But today, to get things all spooky, I am thrilled to welcome Danny Weston, author of the new ghostly horror novel, The Witching Stone!
For those who haven't heard of this, The Witching Stone follows Alfie who, after a messy break-up, goes away on holidays with his dad in the small village in the north of England.
There, he meets Mia, who tells him about the local superstition about a boulder in the local graveyard and its strange inscription. "If you walk three times around the stone and say 'I don't believe in witches,' Meg will come after you..."
Alfie, in a reckless attempt to impress, accepts the superstition as a challenge. He might come to regret that...
As you know, I am not much of a horror fan, but I do love a good ghost story so, while chatting to Graeme from UCLan Publishing, one of us mentioned something along the lines of "Danny could do a guest post about horror writing" (I can't remember exactly who. Sorry Graeme, but I suspect it was you) and the other went "Yes!". And then, forgot about it like I normally do, then Graeme emailed me this post and oh, it's good!
Now, before I hand you over to Danny talking g about his top tips, I just want to thank him for finding time to write this post for the Pewter Wolf! I, also, want to thank Graeme at UCLan for chatting to me and starting the book rolling! Now, I don't believe Danny is on social media, but if you want more info about The Witching Stone, you can check out UCLan Publishing!
Now, over to Danny to tell us his top 5 tips to writing horror!
People often ask me for advice about writing horror fiction – and though I’m really much more interested in creepy, supernatural stories that occasionally spill out into scary scares - I think these five tips hold true for most kinds of fiction. It’s probably important to add that you should always try to write the kind of stories that appeal to you as a reader.
Over the years I’ve met and spoken to lots of different writers and they all have the same basic story. They began as readers. Then, one day, they found a book that really blew them away, inspired them to go that bit further and try their hand at writing themselves. So, in short, don’t be afraid. Read voraciously and allow yourself to be inspired – and when you find that one special book that fires you up, go for it. Oh yes, and don’t forge the three golden rules of writing. Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite!
Now, about those tips…
1. Show, Don’t Tell.
Yes, you’ve all heard those words said a million times before, ad infinitum, but the truth is, they absolutely hit the nail on the head. Don’t just tell the reader about a lot of horrible things happening to somebody. That’s like viewing something from a safe distance, where the bad stuff cannot touch you. Show things happening, as they unfold as seen through the eyes of the people they’re happening to. It will immediately feel as though it’s real.
2. But Don’t Show Too Much!
Events are always scarier when we don’t quite get the full picture. Less is more: a subtle nudge is always more effective than yelling in somebody’s face; the brief flash of a blade is so much more thrilling than the meticulous removal of someone innards. And the simple truth is, too much blood and guts can be plain boring. Just give the reader a suggestion about what’s happening and let his/her imagination do the rest.
3. Create Memorable Characters.
The central characters are the most important element of any fiction, no matter what genre you’re writing in. They are the key ingredient that will make your story soar or sag. If you can create empathy for your characters, make your readers really care about what happens to them, then the race is already half won! If you can’t make your readers care about the characters, then you have a major problem.
What the characters say will tell us more about them than any other element of the story. So try to ensure that every line of dialogue tells you a little bit more about the person who is speaking. Also, make sure that the dialogue isn’t interchangeable with other characters. Try to ensure that, if you read a line of dialogue without being told who it belongs to, you’ll instinctively know which character is speaking.
5. Switch on the movie camera in your head and press ‘play!’
Make whatever happens in the story really visual by using plenty of description. Use your words as a painter uses colour, building up a cinematic image of what’s happening in the story. A wise person once said that, if writing is a war then description is the ammunition, and I think there’s something in that. The more details you can give the readers, the more you’ll immerse them in your ‘head movie’ and they will feel that they are part of it.