Key Elements that Reveal a Good Horror Novel
Some bookworms believe they understand what makes a good horror novel story, but they don't. If you're like some of us who are exceptions, you've been psyched up by a horror movie or book trailer only to regret not waiting for the DVD or 99-cent eBook download.
With such disappointments in mind, we have decided to write what we believe to be a good horror novel. As we all know, terror works best. Without further ado, we believe the elements of a good horror story are terror, surprise, suspense, mystery, spoiler and a killer ending. This is how it works:
Fear is by far the most vital ingredient in a great horror story, at the risk of pointing out the elephant in the room. The key to creating a fear-based story is to make sure you can scare people with anxieties they don't have.
Consider this: not everyone is terrified of spiders. In fact, some people with good hearts occasionally save their lives when they are discovered and relocate them to a home with ants. Why are you inquiring? Because they despise ants far more than spiders, and spiders enjoy murdering ants. However, if written or presented appropriately, you may as well join the ranks of those who erupt in laughter when they see a spider.
The plot/television miniseries Stephen King's It is a good example of what we are talking about. The antagonist reflects the protagonists' worries, and at the end of the story, certain characters are terrified by the fears of others. For example, Tim Curry's portrayal of Pennywise is undoubtedly the most recognized element of the story. Although not everyone is afraid of clowns, Pennywise has the potential to terrify a large number of readers/viewers.
Richard Laymon's novella Endless Night is another wonderful example. The story begins with a group of killers interrupting a teenage sleepover (probably the only enjoyable use of this horror cliché). One of the main characters' friends is "spit on a spear," while the other flees with the speared character's sibling. The chase is ensuing.
The fear of failing someone, more than intrusion, is what makes the beginning of Endless Night so wonderful. The protagonist is more scared of letting her friend's brother die than she is of the gang of killers. Even more striking is Laymon's utilization of contradictory voices. People in 2012 don't value a second opinion as much as they once did, but we do, and here's why: The second speaker, in this case, is one of the killers, and while being the creepiest man we've ever encountered, he also has a lot of anxieties.
It's critical to maintain an air of surprise in addition to generating concerns and connecting them with people.
Getting someone to fear what you've made isn't the most difficult part; shocking them with the terror is. We have previously used the example of spiders, and would like to return to it. Once you've made someone afraid of spiders, keep the surprises coming.
How many different ways can a spider story be told? You can wind up with a page of thoughts if you try to scribble them down.
This is where having a creative mind comes in handy. The advantage of horror novels over movies is that you can play with people's minds a lot more. You construct an image in such a way that the reader's mind can become lost in contemplation, much like we would believe there's a ghost in the home at midnight.
Suspense is also primarily manufactured by the reader's imagination. It's a well that needs to be tapped in order to function. In Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box, a macabre collector purchases a ghost. No way! This isn't a ghost story! It does, however, work. We won't give too much away, but the element of surprise in this story is clever. In the worst-case scenario, a ghost causes a slew of weird noises, cabinets to open, and light bulbs to go out. But not in this case. Hill introduces his readers to the customary ghost trappings before stabbing them in the back with a twist on the standard haunting.
Surprising results from exaggerating a fear. The author establishes the audience's worries using standard clichés, then soil their pants with an expansion that will reverberate throughout their night terrors. Surprisingly, surprise after surprise might become tedious. The beauty of suspense in horror stories is that you can sometimes make the reader want more scares.
Some of the most thrilling stories also happen to be the tensest. Psycho, American Psycho, The Sixth Sense, Drag Me to Hell, Pet Semetary, Odd Thomas, Harry Potter, The Devil's Labyrinth, and other films are examples.
After a long period of suspense, several unexpected events occur. The best scenario involves someone waiting for something to happen, and when it does, it comes as a complete surprise. Fear is included in a variation of the same scenario. Even though we know what will happen to a character based on their worries, the anxiety of waiting remains.
If objects keep bursting out to scare or surprise us, we'll soon become tired of it and find it less enticing. While Stephen King is known as the Master of Horror, both the book and the miniseries Bag of Bones disappointed us. Both the written story and the TV movie series rely on POP-OUTS in the form of a dream far too much and far too often. We've all had horrible nightmares, so living through someone else's is a bit of a waste of time.
A more suspenseful horror story is one that builds up the tension. We don't just want minor chords and POP-OUT terrifying faces; we want to have an emotional connection with the characters and experience their worry rather than be confronted with barriers like a garden snake emerging from behind some vegetables.
A decent mystery, of course, adds a pleasant touch to the suspense.
Many bibliophiles have shied away from mystery in various genres of writing, unless it's in the form of a whodunnit. Instead of letting it go, we prefer to include a significant sense of mystery in an eerie story. Actually, we prefer to process as many unknowns as possible in a story. We like it when we think we grasp a tale one minute and then realize we don't. Invisible Monsters is an excellent illustration of this.
More simplex riddles, on the other hand, appear to represent the tipping point. We enjoy not knowing too much about a character, whether it's a minor or major role. In typically, horror stories about a bunch of innocents will hold off on telling you what the main character - in this case, the leader - fears until the middle or even the end of the story. The way they deal with their fears will astound you. And it will keep you guessing until the very end, when the mystery will be revealed.
Spoilers have always been a vital aspect of any horror element, and are now favored over mystery; which leads us to our next point.
BEWARE OF SPOILERS
Your ally is foreshadowing.
The main character is terrified of spiders, so you know they'll encounter one at some time. This can be a pleasant anticipation that includes elements of surprise and tension.
In a fiction, you might notice a false feeling of identity. As a result, you suspect the narrator isn't entirely trustworthy. This contributes to all of the elements, particularly the mystery.
However, spoilers are the small details that authors reveal right at the outset of a story. Bruce Wayne is Batman. Freddy Krueger has the ability to murder you in your dreams. Fears, phobias, dislikes, and so on.
People prefer spoilers above everything else in a good novel, according to this study. When a reader or viewer understands something about the tale from the start - something that would normally be revealed in the story's conclusion - they are unable to delve deeper into it. Their eyes will be drawn to the finer points of the situation. This is similar to rereading a novel, but without the rereading.
We enjoy stories that make us pay attention to every word that is written or said. Even if you anticipate what will happen when you notice a focal item, there can still be aspects of terror, surprise, mystery, and suspense.
Our ideal narrative reveals how it's put together but leaves a few mysteries unsolved, retains our suspense based on anxieties, and surprises us by going above the norm to create new perspectives on horror and how it might terrify someone.
ENDING WITH A BANG
This one is quite straightforward. A horror novel a cliffhanger ending. And please, God, we do not mean a good horror novel is all a dream or a split personality with the narrator spending the entire time in a nuthouse.
A good horror novel is one that the author dares to think outside the box and write a conclusion that will make his or her readers squirm in their seats. We are talking about a conclusion that will linger in the minds of booklovers well into the next day. With a KILLER ENDING, the author really gets into their heads and make it something that will keep them awake at night. If you are an author, remember that you, as the writer and entertainer, have complete control. So put it to good use.