As V-Sauce put it, “There is a mountain of safety and a mountain of danger. Between those two points, lies is a valley of creepy.” Creepiness is something that isn’t inherently dangerous. Nor is it friendly. It’s something whose motives can’t be determined. This uncertainty causes fear to blossom, and thus creepiness is born.
I conducted an experiment some time ago, where I waited for a dark and stormy night, turned out all the lights but wavering, distant candle, and started watching scary videos and reading scary stories. At first, it didn’t bother me. But the longer the night dragged on, the more they did. The storm came down harder, I noticed strange sounds in the house, I became aware of how isolated I was, I couldn’t find my phone for a time- all these things made me feel terrified of something bad happening, especially the longer I was in this state. The video where I stopped and turned on all the lights was a Creepy Pasta called “Squidward’s Suicide”.
Now, I read the Pasta and watched a horrible video where he had this blank stare (see photo in this article) and there was just this abstract screaming where I couldn’t tell if they were insane, violent, or in pain. Ultimately, I couldn’t take anymore creepiness for the night. I posted to Facebook throughout this experience, but when I watched the videos in the morning and read my statuses, they seemed laughable- unrealistically paranoid.
This was the point where I knew setting was the all important factor for storytelling. If it’s not in the right setting (such as the morning), then everything else is for nothing- even if you do it right. Also noted in my experiment, is that there is a natural progression of fear, and the tried-and-true formula goes like this:
Normal > Odd > Creepy > Scary
In order to write a creepy/scary story, you can’t just start out with what is scary. The standard rules for writing apply, such as getting to know your character and setting the stage. It is all about the emotional investment of the reader, and if you don’t have them buy into your story, there’s no way you can manipulate those emotions. On the next post, I will write a short story and explain why it is creepy. Also, you can look forward to me explaining some iconic scary devices (such as masks, elongated limbs, etc) and explaining why those are scary.
Light is just the absence of darkness. Eventually, we must go into the darkness at some point. It would behoove us all to understand it. Thanks for reading!