Sunday, October 1, 2017

October 2017: Author to Author: Fear Matters

Author to Author: Fear Matters

What lingers in the shadows?

Writing something impactful is never easy. Writing content for Very Wicked Dirty Stories often requires taking a step back and reflecting on the fears which become compulsions, which gnaw at the edge of our awareness, and which make us shout "NOPE!" while pondering "What if?" Most horror has props and stage sets, but fear can come unbidden in broad daylight if done right.


That's the hardest part.


In recognition of our favorite holiday, Halloween, we wanted to talk about fear. It makes any number of stories tick - from Object Confessions to Sexy Identities - and it's a tool that can be used sparingly to haunt the audience or forcefully to provoke a strong emotional connection. What scares you is as important as what scares our characters. After all, you feel you know someone once you know what makes them want to run.


Fear Response

Emotions are relevant. Humans relate to one another based on expectations and emotions. The two are tightly intertwined, and few people even try to disentangle them. Emotions provide a context, a motive, and a sense of familiarity. Without emotion, we describe things as robotic and alien to emphasize our level of disconnect. Whether an author tells the audience how someone feels or expresses it through the actions and expressions of that character, emotions are the sixth sense that needs to be included in the reader's awareness throughout the story.


Fear is a wonderful combination of emotion and reaction though. It goes beyond feeling and directly into responding to stimulus. Sometimes the reason for fear is directly in the present moment. Sometimes fear is more subtle, a growing dread cued by triggers which serve as reminders of past events and experience, and it builds up over time. Causality isn't easy to discern, and the human mind can be easily caught off guard by exposing blind assumptions as false. A little witchery helps as well, someone to personify the compelling terror, and we create monsters without really defining why they are so wrong and unnatural in a given environment.


And then there's fear of what we don't know. Characters serve as surrogates to explore the depths of darkness which we might never dare to enter. Compelled by perverse notions or simply curious about the unknown, these fabricated adventurers step right into the trap, and we get to live vicariously through their harrowing experiences. While this may seem more appropriate to horror and supernatural genres, there's plenty of commonplace fear to leverage in every sexual context. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of being too exposed and vulnerable. Fear of wanting something unspeakable. Fear of judgment and denial. Fear of rejection and abuse. Fear can easily polarize and highlight sexual play in ways that fundamentally change the narrative. After all, we're all afraid of intimacy at some level.


So how do we use fear to communicate with readers? There's no singular answer. The reader needs a enough breathing space to set their own expectations, enough motivation to wonder what will happen next and project themselves into the story, but there are so many familiar archetypes likely to fill that gap for their imagination.


When we write stories, sometimes fear itself becomes a character. Only exposed in the darkness, wisps of tendrils tucking in Miez or forcing Angel down and thrusting into her, fear becomes something greater than just a gloomy cloud overhead. Is it really her touch which freezes his blood, or is it knowing all along that she is not really there? Slowly cutting away at himself, is he really offering his limbs to a truly alien being to study the bones and sinews, or is this a horrible consequence of the madness which inspired his initial compulsion blossoming into something so much worse?


Sometimes fear is only a shadow in a mirror. Several Very Dirty Stories titles explore being watched and under surveillance in multiple settings. As the characters' lives go on, they know there is an invisible observer, and this feeds worries that wouldn't exist otherwise. What is he thinking as he watches her throughout the day? Can she distract him from her mistakes by putting on a performance for him to remember? How would anyone else react knowing they are also being watched? How vulnerable is she to blackmail because she needs his silent attention? The essence of fear can be diluted to one part per million, yet it has an enormous placebo effect on the characters exposed to its presence when applied with care.


So how do you incorporate fear? Do you use bold strokes and villains? Do you use subtle sabotage and hints of things amiss? Do you prefer supernatural elements? Do you really put your characters through the wringer? #AskingForAFriend


Thank you for your support.

Cherish Desire Erotica

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