Book Review: On Writing Horror: A Handbook by The Horror Writers Association

Official Tagline: The masters of horror have united to teach you the secrets of success in the scariest genre of all! In On Writing Horror, Second Edition, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Harlan Ellison, David Morrell, Jack Ketchum, and many others tell you everything you need to know to successfully write and publish horror novels and short stories. Edited by the Horror Writers Association (HWA), a worldwide organization of writers and publishing professionals dedicated to promoting dark literature, On Writing Horror includes exclusive information and guidance from 58 of the biggest names in horror writing to give you the inspiration you need to start scaring and exciting readers and editors. You’ll discover comprehensive instruction such as:
• The art of crafting visceral violence, from Jack Ketchum
• Why horror classics like Dracula, The Exorcist, and Hell House are as scary as ever, from Robert Weinberg
• Tips for avoiding one of the biggest death knells in horror writing—predicable clichés—from Ramsey Campbell
• How to use character and setting to stretch the limits of credibility, from Mort Castle
With On Writing Horror, you can unlock the mystery surrounding classic horror traditions, revel in the art and craft of writing horror, and find out exactly where the genre is going next. Learn from the best, and you could be the next best-selling author keeping readers up all night long.

Written by: Harlan Ellison, Jack Ketchum and David Morrell and many others
Edited by: Mort Castle
On Writing Horror: A Handbook by The Horror Writers Association edited by Mort Castle (who also has an article in Writers Workshop of Horror) is an anthology of articles covering the craft of horror fiction by many masters of the genre; like Harlan Ellison, Jack Ketchum and David Morrell to name a few. On Writing Horror: A Handbook by The Horror Writers Association is organized into Eight different parts; each covering a different element of the craft and business of horror fiction.

Part One, called “Horror, Literature, and Horror Literature” is three short articles ruminating on the state of the art of horror fiction in one way or another. Joyce Carol Oates talks about the art of horror fiction in her article, “The Madness of Art”. Stephan King gives a personal journey of writing in his Acceptance Speech: The 2003 National Book Awards and in “Why We Write”, Michael McCarthy gives us short interviews by horror notables, like Peter Straub and Ray Bradbury on why they write.

Part Two is “An Education in Horror” and consist of four articles giving an overview of horror, the study of the craft of horror fiction and how it is presented in higher education. “What You are Meant to Know: Twenty-One Horror Classics” by Robert Weinberg is a great reading list to see how the greats of the field did it so well.
Annex - Karloff, Boris (Bride of Frankenstein, The)_03

Part Three is “Developing Horror Concepts” consists of four articles that covers idea creation, forming your plot and planning your story. Michael Marano’s “Going There: Strategies for Writing the Things that Scare you” is a particularly interesting article in this section.

With Part Four, “Horror Crafting”, we get into the meat of the book with the seven articles in this section that delves deeper into writing of the horror story. Covering character creation, action scenes and dialogue as in “He Said? She Asked: Some Thoughts about Dialogue” by David Morrell.

Vampire Art Work by John Bolton
Vampire Art Work by John Bolton

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