So I was asked the other day why it is that I read horror fiction. It’s a fair question, and probably one that resonates with a lot of those that don’t find themselves drawn to stories that are quite so dark. It might even sound like an unpleasant experience being drawn into a story where things are going to go from good to horrible. But before I dive into the reasons that I read horror fiction, let me tell you first off that it’s not like I read all kinds of horror fiction. Like most people, there are certain types of stories that I find way more pleasant to read and get my mind firing. I am NOT a big fan of super graphically gory fiction or stories that involve truly awful things like rape or mutilation. If the story could be described as Saw-esque it is not for me. And please don’t think I am criticizing you if that is your thing, to each their own. But for me, the kind of horror that I truly find fun to read are stories that are more conceptually horrible, supernatural, or novel in nature. So this is really just a personal list for me, but I think that it will strike a chord in many of you that like me enjoy this particular flavor of horror.
1 – The Stakes Are Higher
In almost every other form of fiction, you are aware that at the end of the day things are going to work out ok for the protagonist. I mean even if they bite it in the end, things are going to go the right way for the good guys. But ho, not so in horror fiction. The best kind of horror fiction builds up the stakes for the good guys, draws you into the characters and makes you invested in them, and all the while you know that there is no promise that things are going to turn out ok. The difference is like bowling with and without the bumpers in the gutters. The risk is real, the tension that is created is more real, and the edge of your seat experience as things ramp up in the story can be so much more intense because of it.
2 – The Appeal of Regular Joe
Good horror is all about relatability, and that means that the protagonist isn’t going to be someone that is going to be all that different from you or me. Regular people trying their best to cope with horrifying situations and cunning evil entities. Protagonists in horror stories have to rely on the simple strengths of humankind, mental resourcefulness, and the WILL TO SURVIVE!
3 – Genera Spanning
If you are reading a western do you know where it is going to take place? How about if you are reading a fantasy novel? But horror? Yeah, not so much. Horror doesn’t play by those rules, it exists wherever the author wants it to exist; just as likely to be lurking in the basement of an old farmhouse as it is in a dialect space vessel. Fans of horror are rewarded with an incredible variety of characters, settings, and world-shaping machinations. The flavors are so varied that it’s a general that you can really never get bored of (at least I never do).
So there you have it, the top three reasons why I read the kind of horror that I do. But if there are aspects of horror that pulls you toward it that are different than mine, please let me know! Little by little, we are going to chip away at this barrier of entry for this type of story, and yunno I think a whole host of people that would have never tried it out will be pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoy it.
Featured image by Aphiwat chuangchoem