Real Life and Horror

Although I’m not entirely sure where I am going to go for my intro yet, I have certainly noticed a fair amount of patterns, and when I organize my data I think I will find an angle for creating an introduction, and more importantly, an actual thesis, rather than simply a concept. A major consistency I’ve noticed is that King’s strategy revolves around warping real life events. In nearly every interview I’ve read, King cites some sort of real life event inspiring him, causing him to take it, and push it to the extreme, in order to achieve the horror genre he favors. For example, Cujo is one of the clearest uses of this technique for him. King tells an interviewer at The Paris Review about a small, family owned mechanic’s shop nearby one of his houses. He says it was out in the middle of nowhere, and the mechanic had a pet dog that he allowed to freely wander the property. King found this dog threatening, and felt proven right when it growled and lunged at him (only to be stopped by the owner, who of course came to his beloved dogs defense). King took this real life event, and began to warp it, to take it and apply his fears to it. He thinks, what is someone most afraid of, losing a loved one. Instead of him, he imagines it’s his wife visiting the mechanic, in their beat up car. The car won’t start, as it has a tendency. In his mind, he wonders what would happen if his wife had to run into the car in order to avoid the mechanic’s dog, and then, their old car wouldn’t start, as it had the tendency to? This thought process leads itself exactly to one of the most famous scenes King has written, and this is just the beginning of his process!

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Why Study Stephen King?

Since I completely decided on my topic early on in the process of this research paper, I may have to repeat myself a bit when I talk about why I chose this particular topic, not that I’m complaining, since I could talk about Stephen King forever. More specifically, since my question pertains to King’s use of horror in his writing process, and how, perhaps, that effects the decisions, and the order of said decisions, he makes. As I’ve read up on him during my research, I have learned that this effect is quite large! He often cites the fact that his genre of choice is horror as his reasoning for certain aspects of his process. It is easy to find interviews with him, as he is incredibly popular and incredibly famous. He is well known, I think, for having a rather large and impressive bibliography, especially since many of his works have been translated into equally, if not more, famous movies. I think this as a paper, will at the very least be interesting, because it is a topic I myself am interested in. It’s important to look at the writing process from different perspectives, and using the perspectives of different genres of fiction is a neat and specific way to look at it. I also think it will be useful for fiction writers such as myself to look at and study it, whether their topic of choice is horror or not, and compare and contrast it with their own process. Even disregarding the specification of the genre, Stephen King is objectively a famous and popular author, and thus, is one that is worthwhile to study. It’s important to look at the successes of others, when bettering oneself, but also, even when one isn’t an author, it’s useful to learn.

Researching King

I found, when researching Stephen King, there is no shortage of information. He’s a very open and very famous man. One of the things he is well known for is requesting that his readers review him, send him letters, and critique his works, so it’s not a surprise that he’s happy to speak on his process. There was an excellent and perfectly relevant article on The Paris Review that suited my topic perfectly. He said several interesting things in this review. I noted all of them, especially what he said pertaining to the genre of horror specifically because this is the topic I intend to do for my essay. A definite pattern has emerged, and that is the pattern of how he writes his stories. He always cited taking some sort of real world inspiration, that he very heavily twisted, pushed to the extreme, in order to make it more, for lack of a better word, horrific. He cited a story he wrote around the time of the interview in The Paris Review, called Cell, which I have begun to read in order to more accurately write on it, and also because I honestly just wanted to. Something that surprised me was King’s frustration with the reigning popularity of his older stories. As a fan of his older stories, this felt like some sort of sacrilege when I first read it, before I really thought about it. He wants to improve, obviously, it really isn’t that shocking when you take a second. Everyone wants to improve! I think this is an important thing, though. His writing has spanned a long time and he has begun to resent his early works. I think that will be an interesting thing to include in my essay when I write it. Especially when considering The Stand.

Stephen King is Boring

For my upcoming English paper I would like to write about Stephen King, and I pretty much narrowed that down the moment it was suggested to do one author in class. It’s obviously best for most people to write a paper about something exciting to them, so it was an easy choice when I felt myself quite literally perk up at the idea. As far as the writing process, as the prompt asks, I am definitely most interested in how an author comes to an ending. I have always struggled, in both fiction and academic writing, with closure. It’s difficult to me to even comprehend how someone may come upon a solid ending naturally, and I would love to know how a favorite author of mine does it. I am fascinated by the whole process in and of itself as well, and I could almost definitely see myself doing an overall generally analysis of Stephen King’s process. The point here being, personally, I am most frustrated by conclusion.

Switching gears entirely, I certainly have a personal connection to Stephen King. This is the part where I know I could go on for hours if I don’t control myself, as I am such an avid fan of his work, not just in reading it, but in critically breaking it down and comparing them to his other works and also the works of other authors. No one asked, but Misery is absolutely my favorite, followed closely by Carrie (and then perhaps The ShiningGerald’s Game, although that is a rough one, wow. Secret Window, Secret Garden is also one of my favorites of the stories I’ve read in his anthologies). That being said, King’s work, in my opinion, is highly…not controversial, perse, but debatable in its acclaim. King has a natural ability to make a boring story into something that holds a reader’s attention, it’s beautiful and interesting and I would love to know how he does it. If I were to retell The Shining to someone, in my own words, it could never hold someone’s attention the way the book does. I think the best example I could give to someone to explain this phenomenon is my experience with Carrie. I am a horror fan outside of just King, and watched the movie as a preteen, excited for a film so iconic and well known. It bored me, that isn’t to say it bored everyone or will bore everyone, but it bored me. I read the short story version of Carrie as a senior in high school in one sitting during a class period. I didn’t hear a single word the teacher said, and to this day, I find it to be one of his most profoundly disturbing works. I’m not easily scared by fiction, and Carrie certainly unnerved me. It’s that juxtaposition which draws me to talk about him, and excites me when the topic of his writing becomes a possible essay choice. His writing is all about voice, as opposed to story, which in conjunction with his genre of choice, horror, fascinates me, because it’s strange and different.

Interview with a Nihilist

Kouta is an incredibly composed person, sarcastic at his best, and intensely cynical at his worst. As a whole, I feel like he perfectly encapsulates a standard user in the online community we frequent. Nihilism is worn like a badge of honor for all of us. Therefore, I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to interview him and get what I would imagine to be a standard answer from a nihilistic teenage member of the community. I was immediately shocked with the first question, though, when I asked him how long he had been present in the community. I had expected his answer to be 2016 or later, like myself, but rather he said 2012, which completely took me by surprise. This is interesting and important to me and for my observations because it says a lot about how the community effected him as a person, as well as the other way around. Another thing that I found shocking was when I asked him about direct messaging. I expected him to use direct messaging fairly often to communicate, as I do, but I was shocked to learn that he rarely, if ever, messages someone who hasn’t messaged him first. I also asked several questions where I specifically asked how he thought that other members of the community would, and the answers I got for those were extremely telling. I believe the answers for those will fit well into my paper as I compare and contrast with my own observations that either support or argue against what he believes. One of the most fascinating quotes I gathered was his view on callout culture, which I didn’t even think to ask about, and he brought up entirely on his own. In response to a question about how he would react to a friend liking something offensive, he said, “If you’re involved with someone who has taboo views or likes things that are considered unhealthy, people will write callouts. They’ll write callouts for people who do it, but they’ll also write them for people engaging. Like hey this person knows OP, unfollow them. It’s like, you constantly have to be engaging in healthy behaviors in order to like, maintain your internet presence and have people like you. When you like the weird shit, that’s all your surrounded by, because those are the only people that will accept you. There’s like this divide, where you have to choose. Do I want to not care and have a lot of people not like me and be with people that like me but they’re older and adults and like weird things, or do I want to be someone with a pitchfork and callout people who are doing wrong and stay on this side? It’s very black and white.” This quote shocked me, because it perfectly worded a conflict I had been feeling upset about myself, and I am excited and inspired by it.

An Analysis of a Tweet

In my discourse group, the general method of communication is Twitter. This is the place where the members of the community generally meet for the first time, speak to each other daily, and express themselves in general. Prior to selecting this genre to study my chosen community, I would say I was extensively familiar, even affluent, with this method of communication. Reading tweets, someone expects to glean information pertaining to the lives of the people they follow (in this situation: friends), as well as current events, and occasionally, or perhaps more often than not, comedic expression.

The fascinating thing about a tweet as a genre of communication is the complete universality of the medium. Generally, few, if any credentials are required to create a Twitter account. A person must be above the age of thirteen, and literate enough to read a sign up menu, and that is it, they are set. This is an appeal of the platform, as well as an intermittent problem. As far as the specific discourse community I am studying, the sub-community of Twitters massive user base. In this community, the writers are generally above the age of 13, but below the age of 35, and it is expected that a user has read the webcomic that is used as a basis for most general discussion.

In conjunction with the sub-community writer base’s general and unspoken rules concerning having read the aforementioned comic, it can be inferred that given the nature of Twitter, the same rules would apply to the audience. On the platform, a follower of a user who the user is following back is referred to as a mutual. This relationship, conveys the correlation between writer and audience, them being one and the same.

kankr

In this artifact specifically, the purpose of the text is both comedy, but also on a deeper level, a connection between members of the audience who “understand”. There is a certain camaraderie, a feeling of inclusion, for the audience when they come across a tweet like this, with a specific joke or reference that they can be “in on”. In this particular situation, the joke being in reference to a specific comic character with very overt connections to a certain biblical figure. The relationship this creates between the writer and reader, is one of friendship and comfort, and that is extremely important with this genre of artifact. That being said, for an audience that wouldn’t “get it”, this artifact would be strange and meaningless.

Overall, the rules for this genre are unspoken at best and non-existent at worst. In the sub-community I am writing about, I have observed the rules to be mostly noticeable in the nuance of writing style, vocabulary, and general voice. The tone is incredibly impersonal, written with lax grammatical rules and disregard for censorship. It is written as if talking to a close friend, or even as if simply recording one’s own thoughts. It’s passive and thoughtless, even. Sentences are short, limited to 240 characters and rarely even reaching that.

Discourse Communities

One of my primary identities is as an LGBT individual. I spent years in the closet, hiding this part of myself from the ages of eleven, when I discovered it, to eighteen, when I finally came out. As such, shoving this major aspect of my personality down for so long, I relished in the chance to finally express myself and be with like-minded people. When I got the opportunity to join the gay straight alliance I jumped at the chance to join a community where I could finally feel like myself. This community would be excellent for our upcoming essay, as it’s a group of people with a single, specific similarity, but only that one connecting thread. Writing practices the gay straight alliances engages in are mainly texting and posts on social media.

Another community I am a part of that I could include for this assignment is the group of kids I used to do art with. Although we were never technically a “club”, we certainly behaved as such, and not all of us ended up as actual friends, so it would be an interesting community to study. It would certainly be difficult though, considering there hasn’t been very much communication between members since our high school graduation. The writing practices this community engaged in were exclusively emails.

A final discourse community I could write about, is the one that I honestly intend to do. A major part of my life is my participation in online groups and friendships. Since around the age of fourteen I have had an extremely active Twitter account that floated around through different groups during the years. Currently, I have a massive amount of friends and acquaintances on Twitter that I have made through a mutual interest in a webcomic. It’s a spider web of people from all over the globe, and I think it would be a fascinating group to study the inner workings of, especially with varying opinions through the comic being the connecting and fascinating thread. Obviously the primary communicative practice is Twitter posts, but there are also direct messages, Snapchats, texts, and group or solo calls (voice as well as face to face). Ever since the assignment was introduced I have been certain I will study this group, since I am close to them in a way I am not with the other group, and there is also a massive disparity between members. The ages range from twelve to late thirties, nationalities from American to Filipino. It’s an interesting group of people with varying levels of things in common and I look forward to observing them in a scientific light as well as interviewing. I have several hypothesis’ I intend to look for, but I also hoping to learn something new to perhaps write about.