Under the horror fiction umbrella lurks dark fiction, psychological horror, dark fantasy, splatterpunk, thrillers (sometimes) and bizarro
HORROR:- the heroes break down, so they need to be described as feeling human beings
- heroes have real problems and do not need to be strong
- characters need to have real fears such as the fear of the dark or the fear of confinement or heights
- your main characters need to love each other because losing a person we lose hurts and it is one of the fears most wildly shared
- heroes need to have a past. Show them in their environment. Give them angst, a history of failure or disappointments. The reader needs to feel for them.
- the reader should care about thew heroes and feel close to them. Characterization is important because the reader can empathize with the characters enough to feel distressed and horrified when the characters are placed in threatening situations.
- do not give away the ending too soon. Create a good twist at the end.
- Always stay ahead of the reader and let them guess, but do not offer a jumbled series of events. Use the art of suspense.
- violence should be justified. Do not use blood just for the effect; it needs to be used strategically.
- use details to suggest something horrible will happen. For example, glass chard on the floor and a shoeless hero suggest the hero will cut his feet.
- surprise and shock the reader by inventing new situations
- create an atmosphere of bleak desperation and unreliable reality
- write a few gruesome/horrific scenes and only suggest others
"The three types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there …” — Stephen King
Taylor, David. "How to Write Today's Horror. Part I: The Seeds of Horror." Writing World. <http://www.writing-world.com/sf/taylor1.shtml>
“Horror, for me, is the compelling Ôdon’t want to look/must look’ sense of awe we feel under the breastbone.”
–Mort Castle, author
Child in Peril: involving the abduction and/or persecution of a child.
Comic Horror: horror stories that either spoof horror conventions or that mix the gore with dark humor.
Creepy Kids: horror tale in which children Ð often under the influence of dark forces Ð begin to turn against the adults.
Dark Fantasy: a horror story with supernatural and fantasy elements.
Dark Mystery/Noir: inspired by hardboiled detective tales, set in an urban underworld of crime and moral ambiguity.
Erotic Vampire: a horror tale making the newly trendy link between sexuality and vampires, but with more emphasis on graphic description and violence.
Fabulist: derived from “fable,” an ancient tradition in which objects, animals or forces of nature are anthropomorphized in order to deliver a moral lesson.
Gothic: a traditional form depicting the encroachment of the Middle Ages upon the 18th century Enlightenment, filled with images of decay and ruin, and episodes of imprisonment and persecution.
Hauntings: a classic form centering on possession by ghosts, demons or poltergeists, particularly of some sort of structure.
Historical: horror tales set in a specific and recognizable period of history.
Magical Realism: a genre inspired by Latin-American authors, in which extraordinary forces or creatures pop into otherwise normal, real-life settings.
Psychological: a story based on the disturbed human psyche, often exploring insane, altered realities and featuring a human monster with horrific, but not supernatural, aspects.
Quiet Horror: subtly written horror that uses atmosphere and mood, rather than graphic description, to create fear and suspense.
Religious: horror that makes use of religious icons and mythology, especially the angels and demons derived from Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Science-Fiction Horror: SF with a darker, more violent twist, often revolving around alien invasions, mad scientists, or experiments gone wrong.
Splatter: a fairly new, extreme style of horror that cuts right to the gore.
Supernatural Menace: a horror tale in which the rules of normal existence don’t apply, often featuring ghosts, demons, vampires and werewolves.
Technology: stories featuring technology that has run amok, venturing increasingly into the expanding domain of computers, cyberspace, and genetic engineering.
Weird Tales: inspired by the magazine of the same name, a more traditional form featuring strange and uncanny events (Twilight Zone).
Young Adult: horror aimed at a teen market, often with heroes the same age, or slightly older than, the reader.
Zombie: tales featuring dead people who return to commit mayhem on the living.