When does a ghost story become horror?

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cottonbritches
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When does a ghost story become horror?

Post by cottonbritches » March 12th, 2010, 6:49 pm

I'm writing a mystery, but the killing is done by a vindictive ghost. In terms of genre, is this a "mystery" or "horror" novel?

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: When does a ghost story become horror?

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 12th, 2010, 6:55 pm

Without knowing more about the book I think it's tough to say anything other than "it depends."

Although I will say, if there IS a paranormal element it usually moves into paranormal/urban fantasy/horror. Mystery is more of a real-world kind of place.

cottonbritches
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Re: When does a ghost story become horror?

Post by cottonbritches » March 12th, 2010, 7:01 pm

Mystery is more of a real-world kind of place.[/quote]

Thanks. That makes sense.

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JustineDell
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Re: When does a ghost story become horror?

Post by JustineDell » March 12th, 2010, 7:22 pm

cottonbritches wrote:Mystery is more of a real-world kind of place.
Thanks. That makes sense.[/quote]

This doesn't have anything to do with your question, I just wanted to say that I love your forum name. My dad used to call me "Little Britches" when I was younger, so when I saw yours, I laughed.

~JD

http://www.justine-dell.blogspot.com/

"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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polymath
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Re: When does a ghost story become horror?

Post by polymath » March 12th, 2010, 10:01 pm

Horror conventions broadly include visceral experiences, you know, blood and gore. Psychological horror more narrowly includes mental-emotional experiences, depicting not so much blood and gore, instead relying on other primal and spiritual and supernatural fears. Ghost stories are frequently of the psychological horror kind.
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aspiring_x
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Re: When does a ghost story become horror?

Post by aspiring_x » March 13th, 2010, 9:58 pm

polymath wrote:Horror conventions broadly include visceral experiences, you know, blood and gore. Psychological horror more narrowly includes mental-emotional experiences, depicting not so much blood and gore, instead relying on other primal and spiritual and supernatural fears. Ghost stories are frequently of the psychological horror kind.
ok, this is extremely helpful, but what if the ghost ends up being good in the end. The experiences with it along the way are scary, but in the end, it's not really malevolent. Is it still psychological horror because of the journey of the story?

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polymath
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Re: When does a ghost story become horror?

Post by polymath » March 13th, 2010, 11:03 pm

aspiring_x wrote:ok, this is extremely helpful, but what if the ghost ends up being good in the end. The experiences with it along the way are scary, but in the end, it's not really malevolent. Is it still psychological horror because of the journey of the story?
The journey might be psychological horror. The transformation of a viewpoint character from the discovery of the ghost's harmlessness in the resolution, though, might be inspirational. Either way, psychological horror doesn't need to be an overarching category for a story. Psychological horror is a tension-driving element from empathy generated by fear and pity for a character's psychological dilemma. A personal change of perspective toward the ghost suggests to me it might also be a character genre story.

Who's changed? The ghost or the viewpoint character? Seems to me a viewpoint character being haunted experiences a change due to a revelation that the ghost isn't as bad or as scary as originally thought. Or does the ghost experience a transformation as well? If either transformation is unexpected, they could be interesting reversals, especially if they're artfully delayed revelations revealed as part of a resolving crisis.

If either or both transformations are foreshadowed (prepositioned), they could also drive tension through dramatic irony. The audience knows somethings about the ghost the viewpoint character doesn't know and knows somethings the ghost doesn't know about the viewpoint character. When all is revealed, a satisfying resolution of tension occurs.
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aspiring_x
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Re: When does a ghost story become horror?

Post by aspiring_x » March 13th, 2010, 11:08 pm

polymath,
you rock my socks!
thank you so much, you are a wealth of information!
now if i emphasize this, and add a touch of foreshadowing...

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