Tired of hearing how horror is a “hack” genre? Have you ever felt discouraged by the opinions people have of horror as a whole? Need an added boost of encouragement? Read on.
Horror is so much more than just blood and gore. Since its inception, horror has had a reputation of being a “hack genre.” To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s in reference to the violence or blood that splatters many pages in these type of stories, or some undermining barb that implies horror writers write this kind of stuff because they couldn’t “hack it” anywhere else. Either way, it’s simply not the case.
Authors in this genre follow a calling. Some of the most talented and renowned writers of all time have penned tales of darkness and terror. Who doesn’t know the names of Lovecraft, Poe, King or Barker? What about Koontz? Even nay-sayers would recognize these names for what they are: masters of their craft . . . legends. It’s not lack of skill that drives the pen forward in this genre, but quite the opposite. We have to work twice as hard.
Effective horror doesn’t just have believable characters that strike a chord with readers. It engrosses them. It’s more than plot. For real horror, good horror, has a living breathing atmosphere that draws the audience in deeper with every word. Horror takes the completely unfathomable–things we don’t want to imagine happening and makes it seem so real, so believable, that the audience clutches the covers and refuses to turn off the light at night. It lingers and lives on. It refuses to die, even long after the story has ended.
We are not the bottom of the writing gene pool. We do not lack in either talent or imagination, but rather have an abundance of it. It takes a special gift to be able to reach beyond the shock value of blood and gore and truly rattle your reader to the core. Hard work and insight are the only things that enable a writer to take an idea so farfetched it would be laughable under normal circumstances and make it a horrific reality, even if only for a moment.
People often ask me what’s wrong with me. They wonder where these twisted ideas come from. They hint at the kind of person I must be . . . after all, how else could a person write such dark and tragic things? These are the times when I smile—it’s a crooked and often depraved grin, and sometimes, I feel a twinge of pity. They don’t get it, and they never will.
Horror writers are not cursed, nor do we dwell in a terrible place from which there is no redemption. We walk a beautiful line in life, able to see both sides of the coin in full scope. We offer the balance. For without our darkness and shadows, there would be no light. Without adversity, pain, and fear, one never really understands the true meaning of peace and happiness. We are the yin to their yang.
Horror writers are needed, and the amount of work and talent it takes to carve a niche for ourselves in this world is something some people may never understand. We don’t view life through rose-colored glasses. We view it through a kaleidoscope, often one dripping with crimson. And I dare say our readers tend to be some of the most intelligent and humorous folks you will find.
Hacks? No. We’re a brilliant and gifted bunch of people . . . an evil necessity.
Now hold those heads high and create!
~Best wishes and happy haunting!~