What kind of horror story do you want to write? Your options are as wide open as the type of ‘monster’ you wish to create. The term ‘monster’ represents not only the critters and creatures you invent, but also the subject, – whether real or imagined. This is the terror in your story.
The major genres are:
Usually refers to the blending of genres within one story, such as paranormal horror, or paranormal romance. You might develop a romance between characters in a horror story as they fight the terror surrounding them. Or your protagonist might have paranormal abilities. Or it could be a war between worlds.
A fantasy story that has supernatural elements, but this does not include the supernatural fiction of vampires, etc. Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian is often called dark fantasy.
This story goes straight for the shock, the gross-out factor. Blood, guts, and gore-Friday the 13th movies come to mind. Along with with the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.
Main characteristic is the stranglehold of the past on the present. Enclosed, haunted settings, gloomy images of ruin and decay, imprisonment, cruelty and persecution often depict this.
This contains more of a psychological interest in abnormal mentality. Less gloomy atmosphere and more of the mental breakdown. Character often being trapped somehow, by family, location, or destiny.
Lovecraftian, Lovecraft Mythos, Cthulu Mythos, etc.:
Fictional premise is that the world was once inhabited by another race of dark powers. Though banished, they are always ready to take the world back.
Urban underworld of crime and moral ambiguity. Dark, cynical, paranoid themes of corruption, alienation, lust obsession, violence, revenge, and the difficulty of finding redemption. Oppressive, menacing atmosphere. Pessimism, anxiety, suspicion.
Psycho killers fall into this category but it can also be subtle. It can deal with ambiguous reality and seem supernatural. These horrors are generated, somehow, in the mind, and emerge in various forms of psychological imbalance. Hallucinations, voices, amnesia – anything that deals with the vagaries of the human mind can be explored in this sub-genre
Quiet (soft) Horror
Subtle, not to shocking, with atmosphere and mood that adds to the fear rather than graphic description.
The normal world doesn’t apply here. Ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, the occult.
Unreal: strange or bizarre, sometimes tied to the surrealist movement in art and literature, attempting to express the subconscious and go beyond accepted conventions.
Suspense (or Dark Suspense) and Thriller
No supernatural elements, but a constant sense of threat form an outside source. Add a strong investigative angle and you have a mystery. Action and suspense, gives you a thriller.
Refers to earthier, more reality based or supernatural fiction, with detailed graphic depictions of the bad stuff.
Often a synonym for horror, and also can mean anything strange, uncanny, supernatural, or refer to a school of writing popularized by the pulp magazine, Weird Tales. See below for more free writer’s tips.
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