Don’t Forget the H

From SFWA:

The horror genre is undergoing a renaissance these days, with audiences devouring popular and critically acclaimed books, movies, and television series. If you’re a science fiction or fantasy writer who’d like to add more horror to your authorial toolbox, but you’re not quite sure how to go about it, you’re in luck, because that’s what this article is all about.

A lot of people’s views on horror have been shaped by slasher films, simplistic predator-stalks-prey stories with lots of blood and sex. But the genre of horror performs some very important functions for its audience beyond providing simple scares. Horror is a way for us to face our fears and come to terms with death and the “evil” in the world. Through horror, we explore, confront, and (hopefully) make peace with our dark side. And as a particular benefit for writers, horror can add a different level of suspense and emotional involvement for readers in any story.

Good horror is internal more than external. Horror stories are reaction stories. They’re not about monsters or monstrous forces as much as how characters react to monsters (or to becoming monsters themselves). Horror also thrives on fear of the unknown, so you should strive to avoid standard horror tropes such as bloodthirsty vampires or demon-possessed children, or rework them to make them more original and impactful for readers. Maybe your vampire is a creature that feeds on people’s memories, or maybe your possessed child is an android created to be a child’s companion who’s desperately trying to repel a hacker’s efforts to take over its system. Reworking a trope — dressing it in new clothes, so to speak — allows you to reclaim the power of its core archetype while jettisoning the cliched baggage it’s picked up over the years.

Link to the rest at SFWA

Previously, PG used the acronym SWFA instead of SFWA.

That’s the first mistake he’s made in the last five years and he apologizes immoderately.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Forget the H”

  1. Oh great, so now that I shifted gears and am in the middle of a second sci-fi novel, they want horror…. well then, I hope my backlist of horror sees a renaissance.
    Frankly, I never realized horror WASN’T in vogue, it’s always been my go to reading genre.

    And, PG, we forgive you for that once in a lifetime mistake with the acronym :).

    • They punted recently on something that should have been completely straightforward (issuing a statement that editors shouldn’t quell the careers of nascent authors based on their husbands’ philandering). They should have issued a statement about how this is unprofessional behavior and shouldn’t be tolerated, and instead the president said that depression required her to sequester herself offline, and that the Board would say something about the whole sordid thing, which, of course, they didn’t, because it needed to come from the top.

      I have had so many people quietly contacting me to say ‘leaving was the right thing to do, you got out just in time.’ But at the same time, some part of me is thinking ‘if I hadn’t, I would have been the one handed that hot potato, and I would have said what needed saying.’

      But, not my circus, not my monkeys anymore. -_-

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