How to create suspense in your horror novels

Suspense is an important element in many genres. For sure, thrillers and mysteries need it just as horror novels do. But, if you give it some thought, you’ll see that suspense seeps also into many others genres. Maybe only for a scene or two, but it’s there nonetheless. So if you’re serious about writing, handling it effectively from the get go is as necessary as it is a thorough knowledge of grammar–even if you’re going to break some rules now and then. What is Suspense? According to the Online Oxford Dictionary, in literature suspense is a quality in a work of…

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Story development — the importance of a character’s name

Except for parents who are about to name their child, and therefore consider names incredibly important, in general we take first names for granted. You know what I mean. Joe is the mechanic. Edward the lawyer. Elise the soccer mum. Brenda the speech therapist. Names are just convenient labels to refer to people. Only occasionally names make us pause and think about what they might mean to their owners. And when this happens is usually because of some horrible name someone has been given. However, according to some psychologists names have a measurable effect on people. For example, names immediately…

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Character tags – how to make your characters more memorable

I must admit it from the very start. Unless the physical description has some bearing on the story, I don’t particularly care about such things like the color of a character’s eyes, her complexion, her height or whatever else. I don’t care if the heroine has a shock of curly black hair or her head is instead as hairless as the ass of a two year infant. As a result, also when I write I tend to keep descriptions as short and functional as possible to the story I’m telling. I’m not alone in this. Les Edgerton, the author of Hooked,…

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Describing characters in fiction – literary techniques

In a previous post about memorable characters in fiction I wrote that writers must offer their readers many occasions to get to know the characters populating their stories. In fact, just as in real life the more we know about someone the more intense our feelings can grow for that person, the same happens in a novel. However, given that any work of literature, even the lengthiest one, is always an heavily edited and condensed version of reality, we must choose with care which scenes to include in our stories and which are instead better left out. For example, if…

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The role of art in society, the ultimate mind map?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. As the quote from Hamlet makes it apparent, Shakespeare knew quite well that the world around us, just like the one residing in our head, is simply too vast and rich for an artist, any artist, to ever hope to describe it in its entirety. This might seem like a terrible limitation on our ability to create art. It also seems to undermine the role of art in society. Instead, I believe this apparent inability, this sort of limitation, is one of the strong…

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How to use stereotypes in books – writing myths debunked

Stereotypes in books… Shouldn’t they be like the kiss of death for the story you want to tell? Well, not necessarily. First of all, let’s consider what a stereotype is according to the Oxford Dictionary: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified idea of a particular type of person, group of people, or thing. In this definition the adjectives “fixed” and “oversimplified” are the ones that make any serious beginning writer consider stereotypes in books with diffidence, to say the least. Besides, in the past, some psychologists believed stereotypes were used exclusively by people particularly rigid, repressed, and authoritarian–the exact opposite…

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How to write a blurb for your novel

No doubt, for your book, having an intriguing blurb is as important as having a great cover, an intriguing title and your story professionally edited. That’s why, if you’re serious about your writing, you should devote a bit of time to learn how to write a blurb. In fact, if the cover, well, the thumbnail version of it, is essential to catch a perspective reader’s eye, then it’s the blurb that has to persuade him or her to hit the “buy now” button, or at the very least to download a sample of your book. Now, guidelines on how to write…

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Elements of a horror story – descriptions

The world was, and still is, a dangerous place. And given that it is the only place where we can live, we have developed a series of semi automated responses in order to negotiate it without having to reinvent the wheel every time a potentially dangerous situation presents itself.

This natural mindset in which fear, aggression, heightened alertness all mix up is like having a ton of dynamite ready to explode.

If to this mix we add the almost unique human ability to empathize with someone else, thanks to the mirror neurons, all of a sudden we have provided our dynamite with a perfect fuse.

This is why the elements of a horror story can work their magic.

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The art of descriptions, or pink flowers and stories

 Sometimes the way our mind works can be tricky. And this is definitively the case for descriptions.  I mean, if I said Don’t think of pink flowers, the first thing you would think of would be, quite reasonably, pink flowers. Descriptions everywhere? That’s why creative writing works its magic. Our brains are always waiting for us to feed them with images, ideas, stories. They only require a bit of guidance. And in novel writing the smaller this guidance is, the better. Sure, you might believe that’s impossible for mere words to compete with the vibrant immediacy of pictures and movies. But this…

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