Our final guest poster for the Month of Horror is Konn Lavery, author of Seed Me. Konn’s article, “Horror: More than Frights and Gore” examines the stereotypes of horror and how horror writers can combat them. You can find out more about Konn at the end of the article.
Horror, it is more than just frights and gore.
-by Konn Lavery
There is a broad stereotype when it comes to horror storytelling whether that is film, literary works or other mediums – it is violent, filled with blood and tremor. Personally I love this kind of thing and find it a lot of fun, but that is not all that horror has to offer. The public perception of horror is better known as the Body Horror genre or the Shock genre, these are very small sections of what really encompasses all of horror. Unfortunately the other large section of horror genres are shadowed by these commonly known ones. Think about Frankenstein’s Monster or Dracula, these are both horror stories but are not gore infested or filled with shock. They happen to have a lot of thriller and mystery elements with a dark overlay to the plot.
Often people will either gravitate to, or turn away from the sight of a book being labeled as horror due to the common perception of the genre. They may say “yeah! That’s right up my alley.” Or “that really isn’t my thing” or “I don’t like scary stories” before even engaging in the synopsis or hearing the elevator pitch of the story. Other times, you will find people who are familiar with the differences in types of horror and ask further questions about it, such as what is the sub-genre. The common personae of the horror genre can make finding new readers very challenging. They will shut down the premise before they even had a chance to check it out. You might be asking yourself:
Then how do I go about getting my horror story to new readers then?
This has been an ongoing scenario for decades, thankfully, marketers are always looking for new and innovative ways to gain the public’s interest. Thanks to this, over time, new terms – or genres – have come to surface that are now industry standards. These new terms help categorize your book to be recognized for a more niche type. Horror books can be categorized under different genres such as Weird Fiction, Dark Fantasy and Gothic Fictions, to name a few. H.P. Lovecraft is known for coining the term Weird Fiction, a specific type of monster-related horror that he specialized in. Books similar to H.P. Lovecraft have also been categorized as Lovecraftian to make potential readers more familiar with the subject matter of the book. Weird Fiction and Lovecraftian are very similar, with the exception of Weird Fiction being a broader term.
Other sub-genres such as Occult, Supernatural and Paranormal are used to further define what the book is about. Some of these sub-genres might not deal with blood at all and play in the psychological realm which can create a real unsettling experience for the readers. It still all falls under horror.
You can find a large list of genres and sub-genres under Wikipedia that breaks down all of the primary genres and the sub-genres that are used in the literary world for marketing purposes. There are always more sub genres popping up as well. This has been due to cross-genres or varying iterations of existing ideas that gets coined as a specific genre due to their uniqueness. The one key thing to remember is that all of these sub-genres are all simply marketing terms for the parent genre. They are used as more direct ways to attract people to read the novel that might not be as receptive to the book if it was categorized as only horror.
So How Do I Know What Genre My Work Falls Under?
This can take a bit of research. Let’s suppose we have a scenario where you have a horror novel finalized and you’re ready to start promoting it. You’ll have to ask yourself, what genre does your book fall under? This question requires us to put on a different mindset from our normal writing and creative thoughts. To answer this question, you will want to do online research, browsing through the genres that are on novel websites such as amazon.com, kobo.com or goodreads.com. Other sites offer other genre titles as well, such as the Wikipedia article linked earlier.
While you are looking at these genres, take note on the books that are categorized under the genres; specifically analyze the high-ranking novels for sales and reviews. If they have positive feedback from the reviews and sales, chances are they fit that genre. Read the synopsis and the reviews of these books. Does your book fall under these categories? If so that is great, you will know what marketing term to use to describe your novel. If it does not, you will need to do further research in other genres to see if it fits the general theme of the novel. This market research process is time-consuming to go through but it will benefit you in the long run. It will provide you with what is known as a target market. An important part of being an author and in any form of marketing. This is especially true if you are an independent author, all of the extra roles are on your plate.
Depending on the literary piece, your novel may fall under a number of genres opposed to just one. The sub-genres tend to be very specific at times and it can be a challenge to pin your novel down into just one category. If you are uncertain, placing it under one of the primary genres (hint: horror) to keep it under a broad stroke can simplify things. However this does raise the initial point brought up – the masses are quick to jump to stereotypes.
Most book vendor sites like Amazon or Kobo will let you select a couple of genre options anyways, making it easier to decide what the novel fits in. You can also place these genres on the physical copy of the book, often the genres are kept on the back of the cover next to the ISBN.
If you think of your genre as a marketing term, it will make the categorization process more flexible than simply constraining your novel to one type of genre. We are creating works of fiction which makes the stories open for interpretation. You or the readers might feel it fall under a number of genres. Pick the primary genres that have the strongest reflection of the story. This will define what genres your novel falls under.
About Konn Lavery
Konn Lavery is a Canadian horror and dark fantasy writer who is known for his Mental Damnation series. The
second book, Dream, reached the Edmonton Journal’s top five selling fictional books list. He started writing fantasy stories at a very young age while being home schooled. It wasn’t until graduating college that he began professionally pursuing his work with his first release, Reality. Since then he has continued to write works of fiction ranging from fantasy to horror.
His literary work is done in the long hours of the night. By day, Konn runs his own graphic design and website
development business under the title Reveal Design (www.revealdesign.ca). These skills have been transcribed into the formatting and artwork found within his publications supporting his fascination of transmedia storytelling.
Konn Lavery’s website: http://konnlavery.com/
WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME
If you’re reading this, then you did not take the above warning seriously. In that case, you’re probably as stupid as me. I’m Logan, by the way. I didn’t pay attention to any warning signs either. Being an unemployed deadbeat in Edmonton with no family and getting dumped by your girlfriend for her best friend can wear a guy down. All I had was my cokehead buddy, Skip, to cheer me up.
Surprisingly, my precautionary tale was not caused by either Skip or the drugs. Let’s just say a drunken make-out session with a pale girl by a dumpster, who was supposedly pronounced dead earlier in the evening, can leave you mentally jumbled up. A good motivator to figure this scenario out is having robed cultists stalk you, asking where the girl is.
Is this an ill twist of fate? Did I bring this on myself? Is there a reason behind my misfortune? Is the moral to not make out with spooky girls behind dumpsters? Hell if I know…-Goodreads Synopsis of Seed Me by Konn Lavery
See Sci-Fi & Scary’s review | View on Amazon
Lilyn G is the founder of Sci-Fi & Scary, and leader of the Coolthulhu Crew. She does book and film reviews for both genres the site focuses on. Her tastes run towards creature features, hard science fiction, and lots and lots of action. She also has a soft spot for middle-grade fiction that rears its head frequently.
Though no longer involved with Ladies of Horror Fiction due to other responsibilities and a too-full plate, she was one of the original 4 co-founders.
Feel free to chat her up on Twitter as long as you aren’t hitting her up to review your book.
[…] I believe it is problematic to associate horror writers with the surface layer of ‘meaningless’ gore, especially because it is primarily through displays of physical horror itself that these psychoanalytical messages about ourselves and our fears are conveyed. (click here) […]
Thanks again for having me Lilyn! Quite enjoyed sharing some different perspectives of the horror genre.
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