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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Terror Comes First, Then Horror, Then....


....Did that scare you? Probably not. After all you're only reading a silly little blog article. However, as the headline seems to be missing a bit something, it somehow leads you to this -- out of curiosity. Or a question:

What Makes a Good Horror Author?

We're assuming you're reading this on the Nail-Biter's Guide to Horror Writing exactly because of that question. Perhaps you want to be like Stephen King or Dean Koontz, and you want the words coming out of your mouth or on paper to chill to the bone. Here's the short answer: the unholy trinity!

For starters, if you haven't already enrolled in your first course here to awaken your own demonic words, know this: terror is very different from horror. Most see both as synonymous. They're not. In fact, if you look at the dictionary, you'll see two very distinct impressions between both words.

Terror: "extreme fear," "intimidation."

Horror: "shock," "disgust," "dismay."

When you look at it that way, it does tend to make some sense. Terrorists terrorize, they provoke terror. It's immediate. It's almost deadly. It unlocks those defense mechanisms inside your brain that make you feel unsafe.

Horror, however, comes afterward. It's the shock. The surprise. The unexpected making your jaw drop as you can't believe what you had seen or read.

There is, however, a reason why we call them horror novels and not terror novels: the horror is what lasts much longer.

It's the aftertaste. You remember all of it. And so, therefore, the same fear inflicted upon you at that moment when the terror builds up inside you then lasts beyond that into something of disbelief.... "Oh, the horror!" How can it be? It's mind-blowing. You're stunned.

That, My Friends, Is How Horror as a Whole Works

First comes the terror (it always comes first).... Then comes the horror (if necessary).

But wait a second.... This is an unholy *trinity! That's three things. What's the third thing?

You already experienced it at the top there. That 3-letter word. The jump scare. The gore. The absolute gross-you-out-sickening ordeal, shameless and petty in its feral nature to strike fear into your heart, and usually it works! But it goes in that order....

First strike terror. If that doesn't work, unleash horror.... And if that doesn't work, don't be afraid to stoop so low to completely gross people out or shock the Shyamalan out of your readers!

So what kind of horror writer are you? Just click the skull right below!

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