Writing a novel: Horror vs Spooky

To the point: my current WIP required serious questioning about genre. The story I have in mind could fit in three YA sub-categories. What’s a writer to do, but research and try to find a good answer?
Here’s the result of my research about Horror vs Spooky (Spooky is not a literary genres nor a sub-genre or categories of novels per say, but I like it; I like the definition I came up with anyway. I hope it make sense…).


A spooky novel is, in my humble opinion, a story where tolerable fears, scary clowns and zombie baby-sitters are conquered at the end.
Spooky novels are scary in a way, but the hero saves the day and blood is spared… more or less.
Best example of what is a spooky story in my mind is not with a book, but with the tv show « Stranger things« . Spooky, thrilling, awesome. But after binge watching it, I wasn’t scared. I was over excited and I wanted to watch it again. And again.

I do like Spooky stories. I like spooky elements spread out in a good adventure/mystery novel even more.


On the other end, Horror novels, Horror stories is the pinnacle. Horror goes beyond fear itself. You don’t go back to horror, simply because horror haunts you. It makes you feel uneasy period, even unsafe in your own bathroom at night. Heck, during the day too.

Horror digs deep into our most profound fears as human being; and successfully make things way, way worst.
In a horror novels, nobody needs to tell the reader « things are pretty scary now, aren’t they? » Horror is there, in the words, behind that slowly moving door-nob, on the shoulder of the little moaning thing the character is approaching slow-ly.

Last note for Horror novels

I can’t write horror novels. Impossible. The urban legends I heard back when I was a kid still haunts me to this day (ridiculous, I know, I know).

And if I were to write an horror novel, I wouldn’t actually pitch it as a horror novel. Because the genre in itself is not doing super well.

In his thorough blog post, author Chuck Wendig talks about the dead of the straight off horror novel sections in bookstore and even in the indie market.

Things tend to go dark instead. Dark mystery, dark suspense, dark thriller…

Same goes for many genres. The only trick here is to read a lot and to keep writing!

I hope this post helped clarified a thing or two about the differences between spooky novels and horror novels. Until next time !

Auteur : Marie Alice

Writing away and reading books. Joy! Écrire à tout vent et lire des romans. Joie!

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