Category Archives: Writing

What is Horror? by Rebecca Besser

What is Horror?

By Rebecca Besser


If you do some research on what horror is, you’ll discover horror is the revulsion one feels when something terrible happens. That it follows terror, which is the anxiety and anticipation of something bad about to happen.

“The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse.” – Devendra Varma in The Gothic Flame (1966).

There are many vehicles in which horror is found: film, literature, art, etc. All of which use a mixture of terror and horror elements.

When people hear the word horror, they generally think about creatures such as vampires, zombies, demons, and other monsters. They also think about blood, pain, misery, and torture – psychological horror. The common denominator in all horror is death.

Death is the most terrifying thing that anyone can face – either their own demise or of someone they care about. Often, even a stranger’s death, seen up close, can impact someone in ways they never dreamed possible; it forces them to face the fact that they will die someday and there is nothing they can do about it.

Death, and what leads to death, scares everyone in some way whether they realize it or not. That’s the base root of all horror. Terror is what we feel leading up to the death we know is coming and horror is what we face when we are toe to toe with death.

What form of death scares you the most? Chances are that’s the kind of horror you like to experience the most, because it gives you that thrill of terror and most satisfying horror moments as it all pans out.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015 & 2017. All rights reserved.


Horror Writing – Housing Demons

We all have darkness inside us. We all have demons spawned from scars on our souls. While most people run from the evidence of brokenness, damage, and pain, horror writers face it. We’ll sit and talk to our demons, daring our minds to push against that barrier inside – that once breached – would lead to our own personal insanity.

But, you have to keep in mind, to have darkness you also have to have light. There are no shadows to hide in if there is not first that light to cast them in their grotesque glory.

Follow my mind and thoughts for a moment… Light casts shadows using objects. The shadows sometimes show the shape of the innocent object, but other times, the shadows are twisted and warped to the point of not being recognizable. That’s where our demons – the ones inside we talk to – want to live. We have to make them a home so we can stay sane for a while longer.

A horror writer is the light, searching for just the right angle to produce the warped and twisted shadows to make you think and wonder. The objects can be anything from people we encounter on a day to day basis or just random thoughts or things we run across.

A horror writer’s job is to face the demons inside and look for the shadows they want to live in. We give them a life outside ourselves in stories – the shadows we create. We give them somewhere to live and breathe so they’ll leave us alone for a time.

That’s what we do…we create the horror and unleash the demons.


©Rebecca Besser, 2013 & 2017. All rights reserved.

Writing – Personal VS Professional

Writing – Personal VS Professional

By Rebecca Besser


Yesterday I posted about having inner peace as a writer and how a writer shouldn’t base their creative worth on book sales (Giving Up – Writing Isn’t An Option).  In no way did I mean by that post that writers shouldn’t get paid and shouldn’t seek to get paid. Because I believe all artists should be paid for their work.

Being paid for your work and book sales are two different things.

An article writer, for instance, gets a flat rate for their work or gets paid a rate per word – this rate of pay has nothing to do with later sales of the publication.

As far as book sales, advances or signing bonuses a writer gets paid for their book are merely royalties paid in advance in the hopes of the publisher making that money back from book sales. A writer makes no more money until the sales of their book have exceeded what they’ve already been paid in advance. Then they receive royalties (a percentage of sales that was agreed upon in their contract).

For writers that self-publish, they hope to get what they put into their book as far as editing and cover cost, etc., back through royalties earned from book sales, because they are author and publisher. This leads to self-published writers getting discouraged easily, because they’re all in and not making their money back when there are little to no sales.

Not placing your value as a creative artist on book sales does not mean that you shouldn’t get paid for the skilled work you do. You can control what you agree to write for as far as advances and per word rate by agreeing to those terms. You cannot predict sales or force anyone to buy your books later or if you self-publish. That’s always a gamble. Many marketing strategies can be tried, but none of them are a guarantee.

You can determine (to an extent) the worth of your work when you agree to terms, but you can never control sales. You can’t base your worth on something you can’t control. You can determine your work’s worth on terms you can negotiate through a paying market/publisher. You have the right to charge for your skill and your time.

Writing is a business once you seek publication through a market where you make money or self-publish a book for which you charge money. And that’s a choice – the choice to be a professional writer. You are choosing to be in the writing business, that you want to be paid for your skill and time.

But there’s another choice…

There are many writers who only ever seek to write for personal reasons. They’ll post on their blog or through non-paying markets, or give their books away for free all the time. That’s “personal” writing. Some make money eventually, once (or if) they get enough attention and someone offers to pay them, but they don’t seek out payment for what they write.

There’s nothing wrong with either option as long as you’re happy. You just need to understand the difference. And respect that people have the right to choose their own path.

The fact that I sought out and now have an agent speaks clearly for the path I’ve chosen. 😉


©Rebecca Besser, 2016. All rights reserved.

Giving Up – Writing Isn’t An Option

Giving Up – Writing Isn’t An Option

By Rebecca Besser


Over the last year or so, I’ve seen posts on social media where many writers I know have been down and have questioned whether they should give up writing. This has mostly come about because of low sales and feeling like they have a lack of fans.

At some point, I think even highly successful writers have wanted to give up – we’ve all heard stories about how Stephen King and other now popular authors had a lot of rejection early on in their careers. So, in actuality, it truly does happen to the best of us. We all have doubt when we try hard and it doesn’t look like we’re gaining anything. That’s simply human nature. We want to be recognized for our hard work, for pouring our souls out to the masses. We want all that time we took from our families and all the effort we put into making our work presentable to mean something. We want acknowledgement that most likely will never come.

After all, writing is easy, isn’t it? Everyone’s going to just write a book someday, right? (Yeah, I hate people who say stuff like that to me. They obviously know nothing about what it takes to actually write a book.)

What most people (who aren’t writers) don’t realize is that if you’re truly a writer giving up is never a real option. And people don’t just become writers one day because they decide to. Writers who are meant to be writers can’t help but write and they can’t give up. Writing is part of who they are. They’re happier when they’re writing than when their doing almost anything else. It goes the same for musicians, painters, and any other type of artist. The need to create, to express themselves through some medium isn’t just about how much their fans love them, it’s about being who they are inside.

Yes, all artists want their work to be appreciated. They all want fans and dream of success. But life doesn’t always work that way.

To be happy as a writer (or any other form of artist) you have to come to some kind of understanding with your inner self. Because you have to know where your creativity comes from and know that not everyone will see and understand what you create takes out of you.

You have to find acceptance and peace within yourself.

Once you do that, you won’t let your value be controlled by other people or sales, or anything else beyond your control. At that point, you can set personal goals for yourself and find success in the things you can control. Feed your goals and your inner self because writing starts with you. After that, it’s all a game of chance.


©Rebecca Besser, 2016. All rights reserved.

Craziness by Rebecca Besser


By Rebecca Besser


Psychological horror is one that has such a broad spectrum that it could be anything from someone who has lost a loved one and simply snapped to someone who has had mental issues all their life that just can’t be controlled.

Slasher horror to serial killers, nervous breakdowns to the mentally ill – what do they all have in common? All stories that fall into the psychological horror genre have something to do with human beings that have gone off the deep end in one way or another, even if they seem sane to themselves.

For this kind of terror, emotions are played up until there are such high stakes that something has to happen in the form of horror relief.

Collateral damage is a guarantee in all psychological horror. Family members of the targeted aren’t safe. Friends of the targeted aren’t safe. No one close to the targeted is safe.

There can be a lot of blood involved with psychological horror, but there doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it’s the buildup of a mystery, such as a kidnapping villain who kills there victims and only the bodies are found later. Or a stalker who just doesn’t understand limits and personal space that ends up killing someone they think they care about accidentally.

Why is this stuff scary? Because we realize it’s most likely the stuff that can actually happen to everyday people. It could happen to us, even if we try to prevent it.

Psychological horror involves that strange guy down the street in a neighborhood where kids are disappearing. It’s where the crazy guy at work snaps and blames his co-workers for all his troubles. It’s anyone. It’s random. It happens every day in the real world.

What’s going to stop it from happening to you or me? There’s no way of knowing. Chances are, at some point in life, something scary and tragic will happen in our lives or of those we know. It’s inevitable.

Psychological horror is real terror. Psychological horror is what plagues your thoughts every time your child is out of your sight, when your family leaves your house in the morning and you wonder if you’ll see them again, and it’s the fear you feel when you’re out after dark and you hear a strange noise behind you. It’s inside you. You are scared something is going to happen, or someone will step into your life and cause your death or the death of someone you care about.

Be safe, my friends, and enjoy horror entertainment while hoping none of it ever happens to you!

©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.

Bloody Hell by Rebecca Besser

Bloody Hell

By Rebecca Besser


Supernatural evil is a prominent element in a lot of horror entertainment. Demons and disgruntled ghosts are unsettling, and they’re great for building the tension of terror before the horror really kicks in and the collateral damage begins. There’s something intimately frightening about something that can literally possess one’s body and displace their soul.

It would be like being dead without really dying. And, if that’s not bad enough, you’ll usually end up dead. (Again, it’s all about death.)

Even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, Hell, Satan/Lucifer, or even God, there is always the implication that you can be possessed by strong evil spirits. This is brought about in many tragic and simplistic ways. From early supernatural horror, we know not to play with Quija boards; that’s almost always how the possessions or unsettling of evil spirts happened back in the day.

Now it’s getting raped by strange plants or looking at writing on a wall that allows the takeover of one’s body.

Sometimes the exercising of the demon(s) is farfetched and complex. Sometimes it’s simple and straight forward.

Ghosts that can control their surroundings, such as haunted houses are equally as creepy as personal possession. There’s no escape because it’s in your personal space. There’s nowhere to go, and often there are few you can turn to for help, and even then, dispelling the entity from your life can be complex.

The supernatural/demon elements are costly to the lives and emotions of their victims. They are elements far beyond control and understanding that can wreak havoc on anyone and everything they touch.

They are intense beyond words in terror and horror. There’s nothing scarier that something reaching from beyond the grave to mess with the living, is there? They make death that much scary, knowing there are dark things there we might have to face in the afterlife.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.

Immortality by Rebecca Besser


By Rebecca Besser


Remember that fear of death I was talking about? What if you didn’t have to face it…ever? That’s the main draw of vampires (in my opinion). Who wouldn’t want to live forever? ME! But, there’s a catch… You have to kill to stay alive; it’s not an eternity for everyone.

To be a vampire, you have to be willing to truly leave humanity behind. You have to be willing to see humans as your food. They are no longer your family. They are no longer your friends. You will either kill them to get the sustenance you need, or they will die from being human over time. The only exemption to this fate would be if they were too turned into a vampire.

Although the allure of vampirism will always be there, because the idea of having all the time in the world to travel, learn, and explore will never grow undesirable. Everyone wants that free pass that keeps them from having to face death (death thing AGAIN!). But, in a way, they do have to face death. They watch generations pass away and new ones rise up (not to mention at every meal). I imagine it would be like having babies over and over again as you watch each generation try to learn and apply what the previous generation has mastered. That could get tedious.

Vampires were all the rage for a while, but not in their pure state. They were popular in a watered down version of “people friendly” vampires in literature/movies in the Twilight version.

This disgusted most people who had been fans of vampires forever (like me). Gone were the glory days of Blade, Interview with a Vampire, and From Dusk Till Dawn. Gone were the days where vampires were classy, killing death machines that didn’t apologize for being kickass!

Now, after the spotlight was pointed at the “soft” vampires, the popularity and demand for anything vampire has gone way down.

I, personally, would love to see a strong, true, violent uprising of something new in the vampire world. Unfortunately, that will be hard to pull off, especially since the horror creature of desire is now the zombie. And even zombies are being watered down into “people friendly” niceness.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.