"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, September 24, 2012

Creepy Dolls: A Writing Guide

I posted this last week over on the ADR3NALIN3 blog, but in case you missed it, here it is!


Possibly we all have one. The doll that creeps every single person who walks into the house out. Yes, my kids have had friends sleep over who have asked to be driven home in the middle of the night because of said doll.

“Wait, what?” my mom says. “I bought you that Jeri Anne doll from J. C. Penney years ago. I thought you loved her.”

Well, the truth is that she scares everyone. My daughter’s friends ask to have her not only moved out of the bedroom, but moved far, far away. Best if she’s up high on a shelf where she can’t get to anyone. My son’s friends insist she looks like a clown. A very scary clown.

But she’s only a doll. A sweet, little doll.

Okay, she is freaking creepy.

What is it about dolls that adds the complete creep factor?

I've decided to categorize dolls into a few categories for easy reference when you are including them in your next novel.

Imagine 21" Madame Alexander dolls when you think of this one. These dolls are trendy. They are dressed in the latest fashions. Their hair is styled exquisitely and may have jeweled barrettes holding it in perfect place. (btw, never brush this doll's hair.) They have fancy names like Scarlett and Cissy and Jacqueline. They know they are better than all the other doll.

Because of the beautiful nature of this doll, she is the creepiest when dripping with blood, has messed up hair, and when her gorgeous clothes have been torn. Her clothes may hand in rags on her, her panty hose may be snagged, but she always maintains something to show her beauty, such as the rhinestone barrette in her messed-up hair. It is the small, beautiful details that will stick with readers long after they have turned out the light.

 Part of my personal doll collection...in my bedroom.
I've only had a handful of nightmares.
Yes, I do have Star Trek Barbie and Ken.

This is the doll with the missing eyeballs and patchy hair. Her clothes may be long gone. She may have lived in a smoking house and have yellow stains from cigarette smoke. Her face may be bleached from the sun. Every single person who comes in the house averts their eyes when they see this doll, because why would anyone have her? She should have been land fill fodder long ago. But, by God, she is an antique, and there is no way her family is getting rid of her. She may have even come over on the Titanic and made it into a lifeboat.

In scary stories, this doll is best for close-up shots. She is already creepy enough without having to do anything extra special. Focus on the empty eye-socket. Use her to build up the creep factor before anything else happens.

Possibly we can superglue her?

This doll is taken care of so well, the family dog is jealous. She is dressed in perfect period clothes. She has a perfect period family, all dressed in clothes to compliment hers. She is always posed in a way that screams, "I am so sick of sitting here in this same rocking chair. Please free me." Her dress never has a wrinkle in it. It is steam ironed nightly and she is dusted with only the finest feather duster. Wherever she sits is not acceptable seating for guests. She gets first dibs.

Because of this infinite stage of posing, this doll is creepiest when her head spins around. Or when she suddenly is not in the same rocking chair she was in before but has somehow moved across the room to hang with the other dolls. She is subtle. It may take a few movements on her part to finally get noticed. And by then, it will be too late.

Do you think the tea is cold yet?

If you have a girl child, this is the doll she may consider her best friend. It may dress like her. It may look like her. You have probably spent many a hard-earned dollar making sure this doll makes your daughter happy. Your child may have tea parties and invite friends over with similar dolls so they can all play together. This doll goes on playdates with your child. This doll is almost like your child.

Because this doll is like a best friend, betrayal becomes the scariest thing. When this doll turns creepy, she begins to talk. She threatens her owner. She repeats canned phrases over and over again in the most horrific way. She does not want to be like her owner. She wants her own identity. She is sick of tea parties and matching clothes. This doll wants revenge.

Got any more categories for me? I'd love to hear them. 

And for those who can't get enough dolls, I leave you with...

CREEPY-ASS DOLLS by Stacey Leigh Brooks (Krause Publications, May 8, 2011)

DIARY OF A CREEPY-ALL DOLL by Stacey Leigh Brooks (Krause Publications, July 31, 2012)

Okay, this Tumblr cracks me the heck up!


sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books said...

I liked dolls as a kids but as I get older the more and more I see them the more they freak me out. LOL

Growing up my friend had a doll that looked like Chucky. I refused to play anywhere near it, and I was too young for the movies back then! I knew enough, apparently.

Cheree Smith said...

I was never a doll-girl growing up, but I always loved those creepy doll movies (such as Chucky)... dolls can be downright creepy at times.

PJ Hoover said...

Chucky freaked out people for generations, didn't he, Sara? How funny that he had such a huge impact.

You liked Chucky, Cheree! How funny! Got any other doll movies to recommend?

Lauren said...

That's a pretty creepy doll. When I was a kid, I used to invent stories about what the dolls would do when we weren't looking. My sister refused to play with a few of them, especially around Halloween time when the dolls became seasonally appropriate in their forays. Although none of them looked creepy... Not like those pictures...eek.

PJ Hoover said...

Hey Lauren! LOL! With all the doll freakiness, it's amazing Toy Story was actually so popular :)

Miriam Forster said...



PJ Hoover said...

LOL, Miriam! Sweet dreams!

stacey brooks said...

Awesome to see my books included in your blog article. They were a blast to put together...and I still have several of the dolls. I also have a Facebook page Creepy-Ass Dolls where I posts my latest and creepiest creations. Thanks again for the wicked mention.

PJ Hoover said...

You are welcome, Stacey! Thank you for the awesome book!!!