Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sex and Horror

There's been an interesting thread on horror on the Erotica Readers and Writer's Association writer's list today. What frightens people is different, although many people, myself included, chimed in that what people are capable of is scarier than anything a paranormal creature does. At least we can be reasonably sure that demons and devils won't affect our lives, but we're surrounded by people.

No one got into the topic that I would have liked to have pursued, and that's how
closely aligned horror and sex writing is. There is erotic horror, of course, but I mean in a broader sense. As genres, both horror and erotica bypass the logical part of your brain and aim forthe primitive core. Both manipulate (I don't mean that word in the worst sense) readers into feeling something. You could argue that romance does too (my favorite description of romance is "emotional porn") but love, despite all the lofty words spoken about it, is a luxury item in the emotional hierarchy. Strip away the thin veneer of society, and what remains as motivators are fear and sex.

The primary tools of horror and erotica writers are similar. Horror and erotica stories are rich in sensory language. I can't think of other genres that invest as much time describing texture, color, sound, flavor, etc. I guess the difference is that horror wants the chill to run up your spine to your brain, where erotica wants that chill to run down your spine to your genitals as well as zinging your brain.

I'll be interested to see what else writers on that list have to say about
horror. I wonder if they can pinpoint what made the stories scary. It's
wonderful insight into the emotional buttons a writer can push. The difference
being, I suppose, in how you stroke those buttons.

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