I recently taught a class on horror writing, as part of a creative writing course I was running. The session threw up that old chestnut. How much gore do you use? Do you leave it to the reader's imagination or soak them in blood on every page?
It was an interesting debate and we never really came to a definitive answer, although there was a leaning towards leaving as much as possible to the reader’s imagination because they can probably imagine things much worse than appears on the page if their deepest fears are triggered by the writer.
It is a debate in crime writing as well. Me? I tend to go for the first option, leaving the reader to imagine things, but I do freely acknowledge that in the hands of a master or mistress of the craft, gory writing can be a thing of sheer power.
One odd aside: years ago, I ran a similar session and the aspiring writer said he wanted to set a horror story featuring vampires in the trenches of the Great War. I, and everyone else in the room, argued that the conflict provided horror enough. We never saw him again!
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