What Do You Think of When You Hear “Horror?”

Oct 21

When you think of horror, what is it you think of? Think hard, because what horror is and what people perceive as horror in this generation are often completely wrong. There is really only one word to remember when it comes to horror and that word is fear.

Do you think of Jurassic Park as horror? If you watched the movie, you probably don’t. If you read the books, you should. Gore has become linked to horror and because of that trend in movies, that is what the current generation thinks of when it thinks of horror. Horror crosses genders and unlike in the past where Alien was a science fiction horror, it is now usually referred to only as science fiction. Jurassic Park was a science fiction horror as well, that because it didn’t show gore, fell into the science fiction category, stripped of the horror label.

Whenever a story is designed or leads to causing fear in its readers, it’s a work of literary horror. Don’t fear it, embrace it.

As a writer, you don’t have to feature a lot of gore or graphic scenes of violence. In fact, the less you show the more the reader is forced to imagine it. My main WIP is a murder/mystery that deals with a fetish serial killer. Some have asked me if I was going to show the sexual aspects, and I’ve always said I’d rather have the readers imagine them instead. And while that will probably have some scratching their heads, I just have to remind people what made Alien such a horror classic. You never saw the alien until the end. You were teased and it became a much more mental aspect to the fear as opposed to just being shown everything right away.

The mind is the writer’s playground. It’s also where a reader gets hooked into a story. If you really want to scare them, make them think about whatever it is your story is portraying. Get into their heads, and you’ll get into their hearts.

Although horror is in a stagnant place right now with it only being associated to gore, it’s up to us as writers to fix that. Don’t be afraid to use the term horror. I’m not saying you have to shy away from calling it something else, but don’t forget what it really is. A Dark fiction is still a horror. My dark fairy tale “Sweet Tooth” is still a horror. Don’t shy away from the truth. True horror fans might lose sight of one of your works because they wouldn’t think to look under another genre. It might be time for the literary world to get back to keeping it simple.

Leave a Reply