Copyright 2018 by Gary L. Pullman
For most of us, home is _________________. We can fill in the blank with a variety of thoughts and feelings:
where the heart iswhere one hangs one's hatwhere one can be oneselfa refugea retreatone's castle
We'd be likely to agree with most of these sentiments. That's one reason they've become cliches. A lot of people believe them, and a lot of people repeat them.
Being a cliché doesn't make an idea false, but it does make it common. When it comes to fiction, that's the problem. When it comes to fiction, we want something new, something different, something that's not commonplace. We want a new perspective, a new orientation, a new sense of ourselves and of other people and of our surroundings.
That's where quotations about “home” can help writers. By searching a website, such as BrainyQuote, we can look for uncommon, surprising, even astounding thoughts about home (or whatever other topic we happen to make the theme of a short story, a novel, a screenplay, or a poem.
Along the way, among the more ordinary thoughts we encounter on the topic, we can also get a sense of what “home” represents for individuals and what, in particular, they appreciate it. For example, Irina Shayk states, “Nothing is better than going home to family and eating good food and relaxing.” These interests can come in handy, too, in writing horror—or any other type of fiction.
In reading such quotations, we may find that people define “home” as being much greater than the house in which they live at present; some see “home” as their city or their country, some as the world, and still others as the “universe” or “heaven.” For some, it's a base of operations, for others a starting point, and for still others a point on a circle to which one always returns. Some says their homes, or their, families who live in them, “ground” them, while others believe their children inspire and improve them. For some, “home” is the soul's body or a temple of God. Rather than a retreat or a refuge, some find “home” a prison from which they escape, for intervals, to the city or the country.
When we contemplate the statements others have made about the topic, we should consider them from the perspective of a horror writer interested in developing a plot that centers upon the topic—home, in our example. For example, perhaps our antagonist will invade our protagonist's home, disrupting his or her home life and injuring or even killing one or more family members. (Despicable, I know, but at least, in a story, it's make-believe.)
This is one of the quotations about home on BrainyQuote that I found to be not only insightful and “different,” but also useful as the basis of a possible horror story plot:
I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. —Lily Tomlin
In the film After Midnight, college students visit a professor's house for lessons in fear, learning, as the movie poster puts it, “Terror has no curfew.”
Had Stephen King been responding to this quotation, as a writing prompt, the result may well have been his novella Apt Pupil, in which a schoolboy blackmails his teacher, whom the pupil discovers is a Nazi war criminal, into educating him about the nature of human evil. As the story's title suggests, he is an eager and adept student, eventually becoming a serial killer, just as his tutor resumes his killing victims.
What if the “something” the teacher gives our student isn't information or ideology, as in King's story, but something physical? What might such an object be, and what might the teacher expect our student, his or her charge to discover about the artifact? How is the object related to the student's home life, if, in fact, it is at all? For that matter, what is the student's life at home like? (Stephen King wondered this about a classmate of his whose mother was fanatical about her religious faith; the result was CarrieWhite.) And what about the teacher? Should the teacher be a man, a woman, or, perhaps something entirely different, such as an demon (old school) or an alien or a robot (new school)? The possibilities are as unlimited as our imaginations.
A quotation can suggest a lot, if we consider it from the proper perspective, as a man or woman with bad intentions regarding our characters, and apply to it the power of our own minds, hearts, and imaginations. Think of how many topics there are and of how many quotations exist about those topics. There's an inexhaustible supply, and no need, ever, to experience “writer's block”!