dadbuckeye wrote:I guess I need the difference between Noir, Horror, Thriller, and Dark Fantasy. I could even throw Suspense novels in there and call them all sub-genres that should fall under the same category for the purpose of this poll.
These are generalizations, might help, might not.
Noir usually doesn't involve the supernatural. It's dark in tone and style, and usually involves criminals or other "seedier" elements of society. The narrative is often cynical, as are the characters. Your typical "hardboiled detective story" fits this genre. It appeals to the reader's prurient side.
Horror usually involves supernatural elements, especially monsters but also people with monstrous personality disorders. The action usually includes graphic violence (explicit or implied) and the writer intends to frighten the reader. If it gives you nightmares, it was probably a horror story.
A thriller is generally faster paced than noir, and does not usually involve supernatural elements. It almost always involves great danger to the hero and/or someone the hero cares about. The writer's goal is to keep the reader "on the edge of their seat." Although you may feel concern for the hero, it will not usually initiate personal fear or generate nightmares. The "we have to catch the killer before he strikes again" story fits here, as does the "we have to get away before the bad guys catch us" story.
Dark fantasy is just another name for horror, usually used by people who don't care for the name horror. I've most often seen it applied to "splatter" stories, which include explicit graphic violence.
Suspense tends to have the same qualities as thrillers but maybe at a slower pace. They may or may not have supernatural elements, or they may have implied supernatural elements that turn out to be explainable phenomena. The main contrast is that in a thriller things are happening non-stop where in suspense you spend more time anticipating things that might happen.
Again, these are broad generalizations and They are also simply my personal definitions. Many stories fall into more than one category. For example Psycho was billed as a horror story, but it was also suspense.
For the purpose of the poll, I'd say use noir for Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, or Raymond Chandler, and other for the rest. Horror would be Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, or Clive Barker, thriller or suspense for Tom Clancy, Thomas Harris, James Patterson, or Ian Flemming.