Last time we looked at different aspects to the horror setting, today we finish that topic up with theÂ most important aspect of horror: The Twist. Now this isÂ the most important trick to writing horror. Details and presentation are all nice and dandy, but the twist is where you blow your party’s mind. It could be as simple as a betrayal, as complicated as an evil plot being unwound so another plot could surface instead, or as backward crazy as it all being an illusion set upon you by a novice student, and having it go wrong…oh so wrong…
Whichever twist you choose, make it good, strong and leave the party feeling helpless. A helpless party is the perfect way to make them know that not only have they been duped, but they actively aided in the duping, whether it was turning a blind eye to some strange activity, listening to a mad old man or aiding theÂ King in slaughtering some “witches” who turned out to be simple peasant women.
However, there is a tradeoff: make them feel too helpless and they will say “well there’s no way we can turn this around. Lets just end it here before things go from bad to worse.” If they feel soo defeated they want to give up then you did it wrong. There has to be a glimmer of hope, whether its a sign that reinforcements are coming, a chance to seek vengeance or stop the end of the world. There always has to be a way to stop the evil forces, even if its hidden, and if they can’t find it make it obvious. Make it the light in the dark, the white dove in the window. If need be, have Pelor himself strike the evil doer with a bolt of his holy magic, even if its just enough to let the parties last surviving member kill the evil wizard.
Now, as for inspiration, well look no further than your bookshelf. Movies, games, those things people read with the pages and the bindings, they all are horrible to someone. A love story to one person is a horror story to another when they dont end up with the girl of their dream. The football team that lost the game faces humiliation by their friends and family. George is scarred for life after shooting Lenny in the head and watching him die! (Of Mice and Men, it can’t get much worse then that now can it?)
Horror is all around you, its all about perspective. Learn perspective and watch as a million ideas flood your mind and secure themselves within your imagination. If you enjoy a certain genra of horror, then imagine your within that genra, read that genra, watch that genra and read that genra. I myself like Lovecraft horror, which limits me quite a bit when it comes to material. Besides Lovecrafts obviously large collection of works as well as his copy-cats and fans, not too many films have actually succeeded in adapting his horror to the big screen. Good news for me then that many of his short stories have been turned into user based short films on YouTube, my favorite among them being The Music of Eric Zann. So all you need to do is search for it and you will find it. Good luck, and may the darkness take you!