Book Review: Writer’s Workshop of Horror – Author Michael Knost

WRITER’S WORKSHOP OF HORROR
Author Michael Knost
Published by Woodland Press
Publication Date: 2009
Format: color
Price: $21.95

So, you want to be a horror writer or already consider yourself one. You’ve been a fan of horror literature for longer than you can remember, maybe starting off with King, maybe Barker, Bloch or Laymon. Maybe you’ve read enough that you’ve started to get some ideas of your own and even began to meet some of these giants only to find that they are mostly regular schlubs. Not gods or magical beings capable of channeling the hidden whispers of angels, but incredibly mundane people that could very well live next door to you. Then maybe you started thinking “if there isn’t anything all that special about the people writing this stuff, then a schlub like me can do it too.” Maybe I just revealed a bit too much of myself here, so let’s get back to you.

The point is that you started writing. Maybe you think that the stuff you’ve been writing is pretty good but, for some reason, you are building up enough rejection slips to make a whole new redwood and you want to know why. Or maybe you just can’t seem to put anything to paper that doesn’t turn to ash before your eyes and you want to know what you can do to make your work and words come alive. Either way, you need help. Enter the Writer’s Workshop of Horror.

This is a collection of articles by some very impressive names in the business, both behind the scenes and stamped on the cover, about the art of writing horror. You get articles on some of the basics like plot and structure by people like Elizabeth Massie, Michael Arnzen and J.F. Gonzalez. You also get advice on how and why to delve into more intricate matters like theme and the ephemeral beasts that are style, tone and voice by Tom Piccirilli and Rick Hautala, among others. Then there are the more self-help oriented pieces like Brian Keene’s harsh words on making time to write and Robert N Lee’s description of the heartache wrought upon him from bad advice. But wait… there’s more in the form of technical advice from the big cheeses of Apex Publications and Doorways Magazine.

I know what you’re saying: “I’ve already read King’s On Writing and he’s, like, the best selling author in the world, douche!” First off, watch the profanity d*ckhead, and second that is a hell of a book, but king could only talk from his own experience. The same goes with numerous other books like Gary Braunbeck’s Fear in a Handful of Dust and Piccirilli’s Welcome to Hell. The big strength of this book is the variety of sources.

By separating it up this way, Michael Knost has provided us with advice from masters on the specific areas they are known for in a way that gives a broad view of the field. Not only does this impart the discreet bits of info that you need to improve your writing, but it also helps you t see how convoluted of a beast this is. Of course, this means that you will come across conflicting advice from people that most likely argue these details among each other at every given opportunity, but that is one of the points being made: writing is a personal experience that will work in a different way for you than any other writer.

Anyone interested in being a writer of horror or just a writer period cannot go wrong with this book. You will find plenty in these pages to improve your writing and plenty more to waylay any fears you may have over problems you have regularly encountered. Just remember, if they bothered to include it here, then you certainly are not the only person to have done it.

Available at Woodland Press

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About Anton Cancre

Anton Cancre is one of those rotting, pus-filled thingies on the underside of humanity that your mother always warned you about. He has oozed symbolic word-farms onto the pages of DEAD SOULS, THE GHOST IS THE MACHINE and D.O.A. II as well as continuing to vomit his oh-so-astute literary opinions, random thoughts and nonsense at antoncancre.blogspot.com. No, he will most definitely not watch your pet shoggoth this weekend, but he is interested in taking that new brain case for a spin through the cosmos.
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