Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Horrifyingly Macabre?

Macabre stories??
What a scary word macabre is to most people…
The dictionary defines it as ghastly or gruesome but in my mind, I always associate it with supernatural goings on. Books such as Stephen King’s “Danse Macabre” also spring to mind.  In his book King talks about the world of horror writing and it’s history and origins – an adventurous read if you are interested in horror literature. When I looked up the term ‘Danse Macabre’, I discovered that it appears to originate in medieval times and signified skeletons and other dead spirits dancing and leading mortals to their grave. A kind of unholy procession. There are quite a few artists’ impressions from that time depicting dancing gleeful skeletons holding hands with the dead and the still living.  Ugh! Nice pictures…

But I am thinking of the more common use of the word...  Macabre seems to be a word used for describing a grim or ghastly atmosphere.  It is generally only found in horror/paranormal -type literature. I think it is a wonderfully descriptive word which everyone knows the meaning of but it is rarely used in everyday conversation.

It’s almost as if it is beyond our understanding and therefore terrifying.  When one is struggling to describe a scary atmosphere or aura macabre is a good word to use…

Do you have favourite words that are relevant to your genre?


  1. I love macabre - the word that is. Not really sure why, but I like preternatural.
    I shall read Danse Macabre again - tis a long time since I did :-)

  2. Hi Pat,

    I've always disliked that word - I actually remember hearing it for the first time when I was little! My Mum used it to describe an episode of Tales of the Unexpected; even the theme tune sent shivers down my spine!! Macabre - skeletons, the occult...shudder!

    I'm currently writing a story in which a boy finds himself back in the Ypres trenches through his Great Granddad's diary and two words that spring to mind are ethereal and brutal.

    I want some scenes in the book to be beautifully serene or even magical, so ethereal floats into my mind ( tend to have Clannad playing to help with that feeling!) On the other hand, I have battle scenes which need to be brutal in order to teach my character that was isn't just about men of valour riding to the rescue.

    A great, thought-provoking post! I've enjoyed thinking about it!



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