The website of the historical fiction writer.

Festival of Writing 2014 Scene Eight: Hold Back the Monster

Jeremy Sheldon showed us how horror can influence any kind of fiction writing. Horror has potential and expectation that keeps the watcher/reader guessing and keeps building and releasing tension as the story unfolds.

There are three propositions in horror: the monster (not the hero), holding back and the monster that the hero has within.

The core component of all stories is the conflict that needs resolving and the characters need to be either motivated or pushed through the plot. There are various kinds of antagonist that the hero can come up against: 1) The Shadow (whoever the light of the story isn’t pointing at). 2) Formidable where the hero is no better than their enemy. 3) Proactive where the characters anticipate and plan for every eventuality. 4) Unrelenting where the antagonist is unstoppable and 5) the Ruthless ones that have a different morality to the hero. These stories are all about the monster and its threats, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Holding back is vital in horror as that is what creates the suspense. Alfred Hitchcock said the bang is not what frightens people, it’s the anticipation. The structure of a story should be the setup (where the monster is established to unsettle the audience then withdrawn). Development (where the uncertainty is held with the threat of something to happen). The Crescendo, which has a twist, where everything is pushed against everything else before the end.

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