Skipping some levels…

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There’s a point when you write horror that you’ll skip some norms. You’ll do some things in your stories that will turn stomachs, make readers(and family)question your morals, sanity, and whether the world is safe with you outside a padded room.

I never thought about going really dark or extreme with my horror until recently. This happened because or a novel I read. It was Brian Keene’s Urban Gothic, which if you’ve read it, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

That book took what I thought was okay to put in a horror story and tossed it straight out the window. I never would have thought to go so graphic, much less so hardcore before.

I read Keene’s The Complex afterwards and will be reading Ghoul after my current read, which is another author who I’m really enjoying.

Having never read extreme or hardcore horror, it took me a few days after reading the first couple of chapters to really get into the book, because it’s seriously messed up.

It has been compared to House of 1000 Corpses by Rob Zombie, and having seen that movie when I was inebriated, it’s an apt descriptor.

I’ve always been subtle or reserved in my horror. Never in your face gore, or anything similar and I feel like that’s been limiting me in what I write, definitely in what I read. I’m finding more enjoyment in the extreme stories than I have in quiet horror or soft horror. I will read those, hell, my favorite book of this year is like that, Stephen Graham Jones’s, “The Only Good Indians.”

It’s a master class in horror and one of the scariest and most unnerving books I’ve read in a long time, but it’s not in your face, at least not initially.

But moving on.

For me writing horror isn’t about scaring, not really. It’s about throwing normal people into terrible situations and seeing if they can survive. That’s what King has done for years with his horror.

Finding that I can write as messed up as I want as long as I do it well, has been revolutionary to my writing.

I have a short story due for an anthology on the 21st of this month, another due the 31st, and a first draft of a novel due in February(though it will probably be done sooner)and I’m enjoying the hell out of tossing in the most screwed up things at my characters.

Anyway, back to work…and skipping some levels

Write what works for you, not others.

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When I published my short story collection in October I knew it wouldn’t do well. The point was to publish something this year, regardless of what it was.

I loved writing those stories and enjoyed the process of editing them, putting them together, and putting them out.

When you write, there are things that you hope will happen: that people will read your stories, that you’ll get amazing reviews, and that you’ll connect with those people through your writing.

What happened was none of that.

The only people who bought the collection, now $.99 on Amazon for Kindle, are mostly family. There are couple of outliers, but it’s mostly family.

Here’s the thing about that. My family doesn’t read horror.

My mom used to, but doesn’t anymore. I guess I put together the collection for them, and not for myself, which is fine.

I’ve listened to a authors talk about the fact that their families don’t read horror so why should they write for them?

I took this to heart with the last few stories I’ve written. It’s about what scares me because in the end, if I’m not scared when I write something, the reader won’t be either.

Writing for you is more important than anything.

There are family members who will be turned off by writing for various reasons.

I realized I’m okay with that. I write for me first and if I like the scary parts I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Your writing should be important to you, not to your family. If someone doesn’t like the bits about gore, it’s not for them. If they’re turned off by those things, remember, you liked them and someone else will as well.

Throw the dirty, gory, nasty things into your writing that you’ve been afraid to. Put it all out there, someone will like it.

I’ve read a lot of extreme horror in the last few months because I hadn’t read it. I wanted to see how far other authors have gone, and realized something. There were great swaths of things I was afraid to write that these authors shrugged at and went more fucked up.

So I’m doing that now.

I’ve written scenes I wouldn’t have dared write six months ago, but seeing where other authors went, I dug myself a hole and followed it into the dark.

Chase the dark, it’s where the best part of horror lies.