Merry Happy and a Happy Merry to all!
I hope the new year has started off well for everyone. I’m sure there are many a resolution about writing more (or taking more chances with your writing) out there.
In that vein, and in light of this Christmas’s horror movie release Krampus, I want to talk to you about taking chances with your writing and not holding back on your ideas.
All of us are guilty of falling into thinking sink holes. You know what I mean. We’ve read, and grew, up with horror/fantasy/sci-fi stories being a certain way so we think that’s the way they’re supposed to be. As a base for writing that’s not a bad place to start. Just like with anything else, you have to know the rules for something before you can start breaking them.
And that’s exactly what a story like Krampus does: it takes a subject/genre and turns it on its head. Let me ask you a question: Is Krampus a Christmas movie you can show at Halloween, or is it a Halloween movie you can show at Christmas? The answer is: yes. This is exactly the same question I have fun answering when it comes to one of my favorite movies: The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s a question I pondered when I read Al Sarrantonio’s stories Wish and Snow both take place during Christmas but both are clearly horror stories.
One of the questions you might be asking yourself right now is: Why a Christmas horror story? And I shall counter this question with a question of my own: Why not? At the core of horror is the desire to frighten, to shake a person’s view of the world, to take the ordinary and make it feel out of place, or make a person feel out of place in the ordinary. What makes movies like Krampus and The Nightmare Before Christmas scary/creepy is that Christmas is supposed to be a safe time. It’s a time for kids to learn faith, a time when your fellow people are encouraged to be caring and selfless. This makes the introduction of monsters into the mix even more frightening, it’s the juxtaposition of beauty and peace next to death and destruction that makes the destruction so much more meaningful. Look at the toys in The Nightmare Before Christmas: they are creepy as all get out! I mean, I love them, but they are creepy as hell. Their black and white design (with touches of red blood) don’t really stand out in Halloween Town, but when put next to the Christmas decorations a few scenes later, suddenly they are hideous. On the other side of the coin, everything in Christmas Town looks so bright in comparison to Jack.
The point of me bringing all this up? Don’t put limitations on your stories. If you’ve got an idea for a horror story that takes place at Christmas, do it. If you’ve got an idea for a steampunk fairytale, do it. (There’s actually a popular teen series that does just that.) There are no limits to stories. That’s why I love them. And I’m sure that’s why you love them too.
Go forth! Write without limits!
And as always: Be yourself, be well. Write yourself, write well.