Presentations text content in Horror
Building Suspense, Twist Endings and Unreliable NarratorsSlide2
What are some of the scariest or most disturbing movies/stories that you have experienced?
What made them so disturbing and scary?
What are some common tropes for the horror genre?Slide3
Stephen King: Terror, Horror, and Revulsion
Read the short summary of the terror, horror, and revulsion piece from Stephen King.
What is the difference between the three?Slide4
For each of these clips, answer the following questions:
Did you personally find this clip scary? Why or why not?
Does the clip seem to utilize terror, horror, or revulsion most often? Why do you say that?
How could the trailer be improved?Slide5
There are a lot of ways to build suspense.
Keep these tips and rules in mind when writingSlide6
Put characters that we care about in jeopardy
Your character needs to be sympathetic in some way, shape or form.
1. What your character wants
2. What is keeping your character from it
3. What terrible consequences happen if he doesn’t get it.Slide7
Plain Stakes, Stabbed hard through the breastbone
What is at stake for your character should be plain to see
We must know what can be gained, and what can be lost, for horror to work.
You can be afraid of the unknown, but it works better if we know that the unknown is worth fearing.Slide8
More promises, less action
Suspense builds as danger approaches.
Show that something terrible is about to happen (make your reader a promise)—then postpone the resolution to sustain the suspense.
Suspense is anticipation; action is payoff. You don’t increase suspense by “making things happen,” but by promising that they will. Instead of asking, “What needs to happen?” ask, “What can I promise will go wrong?”Slide9
Keep every promise you make
If you build up so much terror, but the payoff is a let down, your reader will be disappointed.
ex. If you are telling a story about a battalion preparing for a big battle that never happens, and nothing equally exciting happens in its place, you will disappoint your reader. (I’m looking at you, Twilight.)Slide10
Be unpredictable, in a (sort of) predictable way
Readers like to predict what will happen, but they want to be
YET, when they look back at the story (after the reveal) they need to see that the details for the truth were there all along.Slide11
Cut down on the Violence
A murder is not suspense (terror). A threat of murder is.
Often, a story will end right before the most gruesome part of the story begins—it will leave the reader with the fear of what violence will occur.Slide12
Use Dramatic Irony
Allow your reader to know something that your character does not.
You can do this by shifting perspectives, so we can see out of your antagonists’ eyes OR if you are writing in third person, you can show hints of danger that the character does not see.Slide13
Add an element of Hope
This goes hand in hand with Dramatic Irony
Even in the throes of despair, allow your character a glimmer of hope—a chance for them to get what they want (or at least not lose what they have).
This does NOT mean hope needs to win
Saw, The Omen, The ExorcistSlide14
Add an element of Suspicion or Doubt
If every horrible situation was immediately believed by everyone, you lose suspense.
When you allow your characters, and thus your reader, to be
about what is going on, you add tension.
*note: Make sure the doubt is believable—give them a good reason for ignoring the warning signs.
Example: The Omen, Paranormal ActivitySlide15
Build suspense by using Foreshadowing
You can do this by:
Use small details that hint to a larger issue, evil, or truth, about what is to come
Having someone visit the setting earlier in the story
Example: The Lottery—people gathering and picking up stonesSlide16
Start with a Scene that is Relatable
Many of the best horror stories start with something that is completely normal and relatable.
It draws the reader in with the familiar. Then shows how the familiar is actually horrifying.Slide17
Read the story the Landlady
At the end, write:
What larger issue, evil, or truth is revealed at the end?
At what point did you realize it?
What details does the author drop along the way that foreshadow the horrible truth?Slide18
Let’s look at your pictures and see if we can make them sinister. For each picture, think about: What larger issue, evil, or truth could this picture be hiding? How could you drop subtle hints (foreshadowing) to clue your reader in to that larger truth?
While Romance stories must have the uplifting ending, great horror stories end with a sense of unease.
You may have a large climax and resolution where everything seems to be solved, but the very end of the story should trigger a sense of vulnerability in the reader or the audience.Slide20
Horror endings don’t really end
Throughout a horror story, you have a cycle of tension build up and releases (the terror and the horror).
However, the tension often never really gets all the way resolved.
This is not true for many other genresSlide21
Map the Terror and the Horror
We are going to watch an episode of
that certainly falls under the heading of “horror”
As the story progresses, write a brief timeline of crescendos (horror) where the dread peaks and then drops off again.
Notice how the story ends with an uptick (albeit a small one) of tensionSlide22
As in all genres, there are a few story elements, settings, and themes that are common.
Power over death has hideous results
The false perfection
Losing control over your body-ex. Through possession
Abandoned settings (buildings, towns, houses,
Extreme forms of the 7 deadly sins