Clayton Blue's picture
Clayton Blue from Arizona is reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides December 9, 2011 - 2:01am

Is it harder to scare your reader or make them laugh? Which do you prefer writing?

David Shepherd's picture
David Shepherd from shepherdsville, KY is reading Idoru by William Gibbson December 9, 2011 - 2:36am

I think the toughest challenge a writer faces is making them feel in general. Though I think fear is harder to invoke because there's humor in almost anything and with the right wording no matter what there is a joke to be made. Whether you're going for scary, creepy, disturbing, etc. though there's just something different about writing something that truly fucks with people. I've only done it once or twice in my short time as a writer. I never consider anything I write as scary unless I consider deleting what I just wrote and think what the fuck is wrong with me. When I make myself question my mental health I know somebody reading it will start to cry and burn whatever it is I wrote.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs December 9, 2011 - 2:37am

I can't remember the last time a book scared me, so I think it's definitely easier to write humor.

JonnyGibbings's picture
JonnyGibbings December 9, 2011 - 3:11am

I think you either have a sense of humor or you don't. That said, with the aid of sarcasm, irony, slapstick, situation, there are so many tools you can use to make funny. I would say without a doubt it is much harder to do do scary.

We deal with humor every day, more than fear or terror anyway (Except if you've been in a car when my lady drives), so we are somewhat de-sensitised. Even adverts use chuckles to subvert your cash. Like Bradly says, I can't remember a book that spooked me. I can recall wonderful dark, scary books though.

Clayton Blue's picture
Clayton Blue from Arizona is reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides December 9, 2011 - 3:03am

Hmm...  Humor can be found in almost anything today, I agree. Though I wonder if taste of humor is hard to get around when writing humor, I wouldn't stop wondering if I was the only one that finds it funny (like most things I laugh at). Also, I'm sure today, most humor crosses over into the disturbing or scary category...dead baby jokes for example.

David Shepherd's picture
David Shepherd from shepherdsville, KY is reading Idoru by William Gibbson December 9, 2011 - 3:16am

It's hard to make scary because I laugh at fucked up things and so many others do to. I mean when you write about a child getting piddled as a joke there's not much that can get to you. I wish there was somebody who could make me have that same feeling of fear when I'm right at deaths door. And I've been there so many times they'd really have to make it good for that to get to me haha.

Brian Ingham's picture
Brian Ingham from Stillwater Oklahoma is reading There is No Year by. Blake Butler December 9, 2011 - 5:09am

@David-I agree 100%. If I look at something that I'm working on and it makes me think "What the fuck am I doing/What the fuck is wrong with me," then I truly believe that it would be something that would affect the reader as well. Unless you're really crossing a line with your humor(dead baby jokes for example-hilarious) 9 times out 10 you'll be able to at least get a chuckle from your audience. I've never been truly scared by a book or story, but I've been disturbed(Chuck P's Guts for ex....I cringe just writing the title) But i can't count the times that I've cracked up at a story. Like most of you guys said, we deal with humor everyday, so being able to write a scene or story that makes the the hair on the back of the readers neck stand up is a much tougher thing to accomplish in my opinion. Just my 2 cents(and it's probably not even worth that..)

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words December 9, 2011 - 7:49am

As Terry Gilliam observed, the older you get, the less funny you find jokes etc... because you've heard it all before. Same goes for scary I suppose.

It would be an easier task (not easy, just easier) to write horror/humour for a younger audience in that respect.

but David's hit on the key - making them feel.

I've cried while reading exactly one book. I've been scared probably more in my adolescence (although I think "sick fascination" is probably more accurate than scared). I think books have unsettled me more than scared me (like the Wasp Factory). Laughing happens often enough.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest December 9, 2011 - 9:33am

I think scary is harder to write. Disturbing can defitinitely be written, and I've come across a few books that have been disturbing. Haunted being one of them. Funny, though? Yeah, funny can be written easier. I've read books, numerous stories on here and even some of the threads that made me laugh out loud. Only two books have ever scared me: The Exorcist and Possession (the true story of The Exorcist, which was actually the scarier of the two).

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff December 9, 2011 - 9:40am

Hey R.Moon, I'm reading Possessed right now! Ready to get scared jawless.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest December 9, 2011 - 9:49am

Are you? You liking it? Did you get the copy with the copied transcripts from the priest? Those are probably the scariest parts of the book.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff December 9, 2011 - 9:56am

Yes, it's with the priest's diary. I've started it today and I was just taking a break before chapter 3. Thanks for suggesting it, I find it interesting and probably gonna devour it. I'm sooooo going to learn how to write scary, booohoooohoooo!

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest December 9, 2011 - 10:00am

No problem. I loved it. Too bad I got rid of it. I read it like ten years ago, but it's stuck with me. I'll have to get it again. 

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest December 9, 2011 - 10:00am

No problem. I loved it. Too bad I got rid of it. I read it like ten years ago, but it's stuck with me. I'll have to get it again. 

.'s picture
. December 9, 2011 - 12:05pm

I always go back to Ellis so please don't lash me for it. Less Than Zero and Rules of Attraction are scary books. They are scary because it is real life shit. The 80's was scary. Ellis conveys the culture through his characters and settings. Young, fucked up adults. It was like he was warning us of the generations to come. That makes sense right?

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters December 9, 2011 - 12:09pm

The 80's was scary.

From what you've heard in stories?  Trust me, they were not any more frightening than any other decade.

.'s picture
. December 9, 2011 - 12:13pm

I suppose so, I just didn't want to lessen my point. Just different popular drug choices and music choices I suppose. 

David Shepherd's picture
David Shepherd from shepherdsville, KY is reading Idoru by William Gibbson December 9, 2011 - 4:30pm

The only time I've truly been frightened in life was on a bus with an ugly girl wearing to much makeup who pulled her pants down to show me all the cuts on her legs and she told me she loved me. Ive been scared in a I'm going to die way plenty of times but never just that unsettled.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words December 9, 2011 - 4:37pm

The 80s were scary... they really were.

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz December 9, 2011 - 4:40pm

That is where my jaw must have gone.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff December 10, 2011 - 2:50am

Yes! We're about to write so much scary to cause a very bad case of the incredibly fleeing jaws.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 10, 2011 - 11:18am

This thread depresses me, because I have to agree that funny is easier, but I can't write funny. I just can't, every time I try it comes out forced and painfully bad. Now, horror? I don't know. I have written "scary stories' but are they actually scary? Probably not. I rarely read horror that makes me wish I had a nightlight.

JonnyGibbings's picture
JonnyGibbings December 10, 2011 - 12:41pm

Comedy isn't that hard. There are loads more skills you can use from abstract to  writing about the embarrassing things we all do. You can guarantee well written stuff about how we all get painful shits and itchy assholes. I think scary and psychological takes skill. Often comedy just needs confidence. That and the ability to see the irony in things.

There is a bit in my book where the guy who it is written about is about to get laid. The whole premiss hinges on how desperate us guys can be. Mine seems to rely on shock/gross humor

Excerpt from Malice in Blunderland:
She must have an oral fixation as, by God, she knows what a cock likes. She is making little noises as if my cock tasted of chocolate. Then BAM, she punched her thumb right up my ass. Fuck me, I was so shocked, I went cross-eyed. I think my eyeballs touched. I let out a little scream at a pitch only bats and dolphins could hear as I sank my nails into the wall. So, that explains the nail and wet thumb. She then started thumbing me with such violence, like she was hitch hiking up my ass and sucking my cock with such force, I thought she was going to suck my spine out through the end of my cock and hold it aloft like 'Predator'. She was working me so hard I was sure she would snap my pelvis. It was kinky, yet worrying.
I kind liked it but I didn’t know if I was going to come so hard I’d blow a hole through her skull or shit in her hand.
She stopped and stood up. Smeared lipstick and a filthy smile. I was open mouthed with shock. And open arsed with damage. This could be the best fuck ever. Filthy bitch.
She then said, with her square jaw, and big head. This Amazonian Goddess, “Lets fuck.” I am so happy. Result, score, ding-fucking-dong. She fumbles in her handbag and pulls out a condom. That right there is the international symbol that sex is guaranteed. Put your seat trays in the upright position. Make sure all luggage is securely located in the overhead storage, fasten your seat-belts, Penis will shortly be arriving in Vagina. She looks at me and for a blissful moment, she looks demure and shy. ‘Would you like me to put it on?’ she says.

“Oh, fuck yeah, roll that fucker on!”
You can imagine my surprise then. Or rather shock, as she pulled up her mini skirt to reveal a rock solid, fat, blue veined cock.


aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. December 10, 2011 - 1:31pm

Wow, did not expect that ending lol

.'s picture
. December 10, 2011 - 1:53pm

Johnny can you post a link to a website where I can buy this book?

JonnyGibbings's picture
JonnyGibbings December 10, 2011 - 2:06pm

Yeah, only ebook till March though. Mind you, it is on offer at the moment http://t.co/alOxOTiW

David Shepherd's picture
David Shepherd from shepherdsville, KY is reading Idoru by William Gibbson December 11, 2011 - 10:53am

The only thing I'm wondering after reading that is who played catcher.

David Shepherd's picture
David Shepherd from shepherdsville, KY is reading Idoru by William Gibbson December 11, 2011 - 10:55am

Damn double post makes me sound more desperate to know than I want people to know I am.

.'s picture
. December 11, 2011 - 10:57am

I think a lot of traffic slows the server down. Thats cool though. Must be a lot of people lurking the forums.

Bruno Hat's picture
Bruno Hat from Glasgow, Scotland is reading writing and arithmetic December 11, 2011 - 2:29pm

Jonny that was genuinely very funny.

JonnyGibbings's picture
JonnyGibbings December 12, 2011 - 5:09am

I like that. 'who played catcher?' - neither, it ends like this:

“WHAT THE FUCK?”

She looks at me and instantly there is a mood change on her, I mean, his, face. “Don’t act like you didn’t know you little cock tease.”

“WHAT the FUUUUUUUCK?”
She, I mean, he, then grabbed me by the throat. “Your gonna suck my cock and I’m gonna fuck you, you little shit, leading me on like that.”

I was about to shout there was no way that was going to happen but she grabbed me by the hair and slammed my head into the door behind me. My legs go weak. Then she grabbed me by the face, hard. I try to break free and she slaps me. I go to hit her back but have been taught  never to hit a woman. Then, she drives her fist into my stomach, goodfella’s style and I drop. I reach out to scratch or pinch. I don’t know, I’m not much of a fighter. All I do though is pull off her wig and it lands on my head. I look like a bad Ozzy Osborne impersonator. I look up and no way is that a woman I thought. The penis was a better clue I guess. Then I realised who she reminded me of, David Coulthard, the F1 driver.
On my knees and I cant breathe, she, I mean, he, is jousting at me with her cock. Its purple shiny dome trying to smash my face in. With each thrust, I am diving my head out of the way. It’s epic, like the scene from Starwars where Luke has dropped his lightsabre and Darth is slashing at him with his. Except this is an angry transvestite with an erection. “Suck it,” he shouted.

“NO!”

“SUCK IT!” she shouted.

“I will not.” I said. Sounding like C3PO.
She kneed me in the jaw. Smashed my head against the door again and I’m almost out cold. She steps back to kick me and lets one go to my gut. Pain like a lightning bolt ravages me. She steps back to deliver a harder kick, but is unsteady on her high heels. Hopping, she unbuckles the strap and removes a shoe, revealing a massive foot. Shit, it might have been her shoe I found in Salcombe. How did I ever confuse this thing for a woman?
 With that she stepped back to deliver a mighty kick to my face. I shut my eyes and clenched my teeth, waiting for impact. Waiting for her to do a Jonny Wilkinson on my head and kick my face over the roof.  A scraping sound of high heel on tarmac followed by a massive thud and a crashing sound, then silence.
When swinging back to murder-kick me, she’s got her hand bag trapped under her foot, lost her balance. And fallen, smashing into a metal wheelie bin and the wall. Like King Kong when he fell off the Empire State building, there she lay. But with a tartan mini skirt on and a cock flopping out. I got up and ran.
I’d like to make a small addendum  to what I said earlier about it not hurting when you get hit. It does. A lot. Especially when delivered by an angry transvestite.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 12, 2011 - 1:14pm

So, I was talking about this thread to the husband, and he insists an old column I used to write is hilarious. Maybe I don't get my own humor? 

David Shepherd's picture
David Shepherd from shepherdsville, KY is reading Idoru by William Gibbson December 12, 2011 - 1:37pm

The last paragraph there is great. You have some truly entertaining work Jonny. Definately have to buy that fucking book when it comes out hard copy.

JonnyGibbings's picture
JonnyGibbings December 15, 2011 - 10:50pm
.'s picture
. December 15, 2011 - 11:02pm

Fun Fact: Jonny's agent actually beat the crap out of him for the picture to add to reflect on the realism of the story and what your face will look like after you're done reading it.

Congrats man. Good luck. Can I barder with you for a signed copy? 

I'm waiting until the antho I'm getting published in comes out before I post the cover art. That way if you think the cover is cheesy you can just crack the book open and see my story on the first few pages. 

[and because I violated my contract with them so I'm debating mentioning the title or art just to be safe]