Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ghost Stories vs. Horror Stories

Two many people confuse these two types of stories. Often they are thought of as being the same, they are not.

Hamlet and the ghost of his father.
Henry Fuseli
One reason for this confusion is both these types of stories are scary. * Another is that fact that horror stories often use ghosts, just like they use vampires or monsters to feed on people’s fears and anxieties.

But this is where the similarity ends.

Today’s horror story goes for the next scare. Whether through the use of violence, or guts and gore, this is meant to startle and then startle again.

Ghost stories, in contrast, are much more subtle. If any form of violence is presented, it is mild in comparison to the horror genre.

The fear caused by a ghost story often doesn’t come all at once, and sometimes not even until the reader finishes the story.

Horror stories often end badly, but the problem is usually resolved. Ghost stories in contrast often end with no explanation or the story left unresolved.

In a horror story, the characters are just trying to survive a threat that is presented.

In ghost stories, the haunted are often scared or even terrified, but because of their own perceptions and not because the ghost, in reality, is a threat.

This does not mean the ghost genre is not as scary as the horror genre-- the opposite of this is often true.

Because ghost stories are subtle, they play more effectively upon the reader’s own fears. This fear expressly placed in the reader’s mind –leaves it to their own imagination—this is always scarier than an outside threat. 

The horror genre used to also use this genius device as well, but not as often today.

* Not all ghost stories are meant to be scary some are witty or are morality plays, etc.

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