Welcome to my blog! If you haven’t stopped by to read Brent Abell’s words of wisdom–WHY?–then prepare to learn something about writing horror, horROR, HORROR!
The Easy Bake Horror Writing Guide
Okay, put the mixing bowls back up in the cupboard and hang the apron back on the hook next to the cabinet.
There is no easy bake guide to writing not only horror, but anything. Honestly, there is nothing easy about writing in general. When you sit down and begin to add ingredients to your word soup, the recipe card is a crutch. Toss it out and grab a new bowl. Let me tell you how I roll in the story kitchen.
I look through the list and decide what I want to write about. Am I in a zombie mood or a ghost mood? I started out with a few zombie pieces and I thought I was done with it, but it has slowly become my main thing. Sometimes, I need a break and I go for the White Creek card. I throw in a dash of evil, a touch of wickedness, and a pinch of loss. I mix the ideas around until it forms a good batter.
I start the first layer. Once the idea has set and cooled, I can begin to lay it out in the pan or on the page. How do I want to go? I get my setting and my characters fleshed out here for that will be the foundation of the story. For example, when I began writing, The Calling, I had to figure how I wanted the evil to manifest and how it played into the horrors unfolding in the town. White Creek is a small town, so what is considered normal happenings in a big city, might not be viewed as such here. Now, we have a general idea about what we are doing.
Toss some conflict, characters, and events into the bowl and beat with a fork. Mix it well; this is going to be the filling. When I mix the filling, I don’t use measurements, I add by the seat of my pants. When cooking up a story, there are two ways to go about it. You can plan and measure everything out before hand. The recipe card you craft for your tale tells you where each plot point and character conflict is going to go in the book your baking. I don’t use a recipe card; I’m a seat-of-the-pants kind of chef. While I have the beginning and the end result for the recipe, I make up the middle as I go. It allows the story to flow organically and sometimes by doing this method, things can take shape that you never planned on. I like letting the characters take control of their own journey and they throw me curveballs sometimes.
The frosting on the cake. The story has to end sometime and we need to wrap it up. The sweetest part of the cake is the icing. I like the ending that hurts your teeth and upsets your stomach. I want it to hurt because it’s so sweet. I also like giving it a cinematic feel. One hallmark of my style is short cuts between scenes. It gives the tension heading into the end a boost. Your pulse rises and your heartbeat increases leading to an explosive finally leaving you ready for a glass of milk to wash it down.
Showing the sweets is great, but hiding something inside is nice too. One element to horror can be the blood and guts splashed across the page, but horror can also be subtle and mixed in the middle layers. Sometimes the horror hiding in plain site is the scariest. How I approach this really depends on what my story goal is. Am I going for the gore or the quiet horror? This is where I also think about the audience I’m writing for… myself. Remember in the word kitchen; write what you want to write. Write the stories you want to see and consume. If other people like it, good deal. If they don’t like it, did you?
The last bite is as important as the first. The first sentence and the continuing first few pages is the hook to the story. Did they feel a connection, the dread, or the horror early? If they did, they probably stuck around for the full meal. Now, you have to deliver the dessert. Horror is good about never really ending. The tale might end, but there always seems to be a way for the evil to return. Will you leave it open or make a definitive ending? Depends on what I plan on doing with the idea. There are many threads in The Calling which are left open to explore in future books. Some of the short stories set in White Creek feed into this also. It becomes a buffet of cake and ice cream for the people who love to see evil never truly die. During a story, even if I have no plans to finish the icing, I’ll leave a crumb someplace where I can come back later should I choose to revisit the piece.
Tip the wait staff. The words don’t cook easily and the people who bring them to you need to be shown some love. Buy the book for a friend, leave a review, or contact the author on Facebook or Twitter and let them know you loved what they cooked up for you. This doesn’t go into the horror mix, but it helps to make sure those great chefs can keep serving you up dish after tantalizing dish of horror and dread.
I hope you enjoyed the meal and toss those recipe cards out so you can make some of your own.
The Calling – Brent Abell
Carl Volker has a problem. After waking one morning with a hangover to find his wife gone, he notices a crow stalking around his yard. As days go by with no word from his wife, more and more crows gather.
Frank Hill is sheriff in the seemingly pleasant town of White Creek. Up until recently, his job has been fairly mundane but after a recent spree of murders, bodies are beginning to pile up and Frank has no clue as to who the killer may be.
White Creek has kept its secrets hidden well over the years but the sins of its past are coming to light; the town harbors an evil and the bindings that keep it in check are beginning to unravel.
As Frank and Carl’s friendship is tested and their destinies are revealed, the dead accumulate while the crows watch and The Calling begins!
Brent Abell lives in Southern Indiana with his wife, sons, and a pug who sits around eating the souls of wayward people. His stories have been featured in over 30 publications from multiple presses. His work includes his novella In Memoriam, collection Wicked Tales for Wicked People, and novel Southern Devils; which are available now. He also co-authored the horror-comedy Hellmouth series. Currently, he is working on the second book in the Southern Devils series and the next book with Frank Hill in the White Creek Saga.