This week: Why Horror? Edited by: eyestar~
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Helloooo horror enthusiasts! I am happy to be a guest editor for this edition...my first time with this genre! It is not a favourite of mine but it called my name!
The term 'horror' first comes into play in the subtitle of Horace Walpole's 1764 novel, The Castle of Otranto—A Gothic Story. Although rather a stilted tale, it started a craze for overwrought fiction, full of supernatural shocks and mysterious melodrama.
'Horror' comes from a Latin verb meaning "to bristle" or "to shudder"—the idea being that a horrified person's hair stands on end.
Edgar Allan Poe was not the first writer of horror stories, but his literary techniques form the foundation of the immensely popular literary genre as we know it today.
| Why Horror? That is my query in this newsletter. It is not a genre I am attracted to and have often wondered why people are drawn to it, read it, and write it! WHY?? |
I asked for some opinions from our WDC authors, who write or read horror. Here are their responses:
A E Willcox
"I'm not a clinical psychologist so I can only offer my untutored, inexpert opinion. Death is something which will happen to us all at some point. For most people it is scary and the more horrible, drawn out and painful it is the more terrifying the thought of it is.
Maybe the love of the genre is the same morbid instinct to rubber-neck car crashes; to ride hair-raising rides at amusement parks. In our modern world, death, for the most part, has been cleaned up. We're removed from the horrors of war - you never get to see the worst of it on TV. Horror stories and films give people the chance to be scared, to be horrified and have an adrenaline rush without actually being in danger themselves.
If you look at the paintings of anatomy lessons - the cutting up of cadavers - of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries they're done in a theatre with a large audience looking on!"
If you want the opinion of an actual psychologist - https://www.psychreg.org/why-people-love-horror-films/
Jeff of the Dark Society speaks:
"I'm attracted to the horror genre because I like being able to explore the dark side of human existence. It's a chance to examine and confront our fears and insecurities and the other things that keep us up at night. An appreciation for the darker side of our nature and the world helps me appreciate the beauty in it all the more."
Max Griffin 🏳️🌈 says:
"Horror stories let us confront our fears in a safe way, and provide comfort in the certain knowledge that the pure of heart endure even in a world filled with evil.
I wrote a longer, snarky version, but I think this captures it. Note that the teenagers killed in horror movies are almost always "defective" in some way, usually involving sex. The "pure of heart" ones survive. So horror movies are also little morality plays with easy-to-predict plots. The predictability is one of the comforting features of horror stories, since everyone sees themselves as one of the cool kids who survive."
"I don't read Horror. A long time ago I read some Stephen King, but they were early works of his, not Horror and only slightly weird in the choice of subject. Apart from that, the only Horror I've read is the work of other writers in WDC. This has been motivated mainly by curiosity as to how others deal with the genre and a need to assess my competition. I don't watch Horror movies either!
Initially, my motivation in writing Horror came entirely from a sense of indebtedness to Angus who showed me many of the ropes in WDC when I first joined. I wanted to repay him for that and the only way I could think of was to swell the numbers writing for his contest, SCREAMS!!! This was dubious ground for me as a Christian, so I resolved to find a way to write horror that both scared readers and yet did not offend against any religious objections that might exist. It seemed to me that psychological horror might offer more possibilities in this regard and so that's what I aimed at to begin with.
Since then, I have expanded my range somewhat. I still attempt psychological horror on occasion but I find it's limited in effectiveness. Basically, I'm trying to scare the present custodians of SCREAMS!!! to the point that honour is satisfied and I can consider my debt to Angus repaid, while preserving some sort of respectability for myself as regards ethics and so on. Psychology doesn't really hack it, I think (although that might mean I'm not very good at it). So I've had to experiment with other methods instead.
I'm not into the silly creatures that seem to inhabit mainstream Horror, but I've allowed myself a few dalliances with werewolves and, just once, vampires. I can justify these by pointing out that they're spoofs and not intended seriously. The most promising area has been in the consideration of ordinary things that become "horrible" in certain circumstances. I am particularly proud of my story about air conditioning, for instance. But I'm still looking for the Big One, the story that frightens the other Horror merchants.
It seems that the Horror contests have all the best prompts too.
This ramble has been merely to illustrate the fact that I have no idea why people are drawn to horror and what they get out of it. There's no doubt that a lot of 'em are, however. It's quite depressing how many list Stephen King as their favourite author in their biographies. He may be the current "King" of Horror but, as a writer, he's pretty ordinary. Oh, and that reminds me - I'm Dark Dreamscapes' Prince of Darkness for 2020, 2021! How did that happen, I ask myself."
Angelica- Creature Features a newbie to horror says:
"Horror I like best concerns vampires or werewolves. I love how twisted it is. A wolf is a feared predator and I think some fear bats too. Shapeshifting and the strength and powers they have when in their true form. I think it awakens fears but some could be good ones too. Not all are bad monsters. Dracula is popular and the original werewolf stories are the best still I think. It's changed so much since the beginning but some are equally good. I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer for instance."
"I write (and read) horror as a way of escaping the real horrors of the world. Unlike the real world, in a horror story the bad guy (the monster, the demon, etc.) generally gets vanquished, and there is something akin to a happy ending (at least, a 'Happy For Now' ending). As a writer, I can kill off people I don't like, make situations I don't like turn out for the best, etc., all under the guise of something horrific, which is where so much of the world belongs. As such, I also find it easier to voice my concerns in horror. While I can do some of these things in other genres (notably scifi, fantasy and comedy), horror gives me more freedom to really go to town on whatever bugs me."
Words Whirling 'Round responds:
"Many people think horror is synonymous with slasher flicks. Gross-out gore generates a strong reaction, but it’s not so different from cutting up chicken for dinner. Truly effective horror exploits our fears and phobias to trigger the monkey-brain ‘fight or flight' response. Losing control to our 'animal side' can be both terrifying and cathartic. Overcoming or escaping a threat brings powerful satisfaction and grateful relief. The ultimate horror is being trapped in a phobia with nothing to fight and no way out.
I’m not a horror writer by intent, but many of my stories do take a dark turn. I enjoy presenting a situation that seems light or even comic at first, then twisting the tale to make the reader gasp. One of my better efforts is the flash fiction story Song of the Vamp."
Check out our speaker's items:
| ||PICTURE THIS (18+)|
A painter, a family... people going missing. Horror. Ish. Some triggers. Sorry. 4300 words
#2266166 by Steven
"Pengersick Castle, Cornwall"
In my research on the topic, I discovered some interesting facts:
Writing horror is catharsis, exploration that gives us a feeling of ownership of our fears and some control in our life and gives hope and light as a resolution occurs.
Horror has suspense, mystery, terror, shock or fear and stirs our system to release hormones so the body has a response while the mind knows the danger is not real! Folks like to be scared.
It helps purge negative energies: better on paper than for real! One can feel better after the release of our dark side.
I found this Ted talk that gave me some interesting ideas I never considered: mostly about Horror movies.
We do not like to ask difficult life questions and horror tales can safely ask them and reveal our responses in a separate way from the real.
Horror makes us think, recognize patterns and ones that do not fit...which may illicit a laugh or a reflection, and creates community--especially in reference to horror shows. Folks do scream, talk out loud and seek connection. Apparently watching horror show connects us as we respond.
So what do you think? Why do you like, read, or write horror?
Thanks for reading! Eyestar
| Enjoy some scary moments.|
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| So.....Why do you like, read or write horror? What is it's fascination? Do you have a favourite horror tale?|
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