The Bus by Shirley Jackson

The Bus by Shirley Jackson 1965 short story

I once read an article about why so few commuters were inclined to take the bus. This would have eased congestion in my home city. New Zealanders are notoriously wedded to their cars (which have only gotten bigger and bigger since the aggressive marketing of double-cab utes). Sure, we like our cars. But there’s this……

How To Write A Hate Sink Character

Big Love casino wives with bill

There are certain character traits which audiences universally dislike. When they appear in fiction, audiences understand ‘this is the character I’m supposed to hate’. This character is called the Hate Sink. I have previously explored how writers create unlikeable but sympathetic characters. There is a list of tricks which have been utilised by storytellers to……

Burglar Bill by Janet and Allan Ahlberg Analysis

Burglar Bill is a picture book by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, first published in 1977. There are a number of picture books about burglars who break into houses at night, one of a child’s greatest fears going to sleep. Burglars can be found all across children’s literature. (Enid Blyton loved burglars.) Be sure to examine……

Swamps, Marshes, Quicksand And Sinking In Storytelling

Charles Ernest Butler - Poole Harbour, Dorsetshire 1904

Here’s one little-known aspect of existing as a Gen X — the fear of sinking to death in sand. Perhaps you escaped this particular horror if your television exposure was moderated, but I’ve asked around, and I’m not the only child of the 80s to approach wet, sandy areas with extreme caution. Films and cartoons conveyed the idea that sinking into sand, never to be seen again, was an ever present danger.

The Symbolic Basement In Fiction

The Blind Fiddler 1806 Sir David Wilkie 1785-1841 Presented by Sir George Beaumont Bt 1826

In Gaston Bachelard’s Symbolic Dream House, you probably shouldn’t go down to the basement, ever. I mean it. Nothing good ever happens down there. The basement is the house version of a fairytale forest — a descent into the subconscious. We can’t control our subconscious. That’s what makes it scary. EXAMPLE ONE: BASEMENTS AND BEREAVEMENT……

The Scary Kitchen in Children’s Stories

Most often, kitchens in children’s literature serve as metonyms of familial happiness, but every so often you do find a scary kitchen in which not all is well. The kitchen is the perfect place for a scary scene because it is at once close to home (in fact the hub of the home) and contains……

When Everyone Else Is A Ghost

You may not believe in ghosts to enjoy ghost stories. I don’t either. But once you understand how ghost stories work, you’ll understand how tools of persuasion are used in other realms. Studying the ghost story is a fun way to study the techniques of persuasion. Ghost stories have plenty of other functions, too. There……