The difference between fear and gore

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  1. StevenPayne profile image55
    StevenPayneposted 7 years ago

    As I am writing a story right now I find myself feeling as if the "fear" factor that I am going for is lacking and becoming just a gory picture of blood and death. Does anyone have any advise on how to turn a story that just turns your stomache into a story that makes you want to sleep with the light on?

  2. know one profile image60
    know oneposted 7 years ago

    You are really wanting to create terror not horror. Terror is the unfolding fear that something very bad is going to happen and horror is the actual reaction to the event having taken place. So, your focus must be on the lead up to the event - and tension is paramount. Foreshadow quite early in the piece the antagonist's 'badness' so that we anticipate with terror what he might end up actually doing, but create uncertainty so that we are never on sure footing. Give the bad guy indepth character traits... it will make him all the more real and hence scary. Make him stronger/smarter/more experienced than the hero where it counts. Fear sets up the fight or flight response so the tension you create in the response to the bad event is also intergral to extending the audience's experience of terror. You must create uncertainty for the hero and the audience at every step... but make it realistic... and make the goal as fundamental as a question of life or death. Also, setting is vital (eg dark, isolated, cold, wet, full of risk) - if the hero is in unfamiliar territory you can create stacks of tension with that alone. Fear is a pretty universal response only alleviated by conditioning. If the hero is not conditioned to the events unfolding (and we know it), he will naturally be more fearful and so we will we. See some scary films and take notes about what was set up and paid off at every moment you felt fear.

    Good luck! :-)

  3. AdeleCosgroveBray profile image95
    AdeleCosgroveBrayposted 7 years ago

    The main thing, as I see it, is to simply finish writing the story, put it to one side for a few weeks then come back to it with an editorial pen ready.

    1. StevenPayne profile image55
      StevenPayneposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      thats what my buddy stephen king says

      1. Nick Malizia profile image61
        Nick Maliziaposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        King is also a good person to learn from about this concept of "Fear v. Gore". I loved "The Shining" but humorously didn't find it scary on a gore or monster level. The psychological intensity and suspense was actually so beautiful and compelling that I didn't think of it as scary. It was just great writing.

        This isn't to say it's a bad horror novel, and I might be "too conditioned" as I've read and loved both psych/mystery genre as well as monster stories since childhood. "Terror" is very much related to Psychology, I think. The sense of dread is more important than gore or even a visually shocking enemy ( who is only visually shocking BECAUSE he is a collection of symbols that are repellent to the "civilized mind.")

        As you might be expecting, I have written a hub on this -_-  Don't taze me, bro. It's in my list as "Enlightenment from Your Horror Buddha."

        Good luck on your writing. I hope it is not only commercially productive but makes you a stronger person in life. smile


        1. StevenPayne profile image55
          StevenPayneposted 7 years agoin reply to this

          Thanks man, gratefull for the well wishing.

  4. Shadesbreath profile image82
    Shadesbreathposted 7 years ago

    The trick to fear/terror is tension (which is actually the trick to all stories, the difference being the source of the tension in a horror story).

    It's been my experience that a lack of tension typically comes from writers writing too fast.  If you are at the gore scenes already, then you probably didn't set up the threat carefully enough.  You have to show the reader that there is something to fear.  Establish that there is a legitimate reason to fear it.  Spend time on the awareness of the threat.  Let it unfold slowly, in carefully chosen, meticulously rendered detail.

    If you want a quick example, have a look at the "Bull Named Fear" story I just wrote if you have time.  See how long it goes before anything actually "happens."  If I've done my job, the reader is really tense before anything untoward happens.

    If you want an example of greatness at this concept, have a look at Edgar Allen Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" here: … dulum.html

    1. StevenPayne profile image55
      StevenPayneposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Poe is awesome, a man who's work I admire. I think your absolutly right. It is timing and letting things unfold as slowly as possible. The same thing could be said for arousal I guess. The more the imagination holds the better/worse things are.....

  5. profile image0
    Jim LaVigneposted 7 years ago


    Also, read Lovecraft's Supernatural Horror in Literature, a non-fiction piece on the history and effectiveness of scaring people w/ your writing. Full of advice, ideas, and criticism, especially on gore vs terror type ideas.

    Jim LaVigne
    Author of: Bearwood,Or the Business of Screwing Around With Things Best Left Alone … Left-Alone


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