All right, then; I shall do so!
The next thing to consider is the matter of pathos. For a tragedy to work, the audience must be emotionally invested in the core conflict; without a connection to the fates of the protagonists, the ultimate outcome of the work has no meaning. The same is true of horror: If the reader does not feel the fear at hand to some degree, the point of the tale becomes moot. Yet this does not necessitate the reader identifying with the protagonist. It can, but it also may not.
To explain this, I will make the very general observation that there are two fundamental varieties or schools of horror fiction. Neither is exclusive of the other, nor can any work in either camp truly exclude all
traces of the opposing form; in point of fact, a great many stories rely on some combination of the two, not falling solidly into either zone. But I will come to that later. For now, I will simply outline each.
The first school is that of the personal or character-driven horror tale: The story that relies on sympathy with the main character as the source of horror in the story. By identifying with the protagonist, we become desperate with them as their circumstances worsen, their fear becoming our own as we watch them move inexorably toward their doom (whatever that may be). Stephen King
's odd little tale "Chattery Teeth" is a good example of this form: It uses the POV character's increasingly unsettling situation and occasionally limited perspective to create a very sympathetic (or even empathetic) terror in the reader. Most ghost and monster stories fall under this banner, as do nearly all "realistic" horror stories
The tone of personal horror narratives lean toward the objective, more often than not leaving the reader certain that what they read was, in context, what literally happened. Although this may be played with—unreliable narrators, odd narrative tricks and so on—the fundamental sense of reality is always there.
The second type is the universal or author-driven horror tale which, contrary to the first, relies on the implications
of its key scenario rather than sympathy with the protagonist to create fear in the reader. Here the source of pathos is not the characters and their individual fates, but direct personal resonance with the fears of the author. An extreme example of this would be Thomas Ligotti
's novella "The Red Tower", which literally features no characters until the last two or three pages of the story, instead relying upon the bizarre metaphysical quandaries raised by the story's premise to create a lingering sense of unease. Cosmic, philosophical and surreal horror tend to fall heavily into this category.
By contrast with the grounded tone of more personal narratives, universal horror stories tend toward the subjective in their presentation of events. They take on the semblance of simulated nightmares rather than frightening anecdotes, at once making the relationship to the reader more intimate and more distant.
In my next post, I will address further aspects to both of these styles in my next post, particularly in relation to character writing; I may also talk about story architecture, although that likely deserves its own post. But for now, I must go. I bid you goodnight.