The forces of evil: how to construct a riveting horror story.
In crafting a riveting horror story, your characters and what they go through should strive for something different. However, your writing style shouldn’t sway away from the norm. Note that I did not say couldn’t…
Read, read and read some more, that is true with any genre. But as a publisher and an editor, I must warn you that using someone else’s style of writing, although it maybe okay, is frowned upon by me. This is because it shows in your story telling that it’s not you and seeing anything other than your true voice in a manuscript is a turn off. I will put my pants back on, open the blinds and send you home. So be yourself.
The best kind of horror story entails a riveting, pull you in story with added elements of horror. Plain old hack and slash stories don’t cut it anymore. Pull me in and make me care about the character before they get sliced up. Salem’s Lot is a good example of that, so is The Shining. In short, good character building is just as essential in horror, as it is in any genre, I think even more so. If you didn’t have a chance to catch it, last week’s blog was regarding character building, I recommend reading it.
Horror stories can have a happy end—to a point. You don’t want a killer loose and everybody in the story walks away unscathed, that is not right. But your heroine can break free at the end. There are different sorts of endings and most of them are expectable, even in horror.
Be careful when tagging the genre of your story on your manuscript. We receive stories that say they are horror but—the average horror Joe would set the book on fire, and we put out eBooks. An example would be and I see this a lot, Twilight type stories or romantic suspense that are dubbed as horror. That shows that either you are not doing your research or you frighten easily. Either way most “horror” publishers won’t accept it. You need to be careful with your genre or you will get door after door closed in your face.
Please note earlier, I said read lots of books. Watching horror movies will not prepare you to write a book. Live action is written differently. Although making changes in the literary world and shaking things up can be good—be careful. Just because somewhere there is some land where vampires sparkle, and you do have some leniency in the lore of vampires, werewolves and other such creatures, you mustn’t stray too far from the lore. Again we are back to that research.
But be careful not to get so bogged down by your research that you kill your story or your drive, being well researched and knowing your facts does actually help your writing a lot.
Next week: what should I double check before I submit a story to a publisher?