I can’t quote it perfectly, but I once heard Stephen King define horror as the little teenage girl in alone, clutching a knife that she won’t ever get to use. In other words, it’s not James Bond. In a James Bond thriller, we put our capable hero in situations that may be overwhelming – but it’s James Bond! We just wait to see how he gets out of this.
In a horror, we involve characters who are not capable. Or, not capable in comparison with the situation.
I, on the other hand, have never written horror. Suspense, yes – It’s always been the fantasy/adventure for me. If my character doesn’t beat the bad guy, he hasn’t leveled enough yet! (Okay, well not that bad, but close enough.)
I wrote my first scene with Wes with him staring death in the face, completely helpless to it. No heroic bravery involved, just whimpering, empty, choking sense of vulnerability. To me, this was new and amazing! As an author we need to be able to do things to our characters that the reader would never do… and I got to flex some of those muscles. The scene itself may be bad… I wouldn’t know (I’m too close to it, it’s got my fingerprints and scent all over it) but I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an author for writing it. My first real horror scene. Huzzah!