Documentation Help Desk Shop Fan Site

Why Do I Write Horror Stories?

Horror is the exploration of the Unknown, what’s just beyond your senses. We all get scared of something, whether it’s the dentist drill, what’s waiting for you down your basement, or Your Mother-In-Law.
H. P. Lovecraft said that the greatest of all Fears is Fear of the Unknown. What we don’t know can kill us, or at least scare us so much that we become a babbling mess.
My take on Horror is to start with an Unknown and introduce it into Our world. It either doesn’t want to be here or It got here by accident. What does it do? It strikes out against what It takes to be responsible, namely Us.
For instance, the creature in “The Trouble with Crate 214A” has been taken out of its environment. It awakens and does not like where it is. It strikes out at every human it encounters but seems to be particularly drawn to Gary and Emiko.
The formless entity in “One Room Unfurnished” also has found itself in a dimension not of its liking. It does its best to cope and survive by eating every particle it gets its teeth on. What appears to be an empty room is essentially a very large mouth, just waiting for some tasty morsel to enter.
Horror can men many things to people. For me, while I love the familiar tropes like the Vampire and the Werewolf, I’ll always prefer the likes of X, The Unknown.

2 Likes

Would you say the Unknown is often synonymous with ambiguous?
I only ask because I just read some Paul Tremblay work (short stories collection Green Things and novel The Last House at the End of the Earth) and while some of the concepts were interesting, he apparently is known for his ambiguity and the novel especially left me disappointed. I wanted clarity… even if the plot left undissolved in the end, I feel like I needed to know what was actually happening to justify the events/having read the book.

On the other hand I think the familiar tropes can be made Unknown - I also just read Grady Hendrix’s novel The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (probably my favorite book I’ve read in years unholy heck). As the title reveals, the book contains a vampire-like creature, yet the story is told in a way to make the truth of the creature’s nature and origins unknown.

I talked about this over in a fantasy discussion, but I love when fiction writers takes tropes and expand on them in daring and convincing ways. Guide… is about a small town in the 90’s, the power dynamics between a group of housewives and their domineering husbands, family history/secrets, and even touches on mental illness. The real “horror” is the way one woman sees and knows the absolute truth but is repeatedly silenced. It’s a complex book, that happens to include a vampiric asshole (and a gruesome murder cleanup scene).

Have you (or anyone else hii) read The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires? I highly recommend it / am dying to talk about it with someone haha.

Either way I definitely want to hear your thoughts on the ambiguous vs. the Unknown!

It’s a fine line between Ambiguity and Unknown. A lot of my creatures are just in the story. I don’t explain where they come from. That’s the Universe I’ve set up. There is a lot of things out there that we may encounter, but we’ll never get to know them.
I just finished a story about a huge, forest eating thing that my main characters must stop. Where it came from I have no idea. I prefer to think that this is an Unknown. Ambiguous to me is deliberately leaving out information that you have just because it’s cool. I would rather it be something not known and not knowable.
To ask me where the creature in “One Room Unfurnished” comes from is like asking me to discuss Farming with an ant colony. It’s simply not done and I never asked the creature where it was from. It’s a very mysterious world, and we aren’t privileged enough to ask a lot of questions yet.
As far as the vampire book, I will check it out. I’ll trade you one back. Have you read “Fevre Dream” by George R.R. Martin? That is excellent work. It’s about vampires on the Mississippi in the 1860’s. There’s also “Those Who Hunt The Night” by Barbara Hambly. This one is about a professor who is visited by a vampire who asks for his help. Someone is killing the vampires of London. I’ll leave it at that. A great book.

1 Like

That makes sense! The Unknown is letting the creature’s presence speak for itself in a way… unless the plot includes the characters wanting/needing to figuring out the origins. Maybe, a la It (I could be wrong I haven’t read it in forever but it’s the first thing that came to mind).
I will look out for both of those books! I unintentionally have been on a horror reading kick recently.
Also, I get this to my inbox, and I don’t necessarily write horror but the majority of these calls are for horror fiction. https://www.freedomwithwriting.com/freedom/uncategorized/20-calls-for-short-stories-50-to-800-per-story/

1 Like

Hello. How was Fevre Dream?

Life is so beautiful, but it is also so horrible isn’t it? I mean, from youth, we have these Great Expectations, right? And I think as we becone adults and throughout our adult life, certain things in the world, and even in our personal life, appear truly horrible. Politics, death, suffering… I love horror because I think in subtle and mysterious ways it addreses the darkness in our world and in ourselves - and when other genres prefer to ignore it.

1 Like

Childhood is filled with the horrors of Growing Up. When kids see their parents fight, or watch the news or even look out the window, they can become traumatized. Some never recover or grow into being adults, and live in Fear and Anxiety.

Exactly. And those traumas live on…often in the subconscous. Horror stories recognize and even purge those experiences.
:slight_smile:

1 Like

Or make the experiences worse.