Guest Author - Siobhain M Cullen
Short scary story writing style seems to change from one generation to the next.Guy De Maupassant style is High Gothic in the extreme. Today’s short scary stories take shortness to the other extreme – with some punchy stories being only a few sentences long. This is called flash fiction.
Today’s best short stories get to the point quickly – they create atmosphere and vivid imagery in a few bare words. Therein lies their merit as flash fiction. Some stories have an extra’ bite’ to the plot such as an unexpected ending, a twist or a shock. Many can achieve a sense of build-up and seat-edge suspense within the sparse text.
In previous centuries,such as the one inhabited by Guy De Maupassant, readers seemed to be satisfied with the gentle and natural unfolding of the tale. Chilling though Edgar Allen Poe’s stories may still be to some readers today, to others the chronological and narrative style, by it’s very nature, ‘dumbs down’ the thrilling shock element demanded by today’s fans of short scary stories - particularly those fans of shock, horror, mystery or thriller genres.
'The Hand' (a short scary story written by classic French author Guy De Maupassant) surely has all the potential for the most gruesome of horror stories! Yet, the chronological narrative way in which the story unfolds gives it a curiously ‘matter-of-fact’ delivery.
The idea of death, portrayed by a human arm severed just past the wrist, shrivelled, with its tendons hanging out and the blackness of the papery skin should be enough to send a shiver down the spine of those readers with a nervous disposition, whilst delighting those who have more ‘thrill-seeking’ tastes!
Even more chilling should the amputated member be, if it actually suddenly came to life! Readers can imagine the dread of a short scary story which begins in a darkened bedroom where the sleeper is wakened by the scratching sounds of some kind of vermin or dead thing scrabbling around the floor! Any short story writer worth his salt nowadays would surely choose to start his story at this gripping point!
But Guy De Maupassant, in a style that seems so old-fashioned to readers of today, chooses to start his story with paragraph after paragraph of introductions and ‘lead-ups.’ By the time he gets to the part where the hand is described, many modern-day readers would have left!
This gradual ‘denuoument’ style though, was also employed by classic horror genre authors who still have a devoted ‘goth’ fan base today. Among them is Edgar Allen Poe! These fans are not put off by the archaic, almost ‘gothic’ style of the short scary story delivery ..... in fact to some of these gothic literature fans, the style actually adds to the appeal.
Many of these young gothic horror genre fans may have already exhausted their treasury of Edgar Allen Poe grisly murder stories and may be casting about gloomily for additional complementary stories. In this case, the classic horror stories of De Maupassant will not disappoint – and the fans are unlikely to be put off by the classical style of delivery! (Also just perfect they happen to also be taking French!). DUAL LANGUAGE FRENCH/ENGLISH GUY DE MAUPASSANT STORIES (Short, Scary and French!)