1. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    Horror What defines horror?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Norule, Apr 26, 2011.

    I want to know what makes a story a horror story. I dont mean clichés like people not staying in the car when they are told to.

    But what whould you sya makes a horror story a horror story? :)

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It depends. Bad to average horror stories are a collection of tropes and cliches. Good to great horror stories create a scary and disturbing atmosphere.
     
  3. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    A story where some sort of horror (a monster, a murderer, etc) drives the plot, and where the feeling of horror is used to create suspense with the reader.
     
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  4. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    Im asking since the last story i wrote I considered a horror story but acording what you called a horror story im not sure it was. Its up here in the horror section if you fell like reading it tganks for the answer.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Is suspense enough though? Certainly it's an element, but I think that suspense needs to actually get under the reader's skin a little, make them actually afraid. I do think that horror is one of the hardest genres to write well. You need to create an atmosphere conducive to fear, at the same time as allowing the reader's imagination to tailor whatever's lurking in the metaphorical shadows to their own personal fears. Horror is very much a genre in which less is more, as nothing will be able to horrify a reader better than their own imagination. The writer's job is to give it the parameters in order to do that.

    But that's just my opinion.
     
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  6. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    I think horror stems a lot from 'fear of the unknown'. Where the antagonist is hidden and the world gets turned on its head. Constant suspense and expectation.
     
  7. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    What Pea said.

    Also, add something that's strange and, on the surface, normal-but there's something wrong about it... Example:In the Adventure/Horror book Coraline, the Beldam(the Antagonist) has button eyes but otherwise looks like Coraline's mother.

    Something that sings a weird and terrible song. This is underused, and I love it every time it comes up. Make the song rhyme. Phrase it oddly.

    Metaphors are useful. Wink wink.
     
  8. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    I like the song thing i got to try that some time :)
     
  9. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    Nail on the head right there
     
  10. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Yup. Once I read a poorly written horror story.

    There was a movement in the shadows. I immediately assumed it would be the Moonstalker(creature discussed earlier in the story), but the guy just outright said it was a bunch of bats, completely ruining my suspense and small degree of creepiness.
     
  11. BlackScorpion
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    BlackScorpion New Member

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    Reading Horror

    What are the types of things that make horror actually scary to read?
     
  12. Chudz
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    Chudz Contributing Member

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    Hmm, wondering if this is going to be a double post cause of Firefox's hiccup...

    Anyway, horror grounded in reality, or that which strains it a bit, is the scariest for me to read. The whole gore-fest/unstoppable-villain just takes me out of the story.
     
  13. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    Continuing along that train of thought, anything that is based on a "true story" or has some scientific (or whatever) basis for happening in the real world automatically makes it creepier, to me.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Horror is not gore and slime. Horror lies in the murky zone separating reality from nightmare, where you can scarcely say which is which.

    Horror is very personal. It has to drag its icy fingers over your secret terrors.
     
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  15. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    When the horror (monster, whatever) is left somewhat unknown. When the writer describes every aspect, it usually ruins it.

    also, if you use a type of monster with a pre-existing term - say a mummy - give me reason to be scared of it, really make it your own, and maybe a bit of description is good here...if you just say "mummy" I'm picturing the childlike robotic thing with white wraps, and if you just say "alien" I'm thinking E.T.
     
  16. Lilithmoon
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    I totally agree. Although, I believe a good horror writer can make virtually any atmosphere conducive to fear. I find the most memorable horror is when the author takes an ordinarily innocuous subject and makes it frightening. Cujo and The Exorcist are both brilliant examples of this technique.

    I have to admit I am also a fan the mindless violence and gratuitous gore. But as Banzai stated earlier, in horror writing, less is more. This makes describing copious amounts of blood and guts without spoiling it for the reader, by giving them too much information, very difficult. Unfortunately, when the writer goes for the gross out I find the plot line usually suffers. There is a fine line between horrifying and nauseating, in my opinion.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Humor may be harder to write. Combining them is probably the hardest of all. Both rely heavily on finding and stroking the right emotional triggers, amd those triggers have a very strong individual component supplied by the reader.
     
  18. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Imo horror is supernatural, and it's very difficult to write to write, much easier to make an horror movie than to make a horror book...what makes a horror book good is your writing: solid storyline, well round characters and style. In horror you can have gore or you can avoid that, there are very good horror stories like Suzuki's ring with no blood at all while others have a strong gore value.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Horror need not be supernatural. Getting into the head of a serial killer can be a truly chilling horror story, yet have no supernatural elements.
     
  20. VegasGeorge
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    VegasGeorge Member

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    For me a true horror story is one that makes me ill at ease, causes the hair on the back of neck to stand up, and spooks me into getting out of my chair to check on that creaking noise I just heard coming from the other room. Heh, heh, heh!
     
  21. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    That would be a thriller...
     
  22. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Not necessarily. Horror doesn't need to be supernatural. Quite often it's intensely psychological. Sometimes the real world is quite scary enough.
     
  23. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Suspense! Having the feeling you have no idea what to expect next. This kind of horror is always more scary than jumpy stuff. Probably why I enjoy thrillers more than horror actually...
     
  24. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Horror is like porn, it's hard to define, but when you see it, you know it...

    The horror industry is really in a rut because of people with bad imaginations and tired old cliches.
     
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  25. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I personally agree with the idea that supernatural horror is scarier, but it must be done right. Killers, rapists, stalkers etc are scary in real life, but not in horror fiction (to me) because nothing is out of the realm and all the antagnostic forces are things we have the resources to deal with (carry-conceal! ;) ). But with supernatural horror, it's bigger than you and you don't know the scope of its power, or of what it can and will do. The weapon in your purse won't help, and calling the cops won't help. You don't know what it is or what it will do next. Now, supernatural horror can always be horribly botched....i.e. by a space alien that looks like the green things from Toy Story, or by a furry green monster, or a stupid poltergeist, etc. But the best horror is the type where something is supernatural and harmful but you don't know what it is or you never actually see it.
     

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