cause I know people are gonna freak when they read it. Kinda like seeing your dart hit the bullseye. Best of luck on the new book! Enjoy the ride.
 

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I haven't written horror in a while, but I'd say it's pretty evident that horror influences everything I do no matter what the genre. (Horror is the primal story, after all.)

Anyway, I always get the kind of, "Heh, heh, heh" feeling when I write freaky stuff. I feel like a dark god. I'm like, "Oooh. That'll really freak them out."

I will say that scenes that describe fear always fall flat for me. There's this ridiculously long scene in Stephen King's The Stand, where the dude (I forget his name. The "Can You Dig Your Man" guy.) has to walk through a subway tunnel, and he's terrified. But because King describes the terror instead of evoking it, it's actually boring. Reading about a scared person isn't scary. It's funny.

If a scene is scaring you, maybe that's because you're evoking horror. So maybe that's good.

I'm apparently just twisted. :)
 

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Scaring the hell out of yourself is one of the many joys of writing ;D

Seriously, it sounds like you're definitely on the mark. Keep pushing it.

CaseyHollingshead said:
Recently, I did write a story about an old man who has a spider that keeps growing in his backyard bushes. At first, he notices it because it's cannibalizing all the other spiders, aggressively taking over their webs. And it survives through the months, getting larger and larger (eventually coating everything in white webbing filled with dead birds and cats and other things). When a paperboy comes over, the old man invites him to the backyard to show him 'something cool.' The paperboy says he doesn't see anything, and the old man goes, No, it's there, look. And he points and there in the bushes is a basketball-sized spider with spiny black legs, thrashing through the branches, bending them as its body jerks forward and back, bumbling about the thicket with spastic motions.

I don't know why, but that scene really unsettled me.
Oh, you have got to publish that sucker.
 
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