Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to Write True Horror by Author TG Reaper aka Thom Futrell

The night crawls in from the shrinking daylight. And the children, how the children of darkness beg you for their creation. They need you to bleed life into them. To release them from the shadows.

Perhaps horror isn’t you’re genre or you’ve never considered writing a ghastly tale. No matter. Time to challenge yourself, to try something new. You can lock the doors, but won’t keep us out. Time to explore the dark side of fiction.

The first thing to understand is that not all horror fiction is the same. There’s horror, supernatural, gothic and many sub genres. Horror is only the blanket label for dark fiction.

Fear is the main ingredient in successful horror fiction. It is what makes Stephen King’s books fly off the shelves. It is also what motivates horror writers to write. King has admitted to being afraid of the dark and of the bats that live in his attic. He uses that fear in his writing.

Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House) once wrote: “I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there…I delight in what I fear.”
Most won’t delight in their fears; actually, they push them away. Or they worry constantly. But in addition to inspiring story ideas, writing about fear is therapeutic. It helps you to take control of them. In gaining control, you can take your fiction to those dark places you didn’t want to go.

Just like any fiction story, the successful horror story must have a beginning, middle and end and must have well developed characters. Your hero’s conflict must be believable (in this case, a dark threat) and he or she must react consistently and believably.

That’s not to say that a normal person isn’t capable of murder and violence, when placed under enough stress, people may react in ways totally out of character. Your character must grow during the story; the change may be positive or negative.

Let’s move ahead to my personal favorite…the unknown.
The scariest part of knowing a beast is there, is knowing one might be there. Eyes in the shadows, voices calling from nowhere, etc. Imagine this: You’ve just walked through your house, turning off the lights. You head towards the bedroom, looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Suddenly, you hear footsteps coming up behind you. You know you’re alone, yet you hear breathing. A flash; the lights come on down the hallway. Someone or something is out there. But who or what is it? And where is it now? Thoughts run up your spine along with a familiar chill. That is the feeling you owe your readers.

There you have it, wrapped in a black box and addressed to you. Listen to the children as they call for you, begging for life. Cut open your soul, and bleed the words of life into your creations. Darkness is calling…will you answer it?
 TG Reaper