Thursday, October 20, 2011
Supernatural Friday: How I Write Horror
Welcome horror author Armand Rosamilia for Supernatural Friday, as he stops on a blog tour for his new release and blogs about how he writes horror.
I've been lucky enough over the years to have met and chatted with many horror authors, both established and brand-spankin'-new. One thing I've learned (besides most of them love to drink at the bar during a convention and swap stories) is that we all have a different approach to writing a story.
My philosophy is this: write the story however you can, and wherever you can.
I know of many writers who I've met at a convention (and, for the record, I've only been to a few) and even at a book-signing who had their laptop opened to a blank document or was in the midst of a story and didn't let meeting and selling stuff get in the way.
Personally, I don't know how they can do it with all the distractions, the talking in the room, crazy costumes, rabid fans wanting a picture or a lock of your hair (OK, maybe that's a bit much…)
Yet, I've been in many odd places and had an idea for a story, and just had to jot down the thoughts on a napkin, a scrap paper from my glove compartment (parking tickets work quite well) or in the corners of your kid's homework.
Years ago I went to a convention in Virginia and took the ride with author Keith Gouveia (and my son, who slept in the backseat until Keith mentioned he also played Yu-Ghi-Oh) from Florida. Along the way Keith helped me get through a particularly tough spot I'd written my self into in a fantasy novella. We're driving through mountains and fog and something out of a horror movie while thinking of our heroes trying to fight their way out of a swamp. Good times, good times.
I have my computer desk in the corner of the dining room, within hearing range but out of sight of the TV. When I'm in the groove on a story you can blast that damn thing, tap-dance, light off fireworks and scream bloody murder. When the story is kicking my ass, don't even sigh from the couch or I'll kill you with my mind-bullet look.
Let's just imagine that all the stars are aligned, meaning the kids aren't home, Kim is at work, and I don't have to walk the dog or feed the cats, and the coffee is already made and flowing.
I have an idea in my head and a blank screen in front of me, the bright white block with the blinking line in the corner.
I usually start with a character 'sketch' in my head - I never do like some people and write a paragraph or a story or another novel about a character before the story - and figure I'll fill in the blanks on him/her later, as the character shows up in my story and acts against the plot thrown at them.
For instance, when I was writing my extreme zombie novella, Dying Days, I'd already written a couple of short stories of the heroine, Darlene Bobich. When you 'know' the character, for me at least, it makes it that much easier to write because half the story is already done whether you realize it or not. Toss a situation in front of her and let her react. Every now and then she surprises me by thinking outside the box and being fiercely independent of where I want her to go, but she generally follows the plan… generally.
In that novella I had a definite idea of where it was going to end, and what part Darlene would play in the world. By the time I finished the last lines she was somewhere completely different, but much better. I like to think that at some point Darlene Bobich, Zombie Killer, decided she was sick of being so passive in the story and reacting. She decided to act and let me figure out what everyone else was going to do when she did something. That's how you know you have a solid character.
Like reading a great book that you don't want to put down, sometimes you don't want to step away from a story you're writing because you need to know what's coming next.
That's when you know you have a winner.
"Skulls" horror short story collection now available! Kindle
"Highway To Hell" extreme zombie novella now available from Rymfire eBooks
"Dying Days" extreme zombie novella now available from Rymfire eBooks
"Undead of Winter" zombie anthology now available from Rymfire eBooks