Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Horror

This is one genre that I don't quite understand. I've attempted to write a few horror short stories over the years in part just to see if I could and I struggle each time I try. And each time I struggle to figure out what would qualify as a horror story. I just don't know how to write in a scary way, same as I don't know how to write funny on purpose.


The Horror Writers Association had a great explanation of horror on the site: http://www.horror.org/horror-is.htm. The part that really caught my attention was this:
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary gives the primary definition of horror as "a painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay." It stands to reason then that "horror fiction" is fiction that elicits those emotions in the reader. If we accept this definition, then horror can deal with the mundane or the supernatural, with the fantastic or the normal. It doesn't have to be full of ghosts, ghouls, and things to go bump in the night. Its only true requirement is that it elicit an emotional reaction that includes some aspect of fear or dread.

I even once had a long conversation with a friend on writing.com where she tried to get me to figure out what scared me. She asked all kinds of questions with the sole purpose of finding out if I "found that scary." And after over 30 minutes we basically found out not much scares me when I'm just reading the suggestion. I think my fears are starting to change because I know death is starting to appear in my mind more often than before, but for now, I struggle to think and then use that information to write something scary.

I think another issue I have is more when they think about horror it is those horror movies, such as slashers or maybe psychological thrillers. And all those movies do is remind me of my grandmother. Not cause she was scary but she loves horror movies (all kinds). Grandma is only about 66 years old now. Growing up I remember her house having so many scary movies and watching one called Slumber Party Massacres (spoiler: it's a slasher movie where the guy killed people using a guitar with a drill on the end  of it). So, when I think about horror movies in general, Grandma comes to mind.

And I also am one who umm fell asleep while watching the Exorcist. I wasn't exhausted or anything, just fell asleep when I tried to watch that movie. I get bored easily with horror movies when I try to watch them and I'm not sure why. I did like Rose Red, but not many other horror movies. I have only seen Thinner of the Stephen King based ones, and that brings me to the books.

I haven't read any of King's books either, not the horror ones. I read a fantasy one of his though. In fact I've read very few horror books. Though I used to love reading them. Some of my favorite books as a young teen were the R.L. Stine Fear Street Cheerleaders books. But now, I am not sure how I feel about horror reading and haven't read many at all.

And I will never be a horror writer, but  I still try sometimes.

Do you like horror?
What is horror to you?


Maurice Mitchell said...

I've never really got into it either, but King's stuff is brilliant. I love action though!
- Maurice Mitchell

The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr

Anonymous said...

Great A to Z post. I'm a bit that way, don't think I could write a true horror story if I tried, though I sometimes incorporate aspects of horror in my fantasy and scifi writing. I can also appreciate a good horror story if done well. Personally, I like horror that scares you with your own imagination rather than dictating to you what you should think is scary.

Susan Kane said...

I hate horror films, hate them. Horror usually involve evil and insanity.

Dawn Embers said...

Maurice Mitchell - A good story with action to move things forward is fun to read.

cefrancies - Thanks. That is an interesting point. Ones that leave things for the reader because what is in there mind might be far worse.

Susan Kane - Some are that way for sure, though they can also show hope and survival, I think. But it's not for everyone.

Robin said...

I tend to steer clear of things that elicit that feeling. I hate horror movies. And I don't like books in the horror genre, either. I am afraid that I am not much help here.

Denise Covey said...

Dawn, I've never understood the fascination with horror books/movies, but I loved the movie 'Black Swan.' I puzzled over its ending until I realised, duh, it was a horror movie. I couldn't even attempt to write it, but then again...challenges...D

Kate OMara said...

I like the sci fi kind of horror, not slasher/creepy stuff.

Dawn Embers said...

Robin - It's not going to be for everyone so that's okay.

Denise Covey - I don't understand the slasher or sort of campy I guess, B type horror movies. I'm not familiar enough with the terms either. I haven't seen Black Swan yet.

Kate Omara - Sci-fi can have some interesting, scary stuff going on in it, true.