Member No.: 7
Joined: 17-May 11
So, the Fear Ideas thread has seen a lot of activity lately. Time to sort things out. This is my (and only my) Guide to Creating New Fears.
Step One: Read the Fear Mythos If you want to write in any setting, you have to understand that setting. Sure, the Fear Mythos has no canon, but the Fears themselves are normally written in a certain way. If you've never read the Fear Mythos...why are you here?
Step Two: Write About a Current Fear(s) This is important: before trying to make something new, write something about what's already there. Perhaps you'll find that you didn't need to create something new at all, that there was already a Fear you could use, or a combination of Fears. Heck, there are so many Fears that are underused - and even non-Fears, like Jack of All. Try using them in a creepypasta or a story.
Step Three: Fear of What? If you still find that you have an idea for a Fear, remember: the fear aspect of the Fears can be ancillary - in fact, I recommend writing something creepy and thinking up the fear after that, to compliment it - but still, the fear needs to be there.
However, be wary of fears that are too specific. The fear of being burned? Sure. The fear of enclosed spaces? Fine. The fear of "being caught in the fog with no sense of direction"? That...is a very specific fear that not many people have.
The best fears are the ones that work on many levels. EAT is the fear of drowning - both literally and metaphorically drowning in your obsessions. The Cold Boy is the fear of being cold - both literally and metaphorically, being cut off from other people. The Unnamed Child was the fear of commitment first starting out...but she can also work as the fear of losing a loved one. Heck, we didn't even know what fear the Manufactured Newborn was...until we decided that it was the fear of the future, the fear of technology out of control (on the whole, this one is too specific as well, I think, but it still works).
The fear of being burned is a good fear to choose. You can be literally burned and metaphorically - when you burn your bridges or when somebody burns you, shuns you.
The fear of knowledge...I don't know anyone who is afraid of knowledge, but it might work. The fear of knowing too much? Or perhaps the fear of being stupid? The fear that everyone is smarter than you?
The fear of disasters...that one is interesting, because people do fear disasters. The trick is to make it personal as well - will he show up for personal disasters? Does he orchestrate the disasters or just takes advantage of them?
Ask yourself these questions before choosing the fear for your Fear.
Step Four: Be Creepy The Fear Mythos includes many genres, but it is built on a base of Cosmic Horror and creepypasta. That means that, even if you don't intend to use your Fear in a horror-setting, it still needs to be creepy. The creepier the better, in fact.
In the original thread for the Fear Mythos (which I recommend everyone read), we didn't start listing Fear attributes and realms and powers and stuff. We just listed things we thought could be creepy. And Blancmange had a very nice suggestion, too:
Well, most of them seem to have the appearance of fairly normal humans, perhaps with an unusual texture or face. That, by itself, does not Uncanny Valley make. How do they move? How do they speak? How can you make them stranger and eerier than just a creepy person wearing a mask? (There's far more to Slender Man than "tall fellow with no face", for instance.)
And then look at DJay's suggestions: he actually suggests five water-type elementals. All of them are based on creepiness and water. And yet, he ended up picking and choosing and combining two of them into one that he felt was even stronger.
Do you have a lot of ideas? Well, you can post them all...or you can choose the best one and then try to make it stronger. I don't mean list all it's powers - I mean, write some examples with it, make it seem creepy and scary and horrific.
This post on Encyclopedia Slenderia has some great advice about writing horror in the Slender Man Mythos and can easily apply to the Fear Mythos. Remember: just having a monster around doesn't make it horror. You need to do something with it - make things suspenseful and tense. Ramp up the paranoia.
Step Five: Don't Be Discouraged Don't be discouraged when people don't like your Fear. Heck, DJay doesn't like the Cold Boy and I created that! mutter mutter I'll show you cold Just think about the reasons why they didn't like it. How could it be improved? How could you make it creepier? How could you best use it in a story?
Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was the Fear Mythos, so it may take some time before you actually make a Fear people can use. It may go through many iterations (for instance: the Nightlanders used to be called the Shadowgraphers which used to be called the Shadow People).
Here's the thing: the Fear Mythos is continually evolving. It won't stay the same forever. Right now, we have lots of servants, when in the beginning we didn't really want to use proxies. We have a lot more humanoid Fears when in the beginning we were trying to get away from that. Heck, we even have a non-Fear that we introduced that we like (Jack of All).
But we don't want the Fear Mythos to evolve into a hack-and-slash game or a fantasy universe. At it's core, the Fear Mythos is and will stay a Cosmic Horror Story about eldritch abominations that we can't hope to understand and the people who run or fight or serve them.
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-May 11
I love this and I love you. Here, I suggest adding this:
If You Don't Like the Current Fears
If you don't like a Fear idea, come up with an interpretation you do like. I didn't think The Wooden Girl was scary to me. In fact, I saw untapped potential for introducing a new layer to the fear of being controlled: the fear of abuse, sexual and otherwise. I didn't just complain about her; I wrote my new interpretation. She's in Rapture, she's The Harlequin. I didn't think The Mother of Snakes was really that good, so what'd I do? I came up with my own interpretation. That interpretation is currently being cycled in Rapture's The Speculum.
I still don't think The Cold Boy is the best representation of his corresponding fear, but I'm okay with people writing about him. Because people write him well. His representation works in their stories' contexts. Context is everything. Do I have better ideas for representing him? Sure, but they wouldn't work as well in the stories people have already written or anything. I'll write my own stories with my own interpretations.
The point is, if you have an idea, try writing it first. Come up with a context where it fits, and if it's a good enough idea, other people will bend it to fit in their own contexts. If you like the idea of a pre-existing Fear but you don't like the actual Fear, bend it for your own stories. Don't think EAT should be so progressive-focused? Call it "the Evolutionary Adverse Trigger" or "the Eternal Answer Tree" or something. Don't think The Archangel represents the fear of religion well enough, thinking of making a Fear that does? Don't. Take The Archangel and write him so he does.
We're an open-source mythos, and the best way to use open-source is to work with what you have rather than start from scratch. The best way to learn is to learn from example.