Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Birth of a Psycho defines psychosis as a mental disorder characterized by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations that indicate impaired contact with reality; any severe form of mental disorder, as schizophrenia or paranoia.
It defines dementia as deterioration of intellectual faculties, such as memory, concentration, and judgment, resulting from an organic disease or a disorder of the brain. It is sometimes accompanied by emotional disturbance and personality changes; madness; insanity.

I find psychotic characters fascinating to write about because almost always, horrendous circumstances tend to push innocent children into becoming monsters. The notion that personal experiences shape who we are brings to light the possibility of psychotic individuals who pose a real danger to society. Weather through witnessing unspeakable acts or experiencing harsh physical or emotional distress, at the core of all evil is a trigger mechanism which propels forward an evolution of psychos hell-bent on fulfilling an urgent need deep within their dark hearts.
Hence, through the presentation of familiar settings a writer may utilize tools which show a young ordinary character experience vicious or malicious acts therefore changing him into everyone’s worst nightmare. In the micro fiction piece, The Bone Collector, written by W.D. Wilcox, a hard-nosed youngster becomes fascinated with the inner workings of animals. His hobby of performing outrageous surgical skinning of innocent strays; leads him to discover other uses for his rare talent. The revelation of physical and emotional abuse by his uncle along with insightful clues to his relationship with the story’s narrator, his best and only friend, gives real plausibility to the creation of something monstrous among us, something yet undetected by the larger population.
Wilcox’s engaging narrative and mastery of imagery makes him one of my favorite authors at His ability to make ordinary events and twist them into frightening action will raise anyone’s blood pressure and leave the connoisseur of horror with a smile.
Here’s a small sampling of “The Bone Collector:”
Harley held a black garbage bag. I knew what was in it, and the thought made my stomach churn again. “Geez, Harley, you scared the hell out of me.” He grabbed hold of the front of my shirt, stuck his face close to mine; I could see the sweat beading off his scalp and running down his face in rivulets, leaving clean, clear tracks across his dirty fat cheeks.

“Follow me, sissy, we’ve got some unfinished business to take care of.”

“Sure, Harley, sure.” I was trapped again. Harley knew I’d do anything he said just to keep from getting clobbered, or worse. He was a bad kid, real bad, and in his sick desire to collect bones, I was his number one helper.

Harley kept all kinds of bones: birds, rats, squirrels, a cat, and now a dog. I reluctantly followed him to his house, an old run-down shack he lived in with his uncle -- Uncle Jack, he called him. Harley said his uncle drank all the time and then would beat him for no real reason. Once he even told me his uncle did some other stuff to him too -- real bad stuff. I guess Harley was really screwed up, but I don’t think anybody knew how bad it was except me. I made the mistake of feeling sorry for him. He saw that as a weakness in me and took advantage of it. I became his flunky -- his whipping boy -- his only friend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Case of Mistaken Identity

In life, not everything is as it seems but some people prefer to ignore reality so much that they create a bogus world. I often wonder how many times I've witnessed a scene where people behave as society expects, creating the illusion of normalcy. Yet, if I take for granted what I see, I'd never know there was anything askew.

The same could be said about writing horror. When creating a scene, it's best not only
to analyze the action but rather infuse malice to ordinary events. The objective should be to turn an innocent situation into someone's worst nightmare. By placing characters into plausible scenarios that are common to everyday life, a connection can be made with the reader, igniting the mechanism all horror writers hope to invoke--fear.

Here's an example:

Little Tommy Dunn scoops sand and gingerly places it on top of more grain. Droplets of sweat cascade off his long, curly hair landing on what he considers, his masterpiece. He packs in the sand with great care, biting his tongue, wrinkling his nose. A salty breeze mixes with a familiar lavender scent. He knows his mother is near.

"Tommy, you missed a spot."

The little first grader looks down and sees his classmate's big toe sticking out of the temporary makeshift grave.

"I told you to leave it alone. I drowned the little bully in the water so it'll look like an accident. They're supposed to find him anyway."

Little Tommy nods and smiles knowing that tomorrow school will be a more peaceful place.

While it's fun to make the ordinary horrific, it is even better when you apply the technique to a character. In my flash piece, "Mistaken Identity," I take a reader on a fantastic journey when the main character chases a familiar foe through an everyday urban setting.

Here's an excerpt:

The first time I saw the stranger, a bomb exploded at Times Square. I watched amazed as police officers rushed by unaware of the monster in our midst, but I knew what he was. He looked like them. You know the type. They hide their heads and their faces remain unshaven. I figured if I caught this fool, the FBI would have to let me back in.

I followed him back into the subway. His movements deliberate, his eyes cold and calculating. For a man of average height and portly build, he moved with uncanny stealth. I had to utilize my skills as a hunter not to lose him again because he had a knack for disappearing in a blink of an eye.

So the next time writer's block occurs, go outside, experience life and look at the ordinary with malice. You just may witness a wonderfully terrible case of mistaken identity.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mystical Attractions

Have you ever found yourself asking, "What was that?" A shadow or some play of lighting appearing out of nowhere, moving strangely. If you were with someone, perhaps the other person witnessed the same event, but nine times out of ten, the experience is a lonely one. Expect of course, the mystical shadow that you swear is watching you.

The reality of death has given birth to life after death. Cynics argue against such possibilities yet are at a lost for explaining appearances of ghosts or similar phenomena.

Take this eye witness account: I was driving down the highway late at night in a secluded section surrounded by trees, no lights posted anywhere. My high beams picked up a teenage boy riding a bike, heading straight for me. I didn't have time to react so I braced myself for the inevitable contact. It never came. What I thought was a kid on a bike turned out to be a transparent ghost. My car drove straight through. No physical contact was made, no one reporting an accident the next day, nor did my car have a mark on it.

The man did not sleep that night, worried the authorities would be knocking on his door. He tried to talk himself into believing he must have been sleeping, but he recalled enough details about the encounter consistent with an accident of that type. His slow reaction time due to disbelief and a strange opaqueness surrounding the object in question left him wondering about his mental state. He went from surprise, disbelief, shock, and eventually rationalization.

While the aforementioned encounter is pretty typical for those experiencing contact with mystical origins, it's quite spectacular when the living interact with the dead. I wrote a story based on a legend that spans centuries from numerous countries. Its underlying theme deals with obsession when the main character, Lisa, goes through extraordinary lengths to experience her first college dance. Her partner demonstrates a different kind of obsession. Mystical Attractions aside, The Dance
features unfinished business between a mother and her daughter.

Supernatural horror involves many different aspects of a fear that instead of its victims running away from predators or unusual foes, they become willing participants in macabre acts. Encounters connected to the mysterious realm of an afterlife intrigue many and opens the genre to very creative works.

Have you ever had an encounter with a ghost?- Tell me about it.