As horror writers we owe it to our readers, and to ourselves, to tell the whole damn story – warts an all! Leave the gritty bits in, expose the hidden horrors that lurk in the shadows, pull back the curtain to reveal the true nature of evil. Suppressing certain elements because you feel they may be ‘too close to the bone’ will only stifle creativity. Write as if you are telling the truth – a full and accurate account of what actually happened, rather than picking and choosing bits that only serve to summarise the story. Yes, your editor may remove sections of your writing if they feel they don’t suit the book, or they will reduce sales, but that’s not something you should concern yourself with at the moment.
Not concern myself with sales or suitability…are you crazy?
Actually I think you’ll find I added ‘at the moment’ to that outlandish statement.
If you sit, fingers poised over the keyboard, biting your lip and worrying about marketing or shelf placement while you are supposed to be immersed deep within your story’s world then you’re going to have a bad time. Not only will you end up bald from all the hair pulling, and nicotine stained from all that chain-smoking, your story won’t ring true. Somewhere in your novel, lingering between the lines, and that gap before a new chapter, there will be a sense of fabrication – a feeling that the story has been manufactured. You know the story is fictional; your publisher knows the story is fictional; the reader knows the story is fictional…but they don’t want to believe that when they’re reading your novel. They want to be able to get lost in the book, and this means the story must flow naturally. It must be told as an absolute truth rather than as a filtered, watered down, edited, manufactured product.
Never be afraid to delve into the dark places that others avoid. There is almost no topic too taboo for a horror novel as long as it is written well and with purpose.
Horror for the sake of horror is as transparent as toilet humour in a supposed comedy. It’s cheap and it does nothing but reinforce the arguments of those Doubting Thomas groups out there. The ones that say horror is too dark and only sadist enjoy it. You know the ones; they’re the people that think Harry Potter teaches our children the art of Satanism or that people who enjoy horror novels must have basements full of bodies…ludicrous! I don’t have a basement!
These people want to censor horror, to reduce it to a wholesome level which means the whole family can enjoy it.
Fuck. That. Shit.
I’m sick of perfectly good horror being diluted to the point of…well, pointlessness.
“Ooh this horror novel is perfect but can you take out the swearsies so kids can read it?”
“But it’s not for kids.”
“Yeah, because of the swearsies and that one sex scene that we’d also like you to remove. Maybe you could replace it with a spin the bottle scene?”
“No, it’s not for kids because it’s about a man who eats people’s faces.”
“Yeah, that’s fine but does he have to say “fuck” so many times while he’s doing it?”
The kind of horror I write is for adults. Adults who enjoy the genre and are grown up enough to understand that horrible things happen in the world, people fuck and swear (sometimes at the same time), and want to enjoy a damn good novel about it.