Is Snapchat Compatible with Dark Fiction?

Lovers of suspense and horror have harnessed the brevity and immediacy of Snapchat to create unsettling short films, opening up new avenues for storytelling.

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The brains of our generation seem to be hardwired with short attention spans, causing us to engage with minimal content for a maximum impact.

It is no wonder then that Snapchat, since its conception, has become popular. Its platform is perfect for recording fragments of our lives, our ‘ 10 second stories’ to send to our friends.

Hooked on its casual yet modern distribution method, many companies, authors, and celebrities have used it to further their marketing campaigns. (It appears that Buzzfeed is spreading its tentacles in the app)

However,  some users have taken advantage of the app’s assumed authenticity regarding such casual interaction and used the ephemeral storytelling of the medium to shock and encourage viewer response and interaction.

Hannah Macpherson’s  Sickhouse gives us a glimpse of what  movie trailers would look like if they were promoted entirely with Snapchat.

Alex J. Mann’s 3 Seconds plays on the potentially disturbing aspect of Snapchat’s filters and captions as well as the intimate closeness of the platform to everyday life.

Snapchat’s platform seems ripe for meeting commercial marketing and promotional needs.

 

Image attribution: ‘A portrait without eyes’ by Patrik Nygren via Flikr 2.0, C.C

 

Why Serious Writers should Avoid Wattpad

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The curse of Wattpad had plagued many aspiring Dark Fiction writers and readers.

The Wattpad app can be described as the ugly cousin of Fanfiction.net with predominantly mobile based access. It has happily provided the creative writing community with a free platform to publish works since 2006.

Despite its selection of awesome genres like sci-fi, fantasy and YA it has on offer, Wattpad is a tangle you don’t want to get caught in. Here’s why.

The exposure isn’t worth it.

You’re obviously not paid for your work. Writing is hard. It’s a shame to give your creations away so freely without any pay. People say the best thing about platforms like this is that it gives them the power to publish whatever-the-hell they want and get experience doing it.

The way I see it, it’s like getting an unpaid internship at a company nobody knows about and then slaving away there, knowing your efforts won’t be rewarded.

You won’t be able to publish the story you put up anywhere else.

Publishers generally want writer’s works that are exclusive to them. Unless you are willing to heavily rework your stories, publishers don’t want sloppy seconds.

You’re better off sending stories to established online magazines or websites that specialise in the genre you’re interested in. This way, you are forced to ‘up’ the quality of your work as well as get paid for your efforts.

You’re bound to make some embarrassing writing decisions.

Whether it’s the odd grammatical mistake, faulty plotline, character inconsistency, you can be sure they will stay on Wattpad for the occasional passerby to cringe at and quickly skip your story.

You will become a book-serialising monster.

The platform itself encourages ending paragraphs, chapters, or entire books on cliff-hangers in order to keep readers interested, often to the detriment of your style and intentions.

Wattpad writers don’t take the platform seriously.

What is most concerning is that writers on Wattpad have actually written books ridiculing the platform they themselves use, as evident by the wonderful titles: Why I Would Like To Slap Some Of The Writers On Wattpad by cigarettelungs and Your Stories are Bad and You Should Feel Bad by Edgar A. Malboeuf.

Wattpad does have its benefits, its huge community of readers provide writers with real-time feedback and ratings. If an author’s popularity is high, there is also a chance of getting offers from production companies. Sometimes.

 

Image credit:  ‘nice & caring people’ by Mariusz Szczepanik via Flikr. 2.0 C.C

 

 

 

A Quick Fix for Writers Block

 Dark Fiction writers should turn to  image collections  on social media when suffering from a bout of writer’s block for a quick hit of inspiration.

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Engaging with photo essays or picture collections on social media is a quick way to inspire Dark Fiction writers when they hit writer’s block.

You’re a Dark Fiction writer, sitting in your evil lair trying to come up with a story that will blow your readers minds with its spookiness and originality.

But the mood isn’t right. You just watched Zootopia the other day and are still hung up on the cutesy, thinly-veiled interspecies romance between Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde. You need to get back in the game fast.

What you need, my friend, is a top grade photo essay or image gallery to spark your imagination. I’m talking NASA Mission galleries, NGV art exhibitions and National Geographic photography collections. Potent stuff to give you the fix you need.

I remember during the first weeks of my undergrad, my creative writing tutor handed out random images ripped out from magazines and Art books. She told us to write a story based off four images. Miraculously for me, a pretty decent story came out of it.

Written prompts didn’t get through to me because they didn’t have the anchoring effect that images have.

Often as Dark Fiction writers (as well as any other genre writer really) we tend to visualise characters, places and things before we write them down, relying on our own creative capabilities and writing techniques to make them believable and authentic.

To give you a taste of this ‘anchoring effect’, below I have compiled an image gallery titled ‘Lonely Places’ designed to conjure up impressions of abandonment and mystery.

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Where you inspired? Could you write a paragraph about each image?

Images leave us with impressions, emotions and ideas. It is a glimpse of lived experience that can give us a sample of what a whole story could be.

There are all kinds of image collections for writers on social media. Learning what triggers the scenarios, situations and atmosphere’s we envisage in our stories can also help to narrow down the themes of the galleries and photo essays we search for.

If you harness the great power provided by image galleries and photo essays that the internet has to offer, you’ll be back in your Dark Fiction master robes in no time.

 

First captioned image at the top ‘Layered Ambience’ from my personal collection.

Image Gallery Credits (in the order they appear in):

‘White Moon’ from my personal collection

‘Solitary’ by Neil Tackaberry C.C 2.0

‘Byzantine Brickwork at Chora’ by Fusion-of-horizons C.C 2.0

‘Interior Mine’ by freeganfrenzy C.C 2.0

‘Vardzia escape tunnel’ by Henri Bergius C.C 2.0

 

 

Could Creepypasta Influence the Future of Dark Fiction?

As a Dark Fiction writer browsing the internet for inspiration, I eventually came across the term ‘creepypasta.’ It refers to horror stories that get ‘copied’ and ‘pasted’ around the internet.

Apparently there is a whole community of people drawn to gore and horror that enjoy spreading creeptastic stories around on blogs and forums.

The search term peaked in 2010 and has since remained popular, spreading around the internet like a disease. It seems to be on the rise this October according to Google Trends:

In a podcast dubbed ‘Hagtalk’, some friends and I discuss the prevalence of creepypastas on Social Media. We discuss the advantages of memes and creepypasta’s liberal use of them.

We also explore creepypasta stories and memes potential for expansion and what this could mean for Dark Fiction writers.

To learn more about what creepypastas are all about, visit creepypasta.com or CreepsMcPasta on YouTube.

Podcast Image  ‘The Erlking’ from my personal photography collection.

Podcast voice narrator British English female voice Emma by From Text to Speech

Podcast background music Never Dying and A Dragon’s Lullabye by Scott Buckley, C.C 4.0. (The volume of the music has been adjusted using Audacity).

Twitter: an Innovative Literary Platform for Dark Fiction Writers

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Twitter is no longer the self-absorbed, celebrity ditz of social media apps

‘Twitterature’ or ‘Twitterfiction’ began around 2008, two years after Twitter itself was launched. Now quite the diva, Twitterfiction showcases new forms of writing, constrained by the 140-character limit of each tweet.

It is however, viewed by some as one of the great blights facing traditional literature mediums.

Cursed as a book-killer and narrative desecrator, it supposedly represents a mass-scale amateurisation of everything old people have held sacred for mothballed eons: literary sophistication, gatekeeping, respectable grammar, and expression.

Twitter is in fact an excellent tool for genre writers.

It challenges authors and encourages expansion of what is considered ‘legitimate’ literature.

Besides providing form experimentation through writing categories such as microfiction (a short, self-contained story), it also offers new ways of  presenting works with immediate feedback and writer-reader interaction.

The restrictiveness of Twitter also forces writers to think about their audience, in order to capture their attention.

Some critics like Jonathan Franzen perceive Twitterature as the Jar Jar Binks of literary mediums: Clumsy, goofy, and unbearably irritating.

I digress. It takes a certain kind of determination and talent to compose a 140-character literary tweet. In fact, it can be a helpful exercise in refining ideas and getting to the core of a story.

Dark Fiction is all about creating an atmosphere of eeriness and spookiness. It explores a darker human condition: the flip side of ordinary.

In my view, Dark Fiction really lends itself to microfiction. Great examples of this are Teju Cole’s Small Fate tweets and DeadEndFiction’s tweets:

“In Ikotun, Mrs Ojo, who was terrified of armed robbers, died in her barricaded home, of smoke inhalation.”

“Lost loved ones can’t be replaced. But there’s something there, sitting in your place, not yet casting a shadow but growing in your absence.”

Each carefully crafted line laughs sardonically at arbitrary happenings in life.

In this form, Dark Fiction can adopt an eerie resonance: a brevity that can be uniquely frightening.

In this constantly changing technological world, driven by accessibility, entertainment and experimentation, writers can’t afford to be narcissistic platform-phobes, as they risk closing themselves off from vast audiences and new forms.

Instead they need to adapt to the fast-paced writing scenes that fluidly shift from mobile, tablet, laptop and computer, and offer an immersive experience that, however fleeting, connects them with readers.

Post image: “Welcome to Twitter” by free stocks.org Flikr Public Domain Licence 2016