We don't know what drives many writers of horror to pen the words that they do but on days like today we appreciate that they write down the scary things. It helps us shiver as we imbibe orange-tinged alcoholic drinks while preening in our costumes.
Fellow blogger, Tim Janson, wrote an article listing the 20 top horror writers and I agree with his list! The funny part is Stephen King is not in the spot I thought he would be. Check out Tim's list here.
Tim talks about the horror genre having no set 'start' period and that its highest award The Bram Stoker Award (only around since 1987) is not a true starting point. However, this award does share new and emerging talent with us. One of my favorite new horror writers is Kealan Patrick Burke author of the Timmy Quinn series. Talk about scary!! His novella The Turtle Boy won the Bram Stoker Award in 2004.
While the Timmy Quinn series scared the pants off me I couldn't stop reading it! The language was beautifully evocative and haunting. The air of suspense and the foreboding written into the white spaces between each letter and word flowed off the Kindle screen straight into my veins.
After reading this series, I was emboldened to combine my love of all things sci fi, fantasy, horror, suspense, thriller and paranormal. These are the genres and sub-genres that I love. I penned my own novel which has horrific moments but is truly a -- (get this) paranormal horror thriller.
In writing this over 85K word opus, these are some things I've found out about writing things that will scare &/or thrill readers.
- Never be predictable.
- Enjoy the scene. Don't draw it out for no reason but allow it to expand naturally and go on to the next thing only when it is time.
- Create tension first within your main (POV) character.
- Use words that jolt the mind, heart and imagination.
- Take tips from literary writers and evoke lasting images that keep the reader coming back for more.
- Never say never. One of my characters was supposed to die. In my mind, the character died. In the book, the character stuck its tongue out at me and re-appeared many chapters later. <sigh>
- Put your character's back against the wall. This is a must for all fiction (and good writing). If the challenge is flimsy who will want to read it? Make it believably difficult for your character and imagine a solution that could actually work without having a magician come in and save them.
- Keep writing.
- Get feedback from your writing group or peers.
(I love #2: The Ululating Goat Song! Freakin' hee-larious!)
I will leave you with a small horrific excerpt of my new novel. Feel free to leave comments below. I love speaking with you guys! Oh, and have a Happy Ghostly Halloween!
Excerpt by Rochelle Campbell
Saturday, November 10th, Night
The buzzing was bothering her. She sat up and looked around. She was in a nondescript room. It had no personality. There was the bed she was on, two plain night tables with lamps on them – both of them were off. There was a dresser with a bevel edged mirror on it and a TV on a simple black stand. The curtains were the tan elegant floral pattern seen in cheap motels and the carpet looked threadbare in spots. The only chair in the room had a rip in it with some of the fluff sticking out of the seat.
The buzzing was coming from the bathroom. Jennifer got up and went to investigate. She looked down and saw she was fully dressed in her gabardine pants and sparkly top. Her feet were clad in the funky boots but they made not one sound on the worn carpet. She peered into the bathroom that was brightly lit and saw a vision she would not soon forget. She saw a tall man, a little over six feet, with dark blonde hair and a solid build. He was shaving – the source of the buzzing – but he was shaving his skin off. It was coming off in narrow sheets of skin as thinly sliced as good prosciutto. Where his eyes should have been were empty sockets with blood seeping out. His fingers were almost perfectly clean against his sightless dead body but his movement belied what her brain knew to be the truth. Too horrified to scream and too dumbfounded to move Jennifer watched as the man turned towards her. He waved with a ghost of a smile playing around his lips.
“I’ll be right in. I just wanted to freshen up for you,” he said in a refined modulated tone.
When he turned Jennifer could then see what she had missed before – his chest was torn asunder and his stomach cavity was just like his eye sockets…open, empty and oozing blood. With a full smile, the man turned back towards the mirror and began to shave skin off the other side of his face seemingly trying to make it even on both sides…
Jennifer woke up screaming,clutching her face and stomach alternately remembering the abomination of his cavernous eye sockets still vivid in her mind’s eye.