You know, when I was a kid It was the scariest thing ever. He was a clown, he had weird teeth, he was able to come up from drains, and more than that, he would laugh. Today, I came to share with you my thoughts about humor in horror stories. There’s this question of whether or not it should be totally scary or have features of comedy in it? Allow me to break down the woes of writing a scary story for you.
Horror stories are sometimes hard to write because you don’t know what will make your reader afraid. You hope that the ghost in the closet watching the kid sleep is enough, but there are some tough cookies out there that will rationalize with themselves and then roll back over. As a writer, your aim is to make your reader afraid.
You hope that whoever picked up your novel wants to be scared to death and will recommend it to all of their friends. But, there are different levels of scariness and suspense that can happen in a story, depending on your audience you have to find which one to bang the nail on the head with the perfect hammer in the best way possible.
But what happens when we want to add comedy to a horror story?
Adding comedy to a horror story isn’t totally bad, in fact, there’s such a thing known as “graveyard humor” where a person will try to laugh their fears away in a tight situation. They may look at a headstone and say to themselves, “Oh, that’s nothing but a piece of marble” when in fact they are afraid of just who may be resting under it.
To every writer writing horror, use as much humor as you possibly can. Make the monster funny in what he does and how he tricks those that he’s preying on. Create humor in the stupid mistakes that the person afraid makes. We all know the cliche arc of the blind who always falls in the middle of running away.
But more than that, use humor to give your reader a break. If the entire story is built on the basis of tension and not enough realistic moments of introspection then the reader won’t remain interested in what they’re reading. For some reason, they will no longer find your book serious enough to follow along and stop reading halfway through. And, as a writer, you’ve desensitized them.
You can use humor to separate scenes of gore with scenes of daily life. What’s scarier than going to work and not knowing if the clown will pop up in the mirror? Or, your main character is always on edge because they don’t know if they’ll see the thing in their car. That will keep your readers interested because your element of surprise isn’t predictable.
Will I personally ever write horror? Probably not, I find things that are dystopian in nature more fearful just because there’s a potential for it to happen in reality. But hey, we all have the things that make us cringe. If you’re a writer and you describe to me creepy things in weird places I’ll definitely shriek a little on the inside.
So, what’s my take on all of this? The more hysterical the novel the scarier it might actually be to your reader.