Story Beginnings: shedding light on Horror

Dreaming of writing a book, but aren't sure where to begin? Our Story Beginnings series explores the framework and key elements of writing genres and sub-genres, to help inspire you to craft a great story of your own.

Horror is often closely related to science fiction, fantasy or thriller genres, only with the specific goal to terrify the reader. Unlike the other three in this grouping, horror genres see the evil forces winning or living on after the book’s completion. Their plots are often left open-ended, unresolved, or with mysteries unexplained.

Characters in the horror genre are often quickly set upon by some sort of antagonistic force, which can be either supernatural (ancient gods, curses, monsters, ghosts) or mundane (diseases, misfortunes, organizations, serial killers). These forces are almost never sympathetic, and are not to be reasoned with, stopped, or outsmarted. The characters inevitably succumb to the evil they are faced with, either killed, corrupted or completely destroyed by the antagonistic forces of evil they face.

The horror genre enables the reader to examine themes of fear, danger and failure in a safe and self-contained environment. While their visuals often inspire films (there are a long list of horror films that got their inspiration from horror novels), the reader's mind is often a far darker and scarier place than the motion picture frame. Themes often include religion, urban legend, monsters, madness or retribution, and tend to explore the depths of human weakness, depravity, cowardice, selfishness and frailty.

Leaving enough up to the imagination of the reader enables horror to be scary to each individual, as opposed to prescribing what is meant to scare them. Use of tension, violence, fear and fatality create heart-pounding stories that will grip the horror fan from the first page to the last!

Key Features: some form of evil, doomed characters, lasting mystery, fear and/or danger.

Famous authors of horror books: Steven King, HP Lovecraft, Robert McCammon, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe

Examples published by FriesenPress:

Written by Astra Crompton, FriesenPress Author Account Manager
Edited by Kate Juniper, FriesenPress Editorial and Illustrations Coordinator