Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jumping at Shadows


Have you ever read a book that made you sleep with the light on? Or made you so scared you didn't dare go down into the basement without your trusty dog at your side in spite of the fact that it was three o'clock in the afternoon?

I will not read ghost stories. I will not watch ghost movies. It takes a lot of coaxing to get me to tell them. And I definitely DO NOT write them! Why? Because I've seen enough ghosts to know they're real. (Yeah, I just admitted to seeing ghosts.) I have no problem writing about murderers and psychopaths. But ghosts? If I write/talk/read about them, I catch myself looking over my shoulder every five seconds. And jumping at shadows. And noises.

So, is it just me? Or are all writers this way? And I don't mean do you see ghosts. Is there something that freaks you out so bad you don't put it down on paper? What subjects are taboo for you and why?

45 comments:

Mary McDonald said...

I don't think I could every write about rape. It's just too scary a thought and I don't want to go to that place I'd need to be to be able to write the emotions accurately.

The other biggie is the death of the main character's child. I do have that in my current WIP, but it happens before the story begins. It's the scariest scenario in the world for me.

Kristi Helvig said...

I believe in ghosts too and I haven't written about them, but only because I have other stories in my head right now. I tend to go in the other direction and write about what scares me most - sort of the mastery of the trauma syndrome. In fact, I really should write a story about spiders soon - maybe it'll help me. :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I'm not afraid of ghosts, so that stuff doesn't bother me. (And yes, I believe in them.) The psychopath, murdering types are what scare me.

I haven't read a book that scared me enough to lose sleep, but a couple movies have--which is why I try not to watch those kind.

Steena Holmes said...

Hmmm, I can write about ghosts or demons but not sure if I do it well. Can write about rape too. But killers, sadistic killers ... not sure if I can.

Hardygirl said...

I'm totally freaked out by all things ghostie. And, yes. I'm a believer. I can't read or watch anything scary, or I will have nightmares that would give Steven King the shakes.

I have a ghost living in my writing studio right now. Not cool.

sf

Candyland said...

Anything that couldn't actually happen (Michael Meyers, Freddy Krueger, Chucky!!!), I couldn't EVER write about. Ugh. Can't even think about them.
Must.go.pray.now.

Cheyanne Young said...

Great topic! I believe in ghosts, but aren't afraid of them so I can write them without a problem.

However - any sort of satanic-y, evil demon possession or stuff like that - I can't read or write it, NO freaking way.

Murderers and psychopaths? Not a problem =)

Indigo said...

I actually read a lot of horror and paranormal. When asked why, I simply replied I've seen enough real life monsters in human guise to last a lifetime. Still there are things left to frighten even me; for one asylums.

So what I do with that fear, I write about it. At least on paper I can decide the outcome and on some level, it takes power away from that fear. If you think about it, how much easier is it to tap into that potential fear if it's real for you?(Hugs)Indigo

Christine Fonseca said...

HA! Actually, for me...No...I love going there on pretty much every topic - It is what I find so freeing in writing!

JoLynne Lyon said...

I can't read or write anything that could be interpreted as a how-to sadistic crime manual. That's just misusing a good imagination.

Matthew Rush said...

Hmm. There are definitely topics that are too close to my heart for me to write about. I'm not going to admit to what they are though.

Janet Johnson said...

I will never write a book involving big yucky spiders. I don't know why I can't do it. I can even kill little ones without the help of my husband, but big hairy out-to-get-you spiders? Can't do it. I had nightmares for months after Arachnophobia (and I still have the occasional one, but shhhh! That's my secret.)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I write edgy YA, so the answer is no. I'll even do ghost stories if so inclined.

I was working one day on an intense scene (I think it was the climax) and heard a noise in the bathroom. No one else was home. Boy did I jump. Turns out it was only the wind playing with the air vent, but I was jumpy for awhile after that.

Tere Kirkland said...

I love writing spooky and paranormal. Love to creep myself out. Now, more real fears, like rape, I wouldn't write about if you paid me.

Stephanie McGee said...

I can't write scary stuff. Too big an imagination. I had to read The Turn of the Screw for a class once, and I couldn't do it. I had to read the Spark Notes version of it. But then I had to watch two movie versions of the story so I didn't really get off that easy. Sigh.

I doubt I'd currently be able to write a married couple very well, just because it's not something I'm around a lot. I'm good at subtle and sweet romantic tension, but not the complex emotions of a committed couple.

I don't know that I could ever write mystery though. There are just some head spaces that I can't put myself into.

Falen said...

when i read Amytiville Horror i had to sleep with my sister.
So. Scary.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I can't write about the death of small children. It's my own worst fear, and I can't do that a mother - even a fictional one.

Olivia Carter said...

Oh man, ghosts don't scare me too much- they seem kind of harmless. Freaky, but not scary-scary (although watch, I'm totally going to meet one tonight & that will certainly change my mind).

I do like writing scary things but I'm totally terrified... now don't laugh because I am legitimately terrified of this... HILLBILLY CANNIBAL RAPISTS (you'd be surprised how often they come up in regular life).

I don't think I could even go there in a book because I wouldn't want to pass my terror on to anyone else & I'd be up awake in bed all night. But, I'll bet I could make it TOTALLY FREAKY because I'm so terrified by it.

Eeeekkkkk! Gotta stop thinking about it now!

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

I used to think there was a bunch, but then I participated in a Murder scene blogfest and found that it did not feel uncomfortable. It made me open to trying more styles that I used to cower from.

Although Olivia's Hilly Billy Cannibal Rapists might deter me in the future... ;o)

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Angela said...

I wrote a vivid description of hell once and threw it away once I was finished. Now, I could not write about the death, abuse, molestation or rape of children...no way. I also couldn't write about those same things for adults.

As far as paranormal/ghosts go...I'd LOVE to write about that! Sounds like great fun.

Angie Paxton said...

Ghosts scare the crap out of me in that deliciously creepy shivers down the spine way that I totally enjoy. I love reading/writing/talking ghosts. The thing that I will not touch with a ten foot pole is demonic possession. Chalk it up to seeing a snippet of The Exorcist when I was WAY too young and impressionable. Not sure I believe in it but that doesn't stop it from scaring the keerap out of me.

Simon C. Larter said...

I started reading Stephen King in 8th grade, but my parents didn't approve, so I'd hide the books in my bookbag and read them late at night after everyone was asleep. This, in retrospect, wasn't the brightest of things an impressionable teenager with an overactive imagination could do.

I don't think the scarring was permanent, though. Uh... no comments on that from the peanut gallery, thanks.

Rhonda said...

I've lived with ghosts off and on my entire life (yes, I just admitted that) so they don't freak me out. They frequently annoy me, irritate me and sometimes startle me but they don't really scare me. So reading, writing, watching about them doesn't bother me at all.

However, possession - like real life, scary devil type possession stuff? THAT scares the old crapola out of me. I can't read about, write about it or even watch a television program about it without freaking myself out so bad that I'm jumping at every shadow in the room.

Elizabeth Briggs said...

I can't read or write anything featuring rape, child abuse, or animal abuse. I also avoid movies with this stuff in it.

It is the horror of real people being evil to others that scares me more than anything.

MT said...

I don't mind the ghosts and scary sci fi or fantasy. It's the living, breathing horrors that I will not read, write, or watch. Lord of the Rings -yes. Schindler's List -no.

Carolyn V. said...

I'm scared by ghost stories or anything that seems like it could really happen. Spooky!

Brenda said...

I agree with lots of previous posters...anything involving bad things happening to children is off limits to me. I can't read it or write it.

G said...

I agree about anything bad to children would be incredibly tough to write about (got an idea about something that would be basically about a child getting revenge on his abusers), but for me, probably anything that requires sexual violence would be hard for me to write.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Ooh, good question. My answer is no - but then I'm a horror writer. Thing is, I find myself creeped out at night A LOT. Hubs asleep? Kids tucked in their rooms down the hall? Me, alone in the blue glow of my computer? Yep. I can get seriously creeped out...but then I try and set down on paper the FEELING of fear and what sparked it off (and how I can invoke the same on the page) :D Loved this post!

Lydia Kang said...

*Ducks where Zoe can't see me*
I don't think I can write or read horror. I'm such a wuss! and I don't think I can write about torture, chid abuse stuff.

Wicked-Sassy said...

I'm actually kind of on the opposite side of the spectrum. I don't think I could ever write anything about God or who he/she/it is in a story that was based in present day reality. I don't ever want the responsibility of telling people who God is...

DL Hammons said...

Cabbage Patch kids! Those things freak me out!! :)

Dominique said...

I don't know if I have a taboo subject. True, there are some things I need to grow some guts to make my characters do (like commit murder) but I'm not afraid, as it were, to do it. Still, I do need to grow some insides to pull off some essential elements of the story.

Jamie D. said...

When I was 12, I read "Hound of the Baskervilles" - a Sherlock Holmes mystery. It freaked me out so much, I couldn't sleep in my basement without the dog anymore. :-)

I read horror and thrillers along with romance and many other genres, but I haven't written much scary stuff to this point. I'm still trying to decide what my personal boundaries should be with regards to my imagination on that end of the spectrum.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I started writing a scary short story for a halloween contest. I got freaked out after about 500 words...it's still unfinished.

Dork Vader said...

*shudder* I am absolutely terrified of stone angels. Let's just say that my favorite episode of my favorite scifi show of all time featured them. And now they FREAK me out. Gotta love it :P

Angela McCallister said...

I have to agree with the majority that the true-life human monsters are far more scary than anything I could dream up.

I don't necessarily avoid writing true life out of fear, but more out of intense discomfort. I've had too much twistedness close to me to want to reach out and touch those feelings.

Yep, I tend to avoid a lot of drama books and movies and opt for the fantastical horror, action, comedy and children's genres.

Kate Hart said...

Same as Shannon above-- no murdered or missing children. I'd be in hysterics just contemplating it.

Also clowns. No clowns.

angie said...

I am not a writer but I remember reading Patricia Cornwell's Body Farm and I had to sleep with the lights on. It was about a serial killer and it just really freaked me out!
email bangersis(at)msn(dot)com

Sydnee said...

I refuse to write about rape or child abuse. Even reading a novel with those, even if it's not graphic, makes my skin crawl. In my opinion, no matter what the intent or genre of the book is, once they have scenes like those in it, it sucks all the enjoyment out of the experience for me. And what's the point of that?

B.J. Anderson said...

I can't write about children getting kidnapped/molested/killed because I can't handle the thought of it being one of my own.

jessicawagster said...

I'd have to agree with most of the above and would add to the list mental illness. I can't imagine not being safe inside your own mind. I'll take zombies, vampires and ghouls anyday :D

Don said...

There are quite a few things I'm just not interested in reading about - most of them are already listed above. But I'm not sure there's anything I would absolutely refuse to write about.

Many things I probably won't write about, and wouldn't enjoy writing about. But I probably could write just about anything if necessary.

Yeah, I know - define "necessary." :-D

Palindrome said...

There are no subjects that are off limits for me. I refuse to let fear control me and fight all of my fears in writing and by watching and reading scary books...that and I really love horror and suspense! :)

Nishant said...

I actually read a lot of horror and paranormal.
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