12 Elements of Horror Genre

The horror is a genre of literature that consists of narration, usually brief, which seeks to generate feelings and sensations of fear, suspense, anguish in the reader through supernatural, fantastic or imaginary situations. Actually, they do not have a specific model, so it is carried out in different ways, but its purpose is always the same, to cause terror in their readers. Some of the recurring motifs that appear in horror stories are: supernatural creatures, murder, rape, robbery, demonic or religious, magical elements, justice, revenge plots, ghosts, among others. Here we have for you 12 Elements of Horror Genre.

Examples of horror stories

  • “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs.
  • “The Black Cat”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • “House Taken Over”, by Julio Cortázar.
  • “The Dunwich Horror”, “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, by Lovecraft.
  • “The Horla” and “The Night” by Guy de Maupassant.
  • “The Cemetery Rats” by Henry Kuttner.
  • “The Country Doctor”, by Kafka.
  • “The Spectrum”, “The feather pillow” by Horacio Quiroga.
  • “A Sacred Terror”, “The Boarded-up Window”, by Ambrose Bierce.
  • “The Merry Corner”, by Henry James.

Next, we will show you several characteristics of the horror story that you should take into account.

Characteristics of the horror story

Horror Genre

To get the attention of readers and attract publishers, writers of this genre it is important to take into account the following characteristics:

  1. Its main objective is to generate a climate of suspense, horror, expectations, which produce certain uneasiness and mystery in the readers.
  2. It presents a combination of problems and uneasiness in the face of events, decisions, news, revelations or outcomes that are considered of great relevance.
  3. It generates an emotional, physical and psychological response in the reader, in other words., the person reacts with pain, fear, and so. 
  4. Create a very specific environment in order to provoke fear. The environment, the climate, the space, the atmosphere, plays a necessary role in every horror story.
  5. In the short story, terror or suspense can be built by three fundamental pillars:
    • Characters: They can be real or imaginary, and they are responsible for the action
    • Action: It is usually distributed around the suspense caused by the distressing, astonishing, sinister facts that happen at a certain moment and environment, bringing as a consequence a revealing ending.
    • Narrator: Every horror story has a specific narrator, that is, the voice that tells the story. The narrator can be the protagonist, a witness or simply a person who tells the story. Certain narrators tend to exceed details in terms of some revealing elements or descriptions, generating expectations or nervousness.
  6. The characters can be unreal figures (mummies, ghosts, vampires, monsters, haunted, among others) or characters with real situations (serial killers).
Horror Genre
  1. Characters should be as believable as possible, it is not good for them to act like superheroes.
  2. The story is made up of three parts: the beginning, the development and the denouement.
  3. The need to increase the tension and mystery as the story unfolds. The information provided to the reader is fundamental, so that he/she will remain involved with the plot. At the same time, a significant part is left out so as not to reveal the mystery of the plot.
  4. The horror story must be short. If it is too long, the essence and meaning is lost.
  5. It is important to summarize in horror stories. A very long description may cause the reader not to continue with the story and lose interest completely.
  6. The horror story often responds to popular or local traditions, linked to cultural or religious values of the region. They have developed practically all over the world.


Horror Genre

The horror story is considered a subgenre of the narrative or fantasy genre, which captivates all types of readers, children and adults. At the moment of reading the story, it is important to create a special atmosphere, at the moment of the reading, it is possible to generate conditions of uneasiness, fear and mystery.

The writers of this type of stories like to play with tension, since it is important, due to the fact that the moments of greater tension in the narration are mixed with others where the climax of the story decreases a little.

Dare to read horror stories, alone or with your friends! It will be a great experience.

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