Introduction to the Horror Genre

I have decided to write in the horror genre for my first experiment. I found this genre interesting mainly because of the context of my piece. I had to do a visual analysis for an English 225 essay, and the photograph I used evoked a strong feeling of terror. One of the first ideas I wanted to explore was how to write a horror story without using the clichés that have been done over and over again. However, as I researched more into it, several sources claimed that it is perfectly normal to use those clichés- that is, if you do it in a way that is unconventional and fresh. Part of this involved drawing from your own personal experiences and moving on from there. In my essay, I wrote about how Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s Threshold communicated a stronger argument about the current mental health crisis. As someone who has experienced mental health problems in the past, the idea of fleshing out my struggles and expanding on them in my writing was extremely compelling. Anne Rice, an author of the horror genre, explains that horror is more believable when the author is invested in both their truth and the continuing relevance of that truth.

One of my favorite horror novels is Stealing Shadows by Kay Hooper. It is a murder mystery with a clever twist- the main detective Cassie Neill is a psychic. She can enter a killer’s mind and see through their eyes. However, if the killer can “sense” her presence inside his mind, he can “trap” her in there so she cannot escape. The main reason that this novel was so interesting to me was its incredible unpredictability. I was never 100% certain on any theory I made as the plot progressed. It gave the sensation of being out of control, a common but effective method in the horror genre. The common theme of psychic mind tricks also proved to be both thought provoking and genuinely terrifying, and I think it would be cool to incorporate similar themes as I experiment with this piece.

Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s Threshold-This is the photograph I analyzed for my original essay. It still gives me an ominous vibe and that was what prompted me to write in the horror genre!
Stealing Shadows by Kay Hooper- The constant theme of mental manipulation in this novel was really interesting. It gave me a creative lens to explore how the mind works and I think that ties into my original argument about the importance of mental health.

Here are my sources!

How to write a horror story: 6 terrific tips

The Horror Genre: On Writing Horror and Avoiding Clichés

2 thoughts to “Introduction to the Horror Genre”

  1. I’m envious of your love for the horror genre! I honestly love the suspense and awe that comes with a horror movie or story, but for some reason I often can’t stomach it. As childish as it sounds, the images and actions that occur stick with me for DAYS to come (even sadly bringing silly nightmares.). I think that this is a really awesome genre for you to explore because like you said, there are often many cliches that are associated with it. Exploring how you are able to reinvent these cliches or use them in new ways is going to be really exciting!

    1. Oddly enough, I love horror novels but have never really been a fan of horror movies. I think it has to do a lot with what you said about not being able to stomach it to be honest. I like the idea of novels since it allows me to picture it in my own head instead of just being told what to see.

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