1. aniolel
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    aniolel Member

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    Horror Horror and Point of View

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by aniolel, Oct 30, 2009.

    I am planning to write a horror novel, and i have come to impasse of picking POV for the novel. What POV works best for Horror and why? All perspectives are welcomed.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Third person. Suspense, according to Sir Alfred Hitchcock, arises from audience knowledge concealed from the character. His example is of a man sitting down at a table. As that stands, no suspense. But if te audience knows there is a time bomb taped to te leg of the table, with seconds remaining, high suspense. However, if the character also knows the bomb is there, the suspense is greatly diminished. There is also no suspense if the character knows the bomb is there, but the audience does not.

    Strictly following first person, there is no good way to inform the reader that the bomb is there without the character knowing as well. However, third person can transition smoothly between the POVs of the bomber and the intended victim. And if you stick close to your character when he or she is in focus (3rd person limited), you have every bit as much access to his or her feelings and perceptions as in first person.
     
  3. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    I agree with Cogito 100%.
     
  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I absolutely agree with Cog, regarding suspense. But... I think suspense and horror are two different beasts. Suspense is the fear of something known, while horror is the fear of the unknown.

    Consider something supernatural; once you come to understand the powers behind it, it seizes to be scary. It has been explained and the fear is conquored. This relief is exactly what the kids show 'Scooby Doo' relies on. True horror, however, keeps the fear unexplained and unrelieved, so that it continuously haunt you.

    All the Lovecraft stories I've read were in 1st person or limited 3rd. They forge an intimate bond between the reader and the main character, so that you see the dark and mysterious horror only through their eyes. He makes you feel as clueless and helpless as they are.

    There's rarely much plot from the side of the antagonists, since that would require continual exposition of their side and by that, allow the reader power over them. It would add suspense, yes, but the horror would vaporize in the second the villain became subject to your gaze. It would make him mortal and thus vulnerable.
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    How many good first-person horror novels can you name?

    I'd say limited, multiple third is the best for horror. Dread is very much related to suspense.

    I'm not sure if masters of horror like King or Barker have ever used first person for a horror novel.

    If you use multiple third person, you can have a scene where the MC sees glimpses of the monster. She sees how it tears people apart. Think Jeepers Creepers. Then have a scene from the monsters POV. We get to see what he is doing. We get to know his thoughts of how and why he is going to kill the MC. This in itself can produce dread and anxiety. But it will raise suspense as well because we know the monster is coming for the MC, when and how and why, but she has no clue what she is in for.

    If it was first person, you miss out on all that. You can only raise dread by what she perceives.
     
  6. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't read King's books (I just can't get into them, sorry), but I've seen the films based on them, and they're all pretty much limited to the MC's perspective. Maybe it's not the same for novels, but in visual media it's almost a rule: keep the monster out of sight for as long as possible. Once you understand what the monster is, the fear of it is conquored. If I knew the thoughts of the xenomorph in Alien, it wouldn't have been one bit scary... And this is one monster that kept me sleepless for a month, as a kid.
     
  7. Carbon
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    Carbon Member

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    You can't consider them novels, but I always considered Poe's first-person short stories to be pretty scary. The Tell-Tale Heart is one of the better examples of that.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's certainly possible to write decent first person horror. However, when someone asks straight out which POV is a better choice, I have to go with third person.

    In fact, third person is almost always the best first choice. You can get the same kind of intimacy from a third person limited POV as from first person, without the drawbacks and limitations of first person.

    Restrictions aren't always a bad thing. But newer writers in particular shouldn't be making the choices that make success more difficult. Why set yourself up for failure by taking the hard road, when even the so-called easy path is still quite challenging?
     
  9. aniolel
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    aniolel Member

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    Thanks for the advice so far. :) Now can one write in horror in third person where there is a mix of limited and ominensce.?
     
  10. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    To original question:

    You can also consider writing it in first person from the point of a view of a character who is, not only taking part in the story, but observing the other characters. For example, the novel can revolve around a certain pair of people, and, rather than write third person from their perspective, you have write it in first person from their friend who is also coming along on the adventure.
     

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