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On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association
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On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  465 ratings  ·  64 reviews
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 Associatio
ebook, 456 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Writers Digest Books
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I've read a lot of books on writing craft over the past few years, and I really wanted to like this one. Top name authors such as Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates contributed to it, and I have to admit it was the editor's name (Mort Castle) and the Ramsey Campbell and Joyce Carol Oates contributions that convinced me to buy On Writing Horror.

The book is divided into eight sections, and also contains an editor's introduction, and a foreword, which is basically an informal history about the form
Paula Cappa
This book is somewhat dated now, but it's not really a "handbook" to instruct techniques on writing horror. I found it to be more a presentation of the current state of the horror industry, standards, and suggestions by some highly experienced and acclaimed horror authors (King, Ellison, Ketchum, Oates, Campbell). I liked Douglas Winter's chapter "Darkness Absolute: The Standards of Excellence in Horror Fiction." He specifies "horror is not a genre. It is an emotion." For new horror writers, thi ...more
Anastasia Wraight
This book is an excellent resource for both the new and experienced writer, and not necessarily only horror writers. The style section offers great advice and writing tips for developing characters, creating tension through rhythm in writing, and writing what scares you most. I have read through it once, but I anticipate that this will be one book I will continually reference back to in my future writing. I recommend this one to all writers, not just us horror fiends.
Wayne Barrett
Lots of great info and examples for the Horror writer. This is an extra resource to sit alongside my Writers Market addition.
On Writing Horror was released in 2006 by the Horror Writers Association, the American based horror writers’ association, with international membership.

I was lucky enough to get my copy recently and have just finished my first, but definitely not my last, read through of it from cover to cover.

Although very squarely slanted toward the American based writer, and a little preoccupied with the word verisimilitude, it contains many writing gems that are relevant to all writers, where-ever they live.
Michael Bauer
If this book was a table, you would need a phone book to prop up the short leg.

Two thirds of On Writing Horrow is fantastic, and should be read by everyone aspiring to write in the genre. The remaining third, not so much. This anthology was obviously edited by committee, the members of which harbored deep resentments toward one another.

The book opens with essays lamenting the marginalization of horror fiction, and ends with how-to's on "erotic horror" and product tie-ins. I expect that future e
Quick review for a quick read. Probably would give this a solid three stars, as it's a give and take for content and usefulness. If you can get it at your local library - do so before thinking of buying this, because I can think of quite a few reasons why it wouldn't be worth the $16.99 price tag. It features some great essays and advice, but ultimately, much of this isn't an thorough viewpoint of the horror genre and what it contributes.

Well organized into its respective sections, and it touche
Tara Calaby
This was a pleasant change from all of the other writing theory books I've been reading of late. For one, it's focussed on genre, so there's none of the usual nonsense about literary fiction being the only fiction worth writing. Even more enjoyable, though, was the format. There's not a lot of direct instruction here. It's more a collection of essays by very successful horror fiction writers and others associated with the industry. And a lot of them are very inspiring.
That said, a lot has chang
Although not all of this book is applicable to what I am trying to do, I still found the bulk of it both informative and interesting. The overall amicable tone in which most of it is written also helped to continue to foster interest. I'd recommend this to anyone looking to write within the horror genre - while the whole book may not be helpful, I would defy anyone to say that at least one chapter in there didn't give them at least one new idea.
Mark Hennion
Although I am certainly biased in that I write horror, I would extend praise of the "this book has it all" magnitude which most writing books can only aspire to including. Within these pages, a talented cadre of horror writers (and assorted thriller-once-horror writers) unload a torrent of information, each segmented by a very specific chapter aim and limited page space. The result makes for a highly digestible, easily searchable topic.

Exemplary to this volume are Tina Jens "Such Horrible People
Jess Cattanach
I don't have a lot to say about this one. It's pretty much what it says it is: a handbook on writing horror. A lot of different people collaborated on this, some of them seasoned experts in the field and others more recent to the world of writing and publishing horror. It covers everything from characters and plot to marketing and publishing, and includes sections on writing horror screenplays, video games, plays, etc. as well.
A. Sines
The word “handbook” conjures images of pages of rules, neat outlines, and detailed how to’s. This “handbook” is none of that. It is a book of essays from writers who have been in the trenches, who seek to share their individual wisdom with newbies.

That said, I feel as if there is much to be gained from perusing these pages. It is not going to give you a specific formula for writing horror. It is not going to give you the magic key to being published. It will, however, give ideas to add depth to
There is not enough praise that I can put on this book.

Horror writer or not, this book contains a goldmine's worth of information for any and all aspiring authors. If you happen to be one that is looking to get into the horror genre, then this is the cat's meow, the murder's hatchet, the zombie's brains. (You get the idea)

Before I purchased this book, I went and did a bit of research on it. I was actually directed to it by a number of writers, horror and non, that sung its praises. Everything fr
Theresa Glover
This one took me a while to get through simply because there was a lot to digest in this (relatively) slim volume. With Big Name contributors, it’s not really a surprise that there’s something to learn from each essay. That being said, while I know I gained a lot from reading this one, I feel like there’s a lot that I’ve missed also. Each writer has his or her own take, and there are times when it conflicts, but for wildly different reasons. It’s up to the reader to try what’s there and see what ...more
Great Book, Needs To Be Modernized.

For the kind of reference book it attempts to be, this is a pretty good book. It's compiled well, has generally good advice by generally successful and well-received authors and industry professionals.

One problem with this book is that most of the people that supply the contend for the book are now senior citizens, many of whom are form the pre-TV generation, and don't have an entirely modern viewpoint on the publishing and promotional mechanisms available toda
As these sorts of books go, I thought this was excellent. The contributors are some of the most successful writers in the horror genre. The essays are brief, but numerous, and cover everything from elements of effective horror (how to write dialogue, action, description, etc) to the impact of Stephen King's success and the current state of horror publishing. One author offers a list of 21 "must read" horror novels. (Yay for lists!)

I also like that some of the advice goes against the common wisdo
Erin Nudi
This book includes a plethora of helpful information for the aspiring horror writer. Various horror writers take turns writing "chapters," allowing for a multitude of voices and varying opinions. They cover topics such as, how to avoid the same-old (haunted houses, vampires, etc - it's all been done), subgenres of horror - erotic horror, backwoods/redneck horror, etc. - are examined, as well as marketing techniques and where to look to get published. Even writing horror plays, horror comic books ...more
Tim Williams
I wanted to like this more than I did. From the authors who contributed material to the layout, it sounds like a dream book. Unfortunately it falls flat as each author contributes a short and not detailed piece. And I don't think there was a lot of interaction in coordinating those pieces either. The book I wish this would have been probably would have been 4 to 5 times thicker.

Still, there are some gems scattered about but you have to dig to find them so I wouldn't tell someone not to read this
Eoghan Odinsson
I was very disappointed with this book. First of all, I've never seen a book typeset with type so small, It might be 8pt, most books are 12pt or thereabouts. I'm a young man with decent vision and I had trouble reading it.

Secondly, like most of Writer's Digest books - it's hit or miss on quality. They've published some great books, but they've also published an equal number of duds. Quality, NOT quantity folks!

Thirdly, the book is a collection of essays, not a cohesive guide to writing horror. I
As I have learned, time and time again, great wisdom comes from years of experience, and the collective wisdom on display here has been conjured from an all-star roster of unyielding and wildly imaginative minds forged in decades of hard work and labor. The philosophy of horror and its impact on story, as channeled through some of the best published authors the genre has to offer, makes On Writing Horror an essential must-have resource for any novice or veteran writer. Some of the contributors p ...more
Although this book is quite informative, it isn't anything that hasn't already been said in countless other books on writing. In that, it violates one of the many rules it seeks to advise novice writers on: Always be original. Also, Harlan Ellison's pompous interview midway through the book sort of ruined the whole thing for me. He seems to think anyone who isn't endorsed by the Washington Post or hasn't won a major award doesn't have the right to pick up a pen or sit down at a keyboard and writ ...more
On Writing Horror is a collection of essays by horror authors about horror writing. Depending on your preexisting knowledge of horror and horror writing, some chapters are more or less useful. I wanted to like this book more, but part 4 about horror crafting was the only part I found useful because it had to do with the writing itself. Again, it'll depend on what is relevant to you. Since I was interested in improving writing, I preferred Michael Knost's Writer's Workshop of Horror. But this is ...more
Apr 13, 2009 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: new and old horror writers
53rd book for 2009!
This is a collection of short essays by horror writers put out by the respectable Horror Writers Association. It is a wealth of information packed into 260 some-odd pages spanning all level of writers and focusing on the macabre.
There are simple articles giving advice to "show not tell" even advice on punctuation, which I would love to hand out to my fellow students of other genres.
Then there is a whole section on marketing which is useful for those of us who have already figu
Some very useful chapters, including the ones on short-story writing (which included tips and hints that crossover into pretty much every genre of fiction) and how to write the suspense/action scene. Some other chapters were rather boring (some of the intro - why I write horror tidbits), but the rest of the book made up for it. While some of the information seemed like it was for newbies to the genre (explaining the different subgenres), others were useful for newbies and seasoned writers alike. ...more
C.a. Anderson
If you want to write horror, this is the book you need. Great suggestions by the top horror writers of today.
Sep 13, 2010 Ana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who wants to write horror or simply WRITE (in any other genre)
Podem ler a opinião completa AQUI.

I really enjoyed reading this book, after getting past the first part, which didn't really appeal to me.
There are some very valid and great advices in these pages, and the only thing I didn't really like was the constant mention to the "american way" of things. I understand this is a book for the american market, but I believe they could've made it so it was more "global"

Still, I enjoyed and plan to reread a few parts as times goes by.
Em Fatoni
Berasa dikelilingi orang-orang yang senasib
I realize that I give many books a five star rating, and it probably seems illegitimate that I could possibly feel strongly for so many books, but I do. This book, however, makes me wish I had twenty stars to give. The best way to share how strongly I feel toward this book and how often I have flipped its pages is to simply say, my copy has come undone at the seems at long last. The smudges were bad enough, the smeared ink, but now, the pages are flying free haha
I bought this book hoping that I would learn some tools and and techniques related to the horror genre. Unfortunately that is not the case. This book is screenwriting 101 or writing 101, whatever is your point of view.

However, what if you are a beginner writer? Even then I wouldn't recommend you by this book because you're better off buying books that are specific to the craft of writing. Books by Syd Field and James Scott Bell are really amazing.

While some chapters are more insightful than others, the value of the book as a whole to a horror writer cannot be understated. Full of advice on craft, philosophy, history, and business, some sections are frustratingly short given the glimpse of knowledge offered by some of the contributors. Overall, though, a very good book, and one which I will be perusing again soon.
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Mort Castle is a horror author, editor, and a writing teacher with more than 350 short stories and a dozen books to his credit.
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