Halloween means it’s time to think about scary stuff. Vampires, zombies, super heroes, angels and princesses may all show up at your door. Sometimes fear can actually be fun, if you’re reading a book or watching a movie. In real life? Not so much.
I remember years ago when my mother was watching a scary movie on TV. I happened to be watching the same movie. She phoned me and wouldn’t hang up until the movie was over. All she had to do was change the channel, but she couldn’t do it.
When I first started writing I created a book titled Mysteries of Holt House. I tried to think of what readers might like and came up with a spooky old house (which was transformed into a boarding house), located in the middle of nowhere, and I added secret passages and unexplained events and circumstances. It’s light reading and has a little humor in it. Because of that, I was surprised at some of the comments I received. It turned out there were scenes in the fictional house and in the secret passages that frightened people. Who knew? I had no idea that the book would cause a few people to lock their doors, check the windows, and sit on the edge of their seat. I guess it’s all in the perception, because I don’t think it’s that scary.
Anyone who was around when Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was first released remembers the paralyzing fear that the shower scene caused. To this day there are women who take a bath instead of a shower because of the movie.
All kinds of things scare people. For some it’s a snake, and for others it might be a spider. Things that go bump in the night will make people sit up and take notice because they represent the unknown. I know a woman who won’t read even simple mysteries because they make her so nervous. The subject doesn’t matter, but the unknown does.
In some of my posts I write about dogs. They make great characters – or do they? Remember Stephen King’s Cujo? Dogs make great villains, too. They aren’t all named Lassie and they aren’t all heroes. I’ve had more than one canine set my teeth on edge, and dogs are my pet of choice.
Ugliness, monsters, clowns, the unknown, surprise, graphic violence; these are all things that can frighten a reader. However, the list is a lot longer than these few things. Some fear heights, and an author can set a scene where you feel like you’re right there on top of a thirty story building with someone. Mountain driving, bridges, freeways and deep water are frightening to some. What doesn’t give one reader the heebie jeebies will cause another to lose sleep. How about flying? Plenty of people are terrified of airplanes and flying.
My point is that like riding on a roller coast, fear can be both terrifying and fun at the same time.
This is the day for spooky ghosts and wicked witches. It’s also the day for angels and princesses and picnic tables. Yes, I know someone who once placed a red and white checked table cloth over a cardboard box, attached condiment containers, paper plates and cups, and stuck his head up through the middle of the table – through a serving plate. This is a day to be creative with costumes, and it’s a day when many purposely set out to be frightened.
What scares you?
Until next time, BOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
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