Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ordinary Horrors

What makes a good horror story? Do they all have to be about vampires, zombies, or things that go bump in the night?

Of course not, though a lot of my favorites are. But horror can be even more frightening when it’s about the real things that we fear.

Good topics for horror can include true phobias (like the fear of spiders) or smaller things, things that make us uneasy, exaggerated and made larger than life (like giant cockroaches) or sprinkled throughout the main novel to create a feeling of unease (crows and cornfields are common "unsettling elements" in Stephen King novels).

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with water. I love it in fountains and to sit by it on a lazy afternoon. But the very thought of getting on a boat and cruising out to the middle of a lake, with the shores grey in the distance, petrifies me. So a movie about two people shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean can cause my heart to race. Throw in something unknown lurking in the depths and you know you'll have me hooked.

One of my irrational fears (ridiculous, actually) is of steel wool. Don't ask me how it happened, but I've developed a complete aversion to it. I can't stand the way it looks, all curly and metallic, two adjectives that usually don't (and shouldn't) go together. Maybe I should create a metal-monster covered in curly "fur?" Nope. Couldn't even write it. It's even worse when the steel wool is wet, with those beads of water glistening in the metal curls and the metallic smell (blood?) in the air. How about a metal-monster covered in curly metallic "fur" stalking the hero in the rain. I'm shaking already.

So what's your phobia? What ordinary horror could make you afraid to turn the page?

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