Canadian author, Kala Godin talks about research and horror tropes today in Women in Horror.
I actually write in multiple genres, though I’m currently published in paranormal horror, and most recently, poetry.
Paranormal horror is definitely the genre that I can produce the fastest. I only ever write short stories because I’m fairly strong with short fiction. When it comes to horror, my process is quite a bit different than my process for another genre as I believe horror needs a little research.
That’s not so say, “research everything and have no originality.” Just in my experience I’ve noticed that there are some stereotypes/tropes that are helpful and others that will seriously hurt your reviews later on. Especially if you aren’t careful with their execution. That’s the kind of stuff you want to research. Are you wanting to write more traditional horror? Then try to find some popular stereotypes/tropes specific to your writing. Make sure you are picking ones that you actually like. If you aren’t interested and passionate, the reader can tell.
When you are writing in your chosen tropes, see if you can expand on their ideas. Grow them. Even though you’re using something old or seemingly unoriginal, you still need to make it yours. What makes your horror different? I’ve learned that completely new ideas are rare. You’ll find yourself asking, “Why does my book sound kind of like book X,Y, and Z?” And unless you are outright stealing someone else’s work, then it is not really a problem. Putting your spin on old ideas is a great way to write horror. Or anything really. One thing that’s really popular right now is retellings!
Don’t assume that horror is written to offend people. It’s not. Horror is meant to spark fear. Being scared and being offended are two very different things. You need to know the difference. Now, not everyone is going to like your work. That’s just how it is. Someone is likely going to be offended. But if you are purposely attacking a group of people, brace yourself for the whirlwind of bad reviews that is coming your way.
Specifically attacking groups of people is a cheap trick that is used in a few genres but it’s in horror quite often. It’s used as shock value, thrown in to make the audience cringe and gasp. But is it used for the right reasons? Not really. If it’s not moving your plot or your characters, then it has no use.
These are really just basic tips that help me. As with all things related to writing, one authors’ process may not always work for another. But nonetheless try them, if you dare.
Kala Godin is an author living in Alberta, Canada. She lives with a physical disability and is confined to a wheelchair. She’s also an occasional artist, and Halloween is her favorite holiday. She likes tattoos and chocolate, and most movies directed by Tim Burton. Her story “A Girl’s Gotta Eat” will be published in Deadlight publishing‘s Not Just A Pretty Face. She is also part of a multi-author story, “Teeth” her poetry collection can be found on Amazon.