Ok, so in honor of October, I thought I'd kick it off with a bit of writing horror. Now, I've written several horror stories in a collection called "The Firelight Tales", but they haven't seen the light of day yet. And I've already talked about what scares you, so I'll go off on a couple of specifics here over the next few weeks.
Today we're talking location, location, location as a means of scaring the crap out of someone.
Most good horror stories start out big, but end up small. You see this a lot in movies, where the actual setting of the story starts out in a town, a house, a city, etc. There's safety in large spaces.
But when the shit hits the fan? Somehow, the hero always seems to be locked in somewhere. The location shrinks.
Not literally, of course. I mean, if every horror film ended in a box or a closet it'd get really boring. But relative to the hero's journey, the final showdown typically takes place in a smaller location than where they started.
Why, you ask? Easy. Because there's nowhere to run to, baby. Nowhere to hide. Trapped. In a city the options for hiding and avoiding the bad guy are endless. In a building, less so. On a floor, even less. On a floor with no working elevators, in the dark and the bad guy has night vision goggles on?
Some examples I can think of: Stephen King's The Stand. Starts out all over the United States. But what good is that? The boogey man can't possible hit everyone everywhere (ok, well Randall Flagg was pretty bad-ass). So King moves them to TWO locations: Vegas and Boulder.
Same thing with IT by Stephen King. Starts out in a big town, great, lovely. Ends up in the tight quarters of the underbelly of town, down in the sewers. Dark, dank, and confined.
So if you want to ratchet up the stakes and scare the hero to death (hopefully not literally), squeeze them out. Put them in progressively tighter locations. Take away their options. THEN see what the hell they can do about it!