I love horror. I know that’s a little strange coming from someone who writes MG and YA but I can’t help it, and I don’t think any of us are one dimensional in our tastes.
But when it comes to horror, whether it’s a novel or a movie, I am realistic. I know the rules, and what to expect on the way in. I do not let myself become attached to any characters because in horror, everyone is fair game and the main character could just as easily lose his head (literally) as the janitor on page 254.
I’m only invested in the story, the plot…except for when it’s been written by Stephen King. Because no matter how hard I try to resist, he makes me care. No matter how many times I warn myself that the King is cruel and his philosophy is to kill his darlings, by a third of the way through I am rooting for the MC like he’s my long lost brother.
His characters are flawed, sometimes deeply so. But that’s what makes them so real…so normal. He takes these people and puts them through some of the worst situations you can imagine, and some I am sure you can’t. When he is through, they are something more, better than what they were, hollowed out and made over by the fire of his words. Sometimes he chooses to kill them even after all this, and when he does I weep with a sense of such total loss that I hate him even as I worship his gift.
He can take a story idea, in its rough disjointed conception and polish it until it shines, like a diamond from a lump of coal. Of course, his rough ideas contain the promise of brilliance so he does have a head start. To use his words, ‘you can’t polish a turd’.
We should take a hard look at our ideas and make sure they have promise. Then the lesson we can take from this word master is to polish, and refine until our story is a shiny new version of itself. It won’t be easy but if you aren’t willing to do it then you will never have strangers blogging about your brilliance or ability to make them cry themselves into a depressive state that lasts for days and can only be cured by chocolate and the animated adventures of Lilo and Stitch.
I’m just sayin’.