Why Writing Horror Is–SHOULD BE–Hard Part 1

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of normanack.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of normanack.

Whether one likes Horror or doesn’t, as artists, we can ALL learn to be better writers by studying what great Horror authors do well. Powerful fiction mines the darkest, deepest, grittiest areas of the soul. GREAT fiction holds a mirror to man and society and offers messages that go beyond the plot.

From the film, "I, Robot."

From the film, “I, Robot.”

Though not, per se, “Horror”, Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot is an excellent example. The Spawn recently fell in love with the movie and I’ve seen it 78 times in the past week (and am oddly okay with that). I, Robot isn’t just a story about a guy battling robots. There are so many messages about society—the costs of relinquishing personal responsibility/accountability, the dangers of blind faith, the real price of being totally “safe”, the ugly price of “convenience,” prejudice, and even the nature of the soul.

This story is SO GOOD because it is deeply, viscerally terrifying. Yet, it isn’t “Horror.”

And it could happen.

Stephen King is one of the most legendary authors of our time, and not just for scaring us. I feel King’s ability to see and relate the dark aspects of human nature and society is what makes him an author in his own league. The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemptionand even Stand By Me weren’t horror stories, and yet they are some of his finest works.

Author Stephen King

Author Stephen King

THIS is one of the main reasons I pursued a Horror expert to guest post and to teach at WANACon, because no matter which genre we write, the core tenets of good Horror are masterful guides to connecting to and affecting the souls of our readers.

Take it away, Kevin!

****

In my last posts I shared why I think horror is one of the most important genres, because – maybe more than any other genre – it has the potential to comment deeply on the human experience. In the right hands, horror can hold up a very unflattering mirror and show us what we really are: broken, scared creatures flawed and cracked, a species tragically ruled by fear, prejudice, insecurity, pride, anger, selfishness and cruelty.

And in the right hands horror also shows our better selves rising above our flaws.

Horror plays out supernatural battles between good and evil in the flesh; horror serves as a litmus test for a society or a nation’s conscience. What we truly fear reveals so much about our character, our true natures; as well as how we face those fears and either rise to meet them, or succumb to them.

That is why horror is – or SHOULD BE – hard to write. Emotionally, as well as spiritually.

That’s not to say that writing horror shouldn’t be fun or enjoyable. By no means. I’m not one of those folks you’ll see lamenting on Facebook about the awful “burden of being a writer,” that I’m a “slave to the muse” or that I “wish I wasn’t compelled to write.”

No, I get a kick out of making things up; especially making up stories about ghosts and ghoulies and monsters and those who face them. I feel immensely blessed to have the opportunity to contribute whatever little I can to the horror genre.

What does it “mean” to write horror?

But more and more, as both a writer and an editor, I’ve come to ponder what it really means to write horror, and the difference between a story that invokes that emotion we call horror and a story that merely utilizes horror tropes.

A clarification, first: I am not an elitist. I love reading and stories of all kinds too much to be a “story snob.” And stories utilizing horror tropes can be just as well-written as anything else. Excellent craft – prose, dialogue, characterization and character development – should be present in ALL fiction, regardless of genre.

A paranormal romance or zombie thriller can be just as well written as a wrenching ghost story about a father mourning the loss of his only son.

And also, I truly feel we are called to write certain stories. I’ve always thought writers experience a form of socially-acceptable multiple-personality disorder. A multitude of voices clamor in our heads for attention, characters who want their stories told. Some of those stories are horror stories. Some of them are not.

Some of them are quiet, creeping tales of unnamable dread, others are highly-charged, emotional, personal stories and still others…well…go splat a little more than the rest.

Terror

In Danse Macabre, Stephen King makes the distinction between three types of stories – tales of terror, (which he calls the finest emotion), tales of horror and tales of revulsion. Tales of terror never really shows you that thing that’s on the other side of the door. 

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 10.07.01 AM

Our reaction to it and how our fears change us and rule us is far more important than the actual thing itself; our imagination doing all the work. Two excellent examples would be W. W. Jacob’s classic tale “The Monkey’s Paw” and Shirley Jackson’s seminal novel The Haunting.  A really wrenching, emotionally-charged modern version of “The Monkey’s Paw” is found in “Forever,” the 17th episode in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 5.

Horror

The second tale Stephen King references are tales of horror. The only difference between the two, according to King, is that horror shows us what’s behind that door, and let’s be brutally honest, here. Sometimes we NEED to see what’s behind that door.

I adore Lovecraft’s work, but after awhile, I really need to see that unnamable horror, need to glimpse what that thing is.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 10.13.48 AM

An excellent example of a novel that shows us without sacrificing its power is Hell House, by the late Richard Matheson. We are shown the horror in that book.  Boy, are we shown, and to devastating effect. Also, the movie “Se7en” – staring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman – has become a classic film that’s been poorly imitated for years, and it succeeds by showing just enough (though it’s ultimate triumph – where its imitators fail – is never showing us what’s IN THE BOX, but that’s okay, because we KNOW. And that’s worse than seeing.)

Revulsion

The final tale is that of revulsion. In this tale, almost everything is secondary to that revolting image, serving as a means to that end and nothing more. Stephen King references the old EC horror comics here; I’m going to reference The Human Centipede.

Almost everything in that film serves only to deliver us the image of three people sewn together, mouth to anus. Prepped by the trailers for this, the audience is waiting for that moment, and when it’s delivered halfway through the movie there’s nothing left to wait for, the rest of the film becoming more of endurance test than an actual story.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 10.20.07 AM

However, revulsion still has its place and can be used effectively. In his treatise on the horror genre, The Philosophy of Horror, Noel Carroll asserts that part of horror’s true power lies in its violation of the natural order as we know it.

Revulsion used well (think of that X-files episode with the cannibalistic, inbred redneck family whose sons keep impregnating the bed-ridden mother), confronts us with a violation of what we know to be the natural order of things. An EXCELLENT recent example of this type of revulsion can be found in Kealan Patrick Burke’s acclaimed novel, KIN.

Another good example: William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” Because sometimes grief pushes us over the age into violating the natural order of things. Let’s admit; it’s hard to let go of a loved one.

Even when they start to smell…

Another clarification: as a writer, I’m just like all of you – struggling toward that elusive goal of refining my craft. I’ve written my fair share horror trope stories, and I’d like to think they’re good, solid stories. AND, I believe that writing horror trope stories is part of a horror writer’s natural development. But more on that next time ;)….

****

Thanks, Kevin! What are your thoughts on all this? What stories (horror or not) have horrified, terrified or repulsed you? I know the recent Tom Cruise movie, Oblivion kept me up almost all night (and it’s sci-fi).

Why? Because I kept thinking, This could happen. And not necessarily from aliens. Technology-wise (I read Popular Science and Popular Mechanics) we are about 3-5 years from perfecting similar drones.

What if this technology landed in the wrong hands? With universal health care and the current trajectory of law enforcement, we could easily have a record of everyone’s DNA on file by 2020. What if our DNA could be programmed into a drone that could scan us and mark us friend or foe?

“Foes” get to be a red mist, btw *shivers*. As I said, TERRIFYING.

I LOVE hearing from you, and I know Kevin will, too. Ask him your questions. Tell him your fears. Comments for guests get double weight in the contest.

Which is…

To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Horror Author Kevin Lucia

Horror Author Kevin Lucia

Kevin Lucia has worked as an Editor for Shroud Magazine and a Submissions Reader for Cemetery Dance Magazine, and is now an Associate Fiction Editor for The Horror ChannelHis podcast “Horror 101” is featured monthly on Tales to Terrify and his short fiction has appeared in several venues. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English at Seton Catholic Central High School and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles and his first short story collection, Things Slip Through is forthcoming November 2013 from Crystal Lake Publishing.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

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Get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE for $149 and all recordings for anything you miss or need to hear again. Sign up today, because seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.

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  1. #1 by vozey on September 27, 2013 - 11:04 am

    Awesome topic. Very interesting material to reflect on. What we fear the most is often based on what we love the most. I never thought about it this way until I read this post. Thank you for that.

    Interestingly, I think that same fact played a major role in a short story I wrote based on a dream I had. I think I might continue to explore this one, it keeps drawing me in.

    http://vozey.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/broken/

    Thanks!

    • #2 by Kevin Lucia on September 27, 2013 - 4:56 pm

      Vozey, I’d be willing to argue that all good horror stories feature loss of some kind, and what we value most is what we fear losing the most, also.

  2. #3 by Laurie A Will on September 27, 2013 - 11:43 am

    I really enjoyed this post and I have been wracking my brains trying to come with the scariest horror movie I’ve seem or the scariest book I’ve read and I coming up with a blank. I’ve just recently started watching horror movies again after taking several years off because I had small children constantly around. What surprised me was I hadn’t realized how inured I had become to violence and gore. When I started watching again, things that I never batted an eyelash at, suddenly gave me pause. And I thought that really mimics the human condition. It’s what much of society does, a coping mechanism. I mean if one sat down and through about everything horror that’s real in the world today, one could become immobilized.
    One novel and then later a movie that I thought both were underrated was Needful Things. I read the book and saw the movie and I couldn’t finding it a bit scary and disturbing because I could see how easily it all could have to some extent. What if someone could come into your town and find out everyone’s secrets and weaknesses. How easy it would be to play one person against each other as Leland Gaunt does. Yes, he had some super natural abilities that help him, but an evil enough person could cause irreparable damage to people’s lives without much effort. That I find disturbing.

    • #4 by Kevin Lucia on September 27, 2013 - 4:57 pm

      Needful things is one of my favorites, and definitely think it’s one of King’s more underrated books.

  3. #5 by lornafaith on September 27, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    Thanks for the good definitions on horror Kevin. It’s so true that what we fear is most often based on what we love the most. I’ll need to ponder that some more. Kristen I had a similar response to Oblivion. That makes a person think about what could happen in the future…ouch! Great post…thanks:-)

  4. #6 by itsfuntofindajob on September 27, 2013 - 12:31 pm

    Hi Kristen, I am a new member of your online support group. Just received an odd message from someone in Ghana who wants to speak privately. Please investigate her or him. I don’t need any private messages from people I don’t know.

    I’m sure you understand.

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  5. #8 by R. Lynn on September 27, 2013 - 12:55 pm

    This was such an interesting article. I would have to say when I think of horror movies the first thing that comes to mind is something like The Chainsaw Massacre. A movie that is creepy with violence, and disfigured lunatics running around chopping up and dismembering bodies left and right. But then your article mentions The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, and although I never thought of those movies as horror, nor are they stated as such, I have to agree there is a dark aspect to them. Scary no, but for me certain scenes brought out an intense disturbing emotion that at times made me cringe.

    • #9 by Kevin Lucia on September 27, 2013 - 4:58 pm

      “brought out an intense disturbing emotion that at times made me cringe.” – that’s the key, for me. Horror is an EMOTION. Not nausea. Not gross me out. But something we feel. Thanks for posting!

  6. #10 by kristenringman on September 27, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    I LOVE these posts and have blogged about them on my blog here:

    http://balancingbetween.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/the-lure-of-horror/

    I’m excited for part 2 of this one! (and returning to writing horror someday, too…and for October…and for when my 2-year-old is old enough to start watching horror movies with me…)

  7. #11 by acuriousgal on September 27, 2013 - 1:54 pm

    Such wonderful information about the subject of horror, Kevin. The Sixth Sense and Orphan are two movies that come to mind when I think of the genre horror. Both are listed in various columns as Mystery/Thrillers. My husband would tell you that horror is primarily slasher movies. I’m guessing you would think that both movies are horror. Your thoughts?

    • #12 by Kevin Lucia on September 27, 2013 - 5:00 pm

      I think more novels and stories and movies are “horror” than most people think. Unfortunately, so much of what gets marketed as horror are slasher films and gore porn. I think the line between thriller and horror is very, very thin.

  8. #13 by cynthiagrstacey on September 27, 2013 - 1:56 pm

    Awesome post again Kevin. I am a big fan of the horror story, but not so much of the revulsion that you speak of. My daughter watched the human centipede and it grossed me out. I much rather the jump out of your seat, scream till my throat is soar, have to keep my feet off the floor stories. Look forward to your next post!

    • #14 by Kevin Lucia on September 27, 2013 - 5:02 pm

      Thanks, Cynthia. And again, I’m not so much a fan of revulsion either, but it needs to serve a purpose PAST shock value.

      • #15 by Author Kristen Lamb on September 27, 2013 - 5:17 pm

        I think the new Rob Zombie movie “Lords of Salem” falls under this. It was cinematically beautiful, yet no real story. Everything was to shock, disturb and challenge. I think if I was an atheist the movie wouldn’t have had the power. Not necessarily recommending it, but sometimes what we believe and hold sacred is MORE sacred to us when we see it being trampled and profaned.

        • #16 by Kevin Lucia on September 27, 2013 - 5:33 pm

          See, the Hellraiser movies definitely trafficked in the gore, but some of those stories themselves were genuinely disturbing.

  9. #18 by acuriousgal on September 27, 2013 - 1:58 pm

    Reblogged this on A Curious Gal and commented:
    An interesting guest blog on the subject of writing horror.

  10. #19 by DC Lozeau on September 27, 2013 - 2:18 pm

    I agree, Kristen. Technology has advanced so much in the last few years that it (DNA technology)scares the hell out of me! A perfect example…THE ISLAND with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Imagine being able to live forever because you have a “clone” to supply you with endless body parts and organs. The question then arises…is a perfect clone of yourself a human? And what happens to that “human” should you, the donor of the DNA, need some of its parts? Is that murder or just plain killing? Now that’s horror!

    • #20 by swiveltam on September 27, 2013 - 2:41 pm

      If you like the Island, you have to read Never Let me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro and Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood! You won’t be disappointed :)

  11. #21 by lexacain on September 27, 2013 - 2:25 pm

    I loved Kevin’s article (and your thoughts). I’m a horror author who enjoys “horror” more than “terror” or “revulsion.” But each has their place, and Kevin did a great job of explaining the intricacies of all three. Thanks! :-)

  12. #22 by swiveltam on September 27, 2013 - 2:38 pm

    Thank you for inspiring me to look up Horror Tropes. I went here: http://arcana.wikidot.com/horror-tropes and found the list very telling. I love your mention of the X-files episode. That has haunted me for YEARS! Literally, it’s one of the creepiest episodes ever. I think I knew some of this in my heart, but you have verbalized it in such a succinct way, I think I can apply it to my ghost story writing. I’ve been asking my subconscious the wrong questions. Thank you :)

  13. #23 by wittywritereditor on September 27, 2013 - 2:42 pm

    Excellent post! Thanks. I’m a terror fan myself. I prefer not to see and let my own mind fill in the details, which are usually scarier and more disturbing than the actuality (except in the case of Seven – you’re right, what was in the box was pretty much a given).

    One of my all-time favorite stories is James’s TURN OF THE SCREW (and the 60′s British movie based on that story, THE INNOCENTS). You’re never quite sure if, in fact, the governess is really seeing ghosts, or if she’s just making it all up in her head. There’s significant evidence for both arguments. It’s an amazing character study that (I think) would be hard to emulate. I’ve tried to do it before, but I haven’t gotten it quite right yet.

    • #24 by Kevin Lucia on September 27, 2013 - 5:03 pm

      Turn of the Screw is also one of my favorites. I covered it not too long ago in my podcast, Horror 101, at Tales to Terrify.

  14. #25 by Andrew on September 27, 2013 - 2:48 pm

    For me the ultimate horror movie will probably always be The Exorcist. It scared the CRAP out of me, and I’m still reluctant to watch it now, about 9 years later (I have seen it once since.) It really is a study in what the horror genre can do to scare the holy crap out of people, because it mixes horror, terror, and revulsion so well. Terror, because for most of the movie the demon is invisible and it brings forth the “holy terror” of whether the devil actually exists and can act in the human world, horror because in a few brief instances we actualy SEE the grimacing face of the demon tself (those brief scenes were the ones that scared me the most. Sure they were jump scares but they were really EFFECTIVE jump scares!). Finally, there was revulsion with the pea soup and…another scene I won’t mention here, haha.

    But what really made the movie scary was just that it was well written. Plenty of other exorcism movies left me cold, but the original to me has been unparalleled just because at its core it’s a good story. It deals with something primal, touching a raw nerve deep in all of us.

    Also, now I want to reread Danse Macabre. Still working my way slowly but surely through the book/movie list in the back. I really am enjoying these posts!

  15. #27 by edwardowenauthor on September 27, 2013 - 4:01 pm

    Excellent post, Kevin. I am in a growth phase in my writing as I am actively studying the craft (reading books and posts on specific means of improvement) so the timing is excellent. Given the proliferation of slasher/gore movies and IMNSHO tripe like Twilight (horrible to be sure) do you think there is still an audience that appreciates truly good horror?

    I recently watched the film “Mama” and thought that it was fairly well done. Of course, Hollywood had to leave their CGI fingerprints all over it but the suspense was cranked up for most of the movie. Thanks again.

  16. #28 by Leigh M. Lane on September 27, 2013 - 4:38 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I have a friend who told me she fought the urge to vomit while writing her latest book. I personally have had to step away from the computer before, simply because what I was writing was creeping me out too much for me to continue without a break. In order to evoke the emotions and feelings underlying our themes, we must be willing to go through what we expect our readers to experience. If it’s not real coming out, it’s not going to be real on the page.

    http://www.cerebralwriter.com/blog.html

  17. #29 by Kevin Lucia on September 27, 2013 - 5:09 pm

    “do you think there is still an audience that appreciates truly good horror?” Absolutely. And may of them don’t even know they’re part of audience, and because that slasher-film stigma has always been tagged onto horror, they’ll never explore horror.

  18. #30 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on September 27, 2013 - 5:34 pm

    Actually, writing Horror is easy.

    Writing good Horror is hard :)

    It’s really rather funny. I had no intention of writing Horror. None at all. Then my first sale was a Horror story. So was my second. And my third…

    My horror sells. And people like it.

    Like any other fiction, Horror really is about people. People in a really tough situation, whether it is Leatherface with his phallic chainsaw, or Annie Wilkes with her captive novelist. It took me a long time to learn that. That it’s the people who matter in books, not the fancy magic (Lord of the Rings), the impressive spaceships (Honor Harrington), or anything else forming the background. It is how the people interact with the background, and other people, that matters.

    Wayne

  19. #31 by caroline on September 27, 2013 - 6:34 pm

    I absolutely love this horror kick, so awesome!

  20. #32 by melongmelengo on September 27, 2013 - 11:23 pm

    Reblogged this on Melong.

  21. #33 by amandalewisab on September 28, 2013 - 2:00 am

    I’m not versed enough in this genre but I do know what scares me isn’t guns or monsters, it’s possibility. I have a young daughter just starting school so the movies that bother me are deeply conected to what I fear harming the most. “I Spit on Your Grave” (I’m not a fan of originals so I do mean the new-ish one). And “The Last House on the Left” (also the remake; sorry.)

  22. #34 by ontyrepassages on September 28, 2013 - 2:44 am

    These are great posts. Thanks. I well remember that X-Files episode, “Home.” It was so disturbing that the network banned its reshowing and it still enters my thoughts from time-to-time. Though I write fantasy, there are horror elements in my WP (along with romance). Fear is an effective way to unsettle the reader and characters.

  23. #35 by lauraeflores on September 28, 2013 - 3:00 am

    Before clicking on the headline to open the blog post, I immediately thought of Stephen King. I started reading him, when I was in elementary school (probably explains some things…), but the first novel to really scare me was “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie, which I would classify as a tale of terror, it truly was too scary to read, when I was home alone.

  24. #36 by Victoria Yatsko on September 28, 2013 - 3:40 am

    I like the breakdown of terror vs. horror vs. revulsion here, Mr. Lucia. Done properly, I think any one of them can make a great horror tale, though I think the most potent horrors combine all three. I generally favor terror or horror, but do agree that revulsion has a place — subverting the natural order, especially if done subtly and in conjunction with other elements, can go a long way to giving a story extra “creep” factor. Unfortunately, revulsion has sort of taken center stage in recent “horrors” in ways that are neither at all subtle nor used to support a greater structure.

    It also reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine ages ago who liked to run horror role-playing games (if writing a good horror novel is hard, running a good horror role-playing game with a committee of players chowing down on Cheetos and quoting Monty Python is impossible). He described three levels of fear in storytelling: The first one, fear, is when you are out with your husband or wife at night and you realize there is something in the forest stalking you, but you can’t see what it is. The second, terror, is when you’re both out walking and a hulking beast breaks out of the forest and attacks your spouse. Horror is what results when you’re both out walking and suddenly, when you turn around, you see the hulking beast — and it has been your beloved spouse the entire time.

    I think you could probably replace his tags with yours, as those scenarios seem to be pretty neat examples of the terror/horror/repulsion descriptions to me. It’s something that’s always stuck with me when I’m considering what makes something horrific; it’s a whole lot less about how much blood, gore, monsters or dark imagery is used, and a whole lot more about what the audience is supposed to feel. Sometimes the only line between fantasy and horror lies in the presence or absence of that disturbing sense of dread.

  25. #37 by Julie Day on September 28, 2013 - 1:17 pm

    I don’t know if you call it horror, but it was certainly scary when it was on TV years ago: Seagull Island, where the seagulls attacked people. Also, what I called the insect movies, where the insects went mad and attacked people. I think the most famous horror, scary movie I know is Jaws. And that music…. Don’t think I could watch any of those now.

  26. #38 by catemasters on September 28, 2013 - 5:16 pm

    Love, love, love I Robot, for all the reasons you mentioned. Such a great twist at the end, too.
    Dean Koontz is an excellent example of why horror is a must-read genre. His characters are believable, and his prose is gorgeous. And the stories are so creepy, lol.

  27. #39 by Jan Rider Newman on September 28, 2013 - 10:23 pm

    “The Others” is one of my favorites terror movies because there were terrifying and horrifying things going on in that house, but not one act of violence occurred during the movie and not one drop of blood was shed on screen. Altogether a satisfying movie. For written horror — The Exorcist and Salem’s Lot have haunted me for years. Thanks for “horror tropes!”

    • #40 by Kevin Lucia on September 29, 2013 - 2:48 am

      YES! The Others is perhaps one of the best examples of what horror CAN do.

  28. #41 by Toi Thomas on September 29, 2013 - 7:07 am

    What an informative article! I’ve often thought that the stories that are able to shed light on the deepest darkest parts of reality were the most scary while others containing a lot gore were mostly disturbing. This article has greatly helped me in reconciling many conflicts I’ve had with the horror genre and fiction writing in general. Thank you.

  29. #42 by Emma Adams (@ELAdams12) on September 29, 2013 - 3:49 pm

    Fantastic post! When I was studying Gothic literature at university, I remember looking at the distinction between ‘terror’, which was more atmospheric, and ‘horror’, which was more about the shock factor – really interesting to see that the same kind of distinction exists today (we were comparing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with The Monk by Matthew Lewis). I’m not a fan of really gory films like The Human Centipede, but the main reason I prefer films more focused on Terror than Horror is because the dread of what could be lurking in the shadows is so much more effective than revealing the monster at the outset.

    I agree that the best horror is rooted in what COULD happen – what human nature is capable of. Even though I’ve never written horror, my writing always has a dark element, and I think it’s because I like to get to the heart of what really terrifies people. I always remember Freud’s essay on The Uncanny, which talks about the idea of taking something familiar but making it unfamiliar and terrifying – for example, the doppelganger, talking dolls, automatons, etc. Creatures that look human but aren’t. Maybe that itself says something about human nature!

  30. #43 by Rachel Thompson on September 29, 2013 - 3:59 pm

    The most revolting thing I’ve read is a tie between the Patriot Act and the Medicare part D legislation. Some times the worst horror is none fiction. Maybe people seek horror in fiction because the real world is unpalatable.

  31. #44 by Sharon T. Rose on September 29, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    I can’t read or watch horror because I get too scared. It isn’t catharsis for me; it’s an extrapolation of all the things I already don’t know how to handle or cope with. I can deal with suspense (most of the time) and, for some reason, Tim Burton films, which are more farcical than scary to me.

    I’ve explored writing horror a couple of times, as short stories or flash fiction. I doubt I could survive a whole novel! That said, I do think that we writers need to deliberately explore all genres, including horror, even if we never publish in that style. The amount and precision of description required for horror will serve us well in our lighter, more fun-filled battlefield bloodbaths.

  32. #45 by Amy Lee on September 30, 2013 - 2:43 am

    Stephen King didn’t write alone. He had inspiration and that came from me. I worked on many “horror” ideas due to what was happening to me, having many bad people in my life. It takes someone who knows real horror, like being kidnapped, bound in duct tape, drugged, knives held to one’s throat, being gang raped, choking on gasoline fumes, and possibly coming close to death. I didn’t fear death but could see my life ending tragically and for those I loved. I not only worked with King, but some of my early scripts were A Nightmare on Elm Street, Manhunter/Red Dragon creating Hannibal, and Firestarter. I went on to work on ideas which are attributed to Tim Burton.

    I also created “I,Robot” under the pseudonym Isaac Asimov. The name of Asimov came from a fictitious character in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. The title of “I, Robot” came from the title to an episode of the television show “The Outer Limits (1964) which The Alan Parsons Project also used for the title to their album. Of course, Hollywood had to give Asimov a fake background. But, I worked on script ideas with Will Smith for the film “I, Robot” and naming the characters.

  33. #46 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega on September 30, 2013 - 4:32 pm

    Excellent article. I love the different definitions of the horror genres. I’m going to bookmark this post because I’d like to go back to it from time to time. Kevin Lucia is very interesting. Thank you for inviting him to guest post Kristen, and by the way, I love I, Robot! :D

  34. #47 by Romy Sommer on October 1, 2013 - 11:46 am

    I don’t read horror or watch horror films. I’m very much a fluffy bunny and pink hearts person. But I remember that episode of X-Files like it was yesterday. It has stuck with me ever since and that is some powerful writing because it obviously tapped into something primal and still hasn’t let go!

  35. #48 by mark matthews on October 2, 2013 - 9:59 pm

    Great post! Fiction is just drama with the heat turned up to create conflict, and if you turn the heat up high enough, it becomes horrific and it gets labeled as horror. Horror to me is as much marketing as it is a genre. Something bleeds in every novel.

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