After 6pm, everything in my office turns off automatically. I may never know whether the building is telling me to go home and have a real life or the system is just conserving power. But, what I do know is that it’s totally creepy. I’ll be sitting at my desk and all the lights flicker off and on, just like it always does in the slasher flicks when the big bad is entering the building, or rounding the corner with a butcher’s knife. They say the flickering is a reminder to anyone still in the building to walk over and re-set the timer. But isn’t there always a perfectly simple explanation, in those movies, for all the creepy things; an explanation, just plausible enough, to convince the next victim to remain in their dangerous and isolated position?
If the lights thing isn’t enough to creep you out, and it should be, (Seriously, how brave are you?) the building also goes silent at 6pm. I don’t mean people have gone so there’s no more talking and moving about. Nope, all the buzzing, humming and wooshing noises that the building usually makes go away. At first I thought…”well that’s good, it’ll be way easier to hear someone sneaking up behind me with a butcher’s knife”. But there is no way to overstate how creepy silence can be. Sure in movies there is the ominous music, and that freaks me out, but I think silence is worse somehow. Maybe just the proof becasue it is proof that no one is there to hear you scream?
PS. I’ve been told the sounds go away because the ventilation system automatically turns off. Like that supposed to be better? Now it’s not just the somewhat-imaginary big bad that I have to worry about, but the whole building is actually trying to kill me slowly by asphyxiation. Great.
PPS. I’m now told that no one is trying to kill me and that I’m paranoid. Well FYI, you can be paranoid and still have people trying to kill you; they are not mutually exclusive.
PPPS. I think I may be working too much…and where are all these bad guys getting butcher’s knives?
The mood of tv shows and movies is set, in great part, by the score. Sure the actors and writers have a great deal to do with it too, but the musical accompaniment and sound effects can take something silly and make it scary and vice versa. When done subtly, viewers may not even realize there is music playing to set the scene; we just feel the emotions rising.
Test this for yourself. Take a show you find frightening and turn off the volume. (This works better in a scene where there isn’t dialogue.) I’ll wait…
There, see? Way less scary.
I’ve found that the sound track that’s playing when I write can affect me, and the scene I’m writing, as much as the score of my favourite movie affects me as a viewer. This can be the music I’m actually listening to or the soundtrack that plays in my head (they sometimes appear with a scene, entering like an unexpected character). Does music affect your writing?
Choose several upbeat songs that inspire you to happiness. While listening to the songs, begin writing a scene. (If you need help to get a scene going, try one of the writing prompts from a previous post.) After five minutes, switch to a pre-prepared set of songs that you find frightening, dark or violent, and continue to write the same scene. After ten minutes (or longer if you’re in the groove) stop and re-read what you wrote, noting when the music changed.
Did the music throw you off or inspire you? Did the story change or twist as the music altered?
Sharing: – I wrote the following as part of a scene that was inspired by the first time I wore a Sari. I was so excited, and I thought I looked beautiful, but I was convinced I was about to be naked any second because they are held on by friction, folds and wishful thinking.
I’m about to be naked. Not by choice. No, I am about to expose my lily white but begonia bumpy ass to the room because “Saris on white girls are hot.” One stumbling step was my downfall, then time slowed as yards of artfully folded fabric reverted to their natural state, trailing behind me like someone had spilled the sunset.