Horror is a "peg to hang the poem on" game - players collect three words
to plot incident: scene, sound , object or action.
versions have been unearthed - in one lumps of bone were rolled along an
open coffin divided into squares each marked with a different ghastly word;
in another `ghost-shaped' skittles were bowled over.
The poems were
usually written out with red ink and nib-pens onto white shapes of spooks
or skeletons, which were then hung to brush against future players.
A version of this board game is provided but for work with groups the
worksheet will provide a better framework for ideas to
build towards a revolting poem. For group work it is helpful to keep players
to a common order as they fill in the boxes, to assist and stimulate. Once
players have built a stock of words and a rough plot they can move onto a
clean sheet to draft the poem.
The aim is to produce gothic gruesome giggles, rather than terror, and the
emphasis should be on choice of language. The poems will work best
through atmosphere and suggestion rather than crude gore.
Ramsey Campbell, a fine writer of horror stories, suggested, as we played
the board game at a youth club, that a limitation on the game is that it
leads to melodramatic, possibly stereotypic, ideas of horror.
This is true,
but high gothic horror and ghost stories provide creepy amusement to most
children, and for these the game works well. Ramsey suggested that horror is
individually felt and lies within the known and everyday - this is also true,
but requires a different game. A version of What do you think you're
doing? can be used.
I have found simple discussion enough, but this takes
time. The main question is not only "What are you afraid of, what do you
fear most?" but also, taking Ramsey's point, "Which of your small fears or
misgivings could, if magnified, become really frightening?" Suggest that
they place the poem at the moment before the worst happens.
Writing impersonally (she, he) often helps the writer to be honest ...