Do You Like Mystery Involved with Your Horror?
In the horror stories you read, do you like a bit of mystery involved with who/what the monster/evil etc. is? Or do you like to know up front what’s involved (vampires, werewolves, clowns) so you can dig into who the characters are and what is going to happen to them instead? In other words, do you like what the gooey blob is to remain hidden until the climax, or would you prefer to know it’s something that escaped from a science experiment and how that experiment came about? I actually like both types, but I’m working on the mystery part with something I’m kicking around in the developmental stages right now.
There’s a story to be had in either case, whether you pick the traditional vampires (Salem’s Lot by Stephen King) or the mystery (The Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill). Both are haunting but I read in a recent interview with Joe Hill (Yes, I know he’s Stephen King’s son) that the best “monster” in horror would be Jaws because the shark isn’t onscreen (or on the page) much. Twelve minutes total in the first movie’s version but each time it IS there, it’s terrifying. He also went on to say that we’re more afraid of something we’re not familiar with (exposed to constantly), and I think that’s true as well.
Look at the vampire. It’s become a bit less intimidating with all the recent press it’s gotten (Twilight). Werewolves, are in the same boat. Zombies are the current craze and I wonder if they’ll falter as well. Perhaps that’s why they pull in human “evil” as well on Walking Dead, so it’s not the creatures we shudder at all the time. So, I’m trying to leave my own monsters off the page as much as possible in my own stories. I want the reader to be conscious of them sure, but not pummeled by them. That way, when I do cut them loose on the pages, they can spill blood all over them. So what do you think? Would you like to see more of, or less of, the monster/evil/monstrosity you’re reading about?