This week: When you see what isn’t really thereEdited by: Arakun the Twisted Raccoon
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Quote for the week: “Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”
― Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie
Dictionary.com defines illusion as:
1. Something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.
2. The state or condition of being deceived; misapprehension.
3. An instance of being deceived.
4. A perception, as of visual stimuli (optical illusion), that represents what is perceived in a way different from the way it is in reality.
5. A very thin, delicate tulle of silk or nylon having a cobwebbed appearance, for trimmings, veilings, and the like.
The word illusion is related to delusion which is "a false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact."
Both illusion and delusion are important parts of many horror stories. Horror characters often have an altered perception of reality that drives their thoughts, beliefs, or actions.
Illusions may involve all five senses. A character may see, hear, smell, taste, or feel something that is not actually there or perceive what is there in an altered way. Some common causes may be alcohol, hallucinogenic substances, or mental illness such as schizophrenia. Physical conditions that may be accompanied by illusions include lack of sleep and migraines. If your characters suffer from a known illness or reactions to drugs or alcohol, make sure and do research so the effects you describe are realistic.
Other characters may have been deceived by parents or other influential figures. For example, a child might have been raised in isolation by parents who taught them everything in the outside world is evil. Children who are constantly told they are ugly will come to believe it despite seeing evidence to the contrary in the mirror.
In a horror story, illusions may have a magical or supernatural cause. Some mythical creatures such as fae folk and elves are said to disguise their actual appearance with a glamour, or spell that makes them appear to be ordinary human beings.
A demon (or just a malevolent person) might have a talent for appearing innocent in public while performing evil deeds behind everyone's back.
Some tourist attractions are based on optical illusions. One such attraction is described as a place where "all laws of nature and physics appear to be suspended. Water flows up hill, tall people appear shorter than their smaller friends and what appears to be measured level is not." People who enter the house are able to stand on a wall and hang sideways from a rafter that appears to be straight. Rather than a suspension of the laws of physics, attractions such as this one actually work because of the laws of physics. Floors are not level, houses are built on a slant, and visitors' perceptions and preconceived notions do the rest. Places like this are fun even when you know how they work, but might be frightening in a horror story if a character is being chased by a monster...
Something to try: Write a horror story based on illusions.
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