So I’m thinking about writing a new short story for an upcoming contest (A Sword and Laser Anthology, if you haven’t heard of it, you should check it out! Here’s their website – http://swordandlaser.com/) and as I’m attempting to come up with new characters and new plotlines I find I always seem to fall back on my standard…
Now, it’s not like I love horror. It’s not like I love frightening scenes and scary creatures but it seems to be the genre I gravitate towards when writing. I can write other things, of course – my NaNoNovel was biopunk, my poems are often about love, my flashes are about dragons – but when I first think of a story I think of horror first. (It took me awhile to get out of that mindset when writing my current sci-fi novel, and even then I’m basically writing about an antihero anyway.)
What’s odd is I don’t like watching horror films. Yes, I sometimes do watch them but my overactive imagination tends to have me up at night wondering if that tiny creaking on the stairs is an ax-murderer coming to get me or that shadow is a poltergeist hovering over my bed. Not good things to think about when trying to sleep. (I do, however, watch The Walking Dead every Sunday. Zombies aren’t that scary to me. Weird, right?)
Why do I write horror then?
Well, I like writing bad characters. I like writing that sexy temptress who will kill you if you get too close, that jaded lover who will get revenge, the misunderstood nymph whose job it is to destroy the forest. I enjoy writing about characters that belong in those dark empty alleyways. I like writing that… and I like to think that I’m good at writing that too. (Ask my writer friends, they’ll tell you how often I end things ‘badly’ for my characters.)
And it’s not like I would ever want to meet these people but the psychopaths you hear about roaming the streets right now, for all their terrifying attitudes, are fascinating to me. How did they get that way? Why are they doing these terrible things? I ask, and poof, a story.
So it’s no surprise that I’m slowly heading that direction when coming up with a new short for this contest. Even now I can see a character in my mind discussing his origin with his latest kill while eating a limb. See? Creepy. And yet, intriguing.
Sometimes I think the genre is misunderstood. When I, as a 5’5” 24-year-old woman wearing glasses and sporting short hair say I write horror, people get a look of shock on their faces and, more often than not, disgust plays on their features as well. I have to go on to explain that I don’t write the slasher-type pieces, the lets just write to torture the reader’s scenes, or the age-old-and-yet-not-a-classic teenagers-lost-in-the-woods-who-come-upon-a-horrible-insane-person stories. (And for the record, there is nothing wrong with writing those types of stories; it’s just not my style.) For me, though, it’s not all about blood and gore and showers of red, it’s about the mindset of the person (or creature) that’s doing it, the reason why he or she or it is terrorizing people.
Now I don’t know if I will actually write a horror slant for this contest. I may try my hand at a romance piece or a coming-of-age tale. All I know is that it has to be in the science fiction or fantasy realm because that’s one of the stipulations of the contest… after that, it’s the writer’s fancy. Scary, huh?
Have a lovely weekend!