I Think I’m Seeing Demons But I’m Not Going to Say Anything

6 May 2017 by , No Comments

One of my biggest pet peeves about horror novels (and by extension, horror movies) is when characters act in absolutely preposterous ways that make me want to scream at the book/movie. I think characters usually act this way because the author A) wants to stretch out the story or B) uses it as a cheap way to create tension. That’s lazy writing IMHO.

I’ve read a number of novels of late where the characters behaved in absolutely preposterous ways that I simply don’t believe. And I don’t just mean the trope where the character goes into the empty haunted house by themselves on Halloween night. I’m referring to characters who do way more stupid stuff, like witnessing all kinds of bizarre crap going on around them, but instead of acting like a normal person and running away or getting help or doing something, they instead simply rationalize away what they witnessed.

One book I recently tried to read had a child doing increasingly bizarre things because it was possessed by a demon. In the first third of the book, the father not only gradually realizes that his child was possessed by a demon, but that this was the same demonic possession that had happened to him when he was a boy. So what did he do to help his daughter?

Nothing! At all!

The father simply kept hoping he was mistaken about what was going on — despite all evidence to the contrary — or believing that whatever was happening would simply stop — despite the fact that it showed no signs of doing so.

No, I don't see anything out of the ordinary here. Who wants ice cream?

No, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here. Who wants ice cream?

I didn’t buy this at all. I simply do not believe a parent who otherwise seems loving and competent would act this way. And if a character does act this way, then I don’t want to spend any time with him or her. That father is either an asshole or incredibly stupid, neither of which I think the author intended him to be in this case. Either way, neither are traits I want in a main character I’m going to spend my evening with.

I’m currently working on a new horror novel and my goal with this book (besides being incredibly entertaining and having it turned into a move starring Cate Blanchett and Ewan McGregor) is to write characters who act the way people would really act when confronted by horrifying events. That means if their daughter spews green vomit and spins her head around, they won’t break out Candyland and act like everything is just peachy.

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