1. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Horror Writing horror - in degrees

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Lifeline, Mar 18, 2016.

    I have just found this blog where the Blogger is a published author and apparently has a whole lot of books published in different genres. But this guy talks sense and I read my way through the whole blog. A few gems of wisdom surfaced, one of which is pertaining to this forum.

    So.. these are the Blogger's words - and I agree wholeheartedly:

    "Of course your characters may suffer physical pain depending on the events of the story, but that should be the least of their problems. Cut my arm off, I'll hurt. Cut off the arm of someone I love as I watch, I'll hurt more. Make me cut off the arm of someone I love, I'll be devastated. Make me need to cut off that arm, want to, love to, beg to, and I'll be plunged into a nightmare of insanity from which I will never escape."
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
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  2. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    Don't underestimate the power of physical mutilation. In its most basic form, it creates humiliation and drives in defeat--you are the villain's plaything, and you will become what he wants you to be. More advanced variations trigger a feeling reminiscent of body dysmorphic disorder, all the stronger in readers who have always felt right in their own bodies and would never know how to live with being warped and twisted. A wound that cannot heal or an illness that will never be cured can make readers feel like their skins are trying to escape their bodies.

    (You can also use this in reverse, restoring a character to their proper form to bring a sense of relief to the reader, but that's a bit beyond the scope of this thread.)
     
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  3. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Huh. Truly I hadn't taken the words of the blogger as base, but as symbol. Guess there is always a deeper dark part of the woods!
     
  4. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I definitely agree that psychological elements can be far worse, but I also with @Feo Takahari that the psychological element of mutilation is quite strong, Still more horrible in the way the quote suggests though, I think.
     
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  5. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    To concentrate what he's trying to say even further, is that there's probably nothing more horrific than becoming something completely different from what you were. This could be physical, like the climax of I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream, or more commonly, psychological. I always like to go to Silent Hill 2 when talking about this, since I consider it one of the greatest horror stories ever. The "initial horror" in the game, is, of course, all of the darkness and what could be lurking in it. But "initial horror" doesn't follow you off the screen. The "real horror", as I like to call it, is finding out what James did to Mary. He murdered her, he blamed himself for being selfish, he blamed her for being cold, and he was going to kill himself in Silent Hill. But he went insane and pretended she was alive so he could look for her. And that's it, that's the story. The monster is himself, there's no antagonists. Sure, there's all the demons, but they're just projections of himself and how he sees everyone. They're constant, nagging reminders of all of his flaws. And because of that, they're all sexually themed. James is the protagonist and antagonist. He's his own nightmare, and he hates himself. Like this scene. That's the real horror that continues to follow me to this day. It's a very haunting story. You can always run from or fight an antagonist, but you can't run from yourself.
     
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  6. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I know. Believe me. I am writing a character who tries, and it warps him. Will find out if I can make the reverse change believable..
     
  7. Alejandro89
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    Alejandro89 Member

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    I would think the bigger horror would be someone you love and trust trying to do it to you. When it actually happens I think its more gore than horror. I think in horror the threat of some dark destiny is fundamental.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
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  8. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    Different people look at it in different ways. For me, the mental aspect is my primary self-imposed restriction. I'm all for having characters cut off their own limbs or vomit out liquefied organs, but if I get deep into psychological torment, I know I've gone too far and stop.

    I once tried to read a popular fantasy series and discovered that it begins with the MC hopelessly subservient to an emotional and sexual abuser. There's no blood or bruising, just pure mental anguish. None of the people who recommended the series to me saw fit to mention it, and when I told some fans that I couldn't read it, they seemed surprised I was so horrified. I think that's how a lot of people look at it--if there's no gore, it's not shocking.
     
  9. Alejandro89
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    Alejandro89 Member

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    Thats interesting, but to my point, what would make anything horrible, its the ability of the author to make you sympathize with the character in a way that you feel you wouldn't want to be in that situation, for example, gore can produce horrror by creating the fear of it happening to the readers proxy in the story or someone they sympathize, but if instead of rejection of the act you get a non-shock reaction: they cut her leg and I couldn't wait for them to do it to me, it creates the absurd. So I dont think gore by itself is horror or a necessity for it. In case of mental anguish what I think it cam make it horrible its the fact that it makes you feel that it will never end, that it is a ghost that will never leave your back, kinda in the way good horror creates tension. You dont need to see what caused it, but the effects of it makes you shiver as they are a sign of evil. But in your case can it really be called horror? It would be more of an anguish reaction, no tension, but an absolute rejection to the scenes presented.
     
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  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Too far? You have a too far? So, I'm presuming you don't write horror.
     
  11. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I think there are a number of equally horrible ways to be hurt that are physical or psychological but a combinations of them is probably the worst. However, there are a lot of variation on that.
     
  12. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    Depends: do you consider Frankenstein a horror story? I think that's around the same genre as my darkest stuff. I'm definitely no Stephen King.
     

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