Over the years, I’ve made Horror my thing. I’ve watched countless horror movies. I’ve read countless horror stories. I’ve viewed the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. I’ve worked out the formulas for the non-Euclidian shapes of Lovecraftian geometry. I’ve sampled the wares of multiple cultures; the giallo films of Dario Argento, the existentialist nightmares of French cinema, and even some Bollywood rip-offs of American slasher films.
And, in all of my research, in all of my attempts to feel fear through fiction, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is only one way to craft perfect Horror. There is no one platonic ideal for Horror, hovering in the Aether like some malignant spider, hell-bent on the destruction of your pleasant dreams. Instead, Horror is a swarm of nightmares.
Fear is a personal thing. Certain people find certain things scary. What is scary for one person, is funny to another person. The supernatural doesn’t scare me at all, but I have a friend who believes that there are ghosts in the world. Horror must strive to reach only one person at a time.
Fear is primal. Something that is inspired by rudimentary thought processes buried deep in your subconscious. It is affected by the myths and legends of your culture. It is shaped by your upbringing and defined by your personal experience.
Horror, to be truly effective, must be individually tailored. For someone to feel that dread within, for someone to lose control of their conscious reasoning, they must read or watch something that has been specifically crafted for them. You cannot write a single story and try and scare an entire audience.
You’ll give a few people the creeps. And some people may feel the knife’s edge of Fear, but it will be dulled and blunted by the attempt to reach a broader audience.
The next step in Horror is not to try and reach the broadest audience possible. The next step in Horror is to make the experience as personal as possible.
Horror, as a form of fiction, has one goal: to create fear in the audience. Now, more than ever, it possible to achieve this goal. The Internet allows the Audience to approach the Creator and demand to be scared. It allows for the Audience to achieve something that they wouldn’t have been able to achieve before: they are able to get a customized, personalized experience that allows them to feel Fear.
Now, if only there was someone with a stronger work ethic than I to take advantage of it.
2 thoughts on “An Analysis of Fear”
Good grammar. And you’re theory kinda gives me the creeps. I wouldn’t want someone inside my head. And I don’t think I want to be that scared by a story.
I thought you might be leading up to a writer has to write to please himself. If you’re lucky and talented you can bring an audience along with you on your scary ride.
Another thing–a great writer can bring us when he writes about something nobody thinks is scary or even possible. Who (besides crazy people) is afraid of cell phones or worried a dome is going to cover their town? But I guess SK was riffing on lots of other fears–strangers, crime, cities, technology and zombies. And isolation, government, neighbors or others and violence.
There’s a writer on Amazon who, for a fee, write a story based on your sexual fantasy. It seems like one way of getting lots of ideas for stories. And fantasies are no different than fears–everyone has his own unique one.