So you can read my books

Thursday, September 17, 2015


        “I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. 
If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

 It has become an increasingly scary world.  What worked for scares in the past century does not always hold true today.

Yet there are certain constants:


Readers bring to the horror story one paramount expectation: 

to be entertained with the element of anticipation, dread, and uncertainty; in a word, suspense.


We as writers must put flesh on our characters before we begin to slice it off.  The reader must care for the people in the story before what happens to them matters in their minds.

Stephen King says: "You have to love the people -- that's what makes horror possible."

The characters must be believable.  You must see yourself in them in some fashion.


All readers agree: the end must satisfy.  It must have a good twist at the end.  The end must be unexpected and jarring.  The end must scare you down to your turning stomach.


A single mother wakes up to her alarm clock.  It is still dark outside.  In fact, it stays dark all day long.  The night never ends.

Her children become frightened and refuse to go to school.  The criminals take advantage of the darkness.  She tries to be strong for her children but she feels panic slowly gain control of her emotions.  The store shelves become empty.

Days become weeks.  Months becomes a year.  Crops fail from lack of sunlight.  The scientific community has no explanation.

Then, she notices her mind is not as sharp as it once was.  She notices her neighbors, co-workers, her children's doctor -- all slowly becoming dumber as the days progress.

She can no longer remember how to drive her car, operate the computer, cook a meal.  Her children have forgotten how to speak, to dress themselves.  

It would be a mercy to kill them, then herself.

The gun in her bedside stand consumes her thoughts.  How long before she forgets how to use it?

She awakens one morning with it in her hand, wondering what this piece of metal is for.


As the above synopsis for my short story, DARK AGES, reveals --  

happy endings do not belong in good horror stories or novels.  

You do not contest with nightmare and walk away clean.  The monster becomes part of you.

I hope this has helped you in some small way.  Roland


  1. Ah, my favorite and chosen genre! I love horror/suspense.

    One element I've become dissatisfied with over the years is the seeming agreement between authors and publishers that horror writing does not require great writing skills. Horror is a bit like erotica, in that the reader must be completely, totally, absolutely immersed in the story. You have to attack from below and drag them into your darkest depths.

    They cannot expect it. They did not see it coming. They forgot they were reading.

    So you need characters you care about, as stated. In erotica, you cannot be attracted to dislikable characters, nor can you care if they die in horror.

    But on top of all that, you need some very powerful writing. I read a post just now on WoW (Women on Writing) that suggested you add Body Parts. I think most of us do this, but it immerses the reader. Instead of saying, She grabbed her gun, say, She awakens one morning with it in her hand, wondering what this piece of metal is for.

    Wait. You just said that.

    See? It immerses the reader, but I like that formalization of the idea -- add body parts. She saw becomes Her eyes. He felt becomes His hands. Etc.

    Same idea as erotica. Immersion immersion immersion.

    One other thing about horror is that the SETTING becomes a very important character. You understand this already, but it is important never to forget that setting is alive, active, and may even arc as your characters arc. Treat it as a character, let it live and breathe. Again, as with erotica, setting and mood are very important in horror.

    Man. I've never made that connection before -- horror & erotica are pretty similar. We may have stumbled on a new topic for Roland to tackle up, if I don't take it first!

    - Eric

    1. All genres to me require good writing skills. Else why bother, right?

      Horror is like erotica, huh? Well, you have to be master of the tease that is for certain. The best danger is the one hardly glimpsed but ever present despite that.

      I have always tried to make my setting an actual character from 1895 Egypt to the barren desolate Badlands to the French Quarter. Setting makes your tale come alive, right?

      In my research for this post, I came across the need for sex in horror tales, but since a great many of my visitors are ladies, I decided to forgo that option! :-)

  2. Great points! You gotta have suspense in horror. Suspense makes the horror! I don't actually read Stephen King but I can appreciate his wisdom. And yes, for horror there is no such thing as a happy ending.

    1. The last Stephen King I read was DUMA KEY. I enjoyed it so much that I got the audio book of it. Thanks for visiting and staying to talk awhile.