If you’ve never thought of writing horror, consider for a moment the role of fear in fiction. You don’t have to be a horror writer to use this most powerful of emotions. A hovering sense of dread, a jolt of alarm, a surge of panic—these can sharpen the tension in your fiction and help make your work compelling. Writers who have no interest in making horror their focus can still learn a great deal from horror writers about how to work with fear.
With that in mind, here are some great sources for horror writers—and for anyone who wants to add a touch of darkness or suspense to their work.
For the most thorough information on writing dark fiction, you can’t beat the horror section of the Fiction Factor website at horror.fictionfactor.com. The site has a large collection of articles covering everything from character development to building tension to understanding the various subgenres of horror (hint: there are a lot of them). It also has information on short story markets, contests, book publishers, and links to a variety of other sites. A bookstore and a forum round out this comprehensive site. Probably the most useful horror site on the web.
The Horror Writers Association at horror.org calls itself “the oldest and most respected professional organization for the . . . writers who have brought you the most enjoyable sleepless nights of your life.” With a mission of fostering interest in horror fiction, the association sponsors the annual Bram Stoker Awards for achievement in horror writing, offers networking opportunities, and provides an abundance of information about the genre. To become a voting member, you have to be an established professional horror writer. However, you can become an affiliate member with a single minor publication and an associate if you are simply a fan. And, even if you don’t join on any level, the website offers enough book reviews to keep you reading for years. (Not to mention merchandise, just in case you’ve always wanted to buy your dog a Horror Writers Association jacket).
Finally, there is Michael Robert Collings' Writing Darkness. Collings is a poet, scholar, one-time creative writing professor, and horror writer. His self-published volume is a excellent resource on the methods and techniques of dark fiction. Part of his work deals strictly with run-of-the-mill mechanics—some of it pretty basic. Other sections explore what horror fiction is, how it works, why people read it. Collings' experience as a scholar, teacher, and writer come together in this work: It has the depth that can only come out of scholarship, but is written clearly and directly enough to appeal to the general public. All around, a great introduction to fiction on the dark side.
Whether you're dying to place your work in the journal Aberrant Dreams, or just want to inject a touch of the uncanny or disturbing into your work, these resources can help you understand what makes readers' spines tingle and their heart rates rise.
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