Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Defining Horror

STATUS: Ah, back in Denver. Now I can actually get back to work…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LOST by Michael BublĂ©

I have a feeling that attempting to define this term is a whole debate all and into itself, so I’m not even going to offer a definition. I have been thinking about what it is over the last couple of days though and I have a few thoughts to share.

At the very least, horror is, at its most elemental level, the terror created by what goes bump in the night. That is horror boiled down to its simplest form and is often the focus of scary movies.

But it would be a mistake to assume that such a concept alone solely defines horror.

If that’s all your manuscript is, you’re actually missing what true horror is which, in my mind, is the ability to shine a spotlight on the baseness of human nature through a terrifying, grotesque, or horrifying way. Or in such a way that is fearsome for our minds to contemplate (I AM LEGEND comes to mind).

The best horror writers know that what they are really doing is shedding light on the essence of human nature and behavior and exposing the rest of us to the darkness that lies potentially in all souls.

Okay, that might be getting a little deep…

And shedding light into the essence of human nature and behavior is not the sole province of horror. I imagine that all good fiction strives to do the same and using the element of horror is simply one way to reach that place.