Breaking Down the Cliché
Suspense & Mystery Moderator
By Ron Brown
it is now a full year away, it is not too early to begin considering Halloween
oriented pieces. In fact, when you
consider response times and publishing delay, starting now could help in getting
a story ready in time for Halloween theme deadlines.
The most important aspect, however, of a Halloween horror story is to
has seen the stories about magical occurrences on the fabled night, and the
doubly powerful evil if there is also a full moon.
The stories where the barrier between this world and next weakens, and
both good and evil spirits visit us, has been done.
It is not a bad story idea, and can still lead to many good narratives,
but originality is at a premium, and starting with a stock plot makes that
difficult. If you doubt this, try
making an amazingly original story about a vampire that falls in love and
struggles with his decision to curse his fair lady with eternal life.
this does not mean that the holiday cannot be used in original ways. The key to good horror fiction is the creation of a sense of
dread and fear. Different writers
use different methods to develop that within the reader, but that is the primary
goal of a horror piece. To avoid a
setting that assists in placing the reader in the proper state of mind would be
makes people think of clichés. When
the reader sees a story set on October 31st, he or she will be awaiting the
appearance of ghosts, spells, demons, etc.
An original story will use those thoughts, but will not satisfy them the
way the reader expects. Another
item needed for the horror story is surprise.
Showing the reader what is expected is not surprising and therefore not
the reader is expecting ghosts, then hint at their existence.
The protagonists in the story can have the same feelings toward Halloween
cliché's as the reader. This will
also make the reader connect with the characters.
They will share the fear and the anticipation.
However, when the evil is revealed, change the direction.
The reader should share the protagonist's surprise and revulsion at
learning the truth.
a traditional werewolf story. The
protagonist has uncovered a series of gruesome murders that have taken place on
full moon nights. He has removed
his own disbelief in the existence of lycanthropes while uncovering the
evidence. In time, the protagonist
has learned what he can about stopping the creature he had assumed was myth.
Then, when the hunt is nearing completion, he discovers that he is
dealing with a normal man who has developed a love of the taste of humans, but
has been using the full moon to disguise his activities.
executed properly, this would be an original interpretation of the traditional
werewolf tale. Similarly, changes
can be made to the Halloween clichés to make the story fresh.
note of caution: the twist must be believable.
Readers will be annoyed if the clues of magic or supernatural entity were
too strong and never explained. This
type of story may take more work to create the believable twist, but the payoff
will be a taut, frightening, original story -- precisely what publishers are