By Guest Blogger Kris Noel
With The Walking Dead returning, a new American Horror Story in full force, and Halloween quickly approaching, October is clearly the month where everyone inhales horror unapologetically. As a horror fan and occasional horror writer, this is my favorite time of year because it provides me the opportunity to analyze what I love about the genre. What makes a horror tale different from other types of stories, besides the obvious bone-chilling scares?
If you’ve read a lot of Stephen King or watched a lot of horror films, you know there’s a little something special that happens when it’s done just right. Great horror writers, and great writers in general, know how to use emotion effectively. They know how to put themselves in the place of their characters and describe their fear, without just telling their readers everything flat-out.
That takes a lot of skill and practice. If a writer knows how to use their five senses to tell a story, they’ll be able to seriously creep out their readers.
What really makes a horror story great is how an author treats the characters. No one will care about a story if you don’t develop your characters, which is often a mistake with beginning horror writers—they don’t give us anyone to root for. Readers need to know who these characters are first before they can care about what they might lose. Creating dynamic characters and getting readers to emotionally connect with them is what makes a horror story incredible.
New horror writers shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with ideas. We’ve all seen the haunted house story, so it becomes great and interesting when it’s reinvented from time to time. What a writer can bring to a dated idea will be what makes it intriguing. Since so much has already been done with the genre, a good writer needs to make it all interesting again.
Kris Noel runs a writing advice blog at krisnoel.com and is the author of Lionhead and The Serenity Compound. Kris is currently working on the sequel to Lionhead, Requiem, which will be released in 2015. She just released an ebook available on Amazon entitled Love & Horror.