Good Horror Writing

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Katie-Ellen

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'Horror is best when it’s about tragedy in its truest and most theatrical form: tragedy is born through character flaws, through bad choices, through grave missteps.'

From a blog by Chuck Wendig; Terrible Minds

Some of us here write horror stories, or stories on the cusp.

Have you ever actually felt frightened reading a horror story?

Which ones, and why?

What had the writer DONE?

A harder challenge by far than horrifying through film?

Film has so many tools of immediacy at its disposal; not least soundtrack

When it comes to horror film, I avoid gore. 'Saw' contains moral dilemmas but I can't watch those things. 'American Horror Story,' had too many characters in it, and I found the stakes unclear. The house was sick. It was as it was.

The Babadook...I was not sure was horror. It was paranormal, certainly. The babadook was a manifestation of grief and anger that had acquired substance. The mother killed a pet. That was horror.

Silent Hill horrified me completely. Why? Mother out to rescue child in jeopardy. Taps every parental fear. You have to brave Hell itself to get them back. Mother is a tragic hero, so is the policewoman who tries to help her. Eco disaster. Terrifying surreal imagery. Tragic ending, because the characters are real enough to care about.

Which brings us back to the quote at the top.

The worst horror is not the slasher. That may be full of cringes and shocks but the real horror, as in real life, is tragedy.
 
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When it comes to horror movies I am the worst kind of chicken- a stunt with a ghost jumping out of the closet is enough to scare me witless. Babadook I really enjoyed, because it was more psychological, had some depth into it.

I love a good horror book. I was lucky to dig out two Weird Tales Magazine anthologies at my local second-hand. Some brilliant stuff there and yes, there was a shiver although I was reading on a sunny beach ;) The blatant racism, though... Which brings us to the master, Lovecraft. My first encounter with "Call of Cthulhu" and "Shadow over Innsmouth" happened when I was an early teen. Couldn't sleep for days.

"House of Leaves" was really something, great creepy atmosphere. But when I told my brothers that it's about a house that's bigger on the inside than outside, they mocked me with "So what is it, like a land surveyor's worst nightmare?" for the rest of the afternoon.

And, of course, the most scary horror scene in history:



:D
 
One of the first horror stories, I remember giving me chills was Algernon Blackwood's The Wendigo—about the evil cannibalistic spirit haunting the forests of North America. The idea of this entity, which could affect the behaviour of backwoodsmen already crazy with cabin fever, making them murderous gave me the creeps. I read it when I was 10, and it was the idea of being trapped and at the mercy of something malevolent that scared me—in the same way, that plight of the soldiers at Rorke's Drift being under siege, with no choice but to fight, made me panic.

It's available as a free download: The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood

More recently, I found a scene in Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass horrifying. It's when Lyra, and her friends, enter the world of the dead and they find themselves surrounded by frightened ghosts.

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A frightened ghost. That is a nasty idea.

Came across some Lovecraft cat quotes lately, Bluma.

Cats are the runes of beauty.

The dog is Gothic. The cat is classic. The cat is a Doric temple; an Ionic colonnade.'

This Return The Slab thing....seems to be a....thing. I never heard of it before :)
 
No, I hadn't! But now I am properly cognizant, thanks entirely to toi. If I may tutoyer.
 
'Horror is best when it’s about tragedy in its truest and most theatrical form: tragedy is born through character flaws, through bad choices, through grave missteps.'

From a blog by Chuck Wendig; Terrible Minds

Some of us here write horror stories, or stories on the cusp.

Have you ever actually felt frightened reading a horror story?

Which ones, and why?

What had the writer DONE?

A harder challenge by far than horrifying through film?

Film has so many tools of immediacy at its disposal; not least soundtrack

When it comes to horror film, I avoid gore. 'Saw' contains moral dilemmas but I can't watch those things. 'American Horror Story,' had too many characters in it, and I found the stakes unclear. The house was sick. It was as it was.

The Babadook...I was not sure was horror. It was paranormal, certainly. The babadook was a manifestation of grief and anger that had acquired substance. The mother killed a pet. That was horror.

Silent Hill horrified me completely. Why? Mother out to rescue child in jeopardy. Taps every parental fear. You have to brave Hell itself to get them back. Mother is a tragic hero, so is the policewoman who tries to help her. Eco disaster. Terrifying surreal imagery. Tragic ending, because the characters are real enough to care about.

Which brings us back to the quote at the top.

The worst horror is not the slasher. That may be full of cringes and shocks but the real horror, as in real life, is tragedy.

MR James used to scare me. Unfortunately, I know his stories too well now. How did he do it? I think we may have talked about this in a previous thread, or maybe it was somewhere else, and I think one suggestion was that horror often involves powerlessness in the face of something that is both hostile and 'other' -- eg due to madness, due to being dead, due to being alien in some way whether from some pit of hell or from some hellish planet -- and therefore not open to reason or negotiation. One horror story that gave me the heebie-jeebies when I was a kid simply concerned a new kid being picked on by the two school bullies, as sadistic as child bullies can be, and [it turned out] dead.
 
When it comes to horror movies I am the worst kind of chicken- a stunt with a ghost jumping out of the closet is enough to scare me witless. Babadook I really enjoyed, because it was more psychological, had some depth into it.

I love a good horror book. I was lucky to dig out two Weird Tales Magazine anthologies at my local second-hand. Some brilliant stuff there and yes, there was a shiver although I was reading on a sunny beach ;) The blatant racism, though... Which brings us to the master, Lovecraft. My first encounter with "Call of Cthulhu" and "Shadow over Innsmouth" happened when I was an early teen. Couldn't sleep for days.

"House of Leaves" was really something, great creepy atmosphere. But when I told my brothers that it's about a house that's bigger on the inside than outside, they mocked me with "So what is it, like a land surveyor's worst nightmare?" for the rest of the afternoon.

And, of course, the most scary horror scene in history:



:D

Bluma, you need to stop watching that kind of stuff.
 
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