Author Topic: Definition of "horror"  (Read 3312 times)

Chicken Ghost

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 270
on: October 13, 2017, 03:11:11 AM
In the flash contest, I've been seeing some "I'm not sure this is horror" responses to some of the stories.  I didn't think any one story was the place to ask "what do you mean," because it's come up over and over again. 

What do you think horror is?  What does a story have to have in order to be horror?  What must a story lack in order to be horror? 

(I don't want to put any of my observations about the stories people have commented on here, because I'd like to get some opinions here free from any of my own biases.) 


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 203
Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 01:46:32 PM
For me, there's a line between what I see as dark fantasy and horror, and there are some stories that either have a more fantastical element (not particularly horrific) or the MC has so much agency that the darkness or evil or whatever is basically under control. I don't find True Blood an example of horror, since the supernatural elements are used for drama, mostly.

Also, there's a question of effect. Some of the stories lean heavily on familiar tropes and themes, so much so that they lose resonance. I don't want to cite them, since if those are strong stories and continuing on, it would seem like I'm talking down those entries. But if you're doing something very familiar and it's executed in a familiar way, it's easy to shrug and forget about the story. Also, if you can take the horror element out and the story plays more or less the same, then that's a problem for me.

Horror is sort of like the definition of obscenity. You know it when you see it. It is a story that sits in your brain. It makes you physically react. It makes you uncomfortable, and, yes, sometimes disgusted, scared, and freaked out.