Three Dirty Birds talking about Zoe’s favourite thing is the world: Horror! Here’s 25 Things Chuck Wendig thinks you should know about the genre.
Zoe: Chuck knows nothing about horror—nothing! (I’m kidding. This was a good chapter.) As he points out with the first tip, all stories have some degree of horror in them. Just not usually as bloody and gutty as actual horror stories.
Ana: I guess it all comes back to how all stories need tension, and really good stories make you fear for the protagonists to some degee. Because ideally you care what happens to them.
Zoe: Or they’re written really badly, a whole other form of horror. 😉
Ana: The bad kind of horror.
Kate: Horrible horror.
Ana: You don’t read horror, do you, Kate?
Kate: No, not really. I can read just about anything, but Stephen King hit a big flashy red button I didn’t know I had with one book, and I’ve been headshy ever since. I’m going to try to read Suckers, though, when it arrives.
Ana: Maybe Zoe can cure you from your Stephen King trauma.
Zoe: That or I’ll be sued for the psychiatric expenses.
Ana: It’s a win-win situation. For me. *grabs popcorn*
Zoe: ~bills Ana for the popcorn~
Ana: I’m a starving writer, don’t bill me for my popcorn.
Kate: Maybe you can pay her in kind. Pop another bowl for Zoe. And me.
Zoe: I’m actually having a hard time finding anything to say about this chapter. It’s good, basic stuff. If you want to write horror, or just ramp up the tragic parts of your non-horror story, you can’t go wrong by spending ten minutes reading the chapter.
Ana: I like that he pointed out that a horror story doesn’t need to be bloody and gory. A lot of my favorites aren’t. I prefer being creeped out over being squicked out.
Zoe: I like that he pointed out that a horror story has to have a story. That you can have all the blood and gore in the world, but there still needs to be a story in there to carry the reader through.
Kate: I can’t remember if he made this point, or if it was something that occurred to me during this chapter, but people have to like your characters, then you have to do some atavistic thing to them, use some archetypal visceral terror to hook your reader.
Zoe: Yes, I think it’s very important in horror for readers to be able to relate to the main character, to be able to put themselves in his or her shoes. Otherwise you can dish out all the horror in the world, and it’s going to fall flat. (Mr. Rider the other night was telling me about a story idea he had for a horror novel, and I found myself saying, “Yes, but…why do I care?” a lot. “You’ve got this guy who’s a pervert and a killer and he’s the main character…why do I care?” You need an amazing voice to be able to overcome that.)
Ana: When you don’t care about the characters, horror often times becomes ridiculous. I’ve found myself laughing at a lot of bad horror movies.
Zoe: Bad horror movies are one of my favorite hobbies.
Ana: Right? There’s just something about them.
Kate: I dunno. I never quite recovered from The Evil Dead. I think I have an overactive imagination.
Zoe: Sometimes I feel bad because I review horror movies on my blog…and they’re all some degree of bad, and I’m just waiting for someone to say, “Why do you even watch horror movies? You hate them all!”
Kate: Hope. It’s hope that leads you on. Kind of why I keep reading bad spec fic and bad romance.
Zoe: Yes, it’s worth it for the occasional Deadgirl or Devil’s Rejects. (The latter of which is a good example of having main characters who are perverts and killers and making it work. At least for some people.)
Kate: I opted out of the Haunted House of Manlove Flash Fiction event, because I couldn’t come up with a horror idea. Not something that I could make work in 1200 words.
Zoe: I find it tough to do horror in really short form. It takes more cleverness than I possess.
Kate: It would have been a nice break from the silliness of the squirrel, though. Which is very silly.
Ana: But Chuck says Death and Sex play well together! (Especially when you’re a necrophiliac. My words, not his.) I had to smile at this though because I always seem to have dead people in my erotic romance…
Kate: Lol. Might be why all the romantic thrillers do so well.
Ana: I also liked this line in his last tip: “Horror needs to work on you, the author. You need to be troubled, a little unsettled, by your own material.” Mainly because I feel the same way about my WIPs even though they’re not horror. But if your work doesn’t affect you, it probably won’t affect anyone.
Zoe: Yes, I think that’s true for all stories: you need to be moved yourself in order to move others. (And if you’re not moved by what you’re writing…why are you bothering? What are you getting out of it? A novel requires an investment of a pretty big chunk of time.)
Kate: And that kind of comes back to something he said in the last chapter, about doing your own thing, and putting yourself on the page. If you’re writing to current trends, and not what really turns your crank, it’s going to be noticeable.
Zoe: It’s probably also going to be work.
Kate: I hate work.
Ana: Yeah, let’s not do that.