Then you must first understand the genre and learn techniques from masters of the craft. The Writers Workshop of Horror places the expertise of some of horror’s finest authors at your fingertips, and Michael Knost has organized an informative collection of essays and interviews about the craft of writing tales of dread.
The Writers Workshop begins with Elizabeth Massie’s excellent piece on “Creating Effective Beginnings” and follows the process of crafting a short story or novel through Brian Yount’s “Ten Submission Flaws That Drive Editors Nuts.”
The essays aren’t dull, because each of the authors imbues his or her own special stamp on subjects ranging from voice to editing. Jeff Strand’s essay on “Adding Humor to Your Horror” was crafted with Strand’s wit, and I found myself enjoying his writing so much, I forgot he was teaching.
I was doubly delighted with both an essay and an interview with Ramsey Campbell. Mr. Campbell writes about rediscovering “awe and supernatural dread” with his essay “The Height of Fear.” Using such masters as Edgar Allan Poe, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, M.R. James, and other great authors, Campbell teaches the student of horror how to utilize prose to evoke sublime terror for the reader.
Michael Knost also interviews Mr. Campbell, giving him the opportunity to expound on the craft of writing horror. If Ramsey Campbell’s dark tales aren’t your speed, check out Gary Frank’s interview with F. Paul Wilson, who gives some nice tips about writing a series.
Tim Deal interviews Tom Piccirilli, who talks about the business of writing, and if you’re a Tom Piccirilli fan, you don’t want to miss Mr. Piccirilli’s essay on “Exploring Personal Themes.”
Lucy A. Snyder conducts an illuminating interview with Clive Barker where Mr. Barker discusses everything from collaborating on screenplays to his personal writing process.
The Writers Workshop was fun for me to read as a fan, because each author’s love of writing shined with his or her essay. While the Writers Workshop is about writing horror, the techniques and advice these ladies and gentlemen impart to the reader are applicable to all genres.
Good writing is good writing, and if you want to know how it’s done, listen to the masters.