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Read outside your genre, they say.
But I don’t wanna. Horror scares me.
Isn’t that the point? Yeah, but recreational reading shouldn’t be uncomfortable. The challenge is finding the balance between having fun and branching into new territory to get more tools for the writing toolbox (which with a love of urban fantasy, military science fiction, superhero prose, and sweet romance with an occasional dip cozy mystery I am doing fairly well). One way to accomplish expansion of the horizons is looking at blogs in the genres you avoid for one reason or another.
I ran across this particular post by the Horror Writers Association through the recommendation of another friend, “Peekaboo with the Devil: Strategies for Hiding and Revealing Your Antagonist” written by Mac Childs. The focus is on horror antagonists, monsters and serial killers, instead of the bad guys found in romance and superhero prose, but that doesn’t mean the tools of hiding the Big Bad until the last fight shouldn’t be in the tool box.
What I want to remember from the blog:
- Big Bad backstory may be detailed in my head, but skimpy on the reveal to readers. The less they know, the more the readers fill in with their own personal monsters.
- A indirect reveal (through a keyhole) of the Big Bad causally dealing with a minion the main character (MC) just barely survived defines power stakes in a scary, but initially survival fashion.
- Small subtle evils can be scarier than big shows.
- I want to write a bait-and-switch baddie.
“the kind that tricks others into thinking they’re harmless (maybe even helpful), lulling the protagonist and readers into a false sense of security and then striking while everyone is watching the flashier villain.”
Other advice is provided in the post. Find the ones which speak to you here: http://horror.org/peekaboo-with-the-devil/