Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Horror Series

One thing I keep hearing from people is that I need to write a series. That's where the real money in writing is at. While I do plan to dip my toes into Fantasy or more into Sci-Fi at some point, my preference is still Horror. And in Horror, it's very, very difficult to do series.

There are some very good reasons for that. To start, a series is about the continuing experiences of a specific character or group of characters. Occasionally, you will find a series which revolves around different characters in the same world, but those are infrequent at best, and questionable in their success. So in a series, you need to have a set world, with set characters.

Then you have Horror. Horror is all about tension. It's about caring about the characters you read about, hoping they survive the monsters they have to face. It's about people experiencing Hell, and whether they come out the other side in one piece, as better or worse people, or even if they come out the other side at all.

Now, if you think about it for a moment, it should be easy. After all, obviously if a series is working, it means we care about the characters, right? We want to read more and more about them and their interactions with the events and environments around them. What makes it difficult, is that if you have a series with set characters, than no matter what happens, it's hard to make them feel like they're in real danger, because if something happens to them, BOOM, no more series. So, that kills a lot of the chances for tension in a Horror series. Especially if you happen to know there's more books after the one you're reading.

Of course, there's nothing saying it CAN'T be done. It's just very, very hard to do properly. And it tends to upset people. Just ask any fan of The Walking Dead.

This is just about the only Horror series I can think of with success. You have a group of characters having continuous experiences in a set world. They manage to keep the tension high through the constant threat of the dead, as well as the machinations of the living. And also because NOBODY is assured an appearance in the next episode, let alone the next season. The Walking Dead takes full advantage of there being a group of characters by being completely willing to kill people off. Even characters which are loved and that you would normally expect to survive. Which usually creates a bit of an uproar, as people don't really care for getting attached to a fictional character only to have their head blown off (or bitten).

Of course, The Walking Dead isn't the only series. The X-Files, has several Horror themes running through it, in spite of having a large portion of episodes having a lean more towards Sci-Fi and/or even Comedy. Even though we never really felt concerned for Mulder and Scully, there were times we weren't sure. Both of them disappeared for whole episodes at a time for various reasons throughout the series. Mulder was even gone for almost a full season later in the show's run.

So a Horror Series is certainly doable. It takes some real skill to pull off successfully though, and not a small amount of risk. After all, if you plan out and work on a whole series and it doesn't catch, that's a lot of work, not quite down the drain, but for a meager return and a lot of writers just don't have the time and resources to spend on such a major undertaking.

Still, maybe some people will be happy to take up the challenge. There is certainly a lot of room, and no small amount of call for it. Might even have a go at it myself someday.

Did I miss any good Horror series?

~ Shaun

No comments:

Post a Comment