Let's take a look at how Stephen King transforms ho-um into wow by examining "The Gingerbread Girl" (found in the collection Just After Sunset--review forthcoming). First, start with the ho-hum: psycho killer chases woman. By itself, it is reject pile material. But he adds on. The woman is a runner. The woman is a runner because she's running away from something. The woman is running literally and figuratively. She runs as a coping mechanism to try to get over the crib death of her daughter. Despite all her training, it turns out she can't outrun her past--or the killer. She has to face both, and when she does she is transformed.
Now that's a horror story. Sure there's trope stuff--pain, blood, knives, people breaking through doors and jumping through windows--but it the story isn't about the trope stuff.
More on this tomorrow . . .