WriterDrome is a monthly ongoing discussion concerning the mechanics and logistics of writing Horror, Speculative, Dark Fantastic, and Noir Fiction. The aim here is to discuss the many dynamics necessary to write, edit and publish these genres in a continuously changing landscape. Remember, opinions mentioned here are just that, opinions. I’m no expert, but I’ve been writing for a long time, and I feel there is a lot I can pass on to my fellow writers. Lively discussion is highly encouraged.
WriterDrome: Beck Returns To Fight Not Just One Vampire, But To Fight 437 Vampires, er…438 Vampires, um 439, ah…a Whole Bunch of Vampires.
More is not always better, unless you’re talking food or cleaning products. Who doesn’t like more cheese on their pizza? But when it comes to Horror Fiction, usually more vampires doesn’t work. Unless your story follows the logic that more vampires equals less blood, then the Vampire Apocalypse isn’t likely to happen in your story. Of course, they may think they can rule the world, which gives them all the more reason to eliminate one another instead of us tasty humans.
I hate using movies as examples, but I’m going to anyway. The Alien franchise.
(I’m talking about the first two movies. It’s not that Alien Resurrection was a bad film, it was just kind of corny, especially the ending, though that film does have one of Ripley’s best comebacks:
Johner: Hey, Ripley. I heard you, like, ran into these things before?
Ripley: That’s right.
Johner: Wow, man. So, like, what did you do?
Ripley: I died. )
The first one scared the Hell out of us in outer space, where no one can hear you scream. The second film returns us to LV-426, which is now a terraforming colony. James Cameron knows it just can’t be about more Aliens, though more Aliens is one of the logical things that had to happen. There were tons of eggs on the planet, and now there are more people, so logically, there has to be more Aliens. It’s inevitable.
Rule #1. If you must have more __________, make sure you try to even the odds. Cameron does this two ways with the Marines, and bringing Ripley back into the mix. Notice I said try to even the odds. So you’ve got a hundred thousand Aliens. Why not bring in half a million Marines? Job done, but boring, and very short, movie. Nobody wants to see that. The Marines come in ready to eliminate the threat, but find themselves overwhelmed and unprepared. Ripley, on the other hand, has faced these buggers before. She’s experienced, and she’s a survivor.
Rule #2. If you must have more__________, make sure you bring something new to the table. Through very careful misdirection, Cameron leads us down corridor after corridor with Ripley, Newt, and Bishop, killing Aliens, trying to escape the self-destruction of LV-426. We are so caught up in their story, their escape, that when he brings something new to the table, it is both unpredictable yet completely logical. All those eggs on LV-426, something had to hatch them, right? Cameron presents us with the Alien Queen, The Bitch, and let’s Ripley show her who the real Bitch is. By simply including a scene with Ripley using the exosuit cargo-loader early on in the film, he sets the stage for the epic battle between the Bitches. Now, you have use your noggin here. What you bring to the table has to be both unpredictable yet logical. If all the sudden, from out of nowhere, Ash from The Evil Dead shows up with his ‘BoomStick’, you’re going to lose me fast, and probably get sued.
So remember, more isn’t always better, but if you have to have more, follow those two rules, and people will forgive you of upping the Monster factor because you’ve Wowed them by upping the Suspense. Now, if you’re writing about Zombies, well then more is ALWAYS better. There’s nothing better than seeing a handful of survivors fighting hordes and hordes of Zombies, each wave of decaying flesh tearing away at the ranks, decreasing the survivors while increasing their numbers, ripping flesh from the human bodies in a bloody rage of….
Master readers Livius Nedin and Robb Olson at Booked take a slight break from their usual format to bring us two podcasts I have failed to mention here until now. First, there’s an incredible interview with Donald Ray Pollock which you can listen to by clicking right here. Then, the guys join Amanda Gowin and Chris Deal for a review of Craig Wallwork’s forthcoming story “Revenge of The Zombie Pussy Eaters” which you can listen to by clicking right here. This podcast is extra special because it’s very funny, goes off on great tangents, and features soundbites by me. And if there’s one thing you need MORE of, it’s me, right?
Was it something I said?