Striving for originality (p. 23). Take a typical setting for a horror or fantasy novel and jot down ideas for atypical characters and situations that might take place in that typical setting.

Location: an old haunted house in the middle of nowhere

Instead of young good-looking people as our protagonists, how about casting an elderly couple? Grandpa is feeble, which increases the potential conflicts. Plus, Grandpa must reconcile his stubborn religious beliefs with the supernatural once he encounters it. Maybe they retired to this old house as the culmination of a life-long dream?

Ghosts and monsters of all kinds have been done. Animated puppets and toys have been done. Is there a monster that hasn't been explored? Internal and external. Shifting perspectives. It's all been done. This is tricky. I like the idea that there is no monster. The paranoia consumes the victims, but yes, I'm sure that's been done. If it gets too atypical, it would be absurd. Attack of the killer coffee beans? Attack of the killer air conditioning unit? Attack of the killing extremities? The character's ears detach from his head and attempt to kill him by jumping down the victim's throat.

One of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen was David Lynch's ERASERHEAD. When absurdities are taken seriously and left unexplained, the audiences doesn't know what to do with that.

An atypical situation might be to explore an idea besides claustrophobia. Many horror stories have the character's trapped within their setting. Even if they are abandoned at sea, they are still in a setting they can't escape. The SIXTH SENSE and EXORCIST were interesting variations, because no matter where they went, they couldn't escape the horror -- because it was within them. SIXTH SENSE offered a fascinating resolution. The boy learned to live with his situation.

A house lends itself to a confinement story. What if the house followed the couple wherever they moved? They would move into a new house, and it would transform into their old house, but no one else in the town would ever notice. It's always been that way. Even if they moved into a condo or apartment, entire communities of people would just disappear -- replaced by the house?