Sometimes the thought of filling in the blanks with what we think can be extremely terrifying…
Have you ever been outside at night in an area that was particularly dark and felt extremely on edge? It wasn’t something you could necessarily articulate into words but you just knew that you weren’t 100% comfortable?
I’m pretty sure we’ve all experienced that feeling. An emotion deep down that seems much more primordial than anything as paltry as simple nervousness. Especially if you were alone at the time and you weren’t sure of what else was out there. My mind has been going in that direction based off a conversation with one of my friends, who is excited for the new Blair Witch movie that just came out. The original was one of his favorite films of all time. Cautiously optimistic, he hopes the new movie captures the same element that made the first one so entirely engrossing to him.
The fear of the unknown. What our eyes don’t see and what our imagination creates to fill in the blanks. The central idea that I want to latch onto for a bit. With over a decade of hindsight and cinematic jadedness, we could watch The Blair Witch Project today and probably scoff at it. How could it be scary with those effects? We’re used to CGI, intricate set design, and large theatrical presentations now. But imagine yourself back alone outside in that dark place that I mentioned towards the beginning and you can see how little you really need to establish an intense feeling of dread and despair in someone.
All of that is interesting to me because I love the idea of bringing that to my writing. I’ve never really written anything that captured fearful and unknown atmosphere that put the reader in a heightened sense of paranoia or defensiveness at the story. My only attempt was in a novella that I started last year and never finished. I just couldn’t figure out how to ‘sell’ the tension the main character was feeling from his family and the surrounding town (there was something out of the ordinary about the whole predicament). So I shelved it for the time being until I could find some type of inspiration to go back with; and although I’m still in that limbo period, things like horror movies or even classics such as H.P. Lovecraft (been revisiting his short stories) help me understand just how powerful ‘less’ is in a story.
It’s no secret that I can be a bit too verbose (something that I’ve said time and time again). But the scariest things in the night aren’t right up in your face. It’s the things out there that you don’t see…but know are somewhere in the dark, watching and waiting; and if I can begin to figure out how to detail that tension, then I can revisit that novella and at least give it my best shot.
Strange thoughts to have after midnight (especially with work in the morning).
Until next time.