I swear to submit to the following set of rules:
- The tale must contain no stock anthropomorphic monsters: no vampires, no zombies, no werewolves, no mummies, no ghouls.
- Although the tale may contain noir elements, it must not contain stock figures from crime fiction such as serial killers or hard-boiled detectives.
- The tale must not involve a post-apocalyptic scenario, zombie or otherwise.
- The tale must not contain any buzzwords from Lovecraft, Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Chambers, Frank Belknap Long or any other earlier authors of weird fiction. This means no Cthulhu, Arkham, Miskatonic, Necronomicon, Tsathoggua, King in Yellow, Hounds of Tindalos, Carcosa, etc. Distinctive vocabulary associated with the Lovecraft circle, such as cyclopean, eldritch, etc., is also forbidden.
- The tale must not contain elements of Judeo-Christian mythology as operational tropes, e. g. a crucifix warding off evil, conventional demons and/or demonic possession, Satan, angels, etc. It is acceptable, however, for characters in the tale to embrace these concepts as part of their own belief systems.
- Steampunk and all its tropes are forbidden.
- Place is essential. Setting must be as well-developed as any other element of the tale. Scout and employ real locations whenever possible.
- Atmosphere must be as well-developed as any other element of the tale.
- Leave bright lighting and CGI to the cinema: the tale must suggest more than it describes.
- The tale must follow Caitlin R. Kiernan’s dictum: “dark fiction dealing with the inexplicable should, itself, present to the reader a certain inexplicability.”
Furthermore I swear as a writer that my supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings; out of the universe itself. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations. Thus I make my VOW OF CHASTITY.
The preceding manifesto and VOW OF CHASTITY is not intended to harm or insult any other writers, particularly established authors more successful and accomplished than myself. Most of all, it is not intended as judgment on existing work. It is an aesthetic statement of where I myself want to go with my own weird fiction. I believe that the true “weird tale” ranks, alongside noir, as a literary field that has produced, and continues to produce, genuine art, and I hope that these constraints will keep me honest in that quest.
I found the Dogme 95 manifesto for filmmaking by Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg to be a helpful model for clarifying and presenting my own ideas regarding weird fiction. However, just as not all films by these directors have followed all 10 tenets of the Dogme 95 manifesto to the letter, I must point out that not all of my favorite authors of weird fiction follow all of my Dogme 2011 tenets either.