Friday, September 15, 2017

Guest Blog - The Monster and the Thrilling Escape From Death

The Monster and the Thrilling Escape From Death 
by Mark W. Curran 

Thank you for having me as a guest blogger!

Whether we realize it or not, most if not all the stories we tell have some basis or origination in another story that came before it. It seems that, as humans, we relate to archetypal story forms which serve as symbols in helping us to understand ourselves and our relation to the world we live in. 

In Christopher Booker's great tome on the history and dynamics of storytelling, 'The Seven Basic Plots,' he devotes a whole chapter he what he calls 'The Monster and the Thrilling Escape From Death. ' 

It is to that chapter I devote this blog, for it is the basis of many effective horror stories.  

According to Booker, Overcoming the Monster is an underdog story where the hero sets out to destroy an evil of some kind. Generally, this evil is something larger or greater than the protagonist, and will take great courage and strength to defeat (the story would be over rather quickly otherwise).

There are five stages in an Overcoming the Monster plot.

1.Anticipation stage: Hints of the monster with a call to action and preparation.

2.Dream stage: Initial stage, brushing with the monster or agents. Dream-like success with seeming immunity to danger.

3.Frustration stage: Confrontation with the monster but failure to defeat it.

4.Nightmare stage: Final ordeal death match where only one can survive. It seems inevitable that the monster will win.

5.Miraculous escape: The monster is killed through the courage, skill and ingenuity of the hero.

Good horror is usually about overcoming the monster in one way, shape or form. Sometimes the monster is an external threat, as in Alien or Frankenstein, and sometime the monster is within. [Jekyll  and Hyde, The Exorcist]. 

The key for the author is to make the reader feel some sense of connection to the lead character or hero, so that the stakes are higher as the hero is placed in greater and yet still greater danger. The longer a writer has been at the game, the better the writer becomes in navigating the perils of dramatic and fiction writing. 

It always comes back to the monster. We all fight our own inner demons and are always searching for ways to come to terms with our innermost desires and drives. In seeing the hero face the monster we find within ourselves the strength to battle our own dragons and in the process become better human beings.     

Witches of Wildwood: Cape May Horror Stories and Other Scary Tales from the Jersey Shore 

A Collection of Contemporary Horror Fiction

Mark W. Curran 

Genre: Horror/Speculative Fiction

Publisher: NMD Books

Date of Publication: Sept 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-936828-51-7

Number of pages: 300
Word Count: 83,365

Cover Artist:  Robert Gonzales

Book Description:

Werewolves... vampires... swamp beasts... zombies... even a Jersey Devil... all of these chilling creatures and more await you in this haunting collection of 11 contemporary horror fiction stories by Mark Wesley Curran.

Uniquely set 'down the shore' in South Jersey's Cape May County, these scary tales are sure to terrify and entertain both adult readers as well as young adults.


There was no doubt among the sisters that the murders were increasing their power. Each felt the surge of energy that coursed through them with each kill.
“I feel so alive!” Zoey exclaimed on the morning after they’d tied Harlan Clemmons to a chair and stabbed him multiple times through the heart, “like I’m 
plugged into some bitchin’ electrical source!” she marveled.

The other girls felt it too. Both Jaz and Ali would lay awake at night and feel it running through them - bringing them even more vitality and strength than even their young ages provided. 

About the Author:

Mark Wesley Curran is a writer of contemporary fiction, specializing in the horror and suspense genre. Born and raised in Suburban Philadelphia, he spent many summers living and working in Wildwood, New Jersey during its heyday. He now resides in Los Angeles where he enjoys creative pursuits as a writer, filmmaker and musician.