Horror Factor - Horror Writing Tips for Writing Horror Fiction

Writing Index Home Article Index Horror Writing Courses Info For Writers Writer's Resources Horror Links Getting Published Horror E-Publishers Horror Print Publishers Market Listings Horror Anthology Markets Horror Short Story Markets Horror Writing Contests Horror Writer's Store Horror BookStore Horror Writer's Store Horror Toy Store Fiction Factor Office Site Map Advertise With Us Contact Us Visit Our Parent Site, Fiction Factor No Bones About It: How to Write Today's Horror Part I: The Seeds of Horror by David Taylor It all began thousands of years ago in some dark and smoky cave with a tale-teller chanting to his awe-struck tribe huddled around a sputtering fire. He told of strange beasts, angry gods, and dark magic afoot in a dangerous world. In other words, horror stories. All known societies have a rich history of these supernatural myths and legends. Their purpose, like fairy tales for children, is to explain the threatening universe beyond the cave, to simplify a confusing world seemingly dominated by forces greater than ourselves. But we're civilized now. No more of that "moon eating the sun" business.

The Horror in Your House But a horror writer need look no further than his own backyard to find his subject matter: the misery of our inner cities.We know an astronomical event when we see one. too. Since Lovecraft's time we've fooled ourselves into thinking that the universe is fully explainable in terms of natural laws which are . Someone should wake up Lovecraft and tell him that imagination and detachment have become requirements for maintaining one's sanity today. we need to know why. in the rampant corporate greed that threatens to rot us from within. Koontz nipping at his buttocks. Michael Jackson's 1982 "Thriller. Much of today's horror is about these dark stains on our souls. Lovecraft observed in the 1930s that the appeal of horror was narrow because it required imagination and detachment from life. Like Freddie Kreuger and Jason.P. Why. horror is used to hawk everything from floor polish to charge cards. Frankenberry. and bring a little of it back with us. And to write it successfully. the cancers of our minds. and the Ghost have been immortalized in the breakfast cereals Count Chocula. Our need for horror stories parallels our sense of alienation." was nothing if not a little shop of horrors. Horror's Awe-ful Appeal The first task for a writer looking to publish in this genre is to understand the reasons for such enormous popularity. and Boo Berry. Horror is everywhere in our post-print media. Today they enjoy unprecedented popularity. It lets us confront them in a make-believe world. helplessness and fear as common today as pop-up ads on AOL. the Rhode Island recluse couldn't have anticipated the profound threats to our imaginations and lives the last decade of this century. horror refuses to die. Can anyone doubt that we live in a horrific world? Middle Eastern madmen overflow with pent-up doom. There's real horror in loneliness and rage. On TV. in twisted love and jealously. the cold-eyed insanity of Timothy McVeigh. And don't forget that the music video which ignited the best-selling album of all time. Stephen King has over 100 million copies of his books in print. When H. gain a sense of control there. the AIDS virus stalks our globe. to fathom the complex social and emotional elements which fueled the horror "boom" that began in the early 1970s and continues today. the Monster. and above Antarctica there's a hole in the ozone layer that's the size of the continental United States. Horror provides a way for us to deal with these emotions. children who kill and are killed. The genre's three archetypes the Vampire. Yet we still love our horror tales. we don't even throw virgins into volcanoes anymore to keep them (the volcanoes) from erupting. Horror films remain one of Hollywood's most bankable genres. In the past twenty years more horror novels have been published than in the entire previous history of the printed word. with Dean R.

. the expression of our own innate hostilities? Few of us in this complex. we'll be the undisputed masters of the universe and our lives in it. We hold an inescapable fascination with the grave and the dark mystery of death. intoned the solemn words: "One hour nearer the grave. at the same time. We are driven to seek them out because our science and rationalism threaten to rid the universe of all mystery. paying the price in ulcers." We can also understand why this literature appeals so strongly to adolescents in the process of rebelling against authority and social conformity. like rock 'n' roll. the countdown to oblivion begins as each passing moment brings us closer to death. a conformity that threatens to turn us into unthinking. "those antisocial emotions which society demands we keep stoppered up . Horror literature. A Walk on the Dark Side Horror also appeals to the morbid in us. we suspect and hope that there are still occult forces out there that we can never fully understand. And as Stephen King . In many ways we have become automatons regulated by the corporation's clock and must suppress our savagery. faceless regulation of our lives. What commuter doesn't cheer for King Kong as he rips the five o'clock train from its tracks? Who hasn't wished to strike out against the nameless. in the words of Stephen King. At the instant of our birth. allowing them to take control and wrack havoc on the stultifying regularity of our lives. A safety valve. unfeeling workaholics? Who doesn't see in Frankenstein's monster. alienating world have not felt at times misunderstood. of giving in to those mysterious and feral forces. heart disease.discoverable through science. in addition to chiming the hour. yet our current lives provide little opportunity for its expression. It is said that Voltaire possessed a clock which. and dehumanized.C. and social psychopaths like the D. Eons of biologic evolution have ingrained the savage instincts of the hunter into us. for society's and our own good. Yet. Taming the Beast Within But there's another appeal of horror that we mustn't fool ourselves about: The innate violence of our species. One which allows us to exercise. who was refused the affection he craved. the reasoning goes. distilled and pure as plutonium. fuels horror literature and serves as metaphor for the everyday brutality lying beneath the surface of our lives. This compulsion to violence is another legacy from our early hominid ancestors. The emotional and physical violence of horror literature acts as a safety valve for our repressed animalism. is strenuously antisocial and especially popular with teens experimenting with the extremes of their emotions. unappreciated. alone. who fought off extinction on the African veldt." Death is the one aspect of life that cannot be denied. Horror stories are a convenient and harmless way of striking back. snipers. technological. Once we understand these laws.

David Taylor's horror and dark suspense fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Masques. fantasy literature works like religion in our lives. the reading of horror and supernatural tales is a form of preparation for our own deaths. All Rights Reserved.observed. But for a brief and magic moment it is real and we believe.com Sponsors Recommended Buy Through Amazon. their power. a "danse macabre" before the void. worlds different from our own. Sci-Fi Channel Magazine and Gorezone. The opposite of death is life. A Search for God So perhaps the ultimate appeal of horror is the affirmation that it provides. so must supernatural good. so must be God. horror literature gives them back to us: their magic. In a starkly rational world that would banish such beings. as well as a way to satisfy our curiosity about the most seminal event in our lives except birth. Both are available at http://www. Copyright © by David Taylor. If the fallen angel Lucifer lives and is at work in our lives. and in magazines like Cemetery Dance.peakwriting. The Freelance Success Book. David's latest works are a collection of short stories.com . the Good Witch of the North. And are filled with awe. and a guide to nonfiction writing. Science Fiction and Fantasy" awards. As critics over the years have noted. It helps to satisfy our need to believe in forces greater than ourselves. Hell is for Children. Pulphouse and Scare Care. If supernatural evil exists in this world. His 1990 short story "Lessons in Wildlife" earned an honorable mention in that year's "Best Horror. Black magic is balanced by white. the reality they once held in simpler times. Author and coauthor of five horror novels. It touches that part of us that dreams of what never was and can never be. The Wicked Witch of the West met her match in Glenda. as many horror stories posit.

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