Friday, 20 July 2012

Scary Dolls and Creepy Trolls

Creepy Toys

I was reading the ’Save the cat’ books by Blake Snyder the other day (and a brilliant read it is too!)

But what surprised me - and stuck in my peanut brain – was that there was much mention of the film Toy Story and how the script was written. It was held up as a good example of how to write a riveting screenplay that raises the stakes steadily until the crescendo of the action stuns the readers and makes them gasp with relief as all is resolved. And this is a children’s story…

But what, you may ask, has that got to do with thriller writing? Well, I think it is a thriller in lot’s of ways. It moves fairly fast and is full of incident and drama that makes you relate to the toys and really feel for these inanimate objects. The action rises as Woody and Buzz get deeper and deeper into trouble…

But more to the point for me is that I also felt a thrill of a chill when looking at some of the broken toys and for some reason they made me think of horror stories. They seem almost more lifelike than the other toys but unlike the other toys they were also slightly scary. I know of more than one child who thought the doll was plain frightening.

Which brings me to my point really - that even mundane harmless things can be made to feel scary! I I am put in mind of the number of people who are scared of clowns… They are meant to be fun characters that make us laugh but for some people they are just plain terrifying.

Dolls are symbolic of babies and are meant to be looked after by young children so when they are mutilated and/or broken they seem to change into something else entirely.  So when I am searching to put a frightening element into my stories I try to look for something mundane and imbue it with a sense of something different or even something evil. It horrifies us all the more.  The more harmless an object seems the more awful it is when it turns out to be not harmless at all…

Do you use normal everyday things and turn them into something else?


  1. Dolls can be very scary - Chucky springs to mind and I remember seeing an Alfred Hitchcock show where (if my memory is right) a little girl swapped places with her doll.

    You are absolutely right about the awfulness when something innocent and harmless becomes something evil!

    And I'm not mad keen on clowns!!

  2. Oh dear... But I know what you mean... Thanks for taking the time to comment Teresa.

  3. I can't think of a situation where I've turned everyday things into something else, but I do understand what you're saying about dolls. When I was little, I loved them, really really loved them. Yet, when I dreamed about them, they turned into something sinister. I never understood that. It was just plain creepy.

    Toy Story is one of my all-time favorite movies, btw. :)

  4. This doll does look very creepy! Clowns are another toy that freaks me out.

  5. I'd never looked at it like that. Toy Story is great, but for edge of the seat scary the ending of Toy Story 3 can't be beat - even though you know all the toys will be saved, you don't 'really' know!

  6. Broken toys really creep me out. Especially old china dolls. *shiver*

  7. I've never been fond of clowns. They are totally unnatural and freakish.

    I'm also afraid of my water bill, but that's a different story. :)

  8. I love the idea of turning something mundane into something creepy. I've only used it once before in a short story about a trucker and his devilish semi. But it's in the pipeline for my next book -- if I can just finish revising my current WIP. :P

  9. Mundane items turned evil has worked throughout history. Dolls and children turned evil can always make my skin crawl. Clowns not so much, or even snakes or spiders.

  10. I have to say, I'm one of those people who find clowns creepy. *ugh* sends a shiver down my spine. And old dolls can be creepy, too. The way they sit there with their glass eyes and stiff hands...I half expect to turn around and find that their heads have all turned in my direction. Argh! I'm freaking myself out. Not a good thing to do on a break on night shift!