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I loved Devolution! It’s one of the books that inspired me to try my hand at horror.

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founding

This is a problem I’ve had with King’s work at times. Broke my heart after 1k+ pages to have the end boil down to one chapter of space spider in the sewer.

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I loved that you used the word "guff."

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Hi Chuck and plot spoiler gang,

Sorry to report but my dear friend Andra, renowned for being the recipient of my Valentine's Day prize package, died yesterday of cancer (age 45). That's why I wanted to make the past year as celebratory as possible for her, and Chuck played a beautiful, whimsical and amusing part of it. Her son will eventually read Beautiful You.

Thanks again. I believe there is more of my humourous material out there on previous pages, seems to have gone unnoticed ;) And probably more to follow eventually.

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Sorry for your loss

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Thanks, Atticus. You are always very kind. Keep well.

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Your greatest comfort should be that you were a good friend and gave support until the end. I applaud you for that.

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Jul 4, 2022Liked by Chuck Palahniuk

It really is, thank you. I would have given her anything. I would have traded places with her if I could. I did give her the necklace you sent me in '05 because I wanted her to have all the powers of the stones and all the love and care that went into making and restringing it (about 3 times over the years). So you were definitely a key player in the story. And now I became friends with another close friend of hers, so the circle of love and connection is expanding.

She was thrilled with that package and got a good laugh about her 6 year old boy eventually reading his signed copy of Beautiful You. :) We laughed together all the time, sometimes to the point of not being able to breathe.

Thanks for writing and Happy July 4th! They say it's a holiday ;)

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Sending love to you. A good friend is a rare find and she was lucky to have you.

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Thanks a lot for your kind words. I appreciate that and feel much love and support in this difficult time.

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I’m sorry to hear that. Condolences.

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Thank you. It is comforting to know I have lots of support, but Andra was really one of a kind. She enthusiastically lapped up EVERY SINGLE detail of my attending Chuck's readings and the box(es) he sent, etc. It makes life events even more fun when you have have a dear symbolic sister you can share them with. Thanks to this blog I was able to get closure on the fact that I bombarded her with an endless diatribe of my Chuck experiences haha I can't even remember all the stories now ;)

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founding

My condolences, Karen. I’m glad she had someone like you to bring her joy.

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Thanks a lot. We were on the same wavelength so it was easy to make her laugh, and she saw the joy in everything and everyone. I'll honour that for the rest of my life. Thanks for your sympathies.

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founding

Sending love and condolences to you and those that loved your friend very much. 🥺♥️🌸

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Thank you very much. Andra was loved by very many people. We had a special bond since '05, and deepened our friendship over the past year through frequent contact on Facebook.

Best wishes and love to you too.

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founding

I’m sorry for your loss, Karen.

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Thanks, Maegan, I appreciate that. Hope you're having a good summer.

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founding

I am so sorry for your loss :(

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Thanks for your sympathies. I appreciate it and it really helps reading these messages on here and from other friends.

Have a great day.

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founding

So very sorry for your loss, Karen. *hugs* You were both lucky to have had each other.

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Thanks a lot, Lana. Hugs back! Yes if there is one friend who truly stood out for me, it was Andra.

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Sorry to read that. My mom died last week. I’ve been reading Choke. It’s helping. I hope you find some comfort.

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My deepest sympathies on the loss of your mom. That's very sad. Choke was my whole MO for the Valentine's Day prize, get something valuable to give to a loved one.

I walked around this scenic cemetery today and it was very peaceful and a way to connect with lost loved ones in spirit. I find this memorial song is also helpful. It's by Jeremy Dutcher https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pDRpDjrBZE

I'm touched by everyone's sympathy and support. I'm in my 50s so have lost a few friends and relatives already, but Andra was the epitome of a loving, joyful and selfless soul. She was only 45 (and left a husband and young son). I find prayer and lighting candles helpful too. I believe loved ones are still out there after they leave this plane. I hope you can feel your mom with you too and have many cherished memories of her that lift your heart. Hugs and heartfelt sympathies.

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You make an excellent point. My writing usually includes long descriptions of gore, later deleted and I find myself trying to let the reader scare themselves with just what the character is capable of describing.

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author

The Siddons book also does a neat trick. It announces the upcoming tragedy, often but not always, then later depicts the event. This allows some dread to build before confirmation. The moment the ditzy wife is shown pregnant, we fear the worst. Then Chapter 4 begins "We met Pie Harrelson's father when she lost the baby in November..." Later, we get the semi-but-not-very gory details. It tamps down the trauma for the reader.

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It's perhaps the 1978 version of a trigger warning.

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You know, I kind of disliked that in ‘Pet Semetery’ King announces Gage’s death a chapter or two prior to it happening. I think I would have preferred the death hitting me with surprise shock-horror. I wanted that truck to do to my mind metaphorically what it did to Gage literally.

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That’s a good point. The scariest part in that book was just how agonizing Louis’s pain that drove him to busy Gage in the burial ground was, and then having to kill him again. My favorite King book.

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My favourite King book, too.

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Now I want to read/write a story that cleverly weaponizes trigger warnings!

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TW: alcohol; substance abuse; suicidal ideation; uncontrolled rage; three children who won’t quit screaming for a lollipop

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Would The Great God Pan be tableau?

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Smoke or burnt toast was my trigger word, but it doubles as a signifier of a stroke for the characters since they’re elderly and for fire obviously. I’m about to try and rewrite a scene with just the main finding the carnage instead of watching it happen.

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In my horror book I decided to go active horror and it’s definitely gotten mixed feedback. Some think it’s too much, others have no problem. I enjoyed writing it immensely so I figure I’ll try it again if I write another horror.

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It is!

Mirrored Shadows https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B09MVDNGZ2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_J4BGKQXDMH5KX2Y2357E

Free if you have kindle unlimited

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Thanks! I watched wayyyy to many episodes of Ghost Adventues during the pandemic and then wrote it haha.

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Do you come to story night? I can bring you a free copy to check out if you’re ever needing bathroom material haha

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Thinking of a tableau horror movie example -- the scene in ‘Aliens’ where the marines discover the abandoned colony and then later the xenomorth nest. I love the mise-en-scene of such environments -- the clues to a story in their own right.

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'Silence of the Lambs' seems to have the most tableau. The Lector murders are shown in tableau. Later as Clarice stumbles through the basement we glimpse various tableau of decomposing victims. The severed head in the limo is a big tableau.

In 'The Shining' as Wendy flees through the hotel we glimpse various tableau that suggest scenes from the book: The man in a dog mask giving head, the skeletons in party dress, etc..

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As if I needed an excuse to use less adjectives.

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founding

Other than King, I don’t read a lot of horror. Which is weird, considering my horror FILM collection might rival the best and biggest. About the Siddons book: didn’t you say not to further plot with dialogue? Seems like the patio gossip is just that.

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That's it exactly. The patio scenes are endless expository, tennis match dialog. Near the end of the book the architect lets slip that there were two industrial accidents during the house construction, but neither event is dramatized or even described. Each is just slipped in via dialog. It's the equivalent of "and BTW it's an ancient Indian burial ground."

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I’ve been meaning to read the book ‘Horrorstor’ by Grady Hendrix. From what I’ve seen and heard about it, I believe it’s formatted like an Ikea catalogue. On that basis alone -- I’m in.

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Sweet. I’ll get to it soon.

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It’s a very fun book!

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That's a category of horror I like: The off-hours, empty public space. For example, the empty theater or shopping mall or museum. Like being in your old school after hours, when the halls are empty and it's night outside. Those places are inherently creepy, but without an over reliance on architecture.

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Unrelated to the post, but Chuck if you see this, or if anyone with the knowledge sees this, could you confirm the date for the July Hindsight Story Night? Much Appreciated!

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author

July 11th. One week from today. See you there.

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Great post re: tableau horror vs. active horror. I hesitated to read your summary because The House Next Door was on my tbr list, maybe even because you or Grady Hendrix or Stephen King mentioned it... but I’m glad I read your post anyway and had the plot spoiled... I think I can safely remove it from my tbr list. (Keeping Rosemary’s Baby, however, no matter how much of the plot you’ve previously revealed or confessed Levin insists it’s not a metaphor for deformed babies).

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There’s a trick you did at the end of The Invention of Sound where the reader sees the possibility of resolution for each character as each character deletes the audio the other character “needs to hear” but now never will - that left me feeling uneasy maybe more than anything else in the novel, a sort of “the truth is out there, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ever learn it” - kind of a cruel god move of you as author - is there a precedent for that story-telling trick? It was very emotionally unsatisfying for me... but it’s also what I remember most strongly.

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In the best way. I’m hoping someday to write something similarly disappointing for the reader but true to the story

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Consider that the best resolution occurs in the reader's mind. My goal is always to have the reader become smarter than any of the characters. Thus in 'Invention' only the reader can assemble a full picture of each character's life. The only person who finds closure is the reader.

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So what I’m hearing is we could all still get published.

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Of course! I'm wishing you 24-city tours and hotel minibars galore.

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Active Horror is much more difficult to for me to write well than Tableau Horror. However, when I do get it right, I find Active Horror much more impactful than describing a single, horrific snapshot.

But when I don’t get it right...yeesh.

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Would "Alias Grace" by Atwood count? While the story takes place in the present tense, all of the so called "crimes" are related by stories... The main character describes her role in various murders, but much of it she doesn't remember, or says she doesn't remember...

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founding

I know it's kind of silly to dislike a literary genre but horror has never been my cup of tea. Neither has crime. I think it's because they always follow the perfect formula, mostly just shuffling tiny bits around trying to make it original. Unconventional and new. But the overall structure rarely deviates – that's why they fit into the genre.

Then you read Shirley Jackson's "The haunting of hill house" and a hundred pages in, you hold a little longer to switch off the light. The guy in the flat upstairs gets up for a trip to the loo at night, all wonky gait and squeaky floorboards, and you stare at your bedroom door waiting for it to creek and a shadow to walk in.

Masterpiece.

When I expressed my disappointment for those genres a friend of mine said, "That's horsehit." She said, "Read 'Quite Ugly One Morning' by Christopher Brookmyre and tell me what you think." She was right, I loved it. And looking back now, I think that's a Tableau Horror/Crime. In the first few pages you see the body of a man rotting in his living room. The smell of a barn in your nostrils, with a big cow dump plopped on the fireplace mantel. You know who murdered him already, which I think it's unusual for the genre. Then the plot unfolds.

And now the question: The Tableau style, might be counterproductive or flat in clumsy hands in horror fiction, but isn't that the main drive in crime fiction? Like, man found dead in a parking lot with four fingers chopped off and stuck in the his ears and nose. Flash. Woman found in a nightclub bathroom with snapped spine, broken neck, rolled all the way back and tied to her ankles like a big giant donut around the loo in a pool of spew and urine. Flash. Something like that?

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When it comes to horror the kinda that truly disturbs me is cosmic horror. Humanity's insignificant exisitance in the cosmic scale. I remember seeing John Carpenter's The Thing and being blown away by the presentation and practical special effects. I also loved the ending.

Personally I don't care much for Lovecraft. He puts me to sleep as I struggle through his stories. Which is how I feel about Tableau Horror. Being a medical professional for 25 years has deaden me to the sterile disection of having the horror cleanly laid out for me. I prefer the horror to build the tension to overwhelming levels and to shock me.

The only thing in recent memory to disturb me was Uzumaki by Junji Ito. The manga takes every chapter to create an individual story of horror around a central theme and combines them into and overall unfolding storyline. It seems like every chapter gets worse and worse. The volume slowly being turned up with every tale. I really enjoy the ending.

I think I will put Tableau Horror in my work so that I don't overwhelm the reader.

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I feel like in college I learned that the offstage violence is where the term 'obscene' comes from and the example cited was Antigone. IDK. Maybe that's tableau horror?

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