On this last day of the tour (sniffles), I welcome bestselling author Renee Pawlish!
Why is Renee Pawlish a bestselling author? Because she kicks ass, that’s why. If you want to read her work, go check out her latest book, Nephilim, on Amazon. Did I mention Nephilim was on the bestseller’s list?
Renee has also written the Reed Ferguson mystery series (This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies and Reel Estate Rip-off), a short story collection (Take Five), a non-fiction account of a haunted house investigation (The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within) and she has a story included in Dark Moon presents: Vampires!
Check Renee’s website http://www.reneepawlish.com
And her blog http://tobecomeawriter.com
Phew. Ok, now I can tell you’re impressed.
Renee has been kind enough to provide us with a few tips on how to be a horror writer. Thank you Renee for sharing your knowledge, I know readers of this blog will certainly enjoy learning from you. Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, Renee Pawlish!
I never intended to write horror. I started out as a mystery writer because those were the stories I loved reading, so it was natural to write novels in that genre. But then I had a dream that turned into Nephilim Genesis of Evil. And suddenly I was a horror writer as well as a mystery writer. But I knew very little about writing horror…what to do? First off, I did research. And then I read a whole bunch of horror to see what other authors were doing. Here are a few things I learned from this process.
The Horror, Of Course
Any horror book has to have some kind of horror in it. Duh, right? But I was surprised at the number of “horror” novels that I read where this element was missing, or it wasn’t evil and scary enough. Lately horror seems to be about violence – get as much blood and guts in the story as possible. That may be all well and good, but I prefer a story that lets the reader’s imagination create the images of horror because, let’s face it, our minds can dream up much more that words on a page can. So it’s important to set your scenes well so a reader can imagine up even more terror than you intended. Take a tip from the master:
Never state a horror when it can be suggested. H.P. Lovecraft
Pull Your Readers In
A successful horror story will intrigue the reader right from the start. I’ll give you an example. I read a work by an indie author a number of years ago. He’d written a book with a compelling storyline, but the horror part didn’t appear until page 87 of the book. He had a bunch of back story about his hero and so on. It was written well, but it didn’t scare me, nor did it keep me interested (I only finished the book because I was helping him edit it). Your evil needs to be introduced right away, it needs to be sufficiently menacing, and it needs to stay hovering there until you pound your reader with the evil itself.
Keep the Suspense High
Once you’ve pulled your readers in, keep the story flowing with copious doses of suspense. Fill in your back story carefully so you don’t slow your story too much. Remember that you are entertaining your readers. In this day and age, people want a fast-paced story, so give it to them. The spooky tone you set at the beginning of your story should be continued right until the end. Don’t throw in violence for the sake of violence. Yes, some readers will like this, but the vast majority will feel cheated (even if they can’t put their finger on exactly why, they’ll feel like something in the story doesn’t work).
A Great Ending
Above all, give your readers a great ending. People like twists and turns in stories, and they love an ending that they weren’t expecting. Many horror stories have a wrap-up as well, where things are back to normal. Unless you have a story like Nephilim, where it’s leading to a sequel. Then you have a great cliffhanger.
I’ve left out a whole slew of other things that help make a horror story great. And for every rule, there is an exception. Just remember, if you’re going to break the rules, do it well because your readers will know if you don’t, and they’ll be disappointed. So get cracking and scare the pants off your readers.