What Writers Can Learn from Creepy Creatives

The days are getting shorter, a little cooler, and suddenly all you can think about are gourd-flavored treats.

That’s right! It’s October 1st. The (un)official start date of a scary season. Time to dust off your pumpkin-carving kit.

At outré creative, we couldn’t be more excited.

That’s why today, we’re exploring what creative writers (and designers!) can learn from masters of storytelling.

Read along to learn more about what makes these creepy creatives tick — or, at the very least, find some fang-tastic book recommendations.

Stephen King

AKA, the “king of horror”. With classics like The Shining, Carrie, and Pet Sematary, you’ve no doubt heard of Stephen King.

He recently published a book on his creative process — and what’s the key takeaway from On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft?

“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees,” King writes. “When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”

It’s true. When you’re creating anything, you’re often very (too) close to the work.

Taking a higher-level view helps you reconnect with the “why” of your project. When revising and editing your piece, it’s important to see the work as a whole — and not be afraid to chop a few extra trees out of your forest.

Mark Z. Danielewski

In the year 2000, Mark Z. Danielewski re-imagined the classic haunted house trope in his book, House of Leaves.

The story follows a family who have moved into an old house in Virginia. One that is growing bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside.

A cool idea, sure, but why does it have such a cult following?

Because the pages look like this.

You can’t just read this book — some parts need to be read in a mirror, some words are upside down — it’s a puzzle. You may be thinking, why create a design that gets in the way of simple storytelling? Doesn’t seem very accessible to me.

House of Leaves may have an unconventional style of storytelling, but it’s for a reason. The style of the book itself contributes to the substance of the story. It adds to the overall otherworldliness of the narrative and the horror the characters face.

This book serves as a concrete example of one of our own values — to bring style and substance to everything we touch. And Danielewski begs creatives, much like his readers, to think outside the box.

Grady Hendrix

When was the last time you wandered into an IKEA? Did the sprawling furniture sets make you feel inspired to write a horror novel? No?

Well then, you don’t have much in common with our final author, Grady Hendrix.

In perhaps one of the strangest horror novels I’ve ever read, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail catalog.

Hendrix’s novel follows the premise of a haunted Swedish furniture store in Cleveland, Ohio. The setting is not dramatic, it’s not complex — but it is creative. And since Hendrix is himself a former IKEA employee, he’s writing about an environment that is very familiar to him, proving inspiration can come from anywhere — whether it’s a furniture store, or lego building blocks.

Horrorstör is a great reminder that finding inspiration in the “mundane” or “ordinary” can still result in an anything-but-ordinary final product.

And that’s a wrap!

I hope you enjoyed our overview of some of the most innovative and terrifying storytellers out there.

Maybe this will help inspire a new creative idea — or maybe you’ve just found a new book to devour this October. Either way — Happy Halloween!