Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Update: Thinking About Horror

Horror has been more than a bit on my mind. And my keyboard. And on the big folio size sheet of paper I use for outlines and such.
See, I have a couple of small horror projects cooking. I need these to be straight-up horror and then there's Blake House, which slides towards romancey horror. (Ragingly popular genre, that; romanticly suspenseful horror.) All these different projects in the air have me thinking about genre.
Daniel, after reading through one of my shorter projects, laid out his explanation of horror. It made so much sense I thought I'd share it. According to him, horror boils down to one thing: fear of being eaten by a bigger, scarier something. It really opened up the genre for me.
It could be a virus, or a shark, or an alien. But the thing is, it will kill you. You have no choice in this. If it doesn't kill you, or at least the best and brightest of you, then it's not horror. It's adventure or thriller or suspense. So knowing that you're going to die, the trick of horror becomes about how you do so and what it reveals about your character, etc. (movie spoilers ahead).

Jaws. Classic horror. Quinn, the strongest, dies. In fact, it's arguable the weakest character (the sheriff, afraid of the water) who survives. In the book, even the smart guy (Richard Dreyfuss' character) dies. The Terminator. The original is horror. Kyle Reece (sp?) dies. But the sequels are action/adventure, because the main heroes (Sarah and John Connor) survive.
I've written and primarily read romance for a long time now. To be grossly simplistic, romance is about external responses to internal changes and stimuli. It's been really interesting to think about inner responses to impossible situations.
On the word count front, I have been, as I said already, busy writing horror. I averaged about 7,000 words since my last check-in. I know that sounds like a lot, but much of it was cut in the end. I'll probably cut even more before it's over. (Fewer words are always better!) Backwards editing helped a lot with this.
Even though I have been temporarily diverted to a couple of shorter projects,  Blake House is coming along nicely. I love the preliminary cover design although I'm not sure this is the one I'll ultimately go with.
That's it! Everyone have a good week, and check in with some fellow ROW80ers for company and encouragement. -V K


  1. I love the idea of writing a horror but I worry I will not sleep at night! The definition is great though....simple but effective. That word count is amazing, hope you have another productive week!

  2. I know what you mean about not sleeping. Just when I think something's scary enough a crit partner tells me to add more monsters or something. Maybe I'll brand myself "horror lite."

  3. I've been having lots of zombie dreams lately. (My personal irrational fear is of the zombie apocalypse!) I was just thinking, I should write a short story about it. Not sure, however, if it should be horror or not.
    I did enjoy your definition, though. :)

  4. That is a great definition of describing horror. If you add in how many different ways you can die (including dying of laughter) then there is many ways you can split that pie - and still kill of characters.

    It also means that my first short story is not horror, which helps me to simplify my cross genre writing a bit.

  5. Hey, if you're scaring the beejeezus out of yourself so you can't sleep, sounds like more writing time to me!

    Seriously, it really does sound as if you're on the right track. Good luck this week!

  6. I should mention Daniel is not a writer. He's explaining horror to me, and how I can make this short story more horrifying. He says: "It's easy! Just have so-and-so be eaten by a big, terrible something that's never explained. Easy." I just kind of stared at him. Great suggestion that makes the short very horrific, but easy? Not so much. His explanation really did help, though. Got me rethinking the genre. So. More to write!

  7. never thought of writng horror - sounds intriguing - may try it one day - but I do have great problems with evil and villians!!!
    well done on writing - all the best for this week

  8. Thanks Alberta! I have a problem falling for my villains instead of my heroes. They're just more interesting!