If you plan on surviving a horror novel, then you must follow certain rules.
Remember in the movie Scream, where a group of teenagers gave the rules of surviving a horror movie? --Don't go off into the dark woods to fool around, don't drink/do drugs, and never say, "I'll be right back." Then they proceeded to do all of those things and get themselves killed? Yeah, I thought it was funny too.
In order to survive a horror novel, you must suspend any ridiculous notions you learned watching horror movies...
- Not all serial killers are nearly seven feet tall, don't talk, and carry around gardening tools with which to disembowel you. Some are not only regular looking, they are handsome and charming and often talk their way into their victim's home.
- Not every homicide detective is an alcoholic adrenaline junkie. Yes, the protagonist is usually unique in some way, able to do more than the average beat cop, but they are not all 'on the edge' of their own personal train-wreck.
- Not all nightmares evaporate with the morning light. One of the reasons that Stephen King is such an extraordinary writer is that he lulls the reader with the benign everyday of the setting and characters. Then, you know, a murderous clown rips your arm off.
- Not all women scream hysterically, fall down while running from a monster/killer, and do so while wearing lingerie. My favorite character in horror movies is Ripley from Aliens. This is because she is more a novel heroine than a movie one. Ripley had substance...
Characters in horror novels are with you much longer than a few hours. Because of this, the reader has to be able to see themselves in your protagonist's position, making the same decisions, rationalizing the same sacrifices.
Some bloggers on this tour are also wonderful thriller writers. One of them is VR Barkowski. You should check out of some of her stuff. There is also World Horror Con and Thriller Fest for those that want to connect with other writers of this genre.
What do you find is the major difference between horror novels and horror movies? Which do you prefer?
Until next time...Go Write!
Photograph by Dave Parker.