Thursday, 17 April 2014

A to Z Challenge 2014 - Ghosts - O is For Obscure, Vincent O'Sullivan, O2 Millennium Dome

A to Z Challenge 2014 - Ghosts
This post is
suitable for all
Yes, the O2 arena is haunted - don't believe me, check out the details below. Plus, I'm also talking about Vincent O'Sullivan, author, and I'm talking about obscuring things as a writer. And there's Part 15 of The Burning Web, where Tris finds that there is a price for over exerting himself.




O is for Obscure
Every writer had to be able to obscure their plot from their reader. By that, I mean, they have to embed it in the story. Those of use who are planners may have a little map in our heads leading the way through the mysteries and magic of whatever story we are spinning, but the reader shouldn't see that path, because then where would be the fun in the nuances and hints I was talking about yesterday? The reader must be able to wander off the path a little without noticing.

I don't know about you, but when I was a child, I wrote straight from A to B, beginning to end. The characters in my stories were there to do something, they did it, 'the end'. It was only as I read more widely as I got older that I learnt that things don't always happen that way. There are detours and hiccups and other priorities that can make a story rich and interesting, hiding that straight line in the sand that would finish the story in short order. A brilliant example of hiding the plot in plain sight is in The Sixth Sense
!!SPOILER ALERT - IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE SIXTH SENSE PLOT, JUMP TO HERE!!
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Okay, hopefully that's enough space - where was I - yes, The Sixth Sense. Ostensibly, this story is about a child psychologist helping a young boy with behavioural issues and a secret to 'get better'. The boy, Cole, is constantly in a state of fear and is even afraid of our adult hero, Dr Malcom Crowe, who slowly tries to tease out of the boy what is the matter. It's a touching and scary story about a child who eventually admits he sees 'dead people' all the time, nowhere is safe for him. Malcom helps him by suggesting that he finds out what the ghosts want. Cole thus begins to take control of what is happening to him. The ghosts in this story are terrifying, it's a good scare, even without the twist, but that twist is downright brilliant - without telling him directly, Cole eventually manages to help Malcom as well, and Malcom realises he is in fact dead as well and that his unfinished business is with his wife, he has to say goodbye.

This is one of the best obscures I've ever seen, since there are hints all the way through, things that when you look back, you go 'oh yeah', but there are also fabulous misdirects as well. It's one of my fav movies. For another obscure that you can investigate for yourselves if you like, check out the movie, Haunted, another very well handled misdirect.
by Sophie Duncan


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Tris curled over onto his side and pulled the pillow over his head, trying to shut out every last tiny shaft of light that was escaping around the heavy bedroom curtains. It hurt to even think about light, and, even away from it, his eyes felt like they were scratching against his eyelids every time he moved them. His head was threatening to split open as well and he could only wish for the silence of Berwick House as the bustle of a London street outside tore at his ears.

He hadn't realised just how much he had pushed himself until he'd settled down on the train and the bumping and jarring of the carriage had begun to work on his slightly aching limbs. By the time he'd reached his stop, the double vision had gained a rainbow of colours at the edges and he'd been feeling like throwing up the cafe sandwich he'd had for lunch. He wasn't quite sure how he'd got home, he had to assume he'd managed it by some form of unconscious habit, because his senses were all over the place. He'd retreated to the bedroom as soon as he'd reached sanctuary and tried to sleep.

Drifting in his aching doze, Tris didn't realise it was the sound of the door that had brought him back to the top level of discomfort until he then heard Xander call his name. He slid the pillow off his face, but he couldn't bring himself to return the greeting. Instead, he opened his eyes a slit and winced as the bedroom door opened and let in far too much day.

"Oh God, Tris!"

Xander's alarm was way too much for Tris' migraine and he groaned as his husband slid down onto his knees beside the bed and reached out to him. He shrunk away from the touch as pins and needles ran through his skin, but Xander persisted, taking gentle hold of his chin and then reaching for his eyelid. Tris had no energy to resist the examination, but he really couldn't see much except a dark blur that was Xander's undoubtedly worried face. He closed his eyes in relief when Xander let him go, but opened them again quickly when his husband announced, "I'm calling an ambulance."

He reached out rapidly where he thought Xander was, grabbing hold of some kind of material, shirt, he thought, and feeling foolish.

"Jus' hea'ache," he slurred, but whined and curled closer over himself as a rush of prickles ran down his body.

"You haven't been this bad in months," Xander objected, but did not pull out of the clamp Tris' hand had become.

Tris rode out the wave of discomfort, eyes closed, body taut, but glad to have Xander close by. He relaxed as the pique eased and squinted at his husband.

"Di' too much," he whispered, needing Xander to understand, and, not wanting the hospital stay, urged, "Jus' need res'."

Xander huffed, but didn't say anything for a long time. Tris just waited, too tired to offer anything else.

"I'm calling Mr Collins and I'm driving you in for an appointment first thing tomorrow," his husband eventually compromised with some consternation.

Tris mumbled an affirmative and finally let his fingers untangle from Xander's shirt. He shivered as chills surprised him and Xander saw. Standing, Xander went into doctor mode and announced, "Right, first I'm getting you into bed. Then you're taking some painkillers and getting some sleep."

Tris kind of nodded as Xander walked round the bed to the other side and began to sort out the bedclothes. He didn't move, he was far too tired and all his joints were aching as well. Instead, he trusted Xander to do everything. He did keep half an eye on what his husband was doing, trying to lift himself up when Xander pulled at the duvet that was under him, but he was mainly an uncoordinated heap. Xander managed.

Tris was pretty much only interested in himself, given how much everything hurt, but chills continued to run up and down the length of him, keeping him more alert than he wanted to be. He viewed the world through mostly closed eyes, everything taking on dull shades of grey in the curtained bedroom. However, it only took a small turn of his head on the pillow for him to discover why he was suffering the additional cooling symptoms. He looked into the corner just past the bathroom door and the gloom resolved. He was not really surprised, but the now familiar fear slid down his spine as he recognised Abdi. The boy was standing stock still in the corner and what Tris could barely see with his eyes, he felt deep in his psyche.

Abdi's hostile attention bored into him and Tris shuddered as the weight of that gaze proved too much. He closed his sore eyes and shifted his arm over his face, but he could not shut out the accusation from the corner.

"Okay, Love," Xander spoke quietly and, coming back round the end of bed, moved the duvet gently up over Tris.

Tris didn't want to open his eyes again, but Xander knelt down beside the bed once more and he had to give his husband a little reassurance, so he lifted his arm and peered at Xander's concern.

"I'll get those painkillers now," Xander told him while compulsively adjusting the corner of the duvet.

"Hmm," Tris replied and was going to say thank you, but Xander put a finger to his lips.

"Relax, I've got this," his husband soothed and then stood.

As Xander moved out of the way again, Tris was left peering at the corner. It was empty. Hurting and lost, Tris was too tired to do anything else but drop his arm again and let exhaustion take over.

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Author Info: Vincent O'Sullivan

Vincent O'Sullivan was an American writer, who lived in London. He was a friend of Oscar Wilde and he had a private income from his family until his brother lost the coffee business. The reason I am sharing him with you today is his story, The Interval. It isn't a long story, you can read it in maybe fifteen minutes, but it stuck with me, because, although somewhat morbid, it is a triumph of love beyond death. The story is that of a woman recently widowed. She was not married long, but she loved her husband dearly and has been visiting psychics to try and make contact with him. The story then follows her contacts with him and gently introduces us to her loneliness. It is a sad story, but the outcome, for her, is the best she could have hoped for. I will say no more, but I encourage you to read it.

This and four other stories are available in When I Was Dead & Other Stories. Not a freebie this time, though.

British Hauntings: O2 Millenium Dome

Now you might be forgiven for thinking that the Millenium Dome, now called the O2 Arena, is far too new to be haunted, but you'd be wrong :D.

Ghosts don't really care about the décor, and the offices of The South Metropolitan Gas Company, which were on the site long before the Dome, were rumoured to be haunted. The staff who worked there would regularly have their desks rearranged by a bearded phantom, who was purported to be Sir George Livesey. In life, he had been the company's chairman, a great philanthropist and good employer. However, when he died at 90 years old, he couldn't let go of the place and he was often seen wandering around the derelict buildings even after the company had gone. He didn't stop when the dome was being built either. Many times builders saw Livesey when they were working. Some said that he would look back, grin and then laugh. Maybe he knew what the end result was going to look like!

I'd love to hear your own spooky stories, add them to the blog comments. :)

A few of us discovered that we all had supernatural themes for the AtoZ so we got together and did a mini list. If you also have a supernatural theme (ghosts, monsters, witches, spells etc), please feel free to add yourself to the list.

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30 comments:

  1. I only watched the Sixth Sense once and I don't even recall if I was there for the whole movie. I saw the ending though. I should rewatch it and see if I pick up on any hints of the twist.

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

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    1. They are skilfully done, it's worth a watch :)

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  2. And Xander sees none of this? Of course not. Poor Tris. Well done.

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    1. Abdi is a very personal demon for Tris.

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  3. I've picked up the When I Was Dead book. Look forward to reading it. :)

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  4. The Sixth Sense is a great movie - the sort that I wish I'd written. It's interesting that such a new building is haunted.

    Shelley Munro

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    1. Sixth Sense is certainly a masterpiece - one that M Night Shyamalan has not peaked - I know what you mean about wanting to have written it, it's something to aspire to :) The O2 is a little bit of a cheat, because, technically, it inherited its ghost :)

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  5. Obscuring plot is so difficult to do, especially since you, as the writer, can see it so clearly. I think one trick is: Make it seem as though progress forward in plot feels like two steps back for the character's "end goal".

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    1. That's a good technique, I hadn't thought about it like that before.

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  6. Loved the Sixth Sense. Great post today.

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    1. It's one of my go-to movies when I fancy just something to watch :)

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  7. Now I want to watch The Sixth Sense again, even knowing what happens. I remember seeing it the first time and gasping, loving it. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

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    1. I know what you mean, all this talk about it makes me want to slip it into the dvd player :)

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  8. Sixth Sense was a total shocker to me. I love your use of obscure to highlight a story plot. Yes, it needs to be somewhat of a surprise.

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    1. I did spot the twist, but only because I have a sister who told me there was one and we're twins, so I can pick up her vibes and she must have been giving them off big time when we first watched it together.

      Thanks, glad you liked the concept I picked today :)

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  9. I saw The Sixth Sense for the first time a few weeks ago, although I already knew about the twist. It was still an awesome movie though, and it was quite nice knowing how it ends, since I could pick out the little hints all the way through.

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    1. I ended up watching it twice in quick succession so I could go back and watch the bits before I'd figured it out the first time through - it is so well done :)

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  10. I loved Sixth Sense. Great movie.

    --
    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches
    Ask an Atheist Day

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  11. i get scared easy, so i haven't watched this yet, but you make it sound like i could and should!
    thanks!

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    1. It has its creepy and scary bits, but the way it is worked through makes the fear okay - I know that sounds strange ;P

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  12. Sixth Sense is a great film! And poor Tris, he's not doing too well at the moment. :/

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    1. It is a great movie :) Yeah, Tris has pushed himself too much, visions aren't good for his recovery.

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  13. I didn't see the Sixth Sense and a few others mentioned in your posts. A lot of catching up to do. Poor Tris, he is so ill. Pity he didn't the ride when offered. Can't wait to read more.

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    1. It's a movie worth putting the effort :)

      Yes, he should have accepted that ride - glad you're enjoying it :D

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  14. The 6th Sense is a fabulous example of foreshadowing and obfuscation! It's an amazing movie. I'm often frustrated by reviewers (or betas) who impatiently question my mysteries with "I don't understand. Why is she doing that? Who is her real father? You have to explain better." Idiots. I'm literally trying to make my writing less obscure (with fewer mysteries) now because most readers are just too impatient. Psychological motivation is a big stumbling block to readers too. (And heaven forbid I include any symbolism...)

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    1. That it is :)

      It's a pity some of your readers have been impatient - one thing I've found is that I have to sometimes add reminders of developing mysteries for my readers because some folks read at a slower pace to others and have forgotten some of the details (my brother-in-law is great for finding continuity reminder stuff like that because he is a slower reader). As writer's, I think one of our challenges is to deliver a mystery that satisfies everyone with enough information, but not too much. :)

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