Do you want to write horror fiction? Part II


Do you want to write horror fiction? Part II

Rather than jumping right into a 120 thousand word novel, I think it is important to hone your craft in the short story format. When you get good at that, you can scale it up to novella, then to novel formats. If you can’t write, finish, get published, and get people to read a short story, what makes you think you’ll be able to do all that with a novel?

Besides, having the monumental task of writing a novel is daunting. Most people quit because they feel they will never get through it. Some people don’t even start because the idea of writing a novel is overwhelming.


Let’s start from the start. Everyone has a story to tell. Men have stories that they tell the guys down at the corner bar or in the break-room at work. Women have stories they tell to girlfriends on the phone or at the hair-stylist and nail salon.

Not all stories can be turned into publishable or saleable fiction. Some of them can. In fact, I think everyone has at least one story in them that is publishable fiction.

writing hands 2The only reason to tell a story in a fiction setting is to demonstrate a change in a particular character. The character learns a lesson, they change their view on a subject, they turn their life around for better… or for worse. And, if successful, the readers learn something from the story and expand their understanding of the real world and the people in it.

Every good storyteller knows this even if it’s only on a subconscious level. Listen to your uncle, father or grandfather tell a story. It always ends with an epiphany; “That is why I will never eat fish from Lake Michigan ever again.” That’s the change! Your Grandpa might call it “the point of the story.”

So, ideally a short story should start right before the event that causes the main character’s change. How far before depends on how much back story is needed for character development and plot details.

So, from all this you should be able to grasp the first lesson:

A proper story is all about the main character – not the monster, not the haunted house, not the action, not the place it is happening. The character is going to be forced into a change and forced to change himself/herself. The process and struggle to change is the story.

Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

My short stories are present in these recent Horror Anthologies:
cellar door II small web Miseria's Chorale -  cover large from beyond the grave

related articles:
Do you want to write Horror Fiction? Part 1
Get them Reading and Keep them Reading

6 thoughts on “Do you want to write horror fiction? Part II

    • I didn’t know that but I assume many bloggers have additional writing abilities and desires. Some may want to be in journalism and entertainment news and others in fiction. Have you had any work published?

  1. Seems so rudimentary but you’re right. What is your story? Once you get good at telling stories (and have some experience/published shorts to hone your craft) then the length will begin to take care of itself. (“This is a big idea – I need more pages for this one.”)

    I’m looking forward to reading your next installments.

  2. I enjoyed reading this. I like the idea that everyone has at least one story to tell that can be publishable fiction. I have some stories in my head but I think it’s important to ask why I would want to tell them ie. the lesson or message.

  3. Pingback: Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part III | parlor of horror

  4. Pingback: Horror Fiction writer – articles and tips | parlor of horror

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