My Grandmother used to feed and care for feral cats that lived across the street from us in the sugar cane fields in Hawaii.
She wasn’t sentimental by nature and she didn’t keep things like pets and she didn’t tape our artwork on her refrigerator door and she didn’t joke around.
So I always found it curious that she took care of these cats- cats that she didn’t name or cuddle or buy little toys for. Strangely, she did sew them blankets from scraps left over from her sewing projects. It wasn’t a slap dash project and the little cat quilts were actually well made.
She’d place the little blankets around her garden and when they got messy she’d throw them out and sew new ones.
One day I asked her about the Cane Field Cats because the timing was right. When she was crocheting or when she was sewing or working on a project she was more talkative and lo and behold she was ready to chat. ” because cats can see Spirits and if there are bad ones around they know. ”
I asked her what they did about these bad spirits and she said something along the vein that they met the same fate as the rodents in the fields.
” Really. ” I said.
She looked at me and she did not smile, or wink or offer any reassuring gestures after dropping it on me that our house could be sharing a road with a field of evil spirits.
” Really.” she told me.
” How come you don’t give them names? ” I asked.
She looked up at me. ” They aren’t the kind of cats that you give names too.”
” How come. ”
And then she said something that gave me a little chill. ” Because they have names already. ”
I had another question and I knew it was an important one.
” So. They are cats. Right? Just ordinary cats. ”
My Grandmother said, ” How come you ask questions you already know the answer too. That’s a waste of time and nobody lives forever. Go turn up the tv. ”
” Okay, ”
” And then go feed the cats.”
Below are a collection of pictures of cemetery cats. I think a few are staged but the candid shots are the important ones to pay attention to because, when I saw them I didn’t see Cemetery Cats, I saw Cane Field Cats and given where these cats live I would have to say they are very, very well fed.
The two videos I’ve selected for my post are examples of my favorite suspense/ horror short story formats.
The first format goes straight for a major artery- because if that doesn’t get your attention nothing will.
If you are going to use this technique in prose or film, you have to go straight for a pressure point and plunge right in. No pussy footing around.
The subject in the first video is a child- it’s a quick way to get the blood pounding because who doesn’t have a visceral reaction to a child in danger? Even if you don’t have one, or like them, you used to be one so you get it.
That aside, finding a way to connect with your viewer or reader right off the bat or putting them into the story is a science. I do things in my stories like to not go heavy on the physical descriptions of my characters so that my reader can more easily ‘ see themselves ‘ in the roles.
For that reason I don’t do fantasy – unless a reader is used to the fantasy universe they don’t connect right away or at all. If you’re writing a short story or I’m guessing filming a short clip you don’t have the time to do that unless you go heavy on the backstory- which defeats the purpose of a short story.
So here we go with example #1
When I was reading the reviews for clip #2 ( titled ” October” ), it got slammed by some commentators because it wasn’t ‘scary enough’. I don’t know what people thought they’d get but this format is an example of the slow burn and I think they did a great job.
The slow burn is all about pacing, you don’t break your pace even at the end. No rushing allowed.
These stories get under your skin and they don’t just sit there- they spread like scabies or chicken pox.
No spoilers- but at the end of this clip you know what’s going to happen even if you don’t see it on your screen. If you let your imagination take that next step instead of the having it spelled out for you, you’re going to see the conclusion over and over and all of it’s possibilities until it makes you scream.
Which is the point of this format and this also happens to be my favorite way to tell a story.
I think that if you’re writing stories for a blog- paying attention to how these stories are being told could add to your ‘ writer’s toolbox ‘.
In addition, it is almost Halloween and I am congratulating myself on finding a way to use these clips in a post about writing when I probably didn’t have to use them at all.
But as my Creative Writing teacher in highschool said, it’s not creative writing unless you are really being creative.