This is a guest post written by my horror writing alter ego, Sal Conte (featured in photo).
I’ve been noticing a trend among less seasoned writers of scary stories. Too many of them are in a hurry to show you how scary they can be. They’re anxious to get to the horror. I understand this quite well. As writers of scary stuff, the horror is our favorite part. But allow me to drop a little knowledge I received from one Stephen King. It was something I read a long time ago in his book Danse Macabre. I need to paraphrase here because, like I said, I read it a long time ago, before my brain cells were destroyed by wine, women, and the ravages of time.
Here’s what he said: To make something really scary, you need to slowly build the world the horror takes place in. You build your world out of the ordinary, the mundane. It’s a world that the reader recognizes. It’s very much like his own world. Then, into this very ordinary world comes the spooky stuff.
At the risk of using my own work as an example, in my current Work In Progress on Wattpad entitled, The Memory Giver, I spend quite a bit of time in the prologue talking about young Marty’s sister leaving him at home alone for the first time. We hear a little bit about Marty’s absentee father, that the family was recently homeless, and that Allison, his sister, is desperate to have a friend. All normal stuff. It’s into this very recognizable world that I introduce my reader to a glimpse of horror.
Readers on Wattpad have been responding big time to this story, so I must be doing something right. It’s because I took my time in world building before I (as Stephen King said in Danse Macabre) brought the monster out of the closet (his words, not mine). So when writing tales of horror, take your time in world building before you introduce the scary stuff. Do this well enough, and you just may be the next great scary story teller.
If you’d like to have a look at the prologue of our horror WIP on Wattpad, go HERE. It’s free.
Thanks, E, for sharing the spotlight with me.