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Really Useful Links for Horror Writers

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Paul FitzSimons

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With Halloween around the corner, it would be remiss of me not to talk about horror this week. I’m also trying (once again) to write a horror story myself so hopefully I might even learn a few things.

Not the niche some think it is, horror has enjoyed fanatical levels of popularity since before Bram Stoker penned Dracula in the 1890s and, with contemporary writers like Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz, horror continues to compete with crime and women’s fiction as the top fiction genre.

The same can be said about horror on the big screen. As writer Kim Newman and I talked about when I met him ahead of the Bram Stoker Festival, the vampire sub-genre has, on its own, inspired dozens of films over the years. As well as that, there will nearly always be some horror film, of which there are countless subgenres – Slasher, Vampire, Found-Footage, Zombie –  showing at every multiplex at any time of the year, not just Halloween.

At the risk of being unoriginal, the first port-of-call is, once again, the Writers’ Digest Website. Here, horror writer Kris Freese reminds us that we, as readers, actually like to be frightened. He also suggests that horror might the genre that has evolved most over the years, with traditional Gothic horror stories making way for new ‘slasher’, ‘gross-out’ and torture-based books and films and, more recently, the pseudo-reality ‘Found-Footage’ stories, such as The Blair Witch Project.

Chuck Wendig is a screenwriter and novelist whose blog always offers unique insight. His thoughts on horror, which he says he used to ‘eat up with a spoon’ when he was younger, are no different. He has written a number of Horror novels himself so his 25 tips for writing good Horror are definitely worth a look. He suggests that all stories, on some level, are horror films, interestingly suggesting Die Hard and When Harry Met Sally as examples.

The Feckless Goblin blog, specifically its writer Ziggy Kinsella, offers some great tips on writing horror. He advises that we need to ‘eat, drink and sleep’ our story, suggesting that we should be scaring ourselves with our own stories. He also goes against the usual advice on writing fiction by suggesting that we shouldn’t get too involved with back-story, going so far as to suggest that we should avoid it altogether.

The long-titled Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies is an online publication dedicated to the study of Gothic and horror literature, film, new media and television. Horror writer Kim Newman writes a great piece in the journal, in which he explores Ireland’s contribution to the world of horror. He talks about writers such as Bram Stoker, settings like the contemporary Irish farm used in the film Isolation and subject matter such as leprechauns.

For those of us thinking of trying our hand at writing Horror, The Horror Writers Association website offers us an abundance of advice on the genre as well as interviews with some outstanding writers such as Amber Benson and Richard Christy. It also gives advice on applying for the much sought-after Horror Writers Scholarships – two scholarships of $2500 each – which both open for applications in November.

Ireland’s only small press dedicated to literature of the fantastic, Swan River Press, named for the now subterranean waterway that flows through the bustling neighbourhood of Rathmines,  was founded in 2003 by author and editor Brian J. Showers. Since its inception, the press has specialised in literature of the Gothic, strange, and supernatural, with an emphasis on Ireland’s past and present contributions to the genre.

In Spring 2013 they launched our flagship journal The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature. This twice-yearly publication is a much-needed venue in which to explore and celebrate Irish genre literature in all its guises. All of their publications, both inside and out, are attractively designed with an aim towards enhancing the reader’s experience. Their hardbound editions are jacketed and professionally printed on high-quality paper, and booklets are in the majority, hand-sewn. Swan River Press have a free eBook that showcases a selection of their publications, you can get details here.

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite Horror of their reality.” Edgar Allan Poe


Easy To Digest.

Writers’ Digest’s Kris Freese suggests that Horror might the genre of writing that has evolved most.

“People like to be frightened.”



What A Terrible Mind.

Chuck Wendig’s 25 things we should know about writing Horror.

“Horror is about fear and tragedy, and whether or not one is capable of overcoming those things.”



Nothing Scarier Than A Goblin

Feckless Goblin’s Ziggy Kinsella on how to write the perfect Horror story.

“Lie back in a darkened room and really visualise it. Scare the pants off yourself.”



Ireland Is A Scary Place.

Kim Newman on Ireland’s contribution to Horror.

“Irish creative talents have had a significant role in the history of the Horror film.”



Bringing You Sleepless Nights Since The 1980s.

The Horror Writers Association is dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it.

“It is the oldest and most respected professional organization for the much-loved writers who have brought you the most enjoyable sleepless nights of your life.”



About the author

Paul FitzSimons is a screenwriter and novelist and has written the novel ‘Burning Matches’ and a number of scripts for film and TV. He has worked as a storyline writer on RTE’s ‘Fair City’. His short stories are published in ‘Who Brought The Biscuits’ by The Naas Harbour Writers. Paul likes crime thrillers, good coffee and Cadbury’s chocolate. He doesn’t like country-and-western music or people who don’t indicate on roundabouts.

Paul also runs the Script Editing service Paul | The | Editorpaulfitzsimons.com

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