The Elements of a Good Horror Story as Exemplified in Frankenstein.

Essay by kimmygirl1232Junior High, 8th gradeA+, February 2004

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I believe the criteria for a good horror story is very diverse. A high quality horror story is realistic, and makes the reader believe that what is happening in the story could happen to them. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, explains how Victor Frankenstein, a student at Ingolstadt (28), grasps the idea of being capable of bestowing life upon an inanimate object (37). This novel is not an impractical vampire or alien story. It is a reasonable happening. Using the intelligence Frankenstein had acquired from books, his father, and M. Waldman, it is very possible that he could have created a human being from dead matter. I also believe a good horror story includes some type of murder or desolation, which needs to be presented in a comprehensive manner. If a book describes these terrible scenes with great detail, the reader will be much more frightened. When a novel can form pictures in its reader's mind, I consider it a successful story.

If a story is describing a murder, and the reader can visualize this scene in his/her mind, it would be very chilling. Saying that "someone was murdered" is not enough detail. This makes for an ineffective book. Another example might be if a book were to explain how the murderer slowly revealed the pistol from his pocket, while his victim waited completely unaware of her depressing fate. He would then stick the weapon to her back and pull the trigger, an immediate pool of blood forming on the floor. This would make for a much more interesting and attention-grabbing tale. These were a few of my ideas that I would add to the list of criteria for a good horror story.

Along with my own thoughts, I also agree with the criteria listed on the

Culminating Activity sheet. "Draws on our disgust" is a very important element of an effective horror story. A novel describing the monster as a fluffy bunny rabbit would not be very horrifying. A monster with yellow skin, watery eyes, black lips, and a shriveled complexion would be disgusting and fearsome (42). "Describes a foe who is cruel/uncontrollable" is another important factor in a good horror story. From my perspective, things that we don't have complete control over scare us. Not knowing what is going to happen, or being unaware is very scary. Both of these ideas are very essential for an effective horror story.

I think Frankenstein fully meets the criteria that is given on the Culminating Activity sheet, but does not completely meet my criteria. It horrifies us by bringing us to dark places in the mind in the way that it is a believable story. It also describes a foe who is cruel and uncontrollable. The creature not only kills William, Clerval, and Elizabeth, but also sets De Lacey's cottage on fire. Lastly, it draws on our disgust when Frankenstein is describing his creation. Frankenstein is filled with such horror and abhorrence when first witnessing his completed work; the reader can almost feel what he is feeling. I believe the novel doesn't fit my standards for a good horror story because although it does include murder, it does not elaborate on it. When Elizabeth, Clerval, and William are murdered, Shelley doesn't describe it in a horrific manner. To me, being strangled is not the scariest way for a murderer to kill his victims. The creepiest ways for people to die involve blood. Stabbings and shootings are easier for a writer to make terrifying. The author can describe the gash in the wounded, or the pool of blood

around them. It is harder to elaborate a strangling. That is the only way I would change the story to possibly make it better.