Hi, I know that there are a lot of writers out there looking for inside tips and how to make your story the best that it can be. I can tell you that Google is your best friend. The problem is that if you’re a horror writer it’s important to clean your history. If you thought that someone finding porn in your history is bad wait until they bring up shit like how to dispose of a body, or at what temperature does human flesh begin to melt? It’s shit like that that get people looking at you funny. You can’t giggle and say research because they’ve already labeled you as a serial killer. When I tell people that I write horror they have that look that everyone gets when you smell a fart.
Being a horror writer is hard work. I spent at least twenty minutes this evening looking up stab wounds. I wanted to make sure my shit was authentic, but Google thought that I wasn’t actually looking for butcher knife stab wounds in the back and just gave me random photos of black people. I’m not being racist. I was just annoyed that Google got my request wrong. Google is a writer’s best friend. It will add a ton more detail to your story. There’s a lot of stuff that I always kind of winged. I am extremely lazy, but I wanted to be as authentic as possible. Just because I write horror doesn’t mean I have to be lazy. I could but eventually the reviewers and even the readers are going to notice.
The best piece of advice that I received was using floor plans for whatever scene you’re working on. You can add so much detail to a story by incorporating an existing structure. You can use that space and fill it the way you want it, but you have something to work with. You have the exact specifications and readers are going to notice that. I also learned that by using Google street view you can look at different streets and neighborhoods to place in your work. Instead of trying to figure out what these places look like you have a visual. You just need to make your audience see it. It’s not cheating. It helps you create a realistic scene with a lot of detail. You can look at an alley and see that there are gray metal trash cans lined up next to a rusty blue dumpster. Right there you can go into the smells, and even what the road looked liked. You don’t have to use everything. Use your imagination to fill in even more detail.
By using Google I have found that research can be a lot of fun. I have watched a multitude of medical procedures and even watched an autopsy just to see if a character could pull it off in his basement. I even have a random name generator bookmarked so I don’t have to figure out who my characters are. I have a list of first and last names that I can choose from. It makes my job a lot easier. There are a ton of resources for writers but you have to find them. In most cases you’ll spend maybe five or ten minutes looking for what you need and the best part is there’s pictures! Pictures are great because it gives you exactly what you need without reading unless you need a detailed description.
Another great piece of advice that I got is when you edit your own work kick your font up to about 16 so it tricks your brain into believing it’s seeing something new. All those things you missed will pop right out. The most important piece of advice though is to challenge yourself. You’ll never grow as a writer if you stay in one genre. Step out of your comfort zone once in awhile just to shake things up. I have written pieces that have gone outside of horror and they were challenging, but at the same time it was a lot fun because I had no idea what I was doing.
If it helps you do outlines, and keep chapter notes. I’m one of those people that tried and failed at notes and even outlines. Everyone’s brain works differently so there’s really no right or wrong way to write a story. Just do what comes naturally to you. You also have to write when it works for you. Writers are a strange bunch that all have their own rituals and goals If you follow someone else’s goals the odds of sticking with it are slim. You have to write when you’re comfortable and you may not even be able to write at the same time everyday. Life happens and you have to find a schedule that works for you.
Aside from that there’s no magic formula to creating a good story. You just have to find your own voice and rhythm. Once you find your style it’s yours. People are going to recognize it, and no matter what you do, you won’t be able to change it. Every writer has their own style. It’s just how things work. You are essentially working from what influences you and that will often creep into your work. We all have influences. That’s why we write. We’re influenced by someone or something. You just need to find your muse. If you write horror read horror. There are a ton of great writers that are keeping the genre alive. You should thank them too.
I also read outside of my usual horror genre. I read popular fiction and sometimes I use that to add balance to whatever I’m working on. My influences are so scattered I find that even when I’m doing a horror piece I’ll take a Lifetime movie approach to it just add a bit of depth. I love Lifetime movies because they’re so bad they’re good. I love a good stalker story and sometimes that shit is creepier than anything I’ve written. I remember this one movie in which a woman finds herself divorced and ends up stalking her ex-husband. She even drove her car into the poor guy’s house.
As a writer I have always wanted to help other writers. There is so much good advice out there that I felt as if I should write something too. We all are looking for something to help us improve. Google is your best friend as long as you remember to clean out your history. If you have any questions or advice you want to add feel free to leave a comment.