Writing Horror Fiction (Writing Handbooks)

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I know I did. Early adulthood was spent gobbling up M. So, if you want to plumb the depths of awful things, craft truly scary stories and be an author to be feared, not loved. I found a house that looked so strange, so brutal, that I knew I had to write about it. Horror is always lurking below the surface. Start with a base of the everyday: Horror is equal to revulsion: Gore can be a blood-red highlighter, adding a visceral sprinkle of horror to a psychological tale, or spooned on in heaps: Instead of counting how many limbs the have been chopped off a corpse, watch the steam slowly rising from the stumps.

And false security is your Sunday best: But, the real horror begins halfway through, when our heroes finally make it to a military outpost. Thinking of joining a writing group? All said and done, horror is life. But leave it too long and it starts to fester and grow. As I grew older, I dragged my half-finished novel with me through life like an old doll. It began to pick up the dust and debris of my experiences. Gone were the black cloaks and lace, the old church now crumbled. The plucky heroine became a bit of a cynic. And the vampires were gone, replaced with another, more vague version of the horror I was trying to express… the ramifications of a tragedy, and how it can push reset on all our progress and turn us back into savages.

Horror novels are about growing up, and new situations, frightening experiences and the reality of death and change: But, if we can dress it up as a witch for Halloween, and tell scary stories around the campfire, it gets a little easier to hear… and a lot more fun to write. Bethany Scott is a copywriter and horror novelist obsessed with narrative and plot structure.

Books like On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association

Her novel Twitmisery is coming soon. Follow her bethanyrscott or visit https: How to achieve your big writing dream in small steps. Binge writing — reclaim your route to writing productivity. Return to Book Page. A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association 3. The masters of horror have united to teach you the secrets of success in the scariest genre of all!

Edited by the Horror Writers Association The masters of horror have united to teach you the secrets of success in the scariest genre of all! Edited by the Horror Writers Association HWA , a worldwide organization of writers and publishing professionals dedicated to promoting dark literature, On Writing Horror includes exclusive information and guidance from 58 of the biggest names in horror writing to give you the inspiration you need to start scaring and exciting readers and editors.

You'll discover comprehensive instruction such as: The art of crafting visceral violence, from Jack Ketchum Why horror classics like Dracula , The Exorcist , and Hell House are as scary as ever, from Robert Weinberg Tips for avoiding one of the biggest death knells in horror writing--predicable cliches--from Ramsey Campbell How to use character and setting to stretch the limits of credibility, from Mort Castle With On Writing Horror , you can unlock the mystery surrounding classic horror traditions, revel in the art and craft of writing horror, and find out exactly where the genre is going next.

Learn from the best, and you could be the next best-selling author keeping readers up all night long. Paperback , pages. Published November 18th by Writer's Digest Books. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about On Writing Horror , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Jul 29, Paula Cappa rated it liked it. This book is somewhat dated now, but it's not really a "handbook" to instruct techniques on writing horror. I found it to be more a presentation of the current state of the horror industry, standards, and suggestions by some highly experienced and acclaimed horror authors King, Ellison, Ketchum, Oates, Campbell.

I liked Douglas Winter's chapter "Darkness Absolute: The Standards of Excellence in Horror Fiction. It is an emotion. And so many new writers in this genre are focused on big blood-splatter scenes and wicked jaw-slashing monsters and not on the characters we want to care about. Joyce Carole Oates on "The Madness of Art" speaks to how this genre Gothic especially is a "powerful vehicle of truth-telling.

One thing that is really awful about this book is the presentation of the text: The font size is too small and the pages have ragged right margins when they should be justified for smoother tracking when reading. Aug 05, Jakk Makk rated it did not like it. With all these high falutin' names, you'd think this book would have grabbed me. I'm noticing a trend. Books that contain small articles by a bunch of authors don't tend to live up to the promise of their titles. Jan 08, Katie Cunningham rated it it was ok. The premise sounds good in theory: Get a bunch of horror luminaries together to talk about various aspects of writing horror.

In practice, it fell down. First, with no one author, there was no building of knowledge. The essays, while grouped, didn't feel like they spoke to one another at all. Indeed, some weren't even written for the book: They were acceptance speeches or transcripts of roundtables. Second, many chapters featured nothing that isn't in dozens of other 'how to write' books. I wouldn The premise sounds good in theory: Third, with every chapter, just as it gets revved up and you think, cool, I'm prepped, I'm going to learn something There were quite a few chapters in there that I dearly wish had been longer, or even their own book, but instead, they read like an introduction.

So, if you're interested in writing horror, I'd give this one a glance, but I wouldn't expect too much. Feb 05, Wayne Barrett rated it really liked it Shelves: Lots of great info and examples for the Horror writer. This is an extra resource to sit alongside my Writers Market addition. Jul 31, Brenton rated it really liked it. I was lucky enough to get my copy recently and have just finished my first, but definitely not my last, read through of it from cover to cover. Although very squarely slanted toward the American based writer, and a little preoccupied with the word verisimilitude, it contains many writing gems that are relevant to all writers, where-ever they live.

What HWA says about it: A volume of essays on the craft of horror writing, edited by Mort Castle, with contributions from dozens of well-known HWA members. An invaluable addition to any writer's library. The book is filled with lots of helpful tips and suggestions from some of the current leading lights in the genre.

The suggested books to read, is alone worth compiling. As touched on earlier, with other books mentioned throughout this publication, you will quickly gain a reading list of over 50 books. The middle of this section is of use only to American based writers as it highlights the educational institutes in the USA that run courses that would be beneficial, as well as a list of conferences and seminars.

On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association

Remember this book is nearly two years old at the writing of this review so check if the events are still going, and when, on the relevant websites. Part three is all about developing horror concepts and part four continues the lessons, building the writers knowledge with horror crafting. This section is particularly useful to newer writers struggling to learn the craft.

Additional sections on building horror, tension, characters, plot, even dialogue are all written in an easy conversational tone with relevant thoughts and examples from people in the know — those that are regularly published in the genre. Part seven splits horror into some sub-genres of note, specifically: The last section looks at the business side that all writers would rather not have to worry about.

Writers should get paid for their work and this section lists some of the common traps out there, that sometimes well meaning, but often unscrupulous editors, use to seize control of your masterpiece.

About Writing Horror Fiction

A short story by Harlan Ellison is included at the end which is a stirring tale about the storyteller. In a nutshell, the majority of writers who have contributed to this publication have taken on board something Stephen King has been saying for a long time. Writers of fiction need to be truthful in what they write. Fiction, by its very definition is a lie, but writers need to tell the truth within the lie.

One essay struck me. Bruce Holland Rogers has an issue with that sentiment and I think I agree. The old masters of Poe and Lovecraft were distinctive and a stray paragraph from one of their works is easily recognisable but genius is an exception. Jan 01, Katia M. Davis rated it liked it. I found a number of articles in this book useful for style and expression.

It has reinforced the notion that the best way to settle into writing a genre is to be aware of what has come before.

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I have become aware of just how little I know about the horror genre even though I've been reading in it for nearly 30 years. The latter sections on publication etc are 10 years out of date now so I didn't pay them much attention, although the general market research premise is valid. Overall, it was nice I found a number of articles in this book useful for style and expression.

Overall, it was nice to see so many people writing in the genre get together for this publication and it really illustrates that horror is not so much of an odd ball thing to write. Jun 02, Rose rated it liked it Shelves: Quick review for a quick read. Probably would give this a solid three stars, as it's a give and take for content and usefulness. It features some great essays and advice, but ultimately, much of this isn't an thorough viewpoint of the horror genre and what it contributes. Well organized into its respective sections, and it touche Quick review for a quick read. Well organized into its respective sections, and it touched on quite many relevant factors for those looking to start writing horror, from a number of respected writers in the field.

Among some of the useful essays I found: Tina Jens wrote a wonderful way to examine characters in "Such Humble People. Lansdale examines the importance of place and setting to horror in "A Hand on the Shoulder. Michael Marano's "Going There: Strategies for Writing the Things that Scare You" does a great job of encouraging new writers to write past their boundaries and engaging what scares you to the page. Plotting Short Horror Fiction" by Nicholas Kaufmann, because of its brief but very helpful eye to plotting details and shaping the narrative overall for appeal.

There are quite a few other essays that grabbed me, as this compilation delves into the appeal of horror fiction, strategies to write it, strategies to market it, and subgenres to consider in other mediums video games, screenplays, etc. But I'm going to preface this review with a huge caveat: Beginners to the genre and those who want snippets of encouragement might find this more useful, and I definitely thought some of the advice given was nicely and succinctly stated, but it left me wanting a little more from it.

Nov 11, Eoghan Odinsson rated it liked it.

A beginner's guide to writing horror novels - Prolifiko

I was very disappointed with this book. First of all, I've never seen a book typeset with type so small, It might be 8pt, most books are 12pt or thereabouts. I'm a young man with decent vision and I had trouble reading it. Secondly, like most of Writer's Digest books - it's hit or miss on quality.

They've published some great books, but they've also published an equal number of duds. Quality, NOT quantity folks! Thirdly, the book is a collection of essays, not a cohesive guide to writing horror. I I was very disappointed with this book. I wanted a book where I could examine the mechanics of creating good horror; this was a series of opinions on various aspects, but was not well unified at all. There may be a few nuggets in there, so I'll give it three stars, but have a good look at any Writer's Digest book before you buy - they seem to be interested more in making money than serving to educate bourgeoning writers.

Feb 18, Fox rated it liked it Shelves: Although not all of this book is applicable to what I am trying to do, I still found the bulk of it both informative and interesting. The overall amicable tone in which most of it is written also helped to continue to foster interest. I'd recommend this to anyone looking to write within the horror genre - while the whole book may not be helpful, I would defy anyone to say that at least one chapter in there didn't give them at least one new idea.

Jun 09, Jess Cattanach rated it liked it Shelves: I don't have a lot to say about this one. It's pretty much what it says it is: A lot of different people collaborated on this, some of them seasoned experts in the field and others more recent to the world of writing and publishing horror. It covers everything from characters and plot to marketing and publishing, and includes sections on writing horror screenplays, video games, plays, etc.

Feb 17, Searska GreyRaven rated it liked it. There were some really good chapters about craft and style, but there were also some pretty dated chapters.


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Um, no, not anymore. It's worth skimming for the good chapters, if nothing else. May 04, H.


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  8. Gravy rated it liked it. A Handbook by The Horror Writers Association is an introduction to the world of horror fiction theory, publishing, and elements. Many of the essays and articles within are written by some of the most well-known and prolific names in horror out there. While their advice is sound and generally touches upon many aspects of the craft, marketing, and style, it isn't a very comprehensive study in any area in particular. The information is a bit generalized to give a prospective or n On Writing Horror: The information is a bit generalized to give a prospective or novice author an idea of what they should be doing with regards to their careers, their ideas, and how to seek out more knowledge on the subject matters contained within.

    I believe the title of the book should have reflected more upon what the book actually is. Something more along the lines of a Horror or Introduction to Horror Writing. In , a lot of the non-conceptual information is dated. Of course, this isn't something I hold against the book.

    Just something to point out to those who are reading this in the future. Self-Publishing has risen to epic proportions with Amazon. Small press publishers have a much greater reach now than ever before. Otherwise, the subjective materials about the craft, style, and generating ideas is still relevant today. While I don't think I got much out of this book, it does serve as a refresher course on how far the publishing world has gotten. If you are looking for a book with much more substance, I suggest checking out Crystal Lake Publishing's "Writers on Writing" series.

    Feb 01, Fatman rated it it was amazing. One of the best, if not the best, books about writing I have read. Some of the information is a bit dated, but that only makes sense, given the publication date. There is no step-by-step manual that you will read and immediately understand how to write well - it comes down to talent and the willingness to work and improve.

    Add On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association to the mix and your fiction-writing ability will improve by leaps and bounds. Jul 17, Keith rated it it was ok. I can't say I was terribly impressed with this book. I guess I was looking for something a little more how-to and less pontificating. I'm not a huge splatter and gore fan, and that might be part of my ambivalence towards the book, and the essays seemed to swing between bloody horror and writers who wanted to be the next Bram Stoker or Mary Shelley.

    I enjoy writing, and sometimes I like to branch out and try new challenges, like horror. My comfort zone is more general fiction or mystery. Whatever I can't say I was terribly impressed with this book. Whatever I was looking for in a book on writing horror, this wasn't it. Jan 07, Nikki rated it it was amazing.