Relationships in Horror

The Sandman was advertised as "a horror-e...
The Sandman was advertised as “a horror-edged fantasy set in the DC Universe” in most of DC’s comics dated “Holiday 1988,” an extra issue tying in with the Invasion! crossover, which was the last to involve pre-Vertigo characters such as Swamp Thing, Black Orchid, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and Shade, the Changing Man, save for Worlds’ End’s loose connection to Zero Hour: Crisis in Time. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Relationships are Key to Horror

Traci Kenworth

 

For me, when writing horror, the relationships are the key. The ones between your characters and, most importantly, the reader. Because if the reader doesn’t care what happens to them, then the book’s just going to be tossed aside or deteriorate on the shelves. So how do we set off getting the reader to feel empathy for the people in our story world? We show them aspects of themselves in our fictional creations. The friendly, well-meaning neighbor who not everyone appreciates until the day something horrible happens near where you live. They’re always observant, always into what’s happening in the neighborhood. You dismiss them out of hand on a regular day. Until a zombie appears and they become you and your family’s best bet to escape the Apocalypse.

The disgruntled grandpa, no one pays much attention to anymore. His crazy ways are just not appealing—until when the count goes down and your life’s on the line and he ends up saving it. What about the bad example teenager no one understands, who ends up being your savior when the demons/vamps come out at night? The woman tortured and left by the roadside who triumphs over her abuser in the end? We read about these personalities because we’re hooked by a trait of theirs, with which we can identify. Who hasn’t felt out of place at a fancy party? Tongue-tied in a foreign area/country? A bit crazed when cut off on the roadway? Those are pieces we may not like to agree we identify with, but they’re there still.

We develop our characters for readers to both love, tolerate, or downright hate. Every emotion becomes important, a chance to communicate with the reader. When our heroine feels ruined by the loss of her home, we understand that. When a young boy wants to take an adventure and escape “everyday life” we want to know why, who he’s with, and why that relationship is important to the story. So what are some of the ways you use the familiarity in your own selves in writing to pull the reader in and “show” them that we all make-up a puzzle that once together, becomes our character/s?

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Relationships in Horror

  1. Can I just tell you, I love the example. Gaiman is one of my idols, and I always thought his Sandman comics straddled the line of horror and scifi/fantasy. Great post!

    Like

  2. Thanks, Stina!! Katniss, without her love for her sister, would’ve made our hearts callus against her if she hadn’t volunteered. Jabba could’ve thrown Han into those sandpits without our hearts breaking if Princess Leia hadn’t taught him to think of someone besides himself. We can’t “cheat” our readers and give them someone who doesn’t care about anyone. There has to be stakes, a reason for them to change. In the end, even Darth Vader had that.

    Like

  3. Great post lady! It’s great to have characters who garner emotions in stories (whether we love ’em or hate ’em). And there is a fine line sometimes between the different genres…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s