Denise Covey has a Halloween Challenge for her Write - Edit- Publish web site.
thought some of you might need a Cliff Notes Version on How to Write Horror
and helpfully tweeted a recent post of mine on the subject.
For those of you who do not receive Elizabeth's always educational and fun tweets,
here is that post --
"Little Birdie so pretty I could just eat him!"
“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
― 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.
3.) THE ENDS JUSTIFIES THE MEANS
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.
4.) A JARRING PREMISE
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.
5.) HAPPY EVER AFTER IS FOR FAIRY TALES
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.
Check out my Halloween WEP entry, HUNTER'S MOON, tomorrow to see if I followed my own advice.