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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Matter of Semantics...

I've often though we 'horror' writers have been misnamed: I believe, and I think, for good reason, we should be termed 'terror' writers. Let me explain:
Imagine you're driving along a narrow, winding highway and come across a crash-site. A huge semi is on its side, the driver quite okay, but the three teenage passengers and the teenage driver of the other vehicle, a Mini Minor, are not. The driver has been decapitated, and his head, sitting on the dash just in front of the steering-wheel, is the first thing you see. In this instance, I believe the feeling that comes over you is one of horror: a sense of fear, but heavily tainted by a turning of the stomach.
Now imagine you're the driver of the Mini Minor six seconds before the impact, and you know you cannot possibly avoid what is about to happen. Do you feel horror...or terror?
I think the answer is terror - sheer, unadulterated fear.
If my semantics are right, therefore, then we should be called 'terror' writers, as I, for one, certainly don't want to upset the stomachs of my readers, or they might not return for a second bite of my work! And I don't think any other writer of the 'fearsome' would want his/her readers feeling queazy, either.
That having been said, and out of the way (I hope), let me now say how happy I am to find a publisher who doesn't begin and end their contact with a writer at the 'sign here and you'll see your book published in due course' point. The constant flow of contact from Rebecca via emails and the daily Pb flow from the yahoo.com site make this quite clear. Quite frankly, it's beaut, mate (yup! I'm from that place far to the south of the United States, but I hope you won't hold that against me).
And now that I've figured out how to get a post onto our Blogger site, I'll clear out again, before I click on something that ain't meant to be clicked on, and wait for my next turn to come around
Adrian Scott  


  1. Adrian- I, too, prefer to think of my tales in the genre as 'terror' rather than 'horror,' although I use the latter term in promotions since it has become sort of the umbrella. I like to think of the distinctions drawn in Stephen King's excellent nonfiction book on the genre, Danse Macabre... in short, that terror is the moments in which you know a monster is there, and horror is the actual moment you see the monster. The former, especially when done right, can be far scarier than the latter. That's why, to me at least, the older versions of various "haunted house" movies (such as The Haunting), with their shadows and eerie noises, are much more effective than the modern CGI-laden remakes, that are too concerned with what cool things they can show you and lose sight of the power of the unseen.

  2. Hey Adrian, that's a great analogy! I never thought about it like that, but it's very true. I'm crazy about Rebecca, too--she's wonderful. So glad you figured out the blog and I look forward to seeing you around.

  3. Adrian,
    I love working with Rebecca, too. I'm so happy I met her online through the yahoo groups. 'Terror' vs. Horror.-
    I like your comparison and so true.

    I agree, shadows and eerie noises are much more effective. The 'not knowing' what waits in the shadows is the suspenseful thrill of the story.


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