Writing Horror for the First Time
With the month of May just a couple of days away, I've been working closely with my critique partner (CP) on my writing agenda. Once my editor has my WIP in her hands, the story is effectively locked down until I get it back. I already know that my editor's allotted the entire month of May to read, and critique my work with a magnifying glass, something I'm very excited about. That said... that's a whole month where I won't be doing anything with my book other than maybe reading it on occasion, if at all.
This means one thing: I'll have an entire month to write short stories!
As I've shared in my Q2 goals, I aimed to write at least two short stories between April and July. Good news: I've knocked one out already! And it's a story that, in many ways, was significantly different from my first major creation.
It's a horror story.
If you think about it, science fiction and horror can easily go hand-in-hand - the unknowns that exist beyond our world are mysterious and terrifying enough to provide more than enough content for horror stories. Writing something where horror - the intention of sending chills down your spine or even give you nightmares - was the focus was a lot of fun.
I'm a huge fan of the horror genre, especially horror film (some favorites: The Blob (1988), The Thing (1982), the Alien series, and Friday the 13th). As a Stephen King fanatic, I have a decent collection of his horror books, too (Misery, It, The Dead Zone, The Stand). Though I know I'll spend quite some time in the future writing more science fiction material, I believe it's just a matter of time before I write a full-length horror story.
It involves supernatural forces.
Writing horror opens up a world that is very different from science fiction: the addition of the supernatural.
The beauty surrounding supernatural is that unlike most content written in sci-fi, one doesn't really have to conduct much research to create a story with supernatural elements. Okay, I did SOME digging, but it wasn't necessary for what I ultimately wrote.
In addition, the supernatural usurp our basic understandings of how the world works around us. They can break the laws of physics and chemistry without effort and accomplish feats that would normally be considered impossible. From a writer's perspective, why they can do what they do doesn't always have to be explained - they just are.
Vampires, the undead, werewolves/lycanthropy, creatures of myth and legend - they're all on the table for making a protagonist's life a living hell.
My original goal for this horror story was to keep it at four thousand words, but it clocked in at just shy under seven thousand in the end. Still, it is far shorter than my novel, and that brevity lends itself to some aggressive storytelling. I found it liberating to craft an entire story in just a couple of hours instead of a whole year. More importantly, I'll be able to start the submission process for my short story in just weeks, if not days, versus my novel which is still in its editing phase.
Following the positive experience I had with my first horror short story, I've been documenting almost every plot idea that conjured itself into existence as separate project files, ready to be expanded upon when their time comes. At least a few of these will end up as short stories, some of which I really hope to see get published in the very near future!
What kind of short stories do you write? Do you use them to experiment with other genres you don't normally invest lots of time or attention? Share your thoughts below!