Friday, February 19, 2010

Plotting and characterization

The most important aspects of a great horror novel are plotting and characterization. Does every writer have to plot their novels? Well, not if you're way smart and really know what you're doing. I learned to though, because my first novel went all over the place with weird scenes just placed in there to shock. I learned to outline so I have a sane assemblance of order as far as the events. Every scene has to relate to the plot or there'll be parts of your novel people don't care about.

The most important aspect, however, is characterization. You have to be able to get the readers to sympathize with and fall in love with the characters, especially the protagonist, so that when scary things happen to them, you're shocked and afraid--right where the author wants you.

Ray Garton's really good at this, getting us to love his characters so much old formulas become fun to read. So is Gary A. Braunbeck, making the ghost story brand-new. I can only hope to ascribe to this level of greatness.


  1. I agree, especially about characterization. Horror writers, by nature of the genre, are hardly ever "nice" to their characters, so writers have to build empathy with their readers in regards to character and plot. Most readers won't accept accept the characters acting "out of character." That's were motive and plot come into play. I remember reading a fantasy series and being so pissed off at the writer, because she wrote a character out by suicide in the finale. The character was so strong-willed and had such a survive-at-all-cost mentality, she never would have done this. I never read the author again.

  2. A.R.,

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  3. Thanks, Mandy and Cher. Yes, Mandy, I'm learning from critiquers not to take my protagonists out of character.