Fright, as defined by a dictionary, is fear caused by sudden danger…
It sounds so odd when defined like that. Still, it is fear that sits at the core…
We have all felt it; fear, fright, horror. Often, we like it; when we watch horror flicks, read horror novels, or survive a near miss, but how is that fear; the essence captured. How can one portray it? Is it truly possible to write something that straight up scares someone?
When I was a kid I saw Pumpkin Head (1988) and it scared the crap out of me; like…I was so scared I did not want to be alone, and forget going to bed; the icy waves inside my stomach, my throat tightening, fighting to keep the tears back, shutting my eyes as tight as possible and repeating he’s not real, he’s not real, in my head. Boy, thinking about that fear brings back lots of memories, but it was from something I saw-and as a kid when it was tough to distinguish fantasy from reality-not something I read, or heard.
Is fear, then, more of a sight based emotion? Is it an emotion? ‘Cause I can totally write something that will make you cry, or flare in anger, or crack up laughing; the emotions being sad, angry, and happy, but fear is not an emotion so much as a state of being…adrenal glands pump, parts of the brain shut down, blood flow is altered, all in an attempt to keep us alive (whether by running like the dickens or fighting like the drunken Irish).
I think that fear can only come by sight…and maybe sound, because sounds can be threatening. Matter of fact, some sounds are in existence for that purpose; a wolf growl. I also think that while words can be frightening, they must be heard, and it is the person’s tone-the person speaking-that incites fear, and so it doesn’t even matter if they speak our language. If some gruff looking dude sidles up, places his bristly lips to your eyes, and speaks some staccato language in a firm tone, you don’t need to understand the words to be afraid.
So, I ask all you out there, have you ever read anything frightening? What was it? I know there are suspense novels and gore novels, but no book is actually scary, right? Excepting maybe the Necronomicon from Army of Darkness (1992) ….man that one that flew and bit him? That was a scary ass book.