The Character of Horror

Take a look at Writing Horror: A handbook by the Horror Writers Association (Writer”s Digest Books), edited by Mort Castle and featuring Joyce Carol Oates, Harlan Ellison and more.

Tina Jens, author of Diagnosis: Terminal and currently chairman of the board of trustees for the Horror Writers Association, writes in her article “Such Horrible People” how she starts working on character development:

Start by rearranging the steps in your writing project. Don”t plot, then create character. Start with your basic idea: Vampires invade small town. Man creates monster. Tornado carries girl to fantasy world.

Now, before you take your premise another step, find your characters. I like to start with the “bad guy”. Put flesh on his bones, attitude on his lips and a driving passion in his brain.

Okay, back to plot for a moment. What is the monster”s goal? To find a mother for the brood of teenage vampire boys? To seek revenge against an uncaring creator? To capture the girl with the magic shoes? Time! That”s plenty of plottingfor now.

Back to characters.

Who is this monster likely to run up against? Who”s going to be brave enough, smart enough, likely to happen by in your story”s particular geographic location or fantastic milieu? If your vampires live under a 1970s seaside boardwalk, your choices for a hero are going to be very different than those you would encounter in seventeenth century Romania or the merry old land of Oz.

Learn more about Writing Horror ($17.99).

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