A Horror Writing Idea Beyond My Reach

21 09 2022

Since I first read the article in 2017, I have been fascinated by YouTube marketing psychotic content to toddlers.

Did you read this article?

Something Is Wrong On The Internet by James Briddle

Or this more recent one from The Guardian?

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/sep/13/unboxing-bad-baby-evil-santa-youtube-swamped-creepy-kids-content

It talks about a bad thing brewing at Google. That bad thing would make a cool story idea.

It has body horror with the increasingly disturbing, dismembered videos. It has the occult via algorithms invoking a primal force. It creates a new mythos, one where Cognition is a destructive force.

I’ll explain how I see it. It is said that capitalism taps into the fundamental human drive toward survival (simplistic, but bear with me). It is said that babies see the world most clearly, without civilizing preconceptions. YouTube is letting these two primal qualities dialogue on a planet-wide scale with the merest filter of cartoons.

What zeitgeist will result? The adult world is already dealing with Identity becoming more fluid. Is some evolutionary force now easing us into swappable heads, swappable body parts, Frozen Elsa with chicken feet, Spiderman with a brain-belly? No matter the algorithm YouTube came up with, they had to fall back to creating “war rooms” to control increasingly disturbing videos.

One perspective would ask: is this content disturbed, or are we learning that post-humanism is a natural impulse? If there is an evolutionary goal, is our goal to surpass the flesh?

A spiritual perspective would remind that ads for “The Exorcist” often accompanied these videos.

My thoughts are half-baked. But there seems the germ of an idea that *by some design*, YouTube is invoking Something lurking beyond Consciousness. This Something is as eternal and fundamental as gravity, and it works to bring humanity back to a primordial precognizance. The results would look pretty damn cool. We would watch it for hours. Lose track of time. Forget to eat.

I want to make it a short story! Dangblastfurgozzlenamchazzlegumit!

Maybe from the perspective one of the content producers. They’d get a printout every morning from their computer, an AI which assembles a script based on scraping the most recent YT search algorithms. They would be puzzled, then amused, then be appalled at the script demands. But bills gotta be paid.

I'm noticing improvements. But there has been a physical cost.




Fungus and Mushroom Monsters Are Peaking, But This Whole Thread Is Pretty Icky

22 08 2022




Just Sent Out Novel Draft To Beta Readers. Here’s What to Ask Them.

30 06 2022

I have a primary irl writers group, an online writers group, and interested friends reviewing my draft. The first concern would be: with som many points of view, wouldn’t I get overwhelmed by detailed critiques? Yes, however! Critiques are like product reviews. You have a look at them, gather their commonalities and adjust based on what lots of people need for the work to be better.

Even people who don’t like my genre can help! Heck, even people who didn’t like the book at all can help.

How? First, for those people who bailed on reading, ask “where in the plot did you lose interest?” Chances are they lost interest where an enthusiastic reader would: at exposition, or dialogue which held no benefit to the story, or at a stylistic darling which jarred the tone. They may bail out if the stakes aren’t clearly described, so like I always say, summarize the stakes before or at the 20% mark of the complete work.

That was for the non-genre readers. For readers already fluent in speculative fiction, what questions can you ask them?

  1. Does this draft remind you of any other existing work? A resemblance to existing books or media may be a good thing, in that you may not realize you wrote “Moby Dick In Space” (did not write that) and people like both Moby Dick and Space. Or it may be bad because It’s Been Done and This Ain’t Fresh. For that reason, if someone tells me one of my drafts reminds them of another work, I seriously consider abandoning the project. I am a snob and this being a snob has made my life difficult. But it forces me to come up with better ideas.
  2. Can you relate to the characters? Not “do you like the characters”, because like actual people, characters exist for their own benefit and on their own merits. Your friends annoy you sometimes, and That Guy can be admirable sometimes. Judge the characters on the clarity of expressiveness and motivations.
  3. Is The Science too easy? Whatever powers warp drives or werewolves needs to be inconvenient in proportion to the benefit.
  4. I aim for three sensory details per page. I forgot to check for that before I sent out the draft.
  5. The Clean Silhouette. Characters need to be easy to imagine. Not stereotypical, because that is LAAAAAAZZYYYY. But if you were to turn off the lights so that you could only see their outline, could you tell one character from another?
  6. The Gut Punch Image/Good Kill. In “The Flesh Sutra”, I had a man birth himself from the tumor in another man’a brain. In “Saints of Flesh”, I’m going after cosmic horror (which I did somewhat satisfying) and body horror (yeah, some good stuff). Both present strong images.

Do any of you have questions you ask your readers?





NOVEL FIRST DRAFT DONE. You Know How I’d Been Spinning Four Subplots?

19 05 2022

I landed all of them. I resolved all of them in the same, one scene.

Hell yes, I rock.

The novel is at approximately 45K words. Second draft polishing to begin tomorrow.

Casualty count: two dead, perhaps to be resurrected in a new reality. One new god, who is a Bubbling Chaos of Flesh and Consciousness in a Silver Bowl. One character reincarnated. Two new supra-powered adepts of the new god, wreaking havoc.

This is Gothic, Flesh, and Cosmic Horror with religious subtexts.

I have started collecting the names of small indie presses. At the time, I’m not bothering with agents until I get a contract.





Famous Writing Advice With My Addendums

21 06 2016

Write what you know. Your life is a great place to start. You have something you are doing that no one else knows about, like a job or location or life challenge. Start there.

Write what you know. Be sure to talk to lots of people so you know more.

Write what you know. So write about monsters you invent, because who’s going to argue?

Monsters shouldn’t glitter unless they kill people with glitter.

Write things that would embarass your mother. This may not work if your mom likes the Kardashians. If your mother has no shame, try for “dismay” or “repulse”.

The best subtext is unintentional. That is, if you write to convey a message, that message will consume everything — characters, plot, and eventually your ability to interest others. Those you wish to persuade will dismiss you for preaching and those who agree with you will think you’re a dilletente and ignore you. Write your story. If you realize, hey, this story is awkward and makes me look nuts, then work with that. Embrace it. There is a market filled with people who are also awkward and nuts.

Remove as much as possible from your story, especially if you’ve seen it before in other stories. That goes double if you are writing a pastiche or a monster that’s been done.

Writing is not theraputic. Speaking with a cleric, health professional, or mature friend is theraputic. Writing can improve you the writer if you write with the idea that you the writer are wrong and have been for many years. That is “cathartic”. You may have a really good story when you’re done, too.

If you wish to inspire with your writing, make sure your conflicts and antogonist are treated with respect.

Everyone disagrees. Even twins disagree. In theory, clones raised in identical circumstances would disagree. Your character has to do impress you and also make you facepalm.

Even locations have character arcs. Game of Thrones wouldn’t have worked in a thriving, newly born empire. If Salem’s Lot had been a vitalized town filling with immigrants or yuppies, Barlow would have been burned before his antique store opened.

 





Regarding the World Fantasy Award Trophy

21 01 2016

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I’ve just worked up the nerve to express something that’s been boiling.

I believed the trophy needed to be changed decades ago. Why?

Four reasons.
1. My reaction on seeing it as a teenager: “This is the goddamn ugliest award.” It is as hideous a piece of ’70’s kitsch that ever graced a flea market discount bin. How stoned was the awards committee when they approved it? Don’t care that Gahan Wilson was the designer. It looks like strangulation sprayed with chrome paint.
2. No one person should be identified with an abstract. “J.C. Campbell Award for Best New Writer of Fantasy”? Sure, that’s specific. No problem. The World Fantasy Award is supposed to reflect All Of Fantasy in the Entire World. What face could possibly mean that to even a majority of people? Tolkien? Even if we put J.R.R. Tolkien’s head on the award, it makes the award too European for the “Entire World” award. The Stoker Award is a spooky tomb-house. The Nebula is a beautiful lucite nebula. The Hugo is a plastic bullet-shaped rocket. Make WFA award a big dragon or sword.
3. Lovecraft had only a marginal effect on fantasy, because he was a horror writer.
4. Look at it. It is the ugliest damn thing I’ve ever seen, much less wanted to win.

Some want to replace Lovecraft with Octavia Butler’s head. Do not do this! How badly will that sculpture be botched? What conversation will will be huffing over fifty years from now due to either Butler’s shortcomings or the change in values?





Links! Horror and Writing Links!

24 07 2015

Five Paranormal Books You Haven’t Read Yet

Classical Monsters You Haven’t Heard Of (Some Are In AD&D, More Are Ready For Your Next Big Masterwork)

Body Horror In Advertising (Lots Of Videos)

Clever and Incisive Reviews Of Classic Horror Novels

 





The Paris Review Has Visions Of Satan.

21 06 2015

And they mention that mini-meme about the “Kid’s Demon Summoning Game ‘Charlie-Charlie'” which some dumbass thought up to try to go viral. Do NOT use the Charlie game in a story or movie. You will be embarrassing yourself.

Now…here’s some psychotic’s visions of Evil.

https://i0.wp.com/www.theparisreview.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/15759249898_def59c81d3_o.jpg?resize=510%2C661





Obscure Monsters From Folklore: This is such a cool article!

28 05 2015

What’s the most obscure folklore creature you know? That Asian vampire floating-head-with-the guts-hanging? The Icelandic Frozen Baby Chest Crusher? Electric Literature has several severals of little known creatures. This is a great website for any writing in any genre.








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