In “Dark Wisdom,” we seek writing and/or publishing advice from the horror fiction masters making up Denver Horror Collective’s Advisory Council.
For this installment, we harass Sam W. Anderson, author of over forty published short stories and collaborative novels, and two short-story collections.
What’s the difference between horror and thriller fiction?
SAM W. ANDERSON: This is a question that I could answer in two words or a twenty-page doctoral thesis. I’ll circle back to the two-word answer in a bit…after my shortened thesis.
First, to the question, though. A guideline, so general that “guideline” stretches the credulity of the term, is that horror has the bad guy chasing the good guy (until the inevitable turn where they confront each other). The climax occurs with the evil being defeated or faced. Also, the more supernatural elements introduced tends to push a story more toward the horror side of the ledger.
In a thriller the good guy pursues the bad(der) guy. The climax tends to be the evil being unveiled. The more psychological the plot, the likelier it’s to fall under the thriller column.