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If I had the pleasure of teaching a horror-bent creative writing course, then Writing in the Dark would serve as the class text. Despite going into this book as a language arts instructor with a decent grasp of what makes effective fiction work, Tim Waggoner completely took me to school on what makes effective *horror* fiction work. I haven’t made this many underlinings and annotations in a book since college. Writing in the Dark serves as a goldmine for new writers motivated to take their horror fiction to the next level, and perhaps even the most experienced horror authors could learn a few tricks by reading this book. And while soaking up Waggoner’s sage wisdom is worth purchasing this title alone, he does not limit his advice to one perspective—he pulls in suggestions from dozens of accomplished writers in the field, numerous voices that only strengthen his ideas through echoing the themes of his lessons. Writing in the Dark is a must-read for anyone wishing to achieve success in the horror genre.
I say companion because unlike other books regarding the craft, Writing In The Dark is as casual as it gets. And that's important because I've read many books about authorship which feel so pretentious you gotta wonder if their author's intention was to disuade rather than encourage. Here though, the approach is relaxed yet informative, entertaining and engaging, inviting the reader to return as often as they like. A much welcomed difference.
With Writing In The Dark, Tim Waggoner has provided the world a permanent writing workshop, one that can be infinitely referenced and reexamined throughout every stage of a writer's career, even if said career is yet to be or already established.
"We need to take our writing as far as we can in the time that we have, and in the end that has to be enough, because that's all we're going to get." If that statement speaks to you, then Writing In The Dark deserves to be in your hands.
This book is not only incredibly informative but it is wildly entertaining. Even if you’re just looking for some insight into the horror world as a layperson, not as an author, WRITING IN THE DARK really delivers!
Tim Waggoner is an amazing author of truly terrifying and deeply heart-felt stories. His novels and short stories really cut to the quick. But, more than just a novelist, Tim is a teacher. He disperses his wisdom on his website, which so many of us hungrily devour. Now, Tim has distilled his wisdom and years of expertise into this amazing text book. As a horror filmmaker, I jumped at the chance to peek inside Tim’s mind, to get some insights into the ins and outs of writing truly masterful horror. It’s a cliche to say “he wrote the book on” how to write horror, but he really did. And it’s right here, for all to see.
This is a book that anyone can enjoy, but as a text book on horror, it is essential reading.
I've read a ton of how-to-write-fiction books including a number of texts on writing horror, but Tim Waggoner's WRITING IN THE DARK is the best of them all.
It opens with an intro by Tom Monteleone of Borderlands fame demonstrating why Waggoner is qualified to write the book. He's a prolific writer of both horror and media tie-ins. In the preface, Waggoner reveals why he writes horror. We're of roughly the same age, and his journey in many ways mirrors mine. (It's great to meet a new member of the Horror Family. Weirdos unite!)
He progresses through chapters such as "Why Horror Matters" and "Things Unknown" and turns a corner with "Everything You Know Is Wrong." He covers various subgenres of horror, generating unique ideas for stories, and building one-of-a-kind monsters. I especially enjoyed the chapters "The Horror Hero's Journey" (Poor Bastard's Descent into Hell) and the importance of including an emotional core relayed through immersive POV.
Every chapter is insightful, helpful, and entertaining. Each ends with exercises to enable eager writers to implement what they've just learned as well as three or four "voices from the shadows"--accomplished horror writers--who discuss what makes good horror and best advice for beginning writers.
Waggoner teaches college-level writing, so you're getting a college course in a book. I love to study, so I consider it a textbook that's also a tasty morsel of how-to darkness.
My review is actually 4.6 stars. The book lost a few tenths because the type is so small. As I read through, I was hoping for a workbook that expanded the exercises. Well, Guide Dog Books recently announced a companion workbook IS coming, so I'm excited about that. I'll be buying it, too, when it comes out. But I hope the type is a little bigger for those like me over 50.
I can't recommend this text highly enough. Whether you're a beginning, intermediate, or advanced horror writer, you'll get something useful to take your writing to the next horrific level.
I have a degree in creative writing and have read countless books on the craft of fiction. These days, it's hard to find a writing manual that does more than say the same thing I've read in every other book only differently. But this book? Not only is it a fantastic and thorough guide to writing horror, it's a great book on crafting genre fiction in general. If you have even a passing interest in horror or dark suspense, you MUST read this.
Waggoner is a college writing instructor and it shows. He has a knack for describing writing technique with a specificity that's often hard to find from writers who are not also trained educators. But Waggoner, unlike many, also practices the dark art he preaches. His fiction is top notch. I don't buy the whole, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." But I'm always pleased when I find a writing teacher who also rocks the page in their fiction. And Waggoner definitely qualifies.
I don't write a lot of book reviews, and only bother to do so when I read something I think is really special. So there ya go.
For anyone interested in writing horror fiction (or any fiction really), this book should not be missed. Loaded with advice, direction, examples, and exercises. Cannot recommend it enough as an educational work to improve your own writing.
Tim Waggoner, an accomplished, highly talented writer, has crafted an absolutely suburb book on writing horror. He delineates the in-and-outs of horror sub-genres including exercises and examples. This is one of those books that will appeal to both beginning and established writers. Whether someone is looking to better understand the horror genre or needs a refresher on the many faces of horror, WRITING IN THE DARK is book to buy.
Filled with useful information. Not a lot of line editing or which words to write advice, but filled with broader advice about how to construct stories and characters. More importantly, Waggoner explains why to aim for the goals he sets forth in terms of both how stories work and readers read stories. Waggoner also points out several topics where broader learning is helpful, and provides a few references to get you started.