Three Basic Tips For Coming Up With Good Settings In The Horror Genre

Well, I thought that I’d talk about storytelling, settings and the horror genre today. This is mostly because I happened to re-watch an absolutely amazing horror movie recently, where a large proportion of the film’s scares come from the location that the film is set in. This reminded me of how important settings and locations can be in the horror genre.

So, I thought that I’d offer some basic tips for coming up with good settings for your horror novel, comic etc….

1) Isolation: I’ll start with the really obvious one. One easy way to make the settings in a horror story even scarier is to ensure that the main characters are cut off from the world, and therefore have to rely on their own wits to survive.

When setting horror stories in the present day, it’s also usually obligatory to point out that the setting in question has no mobile phone reception (in fact, this has been done in horror movies for almost two decades. See the 1999 remake of “House On Haunted Hill” for an older example).

By setting your horror story somewhere isolated, you not only increase the level of danger that the characters face but you also give your story an instant sense of direction and suspense too, since the characters have to find a way to either summon help or escape the location in question.

And, yes, the horror genre is one of the few genres where running away from danger is actually realistically presented as a sensible and heroic thing to do.

2) Symbolism and/or history: The best and most memorable settings in the horror genre are not only eerily mysterious (so that the characters, and audience, don’t know what to expect) but they will often reflect a deeper symbolic and/or historical horror in some way or another.

For example, the classic horror videogame “Silent Hill 2” (major plot SPOILERS ahead!) is set in an abandoned, fog-covered town that is filled with monsters. Every now and then, an air raid siren will sound and then the town will transform itself into a much creepier version of itself – with rusty walls, gloomier lighting and even creepier monsters. These monsters include things like a giant executioner-like character called “Pyramid Head” and creepy undead nurses.

In addition to this, there are lots of other creepy, but meaningful, details scattered throughout the town – such as an abandoned shop that contains creepy graffiti on the inside of the papered-up windows (which changes, depending on when you read it) or a mannequin that is dressed like the main character’s late wife.

All of these details might initially seem like they are just there to scare the audience, but they hold a deeper meaning for the game’s main character – they are all symbolic reflections of his own feelings of guilt about ending the life of his terminally-ill wife. For example, the undead nurses symbolise (amongst other things) hospitals and illness, Pyramid Head’s executioner-like appearance symbolises the main character’s judgment of himself, the evil version of the world represents the main character’s tormented psyche etc…

But, even if the setting of a horror story isn’t a direct reflection of the main characters, it is still important to include some kind of deeper horror too. Going back to the 1999 remake of “House On Haunted Hill”, a lot of the film’s horror comes from the fact that the film takes place in a derelict mental hospital that was run by a cruel doctor during the 1930s.

So, the additional horrors inherent in this setting include things like torture, outdated attitudes, psychological suffering etc…. Which are reflected in many of the locations within the hospital (eg: rooms containing scary-looking medical equipment that has been left to rust etc..).

The easiest way to add a deeper horror to the settings in a horror story is simply to give the location in question a creepy history. However, this alone isn’t enough. The design, style and notable features of the location must also be some kind of symbolic reflection (the more subtle, the better) of this horrifying history.

3) Unreliable locations: Another way to come up with terrifying locations for horror stories is simply to make the location itself a creepily unpredictable thing. If the main characters don’t know what to expect, or cannot even trust reality itself – then this will make the audience feel even more nervous.

The classic horror movie example of this is in “A Nightmare On Elm Street“, where almost all of the film’s horrific events take place within the main characters’ dreams. Not only does this setting give the horror a sense of chilling inevitability (since no-one can stay awake forever), but the focus on dream-like settings also means that the audience never quite knows what to expect. After all, literally anything can happen in a dream….

Likewise, a good comics-based example of this is Raven Gregory’s “Return To Wonderland”. This is an extremely disturbing (and grisly) horror comic that is based on ‘Alice In Wonderland’ (and is even creepier than a classic computer game with a vaguely similar premise called “American McGee’s Alice).

Since the main character in “Return To Wonderland” is plonked into an evil version of a familiar fictional location (Wonderland) – this comic’s setting also plays on the reader’s expectations too. Because the readers think that they know what to expect, they soon discover that can’t even trust their own memories of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ when horrific things start happening. So, the story is a lot less predictable, and a lot scarier, as a result.

So, the less predictable a location is, the creepier it will be. If the main characters cannot even trust the world around them, then your story or comic will be a lot scarier.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

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Five Reasons Why Fictional Villains Are Such Interesting Characters

One of the interesting things that I’ve noticed during my informal research into films from the 1990s is that, often, the villains are some of the most interesting characters. But, this is, of course, also true in a lot of other stories from different times and in different mediums.

So, I thought that I’d list some possible reasons why the villains are often the most interesting characters in a film, story, comic, novel, game etc.. in case it can help you write more interesting villains.

1) Mystery: Unlike heroic characters, who the audience will spend a lot of time with, villains tend to appear slightly less often in stories. This usually means that they can often be a lot more mysterious than the main characters can be. This makes the audience feel a lot more curious about the villains than about the heroic characters. So, this is one reason why villains can be really interesting characters.

I mean, would Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” be such an interesting novel if Dracula was the narrator? Probably not. No, the reason why Dracula is such an interesting character is because – if I remember rightly- the main characters (who narrate the story) don’t really know that much about him. We only get relatively few glimpses of this mysterious vampire, and he’s much more interesting as a result.

In addition to this, a certain level of mystery surrounding the villain can often be used to make them seem more frightening or more powerful. If the audience doesn’t know the villain’s motivations, the villain’s identity or the villain’s plan then this can often add a lot of drama and/or emotional impact to a story. I mean, there’s a good reason why the most famous fictional villains (eg: Freddy Krueger, Darth Vader, Fantomas etc…) will often wear a mask of some kind.

2) Dramatic conflict: Simply put, a villain has to pose some kind of threat to the main characters. This not only provides the “good” main characters with a justifiable reason to do heroic stuff, but it also makes the story a lot more gripping too. Plus, it can sometimes allow for better characterisation by making the “good” characters seem good in comparison to the villains, thus allowing for a certain amount of intriguing moral ambiguity, dramatic rule-breaking (for a good reason) etc.. on the part of the good characters.

But, more than anything, stories need the drama of conflict in order to remain interesting. And villains provide an excuse for this.

I mean, would Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories be as interesting to read if they were set in a crime-free utopia? Where Sherlock Holmes did nothing but sit around smoking his pipe, reading books, having jovial conversations with Watson, playing the violin and performing the occasional science experiment? Probably not. There’s a reason why Conan Doyle’s stories revolve around the relatively few moments of Sherlock Holmes’ life when he is confronted with villainy of some kind or another.

3) Moral ambiguity: Simply put, villains can add some much-needed moral ambiguity to even the most simplistic “good vs evil” narrative. This is mostly because fictional villains are rarely “100% evil”.

They’ll either have a “good” reason for doing evil things, they’ll let the main characters survive (since it’d be a very short story otherwise), they’ll have a depressing backstory which shows why they became the villain etc… So, this means that – even in the most simplistic of stories – the villains will be some of the most complex, and unpredictable, characters in the story.

And, of course, complexity and unpredictability are two traits that make characters memorable and interesting.

4) Satire: Another reason why the villain can often be the most interesting character is because they are often satirical characters in some way or another. For example, they will often be a corrupt authority figure of some kind, a flawed character (for some specific reason), a super-rich aristocrat/businessperson or a fanatic of some kind or another (eg: political, religious etc..).

Even when a work doesn’t set out to be satirical, the choice of villain usually involves some level of satire. After all, if anyone comes up with an “evil” character, they’re going to be basing it on their own definition of evil. As such, they’re probably going to portray this character in some kind of satirical or caricatured way. And, satirical characters often tend to be the most memorable ones in any creative work.

5) Mirroring: Often, some of the most interesting villains will be a mirror of the main character in some way or another. They’ll be similar to the main character, but with one crucial difference in either their worldview, their history or their personality. Not only does this add instant dramatic complexity, but it can also be used to add even more characterisation to the main character too.

Whether it’s Doctor Who and The Master, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty or even Frodo and Gollum, this type of villain tends to turn up a lot. Because they’re really interesting.

In addition to provoking questions about things like fate, luck, “nature vs nurture” etc… this plot device also means that the villain will often be just as intelligent or powerful as the main character, which can help to provide a lot more drama, suspense and tension to a story too.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Two Basic Tips To Avoid Making “Bloated” Creative Works

Although this is an article about making art, making comics and writing fiction, I’m going to have to start by talking about computer games briefly. As usual, there’s a (vaguely) good reason for this that I hope becomes obvious later.

The day before I wrote this article, I ended up buying a modern re-release of a classic computer game (Quake), since it contained a couple of extra level packs that I didn’t own. But, I was genuinely shocked at how much larger the system requirements and file sizes were when compared to the original mid-1990s version of “Quake”. Although there are probably good reasons for this, when compared to the lean system requirements and file size of the original game, the modern re-release just seemed bloated.

This then made me think about how to avoid the same type of problem when it comes to making things like art, comics and writing. So, here are two basic tips:

1) File formats: One way to save memory, reduce loading times etc.. is simply to do some research into file formats. When saving digital copies of your work, choose the file format that works best for the practical purposes that you want to use it for.

For example, if you’re an artist or a photographer, then saving your images in a file format that includes less compression is probably only useful if you plan to make professional prints of them, or use them in professional settings. Likewise, if you’re making digital art, then keeping a higher-quality copy (since you don’t have a physical original) can also be very useful too.

But, if you’re just posting them on your website, posting them on social media, attaching them to an e-mail etc… then making a copy of the images that uses a more compressed file format (such as “.jpg”) will probably be much better. Yes, there will be a very slight loss in image quality (which will probably only be noticeable if you look very closely at the image), but the smaller file sizes are much more suitable for these practical purposes.

Likewise, some image editing programs – such as an open-source one called “GIMP” – even let you control the level of image compression when you save a file as a “.jpg”. But, MAKE A BACKUP COPY before you start experimenting with things like this. I cannot emphasise this enough!

These are the JPEG compression options in “GIMP 2.6” that appear when you save a file as a “.jpg”. You can change the level of compression by moving the “quality” slider.

As for writing – when writing drafts of these daily articles, I always save them as “.rtf” files. Since they don’t really include any seriously fancy formatting, this simpler file format keeps the file sizes a bit smaller and also means that, if I ever decide to use a different text editor, then all of my drafts will be compatible with it (since “.rtf” seems to be compatible with almost everything – unlike, say, formats like “.docx”).

So, do some research into file formats and choose one that works well for the practical purposes you’ll be using it for.

2) Planning and limitations: One of the best ways to stop art and comic from gobbling up too much time and effort when you are actually making them is simply to either plan it in advance or set yourself some limitations when you are actually making it.

For example, when I’m making my daily paintings, I almost always make sure that the paintings are the same size (18 x 18 cm, if anyone is curious). This small size means that, regardless of how detailed my art happens to be on a particular day, it’ll only take me 1-3 hours to fill an area of that size with art.

Likewise, when I’m making webcomics, I almost always try to plan them out in advance. I also usually set myself an informal limit for how long each comic will be (eg: most of my current webcomic mini series tend to be six comic updates in length). This stops my comic projects turning into bloated, unfocused open-ended things. The additional planning also allows me to refine the dialogue, panel layouts etc.. at an early stage, whilst also ensuring that I won’t be troubled by writer’s block when I’m actually making the comics too.

With prose fiction, the best way to reduce bloatedness is – of course- editing your fiction after you’ve written it. But, setting yourself an informal word limit or making some basic plans when you’re writing short stories etc.. can sometimes be a good way to keep the narrative focused in your first drafts.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Three Random Tips For Informal Creative Research

Well, I thought that I’d talk about research and creativity today since I seem to be going through a bit of a phase where I’m watching and/or rewatching as many films from the 1990s as possible (hence the ridiculously large number of film reviews on here recently). Although I’m mostly just doing this for the fun of it, it is also a way to gain an even better understanding of the 1990s – which could be useful for any of my future creative projects.

So, here are three random tips for good informal creative research:

1) Set yourself rules: When I started this informal research project, I set myself a few vague rules. These mostly included things like focusing slightly more on the mid-late 1990s than the early 1990s (since I actually remember the mid-late 1990s), not buying second-hand DVDs that cost more than a certain amount (so that I could buy more films) and avoiding films with a running time of more than about 100 minutes or so (since I’m more likely to actually watch a film if it is shorter).

In addition to this, I mostly tried to look for films that I’d either heard of or watched when I was younger. I’m also trying to stick to my usual rule about not posting film/game reviews on here more than once every two days (for a whole host of reasons). I also try to watch no more than one film every day or two (mostly for time reasons, and to avoid running out of films too quickly). I also set myself the rule of “when the research project stops being fun, seems less fun than another type of research or starts costing too much, then take a break from it“.

Setting yourself lots of rules might seem like a restrictive thing, but it can actually help your creative research in all sorts of ways. It can keep your research more focused, it can stop “fascinating” research turning into an all-consuming obsession and it can also make your research more effective too. As fascinating as totally uncontrolled research into something really interesting might seem, it can quickly end up gobbling up your time, energy and/or money if you aren’t careful. The thing to remember here is that your research is supposed to support your imagination and creative projects, not overwhelm them.

Of course, you’re going to have to come up with your own set of rules. So, try to think of rules that will not only improve your project but are also the kind of rules that you will actually follow too. So, make sure that there’s a useful practical reason for each rule. These rules don’t have to be set in stone, but they also shouldn’t be too vague either.

2) The emotional component: Simply put, the best types of informal creative research have some kind of emotional component to them. In my case, this seems to include both personal nostalgia and cultural nostalgia. It includes a feeling of curiosity about a decade that is both recognisably “modern” and yet also very different to the present day. In addition to this, it also includes things like a desire to learn more about how to make my creative works look, read and/or “feel” more like they came from the 1990s.

Having some type of emotional component to your informal creative research is absolutely essential since it provides both a feeling of motivation as well as source material for your imagination to work with too (in other words, things to get inspired by). Whilst academic research requires the researcher to be an objective observer, you can get a bit more personal and emotional if you’re doing informal research in order to improve your imagination and/or creative works.

At the end of the day, the main point of informal creative research is to both improve your imagination and to create better things (by gaining a greater understanding of the things you’re researching, that you can later use in your own works). You aren’t going to get any kind of academic qualifications or immediate reward for it. So, make sure that it is something that feels both emotionally and creatively rewarding to you.

3) Look for similarities: The best way to keep your informal research both useful and focused is to look for similarities, both when gathering research materials and when studying them.

If you’re fascinated by something, then try to work out what specific category of it you are most interested in (eg: “films that are mostly from the mid-late 1990s”) and then devote most of your efforts to that one category. This will help to keep your research manageable and focused.

Likewise, when actually looking at research materials, one of the best ways to learn from them is to see what they all have in common with each other. This can include things like narrative style, emotional tone, lighting techniques etc… If you can work out what the things you’re researching have in common with each other, then you can use these common generic elements in your own creative works.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

One Thing That The Romance Genre Does Differently To Most Other Genres

Although I haven’t really read or watched that many things (relatively speaking) in the romance genre, I was reminded of one of the really interesting features of the genre whilst writing a film review recently. So, I thought that I’d take a slightly deeper look at settings in the romance genre today.

One of the really interesting things about romance fiction and romantic films is that they seem to have much more emphasis on place than stories in other genres usually do. Although science fiction and fantasy often pride themselves on creating interesting fictional “worlds”, the sense of place in the romance genre is often a lot more solid and emphatic.

Whether it’s Rickey & G-Man’s restaurant in Poppy Z. Brite’s excellent “Liquor” series, the two houses (and the space between them) in BrontΓ«’s “Wuthering Heights“, the frequently-shown locations in “Lois & Clark“, or the old house in “Practical Magic” – things in the romance genre often tend to have a surprisingly strong sense of place when compared to other genres.

This is mostly achieved by focusing more heavily on one location (or a smaller number of locations), rather than the wider range of locations found in many other genres. There are quite a few reasons why this tends to happen a lot in the romance genre.

The most obvious reason is that, because the emphasis in the romance genre is on the relationship between two characters, this usually means that these characters have to be in close proximity to each other for a fair amount of the story. As such, both of them will usually spend most of their time in a single town, village, city, house etc…

Since the romance genre focuses on the relationship between two characters, the narrative pacing is also often slightly slower too. Whilst many other genres (such as the thriller and detective genres) rely on more frequent and varied location changes in order to tell a more dynamic and fast-paced story, the romance genre doesn’t really need to do this as much.

In addition to this, the focus on a single location also helps with audience immersion too. Since the emotional components of the romance genre rely heavily on the reader or viewer living vicariously through one of the main characters, the smaller number of locations helps to immerse the audience a lot more firmly.

By focusing most of the descriptions, set design etc.. on a smaller number of more distinctive locations, romantic stories help the audience to imagine that they could actually be living there. The additional descriptions, screen time etc.. devoted to a small number of locations also helps the audience to create a much stronger mental image of these places, which helps them to feel that they could actually live there.

Likewise, since one element of the romance genre is wish fulfilment, escapism and fantasy, there’s also often a need for more interesting settings. The romance genre is a feel-good genre that allows the audience to take a brief “holiday”.

So, even if the settings are still relatively “ordinary”, they will often be interesting or distinctive in some way or another. Whether it’s a distinctive old house, an old castle, a charming rural town, a city in another country or even a tropical paradise of some kind, locations in the romance genre are often the kind of interesting places that readers would want to visit.

Finally, the emphasis on one location also helps with the atmosphere and emotional tone of romance stories too. By placing the events of the story in just one place, the romance genre is able to create a sense of intimacy and cosiness that complements the relationship between the main character really well.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting πŸ™‚

How To Avoid Your “Inspired By..” Creative Works Turning Into Rip-Offs

The night before I wrote this article, I had a rather interesting experience that made me think about the difference between inspiration and rip-offs again. This was mostly because I happened to watch two episodes from season three of “Sliders” called ‘The Dream Masters’ and ‘Desert Storm’.

Both of these episodes have been inspired by different movies. ‘The Dream Masters’ is a genuinely creepy horror-themed episode that has clearly been inspired by the “Nightmare On Elm Street” films and ‘Desert Storm’ has clearly been inspired by the “Mad Max” films.

This is a screenshot from the episode “The Dream Masters” from season three (1996/7) of “Sliders”. As you can see, it takes some inspiration from ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’.

This is a screenshot from the episode “Desert Storm” from season three (1996/7) of “Sliders”. As you can see, it takes some inspiration from ‘Mad Max’ (and this is even referenced once in the episode’s dialogue too).

However, both episodes are also at least mildly good examples of how to take inspiration well. Although both episodes take fairly heavy visual and stylistic inspiration from their respective films, they also add a lot of original stuff too.

For example, the horror in “The Dream Masters” doesn’t just come from the nightmare scenes but from the fact that a small group of people with magical powers wield an enormous amount of power over the world (a horror further increased when one of these people takes a rather stalker-like interest in one of the main characters). Likewise, “Desert Storm” also includes quite a lot of New Age-themed stuff too.

Yes, the horror in “The Dream Masters” doesn’t come from one monster but from a secret society of evil magicians who wield absolute power. Likewise, note the use of scary red/blue lighting to signify that they’re the villains.

Likewise, the story in “Desert Storm” also includes a lot of New Age-y stuff, like magical crystals and psychic visions.

But, although these two episodes still tell original stories, they still almost fall into the trap of being “oh my god, this is just like…” rather than “hmm… this seems to be inspired by..“. In other words, their inspirations are a bit too obvious, even though they still avoid straying into the realm of plagiarism.

But, how do you avoid this in the things that you create?

The simple answer is to have lots of inspirations. The more inspirations you have, the less obvious each individual inspiration will be and the more “original” your work will be.

For example, for Halloween 2015, I wrote an interactive online novella called “Acolyte!” which can be read/played for free here:

Although the original inspiration was the old “Fighting Fantasy“/”Choose Your Own Adventure” books I read when I was a child (Steve Jackson’s “House Of Hell” especially), my interactive novel is distinctively different from these for several reasons.

For starters, it includes a lot more humour and it positions the main character as a more morally-ambiguous figure (rather than a heroic one). Although it includes illustrations, like in the books that inspired it, these illustrations have a more cartoonish style. Like in this poster I made for it:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]. This was a promotional poster I made for “Acolyte!” in 2015 which shows off some of the story’s illustrations.

In addition to this, it also included a few other influences such as the classic computer game “Blood“, the horror fiction of H.P.Lovecraft, classic Monty Python, a “Doom II” mod called “Reelism Gold“, classic British sci-fi/fantasy comic fiction (eg: Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams etc..), a slight satire on occultism (eg: “ancient orders” that were started in the 20th century), “The Devil Rides Out” by Dennis Wheatley, and the hilariously melodramatic 1960s film adaptation of it.

Thanks to the wider mixture of inspirations, the interactive novella manages to be it’s own thing rather than a rip-off of any one particular thing. So, the more inspirations you have, the lower the risk of producing a plagiaristic “rip-off” (eg: almost a direct copy) of something else will be.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Four Ways To Make Your Audience Feel Like Rebels

The night before I wrote this article, I ended up thinking about what several of my favourite creative works have in common with each other and the answer was “they make the audience feel like they’re rebelling“.

They’re the kind of things that don’t necessarily aim for shock value, but which just feel “rebellious” when seen, heard, played or read.

So, I thought that I’d look at a few ways that you can do this in your own creative works:

1) The journey, not the destination: A lot of what makes the audience feel like rebels isn’t the content of a work, but how that content is presented to them. In other words, things like your narrative voice, the background details in your art, the art style you use, the emotional tone of your song lyrics etc… matter a lot more than you might think.

In other words, rebellious creative works are more about the “journey” than the “destination”. They’re about the audience having the chance to experience hanging out with a really cool narrator, character, musician, fictional world etc.. than they are about telling a good story.

For example, the actual stories in Hewlett & Martin’s “Tank Girl” comics are bizarrely nonsensical things which, if they were written in a more “serious” way, wouldn’t be that good. Yet, these comics are so compellingly, rebelliously re-readable because of the eccentric characters, the anarchic “attitude” that these stories have, the hilariously puerile comedy and the gloriously detailed and unique art style:

This is an excerpt from “Tank Girl 2” (1996) by Hewlett & Martin. As you can see, it uses a very vivid and distinctive art style and contains some fairly unique characters. Even though the actual “story” of this comic makes literally no sense whatsoever, the comic is still very “rebellious” due to it’s attitude, characters and humour.

So, the journey matters more than the destination.

2) Intelligent writing/visuals: Likewise, just because you want your audience to feel like “rebels” doesn’t mean that you should write badly, draw badly etc.. If anything, having a very good command of the intricacies of language and art can actually make a work seem more rebellious since it gives the audience the impression that they’re hanging out with someone cool, intelligent and/or interesting.

For example, here’s a quote from Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” (1971-2): ‘It was treacherous, stupid and demented in every way – but there was no avoiding the stench of twisted humour that hovered around the idea of a gonzo journalist in the grip of a potentially terminal drug episode being invited to cover the National District Attorney’s Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Although the novel that this quote is taken from is a wildly bizarre, satirical, countercultural classic – this quote actually uses rather formal and almost “literary” language. Although this is a novel with a drug-addled narrator, the prose here has the kind of clarity which only comes from carefully-crafted, sober writing. So, craftsmanship matters a lot more than you might think.

Likewise, using copious amounts of profanity won’t automatically make your audience feel like “rebels”. Using a measured amount of profanity in a carefully-chosen, clever and funny way – on the other hand – will. So, be funny, sparing, creative and intelligent with the profanity in your creative works.

3) Politics: Strange as it may sound, don’t get too political. Or, rather, don’t be too “serious” when you inevitably get political.

The best rebellious creative works have fun with politics. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum they land on, they actively attack pompous over-seriousness and self-righteousness. They often also have a very slightly “apolitical” quality too by actively ridiculing both “sides” of a political issue through showing what unpleasant features they have in common with each other.

But, when rebellious creative works include politics, they will often just quietly lead by example.

For example, they’ll just show characters who are typically sneered at by mainstream society in a more positive light. They’ll show authority figures as being stupid, hypocritical and/or malevolent. Or they might just show characters gleefully breaking petty, stupid and/or unjust rules, without anyone raising an eyebrow (or, conversely, show people over-reacting to said transgressions in a hilariously exaggerated way that highlights the ridiculousness of the rule in question).

4) Emotional satisfaction: In short, the best way to make your audience feel like rebels is to give them something. Whether it is acceptance, belonging, laughter, a different worldview etc… you need to give them something.

Because, despite all of the technical stuff I’ve mentioned, making your audience feel like rebels is an emotional thing. It’s the feeling of “wow” that comes from seeing something that is so different in perspective and tone from mainstream entertainment. It’s the feeling of “Wow! I didn’t know how to put that into words” that your audience get from something incredibly profound that they wouldn’t find in mainstream culture.

A great example of this type of rebellious emotional satisfaction can be found in an astonishingly good webcomic called “Subnormality” by Winston Rowntree. Often, these comics will make some kind of point or express some facet of the human condition that isn’t often explored in mainstream creative works. And, Rowntree’s comics are some of the most emotionally-profound, but rebellious, things that you’ll ever read as a result:

This is an excerpt from “Duel” (‘Subnormality #219) By Winston Rowntree (2014), which contains an example of the kind of profound, emotional introspection that makes this comic surprisingly “rebellious” when compared to more mainstream offerings.

So, yes, give your audience something. Whether you make them laugh, make them think, make them feel better or even make them see the world differently, give them something.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚