Genre 101|Horror


Horror is one of my favorite genres to read and write. I see beauty in it. A dark beauty. A terrifying beauty. But nonetheless, it’s a form of beauty all the same.
It’s also hard for new writers to write.

What is Horror?

Horror is a genre of writing that seeks to scare the reader. To frighten, terrify, disturb, and cause discomfort. It’s the punch to the gut or slow and impending sense of doom creeping up on an unsuspecting person in written form.

A good Horror story can give you goosebumps and make you shiver long after you’ve read it. Or even be the reason for a sleepless night or nightmares.

What topics can Horror cover?

Anything. I know that isn’t very helpful. However, it’s also true. A Horror story, be it short or long, can cover any topic.

You want to explore the romance and love? You can explore romance and love in such a way that you disturb the reader. Want to explore space-vampires? You can explore that. The psyche of a serial killer? Growing up in a cult? Yes and yes. The sky is the limit when it comes to the topics a Horror writer can explore.

A Very Brief History of Horror

Horror as a genre got its start as the scary legends surrounding disturbing places and beings. The ones that acted as warnings of what not to do and where to go. And for much of human history that is what Horror was.

Then Horace Walpole wrote Castle of Otranto, the first Gothic novel. Gothic Fiction would become a hit, giving rise, over time, to the Horror genre as we know it today. The genre of Poe, Tananarive Due, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Clive Barker and many others. Of a creeping sense od dread and heart-stopping fear.

Horror Writing Tips

  • Use your own fears as story fodder.
  • Horror is a “what if…” genre.
  • Read lots of Horror stories.
  • Horror is more than gore and viscera.
  • Think outside the dark, terrifying box.

Recommended Craft Reading

On Writing Horror edited by Mort Castle

Now Write Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction edited by Laurie Lamson

Horror Upon Horror by Suzanne Ruthven

Recommended Horror Books

The Monster’s Corner edited by Christopher Golden

Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

You probably noticed that two out my three recommended Horror books deals with vampires. I’ve got a bit of a thing for vampires. When done in a scary or disturbing manner, they make for excellent protagonists or villains in a Horror story. Alien viruses, a subspecies of human that needs our blood to survive, demons, eternal serial killers. They can be viewed in so many different ways.

However, if vampires aren’t someone’s thing I would recommend Affinity by Sarah Waters (Amazon Link.) and Zombie by Joyce Carol Oats (Amazon Link.). The first is a Gothic Horror novel set in the 19th century and the second follows the evolution of a serial killer. Both are pretty good and disturbing in their own rights.

Until next time. I can be found on Facebook, Twiter, and Pinterest. Feel free to strike up a conversation, recommend a book to read, request topics etc. All that really fun stuff. I enjoy talking to people.

Reading/Watching/Listening To

Reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Watching: N/A

Listening To: Nightwish| Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!


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