When people find out you write horror, it can go quite a few ways. I have had people who have dove right into the million questions (which, personally, I enjoy! Ask away! Really!), there are those who ask what else do you write (because nobody is just a horror writer!), and then there are those who just quietly nod before changing the subject. I have come to terms with the fact that the folks who have that latter reaction might not know just what it is to be a horror and what it is exactly that makes you different from all other writers. That’s right….nothing!
One of the biggest misconceptions I have read about and, obviously, have had to explain in person is the idea that most horror writers are pretty sick in the head. And why wouldn’t you think that? I mean, you have to be twisted to find enjoyment in creating stories of such tragedy and terror. Then, even further, if you’re specifically good at it, then you must be even more so messed up! Just imagine how crazy Stephen King must be!
I like to think that Stephen King isn’t all that messed up. And neither are the majority of other horror writers.
Something about putting these thoughts on paper makes people leery, but you have to remember that there is a market for it! In fact, currently, horror may be one of the highest rising genres in fiction (click here to read my article on the rise of horror in media). People will always right what there is a market for and, believe it or not, I would bet many of them find it to be fun once they get the gears moving. Even I started out writing some wonderfully embarrassing YA dystopian pieces before getting into horror, and for the reader’s sake, let’s just consider it an amazing turn of direction.
One of the other larger misconceptions I run into is the idea that all horror is the same, which boggles my mind. We know that not all fiction is the same, not all biographies are the same, not all YA or romance is the same, but when it comes to the things that go bump in the night, there can only be one story and of course it is a bloody, gory mess (which I will touch on in a bit here) that most readers want nothing to do with! However, there are quite a few genres within the genre that define the story and help to categorize it. For me personally, I’m not a big “zombie story” kind of guy. Not to say that I didn’t think “We’re Alive” wasn’t amazing – because it was – but I just don’t get down to zombies most of the time. I’m a “terror” and psychological horror type of dude. I could go on about all the different categories and subcategories, but this wonderful little image will help do a bit more justice – and maybe even help you find you what kind of horror you enjoy!
Oh, and before we keep moving, women can write horror too! Just look at Brianna Abello of EerieDolls.com or Ania Ahlborn of Brother, Seed, The Neighbors, and more wonderful horror stories! It’s not just a man’s game!
Lastly (for this article anyway – you can find A LOT more about this topic on the interwebs, I assure you!), as mentioned previously, we have a clear conception that all horror is that of a Jason Voorhees scene, where your main antagonist is a looming killer looking to hack and slash his way through any unsuspecting victim. This, by far, in my opinion, is the most insulting of the misconceptions due to the fact that it makes horror seem like an intelligent form of writing or even easy to create, which it surely isn’t. The most horrifying thing about much horror is the fact that there is a sense of terror that floats throughout the story (in case you don’t know the difference between terror and horror, please click here). Manipulating the reader in such a way that makes them both want to keep reading and not want to keep reading is harder than it may appear. It is a talent that takes some of the best writers the world has to offer.
Even if those people are folks just like you and me.