I don’t remember why this first crossed my mind, but the other day, I was thinking about “Game of Thrones” (which is getting its own post soon) and I remembered reading somewhere about George R.R. Martin’s infamous Red Wedding.
While the show’s treatment of the Red Wedding was visually shocking but emotionally lacking (again… its own post), the book’s scene is actually terrifying because its so unnerving, and apparently this is due to Martin’s experience as a horror writer. He knows how to draw out tension, how to set a normal scene but leave just one element askew enough to let in something truly terrible.
In thinking about horror, I came to the realization that wait a minute… doesn’t a substantial portion of the horror genre overlap with sci-fi/fantasy? And if so, how do the conventions of horror-writing overlap and interact with the world-building elements of sci-fi/fantasy?
The first thing I immediately thought about was the creature feature: the introduction of beings completely out of our world. They are inherently a supernatural element, and while that might be the focus of a sci-fi/fantasy narrative, within horror as a genre, they are the catalyst variable, to be dramatically integrated into the story and to spur the story forward and onward.
But wait, should there actually be a difference between genre distinctions, when we’re really just cataloguing one cross-genre motif? In Vladimir Propp’s “Morphology of the Folk Tale,” Propp takes on the considerable task of mapping out Western/Russian fairy tales by structural narrative choices, and motifs just move within those choices, which can take the form of actions, counter-actions, promises, etc. Of course, these motifs are only moving within the genre — but to which genre would the creature feature owe more to, its fantastical origins or its narrative unfolding?
To which I say, for now: /long shrug/