January 22nd, 2006


I'm Reserving the Website Name Right Now

Walking in midtown late Friday night, I noticed the big neon vertical sign on the side of a hotel was partially burnt out. Where it once read MILFORD PLAZA, it now read MILF PLAZA.

When it's after midnight and you're really drunk and tired, this is the funniest thing you've ever seen.

I once saw a similar unfortunate sign malfunction on the Essex Hotel.

Can Horror Still Make Readers Use Their Brains?

The following, in a slightly different version, is what I wrote in a conversation on the HWA message board, where we finally seem to be talking about writing because I and a few other people jumped up and down and had hissy fits that we weren't doing enough of that. Gary Braunbeck got the ball rolling by talking about how there don't seem to be enough "after the fact" stories being written anymore, especially in horror ("after the fact" stories being ones where you finish a story where something isn't spelled out for you and go, "Oh snap, now I get it!" like with Cheever's "The Swimmer"). This is my response, tailored a bit for LJ:

I think in horror there's this strange belief that a story needs to be a certain way, and if it's outside those parameters it's somehow "pretentious" (pretentious here meaning uppity, as opposed to pretending). Sometimes it seems like when a story is told in an unusual style, or isn't linear, or uses something other than third-person past tense, or has long paragraphs of narrative or description, there's an almost angry backlash against it from the core horror-reading base. I think the "after the fact" stories Gary talks about may be in short supply because of this. Horror stories that make the reader have to stretch his or her brain seem to have fallen out of favor, replaced by more straightforward stories that often read like little more than screenplays with prose punctuation.

The same might be said for science fiction and fantasy too, where military sf and quest fantasy still outsell the brainier, more daring stuff.

I do wonder if we've gotten lazy, not just as readers but as writers as well.

The reason I'm posting this here too is because I think it's a worthy conversation to have outside of a writers' organization as well as inside it. Here I (and other writers reading this) can hear from readers too, and I think this is a good dialogue to get started between readers and writers.