January 23, 2010

Rabid Reads: "Writers Workshop of Horror" by Michael Knost (editor)

Title: Writers Workshop of Horror
Editor: Michael Knost
Published: Woodland Press (2009)
Pages: 245
Genre: Nonfiction; Writing
ISBN 978-0-9824939-1-5

As an aspiring writer of dark fiction--any fiction, really--I am always on the hunt for a tidbit of advice from those in the industry, especially those whose works I've read and enjoyed. I started off with the odd copy of Writer's Digest magazine, then moved on to a handful of books from the Writer's Digest Book Club--a great birthday present for any beginning writer--and then scoured online to see all of the great blogs and online articles concerning the craft of writing. This past Christmas, I received a gift that has earned a permanent place among my books on the art of writing. Writers Workshop of Horror is the gift that keeps on giving.

The list of contributing authors is something to behold, all by itself. Brian Keene, Mort Castle, Tom Piccirilli, Joe R. Lansdale, Clive Barker, and the list goes on. This group could be discussing the subtleties of Carrot Top's prop comedy, or the mating habits of sea urchins, and I'd likely sit down to read a few passages. Keep them on the topic of writing and I'm likely to be riveted.

And I was.

A couple of the articles seemed familiar to me, but hardly unwelcome, as I can always use gentle reminders on every aspect of the craft. Whether it's Thomas F. Monteleone tackling the subject of dialogue, Jonathan Maberry discussing action and fight scenes, Brian Keene on the point of making time to write even when you think you don't have the time to write, this collection of essays, interviews, and testimonials helped add depth to the things I already had a basic grasp on. And some really opened my eyes to aspects I hadn't really taken the time to consider, like Piccirilli's article on personal themes in your writing.

The previously mentioned Mort Castle released a similar book, On Writing Horror, a few years back. It was one of those books I received from the WDBC. It's also one of the permanent fixtures on my bookshelf, one I still grab to peruse a section now and again. Michael Knost, however, has offered a great companion to that book. Heck, even as a stand-alone, it provides just about anything writers of varying ability should be looking for in advice from those who know better.

It's not the Holy Bible for horror writers, though there are contradictions like any good piece of biblical scripture. But it is a good piece of source material to have handy when you're looking for a bit of positive reinforcement, reeducation, or just a nudge in the right direction when you're stuck on some facet of the piece you're working on.

I'm unsure what kind of value the book offers to someone not actively writing though, except to say that it may provide the right amount of inspiration for you to start.

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