The WorldA Lesson by Darl Nightingale
The world of horror is hard to put forward
One misconception that people have is that the supernatural has to be scary. This is not the case. The most horrifying things to read or watch are those that are the most possible. When one has such a real life experience that when we hear about or see it we cringe: Horror. Yes, supernatural occurrences can be portrayed in terrifying ways. However, many times these come off as unbelievable or full of gimmicks to catch the spectator by surprise. When looking at the world of horror movies, the most critically acclaimed do not have demons or monsters; on the contrary, they are full of psychological events and real life scenarios that make us uncomfortable. In the case that they do have specters or spooks, they are often used in a much more gruesome way. Psychological thriller is much more bone chilling than a jump scare and an uncomfortable face.
While movies have sounds and imagery to create a darkened world of desolation and, often times, gore, books have something better. They can narrate and allow the reader to build their own world. Books tap into our deepest psyche and are only as scary as the reader allows them to be. This being said, there are ways to push the idea of horror. Implications can often be more powerful than direct dialogue. For example, if there is a bloody dungeon, one may say "The dungeon floors and walls were splattered with the blood of the old prisoners." This is straight-forward and simple. You can spice this up by saying "As he peered around the dungeon, he could see the abuse of the ones before him in the walls. The floors and walls still echoed with their cries of agony. Their injuries were made permanent as their attempt to flee was illustrated about the room. The corner near the door made it obvious that any attempt to leave was futile." One has a sense of implying the extent of the torture, the other just shows that people were beaten and bled out. Both are appropriate, and when deciding the depth of a scenario it is always good to think about how important it is. If the scenery is the key to stir up uncomfortable feelings, focus on it. Focus on more than sight as I did above, but rather all the senses. If the characters are the source of fear, plan their dialogue to match. This being said, the world should play at least some part in striking fear into the reader. They are reading to fear for their own well being, and when cast into a world that represents that fear accurately, you can capture them much easier.
As I mentioned, there is more to the world than sight. If we look back at the dungeon example, it can be expanded further to show the terror of this dungeon. I've already covered sight and sound; however, it can go deeper. "As he peered around the dungeon, he could see the abuse of the ones before him in the walls. The floors and walls still echoed with their cries of agony. Mixed with their cries was a deafening silence and a nauseating taste of blood in the air. Their injuries were made permanent as their attempt to flee was illustrated about the room. The corner near the door made it obvious that any attempt to leave was futile; the corner of decay permeating the young mans nose, making him gag and choke on the deaths before him." By adding in the other senses, the reader gets a better feel about what is in the room. Sure, he knows what it looks like, but now he also knows how it smells, tastes, and the true sounds - silence - he is forced to endure. This is just a physical description of the other prisoners. Obviously, you can go deeper by describing lighting, the shape of the room, or the man himself: The condition he's in, how he's being held (is it a cage? Shackles? Chained to a wall?), and his reactions to the other things other than smell and taste. Again, remember to aknowledge how important the character and room are when deciding where to put the detail. Horror is not the place for "fluff", but it is also not the place to be succinct when creating an atmosphere. It is a very fine-tuned world that needs to do everything it can to make the reader make it real in their head.
Added on November 9, 2014
Last Updated on November 9, 2014
Apache Junction, AZ
AboutI write poetry, short stories, and am currently working on a novel and screenplay. My main focus is to thrill and excite people. I love knowing that my writing is thought provoking and understood rath..