I’ve written a column for the Review section of The Wall Street Journal, published today, about writing horror. It’s 700 or so words, and therefore is something less than an exhaustive discussion of the topic (!), but I feel there’s truth in the gist of it. And what’s the gist?
“The most effective horror writing turns not on the scarer but the scaree: The personal motivations of the character going down into a dark cellar makes a scene frightening and involving, not what he ends up seeing—or perhaps being devoured by—at the bottom of the stairs.”
To illustrate the point I use examples from some scare masters, namely Henry James, Ira Levin and Stephen King, along with some schmuck named Pyper.
You can check out the whole thing here: