Applying horror writing tips

Throughout the 1990s and in the early 2000s, viewers and authors knew the genre that had a goal to scare people as horrors. However, later the genre became more decent and, probably, by virtue of it, also received the name horror. In part, this strategy turned out to be correct: thanks to it, it became possible to write all the other elements of the subgenre in the genre (for example, mysticism, slasher, etc.). At the same time, the term horror refers to literature and is generally dissolved in mass culture. Here are some horror writing tips.

Borders of the genre

Most often, horror is a genre, that is, a specific category of works with a common internal structure, general plot formulas, types of characters, etc. However, what is now called horror may sometimes not be a genre. If we talk about such a movie, it is very often films that are considered arthouse or rather difficult to perceive, but in which the elements of the genre are allowed (for example, the dismemberment of the body is the main formula of the subgenre of horror. Today, horror movies can be shown on prestigious, rather than narrow-profile festivals, which actually abolishes horror as we have known it for several decades. Today, in an era that we can call postmodern, the scope of the genre has shifted. But for now, it is not very clear how far.

The genre of horror is often mentioned along with such genres as fantasy and sci-fi. Fantasy can be easily distinguished from sci-fi and horror. As some researchers define this genre, fantasy is a concept of possible improbabilities. While sci-fi is a concept of possible probabilities. That is, a movie about what might be, but what we have not seen. Horror is also the idea of impossible probabilities:
  • Zombies
  • Vampires
  • Werewolves

There are related films, for example Alien. Of course, there is a horror, in which the narrative is extremely realistic, but such a film is difficult to confuse with fantasy. Rather, it will be close to other genres – a thriller, a criminal film, etc.

Subgenres of horror

Before talking about horror, it is necessary to determine what other internal structures make up the backbone of the horrors. This genre is very diverse. There are many subgenres of horror.

  • A slasher, where a group of young people who have abused alcohol is killed by a maniac or monster. This is a youth version of horror. Most often it is made about youth and for youth.
  • A splatter where the emphasis is on the splashes of blood that scatter in all directions when one of the characters in the film is working with a chainsaw (it is characteristic that the already become a classic horror film Texas Chainsaw Massacre does not apply to this sub-genre since there is not much blood in the picture is not so much blood). The most striking example is Peter Jackson’s Living Dead where one of the heroes vigorously kills a zombie with a lawn mower, and pieces of dead meat, turned into a garden tool, and blood scatter throughout the room.
  • Gore. In the gore, there is an emphasis, for example, on the dismemberment of the body, mutilation, etc. In the gore, a methodical dismemberment usually occurs (pictures of Herschel Gordon Lewis – the classic of the subgenre).

Or here is another example. One of the modern, art-house female directors shoots her movies in the unique style of the vomit gores. In her works, there is no plot, she simply makes the movie about how women are dismembered or vomited on. For example, one of her films is called Slaughter of Puffing Dolls.

Another subgenre of horror is mysticism. Movies about monsters relate to the genre of zombie movies – an essential subgenre of horror. There are still disputes, but in general it is believed that there are, for example, films that can be attributed to the subgenre of the vampire genre and so on.

Horror can enter into an alliance with comedy, fantasy (this is the most common type), sometimes with a thriller. Different people are attracted to completely different subgenres. Some viewers may like mysticism, but they do not like gores. This is very interesting because it helps answer the question asked by many philosophers or film historians with a philosophical education: “Why do people watch horrors?” This is how the problem was formulated by one of the philosophers who talk about cinema, Noel Carroll. In the end, it turns out that we cannot put this question in this way: we have to answer ourselves, what kind of people, at what time and what horrors they watch because this genre is very diverse and has changed greatly during its existence.

Finally, in addition to subgenres, there are several important topics. For example, the American horror of the 1930s and the American horror of the 1980s are completely different things. There is also a whole tradition of European horror.

How to write in the horror genre

If you think that writing in your book something like “A creature that does not resemble anything”, “He (she) did not see anything like this before”, “His brain was unable to describe what he saw”, and so on, and then continue the description of the action, believing that the reader himself will understand everything, then you are deeply mistaken.

The reader does not intend to understand anything. He’ll be simply offended by this disrespect for him on your part and will forever put your book in the category of poorly written. Moreover, the reader is a vindictive being. It is because of his vengefulness that he will tell all his friends about you badly, and even in his blog he will tell about all the negative things that he thinks about you.

So, do not make your work easier and do not jump over the description. But do not rush to give it. Give a description of fear as one of the main dishes of five or six chapters. Here are horror writing tips on how to do it:
  • First, completely make the reader completely relaxed, giving him the impression that he really will not be scared.
  • Then start slowly to surround him with a fog of unknown terror. Slowly, but not very slowly. Make sure that at the end of the next 10 pages, the hair at the back of your reader is half a millimeter higher. This will be the most excellent speed for injection.
  • Start to show him the results of the horror – dug graves, corpses, dead bodies, dead dogs, etc.
  • Make the characters hear horror things such as howling, creaking, steps, knocking at the window, etc.
  • After that, bring the horror to the heroes (and therefore also to the readers) as close as possible – cracks in the wall, opened portals, calling voices, etc.
  • Let the heroes escape but not for long and not far.
  • Horror overtakes the characters.

And since this horror is unknown, previously unseen by us, then you, as the author, should take a break, and come up with a nightmare from which you yourself will become scared. This is the main formula of the horror. One of the main horror writing tips is to write in a way so that it would be scaring for you to turn around.

Academic studies of horror

Horror is one of those genres that is in great demand among film critics and researchers. If an academician deals with genre movies, then he most likely studies horror films. In this sense, horror can be compared to pornography, which scientists like to study, unlike some other genres. Comedies are hardly studied.

How do you usually study horror? One of the most famous and influential for several decades American critics Robin Wood was initially engaged in writing books about Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock and only then began to study genre movies and horror in particular. He treated it seriously: thus, Wood became one of the few who admired the films of American visionary Larry Cohen. Wood tried to analyze films of the genre from the point of view of vulgar Freudian Marxism and, above all, through the interpretation of Freudianism by Herbert Marcuse. Wood believes that the monster in the horror symbolizes a figure that has been displaced by society, while being forced out for reasons of other sexuality. The appearance of certain characters in horror films tells us that the society is afraid of their sexuality. For example, films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where the public’s clear fear of retired but still practicing slaughterhouse workers, is the fear of the proletarians. Wood, by the way, says that Frankenstein is also a symbol of the proletariat, created by a man without mediation with women, which should frighten conservative sections of the public. From Wood’s point of view, each of the monster’s figures, each of the characters of horror is a display, a symbol of some other sexuality that is replaced by the norm.

Final horror writing tips

In order for the literary work to be remembered, it should awaken in the reader any feelings, find the response in the audience. If you decide to write horror, then remember that it should cause fear in the fans and tickle their nerves. Scare the reader, and he’s yours. Having received what he came for, he will be satisfied and will come again. Your task is to make your work not just scary, but also memorable. Let them tremble, turn around behind their back, and be afraid to go to sleep.

The most important, perhaps, is to play on human fears. These little trembling creatures have long been accustomed to fear something and the more time passes, the more scared they become. What could a caveman fear? Darkness, height, wild beasts, thunder and lightning or a strong tribe. Are these fears gone now? Not at all. But now there are a lot of phobias:
  • Clowns
  • Airplanes
  • Bacteria
  • Mobile phones

Anything that was once invented or discovered will scare someone. There is even phobophobia – a fear of fear. However, if you look at the list of human fears, it becomes clear that most of it still remains from monkeys. What does it give? The scope for activity and one very important fact – fears are natural.

Of course, you can’t scare everyone but surely somewhere in the world there is a person who, after seeing a black horned monster in his closet will be very scared. You can set a goal to create fear but it’s much easier to target a wide audience.

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