How to Put the “Creep” into Your Stories
No, we’re not talking just the person kind but really, what goes on behind the scenes,
when you dig down and bring that crusty darkness into the spotlight to blind the reader momentarily to anything but panic. The girls at YAFF and others who’ve read my stories tell me I have a knack for this type of story. So I’m thinking of doing several of these posts to zero in on everything that can go bump in the night.
Case One: The Creature. Love, love, love them! They open up your fiction to sooo many possibilities! When I want to bring one on board, I often look at the classics. What scares people, what doesn’t. You’ve got your vampires. Tried and true. We’re talking the blood-sucking, violent, baring down on your neck kind. The most famous, of course, being Dracula. Try taking that guy home to your mother. Lol.
There’s Frankenstein. Also a meaty example of violence, downright creepiness, (hey, he gets his skin and bones from the grave, no less.) and enough fear to slice through a cadaver. Personally, though, I’ve also considered him to be a tragic figure. Misunderstood. Hated by those he comes across because of his appearance, towering presence, brute strength. Also not one you want to follow you to your doorstep.
The werewolf. Woah and behold the mighty beast loosed on poor innocents(as well as those not so sympathetic too). The Wolfman haunted our walks through the woods, those moonlight nights. No getting around the scare here. To be devoured by him or her might be the worst creature to face. Although, to be sure, we found them to be our natural protector against the blood-sucking fiends that prowled the lands. It was just when he turned his focus on us, that we wanted to be anywhere but facing that snout.
The Mummy. Oooh, to see something crawl out of a tomb, wrapped with bandages, howling like the mad was likely to drive mortals insane themselves. The curse of the pharaohs. The lust for gold. Deadly combinations. And such great material to draw from. He was likely to show up anywhere, uninvited, in search of some lost relic or to crush the life from some treasure hunter.
I could go on and on about other creatures that haunt movieland and the bookshelf but I wanted to get the basics you can draw from down. There are of course, many more out there to keep you awake at night or to make you crawl under your covers. What we’re looking at our legends that have been introduced over the years and that you can reshape on the keys of your computer, typewriter, etc. into a new terror.
Take the Werewolf, for example. What frightens us most about him? Those teeth? The claws? His doggy breath? Study him. Learn from him. Decide what attributes he can bring to your monster. All right. We’ll pick his time of appearance, the change that comes over him(not necessarily physical), and deadly bite. Now, search your mind for another that brings the goosebumps forth. It can be another creature listed, an animal, or even a type of human. For our purposes, and since the human/wolf combination is as much a part of tradition as the creature itself, we’re going to go with another entity.
Not one listed above, but one that is near and dreaded by the Christian heart. The demon. What attributes don’t scare us about them? The evilness that exudes from those such as Pinhead, The First Power, and even The Exorcist abounds. So, what if a person wakes up after a night on the town and finds themselves with teeth marks on his arm? Wouldn’t he dress himself so that no one notices? Say he’s an executive, on the go, and doesn’t have the time or inclination to go to the doctor and check it out. Well, the bite area expands, begins to pulse. He can feel the pressure building and goes home ill from his job.
He picks up the phone, anxious to speak to a professional now, but finds himself paranoid as to what will happen to him. The receiver drops from his hand as night builds outside his window. His ex is bringing their daughter over. He only gets to see her on the weekends. When they arrive, he hides what has happened, avoiding any conversation that might give his possession away. This is the norm between the two, so no suspicions are raised. The clock ticks. He is terrified to see something else in the mirror when he looks. Yet he is still, entirely human looking. It is the heat of the wound, the throb of it as it rushes through his body that occupies his thoughts. The need to destroy something has asserted itself in him and not just anything, but an innocent life.
His daughter turns the handle to his room. She wants to see why Daddy doesn’t want to play. Two sides to him war against what will happen when the door opens. Which will win? That, dear reader, is where your muse takes over.