October 7, 2014

October: Morbid Fixations and Creative Inspirations

For those of us who love horror, October is a wonderful month. It’s the one time of year when our morbid interests tend to be socially acceptable, and we can pretend that the faux body parts and gruesome fiction lying around our houses are part of the festivities.

It’s a time when we re-watch the classics—a few of mine include Psycho, Watcher in the Woods, Misery, and The Woman in Black—or have marathons of cult favorites like the Halloween, Friday the 13th, or Saw franchises.

We curl up in warm sweaters with hot cocoa and re-read favorite books and legends from authors like Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, E.A. Poe, Washington Irving, and H.P. Lovecraft. Or we venture into newly terrifying discoveries.

October, for me, is about reveling in the sinister and macabre and unknown. I adore haunted houses and ghost hunts and costume parties and decorating. Much like my writing, those things provide ways for me to play with ideas. They’re outlets for discovery and questioning in a fun and non-threatening way.

Decorating, for example, is something I look forward to all year. Here’s a glimpse of our house last year:

I’m convinced that it will either make my kids the coolest, bravest kids ever, or it will make them serial killers. I have no idea which.

But even if you’re NOT into horror, if you’re at this website, then you likely have an interest in speculative fiction. And all people who enjoy the speculative arts, I believe, have an edge during this time of year—Steampunk has one of the coolest aesthetics I’ve ever seen, and it inherently wants to reconcile the past with the future. Science Fiction questions life, the universe, and everything that crawls from the darkest corners of our minds and worlds. Fantasy pits good against evil in unconventional ways. All of those are excellent fodder for creativity.

October is also the month before NaNoWriMo, which means that many of us are trying to come up with new concepts or outline ideas in preparation for sprinting toward the 50k word count in November.

So, even if you don’t love October or fall or Halloween, find the aspects that interest you—whether it’s the cooler weather, crisp leaves, bizarre costumes, excited children, hayrides, pumpkins, or migratory patterns of geese—and let them inspire your creativity.

I’d challenge you to write a small piece with as much sensory detail as you can think of. Explain your own fears in a visceral way, or explore a character with phobias you’ve never understood. Focus on the sights, smells, and tastes that are unique to autumn. Empathize with a hibernating bear. Whatever it is, let yourself feel alive through your writing in this unique time of year.

Here are a couple of links with some really cool writing prompts that might get your creative juices flowing:

Fall Writing Prompts or Horror Writing Prompts

What about you? Do you have a favorite horror book or movie? Or is there something new you’re excited to try this year? What are your favorite things about October?

(originally posted here.)

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