What? What’s that? This isn’t Saturday! You’re an imposter!
Nope. This is a bit of a special post for a couple reasons. One is that I’m actually posting one of these. Subgenre Saturdays are kind of on a bit of a hiatus for a lot of reasons. I really enjoyed writing them, but they are an awful lot of work on my part, and I’ve just recently signed several contracts (Seriously. Three contracts in a three day span.) and I have a lot of edits on the horizon. I was also running low on subgenres I have a lot of experience with. So I do intend to pick them back up eventually, but not within the next couple weeks, to be sure.
The other reason this is a bit special? Well, I don’t know for sure that you could really call this a subgenre. Today, I want to talk about creepypasta.
Scared? I knew you would be.
Oh, you’re not? And you couldn’t lie to me?
(A note, in good faith: some of the stuff in these links is really unnerving, including pictures that portray some (Photoshopped) body horror. You'e been warned.)
Creepypasta are a sort of internet-based urban legend. But also not quite the same. Urban legends are believed, at least by someone. Enough people that they move from mouth to mouth. Spiders in the bouffant, alligators in the sewer, that sort of thing.
With creepypasta, most people are fully aware that these are fictional accounts. Slenderman, Jeff the Killer (Warning: Terrible Writing), Smile Dog. You know, reading them, that they are totally and completely not real. But it doesn’t matter, because they’re still that kind of skin-crawling terror that’s so hard to capture.
Now, what kind of name is creepypasta? You’d be surprised how few fans actually know why these stories of fear are titled with such a silly-sounding name. It comes from the term ‘copypasta,’ which is just a block of text that gets copied and pasted from one internet source to the other over and over and over. Copy-paste to copypasta to creepypasta, for these deeply ‘creepy’ stories spread through the internet the same way.
It’s difficult to pin down exactly what makes a creepypasta a creepypasta and not just a horror story that’s been posted online. Part of it is the same as urban legends compared to other legends. They could maybe happen. Most normal legends, like most average horror stories, are so far-separated from our general, modern reality that they lack that creepiness. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s fairly good starting point.
As a rule, creepypasta also leave a lot of room for experimentation and modern storytelling techniques. They don’t have to be linear narratives, or even traditional narratives at all. One of my favorites of all time is the series of creepypasta connected to Candle Cove. Seriously, those stories give me goosebumps every time, even when I know what’s coming. But the original and a number of the off-shoot stories are told in forum posts and interviews and other epistolary-style formats. A lot of them use pictures as an aid, or even audio and video. I’ve even seen some using hidden HTML code that are only available if you copy the base code of the website. Things like that help set creepypasta apart as a unique internet phenomenon.
If I were to recommend starters for you… well, I’d preface it by telling you to keep the lights on before you begin your dive into the realm of creepypasta. But aside from that, I’d say that you should go through and click the links to the creepypasta that I’ve shared in this post already. On top of those, I’d check out the Russian Sleep Experiment, Squidward’s Suicide, and Ben Drowned.
I won’t say that these are the best (Although I hold that Candle Cove is one of the top creepypasta on the internet.), but they are definitely some of the most popular creepypasta you’ll find, and they do encapsulate a good amount of what you’re liable to see when you read creepypasta, if you decide you like this genre... or whatever you’d call creepypasta, anyway.