Friday, 10 September 2010

How Do You Make a Rolex Scary?


C c c count with me
1 glass of champagne for me
2 glass of champagne for you
3 now do the Rolex sweep
-Wiley, “Rolex Sweep”



Hmm. Yes.

At a writer's group meeting some months ago, we were asked to think of an object and write it down. I thought of a Rolex. We then looked at the horror genre, and how it is defined. Using what we had discussed, we were given 15 minutes to write the opening scene of a horror story, using the item we'd described. Here's what eventually came to me:

I didn't even stop as I walked past it. Just dropped to one knee at the right moment and scooped it up, sliding it straight onto my wrist. If anyone had looked at both my arms, they'd have seen I had two watches on. I'm either a nutter or a thief. I hope I'm a thief.

Something wasn't right, though- the watch felt wet, even though it hadn't been raining and nothing had been spilled on the pavement. I looked at my right wrist, as if genuinely checking the time, and it was only then that I realised the watch- and my hand- were soaked in blood.

I looked straight ahead as I walked on, not daring to look over my shoulder. After all, I'd just picked up an expensive watch. Had I stolen it? And whose blood was this? Had somebody had an accident? Or been attacked? Why did I get the feeling that, by some bizarre logic, my blood might be spilled next?


As this is a piece of automatic writing- straight of the cuff- I haven't done another draft. If I believed more in the story I might have done. As it stands, it's too sudden- there's no build-up of suspense. Also, I'm not happy with the phrasings.

I think the reason this isn't so nail-biting is that the object- the watch that I planned to describe as a Rolex- is a symbol of success, of money. It connotes power, or control. Not lack of control, which is what makes horror scary. Suspense could be built from this- he now has a blood-drenched hand- what if he meets a colleague and is invited to shake? What if he goes to a bar and is challenged to an arm-wrestle? What if he's asked the time? What if somebody tried to rob it off him? Would the perpetrator think twice on closer inspection of his wrist? What if this whole thing takes place in sub-Saharan Africa where AIDS is rife? I'd be pretty scared then.

The story could be classed as a thriller, but it doesn't tick the horror genre boxes, I don't think. Also, a watch provides the theme of time, something that always runs out and frequently builds suspense. Unfortunately, seeing as I'm juggling more than enough ideas- projects better than this one- this is all the time I have for this idea. It could be good for writing group exercises, though. Perhaps picking an object, writing it on a piece of paper then passing it to the next person could help. They then have to create a horror scenario using that object. Give it a shot. Comment and let me know how it goes.

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