The lovely Amy Lukavics has been taking you step-by-step through the process of writing horror novels. In my opinion, there's no better Highwayer who's better qualified; she can effectively scare the plants off me in two pages or less. Personally, I'm not big on horror or writing horror - but I love me a good thriller.
There's a very fine line between the genre of horror and the genre of suspense. There are plenty of similarities, for sure - that growing feeling of dread or nervousness, the weight of every scene, the building of each sentence - but there are also plenty of differences.
I'm not an expert in either of these genres, but in my mind there are two specific things that separate a good horror from a good thriller.
1. Horror emphasizes the monster and the monster's doings; suspense emphasizes those affected by the monster.
The horror genre dives into the blood and guts of a serial killer, an alien race, or a demon. Horror wants to see the way they kill or the way they torture victims; it's the story-equivalent of a close-up camera shot.
Suspense, on the other hand, pulls the camera back to take a look at the whole picture, especially the killer or alien or demon's victims. Suspense wants you to feel the looking-over-your-shoulder, on-the-run feel of being chased, rather than being the chased. Horror wants to disturb you, but suspense generally focuses on smaller-scale fear and nervous, creeping feelings.
2. Horror is gruesome and terrible, whereas suspense is mysterious.
Horror, as I said, likes the details. The blood and guts. The terrible little things that build up feelings of dread. Suspense builds a feeling of mystery - following the clues, peeking around corners, jumping at every little noise.
Obviously, there are a lot of ways that horror and suspense overlap. Plenty of horror stories have a mystery in them, and plenty of thrillers can get quite gory; but these are my observations of the two genres.
What do you think? What else separates horror books and thriller books?