Perspectives on the Horror Genre

horror-genreThis morning, I reflected on writing in the horror genre.  In reviewing my 2013 writing accomplishments, successes, disappointments, and obstacles, I re-visited the fact that while I like to write horror, I don’t sell it as well as I do more speculative fiction pieces.

Over the holiday break, I read a few blog posts (Should Horror Be Its Own Genre? and What is Horror Fiction? and Horror: a genre doomed to literary hell?) about why ‘horror’ isn’t a genre and is struggling to maintain its hold in fiction, which got me thinking about the preferences of most writing markets out there today.  It seems that straight horror is a tougher sell and often frowned upon.  Slasher and gore stories are much in part to blame, along with cliché and/or empty, characterless plots, but at the same time, I don’t know very many people who don’t like to be scared.  People love it.  Even though horror is an emotion, and therefore lacks the concrete elements that make up other genres, it’s still a defining element, isn’t it?

With submissions, especially using Duotrope, markets are usually listed by the subgenres they publish, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror usually being the main three of fiction, but I find with these markets, some kind of mash-up between two or three of the genres in a story will have a greater success than straight horror alone, and that’s somewhat understandable since mixing genres tends to produce more creative work.  But what about the richness of a story embodying one a specific genre?  If done right, it’s a big slice of awesomeness, and that may be the challenge too.

I love to write straight-up horror, though lately, I can’t seem to sell those stories.  I’ll hold on to them, maybe the market will change or maybe I’ll self-publish them.  In the meantime, to keep myself alive online, I write fantasy/speculative stories with a dark slant, which is what I tend to sell the most of.  Is it because I’m better at writing blended stories over straight horror or is it the trends of the writing market today?

Nevertheless, from time to time, my pen still wants to stray back to horror, and for my own personal, self-indulgence, I usually let it.  I’m wondering if I’m not alone in this opinion.  Do you find it harder to sell stories embodying one specific genre (like horror, or maybe sci-fi) compared to stories that blend genres?

2 thoughts on “Perspectives on the Horror Genre”

  1. I’ve noticed the “straight-up horror” publications dwindling on the Grinder. You’re right — most seem to publish cross-overs. I probably write/sell more dark spec-fic too.


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