As each new creative writing class started this year, I revisited the topics most challenging to teach. The two genres pushing me to my teaching edge are comedy and horror. What makes a person laugh and what makes a person shriek is personal, tied to the alchemy that spawned the individual. Therefore teaching writers to create comedy and horror for others requires teaching a little about self and a little about what might be considered universally funny or scary.
My love for Supernatural has allowed me to experience some of the most common horror tropes and techniques. Watching the show has also given me fresh perspective on how writers might tap into human fears. As I’ve studied the horror genre, thinking about how to teach it and certainly thinking about how to write it, I’ve noticed how broad the genre is and how flexible. Horror is much more like scifi and fantasy than I’d previously thought.
It might be that learning the techniques to create fear in a character are just as important as learning the techniques to create desire or love in a character. No matter the genre, readers want to go on a journey with the characters. Hooking readers in with a wide range of emotions makes the travel time that much more engaging.