Getting Back Into The Habit… Some Musings On Writing Horror

Talk about multitasking! Playing two games and trying to write this at the same time. I guess everyone left… Haven’t seen any activity at all since I announced I had quit writing. A bit of an update on that… This has since changed to, “I quit pushing myself to write.” I felt so pressured to write stuff, establish a daily habit, all the things every writing book tells you to do, and that isn’t gonna work for me at this time. So while I am not fully back, announcing that I am writing again, I am back, writing again, if that makes any sense at all.

I used to write short horror stories. Yes, the guy who runs the spiritual blog. Maybe for some of you this is not a surprise. I mean things could get rather dark here, right? I used to be a Christian, I used to write poetry with a religious focus, and at some point I started writing short stories, mostly short horror stories. I have nobody standing behind me, supporting me as I say this, but I think I was pretty good. Am pretty good. I think I still have some short horror stories in me, and this is the time of year to delve into those dark waters again.

As a writer of fiction I appear to be what they call a “pantser.” I write by the seat of my pants. In writing short horror fiction, I start with an idea. This is called the “what if” by some writing texts. I just start writing, don’t even think about character names or anything, just make snap decisions as I proceed. The important part is to get the gist of the story down, then establish my character’s names and make sure everything is consistent. This works well for writing something around the 10,000 – 20,000 work mark. But after that, you need structure. You need bones to hang the flesh of your story on.

I think the scariest stories are the one where things are left unexplained. Most movies try to explain why a house is haunted. Why this is happening or that is happening. They try to show this in some way. One of the best horror movies of all time, in my mind, is Grave Encounters. Even What Keeps You Alive, by some of the same people. Because these movies leave you in the unknown, and that is the scariest place for a story to leave you. You find yourself in the dark, in a huge room, with things slithering around you, brushing against your leg, and you have no idea what the hell they are, where the hell you are, or how or why you got there.

I think the second pillar, as it were, holding up the structure of truly terrifying horror stories is logic. While the monster or its motivations remains unclear, unexplained, there is a logic in there, mostly that this could happen. To help make this clearer, if anyone here has read “Dark Carnival” from Joe Hill’s, “Full Throttle”, there is no logic there. No way what he writes could ever happen. It is in a word, fantastical.

But in many of the Dean Koontz Odd Thomas books, you can see how some of these things could happen. In a book John Saul wrote some years ago, the wind, which is a constant in a certain area, drives people mad. If you can see clearly how it could happen, if it makes some twisted, logical sense that it did happen, yet at the same time there is an element that remains unexplained, unclear, unfathomable – if you don’t know how it happened or why it continues to happen – well then you are in one of the scariest stories, in my opinion.

I have created an account at Medium.com, and I think I shall get back into writing short horror stories. I think I will also share many of the stories I have written there. I will begin to post links to these here. I may not stick with Medium, it depends on if I have an audience or not. If I am telling scary stories around the campfire, and all that is around me is darkness and the distant hoots of owls, well that is no fun, is it? A writer must be surrounded by shivering, trembling people of all ages, all shapes and sizes, all mentalities, religions and spiritual bents, completely transfixed by the stories he tells. Otherwise, what is the point? To be a story, it must be told, and to be told, it has to be heard by others.

Here is a non-horror story I recently uploaded to Medium:
https://medium.com/@dreambliss/what-do-you-want-to-be-12593fc24e1f

Do this storyteller a favor and tell me what you think. It is cold out here, in the dark, illuminated only by the glow of a dying fire, and I swear I can hear something moving out there, in the trees.

Join the discussion here:
https://www.reddit.com/r/DreamBliss/

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