Thursday, February 14, 2013

Horror and Love Stories?

How is it that I enjoy:

"Shirtless and stretched over his guitar, Gavin scribbled some notes on a page lying on the coffee table before him. His tattoos cast a vague blue hue under the weak light penetrating the windows. The sexy as hell bed head got her heart chugging. To think she had a hand in taming that wild hair into something a tad softer. She beamed.

His tanned toes spread and dug into the carpet, gripping its short nap. With his navy cargo shorts bunched just above his knees, which were bent at a perfect right angle, he looked pensive. Vulnerable. Here was the Gavin Cassidy no one else knew. Not the rock star or Sentinel. Her Gavin.

He dropped the pencil on the table and snapped the guitar pick from his lips as the digits on his left hand found their places along the frets. Strumming with his right, he closed his eyes. His fingers worked their magic. His face remained placid through the poignant melody" 

as well as

"The man with black hair leaned down towards him again, holding the axe blade before him as if measuring the center of his breath. The moonlight played upon the blade of the axe, reflecting light up upon his grim countenance. Charlie saw the face of death and it was horrible to behold. His heart stopped in his dream, his eyes locked with his maker who was Caleb, who raised the axe high above his head in the cruel moonlight.

For an instant, time ceased its merciless infinite countdown, and then the blood came in torrents. A deluge and the dream drowned and everything became nothing, but slow dark peace, much like sleep".

The first passage is from "Just Breathe" by Kendall Grey, a beautiful story about love and friendship and courage. I fell in love with Zoe and Gavin, they are beautiful characters.  There are passages throughout the book that are similar to the one above.  Passages that describe their deep love for each other.

The second passage is from "Blood Related" by William Cook, a horror story about a family of serial killers. I have not finished this book yet, I will this weekend. It has many passages like the one above as well as many passages that are very graphic - blood and gore, evil.  

Two very different stories with completely different tones. One is a love story and one is a bloody horror story. But I enjoy both immensely.  Why is that? How can I enjoy the gentle beauty of "Just Breathe" and the raw evil of "Blood Related"?

I enjoy anything that is written well. That's a very subjective statement, I know. But I enjoy anything that pulls me inside the characters heart and head. I enjoy horror such as "Blood Related" because although there is a great deal of blood and graphic violence, the reader knows the person, the madness behind it. 

In "Blood Related" we aren't witnesses to senseless acts of violence.  We are in the mind of the person committing these acts.  Yes, it's a mad mind but we are in there.  We know the history of the person committing the acts. We feel sorry for that person on some level. It is a very damaged person that commits such acts and we are intimate with that damage.

I'll shut up about "Blood Related" for now since I will be posting a review in the next few days.  But there are many very well written horror books. One of my first addictions was Stephen King - an obsession I still have, one of the writing gods in my opinion. I devoured Stephen King as a teenager. My parents didn't understand. Even then I read Stephen King as well as Anne of Green Gables. What kind of sense did that make?

I didn't read Stephen King for the blood and gore. I read it because the mind of the perpetrator fascinated me.  It still does. Just as Kendall Grey keeps me reading as I follow Zoe's thoughts and emotions as they relate to Gavin so William Cook keeps me reading as I follow the thoughts of the twisted mind of Caleb Cunningham. I want to see where the thoughts and emotions of both characters take them, and me. 

That is what I consider good writing. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a formula to follow? Write x number of words about the environment, y number of words about the main character's background, z number of words about the action, etc. But it doesn't work that way.  There would be no magic to writing if there were such a formula. 

Great writing is a skill.  And it absolutely is magic. It doesn't matter the genre.  It can be horror, romance, science fiction or any other genre.  There are many technical aspects that come into play with great writing as well.  But the best stuff takes us out of our own heads and into someone else's head. We become intimate with their thoughts and emotions. We want to travel the path of their thoughts and emotions. We can't wait to see what's around the corner. There is no formula for that.  There is talent and hard work.     

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