Monday, January 10, 2011

Every Story a Horror Story & Fantastic Reviews

Aaron Hughes of Fantastic Review Blog liked my short story, "A Game of Lost Boys" (from Linger Fiction) so much, it's his story recommendation of the week. That's pretty cool. Fantastic, in fact.

So I've been thinking...and maybe because of the horrific outing my Chiefs had in yesterday's playoff game...

I don't care what "genre" you read/write: you are engaged in horror fiction. Don't deny it--I know horror writers often receive a bad rap, but the truth is, quite simply, every story is a horror story.

Since today is a snow day (yay!) which means I have to wrangle my kids (er, yay?), I'll keep this quick:

For a story to work, there must be conflict. Internal or external, implied or explicit, I don't care. Conflict has to happen. A story simply isn't a story without conflict.

Conflict creates suspense (will the conflict resolve favorably for our dear protagonist). Suspense is driven by fear. Fear is the central emotion of horror.

Need I say more?

Okay, Aaron, you might say, what about the Formula Romance? Well, the story revolves around the central will they/won't they conflict. The fear might not be Horror (capital H), but it is suspenseful, at least a little, or otherwise no one would read it. Suspense drives the reader to the end of a story. The best stories have loads of it, even where the big threat (death) doesn't exist. But I'd say every good story carries elements of the big threat...at least derivatives of it. If my seven-year-old is asking questions about whether Harry Potter ever dies after book 1, well, the big threat is there. Derivatives? Think lost love, lost family member, lost job, lost respect...all those "losses" are surrogates for death.

Something to think about while I sit in my nice, warm house, hoping the heater keeps doing its job as the world slowly fades to white.

13 comments:

K.C. Shaw said...

Congrats on the excellent review!

Snow days, yay! I'm home today too.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Yes, congrats from me as well. Hey the world fading to white...where's the horror in THAT! Note to FX guys..."We need some blood spatter over here."

Cate Gardner said...

Congrats again on the review.

If only we could convince the book stores everyone writes horror and then maybe horror would get more than one shelf.

Aaron Polson said...

K.C. - Thanks, and congrats on a snow day in your neck o' the woods, too.

Alan - Thanks. Blood on snow. *shivers*

Thanks again, Cate. I demand the whole fiction section.

Lee Thompson said...

Very cool on the sweet review, man! Congrats!

And I think 'fear' is the overriding emotion in life for most people. Maybe not on a surface level, but down deep fear: they could hate their job fear quitting because they fear not finding another one; we can fear being alone and settle putting up with someone's shit who doesn't really care about or respect us; we can fear what our parents think of us, our kids, our friends, our minister, our friends friends; we fear not being accepted; we fear not making our bills on time; we fear never finding our purpose (or making the most of it); we fear snow and storm and accidents; we fear going bald or getting fat or looking like a fool... the shit goes on and on and never ends. Fear can be a good catalyst too though. Especially like you said, in fiction.

Katey said...

I am personally pissed at the Chiefs (though I really enjoyed watching them this year!), because now I have to suffer through another Steelers/Ravens throwdown. Those are great for the rest of the country, I'm sure, but they make me irrationally angry. As you might imagine.

I better remember to stock up on beer this weekend.

But that review IS well deserved, and I can't help but think the story itself belonged at a site called "linger fiction". I said what I thought of it there (when it gets out of comment moderation, anyhow), but yeah. Brilliant, man. You never cease to amaze.

Aaron Polson said...

Man, Lee. You nailed it on the fear front. (and thanks)

Katey - I love my Chiefs, even after an embarrassing ass-whooping like that. They're getting better; just not ready for the big boys, yet. Thanks for the kind words. And to think: I sat on "A Game of Lost Boys" for over a year.

Andrea Allison said...

Congrats on the great review and good luck with the Preditors & Editors Poll! I voted for ya.

Aaron Polson said...

Thanks, Andrea, on both counts. I didn't even know I was nominated! (two pleasant surprises in one day? No!)

Simon Kewin said...

Um, well maybe. Actually I thought every story was fantasy. Because it's, you know, made up.

At least your team made it to the playoffs. Go Giants! Er, next season ...

Aaron Polson said...

Simon - Made the playoffs, lost again. Seven in a row, now. If that isn't a horror story, I don't know what is...

Natalie L. Sin said...

I'm going to tell my mom this next time she tells me to write children's books ; )

onipar... said...

Nice review! I've always known all life is horror. ;-)