Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Empty House - Writing the Ghost House

To carry on with the week's earlier theme of writing about the iconic "spooky house", here's another bit of evil house description--this time from Algernon Blackwood. The 'empty house' is, a mediocre hulk of a place, a quietly balanced contradiction from roof to floor: the same as every other house, and yet so terribly different ... Waaa ahh ahhh (evil laugh). BTW, the story itself is pretty chilling if you're looking for a good shiver.

from The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood

There was manifestly nothing in the external appearance of this particular house to bear out the tales of the horror that was said to reign within. It was neither lonely nor unkempt. It stood, crowded into a corner of the square, and looked exactly like the houses on either side of it. It had the same number of windows as its neighbors; the same balcony overlooking the gardens; the same white steps leading up to the heavy black front door; and, in the rear, there was the same narrow strip of green, with neat box borders, running up to the wall that divided it from the backs of the adjoining houses. Apparently, too, the number of chimney pots on the roof was the same; the breadth and angle of the eaves; and even the height of the dirty area railings.

And yet this house in the square, that seemed precisely similar to its fifty ugly neighbours, was as a matter of fact entirely different--horribly different.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spooky Houses: Getting it Down on Paper

I love Supernatural stories, and you can’t get far into most Supernatural stories without soon arriving at the front gate, door, path to, etc., the obligatory spooky house. Having tried to write a few tales myself, I can say that these portrait, or snapshot passages that give us the first look at the “house as character” are freaking hard to write—right up there with trying to paint the erotic or sexual in a perfect sentence or two. That said, I thought I would post a few of those more winning passages that I have come across while reading up and down the ghost story spectrum, beginning with one of the best in my humble opinion ….

from the Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

A real departure from the hundreds of spooky house paragraphs that build the house, brick by brick by window and window casement, by paint color, shingle condition, etc., right before your eyes. Plenty of those work well, but I like how this paragraph, aside from being just plain amazing from a language standpoint, uses mood, atmosphere, a little personification, and scant landscaping (its hills) to create an impression, a very foreboding impression, of Hill House.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Laughing Scared Lite

Here's the deal. I have a huge brag to get off my chest, but it has nothing to do with Horror. The best I can do to try and skew it in the right direction is put up this picture of a guy holding a bio-hazard bag of human fat recovered from a crime scene and tell you that within the last four weeks I have lost 20+ pounds while dieting and running my freaking ass off on the local jogging paths. That's t w e n t y. That's 245 lbs. instead of 267. gross.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Death's in the Driver's Seat

Hi, I used to post here on Laughing Scared. Been a while, but I am hoping to get back into the swing of things because of some recent events. A bunch of near near death experiences. What? What is that you're saying? You almost came close to kind of sort of maybe being mortally injured?

See, if I were a superstitious man I might be alarmed because over the past three weeks I have almost been hit twice by cars while jogging or nearly smashed into by other drivers running red lights, or hit by swerving drivers avoiding other drivers who ran stop signs--and that's outside forces at work. At least three times, maybe because I was sleepy or getting a little too into Dreamboat Annie, I zoned out and found myself slamming on the brakes at more than one traffic light. If I were superstitious I might think the Grim Reaper drives a copper colored Hummer, or what looked like a taped together K-car. From someone else's POV, the Grim Reaper maybe looks like me almost running a stop light.

But I haven't been hit yet. That is why I say near near death. But with so many close calls I can't help get the feeling I might be marked.