Welcome to my first tutorial blog. Here I will delve into my personal box of tricks as a horror writer. I will open my studio door to you and share the inner workings of my mind. This might not be a comforting experience for you. After all, I will be exploring the world of my dreams, of my nightmares. But I believe there are many people out there who will find this experience of a fulfilling order. I know I am not alone in being fascinated by the workings of the creative mind. When this is tied to the existence of the paranormal then it can be extremely liberating to spend some time in this spiritual location.
Where do my ghosts come from? This is a fair enough question but the answer is not as easy to pin down as one might imagine. I first have to dream up the horror which causes these spirits to appear. They cannot appear out of thin air. Something must have happened in the past which, in turn, created a disturbance in the atmosphere resulting in paranormal activity.
But what was this something? A violent death is a good place to start when thinking up reasons why someone would wish to ‘come back.’ These tragic souls need to find some sort of absolution so their spirits can rest in peace.
So, okay: there you have one suitable cause as to why ghosts would appear. But is this something which comes to my mind from the onset, before I have even started to write the book? Is it part of the planning out process or does this come later? This, of course, varies from one writer to the next, but for myself I never do much planning before beginning a novel.
I have found through experience that it is better for me to dive straight in at the deep end and immerse myself in the story rather than spending a lot of time planning out what is to follow. One of the main reasons for this is that I find my characters tend to take on a mind of their own. If I were to write a lengthy plan I know it would be a waste of time as the storyline would be directed in a completely different direction by the leading players.
This, though, is one of the great delights of writing fiction, especially horror fiction. My characters always want to lead me down dangerous paths. On occasions I feel like telling them it would be better to take a safer route. What is the point in venturing down dark alleyways? One never knows who might be lurking in the shadows. But I would be wasting my time telling them so. They would not listen to me. They, after all, do have minds of their own. I believe they look upon me at times as a mere go-between. I am the tool they use to tell their story. I may be writing everything down using what I might term as my imagination, but the reality is far different from this. My characters have been the driving force behind every tale I have ever produced. They are the ones with the power. It is my duty to listen to them as they whisper in my ear. If I do so I know they will provide me with an engaging tale, one with plenty of ups and downs and curves in the roadway. Nothing will be straightforward: I will experience a rollercoaster of emotions from first page to last.
I know this idea of characters taking over a storyline is a difficult concept for non-writers to grasp, but it is something I have believed in for most of my writing life. I am happy to give them the reins so they can take me on a ride I will never forget.
Of course, even my most memorable characters are not flawless. They have been known to take me down blind alleys. Sometimes I wonder at putting all of my faith in them but this feeling never lasts for long. After all, writing fiction is not an exact science. There are bound to be wrong turnings taken every so often, pitfalls if you will to the progression of the story. But I have always believed wholeheartedly in my characters and the abilities they possess to bring about exciting passages of action which can thrill the reader.
Characters, of course, come in a variety of guises. In horror especially one must have evil characters to balance out the good ones. This is part and parcel of what makes up a horror novel of substance. I enjoy getting inside the heads of my evil characters. They can take me to some dark places which can be disturbing but which can also be enlightening.
My horror novels always have a supernatural theme to them. So the good versus evil battle usually revolves around the spirit world. I enjoy writing these sort of storylines. They extend me as a writer as I explore the full scope of the spirit world. I like to increase the tension as the story nears its conclusion. A strong element of suspense is important to any horror novel of note.
So, I find I have drawn to the end of this tutorial. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. Please check out this part of the site in the coming weeks for more of my personal insights into the crafting and developing of a horror novel which is worth its weight in gold.