Diagnosing Writers: 8 Types of Hollywood Madness

“We all go a little mad sometimes,” according to Norman Bates, and writers more often than most. Maybe it’s because we’re borderline schizophrenic—hearing characters’ voices in our heads every day—or perhaps it's a side-effect from the substances we need to achieve the constant nirvana demanded by our inner muses? Who knows.

Still, there are so many kinds of crazy that it’s important to distinguish the differences. If you’re a writer, here are the types (and symptoms) to watch out for, along with a few tips to improve your daily life.

1. The Jack Torrance 

All work and no play makes this type of writer a dull boy. Keep the liquor out of reach and try to immerse yourself in more social activities to remain sane. A winter retreat with the family might sound like a good opportunity to get some work done, but if your clairvoyant son starts having bad feelings about it, take his advice and cancel the trip.

2. The Catherine Tramell

Confident, calculated, and cool as an ice-pick, The Catherine Tramell is a rare find. Even under the most stressful circumstances your heart rate rarely reaches eighty-five BPM, so don’t blame your friends and lovers if they can’t tell when life is a tad bit stressful. Instead, listen to your instincts. Try opening up to the people around you—and not just with your legs.

3. The Mort Rainey

Admit it: buying that secluded cabin in the woods wasn’t your best idea. But c'mon, you weren’t thinking straight when you signed the papers, right? Sell it off, get over the ex, and find a nice place to settle down for a while (so long as it’s no where near Shooter’s Bay). Also, since you likely suffer from plagiarism-paranoia, join a support group and learn to get over the fact that no one’s trying to steal your ideas.

4. The Eddie Morra

Alcohol is one thing, but you tend to have a penchant for some of the stronger things in life. The sooner you check yourself into rehab and realize that you don’t need nootropic drugs to be a decent writer, the better.

5. The Barton Fink

Your biggest fear may entail separation from “the common man”, but that doesn’t mean you should turn down a $1,000-per-week gig writing screenplays in Tinsel Town. If you’re ever in need of inspiration, make friends with the person in the next hotel room over and see how things go. Or on second thought, don’t.

6. The Marquis de Sade

Extremely erotic and completely perverse, you have an unhealthy fixation toward everything sexual. On the plus side, you’re extremely resourceful and will stop at nothing to get your works published—an agent’s dream! If things take a turn for the worse and you lose your writing implements, don’t feel the need to resort to blood and feces; set yourself up with a Tumblr account and start channeling that talent into a blog.

7. The Grady Tripp

This type of writer is the one-hit wonder. A constant sufferer—and complainer—of writer’s block, it takes an odd combination of pressure and personal relationships to help break the dry spell. The only advice I have for The Grady Tripp is to give up your long, wandering manuscript and try a few short stories until you’re ready to tackle a full-length novel again.

8. The Marty Faranan

If your best friend is an unemployed actor who makes a living by kidnapping dogs and collecting ransoms for their safe return, there’s a good chance you’re The Marty Faranan type. There’s also a good chance you’re involved with homicidal thugs, and no amount of advice—in this blog post anyway—is going to help you. Godspeed.


Children in Horror: Why So Unsettling?

The Shining. The Ring. The Sixth Sense. Children of the Corn. The Orphanage.

It doesn’t take Danny Torrance to see that creepy children are everywhere in the movie business. They’ve become an incredibly popular hallmark for Hollywood filmmakers and an ongoing source of fright for flick after flick after flick.

My first novel, Come Little Children, includes no shortage of chapters involving eerie children (with a title like that, what else would you expect?). And while I’d like to think that they're more than cliché plot devices, I still wonder: what is it about children that people find so unsettling in the horror genre?

Here are my three theories.

1. Innocence and the Occult

With dark tales involving kids, there are usually demonic elements involved, and those elements are often accompanied by tragic stories surrounding abuse, death, or both.

Imagining such disturbing events triggers a flood of visceral reactions. Children are the last ones you'd expect to harbor harmful impulses or insidious thoughts, and—when juxtaposed with horror—it's that pure, untainted innocence that causes an inner jolt when we witness them in grim scenes or hear them singing eerie tunes in minor keys.

2. Dark Observations

There’s something to be said about kids noticing stuff that adults don’t. They have incredible imaginations and it’s chilling to consider the possibility that we “tune things out” as we get older. A while ago, there was a Reddit thread about the most frightening things that parents have heard their children say. Many responses included warnings like: “Daddy, who’s that standing behind you?” and “Mommy, tell the bad man to go away.”

3. Undeveloped Moral Codes

No kid is born with all the right moral coding. In other words, a lot of children can be terribly mean, while some can seem downright evil. From a fiction point of view, I thought what if I take that to the Nth degree? That’s basically how morality came to play such a large role in Come Little Children.

What do you think? Has your own child ever said something that sent a shiver zipping up your spine? If so, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. After all, it’s probably nothing.

Probably.

Still, between us, I'd sleep with one eye open if I were you.