Why Write Horror Fiction?

There are few faster ways to get a wary reaction from someone than to mention you write horror. Grotesque scenes from every slasher film the person has ever seen seem to flash past his or her eyes, culminating with the equivalent of “Oh, that stuff.” Cue dirty look. Because you must be some kind of sicko to create the same kind of content that conjured those nightmare images, right?

What many people don’t understand–even other writers–is that dark fiction carries a tremendous freedom with it. Instead of being tethered by the boundaries of everyday life, the author is free to bend and twist reality as he sees fit to tell the story. Anything and everything can happen as long as it makes sense within the constraints of the plot. All the writer has to do is sell it well and let the underlying sincerity of the themes carry the reader through. Getting to see how characters react to the impossible doesn’t hurt either.

Additionally, the horror genre is incredibly versatile because its themes can be mixed with almost any other literary niche. Science-fiction, coming of age stories, and even romances are frequently spliced with horror elements. This kind of flexibility is great for keeping writers interested in continuing to work in the genre as a whole because other areas can be explored without ditching what they’re used to altogether.

Writing horror is also a great venting system. No, this does not mean that the writer’s work is actually some kind of desperate cry for help before he or she puts a meat cleaver to someone’s head. Rather, it means that at least some of the negative energy in his or her life has been released in a constructive way. Virtually every horror writer I’ve ever met has been incredibly gracious and helpful, and I don’t doubt that part of that comes from letting out a good scream through his or her fingertips now and then.

So, cheers if you decide to join our ranks or at least respect the people in them. After all, we all have a dark side. Some of us just choose to give it a voice now and then.


5 Responses to Why Write Horror Fiction?

  1. Pingback: New Article Up (Why Write Horror Fiction?) | The Third Eye Opened

  2. Ben Eads says:

    Well said!

    I always carry a book with me. If it happens to be horror, I’m always asked what am I reading. “Oh…that Saw stuff.” No, but here’s a problem. It’s not torture porn. So, thanks, Hollywood. You’re really helping horror.

    • prutigli says:

      Yeah, Hollywood has not been great for the layperson’s perspective on horror during the last decade or so. A lot of the better movies in the genre come from overseas now.

  3. You hit the nail on the head, Patrick.

    Horror carries with it a freedom not found, in my opinion, in other genres. I can create worlds inhabited by ferocious monsters that, although tethered to reality as we know it, exist outside of it. There are no limits. Or I can take a kernel of a very real fear based in everyday life and expound on it in ways that stretch my imagination and challenge the Reader, forcing them to look at, and fear, something differently.

    Horror is not just gore and the splattering of blood. True horror, horror that worms its way into your head and works on you on a visceral level, is much more difficult to write and write well. It really is a rare gift and should be respected and applauded.

    Without horror, how else can we exorcise our demons and then return to the safety of our lives?

    Jonathan Winn
    author of Martuk … the Holy,
    The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of short fiction,
    and the upcoming Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche

  4. Lori Titus says:

    I do think a lot of people think “slasher” when you say horror. But you’ll notice, those are usually people who watch movies rather than read books. Readers usually know that horror runs the gamut from creepy, uneasy Gothic-style tales all the way through bone chilling and even violent. Horror has many shades. I always tell people that are unsettled by the genre that like action, most horror has some degree of violence, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be handled tastefully.

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