The au­thor re­veals what not to do to be as good as him.

Want to write FIC­TION HOR­ROR for a liv­ing? Need some ad­vice? Maybe some rules to fol­low? Let Joe Hill help. Sort of…


"Can you write us a list of rules on how to write hor­ror?” said the good peo­ple at SFX. And be­cause I’m not above be­ing flat­tered, I im­me­di­ately said, “Yes, of course.” Which just goes to show you shouldn’t let your chin be tick­led by jour­nal­ists, no mat­ter how charm­ing they might be, be­cause the last thing the world needs is an­other damn list of rules for writ­ing.

For a start, no one has ever out­done the rules in Wil­liam Strunk and EB White’s The El­e­ments Of Style. It may date from 1918 in its old­est it­er­a­tion, but it re­mains the de­fin­i­tive guide to com­pos­ing clear, em­phatic prose. Ev­ery writer should have a copy on the shelf next to a re­ally good dic­tio­nary. The only other list you need is El­more Leonard’s

10 Rules Of Writ­ing. It’s not that his rules re­ally mat­ter, but they’re so much fun to read – Rule 1: “Never open a book with weather” – that you shouldn’t deny your­self the plea­sure.

If only Leonard hadn’t en­cour­aged ev­ery other writer on the planet to try to come up with a short list of easy-to-tweet, Buz­zfeed-friendly apho­risms. I’ve read them all and even en­joyed a few be­cause I love to hear other writ­ers talk about their work, but the only con­clu­sion I’ve drawn is that ev­ery­one’s method is unique to them alone.

Here’s the grisly truth: the rules I have for my­self may do you no good at all. Each story is its own maze, so what good will it do to tell you how I es­caped mine? Re­ally, you still want ad­vice? Okay, here goes…

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