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…