It's getting dark earlier. The temperature is dropping. Cool autumn winds blow crispy dry leaves in scratching cadence down the streets while dead tree branches tap-tap-tap against an upstairs window. Light a fire and snuggle up. Roast some marshmallows and let's tell spooky stories.
1. Try to be original.
No, this is not an oxymoron in fanfic, or as obvious as it sounds. While Summit may try to market Twilight for dudes by throwing in some extra badassery in the form of fight scenes, in the end this is a mushy love story and the vampires are pansies. (She's using a nicer word than I typically do. But it starts with the same letter. So, yeah.) What this means is that you've got a huge opportunity to branch out of the Twilight mold and yet still have a gold mine to play with in canon. Because while Stephenie Meyer may not have received the memo, vampires are scary. For most people, that penetrating stare and neck-happy habit tend to be terrifying, and not so much dazzlingly sexy. Don't just take the books and twist a scene or two, or copy Stephen King's It and make Alice the satanic clown. (Admit it. You can see it. Nobody should be that perky all the time.) You're trying to write horror, so go to that place inside you, where all your deepest fears exist.... and Let. Them. Out.
2. Create strong, identifiable characters
So take the characters to a new level. Let Edward's anger issues and stalking habits be *gasp* bad. Maybe even...irredeemable. Let Rose's inner bitch be channeled into the psychopathic rage that she unleashed on Royce. Play with Emmett's shrugged off snacking of his own singer, and need I even delve into Jasper's potential? And Alice the penultimate mischievous meddler was in an insane asylum. The possibilities are endless, and that's just playing in AU. Though mess with Carlisle and Esme at your own risk, because making them evil is more foreign than Mr.Phoeny giving bad advice.
3. Study the classic horror novels. And read, read, read everything you can get your hands on.
Um... about that. We kinda hate horror books and movies. I'm a big old chicken shit when it comes to them...to the extent I was positive the Scream killer was coming to eat me in sixth grade, and my sister and I attacked our Dad with frying pans when he unexpectedly came in the back door late one night... So we skipped this step, for the safety of our loved ones. But it's a good idea. Read some Edgar Allen Poe. He kind of defines this genre, and he's more spectacularly awesome than terrifying, and he does it all through his word choice, unpredictability, and symbolism. Say it with me now..syymmmmbbbboooollllissssmmmm, not symbology (If you don't get that, stop reading this, and go watch Boondock Saints. Actually consider that your homework, because the violence is spectacular and it will spawn your creativity.) It is a key element in the genre. The black as death raven, the blinking clocks in Final Destination, the big-boobed blond running upstairs in a teen horror movie... it all give the reader a hint at what's to come. Normally it's death, but hey, feel free to switch it up a bit.
4. Try to pick a subject that scares you, personally.
Consider it cathartic and free therapy. You know the truth will set you free and all that balls. That's really a big lie, but the truth of the matter is that if you're not invested in it, you won't make it scary or have it effect people. Nearly every review I get for my story includes, "OMG GROSS," and I nod my head and think yeah..it really freaking is nasty. Thusly I've written my worst fears; slit throats, fires, eyeballs, the heart organ in general...I'm completely disgusted by it in every way, and therefore the readers are too. It's also basic common sense. Write what you know. Well I'm not a doctor or a mortician, so I don't know much about death, but I know what haunts me and that's what I write. Except for spiders. That shit's nasty.
5. Think about horror ideas in the dark
Now this is actually one I've done... and be warned, your sleep habits will be destroyed in the process. The first month of writing Masque, I woke up every hour on the hour from an ongoing nightmare about the story...and I jotted it all down immediately and put it into the story. Horror plays on our basest nature. The characters in the stories only ever have two options, fight or flight, and sometimes either way they'll still die. This genre brings that out in us, that place in which no matter what happens we know our fate, we know there is no protector to rescue us, and that death is coming for us long before we expected. And that is why you have to think about it in the dark. Let yourself slip into the shadows of the night, where everything is distorted, and anything could be standing behind you, waiting to reach out and do god knows what to you. That's what scares us. The unknown. So let it wrap it's cold foreign tendrils around you and invade your mind. You will be amazed at what possibilities suddenly open up to you...if you survive the process....
6. Take care of the details
For all my abstract ramblings, horror is in the details. It's those little things that you see in your own life and suddenly make you think it could happen to you. It's what takes you out of being told what's happening, and you can feel it instead. In 'Toye" Bella wets herself in fear, and it doesn't just say, "oops I peed." No you feel the steaming urine trickling down her leg coalescing in her shoe and providing the first warmth she's felt in days. It shows the readers how terrified she is, how long she's been in that cage, and how horrifying the events unfolding must be. In The Emperors of Washington by gallantcorkscrews Edward the sociopathic killer smells like rotted milk and baby powder, and yet Bella leaves with him regardless. This shows us not only that is he so bad he's rotten, but also that clearly Bella is just as twisted because she doesn't mind.
7. Make sure your masterpiece has no spelling mistakes or other grammatical failings. (Gross-checker)
Once again this is fairly obvious, and I think we all know by now we need an editor. But, do you have a gross-checker? You know that person who reads your story and judges whether you need to be locked in an asylum for being a complete creeper or if it's just shy of that point, and therefore ok? Or who gives you the heads up on if it's a tummy clencher or if she really threw up reading it? Maybe they tell you're playing with something too taboo. Maybe if you've got a completely fabulous beta like I do, she'll tell you to up the ante. Point is, in this genre in particular, you need an extra set of eyes...after all you never know when the pen you're using might take out one of your own...
Wanna get your spook on? Try these very freaky, yet very different tales on for size. We haven't read all of these, (we told you we were chickens!) but we've only heard good things about them...you know, especially the ones we write... (Please, direct your mocking to fandom_wank...)
The Masque of the Red Death by JeesieChreesie.
Her blood would be mine. As would she. Once she begged, pleaded, demanded, and wept for my bite. And she would. The only question was how many would die first." Vampire AU. Mature audiences only. NO sexual abuse.
Toye by Bratty_Vamp
Vampires like to play with their food. A campy and kitschy horror short-story that lets the men of the Cullen household be the monsters that Edward always claimed they were. Extremely OOC.
The Emperors of Washington by gallantcorkscrews
Edward is a killer. But it can't be explained away by his vampire nature. He's just a sociopathic, human teenager. CAN I MAKE A LOVE STORY OUT OF THIS? ExB.
The Dollhouse by Kambria Rain
We were all going to die. I used to be an optimistic person, but that went out the window as soon as the hot mountain man decided we were going to hunt the hunters. AH. Warning: So far, there are minor character deaths, and Edward's a little scary [complete!]
Short list eh? What? We told you we don’t read scary stories! But if you feel the urge… search for something else to get your pulse-hammering here: Darkward’s Dungeon or The Darkward Contest.
Happy Spooking or Maiming!
The Horror Hoars
Katie (JeesieChreesie) and Kat (Bratty_Vamp)
Brattyvamp is the prolific author of such Twilight fan fiction as Abbracciare il Cantante and her current work, My Escort. Besides the aforementioned horror fic, JessieChreesie is the great mind behind Atlas Shrugged.