"Published author, aspiring novelist . . . welcome to my world of madness!"

Dec 29, 2010

Cross-genre Frenzy: How Has it Impacted Horror

Let’s face it, there’s a definite trend in the publishing industry. Paranormal romances are hot, hot, hot! But what does that mean for the horror genre as a whole? In the wake of best-sellers and billion dollar franchises such as The Twilight Saga, Fallen, The Vampire Diaries, and less so, True Blood, many of us are left scratching our heads in wonder. Once vampires, demons, and werewolves were fearsome creatures that inspired nightmares and sleepless nights. They embodied the things we feared, the reasons we hid under the covers at night.

Now, they seem more apt to make you swoon and giggle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of enabling. I like the paranormal trend. There IS something exciting about monsters and the forbidden aspect of it all makes me giddy as a schoolgirl. I’ve read Twilight, and honestly, I can’t say anything bad about the books. (The movies are an entirely different matter.) They were geared toward a specific audience and it worked. Fans fell in love. I found myself rooting for the characters. To me, that equates success, no matter what the varying opinions of the books may be.

On the other hand, my heart breaks just a little. It hurts to see villains, terrible creatures that I grew up both loving and fearing . . . well . . . all sparkly and pretty. To see them shimmer in the sun. It takes all of the horror, all of the danger, right out of the equation. I guess that’s why I love prefer the True Blood series. Eric is still pretty nasty when he wants to be. There are still gruesome, despicable acts that terrify, and not too nice creatures lying in wait. The vampires are still vampires, and yes, they do burn.

*sniff* Goodbye, Godric.

Because of these ever popular trends, many horror writers today face an even greater challenge. We have to recreate the monster and abolish much of the sunshiny goodness and loveable stigmata now attached to our protagonists. We have to find a way to make them loathsome and inspire fear. It takes more work than ever to build that atmosphere of terror and establish a truly horrific character.

Nothing has been untouched. That’s not to say it’s impossible. Show us, the audience, all of the sinister deeds it commits along the way. Allow us a glimpse into the dark workings of your monster’s mind. Reinforce the fact that this is not some teen heartthrob, but a vile force to be reckoned with. I don’t want to be told I should fear this beast because of what it is, I want to feel that terror firsthand. I want reasons to be afraid . . . and I want this atrocity you create to feel like a very real threat.

They say everything has already been done. Idea-wise, that is probably true. What will make your story unique is the fresh perspective you bring, the unique thoughts and stance your characters take throughout the story. Their individual voices and the experiences they bring.
 Don’t shy away from these new challenges. Embrace them. Force the industry to evolve.

I know without a doubt, I will enjoy following where both these roads lead. What about you? What are your thoughts on the impact and possible solutions?
~Best wishes and happy writing!~


  1. I know exactly what you mean. I loved Twilight, because it was different. Now, every book with a vampire in it follows the trend that Twilight started.

    I don't like where that trend is going.

    Which is why my paranormal story casts vampires as evil.

  2. I haven't read Twilight, but I have read a couple of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and I totally agree with you. I don't think there is anything wrong with this kind of paranormal romance not being very scary though, after all, I don't think it's meant to be horror.

    On the other hand, just about anything can be made scary, you don't need monsters. Hell, H.P. Lovecraft even once made a color the villain in his story The Colour out of Space.

  3. Misha~ I would love to read it! I think a big part of things being popular is taking a familiar concept and infusing a new spin. But, like you, I agree that does not mean everyone and their brother should try the same formula!

    Matthew~ No, there is a definite distinction between horror and paranormal romance. Personally, I like both. :p And yes! You bring up an excellent point...and if people like the concept enough, more of the same are sure to follow.

  4. Another awesome post! It is a daunting task, but if the writer reaches deep down into the well where fear flows, our favorite monsters, currently beautiful creatures to adore, will become the antagonists of our nightmares.

  5. I don't think writers should follow the popular trends, but use them as a navigation system pointing us to the untapped potential of our next great, original idea. Monsters will always be marketable, but I agree with you: The best monsters are multi-faceted and yes, scary.

    I don't write horror or paranormal, but nothing -- not Twilight or even Harry Potter -- rocks my world like a good old Stephen King horror offering. The more terrifying, the better!

  6. It requires world-building much in a fantasy / sci-fi way, so we know what kind of monsters you're portraying. I've read interesting twists on vamps and were-creatures.

    Taking the scary out of the bad guys is just wrong, IMO. Ie, Darth Vader. They ruined him!

  7. I think horror is alive and well, although it's face has changed a bit for YA. I loved HUSH HUSH for example, to me that was horror because I was frightened throughout. The REPLACEMENT is billed as horror, though I personally didn't see it that way. Myself? I tend to find the human type of "monster" the scariest. ;)

  8. Thank you all for the wonderful comments and perspectives! You've made some wonderful points and given me much to think about!

  9. I do like the True Blood better than Twilight. Actually, I rather dislike Twilight but then again I'm not much of a chick flick kind of guy and let's face it... Twilight is a chick flick with fangs. The only thing Twilight is good for is comparing it to real horror. I wouldn't say that I miss the days before this type of "horror" existed. At least it can be used to distinguish real horror fans from ones who are just riding the wave of a trend. Kind of like how everyone was an instant Ozzy fan when the Osbournes came out but the real fans could challenge the trenders to name three Ozzy (not Sabath)songs. Well to the new fans of horror that are on the Twilight ride,list three movies by Roger Corman without Googling it. Just my opinion